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Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Are you the type of person who sees the glass half-empty or half-full? While this may seem like an inconsequential question, the implications behind your answer may have more importance than you think. Recent studies and research has shown mental and physical health benefits for choosing optimism over pessimism. One study even found that adults who identified as pessimist based on personality test had higher fatality rates over a 30-year period than those who were shown to be optimists. Read and discover why viewing the glass as half-full could change not only your perception about life but life itself.

“We Can Complain Because Rose Bushes Have Thorns, Or Rejoice Because Thorn Bushes Have Roses” – Abraham Lincoln

Defining the Optimist

First we must come to an understanding of what exactly being an optimist is all about. In its most simple form it can be thought of keeping a positive internal outlook despite external forces or situations. An alternative definition provided by the Mayo Clinic is, “Optimism is the belief that good things will happen to you and that negative events are temporary setbacks to overcome.” In my opinion what really qualifies someone as an optimist is how they react to negative experiences; the hurt, pain, sorrow, etc. Out of misery we can find serenity and growth, we can use the pain as motivation or a learning experience. On the other hand, we can become bitter and resentful, cursing at the injustices of the world. We have the chance to learn the lessons that life puts in front of us, or we can retreat into a shell of self-pity and scorn our fate.

More Than Positivity

While optimism is often synonymous with positivity, it is actually more complex than that. A professor of psychology, S. Segerstrom, proposes than optimism involves traits such as motivation, persistence, faith, and courage. In researching optimist, Segerstrom concluded that optimists, as opposed to pessimist, confront problems head-on. They do not shy away from difficult situations and if they fail at something they seek a different approach and try again.
Genetic research has also shown there may a hereditary factor involved in an individual’s propensity towards being an optimist. These genes may be involved in regulating neurotransmitters in the brain. As with most traits, upbringing and environment plays a role as well. Studies have shown than children raised by parents who boost their self-esteem and praise accomplishments. Children raised in dysfunctional or abusive homes are certainly predisposed to a less optimistic outlook, but there have been exceptions.

Practicing Optimism

If you are not optimistic by nature, don’t fret, there are ways to actually learn to be more optimistic. Research has shown that a spirit of willingness and an attitude of ‘fake it til you make it’ is all that is required to bring optimism into your life. Dr. Segerstrom wrote, “People can learn to be more optimistic by acting as if they were more optimistic and being more engaged and persistent in the pursuit of goals.” A tool from cognitive behavioral therapy is to write down three positive things that happened during the day; don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking. Likewise, don’t underestimate the influence of negative thinking. Often we create self-fulfilling prophecies in our life and we expect the outcomes we receive.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Prescription opiates are undoubtedly the most dangerous substance facing the American public today. Many people start their descent into addiction innocently- teens grab a handful of pills from a parent's medicine cabinet, or athletes are over-prescribed powerful opiates to recover from an injury. Many are shocked to find that, even though they have recovered from their injury, they now face a new and bigger problem: addiction.

The particularly dangerous thing about opioids is that they lead only one direction: down. These prescription pills aren't cheap, and what often happens when an addict exhausts their prescription and/or their bank account, they turn to other, cheaper forms of opioids. Often, this is heroin.

No heroin addict ever decides to be a heroin addict. In fact, 4 out of 5 heroin addicts started with prescription opioids.

When I found this infographic from Withdrawal Ease, I thought it did a good job of summing up the epidemic currently facing the American public and I felt like I had to share it.

The US is in Love with Prescription Opiates
Courtesy of: Withdrawal Ease
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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

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        The "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous states, in reference to the Ninth Step and the Promises, "If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.  We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.  No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear.  We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.  Self-seeking will slip away.  Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.  Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.  We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.  We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves."

 

        If we are willing to surrender to the will of God through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous then we can be free of the manifestation of our character defects in our behavior.  Our self-centered life will begin its departure as we experience serenity and peace - peace which allows us to perceive life in a way that is joyful. We can then respond to that joy with love for others even though the circumstances of our lives may be unchanged. This love for others is the expression of us experiencing a beautiful life.

 

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In a hypothetical situation, if a friend of mine asked "would you wish the disease of addiction on your worst enemy?", my answer would invariably be "no". The pain, the heartache, the withdrawals, the family problems, the stress...the list can go on forever. Being in active addiction and feeling completely hopeless is quite possibly one of the most difficult things for a person to go through. Yet, with all of that being said, I cannot stand here today and tell you that I am not grateful for having gone through my addiction. In fact, to put it simply...I am very grateful.

