Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Tragic Road To Recovery

Cory Monteith was a Canadian actor whose most notable role was Finn Hudson, an all-star quarterback from the hit show Glee on Fox Television. A musical comedy series centered on teenage misfits who join a choir group called Glee club. There, they discover acceptance, strength, and ultimately their voice while pursuing their dreams in the real world.

His humility and palpable sweetness set the tone for the wide-eyed heartthrob character Finn. He was well respected and adored by his co-stars, friends, and a multitude of fans. However, nobody was prepared for the tragedy that happened on July 13th, 2013. Cory died of a toxic overdose from a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol inside his hotel room in Vancouver. The news of his death shook his fan base and everyone close to him, especially his fiancĂ©e Lea Michele who played Rachel Berry (Finn's lover) on Glee. A tribute episode was made in memory of him titled "The Quarterback" where fans could mourn with the cast over his death.

Cory had been battling substance abuse since the age of 13 and dropped out from school at 16. His heavy addiction landed him into rehab at 19 after family and close friends intervened. After the stint, he continued the path of his addiction by stealing money from a family member. Once given the ultimatum of getting clean or going to jail, he chose the highway to becoming sober. He took acting classes and focused on rebuilding his life as he made concerted effort to stay sober. His greatest accomplishments later on was earning his high school diploma and casting his role on Glee.

Unfortunately, his turning point was tragically short lived after completing another stint in March. On Friday July 12th, he went out with his friends and returned to his hotel room alone Saturday morning. Later at noon on Saturday, the 31 year old talented actor was found dead in his room.

In a candid interview, Cory revealed why he started using drugs. He said,

"It was about finding a place. For me, it wasn't about the substance per se, it was about not fitting in. I hadn't found myself at all. I had no idea who I was. I had no idea where I was going. Then all of a sudden, I had this thought that I was going to be this "bad" kid. So that all the other kids will look at me and think "Oh, he's the bad kid, he's cool." And so then they'll want to hang out with me."

Peer pressure and a desire to fit in can heavily influence teenagers into using drugs because of the challenges presented during those years as they're transitioning into a season of discovering who they are and what social groups they belong to. Other risk factors that increase the likelihood of drug use are genetics, a community where drug accessibility is high, and parents using or condoning the use of drugs.

Some adolescents use drugs as a coping mechanism for high levels of stress or problems within their home. Others use it to get high, relieve boredom, or just out of curiosity.

A study in 2014 reported, "an estimated 2.7 percent of American adolescents ages 12 to 17 suffered from alcohol dependence or abuse, and 3.5 percent suffered from drug dependence or abuse."(DrugRehab)

Research has shown that the earlier onset of drug or alcohol use, the greater the person will develop a substance addiction. Teens are more prone to addiction because their brains aren't fully developed compared to adults. The parts of the brain that control emotion, coordination, and motivation develop more rapidly than the parts in charge of logic and reasoning. Teens often try to appear cool and mature hence why they don't consider the risks involving drugs and alcohol too well.

Something to remember is that "cells that fire together wire together." The brain has a complex network of neuron (nerve cells) pathways that transmit communication signals to one another. It does so by releasing a chemical (neurotransmitter) for the other cell to absorb and pass on to other cells, and as they communicate frequently, the connection grows stronger. When they travel on the same neural pathway over and over, they transmit messages faster and faster, creating this automatic loop that plays itself on repeat. Basically the more we repeat a thought or activity, the more entrenched the pathways form in our brain which creates a habit that goes into autopilot mode. Making it very difficult to break a habit or addiction. The difference between a habit and addiction is that habits can be positive or negative, while addiction is only negative. This process is the same for ALL addictions.

Drugs affect the pathways involving reward, triggering higher levels of dopamine flooding the brain circuits. Dopamine is a molecule that plays a role in reward-motivated behavior. It's present in the region of the brain that regulates emotions and feelings of pleasure. Our brains are wired to reinforce an activity by connecting experiences with reward. When excessive amounts of dopamine is released into the brain, the chemicals disrupt the neuron channeling, greatly amplifying the message to want more. 

Thus, another chemical called DeltaFosB will take the wheel. DeltaFosB is a transcription factor that binds the genes and acts as a light switch for addiction, turning them on or off. Dopamine acts as the head command center, giving out the order "This is great! I want more!" And DeltaFosB carries it out. The thing with DeltaFosB is that it alters the gene responses and accumulates lasting, physical changes to the brain. Creating more pathways for the cells to fire and rewire so that it will remember and repeat the experience. Once early drug conditioning has been activated, it'll stay that way and doesn't go away easily. Even long after the dopamine surge vanishes, the pathways will remain right where they left off. People are more likely to use an established path even when they don't want to because it's familiar. That's the number one reason drug addicts relapse after years of being sober.

Now, nobody is far too gone to overcome addiction. By the grace of God, you have the power to beat this enemy and win. But it doesn't mean it'll be an easy road to recovery. God will heal, but the consequences will remain. You'll still have to fight the cravings those pathways have led to, but if you truly acknowledge and pray for deliverance from those oppressed chains, God will set you free from the sin and bondage. 

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." -(John 8:36)

You are stronger than your addiction. If you're a child of God, then the Holy Spirit already resides in you and gives you the grace and ability to not let your addiction and appetites control you. For sin no longer has dominion over you. 

"For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." -(Romans 6:14)

If you’re not a child of God, meaning you don’t have a saving relationship with Him, please know that your life is worth more than selling it away to drugs and foolishness. Drugs can never make you feel whole and complete. It is only through a surrendered life to Christ, you will find true freedom, healing, acceptance, and purpose. You were bought at an immeasurable price shed by the blood of Jesus at Calvary. Don’t exchange the price you were paid for towards something shallow and a counterfeit only to make you feel more empty, lost, and ashamed. There is forgiveness found when you lay down your burdens and shame at His feet. He has the power to wash away your sins as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) If you'd really like to know about God and how to be set free, follow this link below:

How To Know God Personally

STAY AWAY from toxic people and influences that’ll fuel your addiction. There are tons of treatment centers you can go to get serious help in this area. Visit this website {here} for more information and rehabilitation services in your area. 

I don't know whether Cory knew Jesus or not but needless to say, his death speaks loudly that this can happen to anyone. Thus it is important to stay informed on this topic and educate the minds of this generation to understand the harms and consequences of chronic drug use. Not just for their well-being, but also for their eternity as well.

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