Friday, November 21, 2014


While sex addiction has yet to be officially classified as a “real” addiction, new brain research shows that sex can indeed affect the brain in the same way as drug and alcohol - leading to addiction.

When you think of too much of a good thing, sex is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. However, recent research conducted at the University of Cambridge is shedding light on how sexual addictions may affect the brain in ways analogous to drugs.
“Addiction”. The word usually brings to mind images of alcohol and drugs. It is true that addictive substances have been the most commonly studied addictions, as well as being the most visible forms of addiction. In recent years, however, that has been changing. With the advent of new ways of studying the brain, and new ways of understanding addiction, other behaviours are becoming understood as addictions.
One of the most recent is sex addiction. While not yet included in the authoritative text of mental health, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychological Association, there is now scientific evidence that supports the notion that sexual behaviours can be addictions.
The research, conducted at the prestigious University of Cambridge, focused on the way the brain is affected by viewing pornographic images. In the study, two groups of men viewed the images. One group comprised of men with sexually compulsive behaviour, while the other group comprised of men with normal sexual behaviour. The study used a functional magnetic resonance imaging device (fMRI), to track changes in brain activity which occurred while the men viewed the pornographic images.
The researchers discovered that the part of the brain associated with rewards lit up in the brains of men with sexually compulsive behavior. These “reward centers” of the brain, which include the amygdala, dorsal anterior cingulate, and ventral striatum, showed activity similar to the brains of drug addicts consuming drugs.
The lead researcher on the study, Dr.  Valeria Voon, says that it is certain that persons with sexual compulsion suffer as a result of their condition. The new research provides evidence on the level of the brain similar to what psychologists have noted for some time: that those with an abnormally strong sexual compulsion experience significant problems in their behavioral, emotional, and social functioning. In addition to adaptive problems, people with sexual compulsions often experience shame, guilt, and a desire to maintain secrecy about their condition. This adds to the suffering that they experience.
Dr. Voon is happy that the study supports the classification of sexual compulsions as pathological. She hopes that it in the future it will provide grounds for further research into the understanding of the disorder.
We at Shafa Home, having helped many a client suffering from this disorder, commend this study and Dr Voon's assessment of the condition. Sex addiction is a disease, no less serious for the sufferer than suffering from a substance addiction – and the sooner it is clinically recognized the more people will be encouraged to seek treatment.
Shafa Home, is a residential treatment center providing world-class, holistic care for addiction. If you are concerned about addiction, please contact one of our staff today.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Thursday, November 20, 2014


AA’s 12 Steps are widely criticised, but a new study proves that participation in the "Steps" and its systems increase chances of long-term sobriety by over 200%!

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been helping millions of people get and stay sober since the 12 Steps, and the ‘Big Book' were created in 1935. Despite the positive results, however, the organisation and the 12 Steps addiction treatment method have been widely criticised, especially in recent years. Some say that AA should not talk about God. Others believe that it has no scientific standing. And others believe that abstinence should not have to be ‘the only way.'

Back in 1935, the founders of AA classified alcoholism as a disease – albeit without any scientific evidence. In 1956 the American Medical Association (AMA) also classified alcoholism as a disease – this time with scientific evidence. And earlier this year, in 2014, researchers at DePaul University's Center for Community Research in Chicago, U.S.A., found some compelling evidence that the AA programme, used in conjunction with clinical inpatient rehab, does indeed deliver desirable results for addicts.

A group of 150 participants who had just completed inpatient rehab programmes were categorised into two sections. Those who were “categorically involved” in AA, meaning they met the four main criteria for the programme: doing service work, having a sponsor, reading the literature and calling other members for help – and those who were not “categorically involved”.

The study found that after two years, those who were “categorically involved” were 2.8 times more likely to be abstinent from drugs and alcohol than those who were not involved. At The Cabin Chiang Mai, we use the 12 Steps as part of our evidence-based clinical treatment programme along with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), to an extremely high degree of success.

CBT is a modern, evidence-based psychology, which focuses mainly on the way that negative thinking affects the way we feel and behave. Conditions such as addiction create mental and emotional disturbance, and can be treated by learning strategies and techniques to think rationally and positively. And by juxtaposing 12 Step concepts with CBT concepts, we can offer an explanation of how these two methods can work together to keep addicts healthy and free from their addiction-based impulses and behaviours.

