Friday, December 28, 2007

Gene That Influences Alcohol Consumption Identified

ScienceDaily (Dec. 6, 2007) — A variant of a gene involved in communication among brain cells has a direct influence on alcohol consumption in mice, according to a new study. Scientists do not know yet whether a similar gene variant, with a similar effect on alcohol consumption, exists in humans.

Known as Grm7, the gene encodes a receptor subtype that inhibits the release of glutamate and other neurotransmitter molecules that brain cells use to communicate with one another. Researchers identified a gene variant, or polymorphism, that reduces the abundance of Grm7 messenger RNA (mRNA) in brain tissue. mRNA is the molecular intermediate between a gene and its protein product. Mice that possess this gene variant drink more alcohol than do mice with higher brain levels of Grm7 mRNA. A report of the study appears as an online Article in Press in Genomics.

"This is a noteworthy contribution, particularly since identifying genes that predispose to alcohol-related behaviors is such an arduous task," says NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li, M.D.

Scientists have long known that genes account for a significant proportion of the risk for alcoholism. However, the fact that there are multiple such genes that interact with each other and with multiple environmental factors to influence drinking behavior has hampered studies aimed at isolating individual genes.

"Controlling for this background noise -- the various gene-gene and gene-environment interactions -- presents considerable methodological challenges," notes first author Csaba Vadasz, Ph.D., professor of psychiatric research in the department of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, and Director of the NeuroBehavioral Genetic Research Program at the Nathan Kline Institute in Orangeburg, N.Y.

To overcome these difficulties, Dr. Vadasz and colleagues applied a variety of genetic and analytic techniques to animals having nearly identical genetic background, but differing in their preference for alcohol, to identify a chromosomal region, and ultimately the Grm7 gene, associated with alcohol preference.

"Our findings support emerging evidence of the critical role that the brain's glutamate pathways play in addiction," says Dr. Vadasz. "While dopamine has traditionally been cast as a central actor in the neurochemistry of substance use and abuse, recent studies indicate that glutamate systems play an important role in reinforcement and addiction."

If further studies show that a similar gene variant is relevant to alcohol problems in humans, the finding by Dr. Vadasz and colleagues may lead to new opportunities for developing drugs to treat alcohol dependence. Dr. Vadasz speculates that such drugs might be designed to control the level of the Grm7 gene product or modulate the activity of the gene product itself.

This study was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Army.

Adapted from materials provided by NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Help with Drinking?

This is a difficult time of year for many and for many with addiction issues it can be very stressful. If still using your fighting your own inner turmoil and feel no one understands if sober maybe you need a little extra support.

The Sober Sources Network invites all our readers to join us on the many forums if you need to talk, need a little support or simply could use a friend or someone who will listen. You don't have to be miserable and alone so join us and see recovery happens!

The Sober Village
Sober Musicians
Sober Teens

Happy holidays to you and yours and thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Toad Licking to Toad Smoking

Scattered reports of people licking an exotic Mexican toad to get high have circulated for years, but now police say that some are smoking the venom of the Sonoran Desert toad for its hallucinogenic effect.

The Associated Press reported Dec. 5 that Kansas City officials report that a local man was arrested for possession of the toad -- which secretes a toxin containing the hallucinogen bufotenine when angry or frightened -- with intent to dry and smoke the venom.

"It's sort of a New Age way to get high. You convince yourself it is OK because it is something you get naturally from our environment," said Clay County Prosecutor Daniel White. "There are a lot of things that are created naturally but they are still not legal."

White said instructions on how to extract and smoke the venom can be found online.

In an even more exotic caveat, Kansas City officials also cited reports of use of "jenkem" -- an inhalant made from fermented human feces and urine.*

* Clarification on "Jenkem" (Dec. 12, 2007). In its brevity, our summary may have inadvertently suggested that Kansas City officials are reporting use of so-called Jenken. In fact, the official quoted in the original AP story referred to unverified e-mail and Internet warnings about supposed "jenkem" use in U.S. schools. The official expressed concern that local youth might be tempted to try the drug after reading this unsubstantiated information on the Internet. More info: AP Story |

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mothers Drinking After Childbirth Dangerous

by Cara Harshman
Monday, October 22, 2007

The results of a new medical study may make Wisconsin mothers think twice before they pick up another drink.

The study “Correlates of Postpartum Alcohol Use,” reveals 12 percent of postpartum women reported “at risk” binge-drinking habits. According to the study, binge drinking is considered consuming an average of seven drinks per week or having four or more drinks at one time.

The study warns women against postpartum drinking as it could have detrimental effects on the life of a woman’s next child, if she chooses to have one. If a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy, her baby could be at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, FAS is characterized by abnormal facial features and growth in addition to problems with the central nervous system.

University of Wisconsin medical professors Michael Fleming and Tanya Jagodzinski conducted a survey involving about 8,700 recent mothers throughout Wisconsin, questioning their alcohol consumption, tobacco use and other habits before, during and after pregnancy.

Fleming and Jagodzinski’s study links postpartum alcohol use to a greater chance of a woman’s subsequent child having FAS, but the syndrome is still rare among children in Wisconsin.

“In Wisconsin, one in a thousand children has a problem with fetal alcohol syndrome,” Fleming said. “It can be manifested in learning disabilities and ADHD.”

The purpose of the study, Fleming added, was to experiment and raise awareness about an important public health issue.

“If a couple is trying to get pregnant, having sex without condoms, but the woman does not know if she is pregnant or not, she probably shouldn’t drink that much or not drink at all,” Fleming said.

While Fleming said, “Drinking is part of our culture,” he called for women to take greater responsibility for their actions if they decide to have children.

“Seventy percent of the population drinks, but the stuff on State Street, with the free drinks and two-for one-drink specials — they definitely promote alcohol,” Fleming said. “I think some of those things are inappropriate, especially for women of childbearing age.”

UW human development and family studies professor Lauren Papp, who teaches courses focusing on family stress and coping, said postpartum women might drink to cope with the stress of having a child.

“Among couples, having a child really changes the structure of the family,” Papp said. “There is a lot of stress and reorganization, especially for the first child.”

Constant attentiveness is necessary when caring for an infant, Papp said, and a mother’s drinking will compromise her ability to care for and raise the child.

“The child could feel not responded to, and over time this could lead to a bad mother-child relationship,” Papp said. “If she is using alcohol to cope regularly, she might not be as emotionally aware or sensitive to the needs of the child.”

Fleming said he hopes the study’s results will be publicized over the radio or public service campaigns so everyone is informed about the dangers of postpartum alcohol use.

“[If] you want to give your baby the best chance to be normal, don’t drink,” Fleming said.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Alcohol Withdrawal

What is alcohol withdrawal syndrome?
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a set of symptoms that people have when they suddenly stop drinking after using alcohol for a long period of time. Some people have mild shakiness and sweats. The worst form of withdrawal is called "DTs" (delirium tremens). People with DTs may experience confusion, anxiety and even hallucinations (seeing, hearing or feeling things that aren't really there). DTs can be very serious if not treated by a doctor.

