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How Angry Music Makes Happy People

Can Angry Music Make Happy People?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Ever have someone ask you why you’re so angry? Naaaah, me neither.

Not because you are, but because of the music you listen to? Have you at least had people look at you sideways because they never figured you would be the one blaring heavy metal, punk rock or even rap music in the car? I know people are typically surprised when I have Bring Me the Horizon at full blast in my headphones during my workday, and they always say “you seem like such a calm guy.” Well, reading online all morning about a dress and how no one knows what color it is gets a little frustrating.

What if I told you that a lot of times that so-called ‘angry music’ is usually listened to, and even made by some of the calmest and most cool minded people? Or, in fact… that the theory about listening to ‘angry music’ for positive results is actually backed up in a recent study conducted by Maya Tamir and Brett Ford, researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Tell Me How You Really Feel

The study about the science of loud and ‘angry music’ was conducted using 175 people, who were asked to participate in role-playing exercises where they had to either confront a person (one example of these imagined scenarios was a cop interrogating a suspect) or they were asked to collaborate with someone. The music came in before the role-playing began, when the subjects were allowed to choose from a selection of music to aid in evoking the emotions they would need, including the basics:

  • Anger
  • Happiness
  • Neutrality

The subjects of the study were also asked questions about other factors about their personalities, such as:

It was up to them to decide on the music they would hear before beginning the exercise with the other individual. Tamir stated,

“Music is often used as a way to manipulate emotions, I just had people decide how to manipulate their own emotions,”

In all reality, it is not that abstract of a concept for someone to pump themselves up with aggressive music before engaging in a tough task: Like sports teams or professional fighters playing loud aggressive music to make dramatic entrances. So it should come as no surprise that the individuals who chose ‘angry music’ had no problem completing their tasks. But that’s just one side of the coin.

Tamir also found that the people who actually chose ‘angry’ or ‘aggressive’ music actually showed an over-all greater sense of well-being than the people who avoided feelings of unpleasantness or confrontation. So really the answer isn’t so black and white. Through this Tamir concluded,

“Rather than seeking happiness at all times, it may be important to seek happiness at the right time. Encouraging people to seek happiness and shun unhappiness irrespective of context may not necessarily be adaptive in the long run.”

So basically by constantly trying to shield ourselves from being unhappy or depressed we expose ourselves even more, becoming more vulnerable when the time comes that we have no choice but to hurt, when we are truly unhappy and we have no conditioning to face it.

So Many Feels

Tamir’s study actually reinforces the idea of engaging in what Frederic Luskin, a Stanford University professor and co-chair of the Garden of Forgiveness Project at Ground Zero, calls “constructive anger”. Professor Luskin has actually lectured on this very topic at great length, and he usually states that unlike destructive anger, constructive anger is the type of anger that aims to actually fix a problem.

“Constructive anger usually leads people to feel that they’ve accomplished something somehow. They’ve protected somebody or solved a problem.”

So when you listen to GWAR at top volume in the office until you finally ask your boss for a raise, that’s a form of constructive anger. You’re building a form of aggressive emotional leverage, and it gives you the courage to solve an issue.

But it’s not all sunshine and smiles, dude!

Luskin is careful to say there’s a line between listening to something that inspires aggression and actually acting out on that anger. Needless to say, he is one guy you won’t catch throwing elbows in a mosh pit anytime soon. Luskin believes that when you enter the mosh pit and start engaging in violence, no matter how fake it might be (or how understanding the people you punch are) that’s where the line between constructive and destructive anger is being crossed.

As far as pumping up the volume, Luskin says there could be some value in the idea that people who enjoy getting blasted by guitar riffs and drum solos while screaming at the top of their lungs in a crowd of thousands of other heavy metal fans are actively engaging with their anger in a safe, temporary and controlled way. He says,

“It could be nothing different than doing other sorts of thrill-seeking. When people go bungee jumping…it stimulates adrenaline, it gives them a sense of adventure. It serves as a wonderful discharge for certain energies. It’s different strokes for different folks.”

Emotions are essentially something that we humans know how to use strategically; I mean how many times, when you’re honest with yourself, have you wanted to feel a certain way and when the feeling came you kept it going with music or behavior, even if it was an angry or sad feeling? Essentially what we’re saying is that avoiding being angry or hurt and only seeking ‘happy thoughts’ really won’t get you anywhere.

I agree, because I know the times I feel more intense feelings are the times I grow the most. Tamir has stated,

“We all have a deeply ingrained belief that we want to feel emotions that feel good and avoid those that feel bad at any cost. But emotions do much more for us than merely provide pleasure and pain.”

