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Drug Addiction, Treatment and Rehab Posts

The Anxiety/Panic Cycle: Fight or Flight

I have received so many emails lately regarding this subject. Everyone wants to know the answer to “Why is this happening to me?” There are many reasons and no one answer that applies universally. Everyone is different. I can try and help you understand what is happening to your body, however, during a panic attack. I will try and answer as best I can, with a little help from Dr. Reneau Z. Peurifoy, author of Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic

 The Fight or Flight Response

Your sympathetic nervous system is what controls the fight or flight response. This is also something considered in a benzo rehab. When it is triggered, it shuts down all “nonessential activity” and prepares the body to either flee or fight the perceived threat.

What happens to your body when the fight or flight response kicks in?

  1. Accelerated heartbeat
  2. Deeper and more rapid breathing
  3. Increased muscle tension
  4. Cold sweat
  5. Blood vessels constrict
  6. Shivering
  7. Hairs on the body stand up
  8. Pupils dilate
  9. Digesive system shuts down
  10. Decreased flow of saliva (dry mouth)
  11. Voiding of the bowels and bladder
  12. Adrenaline (eninephrine) is released into the bloodstream.

 Many people, like myself, have an overactive sympathetic nervous system – meaning, quite simply that the slightest thing will set off the fight or flight response in our bodies.

This is usually caused by several different factors:

Genetic factors that result in a highly reactive body.

Physical exhaustion due to stressful events.

A medical condition.

A drug reaction (yes, caffeine is a drug!),

How to Stop Anxiety Attacks: The Causes and Treatment of Excessive Worrying

Anxiety could be described as worrying excessively. Most people worry and this is normal, indeed sensible at times. It’s natural to worry about the safety of young children for example or our own when driving. Worry is an aspect of fear and there are some things it’s good to be frightened of.

But like most things that are good, too much is bad and this applies to worrying. If you worry so much that your every day life is affected, perhaps you’re not sleeping well, not concentrating on your work or you’re getting irritable with those around you, then you may have what is termed an anxiety state. But try not to worry about it! There’s much you can do to help yourself.

Who gets Anxiety?

Almost anyone can. Anxiety states are very common in our society and some have suggested that our western lifestyles are responsible – who knows? What is known for sure is that some people are more susceptible to anxiety than others, everyone knows people who appear to be able to ride out life’s troubles with ease, never kept awake at night by a churning mind. But even these seemingly laid-back individuals can develop anxiety states if the circumstances are right. A number of factors are thought to increase the risk of developing anxiety.

Adverse life events: such as divorce, death of a loved one or loss of job. This is especially so if several of these events occur in a short space of time.

A traumatic childhood.

Drug misuse: for example caffeine, alcohol, amphetamines.

Genetic makeup

Lack of social support

Symptoms of Anxiety

These are quite variable and it’s unusual for one person to get them all.

Not sleeping, mind constantly thinking, worry about the future, feeling that you can’t get your breath, palpitations, digestive upsets, thirst, muscle tension and headache.

One of the difficulties with anxiety is that it’s easy to fall into a downward spiral. What happens is that you develop one or more of the above symptoms. You then think that you might have a serious illness; this racks up your anxiety level which in turn provokes more symptoms and then more anxiety. It’s thought that one of the major reasons for the formation of this spiral is the development of abnormal breathing patterns that can occur in some sufferers. This then alters the levels of various chemicals in the blood which give rise to more anxiety symptoms.

What to Do if you Experience Some of the Above symptoms?

Any of the symptoms of anxiety can be due to underlying illness. They probably aren’t, but it’s as well to check with your doctor first. At the very least the reassurance that it’s nothing serious will help lower your anxiety level. Remedies for anxiety fall into three categories: self-help, complementary therapies and medical help.

Self-help

The main methods are: relaxation techniques, meditation and breathing techniques. These three are inter-related in that one often incorporates something of the other. Many people find yoga and tai chi useful. Physical exercise is good for relieving muscle tension.

Complementary Therapies

Those most commonly used are: acupuncture, hypnotherapy and massage.

