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Understanding Addictions


Do you remember the “connect the dots” pictures from your early schooling?



How about the “Which object does not belong in this series” choices?






And then there was the “How many animals are there in the picture”



Now imagine that you are combining all of those concepts into one process of identifying “what do you see -  what is missing -  what doesn’t fit -  fill in the blank -  and how many things do you see in this process - and get it perfectly correct".

 I forgot to add:

For our example some of the dots are moving all the time, some stay in one place, some are extra and aren’t a part of the picture at all.

Some of the shapes flash different colors and change places .

The background picture has blank spots that hide parts of the animals. And, some of the animals have never been seen before - but they are in the picture and have to be identified correctly.

 Sound hard to do?

Actually that is easier than figuring out what addictions are and how addictions work.


Understanding addictions is not straightforward


Every day we get some kind of information about drug or alcohol addictions. The papers are always quoting some scientific research that says this study helps us understand some aspect of the problem. It might be about neurological pathways, chemical interactions in the neuropeptides, brain physiology, recessive genes related to developing addictions, pharmaceutical breakthroughs in symptom relief or some other equally promising information. And then, two years later there is a new study that contradicts some of the major conclusions of the earlier studies.

Equally confusing are breakthroughs that seem significant but aren’t completely integrated into the treatment processes we currently use. The vastness of the information is spectacular. There are researchers working on cognitive changes, social networking, treatment readiness, motivational interviewing, best practice  approaches, brief interventions, family systems treatment, court monitored treatment, sentencing alternatives, incentive and sanction  accountability, and on and on. A lot of people are working hard to improve treatment and prevention outcomes. But why is it so confusing at times? Let’s take a simplified look at the situation.   

Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a clear or consistent understanding of the problem, or the way to resolve it. Keep an open mind - we are learning more all the time. Don’t jump on the latest fad or trend that makes the solution look easy - because as I have just showed you, it isn’t that easy. Don’t sit back and wait for the final answer - it may not come soon enough to help your situation. Work on the problem using the information and tools that are in common use. Look around for newer tools that are being introduced, but don’t abandon all of the tried and true until the newer tools are showing consistent results. Changes are happening and you can benefit. Don’t be afraid to change.

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If having information like this delivered to your regular e-mail address is likely to be a cause for conflict, then your problem is more complex and your safety is at risk. Consult a professional who can help you with issues of codependence, abuse, and domestic violence risk assessment.

There is a progression of domestic abuse that goes from verbal / emotional to physical over time. When that is combined with impairment  the risks for assault or injury increase. Please get additional help if you are not allowed to read information without the risk of conflict. The larger issue you are dealing with is control and your longer-term safety is involved.

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Copyright © Stephen Buchness 2006

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