Tag Archives: psychology

LSD’s Got You Fooled

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“Sure I’ve had the trip of a lifetime. Not just communicating with plant but with Brahman, the great cosmic spirit stemming from Hinduism. This energy was speaking to me as a reincarnation of Shakti, a power of all women. They explained how I would never be united with the force because I had to live on Earth with the carnations of men but they would provide me with love until we could be reunited in a higher afterlife. I was very upset. Crying, balling actually. It was amazing, I was so confused on what to think after that. Is it real? We may never know… But what we do know is that there are physical chemicals in the brain that shine a light on this power of that ‘sixth-sense.’ Bellow is an article from Psychology Today that give us further insight into the workings of LSD.” -Enjoy, Robyn

P.S. Share your spiritual trips in the comments bellow!

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Serotonin, the brain chemical crucial to mood and motivation, also shapes personality to make you susceptible to spiritual experiences. A team of Swedish researchers has found that the presence of a receptor that regulates general serotonin activity in the brain correlates with people’s capacity for transcendence, the ability to apprehend phenomena that cannot be explained objectively. Scientists have long suspected that serotonin influences spirituality because drugs known to alter serotonin such as LSD also induce mystical experiences. But now they have proof from brain scans linking the capacity for spirituality with a major biological element.

The concentration of serotonin receptors normally varies markedly among individuals. Those whose brain scans showed the most receptor activity proved on personality tests to have the strongest proclivity to spiritual acceptance.

Reporting in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers see the evidence as contradicting the common belief that religious behavior is determined strictly by environmental and cultural factors. They see a biological underpinning for religiosity, and it is related to the neurotransmitter serotonin.

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Do Holistic Therapies Work for Addiction?

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“After posting so many blogs about holistic theories and their effects with addiction, disorders and diseases, its time I took another approach. Do they even work? What is the evidence that proves that they might? Here is an article from Psychology Today that briefly talks about it. The full article can be read by the link below.” -Love, Robyn
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No question about it – holistic therapies are “in” at addiction rehabs, particularly ones at the more elite end of the rehab spectrum. One of the ways that treatment facilities attempt to attend to the whole person and to individualize care is by providing such alternative treatments—sometimes called “complementary” or “integrative” therapies—including acupuncture, energy psychology, equine-assisted therapy, neurofeedback, psychodrama, Reiki, somatic experiencing, and massage therapy. Yet when I investigated scientifically sound approaches for helping people with addictions for my book,Inside Rehab, none of these holistic therapies surfaced.

Do these holistic interventions add to the quality of the rehab experience, increasing the chances of recovery from addiction? Could their benefit be in the user’s head—that is, just a placebo effect? Are they worth the added expense? Or could some of them pose harm?

Where’s the evidence? Some experts said that, in general, there’s no evidence that such holistic approaches are beneficial for addiction, nor that they’ll improve the odds of getting and staying sober, as suggested by a claim at a famous rehab’s website that holistic treatments have “proven” to be highly effective in improving recovery rates and preventing relapse. I asked Yale University psychologist Kathleen Carroll, PhD, whose careeris devoted to studying approaches most likely to help people with substance problems, to take a look at some of the testimonials I’d heard, as well as the “experiential/integrative” offerings of some high-end rehabs. Her reaction was, “There is no evidence base for experiential therapy—no randomized clinical trial, no evidence of help with addictions. It may feel great to get a massage or to let oneself cry, but none of that appears to lead to sustainable change. Although sometimes very important, simple expression of emotion alone has not been shown to be an effective ingredient in improving addictions or mood disorders, such as depression.” She added, “The other problem with these alternative therapies is that the providers are, essentially, making claims about effectiveness of unproved interventions and may be charging an insurance company or using public funds to do things like whack around nerf balls. Finally, time spent in alternative therapies is time not spent providing good quality, evidence-based treatment.”

Source: Psychology Today

Read more here!

