Addiction Treatment in America: After Money or Aftercare?
There are approximately 14,500 clinics and programs in America that provide treatment for all types of addictive behaviors we call “Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)”.
While most of these have good intentions to provide needed help to the victims of RDS, we propose herein that most of their efforts, especially during periods of aftercare, are not based on the existing scientific evidence. We use “aftercare” to refer to any form of program or therapy following primary treatment including 12-Step programs.
Very few programs actually provide any evidenced-based treatment approaches during this most vulnerable period in recovery. In this trieste we are suggesting that a hypodopaminergic trait (genetic) and/or state (epigenetic) is critical in terms of continued motivation to use/abuse
of alcohol or other drugs and can lead to relapse.
While there is evidence for the approved FDA drugs to treat drug addiction (e.g. alcohol, opiates, nicotine) these drugs favor a short-term benefit by blocking dopamine. We argue instead for the utilization of long-term benefits that induce “dopamine homeostasis”, or in simpler terms “normalcy”.
We suggest that this could be accomplished through a number of holistic modalities including, but not limited to, dopamine-boosting diets, hyper-oxygenation, heavy metal detoxification, exercise, meditation, yoga,
and most importantly, brain neurotransmitter balancing with nutraceuticals such as KB220 variants. We embrace 12-step programs and fellowships but not as a stand-alone modality, especially during aftercare.
We also provide some scientific basis for why resting state functional connectivity (rsfMRI) is so important and may be the cornerstone in terms of how to treat RDS. We postulate that since drugs, food, smoking, gambling, and even compulsive sexual behavior could reduce rsfMRI then modalities (following required research), that can restore this impaired cross talk between various brain regions (e.g. Nucleus accumbens, cingulate gyrus, hippocampus etc.) should be incorporated into the aftercare plan in all treatment programs in America.
Anything less will ultimately lead to the so called “revolving door” for as many as 90% of treatment participants.
Vitamin B-12 is required for a variety of bodily functions including red blood cell production, normal thought processes, short-term memory, DNA synthesis and healthy metabolism. A small amount of B-12 is made by friendly intestinal bacteria, but your body needs dietary sources to function properly.
Most animal products such as meat and dairy are good sources of B-12, although it needs intrinsic factor — a compound produced in the stomach — to be absorbed in the intestines. Lack of dietary B-12 and malabsorption are main factors associated with deficiency, which can take up to a few years to produce symptoms.
Common deficiency symptoms include anemia, fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, mouth sores, numbness and tingling in the limbs, unsteady gait, low blood pressure, depression, confusion and poor short-term memory.
Alcohol — especially in large amounts — irritates the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines. When the stomach lining is irritated — a condition called gastritis — it produces less hydrochloric acid and may secrete less intrinsic factor too, both of which contribute to reduced B-12 absorption from food.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol not only impairs nutrient absorption by damaging the lining of the gastrointestinal system, but it also prevents nutrients from being fully utilized in the body by altering their transport, storage and excretion.
Furthermore, decreased hydrochloric acid production can stimulate the growth of intestinal bacteria that use B-12, which further reduces the amount available to your body.
Vitamin B-12 is water-soluble, but unlike other water-soluble vitamins, it’s stored in the body — mainly the liver — for many months or more before it becomes unusable or gets flushed out. According to Christina Dye of the Do It Now Foundation, chronic consumption of alcohol tends to drain the body’s stores of critical nutrients such as B vitamins.
Alcohol consumption also increases your risk of liver disease and inflammation — also referred to as cirrhosis — which may also impact the storage or utilization of B-12.
Promotes Poor Nutrition
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that heavy drinkers and alcoholics tend to eat poorly and often don’t consume enough essential nutrients such as B vitamins. The reasons for poor nutrition are two-fold: intoxication impairs the ability to make healthy food choices, and alcohol is a good source of calories and often curbs appetite.
However, the Institute notes that moderate drinkers — two alcoholic beverages or less daily — seem to be at little risk for nutritional deficiencies and various medical disorders.
What alcohol does to your liver
The liver breaks down most of the alcohol you drink so that it can be removed from the body. This creates substances that are even more harmful than alcohol. These substances can damage liver cells and cause serious liver disease.
Alcohol causes 4 out of 5 deaths from liver disease.
Types of liver disease caused by alcohol include:
fatty liver (steatosis)
inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
acute alcoholic hepatitis
scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
liver failure and death
Fatty liver (steatosis)
Fatty liver is the most common type of alcoholic liver disease. Fat builds up in the liver, which stops the liver from working properly.
Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
About a third of people with fatty liver will develop a mild or moderate inflammation of the liver. This is alcoholic hepatitis. Hepatitis may not cause any symptoms at first, so you may not realise that you have it.
Acute alcoholic hepatitis
More serious and life-threatening inflammation of the liver can cause:
a loss of appetite
jaundice (yellow skin)
liver failure or death
Around 1 in 3 people who develop severe alcoholic hepatitis will die.
Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
Around 1 in 5 heavy drinkers have scarring of their liver (cirrhosis).
Alcohol changes the chemicals that break down and remove scar tissue. This means that scar tissue builds up in the liver.
Scar tissue replaces normal healthy cells. This means that the liver can’t work properly and can fail, leading to death.
Cirrhosis may not cause symptoms.
Symptoms of liver cirrhosis include:
loss of appetite
Most people who develop cirrhosis and liver failure don’t notice symptoms until it’s too late.
Reducing the risk of liver damage
You can reduce the risk of liver damage by cutting down or giving up alcohol. All liver diseases improve from giving up alcohol.
If you have significant liver scarring or cirrhosis, you should not drink alcohol.
Fatty liver can be reversed and further damage avoided by not drinking alcohol.
There is no cure for cirrhosis. But cutting out alcohol completely gives a much better chance of survival. You can live for decades with cirrhosis, if you give up alcohol in time.
Things that reduce the impact of liver disease include:
maintaining a healthy weight
getting regular, adequate exercise
eating a balanced diet and avoiding processed food
getting sunlight – a low Vitamin D level is bad for liver diseases
Alcohol’s Role in Gastrointestinal Tract Disorders
Among the many organ systems that mediate alcohol’s effects on the human body and its health, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract plays a particularly important part. Several processes underlie this role.
First, the GI tract is the site of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream and, to a lesser extent, of alcohol breakdown and production.
Second, the direct contact of alcoholic beverages with the mucosa1 that lines the upper GI tract can induce numerous metabolic and functional changes.
These alterations may lead to marked mucosal damage, which can result in a broad spectrum of acute and chronic diseases, such as acute gastrointestinal bleeding (from lesions in the stomach or small intestine) and diarrhea.
Third, functional changes and mucosal damage in the gut disturb the digestion of other nutrients as well as their assimilation into the body, thereby contributing to the malnutrition and weight loss frequently observed in alcoholics.
Fourth, alcohol-induced mucosal injuries—especially in the upper small intestine—allow large molecules, such as endotoxin and other bacterial toxins, to pass more easily into the blood or lymph. These toxic substances can have deleterious effectson the liver and other organs.
Over the past three decades, researchers have made major progress toward understanding alcohol’s manyacute and chronic effects on GI-tract function and structure.
Difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, impaired memory: Clearly, alcohol affects the brain. Some of these impairments are detectable after only one or two drinks and quickly resolve when drinking stops.
On the other hand, a person who drinks heavily over a long period of time may have brain deficits that persist well after he or she achieves sobriety. Exactly how alcohol affects the brain and the likelihood of reversing the impact of heavy drinking on the brain remain hot topics in alcohol research today.
We do know that heavy drinking may have extensive and far–reaching effects on the brain, ranging from simple “slips” in memory to permanent and debilitating conditions that require lifetime custodial care. And even moderate drinking leads to short–term impairment, as shown by extensive research on the impact of drinking on driving.
A number of factors influence how and to what extent alcohol affects the brain (1), including
how much and how often a person drinks;
the age at which he or she first began drinking, and how long he or she has been drinking;
the person’s age, level of education, gender, genetic background, and family history of alcoholism;
whether he or she is at risk as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure; and
his or her general health status.
This Alcohol Alert reviews some common disorders associated with alcohol–related brain damage and the people at greatest risk for impairment. It looks at traditional as well as emerging therapies for the treatment and prevention of alcohol–related disorders and includes a brief look at the high–tech tools that are helping scientists to better understand the effects of alcohol on the brain.
BLACKOUTS AND MEMORY LAPSES
Alcohol can produce detectable impairments in memory after only a few drinks and, as the amount of alcohol increases, so does the degree of impairment. Large quantities of alcohol, especially when consumed quickly and on an empty stomach, can produce a blackout, or an interval of time for which the intoxicated person cannot recall key details of events, or even entire events.
