With Oxycontin Abuse All Over The News, Is Vicodin Abuse The Forgotten Prescription Painkiller Addiction?
Vicodin abuse has been shunted to the shadows as Oxycontin abuse, addiction and overdoses draws the focus of the news media and the popular consciousness of American society. In recent drug articles and exposes from The Atlantic to The New York Post, Oxycontin covers all of the news coverage and dominates the focus of the media when it come to the prescription painkiller plague. Although the coverage makes sense given the problem, the noise of the Oxycontin focus drowns out the need to focus on other dominant prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Percodan and Percocet. In particular, the Clinical Staff at One80Center is surprised by the lack of coverage in regards to Vicodin abuse and Vicodin addiction.
The History of Vicodin Abuse
Vicodin has been a problem prescription painkiller for over a quarter of a century. Hydrocodone or Vicodin was created by German scientists in the mid 1920′s. The drug was approved for sale in the United States under the brand name Hycodan in 1943. In 1984, a version of Hydrocodone under the brand name Vicodin was approved for sale by the FDA. It was sold by Abbott Laboratories.Vicodin contains a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is in a group of drugs called opioid pain relievers. Vicodin is most commonly taken orally in pill form or crushed up and snorted. Since acetaminophen is extremely harmful to the liver in high doses (2,000+ mg), some addicts try to extract the hydrocodone from the pill resulting in a vile liquid that can be taken orally or rectally via syringe. The actual result has been countless overdoses and deaths.
Given the amount of Vicodin abuse and the number of Vicodin overdoses, an FDA Advisory Panel voted in 2009 to ban both Vicodin and Percocet. Despite the recommendation and a bit of hoopla at the time, both prescription painkillers remain on the market and neither ban has been carried out. The vote remains like a shark with no teeth, a gun with no bullets, or a government act all for show but lacking any implementation and actual positive effect. People keep trying Vicodin because of its reputation as a great recreational drug and they keep getting hooked and they keep dying needlessly. When is the media going to pay attention and place Vicodin near the center of the discussion national prescription painkiller plague?
In 2002, it was reported that emergency-room visits involving Hydrocodone had increased 500 percent since 1990. In 2006, Americans were written 130 million prescriptions for painkillers containing Hydrocodone. The vast majority of these prescriptions are for Vicodin. In 2008, Abbott planned to sell a controlled-release version of Vicodin, but fails to get FDA approval. A few months later, Abbott laid off over 200 sales reps who were expected to be marketing the product. Yes, the selling of Vicodin and other prescription painkillers always has been a big business at the expense of the American people.
Vicodin Abuse Cannot Be Ignored
There is no question that Oxycontin abuse and Oxycontin addiction is a serious threat in our country and needs to be near the center of the national prescription painkiller debate. It does not, however, need to dominate the national discussion to the point where other brands of prescription painkillers are ignored. In the extensive experience of the clinical staff at One80Center with addicts in rehab and recovery, Vicodin has been a persistent and devastating brand of opioid painkiller that has led to addiction and worse. If the national debate is going to be on target, Vicodin abuse cannot be ignored.
I write often about the element of play, and the importance of keeping the spirit of rambunctiousness as an integral part of recovery.
I continue to write about it primarily because it remains so pivotal, and yet easily lost in the seriousness of sobriety. And sobriety aside, life is challenging no matter what else you might have going on.
Like any challenge, the experience one has is based on the spirit of the the endeavor. It’s fairly textbook, and we all know this: You can look at a mountain and say, “I have to climb that?” Or you can look at the mountain and say, “I get to climb that!” We all know this; most people in recovery will espouse this, but when it comes to living, breathing, being an example of this doctrine, we all find life grabbing us by the short and curlies at times. We get emotionally hijacked. We feel victimized by circumstances beyond our control. And that whole mantra and way of being we all aspire to goes directly out the window.
It happens. We are human, after all; what we do is err. But we get to learn from our erring ways, and hopefully we do. Recently I found myself clenching my emotional fists, for weeks, I was white knuckling it. My mind was curled into a tight ball and very little light was getting in. One gets used to this posture, and, like our Moms used to tell us when we crossed our eyes and made faces, “If you aren’t careful, your face will get freeze and stay like that!”
Thankfully we have the option of getting out of it before we become frozen and narrow minded, but we still need to be mindful. We become brittle and frozen when we do not exercise our emotional flexibility. Playfulness is exactly the thing that keeps us supple and vibrant.