Medical Help

Medical help falls into two major categories: medication with drugs like the benzodiazepines or psychotherapy – the most effective of which seems to be cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Here the patient is taught how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

So if you have anxiety symptoms, don’t put up with them, get checked out by your doctor and discuss with him or her what you can do to help yourself.

Oxycodone High: It Is So Much More Than Physical Dependence

If you are worrying about a loved one who may be addicted to the use of oxycodone, you can usually tell with the signs if it is already severe or not. For one, the amount of time the person spends using or talking about oxycodone could be an indicator. Even mixing oxycodone with alcohol or other prescription medications could be a sign. Both of these often indicate that there is abuse or addiction.

Opioids including oxycodone can cause increasing tolerance in its users so you would have to take in larger doses of the drug to achieve the first “high” experience. If you have noticed that your friend or family member is increasing their doses without a doctor’s order or has difficulty stopping the use of oxycodone, then it is possible that he or she is physically dependent, if not fully addicted to the drug.

Oxycodone addiction may cause changes in the mood.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders determines the characteristics persistent to the set of disturbances in the mood like being irritable or depressed. The following, however, can serve as a general guide for addiction:

  • A lot of time is spent using, recovering or obtaining the drug.
  • Persistent desire or cravings for oxycodone or unsuccessful at efforts to stop or cut down use.
  • Occupational, recreational or social activities are reduced and may even be given up due to the addiction.
  • The presence of withdrawal symptoms or when the person continues to use the drug to avoid the symptoms.

Here are the physical symptoms of withdrawal from oxycodone:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Nodding off
  • Muscle and bone pain

The symptoms of an addiction to oxycodone can be treated.

First off, you may try intervention programs, which can either be informal or formal. No matter which type of intervention you choose, your goal will be to bring the addicted person directly to an oxycodone addiction treatment facility.

If you choose an informal type of intervention, you need to plan the action with family members and friends and probably gather everyone with the addicted person to discuss the problem. In your discussion, you may talk about how the use of the drug is already affecting the people around. If you find this difficult to attempt then you may go for a formal type of intervention that will include professionals like counselors and psychiatrists.

The symptoms of addiction to oxycodone are manifested as a result of psychological processes and chemical dependency. When the addiction becomes disrupted, mental symptoms will have to be addressed.

A common treatment used for oxycodone addiction and other types of addiction is the behavioral therapy, which determines the underlying emotional issues that need attention. You can also seek help from clinics or local practitioners and ask for the best referrals.

You can also opt for pharmaceutical treatments to stop some of the effects of the drug.

Some recovering addicts turn to opiate blockers or lower their dose of the drug gradually to be as comfortable as possible during withdrawal. Doctors also prescribe naloxone and buprenorphine to address dependency and the symptoms of withdrawal.

Addiction treatments can either be inpatient or outpatient treatment. For the latter, you will visit a clinic then go home whereas the former requires their patients to stay in the facility for some time. This option is actually seen as the best for people with a stronger addiction to oxycodone.

 

The Symptoms of Anxiety: Dealing With Serious Stress

Healthy anxiety should not interfere with relationships, careers and family settings. Anxiety should not prevent one from living one’s life in a way that is meaningful for that person. The feelings of anxiety can be very disruptive and confusing leading to even more serious problems. It is very important to remember that the symptoms and manifestations are very individual depending on the person.

Emotional Symptoms

The emotional symptoms are very intense and can become overwhelming if ignored. These symptoms include feelings of apprehension or dread, difficulty concentrating, feeling tense and jumpy, always anticipating the worst scenario in a situation, irritability due to tension, restlessness, a constant alertness for signs of danger, exaggerated startle response, and a feeling that one’s mind goes blank under pressure.

Physical Symptoms

As with all emotional disorders there are physical manifestations that make the sense of anxiety even worse. The physical symptoms can include sweating, stomach upset, dizziness, shortness of breath, tremors or twitches, muscle tension, intense headaches, insomnia and fatigue. Often time’s people suffering with severe anxiety report a sense that they are having a heart attack. These physical symptoms can be debilitating, as well as frightening. The symptoms can also interfere with work and/or family life.

