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Family History and Addiction Risk: What You Need to Know to Beat the Odds



You grew up in a family of substance users. You know that your risk for developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol is greater because of this hereditary factor. But what exactly are your risks? And is there anything you can do to reduce your risk?

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the single most reliable indicator for risk of future alcohol or drug dependence is family history. In an article written for NCADD, Robert Morse, MD, former Director of Addictive Disorders Services at the Mayo Clinic and member of NCADD’s Medical/Scientific Committee, says, “Research has shown conclusively that family history of alcoholism or drug addiction is in part genetic and not just the result of the family environment…millions of Americans are living proof. Plain and simple, alcoholism and drug dependence run in families.”

How Family History Affects your Chances for Addiction

Family history affects your chances of addiction in many ways. Genes are one important factor. But alcoholism and drug addiction are “genetically complex.”

Recent research has identified numerous genes, and variations within these genes, that are 005associated with the addictive process. One way genes affect a person’s risk for addiction involves how genes metabolize alcohol. Another is how nerve cells signal one another and regulate their activity. Such changes in genes can be passed down from one generation to another.

Perhaps the strongest evidence for heredity’s role in addiction comes from twin studies and adoption studies. Studies of twins found a 60% rate of similarity regarding addiction in identical twins vs. a 39% rate of similarity in fraternal twins. Studies of children adopted in infancy and studied for addiction risk in adulthood found that biological sons of alcoholics were four times more likely to become alcoholics, even when the adoptive parent had no issues with addiction, so the l factor of family environment was minimal.

But genetic predispositions are not the only factor in predicting the role of family history in addiction risk. Environmental aspects also play a role, even though they may be less significant in some cases.

Researchers have identified several family-related risks for increased vulnerability:

  • Family dysfunction (conflicts or aggression)
  • A parent who is depressed or has other psychological issues
  • One or more parents who abuses or is addicted to drugs or alcohol

Additional social and personal issues that contribute to risk include:

  • Limited social skills
  • Fragile self-esteem
  • Minimal or no support system
  • Personal history of impulsivity, aggression or difficulty managing emotions
  • A history of trauma or abuse (high risk for post traumatic stress)
  • Other psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety or bi-polar disorder
  • Friends or acquaintances who are regular users and who provide easy access to drugs or alcohol

Addressing and Reducing Risks

An alternative viewpoint regarding a family history link for addiction comes from a National Institute of Health (NIH) meta-study of 65 published papers documenting 766 study participants who were college or university students. Controlling for alcohol consumption and use disorders, family history was reviewed as the variable. The meta-study found that students who had family histories of alcohol or drug problems did not drink more but they were likely to be more at risk for problems that are associated with drug or alcohol use (ex: causing shame or embarrassment to someone; passing out or fainting; or having problems with school).

The bottom line is that there are still a lot of uncertainties when it comes to assessing drug and alcohol risks as they relate to family history. The good news is that even if you come from a family with a troubled history, or a history of addictions, that does not mean you will automatically become an addict. The risk is higher, but there are ways to prevent that from happening. You can choose to be proactive and greatly reduce your addiction risk.

Here are a few suggestions to reduce your addiction risk:

  • Avoid under-age drinking or substance use; early-onset of use increases risk
  • Choose abstinence or carefully monitor your consumption
  • Avoid associating with heavy drinkers or substance users
  • Manage your psychological health; seek assistance from a mental health provider if you are highly stressed, anxious or depressed
  • Participate in workplace or school prevention programs

Intervention Strategies

Should you already find yourself dealing with an alcohol or drug issue, here are some intervention strategies provided by the National Institute of Health, in their publication, Alcohol Alert:

