Author: Shernide Delva
Growing up, maybe you were athletic or maybe, like me, you were just plain clumsy. Either way, if you suffered a concussive bump on the head as a child, you could be at a higher risk to abuse alcohol as an adult. That’s right; a study just discovered the two are correlated. Recent research suggests that women who suffered a concussive bump in the head during childhood abused alcohol more as adults.
The research on mice found that females with a mild close-brain injury were more likely to misuse alcohol in adulthood and associate drinking with reward and pleasure. In the study, mice received a concussive head injury at 21 days, which is comparable to between 6 and 12 years old in human years.
Physiological tests suggested that the head injury was not related to changing how alcohol was processed. Instead, it changed how the female mice associated alcohol with pleasure. Research were motivated to find out exactly how female mice linked alcohol to potential award.
In the experiment, mice were placed in a box with visibly different patterns covering separate different sections of the floor. Over 10 days, researchers injected the mice with alcohol in specific sections of the box and with saline in other sections.
Then the researchers allowed the mice to walk back and forth between boxes. If they preferred alcohol, they would stay on the side of the box associated with alcohol consumption. Female mice who suffered brain injury spent 65 percent of their time in the box linked to alcohol. The researchers concluded that there must be something about the way reward and pleasure is processed in the mice regarding alcohol.
The Effects of Enrichment
The scientists wanted to see if enrichment would reverse the effect of alcohol on the female mice. In studying the effects of enrichment, the colleagues put the female mice that were more attracted to alcohol in cages with running wheels, toys, and tunnels providing a new experience every week for six weeks. When the mice were tested in six weeks for alcohol intake, the enriched environment has completely blocked the female’s increase in drinking. It also reduced damage in their brains by about 40 percent.
They found out the effect of alcohol abuse was reversible as long as the female mice began living in a more enriched environment. The environment even reduced degeneration of parts of the axons, and nerve cell body of the brain.
The enriched environment was to mimic follow-up care after a human brain industry, explained by lead author of the study Zachary Well:
“The best therapy for a childhood brain injury is everybody getting great medical care and rehabilitation, regardless of socioeconomic status,” he said. “People with juvenile head injuries are already at risk for memory problems, difficulty concentrating, poor learning and reduced impulse control. If we can prevent alcohol misuse, chances for a good life are much better.”
So the question still is whether it’s possible that brain injury you experienced during you juvenile years would make you more prone to heavy drinking later on. Alcohol is already associated with traumatic brain injury. More than a third of concussion patients are intoxicated at the time of their injuries
Weil states that his researchers hope to determine more about whether those prone to heavy drinking are then prone to traumatic brain injury as an adult:
“There is some evidence that if you have a brain injury, you’re more likely to drink. But nobody has looked at the time of the injury and nobody has looked at sex differences.”
The results for females are particularly concerning because the two populations increasing in traumatic brain injury are elderly adults and young women. These are not just athletes, Weil said, there is more research needed to understand why the injury effects are different between men and women.
Until more research is done, we won’t have any solid answers of whether or not brain injury we experience as a child makes us more prone to alcohol problems. Regardless, if you are abusing alcohol, it’s time to take control on your life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
In essence, the reason that addictions initially start to develop can be attributed to the affect that a substance has on the brain chemistry, and how the pleasure sensors of the mind can be stimulated and conditioned to rely on drugs or alcohol to achieve the desired feelings of comfort, euphoria, or even normalcy for the addict or alcoholic who’s substance abuse has progressed. So taking into consideration the stimulation that is sought through drugs and alcohol, is technology soon to reinvent addiction and redefine relapse? With the phrase “Generation D” being thrown around to describe our society dependent on the digital world, and the recovery community already faced with new synthetic drugs and tricky substitution substances, will innovations such as the Thync be rebooting what we consider a relapse?
Thync of the Future
With an idea that seems like it would have been pulled straight out of your favorite science fiction, a start-up called Thync is being developed and marketed for targeting the caffeine and alcohol markets, with technology. Will this thing be a prototype for the iDrink of the not-too-distant future? The concept behind the Thync is that instead of getting a jolt from consumption of caffeine or the relaxing feeling of a depressant like liquor, an individual will have the technology now to sit back and adjust your Thync headset to either an “energy vibe” or a “calm vibe” and get the same desired effect through stimulating the brain electrically. “Shift your state of mind. Conquer more” proclaims the tagline on Thync’s website.
