Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Connection Between Depression and Substance Abuse

When it comes to using substances and mental illness, is there a connection between the two?Individuals that have been professionally diagnosed as having mental illness during their life have been found to make up a significant percentage of substance users. Mental illness and substance
abuse together form what is known as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis.

What is depression? A mental illness that can often occur with using substances such as drugs or alcohol. Those who use substances (or abuse them) are more likely to suffer depression, whereas the opposite is also true in what is a bi-directional relationship.

When someone is depressed, they may abuse substances to change their mood or get rid of negative feelings. However, some substances act as depressants or in other ways and can actually contribute to depression, after the effects wear off or as they deal with emotions about addiction.

Signs Of Depression

About one third of adult individuals that abuse substances may also deal with depression. Symptoms of drug use can be the same as depressive symptoms, so it makes it tough to actively diagnose an individual with depression when they are using at the same time.

Depression can also manifest in different ways, depending on the individual. Some people may show signs of being in a low mood or overly fatigued. Some may be angry or irritable.

Signs include:

Sleep changes
Appetite changes
Losing interest in hobbies or activities
Feeling despair or guilt
Low energy
Difficulty concentrating
Thoughts of suicide

If you do not know whether you abuse substances, these questions might help:

Do you attempt to stop your habit but can't?
Does your life revolve around your addiction?
Do you have substance cravings?
Is your life being affected negatively by your using?
Do you continue to use even you're aware of the risk to personal relationships?
Do you use substances to a dangerous point?
Do you have to do more to get the effect you want?

Seek Treatment:

Treatment is important for those suffering with depression or a substance problem, or both. Medications or antidepressants may help with symptoms and treatment and counseling may provide emotional and behavioral support necessary to have a healthy lifestyle.

When seeking treatment, you may want first to get medical attention to deal with any withdrawal symptoms. This may require abstinence for some time to get an accurate diagnosis from a clinician. You may want to speak to a doctor regarding programs specially designed to deal with a dual diagnosis. Just ending substance use may cause the depression to get worse, risking a possible relapse.

Individuals sometimes find that support through counseling and medical attention as well as their peers is helpful when it comes to addiction. You may find that outpatient or inpatient treatment programs are appealing to you. Treatment programs that work usually have peer support, pharmacotherapy, treatment plans individualized to the person, medical assistance on site, involve the family, and have support programs as a follow up to address relapse.

Treating depression in the end may be key to treating substance issues, and vice versa. If you abuse substances, you may be struggling with depression or making it worse. Seek treatment to really address what's going on with you and be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Report Shows Suicide Rates at Highest Levels in Decades

A report from the CDC is confirming that levels of suicide in the United States are at the highest rate seen in decades. Many are taking it as the latest sign that public health issues in America may be getting worse.

A new report put out by the CDC estimates that in 2017, up to 47,000 American citizens passed away due to suicide. That is fourteen people out of every 100,000. The figure is a huge jump up from rates in 1999, a 33% increase from a year where the average was 10.5 suicide deaths for every 100,000 people.

The AP estimates that the current rates of suicide are the highest in fifty years. Data shows that 2017 saw at least two thousand more deaths than the year before. That was 2016, which saw suicide leap to the second primary cause of death for American from ages ten to thirty-four years old. It also became the fourth leading cause of death for Americans of middle age.

Suicide being on the rise has contributed in part to a drop when it comes to American life expectancy. If you live in the United States, you may be looking at 78.5 years of life on average. The expectancy levels have consistently fallen every year since 2016.

Even though suicide rates are rising, it isn't very common. Overall, when it comes to leading causes of death, suicide places tenth. Even though it could be classified as somewhat rare, the fact remains that it is still more prevalent than perhaps it ought to be.

What is causing the rise is not yet certain. The CDC has found that it may not necessarily be associated with general mental health. Over half of the individuals that committed suicide back in 2016 did not have any known problems with their mental health.

Researchers have discovered that the majority of the suicides that happen are instead linked to direct problems in their lives on a variety of topics. These could include relationships, health, substance use, finances, legal problems, family issues, or jobs.

This ties in to drug overdoses, another cause of falling life expectancy levels. In 2017, America saw over 70,000 deaths caused by drug overdose. It set records for the highest amount of any year in United States history. Overdoses and suicide combined have led to a significant increase in mortality among the population, in particular for Americans that belong to the so-called lower and middle classes.