As I said, I had a couple of weeks recently where my life circumstances had changed, and my schedule became more hectic, including the addition of two hours of driving to my already busy day. I had discovered I owed the IRS a huge amount of money. I had a list of grievances. I was feeling sorry for myself. I was … crunchy. And then I saw a sign. Literally.
I was driving to work after dropping my daughter off at school, still getting used to the new routine, when I whipped by one of the many construction signs that one can’t miss, as construction in Los Angeles is happening everywhere all the time, and always on the route you most want to go. It’s absurd, really.
This sign, however, said, “World Peace.” Then it said, “Make people laugh.” Then it switched to, “One smile at a time.” Finally it read, “Also, construction.”
I couldn’t really believe it the first time I saw it. I was driving and there was no one to turn to and say, “Hey! Did you see that?” But even so, it had an immediate effect. My outlook changed. It became lighter, because someone had taken the spirit of playfulness to another level, and because I needed a sign and I got one. I was infected by it.
All it took was a little boost, and I got my bounce back. I don’t ever want to go flat, lose my humor, and value victimhood over freedom. All bondage is of our own creation. It’s just how we see it.
I love that someone changed the sign to read something fun and thoughtful. Its the spirit of the person who did that which infected me more than the sign itself — that someone found it important enough to stop and play with all the people who would drive by that sign and see it — honoring that impulse, as it were- is what really inspires me.
How liberating is that? To step outside of the demands of life and just goof around with others? How much fun must that have been for that person?
And lest I forget, my Higher Power will make sure to remind me, and I love that. I count on it, and I am never let down.
Vulnerability. There may be no other word that makes modern people cringe more. Somehow, this one word and all that it entails sends us running for the hills, both literally and metaphorically. Is our collective recoil at the idea of being vulnerable a natural state, or is it a flaw of some sort, a defect in our programming?
Or, more to the point, the flaw IS the natural state of human beings. We are flawed. Its how we deal with the flaws that define our personal evolution. I am reminded of the movie Cinderella Man, a true story about a boxer (James Braddock) who was down on his luck. He was off his game, losing fights and wasn’t able to care for his family. Then he broke his right arm and he couldn’t fight at all, and went to work in an ice factory, grabbing hunks of ice with his good left arm and hauling them on to trucks. After a while, he got back in the ring, only to discover that due to his injury and having to use only his left arm, he had become a very strong boxer, much stronger than before as he now had his left hook backing him up, as strong as his right jab ever was. His defect put him in a place where he was able to emerge stronger. He didn’t foresee this- at the time, he was mired in defeat. He was down and he didn’t see any way up and out of it, not knowing that his salvation was being exercised even as he despaired.
So here we are in vulnerability. It keeps us from being able to get into the ring, or if we do get in the ring, it keeps us from being able to be present in a way that would create a fulfilling scenario. What do we do? What most of us do is shrink, hide, run, judge others for our own shortcomings, get angry, blame, become promiscuous instead of connected- and not just romantically- on all levels- we refuse to commit to so much of life that requires commitment. We are rootless. Lacking purpose. And what don’t we do, for the most part? Show up, take risks, allow ourselves to feel or be exposed, possess a willingness to make mistakes and own them, to care, out loud and in public for all to see… just to name a few examples.
Brene Brown says her research shows that most people equate vulnerability with weakness. And yet, the truth of the matter is that its actually the very definition of courage. Some things that make us feel vulnerable- saying “I love you” first, asking for a raise, saying no to our kids, saying no period, asking someone on a date, speaking in public….all of these things that make a person feel vulnerable are the most powerful moments in our lives, they are moments that define who we are. These are not moments that call for weakness…these moments call for strength. These call for risks- risking being exposed, rejected, denied, failing, risk of succeeding, risk of losing- “We buy into the myth of vulnerability as being a weakness because by doing so we give ourselves permission not to do it,” says Brene Brown in her conversation with Krista Tippett on the podcast On Being. “Try to remember the last time you did something brave, or saw someone do something brave.” Something is always at risk in any scenario one can consider.
