The Extraordinary Power of Perseverance


Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on Unsplash


Perseverance has extraordinary power. You need the power of perseverance to overcome many of life’s most difficult challenges. Like substance abuse, addiction, and major depression.

Or recovering from surgery, an accident, or a disease. Not all challenges will result in initial success. But never give up. for it is only through perseverance and diligence that dreams can be achieved.

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” – Winston Churchill

Perseverance is essential. Yet, it is also true that most people find it too easy to become disheartened when things don’t go as planned or anticipated. That is human nature. Whether the individual is in recovery or not doesn’t matter. Humans make mistakes. We have clouded judgment at times. We are often overly emotional about things when making decisions.

There is a tendency to blame time and place or say it is just bad luck when it comes to success. That’s an excuse. It is a rationalization instead of owning up to the truth: We didn’t keep at it or gave up too soon.

Sure, there are good reasons to get discouraged. These include attempting a goal without readiness, insufficient training, lack of knowledge or experience, and fear of success or failure.

Perseverance Means You Keep Going

However, that’s more ammunition to keep plugging away at plans. Go step by step until there is an achievement. Look for progress that can reassure you of being on the right track. This motivates when nothing else will.

How else can we explain the success of others who, by all outward appearances, have nothing going for them and seem doomed to failure? Yet, it happens every day that individuals achieve tremendous success, and reach lofty goals, perhaps because of or despite their disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • What about those who have nothing positive in our history to point to?
  • What if we mess up everything we’ve ever attempted? Or have we made more mistakes than wise decisions for a long time?
  • We can blame it all on someone else, our preoccupation with making money, an obsessive focus on relationships, or one or more addictions.
  • If we let our lives slip into disarray or ignored obvious symptoms, there may be some valid basis for such an explanation.
  • But it is still not taking responsibility for what’s happened. After all, no one forced us to drink or do drugs.
  • Granted, we may have a biological marker that is a contributing factor. Such as generations of family alcoholism. Yet thousands of individuals with such markers do not become alcoholics.

How to Turn Things Around

Suffice it to say that if we have a bleak history concerning success, it is time to change that. Start working today to achieve small successes. Start somewhere. Set reasonable goals that have a realistic chance of success.

And some things qualify in this area. Treat ourselves better. Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat regular and well-balanced meals. Get some daily physical exercise. These are not tough goals. They should be the ones we can do.

Perseverance Helps in Achieving Goals

Little accomplishments will begin to add up. Here’s how it works.

  • When we are properly nourished, well-rested, and have increasing amounts of energy because we are getting physical exercise to jumpstart our system, there are multiple physical, emotional, and psychological benefits.
  • There’s no reliance on substances for a jolt or numb reality.
  • Therefore, welcome the opportunity to live clear-headed and free of alcohol and drugs.
  • This is the path to healing from addictions.
  • It is also an example of taking the first steps in a personal path of recovery from any medical condition, disease, tragedy, emotional disturbance, or illness.

Be sure to use the support and encouragement readily available to us from our family members and loved ones. Only those who are committed to our recovery can offer the kind of unflagging support that’s so crucial to ongoing progress.

If we know we have allies, that will ease our minds and allay some of our fears about tackling goals. Especially difficult goals and those that take a long time. Everyone in recovery started with uncertainty and fear. The unpredictability of the future can be truly frightening.

Know that it is possible to get through this with perseverance and determination. It will not be easy. But it isn’t out of the question, either. Life is precious. It is also short. Isn’t it better to live with the hope and expectation of doing the best to be happy, productive, and fulfilled?

Extraordinary Power of Perseverance

Another extraordinary power of perseverance is that it is self-renewing. The more we persevere, the more we want to continue, and the clearer the goal or objective becomes. When we encounter obstacles, a strong commitment to perseverance can lead to discovering alternative ways to achieve desired goals.

Be comforted that millions of individuals in recovery have found hope, comfort, peace, happiness, and love. We can, too, if we maintain our perseverance, never give in, and never give up.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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E-Cigarettes: What You Need to Know Before You Pick up That Vaping Device

When e-cigarettes first appeared in 2007, little was known about any potential long-term harmful effects resulting from regular use. Touted as a safe alternative to smoking traditional tobacco products, e-cigarette acceptance and use exploded, with sales over the past 10 years increasing nearly 14-fold. Part of the reason e-cigarette use increased so rapidly is that, given their status as consumer products, they were exempt from required regulatory oversight of pharmaceutical nicotine products, including nicotine gum and patches. Today, however, research has uncovered evidence pointing to major concerns related to negative health consequences associated with long-term vaping. In short, e-cigarettes and vaping may not be as safe as you think.

