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Digital Recording

Addiction and Recovery Update 2020: The Latest Clinical Takeaways from Neuroscience Research

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Kevin McCauley, MD
1 Hour 50 Minutes
Audio and Video
Sep 09, 2020
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Research in neuroscience provides an evidence-based and comprehensive understanding of addiction that fits well with the experiences of people needing, seeking, and in recovery. There are several insightful and well-articulated arguments challenging the disease conceptualization of addiction, but two important areas of research – epigenetics and psychoneuroimmunology – greatly advance awareness of how environmental stress creates vulnerability to addiction.

This lecture reviews the most up-to-date science of addiction, the current arguments for and against addiction’s conceptualization as a disease, and how the principles of recovery management counter the pathophysiology of addiction and improve a recovering person’s chances of achieving long-term recovery.



This online program is worth 2 hours CPD.



Kevin McCauley, MD's Profile

Kevin McCauley, MD Related seminars and products

The Meadows

Kevin McCauley, MD, is a senior fellow at Meadows Behavioral Healthcare. He first became interested in the treatment of substance use disorders while serving as a naval flight surgeon where he observed the US Navy’s policy of treating addiction as a safety (not a moral) issue, returning treated pilots to flight status under careful monitoring. Dr. McCauley wrote and directed two films: Memo to Self, exploring the concepts of recovery management, and Pleasure Unwoven, on neuroscience of addiction. He won the 2010 Michael Q. Ford Award for Journalism from the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.

As a person in long-term recovery himself, Dr. McCauley is grateful for the many benefits he received to establish his sobriety and strives to make sure that people have access to the same benefits and opportunities. He is committed to understanding how addiction plays out in the lives of people from diverse races and different cultures, genders, and orientations, and hearing their unique perspectives of recovery. Although addiction can be a debilitating disease personally and spiritually, Dr. McCauley joins with his colleagues to treat people seeking sobriety with respect, preserve their dignity, and accompany them as they find their own path into recovery.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Kevin McCauley is the co-founder of the Institute for Addiction Study, has an employment relationship with Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, and receives a speaking honorarium from Imagine Recovery. He receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. He has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Kevin McCauley has no relevant non-financial relationships.


  1. Appraise the latest neuroscientific explanations of substance use disorder pathophysiology and interpret Substance Use Disorder symptomology in light of this research.
  2. Investigate and analyze the arguments for and against the conceptualization of addiction as a brain disease.
  3. Analyze elements and evaluate examples of Recovery Management, post-treatment support/aftercare, and Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care.
  4. Utilize the principles of Safety Culture and Chronic Disease Management to solve common problems in early sobriety


I. Addiction: a disorder of reward learning, decision-making and self-awareness

  • Definitions of Addiction
    • The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Definition of Addiction
    • The DSM-5 Symptomology of Addiction (Substance Use Disorder)
  • The Five Current, Leading Neuroscientific Explanations of Addiction
    • Genetic Vulnerability (Blum)
    • Incentive-Sensitization (Robinson and Berridge)
    • Pathology of Memory and Learning (Kalivas)
    • Stress-induced Allostasis (Koob and LeMoal)
    • Pathology of Motivation and Choice (Volkow, Goldstein)
  • The Debate about Addiction’s Definition as a Disease

II. Recent Advances in the Pathophysiology of Addiction

  • Epigenetics: a new understanding of heritability of addiction & recovery
    • The Overkalix Study and transgenerational trauma transmission
    • Nicotine primes cocaine use (Kandel and Kandel)
  • Psychoneuroimmunology: the Gut-Brain-Immune Loop
    • Inflammation and Psychiatric Disorders
    • The Role of Microglia in brain disease and repair
  • Implications for the Disease Argument

III. Recovery Management: a Safety-based approach to sobriety

  • Altering Health Disparities by Improving the Social Determinants of Health
  • Professional Health Programs: What Makes a Good Aftercare Plan
    • Treatment and “Recovery Literacy”
    • Recovery Management Check-Ups
      • Active Linkage to Recovery-Oriented System of Care (ROSC)
    • Recovery Residences
    • Peer-based Sobriety Support (Kelly, Kaskutas)
    • Relapse Safety Planning
    • Urine Drug Testing (Monitoring)
    • Vocational Rehabilitation and The Collegiate Recovery Movement
    • Addiction Medicine Specialists
    • How Recovery Management informs Medication-Assisted Treatment
    • “Hedonic Rehabilitation”

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Case Managers
  • Other Mental Health Professionals


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