Early childhood years important for drug abuse prevention
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has recently published information about interventions in early childhood that may prevent drug abuse as well as other unhealthy behaviors. The informative guide discusses things that impact children’s self-control and overall mental health, from pregnancy to age 8. The study points out that while drug abuse generally begins during adolescence, recognizing the biological, psychological, social, and environmental origins that can begin even before birth can be very beneficial.
“Thanks to more than three decades of research into what makes a young child able to cope with life’s inevitable stresses, we now have unique opportunities to intervene very early in life to prevent substance use disorders,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “We now know that early intervention can set the stage for more positive self-regulation as children prepare for their school years.” He indicates that the published guide is very important to anyone who has an influence in anyone’s childhood.
The information from the NIDA indicates that special attention needs to be given to the most vulnerable times in children’s lives, such as the first day of school, divorce, moving, etc. Further, the research about the childhood years points to evidence that a stable home environment, proper nutrition, stimulation both cognitively and physically, and supportive parenting can also provide good development outcomes with a lessened likelihood of drug abuse.
New warnings about addictive prescription.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Tuesday new safety labeling changes for immediate-release (IR) opioid pain medications. From here on out, there must be warnings on prescription medications about the risks of addiction, abuse, misuse, overdose and deaths. The FDA hopes that this change will lessen the addiction epidemic while still providing relief to patients with pain.
Immediate-release medications are a type of opioid prescription medication that is taken every 4 to 6 hours for pain. These medications are only prescribed when the pain cannot be treated with other alternatives. Some common types of IR medications are Oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine.
Robert Cardiff, M.D., FDA commissioner indicated at the time of the release, “Opioid addiction and overdose have reached epidemic levels over the past decade, and the FDA remains steadfast in our commitment to do our part to help reverse the devastating impact of the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids. Today’s actions are one of the largest undertakings for informing prescribers of risks across opioid products, and one of many steps the FDA intends to take this year as part of our comprehensive action plan to reverse this epidemic.”
The new labels will also be required to include more precise instructions about monitoring patients and their dosages. It will contain a warning to not suddenly stop treatment in patients who are dependent on addictive prescriptions as well.
Prescriptions and Supplements: Deadly Combinations?
A recent report published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine indicates that many individuals, particularly older adults (ages 62-85) are combining prescription medications and over the counter supplements without exploring the risks of doing so. The results were very interesting.
A database of reported and predicted drug interactions was used to determine whether the 20 most common prescription drugs and supplements used by the participants in their study were predicted to cause an adverse reaction when taken together. The researchers showed that 16 combinations of prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and supplements were predicted to increase the risk of adverse reactions, most commonly bleeding. Further, another dangerous fact brought to the researchers attentions\ during the study was that the number of adults taking one of these combinations increased during the study period, from 8.4% to 15.1%.
This may not seem like a huge problem, but from 2006 to 2011, the number of older adults (ages 62 to 85) in the United States reported to be taking five or more medications or supplements rose from 53.4% to 67.1%. The study’s lead author, Dima M. Qato, assistant professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes, and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago is quoted as saying, “We are trying to improve access to essential prescription medications like statins that could prevent heart disease and improve survival, but we are not prioritizing enough how safe these medications are in the context of all the prescription and nonprescription medications older adults are using.”
To prevent medical emergencies, patients should always disclose everything they are taking to their doctors, including over the counter supplements. For example, taking certain types of fish oil was shown to negatively interact with cholesterol lowering medications and blood pressure medications. People hear “fish oil” and they think nothing bad can come from it. But they need to explore the combinations of supplements with their prescription drugs.
