Safe, effective drug/alcohol treatment

All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

The answer is Palm Partners Recovery Center. It’s a proven path to getting sober and staying sober.

Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

Alcohol Epidemic: The Other Drug Outbreak in America

Alcohol Epidemic: The Other Drug Outbreak in America

Author: Justin Mckibben

I came across an article the other day that asked a very interesting question- what if the media covered alcohol the way it does other drugs. To be clear, I’m not writing this to shame people who drink alcohol. This is all about perspective.

More recently the conversation about the drug epidemic in America has been focused on opioid abuse and addiction, of course with good reason. The rate at which opioid abuse, opioid overdoses and related deaths have risen immensely in the last few years. The alarming numbers prove that both prescription opioids and illicit opioid drugs are a very real threat. Thousands of people die every day, and experts see no sign that it will not get worse before it gets better.

And yet, similar statistics associated with alcohol are nothing short of staggering if you look at them the way we look at heroin or methamphetamine.

So, let us imagine for a moment a world where we treated alcohol like the drug it truly is. What if we treated drinkers like we do addicts?

Alcohol Drug Addiction

For decades a devastating and potentially fatal drug has wreaked havoc across the country, ending countless lives and altering countless others. This insidious substance can be found in pretty much every neighborhood in America. You can find it on almost every street corner, and the overwhelming majority of adults have consumed this substance at least once.

Alcohol has many aliases, include:

  • Beer
  • Liquor
  • Spirits
  • Booze
  • Drank
  • Giggle Water
  • Moonshine

The drug comes packaged in a long list of names, with a variety of mixes that can be more or less potent depending on the source. Some use massive labs to concoct their drinks, while others brew out of secret unregulated areas in their homes.

The Alcohol Epidemic

No matter where you go, there will be a prominent presence of alcohol users. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH):

  • 4% of people 18 or older report to have drank this dangerous drug at some point in their life
  • 1% of people report to have consuming this substance in the last year
  • 0% of people admit to have taken the drug in the last month

Looking closer at the drug, we see that many users go from recreational consumption to excessive use. The NSDUH shows:

  • 0% report to heavy use in the past month
  • 9% of people 18 or older admit to binge drinking in the past month

As with most other drugs, this substance also leads to sometimes debilitating addiction, or alcohol use disorder (AUD). NSDUH reports:

  • 1 million Adults age 18 or older suffered from AUD in 2015
  • 8 million of them were men
  • 3 million were women
  • 623,000 adolescents age 12-17 years old had AUD

All 50 states in America have been hit hard by the alcohol epidemic at some point or another. One reason the outbreak of this drug has been so tragic is because in so many places it has become social acceptable for people to consume alcohol!

In fact, many have minimized the use of alcohol or even celebrated it! In several communities around the country there are all-out events where drug use is actually publicly promoted! Events like “Craft Beer Fest” or the infamous “Oktoberfest” have become hotbeds for excessive abuse of this incredibly hazardous substance. Young adults often talk about getting “wasted”, “tipsy” or “turnt” as slang for ingesting such high levels of the drug they are inebriated.

Alcohol Related Deaths

According to data collected by the federal government, alcohol is the second deadliest drug in America. If you combine:

  • Heroin- connected to almost 13,000 overdose deaths in 2015
  • Prescription opioids– 15,000 overdose deaths

You still have less than half of the deaths of alcohol. In fact, an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol related causes every single year!

Because of binge drinking and other risk behaviors, mild to moderate alcohol overdose has almost become far too common. Beyond that, there are numerous ways this deadly drug has contributed to an inordinate number of deaths over hundreds of years! On a global scale, the alcohol drug is the leading risk factor in premature death and disability.

  • In 2012, 3.3 million deaths in the whole world were alcohol related
  • 2013, 45.8% of liver disease deaths for individuals 12 and older were alcohol related
  • In 2013, 47.9% of all cirrhosis deaths were alcohol related

The health effects of the alcohol epidemic are very real.

Alcohol Epidemic Hurts Others

It isn’t just the people who use this lethal drug that suffer from the adverse effects of the alcohol epidemic. Even the people are the users are often put in serious danger. For example, driving while under the influence of the alcoholic drug has been a very severe problem for a long time.

  • In 2014, over 31% of driving fatalities were alcohol related- 9,967 deaths

Also, public health officials from all over America have stood up to expose other terrible effects of alcohol use. Alcohol use also has a great deal of influence on:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Sexual assault

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) 90% of acquaintance rape and sexual assault on college campuses involves alcohol use by the victim, the assailant or both.

