Update before class ends

Hello :-),

My class is coming to a close, so I just wanted to share some remaining thoughts.

Firstly, my posts may have jumbled towards the end! I’m on [another] trip and when I originally attempted to add those, they sent to drafts due to no service. However, they’re out now!
The main point I feel like making, as this class comes to a close, is that no matter the circumstances, recovery is worth it. As somebody that is currently in recovery, I can attest to that.

It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.


If I didn’t enter recovery almost two years ago, I’d still be self-harming, popping pills, drinking all day, skipping my classes, skipping my meals, and letting my anxiety and depression keep me in bed and out of work for weeks at a time. Although my health and my self-esteem aren’t where I want them, it’s suffice to say that they’re a little further than they were before. 

Without recovery, I wouldn’t travel as much as I do. Without recovery, I wouldn’t think about the fact that tomorrow could be my last day. Without recovery, I probably wouldn’t even be here. I wouldn’t be driving through Virginia right now, I wouldn’t be graduating in December, I wouldn’t be alive.

It’s hard. But it’s worth it. That is why I feel it is necessary for people to know the truth behind mental disorders. To save other souls.
[This is a large photo set, but the top is me now, and the bottom is me at early stages of recovery. You can work your way up and see my progress.]

Addiction is the most controversial mental disorder…

And why is that? Simple. Addiction is a mental disorder that is self-inflicted. People struggle with believing whether or not an addiction really classifies as a mental disorder or not due to the fact that somebody doesn’t choose to get depressed, but somebody, typically, does choose to pick up heroin.

This seems to make sense; an addict, in most cases, does choose to pick up a drug, and the aftermath is addiction. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a mental disorder.

And while, it is true, that an addiction may start a little different than severe depression or PTSD, it is also important to recognize that sometimes, an addiction stems from pain medication or something similar. Not necessarily self inflicted.

Addiction is typically an overlier for pain, whether it be emotional or physical. It is important to recognize it as it is.

Common Misconceptions and Truths about Addiction

Misconception #1: It can’t be a disease. It’s a lack of willpower.
The Truth: Diseases are scary, so no one wants to think about them. Some diseases you inherit a tendency for, like high blood pressure or heart disease. Some develop over time, such as asthma or diabetes. And others develop over time for a lot of different reasons, like numerous cancers. 

Addiction is just like that. It is a disease. Some people are more susceptible to it because of genetics. Some get it with no genetic history. Some develop it because of lifestyle while others with a similar lifestyle never get it. For some, addiction develops over the course of years and for others, it is a clear and present danger almost from the start of use.

Another way addiction is like a disease: When you stop taking your anti-addiction medicines, there are consequences. Think about it. If you stop taking your diabetes medication, you can expect to go into a diabetic coma. When you stop taking your asthma medication, you can expect to have your breathing severely compromised. When you stop taking your heart medicine, you can expect to have a heart attack. And if you stop taking your anti-addiction medicines before your brain has had a chance to heal, you can expect the cravings to come back.

No one stops taking their medications for other diseases just because they “feel better.” That’s the whole point of the medication: To feel better. To get well. Not cured. Just day-to-day, functioning normally, well.

Misconception #2: If you want to bad enough, you can control it. 

The Truth: For some people, managing their addiction through faith and willpower works really well. And if it is working for you or someone you know, by all means stay with that path. Your sobriety is truly a blessing.

But for millions, that path does not work… or does not work for long. Does that mean you lack faith, self-discipline or trust in God? Absolutely not. The decision to drink or use may have originally been a voluntary one, but the fact that you are now addicted is not. Over time, your brain became injured. And like a cancer that went undetected, it’s not your fault that you didn’t see it coming and couldn’t stop it once you finally woke up to the reality that something was terribly wrong. 

Addiction is a disease that is located in the limbic system of the brain. Over time it will damage the brain’s chemistry and neurological pathways, and will require medical help and possibly anti-addiction medicines to restore the chemical balance, heal the pathways and get back to a more “normal” state.

Misconception #3: Other addicts can get clean and sober by going to meetings. Why can’t you?

The Truth: Some recovering from addiction are able to manage their disease successfully through traditional talk therapy-based programs. Research shows that roughly 30% of the people in these programs will be successful. That means 70% or more who seek this form of treatment could be in a seemingly endless cycle of recovery-relapse-treatment-recovery-relapse-treatment. Most people come to find that low success rate unacceptable.

Many successful people in recovery do not want to embrace the fact that addiction as a disease because it does not fit with their personal experience and their years of hard work, discipline, and faith.

If you are one for whom traditional treatment methods have worked, you and your loved ones are truly blessed. For those who seek an alternative to traditional treatment methods, Enterhealth has a number of programs for individuals and families that seek a clean and sober life. We see a lot of individuals who are driven, responsible, accomplished, admired, and respected. They can do almost anything they set their minds to. We see a lot of individuals who love their families, their spouses, their jobs, their lives, and their church. But none of those things seem to matter when they are in the presence of their substance of choice. We treat a lot of people who are despondent, guilt-ridden or just want to die because they can’t control their cravings. 

For those in this group, we can help. Using the latest advancements in medicine and therapy, Enterhealth is helping people every day overcome thier addiction.

Misconception #4: You are just trading one addiction for another if you use anti-addiction medicines to control your urges. 

The Truth: The anti-addiction medicines used in addiction treatment have been proven safe and non-addictive. They have been fully researched by the American Medical Association and the F.D.A. The way these medications interact with your brain makes it physically impossible to become addicted because they are not triggering the addiction centers in the brain. 

What these drugs do is “stand in the gap” between your neurons and your transmitters so that the “signals” your brain normally receives in the addiction centers of the brain are effectively disconnected. These also turn-off or negate both the compulsive cravings and the euphoria or “high” associated with pleasure if you do happen to use or drink.

