Tag Archives: substance use disorder

WHO Adds Gaming Disorder to the ICD

gaming disorder

The World Health Organization’s (WHO)11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), released Monday June 18, 2018, includes "gaming disorder." The addition of “digital-gaming” or “video-gaming” addiction to the ICD as a new mental health condition probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise for most people; especially considering just how far the industry has come since the advent of games like pong and how many people are spending multiple hours a day “leveling-up.”

Once video games found their way into people’s households with Atari, followed then by the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), it was clear that the sky was the limit. Today, the myriad of games and various types of games is unbelievable; and, the emergence of online gaming allows users the ability to play endless games endlessly. Yes, that’s right, there isn’t a finish line or final stage in the most popular titles people are engaging with; ostensibly, an individual can play ad infinitum. Even if someone manages to find the end of a particular maze, game developers will promptly release a patch expanding the border of the playable realm.

Not long ago there were limits on how far a person could go in a game and the amount of money they could spend. Take a game like Super Mario Brothers for instance; people bought the game and played it and there was a final stage with a boss to be vanquished. Upon beating the boss that was all she wrote! Sure, you could play the game again, but you were not going to spend more than your initial purchase. Conversely, the games people play today, regardless of the gaming system (i.e., PlayStation, XBOX, or PC), offer players downloadable content(DLC); attaching credit card numbers to "Gamertags" allows users to buy DLC to give their character an edge or a custom look.

How Many People Play Video Games?

It’s safe to say that there was a time that the majority of people playing video games in the early day were young males. While young men continue to make up the market share of gamers, a good many females play regularly. There was, and still is, a number of stereotypes that people attach to gamers, social recluses, and nerds to name a few; however, as the technology gets better and more take part, it becomes difficult to blanket label the types of people who game. The result: gaming becomes normalized; a significant number of celebrities fancy “first-person shooters” or racing games. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with digital-gaming, to be sure.

When we talk about gaming, we would be remiss if we fail to point out that smartphones open up a whole new market. App games like Candy Crush eat up a significant amount of time of millions of people each day; even though they lack some of the bells and whistles video game systems boast, apps are quite captivating and allow people to play-on-the-run.

The annual Global Games Market Report shows that there are 2.2 billion active gamers in the world in 2017; of which, 1.0 billion players (47%) spend money while playing and generated $108.9 billion in game revenues. People pay to play smartphone games which produced revenue of $46.1 billion in 2017, claiming 42% of the market. The above figures make clear that an unbelievably significant number of people are not only gaming, but they are also spending money to play after the initial purchase. It is also safe to contend that some individuals are spending money they don’t have to continue to chase after an in-game item, often called “loot,” the acquisition of said item elicits a particular feeling. Sound familiar?

What is Gaming Disorder?

WHO’s website defines “Gaming Disorder” as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

Preëexisting Mental Health Conditions

There is still much to learn about the dangers of devoting increasing amounts of time to offline and online gaming. However, the available research shows stark similarities between problematic gaming and other forms of addiction. Researchers who had a hand in the World Health Organization's landmark decision to include gaming disorder to its list of mental health diseases write, “Gaming disorder shares many features with addictions due to psychoactive substances and with gambling disorder, and functional neuroimaging shows that similar areas of the brain are activated.”

You probably would have guessed that there are critics of WHO’s decision to include gaming disorder to the ICD. Some opponents are working for the industry, so we all should meet their opinions with some skepticism; however, Dr. Netta Weinstein, a senior lecturer in psychology at Cardiff University, tells The Guardian, “I just feel like we don’t know enough yet.”

Weinstein points out that only a statistically small number (nearly half that of gambling disorder) of gamers experience adverse symptoms that affect their lives. A big concern of hers is about comorbidity, having more than one mental health condition. In the field of addiction medicine, more times than not, people presenting symptoms of addiction also meet the criteria for a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression, PTSD, or bipolar disorder. In many cases, mental illnesses like depression often give rise to addiction via the process of self-medication. Could it be that people are excessively gaming to the point of disorder, in order to cope with a preëxisting mental health condition? Weinstein says:

We need to know that it is about the gaming [gaming disorder] itself, or we’re treating something that’s not the actual problem.”

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you or a loved is struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder and any one of many mental health diseases, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We offer clients gender-specific, extended care treatment for males win the grips of progressive mental health disorders.

If you have suicidal ideations, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Addiction Recovery: Summer Action for Winter Security

addiction recovery

Summer is knocking on the door, and most people are welcoming the uplifting season with open arms. The winter months are especially trying for some individuals working programs of addiction recovery; rain, snow, and cold weather are not conducive to warm feelings and thoughts, generally. If you also consider that a large percentage of men and women in the program struggle with a co-occurring disorder like depression, then you can probably understand that chillier months may contribute to dampening the spirits of some.

