Whole Life Magazine

February/March 2013

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/106392

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Page 27 of 43

How AddiCTion Works in the BRAin When you know how to pinpoint the pleasure impulse, you can start to ride the wave By Brandy engler I T'S SURPRISING TO HEAR A PROUD YOUNG MOTHER SPEAK WARMLY OF HER DEVOTION TO HER FAMILY AND, IN THE NEXT BREATH, DESCRIBE CARRYING VODKA around in a diaper bag, sipping between grocery store runs and visits to the pediatrician. "I'm a terrible mother," she declares, and indeed her alcohol habit is dangerous on several levels, but her conclusion isn't entirely accurate. Lost in her addiction, she's also lost a sense of her own basic goodness. One of the hardest parts of the recovery process is the crisis of identity that ensues. People ind themselves wrangling with the realization that what their life has become isn't who they know themselves to be. How do they go from the PTA to passing out, or from the executive ofice to prison? What happens to the person they used to be? The answer lies in the area just behind the forehead. This is the actual location of the self, the area that perceives identity. Speciically, it's called the "frontal lobe" region (and although there are actually two frontal lobes, a right and a left, they are usual referred to in the singular). When people say they feel as though they have lost themselves, that experience is actually very literal; addiction tends to briely short-circuit the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is also the region of the brain responsible for critical thinking, reasoning, judgment, decision making, values and impulse control. This is why otherwise rational, high-functioning people make seemingly crazy decisions, such as a mother passing out while her small children are running around the house. The frontal lobe is off-line. 28 wholelifetimesmagazine.com Addiction_02.indd 28 1/25/13 6:26 PM

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