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A New Definition Of Drug And Alcohol Addiction And Treatment – Substance Abuse Has No Societal Boundaries

An addict is not considered an addict just because he drinks and drugs too much, nor because his life spirals downwards because of drugs. These are just predictable symptoms of the progressive disease. Perhaps if we had a new definition for addiction, it would not be so difficult to accept that individuals may be suffering from a disease that will eventually destroy their lives.

We have all heard that addiction is a disease, but how do we truly feel about this issue? When you hear the word “addict”, do you think of a junkie, crack addict, prostitute, or a homeless person who begs for money on a street corner? When you here the word addict, do you think of a lowlife, who has unacceptable behaviors, and lower morals? Do you somehow believe that their life circumstance is their fault and that they could, “just say no?”

A successful CEO, attorney, doctor, or professional with a substance abuse problem, would not fall into the category of addict according to the stereotypical definition. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why a professional with a drug problem, alcohol included, does not easily consider himself to be addicted and readily seek addiction treatment . Success in other venues tends to convince the professional that he can also handle this problem as well, especially when he compares himself to addicts who have bottomed out and not entered a drug rehab. If the addicted professional is still semi-functioning and has not yet lost their job, house or family, his denial system will still be relatively intact.

Perhaps if we had a new definition for addiction, it would not be so difficult to accept that individuals may be suffering from a disease that will eventually destroy their lives. According to the American Medical Association, in order for a illness to be classified as a disease, it must meet one of the following criteria. It must be either progressive, predictable or terminal. Addiction qualifies as a disease by meeting not just one, but all three criteria. An addict is not considered an addict just because he drinks and drugs too much, nor because his life spirals downwards because of drugs. These are just predictable symptoms of the progressive disease.

Everyone knows that there are blood and urine tests to determine if drugs or alcohol are present in the body. Few of us are aware that there is now a test which determines whether someone has the DNA for the addiction. There is a ìYî factor in the genetic coding of alcoholics and addicts. This genetic makeup determines how the body processes, and breaks down alcohol or drugs in the system. This ìYî factor distinguishes the addict from the drug abuser.

An addict born with the DNA coding, or Y factor, is similar to the person who is born with the predisposition for cancer, diabetes, or lupus. As with cancer, when certain favorable conditions exist the diseases will activate and progress. For those with the addictive gene, once addictive chemicals are introduced into the body, the disease activates. It does not matter whether the addictive drugs are prescribed by a doctor or bought illegally.

There are exceptions to this genetic predisposition guideline. While the children of addicts will almost certainly have the addictive gene, in some instances, it may skip a generation. However, some who do not have the genetic coding for addiction, will also become addicted. Why? Drugs like crack cocaine have been designed in laboratories to intentionally cross over this genetic line, and become instantly addictive. Have you ever heard of a social crack cocaine smoker? This drug causes someone to bottom out at a much faster pace.

Drugs change the brainís receptors sites. Enough drug usage can permanently alter the brain, and its ability to absorb vital nutrients. Our receptor sites are similar to loading docks in the brain, sending and receiving messages continually. These messages are sent through chemicals which are moved about though electrical surges. Not only do drugs alter the chemical balance in the brain, they eschew the pattern of energy pulses. But the most damaging effect of drug usage is permanent change in the cell walls, upon which other cells dock, much like how a key fits into a lock. If the lock is changed then the key wonít fit.

If you knew that you have the genetic coding for a disease, wouldnít you do everything in your power to keep the disease from activating before the need for a drug rehab program? If you understood that your disease was actively progressing, wouldnít you seek drug treatment? How can you help someone who does not yet realize that they need help? Family, friends, and co-workers are in a position to see the effects of drugs, long before the addicted has a clue.

Healing Groups for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Shofar Coalition and Jewish Community Services are proud to present two 16-week healing groups for women survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Beginning in late October, 2008 these groups will meet in a private, confidential location in the Pikesville area.

Creating Balance and Wellness: Recovery Through Art

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.Through artwork and reflective writing participants can:

  • release emotions and regulate feelings
  • identify environmental stressors
  • build support networks
  • find a safe place for challenging memories
  • learn creative problem solving

No art skills needed! Art Therapy offers nonverbal creative expression that promotes a safe environment to explore the challenging issues of sexual abuse.

Facilitator: Peggy Kolodny, MA, CPC, ATR-BC, a board-certified art therapist with 27 years of experience working with survivors of sexual trauma.

To make a referral or to discuss participation and group fees, please call Peggy Kolodny at 410-292-4848.

From Survivor to Thriver: Building Coping Strategies

Thursdays, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.Participants will discuss topics such as:

  • self-care
  • setting healthy boundaries
  • recognizing and dealing with triggers
  • relationships and trust
  • intimacy and sexuality
  • spirituality

Participants will shift their worldview from fear to confidence while expanding their coping strategies and learning how to value and care for themselves.

Facilitator: Chris Cronin, LCSW-C, a therapist with many years of experience addressing women’s issues and trauma.

To make a referral or to discuss participation and group fees, please call Chris Cronin at 410-843-7440