Ex-gambler: The need to win fuels addiction

Robert P. is banned from entering Paradise Casinos. If he is caught, he will be kicked out. But he doesn't plan to return because he was the one who banned himself from the casino in the first place.

Robert P. a compulsive gambler in recovery from Yuma who insisted on anonymity, said he thought enough was enough and walked into the casino, asked to be escorted to the security guard's office and filled out the self-ban paperwork. The last time he gambled was in 2004.

"At one time I was $50,000 in credit card debt, making minimum payments and barely keeping my head above water," Robert P. said. "My head was so screwed up I thought I had it under control."

Now, he helps run Gamblers Anonymous in Yuma. The group usually has about 10 members. When winter rolls around, the group has up to 20 members.

"We like to joke that we are the only people that have a gambling addiction, but there are a lot of people that have gambling addictions in this town and they're like the functioning alcoholics. The guy that goes to work everyday and holds a steady job and takes care of his family and everything but he's an alcoholic," Robert P. said.

Gamblers Anonymous is based on the attraction rather than promotion, he said. They provide a place where somebody who wants to quit gambling can come to find help. "The biggest problem is that you really, really, really, want to," Robert P. said.

In Arizona, a total of 690 specific calls were made to the Arizona Department of Gaming Office of Problem Gambling during the fiscal year from July 2007 through June 2008. Thirty-eight of them were callers from Yuma County, according to Arizona Helpline Statistics.

Peter Mangan, senior lecturer in psychology that specializes in neuro-cognitive development at Northern Arizona University-Yuma, said that there is strong evidence that indicates that gambling addiction should be treated just as if it were a drug addiction.

"The drug user uses it to relieve tension or to increase emotions and what gamblers do is they expect the potential reward that keeps them gambling," Mangan said. "One of the things that is found is when they win, the levels of a neuro-transmitter called dopamine, increases dramatically and dopamine is the principal transmitter that activates these pleasure centers of the brain.

"Anytime you go way above what is the norm, the opponent process goes through and then you go into depression. So now people have to gamble in order to escape depression," he said. "So it's not just that they want to win, they need to win to overcome the depression that falls after the euphoria wears off. But there are numerous different kinds of factors and reinforcement such as simple classical Pavlovian conditioning that adds to the gambling addiction."

Robert P. said it's getting easier for people to gamble but it's not the prevalence of gambling establishments but the person. "When I first started the GA program, I said to myself if the casinos weren't there I wouldn't have a problem...well if they weren't there I'd still have a problem and just find a way to do it any other way," he said.

Between the Arizona Tribal/State compacts, the Arizona Department of Gaming established a self-exclusion (self ban) procedure. It allows an individual to ban himself/herself from all casinos in Arizona for a specified period of time.

Liz Pratt, communications director for the Cocopah Indian Tribe, said the Cocopah Casino offers the self-exclusion program and a helpline is posted at every entrance in the casino.

"If a person volunteers to be admitted to the self-exclusion program, the casino will abide by the person's wishes and will do everything that they can to make sure that they keep to their promise of their self-exclusion," Pratt said.

Barrett DeFay, marketing director for Paradise Casino, said the casinos also have self-ban documentation available at Paradise Casino for those who believe they need to seek help.

"The casino and tribe are happy to contribute money through the state of Arizona gaming compact every year and we proudly support Arizona Next Step (helpline) ," DeFay said. " We believe all people should gamble responsibly and practice responsible gaming."

Usually seeking help is the most difficult step a person can do, says Robert P., but over time every person has a potential to build a tough exterior from relapsing.

"It's a way of life and the most successful people in the program have discussed that the only way to stay in the program is if they treat gambling like any other addiction," he said.

For more information on how to seek help if you are a gambling addict or know someone who has a gambling addiction please call the Arizona helpline at 1-800 NEXT STEP or visit www.problemgambling.az.gov.

Stephanie Sanchez can be reached at ssanchez@yumasun.com or 539-6847.

