1. Addiction CAN be Overcome

    June 10, 2014

    Addiction CAN be overcome

    by Audrey  Hollingshead

    I don’t even know where to begin. I have tried opening this with another fictional situation.  I have tried opening this with a line like “Whether we have lived it or lived with it we all know addiction is hard.” I have even tried jumping right into the studies and forgoing the intro all together. But it all seems so fake-untruthful, and if there is one thing I know about addicts (and the loved ones of them), they can smell fake like dogs smell fear. They know when someone is not being “real” with them. So let me be real with you:

    I have an alcoholic mother that I love. Every time we visited her in whatever rehab she happened to be in we were lectured on what addiction was. It was a disease. It was inherited. It was gene activated through horrible stress and depression. I began to see myself as some sort of expert on the subject. I knew the results of the famous drug studies, and they ALL said the same thing: Drugs are SO addicting that even one try gets people hooked. That’s it. One single try. Middle school echoed this notion in health class and I soon believed that hard drugs could steal your life without much effort.

    Until now. For the first time in decades I am starting to understand that addiction is not so hopeless. The reason that many like my mother have a hard time getting over their addictions may have MORE to do with what they were dealing with BEFORE they became addicted then their addictions themselves. But before we delve into these hopeful revelations let us first look at one of the most infamous studies that fostered the “One hit to hooked” mentality.

    Boxed In

    B. F. Skinner (March 20th, 1904-Agust 18th 1990) is a famous Psychologist, behaviorist, author and inventor. He’s most known for studying positive and negative reinforcements and invented an operant conditioning chamber dubbed The Skinner Box. Inside The Skinner Box there is a loudspeaker, light, food dispenser, lever, and an electrified floor to punish the animals (usually rats or pigeons) in study.

    An article on Cracked.com linked me to experimental psychologists decided to use The Skinner Box to test out how addicting hard drugs really were. They fixed it so the rats would be tethered to the box while a needle was permanently stuck in their jugular vain that could inject drugs any time the rats wanted by pressing a lever. The rats pushed the lever often, which prompted the study authors to conclude exactly what we hear everyday. Drug addiction happens fast. But not every psychologist saw it that way.
    Bruce K. Alexander ( December 20th 1939-) was an experimental psychologist in the 60s and hated how the rats in most studies were treated. They were given little food, or no food at all. Their metal cages were also isolated them from other rats. This, he thought, might have been main fault in the earlier drug studies. So he, along with fellow colleague’s, conducted a new one at Simon Fraser University.

    This study was completely different from the ones before it. Instead of putting all rats in boxes, he only put in half. The other half got to live in what became known as Rat Park. Instead of being the small and constrictive, this wooden park had many wings filled anything a rat could dream of. There was ample food, naptime areas, cans to hide and play in, exercise wheels, and wood shavings to shuffle around. The only thing these two environments had in common was easy access to meth. The results? Isolated rats consumed MUCH more morphine then those who got to run free. This prompted Alexander to conclude that it’s NOT drugs that make the addict-it’s the environment. And this isn’t the only study to conclude so.

    According to another article Cracked.com linked me to, not everyone who tries drugs becomes addicted. In fact, only small portions of those who continually use become addicted. How is this possible? Lets look at Colombia University psychologist Carl Hart. Hart grew up around addiction and was determined to find a cure. So he put an ad in the Village Voice saying he’d pay addicts 950 dollars to smoke government grade crack as long as they lived in the study’s hospital.

    They’d start each day blindfolded while a nurse gave them a portion (that varied from day to day) of crack. The researchers watched through a two-way mirror as they smoked up. They would get more chances to toke throughout the day, but with a twist.  Instead of just handing over more crack, they gave them a choice: another hit, or five dollars they could use when they left. The results: Those that were given large amounts of crack asked for more. Those that got little opted for the cash. What’s amazing is that Hart replicated the study with meth users and got pretty much the same results- even more so when the choice of five dollars shot up to twenty.

    So what does this mean exactly? And how can this new research help addicts? By showing them they are not slaves to their addictions. People like my mother don’t drink and use because OF their addictions. They drink and use to ESCAPE their problems. Problems so huge they feel like drugs are the only option. But they don’t have to be!