Below, you will find a chart used in our treatment programme which gives an explanation of how the 12 Steps are used with CBT to combat the chronic disease of addiction.

As you can see, the 12 Steps offer a psychological pathway to free an addict from the addiction compulsions that keep them unhealthy, and keep them addicted. In this way, it is easy to see a more scientific explanation of why these steps do work.

At Shafa Home, we are secular in the way of religion, but it is important to understand that addiction goes beyond your own personal power. Someone with diabetes cannot be finitely cured of the disease, but through a strict diet, and medical regiment they are able to control the disease in a way that it has the least impact on their life. Such as with addiction, an addict needs to understand that addiction is a chronic disease, and that by following a certain lifestyle and regiment of meetings, outreach and constant self-work, they can keep their disease at bay.

We also incorporate the three circles method and mindfulness therapy to round out our cutting edge treatment model, which boasts a very high success rate. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, it is important to contact a professional for help.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


The stereotypical image of an addict in many people’s minds is someone who uses drugs or alcohol everyday, looks unhealthy and unkempt and lives in dodgy housing, or possibly on the streets. In fact, less than 10% of all addicts live up to that stereotype. However, due to these typecasts, many addicts stay in hiding - dealing with the disease all alone.

Who is an addict? What does an addict look like? The media fuels many stereotypes that lead us to believe we can answer these questions. Addicts are unemployed, live on the streets and uneducated. They are criminals, prostitutes, and otherwise deviant from mainstream society. They drink every day and take drugs in alleyways or abandoned buildings. They look unkempt, underweight and sickly.

The reality is the majority of addicts don't fit within these common negative stereotypes. In fact, less than 10% of all alcoholics are the homeless, chronically using and mentally ill men portrayed in movies and media. Most people struggling with addiction have jobs, families, and may not even use every day. They are able to keep up appearances and support their habit without turning to stealing or prostitution. They are women and men of all ages, classes, and ethnicities.

Parents are encouraged to look out for signs of substance abuse such as slipping grades, strange behavior and symptoms of depression. While it is true these red-flags exist and shouldn't be ignored, a problem can go unnoticed if the young user is able to keep up with his or her responsibilities.

The gap between stereotypes and reality contributes to the pervasive denial characteristic of addicts and their families. As long as someone is non-violent,
 employed, keeps up a home and otherwise functions as a productive member of society we find it easier to overlook the possibility of addiction. Denial is a key ingredient in keeping addiction alive and it manifests in many ways over time.

With stereotypes in mind people are able to minimize their behavior in comparison to what they think an addict really looks like and rationalise decisions based on their external successes. 
 Friends and family are also sucked into denying their loved one has a problem based on their misconceptions about addiction. As the disease progresses, denial by the addict becomes stronger and loved ones begin to enable addictive behavior.

The idea that an addict must hit “rock bottom” before they can change is another stereotype prevalent in society that contributes to denial. Often hitting bottom is portrayed as a dramatic event in which an addict has no choice but to face reality as he or she has lost everything. With this storyline in mind addicts and families prolong denial for years and even decades when things don't ever completely fall apart. The truth is the internal struggle of addiction is present whether one's life is seemingly all together, or completely out of control. “Hitting rock bottom” looks different for everyone and the outward drama that we might expect is often missing.

So what does an addict look like? An addict looks like a parent, child, co-worker, boss or friend. Asking questions early and gaining knowledge about what addiction really looks like can lead you or your loved ones to seek the help they need. As with any disease the earlier it is detected the better chance one has to overcome it.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Even though you may realise that you need to get clean, the thought of sobriety can be scary. Here are the most common fears, and tips for overcoming them.

Major life changes of any kind add stress to life. Compounding such stress is the fear of the changes themselves. This is certainly true of recovery, where fear of sobriety can be a major obstacle to becoming sober. In this blog, we will explore common fears of sobriety and how to handle them.

#1: Fear of Sobriety : It may seem counter-intuitive, but sobriety itself can induce fear. As the saying goes, better the devil you know, meaning that what we are familiar with is more comfortable than the unknown. Facing sobriety is a major unknown, so even when we recognise the benefits, a lot of fear can come up.
How to handle it: To overcome fear of sobriety, two strategies are helpful. First, acknowledging the fear can go a long way towards dispelling it. Second, focus on the benefits of being sober.

