Pfizer Sued for Causing Addiction

Posted on December 15, 2014 By

Pfizer Sued for Causing Addiction

It is not that out of the ordinary that Big Pharma is sued by people who suffer from side effects caused by their drugs. These kinds of cases you hear about all the time. You probably see a commercial for a drug, then weeks later see a commercial for a lawyer on a crusade against it. Nothing exciting to see here, right?

Well this time it’s a little different. It is rare that the side effect that the pharmaceutical company is being sued for is actually addiction. This may be a strange moment in history, because this past week the drug giant Pfizer agreed to a settlement in an Australian class action case.

The case against Pfizer was filed as far back as 2008 by 160 people who were making the claim that a Pfizer drug caused them to develop gambling or sex compulsions that wreaked havoc on their lives.

The Drug in Question

Capergoline is prescribed to help calm the tremors caused by Parkinson’s Disease and Restless Leg Syndrome, neurological disorders caused in part by insufficient dopamine levels. It is referred to by its brand name Cabaser in Australia.

The way Capergoline works is by triggering dopamine receptors in the brain to increase transmission of the brain chemical to help combat the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and Restless Leg Syndrome. However, in some people, the drug works a little too well and actually produces a flood of dopamine.

This overflow of dopamine is comparable to how a substance like cocaine effects the brain. The rush this creates results in a loss of impulse control and in compulsive behaviors. While some compulsions may not seem to be a big deal to most, others are notorious for being more than a simple habit, including:

  • Gambling addiction
  • Hypersexuality
  • Binge eating
  • Compulsive shopping
  • Other compulsive behaviors

In a 2010 there was a study done by Mayo Clinic in which the data collected determined that 1 out of every 3 people on a high dose of Capergoline or other dopamine agonists experienced one of these disorders. Even more disturbing was that when these peopled ceased the drug, the disorder stopped.

While there is always the possibility of a bizarre side effect, none has ever been as strange as a sudden case of addiction. To get a more detailed look at how it was possible to come to this kind of controversial conclusion the Australian daily, the Age, did a personal profile on one of the 160 people who filed the suit.

Pat Galea is a 65 year old women who was able to give some testimony to the turmoil brought on by her experience with this medication. Galea reportedly lost about $700,000 on poker machines after taking Permax and Cabaser for about a decade. Pat Galea had been taking these medications to combat her restless legs syndrome, and ended up with a lot more restlessness in her life. She explained,

“I’d go any spare moment I was not working. If it was payday I’d put most of it through and then realize I’ve got bills and rent and petrol to pay. As soon as I had any money it was gone.”

The gambling addiction she found herself caught up in cost more than a mass amount of money, but also took a toll on her home life. Ultimately Galea separated from her husband, after which she says she gambled away half the proceeds from the sale of their house. She even resorted to selling her car to pay for her addiction.

Luckily for Pat Galea the evidence finally emerged about the drug Capergoline’s potential side effects. Galea then stopped taking them, and says her urge to gamble ceased. As of now she reportedly reunited with her husband and enjoys time with her three adult children and four grandchildren. When she was interviewed and asked whether the settlement came close to repaying what was lost, she laughed.

The Capergoline Case

The Pfizer pharmaceutical empire was at least able to avoid the risk of further bad publicity and a possible guilty judgment by agreeing to a settlement outside of court, but that is only once the settlement is approved by a judge. Pfizer could have lost a lot more in the end, especially if they were found guilty on charges of fundamental failures to research the side effects of their drug,

The research necessary should have been included to provide adequate warnings on their drug label and to yank the drug from the market when alerted to the risks. Some organizations have already been putting in extra effort in regards seeing that pharmaceutical companies become more accountable for the research data they try to leave out to make money without full discloser.

If the judge approves the settlement, Pfizer will dole out a compensation payment likely to be in the high seven-digits. While that sounds like a big loss, in reality it is merely pocket lint in the eyes of Big Pharma. So while the number means there is some compensation for those who were affected by this drug, the companies themselves barely feel the sting of a slap on the wrist.

