Thinking about the triggers to abuse

Staying sober takes dedication and a constant vigilance to avoid the people and situations that trigger an urge to abuse. The triggers are not always obvious, and things like camping, watching football and making ribs are now off limits to me as I battle one day at a time to stay sober.

Only I can know when I feel the urge to drink, and therefore only I must be responsible for staying away from temptation. It’s not easy to change your life, but when you get sober, you relearn what’s really important, and avoiding the rest doesn’t seem so bad.

One of the best ways to ensure long term sobriety is simply to minimize the temptations, and make the daily battle as painless as possible. It sounds easy; I mean how tough is it to not walk into a bar right? But the reality is different, and the triggers to abuse can be very subtle and pervasive things.

Triggers

  • It sounds funny, but I can’t watch football anymore. I spent every Sunday for years at home with a case of cold beers, enjoying the games of the day. The memories of what I used to do, combined with more beer commercials than I can count, make a seemingly innocuous pastime a pretty dangerous thing for me. I can’t even read the box scores without thinking about a drink!
  • I also used to make some pretty mean BBQ, but although no one makes ribs like I do, I always drank while tending the cue, and even the smell of wood smoke gets me thinking about cracking open a cold one. Like everything else, these triggers to use are strong at first, and gradually fade in intensity, but I still pay heed to the teachings of my therapist, and I still avoid any situation or environment that has even the slightest possibility of temptation.

Rehab taught me to really examine my life, and to think about the situations that put me at risk to take that first drink. Not only the obvious triggers to abuse, like not hanging out with old drinking buddies and not visiting the places you used to abuse, but also the more subtle, and therefore more dangerous triggers. I know the responsibility to steer clear of temptation lies only with me, and only I can know when I start to feel that urge. No one would think less of me for wanting to go camping, but I know that in my mind, the great outdoors will be forever linked with Jack Daniels, and only I can know that camping is a very dangerous place for me.

To stay sober, you need to be vigilant and responsible for your own actions. Rehab taught me that I need to be accountable to myself and that only I could keep out of dangerous places. One of the best ways to stay sober is simply to avoid temptation, and for me that’s meant a lot of changes. I’d rather be at home watching the game, but on a Sunday afternoon, you’ll probably find me out with my wife, at an antique show, at the mall, or in the park…anywhere but home!

I may not love these pastimes, but I love my wife, and if I can make her happy while keeping myself free from temptation, it’s a pretty good thing. The sound of my kids laughing, and waking up clear headed to bagels, sunshine and a paper on a Saturday morning; for this…I’ll pay any price.

Staying sober takes dedication and a constant vigilance to avoid the people and situations that trigger an urge to abuse. The triggers are not always obvious, and things like camping, watching football and making ribs are now off limits to me as I battle one day at a time to stay sober.

Only I can know when I feel the urge to drink, and therefore only I must be responsible for staying away from temptation. It’s not easy to change your life, but when you get sober, you relearn what’s really important, and avoiding the rest doesn’t seem so bad.

One of the best ways to ensure long term sobriety is simply to minimize the temptations, and make the daily battle as painless as possible. It sounds easy; I mean how tough is it to not walk into a bar right? But the reality is different, and the triggers to abuse can be very subtle and pervasive things.

Triggers

  • It sounds funny, but I can’t watch football anymore. I spent every Sunday for years at home with a case of cold beers, enjoying the games of the day. The memories of what I used to do, combined with more beer commercials than I can count, make a seemingly innocuous pastime a pretty dangerous thing for me. I can’t even read the box scores without thinking about a drink!
  • I also used to make some pretty mean BBQ, but although no one makes ribs like I do, I always drank while tending the cue, and even the smell of wood smoke gets me thinking about cracking open a cold one. Like everything else, these triggers to use are strong at first, and gradually fade in intensity, but I still pay heed to the teachings of my therapist, and I still avoid any situation or environment that has even the slightest possibility of temptation.

Rehab taught me to really examine my life, and to think about the situations that put me at risk to take that first drink. Not only the obvious triggers to abuse, like not hanging out with old drinking buddies and not visiting the places you used to abuse, but also the more subtle, and therefore more dangerous triggers. I know the responsibility to steer clear of temptation lies only with me, and only I can know when I start to feel that urge. No one would think less of me for wanting to go camping, but I know that in my mind, the great outdoors will be forever linked with Jack Daniels, and only I can know that camping is a very dangerous place for me.

