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Sober curious. It’s a relatively new term in pop culture, but it’s gaining a lot of momentum, and it’s becoming a popular new trend. The site Bustle defined it as, “You know the experience that alcohol doesn’t make you feel great and you don’t drink it often, but you’re not willing to put an all-or-nothing label on yourself.”

There’s also a book called Sober Curious, written by Ruby Warrington, with the tagline, “The blissful sleep, greater focus, limitless presence, and deep connection awaiting us all on the other side of alcohol.”

With a lot of news and buzz in the zeitgeist about sober curious, all this could point to a larger trend where society could be making a big turn towards wellness, and leaving alcohol behind as a part of it.

Satisfying Your Sober Curiosity

The Chicago Tribune has called sober curious “a movement,” and one woman in her twenties who spoke to the Tribune said she stopped drinking two years ago and loves it. “I have so much clarity,” she says today. “And I feel like when I connect with people, it’s honest and it’s real. And I have the confidence in myself that I’m always going to remember what I said, and that what I’m feeling in the moment is true.”

In Chicago, sober curious groups are popping up, and it wouldn’t be surprising if groups like this start popping up like this all over the country.

A Good Launching Point to Get Clean?

“Sober curious” is a term that is self-explanatory, and it could be a good launching point for some people to try sobriety out. And if sober curious does indeed become a popular trend, it could be good for a lot of people.

As the author of Sober Curious, Ruby Warrington, explains, “I’ve seen the trend really blossom over the past three years or so. It just feels like there’s been a really profound shift in the way people are thinking about drinking.”

Much like AA meetings, sober curious people started getting together in meet up groups to feel things out, check it out, and see if it’s right for them. Sober curious has also been dovetailing with what’s called “mindfulness,” where people are taking better care of themselves with yoga, meditation, eating vegan and more.

And for some people who may not have stepped over into alcoholism, sober curious can be a good way to stop drinking before it becomes a full-blown habit. It could also give people a better perspective on why they’re drinking, and why they should stop.

As one psychologist told the Tribune, “If we think of any other health behavior – exercise or eating fried food – we wouldn’t take such a righteous tact [against it]. We would look at the behavior: is it something that I want? Is it making me feel good, or is it making me feel bad?”

While sober curious is a new trend that’s growing, if it helps lead more people to get sober, and head off bad habits before they grow too big, it’s certainly a good thing. Many times, whatever brings you to sobriety is a good thing, and so far sober curious seems like a very good thing.

Psychological vs Physical Dependency

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It seems that people think about physical and psychological addictions as somehow separate processes. This distinction is not quite right. Psychological dependence, physical dependence, and addiction are three different issues, but they go hand-in-hand. It is helpful to see some of the differences between them.

Physical dependence occurs when a person repeatedly uses substances. Soon the body develops tolerance and no longer reacts strongly to it. This forces a person to use increasing amounts of drugs and/or alcohol to feel initial effects. In the end, the body becomes not only accustomed to the presence of the drugs, but it also can’t function without them and in case of stopping, a person will experience intense physical reactions, such as tremors, “shakes”, chills and body aches. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. Addictions may be accompanied by physical dependence, and physical dependence suggests addiction, but there are cases when an individual may experience a physical dependence without being addicted or vice versa. For example, in the case of painkillers. The body will develop tolerance and dependence, but this does not mean addiction. Another example can be an individual who has a gambling addiction but does not have a physical dependency.

Psychological dependence is the addict’s emotional need for the substance or behavior. The body may not feel withdrawal symptoms, but an individual will struggle emotionally when letting go. When using drugs, the brain reward system is stimulated, and it ensures that behavior is repeated. Psychological dependence can be as powerful as physical dependence. Let’s take smoking marijuana as an example. While marijuana does not create a physical dependency, it has a psychological attachment. A person develops a physical and an emotional need to continue the habit. In many cases, both physical and psychological addiction is present.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease. It is not only a dependency on a substance. It also encompasses behaviors. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and behavior. Addicted persons put drug or alcohol first. They are unable to control their urge for using the substance and continue to use it despite being aware of its harmful impacts on themselves and people around them. They fail to meet essential obligations at home, work and in their relationships. Their thoughts are consumed with using drugs.