Should we be expecting more? After all the indication that a drug had that kind of power, and was allowed to reap havoc on the lives of people who sought relief should be enough to take action that leaves a lasting impression on the companies responsible. For anyone who as ever suffered from real addiction, they know that it is nothing you would wish on anyone.

While pharmaceutical companies should be held accountable for the contributions they make to devastating addictions, we as individuals have to take responsibility for our addictions and for those we hurt, including ourselves. The first step to do that is to admit you need help, and then get help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588


Gender Specific Rehab for Women

Posted on December 12, 2014 By
Gender Specific Rehab for Women

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Gender specific rehab for women is a unique and specialized rehabilitation program specifically designed for the needs and wants of women. Men and women, while they may suffer from the same disease of addiction and/or alcoholism, many times have different needs when it comes to a drug rehab approach.

Women have some very important social, psychological and traumatic factors that come into play while in drug rehab that can be specific to the gender. And that is why there is gender specific rehab for women.

Gender Specific Rehab for Women: No Distractions

Many times in a coed drug rehab, women struggle to get comfortable or can’t focus on the important stuff such as healing and sobriety. As is human nature, the opposite sex can cause a great deal of distractions, ranging from intrigue to insecurity. At a gender specific rehab for women, women can immediately feel safe and secure in an environment with only mothers, sisters and daughters.

The connection between women can grow so much stronger due to a level of togetherness that wouldn’t typically be experienced if men were involved in the process. Also women can focus on their rehabilitation, and be more present and make more self-conscious and motivated decisions.

It is a well-known truth that women and men tend to get distracted from their goal of sobriety while in rehab due to members of the opposite sex. As much as it is understandable, for some people it is necessary to eliminate that possibility. To avoid codependent and self-defeating relationships that can develop while people are vulnerable, some women need a gender specific rehab for women where there are no distractions.

Gender Specific Rehab for Women: Community

Many times women who end up in a gender specific rehab for women arrive with the assumption they don’t get along with other women. This is usually because they don’t trust other women; they think other women are catty or stuck up, slutty etc. Sometimes we set unfair expectations or make assumptions of others that actually end up only hurting our chances of being well.

At a gender specific rehab for women, individuals get to learn that it isn’t other women they necessarily hate. Many times people learn that it has been themselves they didn’t like very much, and through their relationships with other women they actually find out how to love themselves through building strong and loving relationships with other women who struggle with the same issues. This is one of the most wonderful things about gender specific rehab for women. It facilitates a total shift in perspective.

A sense of community in a gender specific rehab for women also gives women the ability to relate to each other as sister and daughters, and especially as mothers. Mothers have a unique and important role in the structure of any family, and at a gender specific rehab for women each woman can truly learn and grow into that role, with deeper appreciation and understand for what it means, both for themselves and their peers.

Gender Specific Rehab for Women: Comfort

Gender specific rehab for women also gives women an atmosphere where they can feel safe to be honest, to give deep admissions, and allows for recovery from traumatic events. In a space that is only women, drug rehab allows women who may have experienced traumas such as sexual assault, domestic violence, or childhood traumas to really work through their issues.

Some women would be incapable of working through these traumatic events in the company of men. So that is why it is imperative for women to have a special and comfortable place they can go to in order to recover. Comfort for these kinds of break-through experiences is a top priority at a gender specific rehab for women.

Any way you look at it getting treatment, there are always many benefits that would not be available at a coed rehabilitation center. If you or someone you love is looking for a gender specific rehab for women, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.


Stuck on Sad: Why Traumatic Memories Stay With Us

Posted on December 11, 2014 By
Stuck on Sad: Why Traumatic Memories Stay With Us

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Sometimes finding our way down memory lane is a dreary and depressing ordeal. It can seem to some of us with more of a pessimistic mind that all we have are bad memories, and manic depressives like myself often feel stuck on sad. Is there a reason that these more traumatic memories seem to stick to us longer?

Traumatic events in our lives can be hard memories to shake, and scientists are not saying they understand why.  Once again our friendly neighborhood laboratory rats have revealed new information to us humans to work with. For the first time in a recent study we now know the brain mechanism that translates unpleasant experiences into long-lasting memories!