A good many people’s general outlook on life and feelings of worth seem inextricably linked to the weather. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD, a fitting acronym) is a condition that plagues a significant population; SAD is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons which usually manifests between fall and spring. Naturally, those living with the disorder are likely to fare better in the Southwest; but, for those individuals residing in higher latitude environs, coping with the depressive snowdrifts of the soul during winter is a chore.

Those working programs of recovery whose psyche is sensitive to the weather must take measures to protect their recovery from fall to spring. Men and women who know that their feelings are susceptible to less hospitable climes must go above and beyond during the winter months to prevent relapse. Some of the tactics people employ to stay ahead of their seasonal depression are exercising, light therapy, psychological support via the program and professionally, and taking vitamin D. If you find it difficult, and potentially on the precipice of relapse when sunlight-deprived, it’s paramount to utilize some the above methods. At PACE, we are hopeful that recovering addicts and alcoholics were able to keep their SAD at bay this winter.

180° for Addiction Recovery

If your first year in recovery traversed the 2017/2018 winter and you found yourself struggling to keep afloat, it’s possible that you were not aware of techniques that could’ve helped. Perhaps the best way to prepare yourself for the many more cold seasons to come is taking a proactive approach during summer. Establishing a routine during this time of year will make life easier in 6 months. It’s worth noting that when you are feeling “down” it is difficult to motivate yourself, depressive symptoms beget depressive inaction. However, those feeling blue that get up and take a walk, exercise, and absorb available sunlight end up experiencing feelings of higher self-worth.

The weather is more approachable, now, and people in recovery will find it helpful to get outside and seize the day. Get outdoors as often as possible, exercise regularly, and eat foods conducive to a healthy mind and body. Did you know research shows that vitamin D along with marine omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are critical for serotonin synthesis, release, and function in the brain? People recovering from a use disorder and co-occurring psychological conditions can benefit from incorporating the above supplements into their dietary regimen. Since more than half of people managing an alcohol or substance use disorder also have a dual diagnosis, it’s fair to say that a good many people will find vitamin D and omega-3 useful to long-term recovery.

Before you make any significant changes to diet, first please discuss it with your physician and therapists. Anyone looking to be more active should also consider any physical limitations they may have before doing anything drastic.

Physical and Spiritual Fitness

Even if you are unable to hit the gym and weight train or commence doing cardiovascular exercises you can still do things to promote physical and spiritual wellness. Merely sitting outside with a book for a few hours or going for a swim can significantly improve how you feel, both inside and out. The more active you are during the summer months makes managing your anxieties and depressive symptoms next winter. The smallest of changes can produce essential benefits; when you encounter undesirable feelings next January, you’ll discover that you have tools to counter malaise.

It helps to look at addiction recovery as an agreement between mind, body, and spirit. The health of one affects the wellbeing of the other two; keeping active in the program and life, and with the aid of a healthy diet, is a recipe for long-term recovery. We encourage clients at PACE Recovery Center to place great stock in the physical and spiritual connection. Those who adopt healthier approaches are more likely to stay the course and make continual progress. We hope that anyone working a program takes advantage of the summer months to strengthen their recovery.

Addiction Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, we can help you or a loved one learn how to navigate life without resorting to drug and alcohol to cope. Our highly qualified team of addiction professionals also address clients’ co-occurring mental health disorders and provide tools for coping with one’s symptoms. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs.

National Prevention Week: Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow!

National Prevention Week

Preventing substance use initiation, also known as "first-time use," can spare many young people from experiencing significant challenges later in life. While most drug and alcohol prevention efforts target adolescents, we cannot overlook the fact that there is a remarkable number of individuals who use drugs and alcohol for the first time after leaving home for college. What’s more, the late teens and early twenties are when many young people develop unhealthy relationships with mind-altering substances.

Illicit drug and alcohol use is pervasive in high school; however, many teens can avoid situations that could precipitate substance use. Some parents can successfully impress upon their children the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis use; and, when young people fully grasp the potential consequences, they are more likely to make informed decisions.

There will always be teens who disregard the pleas of their parents and teachers to refrain from alcohol and substance use, and fortunately, the majority of such teens will not develop a use disorder down the road. Although, given that it is impossible to predict who will suffer from addiction later in life, it is critical that health experts, college faculties, and parents work together to prevent substance use initiation as long as possible. Furthermore, the use of drugs and alcohol can still cause severe injury or death even without the presence of a use disorder in an individual.

SAMHSA National Prevention Week (NPW)

A teenager or young adult can begin using drugs or alcohol at any time of the year; however, research shows that there are certain months that young people are more likely to start using mind-altering substances. For instance, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that college students most often use a drug or alcohol for the first time during June or July. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) believes that May is an excellent time to focus on prevention efforts. The hope is that as the school year or second semester comes to a close, young people will think twice before using drugs and alcohol.

The SAMHSA Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ) reports that 2,100 to 2,500 full-time college students aged 18 to 22 used alcohol for the first time in June and July; compared to between 1,100 to 2,000 young people using alcohol for the first time during other months of the year. The organization finds that tobacco, marijuana, and inhalant use initiation among college students aged 18 to 22 peaks over the course of the summer, as well.

