[AMSA] From Dr Scott Davis; Your Addiction Consultant

Rutgers AMSA rutgers.amsa at gmail.com
Thu Feb 5 19:59:06 EST 2009


General meeting for 2009-2010 elections for all AMSA members will be on
Monday, March 2nd at 8pm in the Busch Graduate Student Lounge (Room 174).

Dr. Babiarz will be giving his annual Pre-Med Timeline to all pre-medical
students on Tuesday, Feb. 10th at 8pm @ BCC116. Hosted by Pre-Med Society.
Don't be out of the loop! KNOW what your next steps are by listening to the
wise words of the health professions advisor!

For all those interested in addiction and psychiatric medicine, one of our
guest speakers at Rutgers 2009 Pre-Medical Conference is going to be Dr.
Scott Davis, MD, MA, who is an expert on addiction medicine. Here is a
newsletter that is sent out by his institution. If further interested, come
listen to him speak on Sat, Feb. 28 and subscribe for the free online

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*[image: self head shot]*  *Scott M. Davis, M.D., M.A., FASAM*  *Feature
Articles In This Issue*   *Personal Story on Addiction : Giving Up The
*  * Science on Addiction: Marijuana Use Takes Toll on Adolescent Brain
*  *Tips and Take-Homes on Addiction: How to Tell If Your Child Is On
*    *Quick Links*   * ** **Full website and blog
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*Addiction and Recovery
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*Dr. Davis' interviews- TV video clips and
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  *Living Jonathan's Life*
Scott M. Davis, MD

*My descent into addiction following the death of my identical twin,
Jonathan *
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     Issue: # 1 January 29, 2009    Dear Subscriber:

*Welcome* to the first *inaugural* issue of *Addiction Consult*.  As a
nationally-recognized Addiction Medicine specialist, my goal is to provide
you a weekly newletter on addiction and substance abuse that educates,
informs, and inspires.  Each week's edition will include three
"Featured" columns: an inspiring personal story of addiction and recovery,
a story that illustrates the science behind addiction understanding and
treatment, and a practical tips and "take-home" advice related to addiction
and substance abuse.  The first personal feature story is a synopsis of my
own descent into addiction and into recovery, taken from my published book
"Living Jonathan's Life".

In addition to the feature stories, you will find regular informational
links to a host of references for addition and substance abuse.  As well,
always expect new surprises and humorous outlooks.  Sometimes laughter still
can be the best medicine as they say!

Please feel free to subscibe to this newletter by clicking on the "*Join Our
Mailing List *link to the left".  You may unsubscribe at any time. Trust
that you will continue to be richly rewarded by the personal, educational,
and scientific arenas of addiction and substance abuse, from  highly
respected leaders in the field.

All the Best -- *Scott M. Davis, M.D., M.A., FASAM*
*                     Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine*

 Personal Story on Addiction: Giving Up The Ghost     LOSS OF A TWIN

It was September 1999 when Dr. Davis, who has since become the Certified
American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Physician at the Betty Ford
Center, entered a rehab facility called Springbrook Northwest (now called
Hazelden Springbrook) in Newberg, Ore. Finally facing his prescription drug
addiction, Davis also came to terms with the life and death of his identical
twin brother.
Davis and his twin brother Jonathan grew up in a middle class family in New
Jersey, a fairly typical American family with the normal ups and downs but
nothing out of the ordinary. Although Davis felt particularly close to his
twin brother, Jonathan was intensely private and didn't share much about his
personal life.
Davis first learned about his brother's battle with AIDS when he found a
small blue pill in Jonathan's car during one of their visits together.
Devastated, he was convinced that the pill belonged to someone else until he
found the letter confirming Jonathan's diagnosis in his room. Still, Davis
chose not to mention it.
In the years leading up to Jonathan's death in 1993, there was no magic
cocktail of drugs to combat the effects of AIDS. Jonathan quickly
deteriorated, eventually moving in with his parents so his mother could care
for him. In the prologue to his book, "Living Jonathan's Life", Davis
writes, "The day I watched my twin brother die before my eyes, I experienced
a loss that was devastating and without comparison. With his passing, I lost
much more than a best friend, a confidante and a brother; I lost a human
mirror, a reflection into which I had always been able to look and from
which I could gain strength. When Jonathan died, that once radiant mirror
turned black as stone. His disease had claimed me too".


