In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Archive for July, 2008

Just because they’re legal doesn’t mean it’s not abuse!

Posted by Dr. Susan on July 30, 2008

Weirdly, The Dark Knight, which highlights Heath Ledger’s immense talent and untimely death, is bringing to light even more than before, the rapidly growing problem of abuse of, and addiction to prescription drugs–not only by kids, but by adults too. This article, which focuses mainly on the lives of teenage abuse of legal drugs, does an excellent job outlining the problems–namely, the availability of pain killers, sleep aids, and psychiatric meds; doctors prescribing them too freely; individuals hopping  from pharmacy to pharmacy and doctor to doctor to get more than one prescription; and the fact that their is very low social disapproval.

Many parents are oblivious to their teen and young adult children taking left over meds right from the medicine cabinet or stealing pills from prescriptions of other family members (particularly Ritalin and other meds used for ADHD). Of course kids also buy drugs on the street and at school much like they do the illegal substances. The is a superb website for parents who think their kids may be using or abusing legal drugs.

But what about adults…they too are becoming addicted and not acknowledging it, even to themselves. We’re living in stressful times as the economy plummets and gas prices go through the roof. It’s easy to turn to meds to get us through–after all they’re legal, what could be bad, right? But the consequences can be devastating both physically and emotionally. Especially when mixed with a couple of drinks.

Heath Ledger likely didn’t mean to die. He would have wanted to stick around to see his movie in the theaters. Maybe get an Oscar.

Addictions destroy lives and they are expensive. So don’t kid yourself. If you’re hooked on something, get off it. If you can’t do it alone, it means you’re addicted, get help!

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eat meals with your kids

Posted by Dr. Susan on July 25, 2008

It’s not really new news, but still, yet another study underscores the importance of eating family meals. This one followed a group of Minnesota kids for five years and found that for girls (not boys, they’re not sure why) eating family meals seemed to innoculate them against cigarette smoking and alcohol and drug use–that is, by the time they were eighteen, the teens who had been eating family meals had a much lower incidence of substance abuse than those who hadn’t. I think that’s darn impressive! The study will be published in the August issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health

I am curious why the findings didn’t hold true for boys, though. My theory is that most boys (and many men) need to be reached with modalities other than talking–which is what family meals imply. For example, perhaps if parents spent equal amounts of time playing ball, or even video games, with their sons, it would innoculate them against substance abuse, the way family meals do for girls. If you have a son, try it and report back to me!

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But WHY are older kids exercising less?

Posted by Dr. Susan on July 18, 2008

A new study finds that as kids they enter their teens, the rate of exercise drops off. I wonder if the researchers have taken a close look at the lives of teenagers and their environments. I’m quite confident that a significant part of the reason that exercise decreases is because once kids leave elementary school the amount of mandatory physical education they require begins to drop precipitously in many school districts. Instead schools are focused solely on academics. In addition, as kids enter middle and high school, intramural sports fall by the wayside. Whereas your little kid could play soccer, basketball or baseball no matter how talented he or she was, by twelve years old, all schools care about is competition. Intramurals no longer exist so kids who want to play ‘just for the fun of it’ are out of luck. Their opportunity for organized exercise dries up almost overnight, along with an entire social experience. So let’s not point fingers at the kids. Once again, its time for the systems in place to help us out and provide options to support our kids.

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