Addicts Will Always Find a Way to Get High

By David Sack, M.D.

Addicts Will Always Find a Way to Get HighWhen the makers of OxyContin reformulated the drug to minimize abuse in 2010, the sudden unattractiveness of one of the most widely abused painkillers prompted a dramatic surge in heroin abuse. Onlookers expected OxyContin to lose its huge following, but few expected such a widespread shift to heroin. Yet studies show that’s exactly what happened.

From 2010 to 2012, researchers from Washington University and Nova Southeastern University surveyed over 2,500 people seeking treatment for opiate addiction at 150 treatment centers throughout the country. They further interviewed 103 people who filled out anonymous surveys in an effort to assess how their drug habits had changed over time.

Continue reading… »



6 Common Fears in Addiction Recovery – and How to Face Them

By David Sack, M.D.

6 Common Fears in Addiction Recovery - and How to Face ThemFear is normal at every stage of recovery. Everyone enters rehab with some trepidation, even if they’ve been in and out of treatment for years. Likewise, most people leave rehab full of worry. What will happen when they leave the one place they know they can stay sober? How will they cope when the feelings they’ve been medicating come flooding back?

When you think about how the average person responds to a horror movie or passing a traffic accident, it is clear that, in some cases, fear actually draws us in rather than repelling us. Fear makes us alert to danger; it helps guide our decision-making process. But too much fear can be paralyzing in life and, in addiction recovery, can be a precursor to relapse.

Continue reading… »



A Doctor’s Most Dreaded Patient: The Addict

By David Sack, M.D.

A Doctor's Most Dreaded Patient: The AddictIt is an unfortunate reality that most doctors don’t like treating addiction, and they don’t like addicts. They’ll treat the consequences of the disease but they won’t always confront the underlying issues, discuss treatment options or provide referrals to an addiction specialist or even a self-help support group like AA. What’s behind this institutional bias against addicts?

A Health Care System in Denial

Denial keeps addicts stuck in their disease. It’s also keeping our health care system sick. An estimated six million addicts receive health care in hospitals, emergency rooms and primary care clinics each year. This kind of access puts doctors in an ideal position to recognize and treat addiction, yet they receive very little training on how to do so. During medical school, there’s no required course in addiction and only a few states require continuing education in the use of narcotic medications and the management of chronic pain.

Continue reading… »



Why Drug Addicts Will Always Choose Drugs Over Love

By David Sack, M.D.

Why Drug Addicts Will Always Choose Drugs Over LoveA relationship with an active drug addict is inherently dysfunctional. They love you but then steal from you, lie at every turn and trick you into believing their lies. When they continue to use drugs even though their children are being neglected and the love of their life is threatening to leave, loved ones ask, “Why is he/she choosing drugs over me?” The natural, albeit faulty, conclusion is that the love is no longer there, or at least it isn’t strong enough to overcome addiction.

The Illusion of Choice

Although understandable, the question misinterprets the nature of addiction. In truth, the addict isn’t choosing anything. Their behavior is reflexive and automatic, based on a physical and psychological need for a substance. Drugs flood the brain with dopamine, training the brain to rely on the relief they provide and to assign greater value to drugs than other things needed for happiness and survival. Over time, addiction changes the chemistry and function of the brain, robbing the user of control and thus taking away the possibility of choice.

Continue reading… »



6 Surprising Traits You May Have in Common with a Drug Addict

By David Sack, M.D.

6 Surprising Traits You May Have in Common with a Drug AddictIn this age of political correctness, even the most tolerant among us looks at criminals, homeless people, addicts and other “outsiders” with an air of consternation. It’s “them” versus “us,” and somehow it feels safer that way. But if you take a closer look behind the stigma, you may be surprised to find that you have more in common with a drug addict than you think. Do any of these traits sound familiar to you?

Continue reading… »



Is My 2-Year-Old Mentally Ill? How a Culture of Over-Diagnosis and Over-Medicating Is Harming Youth

By David Sack, M.D.

Is My 2-Year-Old Mentally Ill? How a Culture of Over-Diagnosis and Over-Medicating Is Harming YouthChildhood Mental Health Treatment: Can  We Call Over-Medication Progress?