Intro phase characteristics:
• Several small or even large monetary winning episodes. Although money is usually secondary for escape gamblers, they may see gambling as a way to solve financial difficulties, become financially independent or make extra money.
• Emotional escape from life's problems may be experienced while in the act of gambling.
• Excitement and living on the edge is another feeling that may be present.
Losing /chasing characteristics:
• Losses are rationalized as bad luck with the "big win" right around the corner
• The cycle of wining, losing and breaking even begins
• No win is "enough"
• Wagers increase
• Hides gambling activities
• Lies to cover money spent
• Unsuccessfully attempts to limit or stop gambling
• Gambles until last dollar is gone
• Sells items to finance gambling
• Feels remorse after gambling
• Angry when confronted about gambling
• Receives bailout
Desperation Phase:
• Obsessed with gambling
• Neglects physical well-being
• Loses reputation
• Loses Friends and/or family
• Commits illegal acts related to gambling including embezzlement, theft, bad checks, insurance or credit card fraud
• Relapses into previous addiction(s)
• Loses car
• Has frequent thoughts of suicide
Hopeless Phase:
• Risks possible incarceration
• Approaches emotional breakdown
• Faces financial ruin
• Attempts suicide
Source: Adapted from "Four Phases of Escape Gambling," Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling


Take The First Step: Opiate blockers can help addicts stop using

Take The First Step
Dr. Michael Levy

Q: I have been hearing that parents of opioid-addicted children want more information about naltrexone. Do you have any experience with this treatment? Does it work? Thanks.

A: There are two ways that naltrexone-type medication is being used for the treatment of opiate addiction. I say naltrexone-type medication because in general, naltrexone is an oral form of the medication naloxone, and naloxone is also used, which can be injected or inhaled. One use of this drug is to increase abstinence rates and enhance treatment outcome, and the other is to counter an opiate overdose.

First, naltrexone is a pure opiate antagonist, which means that it blocks the effects of opiates because it binds on the same receptor sites that opiates bind to in the brain. If a person has ingested naltrexone and uses opiates, the person will not feel the effect of the opiate.

Naltrexone has been around for many years, and while it is effective, its use has been fairly low for a number of reasons. One big reason for this is that many individuals who struggle with opiates are ambivalent about taking this drug because they clearly will not be able to get high on opiates if they have naltrexone in their system. As often there is ambivalence about changing, compliance with taking this drug has been low.

However, if a person is very motivated, treatment outcome can be very good. As I always say, ongoing psychosocial therapy in conjunction with taking this medication is also important. There are also naltrexone implants that can be used, which increases compliance as the naltrexone in the implant lasts for an extended period of time and there is no need to remember to take it daily. Finally, an injectable form of naltrexone, called Vivitrol, can also be used, which lasts for one month. However, Vivitrol is not FDA-approved for the treatment of opiate addiction, but some physicians have been using this off-label for that purpose.

Narcan, or naloxone, is also used to treat opiate overdoses and saves lives. If a person who has overdosed on opiates is given this drug, it rapidly will counter the effects of opiates and reverse the overdose. This drug is given at emergency rooms and by emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

There are also several pilot programs in Massachusetts that give a nasal form of Narcan to opiate addicts, as well as friends and relatives of opiate addicts. These individuals are trained how to use Narcan in the event that someone has overdosed on opiates. This obviously allows the opiate overdose to be treated quickly, even before EMTs arrive, and helps to save the person's life. CAB is one of the pilot programs and a person can call 781-592-4477 to find out more about this.

So in answer to your question, different forms of naltrexone are being used for the treatment of opiate addiction, both to help individuals recover from opiate addiction, and to treat, on an emergency basis, opiate overdoses. This medication can be helpful to opiate addicts who are motivated to stop using opiates, and on an emergency basis, it can clearly save someone's life.
source: http://www.gloucestertimes.com


Professor researches young adult alcohol dependency

Johnson’s study to evaluate effectiveness of anti-nausea medication in reducing alcohol craving, binge-drinking tendencies in 300 young adults ages 18 to 25

University researchers are preparing to launch a study that has the potential to influence the way alcohol dependence in young adults is treated.

Bankole Johnson, chair of the department of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences, will lead a clinical test of the effectiveness of ondansetron, traditionally used as an anti-nausea medication, in treating alcohol abuse in adults ages 18 to 25.

