The Physiology of Addiction | Connecting Point | Jan. 20, 2019

The Physiology of Addiction | Connecting Point | Jan. 20, 2019


ADDICTION IS A COMPLEX DISEASE. IT AFFECTS THE FUNCTIONING OF
THE BRAIN AND BODY. PEOPLE ABUSE
SUBSTANCES LIKE DRUGS AND ALCOHOL FOR VARIED REASONS. THEY
ENGAGE IN BEHAVIORS THAT BECOME COMPULSIVE AND OFTEN CONTINUE
DESPITE HARMFUL CONSEQUENCES. HOW DOES HARMFUL SUBSTANCE USE
AND ADDICTIVE BEHAVIORS DAMAGE THE BRAIN? CONNECTING POINT’S RAY HERSHEL
SAT DOWN WITH AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD, DR. RUTH POTEE, THE
MEDICAL DIRECTOR FOR ADDICTION SERVICES FOR THE BEHAVIORAL
HEALTH NETWORK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT DRUG USE DOES TO OUR
BRAINS, AND WHY PEOPLE BECOME ADDICTS.>>YOU KNOW, I THINK FOR SO LONG
WE HAVE STIGMATIZED PEOPLE WHO STRUGGLE WITH A SUBSTANCE ABUSE
DISORDER AND ACTED FAS THEY’RE BAD PEOPLE OR WEAK PEOPLE YET
ALL OF US STRUGGLE. I MEAN, IF WE’RE BEING HONEST
WITH OURSELVES MANY OF US EAT TOO MANY COLLEGE WE TURN TO FOOD
AND SUGAR FOR COMFORT AND WE HAVE BEHAVIORS THAT ACTUALLY
ISN’T HEALTHY AND SOMETIMES IT’S FOOD, SOMETIMES IT’S ALCOHOL AND
WHAT WE KNOW IS WE UNDERSTAND ABOUT BRAIN SCIENCE IS WITH ANY
SUBSTANCE, WHETHER IT’S NICOTINE OR MARIJUANA OR OPIATES OR
ALCOHOL, YOU DISRUPT THE NEUROTRANSMITTERS IN THE BRAIN. NOT ANY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT
MIGHT HAPPEN IN THE BRAIN WITH ANXIETY, DEPOSITION AND ANOTHER
MAJOR MOOD DISORDER OR QUITE HONESTLY THE WAY TRANSMITTERS
CAN GET DISRUPTED IN THE PANCREAS WITH DIABETES. WHEN YOU THINK THE BRAIN IS A
ORGAN AND THE THINGS CAN GET ARRAY HOW DOES IT FIGURE IN WITH
THE KIDNEY. IT’S A DISEASE. IT’S A DISEASE THAT HAS MANY
ORIGINS.>>AND IN TERMS OF THE DAMAGE OF
BRAIN. CAN YOU DESCRIBE — I KNOW YOUNG
BRAINS ARE SUSCEPBLY SUSCEPTIBLE. YOUNG PEOPLE UNDER THE AGE OF
21. TALK ABOUT THE PHYSIOLOGY ABOUT
THAT.>>I WOULD SAY UNTIL AGE 25 —
THE BRAIN IS FULLY DEVELOPING UP UNTIL THE AGE OF 25 AND WE KNOW
ADDICTION IS CONSIDERED A PEDIATRIC DISEASE. IF YOU ASK SOMEBODY WHO STARTED
WITH A SUBSTANCE HOW OLD WHEN YOU HAD A SUBSTANCE WAS IT
MARIJUANA, NICOTINE, HOW OLD YOU. THE AVERAGE AGE IS 12 TO 13. THERE’S ALMOST NOBODY WHO SAYS
OH, I’M DOING FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE WHEN I WAS 30. IT JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN THAT WHAT
I IT STARTS TO GROOVE DOWN IN THE BRAIN WHILE THE BRAIN IS
PLASTIC AND DEVELOPING AND ONE OF THE REASONS I’M COMING TO
WEST SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL TO TALK ABOUT ADDICTION IS BECAUSE
I AM ONE OF MANY PEOPLE WHO BELIEVES THIS IS A PREVENT
VALUABLE DISEASE. IF EVERYBODY HAD THE KNOWLEDGE
THAT YOU AND I HAVE, THIS IS A DISEASE THAT DOESN’T HAVE TO
EXIST.>>SPEAKING OF THAT EVENT, IT’S
GOING TO BE THURSDAY, JANUARY 23RD, WEST SPRINGFIELD HIGH
SCHOOL, 6:00. YOU’LL BE SPEAKING. WHAT WILL YOUR MESSAGE BE TO
YOUR COMMUNITY AT THAT POINT? WHAT’S THE MAJOR POINT YOU WANT
TO BRING HOME TO THEM?>>I THINK THE MAJOR POINT IS
THE ONE YOU ALREADY BROUGHT UP THAT THIS IS A PREVENTABLE
DISEASE. I ACTUALLY SPEND A LOT OF TIME
TALKING ABOUT ADOLESCENT BRAIN DEVELOPMENT AND EXACTLY WHAT
GOES AWRY. I TALKED ABOUT MARIJUANA BECAUSE
