FROM THE BLOG OF DR. NORA VOLKOW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE
October 25, 2017
The brain adapts and responds to the environments and conditions in which a person lives. When we speak of addiction as a chronic disorder of the brain, it thus includes an understanding that some individuals are more susceptible to drug use and addiction than others, not only because of genetic factors but also because of stress and a host of other environmental and social factors in their lives that have made them more vulnerable.
Opioid addiction is often described as an “equal opportunity” problem that can afflict people from all races and walks of life, but while true enough, this obscures the fact that the opioid crisis has particularly affected some of the poorest regions of the country, such as Appalachia, and that people living in poverty are especially at risk for…
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by Carson M.
As youth become older, they are exposed to an increasing number of factors that can negatively affect their development through sport and leisure. One of the main factors that influenced drop out in older youth’s participation in sport in my community was the use and exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Growing up, I experienced a large number of my friends drop out of sports that they once found so much enjoyment and overall benefit from because they made the choice to go out drinking on the weekends instead. As early teenagers, my friends had very little knowledge on the long-term effects that these choices would have on them and I feel as though they changed for the worse because of it. Aside from the negative health effects that can be caused from substance abuse, they were also putting themselves at a disadvantage in development of…
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New research shows high-achieving kids are more likely to drink and use drugs during their teen years and develop addictions by adulthood.
DO YOU ASSUME THAT since your kid gets good grades and goes to a good school that they’re not drinking or doing drugs? Think again. That’s the takeaway from two new studies suggesting that academically gifted youths are more likely to abuse substances, both as teens and adults. One surveyed 6,000 London students over nine years. Those with the highest test scores at age 11 were more likely to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana in adolescence – and were twice as likely to do so “persistently by age 20.”
Notably, a study taken by Arizona State University (ASU) study found that high school students who were more afraid their parents would punish them were less likely to drink or get high as adults. One professor, Luthar, said her…
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Click here to read Kristen’s heartwarming journey to sober living.
As many of you know, I spent 37 years drinking and getting high. (See my About page.) My addiction cost me a great number of things. When I first got sober, I heard a fantastic song on a country music station that I quickly made my “anthem.” It’s by Tim McGraw. I changed a few lines to fit the song into my recovery (which I show in italics), but for the most part it is right on the money. If you are struggling with addiction, consider getting help. Contact your local AA, NA or CA hot line and ask where you can attend a meeting. You too can end an era, turn a page, and start your life anew.
I think I’ll take a moment, celebrate my age
The ending of an era and the turning of a page
Now it’s time to focus in on where I go from…
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In an earlier post, I quoted another blogger who said: “You should have been understood and loved for who you were, not who they wanted you to be.” It resonated so deeply, having been one of “those” children. (See original post here.)
Got me to thinking about the times I got in trouble as a child for being my inquisitive, curious self. I loved to explore other people’s homes–I just HAD to see what was behind that closed door, down those steps. My mother sold Fuller Brush (remember the Fuller Brush man? If you’re over a certain age, you’re probably nodding right now.) After a while, my mom made me stay in the car while she dropped off her customers’ products. Because she knew I’d embarrass her by “exploring” her friends’ homes.
If I saw a path, I tugged on my parent’s hand and begged them to take me down it. And to this day, I can’t resist a new, unexplored trail. Speaking of paths and trails…when it came time to choose a career, I took two or three paths, turned around when they dead-ended, and finally found a permanent one. What a great feeling, to find a path that goes on and on! What’s around that next corner, anyway?
But I’m getting sidetracked (not much has changed in four decades.) When I was eight or so, it all culminated here:
My family joined several other families at this “castle” in Northern California for a retreat. While my parents were otherwise occupied, I occupied myself by trying to find a way to get to the very top of this place. At the back of the big room where they all gathered, I found an opening, leading to a big empty area, at the back of which were…stairs! Narrow, winding stairs! Leading all the way to the top, and ending in a little round turret room with an amazing view!! I ran downstairs and pulled my friend out of her room and showed her my discovery. Well, word got around, and I got scolded. But not too harshly. I suspect my parents were secretly impressed, and by this time knew it didn’t do any good to expect conformity from me.
It remains one of my favorite childhood memories. I’m convinced that urge to explore, to wander, has served me well in my writing career. But this time it’s imaginary worlds that I’m exploring.
A lot of myths about addiction are believed by a lot of people. This video shows how addiction is no respecter of persons, & strikes almost at random.
Lucky Otter’s letter to her 2-year-old self. Does this resonate with you as much as it does with me? This sentence is almost verbatim what a dear family member said to me recently: “You should have been understood and loved for who you were, not who they wanted you to be.”
I categorized this under Substance Abuse because the lack of love in my family of origin I am convinced led to my alcohol addiction, years later. When I picked up that first drink, for the first time ever, I felt normal.
For most of my life I wanted to pretend you didn’t exist. You embarrassed me and made me look bad. You cried too much and made scenes. You were weak, sickly, scared of everything, and easily frustrated. You didn’t know how to talk to people and usually ran them off by telling them too much too soon. You were easily overwhelmed. You were too sensitive and didn’t know how to roll with the punches.
I am sorry I thought those things about you. I was mistaken, brainwashed by others. I didn’t want to understand you. It was too dangerous. I might have been punished or bullied for it. I was, in fact. I couldn’t let that happen anymore.
It wasn’t your fault you had problems. That was done to you. You had no say. You were a thoughtful and deep child, who loved to analyze and…
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A poignant reminder of a dark time in my past. Have you experienced this as well? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
There’s a lump under my back, and
I’m soaking wet with the sweat of anxiety;
Insomnia has had me in its clutches for a week now.
Images in my head keep changing: I’m free,
No, I’m captive. Different versions of me hide behind the couch,
Pregnant with memories of surviving somehow.
I had more things than this last week, many
More possessions, each with their own story of
Days when I was lucid, sane, solvent.
For some reason I have become willing to settle for
Less in my life, items diminishing, the sun setting, as
I slowly waste away, sleeping on couches.