Certainly, I think nearly everybody would agree that these are trying times. It’s been about two and a half years since this pandemic was proclaimed … worldwide.
Many of us don’t know what to think or do. Should we be worried or not so much? What are we to think when there is so much contradictory information coming down the pike, right?!
First of all, our beautifully crafted human bodies are designed to fight off marauding invaders successfully. This means anything from a virus (as is the case here) or a bacterial growth, a bite from a predator in nature, etc. (We do this through our immune system.)
Our bodies are so wondrously designed that even if we are genetically programmed for certain weaknesses (and we are), there are more natural ways to quell the expression of those adverse gene combinations which leaves us feeling, well … pretty darned good!
I’m living proof of that. If you haven’t been following my writings, then I’m here to tell you I conquered debilitating and lethal autoimmune disease, plus a host of other undesirable (potential) conditions.
I would have to say that for the past 25 or so years I have been studying and working directly with people in various capacities (like counseling, teaching, and consulting), and for those who have followed holistic ways of living, supervised by competent professionals, I haven’t seen them fail.
So, how do you do it?
Holistic means that you look at something as interconnected parts of a whole. In the health arena, it means that you learn and implement multiple lifestyle changes to create a healthy, resistant, resilient new you!
Okay – easier said than done!
One of the most important changes you can make to improve immunity is by changing your diet. In broad, general terms, you do this through lowering or eliminating your junk food habits (eating junk foods only if they’re made in a truly healthy manner).
Unfortunately, this includes so many foods we just love, like soda (both those with sugar and with sweeteners), cakes, other baked goods, pizza, chips, and more. But remember that most of these foods and drinks can be made in a healthy way, so don’t despair … completely! LOL!
The two main dietary culprits are wheat (and other starches) and sugar. If something says sugar free on the label, check it out to see if it has other forms of sugar that our government says we can term “sugar free.” This is important, especially if you are really vulnerable to these so-called foods. Most of us are.
It is important to start adding healthier foods – whole foods, like meats, cheeses, lots of low- to no-starch veggies, salads, lightly steamed, stir-fried, etc. I hated this when I first started but my taste buds changed so now, I actually crave these foods.
Please know that everyone’s body is different, plus our needs change, so there is no one-size-fits-all diet approach to good health.
Veggies and a little fruit (they have sugar) are very immune-friendly. So are foods that are fermented. Do you like miso soup? Enjoy it – it’s fermented! I like mine with a touch of sesame oil in it.
Kimchi is also fermented, and sauerkraut, and even pickles (make them yourself without sugar and chemicals please).
Eat healthy yogurt with lots of probiotics, healthy fat, and other nutrients. A prebiotic food is something like a piece of green banana or a small piece of a raw white potato! These work in tandem with probiotics.
Avoid foods and products that have been more than minimally processed. Start cooking more! And please try to avoid foods with chemicals in them, as they are not healthy.
There are basic supplements that are always good to take, like a good multiple (I’m not thinking of those overly processed ones in the conventional arena), antioxidants (I’m thinking about Vitamins C and more), but a great multi vitamin should have lots of these included, so READ LABELS!
Working with a competent health practitioner will enhance your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients that are so desperately needed. I can’t recommend this enough. But, having said that, there are so many excellent sources of information available online. You just have to know which ones are better in general and specifically for you. Some might be excellent for some, but your body doesn’t absorb them!
Now, if your immune health needs work, it might be a good idea to take extra precautions while you’re building up your own body’s ability to fight. If you’ve had an organ transplant, or if you’re on multiple medications, then err on the side of caution.
Even if you can’t be (professionally) weaned from your medications, eating a diet full of foods that are healthy for you will still make you stronger and healthier!
I always prefer to lay the foundation of diet and supplementation first, because therein lies about ¾ of your total health, including your immune system.
Other things you can do for your immune health are taking time for self-care, especially in the form of mindfulness activities. This can be different for each person, so experiment! For some it is meditation. For others it’s listening to music, taking a bubble bath, or turning on binaural beats (sound waves).
Do you have too much stress in your life? It’s time to change that as well! Too much negative stress overtaxes the body, and the immune system can easily take a hit. Time management is a great skill to hone or build.
Remember – you have to be the one to take good care of yourself!
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Vaping is a “thing” now. People believe it is a safer, less toxic alternative to traditional smoking of cigarettes. But first let’s see if this is really better than smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Vaping is another word for smoking e-cigarettes. It is known colloquially as JUULing. Some people are trying to use it to help stop smoking. While it is currently unknown exactly how many chemicals are present in the process of vaping (heating nicotine and adding flavoring and other chemicals to create a water vapor), and we know that at least regular tobacco products contain about 7,000 chemicals, we can easily see that it’s still very harmful. By the way, harm reduction in alcohol use, called controlled drinking, does not work well at all according to many studies. Can you draw a parallel here with tobacco? At least think about it!
Because nicotine is present in both products, we know that vaping is still highly addictive. If you are vaping, you are likely to have cravings and suffer withdrawal symptoms if you ignore your craving. Nicotine itself has an adverse effect on your blood pressure and gives your adrenalin a punch, affecting your heart rate and bringing you perhaps closer to a heart attack.
If you’re smoking via vaping, you might be getting more nicotine than if you were smoking cigarettes, since the cartridges are available in different strengths. You should know that the FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. One study showed that people who vaped as a means to cut back on cigarette smoking continued to smoke both ways.
