The Core Addiction Syndrome

By Terence. T. Gorski

I recently found an article on the internet by Floyd P. Garrett, MD, who presented the following definition of the term Addictive Process

“The addictive process is a recognizable psychological and behavioral syndrome that expresses itself in a particular individual in regard to specific substances or processes but which exhibits a striking similarity and commonality among addicted individuals regardless of their specific circumstances and particular addictions.”
~ Floyd P. Garrett, MD

To understand this definition and put it together with my previous understand I hade to take this definition apart. Here is how I thought it through:

1.      The addictive process is recognizable. I agreed with this statement and it matched with my experience. Patients have many disorders that have a great deal of similarity to the original symptoms of alcohols as presented Jellinek and other models of drug addiction. I also see that there are critical differences that set them apart.

2.      The addictive process is composed of recognizable psychological and social system. I agree with this statement as far as it goes. In my opinion, however, it is incomplete. In my experience, there are also neuropsychological problems based in abnormal brain chemistry that are a critical part of the addictive process. On a physiological level The use of certain mind-altering chemicals (often referred to as a drug of choice) and the use of certain mind-altering behaviors activate an addictive brain response in predisposed individuals.  When the addictive brain response is activated by use of an addictive drug or behavior the brain has an automatic addictive response. This automatic addictive brain stimulates the brain to over-produce pleasure chemicals and inhibit the production of warning chemicals that reduce stress anxiety and fear. As a result, when the addictive brain response is activated people feel a strong and pleasant sense of euphoria and do not feel stress, anxiety or fear. Reference: Straight Talk About Addiction by Terence T. (Terry) Gorski

3.      There are many similarities among all conditions related to this addictive process, whether if focus is chemical or behavioral.  I agree, but again I believe that this definition is incomplete there are also critical differences among the different manifestation of the addictive process. In my opinion both the similarities and the differences need to be recognized in order for effective treatment and recovery plans can be developed and implemented.

The term used by Garret, the Core Addictive Process is a good one, especially because it highlights that the response caused by addiction to addictive chemicals and behaviors are both processes that share a core of similarities. I believe, however, that the term Core Addictive Syndrome is more useful in the context of a total lexicon or system of language. A Syndrome is a group of identifying signs and symptoms; a group of signs and symptoms that together are characteristic or indicative of a specific disease or other disorder; a group of things that form a pattern that can be recognized and distinguished from other patterns.

The term Core Addiction Syndrome will establish both chemical and behavioral addictions firmly into the lexicon of medical terminology which will be required for its acceptance into the community of behavioral health providers.

My next blog will focus upon taking the concept of the Core Addiction Syndrome and examining the common mind altering chemical and behaviors that can activate the syndrome.

FOCUS HealthcareTerence T. (Terry) Gorski

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