What Happens After Treatment?

In recovery circles, there is a lot of focus on treatment. Admitting you have a drug or alcohol problem and being willing to seek treatment is a massive step on the journey toward health. Finding the right treatment center that can meet your individual needs can help you create a solid foundation for recovery. Still, the 30, 60 or even 90 days that you spend in treatment are just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of your life. To really succeed in sobriety, you need to focus on recovery after treatment. 

Whether you’ve recently finished treatment or are floundering a bit in early recovery, having a plan for recovery after treatment can help you get on the right track. Here’s what you can do to protect your sobriety after treatment ends. 

Have Realistic Expectations

It would be wonderful if people could go to treatment for a set amount of time and emerge entirely cured from their substance use disorder. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic. The past traumas, underlying mental health issues and other factors that contributed to your substance abuse are still with you, even in recovery. 

The key difference is that you’re now able to deal with them in healthier ways. You can talk to professionals, go to a meeting, meditate or exercise when you’re overwhelmed, rather than using. Still, you have to accept that sometimes you’re not going to feel great. Life can still be challenging even in recovery, so be prepared for there to be bumps in the road, no matter how transformational your treatment experience was. 

Utilize Step-down Programs and Transitional Housing

Many people who go through treatment had their lives interrupted by their addiction. You might have experienced job loss, homelessness or credit challenges. Some people never learned to cope with the challenges of adult life without turning to drugs and alcohol. No matter what, reentering the “real world” after treatment can be daunting. 

That’s where step-down programs and transitional housing can help. If you went to an inpatient treatment program, it can be shocking to go from a structured environment to being on your own. To ease that transition, “step down” through treatment options, including outpatient and evening programs. Consider living in transitional housing, where you can pursue a job or education while still having some structure and accountability. 

Grow Your Sober Community

After you leave treatment, you might feel a bit lonely. Many of the people that you spent time with during active addiction aren’t safe to be around now that you’re building a sober life. Your friends who didn’t experience addiction might still be hurt by your past actions, or cautious in reestablishing their relationship with you. 

Your new sober community can help fill the gaps. Attend meetings, go to alumni events at your treatment center, and make friends with others at your sober living. Although putting yourself out there can be scary, the benefits of having sober friends invested in your success are well worth it. 

Focus On The Long Term

When you’re in treatment, your attention is on the next 30 days. However, to stay sober over a lifetime you have to focus on the big picture, one day at a time. You might experience days where you’re coping with cravings. You’ll likely have frustrations that your life isn’t coming together as quickly as you would like. By staying focused on your long-term goal of surviving and thriving in recovery, you can better handle the ups and downs of early recovery. 

Staying sober is a lifelong commitment. During early recovery, you can set the foundation for that, by building your community, establishing healthy habits, and learning which practices are most helpful for you. You’ll learn to recognize triggers and how to avoid them. And you will realize the importance of reaching out for help. Over time, all of this will strengthen your sobriety and help you live the life that you want live, without drugs or alcohol. 

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By: The Fix staff
Title: What Happens After Treatment?
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/what-happens-after-treatment
Published Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:50:26 +0000

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5 Tips for Surviving in an Increasingly Uncertain World

A recent study showed that North Americans are becoming less tolerant of uncertainty.

The U.S. presidential impeachment inquiry has added another layer of uncertainty to an already unstable situation that includes political polarization and the effects of climate change.

As a clinical psychologist in the Washington, D.C. area, I hear people report being stressed, anxious, worried, depressed and angry. Indeed, an American Psychological Association 2017 survey found that 63% of Americans were stressed by “the future of our nation,” and 57% by the “current political climate.”

Humans dislike uncertainty in most situations, but some deal with it better than others. Numerous studies link high intolerance of uncertainty to anxiety and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, PTSD and eating disorders.

While no one person can reduce the uncertainty of the current political situation, you can learn to decrease intolerance of uncertainty by implementing these scientifically sound strategies.