That got me to thinking about heroes. In reality, a hero is someone who risks something big to help someone else. If vulnerability is opening yourself up to life, in all its glory and pain, to the extent that you might just get hurt, or even die- then those we unilaterally consider to be heroes – those who risk their lives to save others- are practicing the penultimate vulnerability. Having said that, any time we show up in our daily lives, stripped down and available to what life brings us, willing to be exposed, to fail, to be wrong, to be right, to win, to be real, to be open to whatever may come instead of avoiding the discomfort- at those times, we are also heroes. Life is either a Hero’s Journey, or its not. I find those people who are asking the hard questions and getting in the ring again and again after being beaten badly are capable of the most intense happiness. Its as if the struggles and the quest for understanding carve a deep reservoir into a person, and the deeper the reservoir, the more capacity for joy there is. In an emotionally promiscuous life, where no commitments are made and vulnerability is avoided, a person can only scratch the surface, at best. There is no capacity for deep and abiding joy, only fleeting distractions and drudgery. And there are plenty of people like that- too many, more and more all the time.
Like I saw on Project Appleseed Rifleman Training‘s podcast last night- the zombie apocalypse is already happening. Just peruse facebook for an hour! The zombies avoid commitment, vulnerability, pain, growth, depth, true connection. They can’t focus, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. And guess what? They want you to be a zombie, too. Anyone who is fighting the good fight reminds them that their existence is a shallow, half hearted one. And its easier to bring a person down a peg than to bring them up a peg, so we must always be wary of the dreamers who want to lure the wakers back to sleep.
New York Times Letter Against Drug Courts Misses The Essential Point Of Promoting Treatment Over Incarceration
In the letter’s section of the New York Times on March 10, a senior lawyer for the Drug Policy Alliance wrote a letter to the paper that criticized a recent article promoting drug courts that offer defendants the chance to access treatment as opposed to going to treatment. The Clinical Staff at One80Center disagrees with the argument that fails to see the value of and the opportunities provided by drug court. As a result we will quote
“Outside Box, U.S. Judges Offer Addicts New Path” (front page, March 2), reported on the benefits of drug courts and their increasing popularity. But enthusiasm for replicating drug courts should be tempered with a healthy dose of caution.
Drug addiction is best treated by health professionals, separate and apart from the criminal justice system. Drug court programs are inherently coercive and typically require defendants to plead guilty (and forgo their trial rights) before they participate in the program. Drug courts also require participants to be subject to frequent drug testing as an indicator of success in the program. If a person relapses, he is sent to prison.
It is important to question whether the drug court model is best suited to dealing with the particular issues posed by drug addiction. Drug relapses should be met with more intensive services rather than be a pathway to incarceration. There is no silver bullet for the complex problems posed by drug addiction, and there is no substitute for nuanced, comprehensive and evidence-based drug treatment, however tempting drug court programs may appear to be.
Senior Staff Attorney Drug Policy Alliance
Berkeley, Calif., March 4, 2013
Although we respect the work done by Theshia Naidoo and the team at the Drug Policy Alliance, the letter entirely misses the point. The point of drug courts is to place drug addicts in a treatment setting by giving them the chance to take another path. If you want drug addicts to be able to access health professionals and treatment programs, why would you possibly be against drug courts.
In addition, the testing argument makes no sense whatsoever. In any treatment setting, drugs addicts are tested on a regular basis. Isn’t being tested to see if you are compliant with the program you have chosen better than being locked up in prison? In terms of forgoing their trial rights, the vast majority of drug court cases are open and shut. This is not a case of innocent people pleading guilty to drug charges in order not to go to prison. Such a contention verges on absurdity.
Some of the most pointed criticism of the status quo has come from Judge Gleeson, a former federal prosecutor. The drug court he helped set up is open to defendants who committed a range of nonviolent crimes, like fraud and selling prescription pills, and whose addictions fueled their actions.
In a 35-page opinion he issued this week, he criticized the Justice Department for charging defendants with drug offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences, urged the Sentencing Commission to reduce the guideline range for many drug offenses and called for more programs that divert defendants from prison time.
Isn’t it clear that the very point of drug courts is to do exactly what Theshina Nandoo is promoting in her letter, but somehow fails to make the essential connection. Drug Courts may not be perfect, but they are a step in the right direction. Picking apart a positive article undermines the work that all of us are doing — finding proactive methods to battle the plague of drug addiction that is sweeping across the country.
When it comes to drug addicts, the clinical staff at One80Center believes promoting treatment over incarceration in the vast majority of cases. In every case presented in the original New York Times article, treatment over incarceration was the clear and obvious choice. Why the letter writer chose to take such a stand makes little to no sense because it fails to support drug courts as a key active element in the promotion of the treatment over incarceration.
