Celebrate Christ Recovery Forum: "The Synergy of Addiction Science and Scripture."
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" Imagine an elephant eating a whole sheet cake in one gulp. (It was a birthday present from well-meaning zoo-keepers, as explained in my book Habits of a Happy Brain.) The dopamine surge triggered by that huge reward wires the elephant to look for sheet cakes in the future. You might say the elephant got "addicted" to sheet cakes."

"This is how our brain is meant to work. Rewards trigger happy chemicals that pave a pathway to help you find more rewards. If you expose yourself to unnaturally HUGE rewards, you build a HUGE pathway. This makes it easy to focus on that super reward and hard to get excited about ordinary rewards. An elephant gets more calories in one moment of sheet cake than it does from a week's work of chewing its usual diet of tree branches. So exposing it to cake wires it to seek cake instead of seeking realistic paths to rewards. "

Humans have the same problem is we expose ourselves to unnaturally huge rewards (whether a tub of ice cream, a porn video, or a drug that mimics natural happy chemicals.) A huge pathway is built by a huge reward. That turns on your dopamine when you think about getting more of that unnatural reward. You get less dopamine when you think about natural healthy ways to meet your needs. It's hard to get excited about anything except that super-surge of your past. 

Fortunately, you can build new pathways. You can rewire yourself to get excited about steps toward your long-term well-being. But it takes a lot of repetition once you're past the myelin peak of puberty. A simple 3-step guide to re-building your reward circuits is below, or read my post Your Power Over Addictionon Psychology Today.  

You have surely heard many theories of addiction. You have probably heard that addicts are not responsible for their actions. This kind of help doesn't help. It may be well-intentioned. It may feel good in the short-run to believe you're not responsible. But in the long run, you are the only person with power over your brain. You want help to expand that power, not to give up on it. Read more about unhelpful approaches here.

Your Power Over Addiction

You can wire in a new comfort habit to replace an old one

A comfort habit is anything you do to feel good when you were feeling bad. A cookie, a drink, a pill, a cigarette, a credit card, an electronic device, or a romantic interlude are familiar comfort habits. They turn on so automatically that you may not even notice the bad feeling that got the ball rolling. And you may not even feel good in the end because these behaviors have consequences. Yet you repeat your comfort habit over and over because your brain expects it to feel good.

An expectation is a real physical pathway in your brain. It's built from past experience, which is why we all have our own unique expectations. Our brain is designed to learn from what feels good. That's how our ancestors found their way back to a delicious fruit tree, and it's how you brain learned to expect relief from distress in a particular way. Once your brain builds the pathway, you keep expecting to feel good, even if you end up with harm.

The solution is to build a new pathway. This may seem impossible because you don’t know how to build a pathway and you can’t imagine a new habit that would feel as good as the old one. But when you know how your brain works, you can train it to expect good feelings in the long run without artificial stimulation in the short run. Here’s a simple plan to do that.

Three Steps to a New Comfort Habit

Repetition is what it takes to build new neural pathways. If you repeat a new behavior for 45 days without fail, your brain will learn to expect a good feeling in a new way. Just follow these simple steps:

1. Design a new choice you can live with
Choose a new thought or behavior you can repeat when you feel distress. It may seem hard to find something that feels good without creating another bad habit. Fortunately, it doesn't take a big jolt of pleasure. Distraction is enough to relieve distress because it gives the electricity in your brain a new place for to flow. For example, you can spend five minutes reading a novel or listening to a comedy recording when you feel a need for comfort. Bad feelings are brain chemicals that make you feel like you are about to die. They helped our ancestors survive urgent threats, but they can also make you feel like you must do anything that makes them stop. If you're ready with a healthy distraction, you teach your brain that bad feelings do not actually kill you. You build the expectation that bad feelings pass and good feelings return.