“Ondansetron ... contains a chemical that reduces [the] craving for alcohol and binge drinking,” Johnson said.

The clinical study will involve eight weeks of treatment with the drug, Johnson said, including two sessions of psychosocial intervention and follow-up monitoring. Three hundred people who are currently binge drinking will take part in the study, he said, most likely including a number of University students.

The study — which will take about four years to complete, according to Johnson — is being funded by a $3.2-million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Raye Litten, associate director of the division of treatment and recovery research at NIAAA, said the institute is particularly interested in Johnson’s study because of the young age of the population Johnson will be testing.

Litten said the average age of people who participate in NIAAA clinical trials is about 40, despite the fact that the average age of the onset of alcohol dependence is 20 to 21. According to Litten, high risk drinking behavior — which he defines as drinking more then five drinks in one night for men and drinking more then three drinks for women — can lead to longer term effects in this younger age group including dependency.

“If he finds this [drug] is effective, you could treat people as they develop [dependence] at an earlier age, rather than let it progress,” Litten said, adding that currently, most people take at least eight years to seek treatment for alcohol abuse.

“This could prevent long-term effects much better than letting [abuse] go on for years and years,” he said.

An earlier study conducted by Johnson concluded that ondansetron is not very effective in treating later-onset alcohol abuse, Litten said, but also found the drug is more effective for cases of early onset alcohol abuse, making it an “ideal drug to test on this population.”

The study also will focus on the effect of genetics on treatment response, Johnson said.

“If a person has a certain genetic profile, he or she may respond better to the drug ... and have fewer side effects,” Litten said, expanding upon the genetic aspect of the study. “It would be nice, before you give someone a drug, to know if they have a chance to respond to it.”

If his hypothesis is confirmed, Johnson said doctors could be able to offer medication targeted toward binge-drinking students for the first time.


All aboard the 'Ocsober' no-booze bus

During the month of October, many people push their livers to breaking point as every pub, club and restaurant runs its interpretation of the Bavarian beer festival, Oktoberfest.

But one organisation is hoping to buck the trend and encourage alcohol abstinence for a good cause.

Called Ocsober, the fundraising initiative by non-profit organisation Life Education urges Australians to embrace sobriety for one month to raise money for drug and alcohol awareness among school students.

Statistics collated by the Drug Info Clearinghouse revealed one third of Australian teenagers engage in binge drinking, with those who start before the age of 15 becoming five times more likely to become alcohol-dependent than those who don't start until they are 21.

During Ocsober, a fleet of mobile Life Education centers will visit more than 120,000 school students to raise awareness of the dangers of binge-drinking.

Brisbane students at Middle Park Primary School will tomorrow release personal messages attached to balloons, as part of a sobering reminder for adults to halt alcohol abuse this month.

"When you read what the children have written, it moves you to tears," Ocsober Project Manager Michael Fawsitt said.

"How can any of us tell a 12-year-old that we can't stop drinking alcohol for one month for such an important cause?

"Ocsober is about the future health and well-being of our children and it's up to adults to set an example and give children the best opportunity to grow up safe and healthy."

The Australian Family Association has supported the fundraising gimmick, as has the Community Alcohol Action Network.

Australian Family Association spokesman John Morrissey said the use and abuse of alcohol was deeply rooted in Australian culture.

"For young people, drinking is ingrained as a rite of passage," Mr Morrissey said.

"Yet, for all of this, drinking is celebrated as if it were quintessentially Australian."

He said the responsibility fell upon adults to lead by example.

Those adults keen to support the cause, but unable to resist the occasional cold one have been accounted for since participants are allowed to buy "leave passes".

"If you have a special event during October and you need a break from your Ocsober campaign, there's an easy option so you don't break your commitment to a whole month without alcohol," the guidelines read.

"Simply buy a one day or two day Leave Pass and then complete your Ocsober month as planned."

Families, friends and colleagues are encouraged to band together and remain grog-free for 30 days, beginning in October.

