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stephen_katz
#1 Posted : Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:15:00 a.m.(UTC)
stephen_katz

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http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1640436,00.html</a>

Thursday, Jul. 05, 2007
How We Get Addicted
By MICHAEL D. LEMONICK

I was driving up the Massachusetts Turnpike one evening last February when I knocked over a bottle of water. I grabbed for it, swerved inadvertently--and a few seconds later found myself blinking into the flashlight beam of a state trooper. "How much have you had to drink tonight, sir?" he demanded. Before I could help myself, I blurted out an answer that was surely a new one to him. "I haven't had a drink," I said indignantly, "since 1981."

It was both perfectly true and very pertinent to the trip I was making. By the time I reached my late 20s, I'd poured down as much alcohol as normal people consume in a lifetime and plenty of drugs--mostly pot--as well. I was, by any reasonable measure, an active alcoholic. Fortunately, with a lot of help, I was able to stop. And now I was on my way to McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., to have my brain scanned in a functional magnetic-resonance imager (fMRI). The idea was to see what the inside of my head looked like after more than a quarter-century on the wagon.

Back when I stopped drinking, such an experiment would have been unimaginable. At the time, the medical establishment had come to accept the idea that alcoholism was a disease rather than a moral failing; the American Medical Association (AMA) had said so in 1950. But while it had all the hallmarks of other diseases, including specific symptoms and a predictable course, leading to disability or even death, alcoholism was different. Its physical basis was a complete mystery--and since nobody forced alcoholics to drink, it was still seen, no matter what the AMA said, as somehow voluntary. Treatment consisted mostly of talk therapy, maybe some vitamins and usually a strong recommendation to join Alcoholics Anonymous. Although it's a totally nonprofessional organization, founded in 1935 by an ex-drunk and an active drinker, AA has managed to get millions of people off the bottle, using group support and a program of accumulated folk wisdom.

While AA is astonishingly effective for some people, it doesn't work for everyone; studies suggest it succeeds about 20% of the time, and other forms of treatment, including various types of behavioral therapy, do no better. The rate is much the same with drug addiction, which experts see as the same disorder triggered by a different chemical. "The sad part is that if you look at where addiction treatment was 10 years ago, it hasn't gotten much better," says Dr. Martin Paulus, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego. "You have a better chance to do well after many types of cancer than you have of recovering from methamphetamine dependence."

That could all be about to change. During those same 10 years, researchers have made extraordinary progress in understanding the physical basis of addiction. They know now, for example, that the 20% success rate can shoot up to 40% if treatment is ongoing (very much the AA model, which is most effective when members continue to attend meetings long after their last drink). Armed with an array of increasingly sophisticated technology, including fMRIs and PET scans, investigators have begun to figure out exactly what goes wrong in the brain of an addict--which neurotransmitting chemicals are out of balance and what regions of the brain are affected. They are developing a more detailed understanding of how deeply and completely addiction can affect the brain, by hijacking memory-making processes and by exploiting emotions. Using that knowledge, they've begun to design new drugs that are showing promise in cutting off the craving that drives an addict irresistibly toward relapse--the greatest risk facing even the most dedicated abstainer.

"Addictions," says Joseph Frascella, director of the division of clinical neuroscience at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), "are repetitive behaviors in the face of negative consequences, the desire to continue something you know is bad for you."

Addiction is such a harmful behavior, in fact, that evolution should have long ago weeded it out of the population: if it's hard to drive safely under the influence, imagine trying to run from a saber-toothed tiger or catch a squirrel for lunch. And yet, says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIDA and a pioneer in the use of imaging to understand addiction, "the use of drugs has been recorded since the beginning of civilization. Humans in my view will always want to experiment with things to make them feel good."

