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You Need Help to Kick the Habit

A story about University of Montana offensive tackle Trevor Poole is unfortunately not unusual. In early October 2012 he was arrested on a felony drug charge.

Now, some people would say that Trevor had it good. He’s on the football team, and he’s going to a top-notch university. But as statistics continue to show us, drug abuse is not about being poverty-stricken or from the wrong side of the tracks. There are numerous reasons why people get started.

But what a sad story that this young man will now be suspended indefinitely and if he is convicted of a felony, he will be dismissed from the team. Right after winning a 70-24 victory over Idaho State, he attended a large party, where he allegedly made some bad choices regarding how to celebrate the victory. Celebrating in a manner which will ensure that he never gets to celebrate one again – what kind of sense does that make?

If we look at the latest national survey of drug uses, we’ll see that our state ranks among the top ten states for illicit drug and alcohol use. Not a great thing to be known for.

One aspect of the problem which has not always been addressed is the depression that comes when a person is in rehab mode. Psychiatric nurse practitioner Shelley Andous explains, “Substances hit a particular part of our brain. It hits that pleasure center...it's what gives us that good feeling when we use a substance." When someone continues to use substances for a long time, it changes the way their brain functions on a neurochemical basis. "If a person uses substances for a long period of time and tries to stop, the brain isn't going to function the way it did before they started using, which means they're going to have a more difficult time experiencing good feelings." This leads to a very high suicide rate. "There is more depression, there's more anxiety...there is a lot of things that come along afterwards...that can be treated...but people don't ever feel this good afterwards so it's very hard to stay in this state and not go back to what your brain tells you feels good.”

Also, when young people use it before their brain is fully developed, then the connection to the decision-making frontal lobe of their brain remains at a pre-impulse control level. They don’t fully realize that it is dangerous behavior and that they should stop it, whereas if they had become addicted in their 20’s, they might still have that connection."

Androus says that if a kid starts using drugs around age 12 and continues into his 20’s, 50% will remain dependent. All the more reason to keep drugs away from kids and kids away from drugs during their developmental years.

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