The Science of Addiction and Recovery

Posted on May 4, 2018

Addiction has been known to be an effort to change our state of mind. It is thought of to be the result of prior psychological, familial and social experience and, that such experiences then support and reinforce addictive behavior.

Two precursors to addiction are emotional trauma and psychological and social isolation. Addicts repeatedly report that they felt “apart from” at an early age, and just as frequently report addictions in their family background.

Johann Hari, who authored the book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, cites huge longitudinal studies of children (from early childhood to 18 years of age) designed to figure out how much the quality of their parenting affected their later drug use. The correlations were so high that, by observing certain relevant parent/child interactions at an early age, scientists found that they could predict with dramatic accuracy which children would later struggle with drug addiction. Dysfunctional interactions in childhood predicted higher rates of substance abuse later in life, primarily because such interactions left behind toxic sediment of self-hatred that was so painful that subjects often sought drugs to diminish it.

This understanding contradicts the conventional view of drug addiction as being “substance dependent”—namely, that the substance that’s being abused is so powerfully addictive that it inherently has the power to rob someone of his or her will.

Dr. Bruce Alexander, a researcher from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, further proved in the domain of recovery that the “therapeutic power of one addict helping another is without parallel.” The non-judgmental acceptance, and appreciative welcome of a recovery-based community can and does frequently trump the physical power of a mood-altering substance. Just as the cause of addiction lies in certain toxic emotional and social environments that produce self-hatred and isolation, so too does its cure lie in supportive environments based on love and community.


Source material from Psychology Today

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