Symptoms of Xanax Abuse
There is a lot of talk about the rise of prescription drug abuse in the media and else where these days. In fact, prescription drug abuse is on the rise more than ever before. Among commonly abused prescription drugs is the drug Xanax. Because tolerance to Xanax occurs quickly, those who are addicted can reach extraordinary levels of Xanax consumption. For example, a CNN report on Michael Jackson’s death stated that before he died, he was taking ten Xanax a night, which was a reduction from his earlier consumption of 30 – 40 Xanax a night. Individuals who abuse Xanax may not appear to be “high” but may exhibit some of the following other symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Memory problems
- Lack of focus
- Swollen hands or feet
- Upset stomach
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Dry mouth or throat
- Loss of interest in sex
If these symptoms are exhibited, it is usually because individuals are reaching high levels of Xanax consumption. If these signs are prevalent, it may be vital to find the pills or pill bottles and extend help to the person who is abusing the drug. Xanax comes in a bar-shaped pill that is scored so it can be broken into smaller doses. Xanax comes in a bar-shaped pill that is scored so it can be broken into smaller doses. Xanax pills are white but the generic form of the drug (alprazolam) may be green or yellow. Most individuals need to go through a detox program before beginning rehab for Xanax abuse.
9 Things to Try for Anxiety in Children
A recent article published in the Huffington Post by Renee Jain discusses anxiety in children. Interestingly, she states, “40 million American adults, as well as 1 in 8 children, suffer from anxiety.” More kids than most of realize miss out on school and social activities just because they are so worried about the way they perceive certain situations or the thoughts in their heads. In turn, parents are discouraged, frustrated, and often out of patience when they see their children engage in anxious behaviors constantly.
Jain says, “that while there is no one-size-fits-all solution for anxiety, there are a plethora of great research-based techniques that can help manage it — many of which are simple to learn.” She too struggled with childhood anxiety and wishes that her parents would’ve been better educated on how to deal with it. She has developed an anxiety relief program for kids called GoZen. From this program, she gives 9 things to try for anxiety in children:
Quoted directly from Renee Jain’s Huffington Post article
- Stop Reassuring Your Child
Your child worries. You know there is nothing to worry about, so you say, “Trust me. There’s nothing to worry about.” Done and done, right? We all wish it were that simple. Why does your reassurance fall on deaf ears? It’s actually not the ears causing the issue. Your anxious child desperately wants to listen to you, but the brain won’t let it happen. During periods of anxiety, there is a rapid dump of chemicals and mental transitions executed in your body for survival. One by-product is that the prefrontal cortex — or more logical part of the brain — gets put on hold while the more automated emotional brain takes over. In other words, it is really hard for your child to think clearly, use logic or even remember how to complete basic tasks. What should you do instead of trying to rationalize the worry away? Try something I call the FEEL method:
- Freeze — pause and take some deep breaths with your child. Deep breathing can help reverse the nervous system response.
- Empathize — anxiety is scary. Your child wants to know that you get it.
- Evaluate — once your child is calm, it’s time to figure out possible solutions.
- Let Go – Let go of your guilt; you are an amazing parent giving your child the tools to manage their worry.
- Highlight Why Worrying is Good
Remember, anxiety is tough enough without a child believing that Something is wrong with me. Many kids even develop anxiety about having anxiety. Teach your kids that worrying does, in fact, have a purpose.
When our ancestors were hunting and gathering food there was danger in the environment, and being worried helped them avoid attacks from the saber-toothed cat lurking in the bush. In modern times, we don’t have a need to run from predators, but we are left with an evolutionary imprint that protects us: worry.
Worry is a protection mechanism. Worry rings an alarm in our system and helps us survive danger. Teach your kids that worry is perfectly normal, it can help protect us, and everyone experiences it from time to time. Sometimes our system sets off false alarms, but this type of worry (anxiety) can be put in check with some simple techniques.
- Bring Your Child‘s Worry to Life
As you probably know, ignoring anxiety doesn’t help. But bringing worry to life and talking about it like a real person can. Create a worry character for your child. In GoZen we created Widdle the Worrier. Widdle personifies anxiety. Widdle lives in the old brain that is responsible for protecting us when we’re in danger. Of course, sometimes Widdle gets a little out of control and when that happens, we have to talk some sense into Widdle. You can use this same idea with a stuffed animal or even role-playing at home.