MARIJUANA HAS BECOME THE NORMALIZED DRUG AND WHEN YOU
THINK OF THE AVERAGE YOUNG PERSON WHAT THEY THINK IT’S
GOOD. IT SOLVES ALL MY PERSON, AND
IT’S LEGAL. IT HELPS ME BE BETTER IN THE
CLASSROOM AND AS AN ATHLETE. WHAT THEY KNOW ABOUT MARIJUANA
AND WHAT WE KNOW AS SCIENTISTS, PEDIATRICIANS, THERE’S A WIDE
CHASM OF THOSE TWO THINGS. I SPEND TIME TALKING ABOUT
VAPING. AS YOU KNOW PEOPLE ARE
PARTICULARLY ADOLESCENTS VAPING BOTH NICOTINE PRODUCT ALSO
MARIJUANA PRODUCTS, I COVER OVER A PERIOD OF OVER AN HOUR — MOST
OF THE SUBSTANCES THAT WE MIGHT STRUGGLE WITH.>>WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT VAPING
THESE DAYS, WHAT DO YOU SEE IN YOUR LINE OF WORK ABOUT VAPING. HOW DANGEROUS IS VAPING?>>WE HAVE BEEN SEEING FOR THE
LAST 4 YEARS A RESURGENCE OF — A RETURN TO A NICOTINE
ADDICTION. IT HAS BEEN THE FASTEST RETURN
TO SOMETHING WE’VE EVER SEEN SINCE WE’VE BEEN COLLECTING DATA
IN THE LAST 40 YEARS, SO OUR KIDS ARE SO SMART AND THEY HAD
TURNED THEIR BACK ON NICOTINE AND DISGUSTED ABOUT CIGARETTES. IF YOU ASK THE AVERAGE PERSON
THEY’RE DISGUSTING THEY’RE TERRIBLE AND CAUSE BLADDER
CANCER AND THEN THIS COOL THIS HIGH TECH DESK THOUGHT IT WAS
WATER VAPOR AND FLAVORING. IT WASN’T THAT AND THERE’S OTHER
CHEMICALS WHICH WE DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THEY IMPACT THE
BODY AND A KIDS A THIRD OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE VAPING
RESIGNING AND IT’S A ROUTINELY ADDICTIVE AND A LOT OF IT HAS
NICOTINE WHICH IS ADDICTIVE.>>WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS IN
TERMS OF ADDICTION — WHY DO PEOPLE BECOME INVOLVED IN
ADDICTION. I KNOW GENETICS IS PARTLY OF THE
EQUATION, TOO, BUT TALK ABOUT THE RISK FACTORS AND HOW PEOPLE
GET HOOKED ON ADDICTION.>>I WOULD SAY THERE’S 3, MAYBE
4 THINGS THAT ARE SET UP. GENETICS IS A BIG ONE. SO IF YOU HAVE A PARENT OR
GRANDPARENT WHO STRUGGLES YOU HAVE A 50% OF SOMEONE SUFFERING
WITH A SUBSTANCE ABUSE ITSELF. YOU DON’T GET TO CHOOSE YOUR
PARENTS OR GRANDPARENTS BUT I’M A BELIEVER TALKING TO YOUR KIDS
ABOUT THE GENETIC RISK IS MAKING BETTER DECISIONS. SO STARTING ANY ADDICTIVE
SUBSTANCE DURING ADOLESCENCE IS THE SET — IF YOU POSTPONE YOUR
USE OF EVERYTHING UNTIL AFTER YOUR BRAIN IS FULLY DEVELOPED,
24, 25 THE LIKELIHOOD OF DEVELOPING AN ADDICTION IS 2%. THE THIRD ONE THAT’S REALLY
IMPORTANT IS HAVING A VERY TRAUMATIC CHILDHOOD. HAVING BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO YOU,
THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO ESCAPE THE FEELING OF THOSE TRAUMATIC
EVENTS. PEOPLE WILL SELF-IS ANOTHER,
SELF-MEDICATE WITH SUBSTANCES IN ORDER TO NUMB OUT FOR TRAUMA. SO ACKNOWLEDGING WHAT TRAUMA
DOES AND GETTING OUR KIDS HELP FOR THEIR TRAUMA OR OTHER ISSUES
LIKE ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION AND OUR KIDS HAVE HAD MORE ANXIETY
OR DEPRESSION PARTLY BECAUSE KIDS ARE GLUED TO THEIR SMART
PHONES AND THAT INTERACTION WITH A SCREEN ALL THE TIME IS NOT A
CONNECTION TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. THEY’RE BEING JUDGED NOT BY
THEIR MIDDLE SCHOOL FRIENDS OR THEIR ENTIRE MATH WORLD AND
THEY’RE AFFECTED BY OTHERS OUTSIDE OF THE SCREEN.>>I THINK YOU MADE A POINT IN
