SAD? Are You Experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder?



The holidays are over, the lights are down, you’re already tanking on your New Year’s resolutions and you’re feeling glum. You just weighed yourself and realized that the fruitcake you hate, but ate anyway, has given you an additional five pounds. You feel hopeless as you dig your car out of the snow in the freezing temperatures to get to work in the dark. You sigh as you exit your office in the evening, realizing you haven’t seen the sun all day. Then you really feel depressed when you realize there are still two to three months of winter left.

If this sounds familiar, you could be suffering from the usual winter blues along with the rest of us. Cold weather, short days, the come down from the holiday season and the revving up of the flu season all conspire to make January, February, and even March some of the most miserable months of the year. Are you struggling with the typical winter blahs or do you have something more serious?

What is SAD?

Maybe you’ve heard of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, or maybe this is a new concept, but it’s true that you can have a very real and serious mood disorder related to the seasons. SAD is a kind of depression that sets in sometime in the winter, or even late fall, and usually lasts until spring starts to warm and light the earth again. SAD is more than just the typical winter blues. Here are some of the symptoms you might experience:

  • Feeling depressed, worthless, and hopeless, most of the time
  • Lack of energy, fatigue
  • Sleeping more than is normal
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight as a result
  • Losing interest in normal activities
  • Irritability, especially when interacting with others
  • A heavy feeling in the arms and legs
  • Being hypersensitive, especially to the comments and reactions of other people

Why SAD? Why Me?

As with major depression and other mental health disorders, there is no single, definite cause for SAD. We do know that it is seasonal and that it is related to natural changes caused by the seasons. For instance, not seeing the sun as often in the winter may play a role in the onset of SAD. It may be that the extra darkness disrupts your circadian rhythm, or your biological clock. We also know that lack of sunlight causes levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, to drop in your brain. Serotonin affects mood and the drop off could be a trigger that starts depression.

Certain people are more vulnerable to suffering from SAD than others. While your best friend might feel a little sulky about the shorter days and the miserably cold weather, you get full-blown SAD. It’s impossible to predict with certainty who will get SAD, but there are risk factors. Being younger, female, having a family history of SAD or depression, and of course, living in the colder climates all put you at a greater risk.

There is Hope for SAD

The good news in all of this is that there are treatments for SAD. If you think you might be struggling with this, see your doctor. You can try light therapy, which makes use of a light that mimics the sun to brighten your mood and get your neurotransmitter levels back in balance. Exercise and getting outdoors more often also help, as do other healthy lifestyle practices like eating well and getting enough sleep. If these changes aren’t enough your doctor may suggest pscyotherapy or antidepressants.

Winter sucks, at least if you live somewhere cold enough to know what a wind chill factor is. It doesn’t have to hurt as much as SAD hurts, though. If you are feeling miserable beyond what is typical for January,  February or March,  get some help. You can beat this, and remember, spring is just around the corner.

Why do people love reality television like Intervention? Train Wreck or Treatment?


interventionThe A&E show Intervention ran for 13 successful seasons for a very good reason: this is compelling stuff. Watching tearful families confront their addicted loved ones, seeing the realities of addiction and how it affects individuals and those close to them, this is the content that makes for the best reality television. Especially for any viewers with the good fortune to never have been touched by the demon of addiction, watching lives collapse and loved ones scrambling to pull them back together again is an emotional roller coaster, ending with a warm fuzzy feeling that this person will get better.

Watching real, live interventions is exciting. We wonder how the addict will react. Is she going to cry and submit? Or will she throw a chair through the window and refuse to get help? What we don’t see is what happens after a successful intervention. All we get is the excitement of an intervention and this can be misleading. What is an intervention really, and how does it help the addict? What goes into a good intervention and how can it go wrong? Should you stage one on your own or do you need the help of a professional? And what happens next?