In my opinion, there is something very enduring about cranking the volume on your headphones to something that shakes your heart like a house in a hurricane. The paradox is that sometimes the more we try and shelter ourselves from the bad feelings, the more sensitive we become to them. Then they have the potential to do more damage, because we can’t face them with a smile.

Truly experiencing the painful or vexatious feelings through music is a constructive way to identify the feeling; to let that honest expression pass through you can be cleansing, and ultimately letting it be guided into growth is an experience we chose for ourselves that can actually cultivate our resilience.

Say word?!

Music is one element of the outside world that can have some influence on how we feel, and sometimes separating ourselves from the things that hurt us the most means we need to change those elements. Learning to create healthy emotional responses is one way we train ourselves to be healthier people, but for addicts it often means a lot more. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Opana Causing HIV Outbreak in Indiana

Opana Causing HIV Outbreak in Indiana

Author: Justin Mckibben

Southeastern Indiana has been battling the prescription painkiller problem for some time, and for a second it seemed that heroin was outdoing opioids as the drug of choice and the pill issue was in decline. Then this past Wednesday news from state health officials changed all that optimism when people were informed that at least 26 people in the region were diagnosed with HIV in just a 3 month period, and most of them contracted it after injecting drugs, but not the heroin they thought they were dealing with, but Opana, another potent painkiller.

Record Numbers of HIV Cases

The first case that has been included in the outbreak in southeastern Indiana was diagnosed in early December according to the deputy commissioner and director for health outcomes at the Indiana State Department of Health Dr. Jennifer Walthall.

By January 23rd the total of newly diagnosed HIV cases jumped to 11, and in a region that typically experiences less than 5 new cases annually that was a big eye-opener. Since then, more cases have been diagnosed in several counties, and officials are troubled.

These cases, not to mention 4 others considered preliminary cases, could be the start of a whole new problem for the people of Indiana. State health officials are interviewing newly identified HIV patients and urging them to reach out to their sexual partners as well as anyone with whom they shared needles, as both forms of contact can spread the disease.

During their investigation into the outbreak, officials found those infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, had injected Opana. State health officials say it is not a common occurrence that prescription drug abuse has sparked an HIV outbreak, and Dr. Melinda Campopiano, a medical officer with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, agreed in a statement.

“I am not aware of any similar instances like this related to this or any other specific opioid pain reliever. I am so sorry to learn this is going on.”

Opana Abuse

Opana is a drug that started its trend about 5 years ago when the makers of Oxycontin’s reformulated that drug in an attempt to make it harder to abuse. The company who makes Opana- Endo Pharmaceuticals, took similar steps, but Opana contains oxymorphone, an opioid more potent per milligram than Oxycontin, and people have continued to find ways to transform Opana pills into an injectable high.

Experts say the prevalence of Opana abuse varies across the country, but they have stated that just one or two doctors prescribing the drug in large quantities can have a drastic impact on the drugs popularity for abuse.

Kentucky, for instance, saw a spike in Opana overdose deaths in 2011 according to the executive director of the Kentucky Office for Drug Control Policy. But the issue seems resolved since the drug became tamper-resistant. In addition Kentucky closed a number of the infamous ‘pill mills’.

Health and law enforcement officials have fought back against Opana in southeastern Indiana as well, including shutting down pill mills and creating stricter enforcement on prescriptions, and statistics showed that the number of prescriptions had dropped.

But at the same time, heroin use in the area has raised according to Indiana State Police officials.

The Outbreak

The recent outbreak has brought the reality of drug abuse to many peoples front door for the first time. That being said, there’s nothing specific about this drug to link it to HIV according to expert opinion. Sharing needles, regardless of the substance, creates the risk of contracting whatever disease the previous user had.

Then again, whenever anyone injects a substance such as Opana, bigger wounds and more bleeding can ensue, which can increase the chance of contamination.

Now, those in health care must bring the message of the dangers of needle sharing to the general public, and state health officials are actively trying to spread the word about the importance of cleaning needles. Here again we see the importance of a harm-reduction approach. Officials are now providing harm-reduction kits to those who use drugs intravenously, and encouraging them to seek treatment.

While the efforts seem well planned, many believe that the outbreak has just begun, and that local clinics should be prepared to test patients in the region worried about contracting HIV through sexual partners, given the nature of the illness. In the near future many bodies will have to come together to help care for those affected by this outbreak, including churches, clinics and counselors. But the public health care system will need to be there to support the community, because some expect the outbreak is likely to impact far too many too soon.

