Serotonin and Addiction: Is a New Treatment Approach Around the Corner?

Posted on December 8, 2014 By

Serotonin and Addiction: Is a New Treatment Approach Around the Corner?

A new study has found a direct correlation between the brain chemical serotonin and drug addiction; a new understanding that could potentially lead to a revolutionary approach in addiction treatment.

The research was conducted by a PhD student, Sarah Bradbury, who will be receiving the prestigious advanced degree this week in Psychology, found that the serotonin levels in a first-time user’s brain play a critical role in whether they will develop an addiction. Bradbury also suggests that serotonin levels then decrease as the drug use becomes more frequent.

Although her research was initially focused on MDMA and cocaine, Bradbury said her findings can apply more broadly and to other drugs of addiction and abuse.

“People develop drug addiction due to changes in specific brain systems following repeated drug use, but not all drug users become addicted,” she explained. “Another brain chemical, dopamine, seems to be the critical determinant of drug addiction during this phase.”

Bradbury’s findings serve to bolster previous research; her findings are similar to the findings of other projects. For instance, in December of 2011, a study from researchers at Vanderbilt University found that there was a correlation between recreational use of ecstasy and sustained increases in serotonin receptor density, which is noteworthy because it then can lead to major serotonin depletion and severe depression once the drug is no longer present in the user’s system.

Dopamine, another major feel-good brain chemical, has also been implicated as playing a major role in cases of drug addiction. Depleted levels of dopamine can lead to a susceptibility to addiction. And it’s no wonder. Drugs that are used recreationally – which are also typical drugs of abuse, are sought out by users because they temporarily increase serotonin and dopamine levels, inciting that euphoric high.

Bradbury’s findings, and those like hers, could have other, far-reaching implications.

Last July, a study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that chronic marijuana use diminished the brain’s dopamine reaction to stimulants, meaning that marijuana users would experience less of a reward or motivation from the things that typically give pleasure to most people. Furthermore, habitual marijuana use – despite stereotypes of the easy-going pothead, could also leave users feeling more irritable and moody.

Serotonin and Addiction: Is a New Treatment Approach Around the Corner?

So, if medical professionals, and more specifically those who specialize in the treatment of drug addictions, begin to understand further the important roles that brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin play in drug use and addiction, newer, more effective treatment methods could be developed. Not only that, as with Bradbury’s findings, health care providers may even be able to pinpoint who and when people are at-risk for developing addiction.

Perhaps simple blood testing can monitor brain chemical levels and that, combined with other interventions, such as therapy and medications, like antidepressants – which regulate serotonin and dopamine levels – can be of great benefit for people with a tendency to abuse drugs and for those for whom drug addiction runs in the family.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available. By calling toll-free 1-800-777-9588, you will speak directly with an Addiction Specialist, day or night, who can answer your questions. You are not alone.


13 Life Lessons for Our Daughters

Posted on December 4, 2014 By

13 Life Lessons for Our Daughters

James Brown had a popular song called “It’s a man’s world.” And, even though he recorded it back in 1966, girls today still need to know that they have just as much of a claim to stake in this world as boys do.

Here are 13 life lessons for our daughters.

#1. Enjoy your own company

Explore and play and experience what it’s like to enjoy things alone. If no one is around to do the things you want to do, do them anyway, even if it means being by yourself. Appreciate the liberating feeling of going places on your own, not needing another’s company to boost your confidence or happiness.

This is great for self-discovery: learning what you enjoy, such as hobbies and interests. That way, you’ll never have to depend on others for enjoying life. You can, of course, enjoy the company of others but, you don’t have to have people around all the time.

#2. Read

A great way to enjoy your own company but also a great way to boost vocabulary, learn about different worlds, and nurture imagination.

#3. It’s OK to cry

Crying, first of all, is a human emotional process so it shouldn’t be suppressed. It’s cleansing and cathartic.

#4. It’s the journey; not the destination

You can achieve anything that you want and it’ll take commitment, dedication, and an investment of your time and energy. Don’t expect things immediately; with a series of several tiny steps, you’ll get to where you want to be.

But the destination is not what counts; it’s the journey there that matters most.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

#5. Love is love

In other words, it doesn’t matter who you choose to love – not ethnicity, gender, religion, class, etc. as long as you can love the soul of that person.

Keep in mind, though, that love isn’t just the exciting chemical-induced action that happens at first; it’s also a choice, a commitment, and an action. A way to gauge whether you should be in a relationship with a particular person is to ask yourself this: “Does this person and this relationship add value to my life?”

