I would infer that you may be depleted in some area of your life. Generally, when I am having any of these experiences I can recognise that my basic needs, and possibly even transformative, needs are not met. My basic needs are food and water, adequate sleep, shelter and safety, social connection (belonging), and esteem needs (e.g., self-respect, self-worth, self-competence, mastery and achievement, integrity, sense of freedom and independence etc.). Perhaps only when all my deficiency needs are met, and I’m experiencing dissatisfaction with my growth needs, do I feel Restless, Irritable, and Discontent in this area of my life – however I assume some would argue that if I am feeling that way when attending to my growth needs, then I may have slipped back to Esteem Needs. You can look up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for a visual representation if you like, using a search engine. Below is a GIF that I created to educate people on how we can buffer ourselves to vulnerabilities. It’s very telling to go into the body when we haven’t eat for a while, may be we’re running on caffeine, and you can feel the restlessness in the body. We have to fuel up when we’re hungry to buffer ourselves from becoming irritable and restless. If you’re feeling discontent with life, I would suggest a social activity, play time with friends, working on a project of some kind, or getting involved in your community.
Are you feeling Restless, Irritable, and Discontent?
How does methamphetamine (aka. crystal meth) affect the brain?How does methamphetamine (aka. crystal meth) affect the brain?
To answer that question, I’ll need to explain a part of the brain called the Limbic System.
Within the brain there is a set of structures called the limbic system. There are several important structures within the limbic system: the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, and cingulate gyrus. The limbic system is among the oldest parts of the brain in evolutionary terms. It’s not just found in humans and other mammals, but also fish, amphibians, and reptiles.
The limbic system is the part of the brain involved in our behavioural and emotional responses, especially when it comes to behaviours we need for survival: feeding, reproduction and caring for our young, and fight or flight responses (https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/brain-anatomy/limbic-system).
The limbic system contains the brain’s reward circuit or pathway. The reward circuit links together several brain structures that control and regulate our ability to feel pleasure (or “reward”). The sensation of pleasure or reward motivates us to repeat behaviours. When the reward circuit is activated, each individual neuron (nerve cell) in the circuit relays electrical and chemical signals.
In a healthy world without addictive manufactured drugs, humans survive and thrive when they are rewarded for certain behaviours (cleaning, hard work, sex, eating, achieving goals etc), hence evolution has provided us with this feel-good chemical so that we will repeat pleasurable behaviours.
There is a gap between neurons called the synapse. Neurons communicate with each other by sending an electro-chemical signal from one neuron (pre-synaptic neuron) to the next (post-synaptic neuron). In the reward circuit, neurons release several neurotransmitters (chemical messengers). One of these is called dopamine. Released dopamine molecules travel across the synapse and link up with proteins called dopamine receptors on the surface of the post-synaptic neuron (the receiving nerve cell). When the dopamine binds to the dopamine receptor, it causes proteins attached to the interior part of the post-synaptic neuron to carry the signal onward within the cell. Some dopamine will re-enter the pre-synaptic nerve cell via dopamine transporters, and it can be re-released.
When a reward is encountered, the pre-synaptic nerve cell (neuron) releases a large amount of dopamine in a rapid burst. Dopamine transporters will remove “excessive” amounts of dopamine naturally within the limbic system. Dopamine surges like this help the brain to learn and adapt to a complex social and physical world.
Drugs like methamphetamine (a stimulant drug) are able to “hijack” this process contributing to behaviours which can be considered unnatural or potentially dysfunctional. A range of consequences can follow.
When someone uses methamphetamine, the drug quickly enters the brain, depending on how the drug is administered. Nevertheless, meth or ice is quick acting. Meth blocks the re-entry of dopamine back into the pre-synaptic neuron – which is not what happens naturally. This is also what cocaine does to the brain. However, unlike cocaine, higher doses of meth increase the release of dopamine from the presynaptic neuron leading to a significantly greater amount of dopamine within the synapse. Higher doses of cocaine will not release “more dopamine” from the pre-synaptic neuron like meth does. This is why after about 30 minutes or so, people who use cocaine will need more to maintain the high.