That's because drugs of abuse co-opt the very brain functions that allowed our distant ancestors to survive in a hostile world. Our minds are programmed to pay extra attention to what neurologists call salience--that is, special relevance. Threats, for example, are highly salient, which is why we instinctively try to get away from them. But so are food and sex because they help the individual and the species survive. Drugs of abuse capitalize on this ready-made programming. When exposed to drugs, our memory systems, reward circuits, decision-making skills and conditioning kick in--salience in overdrive--to create an all consuming pattern of uncontrollable craving. "Some people have a genetic predisposition to addiction," says Volkow. "But because it involves these basic brain functions, everyone will become an addict if sufficiently exposed to drugs or alcohol."

That can go for nonchemical addictions as well. Behaviors, from gambling to shopping to sex, may start out as habits but slide into addictions. Sometimes there might be a behavior-specific root of the problem. Volkow's research group, for example, has shown that pathologically obese people who are compulsive eaters exhibit hyperactivity in the areas of the brain that process food stimuli--including the mouth, lips and tongue. For them, activating these regions is like opening the floodgates to the pleasure center. Almost anything deeply enjoyable can turn into an addiction, though.

Of course, not everyone becomes an addict. That's because we have other, more analytical regions that can evaluate consequences and override mere pleasure seeking. Brain imaging is showing exactly how that happens. Paulus, for example, looked at methamphetamine addicts enrolled in a VA hospital's intensive four-week rehabilitation program. Those who were more likely to relapse in the first year after completing the program were also less able to complete tasks involving cognitive skills and less able to adjust to new rules quickly. This suggested that those patients might also be less adept at using analytical areas of the brain while performing decision-making tasks. Sure enough, brain scans showed that there were reduced levels of activation in the prefrontal cortex, where rational thought can override impulsive behavior. It's impossible to say if the drugs might have damaged these abilities in the relapsers--an effect rather than a cause of the chemical abuse--but the fact that the cognitive deficit existed in only some of the meth users suggests that there was something innate that was unique to them. To his surprise, Paulus found that 80% to 90% of the time, he could accurately predict who would relapse within a year simply by examining the scans.

Another area of focus for researchers involves the brain's reward system, powered largely by the neurotransmitter dopamine. Investigators are looking specifically at the family of dopamine receptors that populate nerve cells and bind to the compound. The hope is that if you can dampen the effect of the brain chemical that carries the pleasurable signal, you can loosen the drug's hold.

One particular group of dopamine receptors, for example, called D3, seems to multiply in the presence of cocaine, methamphetamine and nicotine, making it possible for more of the drug to enter and activate nerve cells. "Receptor density is thought to be an amplifier," says Frank Vocci, director of pharmacotherapies at NIDA. "[Chemically] blocking D3 interrupts an awful lot of the drugs' effects. It is probably the hottest target in modulating the reward system."

But just as there are two ways to stop a speeding car--by easing off the gas or hitting the brake pedal--there are two different possibilities for muting addiction. If dopamine receptors are the gas, the brain's own inhibitory systems act as the brakes. In addicts, this natural damping circuit, called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), appears to be faulty. Without a proper chemical check on excitatory messages set off by drugs, the brain never appreciates that it's been satiated.

As it turns out, vigabatrin, an antiepilepsy treatment that is marketed in 60 countries (but not yet in the U.S.), is an effective GABA booster. In epileptics, vigabatrin suppresses overactivated motor neurons that cause muscles to contract and go into spasm. Hoping that enhancing GABA in the brains of addicts could help them control their drug cravings, two biotech companies in the U.S., Ovation Pharmaceuticals and Catalyst Pharmaceuticals, are studying the drug's effect on methamphetamine and cocaine use. So far, in animals, vigabatrin prevents the breakdown of GABA so that more of the inhibitory compound can be stored in whole form in nerve cells. That way, more of it could be released when those cells are activated by a hit from a drug. Says Vocci, optimistically: "If it works, it will probably work on all addictions."

Another fundamental target for addiction treatments is the stress network. Animal studies have long shown that stress can increase the desire for drugs. In rats trained to self-administer a substance, stressors such as a new environment, an unfamiliar cage mate or a change in daily routine push the animals to depend on the substance even more.

