Part 7: The Hijacked
Brain Revisited - from Addiction Treatment Forum, a pro methadone
magazine supported by Mallinckrodt, Inc. a manufacturer of methadone
Notes from the ASAM Review Course in Addiction Medicine
[MY COMMENTS ARE BRACKETED IN BLUE] and
I have colored red important concepts
about which I have written articles on this web site as well as
discussed in Hypoics Handbook. Much
of what is discussed herein is exactly what Hypoism is. In terms
of etiology, these two neurobiologists still wrongly use the term
"environment and chronic drug use" even though they
have no data on environmental etiology. Other than this, what
they say is Hypoism. What they don't comment on is that Hypoism
has implications on recovery about which they are not aware because
this is not part of their expertise. Gardner's comments about
the ineffectiveness of current therapies is at least an honest
assessment unlike NIDA's official line on that. You should know
that I talked to Gardner about Hypoism many years ago and sent
him my book over a year ago. Since then he has come closer to
Hypoism, especially his comments about the key role of the limbic
"thinking" and decision-making in addictions and lack
of conscious control, though he doesn't acknowledge Hypoic's Handbook,
concepts he wasn't writing about before talking to me. How I get
them to acknowledge Hypoism in all its facets is beyond me.
I do believe it is dishonest for
them not to recognize Hypoic's Handbook, the book that has already
described the complete paradigm they are just beginning to discover.
The Power of SPAM:
Carlton Erickson, PhD - of the University of Texas College
of Pharmacy, Austin, TX - observed that until
relatively recently the field of addiction treatment and prevention
drifted aimlessly due to insufficient research evidence. There
also has been much misinformation about just how addicting drugs
work in the brain. [I've been saying
this for over 8 years and they are just saying it today after
denying it all this time.]
Persisting negative attitudes have harmed the quality of patient
care and have hindered funding for prevention, education, and
research in addiction. Erickson portrayed these negative influences
as "SPAM" - Stigma, Prejudice, And Misunderstanding.
Among other damaging outcomes, SPAM leads to unfairness
toward certain treatment options, belittling of patients,
and lack of insurance coverage. [I've been
saying this for years. This is exactly what has happened to me.
He said that the picture is rapidly changing thanks to scientific
research indicating that the brain's pleasure/reward pathway
- consisting of cells and structures deep within the brain
is affected by all addictions. However, addiction does not automatically
occur with a particular drug; rather, individual factors of genetics,
environment, and chronic drug use play key roles in susceptible
persons. [The etiology is their primary
conceptual problem and is clarified in Hypoic's Handbook. They
are not allowed to agree with it, however, because it is politically
incorrect for them within their culture of power, the NIDA. SPAM
will never be corrected until Hypoism is in place because it clarifies
the "conscious choice dilemma" of the hijacked brain
Eliot Gardner, PhD - Senior Research Scientist at NIDA's Intramural
Research Program, Washington, DC - observed how one might consider
the addictive power of certain drugs as an accident
of nature. [refer to my article: http://www.nvo.com/hypoism/thehypoismaddictionhypothesis/]
He has written, for example, that the poppy and coca plants quite
unintentionally produce chemicals (morphine and cocaine) capable
of "pirating" the pleasure pathways of the brain. Alcohol,
a byproduct of natural fermentation, acts similarly, as
does practically every other addicting substance. [Refer
to my article: http://www.nvo.com/hypoism/aimingatanunderstandingofaddictions/]
The brain's pleasure/reward pathway is necessary for survival
since it motivates important activities such as food seeking and
eating, mating, and parenting. Unfortunately, those
same parts of the brain that are stimulated by natural pleasures
and rewards are also stimulated by addicting substances.
Both Gardner and Erickson stressed that a key characteristic
of drug addiction is impaired control over the compulsion to use
drugs and the inability to stay away from them if the person tries
to stop. This is probably caused by abnormal
functioning of pleasure/reward structures.
