When Alan was small, his alcoholic father verbally and physically abused him. He never knew when the belt would come down. He lived in fear of those nights when his dad would come home upset about work. That’s always when he got hurt the most.
An estimated 23 million Americans and nearly 30 million people worldwide are addicted to a substance—from alcohol to prescription medications to illicit drugs.
Addiction is the unintended outcome of misusing or overusing an addictive substance. While there is much debate over the role that free will or choice plays in addiction, it can certainly be argued that no one who takes a drink, drug or prescription medication sets out to become an addict. More likely, they take the substance to find a way to feel good (or at least better), relieve pain, forget their problems or numb difficult feelings. If that substance is highly addictive, the substance is more likely to be repeated.
When people leave a drug rehab center, they’re prepared to face dozens of well-known relapse triggers — old drug-abusing friends, stress, anger, boredom, and poor nutrition and sleep, to name a few. What they may not be on the lookout for is their relationship with their family. Yet many addiction specialists agree that family dynamics can reinforce substance abuse and increase the risk of drug relapse. Here are a few reasons why.
Many people addicted to heroin will die, and large numbers of addicted users will still consume the drug more than a decade after they first enter treatment, according to newly reported findings from a team of Australian and British researchers.
When a loved one has a problem with prescription drug abuse, it may be obvious or it may be difficult to recognize. You may have a feeling that something isn’t right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. All you know is that your loved one doesn’t appear to be himself or herself.
Some people see drug testing of high school students as an invasion of privacy, while others see it as a smart prevention technique. When considering the question of should high school athletes be drug tested, the law is on the side of proponents. For those who believe that any strategy that helps prevent the devastation or drug abuse and addiction in young people should be used, drug testing in schools is a no-brainer.
People affected by cocaine addiction may have an unusual inability to anticipate the personal and social costs of their addiction-related behavior, if recently reported findings from a group of American researchers are correct.
According to the CDC, between 22 percent and 40 percent of college students smoke a “hookah” each year. Along with persistent myths about the health consequences of hookah use in comparison to cigarettes, people who smoke water pipe tobacco are at an increased risk of taking up cigarettes within two years, a new study finds. Ultimately, this could lead to a lifetime of cigarette addiction, complete with the multitude of risks that the addiction carries with it.
People receiving medical treatment in U.S. emergency rooms often have an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of the dependence and addiction risks associated with the use of opioid painkillers, according to new findings from a group of American researchers.
Around one in five Americans experience extreme stress, and stress has been closely linked to addiction in a multitude of studies. Stress Awareness Month aims to shine the spotlight on stress, to help us all think about ways to reduce our stress and, in the process, to help us move away from poor coping mechanisms for stress like using alcohol or drugs. Stress is ultimately unavoidable, but if the statistics on stress and addiction teach us anything, it’s that how you cope with stress really does matter.
Addiction doesn’t have one single cause. If it did, treatment and prevention would be much simpler. Research has uncovered multiple “causes” for the disease of addiction, which are more like risk factors. Understanding what is behind addiction is important for anyone facing it. Whether it’s your own problematic drinking or drug use or you care about someone who is struggling with addiction, understanding why this disease manifests in some people and not others is crucial. It will help you be more compassionate and will guide you toward the treatment that will be most effective.
Mike Zhang’s aunt struggled with nicotine addiction, and he ultimately had to look on as she died from lung cancer as a result of heavy smoking. Many Americans have this experience every year, watching while family members continue to smoke and ultimately risk their lives to keep dosing themselves with nicotine. Zhang, a professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, has just received the go-ahead – and $2.4 million from the National Institutes of Health – to develop a vaccine for nicotine addiction and conduct testing on mice. If successful, he may produce a medicine with the power to save the lives of over 400,000 Americans per year by short-circuiting the addictive nature of smoking and helping people quit.
Cigarette smoke contains 250 toxic chemicals, and around 70 of those are known carcinogens. Smoking-related diseases cause an estimated 443,000 deaths in the U.S. per year, and around 8.6 million people suffer from at least one serious illness caused by smoking. Smoking is the most significant cause of preventable disease and premature death worldwide. Globally, it’s estimated that 1 billion smokers suffer from nicotine addiction, which is the core reason behind all smoking-related death and disease. Without the addictive effects of nicotine, there would be no reason to smoke.
There is no doubt that having a parent who has a problem with drug addiction or alcoholism has an impact on children. A parent who is severely addicted may expose his or her children to a wide range of negative experiences that can range from unpredictable mood swings to financial struggles to violence. Children may grow up feeling ashamed, afraid or insecure.
Does it necessarily follow that children of addicted parents eventually become addicts or alcoholics themselves? Although in some cases this is what happens, in other cases a child manages to avoid repeating the pattern of addiction. Children of addicts are at higher risk for becoming addicts, yet many of them manage to escape this fate.
Participation in a specific form of mindfulness training may help prevent the underlying pleasure imbalances that foster and support drug addiction, according to recent findings from a team of U.S. researchers.
Among other things, drug addiction is characterized by long-term changes in the brain’s ability to respond appropriately to pleasurable sensations. In a study published in late 2014 in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, researchers from three American universities assessed the impact of the practice of mindfulness on the odds of developing these damaging brain changes. Specifically, the researchers looked at the usefulness of a particular approach to mindfulness-based intervention called Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement or MORE.