More addiction cures: Early promise for Risperidone in crystal meth addiction

A recent open label study found some support for the effectiveness of a Risperidone injection, given once every 2 weeks, in reducing crystal meth (speed) use.

The 22 patients who participated reduced their weekly crystal meth use from an average of 4 times per week to only 1 time per week. The difference between those who were able to stay completely clean and the others seemed to have to do with the levels of Risperidone in the blood.

The nice thing about using an injection as addiction treatment is that it removes the possibility of patients choosing not to take their medication on any given day. Such non-adherence to treatment is very often found to be the reason for relapse.

This study will need to be followed up by placebo-controlled double-blind studies, but given Risperidone’s action as a Dopamine antagonist, I suspect that those trials will also show a strong treatment effect. The promise of medicines as addiction treatment cures always seems great, but I believe that at best, they can be an additional tool to be used in conjunction with other therapies.

The question will be whether the side-effects common with antipsychotic medication will be well-tolerated by enough people to make the drug useful for addiction treatment.

Addiction stories: How I recovered from my addiction to crystal meth

By the time I was done with my addiction to crystal meth, I had racked up 4 arrests, 9 felonies, a $750,000 bail, a year in jail, and an eight year suspended sentence to go along with my 5 year probation period. Though I think education is important to keep getting the message out about addiction and drug abuse, there is no doubt that addiction stories do a great job of getting the message across, so here goes.

My crystal meth addiction story

The kid my parents knew was going nowhere, and fast. That’s why I was surprised when they came to my rescue after 3 years of barely speaking to them. My lawyer recommended that I check into a rehab facility immediately; treating my drug abuse problem was our only line of legal defense.

cocaine linesI had long known that I had an addiction problem when I first checked myself into rehab. Still, my reason for going in was my legal trouble. Within 3 months, I was using crystal meth again, but the difference was that this time, I felt bad about it. I had changed in those first three months. The daily discussions in the addiction treatment facility, my growing relationship with my parents, and a few sober months (more sobriety than I had in years) were doing their job. I relapsed as soon as I went back to work in my studio, which was a big trigger for me, but using wasn’t any fun this time.

I ended up being kicked out of that facility for providing a meth-positive urine test. My parents were irate. I felt ashamed though I began using daily immediately. My real lesson came when I dragged myself from my friend’s couch to an AA meeting one night. I walked by a homeless man who was clearly high when the realization hit me:

I was one step away from becoming like this man.

You see, when I was in the throes of my crystal meth addiction, I had money because I was selling drugs. I had a great car, a motorcycle, an apartment and my own recording studio. After my arrest though, all of that had been taken away. I just made matters worse by getting myself thrown out of what was serving as my home, leaving myself to sleep on a friend’s couch for the foreseeable future.

Something had to change.

homelessI woke up the next morning, smoked some meth, and drove straight to an outpatient drug program offered by my health insurance. I missed the check-in time for that day, but I was told to come back the next morning, which I did. I talked to a counselor, explained my situation, and was given a list of sober-living homes to check out.

As I did this, I kept going to the program’s outpatient meetings, high on crystal meth, but ready to make a change. I was going to do anything I could so as not to end up homeless, or a lifetime prisoner. I had no idea how to stop doing the one thing that had been constant in my life since the age of 15, but I was determined to find out.

When I showed up at the sober-living facility that was to be the place where I got sober, I was so high I couldn’t face the intake staff. I wore sunglasses indoors at 6 PM. My bags were searched, I was shown to my room, and the rest of my life began.

I wasn’t happy to be sober, but I was happier doing what these people told me than I was fighting the cops, the legal system, and the drugs. I had quite a few missteps, but I took my punishments without a word, knowing they were nothing compared to the suffering I’d experience if I left that place.

Overall, I have one message to those struggling with getting clean:

If you want to get past the hump of knowing you have a problem but not knowing what to do about it, the choice has to be made clear. This can’t be a game of subtle changes. No one wants to stop using if the alternative doesn’t seem a whole lot better. For most of us, that means hitting a bottom so low that I can’t be ignored. You get to make the choice of what the bottom will be for you.