Teenage use of e-cigarettes is ramping up – vaping is now the most preferred way to smoke … in fact, adolescent use has increased by 1800%. Also, now in 2022, 1 in 20 Americans vape. Some attribute this escalating use to how these products are expertly packaged and advertised – targeted to this adolescent marketplace. The FDA has stated recently that it will be “cracking down” on illegal sales to minors, as well as these types of marketing strategies. Will this strategy be effective? Only time will tell.
One JUULpod may have as much caffeine as an entire package of 20 cigarettes. Teenage brains are still in a developmental phase, and vaping may increase the risk of other drugs and alcohol use. Vaping seems to have an effect of reducing one’s attention span. One study found increased levels of carcinogens in the urine of vaping teens.
Please also see this video from CNN, in which Dr. Sanjay Gupta discusses vaping and its dangers.
Remember that anything involving putting something toxic into the air will adversely affect others, too. Second-hand inhalation is a “thing” with vaping, as well as with cigarettes. Have you ever detected the distinctive odor of smoke on someone’s clothes? Then you have inhaled a little bit of it. Have you walked down a public sidewalk or a hallway at work and suddenly inhaled a whiff of smoke? You have just experienced second-hand smoke, even if you didn’t see the person who exhaled it.
Protect yourself and your loved ones. Knowledge is power. Take charge of your health!
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day.
The world as we have known it has been turned upside-down in the past few years. We have experienced lockdowns, various government and private medical mandates, loss of jobs, and many people are tired, sick, and fearful, not knowing what to expect next. Loved ones have gotten gravely ill, but recovered, and many have, sadly, passed away perhaps before their time.
The field of psychology, or mental health to say it another way, has been around for thousands of years, with many significant advances having been made in the last 150 or so years. So, there is no reason to lose hope, as there are many benefits of mental health counseling to be realized. And you can reap these benefits by seeing a mental health counselor or by practicing self-care tips for mental health, or even better – doing both!
What are 8 Benefits of Mental Health Counseling?
While there are many more benefits of counseling for mental health that the 8 being highlighted here, these are some of the most basic ones, and thereby, worth mentioning.
Montare Behavioral Health lists these 8 benefits as follows:
Whether you have concerns for yourself, your close friends, or family members, it is important to understand why mental health is so important and create mental health awareness in yourself as well as those in your community.
Think about your mental health as a journey of self-education, which can help bring self-awareness. You not only learn more about yourself and how you relate to others and handle difficult situations, you are also learning new skills to aid in the process of overcoming. Understanding what’s going on with your own mental health, like feeling depressed or having a high level of anxiety, you also become aware that you are not alone. Many others feel the same way. And while that’s not a quick fix, it can help ease your sense of isolation.
In short, it has been scientifically shown that certain mental health interventions can increase your happiness as well as decreasing your sense of depression.
Why You Should See a Counselor.
Once you have established trust with a professional counselor, this affords you the opportunity to speak freely about how you’ve been feeling, and also ask what you can do about it. Many issues interfere with daily life functioning, so it’s important to learn the needed skills to handle just about any difficult issue that comes your way.
In fact, children need – more than ever – to see counselors and can benefit from mental health counseling even while at school. That is why there are school counselors, available during the school day, and employed usually by the school districts. Some schools even have a mental health counseling program, which is either done in-house, or in conjunction with other mental health care counselors from the community, often on school property and on school time. Children frequently need help managing their behavior, keeping up with grades, and even planning for the future. In-school counselors also are able to work with administrators, teachers, and parents, to create an environment more conducive to improving the experience kids make at school. And if, for example, parents are reluctant to make positive changes, the kids still have great role models and support from other adults.
Think about the pressure our kids are under these days. Kids are expected to get good grades, not get into fights with their peers, be involved in extracurricular activities, and in general, not get into trouble. As if that pressure were not enough, add in the problems America is having with drugs, many of which play out at school, and kids face challenges due to the ever evolving/changing world of technology. Many schools are not even teaching kids handwriting anymore!
The world has been facing unprecedented health-related challenges, as well, as these past few years dealing with the “pandemic” and the shutdowns, mandates, remote education, and more. Remember, there are different styles of learning, and some simply learn better in person! Having to do academic work from home has been an uphill battle for many of our kids. For that matter, working from home has been an uphill battle for many adults, too!
Even though many kids get involved with illegal drugs, adult use has also skyrocketed, especially in the last few years during this pandemic. Over 165 million people in America have used illegal drugs or misused legally prescribed drugs in the last month. This is crazy! For those with actual substance use disorders, after the initial step of getting safely off all drugs, it is critical to engage in counseling and other services, or relapse may be imminent.
There may be other reasons to seek out help. Perhaps you or someone you know are living with a difficult, chronic health condition. This can produce mental health symptoms, like anxiety and fear and depression. Or maybe you’ve lost a loved one. Getting some mental health assistance can guide you through surviving and coping with this very difficult life transition.
There is unfortunately still stigma concerning getting counseling, but that issue aside, think of seeking counseling as something like health maintenance. Do you get dental checkups or wellness exams with your doctor? Meeting with a counselor can help improve your mental health, but it can also assist in keeping your mental health in good working order. Think of it as a key element in your overall health.