The decline has been partly explained by what researchers term deaths caused by despair. That includes alcoholism, suicides, and overdoses from drugs. Some states with higher gun ownership do have suicide rates higher than other states. While more laws could lower suicide, the CDC also promotes the concept of social connection in addition to potential policy updates as being potentially helpful.

In USA Today, N.A.A.S. member Bob Turner said that suicide prevention ultimately needs to be tackled with the "same vigor" that is given to other issues of public health. If this is not done, he says that the amount of people that have suicidal thoughts or dying from suicide may only increase.

Suicide is rising, but can this trend be changed? Being aware of the risk factors and what's going on may help. If you are struggling with mental illness or feel that you have warning signs or see them in others, reach out and find resources that may be able to help you out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What Do I Do If My Parents Are Addicted to Drugs?

Being the child of a drug and substance addicted parent, it is likely you are dealing with neglect, abuse, and stigma from other children. It is also possible that you are frequently found in harm’s way because alcoholism and general addiction alter your parents’ perception and realities.

If you find yourself in danger of abuse and neglect, it is very important that you know what to do to help your parents and yourself remain safe.

-If you think you are facing the danger of abuse your addicted parent, call emergency services immediately for help. This can be the child helpline or even 911.
-Go to a neighbor, friend or relative for safety.
-Call an ambulance or 911 for medical assistance if your parents are in medical danger as a result of drug abuse.

Needless to say, parents can affect and influence your behaviors. When they are dealing with problems like addiction, what you want to do is try to help them overcome and recover from addiction.

Drug and substance addiction can be very hard to break. It is, however, possible to get rid of it, so there’s hope that your parents will be free from its shackles again with the right efforts and help.
As their child, it is important to understand that their love for you is still there even though (sometimes) their actions may make you believe otherwise.

Alcohol and other drugs are known to alter the behavior of an individual, making them inconsistent and even erratic. Knowing this will help you understand what your parents are going through a difficult “disease” and that they need help to overcome it.

While most children will imagine that there is nothing they can do to fix the problem, the contrary is true. Here’s how you can help resolve the problem.

Show compassion
Stopping and recovering from drug addiction can be a painful process. Most people who start the process end up sliding back to their old habits especially when they face the challenges of life.
Even though your parents are not at their best at the moment, try as much as you can to show them love, compassion and that you believe they will overcome their addiction. This is the kind of support they need right now. Hating and disrespecting them does not help them on the path of recovery.

Talk about it
Depending on the level of addiction, it can be difficult to find calm moments when you can have a good conversation with your parents. However, try to consistently look for those moments and talk to them about the problem. Let them know how it is affecting you, but do it in a calm, loving way.
Remember, if you fight with drug-addicted parents over their problem, you are likely to make them angry and resistant to your views. It also jeopardizes the chance of them listening to you again.

Reach out to people you trust
Sometimes speaking with your mom and dad about addiction is not enough to make them even try to stop. You should also know that this problem is not yours alone to deal with.
Reach out to someone you trust, preferably a close family member to help both you and your parents resolve the problem.

Get professional help
Sometimes your efforts may go in vain and the addiction problem can easily affect your life and development as a child. If all other efforts fail, it is important that you seek professional help.
Speak to a counselor at your school, or community about your parents’ addiction problem. They will get help for both you and your parents.

Remember, when your parents are addicted to drugs, they can become irresponsible in many ways. Your performance in school may drop and you run other risks such as physical and emotional abuse. Know that you can do something about it as a child to fix the problem.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Electronic Cigarettes: All About Vaping

Do you know what an e-cigarette is? An e-cig is an electronic cigarette. Vaping is short for vaporizing, the process of taking in vapor (also referred to as aerosol) through an inhale and exhaling it out. The vapor is put forth from a device, most often an e-cigarette, that puts forth a fine aerosol that is sometimes flavored. It looks similar to water vapor but isn't just water in composition.

These products hit the market a little while ago and grew in popularity. Today, you've likely heard of them through a news release, advertisement, someone you know trying them, or having checked them out yourself. Some people view it as a way to help them tobacco products. Younger people are trying these products as a way to look cool or for the novelty of vaping.

With research and news about the health benefits of vaping varying, what are you to believe? Is vaporizing healthier for you than using tobacco products? The jury is still out, but the answer is starting to come out as a flat no.

The particles that come out when you inhale and exhale are not water, even though they look like it. They are the 'juice' of the e-cigs, and it's essentially a liquid compound. Tobacco products such as an organic tobacco cigarette contain actual plants. What does this fine mist consist of?

