About Addiction: Stress, personal stories, alcohol and drug facts

Stress, PTSD, and a sex doll

Addiction Inbox– After many years of fighting in a war solders often experience post traumatic stress when they return to living their civilian life. There is no known cure for PTSD but there are medications that alleviate the stress experienced by many. Seroquel is prescribed to treat PTSD but  there have been many reported cases of  abuse of the drug. In this story, Dirk covers some of the facts, and consequences of duch drug abuse among PTSD soldiers.

Orange News– Talk about not getting over a breakup ! An Italian man paid  £12,000 to recreate a sex doll of his ex girlfriend. The man wanted the doll to look exactly like his ex though with some enhanced features. Is this sex addiction or simply a case of someone going a little too far after a tough experience? I don’t know but it’s worth a read.

Alcohol abuse facts and fiction 

Irish Times– The Maliebaan centre, has a unique way of  dealing with the care and rehabilitation of alcoholics. They believe that its residents will never stop consuming alcohol and therefore they try to help them end the dangerous binge-drinking by controlling their alcohol intake. Clients are allowed to order up to five liters of beer daily, with an hour between each half liter. The bar opens at 7.30am and closes at 9.30pm, and the only criterion for being served is that the drinker must be able to get up themselves from their chair, walk to the counter and be able to hold their half-liter glass steady. Hey, they are Irish!

Breaking the cycles– Reducing the drinking ages does not stop abuse of alcohol for individuals who are underage. Lisa talks about the reality of underage alcohol abuse in Europe.

Personal addiction stories and Addiction research drug facts

Popeater- Jamie Lee Curtis opens up about her previous drug addiction and tells how recovery was the single greatest accomplishment of her life. She said that without her recovery her life would have fallen apart. She thinks that recovery is an acceptance that your life is in a shambles and you have to change it. Curtis was previously addicted to painkillers but she has been sober for over ten years.   

PsyPost– A protein which is linked to mental retardation may be the controlling factor in drug’s effect in the brain. A study found that a protein known as methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) interacts with a type of genetic material known as microRNAto control an individual’s motivation to consume cocaine. It is thought that MeCP2 may regulate vulnerability to addiction in some people through its inhibitory influence on miR-212. Without this influence, the expression of miiR-212 would be far greater in response to cocaine use, and the risk of drug abuse and addiction would likely be far lower.

Everything Addiction– Ezlopitant, a drug that has been shown to decrease preference for alcohol, has been found to decreased appetite in rodents, indicating another link supporting the relationship between alcohol and drug addiction and compulsive eating.

About Addiction: Smoking, Alcohol, Painkillers, Prescriptions

This are new, interesting articles about addiction. Check out the links to the articles, and give us your feedback.

Smoking and related issues

Health Day: Smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that robs people of their sight.

Reuters: When cigarette smokers quit smoking, chronic stress levels may go down. This should give smokers reassurance that quitting will not deprive them of a valuable stress reliever.

Reuters: A nicotine mouth spray may help prevent cigarette cravings three times faster than nicotine lozenges or chewing gum. This might help smokers who are trying to quit smoking.

Cesar Fax: The percentage of national tobacco retailers selling to minors appears to have leveled off. The average national retailer violation rate decreased from 40.1% to 10.8%, and stabilized at 10.8%.

wcstv: Under a proposed deal reached by Governor David Paterson and Albany legislators, cigarette taxes would increase by $1.60 per pack. In New York City, the price of one pack of cigarettes would cost over $10 in many stores. The hope is that this huge price increase will help smokers quit smoking and reduce overall levels of smoking in New York.

About addiction to alcohol, painkillers, and prescription medication

Hazelden: Abuse of alcohol, painkillers, and prescription medication is rising dramatically among older people. Signs of alcohol abuse and drug addiction are different in older adults than in younger people.

Science Daily: Religiosity can moderate genetic effects on alcohol abuse during adolescence but not during early adulthood. The heritability of an alcohol abuse phenotype depends upon the social environment within which it is measured.

Medical News TODAY: Sleep problems can predict the onset of alcohol abuse in healthy adults and relapse in abstinent alcoholics. Puberty is related to sleep problems and later bedtimes, which are associated with alcohol abuse.