You don’t have to almost die, but you might; losing a job could be enough, but if you miss that sign, the next could be the streets; losing your spouse will sometimes do it, but if not, losing your shared custody will hurt even more.

At each one of these steps, you get to make a choice – Do I want things to get worse or not?

Ask yourself that question while looking at the price you’ve paid up to now. If you’re willing to go even lower for that next hit, I say go for it. If you think you want to stop but can’t seem to really grasp just how far you’ve gone, get a friend you trust, a non-using friend, and have them tell you how they see the path your life has taken.

It’s going to take a fight to get out, but if I beat my addiction, you can beat yours.

By now, I’ve received my Ph.D. from UCLA, one of the top universities in the world. I study addiction research, and publish this addiction blog along with a Psychology Today column and a number of academic journals. I also have my mind set on changing the way our society deals with drug abuse and addiction. Given everything I’ve accomplished by now, the choice should have seemed clear before my arrest – but it wasn’t. I hope that by sharing addiction stories, including mine, we can start that process.

Higher drug abuse among gay youth likely tied to rejection

For a lesbian, gay, or bisexual youth, “coming out” is an extremely stressful, though important event that can result in improved self-esteem, social-support, and psychological adjustment.

However, a recent study found that the reactions to such a disclosure have a lot to do with the risk of those youths abusing alcohol and drugs.

Social rejection and drug abuse among gay youth

The results revealed that the more rejecting reactions a youth receives, the more likely they are to engage in drug abuse including alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use. This was true even after researchers controlled for a number of other important variables like emotional distress and demographics (race, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic status, etc.).

This makes a lot of sense. After finally deciding to go through with such a monumental disclosure, harsh rejections likely cause some serious damage to a youth’s self-esteem, making escape by drugs an attractive option. Although coming out can eventually lead to increased self-esteem even for this youth, the road there is not an easy one.

The good news was that accepting reactions seemed to protect youths from the harmful effects of being rejected – Social support helps!

The researchers suggested that drug abuse prevention attempts with LGBT youths address the impact of rejecting reactions to sexual-orientation disclosure directly in order to hopefully reduce their negative impact.

Here’s a video about the difficulties of coming out in high-school:

Reference:

Rosario, Schrimshaw, & Hunter (2009). Disclosure of sexual orientation and subsequent substance use and abuse among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths: Critical role of disclosure reactions. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23, 175-184.

Parenting advice – What’s important when it comes to teens, alcohol, and drugs

Parents often ask us what they can do to prevent their children or teens from becoming alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, and the likes. I’ve been all of these and more, and so I’d like to share my insight with you now that I’ve made it over to the other side:

You can’t prevent anything – but you can educate, inform, prepare, and support.

My family breaths success; it also breeds its. My father was a star athlete who turned into a star doctor and a star family man. He also never drank alcohol and couldn’t care less about drugs. My mother was a beauty queen who always helped me get the best grades in school, even if it meant that she ended up doing my art projects for me and keeping me up all night so I’d finish my work. I’m not sure if it was my perception or my parents’ actual wish, but I always felt like unless I saved the world, I would end up a nobody. Drinking enough alcohol to black-out and consuming every drug on earth was never supposed to be on my menu.

A recent article I read in a monthly psychology magazine (see my post on it here) talked about this sense of perfectionism in our culture and its effect on teen depression, anxiety, and alcohol and drug abuse. Did you know that these are highest among more affluent teens?

Advice #1 – Shooting for good performance is important, but focusing on it as a sole measure of success can lead to trouble.

I got gifts for grades, and the best gifts came only with the best grades. Anything short of perfect was pretty much frowned upon and considered “less than my best.” It became impossible for me to actually enjoy anything but the school subjects I excelled in (math, physics, chemistry). It wasn’t until I graduated from college and did some of my own exploration that I learned to appreciate art, English, and history as worthwhile pursuits. It’s a well-know fact in developmental psychology that you don’t reward behaviors that are supposed to be appreciated in their own right. If you do reward them do so with small gifts, nothing large. Big gifts take away the perception that the activity itself brought about enjoyment.