– Substance abuse, addiction and alcoholism cause more deaths and disabilities each year than any other
– Nearly one-in-four emergency room visits are alcohol/drug related
– Nearly one-in-three suicides are alcohol/drug related
– Nearly one-in-two homicides/domestic violence incidents are alcohol/drug related
– Alcoholism (heavy drinking) is a factor in the most common causes of death: heart disease, cancer and stroke
– Addiction/alcoholism that goes untreated costs this country more than heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined.
After ingesting all of these truly overwhelming facts, it’s hard not to think about one question… “why?” Why are so many people – loved ones, even – suffering from the throes of alcoholism and addiction?
And the questions go on and on and on.
“What is addiction?”… “What is alcoholism?”… “What’s the difference?”… “Can’t they just stop?”… “Don’t they want to stop?!”… “There’s no way he/she is a junkie!”… “I can’t believe he/she would just throw it all away like that.”… “Don’ they know what all that drinking/using is doing to them?”…
These questions – and many, many more – are asked every single day by friends, co-workers, spouses, children and the loved ones of the millions of Americans with alcoholic and/or addictive behavior.
I have been sober for almost 10 years, consider myself incredibly active within the Los Angeles recovery community, and still, I ask myself these questions. Why?! Why me? Why can’t I have one beer? Why can some people have a single glass of wine and go home? Why do others drink until they black out or wrap their car around a tree? Why, when I was drinking and using, would I black out at night, wake up and want to do the same exact thing the next day. One of my brothers can drink ½ of a beer then call it a night. My other brother died of a drug overdose. I relate to my dead brother more. I know a lot about recovery, about sobriety, some people might even call me start, worldly – but, I don’t know what “enough” means. I, like millions of other alcoholics/addicts out there, just don’t have that “I’ve had enough” software filter inside my head.
Understanding addiction is as complex as the human mind itself. However, like any other topic, or discipline, education and information are the best antidotes for confusion and frustration. Ever since the early part of the last century – in the early 1930′s, when the scientific community started to study “addiction” – there have been many myths about alcoholic and addictive behavior. The most damaging and pervasive of these seems to be that drug abuse, alcoholism and some mental health issues are not diseases, but actual moral failings or a weakness, a lack of will on behalf of the alcoholic/addict. The lack of information the general public has led society in general to be less compassionate and tolerant and more punishing and indicting of the alcoholic/addict.
Most importantly, addiction and alcoholism don’t have to be frustrating, quixotic or infinitely confusing anymore. The questions may still linger, but with healthy, open honesty and treatment, addiction and alcoholism can and will come out of the shadows of our lives and become manageable conditions, rather than dark frightening secrets.
Now, thanks in large part to the recovery community and the scientific communities, we know more about the brain, addiction, and how to effectively provide support and solutions. Even the clinically based scientific community acknowledges that what we do, what the One80Center does, by creating and offering effective prevention and treatment approaches, reduces the overall impact that alcoholic and addictive behavior. takes on individuals, families, and communities.
New Zealand Study Reveals Connection Between Youthful Sexual Partners And An Increased Risk Of Addiction And Alcoholism
A New Zealand Study has revealed a seemingly clear-cut relationship between risk for developing addictions and youthful sexual partners. The study has been presented in a comprehensive report published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. The Clinical Staff at One80Center is not surprised that the study discovered a link between more sex partners and a higher risk for addiction. What was surprising is that the link proved to be so much more convincing in young women than in young men.
New Zealand Study Shows Conclusive Link
The researchers followed over a thousand children born between 1972 and 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The people studied were asked about their sexual partners as well as alcohol and other drug use. Women who had more than two to three sex partners when they were 18 years to 20 years old were nearly 10 times more likely than those who had none or one sexual partner to develop a drug problem, primarily involving alcohol or marijuana, at age 21. Having more than two to three partners from age 21 to age 25 increased addiction risk at age 26 by a factor of 7. And at age 32, the risk was nearly 18 times greater for women who had more than two to three partners when they were aged 26 to 31 compared to those with one or no partners during that time.
The risks for men were also increased, but not by as much. More than one sex partner from age 18 to age 20 nearly tripled the risk of a serious substance use disorder at 21— and having more than two to three partners quadrupled that risk for men of that age. In terms of the impact of the report on American sexual behavior and a growing risk for addiction, the results are both provocative and controversial, The CDC reports [PDF] that 24% of women aged 20 to 24 have had two or more partners in the past year; the number for men was 29%. And women in particular may be likely to under-report this number.