If left untreated these expressions of intense anxiety can become a full blown anxiety disorder. A person with such a disorder will avoid everyday situations, may be afraid to leave their home and may find their life seriously disrupted. Ignoring the symptoms can lead to chronic anxiety or panic attacks in which a person deals with a sense of terror. During a panic attack, people report being unable to breathe or even to request help. Panic attacks help to heighten anxiety because many people report becoming anxious about having another attack because the attacks themselves are so unpleasant.

Treatment

Anxiety can be treated in couple of ways. Make time for oneself, being aware that the self is important in our hurried way of living too. Many people report daily meditation as being very helpful as it helps to relax a person and clear the mind. Exercise can also do a lot to relive tension and should become part of everyone’s daily routine. In addition, it is clearly important to develop a support group of friends and family that can listen to the parts of one’s life that are truly anxiety provoking.

If the practices listed above do not improve the situation then professional help can be very healing. Talk therapy, anti-anxiety medication and behavior therapy designed to change thinking and behavior can be very helpful. It is important to remember that these symptoms are very real and very overwhelming and if left untreated can lead to a serious anxiety disorder or suicide.

A Positive Attitude

Be aware that this is nothing to be ashamed of. Our society is one which places a lot of emphasis on success and achievement. In some high powered careers, leisure time is in fact looked down upon and the associated stress can easily get out of control. Get the help needed; take the time to care for the stress that is felt. In the long term, one will live a better more comfortable life.

The Facts About Child and Adolescent Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar is one of the main mental illnesses that I treated as a psychiatric nurse. It is largely characterised by swings in mood from mania to depression. In relatively recent years it has been discovered that it is not only adults who can suffer from it. Adolescents, and even children, can also suffer from this serious illness. Bipolar in children and adolescents is known as early onset bipolar and presents its own challenges. It has to be handled differently from the form of bipolar that adults suffer from, both in the way it is diagnosed, treated and managed.

The Difference Between Adult, and Adolescent and Child Bipolar Disorder

According to WebMD.com in their article ‘Bipolar in Teens’ bipolar can be diagnosed in children as young as 6 but is most commonly diagnosed between 14 and 16 years old. Adolescence is a time of raging hormones and mood swings, but bipolar is more than this. ‘About.com.bipolar disorder’ characterises this difference as the fact that the presence of the illness significantly impairs people’s functioning at school, home and with their peers. NIH.gov states in ‘Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens’ that early onset bipolar is more severe and the symptoms occur more often than in the adult form of the illness. It is also harder to diagnose as it is often mistaken for attention deficit disorder.

The Symptoms and Behaviours That Manifest in Early Onset Bipolar Disorder

WebMD.com: ‘Bipolar in Teens’ points out that sufferers experience very rapid changes in mood during one single day. Their feelings manifest themselves when ‘manic’ as excitability, very rapid speech, an over developed sense of self importance and a problem sleeping. Teenagers with bipolar will often wander around the house, looking for things to do during the night because of this. Both children and teenagers have a tendency to appear obsessed with talking about or exploring sex during their manic phase. During a sufferer’s low period he may present as moody, very down, move very slowly and may also complain of pains in the head, stomach and muscles. An obsession with death, including suicide is also not uncommon. According to ‘Rpsych.com:Bipolar(Manic Depression)’ these symptoms can manifest themselves as behaviours such as avoiding school, drug and alcohol abuse and self harming and, in some cases, running away from home.

Early Intervention and Treatment of Adolescent Bipolar

Kidshealth.org tells us that early intervention and treatment is vital as, left untreated, high risk behaviours such as promiscuity, drug taking and even attempted suicide may occur. If the child is suicidal or totally out of control a stay in hospital may be necessary for the safety of the child. If the patient is manageable at home then the treatment options for bipolar are similar as for adults and include mood stabilisers such as Lithium and Lamictal. Antipsychotics such as olanzapine or risperidone and anti depressants are also used, but the dosages and combinations are different than those used for adult bipolar due to the growth and development of the child being treated. Talking treatments are vital in the treatment of early onset bipolar. ‘Rpsych.comBipolar(Manic Depression)’ tells us that these treatments include family therapy and interpersonal therapy. The therapies are all aimed at helping the child to cope with the mood swings and the problems that bipolar brings.