Withdrawal symptoms rarely occur in people who only drink once in a while. Symptoms usually occur in people who have been drinking heavily for weeks or months and then suddenly stop drinking. People who have gone through withdrawal before are more likely to have withdrawal symptoms each time they quit drinking.

Do people going through withdrawal need to see a doctor?
Yes. Your doctor needs to know you're going through withdrawal so he or she can make sure it doesn't lead to more serious health problems. If you go through withdrawal a number of times without getting the right treatment, your symptoms may get worse each time. So even if your withdrawal symptoms don't seem that bad, it's important to see your doctor. This is especially true for people who have had a bad withdrawal before and people who have other health problems, such as infections, heart disease, lung disease or a history of seizures.

People who quit using other drugs (such as tobacco, injected drugs or cocaine) at the same time they stop drinking alcohol might have severe withdrawal problems. They should see a doctor before they quit.

What can a doctor do to help people in withdrawal?
A doctor can keep track of withdrawal symptoms so that more serious health problems don't develop. He or she can also give emotional support.

Medicines can control the shakiness, anxiety and confusion that come with alcohol withdrawal. Only a doctor can prescribe these medicines. If you take the medicines at an early stage of the withdrawal, they may keep your symptoms from getting worse.

What can family and friends do to help people going through withdrawal?
The urge to drink again during withdrawal can be very strong. Some people may put themselves into dangerous situations. After withdrawal symptoms go away, it's important for the person to join a treatment or sobriety program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (see contact information under "Other Organizations"). Support from family and friends can help a person find success in one of these programs.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Drunk Monkey's

An interesting video that shows the parallels between human drinking behavior and monkey drinking behavior.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Depression and Drinking

Depression and stopping drinking
There is evidence that, although many heavy drinkers feel depressed when they are drinking, most will feel better within a few weeks of stopping. So, it is usually best to tackle the alcohol first, and then consider dealing with the depression if it has not lifted after a few weeks.

After a few alcohol-free weeks, you will probably feel fitter and less depressed. Friends and family may find you easier to get on with. If your feelings of depression lift, this strongly suggests that they were caused by the drinking.

If the depression is still with you after four weeks of not drinking, talk to your GP or about further help. It may be useful to talk about your feelings, particularly if your depression seems linked to relationship problems, unemployment, divorce, bereavement or some other loss. Counselling may be helpful.

If the depression does not lift and is particularly severe, your general practitioner may recommend a talking treatment called 'cognitive psychotherapy' or suggest anti-depressant medication. In either case, you will need to stay away from alcohol and go on with the treatment for several months. There are some medications used to reduce the craving for alcohol, but these are usually only prescribed by a specialist.

Treatment for both alcohol problems and depression can be very successful. It helps to regularly see someone you can trust, either your own doctor, counsellor or a specialist psychiatrist. Changing our habits and style of life is always a challenge and takes time to achieve.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Substance Abuse and Women

Women Have Different Patterns Of Alcohol Abuse
Women drink less alcohol than men any way you look at. Women are more likely to be non-drinkers, start drinking at an older age, consume smaller quanties when they do drink, drink less frequently, and binge less than their male counterparts. But, she is more likely to drink alone. Nevertheless, many women have alcohol abuse or alcoholism problems. About 4% of women have a current problem and 8% ever have had a problem with alcohol. Women are at risk for alcoholism with 1 to 1 1/2 drinks per day vs 4 for men.

Women's alcoholism and their relationships with a husband or signficant other is complex. Most people know that alcoholic men keep their wives while alcoholic women are divorced by their husbands. But this may actually be a good thing. Many women alcoholics stop once divorced of separated. Women who live alone are more likely to develop alcoholism. But this is not because they are unhappy being alone (married women are much likely to be depressed). It is because because men and women alike feel more comfortable commenting on and re-directing a woman's behavior. They will intervene much sooner. There is greater social pressures on women to confrom, so their drinking either must be hidden from others. Since this is difficult to do with a housemate not doing it is often the result.

There does not seem to be any differences in the genetic tendency towards alochol abuse. A typical woman who comes for treatment is about the same age as a man. But while he has had years of gradual escalation, her problem evolved rather quickly. Her drinking was likely triggered by specific events and she came to treatment because of health or relationship (not job or legal problems like men) affects of the drinking. Women suffer more damage to the liver and other health problems with comparable amounts (standardized by weight) than similar men, so there are more health problems sooner.

Women and Other Substance Abuse
Women are more likely to be addicted to prescription drugs than illegal. They combine them with alcohol. Stimulants (cocaine, methaphetamine, even Phen-Fen) are used at about the same rate as men. But women's motivation is often weight loss or to temporarily counter depression that is more common in women.

Women are more likely to start and continue smoking for weight control.

Substance Abuse -- The Consequences For Women
Alcohol use is associated with higher rates of breast cancer and osteoporosis. They are more prone to liver disease. Menstrual disorders and impaired childbearing potential are associated with both alcohol and drugs. Specifically, heavy, irregular, paninful periods and PMS are implicated. Women smokers go through menopause earlier. While unplanned pregnancy is a consequence of addiction, it is also one of women's strongest motivators to quit.

Female drug users have a much higher rate sexually transmitted disease, including AIDS. This is due to having unprotected sex with high risk partners while stoned. Male to female transmission is always higher. Also, drug addicted women trade sex for drugs.

Substance Abuse Treatment For Women
While many women prefer all-female treatment groups, there is no clear cut evidence that they have better outcomes than their co-ed counterparts. The practice of "an intervention" or other confrontational initiation of therapy by others is one that often backfires when used on women. Many women are already overly concerned with what others think of them and how their behavior impacts their loved ones. They are not in denial, unaware, or unconcerned about the impact, as this practice is intended to correct. Rather they are hiding their behavior to avoid the social stigma and shame to which they are more sensitive. Women are more likely to perceive an Intervention as an attack and cut off contact the social support network that iniated it, because she feels like she has let them down and/or they don't care about her. This loss can prevent her from getting the treatment she needs rather than facilitate it.

Women are more likely to start treatment in a non-substance abuse setting, such as a therapist, and emergency room, or a primary care doctor. This may be linked to the fact that women have more low self-esteem and psychological problems that coincide with substance abuse. Women abusers have more anxiety and depression. Sometimes, these problems are addressed by their doctors, but the substance abuse is overlooked. Sexual abuse, violence or trauma, eating disorders, and dissociative disorders are also common in female substance abuse. Again, the substance abuse issue may be lost in these.

Women's treatment may include addressing some of her underlying coping skills and life situations that tend to lead women abuse substances. Assertiveness training, family or marital or parenting counseling, recovery for sexual or physical abuse, and practical help to achieve economic self-sufficiency can be included.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Road Is Long

"The road is long, with many a winding turn........."

Never have truer words been spoken - especially when it comes to substance addiction recovery.

When we first decide to crawl out of the darkness and take our tentative steps in the light of sobriety, it's an amazing experience. We begin to feel stronger and our reasoning abilities become a lot clearer.

......then the emotional crash, the "honeymoon" period is over.

Perhaps you have experienced this and know what I mean. The "high" of making the decision to clean up and detoxing has gone. You are now back in the community and facing it on it's terms, learning to cope.

