Alcoholism and The Addictions
There are many contributory causes of addictive behavior. People may “self-medicate” to avoid unpleasant feelings, so often we find that persons who abuse psychoactive substances such as alcohol and marijuana are clinically depressed. Feelings of failure can also be associated with escaping into alcohol and drug induced mental stupor. Hence, adults who have untreated ADD frequently are substance abusers because of their experience with failure in their careers and their relationships.
Anxiety can likewise be related to addictive behaviors. The classic example is the adolescent who experiences social anxiety and finds that things go easier in social gatherings if they drink some alcohol before the event. They find “liquid courage” in the alcohol and become dependent. Similarly, persons with anxiety related sleep disturbances often come to rely on alcohol to help them sleep. The problem with dealing with anxiety by using some mind altering substance is that the person can become dependent or addicted, using increasing amounts over longer periods of time. Sadly, we frequently find elderly people who are lonely or depressed after the loss of their partner who become dependent on alcohol to help them through their unhappy waking hours.
There can also be a genetic basis for addiction. Commonly, we find that the addict has a severe deficiency of slow frequency brainwave amplitude and/or a marked elevation of fast frequency amplitude in the back of the brain. Basically, these people can’t find peace in their own head and use alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or other distraction to get some relief. Alcohol and some drugs increase slow frequency brainwave amplitude so the person experiences a sedating effect that continues until they fall asleep or pass out. Focusing activities such as sex or gambling distract the person by narrowing the perceptual field so the brain chatter is quieted. Such narrow focus can also distract the person from feelings of guilt, shame, social anxiety or sadness.
It is clear from the above that there are many contributory factors to addiction including both the physiological and the psychological. Treatment of these conditions includes the normalizing of brainwave activity with neurotherapy coupled with behavioral and/or cognitive therapies. Neurotherapy has the highest success rate of any therapy in the treatment of primary (genetic) alcoholism.