Spontaneous Remission or Quantum Change in Addictive Behavior

Although most of the literature on addiction and recovery from substance use disorders (SUD) is focused on various paths to change, we invariably hear about "spontaneous remission" or individuals who "just woke up one morning and lived their lives differently." 

Anyone working in the filed of addictions will frequently encounter stories of such change. Although some are likely due to individuals who had not progressed beyond what the DSM IV refers to as "abuse" status, meaning that the individual had yet to become dependent or "addicted," some clearly had.

To learn more on this topic I recommend Miller & C’de Baca, Quantum Change: When Epiphanies and Sudden Insights Transform Ordinary Lives, Guilford Publications, 2001, 205 pp. For an excellent summary with considerable insight given this discussion, read George Valliant’s review at http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/159/9/1620

To whet your appetite and possible pique your curiosity about exploring further, here is one interesting quote from Valliant’s review:

Each of their book’s case histories, chosen from several dozen quantum change experiences, share many but not all of the following characteristics: ineffability, revelation, transience of the original experience (although the effects last for decades), passivity, unity with the cosmos, transcendence, awe, joy-love-peace, and distinctiveness. Such epiphanies and spiritual insights, of course, are common after mind-altering drugs, evangelical religious conversion, and temporal lobe seizures.

If I have learned anything during 40-years working with individuals with SUDs, especially alcoholism, it is that one can never doubt the power to change or the unlikely source of assistance that can facilitate such.

What do you think?
Dr. Robert


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