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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. 

Money and Work Addiction

Money and Work Addiction

Money and work addiction, in some ways, can be just as harmful as substance addiction. In a society that prides the hard-working kind, it can be difficult to know when to stop. After all, working hard is respectable right? Not exactly.

Work and Money are commonly seen as ‘respectable’ addictions due the fact that the benefits are increases in financial independence and the ability to progress further in one’s career. However, when work completely overwhelms and takes away from a person’s life, it can become a serious problem.

Believe it or not, some people have worked themselves to death. Money is essential for our daily existence and unfortunately overworking can lead to depression and even substance abuse. An article on money and work addiction mentions how 21-year-old  Moritz Erhardt was found dead after a 72-hour stint of working at the financial management company Merrill Lynch. Some have even committed suicide due to work-related stress.

Money can alleviate the suffering associated with not have enough. As a society, money, for many, becomes  “the source of our security, success, happiness, peace, popularity, and prestige. If we have it, we will have life. If not we will forever be unfulfilled” (Courtney Bourns 1982).

Work and money addictions are known as process addictions and fall into the same bracket as eating disorders and gambling addictions.  Addiction professionals now recognize process addictions like gambling, porn addiction and shopping addiction as legitimate disorders, however it can be difficult to diagnose work or money related addictions

In an attempt to measure out relationship with money, Bonnie denDooven, a researcher with IITAP – the International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals, developed a screen tool that identifies 16 different manifestations that play into our relationship with money.

Areas such as:

  • Money obsession
  • Problematic wealth
  • Under-earning
  • Deprivation
  • Money aversion (financial anorexia)
  • Adrenaline jobs
  • Dysfunctional relational attachment

While there are no accepted instruments to test these issues, practitioners can determine if a client has a problem dependent upon these seven questions:

  1. Tolerance: Does the client increase the amounts of their behavior overtime?
  2. Withdrawal: Are there withdrawal symptoms from ceasing this behavior?
  3. Continuation despite harm: Even with negative side effects such as physical, psychological, or financial harm, does the client continue the behavior?
  4. Loss of control: Is the client unable to control their behavior for long periods of time?
  5. Attempts to cut down: Has the client made conscious, but unsuccessful, efforts to reduce the behaviors?
  6. Salience: Does the client spend time planning, exhibiting, or recovering from the behavior and its effect.
  7. Reduced involvement: How has the behavior affected the client’s personal life? Has the client reduce involvement in family, social, and recreational activities due to the behaviors?

Money and work addiction stem from insecurity—a belief that we are not good enough. The belief drives us into addictive behaviors because we earn our validation from how much we can achieve and do.

Financial insecurity plays a huge role in our working behavior. A person obsessed with working and money may have struggled financially in the past and is striving to avoid that situation from reoccurring at all costs. Still, even after achieving financial stability, they may continue this working pattern in an addictive and compulsive manner.

There is a “rush” that money addicts feel when they think of making money and excelling in their occupation. Achievements release the happy ‘feel good’ chemical dopamine, as well as serotonin which are responsible for pride and status. However, when we experience loss, our brain releases cortisol, the chemical responsible for stress and anxiety. It can become a dangerous cycle

Cortisol

  • Shuts off our immune system
  • Creates paranoia
  • Inhibits release of oxytocin
  • Makes us less empathetic and generous.

Oxytocin:

  • Promotes Feelings of love, trust and friendship
  • Boosts immune system
  • Increases creativity
  • Inhibits addiction

As you can see, money can medicate our ‘less than’ feelings of insecurity but the danger is that this relationship can spin out of control. When working with money and love addiction, areas like denial, insecurity, depression, and compulsiveness are addressed often in a therapeutic setting.

Money does not always make us happy like we expect it to and making work and money your only priority can lead to many consequences. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Author: Shernide Delva

Unemployment Hurts Mental Health and Feeds Addiction

Unemployment Hurts Mental Health and Feeds Addiction

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

We are all expect to be adults to some extent, as much as we don’t want to be, and part of productive adult’ing is to have a job and work to pay your way. Even though the best things in life are often free, the rest of the things we use to survive in our modern society are not. Employment is one aspect of becoming a responsible adult who contributes to the world in some way, and for those of us who are working right now, we should remember to be grateful even when it’s Friday and you are counting the minutes before you clock-out.

Why? Because there are billions of people out there who would give anything to be in your position. Even young people should know that all over the world there are people struggling because they cannot find work, or cannot keep it, and their mental health suffers because of it too.

NEET Teens

One study by researchers has designated young people who are not in education, employment or training as “NEET,” and according to that study these young people are committed to working, but they are also vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems.