#2: Fear of Failure : This fear focuses on whether or not your attempt at sobriety will fail. You may have tried to clean up your act in the past, and it didn't work. Or it may be the first time you are attempting to get clean. In either case, choosing sobriety has within it the potential for failure, and with it the fear of failure.
How to handle it: Facing this fear involves acknowledging it, and then building confidence in your ability to succeed based on strategies and resources gained in recovery treatment. It is possible that you may fail. And yet, resolving to be successful is a key to success. Knowing how to be successful will go great lengths in resolving this fear.

#3: Fear of Success: The fear of success is the flipside to the fear of failure. While fearing failure revolves around not believing you can succeed, fearing success focuses on your lack of value as a person who deserves success. You may believe that because of who you are, or because of your past, you cannot be successful.
How to Handle It: Understand that everyone is capable and deserving of sobriety. You are not alone in feeling this fear, and others can support you through this challenge. So, seek out support from people in your life, and this will help you believe in your ability to succeed.

#4: Fear of Rejection: When we make changes to our life, our old friends may not value these changes. This is particularly true in the case of addiction, where a large part of social bonding occurs around substance use. You may therefore fear the rejection of your old friends.
How to Handle It: Make new friends through recovery. Choosing a sober lifestyle means making many changes to your activities, and your social relationships will also change. Embrace these changes and the benefits they bring to your life, and value the new friends you make.

#5: Fear of Losing Identity: Alcoholics and others with addiction have their identity meshed with their addiction. So, when becoming sober, it means changing a part of how they think about themselves. This can invoke fear, as who you are changes and old parts of your identity are absolved.
How to Handle It: Redefine yourself in recovery with the support of your community. It is also beneficial to think about who you really want to be, and your ability to become that person.

#6: Fear of Suffering: Addiction brings its own brand of suffering to your life. However, getting clean does not mean that your life will suddenly become a fairy tale happy ending. On the contrary, remaining sober involves maturely facing life's challenges without escaping through substance use. As a result, there can be a lot of fear of the suffering that naturally occurs in life.
How to Handle It: See how, as you face life sober, you grow as a person. The process of recovery is about growth, and there are challenges in this process. Believe in your ability to face them. Becoming sober will give you the confidence to face most challenges in life, so long as you remain sober.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


If you are an addict, will your children and loved ones suffer from addiction as well? Both genetics and environmental factors play a part in addiction. How is your family affected?

Addiction researchers now have strong evidence for the genetic basis of addiction. Genes predispose some individuals to addiction, while others are less likely to become addicts. Even so, the exact contribution of genetics is not yet determined, and most researchers agree that there is an environmental influence to addiction. For this reason, it is important to consider how addiction affects the people we care about most –those in our families. In this blog, we will examine the ways in which having an addiction affects family members.

Small Children
Children learn about the world from their early experiences in their family. When children grow up in a family with an addicted parent, they observe and learn that using substances is an effective coping strategy. 
Research has now found that there are observable differences in children of alcoholics when compared with children of non-alcoholic parents.

Consequences for partners of alcoholics include economic and psycho-social risks. Insofar as an addict spends money on their addiction, which puts financial strain on the relationship. Often, in an attempt to hide the addiction, the money that is spent is not openly discussed, leading to greater economic risk and a betrayal of trust when it is discovered.
While economic risks are the most quantifiable, the psychological and social risks of being in a relationship with an addict are also significant. Partners of addicts may experience a range of negative emotions, including anger, shame, frustration, sadness, and despondency. They may respond to their partner negatively, or focus those negative feelings inward. This has a profound effect on the social life of the addict's partner, too. Other relationships suffer, as friends and family respond to the strain and stress in the relationship.

Adult Children of Addicts
When parents grow older, and their children become adults, addiction can create strains and unhealthy ways of relating. Parents may be in need of help, whether it be emotional, financial, or practical. Their children, rather than moving on in their own direction, may remain overly close and even take on a parental role with their own parents.

