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Friday, April 29, 2016

Exercise Creates New Dopamine Receptors

Addiction recovery requires a lot of hard work; years of living in the grips of the disease can be a hard break. It is often said that the easiest part of recovery is putting down the drink or drug, the hard part is not picking them back up. Eternal vigilance is needed if long term recovery is to be achieved. Drugs and alcohol take a heavy toll on the brain; in a sense they change the wiring - one’s neurochemical receptors can diminish over time. The effect that drugs have on the brain from greater and prolonged use can affect one’s ability to abstain from use in recovery.

Fortunately, the human brain has an extraordinary ability to repair the damage done by substance use, and there are things that can be done to speed up the process. Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) found that exercise can help those in recovery from methamphetamine addiction, UPI reports. The UCLA team’s research indicates that exercise aids the brain in adding new dopamine receptors, diminishing one’s cravings for meth. The findings were published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

"We know that deficits in the striatal dopamine system are hallmark features of substance-use disorders and are caused by molecular adaptations to repeated drug exposure and, likely, also reflect a genetic predisposition," said Dr. Edythe London, professor of psychiatry and molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA, in a press release

The study involved 19 people; the researchers asked 10 of the participants to exercise three times a week for an hour and to do resistance training for eight weeks, according to the article. The other nine members of the study were asked to not exercise, but were given health education training. PET scans were performed to find how many dopamine receptors were present in the reward system part of the brain - known as the striatum. After eight weeks, the exercising group had a 15 percent increase in dopamine receptors, compared to just 4 percent in the non-exercising group.

"Although this is a small study, it's a very encouraging finding," said London. "The results demonstrate that methamphetamine-associated damages to the dopamine system of the brain are reversible in human subjects, and that recovery of the dopamine system after chronic drug use can be facilitated with exercise training." 

At Celebrate Hope clients are encouraged to exercise and/or do yoga, as we believe that recovery requires healing both mind and body. Please contact us to begin the journey of recovery.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Being Charlie: Addiction and Homelessness

Hollywood often paints inaccurate pictures of addiction, usually the result of writers who themselves have never struggled with the disease. While it is good that such movies spark conversations about addiction, helping break the stigma of the insidious illness, it is always nice to see films that were written by those who walked the lonely road.

Every adult in America has probably seen a Rob Reiner film, such as WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… You may even know something about the acclaimed director's life. You may not know that Reiner’s son Nick began his battle with addiction in his early teens, according to People. Nick Reiner was sent to his first addiction treatment center when he was about 15 years of age. The center would be the first of 17 such facilities that he would check into, and he is only 22 years old.

Nick’s story is like so many others who began using drugs and alcohol at a young age. He bounced in and out of treatment centers, found recovery and relapse - eventually winding up homeless living on the streets. Now sober, he decided to write a film that resembles his own experiences, according to the article.

Being Charlie, directed by Rob Reiner, is the story of the son of a famous former actor who is running for governor. Along the way, Charlie who is trying to find recovery, refuses to go back to rehab and finds himself homeless. "It's not my life," says Nick Reiner but he adds "I went to a lot of these places, so I had a lot of these stories."

"I was homeless in Maine. I was homeless in New Jersey. I was homeless in Texas," says Nick. "I spent nights on the street. I spent weeks on the street. It was not fun." 

Please take a moment to watch the trailer below:

If you are having trouble viewing the trailer, please click here.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Heavy Cannabis Use Compromises Brain's Dopamine System

Marijuana, despite what many will claim, is not a benign substance and carries the risk of addiction. All over the country, more and more people are in favor of doing away with marijuana prohibition, in favor of both medical and recreational marijuana legislation. This fall, a number of states are expected to vote on legalizing the controversial drug. Whether legalization is a good or bad thing is up for debate; however, the change in stance on marijuana has allowed for research that was previously impossible to conduct.

In recent years, a number of studies have been conducted dealing with cannabis use and the drug's effect on the brain. If we are going to vote on the legality of a drug, it is crucial we have all the facts. It turns out, that marijuana’s impact on the brain may not be too dissimilar to other, more dangerous drugs. New research suggests that heavy cannabis use compromises the brain's dopamine system, Science Daily reports. Heavy cannabis use can impact the striatum - the region of the brain responsible for working memory, impulsive behavior, and attention. The findings were published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

"In light of the more widespread acceptance and use of marijuana, especially by young people, we believe it is important to look more closely at the potentially addictive effects of cannabis on key regions of the brain," said lead author Anissa Abi-Dargham, MD, professor of psychiatry (in radiology) at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). 

The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) on 11 adults severely dependent on cannabis and 12 matched healthy controls, according to the article. The heavy cannabis users had significantly lower dopamine release in the striatum, compared to the controls. Lower dopamine release was associated with worse performance on learning and working memory tasks.

"We don't know whether decreased dopamine was a preexisting condition or the result of heavy cannabis use," said Dr. Abi-Dargham. "But the bottom line is that long-term, heavy cannabis use may impair the dopaminergic system, which could have a variety of negative effects on learning and behavior."

Friday, April 8, 2016

Social Media and Depression

Addiction to technology is a real disorder, one that can be especially difficult to treat because technology is an aspect pervasive of everyday life. Practically everyone has a computer with access to the internet, and it is probably fair to say that even more people have a smartphone of some kind. Having a device in your pocket that can be reached for at anytime can be a slippery slope, especially for people who actively use social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Past research has shown that people who use social media may be at risk of depression, but a new study has found the link may be rooted in addiction, Reuters reports. The findings were published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, and come from 1,763 people ages 19-32, who were asked questions about their:
  • Symptoms of Depression
  • Social Media Use
  • Addictive Behaviors
“We believe that at least having clinicians be aware of these associations may be valuable to them as they treat patients with depressive disorders. For example, they may wish to inquire about social media use patterns and determine if those patterns are maladaptive,” said study coauthor Ariel Shensa of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The researchers looked at how often the participants used 11 of the most commonly accessed social media platforms, according to the article. The sites included:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Vine
  • Snapchat
  • Reddit
Addiction to social media explained for most of the cases where social media use was linked to depression, the article reports. However, how social media is used and depression was noticeably linked together.

“Ultimately, it appears that the way social media is used, rather than the amount social media is used, leads to maladaptive outcomes,” said Lindsay Howard of the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.
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