The Hebbian Plasticity Hypothesis

65 years ago there was a hypothesis called Hebbian plasticity that the study is supporting with new data. The idea of Hebbian plasticity states that as a result of trauma, more neurons in the brain fire electrical impulses in unison and make stronger connections to each other than under normal situations. Thus the stronger connections create stronger memories. Thanks science.

What is especially exciting is that this new data is not only important for the advancement of researchers’ understanding of how Hebbian plasticity works, but these newest findings may in addition lead to innovative and exciting treatment opportunities to help patients forget horrible memories, such as those associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

People in the field of brain function like to say “neurons that fire together, wire together” which refers to the mind forming strong connections. So our traumatic memories stick with us so long because many are seared into our minds by a chemical reaction similar to our reaction to dopamine and drugs or alcohol.

Supposedly the idea is that Hebbian plasticity works when a brain region called the amygdala allows sensory stimuli to become associated with either rewarding or aversive outcomes, with results in producing emotional memories.

Studying the Science of Trauma  

Researchers at New York University and Japan’s RIKEN Brain Science Institute published a study on December 8th, 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that further explained the data in detail, and since then there has been a lot of talk about the future.

Hebbian plasticity works when a brain region called the amygdala allows sensory stimuli to become associated with either rewarding or aversive outcomes, thus producing emotional memories. Joshua Johansen of RIKEN, one of the lead authors on the study said,

“These processes for triggering aversive memory storage may represent a general mechanism controlling memory formation that is shared across other learning systems in the brain.”

Previously Joseph LeDoux, director of NYU’s Emotional Brain Institute, led researchers who found evidence to back up the concept of Hebbian plasticity by using brain cells that had been removed from animals. The big difference is that the new study represents the first time the process was seen in a working brain with real memories.

Working with rats that were conditioned to associate an auditory tone with a mild electrical shock to their feet, the researchers used a new technique called optogenetics which allowed them to both control and track the path of electrical impulses in the rats’ amygdalas.

So by weakening or blocking the signaling among neurons, the memory that linked the sound with shock failed to form, the researchers say the study helps to prove the idea of Hebbian plasticity. As with some experiments though, there is always a shortcoming.  The researchers also found that Hebbian plasticity cannot completely explain the process.

The scientists used lasers to directly stimulate neurons in the amygdala without actually delivering the shock, and found that the negative memory wasn’t formed, despite the strong neural activity. This implies that Hebbian mechanisms are important to form these kinds of memories, but alone do not make enough to form a memory. Meaning tiny molecules called neuromodulators seem to be required as well.

Thoughts of the Future

Lorenzo Diaz-Mataix, a postdoctoral at NYU who acted as another lead author on the report claimed,

“Our results not only show that we are able to artificially manipulate memory, but also that this manipulation is correlated with long-lasting changes in the brain. Basic findings like this one will potentially help to understand and treat many psychiatric conditions that share aberrant memory processing.”

Remembering scary events, such as an animal attack, clearly has advantages from an evolutionary perspective. But sometimes memories can be too painful. For people who have such memories, the new findings offer hope. Diaz-Mataix has even said that he believes this paper is instrumental in finding a way to be able to eliminate harmful memories such as those causing PTSD, or even reverse them!

“One possibility is that instead of tapping into ‘forgetting’ mechanisms, we try to reverse what happened during memory formation. Our findings in this paper are important in this regard and may enable novel approaches to enhance the forgetting or reversal of learning of aversive experiences.”

Some points here sound absolutely exciting and amazing! To think there is a developing science to wiping out memories. As much good as reversing memories may do, I can’t help but be skeptical at the same time, because I myself watch too many scifi movies. All I can think of is the flashy thing in “Men in Black” or the tragic unwinding of Jim Carrey in “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind”. Then they talk about manipulating memories and the theme music from “Inception” blares in my head and I start wondering how much of this is me being obnoxious.

