Introduction - What is Addiction

What is addiction? Who gets addicted and why? What makes an addicted person different? What makes a person less addicted?How are we going to solve the problem at a personal level? And how are we going to solve the problem on a national level?
These are all relevant questions to raise, and yet there is no definitive answers and no solutions seems effective.
It is not a new problem. It is not a small problem. And it is not a problem that seems to go away if we just ignore it. And yet we don’t really seem to have any plan of action, no solution in sight and no real understanding of the core of the problem. This would all suggest that our understanding of addiction is not very good. So this is the starting point for this series: An attempt to have a second look at addiction. First the traditional ways of understanding addiction and later some alternative views based on the latest science.

4 Stroke Model of Addiction

The four stroke model of addiction is a detailed map of the main phases in the self perpetuating progression of addiction. It details how addiction gets stronger while you don’t see it as in your long term interest.

Keep your stick on the ice

According to da.urbandictionary “The most basic and important piece of advice in hockey (and maybe even in life) Also possibly the most repeated advice from coaches, often screamed in frustration when some knob misses an easy tip into a wide open net because his/her stick is nowhere near the ice, or the goalie lets in a soft five-hole goal for the same reason.”

Introduction to The Prefrontal Cortex

In the last module we had a look at the right focus for dealing with addiction. That is: The ability to take steps to self correct when we sense that our behavior will lead to prolems, trouble or danger. We call this ability self control. Other names are executive function, willpower or self regulation. In reality all these names refer to our ability to self correct –  that is: How to put yourself on a different path, when you sense that you are going in the wrong direction.The prefrontal cortex or the PFC is the seat of this self control. What the prefrontal cortex can do, is to put a plan of action together and force feed the specified actions into our behavior.  Most of our behavior is automatic and uncontrolled. It happens, perhaps not without effort, but mostly without any mental effort. When we need to course correct, self control steps in, it suppresses automatic behavior and lines up a series of planned actions instead. Over time this alternative behavior might become more habitual and less demanding in terms of self control. But at the starting point you need to push for every small step.

Brainfade

Brainfade – technically ego depletion – is when you have used up enough resources to affect your mental performance. This will typically make you revert to instinctive, habitual and desire driven behavior. This might not be a problem, but if you have habits that fuel addiction it will be. Brainfade is a condition where you are least likely to chose to work on long term goals and most likely to go for some kind self soothing. This is called emotion focused coping. There are many kinds of emotion focused coping, and not all of the are bad. But taking a drugs or engaging in other kinds of addictive behavior can be.

The problem with brainfade is not that you cant perform at your best level. It is that you revert to behaviors that are not under your rational control. Depending on what these are, brainfade will tend to get your in trouble. Specifically, brainfade will tend to fuel the four stroke cycle of addiction by priming you for short term solutions and the stress that follows.

Misconceptions in Treatment

What is addiction? Who gets addicted and why? What makes an addicted person different? What makes a person less addicted?How are we going to solve the problem at a personal level? And how are we going to solve the problem on a national level?
These are all relevant questions to raise, and yet there is no definitive answers and no solutions seems effective.
It is not a new problem. It is not a small problem. And it is not a problem that seems to go away if we just ignore it. And yet we don’t really seem to have any plan of action, no solution in sight and no real understanding of the core of the problem. This would all suggest that our understanding of addiction is not very good. So this is the starting point for this series: An attempt to have a second look at addiction. First the traditional ways of understanding addiction and later some alternative views based on the latest science.

Food Addiction and Self Control

Eating disorders and food addiction will limit self control and executive function because those functions are heavily dependent on a stable energy supply ultimatly derived from food sources. When the brains energy supply is suboptimal, behavior relies on instinctive or habitual behavior that can be run on automatic while energy is sparse.

The Disease Model of Addiction

The disease model of addiction have failed in a number of ways. But it still informs the majority of individuals as well as institutions tasked with helping people overcome addiction. And while it is mistaken on the causes of addiction it does point the way towards a real understanding of addiction.

Our main tasks at Resource Addiction is to present an alternative view on the causes of addiction and ultimately on the methods of treatment, recovery and sustained abstinence.

 

 

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