Extended Family
The effects of addiction extend not only to the nuclear family, but also to the extended family. Distant relatives who are addicts may not have as profound an influence as a parent, but they nevertheless set an example. A favorite aunt or uncle may, indeed, be a role model for a child or teenager. Seeing that one's role model has an addiction has the potential to set a negative example.
Understanding of addiction is developing, and there are great gaps in knowledge of how social influences may increase risk for addiction. Even so, it is important to be aware of how addiction may influence those we care about.

Shafa Home provides world-class treatment for addiction. If you are concerned about addiction, contact one of our specialists today.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Is laughter really the best medicine? Many experts believe it is an effective tool in recovery.

Addiction is a serious disease with far-reaching health consequences. But what if there were an alternative to addictive behavior that was healthy, fun, and not at all serious?

Laughter, it has been said, is the best medicine. And it turns out that this adage does have some support. While it may not technically be a medical remedy, there are far-ranging health benefits. Some of which are:

• Physical Health Benefits. These include lowered stress hormones, a boost to your immune system, decreased pain, muscular relaxation, and reduced risk of heart disease.
• Mental Health Benefits. These include stress relief, improved mood, enhanced resilience, reduced anxiety, and a greater sense of excitement about life.
• Social Benefits. Shared laughter increases social connection, eases conflict, promotes shared experience, and enhances cooperation.

If you have been feeling weighed down by the stress of life, it's likely that you haven't had a good belly laugh in some time. Oftentimes, when we are preoccupied with worries and concerns, it is difficult to find anything funny. For this reason, it can be useful to help the laughter come out with these simple tips:
• Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. When you smile, it engages similar muscles to those used for laughter. It also changes your mood, so you will be in a more positive frame of mind. This will help bring on the laughs!

• Gratitude. Focus on those things in life which you are genuinely grateful for. This will help lighten your mood, easing the way for pleasant humor. Of course, it can be difficult at first to find things which you are thankful for, but once you start, you will find more and more.

• Move toward laughter. If you hear someone laughing, move towards the source. Laughter is often most pleasurable when shared in a group, so joining in can be a good way to jump start your own peals of laughter.

• Funny friends. Surrounding yourself with funny, joyful, or lighthearted friends can help elevate your mood and put you in a good frame of mind. In turn, this will help you see the funny side of life.

• Laugh at yourself. It's been said that the truly wise are able laugh at themselves. When we are able to find humour in our own follies and missteps, it shows a healthy distance from taking ourselves too seriously. So, try to find one thing that is funny about yourself, and have a small laugh.

• Laugh instead of complaining. There are many situations that are annoying. We can let these ruffle our feathers, or choose to find them funny and laugh it off. Doing the latter will invariably help you to move on and get back on track more effectively.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Monday, October 27, 2014


For many addicts, as the addiction gets worse, lying becomes deeply ingrained in their way of life and it actually becomes incredibly difficult to tell the truth. And, if they have been getting away with weaving a web of lies and nobody has called them out on it, it only seems logical to think that lying is just simply easier than telling the truth. That is why it is very important to deal with the lies in an appropriate manner. Here are a few tips on how to deal with them in a way that's beneficial to both you and your loved one:

1. Don't take it personally
When a loved one lies to you, it can feel as though they no longer love or respect you, and this can cause a great amount of emotional pain. You must remember, however, that an addict mainly lies for their own benefit – to keep the reality of their situation from surfacing. And in fact, an addict often believes that by lying to a loved one, it is causing them less pain with a ‘what you don't know won't hurt you' type of attitude. Instead of getting upset and yelling at them or reacting negatively towards them, take it with a grain of salt and focus your energy on helping them get out of their situation instead.

2. Stop enabling
If you know that your loved one is lying to you, pretending to believe them, or turning a blind eye will only encourage their behavior and allow them to sink deeper into their addiction. Whether they think you actually believe them, or they know you're turning a blind eye, you're essentially telling them that their behavior is okay. Instead, you need to let them know that you know the truth.  When the lies are no longer working, it will help force them into honesty and (hopefully) in to asking for the help they need.

3. Point out the truths
When negative incidents occur, such as arrests, medical issues, loss of job, or anything that is visible to you (and not just to the person struggling with addiction) it is helpful for you to point it out. Do your best to sound non-judgmental and definitely not condescending. However, it is important for your loved one to realize that their actions are having negative impacts, and that others can see that and are also being affected by them.

