If you feel like God is far away,

ask yourself “who moved?”

Get Admitted

Friday, December 28, 2012

Meth Labs Move to the City

The production methamphetamine has become easier to make as a result of new techniques where by almost anyone can produce the lethal drug. Techniques known to authorities as the “shake and bake” or “one pot” methods have become extremely popular amongst cooks and as a result the labs have moved from the country to the city, according to the Associated Press.

Methamphetamine lab seizures have tripled in some major metropolitan areas across the country. Law enforcement officials are more than concerned about the change of venue as it may be an indication of much more to come.  

St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., Nashville, Tennessee, and Evansville, Indiana have all seen a increase in meth lab seizures in the past few years. This new trend has caught the eyes of dangerous street gangs in those areas, prompting them to open their own production centers.

"No question about it — there are more labs in the urban areas," said Tom Farmer, coordinator of the Tennessee Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Task Force. "I'm seeing car fires from meth in urban areas now, more people getting burned."

On top of the meth labs popping up in major cities, authorities also have to contend with Mexican "super labs," which have increased production, making meth more pure and less expensive, and then using existing drug pipelines in big cities.

Methamphetamine is the most corrosive drug the human body has ever come into contact with. The long term side-effects of using meth are still being determined due to the fact that the drug is still in its infancy when compared to other hard drugs.  

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Prescription Drug Orphans

Prescription drug abuse by all accounts is an epidemic of outrageous proportions. The problem is affecting families across America, but, the Midwest has been hit especially hard for a number of reasons. Poverty and lack of education regarding the dangers of prescription narcotics plays a huge role in the devastation seen in the Midwest. New research has shown that in Kentucky it's the children that are affected the most by this epidemic.

There are more than 86,000 children in Kentucky being raised by someone other than a biological parent. Community leaders claim that this sad statistic is due to prescription drug abuse and the high rate of overdoses that accompany such usage.

New data has shown Kentucky to be the fourth most medicated state in the country and has the sixth highest rate of overdose deaths, CNN reports. However, it is difficult to assess how many children are orphaned after a prescription drug overdose death by a parent.

"Someone has to take care of these kids, and we simply do not have the facilities to do that," said U.S. Representative Hal Rogers, whose district in Kentucky is hard hit by prescription drug abuse. "So it's neighbors, it's churches, other civic groups that are trying to be parents to these kids who are orphaned by drug-abusing parents. That's a huge undertaking, because there's literally tens of thousands of these young children."

This holiday season let's remember all the children and work to keep them safe. 
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Family Social Capital vs. School Social Capital

Every parent knows that at some point their children will experiment with alcohol and/or drugs during their formative years. In some cases, children, as young as ten years of age, will get a hold of alcohol or marijuana from a friend or older sibling.

Parents should have an open dialogue with their children in order to educate them about the dangers of using. A new study has found that parental guidance is more important than the school environment in preventing or limiting their child’s use of alcohol or marijuana.

More than 10,000 students, parents, teachers, and school administrators took part in the study. The main focus points were what’s called “family social capital” (bonds between parents and children) and “school social capital” (a school’s ability to provide a positive environment for learning), the Science Daily reports.

Family Social Capital includes:

  • Trust
  • Open Communication
  • Active Engagement in a Child’s Life

School Social Capital includes:

  • Student Involvement in Extracurricular Activities
  • Teacher Morale
  • Teachers’ Ability to Address Student Needs
Students with high levels of family social capital and low school social capital levels were found to be less likely to have used either marijuana or alcohol, or to have used them less frequently. Students with high levels of school social capital and low family social capital were found to be more likely to have used, or to use more frequently.

“Parents play an important role in shaping the decisions their children make when it comes to alcohol and marijuana,” study co-author Dr. Toby Parcel of North Carolina State University said in a news release. “To be clear, school programs that address alcohol and marijuana use are definitely valuable, but the bonds parents form with their children are more important. Ideally, we can have both.”

The study appears in Journal of Drug Issues.
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Banning Tobacco Product Displays

The first drug that children and teenagers typically use is nicotine in one form or another. Health officials work hard to find ways to stop kids from ever picking up cigarettes or any tobacco products. Policies that ban tobacco-product displays at the point of sale may help reduce teen smoking, according to a new study.

1,200 teens who were smokers, or considered to be likely smokers, participated in the study. The teens “shopped” in a virtual convenience store, some of the stores had cigarette products visible, while in others they were hidden. Some of the stores had tobacco ads present, while in others they were either hidden or banned altogether. The teens were told to buy one drink, one snack, and two additional items at check-out, with no restrictions on what they could purchase.

Teens shopping in stores with hidden tobacco products were also much less likely to try to buy those products, HealthDay reports. Banning tobacco ads had minimal impact on the teens’ decision about whether to buy cigarettes.

The study found 9 percent of teens who shopped in stores with hidden tobacco displays bought cigarettes, compared with more than 24 percent of those shopping in stores that openly displayed them.

