(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
This is arguably one of the most difficult questions to answer regarding drug addiction without being met with contention and passionate opposition. The troubling part is, despite the fact that the medical community, including the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has taken a strong stance on classifying addiction as a disease, others still argue that it is a condition that only exists out of lack of personal responsibility or moral willpower. Stigma against addicts was the driving force behind the way the world understood addiction for so long that now it is an uphill battle at times trying to detach from those old ideas.
Beyond the assumptions most people adopt as fact, science and psychology have taught us that addiction is far more complex and misunderstood than most can imagine.
Still, the great question is the “why” of it all, which is a far more debatable way to ask the question than the “how” of it. Even more debate could surround the perceived motivations, and more controversy comes from the “addiction is a choice” conversation. At first, let us look at what the research tells us.
Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs: The Brain
Now first, let us look at how addiction is defined according to medical science, offering the evidence from the ASAM.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) gave the most recent definition of addiction as a chronic brain disorder after a four-year process involving more than 80 experts. The ASAM definition notes that two decades of advancements in neuroscience convinced ASAM officials that addiction should be
defined by the activity present in the brain.
For instance, research has shown that addiction affects the brain’s reward circuitry to the point that memories of previous experiences with food, alcohol and other drugs or even sex can activate cravings and induce more addictive behaviors. Also, the brain circuitry that governs impulse control and judgment is altered in the brains of addicts.
Dr. Raju Hajela, former president of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine and chair of the ASAM committee on addiction’s new definition states:
“The disease creates distortions in thinking, feelings and perceptions, which drive people to behave in ways that are not understandable to others around them,”
“Simply put, addiction is not a choice. Addictive behaviors are a manifestation of the disease, not a cause.”
Dr. Hajela did, however, add that the idea of choice is not completely off the table, but that it is not about choosing addiction, but choosing recovery.
To be fair, there are also neuro-scientists like Marc Lewis, a psychologist and former addict himself; author of a new book “The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is Not a Disease” who believe that the brain is definitively reshaped by addiction, but do not think it should be classified as a ‘disease’. These scientists recommend cognitive behavioral therapy as a way to reshape the brain and redirect its systems into less self-destructive patterns. While they do disagree with the specifics of the ‘disease’ term, they stand by the neuroscience of addiction.
Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs: Chronic Medical Condition
Further exploring the definition of addiction as presented by the medical and scientific communities, we find that the American College of Physicians (ACP) calls addiction a “substance use disorder” and states that addictions to drugs should be considered a serious public health issue. The ACP states that substance use disorder is a chronic medical condition.
Several agencies have supported this definition of addiction, including:
- The American Medical Association
- The American Psychiatric Association
- The Institute of Medicine
- The World Health Organization
And if we are going to get really technical, the basic definition of “disease” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is:
-a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms
Examining this logic, it is clear that addiction meets all the criteria to be considered a disease. In fact, most definitions of disease are pretty spot-on with the nature of substance use disorder.
Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs: The Formula
Now that we have explored how addiction can qualify as a disease, let us look into the “why” of it. Some insist there is an ‘addiction gene’ that dooms people to addiction. Others say the reason people become addicted is because of their circumstances in life.
One might say there is a kind of ‘formula’ for addiction, but it would be one like X+Y=Addiction.
Research has pointed toward biological differences that make people more or less susceptible to addiction. Certain genes, or combinations of genes, may result in someone’s brain and body developing dependence much faster than others with the same consumption.
So when someone says they drank the same as someone else, or did the same amount of drugs for the same amount of time, we need to understand that it doesn’t mean they will have the same reaction to those drugs. One of the main arguments people use to oppose the idea of addiction being a disease is comparing an addict to other people who drink and use drugs without being addicts… but science has shown us that is not how it works.
Then there is epigenetics, the study of functional, and sometimes inherited, changes in the regulation of gene activity that are not dependent on gene sequencing. In short, it means to examine how environmental exposures or choices people make can actually remodel (mark) the structure of DNA at the cell level or even at the level of the whole organism.
Here is where we openly admit to the actions (i.e. choices) of individuals to influence the development of addiction. Someone’s environment and the way they react to it does contribute to developing an addiction. In general, research has shown that an individual’s health is the result of interactions between their genes and their environment. Of course the likelihood of addiction can be increased by factors like:
Studies from the Nation Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) support that an individual’s surroundings also have a particular impact on drug use. According to the NIDA,
“Exposure to drugs or stress in a person’s social or cultural environment can alter both gene expression and gene function, which, in some cases, may persist throughout a person’s life. Research also suggests that genes can play a part in how a person responds to his or her environment, placing some people at higher risk for disease than others.”
