April Is Alcoholism Awareness Month

Rotwein FlascheApril is Alcohol Awareness month. Established in 1987 by the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) to help reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism by sharing information and education on alcohol abuse and recovery every April.

Alcoholism, can be evidenced by a loss of control such as not being able to stop drinking once you have started, physical dependence with includes withdrawal symptoms, and tolerance which is defined as the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to achieve the same “high.”

Alcoholism is viewed as a disease and the craving to drink; an alcoholic feels they can be very strong. Those plagued with an alcohol use issue will continue to drink despite, serious family, social, health, or legal consequences.

The following are a list of frequently asked questions in regards to alcohol abuse and alcoholism:

  1. Is alcoholism inherited?
  2. There is evidence to suggest that genetics plays a part in the development of alcoholism. Genes clearly do contribute and research indicates that multiple genes play a role in a person’s risk of developing alcohol use disorder. Having said that lifestyle is certainly also a factor.
  3. Can alcoholism be cured?
  4. No alcoholism is not curable.
  5. Can alcoholism be treated?
  6. There is significant evidence that shows that treatment is effective and recovery is possible. With support and treatment, many people are able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives.
  7. Can a problem drinker just cut down?
  8. This is a solution that rarely works. Abstaining from alcohol is typically the best course of action.
  9. Who is at risk for becoming an alcoholic? Alcoholism affects all genders, races, and nationalities. Approximately 17% of men and 8% of women will be dependent on alcohol in their lifetime. Alcohol problems are highest among young adults 18-29.
  10. How can you tell if someone has an alcohol problem?
  11. Answering the following questions can help you find out if you or a loved one has a drinking problem.
  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you had a drink in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
  • Have you had problems connected to your drinking in the past year?
  • Have you experienced blackouts?

One yes answer suggests you may have an alcohol problem. Please consult with a doctor or healthcare provider.

Alcoholism is a major health problem in the United States. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health consequences and can affect every organ in your body, including your brain. 88,000 deaths a year are attributed to excessive alcohol use. If you or someone you love has an alcohol problem, contact New Bridge Foundation today for a free assessment.

America’s Opioid Drug Epidemic

head over hoodIt is now well documented, and publicized, that the United States is in the midst of a terrible and fatal opioid drug epidemic. On March 29, 2017, it was announced that New Jersey governor Chris Christie will lead a new national opioid commission whose task will be to figure out ways to fight the opioid epidemic.

In 2015, more than 52,000 people died of drug overdoses, nearly two-thirds of which were linked to opioids. This constitutes more deaths from overdoses than from any other time in American history. Vox, an American news and opinion website, listed, 15 facts that you may not be aware of about this crisis.

  • Drug overdoses now kill more people than gun violence and car crashes combined
  • Opioids deaths are on the rise
  • Opioid overdoses are one reason US life expectancy declined for the first time in decades
  • The epidemic is much worse in some states than others (West Virginia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Ohio) to name a few
  • By and large, the drug overdose epidemic has hit white Americans hardest
  • Americans consume more opioids than any other country
  • In some states, doctors have filed out more painkiller prescriptions than there are people
  • Drug companies have made a lot of money from opioids
  • Americans are reporting greater levels of pain (chronic pain)
  • Painkillers are often prescribed for long periods of time, even though there is no evidence they effectively treat chronic pain
  • States are now cracking down on opioid prescriptions
  • Heroin is cheap, making it an easy alternative for painkillers
  • Fentanyl has become a growing problem
  • Anti-anxiety medications are involved in more overdoses as well

Most people who meet the definition for a drug use disorder don’t get treatment. It is clear that the United States has a tremendous fight ahead when it comes to combating this horrific problem which has cost so many their lives and devastated families and communities.