Sexual Behavior And Addiction Risk
The results were adjusted to take into account the effect that mental illnesses may have on risky sexual behavior, including having multiple partners; the researchers also tried controlling for socioeconomic status but found that the strong relationship between multiple sex partners and drug addiction and alcoholism stayed the same. The authors also limited the study to heterosexual sex, defined as intercourse. In contrast to previous studies, the research did not find that having multiple partners increased risk for later anxiety or depression
The researchers, led by Sandhya Ramrakha of the University of Otago in New Zealand, speculate that there may be several explanations for the connection. Impulsivity can increase risky behavior of any type, and in some cases may be driving both the drug misuse as well as the sexual activity. “People who are impulsive may be more likely to engage in both activities and consequently [be] more likely to become substance dependent,” the authors write. In addition, having many short-term relationships may be more psychologically damaging to young women. And the authors speculate, “[This] may be due to the impersonal nature of such relationships. Or it might be that multiple failed relationships create anxiety about initiating new relationships. Self ‘medication’ with substances may be one way of dealing with this interpersonal anxiety.”
Ultimately, it is not the role of One80Center to dictate morality or pass judgment on anyone. Our number one goal is to promote long-term sobriety and help lead our clients and community on a path that fosters and promotes the principles of recovery. If an increase in youthful sexual partners is linked directly to such a dramatic increase in drug addiction and alcoholism, One80Center would recommend that personal safety and an educated awareness of such risks is the path for a young person to follow.
Coca leaves, the source of pure cocaine, have been chewed and ingested for thousands of years for the euphoric effects of the drug. They were first used by members of the Inca civilization in the Andes mountains, who believed the coca plant was a gift from the gods.
TODAY, COCAINE USE IS MORE PERVASIVE THAN EVER
Cocaine use has been glamourized in movies, TV, books, poems and literally hundreds of songs. We’ve all seen Tony Montana stuff his nose in a mound of cocaine that triggers his demise in Scarface. Most of us have heard about Sigmund Freud’s rather heavy use of cocaine, and his belief that cocaine was a cure for many mental and physical problems. Even the famous American soft drank Coca-Cola, when it launched, contained cocaine.
COCAINE: THE MOST POWERFUL CENTRAL NERVOUS STIMULANT FOUND IN NATURE
Physical cocaine use effects include constricted blood vessels and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood flow. Users of the drug experience greater alertness, energy, self-confidence, and even power after administration. The intensity and duration of cocaine’s effect – increased energy, reduced fatigue, mental alertness – depend on the route of drug administration. The faster cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the brain, the more intense the high. Injecting or smoking cocaine produces a quicker, stronger high than snorting. On the other hand, faster absorption usually means shorter duration of action: the high from snorting cocaine may last 15 to 30 minutes, but the high from smoking may last only 5 to 10 minutes. In order to sustain the high, a cocaine abuser has to administer the drug again. For this reason, cocaine is sometimes abused in binges—taken repeatedly within a relatively short period of time, at increasingly higher doses.
Today, for millions of Americans, cocaine is an incredibly addictive drug.
– Approximately 35.9 million Americans aged 12 and older have tried cocaine use at least once in their lifetime, according to a national survey, and about 2.1 million Americans are regular users.
– Drug enforcement personnel estimate that about 2,500 Americans every day try cocaine for the first time.
– Cocaine is the most frequently reported illicit substance associated with drug abuse fatalities and causes three times more deaths than any other illegal drug.
STROKE IS ONE OF THE MOST SERIOUS MEDICAL CONSEQUENCES OF COCAINE USE
Researchers from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Stony Brook University have developed a high-resolution, 3D optical Doppler imaging tomography technique that captures the effects of cocaine use restricting the blood supply in vessels — including small capillaries — of the brain. The study, reported in Molecular Psychiatry, and with images on the journal’s October 2012 cover, illustrates the first use of the novel neuroimaging technique and provides evidence of cocaine-induced cerebral microischemia, which can cause stroke.
Stroke is one of the most serious medical risks of cocaine use. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) is disrupted due to the vasoactive effects of cocaine use, and research has shown that the process contributes to stroke in cocaine abusers. An effective treatment has yet to be discovered because of minimal knowledge on the underlying mechanisms that cause cerebrovascular changes resulting from cocaine abuse. Current neuroimaging methods that could reveal clues to underlying mechanisms that cause cocaine-induced restricted CBF, such as magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography angiography, are limited in scope. The Stony Brook team’s neuroimaging technique offers a promising method to investigate structural changes in the small neurovascular networks of the brain that may be implicated in stroke.
