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A Recovering Addict's View of Addiction by: Kimberly Sprintz



While writing my weekly discussion post for my graduate studies, I realized what I was sharing relates directly to my recovery. I am in graduate school for Addiction and Trauma at the moment, and the core purpose of my education and, consequently, this group is to provide access to valuable information, resources, and support at no cost to the public, specifically for women. I trust this will inspire hope to those who need it. - In Service, Kimberly (CoDA, ACA, AA, NA, CA)

           

I first must disclose that I have been a recovering alcoholic and addict since 2015; this influences my lens and how I view the topic of addiction. In my experience, research, and training, addiction is a disease of the brain. It is also my understanding that the disease has biopsychosocial variables, which perpetuate, hinder, predispose, and complicate finding a way to “cure” the disease (Satel & Lilienfeld, 2017; Volkow et al., 2016). I have a genetic predisposition for addiction, suffered significant abuse and trauma since childhood, and exemplify that there is much more than one factor to this paradox.

I do not belong to the group that claims addiction, in all cases, can be cured. Addiction is much like other chronic diseases that cannot be cured because the cues for the activation of the behavior are dormant under the surface. I leave room for science to continue isolating solutions. It is well-researched that the brain can heal through neuroplasticity, yet some individuals on specific forms of substances have irreparable brain damage and thus cannot heal (Volkow et al., 2016). I belong to my recovery groups, which value honesty and candor without giving false hope.

I believe in science, which is always in constant evolution and opens doors to new views, theories, and medication, which helps us make progress both in medical and behavioral health. I believe in a systems approach to counseling that requires us to realize that no individual or problem occurs in a bubble; it is far too large a world for that to be true and is another variable that reduces the validity of our research since replicable studies are complicated (Satel & Lilienfeld, 2017).

What I know is that addiction is a disease that can convince the most articulate, well-educated, and rational person that they do not have it (Doctoroff Media Group, 1998; Volkow et al., 2016). I know that for some people, addiction is a cyclical pattern of relapsing akin to a volatile sea with waves calming only temporarily. I have lost countless friends, my father, grandfather, uncle, and nearly myself, my sons, and my husband. I hear “rock bottom,” and that has different meanings for every addict in recovery, so please consider that you may be incapable of fathoming the depths of a person's bottom. I can say with certainty that the disease, disorder, or whatever you feel is best to describe it does not care about the name you give it, what you think you can do to stop it, how strong you believe you are, or if you believe in it or not.

Addiction exists in a spectrum, and early interventions can save lives; predictive analytics and technology from gene sequencing to AI are moving rapidly to assist in mitigating the catastrophic damage it can and will continue to cause (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2023). Addiction is hell in your body, your brain, in your life, and in the lives of those who love you (Droege et al., 2015). I hope that we all can find compassion and gain awareness using trauma-informed approaches so we leave space for healing rather than using an egoically supported perspective that further perpetuates this universal disease. Counselors are vital in offering hope to those who need it and may think all hope is lost (Furr et al., 2015).

 

In Service with Gratitude,

Kimberly Sprintz, Director & Founder

Women Empowering Women Support Groups


References

Doctoroff Media Group. (1998). Portrait of addiction [Video]. Films on Demand. https://fod-infobase-com.library.capella.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=7680

Droege, J. R., Stevens, E. B., & Jason, L. A. (2015). Children’s impact on adult’s substance use problem awareness and treatment optimism: The role of harm. Journal of Drug Education: Substance Use Research and Prevention, 45(3-4). https://doi.org/10.1177/0047237915612172

Furr, S. R., Johnson, W. D., & Goodall, C. S. (2015). Grief and recovery: The prevalence of grief and loss in substance abuse treatment. Journal of Addictions and Offender Counseling, Vol. 36. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-1874.2015.00034.x

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2023). New NIH study reveals shared genetic markers underlying substance use disorders. https://nida.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/2023/03/new-nih-study-reveals-shared-genetic-markers-underlying-substance-use-disorders

Satel, S. L., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2017). If addiction is not best conceptualized as a brain disease, then what kind of disease is it? Neuroethics, 10(1), 19–24. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12152-016-9287-2

Volkow, N. D., Koob, G. F., & Thomas, M. A. (2016). Neurobiologic advances from the brain disease model of addiction. The New England Journal of Medicine, 374(4), 363–371. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMra1511

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fairsworld
fairsworld
May 01

Thank you for sharing my friend. I love you!

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