For decades, scientists and doctors have struggled to explain the root cause of addiction and develop an effective treatment method. Lately, a popular theory has gained ground: that addiction is a habit that can be learned and unlearned. This “neuroplasticity” allow us to learn and forget patterns and behaviors, and also to naturally recover from diseases, brain injuries, and strokes.
We’ve asked a select group of drug and alcohol addiction experts to sound off on this issue, and here’s what they have to say.
Jim LaPierre LCSW, CCS | Addiction Counselor
“Drug addiction is a series of learned behaviors, all of which are unhealthy attempts to fill emptiness and/or take away pain. Through the process of recovery, we learn to live life on life's terms. We accept that being free of addiction requires moving our focus away from whatever we may or may not want and focusing on what it is that we need.
“We unlearn associations, habits, and mindsets. We come to unlearn the lessons from our families of origins and the false beliefs that were impressed upon us. We discover the truth about our worth and about what's possible when we move from active addiction to sobriety.”
Ricky Simmons | Drug and Alcohol Counselor
“I believe drug addiction is bad behavior being constantly repeated; however, it's up to the individual to make a daily choice not to engage in that bad behavior.”
Carrie Langenbach LMFT, CSAC| Addiction Counselor
“I believe that addiction can be a "bad" learned behavior. I also believe that people can be genetically predisposed to addiction, which can complicate recovery efforts. However, I absolutely believe behavior can be altered.
"I think it takes the right combination of readiness to change, access to treatment and positive social support to provide those struggling with addiction the best chance at long-term recovery."