  • Violent crime

To that point, in 2010 sources indicated that more than 4.6 million emergency room visits were alcohol related.

  • 40% of violent crime is alcohol related.
  • 37% of current convicted offenders in jails admit to being on alcohol during their arrest

The War on Alcohol?

So with such glaring instances of the impacts of alcohol use on Americans, and young people in particular, surely drug policy officials and politicians are aggressively pursuing legislation to engage in a full on War on Alcohol, like they have with the War on Drugs, right?

Well… not so much.

It may come as a shock, but U.S. federal and state officials seem to think banning alcohol is out of the question! Citing the past attempts at alcohol prohibition as a major failure that instigated higher crime rates, while also claiming the vital part alcohol production and sales play in the economy, lawmakers seem content with allowing the drug to remain in circulation.

Thankfully officials are still willing to provide emergency response services to individuals who have overdosed on alcohol or been injured in alcohol-related accidents. While city officials are fighting for the option to deny the overdose antidote Narcan to opioid users who overdose multiple times, none of these officials seem to believe alcohol related illness or drunk driving accidents should be ignored the same way.

Drunk driving in many areas on multiple occasions does constitute jail time, but it seems being in possession of one of the deadliest drugs in America still doesn’t come with a mandatory minimum sentence. The Alcohol epidemic seems to have avoided a lot of the stigma that other drugs are held to, yet experts insist more should be done to decrease the astonishing rates of alcohol abuse and addiction.

Alcohol may be legal, and it may be more mainstream than most drugs, the alcohol epidemic in this nation is still a very real threat. The fact it is legal and easily accessible makes the problem so much more serious. This article isn’t meant to demonize alcohol, but it is meant to point out the severity of alcohol use and the damage that comes with it. Maybe this kind of perspective can also diminish the stigma attached to other illicit addictions, if we are willing to acknowledge the similarities.

Alcohol is more dangerous than people give it credit, and alcohol addiction is incredibly dangerous.

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Batman, Alcoholic: Ben Affleck Admission of Alcohol Addiction

Batman, Alcoholic: Ben Affleck’s Admission of Alcohol Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

This past Tuesday, Academy Award-winning actor, screenwriter and producer Ben Affleck made a powerful and inspiring announcement to his fans and friends via social media. Since then the internet has lit up with articles and insights on how this public admission could be seen as a heroic moment to so many people all over the country.

Ben Affleck has the honor of being the new face of Bruce Wayne, bringing the Batman to life in the most recent installments to DC’s feature films. So he is no stranger to the role of a hero with a dark past.

Being open and honest with the world Affleck publicized he had completed treatment for alcoholism, and so many in the recovery community and advocates for addiction have found it as a beacon… or “BAT SIGNAL” if you will… (I will)… for all those struggling to overcome the stigma and see they are not alone.

In an emotionally-charged note to his fans, Ben posted on Facebook stating:

I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”

This is also not the first time Affleck has done battle with alcoholism. The 44-year-old actor has faced his own alcohol addiction in the past, while his childhood was also impacted by the influence of alcoholism on his father.

Alcoholism in the Family

In 2012 Ben Affleck did an interview with Barbra Walters discussing his parent’s divorce when he was 12 years old. During the interview Affleck stated:

“[My father] was an alcoholic… I did know that as a child. He drank a lot. My father was a — what did they call him — a real alcoholic. He, you know, drank all day, drank every day, and to his credit, he got sober ultimately,”

“He’s been sober for several decades, which I think is pretty impressive.”

At this time he credited his brother and his closest friends, including Matt Damon, of helping him through a difficult childhood. After Ben Affleck earned his place in Hollywood for his work with Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting in 1997, he gave up drinking at 24-years-old.

Ben Affleck’s First Time in Rehab

In July of 2001, Ben Affleck completed a 30-day residential rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse. But this experience didn’t seem to convince Affleck at the time he was in danger of real alcoholism. In a 2012 statement, he had said,

“I went to rehab for being 29 and partying too much and not having a lot of boundaries and to clear my head and try to get some idea of who I wanted to be.”

Not saying it wasn’t an important experience, but this statement seems to lean closer to the ‘I’m not as bad as some people’ line.