Each May, SAMHSA hosts National Prevention Week! Before young people break for summer, the administration helps schools and organizations host prevention-themed events aiming to strengthen the community, school, and family bonds that can shield adolescents and young adults from substance use. SAMHSA’s primary goals this week are to:

  • Involve communities in raising awareness about behavioral health issues and implementing prevention strategies;
  • Foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health; and
  • Promote and disseminate quality behavioral health resources and publications.

NPW Prevention Challenge: Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow!

Given that not everyone can take part in a National Prevention Week event in person there are other avenues of participation. There are several webinars up in the form of YouTube videos that you may find of interest. The NPW Prevention Challenge is another way young people can take a proactive approach to avoiding the trappings of drugs and alcohol. The theme for NPW 2018 is Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow. SAMHSA asks you to write a video letter to yourself and, if you feel comfortable, upload it to social media. You can find an example below:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

NPW 2018 Prevention Challenge: #DearFutureMe encourages others to take action today for a healthier tomorrow!

PACE Academy

National Prevention Week is an important event that can steer young people toward making healthy decisions. For some young people, however, the cycle of addiction is already in full force, and there is a need for more significant attention. There is a substantial number of college students struggling with drugs and alcohol who require treatment. Unfortunately, a remarkable number of people who need help are resistant to it because they don’t want to get behind in school. The good news is that individuals can address their alcohol and substance use disorder with only a slight disruption to their education.

At PACE Academy, we help young people break the cycle of addiction and equip them with the tools necessary for working a program of long-term recovery. We help clients working towards an associate or bachelor’s degrees at several community colleges and universities. At PACE Recovery Center, we can help you or a loved one keep addiction from derailing one’s future; please contact us today to learn more about our programs.

Is Fear Standing in The Way of Recovery?

recovery

Fear is one of the primary components of addiction. It would be difficult for any one person, in recovery or still active, to deny the role that fright has had in their life. It has been said on numerous occasions, by countless people, that when you strip away all the layers of an addict or alcoholic, what you find is fear. Underneath the anger, resentment, dishonesty, et al., you see a person who trembles at the thought of living another day with substances, or without drugs and alcohol.

Let’s be clear, people living with substance use disorders are not a bunch of scaredy-cats. You might even say that Fear, as it pertains to people struggling with addiction is more of a philosophical dilemma than the typical worries that the average human contends with from day to day. Existential angst may be a more fitting description of the addict’s condition. When a person can’t live with something while simultaneously being unable to live without it, it is a dilemma in the strictest sense of the word—a cruel paradox.

Many articles have touched upon the subject of fear and the part it plays with mental illness and how it can be a catalyst for addiction. With that in mind, getting to the roots of people’s unease, or “dis-ease” for that matter, is an integral component of addiction recovery. Ironically, people only learn this after they have made the courageous “fear-less” decision to ask for assistance and valiantly accept help. In a sense, those who go into treatment choose to resist against their fear, and ignore the chatter in their head that says, ‘you’re not worth it, you will fail, and think what you stand to lose?’

Creation In Spite of Addiction

If you are not in recovery or do not struggle with addiction, the question above may seem baffling. You may ask yourself, ‘what could a person caught in the grips of mental illness have to lose by choosing recovery?’ It’s a good question, and the answer may not be an obvious one, so perhaps you can keep an open mind for a time.

Please consider for a moment that not every person with a substance use disorder in need of treatment is in the final iteration of the disease. Most people who require treatment are somehow managing to hold things together, at least on the surface. Each day, countless active using addicts and alcoholics get up, and go through the same motions as “normal” people; a significant number of people living with mental illness are successful, talented, and in quite a few cases—famous. We probably do not have to run down the list of all well-respected artists, musicians, authors, and performers who are both actively using or are in recovery.

We can probably all agree that it’s possible to make some of your dreams come true despite drugs and alcohol dependence. In spite of the pain, heartache, guilt, and shame that comes with addiction, individuals can create a masterpiece using their preferred medium. One could even argue, and many have, that substance use is a form of muse that guides them toward creation. Whether such a suggestion is right or wrong is debatable, what is certain is that no matter what excuse people have for continuing use, the choice comes at a significant cost— often, the ultimate price.

Identity is Important to Everyone. Even in Recovery!

Years of drug and alcohol use shapes people in many ways. Those caught in the cycle of addiction often define themselves by their struggle, convinced that their fight while deadly, is beautiful. What’s more, since humans are prone to gauge who they Are by how they see themselves in the eyes of others, one can easily convince their self that giving up drugs and alcohol will result in people viewing them differently. We all strive for consistency in how people see us, the thought of people changing their view (even when it is for the better) can be too much to stomach.