Life Education CEO Jay Bucik said rather than being a "wowser" event, Ocsober was more about encouraging adults "get real" about their alcohol intake.
source: Brisbane Times


More congregations create addiction ministries

125 Unitarian Universalist congregations now offer ministries to people struggling with addiction.

The cover story of the summer 2004 issue of UU World profiled the Rev. Dr. Denis Meacham’s drive to help congregations develop ministries to those who struggle with addictions. When Meacham started his own addictions ministry at First Parish in Brewster, Massachusetts, in 2000, there were no others. Today around 125 congregations have such ministries and a move is underway to gain official recognition and support for addictions ministry from the Unitarian Universalist Association.

In 2004 Meacham wrote The Addiction Ministry Handbook, now considered the bible of UU addictions ministry. One person who bought the book after reading the UU World article is Bill Norton, a member of Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Church in Shoreline, Washington.

“I had an epiphany when I read that article in the World,” said Norton. “My own addiction and recovery experience and the possibility of ministry for addictions came together. I stood up in the middle of church and waved Denis’s book and said ‘I’m interested in doing this. Come see me if you are too.’” People did, and now Shoreline has a thriving addictions ministry. Norton is the program’s co-facilitator.

Shoreline’s addictions ministry includes Chalice Circle, a covenant group focused on addictions. The ministry also provides workshops and an occasional worship service, and has trained people as “first responders” to react to immediate needs. “Now anyone in pain knows where to come,” said Norton. “We don’t fix the problems, but we’re a source of information and support.”

Julie Hernandez is a coordinator of the Addictions and Recovery Ministry at Pacific Unitarian Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The UU World article also sparked a conversation among members of her church. They bought the handbook, started a committee and within a few months an addictions ministry was formed. “We launched it and people came to our events and now we have a vibrant program,” said Hernandez.

The addictions team brings speakers to the church and organizes seminars on addiction-related topics. The team is visible every Sunday with an information table. Articles on addiction appear regularly in the church newsletter, and the ministry has trained a team of first responders. A “Twelve-Step, Seven-Principles” group has evolved into a covenant group. Said Hernandez, the group “provides people who are on a spiritual search, as they try to overcome addictions, with an opportunity to explore a twelve-step program that uses the lens of the UU Principles.”

“There are a lot of people who are troubled by the Christian and male-oriented language of the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings,” added Hernan­dez, who turned away from alcohol five years ago. “That’s why I came to Pacific Unitarian after entering recovery. After I read the Seven Principles, I knew for sure no one there would tell me what I should be thinking. Unitarian Universalism is in a wonderful position to help people like me.”

The program is working on a variety of levels, said Hernandez. “There are lots of people now that we can call on for help. The interest in events is very much on the rise and the feedback just gets better and better.” She said events attract from fifteen to fifty people. Ministerial support is also important, she noted. “A very large part of our ministry’s growth and vitality is due to the Rev. (John) Morehouse’s unflagging support and enthusiasm.”

The Rev. Alex Holt, who recently moved from the Woodinville, Washington, Unitarian Universalist Church to become consulting minister in Yakima, Washington, has become the facilitator of a UUA task force on addictions ministry. It is working toward official UUA recognition and support of addictions ministry. The Rev. Jory Agate, the UUA’s ministerial development director and a member of the task force, notes that ministers, as well as lay people, struggle with addictions. She anticipates that a UUA addictions ministry would be developed through the collaboration of many UUA staff groups, including Ministry and Pro­fessional Leadership, Congregational Services, and the youth and young adult offices. “We all need to work together on this issue,” she said. When Holt, a recovering alcoholic, visits a church that’s thinking about an addictions ministry, he’ll ask at a Sunday service, “How many of you, over your lives, have been affected directly or indirectly by addiction, including behaviors and substances?” Nearly everyone responds.

Holt notes that most of the people in a congregation who will respond to an addictions ministry will be family and friends of people with addictions. “People who have a family member in crisis want to know what they can do.” The primary addictions are alcohol, drugs, sex, food, and gambling, he said.

When Holt is invited by a congregation, he generally leads a Sunday service and follows it with a three-hour workshop in the afternoon. “We find people have an incredible craving to share their stories,” he said. “Out of that we help them develop the basics of an addictions ministry program that is safe, open-minded, and supportive, but not therapy. We try to give people resources and community without judging them.”