The Truth About Addiction Triggers

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Earlier I read an article in Psychology Today outlining the so-called ‘truth’ about addiction triggers. The author, Lance Dodes M.D— after bashing current methods of treatment— begins to claim there is a simple recipe to cure the addicts darkest thoughts about using. He gives an example, a scenario of a triggered mind that applies the typical means of coping: distraction. This is something we are taught in most treatment centers and even in the rooms. Busying our heads with thoughts of consequences, positives of sobriety or just ‘surfing the wave’ (that is a common term used to describe a moment of craving that is observed as it passes) are all means of distraction. However, what Dodes suggests is not to look forward. Instead, he wants us to look back.

Reviewing what caused the trigger in the first place can better prepare us for future cravings. Basically, predicting the trigger before it happens. It sounds simple enough! So today I put it to the test. I thought back to every moment within this day and even this entire week where I felt a craving coming on. What had started it? What was I thinking, feeling or doing before my brain let out an intense sense of despair, longing for me to seek out a drug. I came up with this list:

  • I asked someone what drugs were prominent in the area I just moved to… Meth was the answer. I thought, “I have never tried meth before, I should find someone who has meth… Where can I find someone who has meth? I heard it like cocaine x2, I love cocaine!”
  • “I’m completely bored. I have some pills I can take. I’ve been avoiding those pills. No one will know. I’m so bored.”
  • “M.I.A is so amazing. Live fast die young, bad girls do it well! YOLO! Her new album is killer, I should listen to it soaring and take a walk down the highway.”
  • “Ooo. There is so much alcohol here. I bet they wouldn’t even notice if I took a bottle or two…”

As embarrassing as it was to see my thoughts so vulnerable to my feelings and surroundings, it certainly brought light to the facts that my cravings come in waves of curiosity, boredom, and grandiosity. I wasn’t surprised. I began to analyze myself even further, trying to connect these to the steps and the realization of your character defects.

An addicts curiosity stems from their first high. They like this feeling. They think, “what is this? Why do I feel this way? I wonder what other ways I can feel…” Personally, my curiosity goes all the way to questioning what reality is and if it even exists. I could go into all that, but I think you’d rather I didn’t.

Boredom is such an easy way to find a craving. It leads to so much more like isolation, negative thoughts and loss of motivation. When we find ourselves in this place, I find it best to have an escape route. Something that will surely keep you occupied and away from those triggers. Make a list of all the (sober) activities you can engage in while your alone. Heres a few off of mine:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Workout
  • Read (leisurely or texts from AA/NA/CA)
  • Journal
  • Call someone
  • Whatch netflix (put a damn timer on it though!)
  • Cook something complicated
  • Pamper yourself

As far as grandiosity, thats a tough one to break. When I first picked up smoking, I thought I was cool. Every time I snuck out of the house, I thought I was cool. When I stole drugs, I thought I was cool. All the times I did drugs by myself, I thought I was cool. It didn’t matter if no one knew or no one cared, in my mind… I was cool. Its hard to beat that feeling out of your brain! I managed to quite smoking cigarettes after just a short summer of doing it. I picked it up again to smoke cocaine in the most subtle way but I always hid it cause it smelled slightly and I didn’t want anyone to notice (because I hated to share). I dropped smoking cigarettes as my addiction traveled to something new but now that I’m sober, I’ve picked it back up. I have recognized the triggers to my smoking to be not only social but that need to feel cool. Whenever I watch a show or movie and someone is smoking, it seems so delicate yet subtly rebellious. I want to give that off. I want to be like them. Its a horrible way to go about things but I have to admit to my defects of character. I feel better than everyone (especially here in boo-foo Florida)! I think, “I’m from the Chicago, I’ve traveled halfway around the world, I’ve been crazy before, I’ve tripped and dipped in an assortment of illegal drugs, I break the law, I am cool…” Gosh, thats awful! Thats not the way to think! Thats not healthy! Thats grandiose (and a good sign of mania according to my psychologist)… but thats the way it goes.

