Your Reality vs the Addict's Reality
Making an addict feel happy and normal via pharmaceutical intervention is not actually what they need... at all. In fact, it is detrimental to their long-term recovery. Why? Well, for one, it is absolutely crucial for an addict to understand that the reality of human life includes suffering and discomfort, that his or her pain, boredom and dissatisfaction is not unique, and that he or she sits next to 7 billion of the same human beings.
The truth is that addicts (and others who have lost power) often suffer from a lack of purpose, which is more of a spiritual malady, to say the least. Sure it may manifest into some bio-chemical rearrangement, but that is just a symptom, as opposed to the underlying cause, and which would you rather treat, the symptom or the actual cause? As well, the happiness and normalcy may not even be real. You can decide for yourself if that makes any sense, but if you're a non-addict, remember that a solution that may make sense for you does not necessarily make sense for the addict.
The best is when a non-addict who has never had any experience with addiction, whether personal or by extension, tells me the truth about my addiction and my brain. I know it's tempting to think you can know more about addiction from a class or academic journal than the addict himself, but with this particular malady, that is not always the case. Sorry. And yes, even when we're talking about an inbred meth addict with a 65 IQ. Actually... that may be a bit of a stretch.
I should confess that I consistently find myself at least moderately disgusted by the human race, regardless of the endearing warmth of human love and compassion or, say, a beautiful song being sung that sends shivers down your spine. My wife gets totally annoyed at me when I utter some variation of this general theme. She says, 'Well that includes you too!' I guess she thinks the way I say it is arrogant and unbecoming - a turn-off, as it were. I'm sure she's right, but I have no problem including myself in the conversation. I'm completely disgusted by myself as well, and perhaps my human disgust is simply a projection of my self-disgust...
...but, you see, sometimes the "truth" doesn't matter because how I feel and what is actually happening vs the intellectual truth is closer to reality, and therefore to a solution. In other words, knowing that it is just me projecting doesn't change the way I feel about other human beings, so who gives a shit what the precise psychological mechanism is? Does it matter? Nope. And this is why academics, while sure they have changed the world and advanced the human race in ways that are difficult to even fathom, are truly at a loss when it comes to addiction. But wait, why is that?
Again, because the science of it doesn't matter (plus they fail to grasp that physical powerlessness is permanent whereas mental powerlessness is temporary). But the neurochemical changes occurring in the brain, the physiology of withdrawal, the psychological hoax that is the phenomenon of "triggers"... well, none of it matters. Again, why? Because remedies resulting from this knowledge will not cure the addict from what ails him or her. Look, I actually find the study of drug action on the dopaminergic reward system of my brain rather interesting, and I studied it at length back in college, but as far as my actual addiction is concerned, it doesn't matter.
The addict/alcoholic needs a simple formula of action that he can follow and believe in, and one that changes him fundamentally. As well, addiction is deeper than just, 'Well golly gee Mr. & Mrs. so and so, your son's serotonin levels appear to be quite low I tell ya'. Someone without a purpose in life is going to suffer on a deeper, more profound spiritual level, and will most likely need to be restored by something much greater than himself.
The science of addiction will perhaps tell you something about the addict's body, but it won't provide a solution. In 1939, the Big Book noted that science has yet to turn an addict back into a non-addict, let alone remove his mental obsession, and here we are in 2015, in the most drug and disorder obsessed nation on the planet, with all of our designer psychotropics and substitution drugs, and we still can't do it. Yup, there is a reason for that.
The new book will be out soon. Just finalizing the cover design and resubmitting an updated manuscript to the Library of Congress.