Episode 344– The Neuroscience of Addiction


Today we have Bill.  He is 61, from Alabama, and took his last drink on April 29, 2021.


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Highlights from Paul


Paul provides part one of highlights of a podcast with Rich Roll speaking with Dr. Anna Lembke. Rich Roll Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jziP0CEgvOw.


“Persons with severe addictions are among those contemporary prophets that we ignore to our own demise for they show us who we truly are.” Dr. Lembke says that drinking is not a choice but seeking help for an addiction is a choice.


The interview focuses a lot on dopamine and why addiction has been on the rise for 30 years.  American society and economy are focused on an insatiable pursuit of pleasure.  Today’s marketers target the dopamine system; thus, we all struggle to find homeostasis.  Addiction can show up as alcohol, social media, food, etc.  Addiction is a low-grade discomfort we all have as humans.  She believes we are all wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, which works in an environment of scarcity, not our current state of abundance.


Paul reminds us we can’t study or think our way out of addiction.  Community is key!


Exact Nature exactnature.com  Code:  RE20


[11:43] Bill took his last drink on April 29, 2021.  He enjoys hiking, movies, sports, windsurfing, reading, and spending time with family and friends.


Bill started drinking as a teenager.  He knew at spring break 30 years ago that he was a problem drinker.  He drank and got buzzed every five years but wasn’t addicted.  Thirty years later, Bill’s wife left, and he started drinking liqueur in the evening.  He slowly became addicted, and he drank every night.


When Bill hit rock bottom, he found himself broke, living in an extended stay hotel.  He scraped the floor of his room and his car to get enough money to buy a few shots.


In 2020, he joined Recovery Elevator and was a lurker until 2021.


Bill still has cravings and practices “doing 30 things” to keep him from drinking.  If the cravings continue, he goes to bed.  Loneliness is Bill’s biggest trigger.  Ice cream and cookies also get him through.


Bill said everything got better when he stopped drinking. He is back in the gym and loves waking up without a hangover. His medications work better.  The community of Café RE is crucial to Bill, and he is led and inspired by others in RE.  He loves being of service and is grateful to the suggestions of others that helped him when he wanted to drink.


Bill credits Tim Grover’s books, Relentless and Winning, with changing his mindset.  His takeaway was getting ‘obsessed’ with sobriety.  Meditation helps his anxiety and cravings.


A friend of Bill’s told him his greatest flaw was that he didn’t like himself.  He described how the “I suck” mentality brought him down.   Bill made considerable strides in self-love since he quit drinking. He listens to a podcast called Unbeatable Mind and has learned to say “I love you” to himself daily, over and over.  Bill believes having an accountability partner is critical to his success.


Odette’s Summary

Odette shared about a Café RE member who shared at the Bozeman retreat.  The person said, ‘for a long time, I thought I didn’t matter, that my existence didn’t matter.  I recognize that I matter, I belong, and I can make an impact.’


Odette reminds us, we all matter.  We help each other become better and to heal.  We remind each other of our value.  The power of community is vital because it is rooted in love and non-judgment and a firm belief that we are whole.  We are whole, even when we stumble.


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