Calming the Fires – Allostatic Load, Window of Tolerance
Calming the Fire Alarms – Allostatic Load, Window of Tolerance
The Dysregulated Addict: Finding Spiritual Regulation Series Pt. 4
The 12-Step Buddhist Podcast Episode 099
Part 4: Balance in the Nervous System -Allostatic Load, Window of Tolerance
This is where we encounter something called ‘allostatic load.’ Now, ‘allostasis’ is the process by which our body seeks to maintain stability, or homeostasis, through change. It’s like a scale, constantly adjusting to keep balanced. But when we’re exposed to repeated stressors, this scale can get tipped. The constant ‘wear and tear’ on our bodies, the continual need to adjust and readjust, can lead to what’s known as allostatic load or overload.
In the context of addiction, this allostatic load can become a heavy burden. The compulsion to seek and take a drug, the loss of control in limiting intake, and the emergence of a negative emotional state when access to the drug is prevented, all contribute to this load.
Allostatic load is a term coined by Bruce McEwen and Eliot Stellar in 1993. It refers to the physiological consequences of chronic exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural or neuroendocrine response resulting from repeated or chronic stress. In simpler terms, it’s the “wear and tear” on the body that accumulates as an individual is exposed to repeated or chronic stress.
In the context of addiction, allostatic load can become a heavy burden. The compulsion to seek and take a drug, the loss of control in limiting intake, and the emergence of a negative emotional state when access to the drug is prevented – all these can add to our allostatic load.
This is the path of bodhisattvas, yogis and Buddhists in recovery.
“You can judge me, but please take what’s in my hand.“
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