The Fashion Design and Merchandising Partnership

Fashion design and merchandising go hand in hand down the runway of the fashion world. Fashion merchandising involves the business side of fashion and offers great opportunities for people who love fashion and want to have a career in buying, product development, management, or fashion marketing. Fashion design and merchandising are demanding jobs but also very rewarding.

The Job Of A Merchandiser

A merchandiser is involved in every stage of the process. Fashion design and merchandising are connected from design to sales. The merchandisers advise the designer on market trends, get all specifications from the project buyers, get samples approved and negotiate the price of the final sale. They are also responsible for making sure that consignments are delivered to the customers according to schedule. In the world of fashion design and merchandising it is the merchandisers who will usually have bottom-line responsibility for all projects or departments during the various levels of their careers. Most work in fashion design and merchandising involves juggling past, present, and future work. Merchandisers spend a great deal of time evaluating sales from previous time periods in order to properly plan and decide goals for future sales. In fashion design and merchandising, it isn’t just about shopping; with fashion design and merchandising the merchandisers must be able to analyze and create a complex business plan aimed at specific buying habits and customers. This requires an ability to forecast trends and then translate them into a profitable business plan for the company.

Anytime a decision is made to create a fashion product and offer it to the consumer, even if it is a kids fashion design or a costume, fashion merchandising is involved, including product development, buying, marketing, or management of the product. Even if it’s just deciding which mannequin should face which direction — odds are good that someone involved with fashion merchandising has the final “OK”.

As with most fashion jobs, the key is to start with disciplined study to direct your talent into a successful career. With the fashion design and merchandising fields there are also many opportunities — whether you’re in school or not — for internships. These internships should be considered vital for advancing your career. Indeed, any work with experienced industry connections — be it in a design house or in retail — provides a key stepping stone for students to meet important industry personnel who have open positions and knowledge to share within the fashion design and merchandising field.

Pointers on How to Become a Fashion Designer

How to become a fashion designer may seem like a glamorous proposition filled with promises of working in the world of clothing, accessories, runway models and photoshoots. But like all things in life, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Only a handful of fashion designers really end up becoming famous, with their brand names known around the world, like Ralph Lauren or Alexander McQueen. The majority of fashion designers end up working for fashion brands that produce for the mass market, creating basic and ready-to-wear items.

If you really want to enter the fashion industry, here are some initial steps on how to become a fashion designer that will boost your chances of making it in this big, bad fashion world.

Know your abilities.

Do you have the artistic talent, creativity and imagination it takes to become a fashion designer? Have you tried a hand at sketching pieces that are unique and reflect your own style and personality? If all you can draw are stick people and you think that teal is something to drink, well then this may not be the best industry for you, especially if you want to be successful. Talents are innate, and if you find that you have a natural flair for colors, patterns, designs, symmetry and proportions, then this is your first weapon on how to become a fashion designer. Put together a portfolio of your work; this will not only be the key to an educational background, it will serve as your resume once you formally enter fashion.

Expand your horizons.

You will never be able to get to where you want if you stick to your comfort zone all the time. Branch out – take sewing or pattern-making courses, develop skills in design software programs, enroll in a fashion degree, go to trainings and seminars on the subject, even if it seems to be about something as simple as the history of buttons. Read fashion magazines, watch out for fashion shows you can go to, keep up with the current trends, browse the web for what’s in and what’s what in pop culture, what the controversies are in fashion and so on. This is all very important in how to become a fashion designer, because you’ll need to be constantly updated so that you know what you’re getting into and what the competition is like.

Make your connections.

Start your fashion career by getting an internship or any entry-level job related to the industry. Once you’re in, make as many connections as you can, from small to big. Don’t underestimate the power of who you know; even the mail-room boy might be able to help you in the future. Include connections in all possible areas of fashion, meaning don’t just stick to the more established designers and the bosses. Get to know the advertising and marketing team, the merchandise display and salespeople, the photographers and editors, and you’ll have a wide network of valuable names that will come in handy once you’ve managed to establish yourself. How to become a fashion designer isn’t an easy path, but like all dreams, with enough hard work, you’ll get there.