I know what you’re thinking, and yes I imagine the ads now- “Do not Thync and drive (your hover-car)”- and I’m not quite sure if this is what Starbucks expected when they got free Wifi. Several neuroscientists have been using transcranial direct-current stimulation (or tDCS) for years as a way to treat head injuries, enhance memory, or alleviate depression. Shock therapy of a totally different kind, and some are now looking to expand upon that.
CEO and co-founder Isy Goldwasser says that the market for something like Thync is not as ahead of its time and sci-fi inspired as it may seem, although some of Goldwasser’s sales pitches may have been a little more on the sci-fi comedy side. He joked that back in 2011 when he started the company he even brought in a prop of the memory-erasing device from the Men In Black films to their first meetings and teased, “Now everyone look at this and give me $2 million.”
Goldwasser went on to talk about his device as a means to achieve different levels of comfort through technology. According to Goldwasser, the gadget will offer “a way for us to overcome our basic limitation as people. It lets us call up our focus, our calm and creativity when we need it. If you can chill out with this device as opposed to having a cocktail, or focus without having another cup of coffee, you are going to do it.”
Journalist Brad Stone had the chance to preview Thync, wrote about his experiment with this technology. His cranial nerves were targeted by specifically calibrated levels of electricity through electrodes of 12 minutes on the “calm vibe” setting. After that experience Brad Stone as a former skeptic was quoted as stating, “The familiar knot of stress in my stomach evaporated.”
Reboot and Relapse
This all seems a little farfetched, but apparently the company does not think so, and neither do those funding it. The people behind Thync have apparently already accumulated $13 million from investors looking to brink this new way of catching a buzz to life. The company has ambitious plans to begin distributing its services via a miniaturized Bluetooth-enabled device by next year! So it is already gone wire-less.
The question for those in recovery comes down to, will this whole “calm vibe” setting get you the same buzz from drinking, and if so are we entering into a time when we can simply plug into the matrix and relax free of consequence, or are addicts going to get hooked on being stimulated by this digital drug. In the 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” written by Philip K. Dick, characters use a device called a mood organ to select the state of mind or emotion they want.
Thync matches this with the seductive, controversial proposition that customers can program their state of mind. So will this seduction be used to pull addicts in the direction of programming their own high. Isn’t this the definition of a mind and mood altering substance, even if it is digital? Some might say it’s just science, tell that to Walter White. Is it a relapse to hook yourself up to a device you can use to alter your mood as easily as you change a song on your iPhone? As if we didn’t have enough opinions flying around about digital addiction.
If this thing goes too viral and with the direction “Generation D” is heading, I’ll have to start dressing like Morpheus when I sponsor guys, but I’m not passing out any pills. Stop trying to hit me and hit me! Ok, sorry. I get carried away with the movie quotes…
…there is no spoon.
All jokes aside, do you think this should be considered a relapse? What else can the future have in store that is exciting for the technological world, but terrifying and life threatening for addicts and alcoholics? One thing is for sure, the more awareness there is for the issue of substance abuse, no matter how many people need assistance, there will always be a solution for those who seek help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.
Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is also called Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome, the term protracted meaning “lasting for a long time or longer than expected or usual.” This is a more accurate way to describe PAWS because many people, myself included, are misled by the more common name (post-acute). That’s to say, PAWS can last for two or more years after you stop using.
Most people seem to know about the symptoms that happen right away: shakes, sweats, insomnia, cravings, anxiety. But, I’m willing to bet that a lot of you, like me, didn’t know that PAWS can include longer-lasting symptoms that affect us in less obvious ways. Here are 12 things you may not realize are post acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS).
#1. Impaired interpersonal skills
This means that you might experience difficulties with developing and using the types of social skills that help with interacting and communicating with others.
#2. Difficulty experiencing pleasure
This is a good one to be aware of. Many people in recovery might start feeling discouraged because they can’t enjoy the “normal” things in life without the use of drugs to somehow enhance everything. Knowing that ‘this, too, shall pass’ should help. Things might seem a little flat and boring but that will change as your brain heals – over time.