Another Look at the Gaming Addiction Debate: Gaming for Wellness

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There’s currently great debate about teens spending too much time playing video games. Some would say that gaming is indeed an addiction, and there is currently a rehabilitation and recovery center in Europe that reportedly treats gaming and tech addiction.


But others have strongly debated whether too much gaming is a serious addiction, and many have taken great pains to point out the positive effects of gaming in young and old people. In fact, there’s a new breed of video games that could be very helpful for teen mental health that are destroying the cliché that video games are harmful.


Gaming As Therapy


While too much gaming, or too much of anything, can be a bad thing, hours and hours of game playing has many good benefits for people that often gets overlooked. With video games being hot sellers during the holidays, once again the debate against violence in video games has reared its head, but as the Hollywood Reporter reports, “video games as therapy often goes unnoticed.”


As The Reporter points out, there have been games that eschew violence, but they don’t get the attention that titles like Call of Duty and Red Dead get. When you control a character’s destiny in a video game, you can feel more in control of your life, and it can indeed have therapeutic benefits, much like doctors who use virtual reality to help people deal with PTSD and other mental health issues.


The Reporter writes, “one such paper, published in Molecular Psychiatry last year, found that patients examined that more than half of patients examined who were suffering from post-traumatic stress experienced far fewer intrusive thoughts while playing the non-violent game Tetris than those who did not play the game.”


Not to mention that seniors citizens have found great therapeutic value from video games because they keep your mind sharp, and can improve eye / hand coordination and motor skills.


Some people find great therapeutic value in the ocean, and one game Abzu, lets the player go into a simulated ocean world. It doesn’t have you blasting away at aliens, but it gives you an appreciation of the beauty of nature. Abzu is indeed a remarkably wonderful immersive experience, and other games like Flower, Jourey and Rime can also invoke good feelings in people, like meditation or listening to relaxing music.


A New Kind of Gaming


Granted, trying to pitch a non-violent video game wasn’t easy for the creators of Abzu, and one gaming executive recommended putting a spear gun in the game, but if enough titles catch on, maybe non-violent and therapeutic video games can be the hot new trend.


Violent gaming is often a scapegoat for mental health problems and violence in the world, but many forget that gaming has evolved over the years, and it incorporates a greater sense of intelligence than the days of Pac Man. Some will always argue that video games can be harmful, especially to young people, but it’s far better for teens and young adults to get out their aggressions and perform a variation of mediation through gaming than to act out violently in the real world.

How to Beat Depression During the Holidays

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While many love the holidays and look forward to them, it can be a tough and lonely time for many as well. For many who have mental health issues or suffer from addiction, the holidays can be especially difficult to get through, but there are indeed ways to combat these feelings and not get stuck in a holiday funk.


For people who are trying to maintain their sobriety and are trying to stay mentally healthy, there are definitely ways to stay sober and well during the holidays, and here are some things to keep in mind…


Staying Safe and Mentally Well During the Holidays

The holidays are a stressful time. Being with family can be tough for a lot of people, and there are many other stressors to deal with including shopping for gifts, travel, cooking big meals, and so on.


One of the most important and obvious steps many should take during the holidays is reaching out to someone you trust. Talk to family that you know you trust. Reach out to friends on social media. Find a support group. Hook up with a therapist.


In listing how to beat holiday depression, Forbes reminds us that many can suffer from SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. When the world goes through daylight savings time, and the days grow shorter, it can greatly affect people’s moods.


Therapy and medication are recommended for SAD, but light therapy is also recommended as well. With light therapy, you spend time around artificial light that replaces the sunlight from the spring and summer you’re missing and feel much better.


As Forbes points out, some people may think they’re just stressed out from the holidays, but they could indeed be suffering from depression. It’s important to determine if your depression is a long-term symptom, or if you’re just feeling holiday blahs. However you feel, don’t be afraid to reach out for help, and don’t ignore it, hoping it will go away.


