The Dangers of Binge Culture

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under People and Culture

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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

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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.

References:

[1] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042813018260

[2] http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273%2813%2900042-1

[3] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs002130050150


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 Examiner.com.

 

How TV Alcohol Ads Impact Teen Drinking

May 12, 2017 by  
Filed under People and Culture

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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

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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

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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.

What is Mojo? The Growing Popularity Behind This Synthetic Drug

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A relatively new drug trend is skyrocketing among teenagers these days and its name is “mojo.” Mojo, as the kids call it, or more commonly heard as synthetic marijuana, is an artificial chemical drug structured similarly to THC, the active ingredient found in pot, that when sprayed on herbs can be smoked and mimics the effects of marijuana. The reason for its surge of popularity among adolescents is due to the fact that it’s easy to get ahold of and it avoids the complications of the law. Synthetic cannabis can be purchased in local head shops or obtained online and is often marketed as incense or under brand names like Spice or K2. In addition, it doesn’t yield a positive drug test result.

“So if it’s technically legal, what’s the big deal?” is a question that’s constantly asked among the adolescent population in drug rehabilitation. Well in recent years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has deemed it a, “drug of concern” (1) due to the fact that it’s causing a flood of emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers. “Adverse health affects associated with its use include seizures, hallucination, paranoid behavior, agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, racing heartbeat, and elevated blood pressure (2). In essence, it’s far more dangerous than regular marijuana because it’s artificially created rather than coming from a natural plant source like it was originally thought to and therefore its side effects are far more severe. It can easily be compared to other legal synthetic drugs like bath salts that are also known to induce states of disturbing psychosis and are not FDA approved (3). As a recovery support specialist, examples of behavior observed firsthand from our adolescent clients going through withdrawal from mojo include violent shaking, ghostly white complexion, fever, nausea, psychotic episodes, rage, and or hallucinations believing that they were Jesus Christ resurrected. “Psychiatrists have suggested that the lack of an antipsychotic chemical, similar to cannabidiol found in natural cannabis, may make synthetic cannabis more likely to induce psychosis than natural cannabis” (4). This drug can yield especially dangerous results for individuals with a preexisting history of mental illness as these, “dramatic psychotic states induced by use have been reported to last for weeks” (5).

Various states have been working feverishly to ban the sale of the substance and there are national efforts at work to gain control of the matter because it’s becoming readily apparent that this mood-altering drug is quickly becoming a risk to our youth. The scariest part of the epidemic however, is the blind eye adolescents seem to be turning to the reality of its danger. They want what they can get their hands on easily, it makes them feel high, and it avoids the law. Most of them don’t even view it as a real drug but rather a “fake” drug so therefore they see no real risk. It’s gotten to the point where the vast majority of our admitted adolescent clients to our rehabilitation facility are there for synthetic cannabis use and due to the overwhelming numbers on our wait list for admittance, the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

References:

  1. Donna Leinwand (May 24, 2010).24, 2010-k2_N.htm “Places race to outlaw K2 ‘Spice’ drug”.USA Today. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  2. Meserve, Jeanne (February 28, 2011).“DEA imposes “emergency” ban to control synthetic marijuana”. CNN. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  3. “K2 Drug Facts”. K2drugfacts.com. Retrieved 2015-03-23.
  4. Müller, H.; Sperling, W.; Köhrmann, M.; Huttner, H.; Kornhuber, J.; Maler, J. (2010). “The synthetic cannabinoid Spice as a trigger for an acute exacerbation of cannabis induced recurrent psychotic episodes”.Schizophrenia research118 (1″”3): 309″”310. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2009.12.001. PMID 20056392.
  5. Hurst, D; Loeffler, G; McLay, R (October 2011). “Psychosis associated with synthetic cannabinoid agonists: a case series.”.The American Journal of Psychiatry168 (10): 1119. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2011.11010176. PMID 21969050.

M. Lujan has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Tulane University. She now works with adolescents in drug rehabilitation centers providing recovery support and teaching life skills.

TV Alcohol Ads and Its Impact on Teen Drinking

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

The resultsand 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. Television, pop up computer ads, advertisements on mobile devices, bill boards, sporting events”¦there is 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 rapperLudacrisendorses 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 latest study, released in January 2015, found that television viewing habits have a powerful influence in kid’s behavior.

This recent study published inJAMA Pediatricsstudied 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, theauthors concludedfrom this data that “(not only does exposition to alcohol marketing initiate drinking, it also) transitions from trying tohazardous drinking.”

But there is hope. There is always hope.

TheSurgeon General’s reportsuggests 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

AudreyBeim holds two advanced degrees from major universities, including a Master’s Degree in Psychology. Shehas 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 Examiner.com.

A Closer Look at Welfare and Substance Abuse

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In recent years there has been a large push from conservative state legislatures to implement drug testing for those applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Already 12 states have passed laws allowing for drug testing of TANF applicants, and 12 more have filed drug-testing proposals awaiting federal approval.

