The Tara Treatment Center Blog

More from Dr. Quinn Chipley on Substance Use Experiences, Treatment Transitions and Society’s Love-Hate Relationship with Substance Users

More on Substance Addiction from Dr. Quinn Chipley

In our last two posts on the science of the “pleasure principle” and abstinence-based addiction recovery, we’ve featured many wise insights from addiction specialist Dr. Quinn Chipley. Dr. Chipley is one of five expert speakers who will be presenting at our 10th Annual Ann Daugherty Symposium on May 22nd.

Dr. Chipley has a wealth of knowledge on substance addiction drawing from many years of experience in both hospital and private practice settings, and he doesn’t mind sharing what he knows. We recently interviewed him to get a sneak peek of his presentation for the Symposium, and he had even more valuable insights to offer.

Here are just a few of the topics Dr. Chipley talked about during our interview:

On reported experiences of substance use among addiction-prone individuals vs. the "normal" population

“[Among] those who are prone to ‘excess response,’ I would call it…first of all, there is a strong response, stronger than what gets reported by others within the population. People talk about an immediate sense of relief from anxiety, a sense of wholeness and wellness and connection with the world that they had never experienced before after their first contact with their first substance. The quote-unquote ‘normal’ population, they like their experience, but they don’t frame it in such glowing terms. So there’s a difference, very often, in reports of immediate response.”

On people who are pushed to substance abuse by environmental pressures

“There is a population in between [people who can use substances in moderation and people who are biologically prone to addiction] who are prone to abuse, and that’s probably the population which is most sensitive to environmental stressors. And these are all going to get a little muddy at the overlap of the curves; they’re going to blend into each other to a degree, and sometimes it’s a little difficult to separate them out. But I do think it’s important to remember that there are going to be people who are responding adversely to really difficult life situations—hopelessness, extreme poverty, things of that nature. They’re trying to cope by using substances. If they were faced with better situations and given some better social support along the way, they may be able to achieve the ability to say, ‘I just don’t think I’m going to continue in that particular use pattern anymore,’ and either start using normally or choose not to use at all.”

On the importance of continued support during treatment transitions

“The hand-off from any kind of residential treatment into community life is crucial, and we didn’t do very well with that for a long time. It used to be that people were discharged and [treatment providers] would say, ‘Go home, get a meeting, find a sponsor. Good luck. Goodbye.’ And that’s a little bit of a jagged hand-off. It really has to be a lot closer. They almost have to be walked into their next meeting if it’s going to be that kind of living situation.”

On society's complicated relationship with people who use substances

“We have this love-hate relationship with the alcoholic-addict. The ‘normals’ are attracted to them because, they don’t even know why, but at an evolutionary level, these people used to bring them good things. They were the ones that brought the carbohydrates. Now, within a highly technological society, they start bringing them damage. And so they’re back and forth, back and forth…One of my premises is that non-alcoholic, non-addict people can easily be as addicted to the alcoholic or the addict as the alcoholic or addict is addicted to their substance. And they don’t understand their own behavior in that regard, either. Which is why a twelve-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous works well for them, because suddenly it helps them start understanding more aspects of what’s going on and gives them a different way of not getting caught back up in that motivational circuit of always trying to either rescue them or always trying to punish them, one of the two.”

Interested in hearing more on biology, addiction and recovery from Dr. Chipley? Check out these clips from our interview!

Explaining the "insanity of the first drink"
The "long game" of addiction recovery
Choosing the right kind of addiction treatment
How society encourages substance abuse

And don’t forget to sign up to hear Dr. Chipley and others speak at Tara Treatment Center’s 10th Annual Ann Daugherty Symposium on May 22nd!