Fashion – Catalyst For Social Change

Midway through the last century, fashion and style began to take on a much more complex connection to the social issues of the day. When the Beatles exploded on the scene in the early 60’s, style became much more tightly connected to point of view and political persuasion than at any time in the past.

One of the first points of contact between fashion and social issues was the Vietnam War and the developing opposition to that conflict. Invariably, those strongly opposed to the war wore their hair long and favored tie-dyed “hippie” clothes while those who supported the conflict wore their hair short and chose clothes that were much more conservative in nature.

When the opposition succeeded in hastening an end to the Vietnam conflict, it seemed only natural that these activists (as they were now called) would turn their attention to other pressing social issues and style and fashion offered several flashpoints which could be exploited.

Animal rights activists came down hard on the fashion industry for supporting the cruel capture and killing of animals in order to support many of the popular styles of the day including furs, minks and other clothing. This led to a number of consumer boycotts and those wearing the clothing were often confronted on the street.

It was about this time that Hollywood began to inject itself much more strongly into social issues and thus began a long line of actors and actresses who would take strong stands on these issues and again, the fashion world was the perfect target.

When the United States began to lose its’ once predominant position in the textile industry, most of the industry shifted to lesser developed parts of the world where working conditions often approached “sweatshop” status. With Hollywood taking the lead, consumers boycotted many of the companies that used these ill-treated workers to make the garments and, in many cases, succeeded in changing company policy.

In today’s world, fashion is becoming more closely aligned with the Green movement and it is becoming fashionable these days to be “eco-chic” and this trend appears to be gaining momentum. As consumers become more educated about the complexities of the garment business, they will want to know about all the details that are involved in getting clothing to the marketplace and will expect to get the same level of transparency from clothing companies that they now expect from the food industry.

The Unofficial Guide to Online Fashion Marketing

Online Marketing is the greatest connector to future customers. Whether you are a fashion design student with a growing amount of wearable art, or a recent graduate ready to introduce yourself to the industry, a base knowledge of merchandising is needed to excel in the world of business. Marketing strategies can best be broken down into three parts: Content, the textual and visual elements displaying the apparel for sale; Communication, the way you reach out to and connect with potential customers; and Collaboration, the process of sharing resources with like-minded designers to increase awareness and influence. In short, the 3 Cs of online marketing.

PART A: CONTENT

E-Commerce Website

The most important part of business is providing potential customers with a simple way to purchase your clothing. Even if you plan to use an existing e-commerce service to sell your merchandise, you should still have a good knowledge of how e-commerce works.

E-Commerce: There are many definitions to choose from. In the broader sense, e-commerce means doing business over the internet, and the list of online features should include at minimum the following key elements: product display, online ordering and payments processing.

Creating Your Own: When you plan to create your own e-commerce site, you need to be prepared to take orders, accept payments and fulfill shipments. Consider the ease of navigation to making a purchase, and expect to devote considerable time to the process.

Ready Made Service: There are quite a few e-commerce sites to sell your clothing items online, all varying in features and costs. Important points to consider are the visuals of your storefront and the ability to personalize your shop, integrated social networking tools to spread the word about your creations and last but no least the fees and commission policy. For fashion students with constricted budget and no production line options are more limited.

Web Analytics

Web analytics are your tools to gauging the performance of your online business. It helps you understand where the business is strong, and where there are opportunities to progress and achieve a better response. There are many different web analytics tools to collect data from, one of the most useful to get you started is Google Analytics, it’s free and its dashboard-type interface will provide you with a high level analysis of your website’s traffic and traffic sources.

Search Engine Optimization

To get customers to visit and purchase from your site, you must ensure a good placing, or page rank, on search engines. SEO can be an in-depth business, but there are a few easy ways to include it in your site.