This new study was collectively put together by teams of researchers from:

  • The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London
  • Duke University
  • University of California

Using the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study the teams were able to assess the teens based on a few fey factors, including:

The current generation of young people faces the worst job prospects in decades, and with a lack of information about the effects these prospects have on NEET young people’s mental health this study stood to make some important discoveries.

Over 2,000 British young people transitioning from compulsory schooling to early adulthood at the age of 18 were surveyed. 12% of the participants were not in education, employment or training, and out of these “NEET” youths the researchers found:

  • 60% had already experienced more than one mental health problem in childhood or adolescence
  • 35% suffered from depression
  • 14% had generalized anxiety disorder

The researchers also found that NEET participants were less equipped to succeed in the job market, reporting fewer ‘soft’ skills such as:

  • Problem-solving
  • Leadership
  • Time management

The study also determined the NEET participants showed greater vulnerability for mental health issues, including higher rates of substance abuse.

Non-NEET

Out of the Non-NEET youths who were actively involved in education, employment or training the number were basically cut in half:

  • 35% had already experienced more than one mental health problem in childhood or adolescence
  • 18% suffered from depression
  • 6% had generalized anxiety disorder

So why aren’t these people just working so they can be happier and more mentally healthy?

Job Market

A huge part of the problem is the job market, and how a lot of NEET people find themselves looking actively for work but still unable to find it.

One co-author of the study was Professor Terrie Moffitt from the IoPPN at King’s College London. In regards to the data and the conclusions they came to he said:

“Our findings indicate that while the struggle to find work appears to take its toll on the mental health of young people, this does not appear to be an issue of motivation. The majority of 18-year-olds we spoke to were endeavoring to find jobs and committed to the idea of work, although they are perhaps hampered by a lack of skills that would serve them well in the job market.

“Compared to their peers, NEET young people are also contending with substantial mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and aggression control.”

Even more disheartening is that the issue was not a quick fix. In another follow-up analysis the researchers accounted for pre-existing vulnerability to mental health problems, and what they found was in nearly every single case the impact of unemployment and lack of training or schooling on mental health remained immense and statistically significant.

Being out of work can hurt more than just your pockets or your ego. Financial insecurity has a big effect on your stress, peace of mind and can even hinder your personal relationships to a great degree.

It should be pretty easy to see how people who are already at risk of substance abuse would only progressively get worse with the added stress and other negative feelings associated with being unemployed since a lot of people use drugs to escape those kinds of feelings in the first place.

My great-great-grandsponsor used to always say,

“You can’t get sober on the couch, kid!”

For people in recovery it’s invariably important to become stable and independent to help improve your mental health and take action toward bettering yourself. A hard day’s work can be more rewarding than we know and a lot of us, both in recovery or otherwise, can sometimes take our jobs for granted.

Recovery itself can be work, but for those who are willing to put in the work the outcomes are far greater than any pay-check anyone ever gave me. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-95-6135

 

Virginia Bans the Box on Job Applications

 Virginia Bans the Box on Job Applications

By Cheryl Steinberg

Many people feel that all-too-familiar dread when they are on the job hunt: not only is filling out the job application exhaustive and sometimes a bit daunting; for those with criminal records, seeing a question on the app that asks whether they’ve ever been arrested or convicted of a crime tends to cause anxiety and discouragement. “If they’re going to ask such a question,” one might think – one with a spotty legal background – “then why even bother?”

It’s long since been known – and criticized – how difficult it is for ex-cons to be able to acclimate into civilized society, with getting work a major stumbling block.

Well now, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is doing something about that. Last Friday, he recently signed an executive order that would remove all questions regarding criminal history from applications for state government jobs.

It should be mentioned that hiring agencies can still do a criminal background check on a job applicant but, only after considering them qualified for the position. This way, everyone gets a ‘fair shake’ at the position in question. And, once an applicant is considered a viable candidate for the position, the background check can be conducted but, that’s doesn’t make it a deal breaker.

By changing the application process in this way, an applicant gets to show off their abilities, skills, and training for said position without being immediately dismissed once the interviewee looks down at ‘the box’ – you know, the one that contains those anxiety-inducing sweats – about criminal history.

Virginia Bans the Box on Job Applications

The Virginia Governor spoke at a local Goodwill store in Richmond, Virginia, and said that the Easter holiday played an important role in his decision; McAuliffe emphasized how the holiday focuses on turning over a new leaf.

“We should not seal the fate of every man and woman with a criminal record based on a hasty verdict,” he said. “If they are eager to make a clean start and build new lives in their communities, they deserve a fair chance at employment.”