One of my favorite authors, Malcom Gladwell, wrote a book called "David and Goliath". The book uses a number of different historical events, some more famous than others, to describe various times that the underdog has overcome in the face of great adversity, just like David did against Goliath. He discusses a phenomenon regarding a large number of dyslexics that, in spite of their learning disability, run many of the largest, most successful companies in the world. In another chapter, he tells of a study that was done involving some of the most famous men and women throughout history and how an enormous percentage of them lost a parent at a very early age. Despite their great loss and major tragedy, they managed to overcome and succeed in their respective areas. Gladwell told story after story of people overcoming adversity and translating it into success, and all I kept thinking about was how much each of these stories related to the recovery process post active drug/alcohol addiction.

Every single one of us that has overcome our addictions and that can stand tall today while proudly saying "I'm in recovery!" are the underdogs that claim triumph over the addiction epidemic. We are the minority, that have been cursed with an affliction so terrible that 100's of people die from it everyday, yet we still stand

My addiction brought me to my knees...but my knees is exactly where I needed to be. While on them, crying my eyes out, and hoping for something to just take my pain away, I learned humility. I found a higher power there (and learned I wasn't the higher power). Throughout early recovery, I learned the benefits of hard work and dedication. As recovery went on, I learned of perseverance, meditation, and personal expression. I learned to love myself and trust in a God of my understanding. I find myself applying these principles I learned throughout my recovery in everyday life now and can easily say that recovery truly led me to places I didn't think were written in the cards for me. 

We are blessed with this disease of addiction, not cursed. We have been given the trials and tribulations that we needed to develop as functional men and woman. My only wish is that everyone who struggled with addiction could overcome in the way that we have. I sometimes hear in meetings "we will have to walk over bodies if we want to stay sober" and I think that, maybe, that is true. The fact that so many people pass away from this disease makes those that recover from addiction all that much more special. We are the David and addiction is the Goliath. Many perished to Goliath before David showed up and took him down. But we, this special group of David's, did not perish. We survived to become an example that proves that it is, in fact, possible to overcome and there is hope for the seemingly hopeless.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In last week’s first part of the series on Inhalant Abuse, I focused on inhalant abuse effects and awareness. In the second part of this series, I will focus primarily on inhalant abuse prevention and how to treat someone who is suffering with an addiction to inhalants. While people of all ages can abuse inhalants, the group most at risk is people under the age of 21. Inhalants are often easily accessible to younger people, very cheap, and can be bought without an I.D. All of these factors converge to create a drug that appeals to many aspects of the younger crowd. Learn how to prevent inhalant abuse, and what steps to take if someone you know or love has started abusing inhalants.

Inhalant Abuse Prevention

Like with other drugs, education and information about inhalant abuse are some of the most influential means of prevention. As discussed previously, inhalant abuse may not be one of the most popular forms of drug abuse, but it certainly is one of the more dangerous and fatal abuses.  Many people who decide to try inhalants are unaware of the dangers and potential for addiction. Perhaps they think of the whole experience as harmless, just a little experiment because someone at school told them it was fun. The truth is, if they were aware of the dangerous and fatal nature of inhalant abuse, they would not try and abuse them. Of course there are people who know the dangers of inhalants and still proceed to abuse them. However, I would predict that most first time inhalant abusers have no understanding of the dangers of abusing inhalants. Thus the first step in preventing inhalant abuse is to educate children and young adults to the dangers of inhalant abuse. Almost every child grows up being told that drugs like cocaine and heroin are dangerous and evil, but do they have any idea about the dangers of inhalants? Of course informing children and teenagers about the dangers of abusing inhalants won’t stop inhalant abuse, but it could prevent many lives from suffering the same fate as the 400 people that died last year from inhalants.

The other way to prevent inhalant abuse is parental awareness and limiting access to inhalants. Over 40 percent of first time inhalant users report abusing inhalants that were already in their home. This means they used inhalants, household products already in the home, to get high. Parents have no idea the products they purchase and leave around are abusable inhalants. This is why it is important for parents to be aware of abusable inhalants and keep them out of reach or find non-abusable substitutes. When family and friends are more educated about inhalant abuse, they can prevent it from happening and also recognize it if someone they know starts abusing inhalants.

 

Inhalant Abuse Treatment

Treating the inhalant abuser or addict presents unique challenges. People abusing inhalants may not have experienced the financial, legal, or physical problems common with drug addiction or alcoholism. Inhalants also lack the physical addicting properties that drugs such as opiates, cocaine, and alcohol possess. With this being said, the low cost and powerful high of inhalants can create a mental addiction and craving in abusers. The biggest reason an inhalant abuser requires immediate help or treatment is the risky and fatal nature of inhalants.

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