“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again." Buddha. This month's topic: Addiction - the opposite of connection and a learnt habit?

ADADSU eNews March 2017

Addiction - the opposite of connection & a learnt habit?

This month we came across and interesting animation film on the meaning of addiction. I thought it was very good and though this ‘new way’ of thinking about addiction has been around for a few years, it still receives quite a lot of controversy and misunderstanding. 

In this newsletter we will look at addiction a little, what it means, its challenges and what we can do about it. You can also read a more detailed article on the topic in our Blog section. 

We will include some Top Picks of the Month as usual, with a TED Talk by Johann Hari on “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong”, a mindfulness (audio-)book to help with addiction recovery, and a yoga session and recipe of the month to nourish your body-mind senses. Enjoy!

Addiction - what is it?

What causes it? Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple. This short video animation below is adapted from Johann Hari's New York Times best-selling book 'Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.' It questions here how we treat and see addiction and if there is not another way. It's worth a look before reading on!

We know that the "genetic" scape goat is actually quite overrated, since we know now that environmental influences can change our genetic expression (also called the study of epigenetics). These environmental factors include how the environment makes us feel (i.e. social connections), our thoughts and beliefs, including what we eat, drink, the air we breathe, etc. As in any "condition", the causes are often multifactorial. For addiction, this will also include trauma and early adversity and attachment injuries (caregiving challenges).

As the video animation and Hari in his TED Talk puts it quite succinctly at the end: "the opposite of addiction is connection".
In my recent blog on the topic I will go into this in much more detail. But in short, it seems that one of the main reasons for addiction to develop is our lack of healthy intimate and loving connections to others.

Unfortunately, our current culture and lifestyles are not very conducive that that and we are very much out of sync with connecting to ourselves and others. So the next question you might ask is: how do we get close to creating and joining something like "rat park" as suggested in the video?

I guess that's why I have got my job as a psychotherapist. 
It comes back to addressing things from the inside out and that is very difficult without support - even for people who want to connect to themselves and others again.

Addiction is currently labelled as a medical "disease."

This is because our brain changes with addiction, like other organs that change in structure or function in the progress of disease. However, Marc Lewis, neuroscientist and professors of developmental psychology, explains in his book "The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is not a Disease" that our brains change in fact all the time (also called neuroplasticity). Our brains have to change to enable learning to take place.

Lewis believes addiction is learning and developmental process - a learnt habit. This means that a learned habit could therefore be "unlearned" with the right conditions - and that "re-learning" can take place.
Of course this is never easy - like kicking any habit. Particularly in early recovery, extra help and support is crucial.

But imagine this: if we had the right external and internal conditions available to us from early on, would there even be the need to have to create a reward boost in our brains or to numb our feelings with substances or addictive behaviours? With healthy intimate and loving connections our bodies would receive and create natural chemicals of happiness, like endorphins and oxytocin. But to be able to develop and maintain healthy relationships and connections to others we also have to learn how to have healthy relationships with ourselves. We need to become aware of our underlying emotions and feelings, and start to feel free to express them, develop a healthy sense of self and create healthier boundaries. It is also connecting with these in a stable enough way, to learn to express them honestly and have them heard to release them.

In my practice with my clients, a large part of the work is aiming towards connection. As well as exploring the way we connect to ourself and others and the relationship between the two. In this way, psychotherapy can help serve as a bridge in this process of “re-learning”. 

If you like to know more about this, what could help and how to find relief, visit our Blog this month on "Addiction - the Opposite of Connection & Learnt Habit?"

We'd love to hear from you what you think about the topic, and please contact us with any questions.
Equine Therapy - Only a Few More Sessions Available!

Our last two months of equine therapy in the UK are filling up quickly. We have a few more sessions available in April. Let us know if you would like to try it!

Equine therapy can work well on its own and as a useful adjunct to your existing room-based therapy. But how does it work? We have taken this opportunity to write our latest blog on Top 7 Reasons Why Horses Can Change Your Life.

Since we are talking this month about addiction, equine therapy can be a very embodied and more creative way to deal with the challenges that underlie addiction behaviours. Horses are amazing therapeutic facilitators. Some of the reasons in my blog include that they can:
  • Really Get You
  • Challenge You
  • Move You
  • Let You Experience
  • Show You
  • Heal You
  • Transform You
We hope our blog article can help reveal a little more how equine therapy works. Feel free to have a look on our website to find out more. We would also like to hear your thoughts on equine therapy.

Contact us for more information!
Do you need any support but can't travel to us or are located in a different country? We now offer more slots for online therapy support, contact us for more. 

Picks of the Month for you for March: 

A video animation explaining addiction based on journalist Johann Hari's New York best-selling book "Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs."; his TED Talk on the topic "Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong". Also a recent best seller (audio)book "The Mindful Path to Addiction Recovery: A practical guide to regaining control over your life." by Lawrence Peltz MD, a beautiful yoga session with Jeni Hilman to connect with yourself more and a delicious recipe from the Yummly App to up your veggie intake and to nourish your senses.


Warm wishes,
Lara & the ADADSU Team

Of course, all of us could do with a little help in the process of getting through some difficult times and to be able to move forward. If you need any help or support, or have any questions about it, feel free to contact us or find more information at

Video of the Month: Addiction [6 mins]

What causes addiction? Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple.This short video animation is adapted from Johann Hari's New York Times best-selling book 'Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.' It questions here how we treat and see addiction and if there is not another way. 

TEDTalk of the Month: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong with Johann Hari [15 mins]

"Addiction is the opposite of connection" he quotes at the end. What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

(Audio)Book of the Month: The Mindful Path to Addiction Recovery: A practical guide to regaining control over your life. By Lawrence Peltz. [9:44 hours]

This book from Lawrence Peltz, MD has become a best seller and is also available in the audio book format from Audible, or in paperback or Kindle format from Amazon. Dr. Lawrence Peltz, who has worked as an addiction psychiatrist for more than two decades, draws from his clinical experience and on the techniques of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to explain the fundamental dynamics of addiction and the stages of the recovery process, and also gives us specific mindfulness exercises to support recovery. At the heart of addiction is the fear of painful emotional states. This makes it easier to compulsively seek drugs and alcohol to avoid or escape emotional pain. Mindfulness, on the other hand he believes, helps us develop greater acceptance and ease with life's challenges, as well as greater self-compassion.

Yoga Session of the Month: 7 Day Chakra Series || Heart Chakra - Connection & Compassion. Day 4  with Jen Hilman [26 mins]

This is Day 4 of Jen's "7 Day Chakra Series" for the heart chakra - for connection & compassion. It is not long and can work for you if you are beginning a practice like this. If you prefer something longer more advanced in beautiful natural surroundings and connection to nature, you may also like this class: “Connections to Core Power Yoga Class" with Fiji McAlpine (57 minutes). Use with the mindfulness mantra of "I have (1) awareness of (2) the mind-body-process in (3) the present moment (4) with acceptance." this month. Enjoy this month's yoga practices to help with self-acceptance and self-compassion exercising body and mind!

Recipe of the Month: Healthy Roasted Chicken and Veggies (One Pan) from Yummly App [20 mins]

This delicious recipe is done in only 20 minutes! It comes from the Yummly app, one of my other favourite recipe apps out there that will work with your apple watch. It sends you weekly personalised recipes, making it super easy to create something tasty and nourishing for yourself. Enjoy!! 
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