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Are Creative Individuals More at Risk for Addiction?

Are Creative Individuals More at Risk for Addiction?

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

Author: Shernide Delva

The list of talented people who have struggled with addiction is incredibly long. It would take way too much time to list them all. Do creativity and addiction correlate with one another? Are creative individuals more likely to be addicts? That controversial question has been debated for decades.

For the most part, researchers have concluded that people whose abuse substances are not more creative or more successful as a result. Neuroscientist, David Linden of Johns Hopkins University, declared in an interview that there was not a connection between creativity and addiction. He stated that suggesting otherwise confuses coincidence with cause.

Addiction is a disease, not a shortcut to success. When looking at famous writers who were alcoholics, like Fitzgerald or Hemmingway, it is easy to assume that alcohol helped fuel their creative process. However, this is just a perception. Creativity does not stem from substance abuse, nor should substances be the source of your creativity.

Substance Abuse = Source of Creativity?

Dependence on drugs and alcohol should not be the source of your creativity. We should not glorify substance abuse as a means to creativity. In the book, “The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent and IQ,”  author, David Shenk states extraordinary talent and achievement come from “the combined consequence of early exposure, exceptional instruction, constant practice, family nurturance, and a child’s intense will to learn.” Essentially, your creativity and intelligence come from your inner will to succeed along with the role models and guidance you have in your life. Behind every successful talent is a teacher, coach or motivator pushing them along.

The problem is highly creative people find their minds are overwhelmed with data streaming in and out of their consciousness. The average person has a cognitive filter that filters this information as a means to survival.  The creative person, however, does not have this filter.  Highly creative people let more of this data in their mind. Therefore, they need to process and organize the increased information flow in untypical ways.

Unfortunately, because creative people think outside of the box and look at the world differently, they look at rules differently.  The term for this trait is cognitive disinhibition which an article describes as “the failure to ignore information that is irrelevant to current goals or to survival.”

The “rules are meant to be broken” mentality both produces creativity and creates destructiveness.  Creativity can result in risky behavior. It is risky because creative people justify their creative behavior when they create while using substances.

“Mind Expanding” Substances

Famous artists were thought to be more brilliant because of their liberal use of “mind expanding substances.”  However, time and time again, it has been proven that creative people are able to maintain their creativity without substances. Those in recovery find that their mind is clearer, making them more able to follow through on their natural creative impulses.

On the contrary, long-term substance abuse can permanently damage creativity. Extended drug use can affect the brain damaging it in ways that may not even be recoverable even after years of sobriety. Scary, isn’t it?
The first time a creative person abuses drugs or alcohol, they may find they can express themselves better. This may cause them to believe they “need” these substances to be creative. However, reactions like this are temporary. Also, creative people may be using substances to self-medicate mental health issues they have not addressed professionally.

Why Are Creativity and Addiction So Prevalent?

Now that we know there is not a direct link between substance abuse and creativity, why do so many creative geniuses deal with addiction? Most of this has to do with the genetics and traits that make someone predisposed to addiction. Those same traits are a prerequisite for creativity.

Studies reveal that 40 percent of addiction is genetically predetermined. While family history is no guarantee that someone will have a problem, there is a strong connection between the two. There are several genes involved in addiction risk. Experts have not identified them all, however, the ones we are currently aware of affect the release of the happy chemical dopamine.

Dopamine Depletion?

Addicts tend to feel pleasure weaker than the average person. Because of this, addicts abuse substances in an attempt to achieve the same level of happiness that others feel natural. There may not be a direct link between drug addiction or mental illness and creativity, but science hints at a connection between substance abuse and traits that are a prerequisite for creativity. A low-functioning dopamine system can make a person more likely to misuse substance and engage in risk-taking, novelty-seeking compulsions.

This same low-functioning dopamine system relates to creativity. Individuals who have struggled with releasing happy chemicals  their whole life may latch on to creative outlets like music, art, and writing to help re-generate that dopamine and process information better.

Overall, your risk for addiction is up to you. You have a choice to use healthier outlets to compensate for genetic factors that may put you at risk for substance abuse. Creativity should not have to be fueled by addiction. You have the ability to be a creative person without the use of drugs and alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. 

Utah Senator Declares Porn a Public Health Crisis

Utah Senator Declares Porn as a Public Health Crisis.