Vaping Increases Risk of Having Heart Attack or Stroke

While it’s tough to pinpoint the prevalence of e-cigarette use in America, estimates from research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2018 found that nearly one in 20 adults in America is a current e-cigarette user, and more than half of current e-cig smokers are under the age of 35. Furthermore, researchers say the use of e-cigs is especially common among LGBT individuals, those with co-morbid conditions, and current smokers of regular cigarettes.

Now, as researchers from the University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita, detail in their study, adults self-reporting vaping are significantly more likely to have a heart attack (56 percent) or stroke (30 percent) than non-users. Other study findings showed that coronary artery disease and blood circulation problems, which included blood clots) are much higher among vapers. What’s perhaps surprising is the finding that e-cigarette smokers were more than twice as likely to suffer from emotional problems, including depression and anxiety.

The University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita study is the largest to-date study of the relationship between vaping and negative cardiovascular health and other health outcomes. It’s also one of the first to establish an association – but not causation, as yet – between the two. Still, researchers note, although traditional smoking carries a higher risk of having a heart attack (165 percent), coronary artery disease (94 percent), or stroke (78 percent), that doesn’t mean vaping is safe. E-cigarettes may contain nicotine (which can increase blood pressure and quicken heartbeat) and release similar toxic compounds that occur during traditional tobacco smoking.

E-Cigs Not Safe for Lung Health

In a study published in Tobacco Control, researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that vapers were nearly twice as likely to develop wheezing and other respiratory problems as those who did not regularly use tobacco products. Wheezing, caused by airways that are narrowed or abnormal, noted researchers in this study, is one of the early signs of lung damage. Wheezing is also often a precursor to heart failure, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease and lung cancer.

Researchers said the results are consistent with previous University of Rochester research published in PLOS ONE that showed emissions from aerosols in e-cigarettes and flavorings can damage the cells of the lungs by generating harmful free radicals and inflammation in lung tissues.

USB-type Vaping Devices Deliver High Levels of Nicotine

What should be of particular concern to parents of adolescents and teens is the skyrocketing rate of vaping that’s occurred in just the last few years. Nicotine, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is highly addictive, and most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. But there are special dangers to kids from vaping, since adolescent brains are still in developmental mode, and nicotine wreaks havoc on normal brain maturation. Vaping may also lead to smoking tobacco. But, besides nicotine, vaping devices may also contain other harmful substances: cancer-causing chemicals; volatile organic compounds; flavoring with diacetyl, a chemical linked to lung disease; ultrafine particles inhaled into the lungs; and heavy metals that include tin, lead and nickel.

Not only that, for vigilant parents monitoring their children’s use of substances, including smoking and vaping, it’s often tough to discern the new vaping devices from commonly used school items, such as pens and USB drives. Indeed, JUUL, the maker of the top-selling cigarette brand in the U.S., sells its highly potent vaping devices that are shaped like USB-flash drives. A single JUUL pod has nicotine comparable to a pack of 20 regular tobacco cigarettes. Research published in BMJ says that JUUL, introduced to the U.S. market in 2015, uses benzoic acid and nicotine salt technology to produce nicotine concentration of 50 mg/mL in the standard version, compared to the typical nicotine concentrations in other e-cigarettes of 3-24 mg/mL.

Here’s how the JUUL vaping device works:

  • It’s battery operated.
  • The device heats a liquid containing nicotine.
  • The heated liquid produces an aerosol.
  • The vaper inhales the aerosol.

As noted in the BMJ research, evidence pointing to potential addiction occurring from regular adolescent vaping was scant before 2018. Now that JUUL and nicotine salt-based products have emerged, the trend “might signal a change” and suggests the need for continued monitoring of adolescent vaping behavior, the products they use and frequency of use.

Data from the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that past 30-day vaping among high school seniors was 20.8 percent, compared to 11.7 percent in 2017. This is consistent with trends found in the 2018 Monitoring the Future Study which noted that nicotine vaping among adolescents aged 16 to 19 are the largest ever recorded of any substances in the 44 years the MTF has tracked adolescent drug use.

Explosions of Vaping Devices May Cause Serious Injury

Warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on how to avoid exploding vaping devices make it clear that there’s potential for serious injury from such incidents. While the FDA says these explosions are rare, and the underlying causes are unknown, it is suspected that issues related to the devices’ batteries may be involved.

