Decoding addiction & its impact on the brain


We have to make up stories for ourselves to understand the world around us because, at our core, we are merely nodes of information that coexist in perfect harmony with our surroundings. Before the early 20th century Temperance Movement or the establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous shortly after, most people believed addiction to be a moral flaw. The prevailing theory held that people’s destructive use of alcohol, drugs, gambling, and other behaviors that resulted in compulsive pleasure-seeking was caused by a lack of moral fiber and willpower. However, neuroscientists are now more than ever involved in the process of figuring out what causes addiction and why quitting is so challenging in the first place.

It’s common to misunderstand addiction. In addition to physical dependence on or withdrawal from a substance, the condition is also marked by a compulsion to partake in any enjoyable activity despite adverse life outcomes. For this reason, the diagnosis of Pathological Gambling was elevated to Gambling Disorder in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Cravings are caused by how the brain’s reward system and circuitry function. “We are all magnificent reward detectors.” In addition to being a licensed and ordained pastor, Dr. Shaw is regarded as one of the top addiction counselors, public lecturers, authors, and seminary instructors in the field of addiction using a spiritual approach to aid and address the suffering.

He believes that addiction is conceivable without a substance to get a person addicted, which was what much of the argument centered around in regard to gambling. Researchers have spent years examining how addiction affects the mind and body. They have discovered that the enslavement of all types of addiction behaviors modifies the structure and function of the brain in particular ways. In other words, despite feelings of shame and guilt, social isolation, and other adverse effects, addicts continue to use drugs or engage in other addictive behavior partially because of the physiological impact. Dr. Shaw established The Addiction Connection, a non-profit organization with a dedicated network of addiction programs, churches, and counselors trained to compassionately assist the addicted and their families during his thirty-year addiction career.

The Addiction Connection educates willing individuals to care for the addicted with competence and enthusiasm while providing genuine hope and helpful assistance. Counselors and other competent caregivers can take courses on addiction taught by Dr. Shaw. His goal is to equip leaders to provide a biblical and gospel-centered approach to treatment for those who are hooked and their families. The 16-month curriculum enables addiction leaders to teach and discuss sound principles in their programs and churches, providing hope and support to the addicted. It is used in his disciple-making program for addicts called “Next Steps: Be Transformed.” People who want to learn a spiritual approach to addiction will be equipped with the courses The Addiction Connection provides.

Therefore, get in touch with The Addiction Connection if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction. Whether you are looking for a group curriculum, a personal study, or training to become an Addictions Biblical Counselor, you can find the biblical resources you need here!