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Posted by on in Drug Addiction


“The perception that mental illness and psychiatricsymptomatology uniformly lead to aggression and violence is a

major source of stigma for the severely mentally ill.”

(Zhuo, Bradizza and Maisto, 2014)

PsychCentral reports that a study conducted under the auspices of the University of Buffalo found that substance abuse is a stronger predictor of violence than severe mental illness and that  treating the substance abuse disorders in  dually diagnosed patients illness can reduce their risk of future violence. The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (47 (2014) 353–361).


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

This is a scientific & medically-based fact, no longer an "opinion" or a topic to be debated.  Regular use of an illicit, addictive drug, over a long period of time causes severe changes in the brain chemistry which affect not only psychological functioning but motor & physical functioning as well.  The changes are functional as well as structural.  The effects in the brain alter the normal chemical balance and even when an addict quits using their drug of choice, those effects remain and take months and years to be repaired, while some damage is sometimes permanent. 

It is because of this medical knowledge of long-term effects and changes in the brain, that addiction is now classified as a disease.  While the initial use of the drug is often times voluntary, even that is a weak argument for those who don't acknowledge medical breakthroughs, because the percentage of people who have voluntarily tried heroin for example, 90% of them will NOT become addicted to it.  It is the 10% that for some reason, which is now researched heavily, who DO become addicted and studies are just beginning to show why.  Other than being classified as a medical disease, other examples of breakthroughs in addiction treatment we have seen in just the last 10-15 years are Narcan which saves lives every single day in America, Suboxone/Subutex to be the 1st and only outpatient treatment for medication maintenance that isn't tightly regulated like methadone, which requires daily visits where Suboxone is more private, more convenient and only requires a 1 month visit, Vivitrol, the craving-reducing shot which also blocks any desired "high" if a patient decides to take an opiate, therefore acting also as a deterrent but without opiates in the medication itself, The Rapid Opiate Detox Treatment, which under sedation and/or anesthesia, the patient is injected with a course of medications to fully withdraw and detoxify the patient rapidly within an hour or more and when upon wakening, the patient has gone through their entire withdrawal, without having to experience the agony of weeks of indescribable pain and suffering as a "cold-turkey" withdrawal.  These are just some major medical advances in medicine for addiction we have seen occur in a very short span of time, with new ones being researched and tested currently.  

Involuntary addiction, usually referred to as "dependency" are for example people being chronic pain management patients who require the pain relief level of opiates, and then become dependent (just as those who voluntarily try opiates become dependent also) over time and even with just a very short time of regular use, as little as 1 month of daily use, even at low doses, the patient's brain and body functions rely on these drugs because the brain is drastically altered, which cannot be avoided or preventable. 

New research has just shown, that a study involving siblings who one or more were addicts, had significant abnormalities in the brain which non-addicted people did not have.  These abnormalities in the brain were found in the areas of impulse control and self-control in general, that were there before the person ever even started using drugs.  This information backs up long suggested claims that drug addiction and alcoholism is related to genetic factors. Researchers have known that the brains of people addicted to drugs differ from those of others, but it has not been clear whether this is a cause or effect of addiction. The new study, because it shows that siblings who aren't addicted share brain abnormalities with addicts, suggests the brain differences are a cause of addiction, rather than an effect of drug use, the researchers said.  "There is a biological basis why people suffer from addiction," said lead author Karen Ersche, a neuroscientist who researches addictive behavior at the University of Cambridge in England of the journal Science, about this study which was published February 2, 2014. "This study suggests that some brains predispose people to become addicted, should they decide to use drugs," Ersche said. "We need to find out how these nonaddicted siblings were able to resist using drugs."  The study also confirms previous studies' findings that if one identical twin suffered from addiction, that the non-addicted twin has a 50:50 chance at also becoming an addict.  It is believed that different experiences and their environment may be what causes one twin to initially use drugs while the other doesn't.  There are still studies looking into this but as for the brain images, the abnormalities exist and are present in both twins.  This evidence overall is further proof of the already documented data that equates addiction as a medical disease due to changes and abnormalities in the brain whther they are before or after intial drug use. 