It’s Okay To Spend the Holiday With Friends and Surrogate Family

Some people feel odd defying tradition by spending the holidays with friends instead of their families, but this is more common than you’d think. Some people don’t have healthy families to be around, and some people have lost important members of their families, so during holidays, the important thing is being around people you love. As Redbook mentions, there are even terms for spending the holidays with close friends like Friendsgiving, Friendsmas, and Frienukkah.


Staying Active and Recharging During the Holidays

Even though it’s the holidays, Redbook reminds us it’s important to stay active, even when you’re enjoying time off. Even if you want to take some time away from the gym, it’s important just to get outside, enjoy some fresh air, and get some vitamins from the sunlight into your skin. As this article explains, “SAD can be mitigated by exposure to sunlight, so try to get a little bit every day. Even sitting by your window can do wonders if you can’t bear the frigid temperatures.”


And while it’s important not to overeat, Redbook also recommends having some comfort foods when you want to treat yourself. This is where good friends can come in and help, you can share naughty foods together and make sure you don’t eat too much of them.


One last recommendation from Redbook that would benefit all of us greatly is volunteering and helping people out that are less fortunate. There are many people in the world who are having an even worse time than you are doing the holidays, and being there for them can put a lot in perspective.

Bruce Springsteen Talks About His Personal Mental Health Struggles

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He’s commonly known as The Boss, but even major rock stars like Bruce Springsteen have mental health struggles. Springsteen has written about his mental health issues in his autobiography, and now he’s speaking out again to the press about dealing with depression.


Born to Run in the Family


Bruce Springsteen has mental illness in his family. He just confessed to Esquire that his father was a paranoid schizophrenic. It was a hard upbringing. Springsteen said his father never told him he loved him, and his dad often spent long periods alone in the house in silence.


When you have a parent who is mentally ill, it can certainly make you afraid that your mental health could be at risk, and indeed Springsteen explained, “I have come close enough to [mental illness] where I know I am not completely well myself. I’ve had to deal with a lot of it over the years, and I’m on a variety of medications that keep me on an even keel.”


Without taking the right meds, Springsteen adds that “the wheels can come off a bit.” This isn’t the first time that Springsteen has used vehicle metaphors for his mental health. He also told Vanity Fair that his depression was “a freight train bearing down, loaded with nitroglycerin and running quickly out of track.”


Springsteen is also concerned about mental illness with his own family, and he’s kept a dutiful eye on his children as well. (Thankfully Springsteen’s kids are well, and mental illness has apparently skipped a generation in his family.)


The Boss Deals With His Mental Health


Springsteen reportedly had a breakdown when he was 32 right after releasing his album Nebraska. He’s not totally certain what caused it, but it drove him into therapy, and he also started taking medication as well. He even wrote a song in his 2012 Wrecking Ball album called, This Depression. (While he got into therapy years ago, Springsteen also had another bout with depression when he was in his early sixties.)


As Springsteen’s wife, Patti Scialfa, realized, when her husband was writing about his depression in his autobiography, he used a similar method to writing songs. “You solve something that you’re trying to figure out through the process of writing,” she told Vanity Fair. “I think it’s great for him to write about depression. A lot of his work comes from him trying to overcome that part of himself.”


And indeed, many artists use songs, movies, books, as a well to express themselves and exercise their demons. Springsteen’s work has always captured the point of view of a working class life, but ever since coming to terms with his mental health, he’s gone within and gotten more personal about his emotions.


Even with all his wealth and success, Springsteen knows that depression can be a lifelong battle, but he’s willing to put up the fight, and his continuing bravery in the face of some tough mental health challenges should make him even more of a hero to many.




Jeff Tweedy of Wilco Talks Fighting Addiction, Depression, and Anxiety

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Addiction, depression and anxiety can hit many musicians, and it can often take years of making mistakes and learning from those mistakes before a musician can get sober.

