How to Choose a Hotel in Los Angeles

As we all know Los Angeles is a top tourist destination. This attributed to its great weather, great shopping and various tourist attractions. There is not a person who lives on this planet who is not familiar with Hollywood. Where you choose to stay is predicated on many things, what you want to spend, what you want to do while in Los Angeles, what area you want to stay in and how much time you will spend at your hotel. If you decide to rent a car should also weigh heavy in your decision of where to stay in Los Angeles. In this article I will familiarize you with some of the different hotels and locations you can choose for your stay in Los Angeles.

First, as with most things in life what you want to spend will weigh heavy on your decision where to stay. Like so many other major cities Los Angeles has many luxury hotels. They can be found in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and downtown. Most people are familiar with the Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, Beverly Wilshire Shutters and many more of these very elegant well appointed hotels. At these hotels you can expect to be treated like royalty, but you will have to pay for these services. LA has many mid-range hotels where you can expect to get a very nice room and good service at moderate prices. Hotels such as Marriott’s, Sheraton’s and other chains can be found. There are also numerous small motels all over the city, many with a 50’s look that offer a decent room at a decent price. But make sure you do your homework first because you could also book one that is a dive.

Second, you must decide what you want to do while you are in LA. If you are going to spend your time at the beach, you may want to stay at a hotel near the ocean. If you are to LA to see attractions you may want to choose a hotel near the attractions you plan on visiting. Keep in mind many of the biggest attractions are not right in the city so you may think about staying in different locations for different attractions. Disneyland is in Anaheim, Knott’s Berry Farm is in Buena Park and Universal City is in the San Fernando Valley. Los Angeles differs from many cities because in is so spread out. Also keep in mind downtown LA is more or less predominantly a business area with some sports attractions such as Staples Center.

Third, whether you are planning on renting or a car or not is a big factor where you want to stay. As I have alreadt stated LA is a very spread out city and with a not so great public transportation system. It is getting better but not quite there yet. If you are not going to rent a car may I suggest you stay on the west side or in Beverly Hills where people do walk around. Many hotels do offer shuttle service to the various attractions.

Fourth, if you love to shop LA is the place for you. You can buy almost anything in Los Angeles. The stores range from the high priced boutiques on Rodeo in Beverly Hills, to exciting trendy malls all over the city, to hip fashion districts like Melrose and Montana, with new ones emerging daily. There are great farmers markets selling everything from food to clothes to home accessories. You can go to Venice and think you are back to 1967 and shopping during the summer of love. Last but not least there is the Los Angeles Fashion District where many folks like to scour for great deals on cheap fashionable clothes. While you are in the fashion district you may want to walk over to Santee Alley where you can purchase almost anything from all over the world both real and copies. So my suggestion to you is if you love to shop bring some extra money for shopping and maybe an extra suitcase.

Fifth, if you like to eat and especially if you want to try many new ethnic restaurants Los Angeles is the town for you. Everyone knows Los Angeles for Mexican and Chinese food, but we also have many Thai. Korean. Japanese, Vietnamese, Armenian, Persian, French, Italian, Ethiopian and many more. Los Angeles is a city of very diverse cultures. Along with all of the ethnic restaurants Los Angeles has become famous for trendy restaurants started by the hippest chefs. So do your homework. Along with all of the above mentioned restaurants Los Angeles also has it share of fast food and chain restaurants. You will never go hungry in Los Angeles

Top Fashion: Virgins Saints and Angels

Welcome to a new series, Top Fashion. In each installment, we’ll be taking a look at some of today’s best top fashion brands. These are companies which define the world of fashion as we know it. At the forefront of innovation and influence, these designer labels are pushing the industry forward with their conceptual statements and their novelty in technique. The top fashion brands we’ll be exploring define the very essence of what it is to be fashionable. To be so unique, beautiful, and dare I say it, cool. To be on everybody’s “to buy” list. They are the envy of all their competitors. This is what it takes to be a top fashion brand, and to be part of the Top Fashion series.

