Hi and welcome to our blog which marries empirical neuroscientific evidence of what happens to the brain – how various functions and regions of the brain are “hijacked” – in the transition to full blown alcoholism – so that the alcoholic (or addict) ends up having limited control over choice on whether to drink or not, with ancedotal “evidence” from hundreds of alcoholics we have met in “recovery” to illustrate how this “lay” experiential wisdom can help provide invaluable insights into this neurobiological disease called alcoholism.

In this blog you will find a comprehensive worldview of what we believe addictive behavior to be in terms of altered neurobiology and in terms of cognitive-affective mechanisms such as stress and emotion dysregulation.

You will also be shown how these models contribute to a comprehensive understanding of  craving and relapse.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us via the comments section – we would love to hear for you!


Issues with diagnostic definitions of Addiction:-

These two blogs highlight some of the issues with DSM V definitions of Addiction –

1. Translating  Accurate Diagnosis  into Effective Treatment. 

2. Diagnosis: Towards Validity and Consistency

Now we consider the two main neurobiological theories of addiction before critiquing them and combining them into one comprehensive neurobiological theory of addiction.

We then set out another cognitive-affective theory of addiction to show how this impaired neuro-biology is affected by and affects the stress and emotion dysregulation to initiate, sustain and perpetuate the addiction cycle.

We complete our worldview of addiction in terms of theoretical contributions by providing a theory of craving and relapse using these models.

We believe all one needs to know about the manifestation of addictive beahviour can be found in these three theoretical, but interacting, models of addiction.

We will also link to blogs with highlight the inherent commonalities in all addictive behaviours.


Neuroscientific Models of Addiction

The following blogs are taken from this Comprehensive Neurobiological Theory of Addiction –

Combining Stress and Dopamine  Based Models of Addiction

A Dopamine Model 

A Critique Of the Dopamine Model

A Stress Based Model

A Critique Of the Stress Model

A Combined Stress and Dopamine Model of Addiction

Plus accompanying,

Neuro-anatomical 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 dysregualtion.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4 

Related Blogs:-

Negative urgency mediates relationship between alexithymia and dysregulatedbehaviors

Explaining how negative “negative urgency” can be

Intolerance of uncertainty prompts compulsive decision-making

Decision Making Deficits in Addicts

Lack of emotion differentiation propels negative urgency

The need to act via non recognition of emotional states

Understanding emotional processing deficits in addiction

The predictive value of alexithymia in patients with eating disorders


Our Cognitive-Affective Model of Craving and Relapse 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Related blogs

How do recovering alcoholics appraise their alcohol related thoughts? 

Negative repercussions of suppressing automatically occurring thoughts about alcohol

Extent of obsessive thoughts about alcohol related to addiction severity?

After all, the role of science is to help predict behaviour, such as e.g. reasons for relapse, and to describe the phenomenological experience of a psychopathology in order that diagnostic definitions of a psychopathology may, via accurate assessment, result in effective treatment. We discuss how successfully science has done and is doing in respect to these objectives.
As alcoholics in “recovery”, we are aware, regardless of the massive strides that have been made in the last quarter of a century, that neuroscientific models sometimes fall short of describing “what it is like” to be an alcoholic, particularly a sober one.
We attempt to critique, challenge, praise and modify existing thinking and models of addiction so that they may better describe our own experiential realities and more effectively aid therapeutic management for our underlying condition.
There is one thing we can say with some certainty at the onset. There is more to alcoholism than drinking alcohol and the subsequent effect of alcohol on the brain, although there are dire consequences of this, of course.
What these underlying conditions are will become more evident in due course, via various blogs.
It is by discussing this underlying condition, we hope, that we may help those who suffer from alcoholism, who love and care for alcoholics and research into or treat alcoholics in clinical, treatment and other settings, to contribute to your sum of knowledge so that you are better placed to understand why alcoholics do the things they do, behave the way they do and feel less inclined to strangle them.
Alcohol did not solely make us alcoholics, a predisposition to an underlying condition did.

blog links
blog links

6 replies »

  1. Paul, many thanks for making yourself known to me via your terrific website and about.me site. You might be interested in my original research on arousal dysregulation and its neuroplastic link to early childhood trauma and sex addiction. It can be found on my website http://thesexaddictedbrain.com.
    You are spot on regarding addiction and neuroscience and I am thrilled that you are disseminating your important writings. Wishing you a joyous journey.
    ~Dr Sarah Ullman~

  2. Thank you Sarah, you are indeed most welcome! I am very interested in your research and feel we may be singing from the same hymn sheet in many ways. Great to find another researcher looking at addiction is a similar way! Your website is great too! Great layout. It has given me so many ideas on how to improve mine. I also have a more accessible blog here http://alcoholicsguide.wordpress.com/
    Thank you for your encouraging words, it all helps!
    Best wishes,

  3. Thank you Astronope, I am so glad you feel better after reading my work. That is the sole purpose of this blog, to help – hopefully my work helps in understanding how the steps work also. The steps were the key to a new life for me and my colleagues. Just going to AA was not enough – the steps allowed me to see the type of illness I have.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to stop by, read, and follow my blog! I’m brand new to the world of blogging and still learning how to navigate it. I have read over your “About Me” and “Welcome” sections and look forward to reading more as time permits. Even though the “Science” behind addiction, addictive personalities, etc…is very interesting to me as an adult, though I don’t agree with some Scientific Theories, as a very young child/teenager (age 12-15) addict/alcoholic, I can tell you that the only reason I recovered was a Spiritual Recovery by a true experience/Redemption from my Savoir, Jesus Christ. However, some/a lot of addicts aren’t in a Spiritual mindset, and have no faith in or even believe in God, so I’m thankful for people like you who do this kind of research to help addicts and their families in the recovery process. No one deserves or was created, imho, to be a slave to the monster known as addiction!! Be Blessed….

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