Helping Your Child Cope With Bipolar Disorder and how He can Help Himself

The teenage years are hard enough without having a serious mental illness to deal with as well. Kidshealth.com suggests that you let the school know so that they can be a little more understanding of possibly disruptive behaviour. The most important thing a parent can do is be open and understanding, as a strong supportive network is vital for anyone with bipolar. Parents can also help by ensuring that their child takes their medication. One of the unfortunate side effects of a lot of psychiatric medications is that they cause weight gain. This is something that teenage girls, especially, will have a big problem with. Ensuring regular exercise and a healthy diet will help this. One of the best things anyone with bipolar can do is join a support group; it can really help to talk to people who are going through the same thing. Taking away the feeling of isolation that a lot of adolescents feel, who are suffering, can prevent behaviours such as running away from home or turning to drugs.

Living with any mental illness is hard, but you don’t have to go it alone. sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger. Here are some numbers in the UK for when it all gets too much.

Thinking Through Anxiety & Global Conditions: Fears About the Economy, Terrorism, and the Future

At any given time wars are being waged somewhere on the planet. Yet, the majority of the earth’s people prefer peace. The fact that humans are still here—particularly in this thermonuclear age—demonstrates that history is on the side of those who spend their time and resources perpetuating kindness and optimism. With so many countries involved in the “war on terror” and witnessing regressing economies, it’s easy to see why families are anxious.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban are strengthening again

Radical groups that foster hate and depend on fear to achieve objectives often strengthen and weaken in a cyclical fashion. When confronted and consistently opposed, they lose momentum and ultimately rot on the vine. Don’t underestimate the power of human conviction—especially for good. Being guided by goodness and principle and acting in the best interest of the group (in this case the earth and its inhabitants) is the broader view that has historically been the path of wisdom and will no doubt be so in the future.

The Economy Will Collapse

Probably not. But even if it does, that takes one back to the resiliency of human beings. How do you think the economy became strong in the first place? Granted, there are spending habits and political matters to be addressed, but those are not the concern of this article. Amidst the news reports of financial doom and gloom is another story to tell. It is an epic. It is the saga of human beings finding a way to make great things happen. It is the testament to human creativity and ingenuity within the multigenerational transmission process.

The End Is Coming in 2020

Feel free to pack your bags and head for the airport, but you’re probably not going anywhere. People worry about the next four years–especially in the United States–but the passing of a month or a year or a century is unremarkable unless some import is imposed upon it. Many point to the Mayan calendar, Bible codes, or psychic readings. Regardless of one’s source of inspiration, it seems arrogant to assess dates for the end of all things. What, exactly, would that look like anyway? Since no one can actually demonstrate what the end will be, people are at a bit of a disadvantage as to the when and the how. Perhaps the best use of the time would be acting in the best interests of the group.

Thinking Through the Anxiety

Thinking is hard work. Thinking through anxiety is even harder. Recognizing the distinction between acute and chronic anxiety can be helpful. Acute anxiety is the by-product of what is: John’s fiancé just broke their engagement and he is distraught. Chronic anxiety is the result of what might be: Sally is preoccupied with the thought that a potential fiancé might break a future engagement; thus, she refuses to date. Chronic anxiety does not appear to be caused by anything in particular. It can usually be traced to a person’s response to disharmony within a given relationship system. What percentage of worldwide anxiety can be attributed to the question, “What if?”

Do global fears suggest a lack of togetherness or do they perhaps indicate an anxious togetherness where individual thinking and direction have been hijacked in favor of the herd mentality and reactionary strife? Think it through.

Treating Bipolar Disorder: How to Lessen the Effects of the Mental Illness

Bipolar disorder can seriously disrupt a person’s life which is why treatment of this illness is vital to maintaining a normal, structured life. Without treatment bipolar disorder can affect every area of a person’s daily life.