    Addiction CAN be over come! How? By confronting the issues that lead them to addiction in the first place. They have to realize that drugs aren’t the answer and then, with the help of a strong support group, face the problems that made them think they were. It’s not easy, but it is possible!

    And remember,

    Dream Well! Dream Positive!

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jb-london/10227588043

  2. Benefits of Positive Attitude for Addiction Recovery

    February 8, 2014

    Benefits of Positive Attitude for Addiction Recovery

    by Emily Syane

    Recovering from any type of addiction, whether it’s drugs or alcohol, is a long process. An addict cannot simply change overnight, as the nature of addiction is that this is an impulse they cannot control. There have been many types of addiction treatments and therapies over the years and many are still in use today. However, all these treatments, therapies, and retreats would simply be useless if the addict himself simply is not interested in changing. A positive attitude is one of the most powerful weapons people looking to stop their addiction can have. A positive outlook allows them to carry on and stick to their treatments. While some people may think that this is all psychological mumbo-jumbo, a positive attitude towards one’s self, the treatment, and in general, the world, can make a big impact on treating addiction. Let’s take a look at the different ways such an outlook can benefit recovering addicts.

    Reduce Depression

    It’s common sense that if you have a positive attitude, you won’t be depressed, but for addicts, this can practically guarantee their recovery. People treating addicts have coined a term for people who are overly negative – “Stinking Thinking.” This can cause real, clinical depression, but is also very dangerous for people who are trying to get rid of an addiction. This happens when people are overly negative and become pessimistic about their future. This increases their chances of relapsing and even make people around them suffer. Even if they stop taking drugs or alcohol, they recovering addict might not be happy in sobriety and be driven to go back to old habits. And, when people are depressed, even the smallest things can set them off and send them back to the bottle.

    Boost Immune System

    Believe it or not, a positive attitude can actually boost the immune system. A study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine showed that people who meditated and experienced happiness had a higher level of antibodies in their blood. This meant that people who had a positive attitude could potentially fight off infection better than those who do not.

    Positive Attitude

    Reduce Cardiovascular Disease

    Having a positive attitude can also have benefits to heart health. Various studies have shown that a positive attitude can generally benefit the body because this can lower the level of stress hormones and inflammations, which are good signs for better cardiovascular health.

    Increase Self Efficacy

    Self-efficacy, according to psychologists, is an individual’s belief that they have the ability to achieve their goal. Self-efficacy and positive thinking go hand-in-hand and help an individual achieve their goals. This means that people can reach their goals by simply thinking they can do it. Many people can help improve their self efficacy by accomplishing small goals, seeing other people achieve these goals, and even through therapy.

    Other Benefits…

    There are many other benefits people (in general) can get from simply having a more positive outlook on life. People who have a positive outlook are able to better handle stress and adversities in their lives. They can problem-solve and tend not to let the bad things that happen in their lives to bring them down. They have more energy to do more things in their lives. A positive attitude can help people live longer, as they experience little stress and as mention earlier, have a better immune system. In general, people who have a positive attitude are happier and make those around them happier as well.

    Recovering from an addiction is not an easy road. It is often painful and a lot of hard work. However, many people all over the world recover from their addiction, and in many of those cases, a positive attitude was not only necessary, but pivotal. Having a positive attitude is one of the best ways to recover from an addiction. It has many benefits, but in general, it can help prevent relapses and make recovering live happier lives in sobriety.

    Image Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/jackheart/5188367113

  3. Can Alcohol and Drugs Cure Your Depression?

    January 12, 2014

    Can Alcohol and Drugs Cure Your Depression?

    by Dominic Bursnell

    If you are depressed and anxious, will you discuss the issue with your closest friends or would you rather go the bar and drink yourself into a stupor? You want to sleep but the anxiety is keeping you from relaxing enough. You want oblivion and you seek the solace of drugs. Individuals have varying thresholds: for some the smallest amount of stress can make them depressed, while others take every problem with a grain of salt. However, most individuals are vulnerable to negative circumstances like the loss of a job, a broken relationship or a poor job evaluation.

