Tag Archives: Recovery

A Different Path to Fighting Addiction

When their son had to take a medical leave from college, Jack and Wendy knew they — and he — needed help with his binge drinking. Their son’s psychiatrist, along with a few friends, suggested Alcoholics Anonymous. He had a disease, and in order to stay alive, he’d have to attend A.A. meetings and abstain from alcohol for the rest of his life, they said.

But the couple, a Manhattan reporter and editor who asked to be identified only by their first names to protect their son’s privacy, resisted that approach. Instead, they turned to a group of psychologists who specialize in treating substance use and other compulsive behaviors at the Center for Motivation and Change.

The center, known as the C.M.C., operates out of two floors of a 19th-century building on 30th Street and Fifth Avenue. It is part of a growing wing of addiction treatment that rejects the A.A. model of strict abstinence as the sole form of recovery for alcohol and drug users.

Instead, it uses a suite of techniques that provide a hands-on, practical approach to solving emotional and behavioral problems, rather than having abusers forever swear off the substance — a particularly difficult step for young people to take.

And unlike programs like Al-Anon, A.A.’s offshoot for family members, the C.M.C.’s approach does not advocate interventions or disengaging from someone who is drinking or using drugs. “The traditional language often sets parents up to feel they have to make extreme choices: Either force them into rehab or detach until they hit rock bottom,” said Carrie Wilkens, a psychologist who helped found the C.M.C. 10 years ago. “Science tells us those formulas don’t work very well.”

When parents issue edicts, demanding an immediate end to all substance use, it often lodges the family in a harmful cycle, said Nicole Kosanke, a psychologist at the C.M.C. Tough love might look like an appropriate response, she said, but it often backfires by further damaging the frayed connections to the people to whom the child is closest.

The center’s approach includes motivational interviewing, a goal-oriented form of counseling; cognitive behavioral therapy, a short-term form of psychotherapy; and harm reduction, which seeks to limit the negative consequences of substance abuse. The psychologists also support the use of anti-craving medications like naltrexone, which block the brain’s ability to release endorphins and the high of using the substance.

A 2002 study conducted by researchers at the University of New Mexico and published in the journal Addiction showed that motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy and naltrexone, which are often used together, are far more effective in stopping or reducing drug and alcohol use than the faith-and-abstinence-based model of A.A. and other “TSF” — for 12-step facilitation — programs. Results of an updated study have not yet been released.

Researchers elsewhere have come up with similar findings. In 2006, the Cochrane Library, a health care research group, reviewed four decades of global alcohol treatment studies and concluded, “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or TSF approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems.” Despite that research, A.A.’s 12-step model is by far the dominant approach to addiction in America.

Jack and Wendy’s son, who is in his early 20s, began drinking to alleviate crippling anxiety and ease persistent depression. His drinking, while worrisome, was not an entrenched pattern, his parents believed. Some of Jack’s friends suggested that if their son did not attend A.A. of his own volition, the only thing Jack and Wendy could do was attend Al-Anon.

“The implication was that there was no other solution,” Jack said. “There was a great deal of sadness on their part, empathetic sadness, which in some ways was frightening in itself.”

“A lot of people credit A.A. with saving their lives,” he added. “It’s understandable that they can’t dissociate themselves from a program that worked for them. But it’s an all-or-nothing commitment for life. That really freaked me out.”

In A.A.’s literature, “alcoholism” is defined as “a progressive illness that can never be cured.” Members describe themselves as being “in recovery,” which translates to lifelong abstinence and adherence to the 12 steps mapped out in the Big Book, published four years after the organization was founded in 1935. First among them is the obligation for members to admit their “powerlessness” over alcohol. It also relies heavily on faith; God is mentioned in five of the 12 steps.

On a warm evening last month, about a dozen parents gathered to hear Dr. Kosanke describe the center’s program for families, which goes by the acronym Craft, for Community Reinforcement and Family Training. It rejects, she said, the use of three words: “addict,” “alcoholic” and “enabling,” a term often used to describe the acts of loved ones that help perpetuate unhealthy behaviors.

