The Science

Trouble with Alcohol and Other Drugs Starts in the Brain

The Healthy Living Personal Program

Understanding addiction and recovery science gives individuals new tools for coping with addiction illness at any stage.


Every human brain has two parts: Limbic, sometimes called the “primitive” brain; and the cortex, often called the “thinking” brain.

The limbic brain impulsively pursues security, pleasure and freedom from hunger or pain. The cortex brain puts limits on these primitive drives, making us more appropriate for normal living and social success. 

When craving to drink or drug overtakes the decision to be appropriate, trouble is on the way. The brain wants to help. But the brain is in conflict with itself. Some scientists even say that too much alcohol and other drugs “highjack” the brain.

The Brain Wants to Be on Your Side

Cortex Region Thinks Makes Decisions Reasons Rationalizes 
Limbic Region Survival Pleasure 

Ten Helpful Facts

Alcohol and Other Drug Misuse And Addiction


Addiction is surprisingly common. One out of eight Americans live with some form of addiction. This includes 30 million people with alcohol and other drug addiction.


Starting young matters. Harmful effects of heavy misuse damages development and may indicate inherited propensity for continued problems. 1700 college students die each year through binge drinking.


One out of four Americans drink and drug beyond safe measures, but are not yet dependent or chronic misusers. These heavy users cause most social and property damage, but are seldom professionally informed of their

at-risk status.


Addiction is a brain disease with physical manifestations. Physical cravings for alcohol and other drugs accompany a mental obsession. Symptoms include:

    a.  Unable to reduce or stop misusing after first drink or drug.

    b.  Obsessive worry about supply.

    c.  Harmful health outcomes.

    d.  Inappropriate, often illegal, behavior.

    e.  Isolation and mood swings.


High tolerance in early use indicates high potential for addiction. 


Unsafe drinking is consider 5 drinks for men, or 4 drinks for women 

or people over 65.


Seven out of ten people who drink or drug too much are employed and have health insurance. Unfortunately, these supports (including insurance) are often gone for most before seeking medical attention.


Hope for recovery is strongest for people in ìheavy useî phase, before dependence. When professional brief interventions occur, more than 60 percent change their consumption and avoid future health damage.


Recovery is a process addressing medical issues, adjusting attitudes, and building supports and defenses. There are many paths to recovery, including support groups, professional therapy, faith practices, and individual adjustment.


The best start on a recovery path is a frank, honest discussion with a primary care doctor or provider. A short and simple ìauditî can suggest education, assessment, or intensive treatment. AQUILA RECOVERY CLINIC offers free assessments when recommended by a physician.

Aquila Recovery Center • 5100 Wisconsin Ave., NW • Suite 307 •  Washington, DC  20016 • 202-244-1600 • Copyright 2019