“These results provide support for policies that would ban the display of tobacco products at the point of sale,” lead researcher Annice Kim, PhD of RTI International said in a news release. “We found that enclosing tobacco product displays significantly lowers the likelihood that youth will try to purchase tobacco in the virtual store.”  

The study appears in the journal Pediatrics.
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Friday, November 30, 2012

DC Moves to Ban Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic drugs are still a major topic in the United States due to the fact that more than 40 states have implemented bans on synthetic marijuana and bath salts. These substances can be extremely dangerous and can lead to one’s death; what’s more, synthetic drugs have proven difficult to ban because the chemical composition can be changed relatively easy. Now legislators in Washington, D.C., are working to put a ban on synthetic drugs as well, The Washington Times reports.

“They are completely invented and manufactured without any regulation, without any quality control, with nothing,” said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. He chairs the Committee on the Judiciary, which forwarded a bill this week to restrict synthetic drugs in the District. “At least with a natural ingredient, you know what it is. Whereas with synthetics you have not a clue what it is and it’s sold [as] incense – and the person can kill themselves.”

New Jersey made its temporary ban on synthetic marijuana permanent earlier this week. The state’s Division of Consumer Affairs banned the drug last February, for 270 days pending public input on synthetic drugs. The state has already permanently banned bath salts.

In July, President Obama signed legislation that bans synthetic drugs. The law bans the harmful chemicals in synthetic drugs; this way manufacturers can change the name of the product all they want - their products will still be illegal.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Are Your Teens Using Steroids? New Study Indicates They May Be...

Drugs, alcohol...and steroids are addictive 

When it comes to addiction most people think of hard drugs or alcohol due to the fact that such substances are the most commonly abused. One substance that most people tend to overlook is anabolic steroids. A new report has shown that steroid use is quite common amongst teenagers. Steroids are not known for intoxication, but are extremely unhealthy nonetheless and have been found to be quite addictive.

New study examines teenagers' use of steroids 

Nearly one in 20 teenagers have used steroids to increase their muscle mass, according to a new study. The report found that more than one-third of boys and one-fifth of girls said they had used protein shakes or powders to increase their muscles, while between five and 10 percent used non-steroid substances to bulk up.

Study details... 

2,800 students in middle and high schools in Minnesota took part in the study published in the journal Pediatrics. Here are some details:
  • Most of the students had engaged in at least one muscle-building activity in the previous year. 
  • Up to one-third used what researchers considered unhealthy ways to increase their muscle mass, such as taking steroids or other muscle-building substances, or drinking too many protein shakes or engaging in excessive weight-lifting. 
  • Surprisingly, the study found steroid use was equal among students who were athletes and those who were not. 

“Really the pressure to start using (steroids) is in high school,” Dr. Linn Goldberg of the Oregon Health and Science University, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters. “You get the influence of older teens in high school, so when you’re a 14-year-old that comes in, you have 17-year-olds who are the seniors, and they can have great influence as you progress into the next stage of your athletic career.”

KMSP-TV Minneapolis-St. Paul reports on study


If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

The holiday season officially begins with the celebration of Thanksgiving. As you gather together with family and friends take some time to engage with your teenagers. As you prepare your holiday meal you can set good examples about smart eating habits and good health. 

We wish all our readers a beautiful and healthy Thanksgiving.
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Smoke Free Large Cities

It is no secret, tobacco products can be extremely dangerous, with cigarettes being one of the largest killers around the world. People who avoid cigarettes are more likely to live a healthier life. Fortunately, due to a number of programs and ad campaigns, people are quitting every day. Just over ten years ago in practically every state you could walk into a restaurant and ask for the smoking section. Today, that is no longer the case! 

A new report conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that sixty percent of the 50 largest U.S. cities are smoke free, with almost half of Americans being protected by state or local smoke-free laws. In the year 2000, less than 3 percent of Americans were protected by such laws, according to HealthDay

The CDC report showed that 16 of the 50 largest cities were protected by local smoke-free laws as of October 2012 and 14 additional cities were covered by state laws. However, ten of the 20 largest cities without smoke-free laws are in southern states.

“Communities have made tremendous progress eliminating smoking from worksites and public places in 60 percent of big cities in the United States. Smoke-free laws save lives and don’t hurt business,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “If we can protect workers and the public in the remaining 20 largest cities, 16 million people would be better protected from cancer and heart disease caused by secondhand smoke.” 

It is important to remember that cigarette smoking is like any other addiction. Therefore, if you need help quitting smoking look for community resources, including the American Cancer Society.
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Pre-Drinking Problems

Alcohol is the most widely used substance that can have negative side-effects to the human body. Not only is alcohol bad for you, it can also lead to bad decision making that affects you and others around you. The way in which one consumes alcohol is important, drinking too much or drinking too fast can amplify the problems that come from from consuming alcohol.

Teenagers and young adults are notorious for improper drinking habits, typically drinking hard and fast leading to a number of problems. In an attempt to save money and time, college students will typically drink before they go out to bars or clubs - pre-drinking.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a new study has pointed out that such drinking behaviors can lead to:

  • Blackouts
  • Hangovers
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Injuries
  • Absence from Work
  • Absence from School
  • Increased Risk of Unprotected Sex
  • Unplanned Drug Use
“Changing the location during a night increases the overall amount of alcohol consumption,” lead researcher Florian Labhart said in a news release. “It’s important that young people count the number of drinks they have during a night and to remember how many drinks they had already when they reach a new drinking location.”