Instead of addict or alcoholic, she prefers the terms favored by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or the DSM-V, which says that patients suffer from “alcohol use disorder” or “substance abuse disorder,” terms that convey a spectrum of severity.

“Substance use takes on a lot of different shapes and sizes,” Dr. Kosanke said. “There are real downsides to labeling a child with a lifetime identity, when that truly may or may not turn out to be the case.”

And calling caring behavior enabling, she said, has a way of turning even acts of kindness into something negative. “Our field hasn’t done a good job of defining it in a narrow way that’s appropriate,” she said. “If you give your kid money knowing he will go buy pot, that’s enabling. If you take your kid to soccer practice, you’re encouraging healthy behavior. That’s not ‘enabling.’ ”

Part of the Craft approach has parents take care of themselves, too, said Lorraine McNeill-Popper, who volunteers for the parent hotline at the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a nonprofit group devoted to recovery for young people. “If you are sleep-deprived and stressed out, how can you think clearly?” she said.

Ms. McNeill-Popper has her own family history of drug abuse. Her twin brother died of an overdose, and she adopted his son, who later became a heavy marijuana user and ended up in rehab. “I tell parents, ‘It’s like when you’re on an airplane, and they tell you to put the oxygen mask over yourself first. That way you can help with the others.’ ”

The center’s approach is controversial in the recovery world. David Rotenberg, executive vice president of treatment at the nonprofit Caron Treatment Centers, a large drug and alcohol rehabilitation provider with branches in several states, cautioned against approaches that do not set abstinence as a goal.

“The majority of people who are chemically dependent would love to be able to drink and drug in a more moderate fashion,” Mr. Rotenberg said. “Most drug addicts and alcoholics would love to drink just a couple of drinks, and they try to do so, with poor results.”

The C.M.C. doctors say treatment for young people needs to be tailored for them, since teenagers and young adults are neurologically, psychologically, socially and legally different from adults, and have different treatment needs.

Dr. Wilkens founded the center with a fellow psychologist, Jeffrey Foote, in 2003. The two had worked together in larger hospital-based treatment centers where they struggled to introduce evidence-based treatments, she said. When it opened, the C.M.C. was one of the few centers in the nation that were not tethered to the 12-step model, she said.

“It was our strong belief that you can work with people at any stage of change, ranging from ‘I’m not even sure I have a substance problem’ all the way to ‘I just got out of rehab and want to go to A.A. meetings every day,’ ” Dr. Wilkens said. “We don’t have a judgment on how you address your substance use problem. Maybe A.A. is helpful to you and you find everything you need there. If it’s not, we genuinely believe there are many strategies for helping to resolve them.”

In fact, a majority of college binge drinkers do not go on to become alcohol dependent, said Stanton Peele, a Brooklyn psychologist who has studied substance use for decades and is a longtime critic of the A.A. model. While binge drinking and other drug use are risky, multiple studies show that most people “mature out” of such recklessness when they begin to have increased responsibilities.

A federally financed study of 43,000 randomly selected Americans, called the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, or Nesarc, found that 75 percent of those who are heavy drinkers eventually regain control without rehab or A.A., Dr. Peele said. The survey, which was conducted in the early 2000s and was designed to be representative of the larger United States population, was aimed at helping researchers understand high-risk drinking patterns, design better-targeted treatment programs and monitor recovery. It found that over half of those who recover managed to cut back instead of abstaining, Dr. Peele said.

“Isn’t it more encouraging to know that most people are going to outgrow these habits than to think they’re going to have a disease for the rest their lives?” Dr. Peele asked. “The data show that the odds are in your favor.”

Dr. Wilkens is familiar with that pattern. She was a college binge drinker herself and also struggled with bulimia. Once she left her home state of Kansas for New York City, where she attended Hunter College, she felt culturally stimulated and intellectually challenged, she said, and the drinking and disordered eating disappeared.