1. Commit to Gradually Facing Uncertainty

Even though humans encounter uncertain situations every day, we often avoid feeling the discomfort of facing the uncertainty.

When unsure how to best proceed with a work assignment, you might either immediately seek help, over-research or procrastinate. As you prepare for the day, uncertainty about the weather or traffic is quickly short-circuited by checking a phone. Similarly, inquiries about family or friends’ whereabouts or emotions can be instantly gratified by texting or checking social media.

All this avoidance of uncertainty leads to relief in the short run, but lessens your ability to tolerate anything short of complete certainty in the long run.

Tolerance for uncertainty is like a muscle that weakens if not used. So, work that muscle next time you face uncertainty.

Start gradually: Resist the urge to reflexively check your GPS the next time you are lost and aren’t pressured for time. Or go to a concert without Googling the band beforehand. Next, try to sit with the feelings of uncertainty for a while before you pepper your teenager with texts when he is running late. Over time, the discomfort will diminish.

2. Connect to a Bigger Purpose

Rita Levi-Montalcini was a promising young Jewish scientist when fascists came to power in Italy and she had to go into hiding. As World War II was raging, she set up a secret lab in her parents’ bedroom, studying cell growth. She would later say that the meaning that she derived from her work helped her to deal with the evil outside and with the ultimate uncertainty of whether she would be discovered.

What gives your life meaning? Finding or rediscovering your life purpose can help you deal with uncertainty and the stress and anxiety related to it.

Focusing on what can transcend finite human existence – whether it is religion, spirituality or dedication to a cause – can decrease uncertainty-driven worry and depression.

3. Don’t Underestimate Your Coping Ability

You might hate uncertainty because you fear how you would fare if things went badly. And you might distrust your ability to cope with the negative events that life throws your way.

Most people overestimate how bad they will feel when something bad happens. They also tend to underestimate their coping abilities.

It turns out that humans are generally resilient, even in the face of very stressful or traumatic events. If a feared outcome materializes, chances are you will deal with it better than you could now imagine. Remember that the next time uncertainty rears its head.

4. Bolster Resilience by Increasing Self-Care

You have probably heard it many times by now: Sleep well, exercise and prioritize social connections if you want to have a long and happy life.

What you might not know is that the quantity and quality of sleep is also related to your ability to deal with uncertainty. Exercise, especially of the cardio variety, can increase your capacity to cope with uncertain situations and lower your stress, anxiety and depression. A new review study suggests that regular exercise may even be able to prevent the onset of anxiety and anxiety disorders.

Possibly the best tool for coping with uncertainty is making sure that you have an active and meaningful social life. Loneliness fundamentally undermines a person’s sense of safety and makes it very hard to deal with the unpredictable nature of life.

Having even a few close family members or friends imparts a feeling that “we are in this all together,” which can protect you from psychological and physical problems.

5. Appreciate That Absolute Certainty Is Impossible

Nothing is certain in life. The sooner you start thinking about that fact, the easier it will be to face it.

Moreover, repeated attempts at predicting and controlling everything in life can backfire, leading to psychological problems like OCD.

In spite of civilization’s great progress, the fantasy of humankind’s absolute control over its environment and fate is still just that – a fantasy. So, I say to embrace the reality of uncertainty and enjoy the ride.

[ You’re smart and curious about the world. So are The Conversation’s authors and editors. You can read us daily by subscribing to our newsletter. ]

The Conversation

Jelena Kecmanovic, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Georgetown University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

By: Jelena Kecmanovic, Georgetown University
Title: 5 Tips for Surviving in an Increasingly Uncertain World
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/5-tips-surviving-increasingly-uncertain-world
Published Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2020 07:38:24 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

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A Kinder, Better Way: How CRAFT Uses Love and Kindness to Heal Families with Addiction

About ten years ago, I got one of those letters. It was painful to read it but once I had a drink, my pain turned into indignation. I folded the letter multiple times till it ended up a tiny square, which I shoved into a shoebox where it lives till this day, next to old birthday cards and love notes from exes. I’m talking about my first Intervention Letter. 

