I have spent over ten years researching the Neuroscience of Addiction.
I have become a published Academic author and former PhD candidate in the process. God willing, I will be sober and in recovery 15 years this December.
I now believe that Addiction, for the majority of addicted indivduals, in behavioural as well as substance addiction, is a brain disorder of emotion regulation and that this impaired ability is not only the pathomechanism that drives addictive behaviour but, that for many indivduals who suffer addiction, it is also a development delay disorder.
By that I mean that this impaired ability to process, regulate and make optimal decisions based on the effective internal gauge of successfully reading emotions, as the result of impaired affect-related brain mechanisms, prompts the use of substances and maladaptive behaviours in an external attempt to “regulate” emotions or “fix feelings” in the language of treatment centres.
This maladaptive “regulation” of emotion is evident throughout the “addiction cycle” in the progression from use to abuse to endpoint addiction and further impairs the brain areas implicated in emotion processing and regulation and also in stress regulation.
Endpoint addiction and compulsive addictive behaviour is thus represented by chronic emotion and stress dysregulation, with compulsive behaviour being prompted by chronic unremitting distress.
Thus any treatment and recovery must first address this chronic distress and then the inherent emotion processing and regulation deficit that creates it.
It must treat this stress and emotion dysregulation by improving emotion processing regulation capabilties and skills in recovering individuals while altering inherent affective brain mechanisms, via neuroplasiticity, for the better.
Neuroscientific Models of Addiction
The following blogs are taken from this Comprehensive Neurobiological Theory of Addiction –
Diagrams of above Neuro-endocrinological Model of Addiction (to follow)
Our Stress-Emotion Dysregulation Model of Addiction
Addiction as a Brain Disorder of Affect Regulation
This Neuro-Psychological (Affective) Model of Addiction overlaps with the above Neuro-Biological Model Of Addiction, to illustrate that the inherent stress dysregulation in Addiction is prompted and perpetuated by the pathomechanism of affective dysregulation.