Neuroplasticity and Addiction – How does it work?

help for addiction

How neuroplasticity and addiction work together is not a mystery. Nor is it new.  This quote from Psychology Today sums it up nicely.

In Donald Hebb’s (1940s) memorable words:  “What fires together, wires together”
[ that is the original quote and it means that]
neurons that activate each other become more strongly connected — through adjustments (increased efficiency) in their synapses. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s natural starting point for all learning processes — processes that might include not only addiction but also recovery.

The foundational ideas for neuroplasticity have been around for decades and all new research seems to prove it is real. This isn’t snake oil, this will actually help.

neuronAs the video does most of the work explaining how neuroplasticity and addiction work together. I thought I should throw in some research to further support that this is not some pie-in-the-sky new theory for the season.

Like the notion that playing classical music to babies in the womb will make them musical geniuses.  Remember that? Research was quickly able to disprove that theory but the disease theory model is firmly entrenched.

This National Institute of Health study agrees. I thought throwing in some big government research might be impressive.  Anyway, it is a little boring and only adds to the conversation by adding a little more proof.

After the tall tales the 35+ billion dollar a year addiction recovery industry has told us, we could all use a little evidence to help us believe. It is not easy to overcome all that propaganda from the government, not to mention the marketing from bad actors who just want your money.  Lets not forget about Hollywood and journalists looking to sensationalize to cash in.

Here is a little from their report:

Addiction is a disease of neuroplasticity

Two general forms of neuroplasticity can be demonstrated. The first, and most common, is tolerance accompanied by physical dependence. Tolerance is manifested by reduced effects from a given dose that is given repeatedly, and “physical” dependence (not addiction) is manifested by withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped abruptly. This form of plasticity occurs in all individuals when certain drugs are taken repeatedly.

The second form of neuroplasticity is manifested by compulsive drug-seeking behavior. The reward system, which developed early in evolution, reinforces adaptive behavior such as that leading to the acquisition of water, food, and sex. Drugs that directly activate the reward system may produce learning that diverts the individual to those behaviors that repeat the drug-induced feelings of reward.

Since I not so subtly called many in the addiction recovery industry shysters. I think I should support it with this statement from a former NIAAA director:

What we simply need is a nice bulldozer, so that we could level the entire industry and start from scratch,” says Dr. Mark Willenbring, former director of treatment and recovery research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
AlterNet

I am about to offer some more stunning statistics. But first I will ask if you have heard anything like the following as a reminder of what that industry wants us to believe.

Once an addict, always an addict.
An addict cannot quit on his own.
Addiction is a lifetime disease.

Here are the real statistics from the drugfoundation.org.nz .  They talk about Americans, so I assume the whole study came from the American Society of Addiction Medicine. (the quote is properly cited but I am not sure if it is all ASAM research)

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry”. However, that’s not what the epidemiology of the disorder suggests. By age 35, half of all people who qualified for active alcoholism or addiction diagnoses during their teens and 20s no longer do, according to a study of over 42,000 Americans in a sample designed to represent the adult population.

The average cocaine addiction lasts four years, the average marijuana addiction lasts six years, and the average alcohol addiction is resolved within 15 years. Heroin addictions tend to last as long as alcoholism, but prescription opioid problems, on average, last five years. In these large samples, which are drawn from the general population, only a quarter of people who recover have ever sought assistance in doing so (including via 12-step programmes). This actually makes addictions the psychiatric disorder with the highest odds of recovery.

neuroplasticity and addiction

I had heard the above from a seminar and did not believe it, so I looked it up and their numbers matched. Here they are again in an easier format:

Substance                                           Years

Coke                                                     4
Marijuana                                             6
Alcohol Dependence                           15
Heroin                                                  15
Prescription Opioid                              5

Look at those numbers, this is not what we have been told. We’ve been lied to. The studies have been slanted, the reports doctored and fed to the government, the press/reporters, and finally to us.

Fifteen years is the worst it gets for the average alcohol or heroin addict. I drank for a solid 25 years, hopefully that means someone else escaped at only 10. Anyway, even at 25 years it still is not a lifetime.

I did know that the following is true. (same source: drugfoundation.org.nz)

if you start drinking or taking drugs with peers before age 18, you have a 25% chance of becoming addicted, but if your use starts later, the odds drop to 4 percent. Very few people without a prior history of addiction get hooked later in life, even if they are exposed to drugs like opioid painkillers.

underage drinking SAMSHAI have never met a drunk yet that didn’t start drinking long before the legal age. (and I know a lot of drunks)

I digress even further here, but I have also never met a drunk who did not experience some sort of trauma, like abuse or neglect as a child, rape, combat, death of a loved one, etc. The list of things that can traumatize a person, especially if done at a certain stage in their development, is quite large. If something should have happened but did not, or if something should not have happened but did, you can get trauma under certain circumstances.

What I have never met, is a drunk who thought it was their cells screaming out for ETOH (ethyl alcohol – the kind we drink for fun).

Anyway.

I hope you enjoyed the video. I also hope you don’t need help, but if you do, get the program. If you think it is junk and you got ripped off, return it. ClickBank handles all the returns and they are not going to harm their reputation to help me peddle garbage to you. So, if you need help, or if you love somebody who needs help, get the program and get started.

People do get better, and you can too. Neuroplasticity leads us to addiction, but it also leads us to recovery. In fact, once you know how to harness neuroplasticity, you can teach yourself some very healthy habits.