    Comorbidity of Depression and Addiction

    • The link between depression and addiction holds true for nicotine and alcohol, the more traditional substances for addiction that is easily available. Nobody knows why smokers tend to be more depressed than non-smokers but people who smoke assume they will better with nicotine. Smoking does not cure depression but creates a lot of health problems.
    • Individuals who suffer from depression would rather seek out drug dealers than therapists because drugs provide them with that brief “high” that makes them forget their issues in life. Others seek relief in eating, gambling, sex and alcohol. Stress can be the trigger for addiction and individuals take drugs with the hope of gaining relief. Individuals who use recreational drugs like cannabis, ecstasy and heroin do so because it changes their mood.
    • Addiction is sometimes used to self medicate depression like when the smoker consumes a pack of cigarettes to get rid of anxiety. A person also tends to drink to numb the pain and drown whatever negative thoughts beseech him. Alcoholics may continue to hit the bottle even if they know that it is not a long lasting solution to their problem.
    • There are a host of other factors that make people prone to depression like gender, genetics, environment and availability of money. Based on research, men are more prone to addiction before depression while women will typically experience depression before addiction. Typically a family history of depression reveals a genetic tendency to suffer severe episodes of depression. Medication is usually used to manage this kind of illness.
    • The sad thing though is the fact that curing depression will not automatically treat addiction. Once the individual becomes hooked on alcohol or drugs, he has to undergo rehabilitation and treatment to get rid of the dependence. Consequently, many addicts can develop clinical depression as a result of their addiction and both have to be treated until full recovery is obtained.

    How to help someone who is depressed and using drugs?

    Qualified medical practitioners can sort out what role drugs play in depression whether it a part of withdrawal symptoms or if it is the underlying cause for the addiction. The best case scenario is to help the individual control his addiction since the withdrawal process can produce periods of depression. If you are suffering from this kind of situation, you can undertake the following steps.

    • Keep a tight control over your drug use so that it doesn’t get worse. Seek for help and support through rehabilitation and treatment.
    • Be honest with your doctor. Confide in him and share the reasons why you turned to drugs. This information will make it easier for them to customize a treatment program that is suitable for your addiction and depression.
    • Help from social services may be a good thing to consider since your drug addiction has surely caused significant financial problems like unpaid debts and mortgages. If these issues don’t get sorted out, they can worsen your problem and will contribute to another depressing episode to forestall your recovery.

    A common problem is that too few people seek help. They assume that depression is a passing episode in their life and it cannot be all too serious for therapy. The truth is you don’t need to suffer a lot of symptoms to consult your doctor about getting treatment.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindseykone/5362282427

  4. Yoga Therapy For Addiction

    June 23, 2013

    Yoga Therapy for Addiction

    There are many different techniques and methods that can be used to help individuals during recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism. One new type of therapy that makes use of ancient practices is yoga therapy. Participants who use yoga during recovery find that it provides a sense of calm, improves their spiritual connection, and offers them the opportunity to get in shape physically. These benefits are all things that can improve the individual’s life and also greatly assist in recovery.

    Yoga Provides Relaxation and Balance between Mind and Body

    Yoga helps patients manage their emotions more effectively by promoting relaxation and self-peace. Yoga has been known to decrease depression and anxiety, reduce outbursts of anger and fatigue, and lessen confusion. A core value of yoga is self-control, which is practiced by training the mind to direct the body. Patients who struggle with addiction are able to decrease their compulsive behaviors by practicing yoga. Yoga helps the mind and body to work in synergy, by fostering self-discipline and concentration during movements.

    The overall sense of calm that yoga participants experience helps patients who are in recovery accept the challenge of sobriety, and to patiently work toward a new life. “Yoga and meditation do several things, and perhaps one of the most important is that they allow individuals to cope with stress better,” an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Sat Bir Khalsa, said. “At the core of a lot of addiction is a search for that kind of relief from the stressful world.”

    This type of addiction therapy has been proven to help individuals overcome addiction. Excersize acts as a stress reliever and a mood enhancer, both of which can aid in recovery. Individuals who participate in exercise such as yoga are generally stronger mentally and physically, and even after one session they become more capable of tackling the challenge of sobriety.