#6. Be confident in yourself and know your worth

Embrace and cherish yourself as a person who deserves to be here just like anyone else. Be confident in yourself, your talents, abilities; all the little things that make you you.

#7. You will make mistakes

Life is all about experiences and lessons. There’s a saying, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” As long as you are willing to look back on these mistakes as lessons without self-judgment – that is, don’t beat yourself up for any of it – then it was a lesson worth learning.

Oh, and be willing to admit when you’re wrong and apologize, genuinely. These are signs of a good character.

#8. The world can be a harsh place

There is pain, war and suffering in the world. Don’t let it harden your heart but do let it inspire you do to good works. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

#9. Don’t take things personally

And certainly don’t take responsibility for other people’s words and actions.

You are only in control of yourself, whatever another chooses to do, is their decision and has nothing to do with you. How they behave is not a reflection of you, you are just caught in the crossfire. Surround yourself only with those that treat you well. No one has the right to treat you with disrespect and it’s up to you to teach people how you want to be treated.

#10. Actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to love

Love is an action, not just a word. Always judge someone on their behavior, regardless of their words insisting that they love you. Yes, love will hurt and there will be arguments but, there is also a line that should never be crossed. Never compromise yourself, for anyone, and never apologize for respecting yourself.

#11. It’s OK to say no

Don’t live as a martyr, it will cause you constant regret. Don’t sacrifice your own happiness for someone else and don’t feel guilty for living life to the fullest and never compromising yourself or selling out.

#12. Turn whatever you love into your career

Think about this: You will spend almost half of your life working. Now, that might sound depressing at first but, if you make a career out of doing something you love, then that changes your perspective of “work,” doesn’t it? Find your passion and make it your life’s work.

#13. Live only in the present moment

A life with no regrets is truly a life worth living. Dwelling on the past and worrying about the future is no way to live. Enjoy each moment, remain aware and experience every emotion that comes up.

If you have children and you’re struggling with a substance abuse disorder such as addiction, you’re probably concerned about leaving your family for any amount of time in order to get the help that you need. But, you’re only continuing to cause harm to your family by not getting yourself better. Help is available and there are many, many other people in your situation who have been able to recover from their addictions. Please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.

New Hepatitis C Treatment Boasts Incredible Cure Rate

Posted on December 2, 2014 By

New Hepatitis C Treatment Boasts Incredible Cure Rate

Hepatitis C is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States, and Hepatitis C is so closely related to drug abuse due to that fact it is most commonly spread by shared needles among drug abusers. Now, an amazing new study that is currently underway has recorded an incredible 97% cure rate by AbbVie’s new hepatitis C treatment procedure.

More about Hepatitis C

Between 50%-70% of people with hepatitis C develop a chronic infection, and people with chronic hepatitis C typically go on to infect others. Transmission of the virus through sexual contact is also possible, but it is rare in comparison.

It can also be transmitted through:

  • Blood transfusion
  • Hemodialysis
  • Needle sticks

Those who contract Hepatitis C are at risk for developing numerous health problems that can get worse over time, such as:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver failure
  • Liver cancer

The New Breakthrough

The AbbVie pharmaceutical company boasts that their newest discovery is extremely momentous, noting that this new treatment is set to help a high-risk group that’s extremely vulnerable to the negative effects of the Hepatitis C virus.

In a mid-stage study of 34 patients, 33 were actually cured of the virus after 24 weeks of treatment, proving that AbbVie’s breakthrough is indeed a significant one! AbbVie’s experimental cocktail is a mix of several components, including:

  • Ombitasvir
  • Ritonavir
  • Dasabuvir
  • ABT-450
  • Ribavirin

Ribavirin is an already common antiviral drug used to supplement hepatitis C treatments. With such a power-house combination of supplements the AbbVie drug company’s researchers are following the plan of action that has been utilized by successful HIV maintenance regimens.

Treating Transplant Patients

Men and women around the world who struggle with Hepatitis C suffer from some kind of liver damage, so liver transplant patients are particularly in need of new hepatitis C treatments.  With better cure rates, and fewer side effects, this new drug could usher in a new wave of treatment for these types of patients.

Even after patients who are lucky enough can receive a donated liver, and even if they have been cleared of the HCV virus previously, the infection has a good chance of showing back up in an even more dangerous fashion. In the United States more than 40% of individuals on the liver transplant waiting list have hepatitis C. With a statistic like that the potential financial benefits of such an effective treatment regime are pretty obvious.