You may be alone, isolated in your pain that "normal" people can never understand. You grieve for your lost "friend", even though that friend was actually your worst enemy. You become irritable, uninterested, depressed -perhaps even suicidal. This can lead to a "bust", a bust you may never recover from -remember, that if we are addicted we cannot control our substance intake. The "just one more time" may seal your fate. And as we all know, there are worse things in life than death -the insanity of addiction. You may not be lucky enough to die the next time.

Many of us have experienced this phase, the "emotional roller coaster". For me, it was as though all the colours of the world were washed away. There was no point to anything, my mind constantly went back to the dark days. I was guilt ridden, self-pitying and unmotivated. I was very hard to be around. While others who knew me congratulated me on my efforts, I saw only failure as I didn't feel "right". I felt the same way I did at the age of 13 when my hell really began.

There is a reason for this - in a lot of ways, I was still 13. When I began abusing substances, a great deal of my emotional growth stopped, the substance was my coping mechanism. At the age of 24, it began again. There was a steep learning curve ahead.

But don't worry, this phase does not last forever. For me it was one year. For you it may be a few weeks. It depends greatly on your network of support and more so, yourself.

-If you are experiencing this, it is imperative that you build a network of people around you that understand what you are feeling. These people are the recovered addicts. They will know when to hug you and tell you that everything will be OK, and they also know when to kick your butt and tell you to "get over it"....tough love, but necessary.

-If the environment you are in threatens your sobriety, leave it. I am serious...whatever it takes, get the hell out of there! You may be saying to yourself "I can't leave, I can't afford to" or "People are relying on me to be around". It doesn't matter - remember where you have just come from. If you finish up back there again, you may never re-emerge.

-You may have friends who are still practising addicts/alcoholics. Stay away from them if they do not respect what you are doing to improve yourself. It is in the nature of people who have the disease of addiction and are still practising to influence you in subtle ways. In a great deal of cases, it is not on purpose, but more a subconscious thing.

-Start putting routine into your day. I'm not suggesting too much, too soon but keeping busy is a great way of keeping your mind off things. As you become more productive, your self-esteem increases.

-Re-establish a sleeping pattern. Your body has been through hell and back. It needs rest, and your brain needs to sort things out on many levels. Be prepared for nightmares involving the past and use of the substance. Even though you may have no apparent cravings, your subconscious yearns for another hit and expresses this in your dreams. The nightmares are alarming at first. There were many times that I woke up in a pool of sweat. Even seven years down the track I still have them, but I accept them for what they are.

-Eat regular meals. I am a fine example of a toxic waste dump when it comes to things of a dietary nature, but I learnt early in my recovery that cravings could be lessened through eating something. The advice given to cigarette smokers about eating healthily when quitting is sound and good, but it is my experience that when withdrawing from other substances it is wiser to satisfy your food cravings with what it wants, including fatty and sugary foods. Alcoholics will probably find that they will develop a sweet tooth because their bodies are used to high amounts of sugar. So, if you wake up at 3 in the morning and eat a quart of double chocolate chip ice cream smothered in fudge, don't feel guilty! It's better that than what you were using before!

-If you find yourself feeling angry a great deal, this is also normal. It is important to examine the anger and not just lash out using whatever situation you are in as a scapegoat. Whatever is going on, it will pass. Breathe deeply and think.

Some of the points above may seem fairly drastic and harsh, but this is a life and death situation. And unlike some other terminal illnesses, addiction destroys everything in it's path as it destroys you - your family, your friends and anyone you come into prolonged contact with.

The advice above is not mine; it was given to me and I now pass it on to you. The easy way to remember the points is the HALT statement

The 4 Don'ts:


Good luck to you in your recovery, there are people out there who care about you, even if you don't know them....

"You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone"

Michael Bloch

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Grand Illusion

Each one of us lives an illusion of life. Deep inside us dwells a person that is real and alive, but far removed. We may sense that person, but few others truly see the person we are deep within.

After you peel away the layers of personality cover-ups; the layers of walls and shields we all project; you may find a quivering, frightened human being, desperately trying to feel needed, and seeking his or her place in the greater reality.

Who are we really? I mean, really? deep inside? Peel away the layers of religion and beliefs; peel away the delusions we operate under; peel away the face we show to the world, and for many--if not most--what we have left is the pain of who we really are; the pain of not knowing the true reality; the pain of dreams unfulfilled; a feeling, perhaps, of no belonging.

We try so desperately to fit in; so desperately to show a face of confidence in our surroundings and ourselves. But could it be that each one of us is really just a frightened child? What happened to our dreams? our hopes for the future? What happened to our innocence? to what we wanted to become? Somehow, when we were born as adults, we died as children. No longer do we fantasize about our hopes and dreams for the future; of what we were going to be and do. The concept of "what could be," passed away. Indeed, for some, perhaps there was no true childhood at all.

Somehow, we got sucked into this giant swirling vortex that robs us of our most precious possession--our humanity; our humanity--with all the wonderful plans; all the wonderful innocence; the pure and noble. Most of us live deep within a self-imposed illusion of life; growing up and adapting to what is socially and culturally acceptable in society. And in so doing, we quickly enmesh ourselves in the enslaving constraints of life, job/career, and financial obligations. Moreover, these are like a ball and chain that we drag around for decades (or life), never realizing all we could be.

All that we had once hoped and dreamed is now discounted as childhood fantasy. Instead, we live the life of illusion. Humanity has lost itself.

But why? Who decided that we should live lives of quiet desperation? We did. Society did. Humanity did.

But there is one hope; one glorious sparkle of redemption: As adults and human beings, we have the magnificent gift of Free Will; the choice to accept personal responsibility for where we are at right now and where we are going next…or not accept it; the choice to change and grow within, which in turn changes our life, which in turn, changes our world. (For more on personal responsibility, see the article, "Wisdom in the Mirror" at

If you are just beginning to make your way into the world as a young adult, then choose your future wisely—now, before you find yourself unwittingly encumbered by circumstances that you did not actively design and intend.

On the other hand, what if you find yourself in a life-situation or circumstance that is holding you back from realizing your dreams? First, answer the "Why?" question: What decisions, mindsets, or behaviors got you to this place in life? Educate yourself on these, and then correct them. Next, explore all possible solutions that will result in forward momentum.

Of course, you must act responsibly in your endeavors, not casting aside moral commitments, such as family obligations. To be certain, any noble work results in a win-win outcome, even if it is painful to accept. Apart from this, do what you must to realize your potential!

When we begin to make forward movement toward our dreams, our long-held and closely guarded Grand Illusion of Life then evaporates, revealing the Grand Reality of Life--our life! Then we find meaning, belonging, and fulfillment--not in an illusion--but in the limitless possibilities of "what could be."

So, how about it? What's your choice? Remember: It is never too late to find yourself and be all that you wanted!


Monday, December 3, 2007

Separating the Theraputic Benefits of Marijuana

ScienceDaily (Nov. 30, 2007) — Scientists from Queen Mary, University of London, have discovered a new way to separate the therapeutic benefits of cannabis from its mood-altering side-effects.

