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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    photography-gaby-herbstein-09.jpg Addiction is hardwiring the brains of addicts for a lifetime of substance abuse, and experts fear an uneducated society in the grips of the opioid epidemic is leaving everyone susceptible.

    “There’s a thing called ‘euphoric recall,’ and that’s when you have these visions and memories of your drug or drinking use that bring nostalgia and good feelings,” James B., a recovering addict of more than 13 years, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

    “So no matter the amount of clean time one gets you are always at risk.”

    The U.S. suffered the deadliest year on record for fatal drug overdoses, which claimed 52,404 lives in 2015, and that figure is expected to rise in the years ahead. Medical professionals and experts in the recovery community are desperately trying to inform the public of the true nature of addiction, treatment and prevention. They argue misconceptions regarding addiction and the time needed to fully recover are undermining efforts to kick the habit and compounding the crisis.

    One key to understanding the phenomenon and combating it in society is understanding how addiction rewires the brain and suppresses rational thought. Euphoric recall, according to recovering addicts, is always a threat, even if the person is clean for decades. Addiction is hardwiring the brains of addicts for a lifetime of substance abuse, and experts fear an uneducated society in the grips of the opioid epidemic is leaving everyone susceptible.

    “There’s a thing called ‘euphoric recall,’ and that’s when you have these visions and memories of your drug or drinking use that bring nostalgia and good feelings,” James B., a recovering addict of more than 13 years, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “So no matter the amount of clean time one gets you are always at risk.”

    The U.S. suffered the deadliest year on record for fatal drug overdoses, which claimed 52,404 lives in 2015, and that figure is expected to rise in the years ahead. Medical professionals and experts in the recovery community are desperately trying to inform the public of the true nature of addiction, treatment and prevention. They argue misconceptions regarding addiction and the time needed to fully recover are undermining efforts to kick the habit and compounding the crisis.

    One key to understanding the phenomenon and combating it in society is understanding how addiction rewires the brain and suppresses rational thought. Euphoric recall, according to recovering addicts, is always a threat, even if the person is clean for decades.

    “Today I don’t struggle with urges, but once or twice a year I’ll have a thought pop into my head of some memory that gets triggered subconsciously,” James, co-author of “The Craving Brain” with Dr. Anderson Spickard, told TheDCNF. “So when this happens, unless you have what I call a ‘tool kit’ for how to handle it, you’re susceptible, because all of a sudden you have this land mine come off in your head.”

    James notes that anything can trigger these “euphoric recalls” and most of the time it’s not clear what is behind it. He says in these moments, every former addict is at risk of going back to abuse because the association between happiness and the triggered memory is so powerful.

    “This is why people with substantial amounts of clean time are susceptible to relapse,” James said. “If you don’t have your tool kit in place and trouble comes, when these thoughts come, drinking or using may become an option in your mind.”

    The idea that addiction is a disease is only just entering the mainstream conscious of the U.S., which some medical professionals fear is creating roadblocks to education and recovery. Dr. Eric Nestler, an expert on neuroscience, initially had his ideas rejected in the medical community when he first attempted to research how “repeated activation of the opioid receptor” literally changes an addict’s brain. He argues that people still hesitate labeling addiction a disease, because it initially involves a voluntary choice to take a substance.

    In his opinion, people need to learn to separate the disease that takes hold of the brain and the voluntary decision the user first makes to take a substance.

    “I became hooked very quickly on alcohol and then later used drugs,” James told TheDCNF. “At the time I didn’t know that my brain was slowly becoming wired to need the drugs and alcohol the way my body needed food and sleep. I fell into the trap of addiction and the cycle continued for over a decade until I had really hit rock bottom. Friends and family had left in the wake of my selfishness as my disease of addiction just ran rampant.”

    Nestler notes addiction creates conditions in the brain that “attack free will” and corrupt the rationality of decision making. While general drug abuse continues to wreak havoc in society, experts say opioids are making the need to educate the public all the more dire. Of the 52,404 lives claimed by drug overdoses in 2015, 63 percent involved opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    James says he will stay involved with addiction recovery his entire life, but stresses the real key is preventing people from becoming future addicts.

    “It overwhelmingly is destroying the fabric of our society,” James said. “Prevention is really my passion because once it’s a full fledged addiction, not only is it one of the hardest things in the world to fix, you’re going to have to deal with it for the rest of your life.

    "You can’t get rid of the bad wiring and you can’t get rid of the euphoric recall.”




    Photo: Gabby Haberstein

    Original Source

    Written by: Steve Birr, Jan 29, 2017, The Daily Caller

Comments

  1. aemetha
    While I personally agree with the addiction is a disease model, at least as far as there being discernible changes in the brain, it seems to me that the idea advocated in this article takes the approach of correcting a misconception with a different misconception. Advocating the separation of free will at the beginning of an addiction from the compulsiveness of addiction ignores the fact that free will, and indeed any human behaviour are not found in equal measure in all humans. Half of all people with an addiction have a serious mental illness according to the research I've seen, and if someone is suffering from a mental illness that makes them feel like they need something in order to cope in a way society deems to be normal, then clearly their free will when it comes to drug taking is compromised. There already exists a massive problem with people unable to get dual treatment for dual diagnosis of mental illness and addiction, and what this doctor is suggesting would further entrench the idea that they are unrelated. They are not unrelated, and the accepted wisdom is that both addiction and mental illness be treated as the primary disorder.

