March 8


Drugs are used to cure a pain
To save the body’s gain
But when abused, its disdain

No hope in dope, they say
As it gives dismay
When misused in any way

But When troubled behold brain
With Sleepless Pain
There is hope in dope they claim.

To users, I gently say
Take it the proper way
And not excessive display

Melvin Banggollay

“THE ADDICTION PROCESS… Whether it is manifested in the lethal substance dependencies; the frantic self-soothing of overeaters or shopaholics; the obsessions of gamblers, sexaholics, and compulsive Internet users; or the socially acceptable and even admired behaviors of the workaholic.”- Gabot Mate

“BUT CERTAINLY FOR THE PRESENT AGE, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence …illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of Sacredness- Feuerbach

ARE WE BORN TO BE ADDICTS? Can our genetic makeup make us susceptible to Addiction? According to World Drug Report 2019, 35 million people worldwide suffer from drug Use Disorders (excluding Behavior Addictions) while only 1 in 7 people receive Treatment. The Society for Public Health 2017 linked Social Media Use with Depression, Anxiety, and Addiction. 3 main parts of the Brain are involved in processing reward: the nucleus accumbens, the prefrontal cortex, and the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA). Activities in the VTA are associated with reward prediction errors. When neurons in the VTA fire they release a chemical called dopamine, the addiction molecule. I suspect most of us know a loved one, friend, or colleague that suffers from addiction. It appears that addiction touches most of our Lives directly or indirectly. Let’s imagine a wildfire spreading across our Community for a minute!

I wasn’t feeling great today, as am researching and writing, sunshine beaming through the lattice of my study reminded me of the beginning of the spring season with the longer days! With meditation and my coffee, I was able to complete my important priorities including my Coaching sessions and Mastermind group. I wonder why like an anthropologist trying to figure out the cause and effect. Wondered, did I expose myself to supernormal stimuli today? Staring at my “Wellness Edge Protocol” and journaling, it was obvious I missed my morning run (endorphins) because of my busy schedule! Later in the evening, I sat down to watch some Television with my family as a break from the long day. Let me warn you what you will be reading could be obsequious to some but the reality is that we can’t hide away from the menace that has eaten like a cankerworm into the deep fabric of our society. Minutes later images of epidemics of fentanyl flashed across the TV. Fentanyl and its analogs remain the key problem of the synthetic opioid in North America but West and Central and North Africa are experiencing a crisis of another synthetic opioid, Tramadol. More than 500 people die every hour as a result of addiction-related disease or an overdose, and addiction is estimated to cost the United States more than 600 Billion Dollars every year in Health care costs, lost productivity, and Crime. Entwined in the narrative are vulnerable teenagers struggling with Stress and Mental Health Issues and consequently self-medicating. Enthralled to hear that commonly prescribed drugs by doctors appear to have been spiced by fentanyl by drug traffickers and inevitable accidental overdose among vulnerable teenagers in North America, particularly the United States. “Jesus Christ! I was rebounded into another level of consciousness by a news feed from my smartphone with similar issues”. I switched off my phone to avoid another supernormal stimulus. My two children turn to me and asked are we all born to be addicts? Like most parents, I am always in denial that my children won’t dabble in drugs. And as such avoid difficult conversations however an opportunity to “prepare the child for the road ahead rather than road for the child”.

What is a drug they both asked at the same time as if they could read my mind. Trying to avoid medical jargon, I said that a drug is typically considered to be a substance other than food that changes our biological functioning when it’s introduced into the body from the outside. I paused and added that Cocaine, heroin, and Marijuana are examples of recreational drugs. They asked if Coffee is a drug, and I said No, in my defense as a coffee drinker, I said caffeine is the most used psychoactive drug but it is legal and available in coffee and other caffeinated drinks I admitted that I tried my best to keep to 200-400 milligrams Caffeine per day. As you probably know the terms Addiction and Substance Misuse Disorder are used interchangeably in scientific works of literature however I will be using Addiction for this blog. Addiction is characterized by Abuse, Dependence, and Craving. Why do some people get addicted while others don’t? Many studies have shown that certain people are innately more susceptible to addiction than others. of note, it’s important that because someone is genetically susceptible to addiction, doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she will become an addict (Nature versus nurture). Genetics could be a complicated topic for Scientists, right? This reminds me of the story of Dr. Friedrich Miescher, a near-deaf Swiss doctor. He published a description of the curious substances in a scientific journal many years ago. Critics described the paper as dry and verbose and quickly provoked more scorn than praise. The narrative only changed in 1944, thanks to Dr. Osward Avery, a retired Canadian Bacteriologist. Similarly, the exact mechanism of how drugs affect the addict’s brain is still being worked out and the cure remains a mystery! However, we know a lot now due to advances in the science of addiction. Psycho-stimulant drugs stimulate the nervous system and that stimulation has positive effects including it reduces fatigue, increasing alertness, and producing feelings of excitement and euphoria. All Psycho stimulants directly increase dopamine levels in the Brain. Dopamine plays a central role in Craving and Addiction.

