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Eval Health Prof. 2011 Sep;34(3):362-70. doi: 10.1177/0163278711401002. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Drug addiction, love, and the higher power.

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  • 1Departments of Preventive Medicine and Psychology, Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research, University of Southern California, 1000 S. Fremont Avenue, Alhambra, CA 91803, USA.


This discussion piece suggests that reliance on a Higher Power in drug abuse recovery programs is entertained among some addicts for its psychobiological effects. Prayer, meditation, early romantic love, and drug abuse may have in common activation of mesolimbic dopaminergic pathways of the brain and the generation of intense emotional states. In this sense, reliance on a Higher Power may operate as a substitute addiction, which replaces the psychobiological functions formerly served by drug use. Implications of this perspective are discussed.

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