The Psychology of Addiction: Jump, Jump to the Other Side
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The Psychology of Addiction: Jump, Jump to the Other Side

On Wednesday of this week it was reported that teenage rapper, Chris Kelly, died of an alleged drug overdose at the age of 34. Kelly, whose talent was discovered in an Atlanta, GA mall, was reportedly found in his home unresponsive by a friend. That same friend told police that the Kris Kross rapper from the early 90's, had taken a mixture of cocaine and heroin, or a speedball, the night before.

Addiction specialists and substance abusers know that speedballing is a deadly practice. The allure of speedballing stems from the effects that each of the drugs has on the brain and body. 

Heroin, which can be smoked, snorted or injected, is a depressant. It literally depresses, or slows down the brain and its functions. It also has pain relief effects, which is why some chronic pain patients often get addicted to morphine, a prescription medication which is essentially a smaller, legalized dose of heroin. 

Cocaine, on the other hand, is a stimulant. This means that it has essentially the exact opposite effects as heroin. It speeds up brain functions and gives you a feeling of euphoria. The majority of your bodily functions get instructions from your brain (with the exception of reflexes). In other words, there is a part of your brain that tells your heart to beat. When high on cocaine, the drug sends messages to the brain, which sends messages to the body to increase functions like heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. 

Obviously, taking drugs that have such extreme and opposite effects on the brain, which controls the body, can send both into shock. This shock can ultimately cause the brain, body or both to shutdown.

Even though there is controversy on this topic, addiction is considered a medical and psychological disorder. Some professionals have argued that categorizing addiction as a medical disorder as we would a heart murmur or arthritis, is a miscategorization because, unlike the latter disorders, addiction is a choice.

While addicts may choose their disease, most of them certainly don't choose for it to get out of control. Once they start abusing the drug, they need more and more of it to get the same effects. This is called building up a tolerance to the drug. In other words, even though you may have started snorting 1mg of cocaine, three years later you will need a lot more of it to get the euphoric effects that you got during the first use. 

Additionally, the more you use, the more worried you get about the effects of stopping. A lot of addicts are concerned that their withdrawal process will be unbearable. 

Professionals who support the idea that addiction is a medical disease argue that, like other diseases, it changes bodily functions; therefore, it should be considered a medical problem. Of course, chronic drug abuse effects the body in a number of ways, the ultimate of which is death. 

Psychologists weigh in for two reasons. First, chronic drug abuse not only changes bodily functioning, but it also changes brain chemistry. Secondly, chronic drug abuse is considered a psychological disorder because of how addiction gets started. Sometimes people use drugs recreationally because they were pressured into it or because they were bored; however, no one starts abusing drugs on a regular basis because their lives are going well. 

Addicts are master avoiders. They abuse drugs to avoid pain and feeling, and the job of a psychologist who works in addictions is to help former addicts figure out what they are trying not to feel and slowly begin the feeling process. 

If psychological treatment goes well, psychologists help the addict come to the realization that, while feeling negative emotions hurts at times, when you are high you can't feel anything...the good or the bad. Some addicts come to this realization, get sober and start anew. Others never get it.

If the report is true, Chris Kelly may have never gotten the chance to Jump, Jump to the other side. 

Psychology IEverywhere!


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