Descriptive HTML Pages: Search engines often base rankings on website’s page titles, so make sure yours describes what you sell and who you are in a brief. A straightforward manner is using keywords, relevance of your content to specific keywords will leverage search engine rankings for your pages and consequently Web traffic.

Site Map: Creating a site map for your site has a two-way benefit. Visitors can easily navigate, and search engines can crawl clearly through your pages, giving it a better chance of having a strong index ranking.

Continually Update: The more new, relevant and unique information you provide, the more often search engines will crawl through your site. Consider blogging and social media, which is appealing to search engines and entertaining and informative to potential customers.

Submit Your Website: Submission is optional (search engines will eventually find your pages anyway), but it’s a quick and easy step that will only benefit you. Most of the popular search engines, (Google, Bing and Yahoo) do this for free.

Converting Traffic into Sales

You have your e-commerce up and running, and now you need to make sure it’s effective in attracting business. Several tools help you identify how potential customers travel through your site, and pinpoint opportunities on how to maximize sales. A simple beginner’s formula to understanding online selling is by dividing the number of orders with the number of visitors, and multiplying by 100, the resulting number being the conversion rate percentage. The higher this number, the better the website is at promoting sales.

Web Analytics Services: Web analytics tools provide the “why” of a website’s conversion rate. Google Analytics is a great choice for fashion design students on a budget, Google Analytics Goals helps you analyze the entire flow of customers through your website and measure how well your site fulfills your business objectives.

Ease of Use: In addition to using web analytics tools, visit your own site as a “customer”. Be aware of your search filters and navigation menus, making sure your items for sale are easily searched and located. Also, check for ease of purchase. The fewer clicks it takes to purchase an item and navigate the site, the more user-friendly it is to potential customers. When the buying experience is simple and enjoyable, the chance of visitors returning is increased.

PART B: COMMUNICATION

There are both free and paid options to drive traffic to your website, but for this guide the focus is on how to gain customers at the lowest cost. Knowing your potential customers and expending you business exposure require time and dedication. Social networking, blogging, public relations and fashion publishing will bring relevant visitors to your website. Combine that with e-mail marketing and frequent content updates to keep visitors and customers coming back.

Social Networking

Your online business should be easy for customers to stay connected to and social engagement is a key factor. Consider which, and how many, social media outlets to be involved with. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube are all great places to start. Make sure you keep social networks updated frequently, and cross promote the various media you use. For instance, if you create a YouTube video to tell the story of your brand, post the link on Facebook and tweet about the video-making process. Pinterest gives followers the option of pinning your designs on an inspiration board, which means you gain exposure to that board’s visitors.

Public Relations

Consider different ways to get the message about your designs out there. Use LinkedIn to network with journalists. Connect to leading fashion and style blogs, then contribute your own articles and opinions to gain brand recognition. Submitting a press release online can also increase business exposure. Make sure you are targeting the right blogs and media outlets for your line so that your press release has relevance to the people it’s reaching.

Blogs and Fashion Publishing

One of the best ways to build your online marketing is through blogging and fashion publishing. This keeps your website current and updated, which is good for gaining traffic and enhancing conversation rate. Ensure that what is posted is always relevant to your target market, and remember that what you publish helps define the vibe and ambiance behind your designs.

Blogs: Blogging can be one of the strongest online marketing approaches to promote yourself and your fashion designs. Aim to add content weekly or monthly, and announce the content through e-mail lists and social media. Consider content that directly speaks to your designs, like writing about the inspiration behind a line or the design process for a certain item. Visual blogs can be just as effective, using interactive mood boards, video footage of the creation process and photos of your creations being styled or spotted on the street (even if the wearer is a close friend).