We’re Here to Help
The experienced and compassionate staff at New Bridge Foundation, in Berkeley, California can help you or your loved one recover from heroin and fentanyl addiction issues: Click Here to contact us or Call (800) 785-2400

Grieving and Addiction

woman grievingAs we all know, grief is a common reaction to the loss of a loved one. How people grieve and for how long differs and is often defined by their culture. Grieving is a natural reaction that is meant to assist in accepting the loss of a loved one.

However, research has been done that indicates a difference between the normal grief process and what is called complicated or abnormal grief. A normal grief reaction includes shock, denial, numbness, anger, depression, with ultimate acceptance. Complicated or prolonged grief occurs when the normal responses are absent, excessive, distorted or never ending. Individuals who have lost their loved ones to a traumatic death (such as suicide or overdose) or individuals with a psychiatric history, multiple stressors, emotional dependency or substance abuse issues are at greater risk of developing a complicated grief reaction.

Complicated grief is usually defined by a prolonged grieving process that over time impacts the individual’s ability to function well. Tomlinson and Kline (2004) outlined the following warning signs of complicated grief; absence of grief, persistent blame or guilt, aggression, antisocial or destructive acts, suicidal thoughts or actions, unwillingness to speak of the deceased, prolonged dysfunction at school/work, exhibiting proneness to accidents, and engaging in addictive behaviors.

If grief is severely impacting you or someone you love, it is important to consider seeking professional help from someone who is trained in the treatment of loss.

We’re Here to Help
The experienced and compassionate staff at New Bridge Foundation, in Berkeley, California can help you or your loved one recover from grief related addiction issues: Click Here to Contact Us or Call (800) 785-2400

Guidance of the Stars

Ben Affleck should be commended for his Facebook post on March 14, 2017, that announced that he had completed 30 days of treatment for alcohol addiction. Affleck who had been to rehab in 2001 hollywood signstated, “ I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step.” The post stated, “I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction something I have dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.” He additionally thanked family and friends including his wife Jennifer Garner for their support.

It is well known that when celebrities and famous people disclose their medical issues publicly, it benefits the public. Former First Lady, Betty Ford was one of the first people to disclose her struggles with alcoholism to the public and thus did a tremendous amount to help destigmatize the problem. After Angelina Jolie disclosed that she had the BRCA1 gene for Breast Cancer, genetic testing for the disease increased. The same was true when Katie Couric’s husband died from Colon Cancer. After his publicized death, screenings for the disease increased and the death rate decreased.

Hopefully, Affleck’s post will inspire those individuals struggling with addiction to seek help and will lead to improved lives for individuals with chemical dependency issues and their families.

If you or a loved one would like a free assessment. Please contact The New Bridge Foundation @ 1-800-785-2400

 

Change in the Weather and You

Seasonal Affective Disorder. (SAD)

This has been a particularly difficult winter in Northern California.  Long-time residents of the San Francisco Bay Area report that they have not seen rainfall of this magnitude in 30 years.  Aside from flooding and traffic delays, there have been days on end of cloudiness and rain.

Even in the years with milder conditions, some people report what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year and is related to changes in seasons.  Most people with SAD report symptoms beginning in the fall and continuing into winter before subsiding in spring.cold bridge

Experts are not sure what causes SAD, but they think it might be caused by a lack of sunlight.  Four percent to six percent of people in the United States is estimated to suffer from SAD. Another 10% to 20% may experience a mild form of SAD.  Sad affects more women than men and SAD tends to be hereditary.

Symptoms of SAD include:

  • Feeling sad, grumpy, irritable, or anxious
  • Losing interest in one’s normal activities
  • Eating more and craving carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Sleeping more but feeling tired/low energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy “leaden” feeling in arms and legs

If you think you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) you should consult with your physician. Lifestyle changes that can improve your symptoms include:

  • Going outside more often
  • Getting plenty of sunlight when you can
  • Exercise
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Practice relaxation exercises
  • Consider light therapy

For an online quiz for Seasonal Affective Disorder click on this link down below.

       http://psymed.info/seasonal-affective-disorder-test

 

Substance Abuse Disorders Isolated from the Health Care System

Substance Abuse Disorders Isolated from the Health Care system.