Among higher creatures like us, stress can also alter the way the brain thinks, particularly the way it contemplates the consequences of actions. Recall the last time you found yourself in a stressful situation--when you were scared, nervous or threatened. Your brain tuned out everything besides whatever it was that was frightening you--the familiar fight-or-flight mode. "The part of the prefrontal cortex that is involved in deliberative cognition is shut down by stress," says Vocci. "It's supposed to be, but it's even more inhibited in substance abusers." A less responsive prefrontal cortex sets up addicts to be more impulsive as well.

Hormones--of the male-female kind--may play a role in how people become addicted as well. Studies have shown, for instance, that women may be more vulnerable to cravings for nicotine during the latter part of the menstrual cycle, when the egg emerges from the follicle and the hormones progesterone and estrogen are released. "The reward systems of the brain have different sensitivities at different points in the cycle," notes Volkow. "There is way greater craving during the later phase."

That led researchers to wonder about other biological differences in the way men and women become addicted and, significantly, respond to treatments. Alcohol dependence is one very promising area. For years, researchers had documented the way female alcoholics tend to progress more rapidly to alcoholism than men. This telescoping effect, they now know, has a lot to do with the way women metabolize alcohol. Females are endowed with less alcohol dehydrogenase--the first enzyme in the stomach lining that starts to break down the ethanol in liquor--and less total body water than men. Together with estrogen, these factors have a net concentrating effect on the alcohol in the blood, giving women a more intense hit with each drink. The pleasure from that extreme high may be enough for some women to feel satisfied and therefore drink less. For others, the intense intoxication is so enjoyable that they try to duplicate the experience over and over.

But it's the brain, not the gut, that continues to get most of the attention, and one of the biggest reasons is technology. It was in 1985 that Volkow first began using PET scans to record trademark characteristics in the brains and nerve cells of chronic drug abusers, including blood flow, dopamine levels and glucose metabolism--a measure of how much energy is being used and where (and therefore a stand-in for figuring out which cells are at work). After the subjects had been abstinent a year, Volkow rescanned their brains and found that they had begun to return to their predrug state. Good news, certainly, but only as far as it goes.

"The changes induced by addiction do not just involve one system," says Volkow. "There are some areas in which the changes persist even after two years." One area of delayed rebound involves learning. Somehow in methamphetamine abusers, the ability to learn some new things remained affected after 14 months of abstinence. "Does treatment push the brain back to normal," asks NIDA's Frascella, "or does it push it back in different ways?"

If the kind of damage that lingers in an addict's learning abilities also hangs on in behavioral areas, this could explain why rehabilitation programs that rely on cognitive therapy--teaching new ways to think about the need for a substance and the consequences of using it--may not always be effective, especially in the first weeks and months after getting clean. "Therapy is a learning process," notes Vocci. "We are trying to get [addicts] to change cognition and behavior at a time when they are least able to do so."

One important discovery: evidence is building to support the 90-day rehabilitation model, which was stumbled upon by AA (new members are advised to attend a meeting a day for the first 90 days) and is the duration of a typical stint in a drug-treatment program. It turns out that this is just about how long it takes for the brain to reset itself and shake off the immediate influence of a drug. Researchers at Yale University have documented what they call the sleeper effect--a gradual re-engaging of proper decision making and analytical functions in the brain's prefrontal cortex--after an addict has abstained for at least 90 days.

This work has led to research on cognitive enhancers, or compounds that may amplify connections in the prefrontal cortex to speed up the natural reversal. Such enhancement would give the higher regions of the brain a fighting chance against the amygdala, a more basal region that plays a role in priming the dopamine-reward system when certain cues suggest imminent pleasure--anything from the sight of white powder that looks like cocaine to spending time with friends you used to drink with. It's that conditioned reflex--identical to the one that caused Ivan Pavlov's famed dog to salivate at the ringing of a bell after it learned to associate the sound with food--that unleashes a craving. And it's that phenomenon that was the purpose of my brain scans at McLean, one of the world's premier centers for addiction research.

