Who’s Right & Wrong About Addiction Recovery

There seems to be this trend of late. A trend to categorize or put a new stamp on what addiction is or how addiction should be treated.

The recent stamps – A Ted talk; Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong and a recent Vice article; This Neuroscientist Argues That Addiction Is Not a Disease and Rehab Is Bullshit, crystalize this need to stand out.

These link bait headlines certainly grab attention. The Vice article was shared on Social Media over 67,000 times. People were interested.

The reality is, the article is nothing more than a Press Release for Marc Lewis’ book; The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease

To me, the article is a touch irresponsible but it’s neither right or wrong. It’s simply one journalist’s view. A journalist trying to stand out from the pack.

These days, anyone can take a counter a claim and make fan-fare about it. They will get attention and they will sell books, but this is addiction. We are dealing with people’s lives. It’s not about selling books.

With addiction, there is already enough uncertainty around it. When a person is first faced with tacking an addiction, they are confused where to start, and I understand why but the biggest mistake is trying to figure out which approach is right.

I propose we focus less on making ego driven stamps and labelling it, and rather accept what has worked for people before the new addict facing recovery because there are many ways that in fact; work.

It’s not about who is right or wrong but what has worked in the past and what future research and work can we do to improve the recovery process.

I am not saying Marc Lewis or Johan Hari are wrong about addiction, I am saying the definition doesn’t matter.

It’s a disease! It’s not a disease! Who cares!

We find addiction professionals like Dr. Stanton Peele duking it out with addiction Doctor Gabor Mate, best selling author of The Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Mate, whose approach to addiction is rooted in childhood trauma. He claims the first five years of life determine addiction at the neuro-chemical level. He theorizes that abuse and lack of love lead to dopamine deficiencies – a neuro-transmitter necessary for feeling good. These deficiencies lead to an addict seeking other sources of feeling good, mainly through chemical abuse or obsessive compulsive conditions like over shopping.

I’ve read some blogs by Stanton Peele that outright attack Gabor Mate on his beliefs. Really?

I can guarantee you, Dr. Gabor Mate has helped an infinite number of addict’s in recovery and I can guarantee you, so has Dr. Stanton Peele.

So who is right? For me, both, are right.

Truly, everything you think you know about addiction is right. You can build a claim on either side of the fence, and either side has good principles that can help an addict recovery.

There was a recent documentary; Wasted on The Nature of Things by Mike Pond, a psychotherapist and recovering alcoholic that featured that the brain of an alcoholic is different than the brain of a non-alcoholic. Was it a genetically abnormal brain or just a different brain, altered by substance? That, to me, was not conclusive.

It’s easy to look at this study through the chicken and the egg lens. My first instinct was, we would need to study the brain in adolescence prior to the alcoholism forming to determine if the brain is abnormal versus studying a post alcoholic brain, in a 50 year old man. Of course it would be different, since a long-term alcoholic brain has undergone certain neuro-trauma.

My point being, here I am evaluating Mike’s study, and projecting my own assumptions and beliefs onto his findings. It’s after all, my ego that is saying; Hey, wait a minute. I don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean I am right.

Mike Pond, in his clinical practice discusses a non-punitive approach to addiction. He also refers to relapses as recurrences, a much softer approach to addiction than say the AA model of recovery, which has helped millions of suffering substance abusers stay sober but in my experience, that model is very hard on the person and soft on the problem, where as Mike Pond’s narrative approach is more soft on the person, hard on the problem.

Again, we are back to the main question. Who is right and if I’m suffering from addiction, what approach do I follow?

With 15 years of studying recovery under my belt, with many recurrences, (Yes, I prefer that term.) Taking those recurrences and placing them under the spot light of every conceivable healing modality in addiction. What I can say with absolute confidence is; addiction recovery is a preference.

I have studied and undergone treatment through the 12 steps, completed 3 sets of steps in my life, in fact, 16 Steps, yes there are 16 steps, I have experienced the Narrative approach, countless hours of talk therapy, timeline therapy, hypnosis, infrared sauna therapy and Orthomolecular medicine. I have seen Naturopathic Doctors, Addiction Doctors, Psychotherapists, Shamans, Medicine Men and Sound Healers. I have tried Ayahuasca – a glorious and deeply profound experience that brought new meaning to my outlook on life.

Did any of these approaches make me any more sober versus the next? Conclusively, no! For me, each method, each definition, each program, each approach has brought me closer and closer to new meaning of my self and accessed higher levels of conciousness. It has been an eye opening journey that has led me to know that Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Right. All of these approaches work in greater and lesser degress but it’s ultimately what YOU make of it.

We must stop fighting over who is right and who is wrong and embrace all of the wonderful lessons we can take from all of these incredible teachers, gurus and mentors our world has to offer.

Stop trying to be right. Let’s just all ask ourselves; what has worked from each of these approaches, so that we may apply it to our fellow man or women struggling with addiction. What tools can we offer the addict struggling next to you?

For me; I don’t give a shit if it’s a disease or not and I’ve come to learn that having more tools in the shed to help overcome self destructive abuse is better than being right.

Attention: Marc Lewis, Johan Hari, Stanton Pelle, Gabor Mate, and Mike Pond. Everything You Think You Know About Addiction, is Right!

Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Right ©