Author: denim

Addiction; A Brain Disease

Addiction; A Brain Disease

Imagine telling a person that they have a relapsing brain disease because they are an alcoholic or a drug addict? In fact, how does one know that they have an addiction in the first place because there is really nothing wrong about having fun and feeling enjoyment anyway, right? Well, there are a series of conditions you can use to determine the severity of addictive behaviors that involve chemical dependency such as:

  • How much priority you give to either drugs or alcohol consumption
  • Does taking drugs make you feel better, more in control or does not taking them make you feel worse?
  • How often do you take drugs and how long can you stay without them?
  • What are your initial emotional and physical response, do you feel anxious or panicked without them?
  • Has doing drugs or consuming alcohol disrupted your life and your relationships and have you lost interest in things you once liked to do?

All of these signs point to a much bigger problem – addiction. It takes center stage over your better judgment and negatively impacts the quality and health of your life by controlling your impulses, pleasures, anxieties, fears, or your preferences.

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disorder characterized by taking a drug more often than the prescription calls for or an obsessive drug seeking and use. Scientific research shows that all drugs of abuse have some unique mechanisms of addiction that are tied to changes in brain structure and function. Drugs change the process of communication between nerve cells in the brain, ultimately altering a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

For instance, a drug like fentanyl is typically used to treat patients with chronic pain or to manage pain after a surgical procedure. However, people can now get street fentanyl, produced in surreptitious laboratories and are often mixed with heroin or cocaine, then sold in powder form or spiked on blotter paper to either be swallowed, snorted, or injected. High doses of potent opioids such as fentanyl can mimic the physical effects similar to those of heroin that may lead to respiratory arrest, unconsciousness, coma, or death.

Another extremely toxic and dreadful drug that produces an initial rush of euphoria and a massive boost of energy is methamphetamine. The long-term health effects of this drug are neither glamorous nor beneficial, because, in addition to the adverse damage to a user’s physical appearance, meth releases a flood of dopamine nearly four times more than cocaine that not only destroys the body’s dopamine receptors and the ability to experience pleasure, but it also impairs motor coordination similar to those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Heavy use of meth also leads to behavioral changes and psychotic propensities including paranoia, aggression, hallucinations, and delusion, while others become socially isolated as their addiction deteriorates. As meth use increases, an addict’s body becomes more susceptible to diseases that lead to death. Therefore, understanding addiction as a brain disease may help us all grasp the plight of those struggling with dependency.

The Opioid Epidemic and Its Effects on Americans Life Expectancy

The Opioid Epidemic and Its Effects on Americans Life Expectancy

Drug-related deaths caused by opioid overdose are rising faster than ever particularly for Americans under the age of 50. Suffice it to say that while any addiction lowers any life expectancy significantly, continued use and abuse of prescription medication that acts on the nervous system to relieve pain can lead to physical dependency and severe withdrawal symptoms.

OxyContin, Vicodin, Codeine, Methadone, Roxanol, Demarol, Percocet, Ritalin, you name them and probably someone you know has used and abused them knowingly or unknowingly. Opiate addiction is a fast-growing issue, and the addiction can develop in a matter of one to two weeks of regular use but this does not stop the over prescription of opioid painkillers being sold in pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices to unsuspecting Americans who as research would show, 91 people, die every day from prescription opioid and overdoses.

Prescription opioids are used to manage moderate to severe pain associated with surgery or injury such as back pain or osteoarthritis or health conditions such as cancer. Despite serious risks or evidence in their long-term effectiveness in alleviating pain, there has been an unrestrained increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids.

Drug-related overdoses have killed more American people than vehicular accidents or guns. This because the body becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped and to avoid feeling sick, people will either up the dosage and some reported cases, combining them with drugs such as heroin or even alcohol to get a quicker fix.

Because opioid receptors regulate pain, which makes them powerful painkillers, they are debilitatingly addictive, and in addition to the serious risks of addiction, abuse, and overdose, whether taken as prescribed, opioid dependency has a number of physical side effects and withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Increased sensitivity to pain tolerance
  • Symptoms of withdrawal when the medication is stopped
  • Dry mouth, severe nausea, and vomiting
  • Chills, shivers, itching and profuse sweating
  • Confusion and depression
  • Sleepiness and dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Lower sex drive, energy, and strength
  • Hallucinations
  • Dilated pupils
  • Body tremors
  • Feelings of hostility or paranoia
  • Dangerously high body temperatures and irregular heartbeat
  • Suicidal thoughts

Opioids are vital, and when used appropriately they can improve the quality of life, particularly for cancer patients and those with suffering from debilitating pain, but it is a losing battle when weighed against the risks of overdose and addiction. Even though withdrawals aren’t necessarily fatal, there are cases of deaths during the withdrawal phase that occurs either from severe dehydration that leads to electrolyte disturbance or when the throes of withdrawal destabilize the addict’s body, leaving it susceptible to various health complication.