2. Seize the moment to activate your new choice
Making a new choice is hard if you were never aware of making the old choice. People sometimes find themselves in front of a half-empty bottle of wine or box of cookies without remembering the moment they chose it. The electricity in your brain flows like water in a storm, finding the paths of least resistance. It flows into old habits effortlessly because the pathways are so big. It's not easy to stop that flow and divert your electricity into a skinny little channel. Here’s a simple way to build that skill. A week before you start your new comfort habit, commit to spinning around in a circle before you indulge in your old habit. It sounds dumb, but you will turn your whole body around because you want that drink, that cookie, that pill, cigarette, screen time, spending spree, or romantic encounter. The silliness and physicality of this act etches the moment of choice in your brain. You learn to notice and slow down that choice moment so you have more time to activate an alternative. If you can’t spin in a circle, choose another awkward gesture: walk backward for five steps, recite the Gettysburg Address, count backwards in Japanese. Any memorable gesture carves the moment into your brain- the more awkward, the better.

3. Make your energy available for this project
It takes a lot of energy to re-direct an impulse, which leaves you less energy for other things. This is why we often “go with the flow.” Your new choice will start to flow in 45 days because neurons will connect, but before that, you have to make your energy available. Do not buy furniture that needs assembly or crowd your calendar with other frustrations during this time. You may say “I don’t have time to read novels or listen to comedy,” but you are spending time dealing with the consequences of your present comfort habit. If you invest your energy in a new choice today, you will enjoy high returns in a few weeks. Your electricity will have a new place to flow!

You may find it hard to believe that something will feel good in 45 days if it doesn't feel good today. You may think it's foolish to invest effort in a new circuit when your old circuits built effortlessly. It helps to know how your old habit got to be such a big circuit:

  • You repeated it a lot.
  • You built it in youth when the brain is full of myelin, which turns neural pathways into superhighways.
  • Your stimulus was unnatural. For example, our brain evolved to feel about finding a fruit tree because that promotes survival. If you feed your brain with something equivalent to a thousand fruit trees, you build an unnaturally huge circuit that is a poor guide to real life experience. Our ancestors were hungry a lot. If they found a nut tree, they were thrilled because nuts have nutrients that are hard to get elsewhere. But their pleasure was diluted by the effort it takes to gather and shell those nuts. If you sit on the couch with a whole bag of shelled nuts, you are feeding your brain an unnaturally huge reward, which builds unnaturally huge expectation circuits.

You have the power to re-direct your electricity instead of letting it flow effortlessly into old pathways. This power is your most valuable possession.

A fast and fun video on your power to build a new comfort habit is:
You Have Power Over Your Happy Brain Chemicals.

All best wishes, 
Loretta Breuning


Inner Mammal Institute

 Read more: https://innermammalinstitute.org/



Neurons the fire together, wire together.

Recognize: Why do you drink? What good do you get from your chemical abuse? What are the underlying emotional themes that lead to the experience of helplessness and, in turn, its addictive solution?  Benefits are always there! Your brain is NOT hijacked! We choose compulsive behavior because it feels good to be in control. All compulsive behavior is all about regaining control of helpless, trapped, circumstances with displaced behaviors! (Will my needs and goals be met if I keep doing what I am doing for the next 10 minutes? 10 months? 10 years?" Recognize and understand the long-term impact of your everyday actions to decide if you need to change).

Reframe: What are the problems associated with it? What benefits would there be from stopping? What defenses do I employ or to keep myself from seeing the key moment? (Change always comes down to price vs. motive. If the price of change is higher than the underlying motive, then you won’t change. Conversely, if the motive to change is greater than the price, then nothing will stop you, you will change! To increase your motivation, consider the effect your success is having on your life. Everything in your life either is positively impacted by your success or negatively impacted by a lack thereof. That’s motivation!


Replace: Replace the benefits from addiction.  Shift the benefits or re-channel them! What more direct alternative actions could I  have taken in place of the addictive act? (substitute healthy feelings and thinking).

When you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we gain new benefits, values, motivation and purpose.  Replace your old behavior with Christ Driven Behavior. Always ask: Will my behavior honor God? This is the new direct healthy behavior!


"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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