On November 17th, 2016, the Surgeon General of the United States, Vivak H Murthy, published a landmark report entitled, “Facing Addiction in America” a comprehensive reading glassesreview of substance use, misuse, and disorders. Previous reports of the Surgeon General have highlighted the public health crisis challenges of Tobacco, AIDS, and Mental Health issues, and the hope is that this latest report will increase understanding and create a sense of urgency to address substance use disorders in the United States.

21 million people in America have a substance use disorder. This is comparable to the number of people with diabetes and is higher than the total number of Americans suffering from all cancers combined. This constitutes a major public health crisis that affects individuals, families, and communities. It is estimated that the yearly economic impact for alcohol abuse is 249 billion and 193 billion for illicit drug use. Despite this, our health care system has not given as much attention to addiction as it has other health care problems that affect the same number of people and substance use issues have remained mostly isolated form the rest of health care.

As highlighted in the Surgeon General’s report, only one in 10 people with a substance use disorder receives treatment. The report identifies many contributing factors including guilt, shame and misunderstanding about substance use disorders, the inability to access or afford treatment, and the need of screening in traditional medical settings. Furthermore, it is reported that 40% of individuals who know they have a problem are not ready to stop using

Despite the enormity of the problem the Surgeon General believes there is reason to be optimistic. There is well supported scientific evidence which shows that substance use disorders can be effectively treated with recurrence rates no higher than for the other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. There is also well supported scientific evidence that treatment for substance use disorders including inpatient, residential, and outpatient are cost-effective compared to the cost of no treatment. The good news according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) is that prevention works, treatment is effective, and recovery is possible.

 

Research Links Anger and Health Conditions.

                                                                     Anger

lights above As human beings, we all get angry. It is an unavoidable consequence of being human. Anger is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. But did you know that intense anger can be detrimental to your health? Like other emotions, anger is accompanied by physiological and biological changes. Consequently, anger could be having an adverse effect on your health, without you even being aware of it.

There are several health conditions linked to anger. Intense or frequent anger can put your heart at risk. Researchers have found that your chances of a heart attack doubles two hours after an angry outburst. Anger can also increase your risk of a stroke. One study found that there was a three times greater risk of having a blood clot to the brain two hours after an angry outburst. Anger can weaken the immune system, cause gastrointestinal problems, and has been linked to depression and anxiety. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 85% of all diseases have a link to one’s emotional state.

If you are someone who has a hard time expressing your anger in appropriate ways, the following steps, if practiced, can assist you in letting go of anger and to a healthier life:

  1. Become aware of your feelings (including your anger) and your behavior.
  2. Take responsibility for your emotions and your responses.
  3. Foster a positive vs a negative attitude.
  4. Develop resources and a support system.
  5. Practice self-care behaviors.
  6. Develop positive self-esteem.
  7. Develop alternative responses to counter old angry responses.
  8. Rehearse these new responses.
  9. Use “I” vs “You” statements.
  10. Have a plan for when you become angry.

Women’s Health Study

glassandbottle       Women’s Health

A global study from the researchers from National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre of the University of New South Wales, Australia concludes that women have caught up with men in the amount of alcohol they consume.

The study examined the drinking habits between men and women over time, from 1981-2014, by pooling together the results of 68 international studies to look at the changing ratio of male to female drinking over the years. Historically, far more men drink alcohol than women.

It is speculated that women’s drinking has increased for a number of reasons. With more women in management and professional jobs, many have found it necessary to become part of-the “after working” drinking culture. Other contributing factors include the drop in prices for beer and wine which in addition to making them more affordable has increased their availability at super markets. There has also been a targeted effort from the alcohol industry to market to women. It is known that women are more vulnerable than men to the effects of alcohol. According to the Center for Disease Control, differences in body structure and chemistry cause women to absorb more alcohol and take longer to break it down and remove it from their bodies, making it more likely that drinking will cause long-term health problems in women. Heath concerns for women include; reproductive and pregnancy concerns, liver disease, impact on the brain, impact on the heart, and increased risk for certain cancers including cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast.

