Medical society changes definition of ‘addiction’
It’s ‘a brain disorder, not bad behavior
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Why would young people use heroin, a drug that so often leads to addiction, declining health, and—too often—-premature death? Are they misfits, or are they sick?
“Heroin is simply one of many possible addictions, but it’s gotten a lot of attention locally because we’ve had three young people die recently from heroin overdoses,” said Jeff Lucas, a licensed clinical professional counselor who has 25 years experience helping people cope with addictions, which can include alcohol and other drugs, gambling, pornography and video games.
Yes, video games. Young people often feel powerless in their real worlds, so they turn to the power that comes from successfully playing video games, much like the euphoria that comes from heroin and other drugs.
“Addiction is a real problem, not just a symptom of depression or a symptom of social phobia or anxiety. In fact it seems to increase those as you become more addicted,” said Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University who has studied the video game problem.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine recently changed its definition of addiction to focus on its root cause: “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” This moves the traditional definition from one based on behavior and process to one based on brain function, according to Jeff Lucas of Naperville, who is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Certified addictions counselor, as well as a certified Brainwave Technologist.
Lucas is pleased by the new definition. “This reflects advance in neuroscience that show how addiction takes over different parts of the brain, which is why the addictions are so hard to overcome,” he said.
“It’s not simply about will power.”
Genetics account for approximately half the likelihood that somebody will develop addictions, according to the addiction medicine society.
Environmental factors affect how much influence the genetic factors will have on a person’s behavior. “In other words, just because somebody has a biological predisposition towards addictive behavior does not mean they’re going to end up becoming addicts,” Lucas said.
“Environment also plays a role, and part of environment is good—or bad—parenting, so there is a lot parents can do to help.”
So can emerging neuro-technology such as brainwave optimization, which measures brain function and brings brainwaves into balance and harmony, according to Lee Gerdes, founder and CEO of Brain State Technologies®, www.brainstatetech.com
“Addictions are not a result of bad behavior,” he said. “They are a craving that comes directly from an imbalanced brain that is seeking the substance or the action to balance itself out.”
Often combined with other techniques such as psychotherapy, brainwave optimization is a “great technological breakthrough,” said Lucas, a therapist at Dunham Counseling Center and the Center For Brain Training, both in downtown Naperville.
“We use brainwave optimization to measure brain patterns and determine how we can best bring those brain patterns back into balance and harmony so that the individual no longer is driven by their addictions,” said, Lucas.
“Individual results vary, but I’ve seen dramatic positive results with my addicted clients, said Lucas, who also has used brainwave optimization to help several alcoholics and other addicted people recover. According to Lucas, one Naperville man—an alcoholic for 20 years– called the technology “a Godsend” in aiding his recovery.
Another of his clients, a young woman from Palos Park, said, “After 12 sessions within one week, this procedure gave me results beyond my expectations. It helped me beat my physical and mental disability. I don’t have a desire to smoke, drink or take drugs. I am amazed at the potential my brain had in storage,” she said.
Formerly suicidal, the Palos woman recently finished training to become a licensed practical nurse.
Gerdes developed the technology after experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a 1994 assault by four youth, one carrying a baseball bat. He writes about his experience and how this relates to imbalanced brainwave patterns of those who wrestle with addictions in his book, Limitless You: The Infinite Possibilities of a Balanced Brain (Namaste Publishing, 2008) http://www.amazon.com/Limitless-You-Infinite-Possibilities-Balanced/dp/189723841X
“My hope is that this important announcement from the addictions community will help more people understand the reality behind addictions and point them in the direction of help that gets at the root cause: brain function,” said Gerdes. “We know there are many more people we can help. It isn’t about willpower; it’s about brain power – changing the way the brain functions.”
For more information:
Jeff Lucas, 630-799-0100 (press 1 for staff directory); JeffLucas6251@aol.com