This Is A Brain On Drugs Ad – Therapy Utah June Newsletter

Kathy KinghornKathy KinghornLeave a Comment

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Do you remember this ad?

The original ad campaign came out in 1987. I was 13 years old. I don’t remember any other ad from my childhood quite as clearly as this one. It opens with a man in what looks like a rundown apartment. He holds up an egg and says, “This is your brain.” He then motions to a frying pan on the stove and says, “This is drugs.” The egg is cracked open, put in the pan and in a very grave voice he states, “This is your brain on drugs.” The final shot is a close-up of this man looking directly into the camera asking, “Any questions?”

For a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Southern California, the message came through loud and clear and gave me a clear visual image of what I had already been taught about drugs – if you go down that path you will never, ever come back and you will never, ever make anything of your life.

The problem with that message is that it actually isn’t true. Recovery does occur because our brains can and do change. Advances in science have allowed us to understand that a broken arm would be a far more accurate visual to use. As we learn, have experiences and form memories our brains will change. When some of that learning and experience is in the creation of an addiction this will also change your brain.

Stepping into recovery gives your brain the right environment to begin the healing process. Consider the
five parallels in treatment:

1) If you broke your arm, you would want to go to an expert to make sure it is treated appropriately. Your recovery should be handled in the same way. At TherapyUtah we have expert therapists facilitating our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).

2) Just like an x-ray will reveal to your doctor the extent of your injury and the needed course of medical treatment our initial assessment at intake allows us to determine the course of your mental health treatment.

3) A cast is a tool doctors use in your healing. At Therapy Utah we have many tools for you to use in your recovery. We supply you with an iPad loaded with recovery tools. Each night of the IOP you will practice how to put the tools you are learning into your life.

4) The treatment may feel restrictive, much like a cast put on your arm. You may feel, initially, that it is taking too much of your time. To jumpstart recovery, you will need to be given the opportunity to
be in a healing environment for a significant part of your week. Over time as you gain recovery skills, time in treatment declines.

5) When your arm is initially treated, you will need to focus on your own healing. Making sure the cast doesn’t get wet, elevating your arm, wiggling your fingers, lifting cautiously. When your cast is removed your arm will be weak, stiff and uncomfortable. Similarly, when you begin treatment in our IOP, you will find that the focus is on your healing. Learning how to keep yourself safe, practicing relapse prevention and personal healing. Over time your focus is shifted to healing relationships. During this time, you can feel unprepared for the task, communication can feel stiff, relationships can feel uncomfortable. At Therapy Utah, just like we helped you through the challenges of the initial phase, we guide you through
this phase with its unique challenges.

20 years after the original commercial I personally have grown in my understanding of what an addict looks like, what causes addiction and what helps individuals maintain a life of recovery. I’m grateful that solid science has confirmed what I know to be true – people change, hope returns, families reconnect and amazing lives are lived!

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