Fashion Publishing: Go outside the sphere of your own brand to write about related topics. Posting content on big name fashion blogs links your name to the industry, and increases your likeliness to network and connect with fashion bloggers and readers. If readers comment on your posts, don’t forget to answer back. Always include a link to your website with your name, to make sure you are easily visible to the world (and search engines – aka backlinks to your website).

E-Mail Marketing

Notifications: When your designs have had mention in the media, or you have posted a new blog to your website, send a notification to let your customers know. This gets followers involved and interested in your designs on a more personal level, making them feel included in the achievements of your business. If you have new items for sale or introduce a new type of accessories, like adding handbags or jewelry to your clothing line, let your e-mail list be the first to know.

Newsletters: Sending newsletters on a weekly or monthly basis can keep potential customers returning, reminding them to check back continually for new merchandise and feel connected to the fashion label. Providing easy access to customer service and soliciting and welcoming feedback through e-mailing not only gives essential information about what visitors think of your website, but also gives them confidence that their opinion matters.

PART C: COLLABORATION

Online marketing collaboration is the practice of sharing your resources with like-minded designers in order to accomplish better brand recognition and customer value, you would otherwise not be able to achieve on your own. The lack of brand awareness and limited budgets, often makes the task of reaching new audiences an impossibility for many upcoming fashion designers.

Brand Gathering: Establishing a strategic marketing collaboration with other fashion designers is a the most cost-efficient way to reach new audiences and grow your online business more profitable. Once you have a clear idea of what line of products can complement your brand, build strong relationship with your brand partners to provide customers with added value and a personalized unique service experience. There are a few websites out there to help you find brands to collaborate with and grow together more effectively and efficiently.

Do Addicts Really Recover?

In my line of work as addiction professional, I’m often asked “Do people with addiction get better?” The question may sound simple but it’s not really that simple. There are so many facets to addiction. The chemicals are but one aspect. There also are the addict’s personality attributes, attitudes, lifestyle, and values – all contributing and feeding the addiction syndrome. For most people, the obsession by the addict to consume chemicals is the most salient aspect of addiction. This becomes their focus of attention when asking the question, “Do addicts really recover?” Meaning can they give up drugs and become “normal” people again?

After a closer look at addiction, one begins to realize that the chemical abuse is intimately tied to the person’s mental health, lifestyle, and personal values. For example, it is hard to ignore an addict’s criminal activities related to supporting his drug habit or an alcoholic’s scheming and manipulating behavior to hide his alcoholism when the addicted or alcoholic is trying to pursue “recovery.” Can people “recover” from addiction and still carry on with these criminal or anti-social inclinations? What are the chances of a recovering person remaining abstinent while continuing to sell drugs or maintaining his connection with friends who are involved in criminal activities? Can a recovering alcoholic remain sober while bar-tending?

My point is that there is a “quality of life” a recovering addict or alcoholic must maintain to achieve a certain level of healthy living. For some this may mean pursuing counseling or following medication regime to control psychiatric symptoms. For others, a complete lifestyle change may be necessary to re-align personal priorities and internalize pro-social values. With addiction, old associations — people, places, and things – can easily trigger a relapse to old “bad habits.” There is a common belief among recovering persons that “picking-up” drugs or any substances is the last step in the relapse process. Long before the actual substance use, the person has already relapsed in his thinking – reflected in noticeable changes in attitude, values, and over-all behavior.

To go back to the original question: “Do addicts really recover?” The answer is a relative yes. For some who consider their addiction as a disorder of the whole person and take a holistic view of recovery, they aspire more than giving up the chemicals to include a reinvention of themselves, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. Others are content with minimizing the harmful effects of illicit drug use but still resort to alcohol use. Still others give up drugs but continue to have dysfunctional patterns of coping or residual manifestations of personality disorders.

Do Addicts Really Recover?
Dr. Fernando B. Perfas

How Nicotine Test Helps Employers to Establish Smoke-Free Workplace

Nicotine abuse is an issue affecting the profitability of businesses and the environment at workplaces. Employers are insisting on measures that will help them make the workplaces free from smoking of tobacco so as to make their businesses more productive.

