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My Secular / Spiritual Concepts and Addiction

Old 03-23-2013, 07:34 AM
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My Secular / Spiritual Concepts and Addiction

I watched a video again, ‘Pleasure Unwoven’, which is the best presentation I have seen showing the overall processes and functions that become the deep-seated reality of addiction. Along the same model as AVRT, these originate in the deep-rooted part of the brain that operates on survival instinct pleasure-pain motivations, well below the rational thought processes. However, much more advanced than the simplistic model of AVRT, which only acknowledges a Beast Brain / Rational Mind scenario, the processes and functions affected by ongoing addiction are much more complex. I am not bashing the AVRT model, because it has given me a very valid, simple concept to use for committed abstinence.

I then related this elaborate overall addiction-corrupted function of the brain to an old emotionally charged memory. I can try to remember events from my teen years long ago, and not have much come to mind. However, if I get in a particular situation, say a dispute with an authority, one or more memories can come flooding in, fully charged with the emotional impact, and my automatic response will be to act out that memory, applied to the current situation. Cry, manipulate, attack, etc…..because that is the way my instinct-survival brain is wired, to immediately operate before taking time for rational analysis…because it could be a survival situation…my Beast Brain is wired that way. This directly relates to my addiction, no matter how long I have been abstinent, because just like my memory function, the rational ‘I’ does not control that initial brain function.

This is where I prefer the Secular approach to ‘Freedom from Addiction’, because ‘I’ have to take responsibility for the processes in my brain, especially when my actions and behavior caused and reinforced the addiction-corrupted brain processes to be there. I cannot realistically ask ‘God’ to remove my ‘Addiction’ any more than I can ask ‘God’ to remove my memories so they don’t trigger automatic survival functions.

However, there is a Mind / Brain function that for me seems mis-construed to various extremes by the various camps of ‘Addiction Recovery’. This Mind / Brain function deals with our ‘highest ideals’, whatever they may be. Some of us believe in a ‘God’, others in the concept they believe ‘Science’ has determined, others don’t think about it much, but EVERYONE still forms their own ideas and beliefs about what are their ‘highest ideals’. This IS each person’s concept of ‘Spirituality’ whether ‘God’ based or other.

The concept that works best for me gives me a proper perspective of the ‘Spirituality’ component. The initial impulse to use originates below the rational thought process. The rational conscious ‘I’ must then take responsibility for my actions, and negate the impulse to use, because ‘I’ have made a determination that ‘I’ am ultimately in control of my actions. One problem however, is the expanded reality of the ‘Addiction-corrupted Brain’ shows there are also corrupted components and pathways in the part of my brain that is responsible for ‘MY’ rational thoughts. This is left out of the simplistic AVRT model. The benefit of acknowledging, and engaging the ‘Spirituality’ component, is that ‘I’ DO have this additional resource in a different part of my brain that can help over-ride any addiction-corrupted rational thought processes and help ‘ME’ make the decision I have committed to (Sobriety, Abstinence, Big Plan, etc).

Final notes: The video ‘Pleasure Unwoven’ is based on the premise of ‘proving’ the ‘disease model’. The term is irrelevant because the information and affected brain functions are real, regardless of the interpretation of which term to use. Also, the AVRT model does refer to the use of ‘higher ideals’ in making a Big Plan, but the authors personal views and quirks over-shadow much of his presentation, although the information presented in AVRT is very valid and functional.
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:58 AM
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Here's the link to that, didn't watch it yet so no comments. : Pleasure Unwoven Full Movie Documentary by Kevin McCauley - YouTube
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:13 AM
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Back to Square One,
Thank You SOOO Much for your link...This really helped me understand what is REALLY going on in my Mind and my Physical Brain. I will re-watch it numerous times and I highly recommend it to everyone

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Old 03-23-2013, 08:39 AM
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Awesome thread!

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Old 03-23-2013, 09:19 AM
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Beyond awesome video! It really breaks down what goes on in the brain in addictions. When I first hit treatment in 1991 I was told it was a spiritual malady that only a spiritual solution could fix. This never made any sense to me because I was never an unspiritual person. I was brought up in the Catholic faith and kept most of the 10 commandments. It also seemed odd that the clergy had a much higher rate of alcoholism than the general public. How then could it be a spiritual malady?

Once I discovered the biology, psychology and brain chemistry of addiction it became quite clear what was really going on. The only way to cure the thing was to completely remove the addictive substance and once that is done the brain will heal on its own if you stand on a street corner whistling dixie or go to the most expensive rehab on the planet. That's not to say the various recovery methods aren't useful in learning to live a sober life, they are but it still is very important to have a clear understanding of what is going on in the brain.
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:11 PM
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Thank you for your fantastic post RDBplus3. For me it was not only informative, thought provoking, and experience related, it was also humble, and considerate.

I also want to thank you for mentioning the video and BTSO for posting the link. I gained a lot of insight.

In other news..Dr. Kevin McCauley ain't bad on the eyes although I prefer them a little rougher around the edges.

Seriously, thanks again. Wonderful, wonderful post.
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Old 03-24-2013, 08:56 AM
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One problem however, is the expanded reality of the ‘Addiction-corrupted Brain’ shows there are also corrupted components and pathways in the part of my brain that is responsible for ‘MY’ rational thoughts. This is left out of the simplistic AVRT model.


thank you so much, RDB, for your post. the above sentence helped me much with my attempts to understand the different takes; points to where i've left AVRT alone years ago after just sensing that it couldn't/didn't really address where my whole being, for lack of a better phrase, was at with this thing.

if i didn't have just dial-up, i'd surely love to watch the video.
but dial-up won't let me do those things.
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Old 03-24-2013, 09:13 AM
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Too bad about the dial-up.