SOME OF US HAVE LEARNED from our biology class about Classical Conditioning in the famous experiment Ivan Pavlov’s Recently learned that he was a physiologist and not a psychologist! Pavlov observed that the dogs were salivating as soon as he or his assistant entered the room, even though the dogs couldn’t see or smell any food yet. Out of curiosity, he experimented with ringing a bell before the food was presented. The first time he rang the bell, the dog didn’t salivate. But if he consistently rang the bell before the food was presented, then dogs would salivate even wasn’t any food present. A phenomenon called classical conditioning. Could there be more to Classical Conditioning that was not obvious to Pavlov? Let me tell you about prediction error is that if you can already predict that food is coming, then there’s no real reason to change. You already know what you need to know, so there’s no reason to change. You already know what you need to know, so there’s no opportunity to learn something new. Conversely, if the food shows up when you weren’t predicting it, in other words, if you made a prediction error then that’s a situation where you want to learn so that you can make better predictions in the future. The prediction error learning over time, called temporal difference learning has now been used by countless artificial intelligence systems to learn a wide variety of complex behaviors.

Is there a practical solution to our Supernormal Stimuli Society or the Society of Spectacle? In her book Supernormal Stimuli, Harvard Evolutionary Psychologist Deirdre Barrett adroitly demonstrates how supernormal stimuli are a driving force in many of today’s most pressing problems including obesity, our addiction to television and video games, and the past century‘s extraordinarily violent wars. I usually tell my two children “Prevention is better than Cure” when am setting healthy boundaries with the use of screens and computers. Scientific studies of Video gaming are still in their infancy however there is a consensus that modern video gaming can lead to compulsive use in some individuals. The inevitable question is how can we mitigate the Supernormal Stimuli? I will leave this to your imagination however you can find out in my next LinkedIn Newsletter if you are a subscriber! However, it’s imperative to provide the right environment for our children to be able to develop Healthy Brains, adapt and develop Social Skills. The findings of the Researchers on Romanian orphans are always fascinating to read with profound implications if the brains of our children didn’t develop normally.

Could Stress Management Techniques including Meditation or Prayer reduce the Burden of Addiction in our Society?

According to the Anatomy of Addiction, Akikur Mohammed MD outlined the
Effective Evidence-Based Treatment of addiction (The Treatments are not exhaustive. Please consider seeking professional help if you or someone you know is suffering from addiction!)

  1. Biomedical, which focuses on improved detoxification regimens, followed by the use of medicines to reduce cravings and manage addictions over a lifetime and when appropriate, the application of psychiatric medications.
  2. Psychological, which includes addiction counseling, cognitive behavioral treatment psychotherapy, aversion therapy, and behavioral self-control training.
  3. Socio-cultural which uses the community reinforcement approach, family therapy, therapeutic communities, vocational rehabilitation, various motivational techniques, culturally specific interventions, and contingency management.

According World Drug Report, Prevention, and Treatment continue to fall short in many parts of the world, with only one in seven people with drug use disorder receiving treatment each year. Please Consider seeking professional help if you or someone you know is suffering from addiction!

“ CANTERBURY`: Which is a wonder how his grace should glean it,
Since his addiction was to courses in vain,
His companies’ unletter’d, rude and shallow,
His hours fill’d up with riots, banquets, sports,
And never noted in him any study,
Any retirement, any sequestration
From open taunts of popularity”- Henry V, Act I, scene I

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Addiction, Classical Conditioning, Drugs, Stress Management, Supernormal Stimuli

About the Author

Niran (Larinde) Ojomo is a Trusted Advisor, COACH, Speaker and Trainer certified with the Maxwell Leadership Team. He is the founder of Forward-Thinking Generation Next, a forward-thinking organization that challenges individuals and organizations to re-invent themselves, anticipate and adapt to the future and be culturally relevant in an increasingly complex globalized world.

Niran Ojomo

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