Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Addiction: Amador County Seeing Through the Stigma

By Emma Greville

In recent years, according to the Californian Community Prevention Initiative, in 2010 36% of citizens 18 or over regularly participated in binge drinking, compared to just 30% of the rest of the population and the problem isn't going away. Addiction is often stigmatized and therefore, as HBO points out, the disease is often hidden, deterring the sufferer from seeking treatment. Addiction is an unpleasant mental health disorder, but it is not impossible to treat. There are various addiction centers throughout the United States that focus on helping individuals beat addiction. Popular addictions include smoking, alcohol, binge eating, prescription drugs, gambling, and sex.

The Causes of Addiction
Addiction results through a neurological dysfunction. “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry,” says The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Through this brain dysfunction, the individual is impacted on both a biological and psychological level too. The symptoms of addiction include impaired decision making, vague thoughts, and even a denial that there is a growing problem. The real issue becomes prevalent when the individual has no control over the method or substance. NAMI Amador offers a free peer-to-peer education program for people with serious mental illnesses and disorders, which include addiction. The program states: “The goal is to provide education about mental illness, emotional and practical support, independent problem solving and relapse prevention.”

The Types of Addiction
Psychological addiction: There are many useful drugs available in the market today that have no withdrawal effects, but they can create a different type of addiction—psychological. This occurs when the individual is unable to go through the day without using the drug. Without it, the individual can experience anxiety and distress.
Physical addition: Over time, the individual with the physical addiction can grow accustomed to the feelings of well-being that the product or drug delivers to the brain. In serious circumstances, this can result in overdose, as the individual requires more of the substance to get the high.

How to Treat Addiction
Every individual will experience different addictions symptom. The treatment must address the needs of the individual; therefore it may need to take into account any medical, social, psychological, and vocational problems. Some individuals may not cope well in a usual addiction-center setting, which is why a treatment must be customized. Some individuals will react well to drug treatment, while other individuals cope better with counseling or behavioral therapies. 
Drugs addicts are prone to relapse, due to the altered brain structure and its function. Any stressful experience can push the ex-addict into a state of anxiety, and recreate the desperate need to numb the pain with drugs. Treatment for addiction has determined addiction as: “The habitual compulsion to engage in a certain activity or utilize a substance, despite the potentially devastating consequences on the individual’s physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and financial well-being.”

Therapies to Treat Addiction
A popular drug-free treatment for individuals suffering with addiction is behavioral therapies. They can be accustomed for each individual, but the individual must be motivated to create that change. The popular methods include creating incentives for abstaining from the substance or behavior; generating a reward system for resisting the destructive behavior or substance, or even group therapy.

A Drug to Treat Addiction
There is a promising drug that can offer hope to millions of addicts throughout the world. New Science reported: “Mind-altering drug could offer life free of heroin”. Its name is Ibogaine and it is derived from the rainforest shrub Tabermanthe iboga. In clinical trials on Ibogaine, lower doses of this drug taken over a few weeks were shown to reduce the cravings for heroin and other substances. It's important to note, however, that Ibogaine is still illegal throughout the USA.

Addiction and Will Power
Some individuals are able to combat addiction through will power alone. However, this can leave the individual at a higher risk of relapse during a stressful episode in his or her life. Scientific American reported that star of sitcom series Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen freed himself of his cocaine habit by will power alone. He said: “I closed my eyes and made it so with the power of my mind”. However, experts in the field recommend abstinence from the substance or behavior through professional treatment. Research psychologist, Gene Heyman, found that some addicts recover successfully without professional help. Up to 80 percent of addicts who experienced this problem during their teenage years into their twenties, had fully eradicated the problem by their thirties.

Addiction can be a troubling time for the individuals who experience this mental disorder. However, there is help available through one of the many addiction treatment centers, plus researchers have found hope in the medicinal plant drug, Ibogaine for heroin addiction. 


Emma Greville is a contributing writer for Amador Community News,
If you would like to be a contributing writer, please email Carol Harper at:

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