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Addiction Alters Your Brain-But You Can Reverse the Effects!

Candeo Co-Founder, Bernell Christensen

As I was looking over some of my files on the “science of addiction,” I came across an old Time Magazine article titled, ADDICTED: WHY DO PEOPLE GET HOOKED? (See here for article)

Written more than 10 years ago, the article cited some of the “cutting-edge” research in the area of the “brain science” behind addiction. What amazed me is how far we have come since then. Not that what the article discussed has been proven wrong–quite the opposite. The science in the article was dead-on and has been well established since then.

In essence, the article traces aspects of all addictions to the dopamine system in the brain. Here is an excerpt from the article with some of my comments in parenthesis:

“Imagine you are taking a slug of whiskey. a puff of a cigarette. A toke of marijuana. A snort of cocaine. A shot of heroin. Put aside whether these drugs are legal or illegal. Concentrate, for now, on the chemistry. The moment you take that slug, that puff, that toke, that snort, that shot, trillions of potent molecules surge through your bloodstream and into your brain. Once there, they set off a cascade of chemical and electrical events, a kind of neurological chain reaction that ricochets around the skull and rearranges the interior reality of the mind.”

“Given the complexity of these events–and the inner workings of the mind in general–it’s not surprising that scientists have struggled mightily to make sense of the mechanisms of addiction. Why do certain substances have the power to make us feel so good (at least at first)? Why do some people fall so easily into the thrall of alcohol, cocaine, nicotine and other addictive substances, while others can, literally, take them or leave them?”

“The answer, many scientists are convinced, may be simpler than anyone has dared imagine. What ties all these mood-altering drugs together, they say, is a remarkable ability to elevate levels of a common substance in the brain called dopamine. In fact, so overwhelming has evidence of the link between dopamine and drugs of abuse become that the distinction (pushed primarily by the tobacco industry and its supporters) between substances that are addictive and those that are merely habit-forming has very nearly been swept away.” (The claim that “I’m not addicted, it’s just a harmless habit,” doesn’t hold water!)

“The Liggett Group, smallest of the U.S.’s Big Five cigarette makers, broke ranks in March and conceded not only that tobacco is addictive but also that the company has known it all along. While RJR Nabisco and the others continue to battle in the courts–insisting that smokers are not hooked, just exercising free choice–their denials ring increasingly hollow in the face of the growing weight of evidence. Over the past year, several scientific groups have made the case that in dopamine-rich areas of the brain, nicotine behaves remarkably like cocaine. (We also know that porn affects the brain in ways similar to cocaine.) And late last week a federal judge ruled for the first time that the Food and Drug Administration has the right to regulate tobacco as a drug and cigarettes as drug-delivery devices.”

“Now, a team of researchers led by psychiatrist Dr. Nora Volkow of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York has published the strongest evidence to date that the surge of dopamine in addicts’ brains is what triggers a cocaine high. In last week’s edition of the journal Nature they described how powerful brain-imaging technology can be used to track the rise of dopamine and link it to feelings of euphoria.”

“Like serotonin (the brain chemical affected by such antidepressants as Prozac), dopamine is a neurotransmitter–a molecule that ferries messages from one neuron within the brain to another. Serotonin is associated with feelings of sadness and well-being, dopamine with pleasure and elation. Dopamine can be elevated by a hug, a kiss, a word of praise or a winning poker hand–as well as by the potent pleasures that come from drugs.” (Porn highly elevates dopamine levels.)

“The idea that a single chemical could be associated with everything from snorting cocaine and smoking tobacco to getting good grades and enjoying sex (porn viewing mimics the sex act–the brain believes it is literally having sex) has electrified scientists and changed the way they look at a wide range of dependencies, chemical and otherwise. Dopamine, they now believe, is not just a chemical that transmits pleasure signals but may, in fact, be the master molecule of addiction.” (All addictions have a commonality–feelings of pleasure and euphoria triggered by dopamine in the brain.)

“This is not to say dopamine is the only chemical involved or that the deranged thought processes that mark chronic drug abuse are due to dopamine alone. The brain is subtler than that. Drugs modulate the activity of a variety of brain chemicals, each of which intersects with many others. “Drugs are like sledgehammers,” observes Dr. Eric Nestler of the Yale University School of Medicine. “They profoundly alter many pathways.” (In addition to dopamine processes, Porn alters many areas of the brain.)

“For nearly a quarter-century the U.S. has been waging a war on drugs, with little apparent success. As scientists learn more about how dopamine works (and how drugs work on it), the evidence suggests that we may be fighting the wrong battle. Americans tend to think of drug addiction as a failure of character. (You just need more will-power; you’re not trying hard enough.) But this stereotype is beginning to give way to the recognition that drug dependence has a clear biological basis. “Addiction,” declares Brookhaven’s Volkow, “is a disorder of the brain no different from other forms of mental illness.” (We now know that pornography, like other chemical addictions, radically alters the brain and is a mental health issue.)

“That new insight may be the dopamine hypothesis’ most important contribution in the fight against drugs. It completes the loop between the mechanism of addiction and programs for treatment. And it raises hope for more effective therapies. Abstinence, if maintained, not only halts the physical and psychological damage wrought by drugs but in large measure also reverses it.”

This last sentence is the one I really want to call you attention to, because it is exactly what we are seeing with porn addiction recovery–addiction circuitry in the brain can be reversed, and healthy circuitry restored!

To illustrate this fact, here is another Time Magazine article I found. This one is from 2007 and actually proves what the 1997 article claimed in regard to the addict brain returning to normal over time.

Go to the following web page:

http://www.time.com/time/2007/addiction/

Click on the tab “Addiction and Brain Activity.” You will notice a brain scan image showing the activity in a non-addict brain. As you move the slider to the right, a scan image shows the brain of a cocaine addict 10 days after cocaine use stops. Notice how little activity there is in the frontal lobe of the brain–the place where logic, willpower and self-control reside. Now, as you move the slider to the far right, the scan shows the addict brain 100 days after cocaine use has ceased. Look at how much the activity in the front lobes has increased! And that is after just 100 days!

The wonderful news is this brain change is not just a reality with recovering cocaine addicts, but with all addictions–including pornography addiction! The porn addicted brain can be changed and healed!

This is exactly why we developed the Candeo Recovery Training program–to give you all of the information, tools and training you need to begin transforming and healing the addiction circuitry in your brain. You can’t break free of your porn addiction with the brain you have today–you must build a different brain. The fact is, YOU CAN and we will show you how!