If you have any questions about cocaine or the treatment of cocaine addiction, please give ONE80 a call for a free, confidential intake conversation with one of our addiction specialists.
Like any other addictive substance, drugs, narcotics, alcohol, all affect our brains differently. Addicts, alcoholics, will attest to the fact that their favorite drugs and alcohol affect them in a way that feels right, that they have found the cocktail or mixture of substances that works for them, that affects their brain in just the right way. They may feel that crack, meth, cocaine, heroin, Percoset all deliver different neurological affects, and they are right. However, and this is a big however, all of this is assuming that these highly addictive substances assuming, of course, that these highly addictive drugs have a brain to affect in the first place.
New clinical research has been published that lets us in on a secret that medical professionals, educators and probably even casual drug users and the addicts themselves have long suspected – that chronic cocaine abuse actually causes the brain’s grey matter to melt away at an accelerated rate. What this means is that a cocaine abuse addict’s brain actually ages faster than a non-addict. This doesn’t mean that they become wiser and more worldly, it means that, in the most non-clinical terminology, the brains of cocaine addicts turn to mush at a more rapid pace than sober, normal, human beings.
What the study administrators did was to test the brains of 60 cocaine addicts versus 60 people with no history of addiction. The differences they found were a bit shocking. They found that cocaine use caused the brains of the user to lose more than 3 milliliters of grey matter every year that they user continued to imbibe. This means that areas of the brain responsible for attention, decision-making, and memory would deteriorate at an exponentially faster rate than if the person was clean and sober.
Can this all be reversed? Of course it can. The brain, like all human organs, is a marvel and is capable of getting itself back up on it’s proverbial feet. For addicts, and alcoholics, who have succumbed to their addictions and put their brains, and their bodies, through years and years of abuse, this means that the sooner they get help, the sooner they start to deal with the addition itself, the sooner they will start to see improvements in brain function.
Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have revealed that deteriorating brain functionality and cognitive erosion due to chronic cocaine abuse and addiction can be readily treated, and that the capacity for greater brain capacity can be restored.
The consequences of long-term drug addiction are as varied as the drugs themselves – financial, familial, health, career and even death. While new technology and medical research helps to continue to expand out knowledge of cocaine and the drugs affects on the brain, we all know that the best way to reverse the affects of any drug’s affect on the body is to stop. Easier said than done in most cases, but the rewards are infinite and almost immediately felt. In the simplest terms – the sooner abuse of alcohol, cocaine abuse, heroin or whatever addictive substance the alcoholic/addict is involved with, the better the chance they have at restoring their lives.
All of us here at ONE80CENTER continue to work with our own medical and recovery professionals to best understand the impact of all drugs on the clients we treat. ONE80CENTER offers the most innovative and effective alcohol and drug rehabilitation in the nation, specializing in unparalleled individualized treatment in a luxurious and private setting. We work with world renowned addiction specialists to integrate the latest advancements in neuroscience and mental health into an individualized program of nutrition, exercise and wellness services.
Why do some people drink one cocktail and head home? Why do others drink until they blackout? What about cocaine addicts? Prescription drug addicts? Food addicts? Sex? Gambling…?
In other words, addiction is not just about the act of raising a bottle to the lips, drawing deeply on a cigarette or bingeing guiltily on chocolate bars in private. There just might be something amiss in your head that compels you to behave that way.
Human beings become addicted to a drink, a drug, a substance, an activity, routine, whatever humans can become addicted to, for the same exact reason that they initially try it. Why? Because we like it! Because we like the feeling that follows. Whether it’s drinking an energy drink, kissing a partner or smoking crack, if it makes us feel good, and we have that addictive component to our brain, we want more of it. While some people may try a drug, take a drink or eat a donut and never become hooked, almost all of us have the capability to become addicted. At some point after trying something, realizing it makes one feel better and using it over and over again, the addict crosses a threshold. They move from casual user to addiction.