Addiction becomes a part of people’s identity; therefore, the thought of abstaining is tantamount to sacrificing (real or imagined) who they Are in the name of health. If a person’s identity is inextricably bound to that which they create, it’s difficult to justify anything (recovery) that could jeopardize creation. There is a pervasive mindset among many people with alcohol or substance use disorders who create art; the idea that self-improvement will diminish their ability to create. The fear of losing that which one loves most keeps people rationalizing their behaviors. Fear justifies continued use, one might say to themself, ‘what good is recovery if I’m going to spend the rest of my days mourning the loss of Art?’ For such people, their passion is more valuable than a healthy existence.

So, does recovery hurt the ability to be original and authentic? The simplest answer, and the right answer is, NO! Sadly, many people never come to that determination because their life was cut short by the disease.

Does Recovery Kill Great Writing?

Those who find the strength to stand up to their disease and give recovery an honest chance, discover an exponentially more exceptional ability to create. Fear is a dominant force, but it is not all-powerful. Fear can convince people that they have the answers to questions without having to do any research. Being convinced of something without conducting a proper study, is to live in ignorance. The only way to know what is possible in recovery is to do the work; only by openly and honestly giving a program of healing a chance can you answer the lingering questions bound to your fear.

Saying that anything is possible in recovery may sound suspiciously catchy; that doesn’t make it any less accurate. Recently, an article appearing in The New York Time’s Magazine, set its sights on the topic of recovery affecting creativity. The article is adapted from Leslie Jamison’s “The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath,” to be published next month. Jamison is an author who has several years sober in recovery which, like many artists, struggles with fear. The piece covers many areas relevant to people in recovery and in-need-of recovery. Even if you are artistically inept, everyone can relate to fear.

Jamison’s adaptation can speak to anyone, regardless of artistic background; but, it is likely to resonate most with people who have a penchant for reading and writing. Please find time to read this article, if you have used up your free NYT online articles for the month, the mobile site should still work. Reading the piece might serve to allay the fears of people still teetering on the fence of recovery; it can show you that there is beauty in recovery, resisting doubt is a beautiful struggle. Hopefully, it inspires you to pick up the phone and reach out for help. Making the brave decision to resist fear and seek change could lead you to create your best work yet; naturally, there is only one way to find out, just as Leslie Jamison would discover.

During days spent in the archives and during the midnight hours of my own attempts to write, it was liberating to start questioning the ways I’d understood torment as a prerequisite to beauty. It was liberating to start imagining that there could be meaningful stories told about wreckage, sure, but also meaningful stories told about what it might mean to pull yourself out from under it: stories about showing up for work, for intimacy, for other people; stories about getting through ordinary days without drinking enough vodka to forget yourself entirely. The lie wasn’t that addiction could yield truth. The lie was that addiction had a monopoly on it.

Addiction Recovery

It is hard work facing your feelings without the aid of alcohol and drugs. Early recovery is a difficult time for anyone, but what you will discover along the way will change your life for the better. Recovery is not an antidote for fear; it is a tool that allows you the ability to cope with and manage the state of being in healthy ways. Abstinence is the only absolute when it comes to healing, other than that, recovery isn't a trade-off. You will still be You when working a program, arguably an even better version of yourself.

If you are ready to face your fear and embrace changes in your life for the better, please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin a remarkable journey.

Shatter The Myths® About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction

addiction

The internet, social media, television, movies, and music have a lot to say about drugs, alcohol, and addiction. Unfortunately, sometimes the message isn't clear, and information doesn’t always deal in fact. The above trend may not seem like that big a deal until you consider the misconceptions that teenagers and young adults walk away with regarding substance use.

In the 21st Century, young people have access to more media outlets than ever before. Theoretically, it should lead to such people having a more informed grasp on any given subject. In just a few moments, one could learn all there is to know about drug and alcohol use on the internet. Television shows air programs that highlight the symptoms of mental illness and the risks of substance abuse. While it’s nice that there is now a lot of buzz about the above subjects, the information projected into the minds of youths is rarely science-based.

Again, talking about drugs, alcohol, substance use disorder, and mental illness is, without any doubt, of the utmost importance. Young people should understand what’s at stake when experimenting with any mind-altering substance, from cannabis right on down to heroin. Right? A problem of concern arises when you look at surveys focusing on this subject matter, revealing that young people have a multitude of potentially dangerous mistaken beliefs.

Surveys, such as Monitoring the Future, often highlight that both adolescents and young adults are misinformed about addiction. It’s entirely critical that younger Americans grasp the risk of prescription drug use, for instance. Experts must reiterate the dangers of binge drinking and regular cannabis use. When people are uninformed about alcohol and substance use, they make decisions putting their life in jeopardy.

Young Americans Misguided Beliefs

Each year, high schools and colleges devote significant amounts of time and resources in educating young people about substance use. Such efforts have paid off in many ways, ever-declining rates of tobacco use are just one example. However, while it’s clear most young people understand the dangers of smoking, many do not seem to have a grasp on the risks of addiction. E-cigarette use is prevalent among young people. Cigarette use down, e-cig use up is just an example of mixed messaging and a demographics failure to grasp the implications of their behavior.

