While this post is “Michigan-centric“, the issues raised, information and suggested solutions are in fact universal. Since the end of February 2013 when the section in which I worked for my former employer for more than six years shut down permanently, I have been grooming for practice in a field of work in Michigan that I actually left in Connecticut the Summer of 2005.
For the past eighteen months I have shadowed a dynamic and charismatic health care marketing professional in her sideline of underage alcoholism and drug abuse prevention. She wrote THE book, as well as her own interactive prevention program, and then took her product to market.
OK, I’ll introduce you to her in a minute.
There is an epidemic among middle- and high school youth, at least in the Detroit metropolitan area, of alcohol and drug use that has far exceeded even the limits of mmmmy generation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN5zw04WxCc
Along with adolescence and puberty creating discomfort and awkwardness, additional catalysts such as gangs, bullying, anxiety about the future, performance, preparation for survival in an unstable economy, cheating, sports doping, constant barrage of reports of bloody violence and terrorist in the news, massacres in the schools and the movie theater, hazing…
Today our youth have sought and found a panacea, and an instant coping tool so to endure this pervasive fear of the unknown. Helplessness, vulnerability, isolation and silence manufacture a deadening despair that coats their reasonable expectation for a successful adult life and hopes to raise a family of their own.
Everything Americana changed post 9/11/2001. You may have forgotten. The ripple effect continues moment by moment, pervasively, infecting every aspect of post modern life. The paradigm has shifted so many times we cannot comprehend its impact on our thinking, what we believe, how we feel, what we decide and what we do.
Thank goodness ~ among us are mother’s little helpers: prescription pharmaceuticals and synthetic street drugs as accessible as Mom’s Midol and Dad’s J&B. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13olfeD026g Everybody knows SOMEBODY who goes overboard on those things. They can quit any time they want to, too.
But they are not weak, without will-power, evil or immoral. They do have, however, a brain disorder with effects on the human being that will cause an individual to behave unconscionably. And we who may be close to them, even love them, can contract wicked effects of living with the disease. The affliction has finally been diagnosed as Substance Use Disorder. It makes no distinction between age, gender, ethnicity, class, region, or culture. It can effect some individuals with a genetic component in ways that are outside the law and social acceptability. Learn about it here: http://shereeventures.wordpress.com/alcoholism/
I’m still in training as a Prevention Facilitator, but here is some information about my mentor on the subject: http://shereeventures.wordpress.com/trainers/
Hard facts about addiction and brain disorders:
THIQ and The Disease Concept of Alcoholism
T.H.I.Q. –Biochemical Culprit
T.H.I.Q. was discovered in brains of alcoholics in Houston, Texas by a scientist named Virginia Davis who was doing cancer research. For her study she needed fresh human brains and used bodies of homeless winos who had died.
She discovered in the brains of those chronic alcoholics a substance that is closely related to Heroin. This substance, known to scientists, is called Tetrahydrolsoqulnoline or THIQ. When a person shoots heroin into their body, some of it breaks down and turns into THIQ.
The Alcoholics studied had not been using heroin so how did the THIQ get there? When the normal adult drinker takes in alcohol, it is very rapidly eliminated at the rate of about one drink per hour. The body first converts the alcohol into something called Acetaldehyde. This chemical is VERY TOXIC and if it were to build up inside us, we would get VIOLENTLY SICK AND COULD DIE. But Mother Nature helps us to rid the body of acetaldehyde very quickly. She efficiently changes it a couple of more times – into carbon dioxide and water – which is eliminated through kidneys and lungs. That’s what happens to “normal drinkers.” It also happens with alcoholic drinkers, but with alcoholic drinkers something additional happens.
What Virginia discovered in Houston has been extensively confirmed since. In alcoholic drinkers, a very small amount of poisonous acetaldehyde is not eliminated; Instead it goes to the brain. Through a very complicated biochemical process, it winds up as THIQ. Research has found the following:
- THIQ is manufactured in the brain and only occurs in the brain of the alcoholic drinker. It is not manufactured in the brain of the normal social drinker of alcohol.
- THIQ has been found to be highly addictive. It was tried in experimental use with animals during the Second World War when we were looking for a painkiller less addicting than morphine. THIQ was a pretty good pain-killer but it couldn’t be used on humans. It turned out to be much more addicting than morphine.
- Experiments have shown that certain kinds of rats cannot be made to drink alcohol. Put in a cage with very weak solution of vodka and water, these rats refuse to touch it. They will literally die of thirst before they agree to drink alcohol. However, if you take the same kind of rat and put a minute quantity of THIQ into the rat’s brain — one quick injection – the animal will immediately develop a preference for alcohol over water.
- Studies done with monkeys, our close animal relative in medical terms, show the following:
- Once the THIQ is injected into a monkey’s brain, it stays there.
- You can keep the monkey dry, off alcohol, for 7 years. Brain studies show that THIQ remains in place in the brain.
The alcoholic’s body, like normal drinkers, changes the alcohol into acetaldehyde and then it changes most of it into carbon dioxide and water, which in the end kicks out through the kidneys and lungs. However, the alcoholic’s bodies won’t kick all these chemicals out. The Alcoholic’s brain holds a few bits back and transforms them into THIQ. As THIQ is accumulated in the brain of an alcoholic, at some point, maybe sooner, maybe later, the alcoholic will cross over a shadowy line into a whole new way of living.