Our first featured brand is Virgins, Saints, and Angels. Inspired by the Goddess, with elements of Gothic tradition and Religious iconography, Virgins, Saints, Angels, make unique jewelry that’s simply magical to behold. Each compelling piece possesses an element of the eternal that encourages enlightenment, expression, and creativity. As beautiful as they are mystical, Virgins, Saints, and Angels designs are revered for their powerful symbolism and eternal appeal. All Virgins, Saints, and Angels pieces are handmade in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico by a team of thirty-two traditional craftsmen. The collective, also referred to as V.S.A. for short, was started in 2000 by Cheryl Finnegan (Finn), after a fourteen year marketing career with Levi Strauss & CO, in an effort to bring together an artistic community where individuals would be free to explore their imagination and spirituality. San Miguel is a bustling melting pot of creative endeavors, traditional culture and folk-lore. This is the perfect birthplace for pieces of handmade divinity to be made.

Just take a look at some of the unique examples of jewelry that Virgins, Saints, and Angels have to offer: The San Benito Magdalena Medallion Necklace. A gold dipped sterling silver rosary with black diamond Schwarzkopf crystals. The rosary features seven large black crystals, while the Vatican medallion displays four smaller crystals. It is simply beautiful. The Hamsa Hand Charm Necklace. This piece features intricate silversmith craftsmanship. The charm protects the wearer against evil and temptation through the crystal “all-seeing eye” displayed at the center of the charm. Six smaller crystals complete the design. The Charmed Magdalena Four Virgins Necklace. Beautiful, Gothic design in sterling silver and natural pearls. The large silver medallion displaying the four Virgins design features nine clear Schwarzkopf crystals, while the long pearl rosary also displays seven over-sized clear crystals. This is a truly magnificent and enchanting piece.

Virgins Saints and Angels draw their inspiration from Catholicism, as well as iconic females such as Eve, Mary Magdalene, and Aphrodite. The artisans of Virgins Saints and Angels seek to intertwine beauty, creativity, and the celestial. They employ the use of precious metals and stones, Schwarzkopf crystals, and religious artifacts sourced directly from the Vatican. These charms carry with them power, protection, and beauty. They guard against temptation and evil, and serve to relieve the aching soul. More than just jewelry, Virgins, Saints, and Angels make magic.

We hope you have enjoyed the first installment of Top Fashion. In future articles we will be diving deeper into what it means to be a Top Fashion brand today. We’ll be taking a look at some more groundbreaking and innovative companies from around the globe, who are shaping the world of fashion. We hope to see you next time.

Angel Crafts – 7 Christmas Angels to Make

Angels are easy to make, have many uses and can be crafted from out of so many different mediums. Of course angels make great Christmas ornaments, but other uses for angels include party favors, secret pal gifts and package adornments. Homemade angels can be attached to Christmas cards, wreaths and so much more. What would the holiday season be without angels?

Felt Angel – Cut a body and wings out of 2 pieces of felt. Glue or use double sided tape to attach the 2 body pieces and wing pieces. Use a wooden bead for her head and yarn for her hair. To attach her head, take a couple of stitches in the neck of the felt. Pull the thread through the top and bottom hole of the bead. Loop the thread for a hanger and pull it back down to the neck. Tie it off.

Clothespin Angel – Use an old-fashioned clothespin, a wooden bead head and 5 inches of 4″ wide gathered lace for her dress. Use 20 inches of 1″ wide lace fashioned into a bow for her wings.

Leaf Angel – Use large leaves for the body, half a walnut shell for the head and long narrow leaves for the arms. Fashion an oval with the large leaves and glue them together. Glue the half walnut shell close to the top for a head. Glue the ends of the long narrow leaves under the head and fold them in so they are touching. Add a bouquet of flowers in the arms.

Pinecone Angel – Use a pinecone the body and remove the petals off another pinecone and fashion angel wings from the pinecone petals. A small wooden ball or styrofoam ball can be her head.

Yarn Angel

Use about 10 yards of baby yarn. Use a 4″ x 4″ piece of cardboard and wrap the yarn around it 40 times. Slide the yarn off the cardboard carefully. Tie one end of loops together at the top (using the same baby yarn). Cut the bottom loops of yarn. Tie off a head about 1″ below the top of the yarn. Use embroidery floss to make a nose, eyes and mouth.

Arms – pull 15 strands of yarn from each side below the neckline. Tie the arms one inch from the body.
Waist – Tie a waist (using the baby yarn) one inch below where the neck is tied. Fold the arms across the waist so the hands touch and sew them to the body.
Wings – Purchase cardboard wings or make them yourself and fasten to the back of the angel. Add a wire halo and thread loop for hanging.