The drinking habits of more than 250 Swiss students for five weeks were observed by researchers. Their findings showed that when students drank before going to a club or bar, they consumed more than they would normally would have had they not pre-drank. Pre-drinking students would have an average of seven drinks, while those who started drinking when they went out had an average of just over four drinks.

Students who drank before going out had a 24 percent chance of experiencing negative consequences, compared with 18 percent for those who did not pre-drink.  

The study appears in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Dangers of Cash

Recovering addicts, who are fresh out of treatment, have a lot to be cautious about when it comes to maintaining their sobriety. Depending on the case, triggers can be found around almost every corner that can send one on a downward spiral. Believe it or not, having cash in one's pocket can be enough to spark addictive thinking and play a part in a relapse.

In an attempt to combat the dangers of cash, a new credit card has been developed specifically for recovering addicts. The card, known as the Next Step Card, is a pre-paid credit card. It prevents the user from making purchases at liquor stores, bars, escort services, casinos, tattoo parlors, and piercing shops. It also stops users from making ATM cash withdrawals or receiving cash back when making purchases.

This new card may save a lot of people from making poor decisions when they are new to recovery. Recovering addicts minds are still working against them when they are newly sober, this card will act as a safety net when one is having a hard time.

What are your thoughts on cash as a trigger, should newly recovering addicts have access to liquid cash?

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Cost of Depression in the Workplace

Every year millions of Americans suffer from one type of mental illness or another. Mental illnesses are a serious matter and can greatly decrease one’s quality of life on a number of different levels. Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness that people suffer from, affecting millions of teenagers and adults in many different ways. Sadly, most cases of depression go untreated which affects both the patient and society greatly.

A new medical study has found that depression is at the top of the list of health-related productivity costs in the workplace. Apparently, it was that way before and after the economy tanked in the 2008 recession and it is still the same to this day

The Cost of Depression: An estimated $44 billion in lost productivity annually

Depression is a clinical diagnosis “with specific criteria, which severely impact a person’s ability to function.” It can thwart an employees’ ability to concentrate, be effective, and stay healthy enough to hold down a job, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

“Some companies will only tune into the effects of these strains when they experience negative outcomes like losing a customer or losing key talent,” says Clare Miller, Director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation.

What Can Companies Do?

Fortunately, as society understands and becomes more accepting of mental illness, so too can we better combat and work with or around the problem to minimize the costs. The Partnership for Workplace Mental Health and Employers Health, an Ohio-based employer coalition, is joining forces on a project, designing a new workplace human resources toolkit. Such a toolkit will help employees to spot signs of depression and help decrease the stigma that comes with depression.

If you feel you might be struggling with depression, do not be discouraged - there is help out there...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Living With Depression And Discrimination

On the Threshold of Eternity
On the Threshold of Eternity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Living with depression

In case you didn't know, October 11th was National Depression Screening Day. If you missed it, then it is still not too late to take an anonymous online assessment. Living with depression is difficult, but how much do we really understand of how depression impacts the person suffering from depression? The person with depression clearly understands that depression is not just a phase, but a real disorder that sets them apart and leads to isolation.

New study examines depression and resulting discrimination

This week U.S. News and World Reports' HealthDay published an article on a new study that examined a global pattern of perceived or anticipated discrimination reported by those who suffer from major depressive disorder. Here is an overview of this study:
  • The research was conducted by British researchers using a questionnaire.
  • 1082 people from 35 countries completed the questionnaire.
  • 79% of the respondents reported experiencing discrimination in at least one life domain
  • 37% reported that anticipated discrimination stopped them from initiating close personal relationships
  • 25% reported that they had not applied for work because they expected to be discriminated 
  • However, even though many patients anticipated discrimination, did not experience it. This includes 47% who thought they would face discrimination when applying for a job and 45% who were concerned they would face discrimination in personal relationships. 
  • Importantly, 71% of the patients said they tried to conceal their depression. (This could keep patients from seeking treatment.)
You can read more about the study's details on The Lancet's Early Online Publication (October 18, 2012).

Revisiting the question: "Are you living with depression?"

Just about a month ago we told you about a CNN iReport assignment. CNN asked for input: "If you suffer from depression - or have suffered - we want to hear your story." It turns out that 167 iReports were filed and CNN chose six stories to profile and you can listen to their stories here.

Understanding depression

Discrimination, actual or perceived, is usually born out of ignorance, misinformation or fear. We grow up learning from our parents, our extended family, our teachers and our friends. Often misconceptions held by one generation are passed on to the next in very subtle ways. This is particularly true when it comes to mental health issues. The only way to move forward and beyond the fear of what we don't know or understand is to get informed and stay informed.  Perhaps your life has not been directly or indirectly impacted by someone who is suffering from depression; however, it is important to remember that globally it is estimated that 121 million people suffer from depression.  Here is a booklet on depression prepared by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Friday, October 12, 2012

A Sober Neil Young Pens His Memoir "Waging Heavy Peace"

Remembering a time long ago with Neil Young...

