ER ep 45 (1)

Episode 45: Reward Deficiency Part 1

We’re back with a new episode of the Evolved Recovery show discussing reward deficiency! (Listen here)

We’ve created a two-part podcast series with some of the points made in our recent presentation on reward deficiency at the Nutritional Therapy Conference.

In this first part, we discuss what the relationship between addicts and dopamine resistance is. We also explain why reward deficiency should matter to your recovery.


reward deficiency

What is “Reward Deficiency?”

In a previous podcast, we argued what the “Real Cause of Addiction” was.

Our opinion was unlike the popular Huffington Post article by Johann Hari. He claims that lack of community is the real cause of addiction.

We politely disagree and here’s why:

1. Genetic responsibility has to be addressed.

2. There are way too many variables to dump the real cause of addiction into a little box with the word “community” on it.

3. Addiction is a primary, chronic, and progressive mid-brain illness.

The symptoms of addiction involve the inability to feel reward, pleasure, purpose or meaning in the way “normal” people do. This stems from a genetic mutation in the dopamine receptor sites in the brain.

We believe the real cause of addiction is a “reward deficiency syndrome.”

A reward deficient addict will use any dopamine booster they can get their hands on to self-medicate. Including, but not limited to:

  • drugs
  • alcohol
  • exercise
  • food
  • status
  • gambling
  • shopping
  • shoplifting
  • sex and/or relationships (love)

Just because you remove what appears to be the most toxic addiction in your life, does not mean you will stop being addicted. No matter what method of recovery you use.

A large and unfortunate misconception in the recovery community is that replacing “bad” addictions with “less bad” or so-called “healthy” addictions is A-OK.

People are dying because of that mentality. It is damaging to healthy recovery.

Being “addicted” to anything means that we’re still relying on something to avoid being present in our selves and we’re avoiding feeling our feelings.

Reward Deficiency – Part 2

Food, sex, and exercise should never be used as “coping skills” and we’ll go much further into that in next week’s podcast episode. We’ll dive into the dark side of reward deficiency in recovering alcoholics and addicts as we answer these questions:

How do we stop replacing addictions?

What are healthy coping mechanisms?

Why is self-care so important?

What is the difference between self-care and coping skills? (Hint: a lot!)

How do we experience pleasure on a healthy and non-addicted level?

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