The effort undoubtedly centers upon the stereotypical notion that drug and alcohol abusers make up the most poverty-stricken demographics of the American population. Since it is largely assumed that they are already using drugs and alcohol, hence their current situations, citizens feel that they have the right to decide whom their tax dollars should be spent on.

In order to show the “supposed effectiveness” of this new push for drug and alcohol screening, Tennessee, which implemented their screening law in 2014, will be analyzed as a case study. Of the 16,017 total applicants, 37 applicants confirmed their own use of use of drugs and thus were ordered to take a drug test. All 37 were found to have drugs in their systems making them ineligible for benefits.

Just in case you’re wondering, 37 applicants testing positive for illegal substances out of 16,017 in total comes out to 0.23 percent. Not only do these numbers sufficiently prove the outrageousness of the laws premise, moreover it cost taxpayers nearly $6,000 to implement the program.

It is essential to understand that so far TANF has been the only program to be targeted for drug screening, since it is on the state level. Federally funded programs have yet to implement such laws, which would affect a vastly larger amount of citizens. Currently only 3.4 million American receive TANF on a yearly basis, compared to 46 million Americans who qualify for food stamp benefits.

While TANF is the first program to be hit, it will likely not be the last if conservative lawmakers are able to follow through with their aims. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has publically stated that he wants to expand drug tests to unemployment insurance and other state funded programs.

Texas is another state that has sought to broaden the scope of drug testing social welfare applicants. The Texas Legislative Budget Board estimates that the law expansion would cost the state around $30 million annually, due to a federal block of applicants being charged for their own drug tests. States are forced to pay for their own tests, which range from $25 to $75 per person.

When asked about the “successfulness” of Tennessee’s new testing policy Rep. Glen Casada told the Tennessean, “That’s 37 people who should not be receiving taxpayer subsidies, because they are not behaving as they are supposed to. If the taxpayers are going to support you there are certain criteria you need to adhere to. This is a good use of taxpayer money.”

It will be interesting to hear from Texas citizens if they too believe that a $30 million witch-hunt is a “good use of taxpayer money.”

CBS Denver recently published an article regarding El Paso County’s new law that will call for drug testing of TANF applicants. The article begins, “People who are on welfare in El Paso County and abuse alcohol or drugs need to be ready to get treatment.”

Although there is no cited author to the article, one might inquire where exactly the TANF applicant is going to get the money to pay for rehabilitation. Naturally, CBS Denver is unaware of the actual costs of admitting ones self into rehab. Additionally, one of the stipulations of receiving benefits is that the individual is required to participate in 30 hours per week of job training programs, which would be impossible if the individual is in rehab.

In short, the new legislative attempts to curve state tax dollars away from supposed drug abusers are straying off in the wrong direction. With little to no resources or options for rehabilitation, states are condemning drug abusers without offering any support or alternative measures.

While no one condones drug abuse, those who suffer from addiction should be offered help instead of condemnation by their elected officials. The new laws are completely backwards, focusing on punishment rather than recovery. If states want to require clean drug tests then also must offer affordable rehabilitation options for those who suffer from the disease.

Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

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There are many reasons why alcohol use and having a mental health issue do not mix.This article explores the top 10 reasons why alcohol and mental illness do not mix.

People who have a mental illness also have a higher risk of having a substance abuse problem [1]. Alcohol is one of the most commonly misused substances and high rates of alcoholuse disorders occur in people with diagnose mental illnesses. There are many reasons why individuals were diagnosed with a mental illness, even something as common as depression, should not drink alcohol.

  1. Alcohol interferes with the mechanism by which most medications used in treating mental illness work. Drinking alcohol typically nullifies the effects (if any) from psychotropic medications.
  2. Alcohol use interferes with the process of learning and memory. This relationship is such that the more alcohol one uses the more the process is disrupted. Someone in a treatment program for mental illness or substance abuse drinks heavily will not process, encode, and retain information as well as if they did not drink at all.
  3. Alcohol can be dangerous and even lethal when used in combination with certain medications such as anti-anxiety medications.
  4. Alcohol use contributes to increased impulsivity in people. People with mental illness are at risk for acting impulsively and irrationally. Drinking alcohol makes this all the worse.
  5. Heavy alcohol use leads to poor decision-making that can intensify guilt, shame, depression.
  6. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. What this means is that it dampens the firing of certain neurons in the brain. For people prone to depressive reactions alcohol use can actually intensify their depression and increase thoughts of self “” harm.
  7. Heavy alcohol use may initially reduce a person’s anxiety; however, it also leads to something known as rebound anxiety where the person will experience more anxious symptoms as they withdraw from alcohol use.
  8. Alcohol use is known to increase recall for negative events such as traumatic experiences that occurred when one was using alcohol. This can lead to increased shame, depression, etc.
  9. Regular alcohol use disrupts sleep patterns and REM sleep. Disrupting one’s sleep can lead to more issues with fatigue, anxiety, depression, etc.
  10. Alcohol use is associated with other substance abuse, especially in individuals diagnosed with some form of mental health issue or mental illness. This can lead to more distressed, increased legal issues, and issues in recovery and treatment.