If you’ve never gotten one of these, then you were probably not destroying your family’s life successfully enough! I’m kidding, of course, and not everyone gets an Intervention Letter; some of us also get a serious talking-to; most of us get ultimatums and threats; and all of us get tears. This is what it’s like to have a family while high or drunk. Not fun. But it’s even less fun for the families—they are some of the most tortured, miserable, angry, confused people entangled in their misery by love. 

It’s no wonder that resentment is ever-present, fuelling many misguided attempts to help circumvent addiction. Why misguided? Because those attempts rarely get anyone better. And a person going to a rehab to please their loved ones has less of a chance of staying clean than a person going on her own account. On top of it, the families are still often left without any solid tactics in place on how to keep their loved one sober, how to prevent relapses, and how not to fall back into the muck of co-dependency. There are programs designed to help families but many of them advocate “tough love” and aren’t terribly effective. So Intervention Letters and ultimatums are common. 

Instead of Ultimatums and Threats, Compassion

Fortunately, there might be a better way—specifically the CRAFT way. According to one definition, “Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) teaches family and friends effective strategies for helping their loved one to change and for feeling better themselves. CRAFT works to affect the loved one’s behavior by changing the way the family interacts with him or her.” At first look, CRAFT’s techniques might appear contra-intuitive as a lot of its teachings seem to advocate dismissing the addictive behavior—complaining, arguments and demands are discouraged. In fact, on the cover of the popular book on CRAFT, Get Your Loved One Sober, the tagline reads “Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening.” Instead of tough love, CRAFT advocates gentle love—and that approach seems to be working.

According to one trial by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), CRAFT was more effective than Al-Anon and Johnson Institute Intervention. CRAFT had a 64 percent success rate of getting the person with addiction into treatment compared to 30 percent for Johnston Institute and 10 percent for Al-Anon. Johnson Institute is a model that’s based on confrontation that is supposed to motivate the person with addiction to enter treatment. Al-Anon, similar to CRAFT, teaches detachment with love, but it is also a 12-step-based program which includes the sometimes-problematic concept of Higher Power and advocates a certain kind of passivity, which might not be conductive to strengthening the very fragile fabric of families dealing with active addiction. 

In contrast, CRAFT focuses on attending to your own needs along with steering the problem user toward treatment, which often happens organically as the patterns of interaction change. CRAFT’s mission is to help reduce the loved one’s alcohol and drug use, whether or not the loved one has engaged in treatment yet. CRAFT discourages enabling, encourages problem solving, employs reward systems and aims to empower the beaten-down, frustrated family members. CRAFT doesn’t approve of breaking the family apart and its goal is to not only keep it all intact but also get everyone better. 

A family member who’s part of CRAFT is taught to change her/ his reactions—from negative to positive—in response to the triggers from the person with addiction. For example, a husband coming home late after a night of drinking with his buddies again won’t get a lecture for being late for dinner, as he usually does in that situation, because the wife will have been instructed to take care of her own needs, and she will have eaten the dinner on her own. 

Observing and Adapting

As part of CRAFT, the family members are asked to observe and monitor the addictive behavior of their loved one—this means noting what situations might cause the person to reach for another drink, what creates conflict, and observing any patterns in behavior. With time, as these patterns become obvious, the family member changes the approach—from aggressive to more passive and compassionate—and in that more loving way, upsets the predictable trajectory of maladaptive interactions with the addicted person. Instead of yelling at someone and accusing her of being a liar, the family member might say, “I know you haven’t been going to work all this time and I am hurt that you’re lying to me. Let’s talk about it in the morning after you sleep it off.” A calm, reasonable way of dealing with the situation will most likely elicit a reaction that’s not combative. Eventually those kinds of interactions will become a norm and change will occur.

