The key player in addiction
By Shelly Tichelaar, CEO & Executive Director, Ranch Creek Recovery
Yes, there really can be too much of a good thing. Dopamine is a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain that relays feelings of pleasure to the brain when we engage in an enjoyable behavior or activity. While human beings inherently rely on dopamine to reinforce survival behaviors such as eating and procreating, this brain chemical also happens to be the key player in addiction.
Out of Control Dopamine
Activated by such things as eating certain foods we love or engaging in romance, dopamine signals the brain that a reward is on its way. When we engage in these pleasurable activities, dopamine sends its chemical message to the brain — the association between the stimulus and the reward become hardwired, a process called conditioning. This stimulus and reward pattern allows the human species to survive.
But when it comes to drug or alcohol use, dopamine levels are released at five to ten times the normal level, flooding the mood center of the brain. The user’s brain associates the extreme rush resulting from the spiked dopamine levels with using the drug of choice, reinforcing the desire to repeat using it. Ultimately, the brain requires more and more of the alcohol or drug to achieve any feelings of pleasure at all, resulting in compulsive drug-seeking behaviors.
Dopamine and Addiction
Most drugs target the brain’s reward system, activating a surge of dopamine that overwhelms the brain. Continue reading
Summer Special Event Webinar
Addiction and the Brain: A Focus on Opiates
Dr. Christopher J. Tuell, Presenter
Saturday, June 24, 5:00 PM EDT
This promises to be a fascinating and far-reaching discussion, beginning with a look at today’s opiate epidemic. From there, Dr. Tuell will highlight the relationship between mental health and addiction and how they intersect. We hope the conversation will add to awareness of the ways in which addiction shows itself – in today’s opiate crisis and more broadly.
Most importantly, we hope to carry a message of hope and encouragement; to shine a lens on compassionate and respectful ways to engage when people have trouble dealing with the pressures of our complicated society. Dr. Tuell will respond to questions and the event will be recorded and released as a podcast following the event.
One of the things we appreciate about Dr. Tuell and the Lindner Center is their commitment to choice in recovery which resonates so strongly with SMART– both in making people aware of their choices and in helping to actively provide recovery choices. The Lindner Center has hosted SMART community meetings at their beautiful facility for eight years — thank you, Lindner Center.
As always, all are invited to this FREE Webinar in our Special Events series at SMART Recovery! We are the 2nd largest recovery support group in the world for addiction recovery, and we are happy to continue to encourage thought-provoking, hopeful, practical and compassionate conversations.About our speaker: Prior to joining Lindner Center of HOPE, Dr. Tuell served as Center Director and Director of Employee Assistance Programs for Family Service of the Cincinnati Area, as Clinical Director of the Warren County Juvenile Justice Center, and as a psychotherapist for Community Mental Health Centers of Warren County in Lebanon, Ohio and Mental Health Services West in Cincinnati, Ohio. Currently Dr. Tuell serves as Clinical Director of Addiction Services at Lindner Center of HOPE providing mental health and addiction psychotherapy services to a wide variety of treatment populations. Dr. Tuell is also an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati ‘s Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience. He is a clinical psychotherapist and a chemical and behavioral addiction specialist with over 30 years of experience in the field of mental health and addictions. Dr. Tuell earned his Doctorate degree from the University of Cincinnati and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, and a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor in the State of Ohio.
We look forward to your participation in the webinar. Register Today!
The Value of Celebrating Victories
~Green-In-MI, SMART Recovery Volunteer
In my experience, progress toward a lifestyle of abstinence at times seems insurmountable; like you’re standing at the bottom of a mountain craning your neck to see a peak that looks impossibly high up and far away. Any given day may be a struggle against urges, old habits, and other potential problems. You look at people who have a month of abstinence and think “that’s a long time…I can barely go a few days”. You look at others who may have a year or more of abstinence and think “that’s so long, I’ll never get there.”
But you keep coming back. Addiction recovery takes work. You keep learning. You keep talking to others. You keep working on the tools. Next thing you know, your work begins to pay off. You have a week, or maybe a month. Maybe you successfully navigate a situation that caused problems in the past.
You come back to a SMART meeting or to chat and report your success, and suddenly a half dozen people congratulate you for your ‘victory’. You’ve successfully climbed part of the way up that impossible mountain. As you top each little rise on the way to the summit Continue reading
By Tom Horvath Ph.D., Lorie Hammerstrom, and Brett Saarela, LCSW
SMART Recovery® supports (1) abstinence from any substance or activity addiction and (2) going beyond abstinence to lead a meaningful and satisfying life. Our 4-Point ProgramSM addresses addiction itself (Points 1 and 2) and quality of life (Points 3 and 4). Points 3 and 4 are the primary focus of discussion in many meetings. To remind you, Point 1 focuses on motivation to abstain; Point 2 on coping with craving; Point 3 on problem solving (when practical problems can be resolved) and emotional self-management (when practical problems may not be “solvable”); and Point 4 on building a life of enduring satisfactions (a meaningful and purposeful life).
SMART Recovery® encourages attendance by individuals in any stage of recovery. Those maintaining long-term abstinence will likely be most interested in discussions of Points 3 and 4. Those in early recovery will likely pay more attention to Points 1 and 2. SMART Recovery® recognizes that individuals may be in different stages of change, at any one time, across what is likely to be a range of addictive behaviors. For example, one participant may be ready to stop drinking but not ready to stop smoking. Another participant may be ready to quit cocaine but not ready to quit marijuana. Both participants may be drinking excessive caffeine and overeating, and be unaware that these are also addictive behaviors.
Helping you find the resources you need
By Dolores (Dee) Cloward, Special Events Coordinator
[ Registration ]
You are invited to join in for our spring SMART Recovery Special Event Webinar with Ivette Torres, Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs at SAMHSA. Ms. Torres will speak to us about recovery issues and how YOU, those of you in recovery, facilitators, family members, professionals, or others who support you, can be conduits to getting others to seek help!
Engaging Community to Fight Addiction will be held Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 5:00 PM EDT. [ Registration ]
In this engaging and informative talk, Ms. Torres will discuss some of today’s topics of concern on behavioral health as it relates to addiction. She will also share how SAMHSA helps communities gain access to the resources they need. Continue reading
By Jim Williams, SMART Recovery Facilitator from British Columbia, Canada
As it was a holiday Monday, experience had taught me to expect a small crowd at the SMART meeting I facilitated in White Rock. As the clock rolled over to starting time there was just two of us, John and I. John was one of those consistent, zealous types and reliable as hell. He was, I believe, taking the Facilitator’s course at the time and would later become our Regional Coordinator. As John and I were talking shop and deciding how long to wait, a slender bearded man walked in.
“Hi I’m Andrew,” he said, shaking both our hands, “sorry I’m late.”
It turned out Andrew had known about SMART for over a year but had never come to a meeting until today. He’d decided six months before to quit drinking but had recently slipped and had a bad six weeks. That’s when he decided that he needed support and came to our meeting. Continue reading