How to Detect If You or Your Loved One is Addicted to Prescription Medication

June 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Health, People and Culture


Prescription addiction happens covertly, so you may not detect your own or your loved one’s dependence until much later in the process. Many people who abuse prescription painkillers simply tell others – and themselves – that they take their pills because of pain.

“Most of the time you are unable to decipher [an addiction] until an individual has experienced more deficits than benefits from abusing the medications,” Dr. Nancy B. Irwin, a primary therapist at Seasons in Malibu, says. “In other words, unless there are apparent impairments in functioning as a result of abuse, most individuals do not even realize they are abusing.”

The fact that prescription opioids come from a doctor tend to lull one into thinking that he or she is simply taking medicine instead of abusing hard drugs. “Prescription medication can be obtained legally and is largely covered by your health insurance,” Dr. Irwin says. “[Some believe] street drugs carry more risk than prescriptions because you are unaware of any additives or other drugs it could be combined with.”

On the contrary, prescription painkillers are actually one of the most common causes of lethal drug-related accidents in the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly half of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involve at least one prescription opioid. The report also reveals that more than 15,000 Americans died from overdoses involving prescription opioids in the year 2015 alone.

To help you or your loved one pull out of this dangerous cycle, here are four key questions that can unveil whether or not someone’s prescription medication use has developed into addiction.

1. How often are you taking the medication?

If you suspect prescription opioid abuse, Dr. Irwin says this should be one of the first questions to ask. Are you or your loved one taking the pills every few hours or are you actively trying to space them out as much as possible? Are the dosages low or high?

Bear in mind that all prescription medication must be taken as prescribed. Many doctors also write prescriptions for pain medication to be taken only “as needed.” If you find yourself or a loved one taking these medications on a regular basis or in higher doses, the prescribing doctor needs to know. Taking higher doses or more frequent doses is a sign of possible addiction.

2. Can you stop taking the medication?

Prescription pain killers are usually not an ideal way to manage chronic pain. They’re much more effective for acute pain, which should pass in a matter of weeks in most cases. If the person is unable to stop taking the medication after the appropriate amount of time, check to see if discontinuing the medication causes problems. This would be a tell-tale sign of dependence. Dr. Irwin says, “The abuse begins to happen when individuals become physically dependent on prescription medication and the desire to avoid the physical and psychological discomfort from withdrawal symptoms outweighs the choice to stop taking the medication.”

3. How do you act when you don’t have medicine?

If you or your loved one forgets the medication at home or can’t get a refill on time, what happens? Your behavior during this time is usually a telling sign as to whether you are an addict.

According to Dr. Irwin, initial signs and symptoms include changes in behavior or mood, decreased tolerance of others, increased agitation, irritability, anxiety or impulsivity.

“You will see changes in cognition which can include memory loss, confusion, poor concentration or focus, complaints regarding physical aches and pains, body sensations such a pins and needles, poor G.I. functioning or an urgency to get to the medication.”

Typically, right before a prescription runs out, addicts get “panicky” and spend a great deal of time scheduling doctor appointments and pharmacy pickups out of fear of missing a dose.

4. Where are you getting the medicine?

Most people with serious pain should not have an issue getting prescription medication from a doctor who can oversee their pain treatment plan. Whenever possible, it is best that the person gets all of his or her prescriptions filled from the same pharmacy. A pharmacist who gets to know the patient and his or her medications is in a good position to help spot signs of possible prescription addiction. If you or your loved one makes an effort to avoid seeing the same pharmacist, know that this may be a sign of addict behavior.

While prescription pain opioids are often useful and sometimes necessary to treat moderate to severe pain, they are far from harmless. The key is to monitor one’s intake of these prescriptions and maintain an open and honest dialogue with a medical professional.

Recovery from Prescription Medication Addiction

Not everyone who receives prescription painkillers become dependent, but when addiction does take hold, it’s important to look beyond the drug abuse. “The addiction is a symptom to underlying psychological and physiological ailments that have yet to be treated,” Dr. Irwin says.

The problem with addiction is that it contributes to the brain being hijacked and leads to poor judgment, often rendering them unable to seek help on their own. If you find that your loved one refuses to acknowledge their drug abuse, Dr. Irwin suggests an intervention along with other family and friends. “Be vigilant, stay informed, consult with professionals and ensure that you continue to be persistent.”

On the other hand, if you recognize the addiction symptoms in yourself and are ready to recover, allow yourself the time to heal. Get assistance and do what you can to prioritize your health and overall wellbeing.

“Prescription addiction requires a focused approach to eliminating the dependence and then facilitating a long-term plan for success,” Dr. Irwin says. “Seasons in Malibu thinks about that plan from the moment [the person] walks through the doors.” The recovery team’s approach includes a systemic treatment model that strongly takes the individual’s family, environment, vocation and activities of daily living into account, she says.

