Tag Archives: addiction

Call Me When You’re Sober

Fiddling with a small lighter in his hand,
Sliding his fingers through his ghastly white hair.
His cigarette rests on a shiny red ring which graces
His harsh, red lips.
He is lost, struggling to find himself –
His purpose.
Brown eyes gazing upon the dark road,
He finds himself lighting his fifth cigarette.

Hand resting on the leather gear shift,
So begins the long drive down the highway.
Accompanied by her best friend Captain Morgan
And his favorite chemical –
Electric pumpkin hair blows in the breeze.
Down the 20 she drives,
In no search for a destination,
Only herself.

Chance encounters happen every day,
Opposites attract, as do similarities.
Clashing and meshing,
Like a puzzle piece.
That girl, that boy,
Fit perfectly.

“Their bodies unable to carry the weight of love, Addiction setting in.” Photo from: http://www.treatment4addiction.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/drugneedles.jpg

Days spent,
An opener on a bottle cap,
Cold ones drunk,
Injections into the veins,
Munchies and a craving for shitty Mexican food.
Telling stories of adventures
Thought to have happened,
But now never will.
Eyes redder than the blood
Flowing through their veins.
Bags under their eyes –
A lighter color than their lungs after the first pack.

They tried finding themselves,
But only found each other.
Their bodies unable to carry the weight of love,
Addiction setting in.
Destruction of themselves,
Their love for the substances
Tearing them apart from the inside and out.
Maybe if they had met,
They wouldn’t have turned to the poison for love.

The Hardest Choice

Just a sip—
That’s how the addiction began.
They said it’d fix everything,
An elixir for my inhibitions.
I was passed an overflowing glass of something
And I eagerly downed this liquid god
To atone for the sin
Of being boring.
Happy medium? Too mundane.
I’m only happy living by extremes
And now my happiness is attached to
An extreme buzz
With lows just as intense.

“I was passed an overflowing glass of something And I eagerly downed this liquid god.” Photo from: http://media.salon.com/2014/03/alcohol-1280×960.jpg

Maybe it was the regular blackouts
Or the sleazy boys who got too friendly
Or that time I vomited for two hours
While the world was spinning like that toilet bowl—
But I slowly realized my judgment had been flushed away
Long before my nausea.

As I walked away from the glamorous lifestyle
Of underage drinking,
Once-friendly chatter faded
And soon the loudest thing around
Was my own footsteps.
In their own coded dialect
They screamed to me—
Sobriety might be boring
But if it keeps you alive,
It’s worth it.
I didn’t argue—
Now I just keep myself busy.

Waiting Room Blues

We’re all sitting in a makeshift waiting room.

A drug treatment facility masquerading as a fidcus emporium

The doctor is late

It’s as if having a medical degree comes with a broken watch

All of us are here for the same reason

Our brains flood us with that feel-good chemical

Get my heart racin’ baby

We shift uncomfortably

Unsure as to whether or not we’ll get our fix

waiting room
“The doctor is late. It’s as if having a medical degree comes with a broken watch.” Photo from: www.juiceforskin.com






They leave us in twos

Some cross the threshold and never come back

Gone into the zone of white lab coats and Zoloft

‘Not I’ said the bipolar

‘Not me’ said the schizophrenic

We shift and stare

Trying to find the drug addict among us

Only to find that we’re all addicts,

Getting high off serotonin.

Addiction: Tattoo addition

Are tattoos an addiction? Well my friends, in my opinion, yes they are. The second I received my first tattoo, I knew it was downhill from there. I don’t know if it’s something about biology, or mentality, that the pain of getting tattoos is addicting or if it’s the process of getting new things, but, for me, getting a new tattoo is something that I always want, no matter how recent my last tattoo was.

I got my first tattoo when I was 16. My mom signed for it and ended up getting a matching one. It’s on my ribs and says “let it be” with birds flying up my ribcage. I still remember the feeling I had before I got it, while I was being tattooed, and after I was done. It’s truly nothing like I’ve ever experienced. It hurts, of course, but it’s almost like a good hurt, like a feeling that it’s kind of uncomfortable but also enjoyable. It only took about 30 minutes but I remember looking at it, after it was finished, and feeling so happy. My body felt somewhat relieved, while also in a state of shock I think, but I immediately wanted another one.