 

The Holiday Blues

Christmasy xmas style tree decoration

    The Holiday Blues

People often experience the holidays in different ways. For some, it can be a time of joy, happiness, and celebrating with family and friends. For others, however, the holiday season can be a difficult time filled with sadness and loneliness.

Expects site a variety of reason for the condition that has been referred to as the Holiday Blues. High or unrealistic expectations, being overwhelmed with planning, organizing, and activities, remembering past, unhappy holidays or missing loved ones who are no longer present, and the presumption that one should feel joyful are all reasons one might feel down and depressed during the holidays.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the holiday blues affect men and women, young and old. Although the symptoms can resemble a clinical depression, the holiday blues are temporary. People suffering from the condition may feel hopeless, angry, and overwhelmed. Negative associations around the holiday season can trigger bad memories or feelings.

To help yourself survive the holidays, remember the following tips:

  • Remind yourself that the holidays don’t have to be perfect
  • Eat well, sleep well, exercise
  • Don’t force yourself to be happy
  • Use humor
  • Be careful about resentments related to past holidays and try to stay positive
  • Create time for yourself
  • Say the Serenity Prayer

Little Things to Remember

                                                                        Eight Steps to a More Satisfying Lifefall-autumn-red-season

Martin Seligman, PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, is known as the father of the Positive Psychology Movement. In 1965, Seligman began conducting experiments on his theory of learned helplessness. What he theorized from his research, is that people who “learn” that there is no connection between action and outcome in a particular area, learn helplessness and often generalize this to other areas of their life. On the contrary, optimistic people have a way of explaining events that does not see defeat as permanent or affecting their personal value while pessimist see setbacks as lasting a long time and their fault.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a University of California psychologist has come up with a research based list of eight steps to more satisfying life. Not only can optimism, increase one’s general feelings of happiness, but research indicates that optimistic people are healthier than their pessimistic counter-parts. With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, these steps that can improve your happiness level seem all the more relevant.

 

Eight Steps Towards a More Satisfying Life

  1. Count your blessings. One way to do this is with a “gratitude journal” in which you write down 3 to 5 things for which you are currently thankful – from the mundane (your peonies are in bloom) to the magnificent (a child’s first steps). Do this once a week, say, on Sunday night. Keep it fresh by varying your entries as much as possible.
  2. Practice acts of kindness. These should be both random (let that harried mom go ahead of you in the checkout line) and systematic (bring Sunday supper to an elderly neighbor). Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers a cascade of positive effects – it makes you feel generous and capable, gives you a greater sense of connection with others and wins you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness – all happiness boosters.
  3. Savor Life’s Joys. Pay close attention to momentary pleasures and wonders. Focus on the sweetness of a ripe strawberry or the warmth of the sun when you step out from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of pleasurable moments to review in less happy times.
  4. Thank a mentor. If there’s someone whom you owe a debt of gratitude for guiding you at one of life’s crossroads, don’t wait to express your appreciation – in detail and, if possible, in person.
  5. Learn to forgive. Let go of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness to a person who has hurt or wronged you. Inability to forgive is associated with persistent rumination or dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on.
  6. Invest Time and Energy in Friends and Family. Where you live, how much money you make, your job title and even your health have small effects on your satisfaction with life. The biggest factor appears to be strong personal relationships.
  7. Take care of your body. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching, smiling and laughing can all enhance your mood in the short term. Practiced regularly, they can help make your daily life more satisfying.
  8. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardship. There is no avoiding hard times. Religious faith has been shown to help people cope, but so do the secular beliefs enshrined in axioms like “This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” The trick is that you have to believe them.