A disturbing trend has emerged in the health care field: Parents are visiting their doctor’s office asking whether children as young as 2 could have a diagnosable mental illness such as depression. And now more than ever, parents are likely to leave with a prescription in hand.

According to Medco Health Solutions, one in four children now take regular medication. The number of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder and the percentage using antipsychotic medication has doubled in the past decade (Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly one in 10 children has been diagnosed with ADHD.

Have we become so accustomed to medicating problems away that we see pathology everywhere we look, or are we getting better at identifying disorders that were once dismissed as personality traits?

Continue reading… »



5 Sober Ways to Celebrate Your Recovery

By David Sack, M.D.

5 Sober Ways to Celebrate Your Recovery Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and graduations are widely celebrated, sometimes in grand fashion. We make a big fuss over getting a driver’s license at 16 and aging in to the right to drink alcohol at 21. But these aren’t the only, or necessarily the most important, occasions worthy of observance. After all, when the work is as hard as recovering from addiction, every milestone merits recognition.

Addicts are sometimes reluctant to self-congratulate, partly out of concern that they won’t be able to continue living up to their own expectations. But celebrating your recovery serves a number of valuable functions. Even years into recovery, celebrating reminds you where you were, how far you’ve come and how easy it is to fall back. When life gets stressful, or you’ve disappointed yourself or someone else, circling back to your recovery can be a reminder that you’ve faced bigger hurdles in the past and prevailed.

Continue reading… »



Why Didn’t Drug Rehab Work? 5 Wrongs That Don’t Make a Right

By David Sack, M.D.

Why Didn’t Drug Rehab Work? 5 Wrongs That Don’t Make a RightOnce, twice, three times in rehab – the story isn’t uncommon. For many recovering addicts, it takes multiple treatment attempts to get well. Disappointed, angry and ready to give up, addicts and their loved ones are left asking, “What went wrong?” Here are a few possibilities:

#1 Wrong Understanding of Addiction

Prolonged drug use alters the chemistry in the brain, doing damage that can take weeks, months, even years to reverse. As a chronic, relapsing disease, there is no quick fix for addiction. Expecting to go to treatment for 30, 60 or 90 days and be “cured” is a set-up for relapse.

Continue reading… »



5 Reasons Bans on Designer Drugs Won’t Work

By David Sack, M.D.

5 Reasons Bans on Designer Drugs Won’t WorkAlthough “designer drugs” have been around for decades, newer formulations such as Spice, bath salts and Smiles have become a popular choice among teens and young adults. Designed to mimic the effects of illicit drugs, these drugs are manmade in secret labs and then sold online, at clubs and raves, and in head shops and convenience stores as “incense” or “plant food.” Because their chemical makeup is often unknown and their effects unpredictable, designer drugs can be extremely dangerous.

Continue reading… »



The 4 Degrees of Drug Use

By David Sack, M.D.

The 4 Degrees of Drug Use We all know someone who drinks every night and swears they can stop any time they want. Is it just an excuse, or is the person truly in control of their drug use? Not everyone who uses drugs or alcohol needs rehab; at the same time, not everyone who needs treatment recognizes the seriousness of their problem. How can you differentiate controlled, moderate use from out-of-control drug use?

Here are four degrees of drug use and what to do if you or someone you know falls into each:

#1 Experimentation

People experiment with drugs for all kinds of reasons. Some are curious about a particular drug’s effects, others are pressured by someone else. Most people who experiment with drugs or alcohol do not become addicted. Still, just one use can cause harm (especially if the individual makes poor decisions such as drinking and driving) and, in someone who is predisposed to addiction, can set in motion a pattern of drug abuse and dependency.

Continue reading… »



 
 

Subscribe to this Blog: Feed

Recent Comments
  • a Parent of an addict: Excellent article. this showed me some critical mistakes I am making as a parent of an...
  • Robert Yoder: Accreditation is certainly something that brings lot of comfort to those seeking treatment. Especially...
  • JP: I came across this site while searching for answers of mixing drugs & alcohol. I have been off and on Zoloft...
  • Len: Interesting that you do not mention Vyvanse as an alternative during CD treatment. In general Stattera is not...
  • healing_1: I just have to say that this article did wonders for me. Im a struggling addict only days into my clean...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!