When dealing with drug addiction, remember that having a good spirit and keeping an open mind help tremendously during the recovery period. “Prescription abuse and dependence can be more difficult to spot early on, that is why staying vigilant, maintaining an open line of communication and seeking help immediately can make the crucial difference for you or your loved one.”

Dr. Nancy B. Irwin is a Certified Hypnotherapist and the Primary Therapist at Seasons in Malibu, a world class, dual-diagnosis, CARF-accredited drug rehab and addiction treatment center in Malibu, CA that specializes in treating addictions such as alcoholism, cocaine addiction, opiate addiction, prescription drug abuse and more. Dr. Irwin earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from California Southern University and is a certified practitioner of Time Line Therapy, Emotion Free Therapy, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Over the years, she’s shared her expertise on CNN, CNBC, Fox, MSNBC and other popular radio and TV shows.

How Much Will A DUI Cost You?

March 21, 2018 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization, People and Culture


144793If you take the risk of drinking and driving, you run the risk of getting arresting for driving under the influence (DUI). You also run the risk of getting into an accident and hurting yourself or others. Either way, DUI can cost you in major ways. For those who do not know, if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is greater than .08, you are considered legally intoxicated and can be arrested.

Financially, a DUI charge can cost anywhere from $4,000 to about $24,000. This might seem like a huge amount of money for a conviction (and it is), but the authorities are serious about cracking down on drunk drivers. There are innocent people injured and killed all the time by intoxicated drivers, so the fines and penalties are steep and hopefully deter people from drinking and driving.

Other Problems and Jail Time May Occur

Apart from paying the fine, there is also a big chance for jail time, especially if the driver has had earlier DUI arrests or is in possession of drugs. The jail time will vary, but many people can get out within a couple of days and await their trial.

Getting arrested for DUI can affect various areas of your life. You may lose your license, which means you may not be able to keep your job. No job means no money and that poses a large problem. You may also suffer relationship, mental, and emotional problems. If people at work hear about your conviction, you may not be looked upon favorably by management and get passed up for promotions. The bottom line is that one DUI can radically change your life.

It Can Get Very Expensive

For the first offense, with no injury and no damage, it is still possible to pay a huge amount of money. Once arrested, the individual in question would have to pay an amount starting from about $4,000 up to $20,000 depending on what state they are in.

Court costs will cost you anywhere from around $250 up to $1,500. Then you will most likely want to hire a lawyer, which can range anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. Granted, you can opt to have no lawyer present, but it’s in your best interest to have a good lawyer beside you to increase the chances of a better outcome for the DUI charge.

Other Expenses

Other expenses that could be incurred will include license reinstatement, which can run into hundreds of dollars depending on the state you live in. Also, the judge can order you to obtain substance abuse counseling and rehabilitation classes, which can run you upwards of $500. Additionally, some repeat DUI offenders are commanded to install an Ignition Interlock System on their vehicles, which means they cannot start their car without breathing into a breathalyzer to be sure they are free from alcohol. This can cost them an additional hundreds of dollars and a rental fee of between $50 and $100 per month.

As you can see, one DUI can really set you back thousands and thousands of dollars and cost you a lot more than just money. The real harm could be to yourself or others physically. When you drive intoxicated, you tend to lose your sense of control and you can easily wreck your car, hit other cars or people, and end up injuring yourself and others. Approximately 16,000 people are killed each year in crashes related to intoxication. This number ought to be reason alone to not drink and drive, so if you or your friends are drinking, take a cab or rely on a designated driver. Think safety first!

Dominica Applegate has a BS in Psychology, an MA in Counseling and has worked in the mental health field for 12 years before launching her own business as a writer. Specializing in addictions, relationships, codependency, fitness and health, Dominica’s work is ultimately about helping people remove blocks that keep them stuck, because everyone can really create a life that they love.

Many Prescription Drug Users Not Aware of Driving-Related Risks

February 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization, People and Culture


The numbers are simply staggering. CDC data reveals that over 48 percent of Americans have used at least one prescription drug in the past thirty days. And approximately 4.45 billion prescriptions are issued every year in the United States. That’s a lot of pills and medication for a lot of people.

Sedatives, narcotics, even stimulants, and antidepressants can all affect an individual’s capacity for safe driving. Driving under the influence of prescription drugs has become a growing concern. There is substantial evidence that a shift from illegal to prescription drugs may be the reason behind many fatally injured drivers in the United States.

The Effect of Medications

It can be difficult to measure how many crashes are caused by drugged driving, but a National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found a startling 18 percent of drivers killed in a crash also tested positive for at least one drug.

