As a Massachusetts OUI Lawyer, I have encountered many individuals struggling with addiction. It is important to understand this: You can always get help; it never hurts your case. You may have a drinking problem, but you can still be found not guilty of your OUI charge. Do not let your desire to win in court, prevent you from getting the help you need to move forward with your life. One of the Core Values we have at DelSignore Law is that regardless of the outcome of your case, we want to help you improve your life, move forward in a positive way and we want to give you as much information, advice and support that we can to help you achieve a better life. We send our clients the Book the Slight Edge after the case; the reasons we do this, is that while helping someone win and get their life back after an OUI or criminal charge is rewarding and what we are paid to do, it is those clients that we have helped in a meaningful way in life and beyond the courtroom that will be the true reward for me as a person and an attorney at the end of my career.
I recently read the Time Magazine Special Edition on Addiction and wanted to share the key points from the magazine.
WHAT CAUSES ADDICTION?
Medical Experts have been studying the cause of addiction for years. Scientists believe that the neurotransmitting chemicals are out of balance in the brain. In the Time Magazine feature on Addiction, the articles discuss many types of treatments that attempt to cut off the craving that addiction causes. The articles from Michael Lemonick speaks of the Brains reward system. Dophamine carries the pleasure signal to the brain. Treatment attempts to reduce the effect of dophamine on the brain. Stress can also play a role in how the brain thinks, particularly the consequecnes of actions according to Lemonick. Researchers according to the article agree that it takes 90 days for the brain to begin to reset. Yale reserarches found that after 90 days of abstaining from drugs or alcohol, the brain begin to reengage proper decision making.
There is a great book written by Charles Duhigg, the Power of Habit. Duhigg speak about habits in terms of a habit loop: you have the cue, routine and the reward. The key to changing a habit he states is to find out what the trigger is of the habit, the when, where why, do you feel this way, what is the routine, and then the reward. He suggests what we need to do is change the reward. This book is a great read for anyone, but particularly someone struggling with addiction.
What happens in someone’s brain when they are addicted to drugs?
Addictive substances increase the amount of dophamine in the synapse , heightening the feeling of pleasure. Addiction occurs when repeated drug use disrupts the normal balance of brain circuits that control rewards, memory and cognition. Genes play a role in 40-60% of a personals vulnerability to addiction. For those dealing with an addiction, the drug or alcohol that fuels the addiction is no longer fun. In speaking to my clients who had alcohol issues, they were not drinking for pleasure, but to medicate, to remove the pain of their situation, typically they would drink straight hard alcohol.
The general steps to treat addiction are as follows:
- Diagnosis and evaluation
- Treatment plan with specialist
- Ongoing peer support and accountability
- Family support and support groups
Many OUI drug cases involve allegations that someone is operating under the influence of a prescription medication. I have written extensively on my Blog and website about defenses to OUI drugs cases, but in this Blog, I would like to talk about dealing with an addiction to opiates.
Often, the addiction arises out of an injury and the original use of the opiate was prescribed by a doctor and the person develops a dependency on the drug. In Jeffrey Kluger’s Article in Time Magazine, he speaks of a mom whose son had cancer. He was able to beat cancer, but developed an addiction to oxycontin. When the doctor would not prescribe oxycontin, he started using heroin. Addiction can take hold off anyone based on the powerful effect of these drugs and it is important as a society that we understand and learn the best ways to deal with these issues.
Types of Treatment
What time of medications are there to treat an opiate addiction? Lisa Lombardi in the Time issue discussed some of the medical treatments available.
- Naltrexone implants, which slowly infuse the drug into your system, and by blocking opiate receptors in the brain. The drug curbs cravings for opioids.
- There are also drugs available to curb drinking. Naltrexone pills one hour before drinking, chemically disrupt the body’s reward system, taking away the desire for alcohol.
- Buprenorphone, opioid itself must be prescribed by a doctor with special training. This drug is meant to reduce addiction to opiates.
How to help a family member facing legal problems get help with drug or alcohol addiction
Addiction can take a major toll not only on the person who is dealing with it, but the family as well. I have known many parents struggle and be tormented with the difficulty their child has in overcoming an addiction. There are different ways to handle every situation.
I would advise you to get help and join groups to learn about how other parents handled these issues. There are some many great resource to leaner the best way to handle a difficult situation. I frequently recommend counseling to clients that have any time of issue; it is not something that should be ashamed of but actively sought out, as there is always a person or group that can give a better prospective on a problem.
Keep in mind your child should get help; getting help never hurts the legal case in court. Some wrongfully assume that if the person gets help it means they are guilty. Guilt in court and a problem in life are different issues. It could be the case is very defensible or has a legal defense, that could result in the dismissal of the charges or a not guilty verdict. But that does not mean, the person does not have a problem with drunks or alcohol. You can get help without the court ordering it. Please share this Blog if you feel that it has be helpful and leave any comment you have; I would like to learn your thoughts about addiction so I can be more educated about it and share my knowledge with my clients or whoever I come across that I can help. As a lawyer, we get all types of calls some from people that never become clients; everyone that calls has problem in their life and I spend my time learning how to help people with those problems in court and in life.
You should try to find support groups; there are many Parents of Addicted Love ones. I have attached a link to support groups in the Boston area.
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