Intervention is Motivation

The main goal of an intervention is to motivate an addict to recognize his problem and to accept help for it. An intervention can be held for someone addicted to drugs or alcohol or for someone with a behavioral addiction, to say shopping or gambling. Denial is a common trait in all types of addicts. An addict does not want to admit to having a problem for a variety of reasons: the stigma and shame of being an addict, the inevitable treatment, and the need to give up the vice. Hearing from loved ones about how the addiction is affecting everyone is a powerfully motivating tool for eliminating denial.

An Intervention is a Process

If you think you can sit your loved one down and have a simple heart-to-heart about her problem drinking and that you’ll hug and cry afterwards as she promises to get help, you’re kidding yourself. An intervention is a well-planned process that involves several people and it may not stick the first time. To stage an intervention with the best chance of success requires a plan, practice, outlined treatment options, and specific consequences for the addict if she refuses help.

Intervention is for the Professionals

To hold an intervention that is not likely to deteriorate into rage, violent outbursts, and a situation that is worse than what you started with, you need the help of a professional. Imagine you were about to be confronted by a group of people and told that you had a problem and needed to change. How would you react? Think of all the possibilities and you may never stage an intervention. Having a professional on hand is crucial for keeping the peace and for ensuring that your addicted loved one will cope in a healthful way with the realities of his situation. You also need to be sure that you have options for your loved one. You can’t just tell him he has a problem and leave it at that. A professional can help you find a treatment program.

Interventions are exciting and fun to watch on television. The drama of addiction is particularly engaging when it isn’t your life. The reality for an addict is not so much fun. If you have been watching a friend or family member struggle with addiction while in complete denial, an intervention could be the motivating tool you need. Most people confronted in this way do end up getting help. Take the step to intervene, but do it right and don’t just get caught up in the excitement of reality TV.


AARP Abusers?


We tend to think of problem drinking as a problem for the young, or the middle aged and depressed, but alcohol abuse doesn’t believe in age discrimination. Neither does drug abuse. Worrying statistics show that older Americans are drinking and abusing illicit drugs at record rates. Is it loneliness? A feeling of purposelessness after retirement? The loss of friends or a spouse? Turns out, it’s all pretty complicated, but if you notice grandma or grandpa going through bottles of tequila or hoarding prescription pills, you might need to intervene.


Retired Americans and Substance Abuse


Statistics show very clearly that there is an issue with older Americans and substance abuse. Even when you consider the fact that the overall number of retirees is growing thanks to the size of the Baby Boomer generation, there are a lot of seniors hitting the bottle. About three million meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and experts expect that number to double by 2020.

As for drug abuse, the number of adults over the age of 50 abusing illicit substances doubled from 2002 to 2013. A common factor among older adults struggling with substance abuse is being retired. It makes sense that such a big life transition could lead many adults to seek comfort in drugs and alcohol, but researchers have found that the numbers can’t be explained so simply.


It’s not Just Retirement


Recent research from faculty at Tel Aviv University and Cornell University, funded by the National Institutes of Health, has uncovered some interesting and more complex explanations for the increasing number of older Americans turning to drugs and alcohol. The researchers used a phone-based survey and collected answers from 1,200 adults between the ages of 52 and 75.

The data definitely show that retirement is part of the problem. The transition from working for thirty or more years and being useful and needed, to not working can be difficult. Not all workers have prepared adequately for this transition and face feelings of having no purpose, of not being needed, and of not having anything useful to do. Psychologically, the transition is tough.

What the researchers found among all the survey responses was that the psychological transition from work to no work was not the simple answer to the problem of elder substance abuse. Whether a retiree would become a substance abuser had more to do with circumstances and attitudes surrounding retirement than the lack of work itself. For instance, those that had not prepared financially were more likely to take to drinking or drug abuse. Another issue was marital discord. Retirement of one spouse can put a strain on the relationship. Deaths of close friends and spouses also contributed to substance abuse.