There is a lot being done to raise awareness of the American opiate dilemma because not many know that it is an epidemic on the rise and those people in the bondage of opiate and drug addiction can also seek treatment, specifically detox as well as opiate replacement therapy.

Does Your Child Suffer From Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Does Your Child Suffer From Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) is a term used to describe a range of conditions that occur to a person whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy. People that suffer from this may have physical problems or suffer from impaired vision and hearing. Also, they tend to have difficulty in learning and communicating.

In a nutshell, the effects are usually physical and mental problems. There are various types of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorders, yet, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is considered the most severe.

Causes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

When a baby is a womb, it is still developing its organs, regardless of the trimester. That includes organs such as the brain and the liver. That said, when the mother consumes the alcohol, it passes through the placenta to the baby.

Due to the baby’s undeveloped liver, the alcohol is not well processed by the baby. Hence, the ability to cause physical damage to the baby’s organs. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is also known to cause miscarriage.

The alcohol inhibits the proper circulation of oxygen and nutrition that the baby requires.

Symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

As previously mentioned, the effects are usually physical and mental problems. However, they also include social and behavioral problems. That said, the severity of the symptom varies. Let us take a look at some of them.

Physical Symptoms

There a few distinctive features that tend to stand out, and one needs to look out for. They include:

  • Small eye openings
  • Thin upper lip
  • The head is smaller than usual head
  • They are shorter than normal in terms of height
  • The ridge between the nose and upper lip (The Philtrum) is smooth
  • Vision and hearing impairment
  • Heart defects and problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Slow physical growth
  • Abnormal bone growth

Social And Behavioral Problems

  • Poor time management
  • Problems making new friends or maintaining friendships
  • Poor task management
  • Difficulty setting goals and keeping them

Mental Problems

  • Brain size is smaller than usual
  • Growth of brain is slow
  • Very hyperactive
  • Problems maintaining attention
  • Difficulty in learning, especially with Math
  • Problems in speech, as well as learning any language
  • Problems with coordination
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble remembering anything (Memory problems)

Prevention of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

You should not drink at all when pregnant. It is advisable that you steer clear of any form of an alcoholic beverage if you are pregnant, or working towards pregnancy. Most women often realize that they are pregnant three months later.

Staying completely away from alcohol is the best prevention of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This includes all types of wines and other alcoholic beverages.

Why Prescription Drugs Are Addictive

Why Prescription Drugs Are Addictive

Prescription drug abuse and addiction is one of the most inadequately documented types of substance dependency. A prescription drug is any pill or a tablet regulated by law to require a doctor’s prescription before it can be accessed. Prescription drugs generally work by either suppressing or forcing chemical reactions in the head. People who abuse prescription drugs—that is, consuming them in a manner or a dose other than prescribed, or taking medications recommended for another person hazard addiction and other severe health cost. Prescription drugs are one of the most greatly abused categories of substances in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 16 million people in the US found using a prescription drug with no prescription or for a nonmedical intention in the precedent year; about seven million reported doing so in the past month. The condition is getting worse by each passing day.

NIDA states that some of the most frequently abused prescription drugs are:

Opiates

Opiate medications, or prescription pain relief pills, are very frequently abused in the United States. Some of the most accepted prescriptions include:

  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl

These can be consumed by swallowing, or by crushing them into powder form first then snorting the fine particles or mixing the powder in water and injecting it in veins. When under the control, users often feel euphoric and knocked out. They may also experience burning, nausea, constipation, sweating, and other serious side effects.

Depressants

Benzodiazepines ( for example Ativan, Valium and Xanax), barbiturates, and sleep medications (including Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta) are all inner nervous system depressants. These meds are abused by swallowing the pills, crushing the pills before snorting the resulting powder, or dissolving and injecting the drug. Use and exploitation of these medications cause major sleepiness, puzzlement, and impaired memory. Because they work by slowing the processes of the central nervous system, too much of these drugs can cause inhalation to discontinue. Furthermore, long-term use of the drugs can rapidly lead to addiction which can be a serious concern.

