In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘addiction’

A recession maybe, but not when it comes to cheap sweets!

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 26, 2009

Since the crash of the market, there’s been an uptick in purchases of inexpensive candy and cheap chocolates! This great NY Times article, explains that even as we wallow in the demise of life as we knew it, we continue to soothe ourselves with instant gratification!

Despite the fact that we know eating too much junk food is not good for our health,  we still associate sweets with helping ourselves feel better and we’re suckers (no pun intended!) for the feeling that we had when we were innocent kids at the corner candy shop and all was right with the world.

So as we get fatter (again!) while we lose all our money, yet another corporate entity–the candy makers–are raking in the bucks. Let’s not let that happen!!! A little good-quality chocolate once in a while is great for stress reduction (it increases your feel-good neurotransmitters), but please don’t sacrifice your health for a quick sugar fix all the time!

Instead, when you’re feeling a little down, take a walk, talk to a friend, write in a journal, ask your kid to tell you some funny knock-knock jokes. All of these will lift your spirits just as well…maybe better…than candy, and without the negative side effects.

Also, when you’re stressed, don’t jump to other negative habits. Smoking, drinking, drugs–you know the drill. Over-eating is on that list too.

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Teens think they are perfect, even if no-one else does (except their parents, of course!)

Posted by Dr. Susan on November 13, 2008

For many years now, I (and many other mental health professionals) have been telling parents that it is important to balance praise with real life! Not every picture your child paints is perfect; not every poem she writes is unbelievable, and he doesn’t always play the best game of soccer ever. Sometimes your child is less than perfect and needs to know this–it is part of growing up. It will help him learn to grow as a person. Now, here is the research to prove it. This study demonstrates that teens today have self-esteems that are out of whack with reality! Basically they have become too self confidence and have lost touch with the real-life abilities. How unpleasant for the rest of us that have to deal with them in the real world. So, parents…there is still time: teach your child and teen that it’s fine to be confident, but it’s NOT cool to be bossy, self-important, smug and obnoxious. No-one other than you will put up with it in the real world!

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REALLY underage drinking…

Posted by Dr. Susan on October 25, 2008

Some parents have come to accept that their child will experiment with alcohol–and even perhaps drugs–in college, or even the upper high school grades. They hope that it won’t be serious, but they are realistic in recognizing that very few teens abstain completely.  However, this powerful and important study demonstrates that kids who drink or use drugs before they are fifteen-years old, are at much higher risk for substance dependence, sexually transmitted diseases, dropping out of school or acquiring criminal records in adulthood. Also, please note that a full fifty-percent of these kids had NO prior behavior problems!

The take home message: drinking or drugs and teens not a good combination. Be clear about your message of disapproval. Research clearly shows that parents who give their kids a clear message that they will not tolerate drinking or drugs are more likely to have kids that don’t use–especially at a younger age.

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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 AntiDrug.com 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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cutting research-sort of…

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 11, 2008

A newly reported study about cutting looks at the relationship between girls who cut, their serotonin levels and their relationships with their mothers. I VERY reluctantly provide this link to the Science Times which, in such unbelievably irresponsible reporting, in it’s headline, makes it seem as if it is primarily a poor mother-daughter relationship that leads a girl to cut. Thankfully, in the body of the article this is cleared up–in fact, the relationship between cutting and serotonin levels is stronger than that between cutting and a conflictual mom-daughter relationships. The combined relationship is the strongest.  Okay this makes sense. What isn’t explained, at least in the Science Times, is whether the girls had high serotonin levels before they began cutting (i.e.–they were predisposed to becoming cutters) or whether the cutting behavior changed their serotonin. Do the researchers know this? Next, I treat cutters–lots of cutters, so I know that their are MANY things that stress a cutter out, not just their relationship with their mothers. Yes, this can be a factor, but these researchers could just have easily studied dads, boyfriends, biology teachers, waking up early for school, finding the perfect outfit to wear…it’s possible that any of these, when combined with a teen biologically predisposed to cutting, could significantly increase the odds of her becoming a cutter or triggering an episode. Last, but not least, being a cutter does NOT make you suicidal. In fact, the vast majority of cutters do so to reduce their anxiety, depresssion or other emotional pain, sometimes to help themselves avoid becoming suicidal. This is part of why it is addictive. Other than this…not such a bad article, uh yeah.

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