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Dr. Stratyner

By: Dr. Harris Stratyner, Ph.D.

Dr. Harris Stratyner, vice president of Caron Treatment Center and clinical director of the New York region, is internationally known for developing and implementing the groundbreaking clinical model of "Carefrontation," a treatment approach that doesn't shame or blame the patient. It recognizes addiction as a disease and stresses each individual's responsibility to work with healthcare providers to reach the goal of complete abstinence. 

The Great Escape

Jul 15, 2015
Dr. Harris Stratyner, Ph.D., is vice president of Caron Treatment Centers and clinical director of the New York region. He contributes regularly to Renew.
 
 
I just watched a deer jump a fence down by a patch of phragmites enveloping a cove of the Long Island Sound. The water is still, on this lovely July day.
 
This was a meditative moment for me in a world of seeming chaos and violence, made more complicated by myriad drugs of abuse and an industry of alcohol that makes every social occasion another opportunity to catch a "buzz."
 
Don't get me wrong, people have a right to have a drink if they don't have the disease of addiction - I just wish every advertisement didn't make alcohol seem like the only way to enjoy oneself!
 
I notice that I write about the topic of getting intoxicated a great deal. There is an obvious reason for this - I believe it is harming the confidence and minds of our burgeoning young men and women, and will eventually weaken our world. I truly say this as a scientist and clinician who has watched our society at large become less interested in global affairs and true survival. 
 
There is a great deal of talk about global warming, war, terrorism, racism, etc., etc., but we need sober minds to make these things happen. Are we going forwards or backwards? There is no excuse when we have evidenced-based treatments for addiction. 
 
We must ensure that our schools, houses of worship, broadcast, print, and social media, get the word out. 
 
Here goes Dr. Stratyner again - life is a wonderful thing folks, but not when you're in a drug-induced altered state of consciousness - then it is (in this social scientist's mind) just a waste of time.
 
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The irony of alcohol

Apr 20, 2015

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, so I thought it only fitting that I write a bit about this rather ironic substance.

It is ironic that alcohol is legal and is potentially so dangerous. Indeed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2013), 3.3 million deaths occur each year from some form "harmful use of alcohol."
 
I always think about alcohol being legal when legalization of other substances are discussed. I actually vacillate on this issue, and alcohol and its history have a great deal to do with my indecision - although for the most part I do believe legalization of drugs would really send the wrong message to our youth.
 
...Back to alcohol proper:
 
Alcohol can lead to memory loss, as well as blackouts, seizures, muscle coordination issues, cluster and migraine headaches, severe dehydration, major organ damage, vitamin depletion - particularly the B vitamins, which can result in Wernicke's encephalopathy, and Korsakoff psychosis, neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and as previously noted, even death. And mind you, I did not even mention vehicular or industrial accidents.
 
Besides Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, women in general succumb to alcohol-related illness faster then men. This has been related to lower water concentrations, and perhaps hormones (NIAAA, 2014). There have also been studies dating back to the mid-90's, that have looked at lower enzyme levels in women, particularly alcohol dehydrogenase (NEJM, 1995), which negatively impact gastric metabolism.
 
All in all, alcohol is an extremely dangerous substance that is ironically legal. It cost our world billions of dollars a year in health issues, and more importantly, results in millions of deaths. I for one am glad we have a month to raise awareness about this potentially lethal substance, and the brain disease of alcoholism.
 
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Resilience and working through

Mar 24, 2015

Life certainly was made for living  on a moment by moment basis. The existential dilemmas we encounter can lead to a nihilistic view or one of true optimism - the difference perhaps is related to genetics, biochemistry, the social and political zeitgeist, luck or lack there of, and myriad other phenomena.

Our experiences in life inevitably lead to a process that is at one introspective yet yearns to be shared with our social network. However, our reluctance to be seen as being different can block this drive - brought on by insecurity as a result of a sense of low self-esteem and low self-efficacy that makes us want to fit in with the rest of society.

If we progress to the "next level" we perhaps will deal with our reluctance to be different by gaining strength through insight and embracing what the French might refer to as "vive la difference" - "long live the difference."

More times than not, our reluctance wins out and drives us to escape or pushes us towards bolstering our sense of courage through alcohol and/or drugs. Although this is an ego-dystonic process, the clinician must help us to work through our resistance and make self discovery syntonic.

Information gathering through didactics and therapy must result in the knowledge that escaping exploration of the true self through the use of mood-altering substances is at best temporary and at worst leads us down a path of "who are we really," and the potential for dependency.

The process of introspection paired with the cognitive behavioral tools we need to understand ourselves and create change, can lead to long-lasting sobriety and a sense of true bliss. When the inevitable negative aspects of existence arrive at our "psychic doorstep" we are better prepared to be positive and productive in our actions - resilient in our approach to life.

 

Related:

Gaining power by admitting powerlessness

Understanding gambling addiction

Four questions for making tough decisions

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