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February 7, 2023

Addiction recovery methodologies in search of more comprehensive perspectives

Where are all the four-quadrant, all levels of self (egoic self, True Self, Unique Self) approaches to addiction and recovery? The Center for World Spirituality has taken one of its core projects books and applications of integrally-informed, Unique Self-inclusive approaches to addiction and recovery (for more, see our projects underway by Lori Galperin of Castlewood Treatment Centers). Meanwhile, researchers and thinkers are continuing to advance the cutting edge in recovery from various perspectives that are important parts of the whole.

Writing recently on Huffington Post, Wray Herbert looks at the physiology and psychology of addiction (upper-left and upper-right quadrants), summarizing the findings of Jessica Tracy and Daniel Randles of a new University of British Columbia on the connection between shame and alcoholism. He describes the UBC Emotion & Self Lab’s study methodology in detail, noting that it used videotaped body language of alcoholics over a span of time to measure the connection between shame and propensity to relapse. He writes:

This is the first scientific evidence to bolster what alcoholism counselors and recovering alcoholics have long known: Shame is a core emotion underlying chronic heavy drinking. Shame is what gets people into the rooms of AA — it defines the alcoholic “bottom” — but it’s a lousy motivator for staying in recovery. The power of AA is that it offers something to replace the negative emotions that most alcoholics know all too intimately.

The Daily Dish notes Herbert’s article alongside other recent notable addiction-related news and posts in the blogosphere: one, a Wall Street Journal article noting the rising possibility of vaccines capable of treating addiction; two, a post in Aeon Magazine by Aeon by Tobias Jones which questions the effectiveness of AA as well as efforts to medicalize addiction recovery. He describes his experience treating addiction with hard manual labor and says:

Fixing addiction, then, is much more complicated than weaning someone off a needle or bottle. Treatment needs to be holistic, dealing with an individual in the round. It’s not just about repairing a brain, or a vein, but about repairing relationships and the spirit. It sounds very highfalutin’ and, since we’re not professionals, we don’t really know how to do it. But then, nobody does. There’s no textbook about how to repair the spirit.

Whether it is UBC’s investigation of issues in the upper-right and upper-left quadrants (generally speaking, individual biology and psychology), the WSJ’s reporting of an upper-right hand quadrant treatment on the horizon, or Jones’s more balanced look at lower-quadrant structures and cultures combined with individual belief systems and activity, interesting work is happening in many different sectors. What remains, I think, is the considerable task of integrating issues in all four quadrants and all levels of self/Self into programs more cohesive and effective than are available today. The work continues…

Editor’s Note: Lori Galperin, mentioned in the article above as working on a CWS book related to addiction, is Board Chair of CWS as well as Clinical Director of Monarch Cove and Castlewood Treatment Centers. She is leading in the development in conjunction with Marc Gafni and CWS of a Unique Self Recovery modality which we believe has the definite potential to effect a revolution in the treatment of addiction.

About Joe Perez

Joe Perez is a spiritual mentor, author, poet, and scholar. He is best known for his 2007 book Soulfully Gay. one of the first memoirs in the tradition of World Spirituality based on Integral principles. He serves as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Integral Wisdom. His work in progress includes Gay Spirituality and Kalen O'Tolán.

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