Addiction is a chronic disorder proposed to be precipitated by a combination of genetic, biological/pharmacological and social factors. Addiction is a compulsion to repeat a behavior regardless of its consequences (Webster, 2003). Addiction is often characterized by a craving for more of the drug or behavior, increased physiological tolerance to exposure, and withdrawal symptoms in the absence of the stimulus (NIDA, 2008). The purpose of this paper is to review a recently published book that focuses on family involvement in addiction.
The book selected for this project was, “The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment” by Dr. Carlton (Carl) K. Erickson. Dr. Erickson is a research scientist studying the effects of alcohol on the brain for over 30 years. He received his Ph. D. degree in pharmacology from Purdue University in 1965 and taught and preformed research at The University of Kansas and The University of Texas since 1969. He presently is the Pfizer Centennial Professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Addiction Science Research and Education Center in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Erickson is a published professional with over 150 scientific articles and co-authored multiple books on addiction and drug abuse. As a neuroscientist, he believes that addictions are neurochemical disorders. Although, in 1988 the United States Supreme Court declared alcoholism to be willful misconduct (Gerde, 2005), Dr. Erickson bases his belief on decades of comprehensive genetic and neurobiological research that provided evidence that addiction is a disease of the brain with genetic connection.
He believes if the addiction is diagnosed early it can be treated successfully. Dr. Erickson is more than qualified to speak on the subject of addiction and any subtopics related to addition. Dr. Erickson’s book is written to a general audience and easy to understand. The book provides a clear and detailed overview of current neurobiological information and treatment programs for addiction based solely on science and provides a brief description of genetics. According to Dr. Erickson there have been possible causative genes identified.
He emphasizes in his book that any treatment approach cannot rely on pharmacological solutions alone and that treatment must be individualized, but does not go into great detail. Although, he does refer to group, individual and family counseling his main focus is pharmaceutical treatment. The first chapter of the book clarifies the terminology used throughout the book. The next 7 chapters provide a crash course in the basics of the brain, the anatomy and neurobiology of addiction, genetics and pharmacology.
Chapter 8 lists various treatment programs offered for the most widespread addictions to include several types of counseling methods and pharmaceutical treatments. Dr. Erickson focuses on addiction as a disease process and dismisses most psychological aspects of the addicted person, claiming the addicted person is not responsible for their condition. Dr. Erickson’s simply ignores other research and evidence that support a psychological bases for addiction. Although there has been no clear-cut cause identified for addiction, research has identified numerous factors as potential causes.
Potential cause are everything from genetic, physiological, biochemical, social and prenatal factors to emotional conflicts, personality traits, learned behavior and stress. His treatment modalities focus on pharmacological treatments disregarding the psychological piece of prevention and treatment not to mention free will and moral responsibility. Scientific research supports addiction as a disease and also supports the idea that there are psychological factors present as potential causative factors as well as plays a significant role in prevention and treatment, (SAMSHA, 2004).
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) family does influence prevention and treatment. One of the individual factors related to successful prevention and treatment include motivation to change drug-using behavior and the degree of support from family and friends is crucial. It is important for the families to be part of treatment. They need to be referred to support groups designed to helping them understand their role is intertwined in the addiction. These groups will provide education about the disease in general and how they will assist in treatment.
Although, Dr. Erickson has valid scientific research on the topic of addiction and his research is accepted in the medical community his treatment modalities lacks the whole person concept. NIDA agrees addiction is a disease of the brain because addiction changes the brain’s structure and how the brain works. NIDA explains, the initial decision to indulge in addictive behavior is voluntary, but over time the individual’s ability to exert self control is seriously impaired. Dr. Erickson’s book implies the primary and only contributing factor to addictive behavior is genetic.
This is in contrast to NIDA research. NIDA expresses that there are many factors contributing to an individual susceptibility in displaying addictive behavior range from physical make up to environmental influences. According to NIDA only about 40% of the total contributing factors are possibly genetic the rest is psychological, environmental and by choice. The influence of the home environment is in most cases a significant influence. Parents or older family members who abuse alcohol or drugs can increase an individual’s risk of developing their own addictive behaviors.
NIDA does support the ideas that addiction is a treatable disease. With the discoveries in science and research there have been many advances in addictive treatment. Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. Research shows that combining medications with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. NIDA and Dr. Erickson agree that treatment approaches must be tailored to address each individual, but differ on the appropriate care plan. Behavioral treatments are recognized by the medical community as an essential part of addiction treatment.
Behavioral treatment assists in modifying an individual attitudes and behaviors related to their addiction and increasing their skills to handle stressful circumstances and environmental cues that may trigger intense craving and enhance the effectiveness of medications (SAMSHA, 2004). Getting an addicted person to stop is just one part of the treatment and recovery process. Addiction has disrupted how they function in their family lives, at work and in the community. Because addiction can affect so many aspects of an individual’s life, treatment must address the needs of the entire individual to be successful.
Treatment need to meet the individual’s medical, psychological, social, vocational, religious and legal needs (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2008). This is why the best programs incorporate a variety of services into their treatment program. Successful treatment programs across the U. S. include cognitive behavioral, group and family therapies as well as motivational incentives. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps individuals recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to fall into addictive behaviors.
Motivational incentives use positive reinforcement such as providing rewards or privileges for appropriate behaviors such as for attending and participating in counseling sessions, or for taking medications as prescribed. Group therapy helps individual face their addiction realistically and come to terms with its harmful consequences, and boost their motivation.
Family therapy uses the family strength to assist the individual to find resources to continue in treatment (NIDA, 2008). Dr. Erickson is definitely a qualified professional in the field of addiction and has the credentials in his field of study. He is an accepted expert and member of the medical community.
Although, Dr. Erickson’s book “The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment” has valid research and support from the medical community it has areas in conflict with the medical community as a whole in the area of contributing factors for addiction and treatment modalities.
His research on the contributing factors for addiction is validated by the medical and research communities, but is lacking in the complete picture of addiction including other contributing factors such as environment, psychological factors and treatment modalities other then pharmacological treatment.
He does make some mention of counseling and therapy, but focuses mostly on pharmacological treatments and therapies. Dr. Erickson’s book did not add to or detract from the text used for this course. The information in Dr. Erickson’s book was straight forward and easy to follow, but could be misleading or misinterpreted simply by not including all factors related to the cause of addiction and treatment. His book was consistent with most other addiction research, but did not follow the line when it came to the whole person concept in causes and treatment.
This could possibly be due to the fact that Dr.Erickson has a degree in pharmacology and is a Professor of Pharmacology. His views may be biased as a result of his profession.
Although, Dr. Erickson has some differing views his research is valid and does provide useful information to base addiction research, prevention and treatment. Although, this book did not directly focus on family involvement in addition it did focus on the genetic link to addiction which is part of the theory linking family to the root of addictive behaviors. REFERENCES Capuzzi, D. & Stauffer, M. (2008). Foundations of Addictions Counseling.
Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ Erickson, C. (2007). The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc: New York, NY Gerde, L. (2005). Addiction : Opposing Viewpoints. Greenhaven: San Diego Ca Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (2003). Merriam-Webster: Springfield, MA NIDA (2008). The Science of Drug Abuse & Addiction. Retrieved 10 August 2008, from http://www. drugabuse. gov// SAMSHA (October 4, 2004). Addiction Treatment Should Include Family Therapy Practical Guidelines for Counselors. Retrieved 15 August 2008, from www. samhsa. gov/.