The reasons for and the conditions of retirement were also important in determining how well individuals coped and whether they turned to substance abuse. The group that had the highest rates of substance abuse included those seniors that had retired earlier than they wanted to out of fear that the companies for which they worked were going to fail. These people enjoyed their jobs and were not ready to stop working yet.


The Good News


All this sounds terribly depressing and sad, but there is good news. Even small interventions can make a difference. In fact, even the awareness that substance abuse is an issue for older Americans can lead to significant positive changes. This means you may need to have a talk with that senior you care about. It may be awkward, but if you want grandma to be happy and healthy, sit her down and have a chat about her lifestyle choices. Your intervention could make all the difference.

Could There Really Be A Cure For Cokeheads?



Cocaine, the party drug of the 1980s, never went away, even more than two decades later. This wake-me-up stimulant is still used by millions of people and it’s more than just a recreational drug. Users really get hooked on it, even if they think they can just party with the white powder a couple of times. Cocaine is highly addictive. It’s right up there with heroin and cocaine’s more deviant cousin, crack cocaine.

So far, no one has been able to crack the problem of a medical treatment for cocaine addiction. Heroin addicts have Buprenorphine and Naltrexone. Alcoholics have Antabuse and Campral. What’s a poor cokehead to do? Just slog it out in rehab with no medication? Never fear, researchers are close to a vaccine, and maybe even an antidote, for cocaine addiction.

 Vaccine Prevents Mice from Getting High

Vaccines have long been used to prevent us from getting infections. The idea is to trigger the immune system to act against a particular virus or bacterium. The same idea is being applied to cocaine. A recent study from the Scripps Research Institute demonstrated that a vaccine used in mice could trigger the animals’ immune systems to attack cocaine. The result? When the mouse is administered a dose of cocaine, its immune system destroys the compound before it can get to the brain and get the animal high. If an addict gets no high from cocaine, he will have no reason to take it. Of course, the addict would have to agree to get vaccinated, but if he did the medication could prevent him from relapsing.

This was not the first research team or the first project to work on a vaccine against cocaine, but earlier efforts weren’t very effective. The Scripps team used a protein from bacteria, called flagellin, to help trigger the immune system and put it on the attack against cocaine. Flagellin has been used in other medical vaccines, and so far shows the most promise for a vaccine that targets a drug.

What About an Antidote?

Another research group, this one from the University of Copenhagen, thinks it has found the key to creating a cocaine antidote. The key lies in dopamine transporters in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is related to feelings of pleasure. It is a reward chemical that motivates us to repeat behaviors, like taking cocaine. Dopamine transporters are like vacuums for the neurotransmitter. When stimulated, they clean up excess dopamine. Cocaine inhibits the transporters, which results in a flood of the feel-good chemical.

The Danish researchers recently reported on some interesting discoveries about the structure of the dopamine transporter and how inhibitors act on it. They found other compounds that, like cocaine, inhibit the transporter. However, these other inhibitors attached to the transporter in a closed form. The result was that they had the opposite effect of cocaine and produced no flood of dopamine. With these discoveries, the researchers are certain they can come up with a new inhibitor drug that could counteract cocaine and help addicts avoid relapsing. The overall effect would be similar to a cocaine vaccine in that the drug user would no longer get a high from cocaine if they took the antidote.

The latest cocaine research is exciting, but it is important to understand there is no cure for any addiction. If you’re hooked on snorting cocaine, you need still have to go through all the therapy and group support that will help you work out your inner demons. But if you could supplement that with a vaccine or an antidote, you could have a really useful took for staying clean.

Can Your Sleepless Teen Turn Into A Substance Abuser?


Can Your Sleepless Teen Turn Into a Substance Abuser?

If you’re the parent of a teen, you have a lot of things to worry about. Will he fail math this semester? Will he get into college? Is that new friend of his a racist, or is it just me? How much your teen sleeps or doesn’t sleep might be low on your list of concerns, but there is new research that says you better prioritize it. If you know teens at all you know they don’t sleep enough. They stay up too late texting, or if you’re lucky, studying, and then they have to be to school by 7:30. How can they possibly be getting enough sleep? They’re not and they are at risk for substance abuse as a result.