It’s not exactly “kill them with kindness” but it’s a similar principle. When you expect Intervention Letters—like I did—and you’re stuck in a hamster wheel of constant conflict, getting something completely opposite might just shock you into action. Receiving praise for sticking to commitments—even something as small as coming home on time—or staying sober for a string of days, is more effective than having those subtle changes ignored or taken for granted. No, we don’t need to applaud every nice thing a person with addiction does but in the beginning, perhaps it makes sense to do so. People who are just starting to get sober are very much like babies—deregulated emotions, lack of impulse control—and praise goes a longer way than punishment does. Punishment tends to prolong trauma where praise leaves the person wanting to earn it again, which leads to repeating the desirable action. 

A Better Alternative to Tough Love

My family has always taken the “tough love” route and my addiction did contribute to me eventually separating from my husband. I imagine if we were a part of CRAFT program, things could’ve gone differently. I lived through ultimatums and anger and once I was kicked out of my house. I’ve often felt alone and ashamed and angry with myself for disappointing everyone. I thought I was worthless and my loved ones’ attitude confirmed that. But I don’t think they knew any better. So many of us with addiction still live in an episode of Intervention; we have never been shown a kinder, better way.
 

By: Jowita Bydlowska
Title: A Kinder, Better Way: How CRAFT Uses Love and Kindness to Heal Families with Addiction
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/craft-family-addiction-treatment
Published Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 08:10:03 +0000

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When Purell is Contraband, How Do You Contain Coronavirus?

This article was originally published on March 6th by The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for their newsletter, or follow The Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.

When Lauren Johnson reached for a squirt of hand sanitizer on her way out of the doctor’s office, she regretted it immediately.

In the Central Texas prison where she was housed, alcohol-based hand sanitizer was against the rules—and the on-duty officer was quick to let her know it.

“He screamed at me,” she said.

Then, she said, he wrote her up and she lost her recreation and phone privileges for 10 days.

The incident was a minor blip in Johnson’s last prison stay a decade ago, but the rules hold true today and underscore a potential problem for combating coronavirus: Behind bars, some of the most basic disease prevention measures are against the rules or simply impossible.

“Jails and prisons are often dirty and have really very little in the way of infection control,” said Homer Venters, former chief medical officer at New York city’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex. “There are lots of people using a small number of bathrooms. Many of the sinks are broken or not in use. You may have access to water, but nothing to wipe your hands off with, or no access to soap.”

So far, the respiratory virus has sickened more than 97,000 people worldwide and at least 200 in the U.S. More than 3,300 people have died. As of late Thursday there were no reported cases in American prisons, though experts say it’s just a matter of time. (Ed Note: These were the numbers as of March 6th, 2020. At time of this publication, they have increased. See current stats here.)

To minimize further spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests things like avoiding close contact with people who are sick, covering your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, disinfecting frequently-used surfaces and washing your hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

But these recommendations run up against the reality of life in jails and prisons. Behind bars, access to toilet paper or tissues is often limited and covering your mouth can be impossible if you’re handcuffed, either because of security status or during transport to another facility.

Typically, facilities provide some access to cleaning products for common areas and individual cells, but sometimes those products aren’t effective, and Johnson recalled women stealing bleach and supplies so they could clean adequately.

Hand sanitizer is often contraband because of the high alcohol content and the possibility for abuse (the alcohol can be separated out from the gel). A spokesman clarified Thursday that the Texas prison system now sells sanitizer on commissary, though it is a non-alcohol-based alternative, which is not what the CDC recommends.

Even something as basic as hand-washing can be difficult in facilities with spotty water access or ongoing concerns about contamination, such as in the recent Legionnaires’ outbreak at one federal prison complex in Florida. (Legionnaires is caused by contaminated water, though the source of that water is not clear in Florida).

Aside from all that, prisons and jails are large communities where a sicker-than-average population is crammed into close quarters where healthcare is often shoddy, and medical providers are often understaffed. In an infectious disease outbreak, health experts recommend separating sick people from well people to prevent the disease from spreading, but in prison that can be nearly impossible, since prisoners are already grouped according to security and other logistical considerations.