A nationwide study of deadly crashes found that about 47 percent of drivers who tested positive for drugs had used a prescription drug, and the most common prescription drugs found were pain relievers.

For example, antidepressants can cause drowsiness and a slow reaction time in some patients. Those two or three extra seconds for braking could mean all the difference in having an accident. Antidepressants are some of the most popular drugs in our society with 12.7 percent of Americans taking an antidepressant within the last month. Other medications, such Prozac, can cause insomnia, which will make you tired and slow during the day.

There is ample evidence that the use of different types of psychoactive drugs significantly increases the risk of injury including situations that involve automobile accidents.

Prescription anti-anxiety agents and muscle relaxants such as Valium and Xanax may have a tranquilizing effect which can impair judgment and reaction times.

Many believe a stimulant drug that perks you up would be good to take before driving. But the truth is that they make you less likely to pay attention to fine details and affect the ability to concentrate.

You may be surprised to learn that although legal in many states, marijuana is the drug most often found in the blood of drivers involved in crashes.

Several studies have shown that drivers with THC (marijuana’s mind-altering ingredient) in their blood were roughly twice as likely to be responsible for a deadly crash or be killed than drivers who hadn’t used drugs or alcohol.

It is important to remember that medications interact with one another; the more medications we take, the greater the chance for interactions that may influence our driving.

The Law

While laws differ from state to state, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) if caught driving hazardously while taking prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, even if your doctor wrote the prescription.

Unfortunately, there is very sparse data available as to whether the people who use prescription drugs are aware of the danger and hazards while driving.

According to new research, patients taking prescription drugs that affect driving may not be aware they could potentially be driving impaired. This topic has not been clearly studied. “We were very surprised that our study was the first we could find on this topic,” said the lead researcher. “It’s a pretty understudied area, and prescription drugs are a growing concern.”

The Latest Study

After Tiger Woods was arrested in a state of confusion while driving in May of this year with five drugs in his system, he stated that he had “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.”

He is not alone in his lack of understanding of how medications can affect the ability to operate a motor vehicle.

Nearly 20 percent of people in the latest research reported recent use of a prescription medication with the potential for impairment.

But shockingly, many said they were aware that the medication could affect their driving, despite the potential for receiving warnings from their doctor, their pharmacist, or the medication label itself.

The medications involved ranged from sleep aids (i.e. Ambien) to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications.

In the study, participating drivers believed that sleep aids were the most likely to affect safe driving, followed by morphine/codeine, other amphetamines, and muscle relaxants. ADHD medications were viewed as least likely to affect driving risk.

Take Precautions

It is useful to understand the danger of drugs and their effect on driving. There are free online tools, such as AAA’s Roadwise RX, that allows you to record your prescription and over-the-counter medications, and to receive personalized feedback about how drug side effects and interactions between medications may affect your ability to drive safely.

The Implications

The most recent study strongly suggests that for all drivers using prescribed medications there are considerable improvements that must be created and implemented to warn of the potential for serious automobile accidents.

“The vast majority of drivers who are recent users of prescription drugs that have the potential for impairment have come into contact with a physician, a pharmacist, and a medication label,” researchers stated in in November 2017 public release. “There’s an opportunity here that’s not being leveraged: to provide people with accurate information about what risks are associated with those drugs. People can then make informed decisions about whether they’re able to drive.”

There is also the need for improved labeling on medications that are likely to impair driving.

In the meantime, if you have the slightest concern about your medications and their impact on your ability to drive, consult your physician or healthcare professional. We live in a world where you do not have to take chances on the road with your life or the lives of others. Simply call a taxi, take Uber or call Go Go Grandparent (at any age). It may just save a life—your life.



5 Unexpected Perks of Sobriety

November 30, 2017 by  
Filed under People and Culture


Unique SelfI’m sure you’re well aware of the negative things that can happen in your life when you are addicted to alcohol. In fact, as a recovering alcoholic, you could probably list 10 reasons why people should not abuse alcohol.

But what about sobriety? Other than the common perks of sobriety, like freeing yourself from the compulsion to drink, what are some of the unexpected perks of sobriety? In what ways can your life benefit from staying sober? Today, let’s take a look at 5 unexpected perks of sobriety.

1. You get to “save face.”

What I mean by this is that when you’re sober, you get to skip embarrassing yourself or acting inappropriately due to excessive drinking. As you are well aware, getting drunk can cause you to say and do some interesting things and can even get you in some trouble. When drinking, your judgment goes right out the window and self-control is virtually gone. So, when you sober up, you’re less likely to walk up to that stranger (who is happily married) and plant a big kiss or decide to text your boss how idiotic he is, or plenty of other impulsive things that could get you into trouble.