Family Life

In 2004, Ben Affleck married Jennifer Garner, his co-star from another comic hero film Daredevil. Sources at the time said Affleck’s new married put a halt on all the hard partying. Batfleck began to settle down and start up a family. The two were later blessed with 3 children: Violet, age 11, Seraphina, age 8, and Sam, age 5. Affleck says,

“I think becoming a father makes you see the world differently and it’s good.”

However, Jennifer and Ben did eventually split in 2015. Still, early reports are indicating Jennifer is an important part of Ben’s current path to sobriety.

Sober Supports

While Ben Affleck has been more private about his time in rehab this time around, speculation began when Batfleck was spotted with woman while out and about in Los Angeles that a source later told ET was actually a sober coach Ben had been working with named Elizabeth Weaver.

Other sources have indicated to ET reporters that while Affleck no longer works with Weaver, he was supported by another sober companion while showing up to the 2017 Oscars to support his brother Casey Affleck who won Best Actor.

Looking forward a bit, it’s interesting that the next Batman solo movie starring Ben Affleck is also set to star Joe Manganiello as the infamous villain Deathstroke. Joe Manganiello has also had his struggles with alcohol. In a past interview Manganiello stated,

“My life was ruined. I was homeless, careless and broke with no career.”

The former “Magic Mike” and “True Blood” star has been sober over twelve years! In a 2015 interview Joe Manganiello said his sobriety was “very close to [his] heart.” With him starring as a rival assassin and all out bad mofo in the next Batman against Affleck, one has to wonder if a sober bro-mance might blossom between the two Hollywood action heroes.

Heroes and Alcoholism

One inspiring aspect of all this is that it not only gives us a reason to see past the stigma of alcoholism and addiction, but it also makes those who suffer feel more connected to the people who they may look up to; more connected to their heroes.

In fact, I remember watching Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne in the recent Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. In one scene Bruce Wayne wakes up, fighting back his nightmares, and reaches to a nightstand cluttered by wine bottles to get a bottle of pills. Moments later his butler Alfred Pennyworth, played by the amazing Jeremy Iron, even comments on hoping:

“- the next generation of Waynes won’t inherit an empty wine cellar.”

I related in a big way to the idea even Batman is drinking and popping pills to escape. As a recovering alcoholic and lifelong Batman buff, I felt connected to a feeling I believe is unspoken but relevant to the character, the actor, and the reality of addiction.

It’s almost ironic to me, looking back. To see a well-known and highly celebrated actor like Ben Affleck play my lifelong hero, and in the midst of critical divisiveness over his recent projects still have the strength to speak out about his hardship with alcoholism and the love of his family getting him through, it’s an interesting sense of empathy. Again, when his post says,

“… I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step…”

That is a strong statement. Batfleck has put himself out there with solidarity and compassion for those who are struggling with alcoholism and addiction. He may not be the first, but he is still a pretty prominent voice in Hollywood today, and that means something. He wants his own kids, and everyone else, to know they should never be afraid to ask for help.

A big piece of this we can all appreciate is that when successful professionals, artists or family-oriented individuals take a public approach to acknowledging addiction, it gives us all another perspective. Those on the outside looking in can see it in the men and women they admire. Their peers can be inspired to take a similar stand on self-improvement and raising awareness. Batman himself has said,

“I have one power. I never give up.”

Bruce Wayne is a man who dedicated himself to being a symbol. Ben Affleck is a man who has struggles and is choosing to have a voice. If more of us chose to have a voice, to take a stance and not give up, we could help others still who don’t know there is a choice.

It can be surprising to see so many successful people are recovering alcoholics and addicts. Sometimes we don’t realize our favorite artists and actors have dealt with something so difficult to get through. The more heroes we have every day that step up and share their message of hope, the more hope we may have that people seek the help they desperately need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

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Sober Club Life: My Experience and a New Miami Event

Sober Club Life: My Experience and a New Miami Event

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

Probably one of the biggest misconceptions of recovery for people on the outside looking in, whether they are spectators or potential members, is that sobriety is boring. Many people believe that in recovery there is no room for excitement and adventure in the night life. Some people think it is hiding in meetings and holding onto a “Big Book” like a life preserver. So when we talk about the sober club life, people are frequently confused, sometimes even terrified for us.

But the truth is sobriety is about freedom. Some of us experience our recovery in different ways, and not everyone is the same. There is freedom in the fact you can practice your recovery in ways only you may have that intrinsic connection to. So the sober club life is not an theoretical concept, it is a gift some find in sobriety.

Now, as more young people are becoming active in the recovery community, the search for the night life in recovery is taking new form. New sober clubs are making waves and gaining fans all over the world. Now, one of the hottest Miami clubs is starting its own sober club life.

