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Stress and Addiction: How Are They Really Related?

Stress disrupts normal dopamine neuron function putting an individual at risk for addiction and relapseIt makes sense to us that stress and addiction go hand-in-hand, but how are they really related? There is more than a decade of research available that demonstrates that changes in the synapses of the brain’s reward center relate to addiction behavior. Certainly, most of us who have worked in the addiction field for any length of time have witnessed the strong correlation between stress and an individual’s risk for addiction and relapse. So what is really happening in the body that makes stress such a precursor for addiction and relapse? Read more

How Can Teen Addicts Improve Their Chances of a Successful Recovery?

Teen addicts can improve their chances of a successful recovery by reaching out to help others. This could include doing general good deeds for the community, applying for a formal service position, volunteering for public outreach or sharing their stories with fellow addicts.

A group of teen addicts help each other to help themselves through a successful recoveryTeen addicts who become active in this type of helping, known in AA as AAH, are less likely to relapse and show better psychosocial improvement (Health.AM). Altruistic behavior puts their recovery into an entirely different frame of mind. This is why at ExecuCare, we consider this model of helping others to be a strong tool to incorporate into a young addicts treatment program. We have seen the tremendous benefit it has had on helping these young people to heal. Read more

Recovery Saboteurs

It might be best to avoid social behavior such as a holiday party that could provoke triggers and cause relapse.When it comes to abstinence from drugs and alcohol, what are some recovery saboteurs and what should be done about them? Triggers are external clues that bring back thoughts, feelings or memories that have to do with drug or alcohol abuse. The reward center of your brain has created pathways that send an automatic reward response when coming in contact with a trigger or cue. It sends a spurt of dopamine in the brain and you feel rewarded. You might be tempted to seek more of this reward feeling that is associated with drug or alcohol use. Because of this, each person can have different triggers that tempt them out of recovery and into relapse. Read more

What Non-Genetic Factors Put a Person at Risk for Addiction?

We know that the risk for addiction is high among those who are born genetically predisposed. But reward deficiencies in the brain can also be caused by non-genetic factors. Certain environmental factors can alter or disrupt the normal process of neurotransmission in the reward center of the brain and lead to a higher risk for addiction.

An individual exposed to long periods of stress are at risk of addictionPrenatal. Trauma that occurs while in the womb can damage the reward center and leave the brain chemistry altered after birth. This trauma could be caused by a mother’s substance abuse problems, malnutrition or a physical injury. Read more

Talking to Teenagers About Drugs

When talking to teenagers about drugs, should parents share their own drug use stories? Parents might be tempted to offer up stories from their past in hopes of opening the lines of communication with a teenager. Some parents might believe that in discussing past drug use that they are creating an environment of non-secrecy and trust. But such honesty could have its downfall.

A teenager smokes pot because she thought it was not a big deal since her mother told her she smoked pot tooA recent study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that parents volunteering information about their own drug-related habits when talking to teenagers about drugs led to “unintended consequences.” But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t talk to them at all about drugs. Teenagers whose parents talk to them about drugs tend to have an anti-drug attitude. It’s just best for parents to not talk about their own drug use. When parents offered up this sort of information, their teenagers tended have a more relaxed attitude towards drugs, saying “using drugs wasn’t such a big deal.” This might be because teenagers see drug use as less risky if their parents’ lives are on track, or that they were less likely to get in trouble over drug use because their parents did it as well. Read more

What Do People Research More: New Car or Addiction Treatment?

People spend more time researching when shopping for a new car than when deciding on the best addiction treatment option, according to a recent article in The New York Times. There is an estimated 23.5 million Americans addicted to drugs and alcohol. Of this number about 1 out of every 10 seek treatment. And for that small percentage who get into treatment, the relapse rate is very high. So when it comes to addiction treatment, what should people be looking for?

A woman researches the car she's thinking of buying than the addiction treatment her husband needsOne of the biggest problems with addiction treatment options today is that many providers still use the outdated model that one size fits all. Another problem according to a study done last year by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, is that many providers are not medical professionals and they don’t offer “evidence-based care” or “treatment consistent with scientific knowledge about what works.” This means that thousands of treatment programs around the country still offer the same type of care that someone fifty years ago would have received. Hasn’t our understanding of the brain changed since then? Read more

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Addiction Recovery Center
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