Rating Success for new Solutions

The new treatment being developed by the AbbVie pharmaceutical company has the potential to change a lot of lives, and make a lot of money in the process of continued success. More details about their recent progress includes:

  • The data from this study also indicated cure rates as high as 100% in patients with genotype 4, a prevalent form of the virus in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Even more importantly for Americans who are infected with HCV, the results showed cure rates of over 90% for patients who were co-infected with HIV.

AbbVie expects its first hepatitis C treatment to be approved by the FDA as early as the end of 2014. All the data present was recently released at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases conference in Boston.

Financial gurus are estimating projected $2.1 billion revenue for AbbVie’s 2015 hepatitis C treatment, if the drug is approved that is. This is hopefully going to make a huge impact on those currently struggling with HCV and liver damage, and with intravenous drug use being on the rise as heroin and opiate use has become such a dominant addiction, hopefully there will continue to be new solutions and advancements in medicine to help save the lives that drug use can damage.

People who are intravenous drug users have a very serious risk of contracting blood born illness, including Hepatitis C and HIV, putting themselves at great risk for continuous health problems that will intensify their addictions symptoms. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588

13 Hacks to Becoming a Morning Person

Posted on December 1, 2014 By


13 Hacks to Becoming a Morning Person

If you’re a night owl, chances are you just don’t *get* morning people. Well, with a little dedication and action, you, too, can learn to be more energetic and spritely in the morning. Here are 13 hacks to becoming a morning person.

1. Practice good sleep hygiene

One of the best ways to ensure you’re getting quality, restful sleep is to keep a consistent sleep schedule, which translates into an easier time in the morning. To achieve this, start moving your bedtime forward by just 15 minutes at a time. Otherwise, if you try to change too much too fast, you’ll end up with a fluctuating sleep schedules: sometimes getting to bed at your ideal earlier hour, other times, getting to be too late.

2. Make time for yourself

Cut back on your evening commitments so that you can be sure to have enough time to a.) wind down, b.) do your bedtime routine, and c.) get in bed with some time to spare (before your bedtime goal) because, on average, it takes 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. Speaking of bedtime routine.

3. Devise a nightly routine

It’s important to establish and maintain a schedule and routine in order to cue your body up for what’s to come: sleep.  For example, maybe you like to have a warm beverage, such as hot decaffeinated tea while reading for 20 minutes before bed each night.

4. Eat (and drink) smart

Some experts caution against going to bed too full or too hungry, because either sensation can cause enough discomfort to keep you awake. Similarly, drinking too much water before bed can cause you to get up in the night to go to the bathroom, interrupting your sleep. Also, keep in mind that caffeine in particular has been shown to interrupt sleep.

5. Power down

Any kind of light can throw off your natural circadian rhythms, making it harder to sleep. Research has shown that the blue light electronics emit, such as laptops and cell phones, negatively impacts sleep. Stop interacting with such devices at least an hour before bed to make it easier to fall asleep.

6. Prepare for the next day

So, what to do with that electronics-free hour? Use that time wisely by preparing for the next morning: packing a healthy lunch, prepping breakfast, packing your gym bag, and setting the coffee timer. It’ll set  your mind at ease when you lay your head on the pillow, making it easier to fall asleep as well as making it easier to get up in the morning, knowing that you don’t have to rush around.

7. Set up ideal sleeping conditions

Things like temperature, noise, light and level of comfort can all impact your ability to have restful sleep. A cool, quiet room (around 65 degrees) has been shown to be an effective sleep environment.

In the morning:

8. Set an intention

In order to make real, lasting change, it’s important to have a reason for waking up early. Choose a meaningful goal that’s achievable by starting the day earlier, such as yoga or meditation or else having some extra time to prepare a healthy breakfast.

9. No more ‘snooze’

Those of us non-morning people are always tempted to hit the snooze button, only to find that staying in bed those few extra minutes actually leaves us feeling even groggier. Try this instead: go ahead, hit the snooze, but then remain awake those extra 9 minutes or so. Sit up on the side of the bed and set your intention for the day. Do some light stretching, move around, start brewing coffee – anything to stay awake. By the time the alarm goes off again, you’ll be awake and alert enough to start your day.