To stay sober, you need to be vigilant and responsible for your own actions. Rehab taught me that I need to be accountable to myself and that only I could keep out of dangerous places. One of the best ways to stay sober is simply to avoid temptation, and for me that’s meant a lot of changes. I’d rather be at home watching the game, but on a Sunday afternoon, you’ll probably find me out with my wife, at an antique show, at the mall, or in the park…anywhere but home!

I may not love these pastimes, but I love my wife, and if I can make her happy while keeping myself free from temptation, it’s a pretty good thing. The sound of my kids laughing, and waking up clear headed to bagels, sunshine and a paper on a Saturday morning; for this…I’ll pay any price.

Spend a Few Weeks Living Like a Meth Addict While Watching This Video – Sad but Human

Meth makes people disappear. Loved ones addicted to meth may live in the same town, yet for all the real contact we have with them, they may as well be on the moon. And this can be very tough for anyone who has never been sucked into that life to understand.

This documentary follows a few lives in a small community of meth addicts in Australia. It follows them during week long binges and crashes – in and out of jail, and hospital, and although it’s pretty disturbing at times, it’s not a movie that’s trying to "scare anyone straight". It’s not yet another "faces of meth" variation.

These Australian addicts look and act the same as binging meth addicts anywhere and yet through the erratic behavior and shocking health consequences, the people shine through as people, not just junkies. The film humanizes the people of meth addiction as it reveals a very different, and devastating, lifestyle.

Captivating and educating and sad – and very worth spending a few minutes to watch [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cY_vwZyye2U&hl=en%5DPart 2
Part 3 Part 4Part 5

Meth makes people disappear. Loved ones addicted to meth may live in the same town, yet for all the real contact we have with them, they may as well be on the moon. And this can be very tough for anyone who has never been sucked into that life to understand.

This documentary follows a few lives in a small community of meth addicts in Australia. It follows them during week long binges and crashes – in and out of jail, and hospital, and although it’s pretty disturbing at times, it’s not a movie that’s trying to “scare anyone straight”. It’s not yet another “faces of meth” variation.

These Australian addicts look and act the same as binging meth addicts anywhere and yet through the erratic behavior and shocking health consequences, the people shine through as people, not just junkies. The film humanizes the people of meth addiction as it reveals a very different, and devastating, lifestyle.

Captivating and educating and sad – and very worth spending a few minutes to watch:


Part 1

 


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Part 5

A Powerful Documentary About the Jouney from Heroin

Just finished watching Scottish filmaker David Scott’s gripping autobiographical documentary through years of heroin addiction, years of methadone misery, and after being unable to break free from methadone – a hallucinogenic journey on ibogain (a controversial drug that is said to end opiate addiction.)

It’s gripping stuff and it’s well worth watching.

Detox or Die

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clip 5

 

 

Just finished watching Scottish filmaker David Scott’s gripping autobiographical documentary through years of heroin addiction, years of methadone misery, and after being unable to break free from methadone – a hallucinogenic journey on ibogain (a controversial drug that is said to end opiate addiction.)

It’s gripping stuff and it’s well worth watching.

Detox or Die

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

Clip 4

clip 5

 

 

Lessons Learned From Calling Rehab Hotlines

I was on the phone yesterday, all day. I had been asked to help find someone a drug rehab that could offer him a private room within his pretty decent insurance constraints.

And I figured it would be a breeze, to find someone a private room for treatment on 20k a month – but as the afternoon crawled on, and I still searched, I eventually had to face the reality – that this wasn’t gonna happen!

I gave up while on the phone with one of the largest addiction treatment organizations in the world. They have 100’s of rehabs under their operational umbrella, and not a one was able to meet his needs. The intake coordinator I was speaking to described the situation to me like this.

One day, years ago, Elizabeth Taylor needed to check into the Betty Ford Center for treatment. She of course expected a private room, and when she was told she couldn’t have one – was furious.

She knew Betty Ford, and no intake woman was going to tell Elizabeth Taylor what she couldn’t have!

So she called Betty on the phone, and she asked what the H*** was going on that she couldn’t have a private room.

And Betty Ford just said no. Hung up the phone and didn’t take any more calls from Elizabeth Taylor until after she came out the other side of treatment.

Haha

Good little story, and the intake counselor told it a whole lot better than I wrote it. She got a laugh out of me, but she also got me thinking that she sounded very well rehearsed in telling that story.