Health Day: Exercise may be an effective treatment option for alcoholism. In addition, alcoholism disrupts normal daily circadian rhythms, which can lead to disrupted sleep patterns.

About addiction and mental illness

KansasCity.com:  To study drug addiction and mental illness researchers, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, have received a $1.8 million federal grant. One of the leading researchers states that conditions such as drug addiction and depression are major problems across the globe.

about addiction: smoking, depression, students and treatment

We are back with some great articles that may be of interest to you, so check them out!  There should be new weekly links published every Monday so you are bound to find some relevant articles

From Stop Medicine Abuse:  This article talks about the youth who abuses cough medicine. It states that one in ten youths has intentionally abused cough medicines to get high.

Students and drug addiction

From Vancover Sun:  This article about mental health and addiction discusses the issue of the coexistence of mental health problems and drug addiction.

From Reuters: This text discusses the rising numbers of teen users of smokeless tobacco. According to the article, health experts rised concerns last Wednesday about the growing numbers of teen users.

From Health Day:  This is an article that talks about the link of smoking and depression. People of age twenty and older with depression are twice as likely to smoke than others.

How does it all start? My thoughts on addiction causes and substance abuse

I was talking with a friend the other night, and he asked me my opinion about the line between addiction and normal behavior. He was wondering whether I think that everyone who looks at porn is a sex addict.

I don’t. (see some of our posts on sex addiction here)

Still, the conversation made me feel like writing something about my views on addiction causes. So here goes:

For the addicts who are still unaware, the line between normal- and addictive-behavior tends to blur again and again until it seems like more of faded smudge on their life. For those looking at addicts from the outside, the line normally seems so clear and so far away that they rarely believe it can be crossed back again.

I don’t personally believe that addiction per se is where things started for most people. By this I mean that no matter how hard we look, I believe that we will never find the elusive “addiction gene“, genes, or trigger.

Having been in the thick of it, I think that substance abuse is nothing but one possible outcome of set of circumstances, both biological and environmental, that lead some individuals down a particular path.

Impulsivity and other addiction causes

As I mentioned in earlier posts, addiction, at least to drugs (and I believe other addictions as well) is very closely related to a set of psychological conditions that have to do with impulse control problems.

I believe that individuals with increased impulsivity are simply more prone to putting themselves in situations that are inherently dangerous to their well-being. A simple example from non-drug related behavior might be one-night stands.

A typical person with no impulse control issues may hold off on sex if the only option was to have it unprotected. They may think to themselves “I need to stop, this could seriously affect the rest of my life.”

A person who has a reduced ability to control initial impulses may have the exact same thought and yet go through with the action, leaving them feeling remorseful and anxious the next day, but still having put themselves at risk.

This is a very common occurrence among sex-addicts. The thoughts are there, the knowledge is there, the ability to connect those to actions is seriously lacking. While some people make moral judgments about this fact, I’ve seen enough research that connects this problem to biological processes and genetics that I’m now resigned to the fact that at least on some level, the issue is physical and neurochemical.

Addiction help – Cures, treatment, and solutions

Still, I think the battle is far from lost. I strongly believe that education, informed by actual knowledge rather than misguided mythology, can put people in a better position to deal with the issues even if their source is outside of their control.

Even aside from pharmacological treatments (as in medications) that can help, there are endless ways to help people learn to be in better control of their actions once they are aware of their initial deficit. That is how AA and many other support groups function. People within them ask others about decisions they’re making BEFORE they act on them.

We know already that when it comes to drugs, the equation changes once the person starts using regularly and for long periods of time.

Chronic substance abuse further breaks down the brain’s ability to control impulses by reducing functioning specifically in the prefrontal-cortex; the part of the brain right behind your forehead which is thouught to be the center of the brain’s control tower.

The cycle seems too obvious: Impulse control difficulties leading to dangerous behavior which leads to further impulsivity issues and so on…

The treatment, like the progression of the condition itself, needs to be long. I don’t believe that any 30 day treatment program will be able to resolve a condition that took years to develop. Still, the issue of treatment will come up again here. This is enough for now…

Question of the day:
Do you have any insights from your own experiences as to how addiction develops?