The UUA’s Pacific Northwest District, where Holt’s congregation is located, has one of the first district-wide addiction ministries. Eleven PNWD congregations have such ministries.

At Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church in Des Moines, Washington, a worship service about members’ experiences in 12-step groups led to the formation of an addictions ministry there, said Kristen Parman-Bethard, addictions ministry team chair. The ministry includes a lending library with information about a wide range of substance and behavioral addictions. There are alternative Alcoholics Anonymous and Al Anon (for family and friends) groups that allow people to define “Spirit of Life” for themselves. The team held a class on prescription medications and has sponsored two “Recovery Sunday” services. “They weren’t terribly well attended,” said Parman-Bethard, “however, I believe the people who needed to be there were there. Several people contacted members of our team to say how much the service touched them.”

“Our church has been helped by making this a topic that is more open for discussion,” said Parman-Bethard. “Many people have concerns about family members or other loved ones and now they have safe people to talk to. Some have concerns about themselves and they also know we are here. I would say we don’t have a dynamic presence, but rather a ‘ministry of presence’ that is always visible and supportive.”
source: http://www.uuworld.org


The drinking party is over for this Aussie mum

Aged just 21 and in rehab without her baby boy, Dannielle Adamo is the public face of a binge-drinking culture that has spun out of control.

Every Saturday she would drink a carton of Vodka cruisers on her own - a staggering 24 x 275ml bottles - and then go to the bottle shop to buy other drinks.

With the State Government now committed to reducing drinking hours in pubs and clubs and targeting underaged drinkers, Ms Adamo has gone public over her rapid slide into alcohol abuse to warn others.

She began binge drinking pre-mixed drinks with friends at weekends as a teen because she wanted to fit in and feel more confident.

The party for Ms Adamo is over, after she decided it was time to hand her son over to her ex partner and check herself into a rehab clinic to treat her alcohol abuse.

Far from the traditional image of an old drunk sleeping rough on the streets, Ms Adamo is part of a new breed of young alcoholic.

Her story comes as a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed the number of people seeking treatment for alcohol as the main drug of abuse for a growing number of addicts.

Yesterday, Ms Adamo supported Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione's push for licensed premises to close at 2am to address Sydney's binge-drinking culture.

"I think it's a good idea," Ms Adamo said.

It was not until Ms Adamo faced her second drink-driving charge last month that she decided to check herself in to rehabilitation centre Selah at Berkeley Vale on the Central Coast.

After crashing into a power pole on September 14, she decided to hand herself in to police.

Handing over her 14-month-old son Jayden to her ex-partner while she underwent a 10-month program was the most difficult thing she has ever had to do.

"It's good that I did it now before anything worse happened, I never drove drunk while he was in the car," she said

Last weekend she was refused bail in court and was jailed.

"That made me open my eyes a little bit," she said.

Ms Adamo grew up in Morrisett near Newcastle and worked in a juice bar before having Jayden.

She said she would begin drinking about 4pm on Saturday with a pack of pre-mixed vodkas.

"Now I'm finding out a lot about myself that I never knew and why I used to drink, how I can stop and how I can live a life without alcohol," she said.
source: Daily Telegraph


The Facts About Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone addiction is a growing crisis in the United States. While illegal drugs like cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin remain in the headlines many individuals may be surprised to know that hydrocodone addiction could lurk right behind them as one of the most widely-abused drugs of addiction. In fact, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration believes hydrocodone may be the most abused prescription drug in the country. Nationwide, its use has quadrupled in the last ten years, while emergency room visits attributed to hydrocodone abuse soared 500 percent.

Hydrocodone is a narcotic that can produce a calm, euphoric state similar to heroin or morphine--and despite such important and obvious benefits in pain relief, evidence is pointing to chronic addiction. Pure hydrocodone is a Schedule II substance, closely controlled with restricted use. But very few prescription drugs are pure hydrocodone. Instead, small amounts of hydrocodone are mixed with other non-narcotic ingredients to create medicines like Vicodin and Lortab. This means they can be classified under Schedule III with fewer restrictions on their use and distribution.