It is not known by medical science, where this line is or how much THIQ an individual brain will pile up before one crosses this line. Some predisposed people cross the line while they’re teenagers, or earlier. Others cross in their 30′s or 40′s and others after retirement. But once this happens the alcoholic will be as hooked on alcohol, as he would have been hooked on heroin if he’d been shooting that instead.
With the loss of control, the complex symptoms have become chronic. All aspects of physiology have become progressive and incurable. Now it is clearly a disease.
Alcoholism is a disease.
Alcoholism is not the alcoholic’s fault.
Alcoholics can get proper treatment for the disease, which begins with learning the facts about remission.
The alcoholic can be relieved of guilt.
The alcoholic can take on responsibility for arresting their disease.
The alcoholic can refuse to put more THIQ in their brains and refuse to activate the THIQ that is already there.
Alcoholics can, and do, recover.
Dual Diagnosis FACT SHEET
NAMI • The National Alliance on Mental Illness• 1 (800) 950-NAMI• http://www.nami.org
3803 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, Va. 22203
What is dual diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe people with mental illness who also have
problems with drugs and/or alcohol. The relationship between the two is complex, and the
treatment of people with co-occurring substance abuse (or dependence) and mental illness
is more complicated than the treatment of either condition alone. This is unfortunately a
common situation—many people with mental illness have ongoing substance abuse
problems, and many people who abuse drugs and alcohol also experience mental illness.
Certain groups of people with mental illness (e.g., males, individuals of lower socioeconomic
status, military veterans and people with more general medical illnesses) are at increased
risk of abusing drugs and alcohol. Recent scientific studies have suggested that nearly onethird of people with all mental illnesses and approximately one-half of people with severe
mental illnesses (including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) also experience substance
abuse. Conversely, more than one-third of all alcohol abusers and more than one-half of all
drug abusers are also battling mental illness.
What is the relationship between substance use and mental illness?
The relationship between mental illness and substance abuse/dependency is complex.
Drugs and alcohol can be a form of self-medication for people with mental illness
experiencing conditions such as anxiety or depression. Unfortunately, while drugs and
alcohol may feel good in the moment, abuse of these substances does not treat the
underlying condition and, almost without exception, makes it worse. Drugs and alcohol can
worsen underlying mental illnesses during both acute intoxication and during withdrawal
from a substance. Additionally, drugs and alcohol can cause a person without mental illness
to experience the onset of symptoms for the first time.
Abuse of drugs and alcohol always results in a worse prognosis for a person with mental
illness. Active users are less likely to follow through with their treatment plans. They are
more likely to experience severe medical complications and early death. People with dual
diagnosis are also at increased risk of impulsive and violent acts. Those who abuse drugs
and alcohol are more likely to both attempt suicide and to die from their suicide attempts.
Individuals with dual diagnosis are less likely to achieve lasting sobriety. They may be more
likely to experience severe complications of their substance abuse, to end up in legal trouble
from their substance use and to become physically dependent on their substance of choice.
What treatments are available for individuals with dual diagnosis?
Treatment of individuals with dual diagnosis is also complicated. Of primary importance is
addressing any life-threatening complications of intoxication. The following situations would
require immediate care in a hospital: severe cases of alcohol intoxication; heart problems or
stroke caused by use of amphetamines, crack, cocaine and other drugs; overdose on
benzodiazapines (e.g., diazepam [valium], clonazepam [klonopin]), opiates (e.g., oxycodone,
oxycontin) and other “downers.” Untreated, any of these conditions can lead to death.
Drug and alcohol withdrawal can also lead to medical emergencies requiring immediate
treatment. Alcohol withdrawal can result in heart problems (e.g., arrhythmias), seizures or
delirium tremens (an acute delirious state), all which can be potentially fatal.
Benzodiazapine withdrawal can result in tremors (“shakes”), seizures and potentially death.
Opiate withdrawal is not thought to be life-threatening in most cases but can be a very
traumatic and painful experience.
Many people seek assistance in going through the process of stopping their drug and
alcohol abuse. This may include inpatient detoxification involving admission to a hospital—
either a general hospital or a detoxification facility—and treatment with the appropriate
medications to avoid serious complications of acute drug and alcohol withdrawal.
Multiple scientific studies have shown that psychiatric treatments are more effective in
people who are not actively abusing drugs and alcohol. Many options exist for people who
are newly sober or who are trying to avoid relapse on drugs and alcohol. These can include
inpatient rehabilitation centers or supportive housing. Some people find therapy to be a
helpful part of maintaining their sobriety. This can include individual therapy (e.g., cognitive
behavioral therapy) as well as self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics
Anonymous or Smart Recovery.
Certain medications to help maintain sobriety have been safely tested in multiple studies.
For alcoholism, available medications include disulfiram (Antabuse), acamprosate (Campral)
and naltrexone (Revia). For opiate abuse, available medications include naltrexone (Revia,
Vivitrol), methadone and buprenorphine (Subutex, Suboxone). Given how complicated these
choices may be, it is necessary for any individual with dual diagnosis and their loved ones to
discuss medication management strategies with their doctors.
Families, friends and others can be most helpful in providing empathic and non-judgmental
support of their loved one. This can be critically important as a significant majority of people
will relapse into drug and alcohol abuse at some point in their lives, even if they are
eventually able to achieve long-lasting sobriety. With this support, the proper medical
treatment and effective psychosocial treatments, many people with dual diagnosis will be
able to actively participate in their journey to recovery.
Reviewed by Ken Duckworth, M.D., and Jacob L. Freedman, M.D., January 2013