TagAddiction

R.U. Sirius Interviews Too Much to Dream Author Peter Bebergal

Too Much to Dream cover

R.U Sirius interviews Peter Bebergal, author of the memoir and cautionary tale Too Much To Dream: . This interview is a few months old, but I’ve only just seen it:

RU: It strikes me that psychedelics are both an enhancer and distorter of
pattern recognition. It’s like once the mind becomes too conscious and too obsessive about pattern recognition, it becomes delusional.

PB: This is probably the most succinct way of putting it I have heard. It’s essentially what we see happen with Phillip K. Dick. It’s part of the reason why no matter how non-addicting psychedelics might be from a chemical point-of-view, the capacity for the human mind to compulsively search for the same connection/insight over and over again is boundless. This same phenomena can be seen with a certain kind of occultism. Hermeticism can become an exercise in endless connection making and it’s amazing how even the most thoughtful occultists can become conspiracy theorists overnight. Psychedelics, and other forms of non-ordinary consciousness, can readily show that there is more to the human mind, and possibly the universe, than we can perceive normally, but when we lose the ability to critically distance ourselves from these experiences, the danger for delusion is great.

[…]

RU: You remain interested in the psychedelic movement even though you feel you can’t risk taking them yourself. What do you hope for people today who take psychedelic drugs in a way that is conscious of set and setting and so forth?

PB: I have come to believe in the absolute necessity of ritual and community, whether it’s the Native American Church or your local OTO lodge. However you can find it, try to access a group of people that share your spiritual/psychological sensibilities and that hopefully have a few seasoned elders and teachers. This is not to say there aren’t those that can handle the solitary journey, but I still think however one can position oneself into a larger context with its own myths and symbols can only be a good thing.

But more importantly I hope that those who use these drugs will see them not as a path but as doorway towards a spiritual/conscious way of life. As Alan Watts is often quoted as saying, “When you get the message, hang up the phone.”

Acceler8or: The Seeker: A Psychedelic Suburban Youth Doesn’t Find It Tripping. An Interview with Peter Bebergal

10 Years On, Drug Decriminalization Reducing Drug Use in Portugal

Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal’s decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

“There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

AFP: Portugal drug law show results ten years on, experts say

(via Cat Vincent)

Junk Food May Be As Addictive as Drugs

Judge Dredd - Sugar bust

Bloomberg reports:

The idea that food may be addictive was barely on scientists’ radar a decade ago. Now the field is heating up. Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior in animals. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters, meanwhile, reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.

Twenty-eight scientific studies and papers on food addiction have been published this year, according to a National Library of Medicine database. As the evidence expands, the science of addiction could become a game changer for the $1 trillion food and beverage industries.

If fatty foods and snacks and drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup are proven to be addictive, food companies may face the most drawn-out consumer safety battle since the anti-smoking movement took on the tobacco industry a generation ago.

Bloomberg: Fatty Foods Addictive Like Cocaine in Growing Body of Scientific Research

(via Abe1x)

See also: Lab Rats Always Pick Saccharin Over Cocaine

Secret Of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works

Alcoholics Anonymous

Fascinating article on the history of AA and some research on why, even though it doesn’t usually work, it does occasionally work.

Here’s an interesting social-cybernetic insight:

To begin with, there is evidence that a big part of AA’s effectiveness may have nothing to do with the actual steps. It may derive from something more fundamental: the power of the group. Psychologists have long known that one of the best ways to change human behavior is to gather people with similar problems into groups, rather than treat them individually. The first to note this phenomenon was Joseph Pratt, a Boston physician who started organizing weekly meetings of tubercular patients in 1905. These groups were intended to teach members better health habits, but Pratt quickly realized they were also effective at lifting emotional spirits, by giving patients the chance to share their tales of hardship. (“In a common disease, they have a bond,” he would later observe.) More than 70 years later, after a review of nearly 200 articles on group therapy, a pair of Stanford University researchers pinpointed why the approach works so well: “Members find the group to be a compelling emotional experience; they develop close bonds with the other members and are deeply influenced by their acceptance and feedback.”