Given all that, correctional facilities often respond to outbreaks with the same set of tools: lockdowns, solitary confinement and visitation restrictions. That’s what some prisons and jails did during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and it’s what happened more recently in the Florida federal prison complex struck by Legionnaires’. In Texas and other states, prison officials regularly shut down visitation or institute partial lockdowns during mumps and flu outbreaks.

This time, though, some public health officials—including former Rikers health official Venters—are proposing a different solution: large-scale releases, like those already underway in Iran. There, officials approved the temporary release of more than 54,000 prisoners in an effort to combat the spread of the new virus.

“That’s a gauntlet for the U.S.,” said Jody Rich, a professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Brown University. “ Really? Iran’s going to do it better than we are?”

Advocates in Indiana on Thursday called on the governor to consider releasing large numbers of elderly and sick prisoners, who are at highest risk of complications from coronavirus. People with chronic illnesses are vastly overrepresented in U.S. prisons and jails, and elderly inmates are the fastest-growing share of prisoners.

Some in law enforcement immediately criticized the proposal.

“I don’t think a viable solution for the safety of our community is to have mass releases from jails,” said Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston police union. “As much as we have to balance the dangers that coronavirus poses to the community, we also have to balance that against the danger of letting violent criminals back out on the streets.”

It’s not yet clear whether any prisons or jails are seriously considering widespread releases. A spokeswoman for the federal prison system did not respond to questions about the idea, instead saying that the isolating nature of prisons could be an asset in handling any potential outbreak.

“The controlled environment of a prison allows the Bureau of Prisons to isolate, contain and address any potential medical concern quickly and appropriately,” said Nancy Ayers, the spokeswoman. “Every facility has contingency plans in place to address a large range of concerns.”

By: Keri Blakinger
Title: When Purell is Contraband, How Do You Contain Coronavirus?
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/when-purell-contraband-how-do-you-contain-coronavirus
Published Date: Thu, 19 Mar 2020 07:37:03 +0000

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The Brain, the Criminal and the Courts

8.30.2019

On March 30, 1981, 25-year-old John W. Hinckley Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan and three other people. The following year, he went on trial for his crimes.

Defense attorneys argued that Hinckley was insane, and they pointed to a trove of evidence to back their claim. Their client had a history of behavioral problems. He was obsessed with the actress Jodie Foster, and devised a plan to assassinate a president to impress her. He hounded Jimmy Carter. Then he targeted Reagan.

In a controversial courtroom twist, Hinckley’s defense team also introduced scientific evidence: a computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan that suggested their client had a “shrunken,” or atrophied, brain. Initially, the judge didn’t want to allow it. The scan didn’t prove that Hinckley had schizophrenia, experts said — but this sort of brain atrophy was more common among schizophrenics than among the general population.

It helped convince the jury to find Hinckley not responsible by reason of insanity.

Nearly 40 years later, the neuroscience that influenced Hinckley’s trial has advanced by leaps and bounds — particularly because of improvements in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the invention of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which lets scientists look at blood flows and oxygenation in the brain without hurting it. Today neuroscientists can see what happens in the brain when a subject recognizes a loved one, experiences failure, or feels pain.

Despite this explosion in neuroscience knowledge, and notwithstanding Hinckley’s successful defense, “neurolaw” hasn’t had a tremendous impact on the courts — yet. But it is coming. Attorneys working civil cases introduce brain imaging ever more routinely to argue that a client has or has not been injured. Criminal attorneys, too, sometimes argue that a brain condition mitigates a client’s responsibility. Lawyers and judges are participating in continuing education programs to learn about brain anatomy and what MRIs and EEGs and all those other brain tests actually show.

