Boosting Memory Aids Addiction Recovery Efforts

memory addiction recovery, gateway treatment centersAccording to findings from recent study, playing those memory games can improve decision-making in recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, which may result in an increase in substance abuse treatment efficacy.

The discovery involves an underlying relationship between memory and delay discounting. Psychologists use the term “delay discounting” to refer to one’s inability to resist the temptation of a smaller immediate reward in lieu of receiving a larger reward at a later date. Discounting future rewards too much is a form of impulsivity, and an important way in which we can neglect to exert self-control. Delay discounting has been linked to substance abuse treatment outcomes, with higher rates of impulsivity associated with a greater risk for relapse after drug rehab. This predictive ability is true regardless of one’s drug of choice, be it heroin or nicotine—the longer you can wait for any type of reward, the longer you are likely to go without using.

Meet Your Brain’s Impulse Control Center

The ability to delay gratification is linked to activation in a specific part of the brain—the dorsal (top) lateral (outside) prefrontal cortex, which is associated with planning and decision-making. Typically, more activation in this area means better self-control. However, the prefrontal cortex is known to be abnormal in substance abusers, and numerous studies have shown that addicts have less brain volume in this region than non-drug users. The decrease in size seems to be directly related to drug use itself, with severity and length of use linked to a greater decrease in volume and activity.

Researchers’ Aha Moment

A recent study alludes when you improve working memory you enhance your willpower. Initially this realization was surprising to researchers—since discounting and working memory are separate cognitive processes. However, the two functions overlap in the brain, and both are linked to activation in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex. As a result, it appears that improving working memory can strengthen activation in this area, which can subsequently enhance other behaviors that tap into it—like self-control.

“Remembering an event in the past and thinking about the future are really tied processes. And working memory, being able to hold ideas and concepts or facts in our heads for a certain period of time, may be necessary for us to think about and value things that occur in the future,” explains Dr. Warren Bickel, who has been researching drug addiction for the last 20 years.

Losing brain cells is never a good idea, but in the prefrontal cortex it can be especially detrimental, impacting the ability for self-control and making someone even more impulsive than they already were. But all is not lost.

The good news: Studies have shown that our brains can bounce back once off drugs because the cells have the ability to regenerate—similar to leaves sprouting from tree branches after a long, cold winter. If someone you care about needs help getting life back on track, Gateway Treatment Centers can help. Call today to learn about a free, confidential consultation at (877) 505-HOPE (4673).

Marijuana Laws: The Ins and Outs in Illinois (Part 2)

marijuana possessionMARIJUANA LAWS : POSSESSION IS THE CRIME

Remember, when it comes to marijuana or any illicit drug, possession – not ownership – is the crime. “It isn’t mine,” is not a defense. Plus, if someone has marijuana in his or her car and gets pulled over by a police officer who smells it, the officer has probable cause to search the car.

  • Possession of less than 2.5 grams of marijuana is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term of up to 30 days as well as a $1,500 fine.
  • Possession of between 2.5 – 10 grams of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment as well as a $1,500 fine.
  • Possession of paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison, as well as a minimum fine of $750. All paraphernalia is subject to forfeiture.

 MARIJUANA: LAWS VARY BY LOCALE

Depending on where you live and how much you have on you, getting caught with marijuana can either spell big trouble or an expensive fine.  Some towns and cities have local laws that allow police to write tickets instead of making arrests when people are caught in possession of small amounts of cannabis.

In Chicago, for example, possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a more lenient ordinance violation, similar to a traffic ticket. Note, though, if caught with weed in a school zone or park or in public openly smoking marijuana, you’ll still get arrested! Those cited with Chicago ordinance violations will be forced to pay a fine up to $500 depending on the amount of cannabis in possession.

Unfortunately, these local laws are often misunderstood. First of all, an amount that is eligible for a ticket in one place may not be in another. The maximum amounts vary from 2.5g to 30g. In addition, there are many circumstances that can affect the violation, including:

  • Age.
  • The location (airport, school, park).
  • Prior convictions.

To learn more about Illinois marijuana laws, or the effects of marijuana visit RecoverGateway.org/marijuana.

Illinois Marijuana Laws: Part 1

marijana laws, gateway treatment centersILLINOIS MARIJUANA LAWS AND FEDERAL MARIJUANA LAWS

While marijuana possession remains illegal under federal law, as of March 2014, approximately 15 to 20 states have legalized medical marijuana possession. Currently Illinois and Michigan are the only two Midwestern states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Colorado and Washington have even legalized marijuana for recreational use. Despite these changes in public opinion, marijuana possession is still a crime in Illinois. Illinois marijuana laws forbid drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite present in their bodily fluids above a specific, state-imposed threshold.

MARIJUANA AND DRIVING: DUI

Having marijuana or THC in your system is not a crime in and of itself. However, there are local ordinances in some places regarding being “intoxicated” in public, or in the roadway. Also, if you drive with THC in your system, whether or not you are actually impaired, you are committing a DUI.

Penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois vary according to whether it’s a first or subsequent conviction:

  •  First conviction: A first conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana is a class A misdemeanor. Penalties include up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
  • Second conviction: A violation is a class A misdemeanor. Penalties include a mandatory minimum of five days (and up to one year) in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and 240 hours of community service.
  •  Third and fourth convictions: A third or fourth violation is a class 2 felony, punishable with between three and 7 years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.

ILLINOIS MARIJUANA LAWS

The penalties for violating marijuana laws are all laid out in two sections of the Cannabis Control Act: 720 ILCS 550/4 and 720 ILCS 550/5.

Illinois marijuana laws focus on:

  • Quantity.
  • Personal possession vs. Intent to distribute.

Generally the more marijuana you have, the more serious the crime. And if you are in possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver, it is treated as a more serious crime.  Even sentences that don’t involve serving time for marijuana possession can include steep fines AND legal fees, classes or drug treatment, random drug tests and community service.

Also keep in mind, the crime is not just possession of marijuana, but possession of a substance containing cannabis. This means that if you use a misdemeanor amount of cannabis to make a pan of marijuana brownies, you are now in possession of a much heavier substance containing cannabis, and could be charged with a felony!

For more information on marijuana, visit RecoverGateway.org/marijuana.

If you or someone you know has tried before to stop using marijuana before but couldn’t quit, Gateway can help get life back on track. To arrange a free, confidential consultation, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

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