We live in an addicted society.
A report from the United Nations found that 35 million worldwide suffer from substance abuse disorders, while £36 billion is spent on addiction treatments by the UK government each year.
Despite the increasing numbers and awareness of its devastating impact, our culture still holds outdated assumptions both about the causes of addiction, and how best to treat it.
One is that it’s a moral shortcoming; a choice addicts make because they are “weak-willed”.
Another is that it’s a “disease” of the brain.
Unfortunately, these assumptions lead to policies that exacerbate the problem, with the proportion of UK prisoners with drug problems doubling in recent years.
However, a growing body of research is revealing that not only are these assumptions scientifically inaccurate, they are also obstacles to recovery. Instead, the evidence is mounting that addictions are a symptom of a deeper problem – the problem of unresolved emotional pain.
For example, a study of 2,061 individuals found that the greater severity of adverse childhood experiences, the more likely someone is to become dependent on substances.
Hence Dr Gabor Maté’s assertion: “Don’t ask: why the addiction? Instead ask: why the pain?”
Therefore, if we want to move beyond addiction and enable lasting recovery, we first need to understand the biological and psychological mechanisms underlying it. Then, we can use science-based strategies to tackle emotional problems at their core – rather than merely treating symptoms.
So, in this online conference, we’ll explore:
— Dopamine and the Neurobiology of Addiction – Dr Anna Lembke (Stanford University)
— Healing Addiction with Internal Family Systems Therapy – Prof Marc Lewis, PhD (University of Toronto)
— Schema Therapy & Addiction Recovery – Mark Dempster (Harley Street Addiction Psychotherapist)
You’ll learn how these groundbreaking insights can help individuals break free from addictions and begin flourishing again in day-to-day life.
In this talk, Mark will provide a brief and detailed overview of how he manages Schema Therapy in addiction practice in Central London (Harley Street). He will reference the current book utilised for assessment and treatment.
Schema therapy was developed by Jeffrey Young in the Mid 80s after he found CBT to be less helpful for some individuals than others, especially those with chronic characterological concerns. It draws on a variety of different therapeutic approaches, such as imagery, re-scripting, and gestalt chair work techniques. Mark will then discuss how the Schema therapist examines the route/origins of the client’s experience, not merely dealing with an outward symptom such as drug or alcohol abuse, whereas traditional therapists may focus on simply alleviating the symptoms.
He will focus on discussing the Schema therapist’s application by looking at the childhood developmental origins of the problem i.e the core psychological vulnerabilities. When a schema is triggered a coping style is activated i.e unrelenting standards may trigger workaholism or being continually busy. The main drive of schema therapy is to access the parts of the client that hurt and are vulnerable (the vulnerable hurt child).
Mark Dempster has been a practicing psychotherapist and drug counselor for the past twenty years. He currently runs his practice from Harley Street where he specialises in addiction issues.
Mark is committed to making sure that the option of a complete recovery is open to all addicts who seek help. In addition to his counseling practice, Mark remains a passionate member of Narcotics Anonymous. A firm believer in the philosophy that “one can only keep what one has by giving it away.”
He continually helps friends or friends of friends who suffer from active addiction. His voluntary work includes helping out on a 12 step helpline and facilitating a 12 step meeting regularly in a detox unit in Marylebone, London. He also speaks at addiction conferences and contributes to many specialist publications on the subject.
In his autobiography book called Nothing To Declare, Mark charts his early life and his journey from heroin addiction, dealing, drug smuggling, homelessness and destitution to pulling his life and around, becoming clean, through to his transformation into one of the most respected addiction councilors in the UK.
You can learn more about Mark’s work at www.markdempstercounselling.com.
Many forms of therapy have touted their effectiveness with addictive disorders. Some of them work for a few people. Most do not. Internal Family Systems therapy starts off by recognizing that there are two distinct parts or “subpersonalities” opposing each other when addiction is ongoing (members of an “internal family” of parts). One part really wants to get high, get freedom and relief from “shoulds” and “musts.” It only cares about the present. The other part is intensely critical, in fact often punitive and scornful, because it is looking toward the future, not the present, and it knows what damage to expect. IFS therapy helps people in addiction to fully accept both parts, get to know them through internal dialogue, forgive them, and soothe them. There is no hint of forcing the addictive voice to stop and go away. Through this recognition and compassion, we soothe both parts, their antipathy starts to wane and become more like a game between children with different motives (which is pretty much what they are). The result is that both parts lose their compulsive determination, and a third voice, characterized by compassion, gradually takes responsibility for enduring our anxieties and living a more peaceful life.
Prof Marc Lewis, PhD is a neuroscientist, professor, bestselling author, and one of the world’s leading experts on the neuroscience of addiction. In his academic work, he has authored or co-authored more than fifty journal articles, and for many years was a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Toronto and then Radboud University (Netherlands) before retiring.
For the last decade, he has focused on making his work more accessible to a wider audience through books for lay readers, pop science articles, public talks and interviews. He is the author of two bestselling books on addiction: “Memoirs of an Addicted Brain” and “The Biology of Desire”, a book which Dr Gabor Mate argues “effectively refutes the disease model of addiction.” He is currently practicing psychotherapy as a clinical psychologist in Toronto, working with clients with addictive problems and other difficulties.
You can learn more about his work at www.memoirsofanaddictedbrain.com.
This is a time of unprecedented access to high-reward, high-dopamine stimuli: drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, Facebooking, Instagramming, YouTubing, tweeting… The increased numbers, variety, and potency are staggering. As such, we’ve all become vulnerable to compulsive overconsumption. Yet, it is possible to find contentment and connectedness by keeping dopamine in check.
In this talk, Professor Anna Lembke will provide a practical, science-informed approach to addressing compulsive overconsumption of everything from food, to sex, to video games.
After participating in this workshop, participants will be able to:
— Describe the neuroscience of pleasure and pain and what happens in the brain as we become addicted
— Explain homeostasis and how repeated exposure to drugs of all kinds tilts the hedonic set-point to the side of pain
— Identify dopamine fasting as a practical, feasible, and effective way to reset reward pathways
— Review the science of hormesis: How intentionally engaging in pain/discomfort can improve mood and well-being.
Dr. Anna Lembke received her undergraduate degree in Humanities from Yale University and her medical degree from Stanford University. She is currently Professor and Medical Director of Addiction Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine. She is also Program Director of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Fellowship, and Chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and a diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine.
Dr. Lembke was one of the first in the medical community to sound the alarm regarding opioid overprescribing and the opioid epidemic.
In 2016, she published her best-selling book on the prescription drug epidemic, “Drug Dealer, MD – How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016). Her book was highlighted in the New York Times as one of the top five books to read to understand the opioid epidemic (Zuger, 2018). Dr Lembke’s latest book: “Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence” explores how to combine the science of desire with the wisdom of recovery to find balance in an overindulgent era.
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