This is no small or insignificant feat. Studies have found that, among those returning from jail or prison, the unemployment rate 60 to 75%. Difficulty securing a job is a major reason so many ex-convicts end up committing another crime and subsequently return to prison.

Furthermore, The National Employment Law Project estimates 70 million American adults have arrests or convictions in their past that can make it difficult for them to be employed.

McAuliffe also spoke to how there are consequences of “checking the box” on a job application and disclosing a past criminal conviction especially for people of color. In fact, this practice has a disproportionate impact on the Virginia’s workers who are people of color.

“We all know that this box has an unequal impact on our minority families,” he said. “One study found that 34 percent of white job applicants without a record received a callback, while only 17 percent of those with a criminal record did. Among African Americans, 14 percent without a criminal record received a call back while only 5 percent of those with a record heard back from a potential employer.”

The order also encourages, but does not require, private employers in Virginia to ‘ban the box’ as well — and praises employers such as Target, WalMart and Home Depot that have already done so.

Similar laws have already been passed in Georgia, Nebraska, the District of Columbia, and a handful of others states as well as in order to offset hiring discrimination against workers with criminal records.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse and have court cases as a result, seeking help in the form of drug and alcohol treatment can help. Palm Partners offers holistic and traditional methods as well as treatment for dual diagnosis – those with substance abuse and mental illness. We have several different services and methods meant to specifically handle each client’s specific situation with care and ease. Case management, for one, allows you to meet with a case worker who can help you address your legal issues while you’re in treatment, getting the healing help you need. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

More People Using Heroin in the Workplace

More People Using Heroin in the Workplace

By Cheryl Steinberg

When I came across this article, I have to admit, my interest was piqued. After all, I was what would be considered a functional addict and I was one of the people this article is talking about: I used heroin in my place of employment – in my active addiction, of course. Today I’m glad to report that I’m 2 years sober and happy, joyous, and free!

But, before I went to treatment, I was a bank teller for one of the top five banks. I was really good at my job. And, I was using heroin on a daily basis. Being a functional addict, in my opinion, is probably worse than being what’s called a low bottom addict, the stereotypical idea of what many think of when they think “heroin addict.” You know, homeless, dirty, and toothless. I say it’s worse in that it kept me from realizing I had a problem because, I wasn’t experiencing all of those negative consequences that other addicts do and so my denial ran deep.

Back to the story at hand:

More People Using Heroin in the Workplace

Currently, the American workplace has seen a drop in the overall rate of reported drug use; however, the presence of heroin- and other opioid drug-use is still on the rise, and its effects are far-reaching, hurting more than just the users.

As you can imagine, more people using heroin in the workplace means lower productivity. And not only that, having more employees using heroin on the job, spells a higher employee turnover.

U.S. employers are struggling with the fall-out of increased heroin use in their businesses. A steady-increasing number of workers are using opiates on the job, leading companies to suffer from lower productivity and higher turnover, as well as an increase in accident rates.

Quest Diagnostics conducted research that shows the overall rate of workers who tested positive for drugs declined by 18% from 2003 to 2013, but the positive rate for heroin increased by a staggering 82% in just 3 years, from 2010 to 2013.

For instance, in Ohio and Indiana, many of the workers involved in work-related accidents later tested positive for heroin or other opioids. The companies affected by this type of accident are facing yet another problem: they’re having a hard time filling the vacant positions, because as much as 70% of applicants fail the required drug screen.

Mark Jurman is the plant manager at a piston factory in Marinette, Wisconsin and said that heroin use at his factory had become so obvious that local drug dealers boldly set up shop in the plant’s parking lot, waiting to sell their goods to employees during shift changes. “Our parking lot was seen as one of the best places in town to buy drugs,” Jurman said.

As a result of the growing heroin-in-the-workplace epidemic, many companies are taking a proactive approach, such as implementing of zero-tolerance policies as well as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for those workers who are seeking treatment. Some employers are even drawing on local resources, such as law enforcement to train people in positions of management, such as supervisors, to know the signs of drug use among their employees.

“The goal is not to force them out of work,” said Brian Bourgeois, human-resources and employee-development manager at ChemDesign in Marinette. “The goal is to get them help, rehabilitate them and get them back into the workplace.”

Are you struggling to balance both your job and a drug habit? It’s like working two fulltime jobs, I know. Even if you’re managing to hold down a job, there’s a problem if you find yourself having to use drugs on a daily basis in order to deal with work – and life – in general. There’s a better way and recovery is possible. Help is available. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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