If you have intrusive, uncontrollable thoughts, it is probably wise to seek out a mental health counselor. If you have any compulsive behaviors, like you gamble or shop too much and are finding it difficult to control, that is a good time to look for help. Some people have nightmares and insomnia, some have flashbacks to traumatic times. Was somebody in combat? Did somebody have a car accident which involved loss of life? It’s time for professional help. Perhaps you are a victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence or have problems with drugs and alcohol…if you seek out mental health counseling, you will be able to get help faster and more effectively.
If you find yourself in crisis mode, and you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide, please tell someone right away or even dial 911. There are also many suicide and crisis hotlines. Always err on the side of caution and act when you are thinking about hurting yourself; also, if you know someone in this condition, reach out and get help for them. Some of the warning signs of someone contemplating suicide are talking about it, feeling empty and/or hopeless, feeling that they have no reason to live, and having a sense of being trapped without any good solutions. Some people feel overwhelming and unbearable emotional and/or physical pain. If someone talks about being a burden to others, take action. When you see someone withdrawing from friends and family, and perhaps putting their affairs in order, like making out a will, it’s time to intervene.
How Mental Health Counseling Works.
Healthy Place says that counseling “is a formal, purposeful partnership between a client and a mental health professional.” There is a plethora of scientific studies in the literature that demonstrate what techniques actually work best for certain individuals. For example, if you’re dealing with anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, or depression, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy might be a good fit for you.
If you have a substance use problem, then often a dual-diagnosis treatment agency will be equipped to help you in all ways. Many have a department for detoxification from the drugs, often with doctors and nurses on staff to assist you medically. Once that is safely accomplished, you are usually paired with a counselor for individual sessions. Often you are required to attend 12 step groups, and also to participate in group counseling, and group education. If you’re staying in-house for treatment, there is often a gymnasium for exercise, and many places have music and art therapy available as well.
There are psychiatrists, who can prescribe medication, and many also practice psychotherapy. There are psychologists who practice psychotherapy, but do not prescribe medication. Other professionals like licensed professional counselors or licensed social workers offer help with coping with your emotions, and social workers are typically very well connected within communities for assistance in procuring other types of services, like getting free food, clothing, help around the house, etc.
Today we also have health and wellness coaches; in fact, in some areas, coaching is available for substance use clients as well.
There are also emerging energy approaches to treating mental health issues, such as Emotion Code, which uses energy techniques to remove trapped emotions, and homeopathic remedies and acupuncture. Also, Ayurveda can help restore your energy balance, which then helps your body during the healing process. While these are often used in conjunction with other approaches, they can be quite valuable in aiding mental health counseling.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Approaches.
As previously stated, both individual and group therapy can be very valuable. Group therapy is a very popular choice, and usually there is one or more therapist available for a group of up to 15 people. There is a great deal of support offered by peers in this format, as well as issuing some challenges. Having other people there to discuss issues can help put them into a better perspective, and you realize that you are not dealing with this alone. You can get inspired by others in your group when you hear how they handle their issues.
Individual therapy is very important, as well. Some people are not comfortable in a group setting, and trust may be a real issue in groups. Learning to trust one person may be preferable than trying to trust a group of people.
There are other specialized forms of counseling, like family and/or couples counseling.
Counseling approaches may also be differentiated by client/counselor interaction. Counselors who are more client-centered may focus on your innate goodness and this approach assumes that you already have the qualities within you to be very well. So, it encourages you to trust your intuition, your creativity, and your curiosity. This approach is very open and nonjudgmental.
An existential therapeutic approach doesn’t “cure” you, but it helps you explore and question your predicament. What does it mean to be alive? They help you fulfill your potential, and to trust yourself to make rational choices.
Cognitive behavioral approaches assume that the core of our issues lies in your thought process. These counselors use techniques focused on changing thought processes and behavior, which then gives rise to a change in emotions.
There are many, many other great approaches, but these are some of the most commonly used ones.
How Mental Health Counselors Help.
First and foremost, a mental health counselor is a highly trained, highly educated professional. Then there are licensing and credentialing exams which need to be taken and passed, as well as internships, just like doctors. Mental health counselors help by offering advice, emotional support, a safe place to talk about issues – thoughts, feelings, behaviors – and you can expect your counselor to understand your feelings. They can also identify other issues that may be impacting your mental health, and how to remove obstacles or develop effective coping strategies. A mental health counselor can help you set goals for your personal growth and can offer education about your condition and that of others you may be close to.
Some typical life events and conditions that you can expect help with are when you experience grief or loss, fears/phobias, addiction, problems managing your anger, eating disorders, relationship difficulties, obsessive-compulsive disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and so many more. Many professionals specialize in certain areas, which usually means they are very good at helping you! Sometimes they receive specialized training in post-trauma, sexual assault, domestic abuse, etc.
Common Therapies Used in Mental Health Treatment
While many approaches were discussed previously, talk therapy in any of its forms is likely the most common form of treatment. You discuss your problems with a mental health professional. This is usually a one-on-one experience but can also be done effectively in a group setting.
In more recent times, it has become common practice to utilize prescription medicine. These are often called mental health meds. These drugs make changes to our brain chemicals, and they attempt to help us feel better and thus, cope with daily stressors or major life transitions or mental health disorders in a better way. They are not meant to cure, but rather to augment other approaches, like talk therapy.