Sober Club Life: Daybreaker in Miami

In a city known for its nightlife, the sober club life finding such an exclusive spot something entirely new. Daybreaker, the early morning dance party, debuted at LIV nightclub this past Wednesday morning with a great deal of success. While it isn’t exactly a “nightlife” event, since it’s going down while the sun is coming up, it is a unique clubbing experience.

After over 4,000 people emailed Daybreaker about coming to Miami to bring its brand of sober club life to South Florida, co-founder Radha Agrawal told the Miami New Times,

“LIV then approached us to partner, and we are excited to help tell a different story and define a new way to connect and self-express.”

Instead of dark and brooding music, the soundtrack is fun and uplifting. Soul house, funk house, disco house. The goal is to start the day off right, with high energy and inspiration. The environment emphasizes joy, mindfulness, and intention. Last year Brimer went into detail about this, stating:

“We want to take out all the bad stuff associated with clubbing: the drinking and self-destructive behavior and mean bouncers, and just bring people together,”

The sober club life event begins at 6am. Tickets for the Daybreaker morning run around $20-$35. With growing popularity, some events have reached a crowd of around 400-500 attendees.

Sober Club Life: Daybreaker Lineup

The lineup for the Miami launch is currently a short list, but seems pretty legit. It’s not just for shaking respective groove things, but for a high energy start to the day. The big lineup included:

  • 6am to 7am- Yoga with “rockstar yogi” Pablo Lucero
  • 7am to 9am- Signature dance party with beats from DJ Alyx Ander

The idea is to wrap it all up in time for plenty of people to head to work. Since it is a morning affair, the menu makes sense.

  • Instead of a liquor bar, there is coffee and fresh juice (of the orange or fruit variety)
  • Instead of drugs, the club offers breakfast

The idea is to get the morning kicked off with dancing and movement, because these activities releases endorphins and other happy chemicals in the body. The Eventbrite for the Daybreaker states:

“Our goal is to bring Miami together with more mindfulness, wellness, mischief, self-expression and camaraderie.”

“With everything going on in the world these days, we need it more than ever.”

So, for those who want to start the day with sober clubbing, the Daybreaker give you yoga, dancing and good food for your good vibes.

Sober Club Life: My Experience

While I have not had the opportunity to check out the sober club life via Daybreakers, I was very fortunate to begin my journey in sobriety with a similar concept. A few years ago I was lucky enough to receive treatment at Palm Partners Recovery Center in Delray Beach, Florida. Every day starts off in pretty much the same way. After breakfast I was given a chance to dance with the community, with a colorful light show and live DJ. It was pretty counter-intuitive at first, but quickly became a highlight of the day. Over three years later, I am the DJ.

There is absolutely something to be said about getting up and active in the morning and what it does to set the tone for your day. I can only imagine Daybreakers is getting plenty of people looking for a sober club off to a great start.

Since my initial experience at Palm Partners, I can say I have continued the habit of being expressed, energetic and active in sobriety. I have been to raves with hundreds upon hundreds of people in Miami. I’ve had the chance to see a lot of awesome performers live in various venues across South Florida, and I have taken many opportunities to experience the fun that comes from the freedom of sobriety. All this makes me want to focus on one important concept.

Sober Club Life: The Freedom of Sobriety

There is a passage in the primary text of the 12 Step Fellowship that speaks on the freedom sobriety provides to those who seek it with honesty and thoroughness. It is possibly one of my favorite passages, and it states:

“He [the alcoholic] can go anywhere on this earth where other free men may go without disaster, provided he remains willing to maintain a certain simple attitude.”

There are those who would debate the interpretation of these words. In the context, the quote is referring to an individual who was once considered an utterly hopeless alcoholic by a great physician. This expert opinion tells him he will never regain his position in society. However, the paragraphs following the pages further express the incredible phenomena of “spiritual experiences” that create exceptions to the most hopeless cases.

Some may take this story as one of warning. I, however, have a different perspective. These few sentences give me great hope, because they assure me I am a free man in sobriety.

The important piece for me is the “simple attitude” I keep. I believe that for me to keep this amazing gift of freedom, I have to maintain my understanding of who I am, what my experience has taught me, and how I impact others. The design for living to me means being introspective in personal inventory, faithfully accountable to those I can help, and willing to seek more extraordinary experiences that will inspire a new perspective. That same 12 Step literature tells me:

“We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.”

