Drug addiction. Is it a disease or is it based on choice?

A review of Gene Heyman’s Addiction: A disorder of choice.



In Addiction: A disorder of choice, Gene Heyman surveys a broad array of evidence—historical, anthropological, survey, clinical, and laboratory-based to build an argument about the role of basic choice processes in the phenomena that comprise drug addiction. He makes a compelling, multifaceted argument that conceptualizing drug addiction as a chronic disease (like schizophrenia or diabetes) is both misleading and erroneous. In developing his argument, he points out that the best survey data available indicate that most drug addicts quit their addiction, a fact inconsistent with a chronic-disease model. He illustrates how basic, normal choice processes can lead to addiction, arguing that people do not choose to be addicts, but that normal choice dynamics can lead them to that condition. He points to a variety of factors that keep most from becoming addicted, with a focus on the role of choice governed by choice-by-choice contingencies versus choice governed by the outcome of sequences of choices, a difference in an under-described activity called framing. His view is consistent with the most effective treatments currently available, and provides a basis for continued basic research on choice as well as research on treatment and prevention.

read more

13 things you shouldn’t say to someone who is struggling with their mental health

Mental health problems — most commonly depression, anxiety, and drug use — are some of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide. In fact, in the past week, it is estimated that one in six people have experienced an issue with their mental health.

It’s likely either you personally or someone close to you has come up against a mental health problem. But unfortunately, we are not always well equipped to know what to do or what to say.

Sometimes it will be obvious that someone is struggling, but other times the signs will be a lot more subtle. According to the Mental Health Foundation, sometimes you don’t actually need to know.  more

Substance use for coping can lead to mental health issues

Before Charles Miller got into the car he quickly popped a small tab of 25i — fake acid. It seemed that during the first eight holes of golf everything would be normal, but it wasn’t until after the ninth hole that yardsticks started moving out of nowhere and the fairway turned into a waving ocean. This was an uncomfortable high for Miller that led him to experience severe anxiety for months after, and he coped by drinking alcohol and popping Xanax for a year of his college life.

“I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” Miller, using a pseudonym to protect his identity, said.

The use of alcohol and illicit drugs is more common among young adults than any other age group, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Illicit drugs originally focused on the use of marijuana among college students, but has recently incorporated the use and misuse of prescription, over-the-counter drugs and harder drugs such as LSD. The administration found that 1 in 17 full-time college students aged 18-22 met the criteria for a substance use disorder in 2015.  more

Center takes strict approach to suboxone treatment

For Cynthia Anders, battling drug withdrawal symptoms came in the form of a black box with a 3-D T-Rex covering.

It has been several weeks since she had possession of the box, but it became a colorful symbol of her ongoing recovery from opiate abuse.

The box was used to keep her prescriptions to buprenorphine, most commonly known by the brand name Suboxone. It is a method, some view as controversial, that uses an opioid to treat opioid addiction by weaning off the cravings.  more

Recovery Program Uses “People Power” To Help Those With Addiction

“My biggest motivator is to pass that gift of hope and possibility on to others,” says one Minnesota Recovery Corps volunteer.

Minnesota is piloting a new program that’s harnessing the “people power” of AmeriCorps to support local addiction-recovery efforts.

Minnesota Recovery Corps (MRC), an offshoot of AmeriCorps, was launched in 2018. MRC volunteers (or “recovery navigators”) are deployed throughout the Twin Cities to help people who are new to addiction-recovery.  more

A young mom’s powerful obituary is shedding light on opioid addiction

A young Vermont mother who died as a result of opioid addiction is being memorialized by her family in a fearless obituary calling for a more open understanding of the illness that took her life.

Madelyn Linsenmeir, 30, died October 7. In her obituary published in The Burlington Free Press, her family wasted no time in sharing the truth: Linsenmeir was addicted to drugs. But, they said, she was also a loving mother, a beloved daughter, a talented singer and a charming person even in the throes of addiction.
“It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction,” the obituary reads. “To some, Maddie was just a junkie—when they saw her addiction they stopped seeing her. And what a loss for them.”  more

Heroin and human sleep


It has been suggested that drugs of addiction, e.g. barbiturates, cause suppression of REM sleep followed by immediate withdrawal rebound. In rats it has been demonstrated that morphine will suppress REM sleep and, in a pilot study of withdrawal in humans, there was a delayed REM sleep rebound.

A: Four normal male volunteers had a subcutaneous injection of 7.5 mg heroin on 3 successive nights. During this period the percentage of REM sleep was decreased with respect to baseline values for these subjects and showed a trend back to control values over the 3 nights. On withdrawal there was a moderate but immediate percentage of REM sleep increase which, over the first 3 h of sleep, was significant.  more

Is OCD Contributing to Your Drug Addiction?

OCD stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it affects over 2 million men and women in the U.S. alone. While there does appear to be a genetic component to OCD, sometimes it occurs in the absence of a clear genetic history of the disorder.

In people with OCD, ritualized behaviors and intrusive thoughts interfere with daily activities. Ritualized activities may include hand-washing, cleaning, or checking that the stove is off repeatedly. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts that seem to play in a never-ending loop in the brain, and they are typically unpleasant thoughts that produce anxiety.

Unfortunately, people often make light of OCD by comparing, for example, their neatness with the disorder. However, OCD causes very real suffering. People with OCD are aware that their behaviors and fears are unreasonable, yet they still cannot control their need to perform them and do not experience the relief that normally comes with doing them. OCD and drug addiction frequently occur together. The compulsions of OCD and the compulsions of addictive behavior have many similarities.  more