The answer is: flavor and some chemicals, among other things. The ingredients in these liquids have even been linked to such ailments such as cancer, respiratory disease, and other bad things you don't want-- such as heart disease.

Vaping is more popular than ever. Vape pens, cigarettes, and personal vaporizers have all been available for sale in the United States since around 2007. Vaping has only increased in use since that debut date, with many young people and adults even having a self-described vaping addiction (unclear whether minute nicotine levels could influence this).

These devices usually have a battery, e-liquid cartridge, heating component, and a mouthpiece. The heating component turns the liquid into an aerosol that can be then taken in. This liquid usually uses a propylene glycol liquid or else a vegetable glycerin-based one.

It can include other chemicals, flavors, and varying nicotine levels as well-- maybe not the benign entity that an innocent consumer might think that it is. With so many ways to buy a way to vape in the real world or online if not, there may be a limited amount of information that consumers are getting about the health risks of this activity.

Whether used as a hobby, a recreational fun thing to do, a way to quit tobacco usage, or a number of other reasons, vaping may not be as wholesome as the marketing intends to make you believe it is.

A number of health advocates are now advising that if you can avoid doing it, you can avoid the risks that come with this new novelty. What to take away from all of this? Better to be safe than sorry, and for now, avoid picking the habit up in the first place.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Helping Your Teen With Anxiety About School

Is your child going back to school or are they already back?

For students, returning to the school year can bring a bunch of mixed emotions. No matter what age you are, it can be difficult to transition from either never going before to school or from the habits of summer vacation over to the school year.

Teens and even younger students may feel worried that they don't know anyone in their class or that
they won't have friends. Perhaps shifting into a year with more responsibility and tougher courses might be intimidating.

While for some kindergarten and preschool can be the most stressful first days of school, other teens find that going back to high school can involve a fair amount of pressure and feelings of anxiety.

Is your child anxious about going back to school? For teens especially, starting a new year can be tough. They have all new classes and all new teachers with different combinations of students with them than they had before.

They may also have worries about what the first day might be like. Perhaps they won't fit in because of their outfit, or they'll be made fun of. Maybe they've been having poor sleep wondering what the year will be like. Fear of the unknown is a really big thing and it is totally natural to have a sense of anticipation or think about what the experience might be like.

They may be concerned that they won't feel comfortable in their classes. Some teens may have anxieties about getting lost or navigating the school. Still others may worry that no one likes them or their grades might be poor right off of the bat. Maybe they don't like school all that much and they are worried that this year will be worse for them.

Talking with your child may help them. Not all teens want to 'talk about it', however! You may be able to sense whether they are stressed out about fitting in or whether they feel unprepared for the school year. Ask them if there is anything that they need for school materials or wardrobe-- maybe feeling like they are more prepared for the school year will help put them at ease.

You can also attend orientation and explore the school early and get the schedule ahead of time. Letting your child know that it's okay to be nervous and that they just have to be themselves is important. Don't place any undue pressure on them or make them feel more anxious by telling them about stories from back in your day!

High school can be a tough place and confusing to navigate, especially in the age of social media! Let your child know that it's important to be respectful of others and nice to your fellow students. A therapist or counselor may be able to work with your child and let them feel like they have a sounding board that isn't a parent.

Hopefully, after a little adjustment, your teen will feel happy at their school and excited about the school year. Let them know you are there for them if they need anything and check in to see how things are going. With any luck it will be a great year!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Teens and Drug and Alcohol Use

When it comes to drugs and alcohol, teenagers can be surprisingly susceptible. The temptation to experiment as well as fit in can be all that it takes for a teenager to try drinking or drugs for the first time. All it has to be is around them or they have an avenue to get it and you're already participating in a dangerous game.

Are you a teen or the parent of a teen? Information can be empowering when it comes to these topics, and not in a blind one-approach-to-all way. Here are some reasons why teens may try different substances.

It's around.

Teens see other people their age or older smoking, drinking, or using other substances, and that can be the main catalyst. It's there, people they know are doing it, they may be encouraged to do it, they may see it as normal or a coming of age scenario, or they may even simply have access to it. When substances are present, teens are more likely to do them. It's as simple as that.

A tough home life and wanting to escape.

Some teens have a tough home life and it takes a toll. When your regular life at home is not that good or you're treated poorly, who wouldn't want to escape? Unfortunately, when it comes to abusive or negative home environments, they aren't that easy to get away from. Some teens legally just have to live with their parents and without any other options, they turn to whatever they can to get release.