Vicodin, Lortab--and more than 200 other products that contain hydrocodone--are regulated by state and federal law. But they are not controlled as closely as other powerful painkillers. The lack of regulation makes them vulnerable to widespread abuse and addiction through forged prescriptions, theft, over-prescription, and "doctor shopping." Hydrocodone pills have been sold for $2 to $10 per tablet and $20 to $40 per 8 oz bottle on the street.

Subject to individual tolerance, many medical experts believe dependence or addiction can occur within one to four weeks at higher doses of Hydrocodone. Published reports of high profile movie stars, TV personalities and professional athletes who are recovering from Hydrocodone addiction are grim testimony to its debilitating effects.

Hydrocodone is structurally related to codeine and is approximately equal in strength to morphine in producing opiate-like effects. The first report that hydrocodone produced a noticeable euphoria and symptoms of addiction was published in 1923; the first report of hydrocodone addiction in the U.S. was published in 1961.

Every age group has been affected by the relative ease of hydrocodone availability and the perceived safety of these products by professionals. Sometimes seen as a "white-collar" addiction, hydrocodone abuse has increased among all ethnic and economic groups. DAWN data demographics suggest that the most likely hydrocodone abuser is a 20-40 yr old, white, female, who uses the drug because she is dependent or trying to commit suicide. However, hydrocodone-related deaths have been reported from every age grouping.

Examples of how severe Hydrocodone addiction has become:

An estimated 7 million dosage units were diverted in 1994 and over 11 million in 1997.
In 1998 there were over 56 million new prescriptions written for hydrocodone products and by 2000 there were over 89 million.
From 1990 the average consumption nationwide has increased by 300%. In the same period there has been a 500% increase in the number of Emergency Department visits attributed to hydrocodone abuse with 19,221 visits estimated in 2000.
In 1997, there were over 1.3 million hydrocodone tablets seized and analyzed by the DEA laboratory system.
source: drug-addiction.com


The more the booze, the tinier the brain

The more you drink alcohol, the smaller your total brain volume gets, according to a new study by Wellesley College, Massachusetts.

The study found that even moderate alcohol consumption can lead to decline in brain volumes.

Lower brain volumes have been linked to progression of dementia and problems with thinking, learning and memory.

In the study involving 1,839 adults, the participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a health examination.

"Most participants reported low alcohol consumption, and men were more likely than women to be moderate or heavy drinkers," the authors write.

"There was a significant negative linear relationship between alcohol consumption and total cerebral brain volume," they added.

The research team led by Carol Ann Paul, MS, of Wellesley College also found that although men were more likely to drink alcohol, the association between drinking and brain volume was stronger in women.

This could be due to biological factors, including women's smaller size and greater susceptibility to alcohol's effects.

"The public health effect of this study gives a clear message about the possible dangers of drinking alcohol," the authors write.

"Prospective longitudinal studies are needed to confirm these results as well as to determine whether there are any functional consequences associated with increasing alcohol consumption.

"This study suggests that, unlike the associations with cardiovascular disease, alcohol consumption does not have any protective effect on brain volume," they added.

The report appears in the October issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com


Methamphetamine enters brain quickly and lingers

Using positron emission tomography (PET) to track tracer doses of methamphetamine in humans' brains, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory find that the addictive and long-lasting effects of this increasingly prevalent drug can be explained in part by its pharmacokinetics - the rate at which it enters and clears the brain, and its distribution.

This study in 19 healthy, non-drug-abusing volunteers includes a comparison with cocaine and also looked for differences by race. It will appear in the November 1, 2008, issue of Neuroimage.

"Methamphetamine is one of the most addictive and neurotoxic drugs of abuse," said Brookhaven chemist Joanna Fowler, lead author on the study. "It produces large increases in dopamine, a brain chemical associated with feelings of pleasure and reward - both by increasing dopamine's release from nerve cells and by blocking its reuptake."

Studies by Fowler and others have shown that drugs that produce greater elevations in brain dopamine tend to be more addictive. But other factors, including the speed with which a drug enters and clears the brain and its distribution within the brain, can also be important in determining its addictive and toxic potential.