Most of these lawyers and judges want to know such things as whether brain imaging could establish a defendant’s mental age, supply more dependable lie-detection tests or reveal conclusively when someone is experiencing pain and when they are malingering (which would help resolve personal injury cases). Neuroscience researchers aren’t there yet, but they are working hard to unearth correlations that might help — looking to see which parts of the brain engage in a host of situations.

Progress has been incremental but steady. Though neuroscience in the courts remains rare, “we’re seeing way more of it in the courts than we used to,” says Judge Morris B. Hoffman, of Colorado’s 2nd Judicial District Court. “And I think that’s going to continue.”

A Mounting Count of Cases

Criminal law has looked to the human mind and mental states since the seventeenth century, says legal scholar Deborah Denno of Fordham University School of Law. In earlier centuries, courts blamed aberrant behavior on “the devil” — and only later, starting in the early twentieth century, did they begin recognizing cognitive deficits and psychological diagnoses made through Freudian analysis and other approaches.

Neuroscience represents a tantalizing next step: evidence directly concerned with the physical state of the brain and its quantifiable functions.

There is no systematic count of all the cases, civil and criminal, in which neuroscientific evidence such as brain scans has been introduced. It’s almost certainly most common in civil cases, says Kent Kiehl, a neuroscientist at the University of New Mexico and a principal investigator at the nonprofit Mind Research Network, which focuses on applying neuroimaging to the study of mental illness. In civil proceedings, says Kiehl, who frequently consults with attorneys to help them understand neuroimaging science, MRIs are common if there’s a question of brain injury, and a significant judgment at stake.

In criminal courts, MRIs are most often used to assess brain injury or trauma in capital cases (eligible for the death penalty) “to ensure that there’s not something obviously neurologically wrong, which could alter the trajectory of the case,” Kiehl says. If a murder defendant’s brain scan reveals a tumor in the frontal lobe, for instance, or evidence of frontotemporal dementia, that could inject just enough doubt to make it hard for a court to arrive at a guilty verdict (as brain atrophy did during Hinckley’s trial). But these tests are expensive.

Some scholars have tried to quantify how often neuroscience has been used in criminal cases. A 2015 analysis by Denno identified 800 neuroscience-involved criminal cases over a 20-year period. It also found increases in the use of brain evidence year over year, as did a 2016 study by Nita Farahany, a legal scholar and ethicist at Duke University.

Farahany’s latest count, detailed in an article about neurolaw she coauthored in the Annual Review of Criminology, found more than 2,800 recorded legal opinions between 2005 and 2015 where criminal defendants in the US had used neuroscience — everything from medical records to neuropsychological testing to brain scans — as part of their defense. About 20 percent of defendants who presented neuroscientific evidence got some favorable outcome, be it a more generous deadline to file paperwork, a new hearing or a reversal.

But even the best studies like these include only reported cases, which represent “a tiny, tiny fraction” of trials, says Owen Jones, a scholar of law and biological sciences at Vanderbilt University. (Jones also directs the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, which partners neuroscientists and legal scholars to do neurolaw research and help the legal system navigate the science.) Most cases, he says, result in plea agreements or settlements and never make it to trial, and there’s no feasible way to track how neuroscience is used in those instances.

The Science of states of Mind

Even as some lawyers are already introducing neuroscience into legal proceedings, researchers are trying to help the legal system separate the wheat from the chaff, through brain-scanning experiments and legal analysis. These help to identify where and how neuroscience can and can’t be helpful. The work is incremental, but is steadily marching ahead.

One MacArthur network team at Stanford, led by neuroscientist Anthony Wagner, has looked at ways to use machine learning (a form of artificial intelligence) to analyze fMRI scans to identify when someone is looking at photos they recognize as being from their own lives. Test subjects were placed in a scanner and shown a series of pictures, some collected from cameras they had been wearing around their own necks, others collected from cameras worn by others.

Tracking changes in oxygenation to follow patterns in blood flow — a proxy for where neurons are firing more frequently — the team’s machine-learning algorithms correctly identified whether subjects were viewing images from their own lives, or someone else’s, more than 90 percent of the time.