When someone starts addressing external issues with drugs or alcohol, it magnifies the problem. Those who are exposed to a different life-style will also have a different risk of developing a substance use disorder. This impacts those epigenetics we were talking about.
In the end, we can say that people use drugs and alcohol as a solution. It is the resource they turned to for escape, for excitement or for a feeling of ease and contentment. It was a powerful element they were able to reach to, that ultimately rewired their brain and changed their DNA.
Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs?
Some people will say that the Y of X+Y=Addiction model proves that addiction is a choice, not a disease. Well, to argue that choices can still create diseases, we can point out that in 2014 it was noted for the first time in history, “lifestyle diseases” killed more people than communicable diseases. Health care providers and public health officials have recognized for a very long time that unhealthy lifestyle behaviors are the root cause of several diseases, including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Some forms of cancer
Choices influence these conditions, which the medical community categorized as modifiable risk factors, including:
- Poor dietary habits
- Physical inactivity
- Alcohol overuse
People would argue still that someone who uses hard drugs knows the high risk and chooses. Well, don’t people who eat foods with low nutritional value and over-indulge in smoking while never exercising know the risks?
Why do people become addicted to drugs? There are so many factors unique to the individual with that formula. Genetics, environment, actions, along with physical and mental health all play a part in how a substance use disorder develops, just like numerous other conditions. That is precisely why it is so important we start to recognize addiction as a disease; as a chronic medical condition and one that people should not be shamed and stigmatized for. All these elements of substance use disorder literally rewire the brain and rewrite the DNA.
Though this may seem like a lot of information, it covers barely a fraction of the research on this subject. There is no easy “why” to it, but there is enough to know why recovery is so important. Real recovery is not just removing the drugs, but also working to create new coping skills. Recovery takes work, and a great foundation can make all the difference.
Understanding addiction is one thing. But learning how to make the life in recovery that you deserve takes a strong beginning. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
I am not a morning person. (yawns)
It is good to admit your weaknesses, right?
Still, despite my grogginess, I have been attempting to put together some sort of morning routine. After all, mornings set the tone for the rest of your day. In fact, a recent article recommends ten things we should all do before 10 A.M that are sure to improve our resilience and wellbeing for the rest of the day.
1 – HYDRATE
Hydration is so important, especially when you wake up in the morning. A cold glass of water jumpstarts your lymphatic and digestive system. Plus, most people when they wake up are totally dehydrated. Starting your day with a glass of water allows for a healthy flow of oxygen, allowing you to stay alerted and energized. Trying to shed some pounds? Hydrating in the morning is excellent for weight loss because it curbs your appetite. Try having water with lemon instead of that sugary Frappuccino in the morning. Your body will thank you.
2 – STRETCH
The Mayo Clinic recommends stretching to improve flexibility and range of motion. Stretching is also an excellent stress reliever and a great way to start the day. Often we roll out of bed with body stiffness. Stretching allows us to reduce muscle tension making the body feel relaxed. Over time, stretching increases range of motion and reduces the risk of injury.
3 – PLAY MUSIC
Scientists have discovered that listening to music releases dopamine and stimulates a “feel good” experience. If you are a music lover, you probably already know that, but next time you are feeling the morning blues, why not listen to some tunes to perk up the day?
4 – SMILE
Smiling activates neural messaging, a trifecta chemical release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Even if you have to force it, smiling will help you reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and just make you feel happier. Get in the habit of doing something that will make you smile in the morning.
5 – MEDITATE
The benefits of meditation are endless. Most of us know this by now, yet never do it. Countless studies reveal how effective mediation can be at shifting our awareness. Meditation can help slow the aging process. It also benefits your heart and immune system. Most of all, it makes you happier. Meditation can be daunting at first, but keep at it and eventually you will not want to go a day without it.
6 – BE GRATEFUL
Gratitude lists help put everything in perspective. Maybe your day is not going to be that great, however writing gratitude puts you in perspective instead of in a place of negativity. A gratitude mindset improves self-esteem, mental “grit” and physical health.
7 – TIDY UP
In the chaos of the morning, cleaning might seem like the last thing you would ever want to do. However, this one step can transform the outlook of your day. Make a habit of cleaning in the mornings. Make the bed, pick up clothes off the floor and take out the trash. Cleaning in the morning will improve your mental clarity, and you will be in a more relaxed space coming home to a clean house.
