For several decades now, addicts have been viewed as actually having a disease. However, the very same scientists who once seemed to back up that claim have begun refuting it.
Previous to this, addictions were viewed as failures of character and morals, and the general population responded to addicts with shaming, sterness, and calls for more “will power.”
This proved spectacularly ineffective in stopping the addicts from using their drug of choice.
In the 1950’S, the 12-Step recovery method was developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, and this became a godsend for those unable to quit in isolation.
Much of the potency of this movement came from its acknowledgement that willpower on it’s own isn’t enough to beat addiction and that blaming the addict for being weak willed is counterproductive.
The first Step requires admitting you are helpless over your addiction and this takes recovery out of the arena of simple self-control and into a realm of transcending it. We’re powerless over the addictive substance, and trust in a Higher Power, and the program itself, to provide us with the strength and strategy to quit.
But an important principle of the 12 Steps is that addiction is a progressive disease and likely congenital; you can be sober indefinitely if you continue to use the programme every day and attend meetings for the rest of your life , but you will never be cured. You will always remain an addict, even if you never use again.
Something innate in your body, particularly in your brain, has made you inherently susceptible to developing addictions. You always have and always will have the disease, the important question is how to avoid it running.
As new technologies have allowed neuroscientists to measure the human brain and its activities in ever more telling detail this conception of addiction as a biological phenomenon seemed to be endorsed over the past 20 years. Sure enough, the brains of addicts are physically different — sometimes strikingly so — from the brains of average people.
However, what we have now discovered is that many of these changes in the brain actually originated during childhood since our earliest interactions with our caregivers actually shape and form the architecture of the growing brain. Get enough of your early needs met and you will develop a functional personality with the ability to self regulate feelings and relate satisfactorily with other human beings.
What we have also discovered is how to work with the brain – to ‘re-hab' it in order to to begin to regrow and rewire several structures of the brain and also then heal how these independent structures communicate with each other. When the brain begins to regrow what people are finding is any addictive/compulsive behaviour tends to fall away of it's own accord - permanently.