August 17, 2011

ASAM's Definition of Addiction

I was reading the blog "Addiction and Recovery" this morning and they pointed out the ASAM's definition of addiction which was adapted earlier this year.  Here is the short version:

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

The long version can be found here.  I print out their PDF of the long version, its 6 pages and, imo, worth reading.  In some ways reading this is helpful because it means there are doctors out there studying addiction which in turn will hopefully find more successful treatments, educate people about it to relieve some of the stigma and help all of us understand why its so damn hard for an addict to stop.

Of course that last point can also be very discouraging.  Keven is proclaiming that "THIS IS IT", this is the real deal, the final chapter, the turning point, the end of the journey.....and of course by doing that he's also adding an enormous amount of pressure on himself which is a trigger for using.  BTW, he's still in jail waiting for the paperwork to catch up to him so he can get back to the rehab.

There are no easy answers to any of this.  What happened to addicts and alcoholics prior to the time that there was AA and treatment centers?  Does anyone know?  Did they just end up homeless and die?  Were they locked away in prison or an "insane asylum"?

I can hear someone reminding me not to spend so much time focused on this topic.  I guess I am very interested in it because the one person in my life that matters most is my son, and like it or not, it defines his life right now.  I have no husband, boyfriend or life partner to think or care about, I have a job that requires me to "keep myself from getting bored" while waiting for the phone to ring so that's 21 hours a week sitting on my ass in front of this computer screen; I don't have a whole lot going on in my life.  Oh yeah, I have no other children either.

I am not complaining or looking for sympathy or making excuses for myself, but I've been told so many times to not focus so much on this topic....and I'm defending my reasons why it matters so much to me.  Because my son is the most important thing in the world to me.  And even though he's technically an adult we all know our addicted children have a very delayed maturity rate - he still needs his mom, and I plan to be here for him as long as he's moving in the right direction.

I guess I got off my original topic of the definition of addiction.  :)

 In other news:  I am having a really good salad for lunch, Anthony has court today, I had my hair weaved and trimmed last night, tomorrow is a day off so I can stay up super late reading if I want. 

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara


Syd said...

Barbara, the Doctor's Opinion in the book Alcoholics Anonymous describes what it was like before AA and the "allergy" concept of alcoholism. This may answer some of your questions.

Anonymous Mom said...

Thanks, Syd, good info. That reminds me of a documentary I saw on AA years ago, I think it touched on that. I'll check it out.

Gledwood said...

I know 2 people who did a 21-day inpatient detox and never used again... that was about 5 years ago. One used to be my dealer! I think they still drink socially but neither one is an alcoholic. They are both working. One recently got married. Before there were 12 step meetings I think chronic alcoholics as well as "morphinists" were psychiatric inpatients. The drinkers especially probably had pretty full-blown psychiatric symptoms. I read the alcoholics Big Book and there's a lot of talk of hearing voices and DTs. I think eventually a lot of people just get tired of drugs and that tiredness turns into aversion and that gives you the power to stop. That's how I feel at any rate. I told myself I would give up drink for at least a year and do NA properly (ie off methadone) for at least a year (which means I still can't drink during that time) but if I feel OK I refuse to spend the rest of my life in terror of drink because I've convinced myself that a glass of red is the same as IVing heroin and crack! On the other hand I don't LIKE drink any more, so I don't know that I'd ever again want to be bothered with a glass of anything stronger than Pepsi. The only trouble I've had at NA has been when I was too manic to focus on a meeting and everyone seemed to assume I was on crack. I told them repeatedly I was not but nobody seemed to listen. This made me resenful for some time but eventually I just dropped it. I came back to NA this week and it was really good.

Anna said...

One thing they used to have that I would like to see again was inebriate farms. Alcoholics were sentenced to dry out and work off their debts there. They stayed for months. This was prior to prohibition. Also, up until the Raegan years each county had a mental hospital and many addicts/alcoholics stayed there as well.

I love your blog and your comments but now that you are going to take a little time off maybe you could start some other pass times. You will have to when you retire anyhow so it is good to make a transition instead of a jump.

Good luck Barbara.

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