New Book Classifies Addiction As A Learning Disorder

New Book Classifies Addiction As A Learning Disorder

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re heavy readers at Valley Recovery Center. As an ongoing theme in our blogs, we like to present interesting new books that provide a unique perspective on recovery. This week we’re focusing on Maia Szalavitz’ Unbroken Brain, which delves into the neuroscience of addiction.


Szalavitz was recently interviewed by The Daily Beast, where she provided her own commentary on the book.


“I want people to understand that addiction is a learning disorder,” she told the site. “If you don’t learn that a drug helps you cope or make you feel good, you wouldn’t know what to crave. People fall in love with a substance or an activity, like gambling. Falling in love doesn’t harm your brain, but it does produce a unique type of learning that causes craving, alters choices and is really hard to forget.”


Maia’s own story is a unique one. She had previously been on an Ivy League scholarship, bound towards educational success. But by the age of 23, Szalavitz had turned into a self-professed “junkie;” shooting heroin and cocaine up to 40 times a day.


Though Unbroken Brain does slightly touch into her background, Maia was quick to point out that is not a typical memoir. She looks at it more as a case study.


“People who become addicted are wired differently, and it affects the manner in which they learn,” Szalavitz explained. “We see people with addiction as valueless—literally, pieces of junk. But the interesting thing with different types of brain wiring is, they don’t bring only disadvantages. They can also bring advantages. Sometimes there are blessings hidden inside of curses. The compulsive drive that set me up for addiction probably also makes me a good journalist.”


If anything, the book is certainly empowering and does a good job identifying common traits among addictive personalities. To find out more about Unbroken Brain, check out Maia Szalavitz’ official book page.

Valley Recovery Blog