A New Perspective on Addiction: Research Suggests Some People May ‘Grow Out’ Of Addiction Phase

How much do we know about addiction?  And there was an alternate way to view people who are struggling with addiction issues?  Addition has traditionally fallen under the category of ‘disease’ – something that individuals who have will need to work on and face throughout their entire lives. 

But what if there’s a new way to conceptualize addiction?  This year, Maia Szalavitz, offered a new theory that addiction is a development disorder.  In her book, “Unbroken Brain: A Revolution New Way of Understanding Addiction” she posits that our brain chemistry may be constructed in such a way that some individuals are likely to struggle with addiction – and that this brain chemistry may change as we age (Szalavitz, 2016).  

Szalavitz challenges us to view addiction instead as a learning disorder, something that many individuals can overcome by learning disorder.  “Addiction, Szalavitz notices, is, predominantly, a problem of youth. Most addicts get started when they're still kids. And, remarkably, most addicts give up their addiction by the time they reach their 30s. In effect, they age out of their addiction. (NPR, 2016).”

Her research challenges many of the evidence-based practices that clinicians formerly used for addiction treatment.  She encourages people to rethink whether 12-step programs are most effective and instead believes cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy may serve as best practices when working with addiction. 

At Sun Point, we view people and issues holistically and work with each person to determine how they view addiction in their life.  We use a client-centered motivational approach to determining whether addiction is an issue in your life by using evidence-based practices like cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself before starting talk therapy for addictions-related issues:

·      What changes do you want to see in your life? 

·      How are substances impacting your ability to achieve your goals?

·      What are your relationships like with family, loved ones, and friends?  And how do other people in your life describe your substance use impacting you?

·      What has life been like at a different point when you were not using substances?

Feel free to call Sun Point anytime for recommendations on other literature or other substance use treatment.  We’re here for you – and for our community - we work with individuals to achieve their full potential everyday. 

Works Cited:

NPR. (2016). “'Unbroken Brain' Offers New Insights On Addiction” Retrieved from: http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2016/04/29/475991514/unbroken-brain-offers-new-insights-on-addiction

Szalavitz, M. (2016). “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction”.