addictions

For years people have asked this question.  Many times this is asked as it relates to negative behaviors such as addictions.

Hardly ever does someone ask if a child is a straight “A” student due to nature or nurture, it is just assumed that the child takes after their “good parents” who make sure they do their school work and thus nature and nurture have their assigned roles.

Back in the 1980′s and 1990′s commercials surfaced indicating the same for addiction. A parent waits too long to confront a child who is addicted to drugs and when confronted with the question of where the child learned these behaviors the child tells the parent, rather accusingly that the child learned these habits from watching the parent…leaving the parent to feel badly about his/her poor choices in life.

In February 2012 a new study concluded and the media is just now catching the buzz, with last week being the first time this writer saw coverage. The study notes that the brain changes that were often thought to come from addiction are the cause of the addiction, and even more fascinating that the conclusion that the brain in addicts is hardwired with less impulse control than non-addicts, as well as other subtle differences,  is the conclusion that the non-addicted siblings of addicts are also wired this same way.

Studies are now being done to find out why one sibling becomes addicted and the other sibling having the EXACT same brain wiring doesn’t become an addict.

Nature vs. Nurture may end up being a much more blended concept than people originally thought it was and the view of addiction may change forever as a result of this study.

It has only been within recent years that addiction has been defined as a disease within the medical community, but now this and other studies may lead to a resulting change in views of addiction again, and who knows maybe even some gene based therapy.

Journal Link http://www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6068/601.abstract

Step 2 in the 12 step model is “Came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Many people believe that this means only someone who believes in God can benefit from a 12 step program, but this power greater than self can be even a “Group Of Drunks” (God) in the case of alcohol addiction.

All that this step really means is that now that one realizes one is powerless over the addiction that one recognizes that there is a path to sanity, and it involves a power greater than self.  For people who believe in God they will often say God in representation of this power, for those that don’t sometimes they will say the universe or some other power that they feel appropriate in representing.

This step illustrates how important it is to have a support system. Addiction is a serious medical condition and requires a supportive community to break, this is one of the reasons the 12 step program has become the “gold standard” of recovery programs.

A supportive community is one that helps the individual break free of the addiction in a loving and non-judgmental way.  A community of people that have overcome the addiction can be very helpful in helping someone realize that there is hope for them to do it as well.

Seeking the help of others, even if it is not a 12 step program is a sign of health for an individual. Recognition that one is not all-powerful is a very important step to recovery, but equally important is to seek out the resources that can help bring recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction it is important that the health care providers be made aware of the issue so that they can join the support team and/or offer resources, the next step that can be helpful to people is to recommend joining a 12 step program.

A 12 step program does require an individual to work the steps sincerely and to put forth effort into changing their life and often their personality as well.  Some individuals may need more medical supervision before transitioning to a 12 step program or in conjunction with one.  It is really important to make good and safe decisions when dealing with an addiction.

Millions of people defeat addictions every day and there is every reason to expect that if the individual is sincere in desire and puts forth the effort, they too can be one of the millions that successfully beat their addictions.  It doesn’t happen over night and every day is a battle, at least in the beginning, but the reward can greatly outweigh the result of doing nothing but wallowing in an addiction that is destroying lives.

Almost everyone is familiar with the 12-Step model of recovery programs that began with Alcoholics Anonymous, in fact today nearly everything has a 12-Step program built around it.

In the most general terms the first step is for the person who is addicted to admit that his/her life has become unmanageable and that they became powerless over their addiction, in a group like Al-Anon set up for family members of addicted persons the first step is the same, to admit being powerless over the alcohol or addiction in question.

Common addictions include, but are not limited to:

  • Alcohol, Drugs, and other substances
  • Porn, especially internet porn
  • Internet Activities
  • Food/Overeating
  • Sex
  • Gambling
  • Exercise

Classic Symptoms of Addiction:

  • Impaired control over behavior/substance
  • Preoccupation with behavior/substance
  • Continued involvement with behavior/substance despite adverse consequences
  • Denial
  • Psychological and/or Physical dependency

Psychological dependency occurs when the body incorporates the substance or behavior into normal functioning, this is what creates the cycle of tolerance and withdrawal that makes addictions escalate, physical depedency also results from this as the person has serious physical symptoms of withdrawal in many cases.

The news media is full of stories regarding the negative affects of addictions, if you or a loved one are experiencing addiction issues there are many options available to you for getting help.

Nearly every addiction has some kind of 12 step program one can find and there are also rehab centers available as well. If you have health insurance you should call your insurance company and find out what benefits are available to you for addiction treatments, many companies have some sort of services available for this purpose.