She said that the real reason they very much prefer to have clients bunk up together is to keep people from "isolating". They want to encourage interaction and break people free from unhealthy habits.

They also probably very much like doubling their capacity and revenues – but the lady on the phone didn’t mention anything about that to me.

Man, finding treatment that fits your needs is tough – but the people they’ve got answering those phones sure know how to explain how your needs aren’t really what you need, and how what you really need is what they’ve got! They have an answer for everything, and at first, I think that feels very reassuring to a stressed out treatment seeker.

After too many hours on the phone though, it starts to feel icky. Should talking about a stay in a hospital give off a late-night infomercial vibe?

Man, I don’t know. Maybe it was just too many hours on the phone in a row. I mean the lady who told me the story couldn’t have been nicer, or more knowledgeable – should I complain about someone who has too many answers?

Am I too cynical? What’s your experience been? Tell me I’m wrong!

I was on the phone yesterday, all day. I had been asked to help find someone a drug rehab that could offer him a private room within his pretty decent insurance constraints.

And I figured it would be a breeze, to find someone a private room for treatment on 20k a month – but as the afternoon crawled on, and I still searched, I eventually had to face the reality – that this wasn’t gonna happen!

I gave up while on the phone with one of the largest addiction treatment organizations in the world. They have 100’s of rehabs under their operational umbrella, and not a one was able to meet his needs. The intake coordinator I was speaking to described the situation to me like this.

One day, years ago, Elizabeth Taylor needed to check into the Betty Ford Center for treatment. She of course expected a private room, and when she was told she couldn’t have one – was furious.

She knew Betty Ford, and no intake woman was going to tell Elizabeth Taylor what she couldn’t have!

So she called Betty on the phone, and she asked what the H*** was going on that she couldn’t have a private room.

And Betty Ford just said no. Hung up the phone and didn’t take any more calls from Elizabeth Taylor until after she came out the other side of treatment.

Haha

Good little story, and the intake counselor told it a whole lot better than I wrote it. She got a laugh out of me, but she also got me thinking that she sounded very well rehearsed in telling that story.

She said that the real reason they very much prefer to have clients bunk up together is to keep people from "isolating". They want to encourage interaction and break people free from unhealthy habits.

They also probably very much like doubling their capacity and revenues – but the lady on the phone didn’t mention anything about that to me.

Man, finding treatment that fits your needs is tough – but the people they’ve got answering those phones sure know how to explain how your needs aren’t really what you need, and how what you really need is what they’ve got! They have an answer for everything, and at first, I think that feels very reassuring to a stressed out treatment seeker.

After too many hours on the phone though, it starts to feel icky. Should talking about a stay in a hospital give off a late-night infomercial vibe?

Man, I don’t know. Maybe it was just too many hours on the phone in a row. I mean the lady who told me the story couldn’t have been nicer, or more knowledgeable – should I complain about someone who has too many answers?

Am I too cynical? What’s your experience been? Tell me I’m wrong!

Impulsive? Stay Away from Cocaine – Impulsive Rats Show That You’re at High Risk for Addiction!

Thrill Seeking RatResearchers have long known of a relationship between people with impulsivity and/or thrill seeking traits, and addiction. But what’s causing what? The problem has been that since researchers tend to deal with addicts only after they become addicts – they haven’t been able to say whether getting addicted to drugs like cocaine causes people to act in impulsive ways, or whether impulsive people tend to become addicted to cocaine!
 
But!
 
Scientists are now able to measure the character traits of impulsivity and thrill seeking in rats (Which is kind of neat in itself). Here’s how they can differentiate:
 
  •  Rats with impulsive character traits are those that are unable to follow tasks that involve waiting, like waiting to push a button until signaled – even when they would be rewarded if they did wait.
  •  Thrill seeking rats are those that will enter into a new environment and immediately investigate unfamiliar smells and stimuli. Normal rats will wait until they are comfortable and feel safe before risking such exploration.
 
So, now that researchers can segregate these behavior types in rats, they can now investigate what effect these character traits exert over things like cocaine usage patterns.
 
So…
 
Psychologists David Belin and Barry Everitt, of Cambridge University, decided to take a look. They constructed a study whereby rats with either the impulsive character trait or the thrill seeking character trait were able to inject cocaine directly into the brain as often as they wanted to. They had complete control over this self administration.
 