Employers in US imposing ban on smokers:

Increasing numbers of employers in US are rejecting the applications of candidates who smoke. They are abiding by the laws framed by the government for the purpose and are not hiring who they find to be smokers. To know whether the prospective hired is smoker, they conduct tests. Those who are found positive for smoking are not offered employment.

Nicotine test helps them to detect smokers – instantly:

Employers apply different techniques to tackle the issue of smoking. These include testing for tobacco (nicotine) by different methods. These tests are helpful to identify if the applicant really smokes tobacco or not. Generally, a nicotine test can be conducted using urine, saliva or hair follicle samples. Employers use any or a combination of these techniques.

Benefits of establishing smoke-free environment:

A smoke-free environment improves productivity of the employees and reduces health insurance costs. Employers find smoke-free workplace beneficial on the following grounds.

Increased productive hours:

A no-smoking environment results in higher number of productive hours than in a smoking permitted one. Employees not used to smoking concentrate better on work and hence there is greater number of productive hours. They are healthy and take few sick leaves.

Whereas, smoking employees take unauthorized breaks to smoke, which is waste of productive time.

Healthy atmosphere:

As healthy employees are more focused on productivity, there is cordial relation between employees as well as employers. Such workplaces boost the employees’ morale and work potential and encourage talented workforce to work for more number of hours. Employers too reciprocate and get prompted to take positive action on any issue.

Shows professional approach of the business:

A smoke-free workplace, places the employer’s image in a positive view among the employees, peers, government, and social groups. The welfare measures taken serve as an example for professional approach taken by the employer. This will enhance mutual trust between the employer and employees.

Reduces healthcare costs:

Following a no-smoking policy at workplace would result in less healthcare costs. This is because, the employees are healthy and need lower health maintenance expenses – be it insurance premium or medical emergencies. These factors are known to cause increased medical expenses to employers in case of employees habituated to smoking. Studies show that, post non-smoking policy there is remarkable decline in the tobacco caused heart attacks, making current smokers to quit (Source: Forbes, 12 June, 2016).

Taking up nicotine tests to enforce a smoking-free environment at workplace is beneficial. The measures, of course, entail costs to the employers.

Which Is the Most Difficult Drug to Detox From?

The hardest drugs to detox from depend on your perspective. If by “difficult” you’re referring to the severity of dangerous medical symptoms that occur during withdrawal, then the obvious answer is alcohol and benzodiazepine. Both of these drugs could kill you during detox. But if you’re referring to the severity of emotional, mental and spiritual symptoms that affect a person during drug detox, then most addicts will agree that opiates are the most difficult; especially opiates like Methadone that are designed to help wean an addict from other opiates like heroin.

The Most Difficult Drugs to Withdraw/Detox From: Medical Reasons

The following substances prove especially challenging for many addicts to withdraw from considering the serious medical risks of doing so: Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines and Alcohol. The withdrawal process has been known to cause life-threatening complications in some people. This includes pulmonary and cardiovascular distress, respiratory depression, grand mal seizures, delirium tremens, hallucinations, coma and death.

Fortunately, death is rare but nevertheless the fact that it is possible creates a deterrent to treatment for some addicts. In most cases the risks of withdrawing from these substances can be mitigated by attending detox in a professional medical setting where healthcare practitioners and addiction experts can observe the detox process and respond immediately in case of any complications.

The Most Difficult Drugs to Withdraw/Detox From: Emotional Reasons

Thousands of years before the birth of Christ, the first annals of history were recorded by the ancient Sumerians. Translations of stone etchings show that these early peoples farmed and used opium extensively. In fact, their word for the plant can be translated to “Joy;” an apt description considering the widespread abuse of opium for the next several thousand years. By nearly all accounts, the euphoric high obtained by using opium is the highest feeling of joy most addicts have ever felt. But herein lays the problem.