“When you focus on building up the world around you, you find stimulation and rewards that are very different from using drugs and alcohol. You find other ways of soothing yourself, and things can get better,” she said.

That is precisely what L.S. learned five years ago. L.S., a Manhattan lawyer in his early 30s who asked to be identified only by his initials to protect his privacy, spent nearly a decade as an episodic binge drinker. He began drinking as a student at his large Midwestern university, where he played rugby and where many of his best friends belonged to fraternities. Alcohol, he said, flowed freely through both subcultures. L.S. said he thought his drinking — weeks of no drinking followed by serious binges of a few dozen drinks over several days — would end after college. Yet the behavior did not fade. The morning after his wedding, he awoke with a hangover that lasted a day and a half.

His father, who drinks socially, told him that people either were alcoholics or were not. But L.S. was unprepared to accept that label and began researching moderation on his own. He found a New York branch of Moderation Management, or M.M., a secular, peer-led support group that takes a cognitive behavioral approach.

In contrast to A.A., which stresses a drinker’s lack of power in the presence of alcohol, M.M. encourages personal responsibility for drinking. The group, founded in 1993, encourages members to start with an alcohol-free month, and then allows for the reintroduction of moderate amounts of alcohol. (Critics note that one of its founders, Audrey Kishline, was involved in a fatal accident while driving drunk. She left the group in January 2000 with the intention of joining A.A., and three months later, crashed head-on into another vehicle, killing the driver and his 12-year-old daughter.)

L.S. now attends hourlong meetings once a week at which he and about a dozen others discuss their goals for moderate drinking, as well as tips, challenges and progress on avoiding triggers. Since he began attending, L.S. limits himself to about five drinks a week, well below the 14 drinks M.M. advises as a safe limit for men.

L.S. is convinced that there is no single approach for all problem drinkers. “M.M. doesn’t profess to work for everybody. It has a scientifically based approach that works for some people,” he said.

The C.M.C. psychologists are blunt about the reasons many teenagers and young adults use drugs: When it comes to decreasing anxiety and relieving depression, substances tend to work for the short term. “Kids aren’t crazy for using them,” Dr. Wilkens said. “They have an effect that is reinforcing in some way. If you understand that, you can strategically work to support and reinforce other healthy, competing behaviors.”

That approach runs through the book she wrote with Dr. Foote and Dr. Kosanke, “Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Can Help People Change.” It was published in February, just as the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman from a heroin overdose struck fear in the hearts of many parents whose children use drugs. It landed Dr. Wilkens on several talk shows and drew scores of calls to the center. (In addition to its New York office, the group has opened a residential treatment center in the Berkshires.)

Dr. Wilkens’s message struck a chord with Wendy. Her son had just left school, and the couple was exploring treatment options. Wired in the evenings with extreme anxiety, he drank excessively to get himself to sleep. Once in bed, he’d stay there till 5 p.m.

Before she read the book, Wendy said, she would stomp upstairs hourly to announce in an exasperated voice, “It’s 2 o’clock. You’ve got to get out of there.”

“I’d do that three or four more times and then be fuming,” she said. “I’d be fuming all day, at home doing my work and knowing he was upstairs sleeping off whatever he’d been drinking the night before.”

After learning the Craft approach, Wendy said, she stopped nagging, changing her negative, accusatory tone to a more pleasant one by asking open-ended questions.

Today, Wendy and Jack’s son is working with his psychiatrist and getting help for his depression and anxiety. He seems to be bingeing much less. When the family went out to dinner on a recent night, the parents each ordered a beer or a glass of wine and sipped slowly through dinner. “How will he learn moderation if he doesn’t see it modeled?” Wendy asked.

