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Five Biggest Myths About Drug Addiction

Medical Expert Reveals Fiction Vs. Fact About Heroin, Cocaine, Meth and Marijuana

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Heroin addiction is largely confined to minority populations in poor, urban areas, right? Not so fast. While that might have been the profile of a heroin user 20 years ago, today’s addict is white, young and living in the affluent ‘burbs.

So says a comprehensive new study called, appropriately, “The Changing Face of Heroine Use In The United States,” published this week by the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The study also found that contrary to popular belief, most heroin addicts today did not start on their “silk road” to perdition with another illicit drug, such as marijuana. Instead, most first started getting high with prescription painkillers, likely which they either found at home, from a friend or obtained illegally on the street.

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Given that the study destroyed two popular beliefs about addiction, we thought it high time (pardon the pun) to explore whether there might be other myths to be busted. Dr. Akikur Mohammad, M.D., a physician specializing in addiction medicine, and an adjunct professor at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, wasted no time in setting the record straight.

Here are five more myths about drug addiction as answered by Dr. Mohammad, who is also the medical director and founder of Inspire Malibu treatment center in Los Angeles.

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Fiction #1: The probability of becoming a heroin addict is extremely high, even if you just use it once.

Fact: Most heroin users – like most users of all drugs – never become addicts. Your probability of becoming dependent is estimated to be 32 percent for tobacco, 23 percent for heroin, 17 percent for cocaine, 15 percent for alcohol, 11 percent for stimulants other than cocaine, 9 percent for cannabis, 9 percent for anxiolytic, sedative, and hypnotic drugs, 8 percent for analgesics, 5 percent for psychedelics, and 4 percent for inhalants. Bottom line: Most people simply stop using their drug of choice before it becomes a real problem.

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Before and after- the effects of Meth. Pictured here is meth abuser Andrew at age 18 (left) and age 25. Photo courtesy of CBS News.

Fiction #2: No question, meth and crack are the most dangerous of the popular intoxicants today.

Fact: Actually, it’s alcohol. By any measure, alcohol is far more destructive to the user and society as whole than any other drug. From a physiological perspective, alcohol is particularly pernicious because it doesn’t affect just one or two brain receptors but multiple receptors simultaneously. That makes alcohol extremely difficult to counteract with medications to stop the craving that is the hallmark of all substance addiction. As for society, approximately 88,000 deaths occur annually in the U.S. from alcohol – many times more than the deaths caused by all other drugs combined.

Fiction #3: When it’s all said done, the AA and its 12-step philosophy is still the best way for an addict to kick his (or her) habit.

Fact: Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by anatomical and functional changes in the human brain. This is recognized by all the leading medical organizations in the U.S. and worldwide including the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Health and the World Helath Organization. Indeed, with the advent of new diagnostic technology in the Nineties, such as MRIs and CT scans, the anatomical changes could be clearly seen and studied with brain-imaging technology.

For this reason alone, the AA philosophy does not work. People with the chronic disease of addiction can no more stop their disease by sheer willpower than a diabetic can cure his disease. Indeed, by their own admission, AA only works about 5% of the time.

That’s not to say that for some people, AA can’t be part of an overall addiction treatment program, which also includes pharmaceutical medications and lifestyle modifications. But it flies in the face of 21st century science to think of AA alone as an effective treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction.

Shockingly, even today, an estimated 90% of the approximately 14,000 rehab clinics in the U.S. do not use any evidence-based medicine in their treatment programs and, instead, rely entirely for treatment on the AA philosophy–first developed in the 1930s.

Fiction #4: Addicts are born losers who never amount to anything no matter what you do for them.

Fact: Part of that is correct. Addicts are born with a much higher risk of addiction than the population as a whole – about a 50% genetic factor. As for being losers, studies show that addicts actually have a higher I.Q. than the population at large. In any case, hardly anyone would consider to be “losers” these luminaries who were, or are, addicts: Judy Garland, Robert Downey, Jr., Oprah Winfrey, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Ray Charles, Keith Urban, Brian Wilson, William F. Buckley, Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, James Baldwin, and yes, Benjamin Franklin.

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Courtesy of the NIH – www.drugabuse.gov

Fiction #5: Once an addict relapses, it’s all down hill from there. They really never get better.

