This topic may very well be one of the most passionately argued controversies in the addiction community – right up there with politics and religion in the rest of the world. I can tell you if it were simply black and white, the problem would have been “fixed” a long time ago.
Alcoholism is really a combination of brain physiology and bad habits involving not only genetic personality traits and vulnerabilities, but learned behavior and “etched” neural pathways in the brain.
According to Marc Lewis in Bad Habits Can be Learned and Unlearned, “Addiction is brought about by the repeated pursuit of highly attractive goals and corresponding inattention to alternative goals.” So think about it – a goal is something that you are striving toward – immediately or in the future – something that you want to have or achieve. A highly attractive goal is something that motivates you to achieve that goal with extreme energy, focus and desire. The addiction part of it is the repeated pursuit – over and over and over – even when you tell yourself consciously that you don’t want to do it anymore. Achieving the desired goal and result (the “buzz”) has become a well-established neural pathway – or what most people would call the “subconscious level” – making it feel like it is too difficult to overcome. Additionally, the inattention to alternative goals is one of the biggest problems I see with my clients that abuse alcohol.
Essentially you have to manually “rewire your brain.” This includes not only changing the way you think about addiction and alcoholism (click here for more) – and the amount of power or powerlessness you believe you have over the problem, but also etching out new neural pathways by having extended periods of time without turning to alcohol to escape and instead turning to newly identified alterative goals – or ways to feel good.
The MODER8 plan is designed to attack this addiction model from all angles. Here are the stops to follow to begin to rewire your brain and change your bad habit:
- Be aware of a vulnerability to be dependent or abuse certain substances, but don’t use it as an excuse to drink excessively.
- Creating positive, healthy alternatives that cause pleasure – or in other words, a “highly attractive goal” to replace the obsessive pursuit of alcohol (for more on this click here)
- Retraining your brain by extended periods of time without turning to alcohol as an escape. For more on this click here.
- Changing your brain chemistry with diet, exercise, dietary supplements including MODER8, GABA and 5-HTP and even spicy foods (watch this video on changing your brain chemistry).