Ellie hopes her daughter, too, will be able to change her drinking patterns. Ellie is a New York editor, who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her family’s privacy. Her daughter, 23, has struggled with binge drinking since she was 16. While her daughter graduated from college and holds a responsible job, she still binges on weekends. “It’s so much a part of the culture, it’s everywhere,” Ellie said. “She says she’d have no social life if she stopped drinking.”

Ellie, who grew up in a home in which many relatives attended A.A., at first tried Al-Anon. “They talk about ‘disengaging,’ ” she said. “But it’s your child, and I’m not one of those people who can put her out on the street.”

While their daughter has resisted treatment so far, Ellie and her husband have begun seeing a therapist at the C.M.C. to better navigate their relationship.

“My child is much more than a label or a diagnosis,” she said. “She’s not a problem to be solved, but a child to be loved and guided toward a better life.”

Source:  The New York Times


“I won’t survive unless I get help”

The former “Baddest Man on the Planet” added to his list of bizarre public appearances with another unrestrained interview, this one courtesy of Matt Lauer of the “Today Show” who sought to find out more about Tyson’s recent admission that he’s still grappling with substance abuse issues and is “on the verge of dying.” Tyson uttered those words last Friday at a post-fight press conference for his initial venture as a boxing promoter, admitting he’s just been sober for six days.

Tyson visited that theme again on Thursday’s “Today Show” in a segment that was taped in Las Vegas with the two facing each other just a few inches apart and Tyson sometimes leaning over, as if trying to peer at Lauer’s notes.

“When I start drinking and I relapse, I think of dying,” Tyson told Lauer, in a piece that was taped on Wednesday. “When I’m in a real dark mood, I think of dying. And I don’t want to be around no more. I won’t survive unless I get help.”

Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson tells Matt Lauer (l.) that when he's in a dark mood he thinks of dying.

Lauer’s interview with Tyson was heavily hyped on “Today,” with teases sandwiched between segments on the growing crisis in Syria and news of Valerie Harper’s ongoing battle with terminal cancer.

“I’ve been sober 12 days now and it’s tough,” Tyson said in his first public comments since Friday. “I’m mean and irritable.” Later, he spoke of his difficulties, abstaining from drugs and alcohol. “Yes, it’s a real challenge because I don’t know if I like this sober guy,” Tyson said. “It’s hard for me to live normal – straight is hard.” The interview with Lauer came on the heels of Tyson’s stunning comments on Friday that he still struggles with substance abuse issues. “I’m on the verge of dying because I’m a vicious alcoholic,” Tyson said at the post-fight press conference at the Turning Stone Resort in upstate New York. “I haven’t drank or took drugs in six days, and for me that’s a miracle. I’ve been lying to everybody else that think I was sober, but I’m not.”

The media in attendance later rose to give him a standing ovation when Tyson told them he would never use again.

Mike Tyson shocks sports community by saying: 'I'm on the verge of dying because I'm a vicious alcoholic.'

“No one’s failed more than I did,” Tyson said, choking up to Lauer. “I’m a king of the barbarians. There’s no one that could surpass me in the pain that I’ve endured. I can deal with it. I can handle it.”

In the interview’s most revealing moment, Lauer asked Tyson why he has never taken responsibility for his 1992 rape conviction that led to a three-year prison sentence in an Indiana prison. “I don’t think I have to make amends to that because I’ve done nothing,” Tyson said. “I really didn’t do anything to her. I didn’t rape her. I didn’t beat her. I didn’t do anything to her and I’m not going to make amends. I already made amends to myself. But to her, no.”

Tyson said he’s been able to put that episode behind him. “I’m at peace with myself pretty much,” Tyson said.

While Tyson is always raw and uninhibited, Lauer’s interview on Thursday lacked the visceral punch that his grilling of Alex Rodriguez attorney Joseph Tacopina had earlier this month on the show. In that one-on-one, Lauer surprised Tacopina with a letter from Major League Baseball in which the league said it was willing to waive the confidentiality clause in the Joint Drug Agreement to allow Rodriguez to discuss his drug testing history.