Dopamine gets trapped in the synapse (space between nerve cells) because the meth (like cocaine) prevents “transporters” from removing it back into the cell it came from. The postsynaptic cell is activated to dangerously high levels as it absorbs so much dopamine over a long period of time. The person using meth experiences powerful feelings of euphoria, increased energy, wakefulness, physical activity, and a decreased appetite.
When an unnatural amount of dopamine floods the limbic system like this over a long period of time, without reabsorption, then our brain is not replenished with dopamine, hence people who use meth often (even on a single occasion) may feel unmotivated, depressed, joyless, and/or pointlessness when they stop using. Figuratively speaking, the brain is “empty” or low on dopamine fuel, and it will take time to for dopamine to return to baseline levels and replenish itself. This may motivate the user to seek more methamphetamine to return to “normal”.
Methamphetamine can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions may occur with methamphetamine overdose, and if not treated immediately, can result in death (What are the immediate (short-term) effects of methamphetamine misuse? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov))
SIGNS OF SUBSTANCE MISUSE OR ADDICTION
- Finding it difficult to meet responsibilities.
- Withdrawing from activities or not enjoying activities that used to provide satisfaction e.g. work, family, hobbies, sports, socialising.
- Taking part in more dangerous or risky behaviours e.g., drink driving, unprotected sex, using dirty needles, criminal behaviour.
- Behaviour changes e.g., stealing, exhibiting violence behaviour toward others.
- Conflict with partner/family/friends, losing friends.
- Experiencing signs of depression, anxiety, paranoia, or psychosis.
- Needing more substance to experience the same effects
- Cravings and urges to use the substance and symptoms of withdrawal when not using the substance.
- Having difficulty reducing or stopping substance use.
- Regretting behaviours while under the influence and continuing to use again.
Well, hello and good morning, afternoon, and evening readers. I truly hope you’re swimming in the pleasantries of life rather than keeping your head above water in the unpleasant swamp. HOPE = Hold On Pain Ends. And there’s generally a learning or personal growth that comes after the storm of every painful experience, even if it’s simply greater empathy and compassion for others.
Today’s the day to learn or remember the fallacies of the human mind. I am not as smart as I look, haha. Have you heard of heuristics before? In cognitive psychology, a heuristic is a mental “shortcut” that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently. They can be very helpful in many situations, but they can also lead to cognitive biases, errors in thinking, and even perhaps without the mental shortcut, our thinking is often filled to the brim with cognitive distortions, assumptions and fallacies (faults). Awareness raising is probably the first step to identify our own cognitive traps and also identify them in others. Cognitive errors are natural – we all have them. Below are some cognitive distortions/errors to be aware of when we reflect on our interactions with people, during personal reflection, and when making meaningful decisions or judgements.
- ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING (aka. POLARISED THINKING, SPLITTING, and BLACK-AND-WHITE THINKING: is extreme thinking i.e., the error in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism. Before you think “I must have really shitty thinking because I do this ALL the time”, give yourself a break. If you’re thinking in black and white, you probably internalised this from social media, television and movies, your family of origin and the broader society. Be mindful of using extreme, dichotomist terms, such as “failure”, “success”, “best”, “worst”, “freezing”, “boiling”, “everything”, and “nothing”. If you think “I’m a terrible person”, that is bullshit and inaccurate. You may have behaved terribly for a period of time towards yourself, to someone else, or towards some “thing”, but we cannot discount all the NON-terrible qualities about you. We must THINK in DIALECTICS i.e., the ability to view issues from multiple perspectives with reason and wisdom or in other words being able to have two contradictory viewpoints, where a greater truth emerges from their interplay. The truth is, if you think you’re a terrible person, there’s also virtuous person in there too.