  • Motivational Interview: This strategy focuses on enhancing your motivation and commitment to changing your behavior, if you are currently abusing drugs or alcohol. Typically you would work with an addictions counselor or mental health professional and discuss your beliefs, choices and behaviors associated with substance use. The purpose of the interview is to help you develop a realistic view of your use, problems associated with it and your treatment goals and expectations.
  • Cognitive–Behavioral Interventions: These strategies are taught by a counselor or therapist, or they can sometimes can be accessed via an online self-help program. They help you change your behavior by helping you recognize when and why you drink excessively or use illegal substances. Cognitive-behavioral approaches challenge irrational expectations about substance use and raise your awareness of how drugs or alcohol affect your health and well-being. They provide tools for mentally and emotionally addressing denial, resistance, self-criticism and shame.
  • Drug-Free Workplace programs: Many workplaces now help their employees who are abusing alcohol or drugs. Lifestyle campaigns encourage workers to ease stress, improve nutrition and exercise, and reduce risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, or drug use. Other programs promote social support and volunteerism. Many Employee Assistance Programs offer employees referrals to substance abuse or other treatment programs, and may help pay for treatment.

Remember, the risk for alcohol and drug addiction does run in families. But you can manage the risk and avoid an addiction problem in your own life. Be proactive in monitoring your substance use, manage your mental and emotional health and seek support if you need it. The final outcome will depend on you and the choices you make today, not on your history.
Complete Article HERE!

Homophobia linked with psychoticism and dysfunctional personality traits


Gay pride london

People taking part in the annual Pride in London Parade on 27 June

Homophobic attitudes have been linked with psychoticism, a psychological trait present in several severe conditions that can also contribute to heightened states of hostility and anger. Researchers say this is the first time psychological and psychopathological characteristics and the prediction of homophobia have been assessed.

Led by researchers at the University of L’Aquila in Italy, the team asked 551 university students, aged between 15 and 30, to complete several psychometric tests to examine the psychological factors that could correlate with homophobia. Using questionnaires, they assessed homophobia levels, psychopathological symptoms, defence mechanisms and attachment styles.

“Homophobic behaviour and a negative attitude toward homosexuals are prevalent among the population,” they wrote in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. “Despite this, few researchers have investigated the psychologic aspects associated with homophobia, as psychopathologic symptoms, the defensive system, and attachment styles.”

Researchers found that people who scored highly on the psychoticism tests were more likely to have homophobic attitudes. This was also true of those who have immature defence mechanisms – which are the coping techniques helping people reduce anxiety produced by threatening people or uncomfortable situations. People who have immature defence mechanisms tend to be difficult to deal with. Finally people who have a fearful style of attachment, in that they find it difficult to form attachments, were also more predisposed to homophobic attitudes.

In contrast, the findings showed people with depression, neurotic defence mechanisms and a secure style of attachment had a lower risk of being homophobic. “If we suppose that subjects with a high level of psychoticism perceive external reality as a threat and project their anger, for example, against homosexual people, people with depressive traits could direct the anger mainly at themselves,” they suggest.

Concluding, the team say homophobia is a huge social problem involving specific personality features in subjects. They said the findings highlight a “remarkable association between dysfunctional aspects of personality and homophobic attitudes” and that this association could lead to victims of homophobia. “Moreover, our study follows a controversial issue regarding homophobia as a possible mental disorder, and it also discusses the possible clinical implications that cross inevitably into the area of psychiatric epistemology.”

Lead author Emmanuele A Jannini, president of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine, said: “After discussing for centuries if homosexuality is to be considered a disease, for the first time we demonstrated that the real disease to be cured is homophobia, associated with potentially severe psychopathologies.”

 Complete Article HERE!

The Yin and Yang of Desire

Today I’d like to talk about: The Yin and Yang of Desire — Dopamine, Prolactin and Testosterone.

Let’s talk about love, lust and desire. But instead of looking at these things as social phenomena, let’s look at the chemical reactions going on inside our bodies that make us feel and behave the way we do.

sex-on-the-brainThere are clear links between certain chemicals and our most basic drives, which explains, for example, why we feel horny one moment and utterly disinterested the next. Or why our sex drive peaks after exercise. At the core of our sexual and affectional interests and behaviors lie the two chemicals — dopamine and prolactin. In many ways they are complimentary to one another; dopamine turns on desire and prolactin turns it off.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. This is basically your body’s pleasure and reward system. Our brains releases dopamine, to one degree or another, when we see, read or think about something sexy, taste something sweet, puff a cigarette, or come into skin-to-skin contact with another person. When dopamine levels are high, our libido goes into overdrive. Sometimes levels can be so dramatic that a person will neglect other essential bodily functions like eating and sleeping. Some “street” drugs —meth and coke among them — can mimic the body into thinking it’s dealing with dopamine.