About three months later, I got my next tattoo. It’s script on my right bicep that says “the mirror often lies.” That one hurt a bit more than the first one, but I loved it so much and I felt a rush of adrenaline afterwards, like I could do anything I wanted to and I would never get hurt. I felt invincible.

getting a tattoo
“Are tattoos an addiction? Well my friends, in my opinion, yes they are.”

My next tattoo was three months after that and it was much bigger than the first two. I remember thinking that this tattoo had to be epic, it had to be large and beautiful enough to last me for a longer period of time without dying to get another tattoo. I got a colored rose on my left shoulder. It took about three hours to do, and I almost passed out from the pain. It was pretty horrendous. Even still, I remember, when it was all said and done, that I was immediately thinking about my next tattoo, what it would be and where I would get it. After every tattoo, my mom would say “no more okay? At least not for a while,” and every time I would say “yeah mom, I agree. I should probably wait.” I genuinely meant it at the time, but the tattoo hook is so far in me that I can’t stop wanting more.

My next tattoo was even bigger than the rest. It’s on my left arm and it’s a sugar skull girl. She’s almost the length of my upper arm and covers the entire front of my arm. That tattoo took about nine hours, including the prep time. The weird thing is, this tattoo didn’t hurt as badly as I thought it would and think it was because I had waiting so long between tattoos, that my body was craving the feeling.

My most recent tattoo is on my left bicep and wraps all the way around. It completed my half sleeve and I feel very badass. At the moment, however, I’m dying to get another one. It’s been about two months since my last one and I can’t wait any longer. I need it and I will make it happen, for my body’s sake and for the mental health of everyone around me.

Why habits are hard to break

A new study by Duke University scientists presents that habits leave an enduring imprint on particular circuits in the brain, preparing us to nourish our desires.

Published online January 21 in the journal Neuron, the examination develops researchers’ comprehension of how habits like eating sugar and different vices appear in the brain and proposes new procedures for breaking them.

“One day, we may be able to target these circuits in people to help promote habits that we want and kick out those that we don’t want,” said Nicole Calakos, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s senior examiner and an associate professor of neurology and neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center.

Calakos, a specialist in the brain’s versatility and adaptability, collaborated with Henry Yin, a specialist in animal  habit-related behavior in Duke’s department of psychology and neuroscience. Both researchers are additionally members of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.

The scientists trained generally sound mice to shape different degrees of a sugar habit by dispensing sweets if they pressed a lever. The mice that developed a dependency on the sugar continued pushing the lever even without being rewarded with a sweet.

Photo by: Danielle Johnson. Photo of: Raven Mason

The researchers then compared the brains of the sugar-dependent mice with those that didn’t develop a habit. Specifically, they looked at the basal ganglia, “a complex network of brain areas that controls motor actions and compulsive behaviors, including drug addiction.”

The basal ganglia, scientists said, discharged two primary types of paths carrying opposing messages, a “go” message that spurs action and a “stop” signal.

For the non-dependent mice, the stop signal was turned on prior to the go signal. The opposite was the case for the addicted mice. The analysts said they anticipated that the stop signal would be less dynamic in a dependent brain.

The analysts noted that the adjustments in the circuits took place over the “entire region of the basal ganglia they were studying as opposed to specific subsets of brain cells.” The progressions were “long-lasting and obvious” to the point scientists could tell which brain was dependent by observing small pieces in a petri dish.

This, analysts add, may be why one addiction can prompt others.

As a major aspect of the study, the researchers needed to check whether they could end habits in the mice, by just giving them sweets when they quit pushing the lever. The mice that ended the habit had “weaker go cells.”

This could prompt offering people some assistance with breaking negative habits, however since the basal ganglia is so intricate, it may be difficult to target with medications, said the researchers.

Their discoveries are distributed in the journal Neuron.

Sugar: the drug and your brain

It’s well-known that sugar isn’t the best thing for you — they don’t put it in the smallest section of the food pyramid for nothing. However, not as many people are aware that sugar has been compared to drugs like cocaine in their addictive qualities.