Young people with stimulant medications for ADHD regularly divert their Adderall and Ritalin to their peers. A large number of people don’t see the harm, saying to themselves, ‘if it’s safe for me to use, surely it’s safe for my friend.’ Prescription stimulants are not to be toyed with, both highly addictive and known to cause dangerous side effects. We are in the midst of a prescription drug use epidemic in the U.S., and yet drug diversion is a clear indicator that thousands of young Americans downplay the seriousness of the situation. Another reason why experts must appeal to young people with facts.

A plethora of teenagers and young adults still don’t see the harm of grabbing oxycodone from the family medicine chest. What’s worse, parents will sometimes divert their opioid meds to an injured son or daughter. The takeaway is that young people are not the only ones with misguided beliefs about drug use.

We could offer up a long list of examples highlighting the misunderstandings young Americans share, but it’s more salient to discuss how to inform such people better, instead.

Shatter The Myths® About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction

This week, addiction and health experts around the country are observing National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week®. Now in its 8th year, NDAFW brings young people together to get the facts on drugs, alcohol, and addiction. Scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are using this week to Shatter The Myths®.

Here are a few facts that should be of interest to young people:

  • The brain keeps developing well into a person’s 20s, and alcohol can alter this development, potentially affecting both the brain’s structure and its function.
  • Smoking THC-rich resins, known as “dabbing,” pacts so much of the psychoactive ingredient that young people regularly need emergency services.
  • More than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids every day. Nearly 23,000 people died in the United States from prescription opioid pain reliever overdoses in 2015.

Such facts are just some of the information experts are talking about with young people this week. In all 50 states, young people have an opportunity to get clarity on several subjects at community and school events. At NDAFW events, scientists and experts from several fields encourage teens to ask questions about how drugs affect the brain, body, and behaviors. Last year, 2174 events took place in the U.S.

Even if you are unable to host an event or attend one, you can still spread the word about NDAFW. You can partner with the NIH by giving a Shout Out on Social Media (tweet, blog, or update your Facebook status).

Addiction Treatment

When young people don’t have the facts about drugs and alcohol, they are more likely to start down a treacherous path. Young adults struggling with addiction today, more times than not, began using in high school. Many of them had no idea that their behavior was problematic, and would lead them to heartache. If you are a young adult male battling alcohol and substance use disorder, please contact PACE Recovery Center. Let NDAFW be the week you decide to stem the tide of addiction, and embrace recovery.

Alcohol Use Disorder In College Must Be Addressed

alcohol use disorder

College, young adult males, and alcohol—what could go wrong? People who decide to pursue higher education do so to increase their prospects for a better life. The skills one acquires while in college prepare you for being a productive member of society. Landing a good job after college leads to financial security and a better life quality overall, typically. Naturally, the above is the best-case scenario; but for many young people, unfortunately, heading off to college is the start of a perilous journey marked by addiction.

Most young people, particularly males, consider alcohol use their right; they graduated high school, been accepted to a college, and are technically adults. Even though university freshman and sophomores are not 21, it has never stopped the age group from imbibing. While most underage drinkers do not progress to alcoholism, some do experience problems, and an alcohol use disorder (AUD) develops. Without treatment, such people will end up experiencing heartache (or worse) in the coming years.

Students who opt for Greek Life at campus fraternities and sororities are at an unusually high risk of substance abuse. In many ways, heavy alcohol consumption is a prerequisite (seemingly) of such affiliations. Immoderate drinkers in high school can expect their relationship with alcohol to take a turn for the worse in college. These young people who join fraternities can almost guarantee such an eventuality.

Alcohol Use Disorder By The Numbers

Research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) puts things into perspective for the general public. First and perhaps most salient is the finding that roughly 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for AUD. Each year, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries (i.e., motor-vehicle crashes).

Heavy alcohol use leads to non-lethal injuries as well. Some 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by a fellow student under the influence. NIAAA reports that 97,000 college students report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

Young adults who meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder are far more likely to experience adverse academic consequences. Such people miss class more than their non-drinking peers and receive poorer grades. If the behavior continues, academic probation, suspension, and expulsion are possible.

College is of the utmost importance for ensuring a stable, healthy life; alcohol along with college drinking culture is an impediment. If you are a young male who has been accepted to college and is struggling with alcohol, please consider postponement. Putting off college to address mental health concerns will enable you to succeed in school, rather than pay tuition and fees only to see your condition progress.

Ensuring College Bares Fruit

Many young men think that, despite drinking more than their peers, they are too young to be an alcoholic. Some believe that their unhealthy relationship with alcohol is just a passing phase, brushing off negative consequences already experienced. However, while smoke doesn’t always indicate a fire, there is an excellent chance that the effects you’ve already experienced portend severe problems down the road. Addressing one’s propensity to consume alcohol now, will pay off significantly in the future.

