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|Stress – The True Gateway Drug|
|News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition|
|Written by Ginny Grimsley|
|Monday, 09 July 2012 13:31|
Physicians Explain How Stress, 12-Step Programs Change the Brain
When Bill W. and Dr. Bob created Alcoholics Anonymous 77 years ago, they borrowed principles learned from a Christian fellowship called the Oxford Group to create their 12-step recovery program.
“They knew that their spiritual program was effective where other ‘cures’ had failed, and over the years, there have been many theories as to why,” says Dr. Harry Haroutunian, physician director of the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs, and collaborator with Dr. Louis Teresi on the book, Hijacking the Brain: How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Hijacks our Brains – The Science Behind Twelve-Step Recovery (www.HijackingTheBrain.com).
“Now we know that stress is the fuel that feeds addiction, and that stress and drug and alcohol use cause neurological and physiological changes,” Haroutunian says. “The changes are primarily in the deep brain reward centers, the limbic brain, responsible for decisions, memory and emotion. These centers are ‘hijacked’ by substance abuse, so that the addicted person wants the booze or drug over anything else. ”
As a scientist and physician applying the 12-step program to his own life, Teresi studied the physiological changes triggered by this seemingly non-scientific treatment.
“One response is that elements of 12-step programs reduce stress and increase feelings of comfort and reward through chemical changes in the brain and body. These changes allow for neuronogenesis – the birth of neurons in the brain,” Teresi says.
“As substances of abuse affect the limbic brain, so do 12-step recovery practices."
Teresi says the 11th step in the program, which emphasizes spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation, works for the following reasons:
Sobriety is not so much about not drinking or drugging, Teresi says.
“It’s about developing an attitude and lifestyle that brings sufficient serenity and personal reward that drinking, or taking any mood-altering drug, is simply unnecessary.”
About Dr. Teresi & Dr. Haroutunian
Louis Teresi earned his medical degree from Harvard, where he completed honors concentration courses in neuroscience. In more than 24 years of practice, Teresi has authored numerous peer-reviewed papers, winning 14 national and international awards for his research, and is a senior member of the American Society of Neuroradiology. He is a grateful recovering alcoholic.
Dr. Harry L. Haroutunian, known as "Dr. Harry," is an internationally known speaker on addiction who has created the "Recovery 101" lecture series. As physician director of the Betty Ford Center, Dr. Haroutunian has contributed to the development of a variety of programs. He is the author of the soon-to-be-published book "Staying Sober When Nothing Goes Right" and collaborated with Dr. Louis Teresi, author of "Hijacking the Brain: How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Hijacks our Brains – The Science Behind Twelve-Step Recovery."
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