Cannabis contains a chemical called THC, which binds to, and activates, proteins in the brain known as ‘CB1 cannabinoid receptors’. Activating these receptors can relieve pain and prevent epileptic seizures; but it also causes the mood-altering effect experienced by people who use cannabis as a recreational drug.

Now, Professor Maurice Elphick and Dr Michaela Egertová from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences may have found a way of separating out the effects of cannabis – a discovery which could lead to the development of new medicines to treat conditions such as epilepsy, obesity and chronic pain. The research is described in the December issue of the journal Molecular Pharmacology.

Working in collaboration with scientists based in the USA*, they have identified a protein that binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain. But unlike THC, this ‘Cannabinoid Receptor Interacting Protein’ or CRIP1a, suppresses the activity of CB1 receptors.

Professor Elphick explains: “Because CRIP1a inhibits the activity of the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, it may be possible to develop drugs that block this interaction, and in turn enhance CB1 activity. This may give patients the pain relief associated with CB1 activity, without the ‘high’ that cannabis users experience.”

Leslie Iversen FRS, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Oxford and author of The Science of Marijuana, commented on the new findings: “This interesting discovery provides a completely new insight into the regulation of the cannabinoid system in the brain - and could offer a new approach to the discovery of cannabis-based medicines in the future.”

“CB1 Cannabinoid Receptor Activity Is Modulated by the Cannabinoid Receptor Interacting Protein CRIP1a” is published online in the December issue of Molecular Pharmacology.

The Elphick laboratory in the School of Biological & Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary is supported by grants from UK research councils (BBSRC, MRC) and the Wellcome Trust.

Adapted from materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London.
Queen Mary, University of London (2007, November 30). Separating The Therapeutic Benefits Of Cannabis From Its Mood-altering

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Heroin addiction

A man retrieved a package of white powder from his back pocket, removed a small quantity of it with the edge of his pocket knife, placed it on a pocket mirror, and began sniffing it. He had done this many times before in the restroom at his workplace, so he was focused calmly on the drug as it surged through him, bringing him instant relief from pain and anxiety. Moments later, however, he blacked out and tumbled to the bathroom floor.

The overdose didn’t kill him; in fact, it probably saved his life. It forced him to enter into a treatment program for drug addiction. He got clean, got addicted again, got clean, got addicted again, got clean. This man did not grow up in a poor neighborhood where junkies shoot up on the streets and drug dealers kill each other in turf wars. This man came from the suburbs. He went to several of the best colleges in the country, got a high paying job working with computers, got married, had kids. He also joined an ever-expanding list of people who get addicted to heroin.

The great jazz musician Charlie Parker was a heroin addict. So was the blues singer Billie Holiday. Rock stars Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain were both heroin junkies. Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Iggy Pop—all at one time were heroin addicts. In 1996, Jonathan Melvoin of the rock band Smashing Pumpkins died from an overdose of heroin. The list of famous junkies is not limited to rock stars; the actor Robert Downey Jr. is currently serving a prison sentence on heroin-related charges, and William Cope Moyers—the son of renowned journalist Bill Moyers—is a recovering heroin addict.

Statistics show that heroin use since 1992 is on the rise in the United States, and many new users between the ages of twelve and seventeen come from the suburbs. In the period between 1980 and 1995, first-time heroin use for this age group increased fourfold. According to Join Together— a drug education organization—the over-all estimated number of heroin users increased from 68,000 in 1993 to 325,000 in 1997. Heroin use by twelfth graders increased by more than 100 percent from 1990 to 1997. The number of heroin-related cases in hospital emergency rooms throughout the nation increased by 64 percent between 1988 and 1994.

There are many theories to explain the rise in heroin use. Some attribute the drastic rise to new forms of heroin consumption: Heroin now comes in forms that can be sniffed or smoked, alternatives to injection that appeal to young people who see them as healthier and safer than injection. However, users who frequently consume the drug using these methods eventually use injection because as they develop a tolerance for the drug, injection gives them a bigger “rush” for their money. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has another explanation for the increase in heroin use. The DEA claims that “international drug traffickers have made a strategic marketing decision to push heroin as an alternative to cocaine” once cocaine use went down as a result of public information campaigns about its dangers. Richard Lowry, a political reporter for National Review, argues that heroin’s rising popularity is due to the development of “grunge” culture. Since heroin is a drug of “isolation and oblivion,” it appeals to young people eager to rebel against the broken—and increasingly middleclass— families from which they come. Karen Schoemer, reporting for Newsweek, observes that heroin has become high fashion. From musicians to fashion models, the stars that many young people look up to are using the drug. Says model Zoe Fleischauer, “There are a lot of junkies in the [fashion] industry. It’s very hush-hush. . . . They wanted models that looked like junkies. The more skinny . . . you look, the more everybody thinks you’re fabulous.”

Even though current fashion may seem to raise the reputation and alter the method of consumption of heroin, the nature of the drug has not changed over time. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin is a highly addictive drug. It is both the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the opiates, a class of drugs that also includes morphine and codeine. Heroin is processed from morphine—the legal drug doctors prescribe to patients in extreme pain—which is derived from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is usually sold as a white or brownish powder or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar heroin.” (Other street names for heroin are “smack,” “horse,” and “junk.”) Heroin was originally developed in an effort to find drugs that could help people overcome addiction to opiates, but it was quickly discovered that heroin was more addictive than morphine, and the drug was made illegal.

Despite the fact that heroin use has been illegal for decades, the drug today is more fashionable, purer in form, easier to obtain and easier to use than the drug of earlier days. Heroin today still exacts the same high price on the user, however: addiction and its personal and social costs. Even though heroin sold on the streets today is purer than in the past, it can still be cut with poisons such as strychnine that can put users in extreme risk. Overdose presents a persistent danger, and many overdoses result in death. Other health risks associated with heroin use are the contraction of AIDS and Hepatitis B due to the use of unsterilized needles, malnutrition, collapsed veins, bacterial infections, abscesses, infection of the heart lining and valves, arthritis, and rheumatological problems.

Not all of the consequences of heroin abuse are physical in nature. Heroin addiction also exacts a high price on the addict’s family. Parents may feel shocked and betrayed when they discover that a child is addicted to heroin, and many blame themselves. Families can also feel the financial strain of addictive behavior as the addict spends an ever-increasing portion of household money on heroin. Individuals battling heroin addiction can lose their jobs as well, and some turn to crime in order to get money to buy the drug.

In spite of the many individual costs associated with its use, people continue to use heroin for the way it makes them feel. Heroin causes people to feel warm and content, and it relieves stress. The Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace reports that heroin gives the user a short-lived state of euphoria, followed by drowsiness. It slows the heart rate, breathing, and brain activity, and depresses appetite, thirst, reflexes, and sexual desire. It also increases tolerance for pain.

Users must use higher and higher doses of the drug, however, in order to attain the same effect. Eventually, addicts inject the drug not to obain pleasure but to relieve the pain that sets in as the drug wears off. These withdrawal symptoms usually occur four to eight hours after the last dose and include chills, sweating, runny nose, irritability, insomnia, tremors, and body pain.