2. Your chances of dying in the street decrease.

How many times did you cross the street drunk? Did you almost get hit by a car? Did you get mugged walking from bar to bar? Taken advantage of? Drinking and walking can be extremely dangerous to your health and can get you killed, so sobriety certainly lessens your chance of dying in the streets.

3. You have more money.

Getting sober might not mean you earn more money, but because you’re not purchasing alcohol all the time, you tend to have more money in your account. You also tend to do less impulse shopping or shop for another party outfit. Sobriety tends to help you clear your mind so that you’re not being unwise when it comes to your finances.

4. You just feel younger.

Health wise, alcohol does you no good. Sure, some people assert that a glass of red wine each evening may help with cardiovascular health, but many health experts dismiss this and instead encourage you to get out and exercise instead. Cutting out the alcohol will simply help you look and feel younger. You’ll feel some vitality, whereas old hangovers made you feel fatigued and worn out. Your skin may appear clear and fresh and feel more confident as well.

5. You’ll be safer on the road.

Even if your blood alcohol was just .5 when drinking, your chances of getting into an accident doubled, so now that you are sober, you’re less likely to be involved in an accident. Certainly drunk driving put you at risk of injury or death on the road, so living sober will keep you and others safer on the road. Chances are you’ll also get to your destination faster, you won’t get lost, or have to bypass the police station or police hangouts for fear of getting caught drinking and driving.

There are certainly expected and unexpected perks to sobriety, so keep these in mind when the temptation to pick up a drink comes. As you progress in sobriety, you’ll notice that life simply gets better and better. Your mind becomes clearer and you tend to be more optimistic. As the shackles of alcoholism drop, you feel freer and more peace. Yes, the sober life IS the good life.

Dominica Applegate has a BS in Psychology, an MA in Counseling and has worked in the mental health field for 12 years before launching her own business as a writer. Specializing in addictions, relationships, codependency, fitness and health, Dominica’s work is ultimately about helping people remove blocks that keep them stuck, because everyone can really create a life that they love.

7 Safe Ways to Get Rid of Unwanted Vodka

October 8, 2017 by  
Filed under People and Culture


Absolut VodkaSobering up means dumping your drink of choice. But if it’s vodka, don’t dunk it down the sink orGod forbidgive it to thedog. Vodka makes an excellent multipurpose home remedy. Strong chemical sprays can hurt your environment but vodka is safe to use because it’s chemical-free. If you can resist the temptation to take a sip, keep your vodka and check out these seven different ways of using it safely around your home.

1. Remove Mold and Mildew

Vodka is great for attacking those hard-water spots and soap crusts in your bathroom. Simply spray it undiluted around the bath and shower and on tiles, metal taps, and curtain liners; then wait 10 minutes and wipe clear or scrub off lightly with a brush. Spatter the taps again with a little vodka and shine to leave them looking sparkling and new. This vodka trick can also be used in the washing machine or wherever there’s a little fungal growth caused by damp conditions.

2. Use for Body Therapy

For years, vodka has been used in body therapy. It’s a good antidote for acne. This condition is characterized by periodic outbreaks of pimples and blackheads whenever the facial pores become dirty or oil clogged. But dabbing the face with a piece of cotton wool dampened in vodka kills bacteria and unclogs and firms up the pores. Vodka can also soothe those aching muscles after a stint at the gym. Make a frozen pack from a mixture of equal parts of water and vodka and apply to the affected areas. And when mixed with shampoo, vodka has the effect of a shampoo and conditioner in one. It helps cleanse the scalp of dirt and dandruff and adds shine to the hair. Vodka also temporarily numbs the pain of toothache and removes odor from the feet and armpits.

If you enjoy the outdoors but often find yourself with an unsightly rash caused by contact with poison ivy, simply rub undiluted vodka onto the affected area and the problem disappears in no time. Vodka also makes a safe insect repellent. Spray it neat onto insects, bees and wasps, or spray yourself liberally with it to keep the bugs away.

3. Remove Adhesives

Many new glass containers have hard-to-remove labels attached the them. Vodka to the rescue. Rub off the label with a cloth dipped in vodka. Or immerse your container for about a minute in a sink containing water and about an inch of vodka. Then simply roll off the paper. Do likewise with glue that remains when labels have been removed. Similarly, when removing an adhesive bandage that has stuck to your skin, dab the sticky area with a piece of cotton drenched in vodka. This way you can peel the bandage off painlessly.

4. Clean Many Items

Vodka is an excellent all-purpose cleanser. A cloth soaked in vodka can be used to remove stains on fabric and upholstery caused by ink, grass, food, paint and pet eliminations. But rinse the area thoroughly afterwards. Any rust-prone items such as a shaving razor or key can be soaked overnight in vodka to prevent or remove rusting. Vodka also cleans the lenses of eyeglasses and attacks that green muck that tends to accumulate on the handles and rims.