Few would argue that there is more than one generation who has enjoyed the musical adventures of Neil Young. If you came of age in the mid to late 60's then you remember him from his early days with Buffalo Springfield and certainly relish his work with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Perhaps you enjoyed a concert or two in the old days when concerts were free and life seemed care-free. If you became a parent in those days, then there is a good chance that your own children grew up listening to Neil Young or maybe your younger siblings latched on to some of the albums that featured Neil Young's songs and performances. If you like old movies, then you probably have watched the amazing and Academy Award winning 1970 documentary movie Woodstock which featured Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

What you may not know or remember about Neil Young

Reading news headlines often encourages us to leaf through a current magazine, page through a newspaper or click on a link that takes us to an article about someone with whom we feel familiar and, yes, even comfortable. During the past few weeks there has been more than one article written about Neil Young's new memoir Waging Heavy Peace. Reading through many of these articles (some shared in our Related Articles section below) made us realize how much we didn't know or frankly didn't remember about Mr. Young. Here are a few outtakes:
  • Neil Young is 66 years old, born in Toronto, Canada, he remains a Canadian citizen
  • He once promised never to write a book about himself
  • He has epilepsy and suffered from polio
  • His son Ben, now 34, is a quadriplegic born with cerebral palsy and cannot speak
  • Neil and his wife Pegi have dedicated their lives to caring for Ben and Ben goes on every tour
  • Neil Young's other children are Zeke (also suffers from cerebral palsy) and his daughter Amber Jean (has epilepsy)
  • Neil Young has been sober now for just over a year

Neil Young pens Waging Heavy Peace

Young took on this project of writing his memoir without a ghostwriter. This, in and of itself, is unusual in today's times, but perhaps writing comes more easily to Young as his father was a well-known journalist and author in Canada. We know he has written ever so many songs and he has directed a number of movies.

Mr. Young was advised by his doctor to give up alcohol and marijuana. The doctor cautioned him that given his previous aneurysm and the fact that his father suffered from dementia, this might be a good time to clear his head. He admits that he wrote all of his songs "high" and he wasn't sure he could write anything sober, particularly a memoir. The reviews are mixed, but one gets the impression from reading some of the reviews that this narrative reads more like a compilation of a number of conversations one might have had with a close friend over many years of friendship, not necessarily or at all delivered in the memoir in a linear fashion.

Neil Young continues to perform with Crazy Horse

If you are wondering what else keeps Neil busy these days, aside from promoting Waging Heavy Peace, it may not surprise you to learn as the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported yesterday:
"NEIL YOUNG/FOO FIGHTERS BENEFIT RAISES INCREDIBLE $1.3 BILLION Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Foo Fighters and The Black Keys co-headlined the Global Citizen Festival on Sept. 29 in New York City's Central Park before 60,000 fans. The televised concert that was created to raise money for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the Half the Sky Movement, charity: water and Global Partnership for Education, aimed at ending extreme poverty around the world, raised an incredible $1.3 billion in pledge commitments."
Next Wednesday, October 17, 2012, Neil Young and Crazy Horse will appear at the Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA.  You can see his complete schedule here.

The Needle and the Damage Done

According to New York Times writer David Carr, Young continues to perform The Needle and the Damage Done. The melody we know by heart...but probably many who recognize the melody didn't always know how they felt about it. Watch Neil Young performing The Needle and the Damage Done.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Recognizing yourself in sobriety...

Rolling Stone quotes Neil when talking about his life in sobriety...
"I did it for 40 years," he says. "Now I want to see what it's like to not do it. It's just a different perspective." In the book, he elaborates: "The straighter I am, the more alert I am, the less I know myself and the harder it is to recognize myself. I need a little grounding in something and I am looking for it everywhere."
Sobriety and recovery are possible and bring many wonderful changes.
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Friday, October 5, 2012

Staying Alive In Sobriety - Inspiring Video For Alaskan Young People

Mount McKinley, or Denali, in Alaska is the hi...
Mount McKinley, or Denali, in Alaska is the highest mountain peak of the United States and North America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Have you ever been to Alaska? It is a beautiful state, filled with natural wonders, incredible wildlife and vital cultures. Alaska is our largest state, but the total population for the State of Alaska is only 722,718, with about half of this population clustered in the Anchorage area. Alaska has a rich history both before the United States purchased it from Russia in 1867 all the way through to statehood in 1959 and continuing to the discovery of oil in 1968 and the development of the North Slope and the Alaskan Pipeline. In 1971 President Nixon signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act transferring land titles to 12 Alaska Native regional corporations and eventually adding a 13th corporation for those Alaska Natives who no longer live in the State of Alaska. Ahtna Inc is one of the 13 Alaska Native regional corporations.