8 – REVIEW TODAY’S “ TO-DOS”
Having a planner is a great way of keeping track of your To-Dos of the day. In the morning, create a list of the tasks you are hoping to get done. Keep the list short. Having a lengthy list only sets you up for failure and negativity. Focus on the most important tasks and work your way through them throughout the week.
9 -WRITE AN AFFIRMATION
Self-affirmations help with improving your focus and problem solving. According to new research, self-affirmation was shown to boost academic grades of underperforming students. Write something positive about yourself each day. It will improve your confidence and increase your drive for success.
10 – DO THE WORST FIRST
Tackle the hardest task first. It is natural to want to procrastinate doing something you do not want to do, but it is critical to do the worst things first. Put it behind you and watch your productivity soar. Maybe it is exercising or perhaps completing a major assignment. Get it out of the way and soar through the easy parts of your day afterward. Cheers!
What morning routine are you going to implement? Recovery is about learning a healthy way of life without the need for abusing substances. Learn to live your best life today. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
All across the country, marijuana reform continues to stir up controversy and make headlines. A few states have even legalized marijuana for recreational use. Other states remain focused on the medical benefits of the drug. Marijuana has gained significant attention for its medicinal benefits. Various studies show that marijuana can be beneficial for certain health conditions.
However, a new study reveals marijuana could increase the risk of developing prediabetes. When a person develops prediabetes, their sugar levels become abnormally high yet not high enough to warrant a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
In the study, researchers discovered that people who used a large amount of marijuana in their young adulthood were 40 percent more likely to develop prediabetes as middle-aged adults compared to those who never tried the drugs.
These findings contradict past studies that showed marijuana reducing the risk of diabetes. Previous studies looking at marijuana use had found that users have lower rates of diabetes compared with nonusers. However, those studies only examined marijuana use during the time of the study. Furthermore, it was unclear if the participants researched were using marijuana before they had diabetes, or afterward.
This is the first study to actually examine marijuana use over a period of years. Michael Bancks, lead author of the study, explained the reason for this new research.
“We felt we could address the potential limitations of previous research and add new information to our understanding of the relationship between marijuana use and subsequent metabolic health,” said Bancks.
It’s important to note that the study does not state that marijuana causes diabetes; it only says that it increases the risk of developing prediabetes. Marijuana was not linked to an increase risk of having type 2 diabetes.
The new study contradicts the recent evidence that marijuana may reduce the risk of diabetes. It’s unclear how marijuana can increase the risk of prediabetes, yet not diabetes, the study explains.
The study offered two possibilities for this observation.
- For one, it’s likely that people who were more prone to developing diabetes were not included in the study because participants had to be free of diabetes at the time of the study.
- Secondly, marijuana may have a larger impact on blood sugar levels in the prediabetic range than in the diabetes range.
More research is needed to study the possible link and future studies will look at different groups of people, how marijuana is consumed and the amount consumed.
Still, Bancks encourages doctors to discuss the potential risks of using marijuana with their patients. People who use marijuana should be aware that is could increase their risk of developing prediabetes. Doctors should monitor sugar levels with patients with “an extensive history of marijuana use,” Bancks stated.
As marijuana use becomes more prevalent, researchers are taking a hard look at the health effects of the drug. In 2014, researchers highlighted other health risks of marijuana use like increased risk of cognitive impairment and psychoses.
“There are many questions about the health effects of marijuana use where the answers are unknown,” Bancks said. “The increased legalization and use of marijuana will draw more attention from researchers and users, and we will learn more as research on the health effects of marijuana use increases.”
The study was conducted over 30 years and took into consideration factors such as age, sex, race, tobacco and alcohol use, education level, medication use, psycho-social well-being, and lifestyle factors like diet, exercise frequency, and other drug use. Although many were dropped out of the study over the course of 30 years, the remaining participants made up more than 2500 people.
More than half of the participants developed prediabetes and were 65 percent more likely to have prediabetes than those who did not smoke, the study conclude. Even among those who stopped smoking, their risk was 23 percent more likely than nonsmokers.
So although marijuana reform is a hot topic, marijuana is still a drug that could be detrimental to our health. Abusing any drug is not healthy. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
Even if you don’t read this entire article, at least scroll through and make note of the so-called health foods we’ve named here as mythical beasts when it comes to health foods. What’s in common to most of the following is the high amount of hidden sugars. So, next time you’re grocery shopping or out to eat, keep in mind that the key to eating healthy is knowing what’s in your food (and drinks).
Here’s why juicing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (and other health food myths):
A lot of people think you can’t go wrong with granola when it comes to a healthy breakfast or even as a late-afternoon snack.