Author: Shernide Delva

Utah has officially declared porn a public health crisis. Republican State Senator Todd Weiler has recognized the destructive, addictive nature of pornography and has recently introduced a resolution to the Utah legislature.

However, critics of the new legislature say it is based on exaggeration and morality rather than scientific evidence on the actual effects of pornography. Furthermore, many argue the senator’s resolution relies more on pseudoscience and has no place in governmental action.

Nonetheless, Weiler suggests that pornography exposure causes low-self-esteem in teens and leads to sexual behaviors. The bill he is pushing suggests that pornography represents a public health crisis.

The senator goes on to claim that pornography is responsible for:

  • Damaging teens’ brains
  • Affecting the state of marriage
  • Increasing the rates of rape and sexual violence
  • Causing a host of other social problems.

Weiler is passionate about the porn addiction problem. He has even called on the government of Utah to engage in research and prevention efforts to address this “epidemic.”  Is porn responsible for these setbacks? Are these claims fact or fiction?

Digging a bit deeper, one can find a host of arguments for and against Weiler’s statements. One argument points to a massive study conducted in the United Kingdom which actually reveals that the effects of porn on teens were too insubstantial to actually make any true claims.  In the study, which reviewed over 40,000 research articles, they found that pornography only explained less than 1% of negative behaviors in teens. The study concluded that blaming pornography for risky sexual behavior is more of a distraction than a solution. Rather, there should be a stronger focus on issues of education, poverty, substance use/mental health and family variables that play a more significant role.

Moving on to the next part of the legislation, Weiler states that pornography serves as a child’s first form of sex education and even forms their sexual templates in the long run. Unfortunately, this has been seen to be true in most cases. Often, a young person’s first exposure to sexuality is found to be through pornography.

However, many hope the legislation will push towards focusing on sex education efforts for youth in Utah, rather than the addiction in general. Sex education is a huge issue across the United States. Many states, like Utah, have an emphasis  on abstinence-only sex education rather than exploring other more effective options. This could be a very significant setback.

Next question: Is pornography really a biological addiction?

One article reveals actually has been a wealth of research that correlates porn access to a reduction of sexual violence and sexual crimes. Still, other articles correlate porn with an increase in sexual violence. Science remains unsure if porn addiction is a true addiction.

Furthermore, the final terms of Weiler’s bill is strongly considered a conservative ideology. Weiler seems to believe that it is only men who watch porn and women who are abused by it. Throughout the resolution, it seems that Weiler’s main concern is that pornography reduces the desire for males to marry women and have children. However, studies show that many women view pornography as well.

According to several reports, Utah has the highest rates of pornography in the United States. Weiler believes that pornography is a “gateway” behavior that affects the brains of teenagers. However, in a strange chicken-egg debate, critics argue if whether pornography is the problem, or if underlying issues cause the increase in pornography use.

Whether you believe in porn addiction or not, addiction is a wide spectrum disorder, and it does not always have to be substance abuse. Other addictions are common and real. If you feel like you are struggling to overcome an addiction, the time is now to explore your treatment options. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Employers Struggle to Handle Drug Addiction in the Workplace

How Employers Handle Drug Addiction in the Workplace

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

Author: Shernide Delva

As we all know by now, the amount of people who are suffering with drug addiction exceeds anything we have seen before. As a result, employers must learn how to handle employees who are struggling with drug addiction. According to NPR, people with addiction are more likely to be sick, absent, or use workers’ compensation benefits,. Therefore the question remains: Should employers have the right to fire an employee due to drug addiction, or should providing treatment always be a requirement?

A survey conducted in Indiana found that 80 percent of employers are impacted by prescription drug abuse and misuse. They also found that 64 percent of employers believed that prescription drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin were much more of a problem compared to illegal drugs.

Despite these statistics, only half of employers have a written policy on how to handle drug addiction in the workplace. Questions remain on how to handle employees who fall into addiction related problems.  Three quarters of employers say drug abuse, specifically prescription drug abuse,  is a justifiable reason for termination. Considering the emphasis in the past years on drug addiction being an illness and not a crime, employers question how to handle these cases. Furthermore, if an employee’s addiction interferes with their work obligations, should treatment still be offered or do employees have the right to terminate? Clearly, the laws are blurry on the manner.

The Steve Sarkisian Case: Was It Legal to Fire Him?

