Think addiction is NOT a Disease? Read This

Think addiction is NOT a Disease? Read This

In response to the article stating that addiction isn't a disease:
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“From the day I started using, I never stopped. Within one week I had gone from snorting heroin to shooting it. Within one month I was addicted and going through all my money. I sold everything of value that I owned and eventually everything that my mother owned. Within one year, I had lost everything.” -‘Jeremy’ (whose name has been changed)

I'm writing this to clear up the misconceptions that stem from this article. Heroin has become the biggest drug epidemic since cocaine/crack in the 70's on. I would wager that the person who wrote that article, and other who say that, “addiction is not a disease” do not understand the definition of the word disease. According to Webster’s, disease is defined by, “a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms: sickness, malady infectious diseases a rare genetic disease heart disease.” So when you said,

"Let me take you into a cancer ward, then try telling me you also have a disease,"

I can see you might know what the word disease means, but you don't understand it:

Heroine and addiction impair the normal functioning and typically manifests by distinguishing signs and symptoms. Are we clear now? No? Let’s say hypothetically you still disagree with me, well that’s fine. You can argue with the NIH, too. According to the National Institute of Health, “Combined biological, epidemiological, and social science discoveries of the last 3 decades have given us a detailed understanding of the risks, mechanisms, and consequences of drug abuse and addiction.”

Your lack of empathy does NOT change the science nor does it change the facts about addiction. You see, you if you do not see it this way, that’s OK, but just know you’re wrong. Formerly, addiction was considered a moral failing, a lack of will over one’s actions. The mid 70's were the “heyday” of many drugs of abuse, including nicotine, marijuana, and amphetamines. Had these trends continued rather than shift downward over the last decade, we would today see exponentially higher healthcare and education costs, unemployment, and crime. Recent scientific advances have revolutionized our understanding of addiction as a chronic, relapsing disease and not a moral failure. Now, if you can disprove this with your own studies, facts instead of strong feelings, than I am sure that the NIH would love to rescind their position and stances on the heroin epidemic.

(Image Courtsey by NIDA)

Above is a graphic that shows the brain scans of an addict and a control brain scan on the left. There is visual evidence.

Is addiction a disease? Some people may try to say otherwise, but addiction is in fact. Think about how addiction rewires your brain to prioritize drugs over everything else on Maslows hierarchy of needs. It isn't hard to understand how addiction fits the definition of disease, as ignoring these needs are a symptom of addiction. According to the NIH, Genes account for about 50 percent of a person’s risk of becoming addicted, and environmental factors influence the effect of these genes—an area of research called epigenetics. Progress in genetics/ epigenetics research will lead to more refined prevention and treatment interventions targeted to individual risk or to modifiable environmental influences.

When you say, addiction is a form of someone seeking pity, it really showcases your lack of empathy for other humans. The external signs of hard drug abuse stem from various medical conditions leading to drug abuse an addiction, more often than not we are treating the symptoms of drug abuse, instead of the actual problem. The underlying mental health issues are something we need to examine, and help people instead of casting judgement. So we should all work together to help fight against heroin and the adverse effects instead of trying to call out people on their “pity party.”

Beyond helping victims of addiction, we can also begin to hold pharmaceutical companies producing drugs that segue into drug abuse accountable. (and also the drug dealers selling the heroin). Which Prescription Drugs Are Commonly Abused? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the three classes of prescription drugs that are often abused include: Opioids used to treat pain Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, such as benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin), used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders stimulants, such as amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall) or methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Methylin, Ritalin) used to treat attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). Note that the trends in mental illness and addiction have a direct correlation and the drugs being prescribed for the mental illnesses that go along with addiction are the same drugs being abused and calling drug abuse in the first place. Once a person’s prescription for pain medication (which can take years) ends then they still have the addiction in place, it is logical to assume they’ll go looking for the next best thing. The progress is moving forward with Ohio suing big pharmaceutical companies for once and holding them accountable, "We believe the evidence will also show that these companies got thousands and thousands of Ohioans — our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our kids — addicted to opioid pain medications,” Attorney General Mike DeWine declared. “These drug manufacturers knew what they were doing was wrong, but they continued to do it anyway.”

How can we help these people? Try empathy. Try reaching out to your friends. Just be a good human. You won’t be able to save everyone, and the person/people you’re trying to help might not want it, and will reject your offers for help. You have to be a strong person to deal with that, and frankly, I’ve seen firsthand how addiction and hard drugs can tear a family apart.-it is not pretty. When you’re dealing with some who is struggling with addiction you must keep in mind that their brain is currently wired differently than yours. You must understand the underlying psychological issues that are behind the drug abuse too. It’s so much easier to say, “Stop trying to get me to pity you,” because that requires less work than actually taking the time to care. If you don’t believe that drug addiction is a disease, than that’s on you for not taking the time to research it. The sooner more people educate themselves on addiction and caring for those with the disease then we can really start helping people and saving lives, because this is people’s lives we are dealing with, not just news articles or stories. I challenge you to be open minded instead of buying into the counter culture- and get educated, be empathetic, and know the facts before you pass judgement on someone who you do not understand.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay free images

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Stop Demonizing CBD Just Because You Associate It With THC

CBD doesn't get you high, do your research.

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I'm sure you've heard about CBD already, but if not, then let me break it down for you. Cannabidiol, CBD, is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant, but unlike the THC in the marijuana plant, it doesn't have any psychoactive properties.

CBD doesn't get you high.

When extracted from the plant, CBD has proven to be effective in the medical field. It has shown to be effective in the treatment of epilepsy, in the management of pain, in reducing depression and anxiety, and relieving cancer symptoms, among a host of other uses. New research from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York has revealed that CBD may be beneficial for society as a whole, too.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital conducted the study to understand how we can fight the opioid epidemic through the discovery of alternative treatment options by assessing the potential effects of CBD on craving and anxiety in heroin users.

42 drug abstinent men and women between the ages of 21 and 65, who had recently stopped using heroin, were recruited for the study. Two groups were formed out of the participants: a control group that received a placebo and a test group that received CBD doses ranging from 400 mg to 800 mg per day. After administration, participants were exposed to neutral environmental cues and cues that would be considered drug-use inducing over three sessions. The cues in the environment were tested because an addict's environment and the cues it gives are the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use.

The results of the research hold great promise for the future of CBD.

Participants who were in the test group and given CBD had significantly reduced cravings for heroin, and noted feeling less anxiety when exposed to drug-use inducing cues. Moreover, the CBD had a lasting effect on this group as it continued to reduce cravings and relieve anxiety for seven days after the last dose was administered. In essence, this is the most important takeaway from the research: CBD had lasting effects well after it was present in the body. Numerous vital signs like heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation were taken to ensure only objective results were obtained since cravings and anxiety are subjective feelings. Another finding was a reduction in participants' heart rate and salivary cortisol levels, which would have both increased in the presence of anxiety-provoking images.

I think the evidence points to a logical conclusion: CBD is safe, it is effective in treating opioid addictions, and it is beneficial for those who experience a host of issues from pain, to anxiety, to epilepsy or to illnesses. Now is the time to keep pushing for legalization to continue larger scale studies and introduce CBD as a valid treatment option.

"A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll and enormous health care costs." - Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

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