In my heyday, I would often drink even when I knew it was a terrible idea--and the urge was hardest to resist when I was with my drinking buddies, hearing the clink of glasses and bottles, seeing others imbibe and smelling the aroma of wine or beer. The researchers at McLean have invented a machine that wafts such odors directly into the nostrils of a subject undergoing an fMRI scan in order to see how the brain reacts. The reward circuitry in the brain of a newly recovering alcoholic should light up like a Christmas tree when stimulated by one of these alluring smells.

I chose dark beer, my absolute favorite, from their impressive stock. But I haven't gotten high for more than a quarter-century; it was an open question whether I would react that way. So after an interview with a staff psychiatrist to make sure I would be able to handle it if I experienced a craving, I was fitted with a tube that carried beer aroma from a vaporizer into my nose. I was then slid into the machine to inhale that still familiar odor while the fMRI did its work.

Even if the smells triggered a strong desire to drink, I had long since learned ways to talk myself out of it--or find someone to help me do so. Like the 90-day drying-out period that turns out to parallel the brain's recovery cycle, such a strategy is in line with other new theories of addiction. Scientists say extinguishing urges is not a matter of getting the feelings to fade but of helping the addict learn a new form of conditioning, one that allows the brain's cognitive power to shout down the amygdala and other lower regions. "What has to happen for that cue to extinguish is not for the amygdala to become weaker but for the frontal cortex to become stronger," says Vocci.

While such relearning has not been studied formally in humans, Vocci believes it will work, on the basis of studies involving, of all things, phobias. It turns out that phobias and drugs exploit the same struggle between high and low circuits in the brain. People placed in a virtual-reality glass elevator and treated with the antibiotic D-cycloserine were better able to overcome their fear of heights than those without benefit of the drug. Says Vocci: "I never thought we would have drugs that affect cognition in such a specific way."

Such surprises have even allowed experts to speculate whether addiction can ever be cured. That notion goes firmly against current beliefs. A rehabilitated addict is always in recovery because cured suggests that resuming drinking or smoking or shooting up is a safe possibility--whose downside could be devastating. But there are hints that a cure might not in principle be impossible. A recent study showed that tobacco smokers who suffered a stroke that damaged the insula (a region of the brain involved in emotional, gut-instinct perceptions) no longer felt a desire for nicotine.

That's exciting, but because the insula is so critical to other brain functions--perceiving danger, anticipating threats--damaging this area isn't something you would ever want to do intentionally. With so many of the brain's systems entangled with one another, it could prove impossible to adjust just one without throwing the others into imbalance.

Nevertheless, says Volkow, "addiction is a medical condition. We have to recognize that medications can reverse the pathology of the disease. We have to force ourselves to think about a cure because if we don't, it will never happen." Still, she is quick to admit that just contemplating new ideas doesn't make them so. The brain functions that addiction commandeers may simply be so complex that sufferers, as 12-step recovery programs have emphasized for decades, never lose their vulnerability to their drug of choice, no matter how healthy their brains might eventually look.

I'm probably a case in point. My brain barely lit up in response to the smell of beer inside the fMRI at McLean. "This is actually valuable information for you as an individual," said Scott Lukas, director of the hospital's behavioral psychopharmacology research laboratory and a professor at Harvard Medical School who ran the tests. "It means that your brain's sensitivity to beer cues has long passed."

That's in keeping with my real-world experience; if someone has a beer at dinner, I don't feel a compulsion to leap across the table and grab it or even to order one for myself. Does that mean I'm cured? Maybe. But it may also mean simply that it would take a much stronger trigger for me to fall prey to addiction again--like, for example, downing a glass of beer. But the last thing I intend to do is put it to the test. I've seen too many others try it--with horrifying results. [This article contains a complex diagram. Please see hardcopy or pdf.]

With reporting by Alice Park

Find this article at: <a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0%2C9171%2C1640436%2C00.html" target="_blank">http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1640436,00.html
glorp
#2 Posted : Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:15:00 a.m.(UTC)
glorp

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It's interesting. Off the cuff, to me it doesn't seem the same: that the neocortical meltdown you get mainlining methamphetamine is the precise neurological picture you get when you become a slot-monkey.