Trying to scrub clean a greasy pot or pan can be hard work but adding a bit of vodka to the water in the sink loosens the grease making the washing easier. Vodka is good for polishing too. Spray and polish your jewelry, porcelain and chrome items. You may also soak your cutlery in vodka for five minutes then wipe and polish. Spray mirrors, window, and chandeliers with three teaspoons of vodka in a pint of water and wipe down for a sparkling effect.

5. Keep Flowers Looking Fresh

To prolong the freshness of your flowers, add a teaspoon each of sugar and vodka to the water in the vase. This formula works wonderfully with all flowers and should be renewed daily for bests results. To keep house plants looking fresh, douse a cotton ball in vodka and wipe down. The vodka holds back the formation of ethylene which causes flowers to wilt rapidly.

Vodka makes an amazing weed killer too. On a sunny day, mix two cups of water with a little dishwashing liquid plus vodka, then drizzle the weeds until soaking wet. The weeds dry out and die.

6. Revitalize Clothing

Some clothing items require dry-cleaning, but in the interim, they get musty and sweaty. Spraying these items with a mixture of one part water and two parts vodka and then letting them dry out, removes the odor. There’s no lingering alcohol smell either. Spraying the inside of shoes with the water, vodka solution similarly kills odor.

7. Disinfect and Freshen

When you’ve got vodka to hand, you don’t need toxic disinfectants and air fresheners. Spray undiluted vodka directly onto the meat board in the kitchen, or on to the toilet seat, or any other place where germs collect; then wait a while and wipe down.

To freshen any room, spray with a mix of one part vodka and three parts water. You don’t have to worry about replacing one odd smell with another. This deodorizer has no odor. You may also revive the scent of pot pourri with vodka.

Vodka has many other amazing uses around the home. It’s safe to handle and does not leave an odor. But spot test first before you happily spray away.

Benhilda Chanetsa has a BA Honors degree in History and Sociology and a teaching diploma, both from the University of London. She was a high school teacher for 11 years, and chief subeditor at a weekly newspaper for four years. She’s been a freelance lifestyle writer for the past 10 years and has two nonfiction e-books published on Amazon. The books are on overcoming negative thinking and surviving abusive relationships.

The Dangers of Binge Culture

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under People and Culture


We’re currently in the full swing of Lent, which is preceded by Mardi Gras’ Fat Tuesday for a reason: some people want to engage in all of the “bad activity” they plan to give up for Lent as much as possible before Lent begins. But our western culture encourages binging and purging far beyond Fat Tuesday and Lent – and it is encouraged in a dangerous way.

When many young adults enter college and are finally legally allowed to drink, they are not usually taught through example to drink in moderation. Rather, college drinking culture is highly integrated with binge culture. No amount of drinks is too many for a person engaging in a binge after a period of going without. Women are misguidedly told to “eat for two” during pregnancy, but then expected to quickly lose pregnancy weight through extreme dieting. This is only a tacit expectation, of course, but the number of headlines devoted to celebrities’ post-baby bodies is evidence enough of its existence. Dieters who don’t have an eating disorder still regularly engage in a “cheat day,” which is relished by many because, yet again, it is an opportunity to binge recklessly and then purge. This approach in those who do have an eating disorder usually manifests as bulimia nervosa. The idea of “going all out” because we “earned it” or can “make up for it” later is a pervasive one in western culture, but is it healthy? No.

The assumption that we can switch our habits from one extreme to the other doesn’t just fly in the face of what we know about habit formation neurologically, but this idea of excessive indulgence is one that haunts many addicts. Whether a now-sober person is being told by a friend that he or she should “finally have a drink” because they have “earned it” or an addict can’t seem to kick a habit because he or she keeps falling into the trap of “one last hurrah,” this culture of binging and purging isn’t doing anyone any favors.

What to aim for instead is balance, moderation, and commitment. If you are alcohol or drug free now because of addiction issues, you need feel comfortable committing to your new lifestyle. But that can be difficult to do when other areas of your life are still in the binge and purge mode. If you’d like to create a more balanced and moderated life outside of alcohol and substances, consider making gradual changes. If you find yourself excessively eating and then starving yourself or exercising for hours on end to make up for it, try to break the cycle. If you find yourself working needlessly long days to the point of harrowing exhaustion all because you’d rather do that than spread your work out, consider adopting a new approach. Take a look at your life as objectively as you can and try to identify any habits that are tied to binging and purging in one way or another. Address the issues you find and you will be rewarded with a much less dramatic and balanced lifestyle across the board, which can positively impact your recovery.

