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.
When most people think of addiction they usually connect it with someone who’s addicted to drugs. This is certainly part of it – but there are many different addictions that can all adversely affect someone and those around them too.
It is similar to drink or drug addiction in that the person has scant regard for the mental, physical, financial or social consequences of their behavior. It includes being addicted to gambling, sex, work, shopping, social media and gaming.
Any addiction can be described as indulging in something that is detrimental to the person and/or those around them – but that they cannot stop and stay stopped from doing.
Why do people become addicts?
There are many reasons why people become addicted to something. One reason is that they get some sort of high or reward from it.
Another is that it acts as a distraction. That’s not just the taking, using or doing – but the whole preparation, the frequent deceit that’s connected to it all, and then the coming out the other side and dealing with such as hangovers, comedowns and any mess or situations that were created.
Most addictions are all-consuming – and like that for a reason. It’s because another key reason someone becomes addicted to something is that they are attempting to mask or numb feelings that are so painful they are overwhelming.
Most addicts are people who are hurting inside very badly. Most often this is from a childhood trauma, although people do suffer from traumas later in life that adversely affect them too. Toxic shame and what is described as a “failure of love” often play a huge part too.
One of the most tragic things about addiction is that it gets progressively worse unless someone gets treatment. All addictions can be summed up by the slogan: the person took a drink; the drink took a person.
What are the benefits of quitting an addiction?
Thankfully, there are proven successful ways to beat any addiction. Regular one-on-one therapy and the Twelve Steps recovery program have both proved extremely effective over the years.
Many people who are abusing drink or drugs will need to detox first. This always needs to be managed by a team with expertise in detoxing as trying to detox at home can be dangerous.
But whatever the addiction, there are immense benefits from quitting, some more obvious than others.
Here are six major benefits of beating an addiction:
1. Boosted energy & enthusiasm
One of the first benefits many people notice when they quit an addiction is that they have much more energy and a clearer head.
They will realize just how much of their thinking and energy was spent on an addiction. All that planning and preparation, the using, the getting through the hangovers and comedowns… It’s an utterly exhausting way to live.
Clarity of thought has a positive impact. Decision-making vastly improves and consequently there is less stress in life.
From working and parenting to playing sports or studying, there’ll be much more energy – and that’s all hugely beneficial.
2. Quality sleep
If drink or drugs were the problem, people will realize once they quit that what they thought was sleep was often more like “passing out” and waking up was “coming to”. It was not a decent sleep at all.
When tired we all tend to be more easily irritated and less tolerant. So a sound sleep is good for us and people around us, such as our family, friends and colleagues.
In recovery, people will look at anything that’s been taking their peace of mind. So as these things are dealt with, sleep will improve – and that has great benefits for each day as they wake up feeling refreshed and fully charged.
3. Improved health
When we sleep our body restores us. So having decent sleep improves our overall physical and mental health.
Our immune system strengthens and that means we’re less likely to catch an illness. But if we do, we will recover much more quickly.
Having a good sleep and clearing our heads from all the problems of an addiction also makes it much less likely that we’ll have accidents or make mistakes. Life will be much less chaotic.
It means that instead of skipping meals or snatching something unhealthy while on the go, as many people with addictions do, there will be regular and relaxed meal times. Naturally health benefits will come too from not drinking excessively or using drugs that physically and mentally harm.
If a behavioral addiction was the problem then there will be much less stress in life. As is well known, stress is not beneficial to our health.
4. More spending power
It’s so commonly asked in utter bewilderment by many people when they get into recovery: how did I ever afford my addiction?
Obviously money that’s not spent on things such as drink, drugs, gambling and so on is available to spend on other much better things.
Also as people function better and have clearer heads for decision-making they will perform better at work – which can significantly boost earning power.
5. Increased hours
It’s often overlooked and not realized until it comes back after quitting an addiction: there’s much more time every day.
No more time is wasted on planning and preparation for the addiction; the taking, using, drinking or doing; and then the hangover or comedown. As well, picking up the pieces of the mess that’s all too often created.
Not to mention the energy that used to be spent on the deceit that frequently comes with an addiction. There will also be much less sick days and those hours of just getting through a day due to the negative impact of the day and/or night before.
So in recovery there are many more hours for the best things in life: spending time with family and friends, doing hobbies and pastimes, or just simply relaxing.
Life in addiction gets increasingly narrow as the addiction takes over. It is the opposite in recovery – and life opens up to some amazing new places, people and experiences.
One of the greatest discoveries that people who quit addictions find is that they gain the chance to find out who they really are. All that drink, all those drugs and all those unhealthy behavioral addictions were keeping the real person down.
Recovery involves looking at reasons why someone became addicted to something. When these reasons are dealt with it allows the real person to shine through.
Every treatment we offer is totally individualized, so that it works in the swiftest and most effective manner for each of our guests. This is also to ensure recovery is strong and enduring – so it continues when you leave us.
Those with problematic drug abuse to substances like marijuana or cocaine who get treated at the beginning of their substance use disorders, are much more likely to avoid relapse and other health care issues in the future.
Substance abuse and early intervention
The days of waiting for an addict to hit ”rock bottom” and realizing the severity and helplessness of their addiction have become more of an antiquated albeit unhelpful treatment method over the years.
Evidence suggests that early interventions have proven to be incredibly advantageous to individuals with a drug use problem.
When a person receives treatment early for their addiction, whether it be drug abuse or other substance use disorder, it prevents the likelihood of other mental health consequences.