The Problem of Sleep

Surveys and polls tell us what we already know: teenagers don’t get enough sleep. As much as 45 percent of young adults get too few hours of sleep each night. Even youngsters are struggling. Up to 27 percent of children and pre-teens are not sleeping enough either. Then there are the teens who may want to sleep, but have symptoms of insomnia. Ten percent of teens report having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep every night. You have probably heard that adults should aim for between six and eight hours of sleep every night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens should be getting more than nine hours every night.

Sleepiness Leads to Substance Abuse?

There are some pretty obvious consequences for your teenager when she doesn’t get enough sleep. Her memory and concentration at school suffer. Her mood becomes even more volatile than normal. She may eat too much or eat more junk food in her dazed and sleepy state. A new study has found that the results of poor sleep can be even more serious.

The research comes from psychologist Maria Wong and her colleagues at Idaho State University. They analyzed data from questionnaires and interviews conducted with over 6,000 adolescents who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The data were collected over three different time periods. The researchers looked for sleep problems and tiredness in one time period and substance abuse issues in the next time period. They controlled for any teens that were already abusing substances during the first period of data collection.

What the researchers found was that having sleep difficulties during the first period correlated significantly with problematic drinking and drug use in the second period of surveys. Those teens that didn’t sleep enough or had symptoms of insomnia were more likely to binge drink, drive while under the influence of alcohol, to be sexually active because of drinking and regret it later, and to use illicit drugs.

This study was not the first to make a connection between lack of sleep and later substance abuse, but it is important in a couple of ways. First, previous studies looked at kids in groups already at a high-risk for substance abuse, while this study included a nationally-representative sample. And, the current study included both insomnia and insufficient sleep, while previous work focused only on insomnia.

What Can Parents Do?

The results of the study are troubling, and yes, they give you yet another thing to worry about as a parent. The good news is that you can play an important role in teaching your teen about sleep and to have good sleep hygiene. Share and model good sleep hygiene like not using mobile devices before bed and setting a regular sleep schedule. If your teen shows signs of insomnia, consider seeing your pediatrician or a sleep specialist. You know how serious the consequences of inadequate sleep can be, so take steps now to make sure your teen is sleeping like a baby every night.

Are You Having A Drynuary?




After the party-filled nights (and days too, let’s be honest) of the holiday season, and particularly that New Year’s Eve bender, a lot of us are rethinking our drinking. After weight loss and exercise, cutting back on alcohol is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. It makes sense, after all. You’re realizing that waking up with a pounding head, a spinning room, and a tongue plastered to the roof of your mouth is not the way to live. You might even be starting to think you have a slight and growing problem with your old friend the bottle.

If you feel this way, you’re far from alone. There is a growing trend to participate in Drynuary, a dry January, to reset the liver and the spirit. Could you go booze-free for a month? No glass of wine with dinner, no wind-down drink after a hard day at the office, and no cocktails on girls’ night out. It seems like a good, restorative choice, especially if you feel you imbibe too much, but are the positive effects of Drynuary worth the efforts?

In a scientific, if not clinical, trial, several staffers at the magazine New Scientist tried a month of alcohol-free living and measured their health outcomes to find out if it was worthwhile. The question is: can short-term abstinence have any positive health effects? What they found was encouraging. The staff members answered a health questionnaire, gave blood samples, and underwent ultrasounds to measure fat on the liver. This was all conducted under the supervision of health care workers at the Royal Free Hospital, London.

Repeating the tests after five weeks free of alcohol, the ten staffers found that they had achieved positive health gains. On average, they lost 15 percent of fatty liver deposits, a precursor to liver damage. They also saw an average reduction in blood sugar levels of 16 percent and blood cholesterol levels of five percent. They even lost a little weight. The participants also reported more subjective improvements. On the questionnaires they reported significant improvements in quality of sleep, work performance, and concentration.

