I watched this video in early recovery to help me relate to the progression of the disease of alcoholism concept.
I could not get my crazy head around what the idea of “progression” was and how it could be possible?
Now I have, after years of research, found conclusive proof of this progression.
One way that demonstrates this to me is that a certain part of the brain is activated in line with addiction severity and is only activated in chronically addicted individuals.
This part of the brain the dorsal striatum, is implicated or said to be linked to automatic or habitualised action and behaviour.
For me it showed that the more chronic one’s addiction or alcoholism is the more this area activated.
In other words the activation of this brain region is linked to compulsive addictive behaviour and to the activation of automatic thoughts about alcohol or drugs (particularly when stressed/distressed). These thoughts happen to us rather than us having these thoughts. This is a crucial distinction.
This showed me clearly that this area of the brain, which is an unconscious part of the brain, when activated prompts behaviour with an accompanying greatly reduced knowledge addicts and alcoholics will have of the outcome of their subsequent behaviour.
It compels addicts and alcoholics to act with hugely reduced knowledge of likely outcome of their addictive actions, with chronically impaired knowledge of the negative consequences to follow. This may help explain why alcoholics and addicts relapse when they do not wish to and are well aware of the negative consequences which will ensue from relapsing.
It is also part of the brain implicated as activated in schema knowledge. It contains the addictive self schema and very importantly this schema contains justifying and rationalising schemata as it is also the only part of the brain which an individual subsequently has to or retrospectively (after the action) has to justify or rationalise its activated behaviour because it often occurs automatically and without explicit or conscious awareness.
In other words, this is the only part of the brain in which one has to act in a post hoc manner to attempt to rationalise whatever actions have taken place. With more explicit parts of the brain one can engage in these conscious processes whereas this part acts implicitly and without much conscious deliberation so an individual has to then give a reason why they acted they way they did.
For me this tallies with the Big Book “the alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink“. In other words the alcoholic has not explicit, reflective, or even conscious defence against the first drink. Until he/she realises what is happening in these relapse situations and accepts that this is effectively their alcoholism in action and then takes certain steps to treat it.
It shows how addiction is a neurobiological disease as motivation to act moves here or progresses here from the ventral striatum, which is more linked to substance abuse, it is the increasingly severely impaired addicted brain that does the “thinking” for us or rather it is the addicted brain which acts, often during distress, as if it is under threat, in an emergency situation which demands an automatic action or behaviour.
It does not wait for more reflective or evaluative parts of the brain to get involved. The distress of endpoint addiction is the stimulus that provokes this compulsive, automatic responding.
Anyway, there is a guy in this whose drinking and severity of his alcoholism was similar to mine, he is the gentleman who in the end finally gets the solution to his problems via his starting to attend AA meetings.
There is a solution!! Please always, always remember that, there is a solution. And it can be found in most neighbourhoods or at the very beginning of the telephone directory.
It saved my life and can yours too!
“Rain in my Heart”
Gritty, very real and heartbreaking, it is an upfront, unapologetic glimpse into the world of addiction and alcoholism.