Our Innovative Process for Treating Substance Abuse
We have found that educating an addict about how an addicted brain functions, then administering individualized, cutting edge neurotherapeutic treatment can impact the motivation of an addict and most likely increase effectiveness of their overall treatment.
Hierarchy of Brain Functioning
Lower Order Brain Function:
Our “lower brain” is focused on our survival and maintaining the systems which keep us alive. The lower brain compares an individual’s new sensory input to the “memories” of threat that have been previously stored, and acts appropriately. This comparison is an example of the lower brain’s protection mechanisms. If new sensory input “lines up with” previously stored patterns of input related to a threat, then our lower brain immediately sends an “alarm” signal to prepare the individual for “fight or flight” ( OR…for an active addict…using their drug of choice to make the “threat” go away). Unfortunately, because of the lower brains protective instinct, the active addict is unable to avoid their impulsive response to use drugs when they feel uncomfortable, due to a “threat”. This is due to the lower brain protecting the individual by encouraging them to make the threat go away. The stored memories of how quickly their negative feelings disappear (even if only briefly) after they “use” creates the message from the lower brain to the individual to “use”, because it had worked in the past. The addict’ perceives their choice to “use” as a valid option in order to deal with their perpetual feelings of negativity and threat. This cycle is a severe barrier to recovery, due to the fact that withdrawal is an addict’s most threatening feeling. To compound this situation, this threatening fear of withdrawal is chronic and occurs on a daily basis
Higher Order Brain Function:
Higher order thinking skills include critical, logical, reflective, meta-cognitive, and creative thinking. They are activated when individuals encounter unfamiliar problems, uncertainties, questions, or dilemmas. Successful applications of the skills result in explanations, decisions, performances, and products that are valid within the context of available knowledge and experience and that promote continued growth in these and other intellectual skills. These higher order skills are created in a part of the brain called the cerebral cortex and are commonly referred to as executive functions. Neurotransmitters enable the brain to function appropriately to perform these complex abilities. Drug use depletes the brains natural ability to keep these neurotransmitters in balance.
Addiction Process Feeds:
The disruption and disorganization of the brain’s “alarm system” via emotional dysfunction or trauma, leading to self-medication.
Cravings and withdrawal symptoms that make quitting drug abuse difficult and at times seemingly impossible, are all related to dysfunctional cognitive processes within the brain. Drugs abuse will generate this dysfunction and block information from being transferred properly through the brain, creating messages that the brain reads inaccurately. This unconscious process (lower order) needs to be moved to the conscious realm (higher order) in order to be addressed by the addict.
Etiology of personality and character dynamics leading to Destructive Behavior (uncover core developmental reasons for maladaptive and self- destructive behaviors)
Deficits in executive functioning (higher order functioning), defined as the planning, organizing, acting when it is time to act, as well as delaying or preventing action (inhibitory- functions) when appropriate, initiation, and self-regulation of positive goal-directed behavior.
After assessment process is complete, deficits and abnormalities are identified. An individualized treatment protocol is created based on the results of the assessment. Client stabilization begins with a “bottom up” approach to brain rehabilitation, focusing first on post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Brain stimulation systems are used to help accomplish this first step. From there, we focus on basic affect management; helping clients gain control over their anxiety, depression and rage responses. And finally, we focus on higher order functioning.
Addiction recovery is difficult, but not impossible. Find out how we can help.