Treatment for heroin addiction takes many forms, but always requires stopping the use of heroin entirely. Since withdrawal from heroin “cold turkey” entails extreme pain, other treatments have been developed. The latest treatment for heroin addiction—Rapid Opiate Detoxification—allows a physician to anesthetize the addict so that he or she is unconscious during the most painful period of withdrawal. A more traditional approach to the treatment of heroin addiction is to replace the use of heroin with the use of methadone, another opiate, but one which does not have the same dangerous side effects as heroin and allows the user to live a relatively normal life. Most heroin treatment programs treat addiction as a health problem, not a criminal or moral problem; some even call heroin addiction a disease, but that contention is contested by others who see such labels as relieving the addict of responsibility for his or her addiction. Heroin addiction also adds to the tremendous social burden imposed by illicit drug problems in general. Public Health Policy, a public health organization, estimates that in 1989, there were 10,710 deaths directly resulting from drug consumption in the United States. The total costs of illicit drug abuse were estimated to be $66.9 billion in 1991. Some of this cost is incurred due to medical treatment for addiction and physical illness as a result of drug abuse, and to drug education. A larger portion of the expense, however, is borne by law enforcement efforts which include interdiction, policing, judicial proceedings, and finally, incarceration. Public Health Policy claims that there are over 1.6 million people in prison on drug-related charges—many of those incarcerated are heroin addicts—and that the number keeps growing.

Anyone who snorts heroin at work knows firsthand the costs of drug addiction. He or she could face the possibility of prison, loss of family, job, and health; overdose followed by death is a constant threat. Maybe he or she could switch to methadone or get clean—in prison, in a treatment program imposed as an alternative to prison, or possibly without help—and begin living a productive, healthy life. The health and prosperity not just of rock musicians, models, and actors, but of ordinary people depends upon the quality of the discussion about heroin and the drug policies that arise from it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Healing Power of Music

'My music helps healing'

Dr Ian Gilchrist says music can be cathartic

GP Dr Ian Gilchrist is a firm believer in the power of music.
He plays the piano, flute, guitar, saxophone and Celtic whistles.

Once he dreamt of becoming a conductor or pianist.

But now he uses his music to help heal his patients, having long been interested in music as a healing tool.


He believes music can prove cathartic for some patients with emotional problems, stress and grief.

And if his patients prove responsive to the idea of music therapy, the Liverpool GP offers to give them a copy of his Celtic influenced CD "Journey from Slavery".

I am a very conventional doctor, but I do like to use other sources for emotional problems where conventional medicine has little to offer

Dr Ian Gilchrist

Sometimes, for patients he knows well and with whom he has built up a level of trust, he even plays live.

"I do give CDs away to patients if I feel it is appropriate, after I have done some probing to see if music is important to them."

But Dr Gilchrist said he did not use music therapy to replace medicine.

"I use it as an adjunct.

"I am a very conventional doctor, but I do like to use other sources for emotional problems where conventional medicine has little to offer.


"Music can unlock emotional problems. It is particularly helpful with grief where people can find music very cathartic.

"Generally the responses have been very positive, particularly where a person is sensitive to music.

"I think that these sort of people have responded very positively, some of them have found it very cathartic and it has released a lot of tears."

Dr Gilchrist's partners are also all musical and play clips from his CD on the practice's 'on-hold' system.

Dr Gilchrist said they had all been very supportive to him.

"They understand I am not using it exclusively or going off the rails and realise that I am not thinking that my music is all that is needed to sort people out."

Dr Gilchrist even composed a piece especially for the opening of their new surgery.


The CD has already produced some positive feedback, both from surgery patients and others.

Jason, an inner city teacher, said: "I'd used all the skills I could muster to engage a rebellious child who caused so much bedlam and heartache.

"I had your CD and threw it on......for the first time in months he worked independently with concentration, discipline, even a smile!

"Who says music is on its way out in the curriculum?"

Joe, who has cancer, said: "Thank you for the gift of your wonderful CD. I have played it through several times and been enthralled by it. I will treasure it for the rest of my time."

Anyone logging into Dr Gilchrist's website can hear segments from the CD.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cross Addiction

Cross addiction
Substance Addiction tends not to be confined to a particular mood altering drug.....when you have one addiction, you get the whole set thrown in for free - even before you have experienced the other drugs.

An addict I knew had a bad relapse. We couldn't figure out why. A reason may have been his use (not abuse) of an over the counter flu medication. It contained codeine, which is obtained from opium or prepared from morphine. He was a recovering heroin addict and the codeine sparked cravings. His flu nearly cost him his life.

The many pills and potions I was prescribed in hospital to treat my depression and anxiety, I became addicted to. To this day, I still crave Valium and Chloryl Hydrate on occasions - just out of the blue. But luckily those feelings are just flashes now, but they still serve as a warning.

Many alcoholics/addicts who go into recovery, never actually do. They simply swap one drug of dependence for another. An example would be someone who gives up alcohol and then is using valium long term for their "nerves". The "nerves" are actually protracted withdrawals, their bodies are never given a chance to actually start recovering. This is called cross-addiction. These drugs are usually prescribed to addicts in the first twelve months of recovery. Way too soon in most cases. The brain doesn't seem to differentiate between drugs.

I am a heavy tobacco smoker. I tried giving it up a couple of years ago by chewing nicorettes. Now I smoke and chew nicorettes. My caffeine consumption amazes people. There has been months where I consumed no other fluids apart from caffeinated drinks. So I guess if it really boils down to it, you could consider me not "recovered". But I am happy where I am at, and tobacco and caffeine does not seem to spark cravings for other drugs. It seems to be the exception to the rule. What are your views on this?... I'd be interested to know. Maybe I'll give up some day, maybe I won't, it's not an issue for me at the moment. Cigarettes and coffee have never caused me do the things I did whilst under the influence of other drugs and they definitely do not make my life unmanageable.

This may anger the non-smokers out there, but giving up tobacco and coffee early in recovery after giving up alcohol and/or other drugs can be quite dangerous. The body can go into overload, and you can end up right back where you started. And no, I'm not rationalizing, I'm serious.

I've got a feeling I may get a lot of email on this subject................

I take no other drugs. I am very careful not to. No liqueur chocolates, no medications containing codeine. I was very scared when I had to have a general anesthetic that I would wake up with withdrawals, or worse still, wake up during the operation because of my tolerance to that class of drugs. I discussed it with my doctor, who I was lucky to have - he understood addiction and he bumped up the levels of anesthetic. I regained consciousness fairly quickly, but at least not while I had the scalpel in me! And yes, I did suffer from mild withdrawals....

These are the things that an addict needs to keep in mind going through day to day life. A great many things that others take for granted, we can't have - or they have higher risks associated with them. It's as simple as that. Remember to carefully read the labels of any medication you are taking and find a doctor who understands your circumstances and the disease of addiction. At this point, I would like to state that I have no professional medical qualifications and I do not wish to turn anyone from their doctor prescribed treatments. I am only suggesting that you be aware of the dangers of cross-addiction by questioning any prescription or treatment you are given.