Safety tips from the FDA on how to protect yourself from exploding vape devices include these recommendations:

  • Do not use your phone/tablet charger to charge the vaping device.
  • If batteries in the vaping device become wet or damaged, replace the batteries.
  • Never charge your vaping device overnight.
  • Be sure to protect the vaping device from extreme temperatures, such as leaving it on the dashboard of the car during a hot day.
  • Use proper storage of loose vaping device batteries by putting them in a case and making sure they’re away from metal objects.

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Surprising Research on Cannabis

Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash

Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash

Much of what we think we know about cannabis may soon change as a result of new research that uncovers some surprising facts. Indeed, the topic, which can be emotionally charged, is the focus of intense scientific study. Is cannabis good for you? Is it addictive? What long-term harms can use cause? The answers to these questions are multi-layered and not always clear-cut, which is why cannabis research continues with even more urgency.


Current estimates are that one in 10 cannabis users will develop cannabis addiction or dependence. The potency of the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive constituent in marijuana, in today’s cannabis is much higher than in years past. Besides traditional marijuana use, designer drugs created from synthetic cannabinoids are growing in popularity – along with increased concern for their unknown addiction potential and negative health effects. According to a report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction, at least 169 different synthetic cannabinoid compounds have been discovered since detection of the market’s first synthetic cannabinoid in 2008.

Using gene-based testing, four genes have been identified that are significantly associated with lifetime cannabis use:

  • Neural cell adhesion molecule 1 (NCAM1) – which is also associated with substance abuse
  • Cell adhesion molecule 2 (CADM2)
  • Potassium sodium-activated channel subfamily T member 2 (KCNT2)
  • Short coiled-coil protein (SCOC)

While vulnerability to starting cannabis use and developing cannabis use disorder (CUD) is heritable, other risk factors are believed to speed the transition. These risk factors include:

  • Age of first use of cannabis
  • Drug use by peers
  • Availability of drugs
  • Lower socioeconomic status
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Early adolescent smoking and/or drinking
  • Presence of pre- or comorbid psychiatric conditions — including mood disorders, psychosis, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Other studies found certain biological and personality traits – such as impulsivity, sensation-seeking, and schizotypy – are positively correlated with youths and young adults initiating cannabis use.


Comprehensive research published in Frontiers in Behavioral Science outlines some fascinating details of the differences between men and women when it comes to the effect of cannabis. The bottom line is that women are more likely to become addicted to cannabis than men. In addition to genetic background and fluctuations in hormones, here are some of the study’s findings, using animal models:

  • Men are four times more likely than women to try cannabis.
  • Men are also more likely to use cannabis more frequently than their female counterparts.

The male sex steroids (including natural sex steroid testosterone and synthetic steroids such as nandrolone) increase risk-taking and suppress the reward system in the brain. This could explain why men are more willing to experiment with drugs, including cannabis.

Women, on the other hand, seem to be more vulnerable to developing an addiction to cannabis, at least on a neurochemical level. To put it plainly, females can transition from first use to habit more rapidly than men. The rodent studies showed researchers that the female hormone estradiol affects three targets of drug-taking: control of movement, filtering of sensory input to the brain, and social behavior. This occurs through modulation of the endocannabinoid system which, in turn, influences the production of estradiol.

In addition to different levels of endocannabinoids, female rats have more sensitive receptors than males in the specific brain areas related to the three drug-taking targets – plus, significant changes along the female rats’ menstrual cycle.

Researchers noted that the result is that “the interactions between the endocannabinoid system and brain level of dopamine – the neurotransmitter of ‘pleasure’ and ‘reward’ – are sex-dependent.”

They suggest that gaining a deeper understanding of how cannabinoids and sex steroids interact is both crucial to assess the effect of increasing cannabis use and to effectively deal with the results. For example, cannabis addiction detoxification treatments and relapse prevention may be gender-tailored for better effectiveness. Still, much further research needs to be done to make evidence-based progress in this area.


For the millions of Americans suffering with chronic pain, there’s promising research that shows that pinpointing an effective dose of cannabidiol (CBD), an extract from the marijuana plant can provide safe relief from chronic pain minus the adverse effects of THC from marijuana. Researchers from Canada’s McGill University Health Centre, using animal models and administering low doses of CBD over a period of seven days reduced both pain and anxiety – two symptoms commonly associated with chronic or neuropathic pain. The researchers say this is encouraging evidence for the use of CBD over THC or opioids for pain management in conditions that include sciatica, diabetic cancer, back pain, chronic pain and pain that occurs post-trauma. CBD became legal in Canada in mid-October 2018, following passage of the country’s Cannabis Act. More robust clinical trials are needed, say researchers, for the kind of evidence-based proof of CBD’s effectiveness and safety to provide pain relief for humans.