Where sex, drugs and rock n roll has been a cliché for many years, it’s now a hoary cliché, and there’s nothing uncool about finally getting help and getting sober, much like Jeff Tweedy of Wilco has.


A Famed Indie Rocker Reflects on Addiction and Mental Health Struggles


The famed alternative band Wilco has been around for a long time, and one of their best known albums, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, made Rolling Stone’s list of 500 best albums of all time. (The band also won two Grammys.)  Tweedy has now written his autobiography, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) where he goes into detail about addiction, anxiety, depression and sobriety.


Like many who struggle with addiction, it ran in Tweedy’s family. His father was an alcoholic. He started playing in bands when he was a teenager, and first gained fame in the alternative band Uncle Tupelo.


Tweedy also suffered from terrible anxiety when he was a kid. Anxiety is common with a lot of performers, and being onstage can create a level of fear unknown to man.


As Tweedy told PBS, when Uncle Tupelo came to an end, he was unhappy with it, but growing up in an alcoholic family, so he understood unpredictability. Even when he hit an artistic high with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, it got dumped by the label. Tweedy released it through another label, and it went gold. Then Tweedy won a Grammy two years later.


But Tweedy was already struggling with addiction. He was taking painkillers, namely Vicodin, and as PBS reports, by 2003 “he was battling a full-time opioid addiction.” He tried to quit cold turkey, then he went into inpatient care.


Looking Back Into a Dark Past


As Tweedy looked back on his dark days of addiction, he told PBS that what he thinks about the most since getting sober is “what I need to do next to stay healthy or to stay sober…I’m a big believer in when things get a little bit overwhelming, to slow yourself down and think of what the next right thing to do is. I have all this evidence from many more years of living that reassures me [that] I’m probably gonna be okay.”


Since getting sober, Tweedy has also been remarkably prolific, and musicians often have the fear that they will lose their creative spark when they get sober. Thankfully, a lot of musicians like Tweedy who have come out through the other end of the tunnel have proven this is not true, and sobriety is the best thing you can do for your creativity.


Writing an autobiography can be a final statement for a lot of people, but Tweedy is only in his early fifties, and there’s still plenty of chapters to be written. For a lot of people who have suffered from addiction, writing a biography can be a way of closing that particular chapter of their lives, which is hopefully what Tweedy has done with Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).


How Outrageous Comedians Are Fighting Addiction

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As hard as they can make you laugh, comedians can often be very unhappy people, and addiction, depression, and mental health issues have long been a curse on many funny people like John Belushi and Chris Farley. There have been many comedians who have beaten addiction and used it as great material in their acts like George Carlin.

Lately, in the news, a lot of comedians big and lesser known have come forward about struggling with addiction and mental health issues, and it has given hope to a lot of regular people of all walks of life. (By the way, you don’t have to be funny or have an outrageous sense of humor to fight addiction, but it certainly doesn’t hurt, and humor can be a great tool in your arsenal.)

When Comedians Clean Up

There are many stories you can find about well-known comedians who either succumbed to addiction or finally found their way out after years of suffering. We all know the names John Belushi, Robin Williams, and Chris Farley. But even in the recent news, there are many stories of comedians who cleaned up their acts and are still damn funny.

As one comedian, Craig Conant recently confessed to Digital Trends, and he decided to get clean after “the third arrest.” He was in jail, felt he was “a bit of a loser,” and he finally realized, “Aw, man, enough of this shit…” Then he had another epiphany: “I’m gonna get sober, and I’m gonna get into comedy.”

Conant is now five years sober. Being a comedian can be very stressful, and like getting sober, he had a lot of hurdles to get over before he started doing well onstage. As the saying goes, dying is easy, comedy is hard. But Conant is happy, whether he goes on to the big time or not.

A Sober Stripping Clown?

One of the most fascinating and crazy stories you’ll read about comedy and sobriety is about a stripper clown who is sober and talking about it on her regular podcast. (Now you’ve heard everything, right?)

Kiki Maroon’s podcast is called Clown, Interrupted, and she’s a comedian from Texas. Doing her podcast is one way she’s coming to terms with her past, and exorcizing her demons.