Alcoholism and drug abuse in Alaska

According to the State of Alaska's Department of Health and Social Services "Alcoholism and chemical dependency have long been recognized as Alaska’s number one behavioral health problem." Here are a few statistics:
  • As of 2010, Alaska ranks number 13 in the US for heavy drinking. 5.6% of Alaskans are classified as heavy drinkers.
  • Alaska's ranking for binge drinking in 2010 moved from number 11 in the US to number 2.
  • Binge drinking in Alaska is highest among males
  • Between 2006 and 2008, Alaska's rate of alcohol-induced deaths was approximately 3 times the U.S. rate. The alcohol-induced death rate is significantly higher for Alaska Natives than for non-Natives.
  • According to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug use and Health, illicit drug use among those ages 12 and older has been consistently higher in Alaska than in the U.S. as a whole. In 2009, Alaska ranked number 4 in the nation for illicit drug use. 
  • Alaska’s suicide rate has consistently remained among the highest rates in the nation and almost twice the national average. Between 2001 and 2009, the age-adjusted rate for suicides in Alaska increased 22 percent, from 16.5 to 20.2 deaths per 100,000. 
  • The suicide rate among Alaska Natives in 2008 was almost double the rate for Caucasians. Intentional self-harm or suicide remained the sixth leading cause of death in Alaska. Between 1999 and 2008, on average 36.1 years of life were lost prematurely for each suicide death.
  • The number and rate of deaths by suicide among Alaskans aged 15 to 19 decreased between 2008 and 2009. Between 1994 and 2007, the rate of teen suicide (ages 15 to 19) in Alaska averaged almost 5 times the U.S. rate for this age group. 

Ahtna Inc board member envisions a video to curb alcohol use among Alaska's young people

Often when we attend the funeral of a family member or friend we wonder why they had to die. We ask this question even if death came to our loved one after they lived a long and productive life. But sometimes we find ourselves at the funeral or memorial service for someone whose life was cut short due to their own abuse of alcohol and/or drugs or as a result of another person's abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. This experience can be jolting and force you to take action to help curb the abuse of substances that cause these senseless deaths.

It was one such funeral that inspired an Ahtna Inc board member to act. The board member is Ken Johns. He set a goal to help produce a video that might just reach a vulnerable population - Alaska's young people. He wanted to create a video with a message of sobriety and so he met with Bruce Cain, Ahtna's vice president of administration and finance. Cain, in turn, suggested that Johns meet with Paul Gray of Soldotna, best known for his weekly television show "Exploring Alaska" which is seen across Alaska, the United State and many foreign countries.

A collaborative effort was pursued with the Ahtna Heritage Foundation in Glennallen, the Ahtna Heritage Dancers, and Ken Johns' nephew Samuel Johns. Samuel Johns is in recovery and had written a rap-style song "Stand Up" with lyrics that speak to the problem of addiction:
"There's a lot of problems in this world/But anybody or anyone/It doesn't matter who you are/You can have a solution to anything/It's up to you to let it out/Let's not point fingers but put our heads together/Everybody stand up with your faith."
And so, the video was produced using both "Stand Up" and the Bee Gees 1977 hit "Stayin' Alive".

Stand Up and Stay Alive (Music Video)

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

As the YouTube video's description says:
"The broad smiles and sparkling eyes of elders and youth, images of dancers swaying in time to traditional rhythms, the processing of freshly harvested berries and salmon. The message becomes more powerful compared to scenes of addiction-caused disasters... a powerful and joyous story of a sobriety-lived life in this new music video produced for Ahtna Incorporated by Paul Gray Producer of Exploring Alaska TV Show. Directed by Ken Johns, Associate Director Liana Charley-John Ahtna Heritage Foundation, Administer Bruce Cain."

Staying Alive in sobriety...

When someone seeks recovery they gradually learn that it is possible to live life sober. Part of the transition is finding your passion in life. That passion can be as simple as learning to draw, to becoming involved with volunteer work, to writing, to sharing your experience, strength and hope with others. Recovery happens one day at a time, but you need to take the first step
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Fifth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day - September 29, 2012

National Recovery Month

This month we have featured posts about National Recovery Month. It is important to remember what National Recovery Month is all about. Here is a very brief overview of this 23 year old tradition:
"Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover."
English: The Seal of the Drug Enforcement Admi...
English: The Seal of the Drug Enforcement Administration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A perfect way to celebrate National Recovery Month

Tomorrow, September 29, 2012, is the Fifth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. SAMHSA's National Recovery Month website page provides the following facts:

"As part of an effort to reduce prescription drug abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration will host its fifth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday, September 29, at more than 5,000 collection sites across the United States. This is a great opportunity for those who have accumulated unwanted, unused, or unneeded prescription drugs to dispose of those medications in a safe and environmentally responsible way. On the most recent Take-Back Day, citizens turned in a record-breaking 552,161 pounds (276 tons) of medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,659 Take-Back sites available in all 50 states and U.S. territories. When the results of the four previous Take-Back Days are combined, the DEA and its state, local, and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed more than 1.5 million pounds (774 tons) of medication from circulation.