Elizabeth Seward has written about health and wellness for Discovery Health, National Geographic, How Stuff Works Health, and many other online and print publications. As a former touring rock musician, Elizabeth has firsthand experience with the struggles of substance abuse and the loss of loved ones because of it. She believes in the restorative power of yoga, meditation, talk therapy, and plant-based diets and she is an advocate for progressive drug policy reform.

The Relationship Between Stress and Addiction

August 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Health, People and Culture


It should come as no surprise that stress and addiction are closely related. When we’re under stress, we seek out a method to deal with, and avoid uncomfortable feelings. Our mind and our bodies search for the easiest ways to reduce the stress.

While we all feel the strain of stress, we react to it in different ways. Some people handle it well on their own, some exercise, some meditate and unfortunately, some people turn to substances that can be easily abused.

The Connection

When we experience stressful situations, our bodies automatically release hormones that were designed to allow us to react to danger; the classic “fight or flight response,” also known as the acute stress response. In this situation, the heart pounds and breathing quickens.

Those under extreme stress may feel overwhelmed and are unable to cope with significant and unrelenting stress. Food, drugs, and alcohol all provide a release of the chemical dopamine and result in pleasurable emotions that contradict the stress.

Drugs and alcohol may provide a temporary calming effect, so a person may feel like their stress is gone. Unfortunately, this can lead to a dependence on the drugs or alcohol, at increasingly higher quantities, to help diminish stress levels.

Using these substances may help relieve the anxiety and tension, albeit, only in the short term. Unfortunately, when the drugs wear off, the person will experience the stress and unpleasant feelings again. Even people who are not hard-wired for addiction can be made dependent on drugs if they are stressed.

Supported by Research

Stress is a well-known risk factor in both the development of addiction and in addiction relapse, as published research reveals. [1]

  • One research group found that “before beginning substance use, the occurrence rate of various psychosocial stressors in opium addict patients was statistically higher than normal subjects in the last two-year period.” [1]
  • Studies have also discovered that stress levels contribute to the success of substance abuse recovery and actually lead to being vulnerable to
  • Stress was directly related to relapse, specifically in cocaine users. [2]
  • Stress can cause relapse even after a four to six-week drug-free period. [3]

Stress Management

All the data clearly points to the need for treatment of stress to reduce drug and alcohol dependence and prevent the occurrence of relapse.

If individuals believe they have problems with both stress and addiction, they should seek the assistance of a professional and incorporate these following suggestions in order to begin to live a sober life:

  • Ask for help. Alcohol and drug addiction rehab may include inpatient or outpatient care, individual or group therapy, and a 12-step program. You reduce stress or get clean alone.
  • Yoga, Meditation and Lifestyle Skills. These practices place a focus on mindfulness that allows you to be aware of your own thoughts and emotions. Meditation involves clearing your mind of stressful thoughts and focusing only on the present. By making lifestyle changes, studies demonstrate you can reduce your stress levels and gain control. [4]
  • Exercise. Regular exercise naturally makes you feel better by raising your body’s level of endorphins, which are linked to a positive mindset. These are the same endorphins your body releases while you abused substances. But when you exercise, you create a “natural high.” Your body will learn that it is capable of regulating its own brain chemistry and mood in healthy, natural ways.

A Final Thought

Stressful life events and ineffective coping strategies in addicts play a major role in the development of drug abuse and relapse. To help prevent the occurrence of severe stress and alcohol/drug abuse, skills such as stress prevention, must be taught.

Learning effective methods to manage stress is essential to long-term recovery. The addict must find a way to deal with stress in a healthy and productive manner so they will not revert to substance abuse when stress appears.





Audrey Beim holds two advanced degrees from major universities, including a Master’s Degree in Psychology. She has over 20 years of experience in the health, wellness, nutritional and fitness categories and has used her expertise to write articles for media outlets such as Linfield Media and


How TV Alcohol Ads Impact Teen Drinking

May 12, 2017 by  
Filed under People and Culture


In October 2013, a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that alcohol is the most common drug used by young people and is responsible for over 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth. Meanwhile, data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that by age 15, more than 50 percent of teens have already had at least one drink and an estimated four out of five college students drink alcohol.

The results and consequences of underage drinking by minor children are absolutely horrifying, especially since these actions are largely preventable. Where are our youth viewing and how are they learning to emulate this destructive and deadly behavior?

Television’s Influence on Underage Drinking

In this media driven world, advertising is everywhere we look, every minute of every day. Alcoholic products are no exception. From television, pop up computer ads, advertisements on mobile devices, billboards, sporting events and more, there’s simply no way to avoid the onslaught of corporations trying to sell their intoxicating beverages.