No such moment took place on Thursday.

“He is in complete conflict in his own mind,” Lauer said on Thursday on air of his segment. “You heard him contradict himself: He said I’m at peace with myself but earlier in the interview he said he can’t live with the guy he is and doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be alive. So there is an awful lot going on inside his mind and I think sometimes it confuses even him.”

Outside of giving the public a glimpse of Tyson’s struggles, the segment on “Today” also served as a promotional vehicle for Tyson’s many undertakings, such as his upcoming docu-series on Fox Sports 1 “Being: Mike Tyson” and his forthcoming HBO special, “Undisputed Truth,” which is a demo of his one-man play. While Lauer mentioned both projects, he chose not to bring up his own appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” last year in which he poked fun of Tyson by sporting a fake facial tattoo in a humorous bit.

Heroin Support Group Founder Caught Dealing Dope

A Chicago-area man who helped found a heroin-abuse support group faces felony charges after allegedly selling heroin to undercover police.

Peter K. Rundo, 21, who lives near the Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve near west suburban Naperville, was ordered held on a $50,000 bond after being charged with two felony counts of manufacture or delivery of heroin, according to records on file in Will County Circuit Court. Officials said they received word a little more than a month ago that Rundo was buying heroin in Chicago and selling it in Naperville. John Arizzi, the deputy director of the Joliet Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad, said undercover investigators made contact with Rundo and arranged to buy the drug from him in “controlled purchases.”

Rundo allegedly met undercover officers three times in Naperville, with the third and final sale occurring about 8 p.m. Sept. 16. Arizzi said Rundo drove to the area in a silver, 2000 BMW and offered no resistance when taken into custody. The heroin, allegedly delivered each time in small, foil packets, totaled six grams, Arizzi said.

Rundo in July 2012 was convicted in DuPage County of driving under the influence of narcotics, following an arrest in Naperville. He and two friends in recent years helped found the Open Hearts/Open Minds heroin-abuse support group. Rundo also was interviewed for and appeared in a segment of the national TV program “48 Hours” on heroin abuse.

A Friend of Mine & her Victory With Vivitrol

NICOLE Kapulsky didn’t do the 12 steps.

She doesn’t go to Narcotics Anonymous meetings and tell other recovering addicts about how she trekked into North Philly’s Badlands – 5-foot-nothing, alone, petrified – to buy dope.

Or about the worst day of her life, when her ex-husband showed up at her parents’ house with police and took her children away. Or when her family turned their backs on her and she was calling rehab centers every hour to check for an open bed – only to relapse after she’d finally detoxed.

She didn’t suddenly find God and realize that surrendering to a higher power was the only way to get clean.

“I did it my way,” said Kapulsky, 35, who was introduced to heroin in 2009, after an ugly divorce, but who has been drug-free for nearly 19 months.

And, importantly, her doctor’s way.

In January 2011, after being away from her three sons for Christmas and New Year’s, Kapulsky decided that she needed to kick heroin for good. She’d seen it kill her friends. It had to stop.

“By the time I was done, I had no savings, no jewelry. I had nothing,” she said. “I couldn’t take any more of not being with my kids. It was heartbreaking for me. My kids were my whole life. That’s when I googled it. I made an appointment and went in.”

The appointment was with Dr. Richard DiMonte, an addiction-treatment specialist in Media. He uses a non-narcotic that has helped Kapulsky and hundreds of his patients reclaim their lives from prescription painkillers and heroin.

It’s called Vivitrol, a monthly injection of naltrexone that binds to human opioid receptors and blocks the drugs’ euphoric effects, so addicts can’t get high even if they want to. Kapulsky said it also stopped her drug cravings. She doesn’t even think about heroin anymore, unlike in 2010, when she relapsed after methadone treatment.

Doctors and researchers hate the term “miracle drug.” But Kapulsky says that’s the best way to describe her experience.