In another study published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers from Syracuse University found that cannabinoid drugs do not reduce the intensity of chronic pain, but they do perhaps make the pain feel more tolerable and less unpleasant. Even though 30 states allow medical marijuana use, cannabis is still a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). This presents significant challenges for research into the therapeutic effects of cannabis. As a result, there is a lack of high-quality evidence supporting the effectiveness of cannabis in treating chronic pain.


In the largest known imaging study of the brain, researchers affiliated with several California institutions, including Amen Clinics, Inc., Google, Inc., UCLA Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, found that cannabis use is one of the drivers of accelerated brain aging. Using brain SPECT (single photon emission computer tomography) to evaluate 30,000 scans from individuals ranging in age from 9 months to 105 years, researchers say they can now track common disorders and behaviors that prematurely age the brain. Schizophrenia, for example, contributed to an average 4 year early brain aging, while cannabis abuse accelerated brain aging by 2.8 years. Other disorders found to amp up brain aging were bipolar disorder (1.6 years), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (1.4 years), and alcohol abuse (0.6 years). Researchers pointed out that the results of this study should give everyone pause, especially considering the current cultural perception that cannabis use is innocuous. They added that better treatment of these disorders could slow or even halt the brain aging process.


The most prevalent detected intoxicant in drivers in the United States isn’t alcohol, it’s THC. Approximately 13 percent of drivers tested positive for marijuana, compared with about 8 percent for measurable amounts of alcohol. Despite findings that cannabis intoxication (stoned driving) while driving impairs reaction time and visual-spatial judgement, a plurality of cannabis users believe that cannabis has no effect or decreases crash risk, while only 38 percent think that driving under the influence of cannabis increases crash risk. This underestimation of risks of cannabis intoxication plus current cannabis consumption trends suggest cannabis-impaired driving may significantly contribute to highway injury and death. Alcohol and other drugs combined with cannabis use may “more than additively” increase highway risk.


Research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that adolescent cannabis use is associated with concurrent and lagged effect on cognitive functioning, such as working memory, memory recall, perceptual reasoning, and inhibitory control. The lasting effects of cannabis use on inhibitory control is particularly concerning, since inhibitory control is a risk factor for other addictive behaviors. Early onset of cannabis use during adolescence results in even more pronounced cognitive and behavioral effects. Researchers highlighted the importance of protecting youth from the adverse consequences of cannabis consumption through more investment in drug-prevention programs.


Research published in the European Journal of Cardiology has found a three-fold increased risk of death from hypertension due to cannabis use. Compared to non-users, marijuana users had a risk of hypertension death that was 3.42 times higher – and an additional 1.04 greater risk for each year of cannabis use. Researchers pointed out that this finding is not surprising, considering that marijuana use is known to have multiple effects on the cardiovascular system, including increases in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen demand. Cases of heart attack and angina have been reported in hospital emergency departments after cannabis use. They cautioned that the cardiovascular risk associated with marijuana use may be even greater than the risk already established for cigarette smoking.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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New Research on Gambling Use Disorder

Photo by Benjamin Lambert on Unsplash

Photo by Benjamin Lambert on Unsplash

“Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing from something.” – Wilson Mizner

Who doesn’t enjoy a game of chance now and then? Trying your luck on an inexpensive lottery ticket can seem innocent enough, and might even net you considerable return. Spurred on by the lure of winning the big jackpot through television, radio, Internet, newspaper and other media ads may even prompt you to spend more than you intended. And it’s not just lottery tickets that people become hooked on but other forms of gambling as well: horse racing, slot machines, card games, sports betting. It should come as no surprise, then, that gambling use disorder (GUD) has steadily gained prominence as another form of addiction.

New research on gambling addiction and GUD is both illuminating, troubling, and promising with respect to prevention, treatment and recovery.

Gambling Officially Recognized in DSM-5 as Behavioral Addiction

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) took gambling out of the “Impulse Control Disorder” section and reclassified gambling disorder as part of the expanded section covering “Substance-related and Addictive Disorders.” With this action, gambling disorder is the first non-substance behavioral addiction. A 2016 review in Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation examined the similarities and differences between gambling disorder and substance use disorders (SUDs) and found many shared characteristics, some of which include diagnostic criteria, comorbidity, genetic and physiological factors, even approaches to treatment.