Advice #2 – Parenting requires consistency and openness, but leave the preaching for church.

This constant need for perfectionism also lead to the repression of many issues in my family.

My parents fought often when I was a kid, screaming loud enough for me to take my sister away often and go play. We never talked about the fights so I never managed to learn about conflict, relationships, or resolution. We never talked about my stealing either, whether I was stealing from my family (mainly my father’s porn) or from the neighborhood toy store. The one time I got caught, my father sternly told me to return my new toy and to never be caught stealing again. I began stealing away from my neighborhood; it would be years before he’d hear about me stealing again. It probably would have been better to sit down and talk about what just happened.

Later on, when my mother would find my weed in my room, she would hide it so that my dad won’t find it because he would get mad. We call that enabling. When I was caught stealing at my work, my father didn’t want to tell my mom, so as not to upset her, so he never brought it up again. We call that denial. Neither of these work since they don’t teach a child anything except how to hide things properly and that even responsible adults lie.

But research shows us that preaching is not a good parenting technique so stay open and talk about struggles without being hypocritical and trying to teach lessons that are obviously forced. Kids and teens pick up on that very quickly but they’re ready to learn from their parents.

Advice #3 – Don’t let your sense of pride, or your ego, prevent you from dealing with real issues with your children. Parenting requires you to be the adult in the relationship with your children even when things don’t go your way.

By the time my parents were forced to confront reality, things in my life had spiraled way out of control. They received a call from my LA lawyer telling them that their son had been arrested for some pretty serious drug dealing. My bail was set at $750,000 and I was facing 18 years in prison. That’s pretty difficult to ignore.

Ironically, my arrest, court case, and the year I spent in jail brought my family closer together than we had even been during my teen years or my later drug addiction phase. Having to actually confront many of our issues allowed us to bring some actual intimacy into the family I had run away from so many years before. The important thing was that my parents didn’t pull out the “we told you so” card but rather helped me confront my demons and treat them. It was the best parenting I’d received in my life and it worked.

My parents did the best they could. I know that. Still, I can’t help to wonder if worrying a little less about how things “should be” and a bit more about the reality of parenting their deviant son may have prevented the latter part of this story. Then again, there’s no guarantee of that either. That’s the most important parenting advice I can give when it comes to teens and drugs…

The forest and trees of addiction

It’s unfortunate that some people look at substance abuse problems from their vantage point only – Everyone seems like them whether normal users, light abusers, abstainers, or hard-core alcoholics (recovered, recovering, or not).

The world is full of individuals arranged in loosely associated groups. Unless one can acknowledge that real, important, and consequential differences exist, all you’re seeing is a tiny little bit of the beauty.

About Addiction: Drug Withdrawal in Newborns, Heroin, and Harm Reduction

There’s so much to learn about addiction nowadays – Psychological theories, new stories, neuroscience research, and more. At All About Addiction we try to make the information easy to digest, so when you need to sort of the latest information about addiction, come see us, we’ll help.

Harm reduction – Heroin and Injecting Drugs

Irish Examiner-After four individuals died from heroin overdoses in Ireland drug workers are issuing warnings to heroin users. The heroin that is being used is of better quality so it elevates the risk for overdose. Heroin has been off of the streets of Ireland for the past couple of months due to supplying issues but now heroin is back, and it is so pure that it is killing people. Another issue could be that the short absence of the drug has left people with less tolerance then before.

The Body– The International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) and HIV rights groups are urging the UN’s to legalize methadone in order to fight HIV/AIDS and heroin addiction In Russia. Russia is home to 1 million HIV-positive people (for comparison, the U.S> has about 500,000) and has one of the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world. In addition to this Russia has 3 million heroin addicts.  Russia is refusing to employ harm reduction programs such as needle exchanges, or to legalize methadone to treat heroin addicts.  Many Russian officials such as Gennady Onishchenko feel that legalizing methadone will not help as it is “just another narcotic.” We’ve hear the same argument here, but perhaps the IHRA can convince Russia to use harm reduction problems in order to help individuals.