Traumatic memories are the root of PTSD, and those same kind of memories are often found at the root of an a drug and/or alcohol addiction. Thanks to research and passionate recovery facilities, treatment for these kinds of afflictions are constantly growing and evolving. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588


Amazing Moment for Women this Year: Malala Yousafzai Receives Nobel Peace Prize

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Amazing Moment for Women this Year: Malala Yousafzai Receives Nobel Peace Prize

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malala_Yousafzai

Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, at 17 years old, is the youngest ever recipient of a Nobel Prize. She shared the honor with Kailash Satyarthi, an advocate for Indian children’s rights and an activist against child labor.

Ms. Yousafzai and Mr. Satyarthi were jointly awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.

Winning the Nobel Prize also involves an award of prize monies; the two have split the $1.4 million prize.

At the ceremony, Ms. Yousafzai delivered a moving speech, which earned her a standing ovation from those in attendance. In fact, it was reported by Nobel organizers that there have never been such standing ovations or so many accredited journalists.

Malala declared that the award was not just for her: “It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.

“I am here to stand up for their rights, raise their voice. It is not time to pity them. It is time to take action so it becomes the last time that we see a child deprived of education.”

Ms. Yousafzai said she was dedicating the prize money to the Malala Fund, “to help give girls everywhere a quality education and call on leaders to help girls like me…”

In October 2012, Ms. Yousafzai was targeted by the Taliban for her efforts to expand educational rights to girls and women in her home country. She survived being shot in the head by Taliban gunmen because she was outspoken in campaigning for girls’ educational rights. She now resides in the UK.

She has said, “I feel much stronger after the attack that I endured, because I know, no one can stop me, or stop us, because now we are millions, standing up together.”

“I will continue this fight until I see every child in school,” she added.

We all have overcome obstacles in life and you are stronger than you think. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available and it’s never too late to turn your life around. Recovery is possible. Please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 to speak with an Addiction Specialist. We are available day or night to take your call. You are not alone.


11 Amazing Moments for Women in 2014

Posted on December 10, 2014 By
11 Amazing Moments for Women in 2014

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The past 365 days have brought us plenty of sad days and plenty of sunshine. 2014 has been an incredible year for innovations and inspiration on many levels, and in many ways some wonderful women have made a serious difference.

In a society that is growing and learning we are lucky to have such awesome mothers and daughters, sisters and friends that enrich our lives and the evolution of our world. So here are 11 amazing moments for women in 2014 that probably flew under your radar.

1. Maisie Williams Called Out the Industry

This young “Game of Thrones” actress has made quite a bit of waves with a dynamic character, and this year she showed some strong character of her own where a tabloid tried picking on her for wearing a dress on 2 occasions, saying:

“You don’t wear the same dress twice. Why? I like it. It’s a nice dress.”

Truer words need never be spoken Maisie Williams. It is a nice dress. The starlet took her stand at a young age for her right to fashion faux pa’s.

2. First Female Air-Guitar Champion

The first EVER female Air-Guitar Champion in the UK was crowned after a furiously head-banging final at the Boston Music Room, in Junction Road, Tufnell Park last month. Charlotte ‘Sue’ Clarke stated:

“It feels absolutely amazing to win because ever since I started I’ve wanted to be the first female champion.”

The newly-crowned champion Charlotte ‘Sue’ Clarke will now fly out to Finland to represent Britain in the World Air Guitar Championships at the end of August.

3. The Woman With Eagle Feather

The Woman with Eagle Feather is actually Amanda Polchies. During a peaceful demonstration Polchies got on her knees to pray at an anti-fracking protest in New Brunswick, Canada.

Fracking is also known as hydraulic fracturing is a destructive process that corporations use to extract natural gas and oil from the earth. Simply by holding up a feather against an army of armed police, the woman was then turned into an internet icon.

4. 101 New Women Artists on Wikipedia

An astounding 600 volunteers took part in the “Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon” added in the names of female artists who they felt deserved to be recognized on the site.

This took place over one Saturday in February at 31 different venues. The event, epicenter was the New York art and technology center Eyebeam, is part of a larger movement to upload content to Wikipedia in a proactive manner.

5. First Woman Won the Fields Math Medal 

Professor Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian mathematician working in the US, was recognized with this awesome award for her work on complex geometry.

In becoming the very first female medallist, Prof Mirzakhani – who teaches at Stanford University in California – ends what has been a long wait for the mathematics community.