The problem with granola is, as we mentioned above in the intro, that it tends to have a ton of hidden sugars.
“People think of granola as healthy because they think whole grain, but the problem with granola is that it tends to also have a lot of sugar and its often cooked with oil or butter and some kind of fat,” Jennifer Schonborn tells Mashable.
So, with all that the sugar and fat, granola is actually high-calorie food. For example, a normal serving of Nature Valley’s Oats ‘n Honey granola is half a cup and will run you 210 calories.
#2. Fruit smoothies or veggie juice
One of the biggest health fads going on right now is juicing. And it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. Just grab a bunch of fruit and veggies, juice them, and go!
“When you juice fruit, you strip out the fiber, causing a more rapid spike in blood sugars and insulin levels,” Jennifer Calo tells Mashable. “Juicing multiple fruits at once is definitely too much sugar from the fructose.” To be more satisified, Calo insists people eat a salad or a pear or apple with its skin still on, and to spread out fruit and veggie intake throughout the day.
A good motto to have is this: Don’t drink your calories.
#3. Low-fat ice cream
Low-calorie and low-fat ice cream seems too good to be true. And, unfortunately, it is. First of all, most of these food products have a lot of chemicals in order to make them seem and taste “just like” real ice cream. Furthermore, artificial sweeteners may actually lead to cravings for more sweet foods, which basically undermines the purpose of a sugar-free, low-calorie dessert.
Better to have a small portion on the real thing than a substitute that will leave you craving more.
#4. Flavored yogurt…yes, Greek yogurt, too
A popular on-the-go healthy snack for adults and children is flavored yogurt. However, the amount of added sugars in these yogurts, including the supposedly healthier Greek yogurt alternative, makes this a no-no for those who are health conscious and who want to slim down or simply want to cut back on the amount of sugar they’re eating.
For example, Stonybrook’s organic Greek nonfat yogurt, which is a single serving, contains 17 grams of sugar. To give you an idea of what that means in the scheme of things, a single serving of Haagen-Dazs strawberry ice cream has 20 grams of sugar. So, basically, eating flavored yogurt is like eating a glorified version of ice cream that just happens to have a few beneficial bacteria.
A healthy alternative is to buy plain yogurt that you can sweeten yourself, using with honey or maple syrup, which are better natural sweeteners than highly refined white sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Also, by doing it this way, you can control the amount of sweetener that’s going into your yogurt. Or sweeten with fresh fruit.
#5. Restaurant food
This especially goes for cooked chicken. Chicken is often thought of as a healthy, lean protein and people who are health-conscious tend to opt for chicken when eating out.
However, when eating out at restaurants, you should be aware of the dish’s preparation; those chicken dishes could be loaded with calories from being cooked in loads of butter, oil, salt, and even cream.
For reference, The Cheesecake Factory’s healthy-sounding lemon-herb roasted chicken is around 1,250 calories.
Your best bet is cooking at home. Of course, going out to eat occasionally is perfectly fine. If you are concerned about how a dish is prepared, you can always ask your server.
#6. Energy/snack bars
Energy bars like Cliff, Luna, and Fiber One are also a popular “health food” because they are easy to grab and eat on-the-go.
But, again, they contain a ton of sugars. If you compare energy bars to candy bars, they often have the same amount of sugar – or more – as well as include some of the same chemicals and artificial sweeteners.
Fiber One granola bars, for example, have about 20 ingredients including corn syrup, sugar, food dyes, and palm oil. You might think that the trade-off is worth it because of all the supposed healthy benefits of eating a granola bar. But, in reality, these products don’t even make up for their high sugar and calorie content; there aren’t enough minerals and vitamins to make it worth it.
The best snack options include fresh fruit, raw nuts, and natural nut butters.
#7. Vitamin Water
You see the words “vitamin” and “water” and you think, “This has to be healthy.” Unfortunately, it’s yet another case of good branding. Vitamin Water is slightly less bad for you than soft drinks are.
Most Vitamin Water flavors have as much as 31 grams of sugar – or more, which is almost eight teaspoons of sugar – and all in one serving!
If plain water is too plain for you, try seltzer water or adding a lemon or lime to your water. Another helpful trick is to make an effort to drink your water with a straw and/or use a favorite glass or bottle. These little tricks actually really help when trying to up your water intake.
#8. Reduced-fat peanut butter
Peanut butter is known for being high in protein and calories, so some might be tempted with the option of reduced fat. Well, don’t be.
All-natural full-fat peanut butter is your best bet, since reduced fat actually has added sugar to make up for taste.