    Developing an Inner Strength

    Yoga also assists in recovery by enabling a patient to connect spiritually with themselves and their god. Yoga encourages participants to focus inwardly and address their underlying issues. The practice of personal assessment and growth allows patients to identify the reasons they fell into addiction. Yoga helps individuals feel empowered to overcome the challenges that lead them to addiction. Like the 12 step method, yoga helps individuals develop an inward strength that comes from being personally and spiritually connected to a higher power.

    One group of residents in yoga therapy in Boston were featured in a NY Times article. They told the newspaper that they are encouraged every day through their program. One instructor tells them every day, “Tap into your breath to deal with the unknown. Whatever hurts, whatever bad energy you have in your life, you can let it go here.”

    Patients respond well to yoga therapy, and the effect is a strong motivation to continue in sobriety. “The teacher always says how you’re a good person and to love yourself. That makes you feel good about yourself, and you want to stay clean,” said one patient.

    Image Credit: Angela Kukhahn (flickr.com/photos/kukhahnyoga/6052362466)

  5. Denial in Addicts

    June 10, 2013

    denial in addicts

    by Shellee-Kim Gold

    Denial is a state of mind which blocks crucial parts of ourselves from being made aware and analyzed by our conscious processes.

    Although denial is a problem that affects the human condition the world over, denial in addicts is particularly troublesome.

    Denial defined: A defense mechanism

    Denial acts as a defence mechanism, designed to protect us emotionally.  It is the subconscious mind’s way of erecting a barrier to protect us so we don’t feel the pain of things as they are. As a result, we choose not to be honest with ourselves; and, consequently, with others, including those we love the most.

    Yet, we put ourselves through this because we believe we can perform better and keep functioning as normal in our daily lives.

    Don’t get it wrong; denial is not your friend. In fact, denial is your most lethal enemy. It is the number one way in which you can prevent your successful recovery from addiction, regardless of whether you’re already in recovery or have yet to get there.

    Types of denial and the tell-tale signs

    According to the American Psychiatric Association, the first step on the road to recovery is recognition, but the process is but is complicated by denial.

    There are several types and stages of denial that will come up during an addict’s journey to recovery. Making excuses to justify behaviour (to both yourself and others) and self-deception are the hallmarks of addiction denial.

    If you haven’t yet acknowledged you need help, you have likely used some of the following common patterns of denial:

    • You convince yourself you’re cured when you’ve done nothing or little to resolve your problems.
    • You tell yourself your problems aren’t your fault, and blame other people, such as your boss or partner. Thus, you are able to justify your problems and comes up with reasons why you don’t have to deal with them.
    • You constantly compare yourself to others whom you perceive as having worse problems than you. In that way you can convince yourself that you don’t have a ‘serious’ problem.
    • You mentally manipulate others, and feel triumphant when you’ve convinced them of your lies about your addiction; even though a part of you is screaming for help.

    Just because you’ve dealt with the preliminary forms of denial and may be in a treatment programme or are even post-treatment, don’t fall into the trap of becoming smug! Denial can insidiously sneak back into your life when you aren’t paying attention. Be extra vigilant and watch out for the following symptoms of denial and relapse:

    • Arrogance. Holding to the belief ‘it will never happen to me – again’ is an issue. Anyone can slip back into addiction at any time.
    • Even though the person you’re having a relationship with may not be an addict, negative aspects of this union result in you veering off-track from your recovery.
    • Allowing yourself to be sucked back into socializing with old using or boozing buddies. Choose your friends carefully.

    Helpful Tools

    Will power alone will not help in keeping you sober. Here are some tools you can use to stay clean:

    • Practice of daily self-awareness, which will have a positive influence on all other areas of your life.
    • Observe others.  If there are more than a couple of people in your life who share the same thoughts regarding you and your destructive patterns of behaviour, chances are they’re right. Use their perspective to see yourself through different eyes.
    • Keep connected to other recovering alcoholics and drug addicts; they provide essential support.

    Recognising and acknowledging denial is crucial to successfully managing and overcoming addiction. Denial’s opposite is acceptance. Before you can accept yourself, however, you need to understand who you are. Make that a priority and you may find that staying clean becomes that much simpler.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jessica_digiacomo/5311147795