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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:45 am 
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Partner's Coach (Admin)

Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:07 pm
Posts: 5200
Coach Boundless messaged this to me. It is great and thought I'd share.

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health- ... der-87431/

Be well.

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 10:07 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:02 pm
Posts: 420
Excellent article! I hope this kind of understanding starts to circulate more commonly.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:08 am 
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I take exception to the idea that addiction does not change brain pathways.

I agree. All learning changes brain pathways, but I think (at least my interpretation of) the point is to point out the plasticity of the brain. Where neuroscientists once believed that the brain is "hardwired" and once a thing is learned it is there for life, new research is demonstrating that the brain is continually developing, and changes are possible even in later years. In other words, you can teach an old dog new tricks! This is why I am a passionate advocate for practice and "which wolf do you feed?" because it is the skills that you practice that are going to create new pathways... or reinforce old ones. So, yes, old pathways are not dead --research on memory savings shows that old pathways are faster to reactivate (e.g. if you haven't gotten on a bike in 10 years, you'd not have forgotten how to ride, but you might be unsteady at first and then quickly regain your ability but perhaps not to the same extent). This "savings" (as it is called in memory research) is why it is so important to be intentional and to develop self awareness regarding all of the subtle unwanted behaviours. I believe this is important for any new learning, not just in addiction, i.e. in recovery and in any area where you want to make changes to your internal self. It is much easier to recognize habits and other visible ingrained patterns of behaviour like nail biting, and no so easy to recognize those ones that occur in our heads.

I totally understand your concern, though, as it might occur as if the article diminishes the severity of the problem, with a "simple" solution. To be clear, there is nothing simple about the process. Recovery is unquestionably work. However, the health based model lays out the path that takes the person from "addict" to "person with an addiction" to "person who used to have an addiction and still requires deliberate and effortful self-monitoring" to "person who used to have an addiction who requires self-monitoring but it no longer occurs as effortful (because the healthy wolf has been amply fed over the course of time).

Yes, there are most certainly "individual differences", some of which are biologically based. Some people have more active attentional systems, some have stronger connections with their emotional systems. But the learning model is still appropriate at the basic level of how learning happens. So, some people may have to work a little harder to get a concept, or to be intentional, or may need medication to curb urges in the early stage because the reward centres are so tuned to their "drug" that their failed attempts to resist their urges result in more shame and feelings of self-defeat. These individual differences also need to be explored, but as with most things, most people do not have the resources to "solve" each part of their individual puzzle. The best they can do is follow a process that is laid out for them--and the learning model suggests that this will lead to results. Some people may see results in a few weeks, some in a few months. (And "seeing" these results is also dependent on other factors, like attention, and previous experience...)

Some people have done very well with the disease model. Personally, I believe that the learning model is much more empowering and, in the long run, offers a better chance at complete recovery than the disease model since it delineates a path for a transitioning away from the addiction, toward values and vision based living, rather than telling you that you must always control your urges, or give your life over to God. Both require accepting that one has an addiction, both require surrendering (to what is, or to God) and both require continued monitoring, but the learning model, the continued monitoring is commensurate to the level of health one has achieved and to the amount of intentional practice one has engaged in. The disease model, the monitoring will always be vigilant. It is insecure, because there is no room in self-empowerment since you must give yourself over to God (or some higher power). Ultimately, whichever "school" one ascribes to must sit right with one's own worldview.

The bottom line (for me) is that in a society that has been dominated by the disease model of addiction, a learning model of addiction (which parallels the health based model) offers hope. Instead of begin told that one must live with this awful disease for the rest of their life--a disease for which there is not cure--and the only way to successfully manage it is to admit you are powerless and give your life over to God, or always be on meds, and attend weekly meetings for the rest of your life, and check in with your accountability partner regularly.... By contrast, the learning/health based model acknowledges the challenges involved, but outlines how you can make changes and the changes you make involve values based choices, centred on learning principles. In reality, either model relies on one's motivation and choice in the matter. The difference is that with learning model, choice is clearly set in the recovering individual's hands, whereas the disease model gives the individual an out or a scapegoat (i.e. "it's a disease", or God, or even the accountability partner).

Finally, I most certainly agree that it is counter-productive to ignore any relevant research. As with anything else, when reading research we must always be mindful of the theoretical background the researchers are working from, who they are working for, what their personal biases are (mine are fairly evident) and how well-reviewed they are (i.e. are they peer reviewed?). Unfortunately, I don't know of any experimental research on addiction recovery that has been conducted using the learning model, explicitly. It seems that most research involves biological bases for addiction, which will always show neurological substrates that are correlated (everything we do will "light up" particular brain areas) but I don't think that means that this research is the only valid research. We still need empirical research to lay the foundation for more "scientific" investigation. Further, most research investigating the effectiveness of therapies (in psychology) have shown that there is about 50% success rate no matter what therapy is used. Huge variability, here, which (I believe) supports a case for motivation and choice. Other research (in motivation) has demonstrated that what is important to individuals is what motivates them. Again--which wolf do you feed? ...and we haven't even gotten into the factors that are outside of the person (family, support, community, etc.). I could keep blathering... clearly a subject I am passionate about. I would love to read some of the research to which you refer. If you would post or pm the info I need to source the material, that would be much appreciated. : )

Be well.

Addendum: We must also be cautious when reading articles or blog posts. Does the author cite sources? Often in "popular" reading, sources are not cited, but that doesn't mean that the information is invalid. It just requires critical thinking (good on Deservesmore for bringing another perspective to the conversation) and some healthy skepticism, and if you are interested, further reading/research. :w:

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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