If you are not sure about the medication you are currently taking, a good source of information is . It has a huge listing of medications and associated issues. If your medications have a warning label on them that says "may cause drowsiness", you can bet that it contains some sort of MAS (Mood Altering Substance). Sometimes these medications will be necessary, but please, handle with care.

We are on the road to recovery and numerous emotions boil over in us. They can be quite overwhelming, we aren't used to dealing with them "straight". The most prevalent ones are depression and anxiety. Some doctors approach these conditions with the prescription of anti-depressants and tranquilizers. Does that seem right to you?

Doctors abide by what is known as the Hippocratic Oath. The oath had its origins from Hippocrates who is considered to be the Father of modern medicine. He also stated "It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has." This has special bearing in the case of anxiety and depression in the recovering addict. If your doctor is unaware that you have a substance abuse issue, he/she may prescribe totally unsuitable medications that could ultimately bring about your undoing. I came across a scenario like this only a few weeks ago. A close friend of mine who previously had cocaine problems was prescribed a tranquilizer - it had some undesirable effects.

Once again, these medications have their place, but not so much in recovery. The emotions you will experience are normal, they will pass. Anti-depressants and tranquilizers may act as a thin bandage over a gaping wound and may worsen the damage already done. Part of recovery is about dealing with emotions and problems without the use of drugs or "medicines". Medication does play an important part in the initial withdrawal stages, as detoxing can be potentially fatal. If you are currently taking anti-depressants and/or tranquilizers and decide you want to try to get along without them, ensure you discuss it with a qualified health professional first. Sudden cessation of the medication can be dangerous, and there are cases where they are necessary.

Well, my ash-tray is overflowing and my coffee cup is empty....I better go get another!

Michael Bloch

Copyright information.... This article is free for reproduction but must be reproduced in its entirety along with the authors' name and web site link. This copyright statement must be also be included. (c) 2001 - 2007 Michael Bloch, World Wide,. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Make a Happy Holiday

Making a happy holiday season...

The holidays can be a real challenge to our sobriety
--families and social gatherings are harder to avoid
--there are more opportunities for lapsing,
--and alcohol seems to be everywhere.

While sobriety often involves avoiding situations where alcohol is present, that may be much more difficult due to our jobs or family obligations.
But successful sobriety involves planning for urges, and much of the distress can be of our own making. Hence, we can make a happy holiday if we plan for urges and focus our thoughts.

Plan and prepare for urges.
--Having allies as you plan for the holiday parties can make it easier to develop exit strategies for parties.
--BYOB--bring your own special beverages.
--Do some role playing so you are prepared for the drink offers.

But remember that most people don't really care if you are drinking, so you're unlikely to have to defend yourself.
Anxiety about not drinking in public seems to be a common reason for lapses! "No, thanks" is really all the answer anyone needs--though dense folks may need to hear it a couple of times.

Our own families can seem to be an obstacle to sobriety, but 'seem' is the operative word and our own beliefs and expectations are the real problem.
--Avoid self-fulfilling prophecies: 'she always gets to me', 'he's going to drive me nuts'.
--Try to be aware of our own absolute and demanding thoughts. Then it's easier to see how we set ourselves up for distress.

The underlying belief in most cases is a demand we are making that everything be perfect, that there be no disharmony or conflict…in other words, that people not be human, and that they live up to an ideal we've constructed for how the holidays 'should' go!

Recognize happy moments when they are occurring.
Some people spend so much time planning for happy events that they forget to notice when the happiness is happening! It isn't that golden moment when you all sit down at the Norman Rockwell table and Grandpa carves the turkey--it's the laughter an hour before when the kids were 'helping' in the kitchen.

As we plan for an idealized holiday, we may be building unrealistic expectations, creating anxiety about imperfections, and magnifying flaws. If we are more rigid in our thinking, we may become more and more brittle as the time passes and all the flaws seem to mount….
Taking a step back and seeing when people are genuinely enjoying spontaneous moments can make those imperfections seem trivial.

Be realistic about the past.
We use our own subjective and highly imperfect memories of how it 'used to be'--implying, in this belief, that something has changed. Or the memories of 'bad' holidays past may be clouding the happiness of this one.
These anxieties and distresses can be real triggers. How realistic are those memories, good or bad, and why are we allowing them to impinge on this year?
If we spend our time planning for perfection and remembering perfection--is that the measure of happiness during the holiday?

Taking a step back to pick out the moments and images of beauty, with our newly sober and sharper minds, can give us a perspective that we missed when we were drinking.

Taking a moment to recognize the things we appreciate about this season--the beginnings of the longer days, the stark beauty of the winter, the colorful and joyous things that have been assembled by those who have come together--taking those moments can help provide a balance and serenity.

And seeing the humor in the madness and folly of seasonal travel and family gatherings can help us tolerate even the most ill-minded folks!

You can't change other people. But you can change how you react to them, and create reasonable expectations.

We can plan to avoid lapses. And we can keep to an unshakable belief that there is no aspect of this season that drinking would make better.

Make a happy holiday!

Copied with permission from Don S at

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Journey of Self-Discovery

The journey of self discovery begins with the immediacy of your freedom from what you are not and with the being of who you already are.

It does not begin from within the illusion of your imagination, from the place of you believing yourself to be who you think you are. It does not begin from the place of seeking or thinking, or what you customarily know as "spirituality." Your persistence in who you think you are has you not realising who you are.

This journey of self discovery begins with you consciously aligning your attention to that, to who you already are - essence - which is already flowing through your mindbody, flowing through your very eyes right now.

Self is not something that you can look at. You cannot perceive it like all other perceivables. You cannot look directly down its throat. This self is not something that stands apart from who you are. It is who you are.

You can only be the self that you are.

And when you do begin this journey of discovering your self, discovering just what your heart is, you begin acquiring the taste of - and for – home.

Self discovery is an "endless" journey of revelation of how rich the heart - who you are – is.

The alignment of your conscious attention to this "motion of seeing" that is flowing through your eyes right now and your coming to rest as this "aliveness" is your immediate freedom from what you are not and of your being this one that has always been true of you.

No amount of thinking, concepts, attempting to do it from the disposition of who you think you are, is going to be of any help to you. There is no getting around the fact that you have to surrender and let go of who you think you are.

The "central point" of self, as it is flowing through this mindbody that you drive around through, must be aligned to and come to rest as by you - and you can because it is who you are.

It is so damn simple that you "western male mind"ers will simply not grok this nor do it - even though it is not a "doing." You will not let go of who you think you are to be what has always been true of you. But even you will finally come home to the heart of your self, eventually. No one can not come home to who they already are - it is the destiny of all to be who you are. How long you may take is an entirely different story though.

Through being at rest as this one that is flowing through your very eyes right here right now, where you are immediately no longer entrapped and bound by who you think you are - this mindbody that you find yourself travelling around through, you find yourself with no where to go and no thing to do. Who you are is already here and all things are arising in this one that is who you are.

There is nothing that is not already who you are. Whatever you attempt to "go for" is already in who you are.

You become established as this one that is already who you are.

Through being at rest as this one - self, the heart - and "going" no where to gain what is already arising in who you are, you begin to realize the enormity of this one that is who you are, energetically, intrinsically.