Maroon got help from a fellow comedian, Andy Huggins, and they are both from the Houston area. Maroon has other comedians and burlesque people on her show who talk about their journeys to getting sober. As one dancer recently confessed to Maroon, “I went from being a weekend partier to crossing lines in the sand that I didn’t even have time to draw.”

And the myth that you have to suffer to create? Forget it. With Maroon’s podcast, she’s trying to destroy the myth of the tortured artist. She believes that artists often have a hard time getting help “because of the idea that you have to be broken to feel. You can’t be a healthy, functioning adult. That’s unfortunate because it’s not true.”


A New Hard Look at Vaping and Juuling

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There’s a lot in the news these days about vaping and teens becoming hooked on Juul. In the opioid age, many may be blowing off nicotine addiction, but it is currently a serious issue for people of all ages, especially teens.


Many feel they’re not putting their health at risk by Juuling instead of smoking, but this is sadly not true, and many young people are going to learn this the hard way. And just like withdrawing from other drugs, Juuling can have serious effects on your mental health and wellness if you withdraw without help.


Now the New York Times is taking a hard new look at vaping and Juul addiction by following a nineteen-year-old named Matt Murphy and his Juul addiction.


The Truth About Vaping Addiction

As the New York Times reports, Murphy first saw a Juul for the first time at a high school party in the summer of 2016. He was seventeen when he tried his Juul for the first time, and he loved it the first time he tried it. “It was love at first puff,” he says. The next day he went back to the Juul, and couldn’t stop, to the point where he called his Juul his “11th finger.”


Juul then became Murphy’s addiction for the next two years. He went on vacation with his family early into his Juul use, and he was losing his mind without it. He then spent $100 to take an Uber to a store and get a starter kit so he could take it on the family vacation.


Murphy stayed away from drinking, pot and cigarettes, and like many teens, he thought Juul was harmless. He also liked the fact that it made him a bit of a bad boy in that teachers and parents couldn’t tell he was using it. “The Juul was super, super sneaky and I loved it,” he says.


But then he noticed he was out of breath a lot when playing sports, and he was hitting up his Juul a lot in college as a refuge from stress. Like a lot of people dealing with addiction, eventually, he used Juul to deal with his cravings and anxiety that came from withdrawal. Like a lot of people who smoke marijuana, he kept his Juul nearby when he woke up in the morning so he could have a wake-up taste.


Regretting Getting Hooked on Juul

Before he knew it, Murphy regretted ever starting Juul in the first place and warned his college friends not to do it. Finally, he was confronted by his parents, and that gave him the incentive to get help.


Unbeknownst to many people, withdrawing from Juul has similarities to withdrawing from other drugs. One time Murphy stopped and he “felt strong for five minutes. And then I felt really weak. I only realized the magnitude of my addiction when I stopped.”


After three weeks, Murphy felt like he was getting back to normal. He even marked the day he quit, like many who get sober. He still gets the urge to Juul, but then he thinks about the terrible times he had when he was addicted as well as the struggle of quitting.


Friends reach out to Murphy who is going through similar situations with Juuling, and he lets them know that he understands what they’re experiencing and that it does get better when they can finally quit.

Can Kid Cudi Give People with Depression and Mental Health Issues Hope?

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Whenever someone in the public eye triumphs over mental health issues, depression, or addiction, it can give a lot of people in the world hope that they can recover as well. Kid Cudi is one such hip-hop artist. He has been speaking out about dealing with depression, and how he’s now “living in the light.”


“It’s Been Difficult For Me to Find the Words…”

On October 4, 2016, Kid Cudi made a posting on Facebook where he confessed he needed help. “It’s been difficult for me to find the word to what I’m about to share because I feel ashamed,” he wrote. “Ashamed to be a leader and hero to so many while admitting I’ve been living a lie. It took me a while to get to this place of commitment, but it is something I have to do for myself, my family, my best friend/daughter, and all of you, my fans.”