In this position of neutrality, I feel safe. The problems of the past, the obsession, have been removed. So I go where any other free man can go; clubs, concerts, anywhere that this new and amazing life has given me the opportunity to be, because I am a free man. A sober club life is nothing abstract at all; it is simply what some of us chose to do with the freedom recovery blesses us with.

Not drinking or using drugs is only the beginning. Life is so much more. I, as a man in recovery, must be willing to do more if I am to fulfill my life. That, in turn, has given me freedom. Taking the first steps can be the hardest part, but we want to help. You are not alone. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder or addiction, please call toll-free now.

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What is Alcoholism and How Does Treatment Help?

What is Alcoholism and How Does Treatment Help?

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

Alcoholism is a term that has been around for quite a long time, but over the generations it has been understood and treated in a variety of ways. Perhaps as the world and society evolves, so does the average alcoholic.

Either way you look at it, alcoholism is a very real threat. National surveys of recent years indicate:

  • Nearly 19 million people in the US abuse alcohol, or have an addiction to it.
  • In Europe, it’s estimated that 23 million people are dependent on alcohol
  • Estimates say more than two million deaths resulting from alcohol consumption a year internationally

History of Alcoholism

The term “alcoholism” was first used by a Swedish professor of medicine, Magnus Huss (1807-1890). Huss turned the phrase in 1849, to mean poisoning by alcohol. While today “alcohol poisoning” is a more direct classification, alcohol-ism is still a poison in the lives of those who is touches.

Huss distinguished between two types of alcoholism:

  1. Acute alcoholism

Huss’s definition says this is the result of the temporary effects of alcohol taken within a short period of time, such as intoxication. Basically, it is having too much to drink.

  1. Chronic alcoholism

This Huss calls a pathological condition through the habitual use of alcoholic beverages in poisonous amounts over a long period of time. A pretty innovative idea, and something that would be debated for over a century.

Since 1849, the definition has changed endlessly.

Alcoholism Defined

Establishing a definitive “alcoholism” definition is difficult as there is little unanimity on the subject. The reason for such a variety of definitions is the different opinions each authority holds, and the year the definition was formed. We have the strictest definition the dictionary provides:

  •  An addiction to the consumption of alcoholic liquor or the mental illness and compulsive behavior resulting from alcohol

We also have the concept presented by the book Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which gives stories of struggle and strength, experience and hope; the lives of many alcoholics who developed a manner of living through a plan of action rooted in 12 Steps. Here alcoholism is often described as a “physical compulsion coupled with a mental obsession”. The disease model of alcoholism has evolved overtime.

Early on 12 Step fellowships like AA were cautious about trying to label the medical nature of alcoholism. However, many members believe alcoholism is a disease. In 1960 Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA, explained why they had refrained from using the term “disease,” stating:

“We AAs have never called alcoholism a disease because, technically speaking, it is not a disease entity. For example, there is no such thing as heart disease. Instead there are many separate heart ailments or combinations of them. It is something like that with alcoholism. Therefore, we did not wish to get in wrong with the medical profession by pronouncing alcoholism a disease entity. Hence, we have always called it an illness or a malady—a far safer term for us to use.”

These days, the classification of disease is commonly applied to alcoholism or addiction. Some have called them brain disorders. While some dispute the disease label, many believe it is the truest portrayal of alcohol addiction in the most severe form. The idea of alcoholism being a disease has been around since as early as the 18th century.

Many of the more up-to-date medical definitions do describe it as a disease. These definitions say the alcohol problem is influenced by:

  • Genetic
  • Psychological
  • Social factors

Treatment of Alcoholism

When asking how treatment for alcoholism is important, there are a few specifically important elements to consider. When it comes to health risks of trying to quit cold turkey, it can be a lot more painful or dangerous than you think. Also, lasting recovery has a lot more to do with learning new coping skills and behaviors than just giving up the substance.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when the central nervous system (CNS) becomes overly excited. Alcohol suppressing the activity in the CNS, so the abrupt absence of alcohol causes the CNS to jump into overdrive. In essence, your system starts overcompensating.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome symptoms include:

The severity of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome can range from mild to very severe and even life-threatening.

Most treatment programs understand the importance of therapy at different levels. Group therapy helps people fighting addiction receive peer support. Individual therapy lets you work more intimately on these issues with a professional.

Holistic programs such as Palm Partners Treatment Program help you develop a personalized recovery plan to guide you in your treatment, setting benchmarks and goals while you are in treatment.