 

Stimulants

Stimulant drugs – amphetamine (which include Adderall and dexedrine) or methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta) – boosts the body procedures and create a high in the user. Like other prescription drugs, they are also abused by swallowing huge amounts of the pills, or crushing them before snorting or injecting. They serve to amplify focus and force levels. Unfortunately, taking too much can boost the heart rate and blood pressure too much, causing stroke, seizures, or heart attack. Furthermore, long-term and constant use of these drugs can result in addiction too.

Why they become addictive?

Prescription drugs are more restricted than over-the-counter medications, which can be obtained without a prescription. Generally, only a certified health doctor, dentist, optometrist may engrave the prescription. Registered nurses, medical assistants, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse midwives, emergency medical technicians, psychologists, and social workforce as examples, do not have the right to recommend drugs.

Majority people take medicines only in the method in which their doctors recommend them. However a large amount of people are predisposed to become addicted when they begin to abuse prescription drugs after a genuine recommendation was printed for them by their physician. The remedy may have been written due to constant pain, wound, surgical treatment or sadness.

Prescription drug abuse is mounting. The accessibility of drugs is probably one reason. Doctors are prescribing more drugs for more healthiness problems. The mounting numbers of web pharmacies can make it easier to get prescription drugs with no recommendation.

Most persons don’t start taking prescription drugs with the purpose of becoming an addict. They don’t have any intention of becoming a drug addict. Many individuals take the medication to get some break from their pain. For them it is just like a regular medicine to them to get rid of regular pain. Another effect of the prescription drug is that many provide an enjoyable feeling. In an effort to reduce the pain even further and improve the feeling of pleasure, individuals begin to take more prescription. An acceptance to the prescription drug is steadily developed, so now more and more is required to create the first effect. In this way, the simple pain killers’ pills or medicines become so addictive for them that they become a regular drug addict. The most unfortunate fact is that the story does not end here. After they have found pleasure in these pills or medicines they try to find other more powerful pills to have this kind of pleasure. In this way, their body and immune system gets addictive to more and more high potency tablets and they end up being a professional drug addict.

Numerous prescription drugs have the prospective to become bodily or psychologically addictive. To suddenly discontinue prescription medications could result in severe medical problems, like seizures or convulsions. Pulling out from prescription drugs should be carried only under medical regulation. Withdrawal from sedative medications, in particular, can be life-threatening without appropriate medical control.

LINKAGE BETWEEN GENETICS AND ADDICTION

LINKAGE BETWEEN GENETICS AND ADDICTION

There is a convinced link between a person’s DNA segment and addiction they form. Sometimes it comes from your societal surrounding, peers, poor mental state or stress but that is not always the situation actually. One can be trapped simply in drug addiction of any kind due to its genetics which comes from family straight away. Everyone has certain probability to form an addiction, as the bodily mechanism of dependence occurs in your brain irrespective of liquor or drug exposure. When your mind practices something pleasing, it forms nerve pathways that crave the pleasurable substance repetitively. The illness of addiction forms when those nerve pathways become more continuing and swerve.

However, as exposed in a study directed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, those with direct family who fight addiction have a 50 to 60 percent more possibilities of becoming an alcoholic or drug abuser at some point in their lifespan. This increases the question as to whether addiction is triggered by inheritances alone, or the atmosphere in which a child is raised up. Conferring to a study led by the Colorado Adoption Project, a genetic association does increase the probability of addiction, even when children are not raised in an atmosphere that encourages addiction. Their genetics play a vital factor in general hazard of addiction even when they are not frequently uncovered to drugs and alcohol. However, a parallel research displays that atmosphere plays an even greater part in addiction problems and stoppage.

At least semi of a person’s vulnerability to drug dependence can be associated to genetic aspects. Announcers at an April 8 congressional hearing sketched new investigation on the genetic origin for addiction and suggested ways to incorporate those findings into cure. The hearing was prearranged by APA’s Science Government Relations Office.

Investigators first need to handle and solve public misinterpretation and disbelief regarding genetic testing. That means doctors and the public need to better realize the connections between genetics and addiction, stated Alexandra Shields, director of the Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations and Health Disparities. Based on a state survey, lone 5 percent of primary-care physicians sense self-assured in their capability to understand genetic tests, and only 4 percent would feel self-confident telling treatment grounded on genetics.

