Addiction in the Age of Brain Science

Studying The Brain Functions

In this talk Markus Heilig presents new findings in the science of addiction, as viewed from a neuroscientific view point. Dr Heilig is a professor of psychiatry and the founding director of a new Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience at Linkoping University. His research group studies brain processes connected to stress and negative emotionality and how these contribute to psychiatric disorders including addictive disorder.

In this video Dr Heilig illustrates the role social exclusion plays in the addictive cycle. He begins the talk by illustrating that while early on in an addicts using history the brain’s reward center is primarily responsible for triggering using behavior, this is not the case by the time an addict is seeking help. At this point in the life cycle of addiction the individual is not being motivated by the brain’s reward center he or she is now being driven to action through the brain stress and aversion system. That is to say early on in someone’s substance use, they are trying to capture a good feeling, but by the end they are trying to avoid feeling miserable.  The stress and aversion system has been compromised in such a way that it is overactive. The addicts brain is super sensitive to feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear. Meaning that in the absence of a mood altering substance the addict is plunged into a state of misery.

Understanding The Damage

This damage to the brain, and its particular instantiation is complicated by our very nature a social group orientated primates. For us, as humans, one of the most profound stressors is social exclusion, being marginalized. The particular problem for addicts in this respect is that their lifestyle creates, by its nature social exclusion. Acute experiences of these stressors drive craving. Intense craving causes relapse. Relapse begets behavior that results in social exclusion. This cycles is repeated over and over again. Dr Heilig states, that unless we can create an intervention in this cycle by offering alternative measures to diffuse the stress the addict has little hope of recovery.

While neuroscience may be a long way from “curing” addiction. As a discipline they have begun to take the problem seriously. At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare we also take addictive disorder seriously. Our program is based on current neuroscientific research. We engage in physical exercise as a way to generate neuroregeneration within our patient population. In effect we are working to undo the damage to the brain’s stress and aversion system that has rendered it hyperactive. We do this in a community setting that is grounded in an effort to help our patients feel a real sense of connection with each other and with the staff. Working to minimize or eliminate feelings of social exclusion within our community. We are attacking the addictive cycle on at least two fronts each day.

As the science of addiction continues to evolve so will our program in lock step. We are committed to bringing to bear the newest advances for the benefit of our patients. We are currently working to develop a fully realized nutritional component to our program. This element of programing won’t simply be about nutrition for general health and wellbeing. Rather it will be a nutritional plan specifically designed to support and create neuroregeneration.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction please contact us.

Until next time
Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell
VP of Communications & Market Development


If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder please contact us today

Here We Grow Again

A New Year, A New Center

Fourteen months ago today marked a new epoch in the history of Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare.  At the time we were very near the bottom.  As an organization we had lost our way. This was true financially, clinically, and most importantly spiritually/morally.  We had begun Granite Mountain with the pure intention of wanting to help those suffering from a disease, we understood only too well from personal experience, to a solution and a life of freedom.  Over several years this intention had been subverted through a combination of personal shortcomings and the environment pervasive in the treatment industry at the time.   It was at this point that the founding partners threw their hands up in desperation and looked outside the organization for a solution.

In December of 2016 the beginnings of that solution was found in the hiring of our CEO Jason Turner.  Jason came to the organization with a list of demands.  Not demands for himself, rather a list of principles that would become the guiding force of Granite Mountain BHC.  Principles like community, connection, commitment, and transformation became the bedrock and guiding lights of Granite Mountain.  We would, going forward, strictly adhere to the guiding principle of “doing the right thing for the right reason”.  This simple idea would guide all future decisions both big and small.  

Jason first re-imagined the therapeutic experience, with the introduction of the Recover Strong program. A one of a kind strengths based approach to the treatment of behavioral health disorders including substance use disorder.   As a team we then transformed the entirety of the client experience and re-conceived the basic nature of client staff interactions.  Discarding the basic assumptions of this relationship pervasive in the behavioral health field one of behavior modification and compliance.  Instead we focus on accountability with kindness and confrontation with curiosity.  This has revolutionized the day to day experiences of both clients and staff.

In the fall of 2017, with the therapeutic model on a firm footing and clients experiencing wholesale transformation in their lives the team knew they needed to transform the business operations and market development sides of the organization.  That is when Jason and I first began speaking and how I became involved with Granite Mountain.  (the full story of these organizational transformations is a story that needs to be told.  It’s telling however, is beyond the scope of this article.  Be on the lookout for our soon to be released video series on YouTube that chronicles this story and the full scope of our organizational transformation.)

Bringing Everything Together

These are all still works in progress.  We are not where we want to be yet, but we are far closer than we were.  We have many setbacks as we chart a new course for our organization and hopefully the industry as a whole.  We also enjoy many sparkling successes.  It is one of these successes that has motivated me to write this article for you today.  When I first came on board we were operating out of an old business plaza.  It had what we needed at the time, but was not a location from which we could really grow into ourselves.  Our clinical team was separated by geography from our Recover Strong program, both were separated from our housing.  In short it was not ideal.  We have recently relocated to Prescott Valley, and as you will see from the images attached to this article, have found our home.  

Our Recover Strong program is now at the literal as well as existential heart of Granite Mountain. Clients come to the center in the morning and can receive all their programing in one location. Our staff and clients can meet each day in one location and our open door policy is ever evident  as clients and staff  connect as fellow community members building bonds and friendships that can last a lifetime.  Our new building looks as if it was purpose built for us, though it was not.  For us, it is proof positive that doing the right thing for the right reason has its benefits.  

We will soon be having a grand opening and hope all will attend (if you are interested in attending please message us) and share our joy and excitement as we begin a new chapter for Granite Mountain.  Become a part of our community, and witness the transformation of our individual clients, staff, and our organization.  It is going to be one heck of a ride!

I leave you with this thought, that was given to me by one of my mentors, “the best is yet to come”.  This is true for us and for you.  Until next time my friends.

 

Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell
VP of Communications & Market Development


If you would like to speak to a professional about treatment for you or your loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!