No other study, academic or otherwise, has tested the impact of short-term alcohol abstinence. Plenty of research, however, has pinpointed all the ways in which drinking to excess can harm your health. Heavy drinking can lead to addiction, causes accidents, and has been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer in women. Cutting back on alcohol reduces these risks.

There is no question that abstaining from drink for a month could make you feel better, and the intrepid journalists who tried it certainly saw some benefits, but we have no idea if these benefits are lasting. We also don’t know if going totally alcohol-free for one month will cause people to drink less generally after the abstinence or if the participants go straight to the bar on February first and undo all their efforts.

If you want to try giving up alcohol for a month, it is a worthy and worthwhile effort, but don’t use Drynuary as an excuse to go on a bender in February. You would be better off cutting back on your drinking overall and avoiding binge drinking. Step away from the bar a couple nights a week and go out for a jog instead, or spend some time with friends at a coffee shop. Trade in your hangovers and next-morning regrets for better health and a better sense of self. – .VK1geyvF_w0


Amanda Bynes Comes Clean On Eating Disorder

Amanda Bynes Eating DisorderAn eating disorder in Hollywood.

Amanda Bynes comes clean: she has an eating disorder. How does she announce it? As only a young Hollywood lady can, by posting pictures of herself on Twitter with majorly self-degrading comments.

She used to seem like a sweet, well-balanced, talented actress, getting work all the time. Starring on TV shows and in movies, carrying a whole film, but recently she has taken a turn for the worst.

In February, when she weighed in at 121 lbs, Amanda felt that was Tweet-worthy, and it seems that was when she established her target weight. She had just moved to New York, and her Twitter followers learned that, “I lost four pounds since I moved. I’m 121 pounds — my goal is 100 pounds.”

Amanda celebrated her birthday in early April and then Tweeted that “I have an eating disorder, so I have a hard time staying thin.”

An April 30th Tweet, “About to put on makeup! I weigh 135, I’ve gained weight! I need to be 100 lbs!” was paired with a picture of Amanda in a bra and leggings.

At 5’8” tall, 27-year-old Amanda can weigh between 122 and 164 pounds to still be considered within a healthy range. Obviously if she got down to 100 lbs she could be considered frail and unhealthy. What is keeping her from seeing that?  A disease that tricks you by perception?

It appears Amanda Bynes truly has an eating disorder, and she knows it, so many are asking why isn’t she in treatment? Why isn’t someone stepping in and helping Amanda get help? Where are her family and friends? Has the disease convinced her to push everyone who cares about her away? Denial is a powerful mental tool when you need it.

These Tweets are only some of the unsettling messages Amanda has made public. The list goes on. Some are quite vulgar and others are sad.

Many professions would agree – this young woman is screaming for help.

Advice to Amanda, and other women like her: Girl, stop Tweeting! Stop sharing everything with everyone. The help you need will not come from a Twitter follower. Instead, talk to somebody you trust, and if that somebody does not exist right now, call and find help.

The problem is, an eating disorder can consume your thoughts and behaviors. You can feel like you must gain control this aspect of your life because you don’t have control over any other part, and perfectionism is very real too.

For young women in the Hollywood spotlight, staying a certain size and trying to remain relevant to the masses is competitive, but may come as part of the job description. We’ve heard reports of what growing up in the public eye can do to a girl. Britney Spears, Drew Barrymore. Jodie Sweetin (who played Stephanie on the show Full House.) And now Amanda Bynes. The pressure is too much. Without a developed identity, these young women seek external validation and never seem to feel “good enough.”

Eating disorders, and substance abuse issues, are attempts at filling the void. Convincing yourself that, by setting a goal weight and working toward being a certain size, you are taking control of your life, is simply backwards.