ADDICTION: THE BRAIN DISEASE
The addict’s brain is markedly different from the non-addicted brain. Medical and psychological research has revealed that some changes do take place in the brain after the transition from casual user to addict. In fact, like so many in treatment and the medical community do, it is referred to as a disease, a brain disease. That addiction is a disease is the most commonly accepted view in the treatment / recovery community, and certainly is here at ONE80CENTER as well. Even the venerable American Medical Association (AMA) had declared that alcoholism / addiction was an illness in 1956. In 1991, The AMA further endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism / addiction by the International Classification of Diseases under both psychiatric and medical sections. Chronic drug or alcohol (or any adverse substance) will, over time, make changes in the structure of the brain. These changes will perform identically how a disease would, making addiction/alcoholism a brain disease.
CONTROL IS THE PROBLEM
A recent study in Science Magazine reported that cocaine addicts (like all others with alcoholic / addictive behavior) have specific abnormalities in the brain that impact self-control. In lay terms, most alcoholic/.addicts don’t know when to say “I’ve had enough” of a good thing. It really doesn’t matter if it’s cake or heroin, if we ingest it and it makes us feel good, we want more. In other words, once the addiction takes over, all bets are off. These abnormalities in the brain – that impact self control – have been found to appear to predate any drug abuse.
ONE80CENTER offers the most innovative and effective alcohol and drug rehabilitation in the nation, specializing in unparalleled individualized treatment in a luxurious and private setting. We work with world renowned addiction specialists to integrate the latest advancements in neuroscience and mental health into an individualized program of nutrition, exercise and wellness services. Our programs range from one week and continue until our clients are confident they have a strong plan of recovery. Our sober companions are available to assist a client while at the Center and when returning home to their families, career or educational institution.
The High Functioning Alcoholic / Addict
Being sober for nearly 10 years and banging around the Los Angeles recovery community, one gets to spend time with all kinds of addicts/alcoholics: short tall, rich, poor, low-bottom and high-bottom.
There is one type that is most fascinating, one that we see quite a bit of at ONE80CENTER – high functioning alcoholic / addicts. These are addicts/alcoholics that not only maintain serious addictions, but also lead successful, full, complex, highly-functioning lives. To some it is easy to spot an alcoholic or an addict. They see someone homeless, drinking in an alley and think that person must be an alcoholic. What if it’s your doubles tennis partner? Your English professor? What if it is the CEO of your bank? Or the star of your favorite TV show?
These are people that wake up early in the morning, kiss their kids, head to the gym, put in a hard day at the office and then check into some seedy motel to feed a heroin addiction. These are people that smoke two joints before enjoying breakfast with their spouse. These are people who maintain a massive prescription drug addiction as they perform a high-power job.
When we, as a society, speak of alcoholics/addicts we almost always speak about the mental, physical and psychological destruction the disease can wreak on them. What if there are no outward signs of the addiction? What if the addict is what is called a high functioning alcoholic / addict? You don’t have to be a rich, famous person to fit into the high-functioning category – you might just be a student or a housewife or a cabdriver or a sailing coach. If a person falls into this category, they do share three common traits: they lead two distinctly different lives, their public and private ones, they spend a majority of their time masking their addiction and, it is inevitable that if they continues along this path, that things will change for the worse – they will, over time, lose more than they bargained for.
Addicts/alcoholics are not always blacked out in alleys.
High functioning alcoholic / addicts are out there in the world right now, living their lives, completing tasks, making money, commanding people and… in a world of pain and hurt as they, like any of us that do suffer from addictive/alcoholic behavior, are being crushed by their disease. There is a societal notion that addicts in general are dysfunctional and a nuisance per se. This notion if taken as a fact will imply that wealthy and functional people are far from being an addict. These driven people may have nothing on the outside that would indicate they are masking or hiding substantial drug or alcohol addictions. Internally, on the inside, they remain in denial about their drug abuse issues because they do appear to have a level of success and/or control on the outsides. These types of alcoholics/addicts are probably in even more denial about their disease that others, because of the reality of their “outsides”. On the outsides – the job, the house, the car, the bank account, etc. – everything looks great. When people look at them the last thing they think is that he/she has a drug or alcohol problem. How could they, if everything on the outside looks so grand.
As they say in AA, “your bottom is when you stop digging”. This means that when an alcoholic/addict becomes desperate enough, or in enough pain to want to change their lives, that is their bottom. If you or a loved one has stopped digging, please know that the entire staff at ONE80CENTER welcomes the opportunity to help. We provide a completely private and discrete setting to ensure our clients the utmost security during treatment and pride ourselves on providing 5 Star accommodations, and relaxation while empowering each client to develop the skills necessary to live a healthy, happy and productive life.