There’s no age requirement for alcohol use disorder or any mental health condition for that matter. Are you finding it challenging to manage responsibilities? Is alcohol use a consideration when making decisions? When you start drinking, do you struggle to “turn it off?” If so, it’s strongly advised you seek assistance via addiction specialists. Those already in college who take a semester off to address an alcohol disorder are more likely to graduate.

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of college-age males with alcohol and substance use disorder. Our young adult rehab is the perfect environment for beginning or extending the journey of recovery. In addition to breaking the cycle of addiction and showing you or your son how to work a program of recovery, we teach our clients life skills useful for employment and college. Please contact us today to start your life-changing journey of addiction recovery.

Depression Affects Many Young People

depression

At the beginning of May we wrote about depression, which was timely considering that the debilitating mental illness was the focus of the World Health Organization’s World Health Day (April 7, 2017). If you did not read the article, no worries, we can give you a little recap. The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a year-long campaign called, “Depression: Let’s Talk” to illuminate the public about the fact that over 300 million people around the world suffer from depression. WHO has determined that the mental illness is one of the leading causes of poor health in the world.

If people are unwilling to talk about the mental health disorder due to fear of social stigma, the whole world suffers. For every person touched by the illness, there are exponentially more people who are close to the afflicted whose lives are affected. By encouraging people to talk about their disease, we have a better chance of such people seeking help. In the realm of addiction medicine, it is abundantly clear that untreated mental illness of any form is correlated with an increased risk of substance use and abuse. Simply put, those who ignore their mental health disorder, by not seeking help, are on an easy course to addiction.

In the 21st Century, a time where the use of social media is ubiquitous, our ability to have open discussions about not only mental illness, but also the effective treatments available is significantly greater than in decades past. What’s more, the ability of scientists to disseminate facts about mental illness and that mental health problems beget other mental health issues—is greatly improved by the internet.

With that in mind, we also know now that problems like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder often begin at a young age. And if it can be screened for early on, then it can be treated before behaviors like self-medicating with drugs or alcohol develop.

Depression Affects Teenage Boys and Girls

At PACE Recovery, we specialize in the treatment of addiction affecting young men. However, it is relevant to discuss how mental health is a problem for both sexes. A new study of data regarding children's mental health in the United States, showed that depression can begin in children at age 11, The Washington Post reports. The data indicates that 13.6 percent of boys and 36.1 percent of girls have experienced or are depressed by age 17. The results of the study highlight the importance of early screening. The findings were published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

mental illness

The researchers admit that the reasons why females are at greater risk of depression in adolescence are not well understood, according to the article. Teenage boys, the data shows, are more likely to have problems with conduct, aggression and substance abuse; whereas depression appears to be much more common among girls. Understanding the reasons why for the time being, in many ways, pales in comparison to the importance of parents, teachers and medical professionals keeping a close eye for signs and symptoms of depression. Failure to do so, as you well know (probably), can have disastrous consequences—addiction and suicide to name a couple.

When you are seeing young people with symptoms consistent with depression it is really much, much better to get them connected to a pediatrician to get them a comprehensive mental health assessment and hook them into treatment sooner rather than later,” said study author Elizabeth Miller, director of the division of adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Young Adult Rehab Program

In a perfect world every child, of either sex, would be screened early on and regularly for mental illness. Unfortunately, we are not at that point, yet. The fact is, many young men experiencing symptoms of mental illness make it through high school without ever having been screened, and as a result turn to mind-altering substances to cope with their symptoms. As is clearly evident by the prevalence of young adults in need of substance use disorder treatment in America.

The good news or silver lining, in a sense, is that mental illness, whether it be depression, addiction or both, can be treated. Recovery is possible and the trained professionals at PACE Recovery Center can help you break the cycle of addiction and learn how to live a fruitful life in recovery. Please contact us today to begin the process, it is likely to be one of the most important phone calls you ever make.

Stigma of Addiction: Stop the Shame

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How we treat people who have diseases which can be fatal says a lot about who we are both as a nation and a society. Our ability to express empathy to those who are suffering from conditions that are, in many cases, outside of one’s control is of vital importance—especially in this day and age living in a country that has been racked by addiction.

Throughout out the second half of the 20th Century and into the 21st, the United States has made and gone through significant changes with how we look at those afflicted by a substance use disorder and how to best effectively treat addiction. Not too long ago, the majority of Americans would have said of addiction, if asked, that it was likely a moral failing; such people lack constitution or willpower and are an example of extreme narcissism.

To be fair, a superficial look at addiction could present a picture of the aforementioned pejorative statements. It could be easy for anyone without all the facts to view the disease in such a light, and such viewpoints are then perpetuated and disseminated to others who also lack the ability to grasp what is actually going on inside the mind of an addict. As a result, thunderous clouds of stigma float permanently above the millions of Americans who have been touched by this pernicious mental illness.