4. Boost their confidence
When an addict feels shame, it fuels their addiction. Therefore, you can help them by creating a supportive environment where they feel they can be open and honest with you. You can also build their confidence and encourage them to create goals again by literally listing for them the things that would be better if they got treatment for their addiction. Most addicts feel a sense of emptiness when they imagine their life without their substance, so help fill that void with reminders of how good life was before the activities that you used to enjoy together or those that they enjoyed doing alone.

5. Get them some help
If it's clear to you that your loved one is suffering from addiction, it is important to get them help right away. It does no good for you or them if you continue to be in denial yourself. You can start by contacting your family doctor for guidance in finding the most appropriate treatment, and get them into a rehabilitation program as soon as possible. The sooner the addict gets help, the better their chances of recovery.

Shafa Home offers treatment for both substance and process or behavioral addictions with a program that is highly personalized and culturally sensitive.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Friday, October 17, 2014


Millions of underage teens around the world abuse alcohol and drugs each year. Make sure your teen isn't one of them. Back-to-school season is a flurry of activity for parents of adolescents and teenagers. Clothes, electronics, accessories, and signing up for extra classes can make an already busy schedule seem overwhelming. And yet it is important to be mindful of the limits and expectations we set for our children, if they are to successfully navigate the peer pressure they may encounter at school.

#1 Set Firm Limits About Alcohol Use
Children learn much of how they should respond and be expected to behave from experiences at home. Some research suggests that at six years old, children understand that alcohol is off-limits to kids. In fact, many children have formed the impression that drinking is not a big deal by age 14. Where do they get these messages? Primarily at home. This means that while there are many influences we cannot control, such as media and the internet, we can influence some of these expectations from the home front.
The following are useful strategies for creating healthy attitudes towards and behaviours with alcohol. First, consume alcohol responsibly and communicate that underage drinking is not acceptable. Second, there is considerable research that shows that when parents are more engaged in their children's lives, their offspring are at significantly less risk for using drugs and alcohol. So, be sure to keep track of your child's activities and friends and maintain trust through caring communication.
#2 Do Not Use Illicit Drugs
Alcohol use, though carrying great health, financial, and social risks, is legal in almost every country. In contrast illicit drug use poses additional risks because of legal and criminal liabilities. For this reason, it is important to set a positive example and abstain from drug use.
This is equally true for marijuana, which is now becoming legal or de-criminalised in some areas. While gaining greater social acceptance, marijuana nonetheless poses health and behavioural risks, especially for developing children. Teenagers who chronically use marijuana have shown significant changes in their personality as well as their academic performance. Therefore, it is important to avoid exposing teens to drug use of any kind, including marijuana.
#3 Be Careful with “Study Aids”
Teenagers are under a lot of pressure to get good grades. A great number of students are now prescribed stimulants to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as Ritalin or Adderall. These days, however, more and more students who do not have a prescription are getting access to these drugs and using them for studying. It is important that you explain the dangers and risks of using drugs without a prescription so that your children avoid these powerful stimulants.
If you are concerned about addiction, please contact one of our specialists today.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Using certain types of language when talking to addicts can both aid and hinder recovery. Learn how to help an addict with these language tips.
Addiction has such a long history, and has affected every group of persons, that there is an abundance of language to talk about it.  Portrayals and discussions of substance abuse and other addictions have spread far into mainstream culture, and are not simply the purview of those affected by addiction. It is little wonder that most people, whether or not they have been acquainted with addiction, have some knowledge of how to talk about it. The question is what language will best support those going through the recovery process.