Dopamine is critical to the way the brain controls our movements. If there’s not enough dopamine, we can’t move, or control our movements. If there’s too much dopamine, we are plagued with repetitive moments like jerking, tapping and twitching.

Get this; novel situations can increase dopamine releases. For example, hooking up with someone for the first time triggers especially high levels of dopamine. Curiously enough, these same high levels will not occur again during subsequent hookups with that same person. This is called the one-night-stand phenomenon; it’s why you can be attracted to someone at first encounter but not afterward.hormones and the brain

However, falling in love with someone can sustain high dopamine levels for a longer period of time. This explains why physical infatuation is at its peak in the beginning months of a relationship. Also dopamine floods the brain when we get drunk or take certain drugs, which is why drinking alcohol can make a potential partner look more attractive.

Prolactin is dopamine’s foil. It causes dopamine levels to plummet. Prolactin is a hormone, as opposed to a neurotransmitter, like dopamine. It floods the body during orgasm, virtually shutting down the sex drive, which is nature’s way of allowing us to attend to other essential bodily functions like eating and sleeping. Prolactin release in men will temporarily disable our ability to have an erection. This is called the refractory or recovery phase of our sexual response cycle. And prolactin is at least partially responsible for that happy, relaxed state after we cum. This is precisely the release women get while breastfeeding; in fact, the word “pro-lactin” directly indicates its role in milk production.

growing larger and largerProlactin primes the mind for long-term attachment — a role that helps the mother bond with her suckling child as well as lovers to each other. This means that if you stick around cuddling with your partner right after sex, you may actually start to like him/her more and more. This is called the pair-bonding effect. But prolactin’s dopamine-reducing action has a darker side. It cancels the tolerance you may have for your partner’s flaws.

While dopamine and prolactin are good indicators of the immediate workings of sexual pursuit, it is testosterone that best explains long-term changes in courtship. Testosterone is responsible for the masculinization of the adolescent male body during puberty. And it increases the dopamine levels that regulate our sex drive. But testosterone leaves its fingerprint on the body as much as the brain. It’s the catalyst for changes in skin tone, fat distribution, musculature and demeanor, which are signals to others that this individual male is sexually mature and in good health.

However, if you get a fever or become depressed, your testosterone levels can drop significantly. Malnutrition or high levels of anxiety or stress will also interfere with testosterone levels. The most immediate effect of this is a decrease in libido, and a noticeable drop-off in energy levels as well as confidence. There’s no doubt about it; testosterone levels will signal to potential mates that you are in the throws of depression, stress, anxiety or malnutrition. You will appear a little less attractive to people subconsciously. That’s why a confident, dominant male with high-testosterone levels generally enjoy more mating success.tits

Testosterone levels are highest in the morning, then wanes throughout the day. It’s also much higher in men in autumn and lowest in the spring.

However, sexual desire is still more complicated than is known to science, and there may be multiple archetypes of partners we’re drawn to — there is evidence that aggressive high-testosterone men appear sexier to women and gay men for a one-night stand. But softer, more sensitive balanced men are more likely to tug at our heartstrings in a relationship. Scientists reason that the bulkier mate is more likely to be physically powerful and carry good genes to create strong children. While the slimmer guy is a more loving, reliable partner likely to help raise the kids so they survive to adulthood. The effect of this strange contradiction seems to be a biological predisposition against monogamy and sexual exclusivity.

But none of this is carved in stone. A man’s hormone’s levels increase when he is in a competitive environment or carries out acts of aggression, which can explain how guys seem to bulk up quickly when they go to prison or join sports teams. These levels decrease when he feels intimidated or humiliated, which might explain why those who get picked on at school stay skinny and mild-mannered compared to their peers. This in turn made them easier targets and only increased the likelihood of them being bullied.

butt shakeThis is not uncommon behavior among primate colonies that have huge alpha males looming over a population of smaller, submissive males and females. While this is not a perfect parallel to human social groups, it does go a long way in explaining how a social environment can be a precursor to physical body changes. And just so you know, our testosterone levels also drop during long-term relationships, giving the male brain a sense of stability and mellowness, easing off the drive to forage for new sexual partners.