Cudi finally admitted, “I checked myself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges. I am not at peace. I haven’t been since you’ve known me. If I didn’t come here, I would’ve done something to myself.”


That was over two years ago now. Cudi is telling a much different story today…


“Living In the Light”

Two years after getting help, Cudi put together a new album, Kids See Ghosts, with Kanye West, who has mental health struggles as well.


Cudi checked himself into rehab to deal with his depression, and he was also contemplating suicide (if you’re not familiar with the term suicidal ideation, it means when someone is thinking of ending their life.)  Today he tells GQ, “I’m not battling any demons right now. Thank God.”


In writing music after he got help, Cudi says, “I chose to write the light. Me and Kanye both agreed that we wanted to create a spiritual album. I know kids are used to hearing me talk about darkness, but I’m living in the light now.”


Once the roadblock of depression got moved out of the way, Cudi was more creative, “with more love in my heart for what I’m doing and for myself,” he told Billboard.


He also realized that feeling bad can be a necessary part of life we all have to endure. “I was chosen to endure those, too. And I’ll have to explain my darker moments again to my daughter one day. She’ll want to know, and I’ll have to explain, but she’ll understand.”


While many people go on social media to share their troubles, Cudi got scared when he realized his posting was all over the news several hours after he posted his cry for help. Cudi then checked with his manager to see what the response was, and he saw that “the response was all love and support, and it really touched me.”


Cudi was especially brave coming forward and sharing his troubles with the world, explaining, “I needed to be honest…I couldn’t live a lie. I couldn’t pretend to be happy.”


Now that he’s thankfully made it to the end of the tunnel, Cudi is a much better and happier artist and person, and he’s also providing inspiration for many who are ready to get help.

Finding Comfort with Your Mental Health and Fighting Anxiety in Horror

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With Halloween being the number one movie in the country for several weeks, a lot of people are looking at the relationship between horror movies, anxiety, and mental health. Contrary to what a lot of people may initially believe, horror films can help people deal with trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety and more.


Healthy Horror

There have indeed been studies about how people have used horror movies to heal and deal with mental health issues. While many people don’t like horror films because they don’t like being scared, many can enjoy them because you’re being scared in a safe environment, and you know what’s scaring you is ultimately not real.


Horror has been around in one form or another for many centuries. Even before we had movies, we’ve enjoyed the spooky tales of Edgar Allan Poe,  being spooked on Halloween and so on.


The site Well and Good reports that if you want to settle in and watch a bunch of scary movies, it’s “an expert-approved way to boost mental health.” The story even spoke to a “fear scientist” who explained, “We have four basic emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. Fear is there to keep us alive, and it’s something that is so inherently part of just being human, but we have this really kind of dysfunctional relationship with fear.”


And indeed, many times we see people wearing t-shirts saying NO FEAR, and people encouraging the world to be fearless.


But as this doctor explains, “The horror genre gives us a safe space to express our fears, to talk about our fears, to say ‘I was scared!’ without having the kind of personal obligation to say that you are a fearful person.”


How Horror Can Help

Much like when you’re riding a rollercoaster, there can be great fun in being scared. It’s cathartic to scream your head off, and at the end of a wild ride, your knees may be wobbling, but it can be an incredible release as well. Same with seeing a scary movie. You’re with a group of people all screaming and letting out their fears in a large group. You look around you and realize everyone else is scared too, and it’s okay to be scared.


This article listed three other ways that horror films can be beneficial, and the first one was very surprising. They can boost your confidence. When you go through extreme fear then come out through the other end, you know what extreme fear can feel like, and know that you can survive it.


“There’s a lot of stress before encountering something scary,” one source explains. “But once it’s encountered, you reset the bar at a higher setpoint. Now nothing else seems like a big deal.”


Horror films can feel euphoric because fear can release a lot of powerful chemicals in your body, like adrenaline and serotonin, much like when you’re exercising like a maniac in the gym.


Scary movies aren’t for everybody, and they can be very disturbing for people who aren’t horror inclined. But like a lot of things in life, when you walk through your fear, it’s wonderful to learn that in many cases there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place.