Addiction continues to be a complicated issue for employers to tackle. However, there are some established guideline. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) required employers to offer job protection for those suffering from alcoholism. Alcoholism is considered to be a kind of disabilities. Still, the exact legalities are confusing.  This is exemplified greatly in the case involving USC football coach Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian, who admits to suffering from alcoholism, believes strongly that he was wrongfully terminated due to his drinking.

According to Sarkisian, he states he was “kicked to the curb” last October when he sought in-patient treatment for alcoholism.  According to the law, employers must follow federal and state discrimination guidelines. Alcoholism qualifies as a disability under the ADA guidelines. Those guidelines define a disabilities as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Therefore, Sarkisian should have been treated for his disability and not terminated.

However, while the ADA protects employees from being fired directly due to their alcoholism, it does not restrict termination due to alcoholism-related misconduct. Furthermore, constant lateness and intoxication on the job could deem a termination valid. Employers can also fire employees who do not meet up to the standards of the workplace as a result of their alcoholism.

Despite this clarification, Sarkisian believes he was terminated wrongfully. USC has responded to his allegations explaining that his termination was due to his behavior at a pep rally where he appeared drunk and used foul language with the audience. The former coach was allegedly too intoxicated to coach practice the next day. USC will cite these incidences to justify Sarkisian termination.

On the other hand, Sarkisian is suing for 30 million dollars because he believes USC violated ADA guidelines. In his defense, he stated that his employer should have made “reasonable accommodations” to meet guidelines. He believes that they were required to let him seek treatment. His lawsuit claims that USC violated ADA laws by firing him when he went to rehab.

Workplace addiction issues are increasingly common, whether it is alcohol-related to prescription drug addiction.   Alcohol and drug problems among employees can be an expensive problem for business and industry. Such complications of drug addiction to employers include

  • Lost productivity
  • Absenteeism, injuries
  • Fatalities
  • Theft
  • Low employee morale
  • An increase in health care
  • Legal liabilities
  • Workers’ compensation costs.

If you suffer from any type of drug addiction, seek help before your behavior becomes unmanageable and jeopardizes your career. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Uber Executive Talks Getting Sober At Age 20

Uber Executive Talks Getting Sober At Age 20

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

Uber has officially altered the way we look at transportation. Now, instead of the traditionally expensive taxi cabs, millions are opting to Uber instead.  The app is estimated to be worth anywhere from 60 to 70 billion dollars.

Enter in Austin Geidt who climbed the ranks at the Uber Company. She rose from marketing intern to one of the company’s top executives. However, despite her professional achievement, Geidt believes she only has one accomplishment to be the most proud of: getting sober.

The 30-year-old spoke for the first time during Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in San Francisco about how she spent the first half of her 20s fighting to overcome her addiction and regain control of her life. Although she did not go into detail about the specifics of her addiction, Geidt went on to say she sought help at age 19 and got sober the following year.

Geidt graduated from UC Berkeley at the age of 25 and then joined the Uber team right after. Upon starting her position, she admitted feeling out of place working with people who were years younger than her.

“It was so important to get that part of my life right so I could get the rest of my life right,” she said. “[But] I felt behind as a 25-year-old intern.”

Despite her qualms, Geidt utilized the tools she learned in recovery to her advantage. She thrived in her position at Uber. She attributes her years in recovery to helping her learn how to take small steps to tackle big problems. Recovery taught her how to be direct with herself and others as well as gain insight into what’s most important.

“I immersed myself at Uber,” she said. “But I am also able to step back considerably. I love what we do, but I also have perspective on what’s really important to me.”

Geidt says she hopes to continue sharing her story because she believes it can be a sign of hope for other young people struggling with addiction.

Overcoming Addiction Young

Geidt’s story is an example of how beneficial it is to overcome your addiction as early as possible. Although recovery should be sought after at any age, the earlier you overcome your addiction, the better. Early recovery allows you to have the rest of your life to achieve your goals with the right recovery mentality.

In addition, when we are older, drugs affect our bodies differently. With age, our bodies undergo several chemical and physical changes that alter the way we react to the world. When it comes to drug and alcohol, certain behavioral changes occur and there are correlations between substance abuse and the age of the addict.

When it comes to alcohol dependence, age is a major factor. Research reveals that when a person is over the age of 65, they have an increased risk for a myriad of symptoms due to alcohol abuse. For example, physical symptoms can occur and there is a higher risk or injury, even death.