It seems reasonable that every action, behaviour, thought, perception, shift in consiousness at whatever level, is accompanied by some sort of neural repositioning, molecular shift "etc." I would think that habitual behaviors would create less damaging effects then pouring agonist chemicals into the body.

i also think that the major drug concerns are contemporary industrial "pushers" and that the stuff they promote is every bit as addictive as opiates and in many ways more harmful.

opiates, specifically, it's my understanding, "mummify" cortical function but don't annihilate it permanently the way meth and coke, and massive alalgesic class drugs do.

so, a recovering opiate addict, can largely restore suppressed neocortical function. But the vote just isn't in on the long term effects of the reuptake inhibitors and stimulators. The science is barbaric on those fine points. And this does nothing to inhibit the FDA from making its trillions pouring this stuff down the throat of a quarter of the earth's stupified population.

I still ask, "were we really born without prozac glands?" Is this yet another of god's oversights? has man yet again improved on genetic architecture?

Or is it that millions of people are depressed and miserable because they damn well should be considering the insane stresses and utterly denatured and grotesque shape of the culture they have built and are too stupid and cowardly to radically change and reform along lines that in some way correspond to the actual psychic structure of the organism?

from what i've read, gambling started big time thousands of years ago in china, where it was considered a habit of princes' or a mark of bad character in people who could not afford it.
granted, in the high impact industrial programming environments in which we exist today we are more likely to react in progromatic ways that can be designated as "addictive" and "treated" as such, so simple human lexicons are considered naive and issues are easier to confuse and exploit.

these days the DSM calls it an addiction and once so enetered in that bible trillions in medical fees can legally be generated.

The substance and the addiction. the yin and yang.
And all subsumed and absorbed into the grand cycles of industrialization. The addiction industry. The criminal industry. Every impulse has some industry to claim it and price it out.

screw all this. if you keep gambling you lose money. if that's ok with you then the gambling industry opens its arms. if you feel like avoiding that misery just give it up and take up knitting or bowling. life's just tough that way.
ostrich
#3 Posted : Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:15:00 a.m.(UTC)
ostrich

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Hey Glorp
Very interesting reading thanks for that.
My husband's gambling started when his dosage of drugs was upped ( he has Parkinson's) the drug he was on is one that stimulates the Dopamine receptors in the brain. (as per the article)
His gambling and urge to gamble has gone since his specialist deleted that medication. He was put on this drug gradually and taken off it gradually and his level of participation and urges was directly related to the amount of the drug in his system.
He feels no urge to gamble now and cannot even imagine what 'reward' made him gamble.
Having said that he is still terrified that it has opened up a weakness in him that could rear its head again so is vigilant about making sure the triggers for him are minimised.
His specialist had read up on the connections between this drug and gambling so was very supportive to us and my husband has given him written permission to give case notes or to give contact details to anyone who is doing research on the connection as he documented doseage change and effect.
Quite a few people (medical included)have been sceptical about the connection to the drugs but the change it created in him wasn't just about the gambling but included other behavioural patterns which also disapeared when the drug doseage was phased out.
So our journey through gambling has been a little different to others and his recovery aided but gambling cost us a lot of money and heartache and there is no way we want to repeat those years.
I also lie awake at night and worry about people who are put on these drugs with out being aware that they are the cause and also that if these drugs can create the problem then surely they are part of the solution as well. If the dopamine receptors can be stimulated then why can't they be muted or dulled?
Part of the issue is because gambling is the silent addiction that is kept hidden. No one really knows the extent that it is out there in our communities as everyone is ashamed of the perceived weakness they have.
There is so much money at stake in gambling and much of it comes from addicted gamblers, it would be amazing if they produced a medication that could stop it.
What would that do to the vaious economies?
glorp
#4 Posted : Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:15:00 a.m.(UTC)
glorp

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i think we, most of us have the "cure" at hand. You reach down into yourself and change. i was reading recently about Bobby Sands and the IRA guys several years ago...the hunger strikers who died in prison for their convictions.

i believe in the often untapped power of soul and spirit and mind and heart. i don't look for answers in bottles or religious abstractions or with experts unless its like an extreme medical thing or something utterly beyond my knowing or feeling.