Science alone lacks a moral element, and fails to explain, in a modern context, why we should desire to be masculine, aggressive, potent or dominant in the first place. In nature, the alpha-male is the most likely to enjoy reproductive success, but that isn’t what gives our lives value today. We might have more success being an average male that falls in love and becomes a good provider. And in the modern world it’s probably the more stable and sensitive man who is most likely to sire children.

Still, science gives important clues to what’s going on in our minds and bodies and that of our potential partners. A lot of our basic inclinations are out of our control, but when we know what causes them or what to expect, we can work with them for the best outcome.

What a pain in the ass!

Name: Garth
Gender: Male
Age: 44
Location: South Africa
Hi, I fissured my butt sometime ago and I think it has healed. I have undergone a Lateral Sphincterotomy twice – inner and outer. Unfortunately the area is now VERY sensitive and when I defecate the area ‘screams’ in pain. The softer my stool the worse the pain. When my stool is firm, the pain is less. Will this go away? Is there any medication that I can use?

Everyone in my audience please listen up! I am not a medical doctor, nor do I play one on the internet. The Dr Dick moniker I use refers to my Ph.D. I am a clinical sexologist or a sex therapist if you prefer, not a physician. Get it? Got it? Good!

That being said, anal fissures are a common proctological problem, especially for the heavy ass play crowd. An anal fissure is a tear at the anal tissue. The most common complaint is pain in the anal region during and after taking a dump, itching and possibly some bleeding. Pain and irritation result in spasm of the internal anal sphincter muscle, which then fails to relax during defecation further aggravating the condition.ass-pain

The lateral sphincterotomy you mention is a surgical procedure that removes the fissure. This operation remains the primary form of treatment for chronic anal fissure.

From all that I could learn from my medical consultants, if your surgeries healed properly you shouldn’t be experiencing pain, let alone “screaming pain” when you shit. We all understand that the area will continue to be sensitive, but the pain you describe is not a good sign. You may very well have an infection. You need to have that looked at ASAP. This is nothing to roll around with.

Here’s a tip for all everyone in my audience: pain, of any sort, is one way our body talks to us. Its message is: things are not as they should be; get it fixed NOW. Sometimes the pain will subside when we stop doing something…like holding our hand too close to a flame, or being flogged senseless by Christian Grey. Some pain will only subside when a condition is fixed…like getting a cavity in one’s tooth filled. Other pain, like the emotional pain that come with depression is harder to soothe, but it is important to try. Finally, pain like Garth is experiencing means something is very wrong. And if not attended to immediately, things will only get worse.

Good luck

Monkey on my back

And now for one of our regular, semi-obligatory Meth-related questions. I get at least a half dozen of these questions a month. And each and every one of them breaks my heart. I know nothing about the fellow writing me; I don’t know where he lives or his age. I don’t suppose it really matters, does it?

I need some help and I hope you can point me in the right direction. I am recently divorced and trying to move on in life but I’m depressed all the time and also using meth a lot. I have tried to have different sexual partners since my divorce and every time I’m with someone new I can get a erection when we are messing around with no problem, but soon as its time for penetration I loose my erection I feel like I’m having anxiety issues and also I’m very nervous, and I’m not impotent so can it be the meth preventing me to keep it up, or do I need medication for my anxiety? How can I overcome this problem?

I’m certain I can point you in the right direction. Thanks for asking. Allow me to speak plainly. Quit the meth! Quitting won’t solve all your problems, but it is the first and most important step. And frankly, if you choose not to quit, all your other efforts to pull your life together are doomed.

MonkeyBackMeth is not a therapy for depression, nor is it gonna help you connect with a new partner. It most assuredly will not help your erection problems; in fact, it is the cause of your erection problems. But I’ll wager you know that already, huh?

You also have an underlying performance anxiety problem that needs to be addressed ASAP.

Find a competent sex therapist to help you. look to the directory of The American College of Sexology for someone near you. Or you can check out my Therapy Available page.