But more and more studies are finding what so many believe and some research like this has shown, that the abnormalities are there before an addict ever uses a drug.  This should be proof enough that society should erase from their minds, their damaging and unfounded predjudiced opinions that addicts are weak-willed, without morals or bad people. 
 Knowing the changes that happen and how it affects you as an addict is important to realizing the severity of your disease as well as effectively recognizing what needs attention and focus in your treatment plan and recovery, especially in early recovery, so you know what to expect.  This book is meant to guide and serve you, teaching you the tools you need to work on yourself and work on your life in recovery in order to be successful, happy and healthy once again, as a supplement to the largely non-accessed behavioral and psychological treatment, whether you are on medication therapy or not.  Part of those tools include an important part of knowing your disease; what it actually does to your brain and how those changes to your brain manifest in your behaviors and thinking, until your brain is healed with continuous abstinence of your drug of choice, through recovery, sobriety and treatment. 
Most of the changes that occur are from neurological damage. 


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

There is a promise, with recovery, that somehow life will be solved, sorted, fixed by not using anymore.

Of course, when we put down the drink, or the prescription meds, or the illicit drugs, or the sex, gambling or food, we meet ourselves and our own lives head-on. There is a saying in the rooms of fellowship meetings, that we have to live life on its own terms, but this is something we have to learn as our recovery grows. The immediate aftermath of recovery, if I can put it like that, involves looking at ourselves as we really are, in whatever state we happen to be in. And most of the time, it isn't pretty.

So what happens if we come off, then find ourselves broke, isolated or in pain, as was the case for me?

When I went through the painful process of weaning off fentanyl lozenges, I was greeted by my own pain at the end of it. That was my 'prize' if you like. And I have to work hard every day to accept that pain and the limitations it places on my life.

I have to accept the tiredness, which sometimes feels like being hit by a truck, deadening and weighty. It floors me, and accepting that is very, very hard. We say in the rooms that acceptance is the 'golden key', but accepting life as it is, involves a process of grief. I had to mourn my pre-illness life, before being able to fully accept my lift as it really is today.


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

We all speak 'from the heart' don't we? It's something I considered I did all the time. I never gave it much thought, but I assumed I was communicating with the people around me in my life, work and play, with truth and integrity.

That's where I was wrong.

I found out in rehab that I speak from the head, not the heart. And that's where it all went so horribly wrong. As they say in some of the recovery fellowships I attend, 'my best thinking got me into addiction'. I'd like to add that 'my best feeling got me into my recovery'.

I realised once the prescription drugs were taken away, that I was terrified of feeling anything. ANYTHING.

I didn't want to feel sad, angry, humiliation, fear, resentment, longing, grief. The list was endless. It also includes all the 'good' emotions such as love, happiness, joy, bliss, excitement, passion or fulfilment, because they were scary as hell.


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

When Cate asked me to be the addiction 'expert' this month, I was seized with anxiety.Do I have anything to say? What if I can't think of anything to write? What if no-one wants to read what I have to say?

It took me a few minutes to realise I'd gone back into my default setting where it was all about me. As an addict, I am hell-bent on self-sabotaging most aspects of my life. The most pernicious aspect of this, though, is the way I make everything feel that it has to gravitate round me.

I see it with my toddler son. The world gravitates around him, and he expects it to with fierce determination. That's the stage he's at, and I know he'll grow and develop and leave that stage behind. But there is something about being an addict that speaks to me of arrested development.

That toddler stage never quite seems to go, however much work I do around it. That's why it's essential for me to speak to my sponsor daily, and attend all the recovery meetings I can. I need perspective. I need to hear, daily, that the world doesn't revolve around me, nor should it. I need to fess-up to myself when I am caught in that self-limiting cycle of introspection and fear.

That's why, today, I'm proud be here with addictionland, fessing-up to you all in the hope that it strikes a chord. This month, it's not all about me, it's about you, and the recovery journey you're on, and I feel blessed to be here to share it in some small way.


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