About Addiction: Bath Salts, DUI’s and Anxiety Addiction

Do you care about addiction? Of course you do, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now. Well, you’ve come to the right place A3 will try to address all your questions, but for now, you’ve stumbled onto our weekly links post full of information about addiction from around the world wide web. So enjoy!

Drugs: Bath salts, menthol cigarettes, and Charlie Sheen

PhoenixHouseOC-Geoff Henderson, the senior director for Phoenix House, the country’s largest nonprofit provider of substance use disorder and behavioral health treatment services recently attended the hearing in Los Angeles to ban bath salts. He gave his interpretation on the bath salts issue, emphasizing that in our world today we have an increasing amount of access to a variety of substances and that new things are continuously emerging that individuals might try. For more of Henderson’s thoughts check out his blog.

Star-Telegram– A study has been conducted which found that adding menthol to cigarettes may increase the likelihood of addiction. Menthol cigarettes are considered to be so dangerous because they have a cooling and anesthetic effect which may get more adolescents to smoke. There is a debate to see if menthol cigarettes should be banned. Right now they make up 30 percent of the cigarette market and are favored by 80 percent of African American smokers.

Psychology Today– Charlie Sheen is the latest celebrity that is dealing with drug addiction. He has previously mentioned that he did not want to go to rehab because he thought that he could clean himself up and expressed his disdain for everything 12-steps. A lot of people thought that this was ridiculous but here is an article in which Dr. Stanton Peele agrees with Charlie. Dr. Peele believes that a person can be fixed if they are being forced to do so and that I why he agrees with Charlie Sheen that only he can overcome his addiction on his own. Read this article to get a different opinion on addiction treatment.  You can check out this article for Dr. Jaffe’s take on the same issue.

Alcohol-The youth and DUI’s

Medical News Today– A new study by (SAMHSA) found that 5.9 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 14 drank alcohol and about 317,000 of them received this alcohol from their parents or got it at home. This can dangerous because being exposed to alcohol at an early age can expose at-risk children to an increased risk of alcohol abuse and addiction later on in their lives. Parents should be educated about such risk factors and about limiting access and increasing education for at risk youth.

Contra Coast Times– A man who was arrested for driving under the influence was found guilty of a DUI after showing up to his pretrial hearing drunk. The man ran his vehicle off the road into a barbed wire fence back in 2010. At the time of the arrest his blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit.

The Daily Beast– Can there be such a thing as anxiety addiction? Some individuals think so. A study was conducted that found that during demanding and stressful circumstances our bodies cultivate and thrive on anxiety. The study found that during a stressful circumstance is was possible that some individuals use anxiety to boost cognitive performance while others are comforted by anxiety.  Whether this should be called addiction, I’m not sure, but the idea of anxiety as rewarding is interesting.

 

Two forms of alcoholism: One which warrants a chronic disease model, and college

I respect Stanton Peele, if for no other reason than simply because he is well informed and doesn’t mind telling us all about the way he sees things. However, even the mighty sometime misstep, and this article is about what I see as one of Dr. Peele’s errors.

Why Stanton Peele thinks addiction isn’t a disease

In his recent post about why the disease concept of alcoholism, or addiction, is bull$&%# (his words), Dr. Peele decides to quote a piece from the NIAAA’s website that states that approximately 75% of people who’ve met the definition of alcohol dependence (read: alcoholism) in their lifetime quit by themselves without any outside intervention. That’s great, but what he forgot to also quote is another passage that states that while “70 percent of [alcoholics] have a single episode of less than 4 years, the remainder experience an average of five episodes. Thus, it appears that there are two forms of alcohol dependence: time-limited, and recurrent or chronic.”

Why Stanton Peele is a little right and a lot wrong

Maybe Stanton missed this sentence since it was a few lines above the one he was focusing on, but what it’s telling us is that the vast majority of people who meet alcohol dependence criteria do so for a very limited amount of time (seemingly their 4 years of college) while another 30% or so (or 25% according to the line Dr. Peele decided to use) have the chronic-relapsing version of alcoholism we’ve all come to know. I guess the question of what is substance abuse doesn’t have the simplest of answers.

So yes, most people quit without help, and as we’ve pointed out on this site before, most people who experiment with drugs never develop a problem with them. But the reality is that the remaining group has a hell of a time quitting and most of them need help and even then don’t necessarily respond to addiction treatment. I don’t know that this is very different from the percentage of people that eat too much and gain weight – some stop and return to a normal BMI, the rest become obese. The same story holds for the pre-diabetics who never quite cross that line but once they do, will need insulin and a strictly managed diet. In both cases I don’t think we need to discount the latter because the former exists.

I agree that this sort of nuanced observation is missing from the public discourse, and I think that it’s important to bring it in since it does something important – it lessens the stigma of alcoholism and addiction by showing us what is really happening without distortion. However, showing only the other side does little to improve the situation.

So in closing – most of those who meet the definition of alcohol-dependence should probably not be called alcoholics. Instead, they can be referred to a “Frat boys,” “Sorority girls,” or really “late teens to early adults.” However, there is a large enough group of people out there who really suffer with a condition that doesn’t go away when their first 4 year-long episode of hard alcohol use ends. They need addiction treatment and they’re the focus of most research on addiction and alcoholism, as they likely should be when it comes to treatment.  That other group, they just need to be careful not to get in a car accident or get pregnant too early.

That’s my take anyway.

 

 

p.s.

When people ask “what is substance abuse?”, they are probably referring to the former group most of the time, although based on our present definition, substance abuse per se is a diagnosis that is pretty easy to meet, which likely means both groups actually meet abuse criteria.