Drew Barrymore, per reports and interviews, is a great example of someone who got help and made changes so she could live a healthy life. We cannot do it alone though.

Amanda Bynes needs an intervention. A chance to get healthy. Formal treatment could save her life, and show her how detrimental her current lifestyle will be long-term.

Can someone in her life persuade her to seek eating disorder rehab before anything else life-changing happens?

Sex, Food & Gambling Addicts – Who’s Responsible?

Creating Gambling AddictsIs the presence of Internet cafes creating gambling addicts?

This is a question that came up at a recent speaking engagement. And it’s an interesting question. With the proliferation of online gambling and impulsive behavioral addictions, questions like these are coming up more and more.

If you answer yes, then think about this: The same type argument could be made for alcohol and bars. Is the presence of places that serve alcohol creating alcoholics, or will people drink somewhere regardless of the physical options offered?

Are bars creating alcoholics, or are alcoholics keeping bars open? Paying the electric bill and keeping a roof over the owner’s and bartender’s heads?

Are Internet cafes creating gambling addicts, or are gambling addicts keeping Internet cafes in business? There are many people who go to an Internet cafe for a few hours to get things done, and then they leave. There are many people who go to a bar, have a couple drinks, and then leave. Can we put blame on the cafe or bar for people enjoying being there, and possibly developing an unhealthy pattern of behavior, and even an addiction to the good or service being offered?

Still need more? What about sex? The same argument can surround the topic of abstinence versus safe sex. Do we teach the next generation to abide by abstinence and not teach them about safe ways to engage in sex, and then just assume that they will listen and not partake in any sexual activity? Or do we educate young people on what can happen if you do not protect yourself during sex, and allow them to make their own decisions once they have all of the information? If I give you a condom, does that mean that I want you to have sex, or is it a tool for when you choose to participate in the act?

Are Internet cafes any different? Don’t we, as individuals, have the power to choose whether we walk into a place that offers online gambling, or alcohol? And don’t we choose how much time to spend gambling online, and how much alcohol to drink in one sitting?

What if the choice is being influenced by an addiction? What if I walk into a casino or Internet cafe and cannot stop gambling once I’ve started? Or, I walk into a bar and cannot stop drinking once I’ve started. Can the responsibility for my excessive gambling and money loss, or my intoxication and public drunkenness, be put on the Internet cafe, or bar?

Can we take this a step further and throw the concept of obesity and food addiction into the mix? Is the presence of grocery stores, restaurants, and fast food establishments (with easy-access drive-thru windows) creating food addicts?

We all have to eat food to stay alive, why can’t some people stop when they are full? We don’t all have to gamble or drink though, so what is the common thread among gambling online, alcohol, sex, and food? If an Internet cafe, or a bar, adult store, or fast-food restaurant, opens right by your house, will it alter your behavior?

What can be done to keep someone from spending too much time, or from losing money, while gambling online? As an Internet cafe owner, would you take time and put forward some energy to survey your clientele? To check for signs of Internet addiction among the people you find in your seats most often? A bar owner is more likely to spot the patrons who have over consumed and who need to leave. Calling a cab, or in some cases, the person’s family, to get the drunk person home safely becomes part of your job.

Could you spot people who are gambling too much by the amount of time spent at your Internet, or would you have to keep tabs on their spending? Can you ask them to leave?

What do you think? Who’s responsible for impulsive behavior? Is it the individual’s moral decision making?  An individual’s brain chemistry?  Or is the establishment enabling the individual to make “wrong” decisions?

photo credit: @Doug88888 via photopin cc

Shopping Addiction & Compulsive Buying: A Growing Concern In America

Shopping Addiction And Compulsive Buying

“When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again.” Have you seen the movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic? The main character, Rebecca Bloomwood, played by Isla Fisher, says that line to describe why she loves to shop.

Sophie Kinsella wrote a series of novels that lead to the script that follows a young woman who cannot stop shopping. While the story is fiction, there is so much truth to the concept and to that simple quote. Shopping becomes a drug, and the user needs a constant fix.