My family trusts me. There’s no question of whether I’m clean or not. They know that I am because I go and I get my shot every 28 days, and they know that you can’t do drugs when you’re on the shot. You just can’t do it,” she said. “It saved me. I’m not the strongest person in the world, believe me. If I wasn’t on Vivitrol, I probably would have relapsed.”

Vivitrol was approved in October 2010 by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of opioid dependence. Experts say it could be a game-changer in combating the increasing abuse of oxycodone and other prescription painkillers, which doctors and law-enforcement officials say is helping to create a new category of heroin addicts.

“We have a prescription-drug problem, and it’s just getting out of control,” DiMonte said. “Most of the heroin use nowadays is because people can’t afford the prescription pills they’re buying, so they convert over to heroin, which is cheaper.”

In 2010, about 12 million Americans reported that they’d used prescription painkillers for nonmedical purposes in the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 1998 and 2008, the reported abuse of prescription painkillers more than quadrupled, from 2.2 percent to 9.8 percent, among people 12 and older who entered substance-abuse treatment.

“It’s really taken off over the last five years. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how bad,” said a veteran officer in the Philadelphia police Narcotics Field Unit, who asked that his name not be printed because he works undercover. “It’s much easier to get started on the pills because the doctors are writing prescriptions. Nobody thinks anything of it.

“It’s a very wide range of addict,” he said. “It doesn’t just attack the poor or a certain neighborhood; it’s all over the place.”

This summer, opiate abuse was back in the news after the death of Eagles coach Andy Reid’s 29-year-old son, Garrett. He started with OxyContin as a freshman at Brigham Young University in 2002 and later began using heroin. His cause of death has not been disclosed, but Reid has said his son “lost the battle” he’d been fighting.

“These are not drugs secretly transported into the country by boat or airplane. The drugs are here,” Thomas Perricone, chief of the narcotics and dangerous- drugs section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, said of prescription painkillers. “We are seeing very organized rings where networks recruit ‘patients’ and sometimes transport them in groups to corrupt doctors’ offices.”

Vivitrol has shown promising results so far, experts say.

Instead of replacing one narcotic with another – such as methadone or Suboxone, both of which have the potential for abuse and are sold on the street alongside heroin – a monthly injection of Vivitrol forces addicts to remain clean. That enables them to participate in a support program, or, in Kapulsky’s case, one-on-one therapy, and to tackle the root causes of their addiction, which often involve mental illness.

Alkermes, the company that manufactures Vivitrol, doesn’t disclose patient data, but it says net sales of Vivitrol have increased for 12 consecutive quarters. Some doctors are using Suboxone and other medicines to taper their patients off heroin or painkillers, then switching them to Vivitrol. It could be a winning formula, recent research shows.

“These are just weapons in the arsenal, tools to help the patient. But if the underlying cause is still there, the likelihood of success diminishes considerably,” said Dr. Hani Zaki, director of psychology at Eagleville Hospital in Montgomery County, which treats substance abusers.

Zaki said the nature of addiction is still widely misunderstood. Recovery isn’t a matter of days or weeks or months, he said, “it’s always years.” Very few addicts can do a quick detoxification then go on with their life without the risk of relapse.

“The willpower and ‘just say no’ thing are really very naive. There are physical changes in the brain when you become addicted,” Zaki said. “The brain needs time to recover. Just finishing detoxification doesn’t mean that the patient is out of the danger zone.”

For Kapulsky, who now lives in Boothwyn, Delaware County, Vivitrol serves as a safety net while she pieces her life back together after she was blindsided by heroin addiction in 2009. She has regained joint custody of her children, reconnected with her sister and helps care for her 1-year-old niece. She goes to therapy once, sometimes twice, a week, and plans to take college courses to become a drug-and-alcohol counselor.

She’s happy now, and quick with a smile.

But Kapulsky said she knows four people who died from heroin this summer alone, including a close friend. She’s trying to spread the word that Vivitrol is available – and covered by many insurance plans – for people who want to get clean and stay clean.

