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2016 Red Ribbon Week Spreads Awareness of Drug Addiction

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 7, 2016 3:51:02 PM / by RU Texas posted in Drug Treatment, Drug Abuse, drug addiction, Red Ribbon Week, National Family Partnership, Education

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October 31st marked the conclusion of this year’s Red Ribbon Week, a nine-day event meant to spread awareness and education regarding the dangers of drug abuse and addiction. Red Ribbon Week was established by the National Family Partnership, an organization established in 1980 by parents affected by drug addiction in their families in an effort promote empowerment and action. Since their inception, they’ve become a national leader in prevention, education and advocacy on a mission to lead and support American families in nurturing the full potential of healthy and drug-free youth. This year marked the 31st anniversary of Red Ribbon Week, the organization’s flagship event.

Red Ribbon Week helps families and loved ones of those who are vulnerable to addiction recognize the signs, learn how to intervene in the event of a problem and how develop techniques to keep their loved ones away from drugs. This year’s theme was YOLO (You Only Live Once): Be Drug Free. Families and schools across America were invited and encouraged to participate in Red Ribbon Week in whatever capacity possible, whether it was through active curriculum ideas, integrating existing ideas in their schools or communities, or simply promoting the event on social media. This year marked the sixth annual photo contest, in which $20,000 will be dispensed among ten winning schools across America.

Events like Red Ribbon Week, as well as organizations like the National Family Partnership, are much-needed resources in an increasingly uphill battle against drug abuse and addiction. In a time which today’s youth are more vulnerable than ever to becoming tomorrow’s addicts, it’s critical that education, awareness and empowerment start as early as possible, and be offered in school and at home. There is no shortage of opportunities to get involved with NFP and Red Ribbon Week and do your part in curtailing substance abuse in your community.

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Are We All Wired for Addiction?

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 22, 2016 10:57:11 AM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Addiction, drug addiction, Treatment, Alcoholism

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Last month, researchers at Texas A&M published a white paper making a decidedly bold claim: We are all wired for addiction on some level. The paper, entitled “What is Abnormal about Addiction-Related Attentional Biases?”, poses the argument that non-addicts exhibit many of the same behavioral patterns and biases as their addicted counterparts; it was written by Texas A&M psychology professor, Brian Anderson and has been published on the National Center for Biotechnology’s website, as well as other notable outlets. The documents raises some interesting questions regarding the behavioral pathology of substance abuse, and compels us all to ask ourselves just how close we are to falling victim.

One of the highlights of the paper is Anderson’s apparent assertion that the pathological features that we routinely attribute to addiction are merely part of the normal cognitive process. He focuses strongly on what are called “attentional biases” in his explanation, claiming these biases are normal cognitive processes by which we are “wired” to automatically direct our attention to learned predictors of reward. Although they may appear abnormal, these same sorts of biases can be seen in normal, healthy people. As part of his research, Anderson had participants engage in a series of reward-based neurobiological exercises.

While recently published, Anderson’s assertion may not come as that large of a shock. Many speculate that they, along with everyone else, exhibit addictive behavior toward one thing or another, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, food, love, technology or even emotional validation. The concept of an addictive personality is not simply confined to drugs and alcohol. Some of the traits that comprise an addictive personality can be seen as relatively common behavioral characteristics, including impulsive and compulsive behavior, feelings of alienation, non-conformity and preoccupation with sensation. It’s estimated that 10-15 percent of the United States population has an addictive personality.

Perhaps one of the most valuable elements of Anderson’s findings is the reinforcement that we are all vulnerable to addiction. This idea has the power to drastically improve the state of addiction treatment in the country, eliminating that sense of stigma and “otherness” that for so long has precluded so many from getting quality care. It can also give us pause when we see others exhibiting potentially addiction-oriented behavior and do whatever we can to get them out of that behavioral pattern. As we’ve seen with the explosion of prescription abuse in the United States, early intervention can often make the difference between addiction and healthy consumption.

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