Who you are already is.

You can be who you are because you already are who you are - however, it is not who you think you are and this must be surrendered for you to come to rest as the one that is already true of you.

The surrendering is in you focusing your attention to something other than your accustomed place of residence. Coming to rest as the very "thing" that is who you are.

Being at rest as this one that is who you are, not doing anything else, simply free as the heart. Through abiding here, the mindbody that you are travelling around through begins to unravel its "bondage" of you. You find more free attention and energy to simply be this one that is who you are. As this occurs - not through you trying to do anything or manipulate anything - you realize more of what it is that is who you are.

This journey of self discovery is the most wondrous of journeys.

Why? Because it is one in which you are being who you already are - at home in the heart - not you being who you think you are - lost in the illusion of who you are not.

Friday, November 23, 2007

When to seek medical care

When to Seek Medical Care

People who drink alcohol to the point that it interferes with their social life, professional life, or health should contact a doctor to discuss the problem. The great difficulty lies in the fact that denial plays a large part in alcoholism. Consequently, alcoholics rarely seek professional help voluntarily.

Often a family member or employer convinces or forces the alcoholic to seek medical treatment. Even if an alcoholic accepts treatment because of pressure from family, an employer, or a medical professional, he or she can benefit from it. Treatment may help this person develop motivation to change the alcohol problem.

Several alcohol-related conditions require immediate evaluation in a hospital's Emergency Department.

Alcohol is involved in greater than 50% of motor vehicle deaths, 67% of drownings, 70-80% of fire-related deaths, and 67% of murders. It is imperative that emergency care be sought immediately when alcohol has contributed to an injury. This is very important because someone who is intoxicated may not be able to reliably assess the severity of the injury they have sustained or inflicted. An intoxicated person may, for example, not notice that they have a fractured neck vertebra (broken neck) until it is too late (that is, paralysis has occurred).

* Alcohol withdrawal requires emergency treatment. When withdrawing from alcohol, a person classically goes through 4 phases: tremulousness (the shakes), seizures, hallucinations, and delirium tremens (DTs). These stages are described in further detail:

o During the tremulous stage, the person will exhibit a tremor of his or her hands and legs. This can be seen if the person extends his or her hand and tries to hold it still. This symptom is often accompanied by anxiety and restlessness.

o Seizures often follow the tremulous stage. They are commonly generalized seizures during which the entire body shakes uncontrollably and the person loses consciousness. Seizures occur in up to 25% of people withdrawing from alcohol. If you see someone having a seizure, attempt to lay the person on one side so they don't inhale any vomit or secretions into their lungs. If possible, protect the person's head or other body parts from knocking uncontrollably onto the floor or against other potentially harmful objects. Do not place anything inside the person's mouth while they are having a seizure.

o Hallucinations affect about 25% of people undergoing major alcohol withdrawal. Visual hallucinations are the most common type of hallucination experienced during alcohol withdrawal. People will classically "see" insects or worms crawling on walls or over their skin. Often this is associated with tactile (feeling) hallucinations in which alcoholics think they feel insects crawling on their skin. This phenomenon is called formication. Auditory (hearing) hallucinations can also occur during withdrawal, although less commonly than the other types of hallucinations.

o The most dangerous stage of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens (DTs). About 5% of people withdrawing from alcohol experience DTs. This condition occurs about 48-72 hours after drinking stops. The hallmark of this stage is profound delirium (confusion). People are awake, but thoroughly confused. This is accompanied by agitation, delusions, sweating, hallucinations, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure. This is a true emergency. Studies have shown that death will occur in about 35% of these people if they are not treated promptly. Even with appropriate medical treatment, this condition is associated with a high death rate.

* Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) is another condition for which emergency medical treatment should be sought. AKA often starts within 2-4 days after an alcoholic has stopped consuming alcohol, fluids, and food, often because of gastritis or pancreatitis. Not uncommonly, AKA and alcohol withdrawal syndromes are seen at the same time. AKA is characterized by nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dehydration, and an acetone-like odor on the person's breath. This occurs when the alcoholic has become depleted of carbohydrate fuel stores and water. Therefore, the body begins to metabolize fat and protein into ketone bodies for energy. Ketone bodies are acids that accumulate in the blood changing its acidity and causing the person to feel even sicker, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle.

* Alcoholism is often associated with other psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis. This psychiatric illness, often combined with a reduced level of sound judgment while intoxicated, leads to suicides, suicide attempts, and suicidal gestures by alcoholics. Obviously, a person who has attempted suicide, or is believed to be in serious or imminent danger of committing suicide, should be taken quickly to the Emergency Department.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Emotional Pain

We feel emotional pain when we do not get what we want, need, or expect. We might feel hurt, rejection, bitterness, abuse, injustice or simply emotional pain.

In such cases, we have not received the behavior or outcomes we expected or believed we deserved.

We feel this kind of feel pain in cases when * people * do not behave to us in the ways that we had expected as well as in situations where * life * does not give us what we feel we need or deserve.

We believe, "I cannot feel happy unless I get that which I believe I need."

We have associated our security, satisfaction, self-worth or freedom with something that we are not getting from persons, society, God, or life as a whole.

Some examples might be when:
1. Others lie to or deceive us.
2. They do not support us when we need them.
3. They reject or criticize us.
4. We fail at some task, which we feel that we should have succeeded at.
5. We loose a loved one.
6. Our loved one shows preference to another.
7. People important to us do not show us the respect we expect.
8. Others do harm to us or our loved ones.
9. We are accused of doing or saying something we did not do.
10. When are falsely suspected of having ulterior motives.
11. "Friends" gossip about us behind our backs.
12. We are not given the raise of promotion we believe we deserve at work.
13. Others do not keep their agreements with us.
14. We are robbed.
15. We lose our fortune in some way.

You can add many more situations in which we feel hurt because we have not received the respect, love, affection, loyalty, truth, kindness and justice that we were expecting.

*** Positive Alternatives to Feeling Hurt ***

Positive alternatives to feeling hurt, bitterness and injustice could be:

1. * We can have Faith * in divine wisdom and justice.

We are all in a process of evolution and nothing can happen to us, which is not exactly what we need in order to learn our next lesson. So rather than be overwhelmed by negative feelings, we can seek to discover what we can learn through this experience.

Our lessons usually have to do with discovering the strength, security and self-worth, which are within us. As souls in the process of evolution, we are constantly being directed to contact and bring to the surface our spiritual self.

This means realizing that we are whole within and can feel safe, worthy and fulfilled regardless of what is happening around us.

Thus, every event which might cause us to feel pain is also a great opportunity to contact our inner spiritual self and move on and beyond this pain.

2. We are the sole creators of our reality.

We as souls create our reality through:

a. Our past choices, thoughts, words and actions.
b. Our present conscious and subconscious beliefs, feelings and needs.
c. The lessons we have chosen to learn at this stage of our evolutionary process.
d. How we subjectively interpret what is happening.

Thus others are simply actors in the scenarios of our life the script of which we have written. We can create a happier reality by:

a. Transforming our conscious and subconscious beliefs.
b. Learning our life lessons.
c. Interpreting events in a different way – as opportunities for growth rather than as injustices.