However, for people looking for more natural, holistic approaches, one can find help with changes in diet and in taking supplements in lieu of medications. Some of the best self-care tips for mental health include exercise, healthy meals on a regular basis, staying hydrated, getting a good night’s sleep, and engaging in relaxing activities, such as meditation, breathing exercises, diffusing essential oils, taking a bubble bath, etc. Other tips for mental health self-care include setting goals, practicing gratitude, and focusing on being positive yourself and being around positive people. Don’t forget to create and use a network of positive, caring friends and family member for support and other types of help.
Another type of group setting is found in support groups. These are not clinical groups, so no therapist need be present. However, self-help and support groups can still be very helpful in gaining insight and perspective in your situation/condition. In fact, you can often find new friends, caring support, new resources, including useful mental health self-care tips.
Not to be forgotten or overlooked are hospital or residential treatment programs. At times people feel so poorly that they find it difficult to function at all. For those individuals, long-term programs may be the best type of approach. This type of treatment means that clients live at the treatment facility, in a supportive environment, with others, and they receive frequent support from specialists to meet all their needs, both physical and mental.
In this type of holistic approach, in addition to basic treatment therapies, they can also participate in therapeutic activities like yoga, music and art therapy, other mindfulness activities, and in some facilities, they learn to prepare very nutritious meals, which also aids in their physical and emotional recovery. A residential program actually removes a person from what might be a very toxic environment and offers a supportive, healing environment, which then helps them build up resistance, resiliency, and self-esteem.
Remember – knowledge is power; take charge of your health!
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
We're welcoming Sam Cotto from Natural Health Planner back to the blog today!
When it comes to our health, we don’t compromise. We exercise, eat nutritious food, and keep an eye on what we put in our bodies. When our health deteriorates, we take medications to cure us of our ailments. But what if we told you that the medications you take — the ones that are supposed to help you live a longer, better life — can do more harm than good? Out of 900 drugs and fixed-drug combinations in the U.S, almost 400 can cause the serious depletion of essential nutrients in your body. While it’s difficult and perhaps even impossible to completely write off prescription drugs, we can limit their detrimental effects. In this article, we’ll go over the types of drugs that lead to nutrient depletion and offer information on how you can replace the vital nutrients that are lost from taking them.
Statins, a class of drugs, block a substance that is integral to the production of cholesterol. The reduction of synthesized cholesterol increases the liver’s removal of “bad” cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. While useful, the depletion of nutrients that they cause also exposes patients to some serious health risks.
Medications: Advicor, Caduet, Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Mevacor, Vytorin, Zocor, and Pravachol
Nutrients Lost: Coenzyme Q10, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K Potential Health Problems: Depletion of coenzyme Q10 can lead to decreased protection against cancer and aging, congestive heart failure (CHF), increased lipid levels as well as muscle pain and weakness.
How to Replace Lost Nutrients: 100-300 mg of CoQ10, Vitamin D (1000–2000 IU) to protect yourself against side effects and improve your overall health
Antibiotics are used to treat infections, prevent the spread of disease, prevent secondary infections, and reduce serious complications. However, their misuse and long-term consumption can also open up a plethora of potential health issues. Depending on the medication you take, you may get yeast infections, insomnia, memory loss, depression, muscle weakness, higher risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), mental confusion, anemia, decreased immune function, anxiety as well as skin, nervous system, and intestinal issues
Medications: Amoxicillin, Azithromycin (Z-Pak/Tri-Pak/Zithromax), Cefaclor (Ceclor), Cefdinir (Omnicef), Cephalexin (Keflex), Clarithromycin (Biaxin), Ciprofloxacin (Cipro), Doxycycline (Vibramycin), Erythromycin, Levofloxacin (Levaquin), Minocycline (Minocin), Moxifloxacin (Avelox), Nalidixic Acid (NegGram), Penicillin, Tetracycline, and more
Nutrients Lost: Biotin, calcium, folic acid, helpful bacteria, inositol, iron, major B vitamins (vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B7, B9, B12), vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, zinc, etc.
How to Replace Lost Nutrients: Calcium (500-1000 mg), magnesium (250-400 mg), B-complex
vitamins, inositol (100-1,000 mg), and probiotics to maintain immunity and gut health
Birth Control (Oral Contraceptives)
While oral contraceptives — a combination of estrogen and progestogen — can help prevent pregnancy, women also rely on the pill for various of health reasons. They may use them to reduce cramps or menstrual pain, regulate menstrual cycles, and treat endometriosis and acne. While the pill comes in handy for these physical concerns, it also comes with a host of side effects that can impact your health.
Nutrients Lost: Calcium, folic acid, vitamin C, selenium, vitamins B2, B6, B12, magnesium, and zinc.
Potential Health Problems: Increases the risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, cervical dysplasia, heart attack, blood clots, muscle weakness, cramps, low sex drive, and depression.
How to Replace Lost Nutrients: You can take calcium (1,000-1,200 mg), folic acid (400-800 mcg), magnesium(400-600 mg), zinc (25-50 mg), vitamin C (1,000 mg), vitamin B6 (5mg) daily to make up for the lost nutrients.
SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, work by making the serotonin molecule more available in the synapse increasing the neurotransmitter's feel-good effects.