I do know a lot of Starbucks, McDonalds, Tim Horton's have free Wi-Fi where you could watch/dl the utube video, yeah? Course this would require a laptop or tablet...

I hope you manage to somehow see the video, fini. It's really got your name all over it, imo.
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:15 AM
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I have not watched the clip yet so no comments on that yet.

I believe that our addictions are rooted in the subconscious, at least a good chunk of them. Just like breathing or the beating of a heart, the brain is taking care of lots of things while we aren't looking...unfortunately it's also taking care of feeding our addictions. I think that recognizing this is also important.

Do you think this quirk in our reptilian brains also explains why we refer to alcohol as our "enemy" or "beast" or some kind of evil voice? Are we targeting the Fight or Flight center of the basic brain with these metaphors? We are constantly being encouraged to personify these concepts and turn them into something basic and real.

I wonder if that's why most recovery methods are overflowing with philosophies and concepts. On a side note I'd like to see more scientific studies conducted, published, examined, publicized, and analyzed to the nth degree.
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:12 AM
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Just watched it. Fantastic stuff.

Make time and watch it.
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Old 03-24-2013, 07:25 PM
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Course this would require a laptop or tablet...


hahaha...none of the above.

(how many of you people are shaking your heads in utter disbelief?)

i like my low-tech life!!!

have sent the link to my oldest daughter and she can store it for her old mama on her high-techie toys. she better!
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Old 03-24-2013, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by bigsombrero View Post
I have not watched the clip yet so no comments on that yet.

I believe that our addictions are rooted in the subconscious, ....
...Do you think this quirk in our reptilian brains also explains why we refer to alcohol as our "enemy" or "beast" or some kind of evil voice?...

....I wonder if that's why most recovery methods are overflowing with philosophies and concepts. On a side note I'd like to see more scientific studies conducted, published, examined, publicized, and analyzed to the nth degree.
a few things jumped out at me here: first, that i've never seen alcohol as an enemy. it's just a substance. if there is an enemy, it would be inside me. but there isn't. there's just me, and my "relationship" with alcohol. and since it's not my enemy, i don't need to fight, guard, attempt to subdue...none of these i;'ve had to do. this time. neither with alcohol, nor alcoholism. we just...coexist, so to speak.

i'm thinking about your "i believe..."sentence. because i think that what we believe about how we work is of utter importance. if i believe my addiction is caused by "beast" inside me, then that is how i'll attempt to deal with it. if i believe it is a matter of disease, i'll deal differently. what we believe about it seems crucial. and often able to supersede any experience even.
and so i'm thinking THAT'S why there's so much talk about "philosophies and concepts".
i might change my mind on this tomorrow .
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:24 PM
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Great video, although I would agree with the OP that it is irrelevent to "proving the disease model". The initial premise that the most important question in addiction is "Is it a disease?" was a little weak. All the information we presently know about how the brain works is definitely important in helping to educate addicted individuals. To me, the most important question in addiction is actually how to end it. Unfortunately, defining it as a disease will not necessarily move the addicted from the jails to the hospitals. If that were true, we would not still be incarcerating the mentally ill. But I definitely think this (it looks more like the "structural model" to me) will open up different and more effective treatment options for the addicted.

McCauley says at the end that once use of drugs and alcohol stops, the brain is restored to homeostasis and the choice center of the frontal lobe can function correctly. Yep. So once that happens, like it has happened for me, then if I drink or use again that would a conscious choice, made outside of the cycle of active addiction, made with a fully functioning top down frontal-cortex-in-charge brain. Once I drink, however, the chain of command flips and my midbrain is in control. If my intoxication subsequently involved the breaking of a law, should I then be incarcerated? or no because I have a disease and should be treated as a patient? How many times should I be able to reverse my brain functioning without consequence?

Disease of choice? uh, yeah...the brain stops working properly when you repeatedly flood it artificially.

I loved this doctor's use of visual analogies. Very nice
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Old 03-25-2013, 02:46 AM
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The social commentary was a bit much, and detracts from the overall product. But...

I thought the video was very useful in explaining addiction in terms of what is happening inside an addicted person's brain. We receive new members here daily whose first post contains something to the effect of "what is wrong with me?" Nearly every relapser post asks that same question - "why do I repeatedly use when I know the consequences will be negative." Indeed, my chosen name here is based on me not understanding why my decision cycle was so effed up. Why was I behaving 'nonsensically'.

I was hoping it would be good for Mrs Non to see it. Unfortunately, that was not the case. When it was over she told me it made her feel hopeless - that McCauley had just explained how I would never be fully mended and always at risk of relapse. She even accused me of having her watch it to set the stage with an excuse for future bad behavior. I was totally deflated - but it may be why a wonderful documentary has not been more broadly distributed; non-addicts don't want to deal with it.
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:23 AM
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McCauley seems to have a lot of stuff out there : Dr. Kevin McCauley - Bing


Dr. Kevin Mccauley Meth and Other Drug and Alcohol Addiction - YouTube
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:58 AM
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Here's a 10 part lecture : Going to the Edge of Current Neuroscience of Addiction (1 of 10) - YouTube
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