Self medication.

Medication through drinking or drugs can be common. Teens often don't have positive outlets for what they're going through or what they're feeling. Different substances may medicate them in different ways. Some teens may even use different drugs in different ways to come up, come down, do well on tests, and more.

Not a lot to do.

Teens want to be stimulated and get bored easily. Drugs and drinking give their brains stimulation and a way to socially connect and rebel-- all irresistible to teens.


Substances work and create a real effect, feeding into teen drug use with a vengeance. They also work quickly and deliver on those initial effects in spades. For teens, this can be exciting, especially when they feel bored or in contempt of things like school or what's expected of them. Substances cause certain chemical releases in the brain that can resemble gratification and certainly deliver more than what's around them in terms of a reaction.

A way to process feelings.

Sometimes teens don't have outlets like therapy. Maybe no one is asking them what's going on and is engaged in their lives. Teens often use substances as a way to deal with or even process their feelings. Sometimes feeling all of that while sober can be too much. Find outlets, hobbies, and mentors or even friends that you can talk to if you are feeling alone.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Effects of Chronic Alcohol Consumption

When it comes to alcohol, it doesn't take that much to go over your daily limit. Alcohol abuse can cause some serious negative effects on the body in the short-term when abused.

However, when abuse is happening on a regular basis for a long time, it can cause serious damage to your body and mind. Today we're talking about the possible devastating physical effects that chronic alcohol consumption can have on you in the long-term.

What is alcohol abuse exactly? It can refer to a night out or it can refer to habitual misuse or over-consumption of alcohol. While you can always recover from a night out, when your body is constantly processing alcohol, it's going to cause damage over time that will be tough to reverse-- if not impossible.

If you're a woman and you're roughly supposed to have a drink an hour to maintain blood alcohol levels, and you have two drinks in an hour for the next three hours, you're going to be drunk and in less control over how you make choices and respond to situations. That could be classified as alcohol abuse because you're using the substance in a manner that results in intoxication.

It can also refer to just a chronic abuse of alcohol. Abuse can be similar in some ways and different in others, happening for different reasons or motivations. Abusing alcohol does not even necessarily mean that there's an alcohol addiction there. However, abusing alcohol does open the door for addiction. Men are supposed to drink 2 drinks a day and 1 a day for women maximum to stay healthy and avoid causing damage to the body. More than that can be problematic.

It just seems like a drink. It may be different colors, it may have bubbles. Alcohol can seem benign because it tastes good, and it can be festive. However, that does not prevent it from causing real damage.

The more alcohol there is present in the blood, the more that there may be serious side effects that happen in the body. That can be things you unintentionally do, like accidents due to lack of coordination, as well as the physical fallout in the body of continually dealing with alcohol, because being drunk can cause damage to major organs in your body.

Alcohol hits the bloodstream from your stomach lining and 33% of what you've imbibed goes straight into the blood. The small intestine slowly absorbs the rest. Consuming too much alcohol means more alcohol in the blood rising quickly and then makings its way to the brain, heart, and more once in the blood.

Too much alcohol in the blood that goes to the brain means that your brain is getting literally flooded with the alcohol. That causes a disruption in the neural pathways that interferes heavily with the neural messaging network. This can cause a number of effects, including mood change, behavior change, difficulty thinking clearly, coordination problems, and more.

Alcohol abuse has an effect on your body. It can damage your heart and cause cardiomyopathy, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and stroke. The liver detoxifies your system and views alcohol in your system as a contaminate. So, they release enzymes specially produced in the pancreas and liver so that they can break down the alcohol so that it's not so toxic.

If it's doing this all the time, the liver will become inflamed and result in manifestations such as fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. The pancreas will also become inflamed and lead to potential development of pancreatitis, which is inflammation. That swelling prevents your body from digesting things properly and can also damage other systems as well. That damage can be irreparable once it gets to a certain point.

On top of this, chronic use can raise your risk of getting cancer in your throat, mouth, and esophagus. This is perhaps because of the constant oral intake where the cells are constantly degenerating due to the abuse. You're also at higher risk for breast and liver cancer too. You're also risking developing a weak immune system that is less adept at fighting off diseases.

Alcohol can really damage your body over time. If you have a problem, consider going to substance abuse rehab and pursuing a different lifestyle. If you can change paths now, you will be healthier in the end and better off for it. Chronic alcohol abuse is guaranteed over time to diminish quality of life or health or both. Change your path now...while you still can.