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
Saturday, January 14th, 2017. 5:00PM EST
Presented by Dr. Reid Hester
SMART Recovery will host Reid K. Hester, Ph.D., for an overview and discussion of recent scientific findings on addiction treatment and support. There are valuable lessons to be learned and new strategies resulting from research that have real implications for people struggling with their use of alcohol, drugs and behaviors.
The event will be enjoyed by individuals struggling with addictive behaviors, as well as the professionals and families who want to help a loved one.
Dr. Hester is the Director of Research at Checkup & Choices and creator of SMART’s CheckUp & Choices companion web course (formerly called Overcoming Addictions). His professional career has included clinical work, program consultation, research, and training in empirically supported approaches to substance abuse treatment.
Currently, Dr. Hester is directing an implementation research grant Continue reading
By Robert Parkinson
You made it through recovery treatment. You were doing well. And then one night, a coworker asks you to grab a drink after work. “Just one drink.” It can’t hurt, you tell yourself. That’s the last thing you remember when you wake up in the hospital the next morning.
Relapse is one of the most frustrating, humiliating experiences you can face in recovery. It leaves you feeling guilty, ashamed and tempted to throw in the towel and just keep using. Unfortunately, relapse is also common. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of people who go through addiction treatment programs go on to relapse at least once. In fact, many people relapse multiple times before finally achieving a full recovery. Continue reading
DATE: Saturday, December 3, 2016, 5:00 pm EST
SIGN UP AT www.smartrecovery.org/events
Joseph F. Gerstein, MD, FACP, SMART’s founding President, will join us during the holiday season to share some strategies on using SMART tools so we can make getting through the 2016 Holiday Season as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. In addition, Dr. Gerstein will spend some time discussing the fundamental importance of motivation in the recovery process and ways to enhance that, as well as introduce an interesting phenomenon observed in study of the change process. It will be a wide-ranging conversation with lots of interesting food for thought.