In undertaking this first study of methamphetamine pharmacokinetics, the researchers also wanted to know if there were differences between Caucasians and African Americans. "Reports that the rate of methamphetamine abuse among African Americans is lower than for Caucasians led us to question whether biological or pharmacokinetic differences might explain this difference," Fowler said.

The scientists measured brain uptake, distribution, and clearance of methamphetamine by injecting 19 normal healthy men (9 Caucasian, 10 African American) with a radioactively tagged form of the drug in "trace" doses too small to have any psychoactive effects. They used PET scanning cameras to monitor the concentration and distribution of the tagged methamphetamine in the subjects' brains. On the same day, the same subjects were injected with trace doses of cocaine and scanned for comparison. The scientists also used PET to measure the number of dopamine reuptake proteins, known as dopamine transporters, available in each research subject's brain.

Like cocaine, methamphetamine entered the brain quickly, a finding consistent with both drugs' highly reinforcing effects. Methamphetamine, however, lingered in the brain significantly longer than cocaine, which cleared quickly. In fact, some brain regions, particularly white matter, still showed signs of tracer methamphetamine at the end of the 90-minute scanning session, by which time all cocaine had been cleared. The distribution of methamphetamine in the brain was remarkably different from that of cocaine. Whereas cocaine was concentrated only in the 'reward' center and cleared rapidly, methamphetamine was concentrated all over the brain, where it remained throughout the study.

"This slow clearance of methamphetamine from such widespread brain regions may help explain why the drug has such long-lasting behavioral and neurotoxic effects," Fowler said. Methamphetamine is known to produce lasting damage not only to dopamine cells but also to other brain regions, including white matter, that are not part of the dopamine network.

Surprisingly, the researchers found significant differences in cocaine pharmacokinetics between African Americans and Caucasians, with the African Americans exhibiting higher uptake of cocaine, a later rise to peak levels, and slower clearance. In contrast, the scientists found no differences in methamphetamine pharmacokinetics between these groups.

"This suggests that variables other than pharmacokinetics and bioavailability account for the lower prevalence of methamphetamine abuse in African Americans," Fowler said. "The differences observed for cocaine pharmacokinetics are surprising considering there are no differences in cocaine abuse prevalence between these two ethnic groups." These differences may merit further study, and also suggest the need to match subjects by ethnic group in future studies to avoid interference from this potentially confounding variable.

Another interesting finding was that across all research subjects, the level of dopamine transporters was directly related to the level of methamphetamine taken up by the brain. This finding suggests that transporter proteins somehow play a role in regulating the brain's uptake of this drug.

This research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Intramural Program, and by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within DOE's Office of Science. Brain-imaging studies such as PET are a direct outgrowth of DOE's long-standing investment in basic research in chemistry, physics, and nuclear medicine. The ongoing neuroimaging research at Brookhaven is a prime example of how DOE's national laboratories bring together the expertise of chemists, physicists, and medical scientists to address questions of profound significance for society.


Tradition Ten and Controversy

It was the first Monday of the month and that meant reading and discussing a tradition. Those of us “regulars” at the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sisters) meeting usually expect fewer women on a Tradition Monday but this night, the room was amazingly full. We were reading Tradition Ten from the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” and unlike shares for many of the traditions, this one was lively and very animated.

Tradition Ten states that “Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.” What immediately comes to mind is that we are getting close to election time and this particular election is evoking a lot of emotions in a lot of people. Think about what would happen in your fellowship if someone, during his or her share, endorsed a candidate. Think what would happen if you went to a meeting and there were political posters all over the meeting room and the candidate was not of your choosing. I’m sure it is not going to make you go out and have a drink (or drug, eat, gamble, not eat, shop, etc.) but if you are like me, you might be annoyed just enough to make a decision to stay away. If you are a newcomer, I am positively sure you would get the wrong idea about the fellowship and that might be your first step back into your addiction.