#9. Agave syrup
Replacing actual sugar with a product like agave nectar might satisfy your sweet tooth but it’s not any healthier than regular ol’ sugar. Natural sweeteners are still sugars with the same worrisome amount of calories as sugar and honey (60 calories per tablespoon).
Look for “whole grain” foods if you want to eat healthier. Labelling breads and other foods “multi-grain” just means that there are two or more grains in the ingredients, which means, this has nothing to do with health and how refined or unrefined the flour base is.
Instead, look for 100% whole wheat, which means that the entire grain kernel has been used so you’re getting as much fiber and nutrients as possible.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 today to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. All calls are professional, confidential and anonymous.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Body image is the way you feel and what you see when you look at your reflection, or what you image when picturing yourself in your mind. It is what you believe about your appearance, and not just about how you look but also how you feel in your own skin, and a lot of people who have struggled with other issues like eating disorders, drug abuse and other compulsions can relate to that sense of feeling out of place even in your own body. A negative body image is often a distortion of your perception. A lot of times it can be a feeling of failure, anxiety or being self-conscious, and typically it contributes to an obsession with dieting or exercise.
The National Eating Disorders Association has a slogan that states:
Be comfortable in your genes.
That is a tribute the fact that your body type has a lot to do with your genetics, and is not a personal failure but a biological signature. It puts the emphasis on the idea of taking comfort in our genetics to remind us of that fact.
When we look in the mirror, most of us focus more on what we don’t like. It’s almost easier to point out our shortcomings than to celebrate our beauty. We allow our feelings and our body image to be dictated by the expectations set in the media, which portrays the ideal body as the coveted actor/actress or supermodel, making it harder for us to appreciate a body that isn’t as “perfect”. The truth is NO body is prefect.
But just as we can be conditioned to expect something abstract and unattainable, we can also condition ourselves to value our bodies and construct a better body image. Here are 5 steps to building a better body image.
- Give yourself some credit
One thing that’s very important is to actually allow yourself to admire the things you like about yourself. A gratitude list a great tool in life, especially for those in recovery. You can start by making a list of things you like about your body, and then every day say some of them to yourself when you wake up, like an affirmation. Try and change it up too, that way it doesn’t just become routine and you actually connect with what you’re saying. But this isn’t all a beauty pageant, so be sure that some of the things on that list aren’t related to your appearance, but instead highlight your worth as an individual.
- Stop comparing
At the end of the day, the reality is that nobody is perfect, and no body is perfect either. No matter who you are, there is always someone out there that might be stronger, faster, or thinner. Someone will always make us feel less than attractive or insecure. The funny part is, there is someone who makes them feel the same way, and it just might be you for a reason you never expected.
Constantly comparing ourselves to others makes us feel inadequate. That grass-is-always-greener mentality will never makes us truly happy with ourselves.
- Treat yourself
You shouldn’t punish yourself for your body image, instead you should treat yourself for all you do to take care of yourself. We are always our worst critics in life, especially when it comes to our bodies. You are probably much harder on yourself than anyone else, and letting go of that prejudice will make it easier.
Give yourself a break once in a while. Treat yourself, and try not to regret or feel guilty about the rewards you give yourself for healthy behaviors.
- Dress the part
They say dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Well, after coming into the office a half dozen times dressed as Batman it donned on me that being practical and comfortable wear more important than a cape and cowl.
Some people try to wear oversized clothes to hide their weight, but it often draws more attention to your size. The same can be said about clothes that are too tight. Dressing in something comfortable that works with your body type is much better.
Comfy NOT baggy…
Fitted NOT tight …
Some say when you look good, you feel better.
Body image always comes back to the mind and our perception. If the way we perceive ourselves is as a failure, and we describe ourselves in our minds with negative self-talk while we nitpick our bodies, we will remain trapped in the picture we are constantly painting of a negative self-image.
By believing in yourself, and turning the negative problem thinking into positive solution based thinking, you can overcome a lot more. Look at yourself and congratulate yourself on your progress. Tell yourself that anything you want to improve you can, and believe it. But also remind yourself that you will be beautiful either way.
Adjusting your mindset can change everything. Celebrating things for what they are instead of ridiculing them for what they are not won’t achieve anything for growth. For a better body image, you have to look past the surface and find a love inside for who you are on the outside.
When struggling with things like eating disorders, mental health or drug abuse it can seem nearly impossible to find the things you love about yourself, but it doesn’t mean those things aren’t there. Getting the right kind of help can open your eyes to the best parts of you that you forgot how to look for. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135