In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘drugs’

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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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 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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Teens benefit from 12-step programs

Posted by Dr. Susan on June 13, 2008

A fascinating and I think important study finds that teenagers will benefit from attending Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, much like their adult counterparts. There has not been a great deal of research on the importance of these programs for teenagers, but as the study suggests, peer groups are important for teens, and so these programs offer new peer groups. My own experience working with many, many teens with substance abuse difficulites over many years is that I have always referred them to AA or NA and found these to be of critical value in my treatment with kids. Aside from the support that a teen gains and the feeling that they are not alone in their struggle, they very often have to give up their entire social circle in order to give up the substance. This is extremely difficult. By going to meetings, they can instantly form a new social circle and don’t have to be alone without friends. This can be pivotal in a teen’s recovery.

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A twist on teens who smoke

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 12, 2008

I just read this study which gives parents yet another headache to worry about–but an important one, worthy of concern and particularly worthy of discussing with your teenager. It finds that there is an increase in college students who smoke hookahs–you know water pipes–Alice in Wonderland style–for some people, perhaps otherwise known as water bongs. The tobacco passes through flavored water. Hookah bars are cropping up all over major (and even smaller) cities, further adding a ‘coolness’ factor to the activity, not to mention somehow making it seem okay. But the truth–that most teens (and many adults) don’t realize–is that hookah smoking is NO SAFER than smoking tobacco in any other form. It’s just as harmful to your body despite seeming more natural and  somehow ‘filtered’.

Another important bit of info–lots of high school kids are also taking up hookah smoking–in fact, I’d say the many start in high school and continue in college. So, while the article discussed here talks about interventions with college students, I’m much more concerned about parents finding out how their high schoolers are spending their weekends. I know many who hang out at hookah bars, getting hooked on tobacco. Schools should be including it in drug ed. programs and parents should be talking about it at the family dinner table along with all the cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

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Guard your medicine cabinet

Posted by Dr. Susan on April 10, 2008

Yet another study finds that young children are finding themselves in the emergency room after OD’ing on OTC medications. This investigation lead by the CDC, says that each year over 7,000 kids go to the ER each year due to side effects of cough and cold meds. Of these, 65% of these visits are due to unsupervised ingestions, which was the most common reason for the 2 through 5-year old category of ER visits. The researchers suggests that we should be looking at how medication packaging could be made safer–Okay, why not. More importantly, I suggest we look at how parents could be more vigilant! There is no reason a two-year old should be able to get at a bottle of medication, especially when they know that it will taste good because they tried it last time they had a cold.

It’s time for all parents to begin the practice of keeping medications safe from their young children. Before long those children will be teens. And they’ll be taking medications without their parent’s permission for different reasons–to get high or to sell them.

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