“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.” – Johann Harri
Intro: The Science behind Addiction
Science has found that addictive substances primarily “highjack” the brain’s reward system. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “drugs are chemicals that affect the brain by tapping into its communication system and interfering with the way neurons normally send, receive and process information.”
Interfering with the way in which neurons usually ship, obtain and course of data. In different phrases, medication alter regular brain perform in about each conceivable approach.
Physiologically, the chemical make-up of medication stimulates the brain’s reward system and floods this space with dopamine. Dopamine is a vital brain neurotransmitter – it regulates emotion, motivation, motion, and pleasure. The euphoric feeling that usually accompanies drug use is a reinforcement mechanism that usually persuades the “user” to repeat the habits.
A New Way of Looking at Addiction
There are many things that set off the discharge of dopamine. One that’s not talked about too usually is human connection. For instance, after we’re attracted to or in love with somebody, our brain releases dopamine as well as to oxytocin – one other “feel good” chemical.
Aside from balanced dopamine and different brain chemical ranges, correct growth and upkeep of neural perform within the brain are required for a healthy brain.
Any quantity of elements can alter this delicate chemical steadiness and trigger unintended penalties, akin to habit.
Putting two and two collectively, a rising quantity of medical specialists are researching a brand new approach of , and finally treating, addictive behaviors. More particularly, how emotional disturbances, traumatic occasions, and relationship-oriented elements correlate to habit.
Optimal Brain Development Requires Connection
In a 2000 book titled A General Theory of Love, three psychiatrists from the University of California, San Francisco examined the neuroscience behind human connection.
Co-authors Dr. Thomas Lewis, Dr. Fari Amini and Dr. Richard Lannon, superior the concept that human beings require social connections so as to develop an optimally useful brain. Relatedly, the scientists found that youngsters raised in a nurturing, loving family purchase an emotional resilience that helps them overcome troublesome circumstances later in life; whereas, youngsters not raised on this sort of setting are extra vulnerable to emotional trauma and misery.
Putting the Pieces Together
“Ask not why the addiction, but why the pain.” – Dr. Gabor Mate
Gabor Mate is a world-renown doctor within the neurological, psychiatric, and psychological fields of drugs. Dr. Mate additionally occurs to be a extremely sought-after speaker on the subject of habit.
In his follow, Dr. Mate counsels many people with drug addictions. He has noticed the sturdy correlation that exists between childhood trauma – in consequence of restricted human connection – and the charges of substance abuse. Dr. Mate concludes that the ensuing trauma skilled by a substance abuser has rendered them severely poor when coping with emotional misery.
Trauma, particularly from a extreme lack of human connection, usually renders one helpless in coping with emotional stressors. Tragically, these people all too usually flip to medication and alcohol to cope with them.
Finding a Solution to Addiction
Dr. Mate asks drug abusers to “Ask not why the addiction, but why the pain.”
The physician is adamant that reestablishing human connection is important to fixing any underlying pain in addicts. This is usually a troublesome step for an addict to take, because it requires the person to absolutely confront and really feel pain that has accrued – and, most probably, been prevented – for a quantity of years.
And Dr. Mate states that it might’t be carried out alone, “You have to be with that pain, but you have to have support.” This reestablishing of human bonds is an try to change the neural structure (made doable by neuroplasticity) that permits one to be emotionally resilient.
The “simple” resolution, then, is to reestablish human connections and to search assist from educated people. In different phrases, permitting oneself to obtain and provides love that has all too usually been lacking.