“It’s a proof of concept, at this stage, but in theory it’s a biomarker of recognition,” Jones says. “You could imagine that could have a lot of different legal implications” — such as one day helping to assess the accuracy and reliability of eyewitness memory.

Other researchers are using fMRI to try to identify differences in the brain between a knowing state of mind and a reckless state of mind, important legal concepts that can have powerful effects on the severity of criminal sentences.

To explore the question, Gideon Yaffe of the Yale Law School, neuroscientist Read Montague of Virginia Tech and colleagues used fMRI to brain-scan study participants as they considered whether to carry a suitcase through a checkpoint. All were told — with varying degrees of certainty — that the case might contain contraband. Those informed that there was 100 percent certainty that they were carrying contraband were deemed to be in a knowing state of mind; those given a lower level of certainty were classified as being in the law’s definition of a reckless state of mind. Using machine-learning algorithms to read fMRI scans, the scientists could reliably distinguish between the two states.

Neuroscientists also hope to better understand the biological correlates of recidivism — Kiehl, for instance, has analyzed thousands of fMRI and structural MRI scans of inmates in high-security prisons in the US in order to tell whether the brains of people who committed or were arrested for new crimes look different than the brains of people who weren’t. Getting a sense of an offender’s likelihood of committing a new crime in the future is crucial to successful rehabilitation of prisoners, he says.

Others are studying the concept of mental age. A team led by Yale and Weill Cornell Medical College neuroscientist B.J. Casey used fMRI to look at whether, in differing circumstances, young adults’ brains function more like minors’ brains or more like those of older adults — and discovered that it often depended on emotional state. Greater insight into the brain’s maturation process could have relevance for juvenile justice reform, neurolaw scholars say, and for how we treat young adults, who are in a transitional period.

The Jury Is Still Out

It remains to be seen if all this research will yield actionable results. In 2018, Hoffman, who has been a leader in neurolaw research, wrote a paper discussing potential breakthroughs and dividing them into three categories: near term, long term and “never happening.” He predicted that neuroscientists are likely to improve existing tools for chronic pain detection in the near future, and in the next 10 to 50 years he believes they’ll reliably be able to detect memories and lies, and to determine brain maturity.

But brain science will never gain a full understanding of addiction, he suggested, or lead courts to abandon notions of responsibility or free will (a prospect that gives many philosophers and legal scholars pause).

Many realize that no matter how good neuroscientists get at teasing out the links between brain biology and human behavior, applying neuroscientific evidence to the law will always be tricky. One concern is that brain studies ordered after the fact may not shed light on a defendant’s motivations and behavior at the time a crime was committed — which is what matters in court. Another concern is that studies of how an average brain works do not always provide reliable information on how a specific individual’s brain works.

“The most important question is whether the evidence is legally relevant. That is, does it help answer a precise legal question?” says Stephen J. Morse, a scholar of law and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is in the camp who believe that neuroscience will never revolutionize the law, because “actions speak louder than images,” and that in a legal setting, “if there is a disjunct between what the neuroscience shows and what the behavior shows, you’ve got to believe the behavior.” He worries about the prospect of “neurohype,” and attorneys who overstate the scientific evidence.

Some say that neuroscience won’t change the fundamental problems the law concerns itself with — “the giant questions that we’ve been asking each other for 2,000 years,” as Hoffman puts it — questions about the nature of human responsibility, or the purpose of punishment.

But in day-to-day courtroom life, such big-picture, philosophical worries might not matter, Kiehl says.

“If there are two or three papers that support that the evidence has a sound scientific basis, published in good journals, by reputable academics, then lawyers are going to want to use it.”

This article originally appeared in Knowable Magazine, an independent journalistic endeavor from Annual Reviews. Sign up for the newsletter.

Knowable Magazine | Annual Reviews


By: Eryn Brown
Title: The Brain, the Criminal and the Courts
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/brain-criminal-and-courts
Published Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2020 06:47:52 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974