Sometimes, unintentionally, words can actually get in the way of recovery. 
To begin with, the language we use should be “people-first language.” In the past, language for people who suffer from addictions has often not reflected that they are individuals. Instead, it has referred to people based on their group membership. For example, “addicts,” or “alcoholics.” Person-first language is language that recognises that whatever their condition, people are individuals. Appropriate language from this perspective includes “persons with addiction” or “a person with an alcohol addiction.”
In addition to putting people first, language should reflect the medical nature of addiction. There are many colloquial or everyday terms that can be used in connection with substance abuse, such as “junkie,” “habit.” Such terms obscure the medical nature of addiction as a disease, and in some cases hide the harm that results from addiction. Therefore, using terms that characterise addiction as a health issue are preferred. Such language includes terms such as “substance use disorder” and “alcohol addiction.”
Another consideration for language is that it should promote recovery. Whether we are aware of it or not, language can subtly reinforce the notion that recovery is a difficult process. For example, terms such as “resistant” and “unmotivated” used in relation to people in recovery treatment classify people in a negative light and can undermine their recovery. It is preferred to use terms such as “has not begun” or “experiencing ambivalence to change” which focus on choices those in recovery are making.
Finally, slang and idioms are to be avoided. When we use these, we often perpetuate negative stereotypes and biases about addiction.
Several caveats are in order. First, when communicating with clients, it may be necessary to use language that is most appropriate and can be understood. So, sometimes a client may use terms that are not the best choices, and we may consciously use the same terms to facilitate rapport. Nevertheless, we can model more appropriate terms.
Secondly, language is fluid and changing. Words that were used in the past are no longer the best choices, and what we use today may in turn fall out of use. As language itself evolves, it is important to be aware of how new meanings potentially affect best practice.
In the end, these guidelines are meant to support people in their recovery, and that purpose should be the primary consideration, rather than the right-ness or wrong-ness of a particular word.
If you are concerned about addiction, please contact one of our specialists today.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Has Your Daily Exercise Become Unhealthy?

With over 500 million adults suffering from obesity around the world, it's hard to imagine that getting too much exercise might be a problem. But, as reported on a website, that is the conclusion some experts come to when considering how some people are driven to over-exercise. A  case illustrate the issue which is more directly the causal link as well as the dangers of over exercise. 

 Vishakha Sawant, a 25-year-old graduate student in Navi Mumbai, has suffered from a stream of addictions. As a teenager, she used drugs – when she was put in rehab, she turned to controlling her caloric intake and became anorexic. Later, she developed a need to exercise for at least two hours a day, despite a herniated disc and heat stroke.
Experts say that what drives the need to exercise is similar to other addictive behaviors. An underlying genetic tendency and over stimulated reward centers in the brain combine to make the addictive behavior become the single outlet for stress management and a feeling of control. The end result is addiction. In most cases, addiction is seen negatively. Not so with exercise – it is praised even when it is excessive or destructive. While not carrying its own diagnostic criteria, excessive exercise is understood to be problematic when it interferes with a person's healthy functioning. For most people, getting regular exercise is not only desirable, but something that is missing from their lives. Keep that in mind when considering whether you have a problem. Here are a few indicators that you may be compulsively exercising: You skip social engagements in order to workout.  You take time off work in order to exercise. You exercise as your exclusive way to manage unpleasant emotions and thoughts. Thinking about exercise takes up a lot of your time, even while you are away from the gym.  Shafa Home, is a world-class residential treatment facility. Our knowledgeable staff have experience treating high-functioning addicts who are otherwise successful in their careers and social life. If you are considering treatment for addiction, please contact one of our specialists today.

This article is the sole property of "The Cabin", they are its original authors.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Can Abuse As A Child Mean Addiction As An Adult ?

Not all people struggling with addiction were abused as children of course, but recent studies are showing that there could be a relationship between the two. The development of brain imaging technologies has allowed researchers to gain an exciting view of how the brain works, and the findings are definitely worth mentioning.

 Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to better understand addiction

Old-school thinking was that those suffering from addiction should just be able to ‘stop using', and they were accused of lacking will power, or moral behaviours. In 2011 however, addiction was classified as a primary chronic disease caused by impaired functioning of the brain's pleasure reward system by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). It disproved the “flawed character” theory – largely in thanks to the abilities of MRIs to track brain activity when people are shown or given addiction triggers.

Triggers are often as simple as a photo of someone using, or say, a hamburger for those who have food addictions. When an addict is shown one of these triggers, researchers have found that the brain releases overdoses of dopamine (much higher levels than in non-addicts), which in turn triggers their ‘need' to acquire their substance of desire. 
Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains it best here, in relation to food addiction: “It just basically stimulates release of dopamine. And the more they release, the more they want the food. We always say, "Well, why do we have a problem with obesity in our society?" And I said, "My God, we're surrounded by stimuli with which we're conditioned. If as an Indian, you like pizzas, you may see Domino's red and blue dices and then dopamine goes inside your brain and you want it, you start craving for it . And you don't know why you want it.”