[Not the conscious part of the brain,
the cortex. Refer to my article: http://www.nvo.com/hypoism/hypoisminanutshell/]
The important point here is that, since these sites of addicting
drug action are located well inside the brain, and not
in the cerebral cortex
- which is the outermost, thinking part of the brain - addictions
are not primarily under conscious control.
That is, addictive behaviors are not
simply problems of weak willpower, poor judgment, or corrupt morals.
Furthermore, a person cannot simply
think hislher way out of addiction.
[They don't think their way
into or out of addictions - a key addition
to this statement.]
Brain Chemistry Disease:
According to Erickson, addiction is essentially a brain chemistry
disease and addicting drugs seem to "fix" chemical disturbances
in the brain, at least briefly. Gardner observed that different
addictive drugs enter the brain's pleasure/reward centers at different
sites and affect the brain in different ways. The various effects
of addicting drugs are due to the way in which a given drug can
disrupt [I would use the word ALTER
not disrupt] brain functioning.
Gardner further proposed that vulnerability to drug addiction
may be caused by unusually low
levels of certain natural chemicals in the pleasure/reward system.
[HYPOISM] People with such chemical
imbalances get a greater "kick" from certain addicting
drugs than persons with normal brain chemistry. In fact, those
drugs actually may produce unpleasant feelings in "normal"
persons, motivating them to avoid the drugs. [Thus
the concept of CHOICE is irrelevant to "normal" people
and unrelated to hypoics because there is no "conscious"
choice about using addictors. The inability to conceive of this
sentence is the reason addictionology has made no progress in
understanding addictions in spite of their knowledge of the basic
neurobiology. They understand the cellular and receptor issues
but not the issue concerning what mechanism in the brain is effected
by that neurobiology. Moreover, non-hypoics can't identify with
hypoic use of addicting drugs.]
Erickson similarly suggested that when
an addictive substance stimulates certain brain centers, it may
satisfy an unfulfilled chemical need in the brains of susceptible
persons. It's as if their brains respond to the drug, "Welcome.
You're just exactly what I've been waiting for!" [Exactly
what Hypoism says.]
Stress and depression can trigger relapse to drug-taking, Gardner
explained. Environmental cues - people, places, things - also
play crucial roles.
With chronic use of certain drugs, like opioids, the depression,
anxiety, and restlessness that follow drug use become unbearable.
Under these circumstances, Gardner has written, the addicted person
no longer uses drugs to get a "rush" or "high,"
but simply to get back to feeling what they consider as better
or "normal" (to "get straight" in street parlance).
Erickson suggested that a goal of addiction treatment is to
improve function in the proper brain areas. [This
is a mistake that Erickson needs clarifying because he hasn't
thought through the claim. Attempts to improve functioning of the hypoic
brain WITH DRUGS is what causes addictions in hypoics. In actuality, acknowledgment
and acceptance of neurotransmitter deficiencies is what is needed
for real recovery, not change. Recovery from the disease instead of from the addictions is missed by current addiction "experts" because they are ignorant of the disease that causes all addictions, Hypoism. Recovery from Hypoism via the steps set out in Hypoic's Handbook, steps that are derived from the actual neurobiology of the disease is being ignored because of this ignorance. All addicts suffer from not knowing about it, but no one in the field will tell them about it!]
The success of methadone maintenance is evidence that
many people need and benefit from pharmacologic therapy for a
prolonged period to overcome abnormal brain chemistry. [This,
of course, is a major error in Erickson's thinking because he
is ignorant of drug-free recovery and its many advantages over
chronic addiction to Methadone. I strongly confront him on this
He also has written that the emotional, interactive, sometimes
stressful process of recovery via behavioral therapy programs
and/or 12-step groups also may be associated with at least temporary
positive changes in brain chemistry. And such changes may eventually
engender a decreased need for the addictive substance.