In the meantime, take a look at some of the stuff I’ve written and podcasts where I talk about meth. Use the pull-down CATEGORIES menu in the sidebar, to your right, and scroll down till you fine the SEX & SUBSTANCES category. It’s under that category that you will find the subcategory Crystal Meth.

You’ll also want to take a look at some of the stuff I’ve written and podcasts where I talk about performance anxiety. Again, use the pull-down CATEGORIES menu in the sidebar and scroll down till you fine the SEX THERAPY category. Under that category you will find the subcategory Performance Anxiety.

Here are examples of the stuff you’ll find.

On meth:

Name: Joey
Age: 22
Location: Southern Calif
Love doing tina with masturbation and watching really hot porn. Think this is just social fun?

Nope, I don’t Joey. Despite the prevalence of this dastardly drug, there is nothing fun about tina…crystal meth for those unfamiliar with the term “tina”. If you love doing tina for whatever reason, I’d wager you’re hooked on that shit.

Listen, I’m not prude when it comes to using some crystalmakesmesexy.jpgdrugs recreationally. But I think that we’d do well to stick to those drugs that are more natural. The less processing involved (and meth is the worst in that regard) and fewer added chemicals (OMG, the crap they put in crystal) the better, in my humble opinion.

Despite the admitted high ya get, recent research shows that long-term meth use destroys nerve cells in the brain that regulate dopamine, muscle movement, memory, and decision-making. This damage can be wide-spread and permanent.

Your body reacts to crystal meth the same way it reacts to danger. Crystal floods the body with adrenaline — the same hormone that prepares us for emergencies. Adrenaline gives a super-charge of strength and endurance so the body can deal with danger and injury. But artificially triggering this response over and over again will have serious consequences.

When you use crystal, your nervous system shifts into high gear. The brain floods your body with “danger” messages. Your body responds immediately to what it thinks is a threat. It prepares to fight or to run away. Common body responses to perceived danger include:

  • Pupils dilate to let in more light.
  • Hair stands on end (“getting goose bumps”).
  • Blood vessels just under the skin constrict.
  • Body temperature goes up

Regular, long-term crystal use will diminish sores of neurotransmitters. Episodes of paranoia and anxiety become more frequent and longer lasting. Blocked blood vessels within the brain can lead to increased chances of stroke.

Crystal fucks with your dopamine levels. Dopamine delivers a sense of reward and pleasure. It is also associated with body movement. Too little dopamine causes paralysis or a Parkinson’s-like tremors and rigidity. Too much dopamine and a person can become paranoid, hear voices and get twisted thoughts. Sound familiar?

Crystal fucks with your serotonin levels. Serotonin is involved in regulating sleep and sensory perception. It plays a role in moods and regulating body temperature. Serotonin is involved with many emotional disorders like schizophrenia, phobias, super-aggressive states and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Too much serotonin can make it difficult (or impossible) to have an orgasm. And of course there’s the dreaded “crystal dick”…the inability to get it up.

Joey, listen up! You’re way too young with too much of your life ahead of you to self-inflict so much serious irreparable damage on yourself. If this weren’t such a troublesome drug, there wouldn’t be such a virulent anti and reformed tweeker community out there. Want to know the real truth about “tina” check in at: You’ll be glad you did.

On Performance Anxiety:

I get a dozen or so messages a month on this topic. I’ve written about it in numerous postings and spoken about it in several podcasts, but still the email comes.

One of the real bugaboos for anyone, regardless of gender, is living up to our own expectations of sexual performance. So many things can get in the way, literally and figuratively, of fully enjoying ourselves and/or pleasuring our partners.

The arousal stage of our sexual response cycle is particularly vulnerable to a disruption. And when there’s trouble there, there’s no hiding it. A limp dick or a dry pussy can put the kibosh on all festivities that we may have hoped would follow.

However, performance anxiety can strike any of us, regardless of age, and at just about any point in our sexual response cycle. This is a particularly galling when it seems to come out of the blue. And regaining our composure can be more far more difficult than we imagine.

Today we will be focusing on male performance anxiety. I’ll address female performance anxiety at a later date.
Complete Article HERE!

Good luck

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