Ribbon Angel
2 silver pipe cleaners
ribbon – 8″ long
wooden bead (with hole)
gold embroidery floss
white glue

Tie the ribbon into a bow. This will be the angel’s body. Bend one pipe cleaner in half. Insert it into the hole in the bead with a little white glue. Cut the embroidery floss for hair and add eyes and a mouth with a permanent marker. Spread glue on the top of the head and add hair.

Make a halo with the other pipe cleaner. Insert the pipe cleaner with the head and the pipe cleaner stick that has the halo with the knot of the bow.

Noodle Angel
Glue: Hot glue, silicone glue
Paint: White spray paint, red and black paint
Noodles: Bow tie, macaroni, ragatoni, small Acini di pepe pasta
3/4″ wooden head ball
White thumb tack
Head and Body: Glue the head ball to the top of a ragatoni noodle with hot glue.

Hair: Using a toothpick, put silicone glue on the angel’s ball head only where the hair will be. Then hold the body and roll the head in the acini di pepe pasta in a dish. Press noodles down firmly.

Tree Hanger: Cut a 4 inch piece of gold thread. Fold the thread in half and work the ends of the thread under the hair noodles with a toothpick. Let the glue dry well.

The Rest: Glue on 2 macaroni noodles for her arms and a bow tie noodle for her wings with silicone glue. The macaroni noodles should be placed flat against her body so they kind of look like small telephone receivers. Both holes of the macaroni noodle will be facing you. Set the thumb tack at the end of her arms for a candlestick. Let it dry. Spray paint the angel with white spray paint. When dry, use a stylus or the end of a paintbrush and draw a small mouth and eyes. Paint the very tip of the thumbtack red. Make a small red bow and gluei it under the angel’s head.

How To Tackle Fashion Angel Investors

The fashion industry has its incredible highs and with that, it’s incredible lows as well, so if you are looking to venture out into the fashion industry, then it is a good idea to take the help of fashion angel investors. They can make a big difference to your business. We all know that being successful in fashion is more about having the right connections and backing than talent, that’s where a fashion angel investor comes in.

Why You Need Them

Now when you’re starting off, you should definitely consider a financier to invest in your business rather than a venture capital firm. Why? This is because the idea of venture investment has changed a whole lot in the last decade or so. Before the entire technology boom (and subsequent bust!), venture capital firms were approached for funding small businesses and companies. But now that has changed because venture capitalists have much more cash at their disposal and they prefer to invest in larger companies.

So angel investor groups have actually taken the place vacated by venture capitalists. They play the role of mini venture capital funds. The basic requirement for any angel investor is that they should be an accredited investor, which means that they should have liquid cash over and above the amount they have at their disposal because of their property and their little nest egg. An angel investor who is cautious and rational will invest about ten percent of the ready in your business.

In the fashion business, financing is of huge importance because, let’s face it, the fashion industry, more than any other industry requires large amount of funding in its initial stages because:

A great deal of money needs to be spent on marketing.
Social dos are a must where one can network and court potential clients.
One needs to have skilled tailors and workers.
Designers should be extremely talented and from good schools.
The material for making the shoes, clothes, bags or anything should be of very good quality.

How To Grab Their Attention

None of this comes for cheap. Fashion industries require a great deal of working capital, right from their inception stage. And this capital cannot be generated by the business only. If, of course you are already a wealthy person, this should not be a problem, but if not, and this is generally the case, you should definitely look into funding options.

Before approaching fashion angel investors you should draw up a convincing plan of action – a business plan so to speak. Of course you should never reveal your trade secrets, but you get the drift. More often than not, the fashion angel group of investors you approach will be smart enough to figure out what exactly you intend to do without you spelling it out.

Offer them a good stake in your company. You can also attract an angel investor’s attention through say, press releases. Why? Because they make it a point to thoroughly look through press releases of upcoming companies. Last, but not the least, remember to do loads of networking in order to court fashion angel investors.

Do Addicts Really Recover?

In my line of work as addiction professional, I’m often asked “Do people with addiction get better?” The question may sound simple but it’s not really that simple. There are so many facets to addiction. The chemicals are but one aspect. There also are the addict’s personality attributes, attitudes, lifestyle, and values – all contributing and feeding the addiction syndrome. For most people, the obsession by the addict to consume chemicals is the most salient aspect of addiction. This becomes their focus of attention when asking the question, “Do addicts really recover?” Meaning can they give up drugs and become “normal” people again?

