The Hijacked Brain, AA's Powerlessness, and Harm Reduction
Presented by Stanton Peele, PhD
There is a new consensus -- broadly accepted in the U.S. and now going worldwide – that modern brain science "proves" that addicted people can't get a grip on addiction to reduce its negative consequences for them. This idea, expressed in the meme "the hijacked brain," stems from AA's and the 12 steps' loss-of-control model as translated into supposed brain mechanisms, where it is just as erroneous, misleading, and destructive.
The best science -- clinical, public health, and epidemiological -- tells us instead that people are capable of reducing harms when they believe they can, their situations support them in doing so, and helping professionals accept a harm reduction model. In short, harm reduction, the hijacked brain, and AA's powerlessness are on a collision course for both public acceptance and the mantle of science. Only one model can reign supreme.
Stanton Peele is a pioneer in the addiction field, beginning with his publication in 1975 of Love and Addiction, and continuing with his books The Meaning of Addiction, Diseasing of America, The Truth About Addiction and Recovery, and 7 Tools To Beat Addiction. In these and numerous articles and blogs, Stanton has broadened the concept of addiction beyond substance use, made clear the centrality of non-abstinent/harm reduction outcomes for resolving addiction, and established that natural recovery is the typical course of addiction. His most recent books have laid out common-sense, self-help approaches for overcoming addiction, which he has converted into his Life Process Program. The LPP formed the basis for a residential treatment program, which Stanton has now converted into an on-line coaching program.
Where: New York University, 6 Washington Place, Room 159, NYC