“It’s horrible. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, how many people are addicted to opiates,” Kapulsky said. “It’s everywhere, and nobody’s immune to it. People don’t want to believe that addiction is a disease. But it is a disease, and you know what? It’s curable.”

$11 Million to Fight Youth Substance Abuse

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island has received an $11 million, five-year grant from the federal government to target the abuse of alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs by teens and young adults.

The state’s Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals announced the award on Wednesday. The money will go toward local community efforts to prevent youth substance abuse.Statistics from 2011 indicate that 30 percent of high school students in Rhode Island report having consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. More than 6 percent report drinking and driving within the past month.Gov. Lincoln Chafee says the money will help enhance efforts to prevent dangerous abuse by some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Addicted for life?

Breaking an addiction is often the hardest thing someone can do, and many never completely eliminate their attraction to the abused substance.

New research appears to support this premise by finding that even long-term abstinence from cocaine does not result in a complete normalization of brain circuitry. The brain just doesn’t appear to go back to what a “normal,” non-addicted brain looks like.

Research on drug addiction often involves chicken-and-egg questions surrounding the abuse of drugs. In particular, one of those questions is whether individuals who abuse psychostimulants like cocaine are more impulsive and show alterations in brain reward circuits as a consequence of using the drug, or whether such abnormalities existed prior to their drug use.

In the former case, one might expect brain alterations to normalize following prolonged drug abstinence.

In the new research, Krishna Patel and colleagues compared neural responses between three groups of people who were asked to complete a task that resembles bidding on eBay items.

The 3 groups consisted of 47 healthy controls, 42 currently drug-abusing cocaine users, and 35 former cocaine users who had been abstinent an average of 4 years. They also compared all three groups on their levels of impulsivity and reward responding. They found that active users showed abnormal activation in multiple brain regions involved with reward processing, and that the abstinent individuals who were previously cocaine-dependent manifested differences in a subset of those regions.

Both current and former cocaine users displayed similarly elevated impulsivity measures compared to healthy controls, which may indicate that these individuals had a pre-existing risk for addiction. Indeed, the degree of impulsivity correlated with several of the brain activation abnormalities.

These findings suggest that prolonged abstinence from cocaine may normalize only a subset of the brain abnormalities associated with active drug use.

“The knowledge that some neural changes associated with addiction persist despite long periods of abstinence is important because it supports clinical wisdom that recovery from addiction is a lifelong process,” says Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. “Further, it is the start of a deeper question: How do these persisting changes develop and how can they be reversed?”

Researchers believe additional further studies will be needed to investigate such questions, including the continued attempt to determine the extent to which differences in former cocaine users reflect aspects of pre-existing features, exposure to cocaine, or recovery.

Source: Elsevier

Nick Carter Opens Up On His Addiction

‘I had my first drink at age two’: Nick Carter opens up on downward spiral which led to  alcohol, cocaine and prescription drugs addiction.

He struggled with addiction for years and now Nick Carter has revealed his troubles began at the tender age of two. In his new autobiography, the Backstreet Boys singer opens up about his parents’ dependence on alcohol which he believes led to his addiction first to drinking and later drugs including cocaine, Ecstasy, and prescription painkillers.

In new excerpts from the tome, titled Facing the Music and Living to Talk About It, obtained by RadarOnline, Nick recounts a story which saw him trying alcohol for the first time when he was still crawling at the bar below his parents’ apartment.

‘Family legend has it that when I was two years old, I crawled into one of the Yankee Rebel’s liquor storage rooms where I was caught drinking for the first time,’ he recounts. ‘My parents always laughed at that. I laughed too, for a while, and then I didn’t laugh at it anymore.’

Nick claims his mother and father also drank heavily, which he believes was caused by money worries and says he started drinking himself when he was still a teenager.

He explains: ‘My parents …always stressed about money, which is another reason they turned to alcohol so much.