Treating Bipolar Disorder I and II with Medication

There are several medications available to help treat bipolar disorder. If one doesn’t seem to help, a patient’s physician may adjust the dose or prescribe a different medication; the success of a particular treatment varies among individuals. There are three main types of medication used to treat bipolar disorder: mood stabilizers, anti-seizure and antidepressants.

Mood stabilizers are the most commonly prescribed medications for this disorder. These medications will help stabilize and regulate moods so a person doesn’t experience bipolar episodes, experiencing powerful bouts of mania and depression.

To prevent mood swings in a bipolar patient, a doctor may prescribe anti-seizure medications. These are prescribed to people with bipolar II disorder who are deemed to have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.

Antidepressants may not be effective in treating bipolar disorder. It was once common to prescribe these but it is now controversial because some believe they may actually trigger mania in bipolar patients.

Certain anti-psychotic medications may also help in treating this disorder. A certain drug, quetiapine (Seroquel) treats both manic and depressive episodes and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

All medications have side effects so patients should provide the doctor a full list of current medication as well as any preexisting conditions. A woman who wants to get pregnant in the near future should tell her doctor so the medication with the least health risks can be prescribed.

Treating Bipolar Disorder I and II with Therapy

Therapy can be very helpful in treating bipolar disorder; therapy is often used in conjunction with medication. A common form of individual therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy. A person will learn stress management, what may trigger his/her episodes and replace unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors with positive, healthy ones.

Family therapy will help identify and reduce stress triggers within the family and can help improve communication. Group therapy is a forum to speak and listen to others in a similar situation who also have bipolar disorder or another form of mental illness.

ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy, involves passing electric currents through the brain to trigger a seizure. The seizure may cause changes in brain chemistry to improve mood. This therapy is mainly for people who suffer from episodes of severe depression with suicidal tendencies or haven’t seen improvement with other treatments.

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness and treatment may also need to be lifelong where prescription drug rehab Miami can be of help. There’s no surefire way to prevent bipolar disorder but getting treatment at the earliest sign will help a person. Without treatment a person may be prone to legal, financial and relationship problems, as well as, suicide, substance and drug abuse, isolation and poor work or school performance, so seeking treatment for bipolar disorder is essential.

Rewards of Quitting Smoking: Benefits of Smoking Cessation – Immediate and Long Lasting

It is known worldwide that smoking is one of the most dangerous habits. Once addicted, it is hard to let go of smoking even when one knows that it is killing the body from within. Most smokers drop the idea of smoking cessation for they believe that they have already harmed their bodies enough and quitting smoking will do no wonders for them. However, they could not be further than the truth.

Reap the Rewards of Quitting

Even if one has been smoking for a long time, kicking this dreadful habit is always a good idea. The body is put under a lot of strain with every puff of a cigarette. Now is always the best time to quit. The following are some of the benefits that come with smoking cessation:

  • Blood pressure and heart rate moves closer to normal within 20 minutes after quitting smoking.
  • The high carbon monoxide level in the body returns to normal 12 hours after quitting.
  • There is significant improvement in lung function as well as the circulation in about 15 days to 90 days’ time.
  • Within the time period of one to nine months, smoking cessation will result in improvement in the problem of cough and shortness of breath. The cilia present in the lungs start functioning normally and thereby clean the lungs better and decrease the risk of contracting external infections.
  • Within a year of kicking this habit, the risk associated with coronary heart disease reduces to almost half of that associated with a smoker.
  • Within five years of quitting, the risk of getting a stroke is equivalent to that of a non-smoker.
  • More significant benefits start showing after about ten years of quitting. There is a reduced risk of cancer of the bladder, pancreas, mouth, throat, cervix and the esophagus. The risk of getting lung cancer is equivalent to half of the risk associated with that of a smoker.
  • Fifteen years down the line, coronary heart disease ceases to be a major threat as the risk associated with it reduces to that of a non smoker.