Suicide Rates Increasing Among Those with Gambling Disorder

While previous research found that gambling disorder appeared to be an independent risk factor for suicide, and few studies looked at all-cause mortality as it relates to gambling disorder, 2018 research published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions explored both mortality and suicide rates in those with gambling disorder and the general population, as well as risk factors associated with mortality due to suicide and all causes. Their findings showed significantly elevated rates of mortality and suicide among those with gambling disorder. Furthermore, even though common comorbid mental health issues did not predict overall mortality, depression was found to predict suicide death. Researchers suggested that medical and mental health professionals pay attention to long-term risk of death in their patients with gambling disorder and promote effective interventions for mental health and other comorbid conditions.

Personality Disorders Consistently Associated with Pathological Gambling

In 2017 review published in Current Opinion in Psychiatry, researchers found a strong association between pathological gambling and personality disorders. They noted that studies consistently showed that the presence of a personality disorder is associated with severity of gambling and early age of onset of pathological gambling. Researchers called for further research on pathological gambling that goes beyond merely estimating rates of personality disorders and instead concentrate on longitudinal research to understand both the pathways between personality disorders and the early onset and severity of pathological gambling.

Disordered Gamblers Seeking Treatment Frequently Have Psychological Distress

What used to be called problem gambling or pathological gambling is now generally referred to as disordered gambling, according to several sources, including the New York Council on Problem Gambling. A 2017 study published in the Journal on Gambling Studies examined psychological distress as an indicator of co-occurring psychopathology among disordered gamblers seeking treatment. They found evidence of severe gambling pathology among those with greater levels of psychological distress. Furthermore, greater scores of psychological distress was found to significantly predict anxiety, depression, and deviancy. Researchers suggested that clinicians treating disordered gamblers may want to conduct a brief screening to check for the presence of co-occurring psychopathology, especially with reference to measures of psychological distress. The results could greatly aid clinicians in determining effective treatment approaches for disordered gamblers with psychological distress.

Co-morbid PTSD and Gambling-Related Cognitions: How They Affect Treatment

A 2018 study published in Addictive Behaviors looked at the association of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and gambling disorder in individuals with both conditions. Researchers sought to determine how PTSD might be related to specific gambling-related cognitions in terms of expression and experience. Hypothesizing that those with symptoms of PTSD (or symptoms of PTSD, even if undiagnosed) would show greater erroneous beliefs and cognitive distortions about gambling, researchers found the study participants consistently reported greater gambling-related cognitions. This led researchers to suggest that PTSD is uniquely associated with increased levels of cognitive distortions and erroneous beliefs about gambling and, further, that the findings both add to current understanding about the relation of PTSD and gambling to each other and to treatment of those diagnosed with the co-morbid conditions.

Other 2018 research published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors postulated that PTSD symptoms were likely to be associated with unique beliefs about types of gambling behavior and unique motivations to gamble. Researchers studying two groups, an inpatient group of U.S. Armed Forces veterans in treatment for gambling disorder and an online sample of gambling adults found that symptoms of PTSD were related to positive expectancies for gambling and consistently associated with greater coping mechanisms for gambling for both sample groups. Researchers said that the high co-morbidity of symptoms of PTSD and gambling disorder are likely of interest for clinicians treating individuals for either PTSD or gambling disorder (or both).

Flashing Casino Lights/Sounds: Influence Risky Decision-making and Promote Problem Gambling?

Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience indicates a possible connection between the sensory cues of flashing lights and sounds in casinos and increased risky decision-making, potentially even promoting problem gambling behavior. Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that individual choices were less influenced by the odds of winning when the gambling environment featured the audio and visual sensory cues. In other words, they took more risks in gambling despite the odds. Researchers suggested that the findings might help explain why individuals continue to gamble even though the odds of winning are against them. In addition, they said that gambling sights and sounds are far from innocuous and may form an important piece of the puzzle surrounding gambling addiction in that such environmental cues encourage risky decision-making and bias attention.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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To automatically get my posts, sign up for my RSS feed.   

Want to get my free newsletter? Sign up here to receive uplifting messages and daily positive quotes in my Daily Thoughts. You’ll also get the top self-help articles and stories of the week from my blog and more. I also invite you to like me on Facebook, follow me on LinkedIn,  Twitter,  Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Google+.