‘I began drinking heavily in my teens and then moved on to drugs at eighteen or nineteen, starting with marijuana and moving up to cocaine, Ecstasy, and prescription painkillers among other substances.’

Nick’s drinking got so bad that he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart and he eventually realised he had to change his ways.

‘I drank, did drugs, and partied until I was paralyzed and passed out [after the diagnosis],’ he reveals. ‘I woke up in a hotel room with my head pounding so hard I couldn’t focus my eyes. … My heart was pounding so loud, I thought someone was at the door. I decided my body was trying to get me to pay attention one last time. … It was change or die.’

While Nick admits he still slips up when it comes to alcohol, he is happier and healthier than ever and looking forward to tying the know with his fiancee Lauren Kitt.

He says, ‘I’m not perfect now. I still slip up when it comes to drinking. But I’m alive and great things have happened for me in the last few years.’

Nick has previously partially blamed ex-girlfriend Paris Hilton for his wild ways, saying the party-loving socialite, whom he dated from 2003 – 2004, was a bad influence. ‘Paris was the worst person in the world for me to hook up with,’ he writes in the memoir. He alleges that the former reality star, who was famously arrested for cocaine possession in 2010, ‘fed my worst impulses as far as partying.’

Nick says that during the time he was dating Paris, things got so bad that it ‘could’ve ended in tragedy’.

He also lifts the lid on the extent to which he indulged, revealing that some nights he would drink an entire bottle of vodka. ‘…during the height of my problems, I did Ecstasy, cocaine and drank a large bottle of vodka a night,’ he reveals. The pop star says he mostly regrets doing Ecstasy, and believes that it was the amphetamine that caused the bouts of depression he now suffers from.

‘The amount I did caused changes to my brain that are responsible for my bouts of depression now,’ he writes.

According to published reports, two of Nick’s siblings have also endured battles with drug and alcohol addiction.

His brother Aaron Carter entered rehab in 2011 for ’emotional and spiritual issues’ but it was  reported by E! News that he was seeking treatment for addiction issues.

Meanwhile their sister Leslie tragically passed away at age 25 in January 2012, reportedly after a suspected prescription drug overdose.

So I asked my son a question..

I asked my son, “How do you feel now that Mommy is in recovery?” and this was his answer..

“It feels good that you’re in recovery. It’s really nice because now we get to spend way more time together as a family. I don’t cry anymore because you don’t pick us up. You’re becoming a really good Mother because you buy us everything we need and some things we want… like a 3DS and a PS Vita.  I’m really proud of my you because we have fun, we go to the park, and you’re sober.”

Recovery has given me a lot. Most importantly, my children.
It’s given me the opportunity to work on my relationship with them, and be the mother I was blessed with being. Even when things get rough, I remember something my son told me early in recovery.. that all I need is them, they’ll make me happy when things get rough, and they’re right. They’re ALL I need to get by.

Some new ideas!

I’ve had a wonderful morning so far.. I brought up A Recovery Story so that my peers can check it out and let me know what they think & one gave me an idea for the site. So I’m going to add information about interventions.. from planning to tips and suggestions. I know it’s very hard to sit there and watch a loved one play russian roulette with their lives with drugs and alcohol. I too have been watching someone very close to me nearly drink himself to death, and I felt almost hopeless because everything I tried with him just didn’t get through to him. His withdrawals were so bad he was having seizures, and ended up losing his job. Thankfully, that was enough to put him into an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) and he has not had a drink for 2 weeks now. Yesterday was his birthday and he didn’t drink! It’s so nice to have my friend back! So I’ve been on both sides of the fence when it comes to substance abuse and recovery.

Another idea I brought up to the group was starting a TV show called “A Recovery Story”. The title is pretty self explanatory… people telling their stories of getting clean and staying sober. They think it’s a wonderful idea. I do too! I’m going to start it as a YouTube channel first. I’ll promote it and see how it goes from there. Hopefully it does good so I can link up with a production company to get it broadcast on television.