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Drug Experimentation Verses Drug Addiction

Drug experimentation is generally accepted as a fairly normal, coming-of-age phase. We have noticed many parents and young adults asking: Where is the line drawn between drug experimentation and drug addiction?
Circa 1986, the first Early Intervention Program (EIP) for both the subject in question and his significant other(s), was designed to answer this exact question.

How the questioned is answered?

Step One

  1. It is made clear that no one knows for certain if, let’s say, James is going to become addicted or not
  2. It is made known:
    • That we will know what his odds are within about 6-8 weeks

    • James is expected to attend and participate in EIP type lectures and group therapy
    • James is expected to stop all mood altering substances for the length of the program
    • There is a significant other EIP component which is no time to discuss how James is doing, rather than what treatment they may need if James is thought to be a high risk
    • Consents are signed including random urine drug screens
    • A complete addictions neuropsychiatric evaluation is conducted
    • A physical examination is conducted unless a copy of a recent exam is provided

    Step Two

    1. Known risk factors are evaluated and include:
      • Paternal history of overweight or obesity
      • Family history of cardiovascular disease
      • Family history of cancer
      • Family history of stroke or atrial fibrillation
      • Family history of diabetes type 2
      • Family history of Alzheimer’s
      • Paternal history of moodiness
      • Paternal history of current legal mood altering substances (besides THC and nicotine), such as kava
      • Paternal history of current CBG or marijuana use
      • Paternal history of current nicotine use including cigarettes, cigars, chew, nicotine gum, and vape
      • Paternal history of current alcohol use
      • Paternal history of current non-prescription medicine
      • Paternal history of current prescription medicine
      • Paternal history of current over the counter medicines and supplement
    2. Genetic testing for addictions have been developed by certain laboratories but are not widely available because:
      • They have are extremely costly and not covered by health insurance
      • They only provide relative risk for developing addiction
      • Because preliminary research shows that DNA is “plastic”, like neurons
      • Which means a person’s genetic predisposition for addiction may not be transmitted as such after the person has many years of drug abstinence
      • Meaning the addiction gene may rinse clean with extended recovery
    3. The above factors are collated and a relative familial risk is determined as:
    4. High risk
    5. Moderate risk
    6. Low risk
    7. Step Three
      See how James is in lectures and groups

      • Is he attentive or day dreaming?
      • Is he minimizing the importance of the evaluation?
      • How is his attitude during supervised urine drug screens?
      • How is his attendance?
      • Is he on time to lecture or group?
      • Does he leave early or walk out to use the restroom often?
      • Does he seem like he is there for himself of someone else?
      • How is his attitude regarding the test abstinence period of all mood altering substances?

      Rate James at the end of each lecture & group as:

      1. High risk
      2. Moderate risk
      3. Low risk

      Step Four

      • If James has presented with a low familial predisposition (Step Two), good to stable mood and attention span (Step 3), and with all supervised comprehensive urine drug screens negative, James is considered to be at low risk
      • If James has presented with a high familial predisposition (Step Two), moody and inattentive manner (Step 3), and with a second supervised comprehensive urine drug screen turning up positive, James is considered to be at high risk
      • If James has presented with a moderate familial predisposition (Step Two), inconsistent manner (Step 3), or with one supervised comprehensive urine drug screen turning up positive, James is considered to be at moderate risk
      • Regardless of Risk

        1. James and his significant other will have learned the early sign posts of an impending addiction;
        2. Are more like to catch James before he possibly hits lethal bottom;
        3. Are more likely to refer James to residential or intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment before his addiction progresses;
        4. And James is more likely to be able to help lower the risk of his children becoming addicts
        5. The above steps represent a comprehensive way to tell the difference between drug experimentation and drug addiction.

          Certainly many of these steps, or a portion(s) of each, can be done within the privacy of your own home.
          Drug experimentation verses drug addiction can yield a more accurate complicated response or a less accurate simpler response.
          Either approach is nevertheless likely to yield a useful response.

          Reach Out

          If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse problem, please reach out to our addiction specialists for guidance and support, at (877)-RECOVERY or (888) 534-9140. Our addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.

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