Personifying worry or creating a character has multiple benefits. It can help demystify this scary physical response children experience when they worry. It can reactivate the logical brain, and it’s a tool your children can use on their own at any time.
- Teach Your Child to Be a Thought Detective
Remember, worry is the brain’s way of protecting us from danger. To make sure we’re really paying attention, the mind often exaggerates the object of the worry (e.g., mistaking a stick for a snake). You may have heard that teaching your children to think more positively could calm their worries. But the best remedy for distorted thinking is not positive thinking; it’s accurate thinking. Try a method we call the 3Cs:
- Catch your thoughts: Imagine every thought you have floats above your head in a bubble (like what you see in comic strips). Now, catch one of the worried thoughts like “No one at school likes me.”
- Collect evidence: Next, collect evidence to support or negate this thought. Teach your child not to make judgments about what to worry about based only on feelings. Feelings are not facts. (Supporting evidence: “I had a hard time finding someone to sit with at lunch yesterday.” Negating evidence: “Sherry and I do homework together–she’s a friend of mine.”)
- Challenge your thoughts: The best (and most entertaining) way to do this is to teach your children to have a debate within themselves.
- Allow Them to Worry
As you know, telling your children not to worry won’t prevent them from doing so. If your children could simply shove their feelings away, they would. But allowing your children to worry openly, in limited doses, can be helpful. Create a daily ritual called “Worry Time” that lasts 10 to 15 minutes. During this ritual encourage your children to release all their worries in writing. You can make the activity fun by decorating a worry box. During worry time there are no rules on what constitutes a valid worry — anything goes. When the time is up, close the box and say good-bye to the worries for the day.
- Help Them Go from What If to What Is
You may not know this, but humans are capable of time travel. In fact, mentally we spend a lot of time in the future. For someone experiencing anxiety, this type of mental time travel can exacerbate the worry. A typical time traveler asks what-if questions: “What if I can’t open my locker and I miss class?” “What if Suzy doesn’t talk to me today?”
Research shows that coming back to the present can help alleviate this tendency. One effective method of doing this is to practice mindfulness exercises. Mindfulness brings a child from what if to what is. To do this, help your child simply focus on their breath for a few minutes.
- Avoid Avoiding Everything that Causes Anxiety
Do your children want to avoid social events, dogs, school, planes or basically any situation that causes anxiety? As a parent, do you help them do so? Of course! This is natural. The flight part of the flight-fight-freeze response urges your children to escape the threatening situation. Unfortunately, in the long run, avoidance makes anxiety worse.
So what’s the alternative? Try a method we call laddering. Kids who are able to manage their worry break it down into manageable chunks. Laddering uses this chunking concept and gradual exposure to reach a goal.
Let’s say your child is afraid of sitting on the swings in the park. Instead of avoiding this activity, create mini-goals to get closer to the bigger goal (e.g., go to the edge of the park, then walk into the park, go to the swings, and, finally, get on a swing). You can use each step until the exposure becomes too easy; that’s when you know it’s time to move to the next rung on the ladder.
- Help Them Work Through a Checklist
What do trained pilots do when they face an emergency? They don’t wing it (no pun intended!); they refer to their emergency checklists. Even with years of training, every pilot works through a checklist because, when in danger, sometimes it’s hard to think clearly.
When kids face anxiety they feel the same way. Why not create a checklist so they have a step-by-step method to calm down? What do you want them to do when they first feel anxiety coming on? If breathing helps them, then the first step is to pause and breathe. Next, they can evaluate the situation. In the end, you can create a hard copy checklist for your child to refer to when they feel anxious.
- Practice Self-Compassion
Watching your child suffer from anxiety can be painful, frustrating, and confusing. There is not one parent that hasn’t wondered at one time or another if they are the cause of their child‘s anxiety. Here’s the thing, research shows that anxiety is often the result of multiple factors (i.e., genes, brain physiology, temperament, environmental factors, past traumatic events, etc.). Please keep in mind, you did not cause your child‘s anxiety, but you can help them overcome it.