Delayed intervention encourages the body to build a high tolerance to a substance (such as drugs and alcohol).
It also allows addictions to create mental, emotional and physical footers, all of which makes treatment and recovery incredibly challenging and relapse much more likely.
The consequences of delayed intervention have proven to be costly for many countries across the globe.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reported that for every two dollars of American government spending that goes toward addiction prevention, over ninety-six dollars gets spent on addressing the consequences of the countries that fail to prevent and treat drug and substance use disorders.
Drug abuse prevention
Detecting and addressing behavioral problems at the outset is just one way in which substance use disorders get prevented or reduced, particularly in adolescents.
Research suggests that many behavioral health issues can get spotted up to fours years before they become disorders.
Programs such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) help to fund sobriety programs for young children and adolescents by teaching them essential principles around substance use that can get adapted for addicts of all ages.
Importance of early intervention
As mentioned earlier, the benefits of early intervention are bottomless.
Whether someone has a marijuana or cocaine addiction, specific therapies and interventions can help control chronic addiction symptoms and improve an individual’s overall quality of life.
Some of the advantages of early intervention include:
Intervening early sets the stage for positive long-term effects, particularly when the long-term feels endless
Intervening at the outset catches the addict while they are still in frequent contact with healthier influences and environments
Early intervention alters the person’s life-course trajectory before it drifts too far out in the distance
Early intervention ensures that the long-term physical side effects of drug abuse and alcohol get minimized
Early intervening allows an addicts’ family members and friends to correct any unhealthy behaviors of their own that may be contributing to a loved ones’ problem with drug use
Intervening at the start also gives an addict the chance to shift their overall life focus toward healthy factors (before the addiction grabs hold) including, resilience, healthy environments, supportive relationships, positive mental health and adequate coping skills
Lastly, early intervention makes things generally that much easier for the addict.
It is much less challenging to break a substance use habit if the substance abuse pattern hasn’t yet established an integral role in the person’s life.
What are formal vs informal interventions?
The term ”intervention” often strikes up terrible images in a person’s mind, among many things, an intervention ”mob culture” where parents, family members, and friends get viewed as interrogators and the addicted, the prey.
Social media often sensationalizes drug use intervention programs with frightening images of addiction recovery settings within primary mental health.
Painting an inaccurate depiction of early intervention programs can be conducive to substance misuse recovery.
Addicts require the full support and understanding from their school, work colleagues and communities, all of which are critical components to treating underlying trauma, behavior and problematic drug use.
People who may be wondering about formal drug intervention must consider all the facts before making their first move.
For example, suppose parents or loved ones already have frank conversations with someone they love about their drug use issues.
In that case, a gentle conversation might be enough to get them to consider treatment to address their addiction problem.
Formal – intervention principles
However, even the most informal approach to early intervention will benefit from using the formal -intervention principles, all of which get stated below:
Prepare the intervention script way ahead – a rule of thumb is to practice in advance as a group and agree among yourselves not to get distracted by arguments or anything else that may take you off your schedule.
Constantly express your respect, empathy and concern for the addict throughout the intervention, letting them know how much you value your relationship with them and instilling the belief that they can overcome their addiction.
Ensure that the intervention team is no larger than six people. Consider how difficult and upsetting the situation already is for an addict without the added pressure of feeling bombarded and outnumbered. The aim is for the addict to remain as logical and non-defensive as possible.
Ensure that you understand the substance used and the specific concerns related to the drug. You must also know how long your loved one has been experiencing substance abuse and why. It also helps to know what other issues have developed as a result of substance abuse.
Always summarize the intervention by issuing the person with a sturdy ”next step”, such as an immediate call to action like professional treatment that they ideally commit to there and then. It’s also helpful to prepare for any harmful consequences that may arise from the intervention, mainly if they refuse treatment.
It’s normal to be concerned
Another area of importance in early intervention is understanding and addressing the common concerns associated with the intervention process.
An individual may worry about losing their relationship with the addict and fear that the addict is angry at them for approaching the issues surrounding their substance use disorder.
Developing a sense of trust
People must come to terms with the possibility that the addict may very well be angry at them. Let’s face it; it’s never easy being told that ”you’re messing up your life” or having to admit to an addiction to substances like marijuana or cocaine.
Anger and resentment are likely to occur at the outset since few people will get geared toward instant gratitude.
Parents and family members must appreciate that although the initial intervention phase will be challenging, your loved one won’t end up hating you for it.
The key is to remain supportive, empathetic and understanding. Before long, your loved one will begin to demonstrate appreciation for your concern, and your relationship will end up being a lot stronger for it.
What to do if the intervention process fails
It’s common for people to refuse addiction treatment.
Regardless of how well the intervention process got implemented, your loved one may not be ready to face their substance abuse problems.
People need to remind themselves:
Not to be discouraged or give up hope – Often, setbacks are merely a setup for a comeback.
To consider what might have gone wrong with the intervention, and if there was another attempt, what principles would get included the next time. Common mistakes made at interventions often include people going off subject, the addict being under the influence during the intervention and interveners getting defensive.
To stick to the consequences – when the addict refuses to get treatment, people MUST adhere to the effects they presented to the addict; if people back down, it puts them in a much weaker position and back into the enabler role. All this makes future intervention a lot harder.
Continue to be active within your support network – addicts’ loved ones’ need support too, and continuing to receive this level of support can be very empowering. It may even encourage an addict to follow this example in the future.
Getting in touch
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, then perhaps it’s time to consider getting treated.