It isn’t just politics that should be left out of the fellowship. There are times when a person shares, he or she gets on the soapbox and promotes a belief or idea that perhaps isn’t terribly controversial but makes people very uncomfortable. And why would we feel uncomfortable? Because someone else is going to respond in a negative way to what was said and what have we got here, folks? We’ve got ourselves a real, live fellowship argument? People take sides; sometimes silently, sometimes not. It is never a positive experience.

Some people, not just those of us in recovery, have very short fuses. This doesn’t necessarily change because someone has been in recovery for any length of time. My own experience is that the longer someone has been in recovery it seems the more they feel entitled to state their opinions as truth for everyone or does not hesitate to be the first to respond to another if he/she disagrees. This is my experience. It may not be yours. I’ve come to the conclusion that people who are inappropriate in their sharing might still have a need to control or maybe they are a bit too righteous. Whoops! Am I taking their inventory? I am not intending to do that. Honestly, I think they are just human beings and that’s just how they are. Recovery doesn’t change our humanness. If that were the case everyone would want to be a part of a 12 Step group just to be perfect.

Personally, I have always hated controversy. I hate it even more when it happens in a meeting. I don’t think I’m the only one. Group conscious meetings are historically known to create some tensions because, it seems, that personal opinions run higher than normal. And we wonder why no one wants to stick around and be a part of one. One of the women at the meeting said that she believes that if what you say publicly (in a meeting) is based on “your experience” it is a much safer bet then to be making others believe your way is the only way. This is particularly important because AA and other programs have no rules; no best way for everyone. The steps are but suggestions.

A number of years ago (pre-recovery), I was in a leadership position at my job. My boss and I had one agreement. We would agree to disagree. And we never agreed on anything. It was the best and most productive position in my career. Why? Because we set ground rules and nothing was ever personal. It’s a bit different when you are in a recovery program because the only agreements we have are, in fact, the traditions and that doesn’t mean everyone reads them the same way. The Traditions, however, are our boundaries. The reason why AA is still around today is because there were and still are enough people who hold onto the original traditions to keep it in tact. 12 Step programs should be safe. Our purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics. How can we possibly help another addict when they are too frightened or disgusted to come back to a meeting?

The most important message I can give or share (as I see it) is that each one of us has to make a conscious effort to be mindful of what we say and how we say it. I don’t think that means we have to be afraid to share but I do think we have to have the common sense to know if we are going to create a controversy. Likewise, maybe you are the person who wants to respond to a person creating the controversy. It takes two people to begin any type of argument or confrontation. Personally, I prefer to be neither.

Lastly, we are human and rather complicated but we have to keep in mind that our own sobriety and recovery is the most important thing in our lives. Before you decide not to attend a meeting because you were uncomfortable or angry, remember who you are punishing. If you are even at the very beginning of working a 12 Step program, you already realize that you have choices. Don’t let anyone else make them for you. We each have a responsibility to ourselves to be happy, joyous and free. It is our destiny.

Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.
source: http://www.bellaonline.com


Am I drinking too much?

How do you know when your drinking is out of control? Take our simple questionnaire, compiled by doctors from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, to find out

Many people drink alcohol for enjoyment, so it can be hard to know when regular use of alcohol has developed into a serious problem. Many of the problems associated with alcohol misuse are caused by having too much to drink at the wrong place or the wrong time If you think you may be drinking too much answer the following questions.

1. Do you ever worry that you drink too much?

2. Have friends or family expressed concern about you about your drinking habits?

3. Do you find you can drink a lot without becoming drunk?

4. Do you need to drink more to have the same effect?

5. Have you tried to stop drinking, but found that you were unable to for more than a few days?

6. Do you carry on drinking even though it is interfering with your work, family or relationships?

7. Do you need a drink to start the day?

8. Do you get shaky, sweaty or anxious a few hours after your last drink?

9. Have you experienced blanks in your memory, where you can’t remember what happened for a period of hours or days?

10. Is your judgement affected by alcohol, so that you do things that you normally wouldn’t, such as starting fights or arguments, having unprotected sex with strangers or becoming violent.

If you answer yes to more than three of these questions, it is indicator of alcohol misuse.

Questionnaire compiled by Dr Jim Bolton and Dr Martin Briscoe, consultant psychiatrists and members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Public Education Editorial Board
source: The Times