After a closer look at addiction, one begins to realize that the chemical abuse is intimately tied to the person’s mental health, lifestyle, and personal values. For example, it is hard to ignore an addict’s criminal activities related to supporting his drug habit or an alcoholic’s scheming and manipulating behavior to hide his alcoholism when the addicted or alcoholic is trying to pursue “recovery.” Can people “recover” from addiction and still carry on with these criminal or anti-social inclinations? What are the chances of a recovering person remaining abstinent while continuing to sell drugs or maintaining his connection with friends who are involved in criminal activities? Can a recovering alcoholic remain sober while bar-tending?

My point is that there is a “quality of life” a recovering addict or alcoholic must maintain to achieve a certain level of healthy living. For some this may mean pursuing counseling or following medication regime to control psychiatric symptoms. For others, a complete lifestyle change may be necessary to re-align personal priorities and internalize pro-social values. With addiction, old associations — people, places, and things – can easily trigger a relapse to old “bad habits.” There is a common belief among recovering persons that “picking-up” drugs or any substances is the last step in the relapse process. Long before the actual substance use, the person has already relapsed in his thinking – reflected in noticeable changes in attitude, values, and over-all behavior.

To go back to the original question: “Do addicts really recover?” The answer is a relative yes. For some who consider their addiction as a disorder of the whole person and take a holistic view of recovery, they aspire more than giving up the chemicals to include a reinvention of themselves, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. Others are content with minimizing the harmful effects of illicit drug use but still resort to alcohol use. Still others give up drugs but continue to have dysfunctional patterns of coping or residual manifestations of personality disorders.

Do Addicts Really Recover?
Dr. Fernando B. Perfas

How Nicotine Test Helps Employers to Establish Smoke-Free Workplace

Nicotine abuse is an issue affecting the profitability of businesses and the environment at workplaces. Employers are insisting on measures that will help them make the workplaces free from smoking of tobacco so as to make their businesses more productive.

Employers in US imposing ban on smokers:

Increasing numbers of employers in US are rejecting the applications of candidates who smoke. They are abiding by the laws framed by the government for the purpose and are not hiring who they find to be smokers. To know whether the prospective hired is smoker, they conduct tests. Those who are found positive for smoking are not offered employment.

Nicotine test helps them to detect smokers – instantly:

Employers apply different techniques to tackle the issue of smoking. These include testing for tobacco (nicotine) by different methods. These tests are helpful to identify if the applicant really smokes tobacco or not. Generally, a nicotine test can be conducted using urine, saliva or hair follicle samples. Employers use any or a combination of these techniques.

Benefits of establishing smoke-free environment:

A smoke-free environment improves productivity of the employees and reduces health insurance costs. Employers find smoke-free workplace beneficial on the following grounds.

Increased productive hours:

A no-smoking environment results in higher number of productive hours than in a smoking permitted one. Employees not used to smoking concentrate better on work and hence there is greater number of productive hours. They are healthy and take few sick leaves.

Whereas, smoking employees take unauthorized breaks to smoke, which is waste of productive time.

Healthy atmosphere:

As healthy employees are more focused on productivity, there is cordial relation between employees as well as employers. Such workplaces boost the employees’ morale and work potential and encourage talented workforce to work for more number of hours. Employers too reciprocate and get prompted to take positive action on any issue.

Shows professional approach of the business:

A smoke-free workplace, places the employer’s image in a positive view among the employees, peers, government, and social groups. The welfare measures taken serve as an example for professional approach taken by the employer. This will enhance mutual trust between the employer and employees.

Reduces healthcare costs:

Following a no-smoking policy at workplace would result in less healthcare costs. This is because, the employees are healthy and need lower health maintenance expenses – be it insurance premium or medical emergencies. These factors are known to cause increased medical expenses to employers in case of employees habituated to smoking. Studies show that, post non-smoking policy there is remarkable decline in the tobacco caused heart attacks, making current smokers to quit (Source: Forbes, 12 June, 2016).

Taking up nicotine tests to enforce a smoking-free environment at workplace is beneficial. The measures, of course, entail costs to the employers.

Which Is the Most Difficult Drug to Detox From?

