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Maia Szalavitz is an American reporter and author who has focused much of her work on the topic of addiction. She is the co-author of Born for Love and The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, both with Dr. Bruce D. Perry. Her latest book is Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction
In this paradigm-shifting interview, Maia Szalavitz explains that addiction is a learning disorder, a developmental disorder, which is a different way of thinking of addiction than it being a disease or a moral failing.
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In This Interview, Maia Szalavitz and I Discuss…
- Her book, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction
- That your brain becomes what it does – that the more you repeat an activity, the easier it becomes
- How addiction is a developmental disorder and how learning is critical to addiction
- The problems with discussion about addiction as a disease
- Arguing that addiction is a disease and then treating it like a moral failing
- Addiction resets your priorities and causes one to make different decisions
- Addiction = compulsive behavior that continues despite negative consequences
- How illogical it is then to try and address addiction by focusing on implementing additional negative consequences
- The complexity of addiction, genes + culture + timing
- The developmental history that gets you to addiction
- How the drug isn’t the problem and our efforts to get rid of it isn’t a helpful solution
- Addiction as a learning disorder that is characterized by a resistance to punishment
- The problem with “rock bottom” is it’s not helpful scientifically, and it implies a moral component of having to reach a point of extreme degradation before you can stop.
- What the motivation is that turns people to recovery
- How addicts keep using because they can’t see how they can survive any other way
- Recovery begins when you start to see that there are other options
- People with addiction are living at a point of learned helplessness
- The role of hope and other ways of managing their life
- Addiction as a coping mechanism
- The pleasures of the hunt vs the pleasures of the feast
- Wanting vs Liking
- Different motivational states
- Addiction as escalating wanting
- Stimulants and chasing that satisfaction
- The effectiveness and usefulness of 12 Step Programs
- The role of medicine in a developmental disorder
- Looking at addicts as students who need to learn better coping skills rather than sinners who need to be forced to repent.
Maia Szalavitz Links:
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