Yet, a closer look through the lens of science reveals the nature of addiction as being something altogether different. Which is why, for quite some time the disease of addiction has been classified as a serious mental health disorder, a condition that has little to do with a moral compass. Scientists have overwhelmingly concluded, that while no one chooses to be an addict and there is not a cure for the disorder, with assistance those living in active addiction can make changes to break away from drugs and alcohol and recover. Going on to live a meaningful and productive life, existing as part of society rather than being the subject of ostracization.

From Stigma to Empathy

If addiction is a disorder which has no cure, but can be maintained allowing for individuals to live relatively normal lives, then do you wonder why addicts are viewed so differently than those who suffer from other incurable conditions? The response to that question is far from easy to answer, being the subject of many an investigation. But simply put, much of the stigma of addiction rests on the fact that the complex disease is not well understood. Such a reality has opened the door for people without any qualifications to draw conclusion about substance use, and nonchalantly disseminate their “2+2=5” summations.

We would like you to imagine for a moment and entreat you to look honestly inside your selves, that somebody close to you contracted a serious illness. Perhaps a condition that science currently offers no cure, but does provide treatments that can prove effective at slowing down the progression of such disorders (e.g. diabetes, HIV, cancer and Parkinson’s). Could you picture yourself acting towards that individual in such a way as to elicit guilt or shame inside your loved one? Can you see yourself saying to someone dying from cancer or AIDS that they are ‘not trying hard enough?’ That they could get better, but are choosing to do otherwise. While rhetorical questions like this may seem like “no brainers,” they illustrate the absurdity of casting stones at somebody with a terminal illness.

Now, please close your eyes, picture your mother, daughter or neighbor is not suffering from cancer, but rather addiction. Would you act the same way in respect to them, as you would if they had cancer?

PSAs About Stigma

Breaking the stigma of addiction is a process that requires a multifaceted approach involving several agencies. Last week, the American College of Physicians (ACP) published a position paper arguing that addiction should be viewed as a “chronic disease” requiring treatment. Substance use problems are not a "moral disorder or character defect."

At the same time, a new campaign was launched called “Stop the Shame,” which released two public service announcements aimed at breaking the stigma of addiction. We must warn you ahead of time, the PSAs are hard to watch due to the videos accuracy with regard to how people living with addiction can be, and often are treated.

PSA 1: Addicts Hear Comments Cancer Patients Never Would

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

PSA 2: Addicts Hear Comments Parkinson’s Patients Never Would

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Far Reaching Effects

The tough comments that people with addiction endure on regular basis have a serious impact, affecting American society. Those made to feel shame and guilt about addiction are less inclined to seek help for their condition. As a result, their illness progresses, sending ripples throughout the country. For starters, without treatment, more and more families find themselves burying loved ones before their time. There is also a huge economic toll that is associated with untreated addiction. Lawmakers have tried arresting addiction away, unsuccessfully. The time for compassion, is now.

Addiction Linked to Weak Working Memory

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Addiction and poor impulse control. Well, it is fair to say that the two go hand in hand. Addicts and alcoholics can easily be typified by making rash decisions, that are rarely in one’s best interest. A major component of addiction recovery is reining in such destructive impulses that, in recovery, can surely lead to relapse. It isn't an easy task. True addiction develops over the course of years. During which time, people’s brains become wired to act and react to various things in certain ways. Breaking such patterns is hard work, requiring continued maintenance.

Those living in active addiction have a “go to” response for most things that come up. If they are stressed, they use. If they are happy, they use. Ad infinitum. But in most cases, the continued reliance on a substance for coping with all things Life, comes down to how your brain functions with regard to memory. Addicts and alcoholics often have short attention spans, and minds that easily forget where drugs take them. Sure, one may find relief in using a substance for a time. But such relief is always outweighed by the bad that comes with the use of a substance. Despite that fact, people continue to use regardless.

Naturally, we are all wired a little bit differently, sometimes a lot differently. Beginning at a young age, individuals process things in a subjective manner. Some young people excel at staying focused and on-task, while others struggle to keep their heading. There is compelling research indicating that those who struggle with impulse control and working memory, the capacity to focus on a task without being easily distracted, are at greater risk of substance use disorder later in life, according to a study conducted by researchers at three institutions. The findings of which, were published in the journal Addiction.

Risk of Addiction

More times than not, teenage substance use is a risk factor for a substance use disorder in adulthood. Early drug and alcohol initiation, while the brain is still developing, can wreak havoc on the course of one’s life. However, that is not always the case. The majority of teens who experiment with alcohol, tobacco and marijuana in high school, don’t progress to addiction later in life. For a significant minority, the future holds something altogether different.