Certain music or other forms of media can trigger these feelings. Even people that give off that badass aura can make me want to prove my own rebellious past. But its not about my ego is it? Its about my recovery and my sanity. Change the song or station and take pity on the addict that is still suffering. I try and think, it once was you, but you’ve moved on. You don’t have to be that person anymore and when I dig deep down, I really don’t want to. What did it bring me but shifty attitudes, false friendships and power hunger? Thats no good.

Dodes article does ring true to some extent. To another, we may end up seeing everything as a possible trigger and finding that that observation is, in and of itself, a trigger. I could go back and forth all day long, but I think its time for you to take these opinions and reflect upon them and yourself. Leave any comments below on what your triggers are, how their formed and what you do with them! Don’t forget to like our page on Facebook and invite your friends 🙂

– Love and Light, Robyn

Addiction and the Eating Disorders

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Although comprehensive theories of addiction recognize the etiological importance of environmental and cognitive factors, it has been widely accepted for many years that addiction is also a brain disease and that individuals differ in their susceptibility to this condition (Leshner, 1997; Wise and Bozarth, 1987). Explanations of the eating disorders have tended to eschew biological models in favor of those that focus on psychosocial and family influences-the most prominent models arising from psychoanalytic, feminist and cultural theory. It is not surprising, therefore, that although clear parallels exist between the abuse of substances and disturbances in eating, there has been a reluctance to accept that the two may share a common etiology. It is also probable that their similarities were obscured by dramatic differences in the social profile of the stereotypic drug addict and the patient with an eating disorder-the former typically associated with male criminality and social deviance and the latter with female submissiveness and social conformity.

In the past decade, however, there has been a growing paradigmatic shift in eating disorder research, with a movement away from explanations that rely solely on psychosocial factors, to a belief that disturbances in the function of brain neurotransmitter pathways are also highly relevant (Kaye, 1999). One outcome of this change in orientation has been an emerging and increasing interest in the links between eating disorders and substance abuse disorders.

Clinical and Biological Traits

It is generally agreed that the commencement of addictive behaviors can take two motivational routes: either the seeking of positive sensations or the self-medicating of painful affective states. While current research documents a substantial lifetime comorbidity between the eating disorders and other forms of addiction, there is less agreement on the reasons for this link (Holderness et al., 1994; Wiederman and Pryor, 1996). Some researchers have suggested that a common set of personality traits predispose an individual to a range of behaviors that have the potential to become excessive (Koob and Le Moal, 1997; Leshner, 1997). Support for this idea comes from evidence that anxiety and depression are frequent premorbid characteristics both of addicts (Grant and Harford, 1995; Kessler et al., 1997) and of patients with eating disorders (Deep et al., 1995; Vitousek and Manke, 1994). Our own research has also found that among eating-disordered patients, irrespective of diagnostic category, scores on a measure of addictive personality characteristics were comparable to those reported for drug addicts and alcoholics (Davis and Claridge, 1998). Complementary to this viewpoint, an addiction to one behavior reinforces a certain style of coping pattern that leaves the individual vulnerable to developing another type of addiction (Holderness et al., 1994).

Others have suggested that the eating disorders are, themselves, a form of drug addiction since their characteristics satisfy all the clinical and biological criteria for conventional addictions such as smoking, alcoholism and cocaine abuse (Davis and Claridge, 1998; Davis et al., 1999; Marrazzi and Luby, 1986). Foremost among these is the progressively compulsive nature of the behavior, even in the face of adverse consequences to health and safety (Heyman, 1996; Robinson and Berridge, 1993). Moreover, with continual exposure, individuals typically require more of the behavior to produce the same reinforcing effect (Berridge and Robinson, 1995). They also tend to experience an obsessively increasing craving for the behavior that can persist even after a long period of abstinence. Presumably that accounts, at least in part, for the fact that addicts have a strong tendency to resume the addictive behavior after treatment and for the chronic relapsing nature of addiction (Robinson and Berridge, 1993). These characteristics find direct parallels in the core eating-disorder behaviors such as dieting, over-exercising and binge eating, all of which tend to become increasingly excessive over time. Patients also report a strong compulsion to continue these behaviors despite serious medical complications, which is reflected in their prolonged morbidity and the high rate of relapse (Herzog et al., 1999; Strober et al., 1999).