There are very respectable explanations for physicians to pay consideration to the impact advances in genetic testing are expected to have on their capability to handle patients, said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Exploitation. “Understanding the multifaceted connections between the factors involved in drug abuse and habit is dangerous to their effective stoppage and treatment,” she said. With new statistics quickly piling up, doctors might soon be able to incorporate genetic tests in their training, permitting them to well match exact treatments to individuals.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

Opioid Addiction Treatment

Inmates Offered New Program For Opioid Addiction Treatment

In today’s jails, inmates are struggling with many different types of addiction. Some of these addictions are much easier to treat than others. Opioid addiction, however, is one that can take quite a bit of specialized treatment to break the cycle of using. Luckily, there is a new program that offers opioid addiction treatment to inmates. Read on to learn more about this option and how it can help those who reside in our jails.

Jails are places that are meant to be drug-free, however that is not always the reality of the institutions. Different types of drugs are smuggled in, one way or another, and those that are addicted to the substances continue to use. Not everyone entered jail as an addict, some addicts are created in the facility as they manage to find the opioid or other drugs from their fellow inmates. This can be quite trouble for many different reasons. As inmates become addicted, their body actually needs the drugs to function. Should the drug not be available, it can cause many adverse reactions, sometimes it even results in death.

Since being addicted to opioids is not good for the body, and also not having the drug when you are addicted can cause so many horrible side effects, addiction treatment is crucial. Proper treatment, like the new program that is now available to inmates, helps the addict get the drug out of their system in a safe manner. Going off of opioids cold turkey is not a good choice and with the treatment that is offered, the inmates will no longer have to do that. Plus, once the drug is out of their system, the addicted inmates will receive opioid addiction treatment until they feel comfortable with who they are when they do not use the drug.

The process of treating opioid addicts is not an easy or quick one, which means the jails have taken on quite a good thing as they do their part to help those addicted to the drug. Not only will it be helpful for inmates to learn how to handle their addiction while they are in jail, but hopefully once they have been released, they will no longer feel the need do the drug. But if they do, it is hoped that they will have the coping mechanisms in place to stay away and find other ways to spend their time.

Some of the inmates are resisting the treatment, as is the case outside of jail. However, the option is there for them to join the program once they are ready to admit they have a problem and choose to get better. Making that choice is crucial to breaking free from opioid addiction and going on to live a drug-free life where one is happier and healthier.

It hasn’t been easy to fund the new program, but there are some organizations that are stepping up to help. The jails and the addicts are thankful for the help that has been offered.

Married Couples Addicted To Heroin

Married Couples Addicted To Heroin

Treatment For Married Couples Addicted To Heroin

Heroin addiction can take a heavy toll on any relationship, but the effects can be even more damaging when both spouses share the addiction.

Studies show that marriages are 4 to 7 times more likely to end in divorce if one or both spouses has a substance abuse problem. For married couples addicted to heroin, getting help is crucial to a lasting relationship.

Addiction Can Spread

Much like a virus, addiction can spread“through friends, family, and even in a relationship. The people in our lives influence us in many ways, and too often substance abuse is no exception.

This also applies to relapsing. If one partner tries to get clean while the other is reluctant or ambivalent about quitting, then the partner who is still using is going to have an influence on the partner who is not. This may be through deliberate temptation or it may be a subconscious way of sabotaging the other person’s recovery.

How A Relationship Can Be Harmed For Married Couples Addicted To Heroin

Relationships in which both people abuse drugs are common. But a happy marriage is difficult enough to maintain, without adding in the additional stress of addiction. When your judgment is impaired by heroin, it becomes much harder not to say hurtful things, or do things you wouldn’t otherwise do.

Your marriage could be in trouble if using heroin is the only thing you enjoy doing together, or if you need it in order show each other affection or discuss your marriage. You may also be in trouble if using heroin leads to verbal or physical abuse by one or both of you, or if one or both of you neglect important responsibilities, like caring for the children or the house.

Seeking Treatment

It takes great courage to break the cycle and seek treatment. But no matter how difficult it may seem to get help, it’s essential if you want to prevent further destruction in your life. Continued drug use leads to relationship problems, the loss of family or friends, financial instability, and growing risk to your mental and physical health.

Seeking help alone is possible, but your chance at successful recovery is much higher if both spouses go into rehab at the same time. You’ll learn the tools to manage your own addiction, while also learning how to be supportive and communicate better, which will lead to a healthier marriage.

Treatment Options

There are a variety of options for receiving treatment, and it’s important to seek help from professionals and facilities who specialize in helping couples. You’ll need a plan that is tailored to each of you individually, as well as to both of you as a married couple. There are couples drug rehab facilities who will take and treat married couples.

If you have a strong relationship and are both equally committed to recovery, you could attend rehab together. You’ll reaffirm your commitment to your marriage and learn the tools and techniques to function better as a couple.