A study printed in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews states that “intermittent access to sugar can lead to behavioral and neurochemical changes that resemble the effects of a substance of abuse.” Addictions are dependent on the substance affecting the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that is associated with emotional control. If you’ve ever found yourself feeling down thanks to a fight with a friend or maybe a poor test grade and reached for some chocolate or a bowl of ice cream, it isn’t hard to believe.

“A study printed in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews states that “intermittent access to sugar can lead to behavioral and neurochemical changes that resemble the effects of a substance of abuse.””

Luckily, Dr. David Sack, CEO of Elements Behavioral Health, says “The truth is that not every one exposed to high-sugar foods is going to become addicted and seek it out regularly.” However, he continued with, “The same is true with drugs like cocaine or alcohol.” Therefore, it’s important to understand that a loss of control and cravings for the substance is a hallmark of addiction, but that cravings and overindulging in sweets from time to time don’t mean that you’ve developed an insurmountable affliction.

If you decide you might have become victim to the sugar addiction and make the commitment to break the habit, you should be aware of a few things about the withdrawal. Sugar floods the brain with dopamine to give you a quick and dirty pleasure peak. Addicts will less receptors in order to balance out the influx from your drug of choice. You may be grumpy, experience headaches and mood swings, and generally be overcome by cravings for the first week or so that you cut out your sugar intake.

Several years ago another study revealed that the average American consumed 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day outside of the natural ones we get from fruit and other sources. From just that average of added sugar is an extra 350 calories, and the average is likely to have risen in recent years. Due to the convenience we require in fast-paced modern America, it becomes harder and harder to be conscience of food selections and nearly impossible to fully avoid processed and prepared foods filled with added sugars that act to enhance flavor and or preserve food.

If you want to stay healthy by eating right or avoid addiction all-together, you best bet is simply to avoid sugar from the start. However, it’s never too late to cut it out.

Marijuana on the brain

We all know that marijuana contains THC, a chemical, which, like pretty much any other chemical we ingest, affects the brain. Still, this organic drug is hailed to be one of the least harmful — now even being legalized throughout the country as more of the U.S. comes to embrace the medical benefits of smoking up. And while many of you readers might know about the various benefits of this (still illegal in VA) drug, are you aware of what it does to your brain?

Marijuana on the brain! Graphic from Grass City
Marijuana on the brain! Graphic from Grass City

True, it doesn’t do much without heavy use and the drug itself doesn’t include any addictive qualities alone. You would have to already be a long-term user, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, to even become addicted. But even without true addiction, chronic marijuana use (defined as using at least 3 times a day for at least 4 years) comes with major consequences for your brain’s make-up.

The THC from marijuana gives users euphoric — or high — feeling as it enters the brain, activating the regions that govern pleasure responses, releasing dopamine, the chemical that makes you happy. That’s the change you probably hope for from marijuana — but what about the change you don’t want?

Chronic marijuana use may cause inflammation in the brain that leads to problems with coordination and learning. Marijuana use impairs a person’s ability to form new memories and to shift focus. However, these symptoms seem to fade away after the brain is deprived of THC.

Unlike these symptoms, the build of your brain in more permanently changed with chronic use. A study tested through MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) the brains of 48 chronic adult users versus 62 non-users of marijuana. The study found that chronic users had a smaller volume of gray matter in a region called the orbitofrontal cortex, which is commonly associated with addiction. These users also showed greater connectivity —  a measure of how well information travels between different parts of the brain — between different parts of the brain, compared with nonusers.

Unfortunately, it seems that long-term changes to the brain from former chronic marijuana use are still unknown. It may be that the effects are too subtle for reliable detection by current techniques once the use is halted. While this is disappointing for scientists, it seems like a get out of jail free card for chronic users across college towns everywhere! As long as one is using the THC heavy substance chances of impairment are high and it will take some time off the drug after abuse to regain full use of your faculties.

Why collectibles make video games so addictive

If you’ve played video games you have probably spent hours on end running around collecting various items and rewards such as coins, gems, heart pieces, armor, weapons or even high scores or achievements. Why spend all that time collecting things that aren’t real? Sure, that magic armor is useful in the video game world, but what about rewards that don’t even help you progress through the game, such as trophies and achievements? Continue reading Why collectibles make video games so addictive