Creating a better system of addiction treatment: Matching rehabs to patients

I can’t hide it any longer, I just have to confess: I hate the way addiction treatment is managed nowadays. With over 25 million people meeting criteria for addictions in the U.S., only 10% are seeking treatment on a yearly basis. Sure, part of the problem is that others just don’t want it, at least yet, but there’s something else going on and it’s terrible.

The horrible pain of finding addiction treatment

If you, or someone you know, needs help for an addiction, your options aren’t just limited, they’re hard to find and are simply too stressful to deal with. Where do you even start? Most people wouldn’t dare go to their neighbors or family members with something like “Bobby is really struggling with his cocaine problem, do you have an idea of what we should do?” Instead, everyone is left fending for themselves, scared of going to doctors for fear of later insurance trouble, ashamed to admit their difficulties for fear of being stigmatized, and inundated with conflicting information about their chances for recovery if they do seek help.

So people go online, they seek out information, and they call provider after provider, often getting only partial semi-truths. At the end, most are left confused and the rest simply check in to the first place that will take them given their financial reality. Could you imagine if the same were true when someone broke their leg?

But isn’t addiction treatment really useless?

No, it’s not. Treatment works. It’s just that most people don’t get the treatment they need and end up paying the price (literally and figuratively). Well guess what, help is possible, it’s available, and it shouldn’t be this damn hard to find!

I think it’s about time we create a system that makes it easy for those suffering from addiction to find the right treatment for them. Not everyone needs treatment that costs $50,000 a month, and to be perfectly honest, that treatment is rarely better than much cheaper options. Still, no one would know that given bogus advertisements by rich addiction-industry-players that promise cures and fixes. The truth is that recovery is a difficult road and that different individuals may need different treatment.

Still, we know things that work: CBT works, motivational interviewing works, social-support, contingency-management, exercise, meditation, and specific medications work! So why is it that the addiction treatment industry still looks like something put together by a couple of addicts who suffer from too much self-focus and not enough organizational-capacity? Well, probably because that’s exactly our reality at the moment.

How can we make things better? Matching rehabs to patients

I say it’s time for a new age, especially given the passage of mental-health and addiction parity laws and the slow, but eventual inclusion of our most vulnerable citizens in the American health care system. As addiction-treatment becomes (finally) incorporated with medical care, the increased resources are going to mean an increased need for some standardization. It’s time for us to put people in treatment that works, that everyone can afford, and that is easy to find.

We’re currently testing a system that will use some basic, and some a bit more advanced, criteria to help direct addicts towards the right provider for them. Don’t have much money and working full-time? Then residential treatment should probably not be your first choice? Medicated for schizophrenia? You better stay away from providers that don’t offer serious mental health services (though they’ll sure take you if you walk through their doors)

We’re still figuring out the kinks, trying to improve the system even further than its current state, which I think is nothing short of magical. Eventually, I hope that it will be available for everyone, giving people real, reliable, objective access to addiction-treatment providers that do good work across the united States. It’s that easy to find a condo to buy, why shouldn’t it be that easy to find help?

Yes, I have almost 10 years of research experience into what works, but in truth, most of the issues here probably don’t require that at all. What’s needed is a little big-picture thinking and a little less fine-tooth combing. Hospitals can triage people based on a pretty quick, efficient, assessment. We can too.

Enforcement Vs. Prevention and Treatment – Solving our addiction problem requires all three

A pair of handcuffs is not an unfamiliar picture for many drug addictsThe U.S. policy regarding the drug problem is still centered mainly on the enforcement of its drug laws and intervention in the drug supply both within the U.S. and in neighboring countries. There is no question that this “crusade” has had an impact. Importing a kilogram of cocaine into the US costs approx $15000 (an average kilogram sells for $10,000-$15000) while sending a regular package weighing the same costs about $100 (1).

The result of the focus on enforcement

Still, the recent assassination of the Mexican “drug czar”, and the escalation of violence just south of the U.S.-Mexico border point to another fact: Where there’s money, there’s a way. Drug cartels will find a way to deliver their product as long as customers are waiting on the other side of the border. One of the battles in this war has to be fought on the prevention/intervention side. Dr. McLellan’s selection as deputy drug czar brought with it a lot of hope regarding the role of treatment in the big-picture. Still, bureaucracy moves slowly, and there have been few visible changes in policy to date, aside from the well needed symbolic nature of dropping the term “War on Drugs” from our lexicon.