6. New Women’s (and Men’s) Record for Most Consecutive Marathons

Amy Hughes 26-year-old sports therapist, from Oswestry in Shropshire recently broke the record for most consecutive marathons, in both genders!

The journey started in Chester on 6 August and finished in Manchester on 27 September. With a marathon each day, each 26 miles and 385 yards long, Amy Hughes has run just over 1,389 miles in all. Hughes said after the 53rd run:

“If someone suggested running a 54th marathon I probably would to be honest,”

I refuse to run the vacuum cleaner, let alone a marathon, so well done!

7. Olive Bowers Calls Out “Tracks” Magazine

13 year old competitive surfing star Olive Bower recent wrote a very direct and inspiring letter to the editors of “Tracks” Magazine about her opinion on the way women were depicted in the pages of an issue she had read at a friends home. In the letter one part that stands out is:

“These images create a culture in which boys, men and even girls reading your magazine will think that all girls are valued for is their appearance.

My posse of female surfers and I are going to spread the word and refuse to purchase or promote Tracks magazine. It’s a shame that you can’t see the benefits of an inclusive surf culture that in fact, would add a whole lot of numbers to your subscription list.”

Clearly this young woman has a passionate and independent mind, and she has proven she knows how to give the media a piece of it.

8. All Women Law Firm in Saudi Arabia

Bayan Mahmoud al-Zahran is the name of a Saudi Arabian women who this year opened the first female law firm in the nation, where she plans to represent women, and bring women’s rights issues into the courts in her country.

9. #Women2Drive Campaign

In Saudi Arabia all women are banned from driving. If anyone defies this ban, they are punished severely. Loujain Al Hathloul is a 24 year old woman who decided to make an effort at convincing authorities to make a change by driving to the Saudi border from UAE in a car she owns and a valid UAE driving licence on November 30th.

But upon reaching the Saudi border and demanded to be let through, her passport was confiscated and she was made to wait in the car overnight. This woman communicated with her friends and supporters that she was cold and hungry.

Maysaa Al Amoudi, a Saudi woman journalist based in Dubai, took the long drive to get supplies to her. When Mayassa arrived at the Saudi border, she was ordered to park her car and wait. An hour later, both Loujain and Maysaa were ordered to drive their cars through into Saudi soil. As soon as they did, they were arrested.

#Women2Drive Campaign and several other petitions have since ignited a movement to enforce the idea of reforming this outdated practice, but some experts say the movement is up against society itself.

10. Afghan Women Show Up to Vote

Defying Taliban threats, Afghan women poured into the polls in such high numbers that ballots were running out in some places by midday. At least one person was killed, several others injured and more than 200 polling stations closed at the last minute because of security threats.

Still many women showed up to propel the ballot turnout to 7 million. Thanks to multiple levels of tight security, and with Kabul virtually shut down for days before the election, it seems to have prevented any major Taliban attacks.

11. Brazilian Social Media Protest Photos

Earlier this year Brazil’s Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) unveiled shocking statistics in regards to sexual assault:

  • Over 65%of survey respondents said that “if dressed provocatively, women deserve to be attacked and raped.”
  • Worse- over 66% of the people who participated in the survey were women themselves.
  • Over 58% said “if women knew how to behave, there would be less rape.”

This surprising survey sparked an outrage across Brazil, with tens of thousands taking to the internet and social media to express their anger and disgust.

In response to the survey’s findings, Brazilian journalist Nana Queiroz created a Facebook page with the hashtag: #NãoMereçoSerEstuprada which translates to: #IDon’tDeserveToBeRaped.

She then invited people to post selfies with the hashtag, and within 24 hours over 32,000 women — and men — joined the page. Movements much like this one have been taking place all over the country. Demonstrations and protests have been taking the fight against sexism and sexual assault or misconduct to the forefront where the world can see the reality.

These are only a few instances of how 2014 has experienced women all over the world, across the globe and right here at home, that are changing the world in ways that especially women can appreciate and be empowered through. As always, women hold up half the sky, and this year that have raised the roof on some important topics. Still women suffer greatly in active addiction, and stigma is still strong. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588