The Relationship Between Development and Addiction
What to expect in this episode:
- The relationship between development and addiction
- The Unbroken Brain Looks at addiction as a developmental disorder
- You’d be shocked if you actually sat with someone who was in some sort of distress and said, “what do you feel right now”? And they could not answer.
The Relationship Between Development & Addiction
One of the ways to understand addiction, that recently became popular, that I’ve been engaged in, in this blog or this conversation for 8-10 years, is the relationship between development and addiction.
There was actually a popular book called “The Unbroken Brain” which was looking at addiction as a kind of learning disorder. That’s complicated and there are parts of it that I like, parts of it that I don’t. Putting that aside, I think to look at addiction as a part of the developmental process and when addiction becomes full-blown addiction as somebody being stuck in their development is a really insightful way to understand what’s happening with people in their addiction.
I have never met somebody who is coming into recovery from addiction that is not stunted in some particular areas of the self. That is not stuck or split in a particular area of growth in a statistically identifiable way.
So the most common example, that makes a lot of sense to people, is when people stop growing in the realm of emotional awareness and emotional regulation but grow in other areas. That makes sense, right?
Addiction could be categorized as an impulse disorder, in some ways. I can’t stop myself from impulsively engaging in this behavior over and over again.
What is an impulse disorder? It is the inability to regulate my cravings and emotions. On top of that, there is another area, which is around emotional awareness; actually not being aware of what’s happening inside of me.
You’d be shocked if you actually sat with someone who was in some sort of distress and said, “what do you feel right now”?
To have them label their feeling, and for huge parts of the population both in the recovery population and otherwise actually aren’t very good at identifying and being aware of their feelings. Being aware of your feelings is somewhat of a prerequisite to being able to work with them or regulate them.
If you don’t know you’re having them in any real way, cognitively, it’s hard to step back from them and do something about them. And just telling someone to relax usually isn’t helpful.
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