Fact: Actually, the relapse rate for addiction is typical of chronic diseases, slightly more than diabetes and less than hypertension and asthma. A relapse is not an occasion to scold, punish or otherwise stigmatize the person. It’s not a moral failure but a symptom. Modern-day diagnostics indicate that most brains eventually return to relatively normal when the drug use stop.

Original Article

Dr. A R Mohammad

Potluck: Pie baking, wines, baking help, counting sheep

  

 

 

CANON CITY — Linda Ballard of the Canon City Queen Anne Tea House, 813 Macon Ave., will give a demonstration on pie baking, both sweet and savory pies, at 2 p.m. Nov. 15. She’ll show how to make pie crust from scratch and talk about the variety of pies that can be baked for the season, from double-crust apple to chicken pot pie. Continue reading

THE GREAT RENEE ZELLWEGER FACE DEBATE: CAN SOMEONE’S APPEARANCE REALLY CHANGE NATURALLY THAT MUCH?

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Let’s face the only fact we know: Renee Zellweger’s appearance Monday night at the Elle magazine’s Women in Hollywood sparked an intense international frenzy as to how far is too far to go in the quest for the fountain of youth.

The Oscar-winning actress Wednesday addressed the rampant speculation that she has undergone plastic surgery, calling the conversation about her appearance “silly,” she says she is choosing to speak out about it because “it seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn’t exist won’t get off my porch until I answer the door.”

“I’m glad folks think I look different,” Zellweger told People magazine. “I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows.” She added: “My friends say I look peaceful. I am healthy.”

She also attributed her striking new appearance to “finally growing into” herself.

Others didn’t see it that way, with headlines screaming that the “actress is virtually unrecognizable.”

“This is not Botox or even surgery,” quipped writer Viv Groskop on Twitter. “It’s a MISSING PERSON ENQUIRY.”

So has she hasn’t she had extensive work done?

We posed the question to two experts who do believe the 45-year-old’s new look isn’t entirely down to nature.

“Renee is the internet’s obsession of the day and she is the present conduit of our long-term ambivalence with plastic surgery, ” says Dr. Alexander Rivkin, a Yale-trained facial cosmetic surgeon and UCLA member who focuses exclusively on providing his patients with the latest in non-invasive cosmetic treatments. ”She is a beautiful woman who, like all of us, gets bothered when she sees signs of aging on her face.”

As to what procedures she has done, Dr. Alexander Rivkin tells Celebzter: “I think that she had surgery to reduce the heaviness of her upper eyelids and puffiness of her lower eyelids (blepharoplasty), which has made her eyes look more open and has changed her trademark narrow eyed look. I also think that she may have had botox injections that changed how she looks when she smiles, especially around the chin.”

He also thinks the media has been spectacularly unfair.

“She’s also changed her hair, so when the before and after pictures are shown she looks radically different and this isn’t quite fair, ” he says. “I would want to see a before and after of her where the before is a recent shot, not what she looked like 10 years ago.

Rivkin adds: “There’s this fantasy we all have that famous people are going to forever look like we remember them from the movies, but time takes its toll on them as well.

And his verdict?

“Yes she looks different, but I wonder how much of that is the natural aging process changing her cherubic trademark looks. I think she looks perfectly natural and nice, not weird or fake like some are screaming.”

Dr. Andrew Cohen, Clinical Chief (2010-2013), Division of Plastic Surgery Cedars Sinai Medical Center, also believes Zellweger has had work done to her eyes, adding: “She may have had a facial procedure and or cheek enhancements with fat grafting.”

And he has a note of caution for those wanting to alter their appearance.

“Obviously she wanted to change her appearance,” he says. ”Unfortunately she has a much different appearing face now and has lost that unique look that has made her who she is.

“I don’t know why some patients who are celebrities want to change their whole look. Plastic surgery is an art form. Part of that art form is recognizing that the face is not a photograph… It is a dynamic moving structure. The best plastic surgery respects that and turns back the clock a bit while maintaining ones personality of facial expression.”

MELISSA MYERS
Melissa Myers has worked as an entertainment journalist for ten years, both in London and New York. She now focuses much of her time helping bring inspiring stories to light and, additionally, her project “Makeover with Meaning,” which seeks to add a sprinkle of happiness into the lives of those who need it most.