in some ways i'm weak and some ways very strong. never have so many people been so stupefied on this planet. tv, media, internet, experts and carnie operators, hoaxers, cranks, and quacks abound.

i sidestep and withdraw and fly over all the jolly
bull****. i have more contempt for a lot of health pros then i do for the gambling industry, which isnt shrouded in false morality or claiming special expertise in anything except giving you a place to play with risk and fate.

there's really not that much to say about gambling. for the majority of us, and for all the compulsive ones, its a very stupid idea. once you know that, at least for me, i don't neeed to test it anymore. i believe i believe.

if i wanted to gamble there is no pill that would stop me except one that killed me and i dont need any f***** expert to help me on this. i went from a to z right away because i knew that after all the kings horses and men had therapied me to neverneverland, it was still up to me anyway.

screw the doctors. screw the pills and the bills. screw the gambling industry. screw the experts. i'm doing what i want to do with a clear mind, i guess it's cleat enough...no one's gonna bill me to do what i can do by myself with a some sense and consistency.

i think of the really amazing thing people do and stopping gambling is just trivial....serious business enough....but just not that big a deal.

the way to do it is just not do it.
the_great_one
#5 Posted : Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:15:00 a.m.(UTC)
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Dear Glop--Strong words, that obviously mean a lot to you, and your right the only person who change me is me, no one else can do that.

Lets not forget that we are all different and some of us might need pills or some one to talk too, to help change certain behaviors, lets not under play that.

Your last comment "the way to do it is just not to do it” is so true.

My early days of recovery back the early 90's were really tough for me and with out the Gambling Helpline having someone to talk to daily at times, who knows if I would be where I am today. But the bottom line is like you say; you just have to do it.

Thanks for your interesting share today.
Take Care

The Great One
glorp
#6 Posted : Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:15:00 a.m.(UTC)
glorp

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I don't devalue the help i get from these forums at all. amazingly enough they have been a mainstay of support. i always check out what people are saying and see myself reflected in some way in most all the messages. i get a lot out of this.

and if i hadn't put myself through so much **** i might not have been ready to give it up. it's always the same message with me. apparently i just could not keep losing at gambling anymore. i just couldn't take it anymore. when i hit that point it wasn't like a revelation...it was more like exhaustion.

that part of my personality just accepted the facts as they applied to me and i knew i didn't need any other crutch then my own experience.

i've said it may times here. what do you do when you've been straight awhile and the urge hits..and there's no one around to shore you up and its 3 am and your out of pills and the shrink is on vacation etc?

you (i) just know you are alone with yourself and you're a grown up and it's time to give yourself the good council you would expect from a very trusted friend. so i have learned to build in and keep my own good council.

It's not perfect. i'll always be at some risk. so i type something or look at what others are saying and keep the brakes on. so i don't mean to say i'm
totally alone, just that i'm the one in the driver's seat. tonight i miss playing. it wasn't all misery. of course there were laughs and good times and sometimes a bunch of money.

i just know for sure that i won't be gambling tonight and it's another day i spent, off from my job, that i could've gambled but i didn't. I don't tell myself i never will again. i hope not and also more important i INTEND not. i know that as similar as we are the final decision is utterly up to the individual at the crisis moment. you just take a deep breath, blow it off...and move on.

(Message edited by glorp on July 19, 2007)
the_great_one
#7 Posted : Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:15:00 a.m.(UTC)
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Dear Glorp--Thanks for a good share today.

The key to any change is wanting to do it, no one else can do it for us.

I'm sure you would agree a list of safe and achievable alternatives is the key to recovery, when and if one is ready to make any life style changes.