Medications: Nortriptyline (Pamelor), Doxepin (Adapin), Clomipramine (Anafranil), Imipramine (Tofranil), Desipramine (Norpramin), Amitriptyline (Elavil), Prochlorperazine (Compazine), Fluphenazine (Prolixin), Promazine (Sparine), Chlorpromazine (Thorazine), Perphenazine, Thioridazine (Thioril), Phenelzine (Nardil)
Nutrients Lost: Coenzyme Q10, sodium, melatonin, vitamin B12 (riboflavin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Potential Health Problems: Changes in blood sugar levels, congestive heart failure, higher risk of cancer, higher lipid levels, fatigue, growth hormone deficiency, and PMS
How to Replace Lost Nutrients: B vitamins, CoQ10 (100-300 mg), folic acid (800mcg), SAMe or S-adenosyl methionine (200mg), omega-3 fatty acids (1,000 mg)
Antacids and Acid-Suppressing Drugs
Antacids and acid-suppressing drugs reduce stomach acid. Stomach acid is part of the body’s defense system. It kills a host of harmful intruders such as bacteria and viruses and suppresses and decreases acid production. However, this also prevents acid from entering the gastric lumen, leading to health issues.
Medications: Maalox, Mylanta, Pepcid, Zantac, Nexium, Prevacid, Protonix, and Aciphex
Nutrients Lost: Vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
Potential Health Problems: Increased risk of a particular type of pneumonia, reduced bodily defense against hazardous microorganisms, impaired protein digestion.
How to Replace Lost Nutrients: Vitamin B12 (25-1000 mcg), magnesium (250-400 mg), calcium (1,000-1,200mg), omega-3 fatty acids (1,000-2,000 mg), vitamin D (1000-2000 IU), iron (discuss dosage with your healthcare provider), zinc (11 mg), and high-quality, broad-spectrum probiotics.
Blood Sugar Control Drugs
Blood sugar control medications work in different ways to lower the glucose levels in your blood.
It does so by enhancing the effect of insulin to help keep your blood sugar levels closer to the
Medications: Metformin (Glucophage and Glucovance), Glipizide (Glucotrol), Glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase, Micronase), Glimepiride (Amaryl)
Nutrients Lost: Coenzyme Q10, vitamin B12, vitamin B9 (folic acid)
Potential Health Problems: Congestive heart failure, increased lipid levels, hair loss, higher homocysteine levels (can lead to heart disease), congenital disabilities, anemia (feelings of being tired and weak), abnormal development of the cervix, adverse neurologic problems, and depression
How to Replace Lost Nutrients: Vitamin B12 ( 200-1,000 mcg), folic acid (400-800 mcg) and CoQ10 (30-200 mg)
Antihypertensives such as beta-blockers work by reducing cardiac output to lower blood
pressure. Another class of hypertension drugs, diuretics, reduces blood pressure by moving
fluid out of the body with the help of the kidneys.
Medications: Chlorothiazide (Diuril), Spironolactone (Aldactone), Atenolol (Tenormin), Metoprolol, Propranolol (Inderal), Ethacrynic acid (Edecrin), torsemide (Demadex), Bumetanide (Bumex), Furosemide (Lasix), Hydralazine (Apresoline), and Hydrochlorothiazide
Nutrients Lost: CoQ10, vitamins B1 and B6, vitamin C, melatonin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and sodium.
Potential Health Problems: Sexual dysfunction, impaired immune system (higher risk of infection and less ability to fight them), anemia, edema, muscle pain and weakness, high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat, insomnia, depression, PMS, tooth decay, mental confusion, high risk of heart disease, muscle cramps, loss of taste and smell, and the slower healing of wounds
How to Replace Lost Nutrients: CoQ10 (100-300mg), a well-balanced complete multivitamin supplement containing key nutrients, calcium (1,000mg), magnesium (250–400 mg), potassium (≤ 100 mg), and zinc(11 mg)
Benzodiazepines, a class of drugs known as tranquilizers, have sedating effects which have
proven to help treat anxiety.
Medications: Diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), Ativan, Prosom, Restoril
Nutrients Lost: Melatonin, calcium
Potential Health Problems: Decreased protection against cancer and aging, changes in blood sugar, depression, growth hormone deficiency, insomnia
How to Replace Lost Nutrients: Calcium (500–1000 mg), melatonin (1–3 mg)
Anticonvulsants or antiepileptics help prevent or treat epileptic seizures. Many anticonvulsants
act as mood stabilizers and are used for the treatment of neuropathic pain. They’re often used
to treat bipolar and borderline personality disorders.
Medications: Butalbital (Fioricet, Phrenilin, Fiorinal, Phenytoin (Dilantin), Carbamazepine (Tegretol), Primidone (Mysoline), Valproic Acid (Depakene/Depacon), Phenobarbital (Luminal sodium),), Divalproex sodium (Depakote)
Nutrients Lost: Zinc, copper, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, vitamin E, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin K, vitamin D, vitamin B9 (folic acid), selenium, carnitine, DHA fatty acid, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin B7 (biotin)
Potential Health Problems: PMS, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, higher homocysteine which can contribute to cardiovascular diseases, skin problems, neurologic issues, thinning and weakening of the bones, bone and muscle weakness, anemia
How to Replace Lost Nutrients: Calcium (500 mg), vitamin B12 (25–1000 mcg), vitamin D (1000–2000 IU)
Antipsychotics or neuroleptics are a type of psychiatric medication available by prescription for
treating and managing psychosis. They can reduce symptoms of schizophrenia and other
mental health disorders, decrease agitation and aggression, and can help stabilize mood.