The Instant Rewards

It is not that one has to wait for years to get the rewards of quit smoking. There are many and quite evident benefits which one will receive almost immediately. These benefits are as follows:

  • better smelling breath
  • teeth become whiter
  • disappearance of yellowish finger nails
  • enhanced sense of smell
  • no shortage of breath while doing physical activities

The body and clothes smell better. It is quite clear that giving up smoking is one of the biggest rewards one can give to his body. This change alone will bring significant health benefits which were being deprived due to smoking.

How to Tell if a Teen is Using Drugs and Alcohol: Warning Signs of Teenaged Drug Abuse Can Be Hard to Catch

According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, illicit drug use among teenagers is down. This is good news, but it’s not the only news. Alcohol use is up among the underage crowd, as is the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Given these facts, it’s normal for a parent to be concerned about whether or not their teen is using or abusing drugs and alcohol.

Unfortunately, teenagers don’t wear signs around their necks telling parents the status of their drug use. And many parents are uncomfortable talking to their children about the subject. Drug abuse causes a personality and behavior shift in a teen. But lots of normal teen behavior is erratic, so it can be hard to know if moodiness is a result of adolescent hormonal surges or substance abuse.

Physical Signs that a Teenager May be Using Drugs

Finding drugs or drug paraphernalia in a teen’s room, car or backpack is a strong sign that he might be using. If confronted with physical evidence, many teens will deny the drugs are theirs and say they belong to a friend. This is almost never true.

Drugs and their ingestion methods come in many forms, but here are some things to watch for:

  • pills (oxycontin, xanax, vicodin, codeine, ecstasy)
  • powders (cocaine, heroin, meth)
  • leafy, sweet smelling herbs or rolled cigarettes (marijuana)
  • mushrooms (psychedelic mushrooms)
  • tiny tabs of paper (acid)
  • beer, wine or liquor bottles
  • water bongs
  • small pipes
  • lighters
  • spoons
  • needles

Home and School Signs that a Teen May be Using Drugs

Drug use is sometimes the culprit when a teenager suddenly starts bringing home lower grades or reports of incomplete assignments. Truancy often becomes an issue. A normally well-behaved child may suddenly begin getting detentions for behavior problems such as disrespect of teachers, classmates and property. He may also begin skipping practices or meetings for extracurricular commitments like sports, band or yearbook.

At home, he may withdraw from regular family activities, spend long amounts of time alone in his room and stop doing expected chores. Angry or violent outbursts can indicate a drug problem, as can a noticeable decline in personal hygiene. Some teenagers who are abusing drugs will take medications (both prescription and non prescription) found in the homes of their parents or other close relatives.

Emotional and Social Signs that a Teenager May Be Using Drugs

A teenager who is using illicit substance often changes his group of friends, seemingly overnight. He may speak poorly of old friends and criticize them for their choices or beliefs. He may also withdraw from groups that have always been important to him like church or Boy Scouts. Changes in his daily sleep or activity routines can also be a warning sign.

Other behaviors to watch out for include:

  • depression
  • sleeping more than usual
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • extreme weight gain or loss in a short period of time (three months)
  • blatant defiance or disobedience
  • erratic mood swings from high to low

In some cases, these behaviors are common in all teenagers, but if three or more of them are present, it is a good idea to consult a professional for further evaluation. It is also a good idea to learn how to talk to a teenager about drugs and alcohol. There are a number of options for help for a young person whose life is being affected by drug and alcohol abuse, to include treatment programs and 12 step recovery groups.

Relating Childhood Trauma and Chronic Distress to Drug Abuse

Ever wondered why people do drugs? Why you use a specific coping strategy to counter stress? How upsetting childhood trauma can be? It’s all interconnected.

People are a product of their genes and external influences from the environment. How a person chooses to manage stress, is dependent on personality traits and gene characteristics of that individual. The environment contributes significantly in shaping peoples response to stress.

Varying genes and exposure to different environments enable people to react in a different way when faced with stress i.e. people would perceive a stressful event differently, their neural circuitry would interpret it differently and their response along with adaptive reactions would also be different. So what regulates these differences?

