Since time began our ancestors have been modifying their bodies and faces. These piercings, tattoos, and scarring were for identification, rites of passage, and sometimes to act as scary deterrents to any potential foes.
Modern-day Western cultural styles of body modification as we know it today started with the punk rock movement of the late 1970s. This in turn, as with so much of modern culture, was heavily influenced by singer David Bowie from the beginning of the 1970s.
Bowie of course was famous for wearing make-up and having dangly earrings when men in regular society just didn’t wear earrings. At the time, as with the punks a few years later, there was utter outrage about this with headline stories in newspapers.
Before then, pirates were renowned for wearing large gold hoop earrings. It’s believed this was to ensure if their body washed ashore whoever found the body could use the gold hoop as payment for a funeral.
In the Gypsy or Romani communities earrings have also been traditionally worn by both men and women. One reason is that an earring was worn by children after the death of a male relative.
Some Native Americans had traditional tattoos. In fact, many indigenous people around the world – such as the Maoris of New Zealand and Koita people of Papua New Guinea – had tattoos that had been part of their culture for centuries.
America’s first tattooist and plastic surgeon
America’s first professional tattoo artist is considered to be a man called Martin Hildebrandt. He opened a New York City tattoo shop in 1846 that swiftly became popular with American Civil War soldiers.
What is commonly known today as plastic surgery also has a surprisingly long history. There are records of reconstructive surgery techniques being performed in India in 800 BC.
America’s first plastic surgeon was John Peter Mettauer based in Virginia. He performed the first cleft palate operation in the 1820s.
But the innovator of modern-day plastic surgery is considered to be Sir Harold Gillies in London. During the First World War, he developed many modern facial surgery techniques to treat soldiers with disfiguring facial injuries.
Most common cosmetic-surgery procedures
It’s really in the past few decades though that cosmetic surgery as a voluntarily chosen surgery has boomed. It is performed on various parts of the body in an attempt to improve a person’s appearance.
In fact, the amount of cosmetic procedures performed in America has nearly doubled in the past 20 years. The latest figures show that 16 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the US in just one year.
The most common procedures are eyelid surgery, liposuction, abdominoplasty (“tummy tuck”), and breast reduction or augmentation. But increasingly as well all sorts of body modifications are growing in popularity – piercings, getting branded, being scarified, having the tongue split, and subdermal implants.
Many people start with fully understandable reasons for tattoos, plastic surgery, and other body modifications. These are such as seeking to enhance attractiveness and sex appeal, to be an individual, and to tell their story, because they love the creativity involved and to deliver a resistant message to normal society.
Other reasons are that people like the challenge of the pain they will have to endure in getting their body modification done. No form of anesthesia is allowed as they are not performed by physicians.
Some say the physical pain gives them mental clarity and boosts spirituality. This creates a feeling of increased connection to a greater power.
Body modification addiction
But all of these body modifications can become an addiction. The reasons behind it are much like any addiction whether that’s to alcohol, drugs, or a behavioral addiction such as shopping, work, sex, or gambling.
That includes getting some sort of high from it. This is due to the release of adrenaline and endorphins.
Another is that it acts as a distraction. That’s not just the procedure itself – but the entire preparation, recovery, and then the modification itself with all the attention it will usually bring.
In this way, it can be an attractive short-term method to mask or numb painful memories and feelings. People who get addicted to something are nearly always intensely hurting inside.
It’s an inside job
Most frequently this is from childhood trauma. But some people do suffer from traumas later in life that harshly affects them too – including experiencing war or a terrible accident, being the victim of a crime, or losing loved ones, especially suddenly and unexpectedly.
Tragically any addiction usually gets progressively worse. That is unless what is underneath it is looked at and treated.
For many people who get into what is now frequently known as “body mods”, it becomes an addiction. They have a new tattoo, piercing, or a cosmetic procedure – but are very soon craving another.
Perhaps this can be because they are seeking a new high, and most likely unbeknown to them another distraction as painful feelings start to push up again. As with addiction to a drug, alcohol, or behavior, there is the attempt to use something external to deal with what is internal.
Certain mental health disorders can be behind it. For instance, some people who look to change their appearance have body dysmorphic disorder.
This is a psychological disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with imaginary or perceived defects in their appearance. Sometimes it can lead to a plastic surgery addiction.
If you or someone you know might be addicted to a form of body modification, then professional help is most likely needed from someone with expertise in these matters.
Most people who take prescription drugs do so responsibly. But it is possible to become dangerously addicted to them.
In fact, millions of Americans already are addicted. Many of those abusing them don’t realize that these medications can have the same serious health consequences as illegal street drugs.