The latest liquor ads are also intoxicating to our youth. These recent media vehicles associated with drinking alcohol focus on utilizing trendy music, enhancing romance, promoting the “coolness” factor and displaying fun entertainment occasions with liquor in the spotlight.

The celebrity actors featured in these branded commercials promote the message that drinking is for those individuals who are successful, confident and have a large social network.

Although beer commercials filmed around swimming pools or backyard barbeques are familiar, the latest entries to attract young drinkers spotlight superstars close to their age who are pushing hard liquor.

For example, the gorgeous Mila Kunis now stars multiple Jim Beam whiskey commercials. Justin Timberlake can be found in trendy and stylish clothes selling tequila. Even rapper Ludacris endorses his Conjure Cognac.

Although these popular celebrities cannot be shown to actually drink the beverage, it is clear that brands like “Hard Lemonade” and “Apple Orchard Hard Cider” are targeting a very young audience not just with their ads, but with their labels, product names, promotions and packaging.

Make no mistake about it. These sexy and enticing new marketing programs are captivating the attention of our youth.

A portion of the adult population doubts the concept that television advertising can actually influence negative behavior, but now there can be no dispute.

The New Study

The latest study, released in January 2015, found that television viewing habits have a powerful influence in child’s behavior.

This recent study published in  JAMA Pediatrics studied over 2,500 adolescents. The authors found evidence that:

  • “seeing and liking alcohol advertising on television among underage youths was associated with the onset of drinking”
  • “familiarity with images of television alcohol marketing was associated with the subsequent onset of drinking”
  • “underage youths (who) are exposed to and engaged by alcohol marketing… prompts initiation of drinking”
  • even more disturbing, the authors concluded from this data that “(not only does exposition to alcohol marketing initiate drinking, it also) transitions from trying to hazardous drinking.”

But there is hope. There is always hope.

The Surgeon General’s report suggests that The greatest influence on young people’s decisions to begin drinking is the world they live in, which includes their families, friends, schools, the larger community, and society as a whole.

  • If you are a parent, do not, under any circumstances, purchase alcohol for your underage child
  • No one knows your child as well as you do. Although it is “easier said than done,” families must be involved and pay attention to the daily activities of their kids
  • Parents and guardians cannot be afraid to intervene or confront their child if something appears to be wrong or if there is a change in behavior. It is likely that if you suspect your kid is engaging in dangerous behavior, it is true
  • Schools must help educate students on the dangers, repercussions and risks of drug and alcohol use. Role playing assists teenagers on developing strategies when encountering negative peer pressure
  • After-school enrichment programs and extra-curricular activities are of critical importance in keeping teenagers busy, motivated and focused
  • If you discover your underage offspring is using alcohol, get help as quickly as possible before the behavior escalates. Alcoholism treatment programs can help adolescents transform their behaviors, rebuild their lives and give them the childhood they deserve

Kombucha: An Alcoholic Beverage


Kombucha is a beverage that has been popularized in western culture for years now. You might have seen the drink on the shelves of your local grocery store or read about it online. It can be purchased from the store in a variety of flavors or made at home.

It is a fermented tea that has many purported benefits, but many of these benefits are not supported by research. The drink does contain probiotics, which research suggests brings health benefits. However, if you’re a recovering alcoholic, you should probably stay away from this drink.

The Unstable Fermentation Process

Back in 2010, Whole Foods pulled kombucha out of store shelves because the drink continued to ferment in-store, with some bottles reaching up to 3 percent in alcohol content. In the U.S., the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) mandates that anything containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol be regulated like an alcoholic drink.

Soon after, makers remedied the problem with new formulation, but the amount of alcohol one bottle will produce remains unpredictable. For those who make their own kombucha at home, alcohol content remains an issue. Brewers don’t usually know how much alcohol a particular batch has until it’s ready for consumption. The drink also continues to ferment when stored, significantly raising the alcohol content over time.

These risks are generally acceptable for most adults, but recovering alcoholics face a much bigger issue. While the trace amounts of alcohol are low, they can make for a crutch or an introduction to a relapse for a recovering addict.

According to this article, an AA spokesperson has said that kombucha consumption can be dangerous for recovering alcoholics, stating that if a recovering addict knows that there is alcohol in a beverage but still feels like they are doing fine with it, it wouldn’t necessarily be a far throw for that person to then move onto drinks that contain slightly more alcohol.

What You Should Do Instead

If you want to reap the benefits of drinking kombucha but you don’t want to risk consuming alcohol, here are three other alternatives you can do:

1. Drink tea.

If you like tea, drink it! Tea is the base of kombucha””usually black or green tea. The tea contributes in part to the “kombucha buzz.” Kombucha drinks that have fruity flavors have a tiny bit of the respective juice in them. If you like the way that tastes, consider simply adding some of your favorite juice to your tea.

