Impact of drug and alcohol addiction on brain.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Sharma, Manoj
Pub Date: 08/01/2012
Publication: Name: Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education Publisher: American Alcohol & Drug Information Foundation Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Psychology and mental health; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 American Alcohol & Drug Information Foundation ISSN: 0090-1482
Issue: Date: August, 2012 Source Volume: 56 Source Issue: 2
Topic: NamedWork: Hijacking the Brain: How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Hijacks our Brains - The Science Behind Twelve-Step Recovery (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Teresi, L.; Haroutunian, H.
Accession Number: 311184023
Full Text: Teresi, L., & Haroutunian, H. (2011). Hijacking the brain. How drug and alcohol addiction hijacks our brains. The science behind Twelve-Step recovery. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. [ISBN 978-1-4634-4483-9; hard cover; 286 pages; $34.95; paperback ISBN 978-1-46344-484-6; $14.95]

The Twelve-Step program is a very commonly used approach in the field of addiction recovery. However, not much is known about the mechanisms by which this program operates. This book is an attempt to explain the linkages between the spiritual approach of the Twelve-Step program and the problem of addiction. Evidence from the fields of neurosciences, neuroimaging, psychology, sociology, and neurobiology has been presented in this book.

The book is organized into two parts with a total of nine chapters. The first part describes how the brain is taken over by addictive drugs and alcohol and has six chapters. The second part describes the recovery process and has three chapters. The book begins with an author's note and an introduction.

The first chapter is about addiction and calls it "an insidious, costly, and deadly brain disease." The chapter discusses the threat of drug and alcohol addiction, the disease model of addiction, and causes of addiction and alcoholism. Particularly the role of genetic predisposition, psycho-social factors, stress, and comorbidity with other psychiatric illnesses are elaborated. The chapter also discusses the alterations in body systems that result due to addiction and signs and symptoms of addiction along with the addictive potential of drugs and alcohol. It would have been good to include a chapter summary at the end of the chapter, which is missing.

The second chapter is about the evolution of addiction. This chapter discusses the possible evolutionary advantage of drug use in ancient civilizations and how the human brain has evolved over time. The chapter also discusses the role of emotions in animals and humans. The use of psychoactive drugs in animals and in ancient cultures is also presented. Finally the chapter deliberates the effect of psychoactive drugs on emotions in humans.

The third chapter is about the reward centers in the human brain and includes discussion on emotions, memory and motivation. The limbic system and various neurotransmitters are described in this chapter. The chapter does a good job in simplifying and presenting the anatomy and physiology of the complex nervous system. This chapter includes a brief summary at the end which will benefit the readers.

The fourth chapter is about the neuroscience of cravings and dependency. The issue of transition from casual use to addiction and neurobiology of substance dependence are discussed in this chapter. The mechanisms of the effect of individual psychoactive drugs have been elaborated. Finally, results from brain imaging studies of addiction are presented.

The fifth chapter is about stress and addiction. The chapter starts with defining stress and explaining how stress and the reward systems are closely linked. The concepts of acute and chronic and adaptive and maladaptive stress are presented. Animal studies of stress-induced drug use, neurobiology of stress and drug addiction, stress hormones in tolerance and withdrawal states, effects of stress on drug craving, stress induced reinstatement of drug-seeking behavior and relapse, and stress induced cognitive impairment are some other topics covered in this chapter.

The sixth chapter pertains to cognitive impairment from addiction. The chapter describes how the addict or alcoholic is the last one to realize that there is cognitive impairment. The chapter deliberates how addiction impairs executive functioning, decision making, emotion processing, and working memory. The neurobiological linkages with each of these impairments are also presented. This is the last chapter in the first part.

The second part begins with the seventh chapter and introduces the Twelve-Step recovery process. The chapter discusses the Twelve-Step programs including Alcoholics Anonymous. A section on the effectiveness of the Twelve-Step programs is included. The role of these programs in overcoming fear, anger and stress is highlighted.

The penultimate chapter is about meditation and spiritual experiences. In this chapter the spiritual principles and beliefs are elaborated upon and the role of meditation in recovery is discussed.

The final chapter is called, "Instinctive empathetic socialization: The science of trust, empathy and altruism; why Twelve-Step groups work." The role that groups play in recovery is highlighted in this chapter. The hormone oxytocin is also discussed in this chapter. The book ends with a brief summary, closing remarks, acknowledgements and a warning about oxytocin. The references have not been included in the book and have been provided online which is something new.

On the whole, the book is quite unique as it is interdisciplinary. It will be useful for researchers and practitioners working in the field of addiction prevention and treatment. However, it would have limited utility as a textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses that teach addiction as it lacks specific pedagogical attributes.

Review by Manoj Sharma, University of Cincinnati
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.