Just because some drugs are prescribed by a medical expert does not make them less of a risk to health or any less potentially addictive. Prescription drug addiction can cause exactly the same problems and tragedy as addiction to alcohol or illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, around two million Americans misused prescription pain relievers for the first time within the previous 12 months. In addition, 1.5 million people misused tranquilizers; more than a million misused prescription stimulants, and 271,000 misused sedatives for the first time.
Prescription drug abuse is highest among adults aged 18 to 25, with nearly 15 percent using a medication in a non-medical manner. Several studies have found clear connections between prescription drug abuse and heavy alcohol use, higher rates of cigarette smoking, as well as the use of marijuana, cocaine, and other illegal drugs.
Addiction issues are just the same whether the drugs are prescribed or illegal. Beating the addiction can be just as difficult.
What are the most commonly abused prescription drugs?
Some prescription drug abusers begin after being given legitimate prescriptions for a medical issue. But they then get addicted to the medication, and take more than prescribed and more frequently than has been recommended.
But others will get them in another way: such as with forged prescription notes or from a dealer. Prescribed drugs that are most regularly abused are:
Most often prescribed for pain, opioids produce a euphoric sedative effect. This includes such as tramadol that an increasing number of people are getting addicted to each year. Meperidine is another form of opioid sold under the brand name Demerol that’s used to treat moderate to severe pain.
A synthetic opioid, it’s prescribed for acute pain. It creates feelings of euphoria and is up to 50 times stronger than heroin. But it is increasingly being used as a “recreational” drug frequently mixed with methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin.
Used to treat mild to moderate pain as well as cold and flu symptoms in such as cough syrup. It can cause altered consciousness and has a sedative effect. Increasingly it is being used in a recreational drug cocktail known as “lean”, “purple drank” or “sizzurp”.
Commonly sold under the brand name Xanax, alprazolam is a benzodiazepine (tranquilizer) used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. But it’s also misused for its swift sedating effects. It’s one of the most highly addictive prescription drugs.
Clonazepam & diazepam
These are benzodiazepines that are also used to treat panic disorders and anxiety. Clonazepam is most often sold under the brand name Klonopin; diazepam is mostly sold as Valium. But they are also often misused for their sedative effects and people can get highly addicted very quickly.
Adderall is a prescription drug that creates similar effects to methamphetamine and so it is used as a stimulant for alertness and to increase productivity. According to a report in The Washington Times, an estimated five million Americans are illegally using prescription stimulants.
Mostly sold under the brand name Ritalin, methylphenidate boosts the brain’s dopamine levels. It’s used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). But people abusing it can become highly addicted.
Major signs of prescription drug addiction
Prescription drug addiction can be harder to spot or admit than with illegal drugs or alcohol. This is because someone, for instance, addicted to a strong prescribed painkiller for a bad back may justify their abuse due to their physical condition.
Yet if they were to get honest with themselves they would admit they were addicted to the high the medication gave them. Prescription drug abusers can be very ingenious when it comes to hiding and denying their addiction.
However, there are some common signs that can show someone has a prescription drug addiction. These include:
Becoming defensive or angry when challenged about their use of prescription drugs.
Shopping online for prescription drugs.
Frequently visiting their physician.
Work, studies and/or home life suffers.
Less pride about personal appearance.
Constantly bringing attention to and complaining about health conditions that give them reason for taking prescription drugs.
Side effects can include mood swings, increased anxiety, sleep problems, drowsiness, being unsteady, memory issues and poor decision-making.
A hidden danger with prescription drug addiction is the mistaken belief that because doctors prescribe them they must be safe. But these drugs are prescription-only because they can be addictive and have serious health consequences.
If you think you might have a problem with prescription drugs or think someone you know has, it’s vitally important to seek immediate professional help.
Most of us, when we hear the words ‘addiction’ or ‘addict ‘experience an immediate shift in thinking, in the sense that what we think and the mental imagery that goes along with it becomes limited.
Substance misuse. Relapse. Addict. Codependency. The list of adjectives appears to be just as endless as the myths themselves, which, for the most part, are largely inaccurate and based on what we think we know about addiction rather than what we know to be true.
Fortunately, there is a vast amount of literature surrounding the topic of addiction in most libraries and also through a variety of online sources.
However, any awareness around the underlying trauma that often lies at the ‘core’ of those battling lifelong addiction tends to be finite.
Essentially, what lies beneath almost all addiction is unresolved trauma, something that even the sufferer themselves might not be aware of. Turning to alcohol or drugs is often a coping mechanism that many people use to ‘push down’ unpleasant feelings and emotions.