This also applies in exactly the same way to drugs and alcohol, but instead of the red and blue dices, triggers may include bar signs, ads in magazines or on television, watching movies, or even just running into an old friend. Whatever the trigger and whatever the addiction, the dopamine reaction is the same – and the need to acquire the substance, even unconsciously, becomes top priority. But what does all this have to do with child abuse?

Brain patterns are similar in addicts to those who have suffered abuse

Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of The University of Miami has discovered that abused children experience architectural changes in their brains. MRIs have been able to show actual thinning of the cortex. But the real connection to addiction is in the chemical changes that occur simultaneously. Abuse of course, causes extreme amounts of stress in a child, which alters the production of cortisol, epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, the chemical messengers in the brain that affect mood and behaviour. In the same way that photos or triggers cause an abnormal dopamine release into the brain, high levels of stress can often have the same effect. Thankfully, research is also finding that the sooner a child is treated for abuse, the better the results.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, often used in addiction treatment, can in fact have a positive effect on re-calibrating and retraining the neuro-chemical systems in the brain, especially the dopamine pathways of the pleasure reward cycle. Thus, in children that receive appropriate treatment following abuse, MRIs show that the brain can slowly return to a healthy state. Unfortunately, however, children that don't get the appropriate treatment are left with brain chemistry patterns similar to those of an addict – which, it would seem, would leave them at risk for addiction in the future. More research, however, needs to be done before any solid links can be made.

At Shafa Home, we offer effective, holistic treatment and have an excellent success rate with clients from around the world. Contact one of our team today to arrange a consultation.

This article is the sole property of "The Cabin", they are its original authors.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

How Dangerous Can Money Be? Day Traders face Addiction !!!

Gambling has long been identified as highly addictive to people with a genetic predisposition for addiction. But far away from the glittering lights of casinos, another closely related addiction has emerged: Day Trading !!
The pursuit of money is certainly one of the primary goals for anyone in the modern world. Money is the means by which we secure just about every necessity in life. As such, money is not an end in itself but rather a tool to provide food, shelter, and other material comforts. But what happens when this logic is turned on its head, and money itself becomes the goal, without any reference to how it will be used? 

So we recently examined the issue.Gambling has long been identified as highly addictive to people with a genetic predisposition for addiction. But far away from the glittering lights of casinos, another closely related addiction has emerged: day trading Day trading is, simply, playing the stock market at home. With the advent of broadband internet connections and real-time trading, users can quickly buy and sell stocks and other investments from the comfort of their own home – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While in the past, financial transactions were typically placed through a broker and could take multiple days to be processed, technological advance has extended the instantaneous gratification of the web to major financial decisions.The net result? Enticed by the lure of making huge financial gains, many homeowners and family men (and women) find their savings devastated and even find themselves taking on new debts in order to play the markets.
Recent research conducted at St. Stephens College, New Delhi has found that stock trading - much like other addictions - influences the reward centres of the brain. A person addicted to day trading is hooked on the expectation of pleasure that he or she will receive from trading. In turn, this becomes a habit and a preoccupation of daily life. Some day traders report literally waking up, turning on their computer, and getting online in order to start trading. While others explain how they move through different time zones as markets close.What's more, it actually seems possible that when the day trader loses significant amounts of money, it actually provides further reinforcement to their addiction. There is a certain thrill derived from standing on the precipice of financial ruin. With danger comes excitement and the further hope of conquering the markets.

Some might argue that day trading is different from gambling, insofar as trading relies on analysis and intuition, whereas gambling is primarily under the influence of chance. However, this difference is dispelled when one considers that many gamblers, even lottery players, believe that they have some knack for winning. Moreover, with the volatility of the market, huge swathes of stocks can lose value indiscriminately.

Despite having chosen a relatively robust investment, when the market fluctuates, almost every investment is affected. It is perhaps this greater volatility of the markets that provides higher excitement levels for the day trader. And for those with an addiction to day trading – this further excitement provides all the more enticement to take on more risk than is advisable. 

Shafa Home, specializes in treatment of addiction for high-functioning individuals who struggle with this and other addictions. If you are seeking treatment for addiction, contact one of our specialists today.

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