The fact that a movie like this was made, and did well, shows just how much shopping addiction and compulsive buying are a growing concern in America.

The high Rebecca feels when buying something is temporary. She sees that even though the world gets better and feels better when she compulsively buys, that it is temporary and she needs another shopping spree to make her world feel better again. It’s a vicious cycle of ups and downs based on something completely external. Does this sound familiar?

About 6% of people in the United States have some form of a shopping addiction. With a population of almost 314 million, that’s over 18 million people.

Instead of buying clothes and other stuff when it is actually needed, people are shopping as a recreational activity. Clothes and shoes are needed for everyday life, yes, but think about how much you are able to wear at one time. Now think of how many items in your closet you absolutely love. What is all the rest there for?

Think about the reason you bought certain pieces that are in your closet right now. Did emotions drive you to make that purchase? Are there feelings still connected to certain articles of clothing Would you say that these emotions and feelings are healthy?

Unhealthy patterns progress and it seems that shopping is a cure for anything difficult to handle these days. Are you having trouble coping with a painful breakup, or loss of a job or friend? Go buy yourself something nice. Are you bored? Go shopping. Sad? Go buy yourself something to cheer you up. It can also go the other way. Are you feeling great? Did you do something well? Go shop a little. Promotion at work? Go reward yourself for a job well done.

So what exactly diagnoses a shopping addiction or compulsive buying? Well, do you feel unable to stop? When you are on your way to buy something, do you feel that you shouldn’t be stepping foot into that store? Do you know that a shopping spree right now will mess up your finances, but you want to do it anyway? Are you buying things that you want instead of items that you need?

If you feel your behavior is out of control, you want to stop but you cannot, and you need help to make shopping and buying changes, you may be diagnosable. In any case, finding out how to stop is an important step. Just like an alcoholic or drug addict, abstinence is a very real part of recovery from shopping addiction and compulsive buying.

Treatment centers that help people recover from drug, alcohol, and behavioral addictions, like gambling and love/sex addiction, also treat shopping addiction and compulsive buying. A formal assessment is a great way to find out more.

The treatment team at The Control Center will help determine what treatment is best for you. Call now 877.813.2974 and start building a better life!

photo credit: x-ray delta one via photopin cc

Do Smart Pills Really Exist?

The Control Center’s very own Dr. Reef appeared on The Today Show to talk about new “smart drugs.”

Prompted by a Details Magazine article and Bradley Cooper’s character in the movie Limitless, the segment’s topic focuses on new pills, specifically Nuvigil and Provigil, that make you feel more awake and alert, and essentially increase what you are capable of intellectually.

Today Show host, Matt Lauer sets up the topic by posing the question, “If you could take a pill, and it would make you smarter, would you take it?”

One man tells his story of taking Nuvigil, and then going off the drug. His experience is that the drug only helps him, and he likes who he is better when he is taking the “smart pill.”

Dr. Reef is consulted on these nootropics, or “smart drugs.” He warns that, while these brain-enhancing pills are not addictive, the danger of side effects when nootropics are not taken properly is very real.

In his words, “I’m not against the concept of building a smarter brain. What I am against is people that just haphazardly go in and just try to pretend they’re chemists and do things to their brains that could be hurtful in the end.”

Enhancing the brain’s functioning is not what troubles him, but the approach people are taking in popping a pill without understanding what effect it is truly having on the brain is cause for concern.

Like other pills, Nuvigil and other “smart drugs” are altering your brain’s chemistry. You function one way, and then add a combination of chemicals, and the system operates differently. Your routine functioning is altered. When you don’t know what changes are being made to your own brain, you may not be doing what’s best for you overall, or in the long run.

So back to the question, if your doctor thought one of these non-addictive “smart pills” was right for you, would you take it?

Watch the video to hear Dr. Reef share his opinion on this new class of drugs.