To find a collection site near you, visit the DEA's
site locator online. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration provides guidelines, available here, on how consumers can properly dispose of unused medicines on their own."

Are you sure you don't have some unused prescription drugs in your home?

This is not the first time that we've encouraged people to participate in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, but today we thought we might want to prompt you to really take a good look around your home and see if you don't have some drugs to take-back.

First of all, if you have never participated in a take back day, then chances are pretty good you still have some unused or expired prescription bottles lurking in your medicine cabinet or even in your kitchen cabinet.

Secondly, did you or a family member or roommate have reason to fill a prescription drug in the past year? What about the trip to the dentist, did you need a prescription for after pain? Did you need surgery in the past year for an injury or illness? Did you receive a prescription for any physical illness or injury, even a non-narcotic prescription? Check your prescriptions for expiration dates or to see if they might conflict with some new medication that you were recently prescribed.

Finally, it is important to remember that house guests, small children, or even contractors might have access to your prescription drugs. Keep them safe while you need them, but take this opportunity to dispose of them safely.

Celebrate your own recovery!

If you are in recovery, make every day a day to celebrate your own recovery! Be pro-active and take the time to find a location near you to dispose of any prescription drugs safely.
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Are You Living With Depression? You Can Share Your Voice Via CNN iReports

September is winding down, but celebrations continue across the United States during this the 23rd Annual National Recovery Month. As their website says, it is a month to Join the Voices for Recovery - It's Worth It! Indeed, it is worth it! Recovery is worth it - recovery from addiction and all the co-occurring disorders that can and do accompany addiction. One co-occurring disorder is depression.

What is depression?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine depression is defined as:
"Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. Clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for a longer period of time."
It is also important to understand that alcohol and drug abuse may play a role in depression and people who are depressed are more like to use alcohol or illegal substances.

World Mental Health Day is October 10, 2012

On October 10, 2012, World Mental Health Day will focus on depression. The World Health Organization estimates that 5% of the world's population suffers from depression. On March 12, 2012, the world's population exceeded 7 billion. If you do the math, then that means at any given time 350 million people are living with depression. People who suffer from depression, like many mental illnesses, often do not speak about it or seek treatment because they feel this diagnosis carries a stigma. Also, obtaining treatment can be limited by a person's resources regarding insurance, personal funds or even the scarcity of treatment availability in their local community. 

"Are you living with depression?"

This question: "Are you living with depression?" is being asked by CNN. Specifically, CNN iReport wants to hear from you if you are living with depression. Are you familiar with CNN iReport? If not, here is how CNN defines iReport:
iReport is an invitation for you to be a part of CNN's coverage of the stories you care about and an opportunity to be a part of a global community of men and women who are as passionate about the news as you are. At CNN we believe that looking at the news from different angles gives us a deeper understanding of what's going on. We also know that the world is an amazing place filled with interesting people doing fascinating things that don't always make the news.
That's why iReport is full of tools to help you tell your stories and discuss the issues that are important to you. Since everyone's interests are different, we've also built new tools to help you customize your iReport experience – if you're into politics, travel and sports, you'll see different stories than fans of tech, health and food stories. We've also created groups so you can hang out and even collaborate with iReporters with similar interests.
Everything you see on iReport starts with someone in the CNN audience. The stories here are not edited fact-checked or screened before they post. CNN's producers will check out some of the most compelling, important and urgent iReports and, once they're cleared for CNN, make them a part of CNN's news coverage. (Look for the red "CNN iReport" stamp to see which stories have been vetted for CNN.) More on how iReport works 

So on September 17, 2012, CNN iReport posted an assignment: "If you suffer from depression - or have suffered - we want to hear your story." CNN intends to use these iReports to create a series that profiles ordinary people living with depression. A series like this will help to provide a more complete picture of depression.

If you would like to join the voices of recovery and tell your personal story about depression you can visit 
CNN iReport to add your story and read stories posted by others.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Study: We Can Prepare To Prevent PTSD

English: Logo of the Centers for Disease Contr...
Logo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is simply defined as: "a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you've seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death." PTSD experts caution that people who suffer from PTSD may also have problems with alcohol or other substance abuse, depression and related medical conditions.

Accurately diagnosing and developing treatment modalities for PTSD can be a very involved challenge. Many researchers are studying PTSD in great detail. 

Study on PTSD prevention...

It was reported this week that researchers at Emory University now want to understand if PTSD can be prevented.  Most of us read about PTSD and our veterans; however, we often forget that PTSD is not only experienced by veterans, but also by non-military citizens who experience a traumatic event in their life. These events can include rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, horrific accidents, natural disasters, and terrorist events. According to Dr. Barbara Rothbaum of Emory University, as reported by KPLCtv.com (NBC): "About 70 percent of us will be exposed to a traumatic event that could result in PTSD."