HIV and other infectious diseases are just example one of the countless devastating side-effects of drug abuse. Too many lives are either destroyed or ended because of drugs and alcohol, but there is always a way out for those willing to seek it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Does Facebook Make You Drink?

Does Facebook Make You Drink?

Author: Justin Mckibben

Have you ever found yourself browsing through a laundry list of status updates, or clicking through a collage of profile pictures, or trying to figure out what color that stupid dress is… and suddenly you feel the urge to reach for a beer or a glass of wine? While there has been plenty of references lately to the growing concern with social media addiction, and it’s relationship to drug abuse. Some are suggesting social media might also be a cause for some people to booze it up according to a new study has found that claims Facebook really has the potential to drive people to drink.

Recap on Social Media and Addiction

Recently we have written about how studies have shown that the feeling people get when they see a new notification: a “like” on a post or status, a shared post, or a new friend request is addictive, and is very much due to the same process in the brain that drugs produce.

Researchers actually conducted a study at the University of Albany that surveyed a total of 253 undergraduate students factoring elements such as:

This research revealed the usage of social media sites evoked a reward response, which is a powerful form of behavioral conditioning, and participants who were deemed addicted to social media were also more likely to experience substance addiction.

So essentially this research looked into the relationship between social media, the compulsive behaviors, and their correlation to substance abuse.

Drinking on Facebook

This newest piece we wish to add to the conversation is more centered on the idea that Facebook presumably force-feeds the idea of drinking to users, and how people are even more likely to drink after continued use of social media sites.

Researchers from Michigan State University found through a recent study that Facebook users are more likely to consider drinking alcohol the more they are exposed to and participate in alcohol-related pages and posts. So regardless of whether it is a direct alcohol ad, or through comments or “likes”, more than 400 participants who took part in the survey were studied to see how they felt after viewing and responding to alcohol-related Facebook items.

The study participants were shown three Facebook pages:

  1. An alcohol marketing post with a display that promoted drinking
  2. An anti-drinking public service announcement
  3. A non-alcohol related advertisement

Researchers found that those who liked, shared, or commented on the messages related to alcohol had more of an intention of drinking. This was also true even when the status update used to promote alcohol was placed next to an anti-drinking warning. So the distinction of the problem wasn’t necessarily over-exposure to alcohol related items, because even anti-alcohol ads could not deter the users from focusing on the pro-alcohol opinion.

People constantly exposing themselves and each other to posts about drinking, including photos and status updates, along with alcohol ads or other items from pop culture promoting alcohol use seems to have more of an influence than most of us give it credit. In combination with excessive Facebook use, knowing the connection between social media and compulsive behavior, these posts about partying and boozing can be far too tempting.

Underage Facebook Users

Facebook and other similar social media sites are technically forbidden by law to target alcohol-related content to the under 21 audience. However in reality there is very little that can be done to prevent underage drinkers from viewing content that contains pro-alcohol messages or alcohol advertisements. Leader of the study Saleem Alhabash was troubled about the studies findings, stating:

“It’s ironic because the classical way of thinking about marketing on TV, is to advertise alongside alcohol brands. Our study says ‘this might not be the way to do it. Underage drinkers will see these ads, think they’re cool and then like or share. They interact with it and then start thinking about it.”

Even parents have taken to using Facebook to promote their own anti-binge drinking content. There have been many stories of parents posting photos and stories on Facebook pages of their own children who have been injured or even lost their lives to alcohol and substance abuse hoping to raise awareness among other parents and teens that these behaviors are dangerous.

So next time you post a status, just think about how that has an impact, even subliminal, on the people who read it… post responsibly!

Facebook and other social media sites are constantly being connected to the dangerous and compulsive nature of some behaviors, not because they are evil but because they are part of a perfect storm that creates chaos in the lives of those who are most susceptible to it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Harris Wittels of Parks & Rec Dies, Overdose Suspected

Harris Wittels of Parks & Rec Dies, Overdose Suspected

Sad news for the entertainment industry and “Parks and Recreation” fans: Harris Wittels has passed away.

Mr. Wittels was co-executive producer of the hit comedy show, which is in its final season, and the last episode is set to air next week; he sometimes appeared on the show, as well.

In addition to working on “Parks & Rec,” Wittels produced and wrote for “Eastbound and Down” and “The Sarah Silverman Program.” He’s also credited with making “Humblebrag,” a thing on social media, even turning it into a coffee table book.

According to law enforcement sources, the actor and comedian was pronounced dead around 1 PM yesterday in his Los Angeles home. He was found lying on his couch and there was allegedly drug paraphernalia in the house. Furthermore, there were no signs of trauma to his body.

