Thursday, December 01, 2005

Recommended reading: M. Simon

Power and Control is the evocative name of a blog I read, M. Simon, blogmaster. He's another guy in his sixties who has an avocational dedication to the subject of drug use as related to PTSD. He comes by his positions with a long, focused and disinterested look at the issues. This most recent post is a good summary of his work.

Is addiction real? A very interesting question.

I think there is an answer to that question. Obviously I think the answer is not in the affirmative. Why? Well there in lies a tale.

For me it started with Dr. Lonnie Shavelson. In July of 2001 I read a review of his book "Hooked" and learned some things. One of the things I learned was that in his sample of female heroin users 70% were sexually molested before they started heroin use. He also found that male heroin users were 25 to 50 times more likely to have been sexually abused than the general population. I wrote an article on the subject.
Heroin. What I suggested in that article was that a large number of heroin users were taking the drug for relief from severe PTSD.

The next piece of the puzzle came to me in November of 2002 when I read
this report done on the CB1 receptor in mice. A cannabinoid receptor also found in human brains. The report showed that fear memories which seem to be mediated by the CB1 receptors decay at different rates depending on genetics. I wrote this review of that report: Addiction or Self Medication? What I figured out from the report is that the reason drugs are addictive (long term use) for some and not others was based on
genetics. A very big key to the puzzle of addiction. In the past the fact that some get addicted and others do not was ascribed to the "addictive personality". Now no one could tell you what an addictive personality was. It couldn't be defined. So in fact it was mumbo jumbo. I now had another piece of the puzzle. However twin studies showed that genetics only accounted for 50% of the cause for addiction. What was the other 50%? Pretty obvious from Dr. Shavelson's report. Trauma.

Not everyone will admit that they are interested in this subject. But whenever I get to know anyone personally and share with them that we have a family member with a severe substance abuse issue, they all -- and I mean ALL -- relate, because they also have a family member with a similar problem. This is a subject that crosses all social and economic lines but remains in the closet because of social stigma attached to talking about it openly.

Mr. Simon has done his homework. He has important contributions to make to what passes for a public debate shrouded by political positioning and individual denial.

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