You might experience feelings of depression as well as pessimistic thoughts as a result of your active addiction. It might be challenging to stay positive when you are being bombarded with negative thoughts. Remember that there are things you can do to overcome this, such as talking to your sponsor, working the steps, meditating, eating right, and exercising – to name just a few. Some people benefit from taking an antidepressant, which if taken as prescribed, does not compromise your sobriety.
#4. Memory problems
This has been a big one for me. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from friends and acquaintances, such as being told I’m re-telling the same story for like the fourth time or, upon “meeting” someone and introducing myself, they tell me we’ve met before – on three different occasions. This can be really embarrassing but, I laugh it off because I know it’s just going to take some time.
#5. Sleep disturbance
By now, you’ve probably experienced ‘using dreams’ or drug dreams but, did you know that this is actually a symptom of PAWS? There are a whole slew of reasons that we experience using dreams and they all stem from physiological, neurological, or psychological changes in the brain that are now healing.
#6. Difficulty with motivation
There will be times when you’re feeling lethargic, lazy, and unmotivated and this could be a result of PAWS rearing its ugly head again.
#7. Inability to think clearly
A big part of PAWS that probably lasts the longest is the cognitive impairments you’ll notice. These are aspects that relate to mental function such as difficulty with concentration and thinking clearly. So, just be patient and gentle with yourself when this happens. Getting frustrated will only add to your stress and will make matters worse.
#8. Feelings of guilt
It’s natural to experience feeling guilt and shame about our addiction and the things we did to support our habit. We might have stolen from other people, committed other crimes, and probably hurt our loved ones. But feelings of guilt might last after you’ve made amends and might even seem amplified – as a result of PAWS. Again, it’s important to be aware of what’s going on and that this is something that will improve over time.
#9. Physical coordination problems
You might have noticed that, at times, you’re a lot more awkward or clumsy than other times. Yes, even physical incoordination can be affected by PAWS.
#10. Stress sensitivity
There will be times that you feel extra stressed out and you might not even know why – nothing has changed and you’re under the same amount of stress with work, family, etc. as usual. This, again, is a symptom of PAWS that can come and go as it pleases. There will be times that you feel easily stressed out. Just remember that it’s part of the healing process and then be sure to exercise, eat right, and get plenty of sleep.
#11. Increased sensitivity to pain
This was another one that surprised me. There are times that people in recovery with PAWS will be more sensitive to physical pain than others. This is extremely important to remember since many of us will be tempted to use this as an excuse to use.
#12. Panic disorder/Generalized anxiety disorder
Even if you didn’t experience anxiety before, it’s possible – as a result of PAWS – that you might feel anxious at times, even without a reason, it seems.
Again, it’s said that symptoms of PAWS can last anywhere from two years after you get clean to several years and even a lifetime. This isn’t to say that it will always be this challenging or frustrating. There are things you can do to lessen your symptoms and improve your quality of life – things such as brain teasers, reading, meditation, praying, yoga, exercise, nutrition, etc. It’s best to be well-informed about this condition so that you can recognize it for what it is and then choose a healthy way to cope.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
As a person in recovery, I know what it’s like to experience drug dreams – also called ‘using dreams’ – and to awake the next morning upset or in a panic about it. It’s important to know, and to remind yourself, that dreaming about drug use is common and to be expected in recovery. And not only that, it’s important to realize that using dreams aren’t necessarily a bad thing.
Findings suggest that readiness for change is reflected in dream content and that our “dream-life” can provide us with opportunities to rehearse change when it comes to using in our dreams. In fact, drug-using dreams can serve an important purpose by informing us of where we’re at in our recovery at any given time. Probably what’s most telling – and most important – is your reaction upon waking from the dream, whether you actually used in the dream or refused. Here are 5 possible meanings of your drug dreams.
#1. Indicate your state of mind and level of recovery
Depending on the type of dream, whether you used or not and how you reacted, drug dreams can be an indication that you’re more engaged in the treatment and recovery process.
A well-known study showed that alcoholics who dreamt about drinking during the course of their rehabilitation treatment tended to achieve longer periods of sobriety. So, in other words, they were serious enough about learning to abstain and recover – so much so that they were dreaming about it at night. A similar study of crack cocaine users had very similar findings. Therefore, the using dream, in-and-of-itself, may be a positive sign.