The official cause of death has not yet been confirmed, however, it’s believed that Mr. Wittels died from a drug overdose, in which heroin is suspected. In the past, Wittels had often spoken about his struggles with sobriety in both his standup and podcast appearances, most notably during an episode of “You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes” in November.

Speaking openly about his battles with drug addiction, he had gone to rehab twice.

Wittels performed stand-up Wednesday night at The Meltdown – an L.A. comedy theater. During his set he talked about being clean and sober and said he was in a good place.

Wittels was 30 years old.

The disease of addiction is a killer. This is a sad fact that is proven to us time and time again. However, recovery is possible and help is available to get you on the right track. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today.

Marijuana Vapes at the Oscars Highlights the Growing Trend

Marijuana Vapes at the Oscars Highlights the Growing Trend

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model.)

 Author: Justin Mckibben

The whole e-cigarette and ‘vape’ movement has not only had an influence on smokers, but it has also created a new concern with people using these inventions to ingest illicit drugs. There have been several reported instances where synthetic drug makers have hidden their chemical cocktails in liquid form and sold these drugs as ‘vape juice’ to consumers, and with marijuana going mainstream via the growing reforms and industry surrounding medical and recreational marijuana, e-cigs and vapes are being used to smoke weed as well.

How mainstream are we talking? Well this year was the 87th Oscar Award ceremony in Hollywood, and the top Oscar nominated actors, actresses and directors all went home with more than just a golden man. Even if they didn’t win a statue, they were awarded with a marijuana vaporizer currently listed at retail price of $250.

The Haze Vaporizer

This latest development actually marks a historical moment for the “Everyone Wins at the Oscars” nominee gift bags that are a tradition customary at the Oscar. It is given to all those nominated in Best Actor/Actress and supporting roles as well as those nominated as directors.

Jason Azurmendi, the marketing manager for a company creating high-end electronic smoking devices Haze Technologies, spoke to the press about the new “Haze Vaporizer” that was being distributed to the nominees this year in a goodie-bag that should have undoubtedly came complete with a bag of Doritos, describing it as,

“the first portable vaporizer with dual chambers, allowing the user to vape two different materials — dried herbs, concentrates, and oils — interchangeably, all by the switch of a button. “

This year’s Oscar goodie bag was valued at a total $160,000, almost twice as much as the one distributed to Oscar nominees last year. Azurmendi went on to state,

“We feel privileged to achieve this unprecedented placement. Our presence as a counter culture industry in front of a mainstream audience such as the Oscars establishes the realization of the distance that both the vaping industry and marijuana industry have gone to making their mark as legitimate businesses and more importantly, way of life.”

While the other items included in the nomination goodie-bag are a lot more expensive and prestigious, it is the vaporizer of course that is making the biggest buzz at an international level due to the nature of the device.

The Vape Market for Marijuana

The marijuana market started experiencing quite a turnaround last year along with the growing popularity with edible cannabis products, and marijuana vaporizers were right there revolutionizing the industry as well. There are quite a few major selling points for these products.

  • Health Concerns

Vaporizers allow users to inhale cannabinoids while not exposing themselves to marijuana smoke.

As a result, vaping has become one of the ingestion methods required in states now engaged in some form of “smoke free” reform, including Minnesota and New York. One out of three reviews on the marijuana destination site Leafly is about vaping marijuana.

  • Discretion

Besides health concerns, the fact that vaporizers are so discreet is a huge selling point for electronic marijuana smoking devices. Not only do most marijuana vapes appear to be just one of the many electronic cigarettes on the market, but the vapor that originates from smoking these devices does not have much of an odor, if any.

  • Potency

Most vaporizers also use hash oil or marijuana concentrates that a said to be stronger than the average strain. Cannabis concentrates often contain a far greater percentage of THC than regularly ingested pot – as much as 90% purity.

The problem is that the potency vaporizers can deliver is present in an unregulated environment, despite the claims that they are a “healthier” ingestion device.

Vaporizers and concentrates are legal at this point for sale in every United States on a state by state basis, but even California is considering banning concentrates altogether, and they are not alone with the effort to combat the most powerful and potent forms of cannabis that could be much less healthy than advertised.

Either way at the moment it seems the growing popularity of marijuana vaporizers revolutionizing the way people use weed is not dying out anytime soon, and while policies in so many states keep changing the demand is only set to grow. The next question is, will the rate of drug abuse and addiction grow with it?

No matter how many ways we try to make drugs “safer”, we are still going to have those who abuse them. Addiction does not care how you get high, and it doesn’t care how much “healthier” you think you are because you vaporize your drugs. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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