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Member since: Sun Jan 8, 2006, 09:55 AM
Number of posts: 711

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Addiction and Recovery Science

I have a strong interest in addiction and recovery and have been posting in the "Addiction & Recovery" group.
My rather theory driven interest seems to be at ods with the group purpose.
Would it be possible to start a Addiction and Recovery Science group to accommodate a more science oriented variety of discussions on the topic of addiction and recovery?

Dependency Addiction and Causes

....when you get into addiction territory the opinions starts to differ with regards to what the causes of addiction are. Or more precisely: What is the cause of the deficit of self control in relation to the task. Why would an addict not be able to break the dependence on drugs? There are three basic flavors of theory for this:
1. Drugs are just so physiologically addictive that is takes more self control that most people can muster.

2. Drugs do damage to the brain that will weaken the level of self control sufficiently that there is no way back out of addiction. Or at least not an easy one.

3. A lack of self control from a variety of causes (including drug related ones) will tend to make any drug dependence an addiction. While this does not exclude physiological damages from addictive drugs playing, these are just seen as part of a broader picture and perhaps not very important ones.

Needs more work....

Thx! Its not ever going to get easy. But it is not impossible either. Well at least not if you dont

stumble around in complete darkness as seems to be what happens a lot.

Having moved the site yesterday (server problems..) i'm now back to writing and rewriting again.

I am going to have a go at the 4 stroke structure from a slightly more technical angle:

DD -> EFC -> RE -> ST -> DD....

DD = Delay Discounting or the tendency towards short term thinking/acting
EFC= Emotion Focused Coping or the tendency towards mending mood instead of mending practical situation
RE = Reduced Environment, or the tendency to make your life situation worse by your actions, and
ST = Stress, that shift your brain into short term thinking and DD.

The more technical version of the four phases will allow me to draw upon more established sources and give the model a better anchoring in biological and psychological thinking.

I also want to have another go at the link between shame and addiction: After just a quick glance is not at all clear why these should be connected, but when you start to consider that pretending and other "appearance management" is a big drain on regulation resources it becomes a bit less strange.

I was also reminded about the work on "Stigma" by Erwin Goffman way back in the 70'ties. My feeling is that the present models of addiction have big glaring hole just where the impact of your personal environment should be. KabathZinn and his stress model does a bit to help fill that gap, but he is a bit short on details. Perhaps I'm missing something, but at least I'm on the hunt for a better alternative.

In the medical model of addiction you don't need to account for any impact of the personal environment, because on that model addictive drugs are what makes you addicted.

So a central thing to argue is the impact of environment vs. the impact of drugs on self regulation capacity. As most people don't know much about brain physiology or executive function the medical model has won favor rather unopposed. That could change though.

So much to do.....

Whacamole Advice Waste

When you get some really good advice you might want to follow it. If it really is good advice, then you should follow it. Right?
So why dont we improve upon getting good advice? Are we just dead set against getting smarter? Are we deliberately trying to sabotage ourselves? Are we just stubborn? Viewed from an ordinary perspective this might be a bit puzzling. But viewed from any advisers perspective, this is really a problem. And hard to explain.

Why would people who need to change their behavior be more resistant to advice than people who dont really have such a need? That is: Why would an addict be especially prone to rejection of advice? Is this an effect of addiction or a cause of it?


Still needs some work, but almost there...

Self control in the tank

The traditional view on self control is that some people are just better and do exert more self control because this is a “trait” or some kind of natural ability. This model of self control has also been part of the support for the slightly more extreme view that some people exert more self control because they are better human – that is better in some moral capacity.
In this view self control springs eternally from a well of moral righteousness or rectitude, ie. from the assumed fact that your actions are justified and that you are leading a life that is pleasing to God. And in this model it makes sense to spend time on bible studies in order to gain more control over your urges and behaviors. This is clearly getting quite far away from any scientific thinking – past or present – but has nevertheless informed attempts to deal with alcoholism and other addictions...