In the beginning, the thrill seeking rats injected huge quantities, and injected it often; while the impulsive rats were much more reserved – seeking cocaine only sporadically and in small quantities.
 
After 40 days of free access though, the tables had turned drastically. The thrill seeking rats no longer had much interest in cocaine – the thrill and novelty was gone, and they rarely self administered. The impulsive rats though were incredibly addicted, and administered the drug in large quantities and with great frequency.
 
Which tells us…
 
These character trait effects are likely the same in humans – meaning impulsive people are probably at a greater risk to develop addictions. And since certain anti-depressant medications can reduce impulsivity, the researchers are excited that their research findings may lead to a new methodology in the treatment of addiction.
 
People with diagnosed impulsivity traits could potentially receive targeted drug prevention programming, and addicts in treatment could also get tested for impulsivity, and perhaps benefit from existing medications that would help to minimize the influence of impulsivity on their addiction.
 
Rats with impulsivity issues could also be cautioned against experimenting with cocaine.
 
You can read the full study in the June 06/2008 edition of "Science"
 

 

Thrill Seeking RatResearchers have long known of a relationship between people with impulsivity and/or thrill seeking traits, and addiction. But what’s causing what? The problem has been that since researchers tend to deal with addicts only after they become addicts – they haven’t been able to say whether getting addicted to drugs like cocaine causes people to act in impulsive ways, or whether impulsive people tend to become addicted to cocaine!
 
But!
 
Scientists are now able to measure the character traits of impulsivity and thrill seeking in rats (Which is kind of neat in itself). Here’s how they can differentiate:
 
  •  Rats with impulsive character traits are those that are unable to follow tasks that involve waiting, like waiting to push a button until signaled – even when they would be rewarded if they did wait.
  •  Thrill seeking rats are those that will enter into a new environment and immediately investigate unfamiliar smells and stimuli. Normal rats will wait until they are comfortable and feel safe before risking such exploration.
 
So, now that researchers can segregate these behavior types in rats, they can now investigate what effect these character traits exert over things like cocaine usage patterns.
 
So…
 
Psychologists David Belin and Barry Everitt, of Cambridge University, decided to take a look. They constructed a study whereby rats with either the impulsive character trait or the thrill seeking character trait were able to inject cocaine directly into the brain as often as they wanted to. They had complete control over this self administration.
 
In the beginning, the thrill seeking rats injected huge quantities, and injected it often; while the impulsive rats were much more reserved – seeking cocaine only sporadically and in small quantities.
 
After 40 days of free access though, the tables had turned drastically. The thrill seeking rats no longer had much interest in cocaine – the thrill and novelty was gone, and they rarely self administered. The impulsive rats though were incredibly addicted, and administered the drug in large quantities and with great frequency.
 
Which tells us…
 
These character trait effects are likely the same in humans – meaning impulsive people are probably at a greater risk to develop addictions. And since certain anti-depressant medications can reduce impulsivity, the researchers are excited that their research findings may lead to a new methodology in the treatment of addiction.
 
People with diagnosed impulsivity traits could potentially receive targeted drug prevention programming, and addicts in treatment could also get tested for impulsivity, and perhaps benefit from existing medications that would help to minimize the influence of impulsivity on their addiction.
 
Rats with impulsivity issues could also be cautioned against experimenting with cocaine.
 
You can read the full study in the June 06/2008 edition of "Science"
 

 

Commit a Crime – Win Free Drug Treatment!

Yay Drug Courts! It’s hard to find anyone these days with much of anything bad to say about drug courts. These alternative sentencing vehicles are saving tax payers a huge amount of money, they are freeing up space in overcrowded jails, they are helping people in need beat terrible addictions, reuniting families and the recidivism rates for drug court graduates are far lower than for offenders processed through the traditional court system. Yay! Seriously, they work, and they save everyone money, and it’s great news that drug courts are now in operation in all 50 states, with a total of 2000 in operation or in the works. But They have created a rather strange set of circumstances.

  • If you are poor, addicted to drugs and alcohol and really want some help to get better – but are not a criminal – you are out of luck.
  • If you are poor, addicted to drugs or alcohol, don’t care if you get help or not, and commit crimes – then you get free drug treatment.

