A number of studies have been conducted to determine the effect that marijuana use [...]
Addiction: What is Addiction?
Addiction (Substance Abuse) is usually thought of in terms of a physical and psychological dependence upon a substance such as, alcohol, cocaine or heroine. There are many drugs, including alcohol, which cross the blood brain barrier and when ingested, alter the chemical reactions in the brain.
Often, this disorder is found with comorbid conditions. Among these, Anxiety Disorder, Depression, ADD (AD/HD), and Behavioral Disorders are very common. These disorders affect brain chemistry and function, and addicts may find that initially, the involved substance seems to temporarily diminish symptoms. One of the main problems associated with this, though, is the fact that the substances and the associated disorders have a direct effect on brain function and brain chemistry, thus, further complicating symptoms and treatment.
The person who is addicted will most likely continue with their activities despite the negative consequences of continuing to use the substance.
Addiction and Brain Function:
Most abused drugs directly or indirectly target the reward system of the brain by flooding the system with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that operate in the regions of emotion and affect the feeling of pleasure. Additonally, the brain affected by substance abuse will also present with a significant increase in beta and high beta waves. With the qEEG or Brain Map as an assessment tool, we can see the electrical activity of the brain. We can then determine where and how the dysregulation occurs allowing us to develop treatment protocols to put the brain back into balance without medication.
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Addiction and common symptoms:
- Tolerance – Usually begins to show an increase in tolerance, needing more of the drug to do the same thing.
- Withdrawal – showing signs of physical dependency.
- Personality changes – usually for the worse. The person isn’t as happy or becomes angrier, and these symptoms worsen as dependency increases.
*Substance Abuse (Addiction) Criteria:
- Substance abuse is defined as a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:
- Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (such as repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; or neglect of children or household).
- Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (such as driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by substance use)
- Recurrent substance-related legal problems (such as arrests for substance related disorderly conduct)
- Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (for example, arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication and physical fights).
Note: The symptoms for abuse have never met the criteria for dependence for this class of substance. According to the DSM-IV, a person can be abusing a substance or dependent on a substance but not both at the same time.
*Substance Dependence Criteria:
Substance dependence is defined as a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring any time in the same 12-month period:
- Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: (a) A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or the desired effect or (b) Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.
- Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: (a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance or (b) The same (or closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from its effects.
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use.
- The substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance (for example, current cocaine use despite recognition of cocaine-induced depression or continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption).
*Criteria consistent upon DSM IV
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Addiction: Addiction Case Study
At 38, Jeffrey thought he was doing pretty well until his accident. During his afternoon bike workout, he jumped off his bike and ended up in the surgery room where he had to undergo a second knee operation. The last 5 years had been hard, but he had been trying to get back into shape from his 1st knee surgery. He had found that although the physical recovery had been good, he was struggling emotionally and mentally. He had begun to realize that he needed the pain killers from his knee surgery had become more a habit it ease his anxiety and help him sleep rather than help with knee pain. He was drinking more and his marriage was crumbling down around him if he were to look at it honestly.
He talked to his doctor who recommended neurofeedback and counseling. After 6 months of sessions, Jeffrey feels like a new man. He has made new friends and reconnected with others he had alienated. He felt his life was finally in a forward progressive movement rather than stuck, dull and living a life of lies. He joined AA and remains an active member today.
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