With the death of his twin brother, Davis dove deeper into his work as an
internal medicine physician. But he couldn't sleep. Sleeping pills helped
temporarily but brewing inside his body was a physical pain that wouldn't go
away. Davis was diagnosed with chronic abdominal pain, but not source was
determined. The pain worsened until one physician suggested a morphine pump.
Surgically inserted into his abdomen, the pump delivered a continuous stream
of morphine.
In rehab at springbrook, Davis was still convinced that he didn't have a
problem. When he finally broke down and admitted his deepest fears, the
excruciating, chronic pain began to subside, and within days, it was gone.
Davis says, "It was painful going to the depths. There were issues that I
had surrounding the events of my brother's death. I had a lot of survivor
guilt related to that as well. With the added pressure of being the doctor
in the family, it became a desperate situation for me."
According to Davis, escape is at the heart of drug or alcohol addiction -
escape from reality. Whether it is emotional or physical pain, the user
escapes from the real experiences of life. "The goal of recovery is to allow
patients to begin to live and experience an authentic life that will have
its challenges, but healthier ways of coping and living," says Davis. "It's
not the drug that's the problem. The drug is the drug. It's the behavior
around it. Usually it's the problem going on inside of someone that causes
them to take drugs in the first place."
Alcohol addiction in America has risen only slightly over the years, but
prescription drug addiction has climbed exponentially. Davis is more direct.
"It's literally an epidemic. Laws to regulate these drugs are slowly being
tightened but unfortunately there's still so much access. There needs to be
more education on the part of primary care physicians, including
psychiatrists." Davis explains the natural effect of these drugs quickly
leads to higher dosages, and in some cases additional drugs and alcohol. The
hallmark of drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse is the loss of
control around the drug which leads to the escalation and use.


Davis acknowledges that his own recovery included giving up the ghost,
revealing the source of his pain and talking about it. It is a key part of
recovery. "It's walking through...engaging in a process. We have to learn to
lean on other people, to trust and to be honest. It means being as
transparent as possible. It's part of the 12-step process.
Davis' book, "Living Jonathan's Life," which he completed in 2006, tells the
story of his relationship with Jonathan, his addiction and his recovery. The
book is available through Health Communications, Inc. (www.hci-online.com),
Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and all Borders stores and online.
Introspective and cathartic, Davis' book gave him a different relationship
with his twin brother. "I have a lot more hope than I used to...I know
myself much better and I'm more open and honest now," says Davis. "Even
though my brother Jonathan died, I have a better relationship with him
today. Thant helps carry me and translates into my relationships with other
people as well as with my family."
Davis' marriage survived his drug addiction and he and his wife have two
young daughters. Davis is optimistic about his life. "I've been with the
Betty Ford Center over four years now and I love working here. I feel like
there's so much I can do, not only working with patients in the clinical
setting but teaching and educating.

Author's Bio
Deborah Liv Johnson is a freelance staff writer for Desert Magazine, based
in Palm Springs, California.

This article was written about Dr. Scott M. Davis, the Selfgrowth.com
Official Guide to Substance Abuse.

  *Got A Question on Addiction--- Ask Now, Rapid Response*
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or substance abuse question answered quickly, simply click on the *Ask Now
*link below and submit your question.  It's that easy!  You'll receive a
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 *Science on Addiction: Marijuana Use Takes Toll on Adolescent Brain
 ScienceDaily (Oct. 15, 2008) - Brain imaging shows that the brains of teens
that use marijuana are working harder than the brains of their peers who
abstain from the drug.