Toward the goal of a healthier life for the whole family, practice self-compassion. Remember, you’re not alone, and you’re not to blame. It’s time to let go of debilitating self-criticism and forgive yourself. Love yourself. You are your child‘s champion.
4-MTA is a designer drug that was created in the 1990s by a team of Purdue University researchers, led by David E. Nichols. Prof. Nichols created the drug intending to use it on laboratory animals to help develop a “safer” version of ecstasy or Prozac for use in humans. The drug is composed of a highly selective serotonin releasing agent (SSRA) and also an MAO-A inhibitor. This combination of being both a stimulant and MAO-A inhibitor causes a number of serious side effects. The drug is formally known as 4-Methylthioamphetamine.
The physical side effects of 4-MTA last about 8 hours. These effects last about eight hours, with a steady increase in energy but without a hyperactive mind –interestingly, users feel energized but calm at the same time. Like ecstasy (MDMA), 4-MTA is a strong serotonin releaser. On the other hand, unlike ecstasy, users do not experience a euphoric high. Dangerously, this means that many users will take increased and repeated doses of 4-MTA thinking that the drugs are “not working.”
Because users have no quality control over the ingredients of 4-MTA, the drugs is proving to be even more dangerous. Further, combining the drug with others, as many tend to do within the club culture, increases the chances of deadly results.– Increased energy and a calm mind — the two main physical side effects of 4-MTA – are due to the fact that the drug is both an MOA-A inhibitor and as SSRA. In other words, this means that 4-MTA is particularly dangerous due to the fact that one pill can cause two opposite, and possibly deadly, reactions within the body. Further, 4-MTA is highly toxic and was implicated in five deaths within its first year of use in the club scene in Europe.
Should Kids Know About Parent’s Past Drug Use?
A recent study, published in the Journal of Human Communication Research, shows that disclosing any experiences parents have had with drug in the past to their children is not a good idea. Parents who experimented with hard or mild drug use in their teenage or young adult years shouldn’t bring it up with their kids according to the researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who surveyed 561 middle school students on talks they had had with their parents about drinking, smoking and marijuana. Interestingly, the study indicated kids were less likely to think that drugs are bad if they know parents had a past usage of drugs.
However, the study’s lead author, Jennifer Kam, made a point to say “We are not recommending that parents lie to their …children about their own past drug use.” Rather, “we are suggesting that parents should focus on talking to their kids about the negative consequences of drug use, how to avoid offers, family rules against use, that they disapprove of use, and others who have gotten in trouble from using.” Further, it’s also worth pointing out that it’s never too late to turn a life around, and effective treatment can help rescue someone from drug addiction.
5 Simple Things to Fight Depression
When individuals feel depressed, they feel hopeless or as if nothing they do seems to lighten the load or lift their spirits. But there are some simple things they can do each day to bring more light into their dark world of depression. Just taking charge and doing something about depression can boost confidence and help the depression lighten in addition to getting help from a doctor or therapist when needed. Below are 5 things to fight depression:
1-Exercise. Take a short, quick walk each day — or bike, jog, or Zumba if you prefer. Often, people who feel depressed may not want to be active, but getting going will make a difference. Ask a friend to join you! Yoga has also been shown to help relieve feelings of depression. Certain poses, such as a downward-facing dog or legs-up-the-wall pose have been shown to be effective. Yoga breathing exercises and meditation have also been proven to help with depression.
2-Eat well. Depression can often affect eating habits. Some individuals overeat and gain weight while others forget to eat because they lack an appetite. Being extra aware of getting the right nourishment influences a person’s mood and energy. So eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and regular meals will help depressed individuals feel better.
3-Don’t dwell on the negative. It’s important to be able to identify things that are troubling, talking about your blues with a caring friend can release dark feelings and help to receive some understanding.
After expressing thoughts and feelings, turning one’s attention to something positive and taking action to solve problems goes a long way. Feeling connected to friends and family can also help relieve depression. When loved ones feel connected they may also feel there’s something they can do to help.