When a person uses an opiate like heroin or Oxycontin to get high, they rapidly build up a tolerance not only to the drug, but also to euphoria. This means that it becomes more and more difficult to obtain the same euphoric effect with the same amount of opiates, so in nearly all cases users continually increase their dosages – some to the point of overdose and death. But in general the central nervous system becomes more and more desensitized to stimulus that would normally cause feeling of joy or euphoria. In fact, the opposite often occurs, resulting in a state known as Dysphoria; the opposite of euphoria.

Dysphoria is a severe problem for people who are detoxing/withdrawing from opiates because after the stop using the drug they often find it difficult or impossible to find joy or happiness in anything. This causes severe bouts of depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and unexplained misery, terrible sadness and overwhelming inadequacy and loneliness; even in the presence of others. These emotional and spiritual symptoms drive many people in the early stages of recovery to return to drug use in order to self-medicate their general state of dysphoria.

Opiates Used to Treat Addiction to Other Opiates

Many addicts report and anecdotal evidence suggests that withdrawing and detoxing from opiates that are used to treat addiction to other opiates is a severe and extremely challenging process. The reasons for this are not understood, but it’s possible that because most opiate treatment drugs like methadone block the release of dopamine, addicts do not obtain a euphoric effect, even though they are spared the normal symptoms of withdrawal (essentially because methadone maintenance merely prolongs the addictive process.)

Support forums on group sharing often results in addicts advising each other NOT to go on an opiate maintenance program and to tough out the initial stages of a more “pure” withdrawal instead. Therefore, it could be argued that detoxing from opiate maintenance drugs is the most difficult type of detox to undergo.

The Kindling Effect

Regardless of the substance, the Kindling Effect can make detox and withdrawal an absolute nightmare; especially if the addict in question has relapsed repeatedly in their lifetime. The concept of Kindling is that with each progressive relapse and subsequent withdrawal, the brain and central nervous system become more highly sensitized (or highly desensitized) to drug abuse and the feelings it creates. As a result withdrawal symptoms are much more severe and potentially dangerous for these individuals than for others.

Ultimately, the most challenging detox is the one you’re about to go through. Taking that first step is extraordinarily difficult regardless of what drug you use and how long and hard you’ve been using it. But the reality of the situation is that left unabated the consequences of continued active addiction are in every instance more severe and potentially life-changing that the actual process of withdrawal and detox, which usually takes 10 days or less for most people.

If you or someone you love is fighting addiction, the most valuable weapon you can give them is action. Do it now; get help, get a free consultation, and take the first step before it’s too late to move forward at all.

7 Habits of an Addict About to Relapse

Many addicts in recovery that are nearing a relapse episode exhibit predictable and identifiable habits and behaviors before the actual relapse occurs. Recognition of these habits is critical in order for people in recovery and their loved ones to take decisive and immediate action to prevent the relapse. This is especially important considering the potential consequences of each new relapse episode: prison, violence, bankruptcy, death. Relapse prevention isn’t just about stopping someone from using again; it’s about saving a life.

The following are 7 behaviors that many addicts exhibit prior to and/or during the early stages of a relapse:

1.) Withdrawal/Isolation

A person in recovery who is on the verge of relapse will likely become withdrawn and purposefully isolate other people around them. This is particularly true of people that will not support or condone a return to drug use or drinking. This could be evidenced by spending less time with family members, staying out later at night than normal or not coming home, and by seeming withdrawn and quiet when others are present.

2.) Decline in Hygiene/Productivity

There is often a lack of care and concern when a relapse is imminent. Meaning, less attention is paid to personal hygiene details, exercise programs are abandoned, employment or educational inefficiencies or neglect occurs, and regular household upkeep suffers. These are all common signs of an addict who is beginning to care less and less about trying to maintain a legitimate lifestyle.

