‘The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma’ by Bessel van der Kolk MD

UnknownI have been saddened over the years by how little attention the addiction treatment field pays to the role of trauma in the development and maintenance of addiction. Tremendous efforts are made to argue that addiction is a disease or the person’s fault, but where are the arguments about the role of trauma (Gabor Mate being a notable exception)?

It is quite possible that the majority of people who develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol suffer from the impact of trauma. They use drugs (illicit and prescription) and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Many of these people will have been traumatised as children, and many will have been retraumatised through their experiences in the treatment system. 

I am just finishing an extraordinary book which is essential reading for anyone interested in trauma. I amazed by the advances that have been made in our understanding of trauma – in terms of its effects on our brain, mind and body – and how we can help people heal from its impact.

Bessel van der Kolk has written a classic. And the work that he and his colleagues – and a whole network of centers around the US – are doing is remarkable. As a scientist, it really excites me. As a person who cares, it really gives me hope.

Read More ➔

‘Dying of a Heroin Overdose Does Not Make You a Scumbag’ by A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D.

Unknown-6Great article in the Huffington Post by one of the leading addiction treatment researchers involving the loss of one of my favourite actors.

‘In the wake of the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I am shocked by the vast range of opinions and emotions that have been voiced in the public discourse. Media outlets of all shapes and forms are weighing in on his death – and specifically, the foolish, self-destructive choices he made associated with his addiction.

The explosion of speculation and moralizing surrounding this death brings to light how conflicted our feelings, as a society, are about this disease. And the science is clear on this point.

Read More ➔

The Roots of Addiction – Dr. Gabor Maté

‘It is critical to understand that although addiction is a problem it is also an attempt to solve a graver problem, that is, unbearable psychic pain. To understand addiction, we need to understand human pain and that takes us to focus on childhood experiences.

One of the outcomes of childhood distress is addiction and the more adversity an individual experiences in his or her childhood the higher their risk of resorting to addictive behaviour to sooth their pain, even temporarily. In other words addiction (alcohol, drugs, shopping, Internet, etc.) is an attempt to seek something from the outside that the individual is not able to generate from within.

What makes childhood experience significant is that the circuitry that modulates the brain’s reward chemicals is underdeveloped in traumatized children thus making them more susceptible to addictive behaviours and conduct disorders.

Read More ➔

The Addicted Brain: Interview with Marc Lewis

4033340-4x3-340x255Here’s a fascinating interview with Marc Lewis as part of the ABC Radio Big Ideas series here in Australia. Well worth putting your feet up and listening – or have it running in the background.

‘Marc Lewis took every drug imaginable over a 15 year period. He knows drugs can make you feel good, and he experienced the desperate lows of addiction. He’s been drug free for 30 years and is now a neuroscientist.

So what do the drugs he took actually do to your brain?  Why do they make you feel the way they do? And – crucially – how is the brain responsible for addiction? He speaks to Paul Barclay.’

Read More ➔

‘Detox and early abstinent recovery: make it easier’ by Peapod

P4091276Peapod was one of the most prolific and respected bloggers on Wired In To Recovery before going into ‘retirement’.

(S)he wrote a series of must-read blogs containing important hints to facilitate recovery which were very popular. Peapod’s empathy and understanding, as well as experience in the field, shone through in these blogs.

I’ve arranged these blogs into what I call Peapod’s Guide to Recovery. This is the first of seven articles.

Read More ➔