Take Care

The Great One
glorp
#8 Posted : Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:15:00 a.m.(UTC)
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i definately agree to that. Did you see that movie 'Owning Mahony', the true tale of the gambler with the runaway addiction that embezzled and lost ten million in a year? Movie opens in the shrink's office after his run is all over and "mahony" is being asked on a scale of 100, if gambling is 100, what number would you asign to the next most exciting thing in your life? And with an ironic smile he sighs and says 20.

really interesting movie with phillip seymore hoffman in the lead role.

thats been a big question for me...what replaces the 'action', which for me ended up being the hook, since i definately don't think it was the pleasure of losing money.

that's the thing, sometimes the direct nervous system stimulants, drugs, high risk behavior, the pleasure mainline stuff...operates on a different scale then the pleasures of 'satisfaction.' so it's a challenge. i guess one has to find a way back to the things they admired before the addiction started, or look there for a clue, and always keep your eyes open, keep a few fresh brain cells apart from the jaded ones.

i read a lot more now, which was something i did a lot of before i discovered addictions. and i just got a new and better job recently, which sometimes i actually enjoy...i like the people around me for the most part and the work directly helps people, thereby improving my 'karma' oh maybe 10% or so.

tnigt at a restaurant i ran into the person who started me playing poker almost a decade and a half ago. Now he owns that restaurant and he started there as a waiter. He still plays tournaments, he says, and i didn't press him for details, but he "indicated" he's doing well with cards, which as a gentleman, at least during that conversation, i let pass without further scrutiny....

i guess more people then ever are gambling...a pandemic like bubonic plague, and i guess the vast majority of them will sicken of it later rather then sooner, but by that time they'll have satisfied an awful lot of rakes...

me, back home, i'm sitting here eating a plate of salt and pepper shrimp from my favorite Chinese place, and i dropped off some short stories I did with a friend whose opinion i want before i let them out of the box

i got a little money, i got a good job (for now)
i got my life under more control then it's been in years, and i'm just not inclined to start dismantling it again by playing a game that sends me out of control and detaches me from sound reason.

i don't have specific ideas on 'replacement' alternatives. they are vital to self maintainance and abstinance and i'm still checking things out.
reading and writing has interest for me.

i think i'd say that a person should add something that actively engages them, stay open to the possibility of meeting a person to zing you into some interesting orbit, not a passive thing like movies, or something like bicycling, (I like fast glides), or something mentally stimulating.....wake up the brain a little bit. Meanwhile, for a little while every day, or whatever your cycle is, do something for yourself or somebody else that's a good thing, a little 'karma oasis', however messy the rest of your life is, and make it non-electronic, non-cyber, old school hands on
....
later, g



(Message edited by glorp on July 20, 2007)
sandy
#9 Posted : Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:15:00 a.m.(UTC)
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Could someone please tell me if this gets any easier?I'm trying really hard to keep my money but everyday I have an inner battle to stay away from the dam machines.I have this awful void in my life which I can't explain considering I have lost everything through gambling.Nothing seems to replace the opportunity of killing time.
Pattih I am struggling to give up alcohol at the same time as i seem to have nothing in my life to look foward to.I know this probably doesn't make sense and I've lost count of my gamble free days but the drudgery of every day life is really getting me down.
smileyface
#10 Posted : Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:15:00 a.m.(UTC)
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Wow, I can feel the desperation in your brief but poignant post. I can tell you it does eventually get easier, however I am not sure if that will be enough to lighten the load you must be feeling right now.

Instead of heading to the poker machine, go and buy yourself a treat, like a nice bottle of perfume, a shirt you might have eyed up or even treat yourself to a spa or something. You may think to yourself “I can’t afford to do that” but I think we have to remind ourselves of the good stuff we can do with our money, and get used to wanting and expecting more out of it and that we are people who are worth spoiling once in a while. In my opinion, if I spent all my time energy and effort being regimented and un rewarding with my money and not treat myself to some luxuries, I do not think I would have got through it. I wanted to live life, not just live it. I don’t know if telling people to treat themselves instead of gambling is good advice, but it certainly made me feel a lot better than the blackness I felt when I spent it gambling. To me, regardless of how much money we have spent gambling, what we have done to people we care about and the deceitful things we have done in the past we always deserve a crack at a new start.

I have posted on another thread of some of the things I did to manage my gambling, but it was something that worked for me and I understand for most people it would be nearly impossible to do.

If nothing else keep smiling :-)
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