10. Bite the bullet

If you naturally wake up before your alarm, it’s tempting to close your eyes and try to take advantage of those few remaining minutes. Don’t do it! You’re better off just getting out of bed. That’s because, when you wake on your own, right before your alarm, you’re likely already in a light sleep stage, which ideal for transitioning into wakefulness. But going back to sleep could send you into a deeper sleep stage, making it harder to wake up and start your day.

11. Change your mindset

When you wake up, think ahead to the good stuff ahead of you to fuel your desire to get up and get started.

12. Eat a healthy breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day yet most people skip this meal, usually because they opt to stay in bed after hitting snooze rather than getting up and preparing a healthy breakfast. Whole grain carbs with protein give you energy and keep you going all morning.

13. Exercise in the morning

*Groan* Night owls have a hard enough time getting up in the morning but, add the idea – no threat – of working out first thing and most will continue their snooze routine. But, early in the morning is when your willpower stores are at their highest, making this an ideal time to do the stuff we don’t always want to do, such as exercise. Come evening, we’re too busy, too tired – whatever the excuse – to get in an exercise session. Another benefit to working out in the morning is that it gives you extra energy to carry you through the day ahead.

Making real, lasting change can be difficult to initiate and to maintain. Having people to support you, guiding the way, can make all the difference. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available. Please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist.

Kendra Wilkinson Talks about Her Near Deadly Overdose

Posted on November 25, 2014 By
Kendra Wilkinson Talks about Her Near Deadly Overdose

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Plenty of young starlets have found themselves in trouble over the years for problems concerning drugs and alcohol, and Playboy bunny models are not exception! Reality star and former Playboy bunny Kendra Wilkinson has opened up about a severe drug addiction during her teenage years that nearly destroyed her life, and even came close to killing her.

Recently Kendra Wilkinson took the time to tell a little more of her personal story, including one scary experience with overdose.

Kendra’s Drug Confession

At the moment Kendra Wilkinson is currently competing on a British reality show entitled I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! which helped bring this story to light. During her time on the show Kendra admitted to taking cocaine, crystal meth, and LSD on a regular basis, and explained a little more of the details of her experiences with substance abuse.

Wilkinson said she would even use her lunch money from her mother to buy drugs, and any addict can probably relate to that in some fashion. Begging, borrowing and manipulating is a big part of addiction. She eventually resorted to stealing from her grandmother, that one hits home on a person level.

Down the road with the deadly blend of cocaine and other substances she found herself in the grips of an overdose that very easily could have easily turned fatal at the age of 14. She talked more about it in a recent interview stating,

“My drug habit was turning into a nightmare pretty ­quickly…I almost didn’t survive. Line after line, I just kept going. Usually, I knew my limit and stopped myself when I hit it because even though I was a druggie, I was still fearful of anything bad happening. I was shaking and choking on the blood that was dripping down my throat. I was in serious trouble, everyone thought I was dying.”

But thankfully that was not the case. No thanks to the ones she chose to call her friends who were with her at the time, because everyone present at the scene of the overdose promptly abandoned her and refused to call for emergency services even though she was maybe inches from death.

Playmates Playing with Fire

She astonishingly pulled through and sobered up shortly afterward, saying she finally decided that she had had enough. Looking at the track record, Wilkinson is hardly the only former Playmate to struggle with drug abuse.

  • Jenny McCarthy revealed in her 2012 autobiography that she gothooked on Vicodin and took up to 10 pills per day
  • Miss February 2006 Cassandra Lynn Hensley tragically died last January of a reported drug overdose after she was found floating in a friend’s bathtub.
  • Krista Boseley, another fellow Playmate, was apprehended last month along with Gilles Joseph Pierre Lapointe after allegedly trying to smuggle 50,000 MDMA pills onto a private plane.
  • Another former Playboy model Brandi Brandt was sentenced to six years behind bars last August after pleading guilty 4 months earlier to conspiring to import drugs. She was part of a ring in 2007 that hid cocaine packages on planes flying from California to Sydney on United and Qantas Airlines, with an airline catering company collecting the packages once the plane landed.

Luckily in Kendra’s case, she was able to get through her dangerous experiences with her life still intact and her resolve set firmly on growing.

She should definitely count herself lucky considering the mixture of drugs she was using and the horrifying episode she endured. It’s another great story of someone who hit their lowest lows and learned from it how she could best grow.

So many young women suffer from serious issues with drinking and drug abuse for years before they find the solution that has saved so many lives. Too many experience overdose, and some don’t survive that experience, but there is a way out that doesn’t cost anyone their life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588