You are not weak, selfish or immoral.
Unless you've been there, it's difficult to understand what it's like to be in the throws of addiction. And it's nearly impossible for many people to imagine how it feels to see someone you love compromise their value system and engage in seemingly selfish, often destructive patterns of behavior. The transformation defies logic - until you understand that your loved one may be gravely ill with a brain disease that is debilitating, chronic, progressive and potentially fatal if left untreated.
David's philosophy in working with clients and their loved ones is rooted in science and the understanding that severe substance use disorders - like other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease - are caused by physical alterations to the organ structure. With diabetes, that organ is the pancreas. With cardiovascular disease, that organ is the heart. In the case of addiction, the organ affected is the brain.
This is not an excuse for the behavior, it is an explanation. Substance use can cause long-lasting, measurable changes to the brain, affecting the flow of chemicals that control vital executive functions such as insight, judgement, awareness, communication, risk perception and decision making. David recognizes that an individual or a family seeking help is already faced with so many barriers to getting well - shame, embarrasment, discrimination and the perception by many in our society that to succumb to an addiction means that one is weak, immoral, a bad person and should just be punished.
Foundational to David's work for over 30 years is the understanding that the stigma around addiction is only perpetuated by these misguided beliefs. David knows that care, compassion, an understanding of the disease and the utilization of evidence-based clinical approaches for the individual and their support system are the necessary tools required to achieve recovery and live a happy, healthy and productive life.
A Vulnerable Brain
When an individual performs an action that satisfies a need or fulfills a desire, dopamine is released in the brain and produces pleasure. It serves as a signal that the action promotes survival.
The brain records this experience and we are likely to do it again. In nature, rewards usually only come with effort and after a delay. But addictive substances shortcut
this process and flood the brain with dopamine.