Typically, the neurons and transmitters in addicted people have been red-lining in overdrive for a very long time. By giving them a “break” from what has become normal, the brain starts to cool down and rebalance its biochemistry. After this cooling period, the neurons and transmitters start to function in the way they were originally intended (pre-addiction). The more they can function that as intended, the stronger they get and the less likely they are to go back to functioning in overdrive. With the brain cooled, quieted and chemically rebalanced, you will find it much easier to focus and apply the behavioral therapies and techniques learned in treatment.

It takes about 45 to 90 days for the brain to cool down. And it takes about a year, sometimes two, to get the brain back to normal. So be patient. You didn’t get here overnight, and you won’t get well overnight. But you will get better if you stay with a treatment program that uses a multi-dimensional approach to treat the disease.

Addiction in Film

Blow


Originally released in 2001, Blow is a film that follows the life of George Jung, an infamous cocaine kingpin who came to power in the 1970’s and reigned until the mid 1980’s. Though classified as a crime drama, this movie definitely feels more like a film about addiction. It’s biopic nature gives you real insight into the struggles George Jung faced not only judicially, but physically and emotionally with addiction. Despite having so much money and unlimited power, even the possibility of losing everything could not keep George Jung off cocaine. The descent into madness he experiences as a result of the drugs quickly takes over as the main focus of the film, which artfully and truthfully represented the ugly side of a drug that was so popular at that time.


The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street is one of those rare films that maintain such a high re-watch value, and there’s a very good reason why. The story centers on stockbroker Jordan Belfort, and his subsequent rags-to-riches story featuring numerous debaucheries along the incline. This is such an accurate film about addiction because not only is the actual drug displayed in both a graphic and consistent manner throughout the film, but also the side effects and comedowns from the drugs were masterfully replicated by the actors themselves. Most films tend to possess merely subtle suggested drug use or simply depict the actual high. The Wall of Wall Street goes much deeper. It once again drives home that no one is immune to becoming enslaved by addiction. The desperation in Jordan’s voice for the drugs even as his life is in serious danger is haunting, and any addict instantly recognizes that tone as one they’ve used themselves.


Thirteen

Another coming of age film circa 2003, yet this time from the female perspective. Thirteen touches on sensitive subject matter our society likes to shy away from, such as drug use, discovering one’s female sexuality, and real life traumas- the combination of the two may harbinger. This is an accurate film about addiction because it really hones in on the power of peer pressure; how so many addicts start out using. All it took for a seemingly well-rounded girl to descend down the dark road of addiction and other risk-taking behaviors was the encouragement of one bad influence. It’s an accurately frightening look at the vulnerability of pre-teens and just how important the company they keep is.

Addiction

DSM 5 Criteria for Substance Use DisorderOpioid Use Disorder Criteria:

A minimum of 2-3 criteria is required for a mild substance use disorder diagnosis, while 4-5 is moderate, and 6-7 is severe (APA, 2013). Opioid Use Disorder is specified instead of Substance Use Disorder, if opioids are the drug of abuse. Note: A printable checklist version is linked below
Taking the opioid in larger amounts and for longer than intended

Wanting to cut down or quit but not being able to do it

Spending a lot of time obtaining the opioid

Craving or a strong desire to use opioids

Repeatedly unable to carry out major obligations at work, school, or home due to opioid use

Continued use despite persistent or recurring social or interpersonal problems caused or made worse by opioid use

Stopping or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to opioid use

Recurrent use of opioids in physically hazardous situations

Consistent use of opioids despite acknowledgment of persistent or recurrent physical or psychological difficulties from using opioids

*Tolerance as defined by either a need for markedly increased amounts to achieve intoxication or desired effect or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount. (Does not apply for diminished effect when used appropriately under medical supervision)

*Withdrawal manifesting as either characteristic syndrome or the substance is used to avoid withdrawal (Does not apply when used appropriately under medical supervision)

*This criterion is not considered to be met for those individuals taking opioids solely under appropriate medical supervision.

Films that portray PTSD

The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)
A tender and comic coming of age story about an introverted freshman named Charlie who’s taken under the wings of two seniors, Sam and Patrick, that help him navigate the world of high school and relationships. Charlie has periodic flashbacks of the car accident in which his aunt died. Patrick is forced to watch his boyfriend, Brad, beaten up by his father after the boys are discovered having sex. Sam, played by Emma Watson, struggles to make sense of the complicated relationships she always seems to develop with people.


Forrest Gump (1992)

This epic film follows a southern simpleton named Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, through some of the biggest events of the 20th century, including the Vietnam war where saves the lives of four men and is shot in the butt. Gary Sinise stars as 2nd Lt. Dan Taylor, one of the men that Forrest saved. Taylor, who lost both his legs, suffers from PTSD, and is angry with Forrest for saving his life. In a promise to Bubba, who died on the battlefield, Forrest starts a shrimping business. Lt. Dan joins him and in a compelling moment, in the middle of a hurricane, he faces his demons at the top of a sailing mast. Bubba Gump Shrimp becomes a huge success because the hurricane destroyed their competition. This film won Academy Awards in many different categories.


Saving Private Ryan (1998)

This universally acclaimed film with a star-studded cast, directed by Steven Spielberg takes place during World War II. The film contains some of the most moving, visceral and violent scenes ever undertaken with regard to the Normandy Invasion and the American forces taking of Omaha Beach. The story follows a unit of soldiers assigned to find and bring home Private James Francis Ryan, whose three brothers are killed during the war, leaving him as his family’s last child. Along the way, viewers see the toll the war has taken on the hearts and minds of this unit, their occasional contempt for their mission, and their struggle to bring Ryan home alive.