The hardest drugs to detox from depend on your perspective. If by “difficult” you’re referring to the severity of dangerous medical symptoms that occur during withdrawal, then the obvious answer is alcohol and benzodiazepine. Both of these drugs could kill you during detox. But if you’re referring to the severity of emotional, mental and spiritual symptoms that affect a person during drug detox, then most addicts will agree that opiates are the most difficult; especially opiates like Methadone that are designed to help wean an addict from other opiates like heroin.

The Most Difficult Drugs to Withdraw/Detox From: Medical Reasons

The following substances prove especially challenging for many addicts to withdraw from considering the serious medical risks of doing so: Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines and Alcohol. The withdrawal process has been known to cause life-threatening complications in some people. This includes pulmonary and cardiovascular distress, respiratory depression, grand mal seizures, delirium tremens, hallucinations, coma and death.

Fortunately, death is rare but nevertheless the fact that it is possible creates a deterrent to treatment for some addicts. In most cases the risks of withdrawing from these substances can be mitigated by attending detox in a professional medical setting where healthcare practitioners and addiction experts can observe the detox process and respond immediately in case of any complications.

The Most Difficult Drugs to Withdraw/Detox From: Emotional Reasons

Thousands of years before the birth of Christ, the first annals of history were recorded by the ancient Sumerians. Translations of stone etchings show that these early peoples farmed and used opium extensively. In fact, their word for the plant can be translated to “Joy;” an apt description considering the widespread abuse of opium for the next several thousand years. By nearly all accounts, the euphoric high obtained by using opium is the highest feeling of joy most addicts have ever felt. But herein lays the problem.

When a person uses an opiate like heroin or Oxycontin to get high, they rapidly build up a tolerance not only to the drug, but also to euphoria. This means that it becomes more and more difficult to obtain the same euphoric effect with the same amount of opiates, so in nearly all cases users continually increase their dosages – some to the point of overdose and death. But in general the central nervous system becomes more and more desensitized to stimulus that would normally cause feeling of joy or euphoria. In fact, the opposite often occurs, resulting in a state known as Dysphoria; the opposite of euphoria.

Dysphoria is a severe problem for people who are detoxing/withdrawing from opiates because after the stop using the drug they often find it difficult or impossible to find joy or happiness in anything. This causes severe bouts of depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and unexplained misery, terrible sadness and overwhelming inadequacy and loneliness; even in the presence of others. These emotional and spiritual symptoms drive many people in the early stages of recovery to return to drug use in order to self-medicate their general state of dysphoria.

Opiates Used to Treat Addiction to Other Opiates

Many addicts report and anecdotal evidence suggests that withdrawing and detoxing from opiates that are used to treat addiction to other opiates is a severe and extremely challenging process. The reasons for this are not understood, but it’s possible that because most opiate treatment drugs like methadone block the release of dopamine, addicts do not obtain a euphoric effect, even though they are spared the normal symptoms of withdrawal (essentially because methadone maintenance merely prolongs the addictive process.)

Support forums on group sharing often results in addicts advising each other NOT to go on an opiate maintenance program and to tough out the initial stages of a more “pure” withdrawal instead. Therefore, it could be argued that detoxing from opiate maintenance drugs is the most difficult type of detox to undergo.

The Kindling Effect

Regardless of the substance, the Kindling Effect can make detox and withdrawal an absolute nightmare; especially if the addict in question has relapsed repeatedly in their lifetime. The concept of Kindling is that with each progressive relapse and subsequent withdrawal, the brain and central nervous system become more highly sensitized (or highly desensitized) to drug abuse and the feelings it creates. As a result withdrawal symptoms are much more severe and potentially dangerous for these individuals than for others.

Ultimately, the most challenging detox is the one you’re about to go through. Taking that first step is extraordinarily difficult regardless of what drug you use and how long and hard you’ve been using it. But the reality of the situation is that left unabated the consequences of continued active addiction are in every instance more severe and potentially life-changing that the actual process of withdrawal and detox, which usually takes 10 days or less for most people.

If you or someone you love is fighting addiction, the most valuable weapon you can give them is action. Do it now; get help, get a free consultation, and take the first step before it’s too late to move forward at all.

7 Habits of an Addict About to Relapse

Many addicts in recovery that are nearing a relapse episode exhibit predictable and identifiable habits and behaviors before the actual relapse occurs. Recognition of these habits is critical in order for people in recovery and their loved ones to take decisive and immediate action to prevent the relapse. This is especially important considering the potential consequences of each new relapse episode: prison, violence, bankruptcy, death. Relapse prevention isn’t just about stopping someone from using again; it’s about saving a life.