It’s an absurdity, and I have spoken with a few people over the last months who find themselves in this frustrating predicament. It seems to them, that the only way they are going to be able to get drug treatment, is by being arrested for a crime. Not ideal Drug courts aren’t going away, nor should they. They work better than the traditional court system, they are more humane and they treat the root cause of such a lot of the criminal behavior in this country today. But why should we wait to provide funding for people only after they commit crimes? Why not give them a leg up before it gets to that stage? Let’s keep the drug courts, but expand the programming so that anyone in need can have access to the same sorts of treatment programs. Maybe that will cut down on the eventual need for courts and drug courts alike, while saving a great deal of tax-payer money on everything from law-enforcement to welfare to health care. Besides, it’s the right thing to do – and it’s only fair.

Yay Drug Courts! It’s hard to find anyone these days with much of anything bad to say about drug courts. These alternative sentencing vehicles are saving tax payers a huge amount of money, they are freeing up space in overcrowded jails, they are helping people in need beat terrible addictions, reuniting families and the recidivism rates for drug court graduates are far lower than for offenders processed through the traditional court system. Yay! Seriously, they work, and they save everyone money, and it’s great news that drug courts are now in operation in all 50 states, with a total of 2000 in operation or in the works. But They have created a rather strange set of circumstances.

  • If you are poor, addicted to drugs and alcohol and really want some help to get better – but are not a criminal – you are out of luck.
  • If you are poor, addicted to drugs or alcohol, don’t care if you get help or not, and commit crimes – then you get free drug treatment.

It’s an absurdity, and I have spoken with a few people over the last months who find themselves in this frustrating predicament. It seems to them, that the only way they are going to be able to get drug treatment, is by being arrested for a crime. Not ideal Drug courts aren’t going away, nor should they. They work better than the traditional court system, they are more humane and they treat the root cause of such a lot of the criminal behavior in this country today. But why should we wait to provide funding for people only after they commit crimes? Why not give them a leg up before it gets to that stage? Let’s keep the drug courts, but expand the programming so that anyone in need can have access to the same sorts of treatment programs. Maybe that will cut down on the eventual need for courts and drug courts alike, while saving a great deal of tax-payer money on everything from law-enforcement to welfare to health care. Besides, it’s the right thing to do – and it’s only fair.

Jailed Monkeys Use More Cocaine

Monkeys in nicer cages use less cocaine than monkeys in standard cages. That’s one of the more interesting research findings coming out of Wake Forest University Medical School this month. 

Monkeys are used as a good predicative animal model for the administration of drugs in humans. Essentially, if monkeys like something, then we probably will too.

Researchers wondered what effect the monkey’s environment would have on their desire to self administer cocaine. They put some cocaine using monkeys in larger cages for three days and then gave them access to cocaine and food self administration – and the monkeys that were given access to larger (nicer) cages, administered less cocaine than the monkeys that didn’t get the upgrade.

The researchers stress that the environmental improvement was relatively minimal, and suspect that if the monkeys were given access to a larger cage, and also given interesting activities to do while in the cage, the decrease in cocaine self administration would be larger.

The human extrapolation suggests that environment plays a greater than previously thought of influence over drug use, and that people in more pleasant environments are likely better able to reduce their cocaine usage.

On the flip side, and not entirely surprisingly – monkeys that were subjected to three days of more stressful living, instead of more spacious accommodations, used more cocaine than before.

Hmm…

I wonder why putting people in small jail cells doesn’t seem to help them quit drugs very well?

Monkeys in nicer cages use less cocaine than monkeys in standard cages. That’s one of the more interesting research findings coming out of Wake Forest University Medical School this month. 

Monkeys are used as a good predicative animal model for the administration of drugs in humans. Essentially, if monkeys like something, then we probably will too.

Researchers wondered what effect the monkey’s environment would have on their desire to self administer cocaine. They put some cocaine using monkeys in larger cages for three days and then gave them access to cocaine and food self administration – and the monkeys that were given access to larger (nicer) cages, administered less cocaine than the monkeys that didn’t get the upgrade.

The researchers stress that the environmental improvement was relatively minimal, and suspect that if the monkeys were given access to a larger cage, and also given interesting activities to do while in the cage, the decrease in cocaine self administration would be larger.

The human extrapolation suggests that environment plays a greater than previously thought of influence over drug use, and that people in more pleasant environments are likely better able to reduce their cocaine usage.

On the flip side, and not entirely surprisingly – monkeys that were subjected to three days of more stressful living, instead of more spacious accommodations, used more cocaine than before.

Hmm…

I wonder why putting people in small jail cells doesn’t seem to help them quit drugs very well?