Posts tagged ‘Substance abuse’
I’m still reading this Charlie Sheen crap, and I hate myself for doing it, but it’s like trying not to watch a train wreck going on in front of your eyes. I notice that there have been new interviews where Charlie calls himself a genius, asks for a 50% pay raise, says he’s Adonis, and that other people aren’t like him because they don’t have “tiger blood.”
He’s tired of people not recognizing how special he is. No doubt, this is a reaction to the AA term, “terminal uniqueness.” He knocks AA, and this is because they supposedly have only a 5% success rate. He says he cured himself with the power of his mind, because, apparently, that’s how Charlie rolls. I don’t know AA’s success rate, but…high or low, it’s the only treatment that’s successful. And it works if you work it. But you can’t quit going to meetings and quit working the steps and start drinking and using and expect for it to work by osmosis.
Charlie’s publicist has left him now, and it was really the only smart choice the man could possibly make. Otherwise, he looks like the twit who advised Charlie to spout off at the mouth in his current state.
Charlie won’t get help until he hits bottom, and maybe not even then. The problem is that if he’s talking like this and he is indeed sober, as he says he is, then he’s got bigger problems than just addiction. I read comments all over the internet where people have no compassion for this guy, and he is a selfish ass. But does it never occur to anyone but me that maybe, just maybe Charlie Sheen has some real mental illness beyond just drug addiction here. I mean, we’re talking about the kind of guy who thought the government conspired to cause 9/11…when he was sober.
I think Sheen needs a full psychiatric evaluation, not just a stay in some pampered resort for addicted celebrities. I think Sheen needs to be fired, permanently. Let’s not pussy foot around it. Fire his ass. Make him get help. And even though I think Charlie Sheen is acting like a tool, it’s just plain wrong to fail to have compassion for one of our fellow human beings, especially if he’s actually mentally ill. It’s not a choice. Why do we act like it is?
This is not a review of the movie. Maybe I’ll get around to seeing it one day.
In one of my earlier blog posts I mentioned the concept of partial reinforcement, and it turns out that I was paying attention in my psychology class because partial reinforcement is a term coined by B.F. Skinner, the father of modern behavioral modification therapy.
If you take the time, like I did, to look this up on the internet you’ll find that partial reinforcement is closely related to addiction. Specifically, it’s cited in reference to gambling addictions and video games. But I think you could apply it to any addictive behavior: shopping, drug addictions, alcoholism, overeating, you name it. And yes, you could even apply it to love.
What we commonly refer to as romantic love is regulated biologically by two chemicals that are naturally manufactured by the human brain: phenylethylamine and oxytocin. The infatuation phase, marked by the butterflies and sweaty palms and shaking and other outward appearances of nervousness, is produced by phenylethylamine. The attachment phase, that produces that feeling of calm and well being, can be attributed to oxytocin.
You can think of phenylethylamine as being like the rush of excitement you experience when making love with a new partner. Oxytocin is more like the cuddling afterward.
Not surprisingly, we like the feelings that these drugs in our bodies produce. It’s like the feeling of being drunk, not the slurring out of control feeling, but the “buzz” that drinkers feel after that first, second or third drink, depending on our tolerance level. Drunks, because we are addicts, then try to chase that elusive buzz feeling for the rest of the night, consuming more and more alcohol and finding it impossible to recreate that original high.
It’s the same with any drug of choice. And thus we come back to the concept of partial reinforcement. The concept of reinforcement is a cause and effect relationship between a behavior and a type of reward. A mouse taps on a lever and gets a food pellet. A budding juvenile delinquent creates havoc or mischief and achieves the attention of his parents.
With partial reinforcement a mouse taps on a lever and gets food pellets. First, he learns that cause and effect relationship. If we were to add a click or a ring, then we would be able to show the effects of Pavlovian reflex, and the mouse would salivate at the mere sound. Then what happens with partial reinforcement is that the mouse taps on the lever and doesn’t get a food pellet. Maybe he has to tap three times in order to get a food pellet. Maybe the reward is regulated by a specific time measurement. The mouse taps on the lever and only gets the food pellet five minutes later. And maybe we submit the mouse to a variable ratio schedule. The amount of times the mouse has to press on the lever to get the food pellet changes every time. It’s random.
Guess which schedule results in the most lever pulling? It’s the variable ratio schedule. Think of the little old lady on a riverboat in Louisiana, playing the nickel slots. Again, again, and again she puts in her coin and pull the lever because she knows that if she just pulls that lever often enough, eventually she’ll win a bunch of coins. Or maybe she won’t if she doesn’t play long enough. Or maybe she will win, but she will have put in more coins than she got back in the end. Odds are that even if she wins, in the end, she loses.
With some of us, it’s the same with love. We try over and over and over to get that original high. Sometimes we get it. But how much do we lose in the process? If you break even, then you’re extremely blessed.
I thought it might be fun, with the recent “news” event of Lindsay Lohan’s Tweet about her drug test failure, to make a list of famous people who suffer from alcoholism and addiction issues. Just because someone has substance abuse problems doesn’t mean that society should kick them to the wayside or that they are destined to be bums on a street corner. Some of these names you’ll already know about, and some you might actually be surprised to discover on the list. Some have gotten sober, some have attempted, and some have died not trying. At any rate, it’s interesting to see such a long list of accomplished people.
Ulysses S. Grant
Michael J. Fox
Hunter S. Thompson
Alexander the Great
Edgar Allen Poe
Mary Tyler Moore
Dick Van Dyke
Anna Nicole Smith
Eddie Van Halen
F. Scott Fitzgerald
William S. Burroughs
Samuel L. Jackson
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Tommy Lee Jones