Harm Reduction Coalition– This “webinar” allow its viewers to gain cultural competency when it comes to learning about the injecting drug user. It asks questions like:  “Why is there a need for IDU cultural competency?” and “What is IDU Cultural Competency?”. Check out the webinar and see what it has to offer!

Mental Health and Prescription Drug Withdrawal in Newborns

Orlando SentinelPrescription drug abuse is already a problem in our society; in Florida alone prescription abuse is responsible for at least seven deaths a day. Prescription drug abuse is becoming even more problematic as it is now affecting newborns. In 2009 alone 1,000 babies were born and treated for drug-withdrawal syndrome.  In the past babies that were going through drug-withdrawal symptoms were most likely to suffer from crack cocaine addiction but now the babies are more likely to be addicted to prescription drugs.

Science Daily– A study was conducted and found that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are two to three times more likely than children without the disorder to develop serious substance abuse problems in adolescence and adulthood. Kate Humphreys, a colleague of Dr. Jaffe’s and a graduate student at UCLA was a coauthor of the research.

Addiction Recovery- Peer support

Stop Medicine Abuse-Often times it is best for teens to get information from their peers in order for something to have an effect in their lives. This website approaches substance abuse prevention with that specific mentality. Check out the testimony on this website as well as other resources that can be used by teens to learn about drug abuse.

About Addiction: Alcohol, drugs, marriage, taxes, and teens

You’ve come back and we love it! As a reward, we’re going to give you some of the best information about addiction on the web, free of charge. Really! No, seriously, we’re really happy to have you back learning about addiction here on A3. Now go on.

Alcohol: Marriage, Sports Games, and Price Planning

Science Daily– We have already talked about what alcoholism can do to you body as well as what it can do to your brain on A3. This article highlights what it could do to your marriage, specifically delaying it and possibly causing early separation. Just one more thing to think about for those thinking of tying the knot any time soon.

BBC News-In an effort to reduce crime in England the government wants to set a minimum price for alcohol so that it could no longer be sold at a price that is untaxable. Home Office projections indicate 7000 crimes could be cut in a year. The increase in cost would also result in a benefit to the nation’s health given projections form Sheffield University, which estimated last year that raising the price of alcohol to a minimum of 50p per unit would mean that after a decade there would be almost 3,000 fewer deaths every year and 41,000 fewer cases of chronic illness. The projection are dependent on the notion that price will affect demand and therefore use, something that has been shown to be less true among dependent individuals.

Med – A new study found that alcohol dependence is a strong predictor of early separation in marriage. In addition to this finding the results showed that if an individuals parents were dependent on alcohol  both men and women were more likely to separate early in marriage. This some very early evidence, but more research is being conducted.

Science Daily– Often times sports games are a great way to have fun. However, about eight percent of fans are legally drunk after leaving sports games according to a recent study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (ACER). Researchers administered a breath test and found that 60% of the fans had zero BAC, 40% had a positive BAC, and nearly 8% were legally drunk. This problem could be resolved through better training of alcohol servers, and setting a limit to how much alcohol an individual can purchase, about 74% of the time an intoxicated individual was still able to buy alcohol. That is assuming these people are getting into cars and driving or starting fights… Otherwise, I say let them drink and walk it off.

Drugs: Texting & Fighting Teen Drug Use

News Feed– Restricting texting for teenagers may be a good idea as a new study shows that teens who “hyper-text” ( text more than 120 times a day) are more likely to be sexually active, drink alcohol and do illegal drugs compared to teens that text less. I wonder if they’re also sexting more… maybe while drunk or high. I guess future research should examine negative outcomes in this group – addiction, pregnancy, arrest and so on.

Time– The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has declared Nov. 8–14 National Drug Facts Week, in order to help prevent teen drug problems. The goal of this drug facts week is to present teens with factual information about drugs and drug abuse. Read this article and take NIDA’s Drug IQ Challenge here (warning: the online quiz begins with the loud sound of shattering glass, which may jolt adult nerves). Effective drug prevention requires open and honest communication information about drugs between parents and children.