Blackouts are much more common among social drinkers than previously assumed and should be viewed as a potential consequence of acute intoxication regardless of age or whether the drinker is clinically dependent on alcohol (2). White and colleagues (3) surveyed 772 college undergraduates about their experiences with blackouts and asked, “Have you ever awoken after a night of drinking not able to remember things that you did or places that you went?”
Of the students who had ever consumed alcohol, 51 percent reported blacking out at some point in their lives, and 40 percent reported experiencing a blackout in the year before the survey. Of those who reported drinking in the 2 weeks before the survey, 9.4 percent said they blacked out during that time.
The students reported learning later that they had participated in a wide range of potentially dangerous events they could not remember, including vandalism, unprotected sex, and driving.
Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can lead to:
inflammation of the pancreas
swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas
Pancreatitis can be very painful.
There are 2 types of pancreatitis:
Acute pancreatitis comes on suddenly. It can cause severe pain and can be life-threatening.
Acute pancreatitis can cause pain in the stomach area (abdomen), behind the ribs. It can spread through the back and cause nausea, vomiting and fever.
Chronic (long-lasting) pancreatitis is when the pancreas becomes inflamed and stays that way. This causes it to stop working properly.
Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include:
recurring, severe pain behind the ribs and through the back
greasy, foul-smelling poo and loose bowel movements
It may cause complications that can be life-threatening, such as pancreatic cancer.
Treatment for chronic pancreatitis
Chronic pancreatitis is hard to treat. The main advice is to not drink alcohol.
The pancreas produces enzymes that digest your food. When the pancreas does not function, these enzymes come in tablet form.
A third of people with pancreatitis develop type 2 diabetes.
Blood pressure and the heart
A lot of alcohol over a long time – or too much on a single occasion – can damage the heart or interfere with the way it works.
This can cause different problems, including:
high blood pressure (hypertension)
increased risk of strokes
cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of the heart muscle)
arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
High blood pressure (hypertension)
High blood pressure is the most common alcohol-related health problem. Many people don’t realise they have it.
Drinking a lot of alcohol can affect the muscles in your blood vessels. This can cause them to become narrower.
The more alcohol you drink the higher the risk of developing hypertension. If you drink regularly you are at risk, especially if you’re over the age of 35. One drink a day can increase the risk.
When your blood vessels are narrower, the heart has to work harder to push blood around your body. This makes your blood pressure go up.
High blood pressure can significantly increase your risk of:
vascular dementia – caused by not enough blood being able to get to the brain
chronic kidney disease
Sex life and fertility
Drinking alcohol can increase your:
confidence with sexual partners
But it can have a bad effect on what happens in bed.
Alcohol can also cause long-term problems with sex and fertility.
How alcohol can affect sex and fertility
Problems with erections
Drinking large amounts of alcohol can make it hard to get or keep an erection. This is called erectile dysfunction (ED).
Alcohol interferes with the messengers in the brain that tell the penis to fill with blood.
It can also happen because alcohol can reduce the production of testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone that controls male sexual functions.
ED is normally a temporary problem.
Problems with orgasms
Alcohol interferes with your ability to feel sexual stimulation. It does this by interfering with the signals between the brain and the genitals.
After heavy drinking:
men may find it hard to ejaculate (come) or may ejaculate too quickly
women may find it harder to orgasm or their orgasms may feel less intense
Sex drive (libido)
Drinking heavily over a long period of time can lead to a lower sex drive (libido). This is because it reduces your levels of testosterone.
Shrinking of sex organs
High-risk drinking over a long time can cause a man’s testes and penis to shrink.
Lowered testosterone can affect sperm production. This can reduce fertility.
Women who drink heavily for a long time may find they stop ovulating.
Even small amounts of alcohol can affect fertility.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and affects your judgement. This increases your chances of having unprotected sex. This puts you at risk of sexually transmitted infections
60% of U.S. college students believe they have a cell phone addiction. About 71% of people sleep with their phones nearby. Plus, 35% of people wake up thinking about their phones- only 10% of people think of their significant others first.
Many people feel as though they can not stay away from their phones for too long. It is important to reflect on how much time you are putting into your cell phone use.
With this guide you will learn how to minimize your phone addiction so you can maximize creativity, increase productivity, and get back time.
How to beat cell phone addiction
10 different signs of cell phone addiction
How to notice phone addiction in others
Why you should build connections with real people
Why social media is so addictive
5 reasons why putting your phone away for 24 hours is healthy
Tips to avoid checking your phone too much
Why you want to step away from social media
Ways to avoid phone addiction
Resources to assist with phone addiction
What to do if your teen is addicted to their phone