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.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Teens and Drugs; What to Do As a Parent

Are you worried that your child is using drugs? Some parents have no idea what they would do if they found out that their teenager was actively using substances. Perhaps you have developed suspicions because your child is acting strangely or they are hanging out with a different crowd. Maybe you are noticing strange signs that don't add up, like they are always tired or they have odd marks on their arms.

When it comes to teen drug addiction, it's a complex subject. If you think that your teen may be using drugs, you should read up on what different drug use looks like and realize that different substances come with different challenges-- and potentially different reactions from the person using them if they are confronted.

While there may still be yet an important conversation ahead of you, the thing to do is to not panic and also figure out a way to move forward. The first step will likely be speaking with your partner or spouse about the topic before going ahead.

The first thing that you'll want to do is talk to your partner or spouse. If you don't live with the biological parent of your teen, you may want to speak to them as well. Talk to each other about what you think and commit to be a united front and if you do have that conversation with your child, come from a place of love and not anger.

Your goal may just be to speak to your teen and let them know that you do not want them using drugs. They may be confrontational and confront you about past use; even when it comes to current use of tobacco, you're allowed to do what you want as a legal adult and using a legal substance. Emphasis, however, the difficulty of becoming addicted to a substance and how you would ideally like your child to not have to make the same mistakes.

Not everyone has the temperament to take on the conversation. Don't avoid it because it is uncomfortable; however if you are the type to get angry or fly off the handle, it may be better to let the cooler head prevail if your partner is calmer. Your son or daughter may be uncomfortable or even try to bait you. If the conversation gets too heated, it's your responsibility to end it and come back to it later.

A counselor may also be able to help all of you navigate this as a family and also learn techniques for communication and perhaps even improvement. It might help to have an outcome in mind or even to set small goals or steps to deal with this. If you need to set rules for the home and your teen moving ahead, then that's what you need to do.

You and your partner need to be prepared to enforce any rules or guidelines that you set, as well as consequences for breaking the rules. Drug and alcohol dependence happen all the time, but you want to break the cycle of addiction early if you can. The best thing you can do is to be honest and to try and find a way to break your teen's substance use before addiction gets really bad. Thanks for reading and good luck talking to your teen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Know the Warning Signs and More: Tips for Preventing Relapse

Are you in recovery from addiction? Fighting addiction is a battle that lasts a lifetime. Getting sober can be very difficult.

Even if you have been sober for months or have completed treatment or rehab and consider yourself clean at the moment, the journey is not over. Recovery is not a one-time thing.

The best way to practice drug relapse prevention is to know the warning signs and to know more about addiction. Relapses are very frequent for addicts in recovery. How can you prevent it? By knowing the signs.

The temptation of relapse can be stronger at some times than others. That's the danger of being in recovery; there isn't truly one moment where you can say that you're fine and you need to stop fighting.

Only abstinence and consistency as well as a strong commitment to leading a sober and successful life can help you achieve your goals. If you're in recovery, your goal is to be in the percentage of individuals in recovery that avoid relapse and do what they can to stay clean.

Relapses can be brought on by triggers. It could be a break up or any other type of interaction, relationship in your life, or event that puts you into a vulnerable place. Some of the dangers of triggers often include the fact that they can be used to justify using again by an addict.

Triggers can be environmental, emotional, or based on exposure and can also be based off of old routines and memories. Each person is different, but common triggers often include strong negative emotions, being around people or places that remind you of using, having drugs or alcohol present around you, seeing examples of addiction, being in a 'party' mentality, and using substances.

The death of a loved one, financial pressures, health problems, conflict, marital status, and more can also be triggers that lead to an eventual relapse. If you know that you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of these triggers, you can be prepared to look for warning signs with them (or yourself) and offer or encourage them to seek support.

Warning Signs:

  • Dishonesty
  • Hanging out with people with whom they used to use
  • Changes in personality, behavior, routine
  • Changes in sleep, health, hygiene, or appetite
  • Overconfidence or self-pitying attitude

Ways to Prevent Relapse:

  • Avoiding the presence of drugs and alcohol
  • Knowing what your triggers are
  • Knowing what other people's triggers are
  • Having a support system in place
  • Avoiding anything that makes you crave a drink or drugs
  • Talking to a therapist
  • Getting enough rest, exercise, and nutrition
  • Stick to your schedule
  • Attending AA meetings
  • H.A.L.T.: Keep in mind that when you are Hungry Angry Lonely or Tired that you may be especially vulnerable to making poor choices.
  • Take a moment to assess or call a sponsor or friend if you're feeling tempted.
  • Come up with a plan of action with your sponsor or therapist.

Recovery isn't easy, but it's worth it. Never stop fighting for your sobriety. Use these tips to prevent relapse and always reach out to those that support you in your journey to be a sober as well as happy and healthy individual.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Someone You Love Has a Problem with Substance Abuse: What to Do

Do you have someone close to you or know that someone that you love is struggling with using substances? When it comes to having a problem with drinking or drugs, sometimes the signs can be there long before we realize that there is a problem.

How we find out is often significant of where the process is at. It may be possible that your loved one confided in you about the nature of their issue because they are feeling overwhelmed or they got caught in a scenario where they were visibly intoxicated. Perhaps you heard about it from a relative or put the pieces together when they were fired from their job and were acting strangely when you last saw them.

While it can be a shock and even upsetting to find out that someone you care about deeply is struggling with dependency or reliance or deep-set emotional or even psychological issues, it's also important to start the process of educating yourself about substance abuse in general. Now is not the time to plan a rushed intervention; nor it is a good idea to let someone know how their choices are affecting you as it is likely to get out of hand.

What should you do if you suspect or discover that someone close to you may have a problem with substances?

Having a substance abuse problem can be really tough. For individuals that have this problem, they often have no idea or even a concern that their behavior or lifestyle is affecting those close to them. Many people who are dealing with drinking or drug problems often hide their problem or cover up for the extent of it. This is so that they don't have to deal with that lifestyle changing or anyone possibly interfering with their routine.

Drinking and doing drugs can be a disease. Those close to individuals who have abuse problems don't always know that certain substances may lead to hostility and even unpredictable behavior and violence. Understand that this type of abuse is a disease and the individual may not always be able to stop-- even if part of them wants to.

As it is a disease, family members or friends may unwittingly enable this behavior by covering it up or simply acting as though it does not exist. While it is important to eventually confront the issue and perhaps tell the person how you feel, ideally it might be safer to go to the office of a licensed therapist or counselor that can mediate the discussion. However, it is better to be honest about your feelings. Have a third person there for support and safety.

Coming from a place of concern will ultimately be more effective than ranting about how they have hurt you. Remember that they are still sensitive and while they may seem tough, they are in a fragile place. Expressing concern and hope that they seek treatment or offering to help pay for rehabilitation may be helpful. If they turn you down, then you did what you could.

Those struggling with this type of abuse often need to choose to get help first. If you have been enabling someone close to you, stop and begin focusing on taking care of yourself. Remember that you need to live life for yourself too and that there are endless resources and materials available to you to do so.