- OVERGENERALISTION: The words “always”, “every” and “never” come into play here, and you have an unshakable “rule” or “conviction” about yourself, something, or someone, based on one or two incidences. Overgeneralising is “a cognitive distortion in which an individual views a single event as an invariable RULE, so that, for example, failure at accomplishing one task will predict an endless pattern of defeat in all tasks.” Coming into the present moment and being specific can be helpful if you are someone who overgeneralises. You may also want to ask yourself if what your saying is the really the truth. Is it really accurate or correct. There’s an assumption that because something has happened once or a few times that it’s like going to happen every time. Remember, the words “always”, “every”, and “never” frequently appear in this cognitive “trap”. I encourage you to look at the big picture and ask yourself if what you’re saying or thinking is accurate. Overgeneralisations tend to be vague and board statements e.g., “I always get every red light”. Perhaps this is part of our evolutionary negativity bias. We tend to notice the so-called “bad” and overlook the so-called “good”. If you find yourself using overgeneralisations that suggest a future prediction (e.g., “I’ll never get a partner) … use some humour – you may have big balls but neither one of them are crystal – VEEP. If there is some truth to unusually frequent and specific situations that are making your life unpleasant, validate them, talk to someone, and brainstorm some solutions. We humans have plenty of blind spots that others can see sometimes.
- MENTAL FILTER: is considered to be the opposite to OVERGENERALISATION the mental filter takes one small event and focuses on it exclusively, filtering out anything else that’s relevant. Filtering out the positive and focusing on the negative can have a detrimental impact on your mental well-being. Filtering out the so-called “negative” can also make one a bit hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence), arrogant, vain and conceited – and then you’re just a stone’s throw away from narcissism.
- PERSONALISATION AND BLAME: Personalization and blame is a cognitive distortion whereby you entirely blame yourself, or someone else, for a situation that in reality involved many factors that were out of your control. I think this is a symptom of our wounded ego, or simply just the ego. As human’s we are egocentric, like children, and we often think that circumstances in our environment are solely because of our influence. For example, your friend isn’t behaving like they usually do, so it must be because you have done something.
Again, personalisation is an egocentric error in cognition. “Of course it has to do with me”, we think. It makes sense that we personalise things. We are the star of our own show, our own narrative. If you personalise something, it means we’ve directly influenced it – we are the primary cause. This may elicit internal pain, shame or guilt, so what’s the pay-off? Personalisation is a cognitive error that offers us the illusion of control e.g., “If we caused it then we will learn how to not cause it again, and maybe even undo what we have caused”. If you think about it, personalising something is something children do. Remember, there are infinite variables in any situation to take full credit of the outcome. That being said, it is responsible and mature to reflect objectively on the influence of our behaviour and what we can learn about our shortcomings.
Blame deserves it’s own blog post but in short, it can be defined as a defence mechanism to protect the self from feeling some unwanted emotion or thinking something unacceptable in relation to the “self”. Blaming provides a way of devaluing others, an the pay-off or reinforcement the blamer receives is a sense of superiority. It protects our ego from feeling responsible for something, and protects us from feeling guilt or shame. Perfectionists are very good at blaming others, and themselves. Even if you genuinely think faulting someone or something is valid, remember that no one is perfect. Recognise that you are human and others are fallible humans. As they say in recovery, “there is a bit of bad in the best of us and a bit of good in the worst of us“. We may have internalised from society and culture that we couldn’t make mistakes (because we receive “punishment” for making mistakes) but we must move beyond that now. As adults, we need to get real. Validate your experience because it may be very disappointing when we don’t meet others or our own expectations. We must nurture and care for the wounded child. Lets attend and befriend to our shortcomings and accept we are not superhuman. Learn to expect you will make mistakes. Failure is kind of an illusion, isn’t it? Or maybe a social construct? “Failure” is really learning – replace ‘failure’ with the word ‘feedback’. Would a cat or dog blame them self for a “mistake”? In the minds of animals, there’s no such concept as failure or a mistake.
Here’s a link to website “simplypsychology” that discusses a theory called Attribution Theory, an idea about how people explain the causes of behaviour and events: Attribution Theory – Situational vs Dispositional | Simply Psychology