We can look to recent events here in the United States like the mass shooting in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, Hurricane Isaac, and numerous forest fires. In order to learn if PTSD can be prevented, Rothbaum and her colleagues recruited patients who had been admitted to the trauma center at Grady Memorial Hospital located in Atlanta, GA. Here is how they gathered data:
  • Patients were selected who had experienced being shot, assaulted or critically injured in a car accident.
  • Within hours of entering the emergency room, therapists recorded the patients' accounts of their traumatic experience.
  • Patients were then asked to listen to their own recording every day for several weeks. 
  • Patients were also taught techniques for relaxation and breathing. 
The results of this research experience indicate that those patients who were provided this treatment experience half the rate of PTSD and significantly less depression.  Rothbaum also concludes that this type of prevention therapy is easy to implement, is cost effective, and potentially can have a positive impact on literally thousands of citizens.

Here is a video report provided by KPLCtv.com:

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

September is a month for recovery, prevention and preparedness...

As children and as we mature we often think of September as a time for new beginnings. A new school year starts, we celebrate Labor Day, we celebrate Grandparents' Day...September is traditionally a time of harvesting what we have sowed.

Perhaps it is this idea of new beginnings that inspires organizations to declare September as a time to focus on recovery, prevention and preparedness.  For example in the United States:
One last thought: PTSD is often associated with alcoholism and substance abuse, as well as suicide. There are many resources available to assist one suffering from PTSD and preparedness in our daily lives can help prevent PTSD as well as new ways to treat and prevent PTSD.

We must also remember that if someone is already suffering from PTSD they may need a family member or a close friend to reach out to them to assist them in finding the care and treatment they need so desperately.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

How Heavy Drinking Affects The Brain and Judgment

Sagittal human brain with cortical regions del...
Sagittal human brain with cortical regions delineated. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Anyone who works in the field of addiction recovery knows from listening to their clients' life stories that drinking heavily "can affect your judgment, your family, your work life and your health."  We learn about how people have miraculously survived horrific auto accidents, we witness the after affects of loss of employment and when we work with families during our family program we see the aftermaths of familial disruption including domestic violence. And even with all the visual evidence many still search to know empirically what is it about an alcoholic that ultimately brings on this life destroying behavior.

New research zeroes in on the brain...

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism teamed up with the University of North Carolina's Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies to examine the link between alcoholism and anxiety disorders. Most scientific research starts with studying animals and their reaction to stimuli. And this new study is no exception. These researchers studied mice seeking to explain the link between alcoholism and anxiety disorders including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Specifically the researchers examined the affects of chronic alcohol consumption on the brain.

The research process...

The scientists studied two groups of mice: over a period of one month one group of mice was given alcohol doses equal to double the legal driving limit humans while the control group was given no alcohol.

The mice were given a cue (a tone) followed by a shock. The mice soon learn that the tone will be followed by a shock. In the beginning the shock brings on fear in both groups. Gradually the researchers only gave the tone cue and ceased following the cue with a shock. As the study progressed the mice who were given the alcohol doses continued to display fear response (even though the shock was eliminated), while the control group (non-alcohol) stopped displaying fear after the tone.

According to WRAL's report on the study:
"...researchers traced the effect to differences in the nerve cells in the brain's prefrontal cortex. The key receptor, called NDMA, was suppressed in the mice that received alcohol."

Watch WRAL's news video covering this new research...

If you are having trouble viewing the video you can see it here.

How to learn more about this research...

This study, "Chronic alcohol remodels prefrontal neurons and disrupts NMDAR-mediated fear extinction encoding" is published online on the journal Nature Neuroscience.
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Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day Sobriety Checkpoints

The map of Category:Maps of Orange County with...
Maps of Orange County with its city's boundaries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today marks the beginning of our 2012 Labor Day Holiday Weekend. For many it will be time to celebrate with family and friends, perhaps enjoy a three day weekend free from work and to commemorate all that American workers have contributed to the social and economic development of our country. There will be picnics, barbecues, parades, special back-to-school sales, but for many it may very well be a turning-point in their life as they happen upon a "sobriety checkpoint" and are subsequently ticketed for driving under the influence (DUI).

Being stopped and ultimately ticketed for DUI is a red-flag alert that the person stopped is more than likely an alcoholic, suffering from the disease of addiction. Most people who receive their first DUI will eventually admit that it was not their first time driving drunk, but in fact only the first time they got caught. For many it will make them face their demons and they will either get help on their own or be forced by the court system to seek treatment. We can all agree this would be a good outcome, as opposed to eventually harming or killing an innocent victim or themselves as a result of driving drunk.

So as the Labor Day Weekend gets underway many communities across the nation are planning for sobriety checkpoints, maybe even marking this weekend's sobriety checkpoint as a way to mark the end of the season's special enforcement period.  Orange County, California, is no exception. In fact, Orange County has a DUI campaign called "AVOID the 38." The number 38 represents the number of participating Orange County law enforcement agencies. This campaign is provided funding by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "AVOID the 38" is part of California's AVOID Anti-DUI Program. According to the California AVOID website:

"The AVOID Anti-DUI Program was launched in the winter of 1973 to bring law enforcement agencies together in countywide clusters to crack down on the drinking driver and reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by alcohol related crashes. Funding, provided by grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, allows counties to add overtime hours, reassign officers, and conduct public awareness campaigns during the increased enforcement periods. The overall goal of the awareness campaign is to let drivers know about the countywide increased enforcement periods and warn drivers that the only way to "AVOID" the county's law enforcement officers is to drive sober."