YOUR RESEARCH AND TALKS BEFORE THAT WHEN YOU TALKED ABOUT THE
LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA, FOR EXAMPLE, MARIJUANA TODAY IS
DIFFERENT MARIJUANA WAS YEARS AND YEARS. IS IT MUCH MORE POTENT THESE
DAYS.>>THE MARIJUANA WE HAD UP UNTIL
THE EARLY 90s WAS ABOUT 3% THC WHICH IS THE PSYCHOACTIVE
CANNABINOID IN MARIJUANA AND TODAY GROWN IN THE PIONEER
VALLEY MOST MARIJUANA IS SITTING 17% AND 18% AND THEN IT GETS
MORE POTENT. IF YOU BUY A CANDY BAR WITH
MARIJUANA IT COULD BE 15 TO 20% THC. IT’S LIKE COMPARING TYLENOL TO
MORPHINE THEY’RE NOT THE SAME DRUG. SO THOSE WHO GETS ADDICTED TO
MARIJUANA IS HIGHER THAN WE’VE EVER SEEN. KIDS WILL SAY IT’S NOT
ADDICTIVE. THAT’S NOT TRUE.>>THERE ARE PARENTS WATCHING
THIS PROGRAM GOING TO WEST SPRINGFIELD ON THURSDAY WHO ARE
SAYING: WHEN SHY TALK TO MY YOUNG CHILDREN ABOUT THESE
ISSUES I TALKED ABOUT. HOW YOUNG IF THEY START WHEN
THEY TALK TO THEIR KIDS?>>YEP, SO HERE YOU AND I
ALREADY SAID THE AVERAGE AGE OF FIRST USE IS 12, 13, AND 14. THAT’S SEVENTH AND EIGHTH GRADE. SO REALLY YOU SHOULD BE HAVING
THE CONVERSATION IN FIFTH AND SIXTH GRADE. I MEAN, YOU WOULD HAVE A
CONVERSATION WITH A KIRNER ABOUT DRUGS AND HERE’S HOW THE
KINDERGARTEN WOULD GO. IF YOU EVER FOUND A PILL ON THE
GROUND, DON’T TOUCH IT. GET AN ADULT. COMMON DRUGS COULD KILL A
KIRNER. IT HAS TO BE AGE APPROPRIATE BUT
IN FIFTH AND SIXTH GRADE THAT’S WHEN OUR KIDS ARE EXPERIMENTING
WITH VAPING PRODUCTS SO HAVING A CONVERSATION THAT WE DON’T KNOW
WHAT’S IN THIS, LOW AND BEHOLD IT’S ACTUALLY HARMFUL YOU CAN
SUCCUMB TO PEER PRESSURE BUT YOU COULD BE THE KIND OF KID I DON’T
WANT TO DO THAT. I WANT TO PROTECT MY LUNGS AND
BRAIN.>>IS THERE THINGS A PARENT
SHOULD BE LOOKING OUT FOR WITH A YOUNG PERSON GETTING INTO AN
ADDICTION ISSUE.>>IT DEPENDS THE SUBSTANCE
WHICH WAY I WOULD SAY IS CLUES. VAPING IF WE’RE GOING TO TAKE
VAPING AT A YOUNG AGE RIGHT NOW, IT ALL HAS A VERY STRONG SMELL
TO IT. SO ONE OF THE AMAZING THINGS
THAT MASSACHUSETTS DID BOTH THE LEGISLATIVE BODIES AND GOVERNOR
BAKER, THEY HAVE SIGNED WHAT NO OTHER STATE HAS DONE WE HAVE
BANNED ALL FLAVORED VAPING AND HAVING SAID THAT THERE’S A
COMPUTER ON YOUR SMART PHONE YOU CAN ORDER ANYTHING ONLINE TO GET
SHIPPED TO AND IF YOU’RE WALKING IN AND IT’S ROUTINELY SMELLING
LIKE WATERMELON, BUBBLEGUM AND IT’S VERY INTENSE IT COULD BE IS
MY KID VAPING. IT COULD BE A CANAL BUT IT’S
CONCERNING WHEN THAT SMELL IS WHEREVER.>>EVERY EVERYWHERE.>>AND LAST LAST QUESTION ONE
PARENT SHOULD NEVER LOSE HOPE. THERE’S HOPE AND HELP FOR PEOPLE
OUT THERE WHO ARE ADDICTED.>>PEOPLE GET BETTER AND IT’S
NOT EASY AND IT DOESN’T HAPPEN THE FIRST TIME AND IT’S NEVER A
STRAIGHT PATH. IT’S A REALLY MESSY PATH. THESE DAYS OPIATES ARE KILLING
PEOPLE. IT’S A DEADLY DISEASE AND
STICKING BY YOUR KID AND HAVING HOPE IS ONE OF BEST THINGS YOU
CAN DO. IT IS DEVASTATING TO FAMILIES
AND IT’S NOT EASY TO LOVE SOMEONE WHO STRUGGLES THAT MUCH. THEY HAVE DONE HARM, THEY HAVE
DONE HARM TO YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM AND TO SOCIETY AND TO
THEMSELVES AS A PARENT MYSELF OF 3 KIDS IT’S A DEVASTATING THING
TO WATCH BUT DON’T LOSE HOPE BECAUSE PEOPLE GET BETTER. WITH TIME PEOPLE CAN HEAL.

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