#2. Some of these dreams are memories being consolidated
Dreaming – any kind of dreaming – is a way for the brain to categorize and consolidate memories and experiences. And for the recovering addict and alcoholic, there are many experiences and memories involving drug use because, well, most of our time involved being under the influence. So, it isn’t strange to be dreaming about drug-related actions, such as getting and using drugs.
#3. It’s just your brain’s ability to dream regenerating
Being unconscious (as we often were in our active addiction) is not the same thing as actually sleeping (what we’re able to do now that we’re not using). That is, the heavy use of drugs and alcohol didn’t allow normal dreaming to take place. Previously suppressed dreams may be unfinished business, especially traumas that had not been processed while we were using or drinking. Many drugs suppress dreaming and the common understanding among the medical community is that the brain simply needs to make up for those lost dreams.
#4. For purely physiological reasons
In early and not-so-early recovery (remember, PAWS can last for several years after your last use), the brain is still adjusting to a new chemical makeup and balance without the presence of drugs. Therefore, it’s quite common for people like us to experience dreams about drugs and using drugs.
#5. A sign that you’re craving
If you’re experiencing drug dreams in which you use and feel good about it, it might be an indication that the addictive part of your brain is craving drugs. This doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to relapse.
It just means that you’re experiencing a particularly trying time in your recovery where your body and/or mind is craving substances. It’s what you do about it that counts: you can choose to give in to the cravings or you can choose to step up your recovery game in order to walk through it without using.
In either case, it’s a choice and it’s your choice. Relapse isn’t something that just simply happens one day. There is a process taking place well before the actual moment in which someone picks up.
Because having ‘using dreams’ or ‘drug dreams’ can sometimes be a trigger, it’s important to talk to your sponsor or other sober supports about the dream as well as your thoughts and feelings about having a using dream. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
The Dickens Process: What is It?
You have probably heard of the motivational speaker Anthony “Tony” Robbins. He is also known as a life coach and author of self-help books, such as Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within.
In his Unleash The Power Within seminar, Tony Robbins employs a life-changing experience, or technique, known as “The Dickens Process.” He is recognized for popularizing this process of transformation.
Why is It Called The Dickens Process?
The process is based on Charles Dickens’ popular story A Christmas Carol, in which the iconic miser Scrooge, experiences three ghosts on Christmas morning and is shown his past, present, and projected future of what his life will be like if he keeps up his selfish and heartless ways. This causes so much pain for Scrooge that it changes his life forever, and affecting everyone around him, in a positive way.
The Dickens Process uses some simple yet amazing technology from neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and other sciences. NLP is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy whose creators claim that there is a significant connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”) and behavioral patterns learned through experience (“programming”) and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life.
The Dickens Process is not designed to simply consciously think your way into changing, because this never works. This process operates on a subconscious and emotional level.
Motivational speakers, such as Tony Robbins, guides the audience through The Dickens Process, during which audience members are told to visualize their future, as it would be if they continue on the path they currently (figuratively) tread and therefore, not having achieved what they wanted to in their lives. The facilitator emphasizes the failure and regret and then brings the audience members back to the present-day. The whole exercise is designed as a very powerful process to give people the leverage required in order to finally take action.
The Dickens Process: My Experience
I didn’t know what to expect. I had never heard of the Dickens Process beforehand. However, I have recently been involved with transformational work and trainings so I am very open to this sort of thing. Perhaps it was helpful not to know about the Dickens Process and so as not to have any preconceived notions, expectations, or biases.
Our facilitator, Dug McGuirk, comes from a very impressive background. He was the Senior Performance Strategist for Tony Robbins and is a Master Trainer of NLP. While working with Tony Robbins, Dug facilitated trainings that he brought into successful companies whose top people saw the benefits of participating in and having their employees participate in transformational processes such as The Dickens Process.
My experience was very powerful and profound. After the process, I felt lighter, both figuratively and literally. I could breathe easily and felt as though a weight had been lifted. I also experienced a greater clarity and sense of urgency that ‘life is now’ and thought, “what am I waiting for?” I was ready to begin taking committed action towards the things I have been wanting to achieve.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135