The Orange County community of Mission Viejo offers the following tips for holiday driving:

  • Arrange rides home for your friends, family, co-workers and yourself before the drinking begins. 
  • Those hosting celebrations and servers must limit drinks to your guests or patrons. Don’t serve more than one or two over several hours. 
  • Cut back on the amount of drinks you plan to bring to the party – and provide plenty of food. 
  • If you see dangerous driving, Report Drunk Drivers – Call 9-1-1! 
If you have never been through a Sobriety Checkpoint, it can be a little disconcerting even if you have not been drinking. Remember that any Sobriety Checkpoint has one goal: to save lives!  For example, in 2010 California had 791 alcohol impaired driving fatalities, of which 94 were under the age of 21.

Wishing you safe and sober Labor Day Weekend. If you realize you are suffering from the disease of addiction consider treatment.  It may save your life or the life of an innocent victim.
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Do Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels Work? Appeals Court Is Not Convinced

English: from www.burningwell.org http://www.b...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do graphic cigarette warning labels work?  Some countries believe they do and these countries have passed laws to make cigarette manufacturers place such labels on cigarette packages to encourage smokers to quit and discourage others from starting. We have known for a long time that that the nicotine found in cigarettes is addictive. It is an unhealthy habit both for the smoker and those exposed to second hand smoke. In fact cigarette smoking is a deadly habit. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)website: "Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking."

In 2009 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was granted the authority, under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, to regulate tobacco products and to force cigarette makers to cover half of all cigarette packs (as well as 20% of other advertisements) with one of nine graphic warning labels, which would be selected the FDA.  You can see FDA proposed labels here (warning: these are graphic).

Five cigarette companies decided to challenge the proposed rules set forth by the FDA. Today a U.S. appeals court ruled (2-1 decision) in favor of the cigarette companies saying:

'"This case raises novel questions about the scope of the government's authority to force the manufacturer of a product to go beyond making purely factual and accurate commercial disclosures and undermine its own economic interest -- in this case, by making 'every single pack of cigarettes in the country mini billboard' for the government's anti-smoking message," wrote Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The FDA "has not provided a shred of evidence" showing that the graphic labels would reduce smoking.'
The next stop will undoubtedly be the Supreme Court. In the meantime, other countries have passed laws to require cigarette manufacturers to use graphic warning labels. These countries include Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Chile, Uruguay, and most recently Australia.

When considering addiction, many take the stance that smoking is not as dangerous or deadly as other substances. Seeking treatment for any addiction can be the first step, working a program of recovery is the next step towards health and long term recovery.

We will continue to follow this court battle...and perhaps the FDA will produce the so-called missing shred of evidence.
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Unemployment And Binge Drinking: Is There A Connection?

Karolinska Institutet, infart från Solnavägen
Karolinska Institutet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Medical research, like most research, is always open to interpretation; however, the one constant is that research results make us think, ask questions and evaluate how we view affected situations. In the field of addiction, and particularly alcoholism, research is ongoing, because the truth is we are always learning and observing what we think might be causes of the baffling disease of addiction. The emotional, physical, psychological and financial toll on the individual addict and society, as a whole, is almost incomprehensible.

If you have been employed, either for large or small company (or even self employed managing your own employees), then no doubt you have witnessed firsthand the impact that the disease of addiction can have on you, other employees, work product, and the addict. Often other people need to pick up the slack, attempt to intervene with the addict, or simply fire the one who shows up late for work, calls in absent, suffers a work injury and even drives up the cost of everyone's health insurance coverage. But now with the ongoing world-wide recession and resulting long-term unemployment researchers are trying to determine if there is any connection between binge drinking and long-term unemployment.

In the November 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research the results of a new study analyzes binge drinking as either a predictor or outcome of unemployment. Early review indicates that binge drinking among women seems to have a significant association with long-term unemployment.

This study looked at data from 13,031 Swedish residents (males accounted for 45% of those studied). Residents in the studied ranged in age of 20 to 59. Some were currently employed or on leave. Researchers collected data in 2002 and again in 2007. One question dealt with binge drinking. The corresponding author for the study was Mona C. Backhans, a postdoctoral researcher at the Karolinska Institutet. A good review of this research can be seen at Medical Xpress.
"For women, binge drinking once a week or more as a predictor was associated with long-term unemployment," said Backhans. "For both men and women, initial associations between frequent binges and any unemployment were explained by the characteristics of the binge drinkers – younger, lower educational qualifications – and in addition for men, more previous unemployment."
Research will continue and it needs to continue, most particularly because often women have not been part these types of studies. What the researchers noted is that for women binge drinking clearly preceded unemployment, as opposed to unemployment preceding binge drinking. Lesson: Make an effort to seek treatment for your problem drinking before you find yourself unemployed. Many companies have Employee Assistance Programs which will help struggling employees to get treatment and therapy.  

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