At the 2008 annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Boston,
Mass., Krista Lisdahl Medina, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor
of psychology, presented collaborative research with Susan Tapert, associate
professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.
Medina's Oct. 12 presentation, titled, "Neuroimaging Marijuana Use and its
Effects on Cognitive Function," suggests that chronic, heavy marijuana use
during adolescence - a critical period of ongoing brain development - is
associated with poorer performance on thinking tasks, including slower
psychomotor speed and poorer complex attention, verbal memory and planning
ability. Medina says that's evident even after a month of stopping marijuana
use. She says that while recent findings suggest partial recovery of verbal
memory functioning within the first three weeks of adolescent abstinence
from marijuana, complex attention skills continue to be affected.
"Not only are their thinking abilities worse, their brain activation to
cognitive tasks is abnormal. The tasks are fairly easy, such as remembering
the location of objects, and they may be able to complete the tasks, but
what we see is that adolescent marijuana users are using more of their
parietal and frontal cortices to complete the tasks. Their brain is working
harder than it should," Medina says.
She adds that recent findings suggest females may be at increased risk for
the neurocognitive consequences of marijuana use during adolescence, as
studies found that teenage girls had marginally larger prefrontal cortex
(PFC) volumes compared to girls who did not smoke marijuana. The larger PFC
volumes were associated with poorer executive functions of the brain in
these teens, such as planning, decision-making or staying focused on a task.
The research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

 *Tips and Take-Homes on Addiction:  How To Tell If Your Child Is Using
The first step should always be open communication. Hopefully, you've laid a
solid foundation of your expectations, and have been open to talk with your
child. When it's time for the talk the first thing to ask is if they've been
approached by someone to try drugs. Don't start by asking if they've used,
it could be taken as an accusation. If they state that they have been
approached, don't fly off the handle. If the first thing you do is demand to
know who, you'll lock horns with your child. You need to work into it
slowly. If your child states they've never used, thank them and praise them
for using good judgement.

The next way to tell if your child is using drugs, is to use your nose. Has
your child suddenly taken to excessive use of cologne or perfume? Are there
several air fresheners hanging in their car or bedroom? Has your child
suddenly starting chewing several pieces of gum or breath mints? In general,
drugs that are smoked or heated will have a very distinct smell that is hard
to cover up. Some drugs, like Meth, will cause teeth to rot and decay,
causing extreme bad breath.

If your child is using drugs, he needs to pay for them. Has your child
suddenly had problems with money? Has money been missing from your wallet or
purse? Are valuables missing from around the home? Don't fall into the trap
of believing your child would never steal, even if addicted. Addiction is
just that, an addiction. I have personally seen very good people turn into
something else entirely when they battle an addiction. It can control your

Does your child have a sudden change in sleeping habits? Some drugs will
cause an extreme high, along with extreme energy that lasts for days. Does
your child stay up for long periods of time and then crash? Other drugs will
cause depression and make the user very tired. Is your child simply hitting
puberty, or it something more?

Look at your child's face. Are his cheeks bright red? Are his teeth
browning? Are his eyes bloodshot, dilated, or "bouncy"? Does he have sores
around his mouth? Is his hairline receding already? Different drugs cause
different reactions to the skin and eyes.
Has your child suddenly lost interest in activities he used to love? This
could be quitting sports or writing poetry, just about anything. Often
times, the desire to use the drug will outweigh the desire to do anything

Another warning sign of a child's drug use is severe mood changes. Does your
child seem happy for several days, followed by long bouts of depression?
Some drugs will cause long stages of anger or joy, it really depends on the
person and what their using. Some drugs will cause a wide range of emotions,
varying often as it runs through the body. Keep in mind that these are also
warning signs of various mental health issues. This can also simply be a
part of growing up.

Have your child's eating habits changed? Most drugs can cause severe weight
loss, as meals are substituted with a high. Other drugs, like common pot,
cause the munchies. Sadly, it's tough tell if it's a conscious diet effort
or not.

To snoop or not to snoop, that's a personal choice. On one hand, you are
responsible for the safety and well being of your children. On the other
hand, you may decrease the level of trust your child has in you if you get
caught. You must make a decision on the stand you will take.

Don't jump to conclusions. Virtually everything listed in this article are
normal phases when growing up. You're looking for combinations. Use sound
judgement and trust your instincts.

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SCOTT DAVIS, M.D., M.A., FASAM Fellow of the American Society of Addiction
phone: (760) 275-4318
Email: sdavis1 at dc.rr.com
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