At the biological level, similarities are also evident. We know, for instance, that strenuous exercise and starvation activate the dopaminergic (DA) reward pathway of the brain (Bergh and Sodersten, 1996; Casper, 1998). The resulting biological events underlie the auto-addiction opioid theory, which proposes that a chronic eating disorder is an addiction to the body’s production of endogenous opioids and therefore is identical to the physiology and psychology of substance abuse in general (Huebner, 1993; Marrazzi and Luby, 1986). In other words, starving, bingeing and exercise all serve as drug delivery devices since they increase circulating levels of -endorphins that are chemically identical to exogenous opiates, and these endorphins are as potentially addictive because of their ability to stimulate DA in the brain’s mesolimbic reward centers.

Via a different route, self-starving may have other biologically rewarding properties, albeit as a negative reinforcer. For example, in certain individuals, food restriction is reported to reduce anxiety. It has been suggested this might occur because of reduced serotonin activity in those with overactivity in this neurotransmitter system (Kaye, 1999).

– See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/addiction-and-eating-disorders#sthash.UckhnDog.dpuf

Must Read: Memoirs of An Addicted Brain- A Neuroscientist Examines His For

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“This is an absolutely fabulous book that is not just about the struggle of addiction but how addiction works. I could really relate to this book because like me, Lewis traveled halfway around the world and still managed to use. His talk of the hippy scene still is in existence today and it was similar to what I fell into… Its a great read for any addict struggling with addiction, reminding you of where you came from and how you came to be trapped in the cycle of this disease. Below is a review from Scientific America.” – Love, Robyn

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Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines His Former Life on Drugs
by Marc Lewis. PublicAffairs, 2012

Why do we crave things and seek them compulsively, despite the consequences? As a junkie who kicked the habit and became a neuroscientist, Lewis is uniquely positioned to answer these questions.

Each chapter of Lewis’s memoirs recounts an episode of his life: as a homesick 15-year-old at a prep school in New Jersey, where he got drunk and smoked pot for the first time; then as a Berkeley undergraduate during the hippie heyday of the late 1960s, when he experimented with methamphetamines, LSD and heroin. In the jungles of Malaysia he sniffed nitrous oxide and bought heroin directly from the factory, and in Calcutta he frequented opium dens. Back in his hometown of Toronto, Lewis descended into a life of addiction, desperation and petty crime.

Lewis also weaves in how each drug acts on the brain. LSD, he explains, alters sensory information, so that “perception opens up into this massive cascade of colors, shapes and patterns,” whereas heroin produces a dramatic shift in brain physiology to put one “into a state of safety, comfort, warmth [and] pleasure.” The book effortlessly explores the experience of being under their influence. Lewis explains how cycles of anticipation and reward are fundamental to the human condition, drawing parallels between drug addiction and our cravings, such as sex, money or material goods. Drug addiction, however, is far more powerful, as it mercilessly hijacks the brain’s reward circuitry, priming us to single-mindedly seek out these chemical rewards at the expense of relationships and work. Lewis eventually climbed out of addiction and returned to school to focus on psychology and neuroscience. “Drawn by a need to understand my own dark years, I came around—full circle—to study the neuroscience of addiction,” he writes.

Even after 30 years of being clean, addicts’ brains are wired to desire narcotics, leaving them “vulnerable for the rest of their lives.” For Lewis, filling his life with a meaningful career and a loving family has helped him resist those temptations.