They’re used to treat different psychiatric conditions, including bipolar disorder.
Medications: Abilify, Haldol, Seroquel, Risperdal, Zyprexa
Nutrients Lost: Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Potential Health Problems: Mild sedation, dry mouth, weight gain, tardive dyskinesia, constipation, acute dystonia, akathisia, and sexual dysfunction
How to Replace Lost Nutrients: Daily multivitamin, B vitamins, vitamin C (250–500 mg)
This article isn’t meant to dissuade you from using prescription medications. After all, they’re
often necessary to ease symptoms and improve one’s quality of life. However, being aware of
how it affects our nutritional supplies can help us reduce their potentially harmful effects.
The key takeaway is to take them only when necessary and take additional supplements while
you’re on them. This can go a long way in restoring our lost nutrients and avoiding health
Please note that this article is meant to inform. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent diseases.
These days, especially with the heroin crisis still raging across America, it is wise to be able to notice signs of drug use in your teenager. We see in the news everyday how this can cripple individuals, and also take down families who were otherwise functioning well. You would be wise to make sure your teen does not take any prescription opiates or opioids, as this is a very common way that people, no matter what their age, get started on street drugs after getting hooked by taking prescriptions. Then drug addiction recovery is very challenging!
For more information specific to heroin, go here. If you want more information on how teens get addicted to drugs together with risk factors, go here. These are all excellent and informative articles from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Here are 5 signs that your teen may be addicted:
Again, your teen should not be ruling the roost. If you are in an avoidance pattern due to your teen’s explosive behavior, isn’t it better to know what is going on so you can get your teen help? Check his or her cell phone and/or other digital devices. Are there frequent contacts? Check out social media as well. The earlier you suspect something is going on, the earlier you can get drug addiction help in the form of drug addiction treatment.
Remember – better safe than sorry!
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Perhaps you yourself, have experienced some drug use, or have gotten all the way addicted. Or it might be in your family. Maybe you know people who have become addicted to illegal (or in some cases legal) substances. Regardless of what the case may be, it is very hard to overcome drug addiction. Yet many people do recover from drug addiction every day, and they stay clean and sober for a very long time. That means there’s hope!
Why is Drug Addiction so Hard to Overcome?
There are multitudes of reasons why drug addiction is very difficult to overcome. First of all, addiction is not just about whether a person wants to drink or use drugs to cope with life, but it is a powerful physiological pull which then takes command over users’ feelings and thoughts in the brain. Then their behavior starts to change … for the worse. So simple willpower will not change that altered biochemistry in the brain because the drugs change their brains, creating compulsions to use.
Also, most people who find themselves in the throes of drug and alcohol addiction also have some mental health disorder (or sometimes more than just one) going on at the same time. That’s why we have coined the phrase dual diagnosis – there is the diagnosis of drug use, and the mental health diagnosis too. Many individuals, once getting clean and sober, start to experience depression.
Then unfortunately there is still a great deal of stigma attached to people who get caught in the web of drug use and addiction. No, addiction is not a moral failing. It’s not a lack of willpower. In fact, perfectly wonderful people from all walks of life – rich, middle-class, and poor – get caught in this trap. People who don’t have a lot of education, and people who are highly educated can and do become addicted to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
How to Stop Drug Addiction.
In most people, addiction is strong and powerful. It is an actual disease of the brain and its biochemistry, often influenced by a person’s genetic makeup (not a moral failing), which leads that individual into losing the ability to control the use of their drug of choice. Perhaps the best choice to stop using is to seek professional treatment and to stay in the program. Addiction is treatable (although perhaps not cured, depending on who you talk to). Engaging in conventional approaches using prescription medication plus an effective form of talk therapy and attendance at meetings have been proven to assist greatly in drug addiction recovery.
There are also holistic interventions for drug addiction which rely heavily on nutrition and supplementation rather than medications. Additionally, there are treatment centers which offer an integration between conventional and holistic approaches.
What is the Cause of Drug Addiction?
There are many ways in which people fall into the trap of addiction. It can begin with experimentation with peers (especially in kids), or it can start with prescriptions for pain (this is particularly true for opioid use). It’s been years since the entire human genome has been mapped out, and a great deal of research has been conducted. So, we now know that people can be predisposed genetically to substance abuse.
Not to worry! Let me explain this a bit further. Genes have on/off switches, and environmental stressors can turn gene switches on. If you are genetically predisposed to addiction, your switch may be activated by life stressors. However, we also know that gene expression can be controlled by your nutrition, supplements, mindfulness, how you handle stress, etc. That’s what we mean when we suggest you make lifestyle changes – the healthier lifestyle choices you make each day, the less likely your genes are to express themselves. In other words, you can shut down your genes which may be driving you to use!
How to Overcome Drug Addiction.
It makes sense that a person become aware and admit that they have a drug addiction problem. In more extreme and advanced cases, close friends and family members, with or without the help of a professional, can stage an intervention for the using person. Oftentimes, this results in admitting them to a detox treatment center where the individual can be taken off the drugs safely. Some people need to be closely, medically monitored as they detox heavy drugs from their bodies. This, then, enables your loved ones to begin the actual drug addiction rehab.