In addition, there are a variety of myths surrounding addiction that can so often add to the stigma that already exists. Below are some of the more common myths that you may have encountered before:
Addiction Myth 1: “Relapse equals failure.”
#Fact: It’s common for people in recovery to become discouraged when they relapse.
Often though, when relapse occurs, it’s usually a sign that the current treatment methods and ways of thinking aren’t working as well and might need to be reviewed.
Addiction (in fact, mental health in general) is a chronic illness, similar to that of a physical ailment, and should be treated in the same way as cancer and heart disease.
Relapse is, by definition, a recurrence of symptomswhich means that those in recovery are likely to require lifelong management to stay in recovery.
It’s also important to remember just how much work it takes to change deeply embedded habits and behaviours, all of which form a big part of the treatment when it comes to rehabilitation.
A recurrence doesn’t mean that previous treatments failed just because a change in treatment is required either (because to some degree, progress would have still been made). And as the great Les Brown once said: “a setback is a setup for a comeback”, and this couldn’t be any more accurate, especially for those in recovery.
Addiction Myth 2: “Only a certain ‘type’ of person is at risk of addiction.”
#Fact: Addiction is non-discriminatory and can affect anyone, including your neighbour who drives a really expensive car and seems to have life all ‘worked out’. Age, race and income are also insignificant factors when it comes to addiction.
According to the charity Action on Addiction, 1 in 3 people suffer from some form of addictive behaviour. And addiction can come in many forms too such as gambling, drinking, online gaming and drug use.
No-one is exempt from the clutches of addiction, and it appears there is no way to tell who will be inflicted.
Addiction Myth 3: “Prescription drugs are not addictive.”
#Fact: Unfortunately, prescription drug addiction is every bit as real as any other drug addiction (and just as serious).
According to the UK addiction Treatment Centre (UKAT), prescription drugs are just as addictive as other drugs, but people often assume that because the medication has been prescribed by a doctor, that it must be harmless and non-addictive, but in reality, this is not the case.
In the UK, the prescription drugs deemed to be the most addictive are:
Weight loss pills
Opiates (including Hydrocodone, Fentanyl and Morphine)
Ritalin (medication for ADHD)
One way to find out if there is some sort of prescription drug addiction problem is when a patient takes their medication in ways that go beyond their doctors’ instructions.
Unfortunately, nowadays, there is also easier access to certain prescription drugs in comparison to previous years due to the emergence of the black market. Fortunately, though, there is help and support available for prescription drug addiction, and rehabilitation centres are more than equipped in dealing with a wide range of addiction issues.
Addiction Myth 4: “It’s easy to quit an addiction. All it takes is willpower.”
#Fact: As well as it being a mental process, addiction also produces physical symptoms. When someone goes cold turkey, for example, they often experience physical withdrawal symptoms (as well as emotional).
Addiction is so multi-faceted, and the stigma associated with addiction is usually what prevents a lot of people from seeking the help they need.
The point of substance addiction, for example, is for the person to alter their mind somewhat and how can one make a rational decision about recovery when the chemistry in the brain is impaired?
Addiction can become a vicious cycle, and while having willpower is important, there are so many more variables involved.
Addiction Myth 5: “Rehabilitation doesn’t work.”
#Fact: Rehabilitation aims to help individuals to overcome addiction. Effective rehabilitation programs focus on both the physical and emotional elements associated with addiction, such as past trauma.
And this largely involves challenging the coping mechanisms that people often use to avoid dealing with unpleasant memories (which can sometimes lead to addiction).
Along with many other healing benefits, CBT focuses on dysfunctional thinking patterns that often trigger destructive thoughts and behaviours, hence why CBT is a widely used therapy in the treatment of addiction.
Another effective therapy when treating addiction is Trauma Specific Therapy. This therapeutic approach involves a variety of techniques and can also be combined with CBT and other known therapies.
The best rehabilitation programs offer a mixture of personalized therapy treatments designed to treat not only the addiction itself, but also the root cause. Typically, the treatments available at most rehabilitation centres are:
Music and Art Therapy
Sports and Recreation
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
And since the seed of addiction usually grows from unresolved traumatic experiences, any treatment focusing on long-term abstinence needs to be highly personalized to be effective.
The Program offered at Tikvah Lake Recovery includes a diverse range of therapies designed to get to the ‘core’ of addiction as well as addressing any physical symptoms, and all this is done in luxurious 5-star surroundings.
At Tikvah Lake, we believe environmental factors play an important role in mental health, and we work hard to create a tranquil atmosphere that is designed to promote healing and long-lasting recovery.