The Tail of the Raccoon, Part III: Departures – Educational and Scientific Commentary

Cue-Induced Relapse: Cues associated with the drug’s effects activate the processes underlying drug-taking, which are automatically engaged, resulting in drug-taking that is very difficult to suppress. The cues associated with drug-taking become engrained with repetition and ritual, thereby contributing to continued drug use despite a conscious desire to abstain (Pierce & Vanderschuren, 2010). Drug-paired stimuli induce subjective cravings for the drug’s effects (Cooney, Baker, and Pomerleau, 1983; Fox, Bergquist, Hong, and Sinha, 2007) as well as conditioned physiological responses (Carter and Tiffany, 1999). The persistence of these cue-elicited responses serve as nagging reminders of the drug’s effects and drive the addict toward relapse (Marlatt, 1990; Rohsenow, Monti, Rubonis, Sirota, Niaura, Colby, Wunschel and Abrahms, 1994; Sinha and Li, 2007).

The addict in recovery faces many problems, including the substantial obstacles that arise due to the necessity of re-arranging their daily lives in order to avoid the people, places, and things associated with drug use. There is a poignant video that was televised on ESPN of a retired professional athlete’s personal remarks (Cris Carter, Wide Receiver) on the issues to be faced by another professional sports figure (CC Sabathia, Pitcher of the New York Yankees) who just left his team to check himself into an alcohol rehabilitation clinic (Carter, 2015).

What Cris Carter has to say describes clearly the brutal reality of alcoholism, and the way that he delivers the message indicates that he truly understands the problem. Cris Carter found it necessary to change nearly every aspect of his life in order to distance himself from all of the people, places, and things that would tempt him to have a drink. Cris Carter escaped his addiction to alcohol by departing from his past and building a new life, a drug-free life, filled with healthier relationships and activities.