What about treatment?

Unfortunately, health insurance companies in the United States rarely covers any of the cost involved in drug treatment, even though at least 42 states require them to do so by law! Even when they do, insurance companies often limit coverage to 30 days of residential treatment. I’ve made it clear before, but I feel that the notion that 30 day treatment can work needs to be removed from our consciousness (2). I realize this may require hypnosis…

Anyway, without funding, the hope of making drug treatment truly affordable and accessible is small and dwindling as it requires more medical treatment, which is obviously costly. I hope that this aspect of health care coverage finds its way into the ongoing debate, especially given the high, and increasing prevalence of drug abuse in this country.

As it stands, the U.S., with little more than 5% of the world’s population is consuming somewhere between 50%-70% of the world’s drugs. Talk about a problem with our GDP…

And prevention?

I can tell you, without a doubt, that saving someone from ever becoming an addict is the biggest cost saver in this entire equation. It would remove crime costs, treatment costs, and incarceration and court costs right out of this whole thing. The problem, obviously, is that we don’t know with certainty who will, and who won’t, become an addict. There are some recent advances, and I think that as technology (specifically imaging), and our knowledge (specifically about genetics and its interaction with environmental stress), improves we will be able to do a much better job of this.

I work on some projects that assess the cost benefit of treating rather than merely jailing drug users (prop 36 in CA). I can’t wait for us to have the knowledge to allow for the same analyses regarding prevention.

Citations:

(1) Reuter & Pollack (2005). how much can treatment reduce national drug problems?

(2) McLellan, Lewis, O’Brien, & Kleber (2000). Drug Dependence, a Chronic Medical Illness Implications for Treatment, Insurance, and Outcomes Evaluation.

Addiction, exercise, recovery: Yoga practice and mindfulness in addiction recovery

contributing author: Katie McGrath

Continuing with our posts on the  relationship between addiction, exercise, and recovery, let’s discuss the benefits of yoga and

The origins of American Yoga practice

America first turned to yoga in the 60s as a way to get high without using drugs. Over the years, yoga has grown in popularity as evidence regarding it’s mental and physical health benefits accumulated. Yoga practice incorporates stretching and strengthening exercises that unite the body, mind, and spirit.

There are different forms of yoga that are available depending on one’s goals and personal preference. Ananda and Hatha are more gentle versions of yoga that focus on meditation and breathing to provide a relaxing escape after a busy day. Ashtanga and Kundalini are aerobic and energizing forms of yoga that are perfect for people who crave a more demanding workout. Living in Los Angeles has introduced me to a number of relatively new Yoga methods including Power Yoga, a more strenuous, strength-based, type.

Mindfulness and Yoga

Mindfulness is a popular meditation technique that is often used in combination with yoga to promote self-awareness. The concept of mindfulness is to become aware of one’s own thoughts, emotions, and sensations by breathing and concentration. Mindfulness increases sensitivity to bodily movements and states which may explain why it has been linked to improved immunity (1).

Yoga and mindfulness form a union to enhance positive feelings and outlooks. Research has shown that the combination of yoga and mindfulness can provide energy, satisfaction, and stability on an addict’s road to recovery (1).Beach Yoga

Yoga produces long lasting changes which helps maintain a healthy lifestyle (2). It is a positive way to cope with negative emotions, depression, and anxiety (1). Yoga creates a sense of calm and solace that most people do not have the chance to experience in their everyday life.

Yoga Journal has a collection of stories revealing the healing powers of yoga and can be used as one source to direct you if you’re interested in looking into yoga practice.

Stay tuned for more on addiction, exercise, recovery…

Citations:

1. Schure, Marc B., Christopher, John, Christopher, Suzanne. Mind-body medicine and the art of self-care: Teaching mindfulness to counseling students through yoga, meditation, and Qigong. Journal of Counseling & Development. Vol 86(1), Win 2008, pp. 47-56

2. Holthaus, Stephanie M. A phenomenological study: Yoga during recovery from drugs or alcohol. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The sciences and Engineering Vol 65 (8-B), 2005, pg.4289