The following are 7 behaviors that many addicts exhibit prior to and/or during the early stages of a relapse:

1.) Withdrawal/Isolation

A person in recovery who is on the verge of relapse will likely become withdrawn and purposefully isolate other people around them. This is particularly true of people that will not support or condone a return to drug use or drinking. This could be evidenced by spending less time with family members, staying out later at night than normal or not coming home, and by seeming withdrawn and quiet when others are present.

2.) Decline in Hygiene/Productivity

There is often a lack of care and concern when a relapse is imminent. Meaning, less attention is paid to personal hygiene details, exercise programs are abandoned, employment or educational inefficiencies or neglect occurs, and regular household upkeep suffers. These are all common signs of an addict who is beginning to care less and less about trying to maintain a legitimate lifestyle.

3.) Glorification of Substance Abuse

An addict that is unhappy with or neglectful of their recovery will often yearn for the days when they used drugs or drank. They may talk about using and relive their past drug use in the form of stories, anecdotes and comments that make it clear that they miss those times, despite the severe consequences they suffered as a result. (Levels of Relapse Warning Signs, T. Gorski)

4.) Reconnecting

An early warning of relapse is when a person in recovery begins to reconnect with friends or acquaintances they used drugs or drank with. This refers mainly to individuals who are potentially still using drugs or those who do not support recovery/sobriety. These reconnections are especially troubling when the person in question has withdrawn from people that DO support their recovery.

5.) Engaging in Risky Behavior

An addict in recovery that is about to relapse will often exhibit abnormally risky behavior. This could include extreme sports or other athletic activities, promiscuity, excessive speeding and other dangerous activities. Engaging in behaviors such as these fills a certain need for excitement and euphoria, but for most addicts in recovery the only euphoria that will satiate them is a return to their drug of choice.

6.) Secretive

As people in recovery get closer to relapse, they sometimes become secretive; carefully guarding their phone or computer, remaining tight-lipped concerning where they go, who they’re with, etc. Often at this stage the relapse has already begun and secrecy is required in order to conceal it.

7.) Abandoning Treatment

Addicts in recovery usually engage in some type of ongoing treatment as part of a relapse prevention program. This can take many forms, but when people in recovery are nearing a relapse episode, they often abandon these types of treatment with little explanation. When combined with any or all of the behaviors outlined above, it’s likely that for these people, relapse is imminent. (Carole Bennett, M.A. 6 Common Relapse Triggers PsychologyToday.com)

If you recognize these signs in yourself or someone you love who is in recovery, taking swift action is critical. This should begin by addressing the issue directly with the individual, and escalate to involve the person’s support network, treatment specialists and if needed, an interventionist.

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘N Roll: The Real Story

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll is a common dream that few will know; but many try and so the story goes, that there’s riches there in the backstage glow. But looking in subjectively, one must put down the cell phone, the remote and the Wii, for things in the spotlight are never what they seem- when it comes to the combination of these infamous three.

It’s a tempting image we’ve too often seen; fans by the millions who clamor and scream; for a glimpse, just a touch or a kiss on the cheek; there’s no shortage of groupies and their big rock-star dreams. So backstage they go to embrace beneath the sheets; neither star nor fan knowing if the other is clean. Just ask Freddy Mercury of Queen or the legend Easy E, or ponder the math of promiscuity. The more sex one has the more threats one will see; the chances for most are about 1 in 3.

Of course, the risk is increased when one factors in drugs, which diminish good judgment and moral aplomb. To this many a rock star can certainly attest, with unwanted pregnancies, herpes, syphilis and the rest.

But if the threat of disease isn’t enough, consider the sexual dysfunction that could be caused by drugs; with repeated use the good feelings fade – until sex feels like nothing and relationships become strained. Then all that’s left is to get high and play; but the music, like sex, is empty and grey.

This is the way so many rock stars go; they hide in the weed, the booze and the coke. They wait for salvation in the fame or the dough, but round and round with the drugs they still go. It’s a tired old story with so many names, of rock ‘n roll legends this disease has claimed;

Janis Joplin overdosed on heroin and Hendrix choked on his own puke – while passed out and delirious on ‘barbs and on booze. John Bonham from Led Zeppelin would likewise follow suit, and choke on his vomit after 40 shots of booze. Jay Bennett, from Wilco; lost to overdose, not long after Wes Berggren from Tripping Daisy died from cocaine and ‘benzos.