Rajita Sinha in How does Stress Increase Risk of Drug Abuse and Relapse? is of the opinion that this dissimilarity in stress response amongst individuals can also be categorized in terms of:

  • childhood trauma
  • chronic distress

These two, of course, are not the only aspects that define an individuals stress response. Nonetheless, they do have a prominent impact on how a person deals with stress.

Stressful events or trauma during childhood such as seclusion, are known to induce a drug seeking behavior (Adler, Bendotti, Ghezzi, Samanin, & Valzelli, 1975). Similarly, increased levels of CRF have been associated with chronic distress (Arborelius, Owens, Plotsky, & Nemeroff, 1999), which in turn induce a drug seeking behavior.

Childhood Trauma and Drug Abuse

Instances of drug abuse in people with a traumatic background, is fairly common. Especially, people that have been traumatized physically during their childhood are prone to adapt a drug seeking behavior (Widom, Weiler, & Cottler, 1999).

Research regarding animal reaction to stress during its early phases of life, support a positive relation between stressful events and drug abuse. Such instances were found in rats (Kosten, Miserendino, & Kehoe, 2000) and rhesus monkeys (Higley, Hasert, Suomi, & Linnoila, 1991) when exposed to a stressful environment.

While there are varying categories of stressful events to which an individual might be exposed, during his/her childhood, isolation and social separation are prioritized during relevant studies. Here is what happens:

  1. An individual is socially isolated or perceives that he/she is isolated during childhood.
  2. This registers as a stressful event.
  3. This stressful event during childhood encourages drug seeking behavior and drug abuse.

In rats isolation during early life increases self-administration of cocaine and morphine (Adler, Bendotti, Ghezzi, Samanin, & Valzelli, 1975).

Chronic Distress and Drug Abuse

As vanity, pessimism and narcissism in college students, and the whole general populace increases along with pressures from an ever-evolving world that requires the youth to struggle more than their predecessors in order to adapt to the changing environment; distress is common.

The relation between stress and drug abuse is reasonable, evident and perhaps understandable to even those who are uninformed. If such a relation exists in association with a single stressful event, reasoning the relation between chronic stress and drug abuse is relatively elementary. Studies depict an increased usage of alcohol, nicotine and marijuana in subjects going through chronic distress. (Kandel, et al. 1997; King, Ghaziuddin, McGovern, Brand, Hill, & Naylor, 1996; Rao, Ryan, Dahl, Rao, Williamson, & Perel, 1999).

Moreover, chronic distress dysregulates the brain stress circuitry (Arborelius, et al. 1999). Neural connections and chemical interactions involved in the wake of a stressful event, as detailed in Understanding Stress and its Components, are disturbed by this continued distress and perhaps their involvement as a response to the event is altered overtime. These alterations contribute positively to enhance drug abuse in terms of increased sensitivity to drug use. Following is a list that connects chronic distress to drug abuse:

  1. An individual succumbs to chronic distress.
  2. Chronic distress upsets the brain stress circuitry involved.
  3. The individual seeks relief in drugs.
  4. This alteration apparently increases susceptibility to drug abuse.
  5. The individual increases his/her frequency of drug use.

The Connection

So why do people start abusing drugs? The answer is simple and dependent on various psychological and physiological happenings the individual experiences.

One aspect, the psychological aspect, is to take into account the mental state of the individual, the personality traits, grooming and effects of the surrounding environment. An individual brought-up in an environment supporting drugs or a stressed environment that pressurizes an individual to take drugs for relief (which may be due to a childhood trauma or social separation), fundamentally programs the individual to rely on such sources of relief from distress, with regards to future stressful events.

However, such an episode does not occur independent of physiological associations. As described earlier, the individuals brain stress circuitry is somewhat altered (Arborelius, et al. 1999) in connection with affective and cognitive modifications from the environment.

When people are faced with stress, they tend to employ a certain coping strategy to counter it. Those that have a poor coping capability, when faced with chronic distress or childhood trauma, are at an increased risk of drug abuse.

Thus, alteration in mental status and physiological changes in support of it, promote drug abuse in individuals who have experienced childhood trauma and/or chronic distress.