    The first part of this statement is just blatant misinformation. It is widely accepted that neurons, and consequently their connections are pruned as a normal part of the functioning of the brain. They are in fact pruned more often than they are created.
  2. HyperXHyperX
    I'd say the memory of the drug, habituation, feeling, circumstances, people etc. is so strong, it's easily the thing you will forget as the very last thing.

    You'd probably need to get Alzheimer's, dementia or long-term memory loss to forget it. Or brain surgery cutting half of it out.
  3. Eyecube
    I thought this might be an interesting and relevant, though differing, view.


    From Wikipedia article Rat Park:

    "Rat Park was a study into drug addiction conducted in the late 1970s (and published in 1981) by Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.

    Alexander's hypothesis was that drugs do not cause addiction, and that the apparent addiction to opiate drugs commonly observed in laboratory rats exposed to them is attributable to their living conditions, and not to any addictive property of the drug itself.

    To test his hypothesis, Alexander built Rat Park, a large housing colony, 200 times the floor area of a standard laboratory cage. There were 16–20 rats of both sexes in residence, food, balls and wheels for play, and enough space for mating. The results of the experiment appeared to support his hypothesis.

    The two major science journals, Science and Nature, rejected Alexander, Coambs, and Hadaway's first paper, which appeared instead in Psychopharmacology in 1978. The paper's publication initially attracted no response. Within a few years, Simon Fraser University withdrew Rat Park's funding.



    Rat Park experiments

    A white Wistar lab rat
    In Rat Park, the rats could drink a fluid from one of two drop dispensers, which automatically recorded how much each rat drank. One dispenser contained a morphine solution and the other plain tap water.

    Alexander designed a number of experiments to test the rats' willingness to consume the morphine. The Seduction Experiment involved four groups of rats. Group CC was isolated in laboratory cages when they were weaned at 22 days of age, and lived there until the experiment ended at 80 days of age; Group PP was housed in Rat Park for the same period; Group CP was moved from laboratory cages to Rat Park at 65 days of age; and Group PC was moved out of Rat Park and into cages at 65 days of age.

    The caged rats (Groups CC and PC) took to the morphine instantly, even with relatively little sweetener, with the caged males drinking 19 times more morphine than the Rat Park males in one of the experimental conditions. The rats in Rat Park resisted the morphine water. They would try it occasionally — with the females trying it more often than the males — but they showed a statistically significant preference for the plain water. He writes that the most interesting group was Group CP, the rats who were brought up in cages but moved to Rat Park before the experiment began. These animals rejected the morphine solution when it was stronger, but as it became sweeter and more dilute, they began to drink almost as much as the rats that had lived in cages throughout the experiment. They wanted the sweet water, he concluded, so long as it did not disrupt their normal social behavior. Even more significant, he writes, was that when he added a drug called Naloxone, which negates the effects of opioids, to the morphine-laced water, the Rat Park rats began to drink it.

    In another experiment, he forced rats in ordinary lab cages to consume the morphine-laced solution for 57 days without other liquid available to drink. When they moved into Rat Park, they were allowed to choose between the morphine solution and plain water. They drank the plain water. He writes that they did show some signs of dependence. There were "some minor withdrawal signs, twitching, what have you, but there were none of the mythic seizures and sweats you so often hear about ..."

    Alexander believes his experiments show that animal self-administration studies provide no empirical support for the theory of drug-induced addiction. "The intense appetite of isolated experimental animals for heroin in self-injection experiments tells us nothing about the responsiveness of normal animals and people to these drugs. Normal people can ignore heroin ... even when it is plentiful in their environment, and they can use these drugs with little likelihood of addiction ... Rats from Rat Park seem to be no less discriminating."

    Edit: not saying I agree or disagree with this or the OP. Just contributing information.
  4. perro-salchicha614
    I don't think there's any need to slap a term like "euphoric recall" on this... People always long for things they have pleasant memories of. The brain, like the rest of the body, is very good at repairing itself, otherwise humans wouldn't have survived this long. This concept sounds like more of the gimmicky fearmongering that obscures the issue of addiction and prevents the medical/mental health field from addressing it in a meaningful way.

    I don't think it has to be an either/or situation with the disease model and the concept of individual will. There can be a biological compulsion and an element of choice. Kind of like a 50 year old guy who gets turned on around his daughter's 20 year old friend. He's going to have a biological impulse to try to get her into bed, but he can resist it. If he tries hard enough.

    I think that often people are at risk of relapse not because of "euphoric recall," but because they have underlying mental health issues which haven't been addressed fully. That's certainly the case with me. I don't think I've "permanently" damaged my brain by abusing opiates and alcohol; the problem is that the issues (depression, anxiety, OCD) which led to the abuse in the first place are still there.

    If I had to assess the validity of the Rat Park theory based on my experiences alone, I'd say it holds water. I've been addicted to many things besides substances, and some of these addictions have been more intractable than my issues with drugs and alcohol. And more problematic. By far.
  5. Iluvcokeandcock
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