Wired: Secret Of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works

The article covers AA’s effectiveness briefly, and finds that studies of its effectiveness are inconclusive. I’ve posted before about one study that found 12-step programs no more or less effective than other treatment programs.

I have absolutely zero problem with people using religion or whatever else works to improve their lives and get over the devastating effects of addiction, court mandated 12 step programs are clearly a breach of the seperation of church and state. (And There’s evidence to suggest that mandating treatment doesn’t work anyway.)

See also John Shirley’s “The Forgotten Solution.”

Another thought: The EsoZone Protocol is similar to the structure of AA.

How to make an addictive video game

human sized hamster wheel

Cracked has a surprisingly interesting article on the psychology of rewards and how it’s applied to game design:

Do you like your job?

Considering half of you are reading this at work, I’m going to guess no. And that brings us to the one thing that makes gaming addiction–and addiction in general–so incredibly hard to beat.

As shocking as this sounds, a whole lot of the “guy who failed all of his classes because he was playing WoW all the time” horror stories are really just about a dude who simply didn’t like his classes very much. This was never some dystopian mind control scheme by Blizzard. The games just filled a void.

Why do so many of us have that void? Because according to everything expert Malcolm Gladwell, to be satisfied with your job you need three things, and I bet most of you don’t even have two of them:

Autonomy (that is, you have some say in what you do day to day);

Complexity (so it’s not mind-numbing repetition);

Connection Between Effort and Reward (i.e. you actually see the awesome results of your hard work).

Most people, particularly in the young gamer demographics, don’t have this in their jobs or in any aspect of their everyday lives. But the most addictive video games are specifically geared to give us all three… or at least the illusion of all three.

Cracked: 5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get You Addicted

(via Social Physicist)

Novelty Lures Rats from Cocaine-Paired Settings, Hinting at New Treatments for Recovering Addicts

erase addiction

he brain’s innate interest in the new and different may help trump the power of addictive drugs, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. In controlled experiments, novelty drew cocaine-treated rats away from the place they got cocaine.

Novelty could help break the vicious cycle of treatment and relapse, especially for the many addicts with novelty-craving, risk-taking personalities, the authors said. Drug-linked settings hold particular sway over recovering addicts, which may account in part for high rates of relapse.

Science Daily: Novelty Lures Rats from Cocaine-Paired Settings, Hinting at New Treatments for Recovering Addicts

(via Wade)

(Photo: Alan Cleaver / CC BY 2.0)

The Curious Case of a Woman Addicted to Her Brain Implant

brain implant addict

i09 tells the story of a woman, with a history of addictive behavior, who was given an electrode implant in her thalamus to help her manage chronic pain. She ended up addicted to the erotic sensations that using the implant, self-stimulating herself all day and “neglecting personal hygiene and family commitments.”

As thalamic stimulators and other brain implants become more commonplace, it’s likely that our anonymous implant addict will no longer be an outlier. She’s just the first documented case of a new kind of addiction.

io9: The Curious Case of a Woman Addicted to Her Brain Implant

Village Voice article on ibogaine

The Village Voice:

Now that University of Miami neurologist Deborah Mash has the cash needed to resume clinical studies of ibogaine—the drug that could be the best anti-drug the CIA never told you about—there’s new hope for hard-core drug addicts and alcoholics. She got the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration 10 years ago, but after negative reviews by other scientists, the National Institute on Drug Abuse refused to fund her.

Full Story: Village Voice: The Drug to End All Drugs

(via LVX23)

Smoking China chimp kicks habit

BBC:

A female chimpanzee in a Chinese zoo has managed to kick the habit after smoking for 16 years, Xinhua news agency reported.

Full Story: BBC: Smoking China chimp kicks habit

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