Are reflexes choices? Do we choose to react to a stimulus or trigger in a certain way once it becomes a habitual reflex or does the brain work on its own? Scientists argue in who owns who- do we own our brains or do our brains own us? Addiction faces a similar discussion. Is addiction a choice or does the addict lose their ability to choose? Most feel that the addict loses their ability to choose because addiction completely takes over the brain, body and spirit. Getting sober is often called miraculous or even phenomenal because of the way addicts and alcoholics find the sudden inspiration to not pick up, and continue not picking up no matter what.
Brain imaging studies have found that the brain still considers addiction a reflexive habit, or a habitual reflex, even months after use of drugs have stopped. One recent study found that a particular protein in the brain activated by heroin addiction continues to be identifiable even after death. NPR writes that “Brain imaging shows that associations with the addiction — pictures, odors or people — make the brain light up, even a month after a person has quit.” People in recovery can witness the miracle of their transformation through sobriety as they find cravings go away, the emotional pain which accompanies a cravings-trigger ceases, and life can be lived without thinking about drugs and alcohol.
Defining addiction is important to science because science needs to have a definitive answer as to what addiction is and how it can be treated. Addiction has seen some of its greatest defeat through twelve step programs. Few studies exist which measure the efficacy of twelve step programs because most twelve step programs are anonymous. For science, the infinite idea of an undefinable “Higher Power” and a “spiritual solution” is inadequate. Research has discovered something called the “God chemical” and other studies have found that the presence of faith can enhance healing. Spiritual actions like forgiveness have been proven to reduce healing time in victims of severe burning.
Addiction as a choice, a habit, a reflex, or any other label, can be defeated. Hope exists in recovery because recovery is freedom. Design For Change offers treatment programs which help change lives, one step at a time. Founded on 12 step philosophy while utilizing the best evidence based practices in addition to holistic therapy, our clients are encouraged to take action in their lives- resulting in magnificent change. For more information, call (877) 267-3646.