Steve Clark from Def Leppard, Kevin DuBrow from Quiet Riot, both died far too young from a cocaine-based diet. Slipknot’s Paul Grey died from morphine and pills, while Sublime lost their front-man to a heroin thrill. It was heroin too, that took Kurt Cobain and bassist friend Pfaff; the loss to the grunge scene marred its future and past.

Some groups have lost more than one member to the scourge of addiction, the call of drug abuse – The Pretenders, The Grateful Dead, Alice in Chains and The Who – were all scarred forever when their deaths numbered 2. But it’s not a problem isolated to just these few; The Temptations, Sex Pistols, AC/DC, Blues Traveler, Weezer, Mad Season, Avenged Sevenfold and Red Hot Chili Peppers all lost members too.

So it’s clear to the people and plainly we must see, that the image of fame is not presented impartially. And though the story won’t change and it’s long as it goes, there’s still the allure of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll.

The Paradox of Drug Abuse and Euphoria

One of the most significant reasons that people abuse drugs is for the euphoric effects they provide. While many might argue that people use substances to escape reality, to cope with stress and an unlimited number of other reasons, the fact of the matters is that euphoria makes these things possible: drugs cause people to feel good, even if they weren’t necessarily feeling bad to begin with. Unfortunately, the neurological nature of addiction tells us that substance abuse actually makes it more challenging for people to feel euphoria, happiness and contentment.

How Drug Abuse Works: Understanding the Role of Dopamine

The following is a highly simplified explanation of the processes at work when a person abuses drugs:

1.) Drug is consumed which sends signals to neurons in the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine (or others in some cases).

2.) Dopamine binds with specialized receptors and produces a feeling of well-being, contentment and euphoria.

3.) Drugs prevent dopamine re-uptake, essentially leaving the substance in the brain for much longer than would ever occur in a natural environment.

4.) Dopamine stimulates the reward center of the brain, which creates a contextual log of the event to use as cues to prompt the user to repeat the behavior. (This is based on the theory that addiction is a byproduct of an innate evolutionary survival mechanism.)

And with these four steps, the groundwork for addiction has been laid.

Tolerance: Another Evolutionary Survival Mechanism

In order to offset the effects of chemical substances, the central nervous system will make changes to receptors and neuronal circuitry to create a resistance to the drug. This can be accomplished by making fewer receptors available, altering the structure of receptors, limiting or restricting their ability to bind to neurotransmitters, or by “disconnecting” parts of neuronal circuits.

The chemical resistance created by adaptations at the neuronal level means that the user will obtain less and less euphoric effect because the CNS essentially views the drug as an invading foreign substance that interferes with the proper working functions of the brain. Of course, this is exactly what drug abuse is; persistent self-inflicted poisoning.

In order to offset the euphoria-limiting effects of tolerance, drug users will simply increase their dosages accordingly. This prompts more changes in neurons – changes that by this point are becoming permanent for many addicts. Ultimately, these changes only make it harder to feel euphoria and generally lead to depression, thoughts of suicide, feelings of worthlessness and other debilitating emotions.

In fact, feelings that are specific to certain drugs, such as high-energy to cocaine, relaxation to marijuana and joy to opiates, are often reversed as the body becomes tolerant to the drugs that cause these responses. This is especially true when an addict suddenly stops using; by forcing drugs into their bodies for so long, they have effectively developed a tolerance to the very feelings they sought to achieve with their substance abuse in the first place.

To summarize, drug abuse can destroy a person’s ability to feel good. And because addiction often comes with repeated relapse events, each successive period of active drug addiction results in additional, permanent changes within the brain – changes that can have a lasting effect on the emotional and mental well-being of the user for the rest of their lives.

This isn’t information to be used as a scare tactic to keep people away from drugs; it’s nothing more than science expressed. People take drugs to feel good, but once addicted those feelings become harder and harder to achieve, even long after active drug use has stopped. This is why it is absolutely critical that if you or someone you love is abusing drugs, they must stop now. With each passing day and each successive “high,” the one thing that they seek – happiness – becomes more difficult to come by; often leading to personal disaster.

The ultimate paradox of drug abuse is that it robs from you what you seek from it.