3.) Glorification of Substance Abuse

An addict that is unhappy with or neglectful of their recovery will often yearn for the days when they used drugs or drank. They may talk about using and relive their past drug use in the form of stories, anecdotes and comments that make it clear that they miss those times, despite the severe consequences they suffered as a result. (Levels of Relapse Warning Signs, T. Gorski)

4.) Reconnecting

An early warning of relapse is when a person in recovery begins to reconnect with friends or acquaintances they used drugs or drank with. This refers mainly to individuals who are potentially still using drugs or those who do not support recovery/sobriety. These reconnections are especially troubling when the person in question has withdrawn from people that DO support their recovery.

5.) Engaging in Risky Behavior

An addict in recovery that is about to relapse will often exhibit abnormally risky behavior. This could include extreme sports or other athletic activities, promiscuity, excessive speeding and other dangerous activities. Engaging in behaviors such as these fills a certain need for excitement and euphoria, but for most addicts in recovery the only euphoria that will satiate them is a return to their drug of choice.

6.) Secretive

As people in recovery get closer to relapse, they sometimes become secretive; carefully guarding their phone or computer, remaining tight-lipped concerning where they go, who they’re with, etc. Often at this stage the relapse has already begun and secrecy is required in order to conceal it.

7.) Abandoning Treatment

Addicts in recovery usually engage in some type of ongoing treatment as part of a relapse prevention program. This can take many forms, but when people in recovery are nearing a relapse episode, they often abandon these types of treatment with little explanation. When combined with any or all of the behaviors outlined above, it’s likely that for these people, relapse is imminent. (Carole Bennett, M.A. 6 Common Relapse Triggers PsychologyToday.com)

If you recognize these signs in yourself or someone you love who is in recovery, taking swift action is critical. This should begin by addressing the issue directly with the individual, and escalate to involve the person’s support network, treatment specialists and if needed, an interventionist.

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘N Roll: The Real Story

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll is a common dream that few will know; but many try and so the story goes, that there’s riches there in the backstage glow. But looking in subjectively, one must put down the cell phone, the remote and the Wii, for things in the spotlight are never what they seem- when it comes to the combination of these infamous three.

It’s a tempting image we’ve too often seen; fans by the millions who clamor and scream; for a glimpse, just a touch or a kiss on the cheek; there’s no shortage of groupies and their big rock-star dreams. So backstage they go to embrace beneath the sheets; neither star nor fan knowing if the other is clean. Just ask Freddy Mercury of Queen or the legend Easy E, or ponder the math of promiscuity. The more sex one has the more threats one will see; the chances for most are about 1 in 3.

Of course, the risk is increased when one factors in drugs, which diminish good judgment and moral aplomb. To this many a rock star can certainly attest, with unwanted pregnancies, herpes, syphilis and the rest.

But if the threat of disease isn’t enough, consider the sexual dysfunction that could be caused by drugs; with repeated use the good feelings fade – until sex feels like nothing and relationships become strained. Then all that’s left is to get high and play; but the music, like sex, is empty and grey.

This is the way so many rock stars go; they hide in the weed, the booze and the coke. They wait for salvation in the fame or the dough, but round and round with the drugs they still go. It’s a tired old story with so many names, of rock ‘n roll legends this disease has claimed;

Janis Joplin overdosed on heroin and Hendrix choked on his own puke – while passed out and delirious on ‘barbs and on booze. John Bonham from Led Zeppelin would likewise follow suit, and choke on his vomit after 40 shots of booze. Jay Bennett, from Wilco; lost to overdose, not long after Wes Berggren from Tripping Daisy died from cocaine and ‘benzos.

Steve Clark from Def Leppard, Kevin DuBrow from Quiet Riot, both died far too young from a cocaine-based diet. Slipknot’s Paul Grey died from morphine and pills, while Sublime lost their front-man to a heroin thrill. It was heroin too, that took Kurt Cobain and bassist friend Pfaff; the loss to the grunge scene marred its future and past.