2. Consume probiotics.

If you find that consuming probiotics makes you feel better, you can get them from things other than kombucha. Some foods that contain probiotics include: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, soft cheeses, sourdough bread, sour pickles, and tempeh.

3. Drink club soda or mix it in.

Perhaps you just like the effervescent aspect of kombucha. If you like the bubbly part of the drink, consider club soda or sparkling juices as a replacement.

Elizabeth Seward has written about health and wellness for Discovery Health, National Geographic, How Stuff Works Health, and many other online and print publications. As a former touring rock musician, Elizabeth has firsthand experience with the struggles of substance abuse and the loss of

Drug Tourism Destinations to Avoid If You’re Clean and Sober


Traveling is expensive, even when you do it the cheap way. But we all eventually need a vacation; each of us need an opportunity to change our environment and thereby, change our perspective. However, not all vacation destinations are created equal. There are good and bad destination choices as well as everything in between. It mostly depends on the individual traveler. If you are in sobriety and looking to avoid drug culture, there are certain destinations you’ll want to be sure to avoid.

You might not recognize a destination as a name in drug tourism, but it’s good to do your research if you’re clean before booking a trip. A city that might not seem like a place that attracts drug users from the outside looking in might turn out to be anything but once you have arrived. If the latter winds up being the case, you could inadvertently find yourself inundated with drug culture, drug use, and temptation. Your “vacation” could easily become a nightmare of an exercise in self-control and walking on ice. You can avoid some of the biggest current drug tourism destinations by familiarizing yourself with the ones on this list, information from your own research, and making informed decisions based on your findings.

1. U.S. States Where Recreational Marijuana is Legal

US states where marijuana is recreationally legal now include: Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon. These are the states wherein you will encounter the most open and free use of marijuana and you should consider this factor if marijuana use is something that you would like to avoid. Plenty of other states have decriminalized marijuana or legal medical marijuana, but these four are the states most likely to have the most obvious and public displays of recreational marijuana use.

2. The Amazon Region Known for Psychedelics

Amazonia ayahuasca havens are dabbled throughout the Amazon region and in other parts of Latin America, as well. Tourists travel from across the globe to use this powerful psychedelic. The drug is often taken as a part of an ayahuasca “retreat.” Its use is seen as sacred and even a native right of passage for some visitors to these areas, but these destinations should be avoided by people who want to keep a distance from psychedelic use, especially those with a history of psychedelic use themselves.

3. The Cocaine Capital of the World: Colombia

Cocaine in Colombia is still very much a thing. Despite the government’s efforts to crack down on the white powder that has made the country famous, the shadows of Pablo Escobar are still creeping around everywhere, enticing tourists who had cocaine in mind when booking their trip. As pointed out in this article, cocaine is still readily abundant in Colombia and might even provide fodder for a relapse for someone with a history of cocaine use.

4. Moonshine And Pill-Mills

Certain regions of the US are notorious for this combination.

Moonshine and pill-mills are partners in crime in some US states. Spanning from the southern Ohio border and West Virginia and Kentucky all the way down to some areas of Florida, the Appalachian region of the US is notorious for the number of pill-mills present, but also, as most locals will tell you, the easily obtainable moonshine. These specific regions might not be the best destination for a person who has a struggle with pills “” specifically painkillers or anxiety medication “” or a history with alcohol abuse. These areas, which often see a great deal of prescription painkiller abuse, typically also are high in heroin use and availability as well as other opioids.

5. Southeast Asian Opiates And More

Heroin and several other drugs are widely available in Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia has long been a destination those seeking heroin, as well as other types of drugs. Specifically speaking, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand are particular hubs of drug tourism in this area. With Afghanistan and Myanmar leading the way in opiate production, it hasn’t been difficult for travelers in nearby countries to access heroin. Likewise, the area has also become a hotspot for ecstasy, magic mushrooms, speed and prescription pills.

Choose Your Destination Wisely

Making the right destination choice in terms of drug culture is important for recovering addicts. These are just a few of the drug tourism destinations for you to consider before making any travel plans. No matter your destination, do some research beforehand to understand the local drug culture and how appealing the destination might be to drug tourists. Doing this might save you from a relapse.

Elizabeth Seward has written about health and wellness for Discovery Health, National Geographic, How Stuff Works Health, and many other online and print publications. As a former touring rock musician, Elizabeth has firsthand experience with the struggles of substance abuse and the loss of loved ones because of it. She believes in the restorative power of yoga, meditation, talk therapy, and plant-based diets and she is an advocate for progressive drug policy reform.

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