If your marriage has been badly damaged, or domestic violence or threats have occurred, or if one partner has more challenges to overcome, such as emotional or mental issues, then it may be better to work separately on your own recovery first, so that you can both stabilize and be healthier and stronger before you come back together and work on your marriage as a unit.

You could also participate in couples therapy. Studies have shown that couples therapy can provide many benefits and can reduce the risk of relapse.

The Future

After the completion of rehab, you and your spouse can continue with therapy together and offer each other support by helping each other avoid triggers, stay on track, and keep using the skills learned through rehab.

By taking the first step toward recovery, married couples addicted to heroine can break the chains of substance abuse and begin working toward a healthier, happier life.

Evolution of Heroin Addiction

Evolution of Heroin Addiction

Science and Addiction

Scientists began studying addictive behaviors in people in the 1930s. That was when people with addiction were either labeled as immoral or known to have weaker willpower. But as the world progressed, and more scientific studies were conducted, it was understood that drug addiction is anything but representative of an immoral character, rather it was proved that addiction is a disease of the brain and the patient should be taken to a drug addiction rehab at the earliest. Had it not been for scientific study, it would still be regarded as a punishable act rather than a health problem.

What Is Drug Addiction?

A drug creates an adrenaline rush in the brain which makes an individual happy but that feeling is short lived. However, the rush which it creates initially is the major contributing factor to addiction, later turning it into depression. An addict continues to take the drug for temporary relief, getting trapped in a vicious cycle. A drug such as nicotine, alcohol, cocaine and prescription drugs (PO) create the same effect of pleasure that you experience when you eat, fall in love or indulge in an activity that is pleasurable. It is a chronic disease of the brain which changes brain functionality, structure and adversely affects the productivity of an individual. It is an irresistible impulse which takes a lot more to quit than just strong willpower despite harmful consequences.

A review on the scientific evidence of drug addiction has proven that people who have had failing relationship at an early age and psychological/familial problems are more likely to develop an addictive behavior than the ones who haven’t faced these issues. Although, social behavior has also been characterized as a contributing factor but it is not fitting in most cases. Abuse and childhood trauma have also been listed down as key factors for developing drug addiction.

It has been further stated that just like obesity can cause cholesterol and heart diseases, trauma can significantly contribute to drug addiction. But as research has progressed, drug addiction rehab options have increased significantly, too.

Recent Scientific Studies About Drug Addiction

Drug addiction rehab centers have been better able to help patients by means of thorough research conducted on the disease, some of which are as follows:

  • Genes and its effects on addiction

A study indicates that just like many other diseases, addictive behavior tendencies can be ruled out in individuals by testing their genes. Researchers came across genes that can contribute in the development of addictive behavior. Although, it goes on to mention that genes cannot always be the determining factor, they can help in early detection.

  • Stress hormones and its positive effects on drug addiction

Research conducted in 2015 proved that stress hormones can significantly reduce heroin craving in low-dose addicts. An experiment conducted by the University of Basel, Switzerland showed that 29 addicts were given cortisol (the stress hormone) before they were given heroine and the results showed 25 percent decrease of interest in heroine consumption.

Drug addiction has been thoroughly researched and various drug addiction rehab faculties are available worldwide. Although, chances of relapse are always looming, but seeking help can have significant positive results.

 

My review of A Troublesome Inheritance for the Los Angeles Review of Books

My review of A Troublesome Inheritance for the Los Angeles Review of Books

World Map - Abstract Acrylic
Image by Lara Mukahirn.

I’ve written (another) review of Nicholas Wade’s “science of race” book A Troublesome Inheritance, this time for the Los Angeles Review of Books. If you’ve read the my previous review for The Molecular Ecologist, you won’t find much new here, but the LARB piece is pitched at a less technical audience, and takes a somewhat different point of entry:

CHARLES DARWIN is more usually cited for his scientific discoveries than his moral insights. In the closing pages of his travelogue The Voyage of the Beagle however, he condemns the practice of slavery — which he observed firsthand in the colonized New World — in blistering, heartfelt terms worthy of an Old Testament prophet

In this testimony against the great social sin of his age, Darwin makes an observation that should unsettle us even here and now: “if the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

I’m extremely pleased for the chance to contribute to a great literary magazine, and I’m also quite happy to see that LARB went with my suggested, punny headline: “Cluster-struck.”
Source: Wayback Feed

Science online, warped factors edition

Science online, warped factors edition

ixspreparation2

This is a spacecraft NASA wants to build. Photo by Mark Rademaker.


Source: Wayback Feed