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Mapping AA: The Neuroscience of Addiction

Research is dispelling the notion that addiction is simply a disease of craving

Published on July 7, 2014 by David Sack, M.D. in Where Science Meets the Steps

"I’ve often commented that the distance between the addiction research community and the 12-Step community polarizes treatment and undermines creative collaboration.

When the professional community devalues 12-Step recovery as a lay cult, it heightens the mistrust within the 12-Step community and reinforces the tendency of its members to conflate the idea of a non-professional organization with hostility toward all medical research and advances. This problem explains in part why it has been so difficult to bring clinical advances developed in academic settings to the broader recovery community. This type of research also brings us closer to dispelling the notion that addiction is simply a disease of craving. We have a growing body of evidence that addiction is a disease of learning and memory. We know that chronic substance abuse rewires the neural pathways that affect learning and memory. In this regard, 12-Step recovery can be of great help by correcting the faulty wiring that chronic substance abuse has caused. The better we understand the workings of 12-Step recovery, the more we are able to shift the focus from pathology and intervention to the pathways and processes that lead to lasting recovery. In addition, the more we know about recovery’s powerful effect on learning and memory, the better equipped we are to develop new and better biological targets for treatment."

Read more: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201407/mapping-aa-the-neuroscience-addiction



Arguably, 12 steps is an anachronistic dogmatic ideology with reference to empirical, evidenced based addiction medicine these days. AA is an ideology driven program that considers one in denial if you don't agree with them and you are destined to crash and burn if you don't accept their premise. AA is a, "shame fueled," program in many ways. AA was founded in the 1930s,  in a post lobotomy era where there was no known cure for alcoholism. The Scientific method predicated on the accumulation of observable data that conforms to the requirements of objectivity and reproducibility, is for the most part the antithesis of AA.
I consider AA to be a good band aide, as means to an end. The fact that AA is free and a multi billion dollar rehab business is built around AA is a factor in continued referrals, even though and their 5-10% success rate measured by retention. The problem is band aides don't get to the cause of why people abuse and behave the way they do. AA is not designed to get to the etiology of one's displaced behaviors. Never the less, it is good start, ... in 1935.

AA does have a temporary place in addiction therapy. A better place is Christ Recovery where science and scripture intertwine, where Christ Driven Behavior brings cause and purpose.

Change your thinking and change your life!

"I am a Surrendered Believer in Jesus Christ with Free Will and I CHOSE Surrender (Intelligent Delegation) in my victory over, “Recreational Chemical Abuse, my weekend, "False Idols."
"I chose DIRECT health assertive Christ Driven Behavior (CDB) instead of DISPLACED behavior in order to regain control over feeling helpless, powerless, trapped and lacking control. I changed my, "Thinking," and God changed my life."
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There is no reason why anyone with any hurt, habit, or hang up cannot be helped. The Person-God partnership simply needs to be more powerful than any hurt, habit or hangup.

Behind everything you do is a THOUGHT.

Every BEHAVIOR is motivated by a BELIEF.

Every ACTION is prompted by an ATTITUDE.


With respect to behavior, life is about, emotions, beliefs, thinking and control.

"A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back."Proverbs 29:11 (Displaced Behaviors)

"Do not be conformed by this world but instead by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2 (Direct Behavior)

When you think and empower yourself and surrender control to God, when you Intelligently Delegate Control to God (2 Corinthians 12:9-10),

God returns that control to you with a, “Helper," the Holy Spirit, (John 14:16) a form of Reciprocal Innervation.

You regain control: "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

No longer are you subject to corrupted displaced thinking but instead are transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).

This is where science and scripture intertwine, where Christ Driven Behavior brings, values, control, cause, character and purpose driven behavior, the fruits of the spirit Galatians 5:22-23 .

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.


Proverbs 29:11 "A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back."

Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

2 Corinthians 12-9:“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

John 14:16: "He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—"

Philippians 2:13: "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."

Galatians 5:22-23 "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Ephesians 4:22-23 "...put away the old person you used to be. Have nothing to do with your old sinful life. It was sinful because of being fooled into following bad desires. Let your minds and hearts be made new."

Life is about finding Purpose. When you have a, "Global Purpose," in life, healthy direct assertive thinking and behavior follow.

Change your thinking, change your life!

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