News in the Addiction and Recovery Field

Recently Malibu Beach Recovery Center CEO Joan Borsten and I were talking about some dramatic news.brain reward site.jpg

First, last year the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) introduced a new definition of addiction that “knocks the psychological element off centre stage, redefining addiction as a chronic neurological disorder and an imbalance in the brain’s ‘reward’ circuitry.” (That’s from an editorial in a nutrition and mental health newsletter from the International Schizophrenia Foundation.) Joan applauded ASAM for finally recognizing what scientists like Dr. Kenneth Blum and NIDA chief Dr. Nora Volkow have known for decades -- that addiction is a chronic brain disease. Remember her Dopamine for Dummies article?

Second, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) has announced a working definition of “recovery,” (from mental disorders and substance abuse disorders). The group worked with people from behavioral health care, among others, to detail the essential, common experiences of those recovering from these conditions. They offer this statement:

“A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

And these components that support a life in recovery:

  • Health: Overcoming or managing one's disease(s) as well as living in a physically and emotionally healthy way.
  • Home: A stable and safe place to live.
  • Purpose: Meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
  • Community: Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

Here’s what I see: Every field needs a vocabulary people can agree on. It drives the work and indicates what the field is about. It supports the members and the experts, and it’s important.

We are still at the start of this New Year.  I’m thinking of all the people in recovery and wishing them well. I’m thankful for all the recovery centers around the country helping them to improve their life and reach their new potential.



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