What are the Signs of Drug Addiction?
There are many signs of drug addiction, and because people are individuals, they may display these signs in different ways. It makes sense to become familiar with the symptoms to help you identify if a close loved one and/or family member is in need of drug addiction rehab and recovery. A few of these symptoms are:
Additionally, there are specific symptoms when using specific drugs. One example is when using central nervous system depressants, like barbiturates, benzos, and hypnotics, you can feel drowsy, have slurred speaking, you can be irritable and otherwise moody, etc.
How to Help Someone with Drug Addiction and Depression.
One of the best things you can do for someone who is dealing with addiction is to encourage that person to get drug addiction treatment. Overcoming drug addiction without rehab isn’t usually too successful, as the physiological, mental, and emotional pull to continue the addiction is extremely strong. Even if you can stop using drugs, you may not be able to continue staying clean and sober, as you are not engaging in getting drug addiction help in the form of counseling, nutrition, supplements, or medications.
When a person detoxes and gets clean and sober, the real work begins. To overcome drug and alcohol addiction, once your mind is cleared, counseling, education, 12 step meetings, and other things can start. It’s important to address many issues at the same time, using a holistic approach, to achieve a full recovery effort, and your chances of clean and sober increase with this approach.
Unfortunately, many people, once starting their recovery program, experience physical pain. That’s why a holistic approach is good; since pain can leave you with many difficult-to-manage feelings, like anger, sadness, hopelessness, and depression, getting mental health therapy can help even with your physical pain by reducing the mental stress as you learn to cope with life stressors more effectively. Medication to treat depression can also bolster this effort (but is not a substitute for good psychological help).
Taking sugar and other sweeteners and refined flour products (like bread and pasta) out of the food you consume is another meaningful step at alleviating depression. Starting to get some moderate, healthy levels of physical activity is another important step at alleviating depression and may even help with other physical pain. Eat fresh produce (watch the fruits as they contain a fair amount of sugar!), and meats or grains if you don’t want to eat meats. Stop the sodas and energy drinks – they contain things that can impact your mood, like caffeine and sugar. At first this might seem difficult, and it is indeed different to live without ups and downs but keeping the insulin spikes in your blood at a more even keel will have a calming effect.
Some supplements that may be helpful to your overall health, and especially your mental health, are omega-3s (think fish oil or cod liver oil), vitamin D (get plenty of sunshine and take some supplemental D), B12, St. John’s wort, ginseng, lavender, and more. Be careful about your supplements and always check with your health care practitioner to see if they will mix well with your medications. While not many, there are some contra-indications, and your doctor will be able to guide you.
How Drug Addiction Affects Family.
When a person starts using drugs, even if they use their drugs while they are alone, still has a profound affect on family (and close friends). Drug addiction is never a solitary disease. Persons grappling with addiction are often very difficult to get along with, and their behavior usually worsens as they can start stealing from loved ones to get more drugs. Family members and friends usually find it increasingly difficult to trust a person in the midst of addiction. Communication suffers. Divorces happen. Family members start fighting with each other. A using person may suddenly disappear for long periods of time, and sometimes family members find out that their loved one has died from an overdose. It can result in high levels of trauma.
When children grow up in families where a parent abuses drugs, this can have long-term, negative effects on them. These kids are more likely to develop substance use problems of their own and are often neglected and abused. This can impact their learning and development in a negative way. Sometimes kids are removed from their homes and put into foster care.
This is why we often treat the entire family, not just the person with the addiction. There’s hope! The earlier the interventions for drug addiction are made for the entire family, the better. Early intervention can mean less psychological and physical damage.
What is Drug Addiction Treatment?
Drug addiction treatment takes on many forms. It is usually a major, longer-term effort to help addicted individuals stop looking for and taking drugs. Excellent programs geared toward alcohol and drug addiction are multi-faceted since the disease of addiction affects several aspects of daily life simultaneously. Most treatment programs include prescription medications, mental health therapy, attendance at 12 step meetings, exercise programs, and education. In addition, more holistically oriented treatment programs offer nutritional advice (i.e., healthier eating and taking supplements), amino acid therapy, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, reiki, herbal remedies, and neurofeedback, among other approaches. Since the disease of drug addiction is long-lasting and far-reaching, a certain level of monitoring over time is also included in comprehensive treatment programs.
How to Prevent Drug Addiction.
Yes, it is possible to prevent drug addiction! Prevention efforts are often geared toward younger children and adolescents. In fact, the Search Institute is a leading organization engaged in research to help adults help kids have the developmental assets they need to grow up without engaging in drug and alcohol use. These assets range from family support and positive communication to how parents are involved in their kids’ schooling, how the neighborhood/community impacts their lives, to safety and values.
How you parent can also make a difference in how children cope with life. The four main styles are permissive, authoritative, neglectful, and authoritarian, as defined originally by Diana Baumrind. Psst: the most effective style is authoritative!
How to Get Rid of Drug Addiction.
While there are no known ways per se to actually get rid of it since it is considered a chronic disease, there are ways to treat it so effectively that those affected can completely overcome drug addiction. Affected individuals can and do learn to manage this disease so successfully, that they lead happy, healthy, and fulfilled lives.
How Does Drug Addiction Affect the Brain?