More at:

The importance of food addiction is that it is a model of general addiction that is easy to

research and understand and can provide a general model of how addiction to drugs, medications, gambling or shopping works. We are all addicted to oxygen, food and sex because these items sustain us as individuals and sustain the human race. Same is true for other species and any species in our evolutionary past. Addiction to drugs like heroin depend on activation of compulsive behavior patterns that in their original form are promoting survival and procreation.

This is the reason why rational thinking is not a strong antidote to addictive behavior: Instinctive behaviors are promoted by brain structures that are not under the control of our rational mind. If you want a person to act compulsively you need to hijack some instinctive behavior pattern and inject the action as an instance of that biological compulsion.

What is the four stroke model of addiction?

What is the four stroke model of addiction?

The Four Stroke Model of Addiction describes addiction as a “vicious circle”. Specifically addiction is described as based on four phases that in a cyclic pattern enhance the influence of each other. These are:
Drug taking or other short term coping strategies
Changes to the personal environment including change that are consequences of short term coping strategies
Stress exposure, including stress exposure due to changes in personal environment
Stress reactions and changes to the state of your brain that favors short term strategies

This model is an adaptation of the model of stress reactivity proposed by Jon Kabat-Zinn


First a bit of "tetris": Turning bits of science to make them fit and build from the ground up

The desire for some researchers (Davis et al., 2011) seems to be to make food addiction an instance of a general class of addictions, so that food addiction shares chemical mechanisms with ´conventional addictive drugs´. In this view the task is to uncover the causal path from overeating to changes in brain chemistry or brain physiology that will support an ongoing addiction.

The problem with this strategy is that it presupposes:

a) That conventional drug addiction is in fact supported by changes to the brain that are caused by the addictive drugs themselves.
That this is not the case needs to be argued separately.

b) That we for food addiction can map out a similar causal path

c) That there are no other valid explanations for food addiction

The alternative strategy that we are going to explore is based on the view that food addiction is not primarily supported by changes that are specific to the intake of food - ei. not the effect of changes that can be traced to chemical or physiological effects of the food items ingested.

Instead of assuming that, we are going to have a look at the energy circuits (mainly glucose metabolism) that eating feeds (in the most literal sense) and the consequences that different states of energy supply or depletion has on brain function in general and on self control in particular.

In simple terms the strategy is to explore food addiction for a general mechanism that can be applied in explaining the wider scope of addictions, including those that are now seen as caused by effects of the addictive substance. Instead of treating food addiction as a subspecies of drug addiction we are going to treat drug addiction as a subspecies of resource addiction, or more loosely a kind of food addiction.

Davis, C.ab , Curtis, C.a, Levitan, R.D.b, Carter, J.C.c, Kaplan, A.S.b, Kennedy, J.L (2011) Evidence that 'food addiction' is a valid phenotype of obesity, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21907742

"Loving an addict is really hard"

This is a significant part of the conundrum of addiction, but it might not work to the effect that Johann Hari imagines.

My journal about addiction

I am starting to write again. Hopefully more and with a more stable production, than so far. I feel I have something of value and I want to have no regrets about not making the needed effort. And looking at the bullpukky that is published about addiction, I feel that a restoration of our understand of addiction is gravely needed.

I want it to be a combined journal about my work ethics and the progress in explaining how addiction works. Explaining it to myself and anyone who would find value in that kind of understanding.

I wont write much about my own period of drug addiction because it is far in the past and because I tend not to think about it.

My main focus is self control, because that is how my brain is wired. But first step needs to be a detailed exploration of the causes, connections and process that keeps addiction running, the causal chain of addiction, so to speak.

I want to start by taking a look at food addiction and then make a detailed comparison with addiction to "hard drugs", ei. heroin, cocaine and other drugs that directly affect the dopamine systems in the limbic brain.

I hope this is not against any rules of this forum, but if it is, please do as you see fit.

So checking the box for "Add this thread to My Journal" for the very first time...
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