4-Express oneself though creativity and emotions. With depression, a person’s creativity and sense of fun may seem blocked. Exercising the imagination through art, sewing, writing, dancing, composing music, athletics, hobbies, singing, will help to increase positive emotions. Doing something fun for and finding things to laugh about will help to lighten one’s mood.
5-Notice the positive. Depression can affects one’s thoughts, making everything seem dark, awful, sad, dismal, negative, and/or hopeless. Making an effort to notice the good things in life can lift spirits and help shake off darkness. Counting blessings, or considering strengths, realizing talents and gifts will encourage positive thinking. And in the process, being patient is important because depression takes time to heal and recover from.
Fake Xanax Pills Being Distributed
Recently, law enforcement in 21 states has reported finding fake Xanax pills that could possibly cause and have caused an overdose. The pills are remarkably similar to the authentic Xanax drugs, making it hard to distinguish between the two. The fake pills are being made with a mixture of fentanyl and other drugs and are created on a pill press with the name Xanax on them making the pills appear even more authentic.
Drug dealers are circulating this fake drug across the country. They are selling them as the real Xanax, which is the most commonly prescribed abused prescription medication in the United States right now. Prescribed for generalized anxiety disorders and insomnia, Xanax is more potent than many other addictive drugs and reportedly causes 124,900 thousand emergency room visits per year.
In October of 2015, San Francisco reported a case of 4 individuals ingesting the fake pills. Three almost died and the fourth never made it to the hospital. Dr. Phillip Coffin, of San Francisco’s Health Department described the effects of the fake Xanax in those who survived the effects of the pills as, “Nerve damage, muscle breakdowns with some kidney damage, and fluid in the lungs.”
Coffin also indicated that, “the Xanax pill is often bought on the street by those who want to come down or cool off after a night of partying or something like that.” But what the individuals ended up buying was an extremely potent opiate called Fentanyl instead.
Because there is so much Fentanyl in the fake Xanax it is much more dangerous. Xanax, whether real or fake, goes by the street names: blue footballs, benzos, handlebars and zannies.
5 Signs of a Gaming Addiction
Although many people laugh about the term “gaming addiction” in relation to video game addiction, the behavior is actually quite serious and problematic. Interestingly, South Korea is the world’s leader as far as identifying and treating gaming and Internet addiction. After inserting the world’s fastest broadband infrastructure into their nation, South Korea’s government now spends millions per year to pinpoint and treat gaming and Internet addicts. And it’s necessary: according to a government study in South Korea, about 8% of the country’s population ages 9 to 39 suffer from Internet or gaming addiction.
In the U.S., Internet and gaming addiction are not yet listed in the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, the American Psychiatric Association has proposed that “Internet Use Disorder” be listed as warranting further study in the next revision. In South Korea, action has been taken to treat gaming addicts in similar ways alcoholics are treated for their addiction.
CNN.com interviewed a South Korean expert on this kind of treatment, Dr. Han Doug-hyun, from Chung-Ang University Hospital in Seoul, South Korea’s capital. Han gave his list of the top five warning signs that a person should seek professional help for Internet or gaming addiction to CNN.com and they are quoted below.
“Han’s top 5 warning signs of gaming or Internet addiction:
1. Disrupted regular life pattern. If a person plays games all night long and sleeps in the daytime, that can be a warning he or she should seek professional help.
2. If the potential gaming or Internet addict loses his or her job, or stops going to school in order to be online or to play a digital game.
3. Need for a bigger fix. Does the gamer have to play for longer and longer periods in order to get the same level of enjoyment from the game?
4. Withdrawal. Some Internet and gaming addicts become irritable or anxious when they disconnect, or when they are forced to do so.
5. Cravings. Some Internet and gaming addicts experience cravings, or the need to play the game or be online when they are away from the digital world.
Although this addiction many not seem as serious as other well known addictions, research indicates that if an individual struggles with an addiction it can carry over to other additions. Further, as research shows, gaming addictions can be extremely harmful in and of themselves.