Some groups have lost more than one member to the scourge of addiction, the call of drug abuse – The Pretenders, The Grateful Dead, Alice in Chains and The Who – were all scarred forever when their deaths numbered 2. But it’s not a problem isolated to just these few; The Temptations, Sex Pistols, AC/DC, Blues Traveler, Weezer, Mad Season, Avenged Sevenfold and Red Hot Chili Peppers all lost members too.

So it’s clear to the people and plainly we must see, that the image of fame is not presented impartially. And though the story won’t change and it’s long as it goes, there’s still the allure of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll.

The Paradox of Drug Abuse and Euphoria

One of the most significant reasons that people abuse drugs is for the euphoric effects they provide. While many might argue that people use substances to escape reality, to cope with stress and an unlimited number of other reasons, the fact of the matters is that euphoria makes these things possible: drugs cause people to feel good, even if they weren’t necessarily feeling bad to begin with. Unfortunately, the neurological nature of addiction tells us that substance abuse actually makes it more challenging for people to feel euphoria, happiness and contentment.

How Drug Abuse Works: Understanding the Role of Dopamine

The following is a highly simplified explanation of the processes at work when a person abuses drugs:

1.) Drug is consumed which sends signals to neurons in the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine (or others in some cases).

2.) Dopamine binds with specialized receptors and produces a feeling of well-being, contentment and euphoria.

3.) Drugs prevent dopamine re-uptake, essentially leaving the substance in the brain for much longer than would ever occur in a natural environment.

4.) Dopamine stimulates the reward center of the brain, which creates a contextual log of the event to use as cues to prompt the user to repeat the behavior. (This is based on the theory that addiction is a byproduct of an innate evolutionary survival mechanism.)

And with these four steps, the groundwork for addiction has been laid.

Tolerance: Another Evolutionary Survival Mechanism

In order to offset the effects of chemical substances, the central nervous system will make changes to receptors and neuronal circuitry to create a resistance to the drug. This can be accomplished by making fewer receptors available, altering the structure of receptors, limiting or restricting their ability to bind to neurotransmitters, or by “disconnecting” parts of neuronal circuits.

The chemical resistance created by adaptations at the neuronal level means that the user will obtain less and less euphoric effect because the CNS essentially views the drug as an invading foreign substance that interferes with the proper working functions of the brain. Of course, this is exactly what drug abuse is; persistent self-inflicted poisoning.

In order to offset the euphoria-limiting effects of tolerance, drug users will simply increase their dosages accordingly. This prompts more changes in neurons – changes that by this point are becoming permanent for many addicts. Ultimately, these changes only make it harder to feel euphoria and generally lead to depression, thoughts of suicide, feelings of worthlessness and other debilitating emotions.

In fact, feelings that are specific to certain drugs, such as high-energy to cocaine, relaxation to marijuana and joy to opiates, are often reversed as the body becomes tolerant to the drugs that cause these responses. This is especially true when an addict suddenly stops using; by forcing drugs into their bodies for so long, they have effectively developed a tolerance to the very feelings they sought to achieve with their substance abuse in the first place.

To summarize, drug abuse can destroy a person’s ability to feel good. And because addiction often comes with repeated relapse events, each successive period of active drug addiction results in additional, permanent changes within the brain – changes that can have a lasting effect on the emotional and mental well-being of the user for the rest of their lives.

This isn’t information to be used as a scare tactic to keep people away from drugs; it’s nothing more than science expressed. People take drugs to feel good, but once addicted those feelings become harder and harder to achieve, even long after active drug use has stopped. This is why it is absolutely critical that if you or someone you love is abusing drugs, they must stop now. With each passing day and each successive “high,” the one thing that they seek – happiness – becomes more difficult to come by; often leading to personal disaster.

The ultimate paradox of drug abuse is that it robs from you what you seek from it.