Some groups are more educationally-structured in order to teach you very important aspects for understanding the nature alcoholism, as well as ways to make major lifestyle changes. Holistic recovery is about more than surviving your struggle, but actually outlining a way you can thrive and move forward with healthy life skills. Finding the right treatment option can make all the difference in how you define your alcoholism, versus how you let it define you.

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Could a Joystick Help Alcoholics Avoid Relapse?

Could a Joystick Help Alcoholics Avoid Relapse?

Author: Shernide Delva

Over the holiday season, I acquired a part time job working as a virtual reality demo associate. It was amazing to see the impact gaming software could have on a person’s life. I saw people in wheelchairs enjoy the feeling of entering a different reality. I saw senior citizens enjoy the immersion of climbing a virtual mountain or sculpting a cat. Technology like this helps take our imaginations to a new realm.

Therefore, when I read about a company using a joystick to help with alcoholism, it fascinated me. An ongoing study in Berlin is using joysticks and alcohol-related images to help prevent alcoholic relapse.  Some of the participants have said that the image-related therapy helped keep them sober.

Miriam Sebold is the study’s lead psychologist. In the study, participants viewed images on a computer screen and were told to use a joystick to push alcohol-related images away. They were also instructed to engage the joystick and pull images of water and other non-alcoholic beverages closer to them,

Researcher Hanna Lesch visited Charité University in Berlin, Germany where the ongoing study took place. She described the parameters of the study:

“Every click of a joystick results in a new pair of images,” said Lesch. “Pushing the joystick forward makes an image grow smaller. Pull in toward you, and the image grows. Sebold’s patients react strongly to images of alcohol and that is the basis of her training.”

Images of alcohol can sometimes make an alcoholic vulnerable. In the same way that Pavlov’s dogs reacted to stimuli related to food, alcoholics can react to stimuli related to alcoholic beverages. Non-alcoholics do not respond any differently to a glass of orange soda or a shot of vodka.

Lesch spoke with a study participant named Freddy while she at the facility. Freddy discussed how after his divorce, he began drinking daily—consuming at least two liters of beer and a few shots of hard liquor per day.

“I’ve tried to take a break from it more than a few times,” said Freddy, “but it was two, three days at the most. Then, I did some rehab, and then I did some more rehab. I was even in long-term rehab.”

Time after time, Freddy kept relapsing. Lesch understand that this is one of the “greatest hurdles” in the alcohol treatment world. The attempt to rehabilitate an alcoholic is difficult, and nearly 85% cannot stay away from alcohol.

Sebold elaborated:

“What it really comes down to is that this addiction is such a powerful illness, that again and again, you have these cases where the patients say, ‘I was dry for 10 years, and then I treated myself to a beer because I figured I could treat myself to something.’ Then, they relapse right back into this very strong addiction, where they’re drinking a bottle of vodka every day. These are very strong mechanisms inside their head that they have very little control over.”

To control these thoughts in the brain, they must learn how to rewire their thinking. In the experiment using the joystick, the purpose was to rewire the way the brain reacted to alcohol stimuli. In the case of Freddy, he found that over time, it was effective in reducing the temptation to drink.

Lesch described Freddy’s experience:

“During the training, Freddy noticed no changes in his own behavior, but then, he did. Whenever he saw a bottle of alcohol inside a store, he was reminded of the images he’d seen during the training.”

Freddy found that the test helped him stay away from the dark days of active alcoholism.  He was able to avoid temptation easier, and best of all stay sober.

“Freddy has remained sober and the 64-year-old was proud to say he was even able to land a normal job,” Lesch said.

Now that the joystick experiment has shown positive results, the future for more studies like this is endless. The hope is to use this same procedure for other addictions and compulsions.

“As soon as they find out exactly where and how this therapy affects the human brain,” said Lesch, “the discovery could help lead to the development of new medicinal-based therapies. For Freddy, participating in the study has been worth it. Today, he’s doing his best to avoid even talking about alcohol.”

While this is not the first joystick study ever done, it is a positive contribution to the pursuit of finding proven methods to keep alcoholics from relapsing. What other ways could gaming be utilized to treat addiction?

Alcoholism is a serious disorder and there is temptation everywhere. Alcohol is difficult to avoid in a society that glorifies it as a social tool. However, a person who has alcoholism should avoid alcohol at all costs. Addiction is a serious disease that ruins lives and destroys families. Do not feel defeated. There is a way out. Call now.

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