The bottom line is this: If you are diagnosed with a mental health issue DO NOT drink alcohol at all unless you are instructed to do so by your physician (this last situation would be VERY rare).

There are many reasons why alcohol use and having a mental health issue do not mix.This article explores the top 10 reasons why alcohol and mental illness do not mix.

People who have a mental illness also have a higher risk of having a substance abuse problem [1]. Alcohol is one of the most commonly misused substances and high rates of alcoholuse disorders occur in people with diagnose mental illnesses. There are many reasons why individuals were diagnosed with a mental illness, even something as common as depression, should not drink alcohol.

  1. Alcohol interferes with the mechanism by which most medications used in treating mental illness work. Drinking alcohol typically nullifies the effects (if any) from psychotropic medications.
  2. Alcohol use interferes with the process of learning and memory. This relationship is such that the more alcohol one uses the more the process is disrupted. Someone in a treatment program for mental illness or substance abuse drinks heavily will not process, encode, and retain information as well as if they did not drink at all.
  3. Alcohol can be dangerous and even lethal when used in combination with certain medications such as anti-anxiety medications.
  4. Alcohol use contributes to increased impulsivity in people. People with mental illness are at risk for acting impulsively and irrationally. Drinking alcohol makes this all the worse.
  5. Heavy alcohol use leads to poor decision-making that can intensify guilt, shame, depression.
  6. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. What this means is that it dampens the firing of certain neurons in the brain. For people prone to depressive reactions alcohol use can actually intensify their depression and increase thoughts of self “” harm.
  7. Heavy alcohol use may initially reduce a person’s anxiety; however, it also leads to something known as rebound anxiety where the person will experience more anxious symptoms as they withdraw from alcohol use.
  8. Alcohol use is known to increase recall for negative events such as traumatic experiences that occurred when one was using alcohol. This can lead to increased shame, depression, etc.
  9. Regular alcohol use disrupts sleep patterns and REM sleep. Disrupting one’s sleep can lead to more issues with fatigue, anxiety, depression, etc.
  10. Alcohol use is associated with other substance abuse, especially in individuals diagnosed with some form of mental health issue or mental illness. This can lead to more distressed, increased legal issues, and issues in recovery and treatment.

The bottom line is this: If you are diagnosed with a mental health issue DO NOT drink alcohol at all unless you are instructed to do so by your physician (this last situation would be VERY rare).

 

References:

[1] American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington DC: Author.

[2] Hatfield, R. C. (2013). The everything guide to the human brain. Avon, MA: Adams.


Dr. Hatfield is a clinical neuropsychologist with extensive experience assessing and treating neurological and psychiatric disorders. His areas of expertise include neurobiology, behavior, dementia, head injury, addiction, abnormal psychology, personality disorders, statistics, rehabilitation psychology and research methodology.

 

All About Mate

January 13, 2017 by  
Filed under People and Culture

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A number of drugs recovering addicts have to pry themselves away from are stimulants of one sort of another. A rushing energy boost that can also enhance concentration and speed is appealing to many people “” especially ambitious people who would prefer to get as much done as soon as possible. Unfortunately, many of these drugs come with serious negative side effects. Cocaine, methamphetamine, and even prescription medication like Adderall all can carry serious consequences for people who become addicted to them “” and since these are highly addictive substances, the issue of addiction is real. When a recovered addict finally is free of these types of substances, he or she might sometimes crave an energy and concentration boost that is a little different than the caffeine buzz from coffee. That’s where Yerba Mate comes into the picture!

Yerba Mate is a part of the holly species. The plant is made into a tea that is commonly consumed in South America, but has become increasingly popular in other parts of the world. Although Mate contains less caffeine than coffee and many other teas, its energy boost is unique, memorable, and useful for anyone looking for a pick-me-up that doesn’t involve turning to hard drugs. With a buzz that is distinctly different from coffee, one of the best perks of Mate is the benefit of drinking the tea beyond the immediate boost.

The energizing tea “” which tastes a bit like green tea “” is said to be rich in antioxidants. The drink is also touted as a way to help maintain or even lose weight all while aiding digestion and lending a helping hand to cardiovascular health. The way that Mate helps to sustain energy is can particularly useful for those who might have addiction issues with stimulants. It’s not as jolting or dangerous as drugs like amphetamines and cocaine, but it raises alertness and, according to countless anecdotes, it does so in a longer-lasting and calmer way than most forms of caffeine.

However, it’s important to note that people who drink Mate should do so in moderation (isn’t that the key for so many things in life?). Mate is full of health benefits, but some research suggests that people who drink excessive levels of the tea might have an increased risk for specific types of cancer. A person would have to drink more than a liter of Mate a day before having reason to legitimately worry about this possibility, which, for many people, is not a likely amount to consume. In the USA, Mate is not consumed the way that it is in South America, where people are regularly seen walking the streets with Mate and hand and stations with boiling water to refill Mate gourds are present.

It’s considered to be perfectly safe to enjoy a glass or two of Mate a day, so go ahead and give this tea a whirl if you’re looking for a way to increase your energy and focus without all of the jitters amid your recovery from stimulants.


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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