It goes without saying there isn’t a test that will identify who will be touched by addiction. Sure, there are several factors that often play a part in the development of the disease (i.e. family history and upbringing), but they do not necessarily mean that the child will follow the same road as an addicted parent. While doctors cannot look at any one thing and say emphatically, ‘this teen will have problems later in life,’ identifying which adolescents have certain risk factors can help guide prevention methods that may mitigate the likelihood of addiction developing in the future.

Researchers looked 387 study participants (ages 18-20) who were recruited as 10- to 12-year-olds in 2004 for a long-term study, a University of Oregon news release reports. Baselines for the participants working memory and impulsive tendencies were defined at the beginning of the study. Teens with weak working memories and poor impulse control were at a greater risk of experimenting with substances at a young age, and having a substance use disorder later in life.

We found that there is some effect that was carried through the early progression in drug use. It is a risk factor," said Khurana, who also is a research scientist in the UO's Prevention Science Institute. "But we also found that the underlying weakness in working memory and impulse control continues to pose a risk for later substance-use disorders."

Predicting Addiction Later In Life

In middle schools and high schools across the country, substance use prevention efforts employ a total abstinence methodology. The idea being that if teens don’t ever use drugs and alcohol, they will be less likely to have a problem later in life. While that may be true in some cases, it is an idea that isn’t based in reality for the simple fact that young people will often do that which they are told not to do. As was mentioned earlier, most of the young people who experiment will not have a problem later in life. With that in mind, it would seem that prevention and intervention methods that work to improve certain behavioral deficits, could help many young people in the future.

Drug prevention strategy in the schools typically focuses on middle school when early drug use tends to take place and assumes that any drug use at all is a problem,” said Co-author Dan Romer, research director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “This study suggests that prevention needs to be more nuanced. The risk depends on whether drug use is likely to progress.”

If impulse control and one’s ability to stay focused is strengthened, teenagers and young adults would benefit greatly with regard to the relationship they develop with mind-altering substances.

Working with Young Adult Males

Through intensive, one-on-one addiction psychotherapy, under the care of licensed Master Level Therapists, PACE Recovery Center clients learn about and become aware of their experiences with addiction and behavioral health issues. They begin to identify personal core beliefs associated with negative sense of self, which exacerbates self defeating behaviors such as depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol use. Clients begin to challenge these self-destructive beliefs and ultimately restructure them into a healthier and more adaptive way of living free from mood altering substances. Each client's treatment plan is closely monitored, modified when necessary and evaluated by their therapist and the clinical treatment team.

National Recovery Month – Join The Voices

National Recovery MonthTogether, we can, and do recover from addiction. Those who suffer from substance use disorder are not lost, but rather they are living with a debilitating mental health disorder which, left untreated, can be deadly. There was a time when recovering from addiction consisted of what is known as “white knuckling” it, that is when one gives up drugs and alcohol but has nothing to replace it with. Those who fell into that category were often considered to be a glum lot, angry about being unable to use mind altering substances the way “normal” people can. Suffice it to say, they are not considered fun to be around. The advent of 12-Step recovery programs was a paradigm shift with regard to breaking the cycle of addiction. To put it simply, those living with addiction had a metaphorical hole that alcohol and drugs filled; by working the 12-Steps people could fill that hole by connecting with a higher power and helping others find recovery. Naturally, there are 12-Steps for a reason, and recovery under that model requires working them all—and reworking them in order to maintain constant contact with the higher power of each person’s choosing. Sadly, some addicts and alcoholics are unable to be completely honest with themselves and others, and work a program; maybe they will be able to surrender down the road, but it does not always happen the first time around. For those who have been able to do the work, stick to the principles of recovery and help others—the sky’s the limit. There is no cap on the amount of gifts that a program of recovery can provide—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Everyone who continues to recover from drug and alcohol abuse, day in and day out, should take a moment to be proud of how far they have come—especially since National Recovery Month happens every September.

National Recovery Month

Over the last 27 years, September has been designated as National Recovery Month. Over the next 30 days there will be recovery related events held all over the United States with several different goals. Of top concern are efforts to break the stigma of addiction, which is a clinically accepted form of mental health disorder. What’s more, bringing to the attention of those still abusing drugs and alcohol that not only is help available, recovery is possible. By acknowledging and applauding the efforts of those who have managed to get and stay sober, we can encourage others to seek help. In 2016, the theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery! Which, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is about pointing out the value of family support throughout recovery.

Family Addiction and Family Recovery

Addiction is like a bomb. Ground-zero being the addict or alcoholic. And just like a bomb there is fallout, i.e. friends and family. Addiction can, and does, wreak havoc on the entire family. Recovery is as important for the person living with a substance use disorder, as it is for the family. National Recovery Month 2016 encourages individuals in recovery and their family to share their personal stories of heartache and successes in recovery they have made, with the hope that it will encourage others to seek the help they so desperately need. If you would like to Join the Voices of Recovery to help inspire others, please click here. If you would like to watch personal stories of recovery on Recovery Month's YouTube, please click here. Below is an example of one young man’s story: If you are having trouble viewing the video, please click here.