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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

Is Dating a Recovering Addict a Deal Breaker?

Dating a recovering addict doesn't need to be a concern for the couple walking in the park when the person is actively working on his or her sobrietyIs dating a recovering addict a deal breaker? Let’s say you’re on the fourth or fifth date, and over dinner your date reveals that he or she is a recovering addict. Do you continue dating them or is it a warning sign for danger ahead?

According to Psychology Today, a recovering addict could be an ideal partner. They have typically spent time with a therapist working on themselves and their relationships. Meaning, they have spent time learning critical relationship skills. Dr. David Sack says, they have learned “how to identify, process and communicate their emotions and to set personal boundaries while respecting the lines drawn by others” (Psychology Today).

There can also be some other advantages to dating a recovering addict. First of all, they have come to accept that no one is perfect. The also understand the importance of self-improvement. And while in a successful recovery, they are most often committed to living life with a renewed since of purpose. These qualities could make for a great partner. Read more

How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day while in Recovery

A heart-shaped box filled with heart-shaped candy is not necessarily the way to celebrate Valentine's day while in recoverySubstance abuse can strain even the strongest of relationships, so how do you celebrate Valentine’s Day while in recovery? Substance abuse effects all those involved: the addict, their family and their friends. Which is why Valentine’s Day can be a difficult holiday. Not only can it dredge up painful memories from the past, but it can also be a reminder of how substance abuse leaves relationships in need of repair. This can be a real challenge for those in recovery.

And I think we can all agree that there is no escaping Valentine’s Day. Everywhere we turn there are heart-shaped chocolate boxes, bear-hugging cards, and lots and lots of pink and red. So instead of avoiding it, maybe it’s best to use it as an opportunity to gain further progress in your recovery. Here are some tools to help you embrace the holiday of love and celebrate Valentine’s Day while in recovery. Read more

Is Shame a Barrier to Addiction Recovery?

A man hides his face with shame-related behavior during addiction recovery before he relapses.What if a therapist could detect your risk for relapse from addiction recovery just by the way you sat in a chair? For some time now, therapists have found shame to be a barrier for addiction recovery. However, self-reporting of shame has been an unreliable tool to help patients. So how can a therapist detect when a patient is suffering from recovery-sabotaging shame? Read more

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