It is also likely that the older you are, the more medication you may be taking that could be negatively affected by alcohol. Mixing alcohol with drugs like aspirin or antihistamines heighten the effect and the results can be deadly.

Furthermore, Geidt was able to address her illness at an early age and had the rest of her life to become successful and start over. She was able to finish college and eventually become the executive of a thriving company. Seeking recovery is crucial at any age, but putting it off could be costing yourself years of time to finally seek success in your own life.

The earlier you overcome your addiction, the better. Seek treatment today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Author: Shernide Delva

Could EMDR Therapy be Effective for Addiction Treatment?

Could EMDR Therapy be Effective for Addiction Treatment?

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and psychological stress. The therapy was originally developed by American psychologist Francine Shapiro  in the late 1980s primarily as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since the therapy has been able to help millions overcome psychological distress, the focus is now on whether EMDR therapy could be utilized to help addicts overcome their addictions and progress further into recovery.

But What is EMDR?                                                                                    

EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment which implements special eye movements to identify experiences that have overwhelmed the brain’s natural resilience or coping capacity.  Often, people who go through traumas such as war, rape assault, sexual abuse and others, have generated traumatic symptoms and harmful coping strategies.

When a person experiences a trauma, they usually acquire traumatic symptoms such as flashbacks, anxiety and insomnia. They may engage in isolating behavior and self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Through EMDR therapy, patients are able to learn how to reprocess traumatic information until it is no longer psychologically disruptive.

In EMDR therapy, there are several phases of treatment. The initial phase is going through a client’s history followed by a preparation stage. In the Rapid Eye Movement phase, the person focuses on a traumatic or troubling memory and identifies the belief they have about themselves in relation to that negative memory. An example would be a woman who associates the trauma of her being rape to her being dirty. The EMDR therapy wants to shift the thought of rape signaling the “I am dirty” response and shift it to “I am a worthwhile good person in control of my life” response. By teaching the brain how to respond in a different way to trauma, the patient learns how to shift their view on their traumatic memories in a healthier way.

To allow this to occur, the person must go over the memory repetitively and focus on the external stimulus that creates bilateral eye movement. Our brains naturally signal eye movements as a response to emotional stimuli. However, overtime, our body’s ability to cope with pain weakens.  In EMDR therapy, the therapist may guide the client’s eye by moving their finger.

After each set of bilateral movements, the individual is asked how they feel. The process continues until the memory is no longer disturbing. Each session lasts about an hour. Many patients see significant improvement after just one session. It is believed that EMDR therapy is effective because it by-passes the areas of the brain that have become stuck due to trauma and prevents the left-side of the brain from self-soothing the right side of the brain.

How EMDR Could Help With Addiction

During EMDR therapy, patients learn to “process” memories in a way that leads to a peaceful resolution. When it comes to addiction, often people try to cope with trauma or psychological issues through abusing substances. Jamie Marich, PhD., believes that EMDR is a complete therapy that can be used to combat issues such as addiction.

“If we accept that unhealed traumatic wounds play a major role in causing or at the very least exacerbating the seriousness of substance use and addictive disorders, yes, EMDR therapy can be very effective.”

Marich continues by explaining the EMDR can be an effective relapse prevention/recovery enhancement strategy that truly targets trauma. Unhealed PTSD and other trauma-related disorder pose a clear relapse risk.  By learning a series of EMDR protocols, therapists are able to teach their clients how to target cravings and feelings and let go of the addictive manifestations brought on from trauma.

“Since the beginning of my journey with EMDR in 2004, I’ve long viewed it as an effective relapse prevention/recovery enhancement strategy that truly targets trauma. It’s been clear to me from the beginning of my own journey with recovery, and as a treatment provider, that unhealed PTSD and other trauma-related disorders pose a clear relapse risk.”

If successfully implemented, EMDR can play a major role in addiction treatment. Many people come into addiction treatment with PTSD and EMDR is an effective method of treating PTSD. Addicts are often traumatized by their past or from traumas that relate to their drug use. EMDR provides tools to treat the underlying problems.

Learning how to process past traumas can be extremely beneficial for those trying to overcome addiction. Substances are often used as a way to cope with underlying psychological distress. Learning to overcome the distress can help prevent relapse and aid in successful recovery. 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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