2. Forgiving and forgetting the past.

In light of what we have said above, others are not responsible for our reality and thus can easily be forgive. Such forgiveness frees us from negative feelings and allows us to transcend pain.

Thus we can overcome emotional pain by:

1. Realizing that every event is exactly what we need for our evolutionary process.
2. Learn the lessons involved.
3. Forgive others and ourselves.

We feel emotional pain when we do not get what we want, need, or expect. We might feel hurt, rejection, bitterness, abuse, injustice or simply emotional pain.

In such cases, we have not received the behavior or outcomes we expected or believed we deserved.

We feel this kind of feel pain in cases when * people * do not behave to us in the ways that we had expected as well as in situations where * life * does not give us what we feel we need or deserve.

We believe, "I cannot feel happy unless I get that which I believe I need."

We have associated our security, satisfaction, self-worth or freedom with something that we are not getting from persons, society, God, or life as a whole.

Some examples might be when:
1. Others lie to or deceive us.
2. They do not support us when we need them.
3. They reject or criticize us.
4. We fail at some task, which we feel that we should have succeeded at.
5. We loose a loved one.
6. Our loved one shows preference to another.
7. People important to us do not show us the respect we expect.
8. Others do harm to us or our loved ones.
9. We are accused of doing or saying something we did not do.
10. When are falsely suspected of having ulterior motives.
11. "Friends" gossip about us behind our backs.
12. We are not given the raise of promotion we believe we deserve at work.

Author: Robert Elias Najemy

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What is Recovery?

ScienceDaily (Nov. 2, 2007) — Abstinence from alcohol and drugs is just the starting point in defining "recovery" for people with substance abuse disorders, according to a new article.

According to an initial definition developed by a panel of experts from the Betty Ford Institute, recovery is "a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship." The panel's report appears as part of a special section of JSAT devoted to Defining and Measuring Recovery.

Although "recovery" is widely recognized as the goal of treatment for substance abuse disorders, there has been no widely accepted definition of what the term actually means. "Recovery may be the best word to summarize all the positive benefits to physical, mental, and social health that can happen when alcohol- and other drug-dependent individuals get the help they need," the expert panel writes.

The panel's report outlines some of the thinking behind key components of the definition. Sobriety--meaning complete abstinence from alcohol and all other nonprescribed drugs--is regarded as necessary, but not in itself sufficient for recovery. The panel suggests a classification to define the duration of sobriety: "early" sobriety between one month and one year; "sustained" sobriety, between one and five years; and "stable" sobriety, five years or longer. People in "stable" recovery are thought to be at lower risk of relapse.

Personal health is included as a component of recovery that may be of special importance to substance abusers and their families, as well as to society. In this context, personal health refers not only to physical and mental health, but also to social health--ie, participation in social roles and supports. Citizenship refers to "giving back" to community and society. While acknowledging the need refine this part of the definition, the panel felt is was important to recognize the traditional place of citizenship as a key element of recovery.

The panel members hope their definition will help in overcoming some of the remaining obstacles to substance abuse treatment--including the stigma associated with being in recovery. They liken being "in recovery" to being a "cancer survivor"--a term reflecting research evidence that the risk of relapse is significantly reduced for patients who are cancer-free after five years.

"Public discussion of survival rates has increased the proportion of individuals willing to get early screening for [cancer] and to take preventive measures," the experts write. They hope that their new definition of recovery "might be the beginning of a similar course of events in the addiction field. If recovery can be effectively captured, distilled, and communicated, it can come to be expectable by those now suffering from addiction." This in turn could promote more realistic perceptions of recovery, and its true worth from social and economic standpoint.

The article appears in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, October 2007.

Adapted from materials provided by Elsevier.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Alcoholism Treatment Methods

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Alcohol abuse knows no age or economic barriers. People from all walks of life struggles with their addiction to alcohol that can ruin families and careers. Thanks to innovative new treatment options for alcoholism more and more people are finding the strength to put down the drink and regain control over their lives.

Most people take for granted that they know what alcoholism really is. They have an image in their back-head that almost automatically appears each time they hear this word. But can we really be sure that our perception is right? Before we elaborate any further about treatment methods, let's make sure that we are on the same page. To accomplish this, lets take a closer look at the definition of alcoholism:

"A disorder characterized by the excessive consumption of and dependence on alcoholic beverages, leading to physical and psychological harm and impaired social and vocational functioning. Also called alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence.
1. The compulsive consumption of and psychophysiological dependence on alcoholic beverages.
2. A chronic, progressive pathological condition, mainly affecting the nervous and digestive systems, caused by the excessive and habitual consumption of alcohol. Also called chronic alcoholism.
3. Temporary mental disturbance and muscular incoordination caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. Also called acute alcoholism. "

With this definition from The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary as a basis, we can know take a closer look at treatment methods.

Treatment for alcohol problems has been around almost as long as alcohol itself has been a part of our culture. Centuries ago treatment consisted of barbaric methods of imprisonment and starvation in attempts to help cure those who were in a constant state of drunkenness. Today, a variety of programs exists that help people understand why they are drinking and help them find ways to put down the bottle and enjoy their life naturally. Many programs operate with dedicated support groups that will stay the person seeking treatment for the rest of their lives. These support groups are there to help them overcome temptations and to find alternative ways of dealing with problems or stress other than using alcohol.

A vast majority of people who have a dependence on liquor don't realize they have it. Intervention is an important part of many alcohol abuse programs. The first step often isn't taken by the alcoholic but rather by friends, family or co-workers who are concerned for their health and well-being and seek out treatment options.

If you know anyone who has a problem with alcohol help them take the first step. Seek out treatment options and discuss them with the person. Most importantly, remember that they need your help now more than ever and your intervention no matter how hard they may resist it may be the single most important event that ever takes place in their lives.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quitting: What to Expect

When we finally make that decision to sober up and find a means of support we often feel just as lost at having made that decision. We fear sobriety, for afterall how the hell are we supposed to have a good time now? What becomes of those drinking buddies and what do I tell them? How am I going to feel if I just quit after all those years of drinking? Where will I find support? How long until I feel better? Does it get better? Is it really that hard? Can I do this deal? Who is going to listen and understand me now? Will my relationships be restored? How am I going to learn to have fun? What am I supposed to do with all that time on my hands now sober? Will my health get better? How come it takes so long? Why can't I sleep, eat, concentrate? Why are my emotions running rampant, I just want to cry and crawl in a hole and die, sobriety was supposed to be good?

We've all been there, we've all experienced the majority of those feelings and emotions, we want immediate gratification and immediate answers but it takes time, that vary's individually, all of the above vary's from person to person, but the cool thing is, you don't have to do it alone, and take comfort we know how your feeling.

Some ride high on that pink cloud for months on end, then bam, crash and burn it seems. The early days can be beautiful and peaceful or they can be horrendous, torture, tough, that's up to you how you want to approach it.

But never question that quitting is the right thing, it really does get better!
Copyright 2006, Quitting: What to Expect, CKing in progress.

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