Posted May 1st, 2016
I’m going to be off topic this week and talk about addiction. When a person is suffering from addiction, they cause untold harm to the people around them. Everyone knows that when you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your decision making can get pretty impaired. What a lot of people don’t fully understand is that for the addict, with their prolonged, regular exposure to the slew of chemicals they intake, cognitive function is constantly severely impaired. Even when they’re not under the influence, addicts walk around unable to use critical thinking and rational decision making skills.
Intoxicants impair the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is in charge of our higher functions of reason and logic. It allows us to make decisions based on rational thought. If you impair the function of the frontal lobe, the brain will naturally fall back on the limbic system, which is the area of the brain that gives us pleasure, and basic emotional response. This is why drunk people are often overly sad or happy or angry. With the addict, the limbic system has been hijacked by the addictive substance, and the brain now identifies use of that substance with pleasure and reward. The brain effectively believes that use of the substance is now the only path to feeling pleasure. And it will stop at nothing to achieve that feeling.
So I’m going to change lanes for a second and talk about acting solely on emotional response and desire. Buddhists refer to it as monkey mind. Living your life driven by pointless external desires. This is the world of the addict. They do terrible things. They hurt the ones they love through extreme selfishness, commit crimes, betray trust. The thing is, it’s not their fault. Now I’m not saying for a second that they are not to be held accountable for their actions. Nor is addiction and excuse for anything they may do while actively using. It is a reason, though.
You see, the frontal lobe and limbic system do not work in harmony, even in the healthiest mind. Rational thought and emotional response are very often completely contradictory. Remove the function of the frontal lobe and you’re left with a person who uses no logic or reason. When you remove the substance, and treat the person, the reason returns, and this is when they begin to feel remorse for the things they did while using. That tremendous guilt can be incredibly difficult to manage, because the limbic system is still telling the person that their substance of choice is how to remove that guilt and pain. Couple that with the fact that non addicts often cannot understand that the actions of a user are beyond their control, and it can push people to relapse.
If you’ve never struggled with addiction, I just want you to take a moment and recall one situation where you have made a shitty decision that selfishly hurt someone. I know all of you have. Now I want you to imagine if you lived your life having little control over making those decisions. Imagine if you continuously did things to hurt the people around you, and haphazardly broke the law. Imagine if the shit you did on a regular basis was flirting with death, and you not only couldn’t see the danger, but couldn’t understand why you did it. That’s what living with addiction is like.
We all have a bit of monkey mind, and it’s not an easy thing to reign in. Introspection and personal reflection are key to understanding our emotional responses and actions. Next time you act out of sorts, or lose your temper, or do anything mean or spiteful, remember to take a moment to understand that the addict lives in that place at all times.
Posted April 24th, 2016
On Friday May 5th, Art Machine Productions will be hosting two events to raise money to help fund the Live Through This project. Live Through This is a collection of portraits and stories of suicide attempt survivors, as told by those survivors. Suicide and mental illness are subjects that are often ignored, and misunderstood. As many of you know, I have struggled most of my life with depression, anxiety, and a nice slathering of other fun stuff, and have faced periods of deep depression accompanied by some pretty severe suicidal thoughts. This subject is dear to me, and I can promise that the majority of you also know someone who has or is experiencing the same thing.
Our first event will run from 10am-6pm. Artists will be taking walk ins doing selected flash designs for rates of $50-$150. First come first serve, and we will do our absolute best to get everyone taken care of. Come get a super cool sweet jammer, with proceeds going to fund a worthy project. After you’re done getting tattooed, go grab some coffee or a sammich then head on back at 7pm for our art benefit! There will be tons of artwork for sale, along with snacks, drinks, and brewskis. I’ll probably dance a lot, and if I’m feeling snazzy I may just have a vest on.
Bring your friends, bring your dad, bring your mom, but leave your little brother home. I owe him $5.
Posted June 2nd, 2015
Excited to have been selected as one of 10 artists to paint an original piece of art on to a motorcycle helmet to be auctioned off for charity! All proceeds of the show benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Hope to see you out this Sunday, June 7th from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. at Brian’s Harley-Davidson located at 600 S. Flowers Mill Rd. Langhorne, PA!
Posted July 15th, 2014
It’s that time of year again! Voting for the PHL Hotlist’s “Best of Philly” has begun. We are honored to have been voted #1 by our clients, fans, and friends for the past 3 years in a row. We’re thinking that even numbers are pretty cool, so why not go for a 4th year?
If you would be so kind, please take a moment to vote for us and pass our voting link on to your friends. We’d much appreciate it!