Gardner emphasized that the brain pathways producing desired
effects of addictive drugs are entirely separate from those
causing physical dependency (and subsequent drug withdrawal or
abstinence syndrome). Some drugs, such as cocaine, are very addicting,
yet they produce no physical dependence.
Furthermore, research has clearly demonstrated that drug taking
behavior cannot be explained simply in terms of the ability of
addicting drugs to ease or overcome the withdrawal discomfort
as drug effects wear off. That is, the need to constantly avoid
unpleasant withdrawal effects does not account for continued drug
Withdrawal can be basically understood as a physiological "rebound"
effect [Neurophysiological Adaptation],
Gardner explained. If chronic drug administration and/or intoxication
causes one bodily effect, withdrawal from the drug will typically
cause an opposite reaction.
For example, opioids may produce constipation, whereas opioid
withdrawal produces diarrhea. Withdrawal from sleep medications
(sedative-hypnotics) often produces insomnia.
Of course, unpleasant withdrawal effects can be quickly ended
by more drug-taking. However, the importance of physical dependence
and the need to overcome withdrawal effects in drug addiction
should not be overstated, Gardner cautioned. Explanations of continued
drug taking merely based on tolerance, physical dependence, and/or
avoidance of withdrawal symptoms do not paint the whole picture.
Role of Thinking:
A major unresolved question is how input from the thinking,
outer portion of the brain might come into play in addiction and
recovery. As noted above, Gardner and Erickson suggested that
during active addiction more primitive brain centers in the pleasure/reward
pathway dominate and drug-taking becomes involuntary
or, at the least, not entirely under conscious control.
In this regard, Gardner has acknowledged early 19th century
descriptions of drug addictions as being impulse control disorders:
"Voluntary control is profoundly impaired. The patient is
compelled to perform acts which are dictated neither by his reason
nor his emotions acts of which his conscience disapproves of,
but over which he no longer has willful control. [What
he leaves out is that initial use of the addictors is likewise
involuntary - a concept current addictionology is biased against
but that genetics of addictions compels.]
The notion of addiction being related to OCD might open new
doors for therapeutic strategies. [I have
had OCD on my list of addictions for 10 years. They are just getting
around to considering this.]
Along similar lines, Erickson wondered whether addictions might
be appropriately considered obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD).
That is, those afflicted think about the substance or behavior
all the time (obsession) and end up repeatedly taking the drug
or behaving uncontrollably (compulsion). [DUH]
For example, David observed that OCD occurs 2 to 3 times more
often in alcoholics and other drug dependent persons than in the
general population. The notion of addiction being related to OCD
might open new doors for therapeutic strategies of interest to
psychologists and counselors. [What they don't
yet see is that the disorder is Hypoism, a brain mechanism, and
the individual addictions are but the symptoms, not diseases in
A series of seemingly insurmountable hurdles appear to be erected
in the path of drug-dependent persons wishing to recover and stay
abstinent. What is the solution?
Gardner has written that there are surprisingly few clearly
effective and FDA-approved medicines for treating drug addiction,
including methadone and LAAM maintenance for opioid addiction
(with buprenorphine awaiting approval); naltrexone and disulfiram
for alcoholism; and nicotine substitution therapy and bupropion
for tobacco dependence. Strategies solely
based on talk therapy, group therapy, behavior modification, and
economic incentives have had limited success. [As
you would expect because they don't deal with the correct and
actual brain mechanism that causes addictions. How will they find
the correct therapies without getting the etiology correct? They
won't. Thus, the need for Hypoism, the complete and correct paradigm.]
The many presentations at the ASAM Course made it clear that
better solutions will be found through continuing scientific research.
[And, only if they open their closed minds
to Hypoism, the addiction paradigm that already has clarified
everything about addictions from etiology to recovery.]
The complete Hypoism hypothesis that clarifies
all their hypothesis' misconceptions can be read at: http://www.nvo.com/hypoism/thirdmilleniumn4aconferencekeynoteaddressonhypoism/