You Asked, We Answered
I went to a drug rehab and they said that drugs hijack the pleasure center of my brain and that is why I’m an addict. Some of this makes sense, but it scares me. Is this true?
In a word, NO.
First of all, what motivates you to use drugs is your mind, which is run by your choices; your free will, your desires – likes and dislikes. None of which has anything to do with your brain. The brain does indeed change, but your brain is not your mind. So while our brains change all the time (think learning to drive, learning to talk, or juggle, or ride a bike, etc.), your mind is still free to think and to choose differently. Also, the brain does not permanently change as the treatment community would like you to believe. The Freedom Model for Addictions plucks apart the brain disease theory in detail throughout chapters 3, chapter 10, and in the appendices as well. It begins by saying,
“… recovery ideology says that repeated usage of substances causes neural changes that force addicts to crave and use substances perpetually, that their brains are hijacked by substances (as the popular saying goes). Again, extensive research disproves this claim. The overwhelming majority of addicts quit or reduce their substance use despite such neural adaptation (called “brain changes”). Moreover, the probability of addicts quitting or reducing their usage remains constant whether they have been “dependent” on substances for less than one year or more than 40 years. This fact flies in the face of the theory that more exposure to substances leads to more brain hijacking, which in turn leads to more involuntary craving and substance use. Brain changes be damned. People still quit and moderate despite this physical state. Here’s how one esteemed researcher put it after reviewing this line of research:
There are no published studies that establish a causal link between drug-induced neural adaptations and compulsive drug use or even a correlation between drug-induced neural changes and an increase in preference for an addictive drug. (Heyman, 2013)
The available evidence completely refutes the brain disease model of addiction and the scientific evidence for this is extensively discussed in The Freedom Model for Addictions.
The brain changes that are said to cause addiction are a completely normal phenomenon. They occur with the learning of any repetitively practiced skill or habit, yet they don’t compel people to use their skill or continue their habit. Do you think piano players, taxi drivers, or jugglers are compelled to do these activities once they become skilled at them? Of course they aren’t, and yet all these activities lead to significant brain changes, just like repetitious substance use does. Such brain changes are the result of habit, not the cause of habit. They serve only to facilitate efficient continuation of the habit, but they do not rob the individual of free will. You might think of this in the same way that lifting weights alters your muscle tissue, and yet this physical change doesn’t cause you to punch people.”
*In cases of physical withdrawal, medical treatment and/or medical detoxification services may be necessary. Consult with a licensed physician..
The Freedom Model and the Freedom Model Retreats, divisions of Baldwin Research Institute, Inc., do not provide any services that require certification by New York State’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. The information in this book is designed to provide information and education on the subject of substance use and human behavior. This book is not meant to be used, nor should it be used, to diagnose or treat any associated condition. The publisher and authors are not responsible for any consequences from any treatment, action, application, or preparation, by any person or to any person reading or following the information in this book. The publisher has put forth its best efforts in preparing and arranging this. The information provided herein is provided “as is” and you read and use this information at your own risk. The publisher and authors disclaim any liabilities for any loss of profit or commercial or personal damages resulting from the use of the information contained in this book.