Helping Addicted Loved Ones

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The opioid crisis in North America damages countless lives every year, and we may be making it worse in the way we talk about addiction. FiveThirtyEight decided to look into the best ways of helping addicts using a scientific approach, they conclude that love and compassion is the best approach. Addiction is a problem for addicts and there communities, which ultimately means that the way we help addicts impacts our communities at large. If somebody you know is suffering from addiction reach out and ask them what you can do to help.

Addicts need love and support not condemnation and rejection.

“The pure tough love approach does not seem particularly effective and is sometimes quite cruel and potentially counterproductive,” Compton said.

Research on a compassionate, supportive alternative, known as Community Reinforcement and Family Therapy, finds that it is at least twice as effective at getting people into treatment, when compared with the traditional type of intervention or with 12-step programs like Al-Anon for family members. In CRAFT, family members are taught how to reduce conflict and positively motivate addicted loved ones to begin and sustain recovery. Both parties are also taught self-care skills and ways to help avoid relapse. CRAFT’s technique has none of the risks of cutting a family member out of your lif

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An Online Forum is Saving Addicts from Bad Drugs

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The opioid crisis in North America continues unabated. Local organizations are pushing for reform of policies and in Canada the call for safe injection sites is growing. The number of deaths from opiate addiction is too high and users have started to share information to curb the rising death count. The subreddit community r/opiates has become a place for opioid users to let each other know about tainted drugs and how to deal with addiction issues. Ultimately the community wants people to stop using, but if they are using they should at least be safe about it.

Aaron credits r/opiates with helping him learn about kratom and giving his life purpose. As a way to pay it forward, he’s provided fentanyl warnings in West Virginia.

“People’s pressing a fake 215, and crushing up ginseng pills mixing them with fentanyl and some other stuff and selling as heroin,” Aaron, who goes by the handle of Optimistic-angel1 on Reddit, wrote in a 2 February post on the website – making note of activity in neighboring Mercer County, which sits just east of McDowell.

While the overdose warnings on Reddit may be a new trend, addicts have been no strangers to information sharing, said Dr Michael Brumage, executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston health department in West Virginia. Brumage has heard of addicts setting up networks to share information on bad heroin batches in the past while working with the department’s needle exchange program.

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Rethinking Addiction

Johann Hari wanted to find out why people get addicted to drugs and ended up making some startling conclusions. Yet, not surprisingly, all the war on drugs policies countries have implemented have only increased the addiction problem. Addiction is more complex to solve than just hurting the people who use drugs.

What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

Curiosity (and art) is Addictive

A new theory based on some old research is that our drive to figure things out can be as addictive as doing drugs. If you’ve ever had to deal with a complex problem and found the solution you know that particular feeling of success.

it turns out that our brains react to learning new things (which solve a problem we have) in a similar way we react to opiates.

Biederman hypothesized that knowledge addiction has strong evolutionary value because mate selection correlates closely with perceived intelligence. In other words, addictions and cravings might stem from this need for knowledge. Even more interesting is the relationship Biederman believes exists between this same mechanism and art.

Biederman’s theory was inspired by a widely ignored 25-year-old finding that mu-opioid receptors – binding sites for natural opiates – increase in density along the ventral visual pathway, a part of the brain involved in image recognition and processing. Viewing art and understanding the beauty behind actually activates the same areas in the brain as a drug-induced high.

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Addiction Therapy Applied to Car Use

It’s no secret that as a global society we are addicted to automobile use. It’s also no secret that cars are literally killing us (just starting the engine causes harm) and the way we have built cities to cater to drivers has damaged society from our health to our social well-being. But just knowing these facts won’t change people’s behaviour, much like how gamblers know they won’t always win but keep on playing.

How do we change this self-destructive behaviour? In the UK “motivational interviewing” is being used to help people kick their car habit.

“We’re not guilt-tripping people. It’s really easy to do that in behavior change,” says SDG’s Eleni Harlan. “Rather than us telling them the benefits or what the facts are or what other people think, it’s about guiding them through the process of what would motivate them.”

Often working with local governments, SDG identifies areas with the potential to reduce car use or increase use of more sustainable modes. While community-based travel programs in the United States often rely on direct mailing, SDG deploys at least a dozen advisors to knock on thousands of doors in the area. One recent two-year program in the city of Ely visited more than 8,000 households in a few months; another, along a corridor in the West Midlands, visited 17,500.

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