The human brain is one of the most astounding, complex organs in the body. It controls all human activity and functioning so you can respond to everything you may experience. Your brain contains billions of cells called neurons. It is divided into circuits and networks. When a person takes drugs, the brain’s reward circuit is impacted which causes a euphoric reaction and dopamine is released.
Drugs interfere with the signals the neurons send, receive and process by way of neurotransmitters. For example, marijuana and heroin can mimic chemicals naturally produced in the brain, and so the messaging system becomes abnormal. Opioids are especially dangerous because they can interfere with the brain stem which controls heart rate, breathing, and sleeping.
The pleasurable or euphoric effect produced by drugs is not completely understood in the context of how it impacts the human brain, but it is believed that the drugs cause abnormally high surges in neurotransmitters that ultimately affect the reward circuit. Since we are hard-wired or programmed to reinforce pleasure, we keep taking drugs.
10 Ways to Avoid Drug Addiction
There are many steps to take to overcome drug addiction. Perhaps the best one is to avoid it completely! Here are some tips to overcome drug addiction as well as prevent it from happening in the first place.
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
While the world has been making its way through the pandemic for the past few years, drug addiction has been – well – rampant and raging. In fact, mental health issues overall have been on the rise, which is not surprising, considering what has been going on in the world. Did you know that the opioid crisis has not only been continuing, but the number of overdose deaths has quadrupled since 1999?
Here are a few startling statistics. More than 70% of all drug-related deaths in 2019 involved the use of an opioid. Opioid death rates increased by over 6% between 2018 and 2019. While opioid death rates by prescription decreased by about 7%, and heroin (or opiate) death rates decreased by over 6%, opioid (i.e., synthetic opiates) death rates increased by more than 15%.
In 2020, prescription opioid related deaths were back up to 16,416 only in America, and that was using a tracking system. (We have to wonder how many never got reported.) Opioid related deaths in 2020 represented a staggering 74.8% of all drug-related deaths in America.
A study was conducted concerning geographic trends and opioid related deaths between 1999 and 2020 to see if it played a role. Indeed, it does. Overdose death rates in more rural areas have been escalating more quickly than in urban areas.
Beth Macy's recent book (called Raising Lazarus) is a powerful, heart-wrenching testimony to the seriousness of America's opioid crisis. It moves from the question why it exists to how it can be overcome.
So, what else can be done? Since around 75% or so of addiction to opioids and opiates starts with legal prescriptions for pain, we can continue to limit prescription opioids (or completely eliminate it). We can refocus on the flow of illegal opioids into America. We can continue to encourage people with such issues to get into treatment, thereby hopefully reducing harm overall.
There is a large prevention movement within the US, and we need to refocus on that effort. Perhaps more importantly, we need to improve it to make it more effective. Not enough money is being allocated for prevention efforts targeting children, adolescents, and young adulthood. Only 8% of teens and young adults who needed treatment for substance use issues actually received it, and there are still issues with access to treatment which are connected to one’s socio-economic status as well as a still-present stigma attached to people who become victims of addiction.
And there’s the issue of natural, holistic approaches to health (including diet, supplementation, mindfulness practices, etc.) which need to be implemented more pervasively. When kids grow up with healthy bodies, that paves the way for them to be able to make more healthy decisions when it comes to starting and certainly continuing drug use. Combining mental health treatment, healthy nutrition education and implementation, and prevention efforts could indeed spell significantly lower addiction/death rates. Think about what that can do to our overall rates of mental health! It’s definitely worth studying that even more than is currently being done.
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Most of us realize that social media is here to stay, for some time to come at least. While the official, scientific verdict may still be out on just how safe social media sites are, there is so much speculation on the pros and cons!
Some say that being in online communities can increase social interaction with friends and family, and people have lots of access to educational information on all ranges of topics. Some say that such interaction can facilitate social and political changes and that social media serves as one of the fastest ways to disseminate useful information.
On the other hand, many say that social media sites prevent the important face-to-face communication, and that much time is wasted on useless activities. Also, some say this has the power to alter one’s brain and change behavior, and of course kids are more exposed to pedophiles, burglars, other predators, and that social media sites can spread incorrect and possibly dangerous information.
While this may apply to just about anyone (and assuming it is correct), what about other higher risks, especially for our teens? They are in that in-between stage, no longer young children but they don’t yet have the full capacity that adults have, to reason and be careful. After all, they’re at the beginning of their lives, and hindsight has not yet developed to a great degree!
One study found that teens use social media every day. This means they are at greater risk for depression, aggression, and being socially isolated. A significant number of teens also develop addictive behaviors associated with social media use, especially when social media constitutes most of their social life. They don’t have much contact with friends and family in person. These individuals may experience social anxiety, more than those with more in-person social ties.
Given their less than ideal state of mind, such teens may be more vulnerable to predators (think
sexual predators), and to cyberbullying. This also puts their developmental growth at risk – in other words, they may not be developing as well as they could be emotionally.
Teens’ self-esteem can take a major hit! Teens tend to compare themselves to others and end up not feeling like they’re good enough. There is also scientific information linking excessive social media use to the possible development of ADHD!
Teens may divulge very private information, and this could have both immediate consequences as well as long-term issues. (Think ahead to applying to colleges and to applying for jobs in the future.)
You see this pattern of potentially very serious problems developing that are linked to social media use. It has even been scientifically linked to post-traumatic stress, something that can take a very long time to neutralize and conquer.
So how do we help teens to develop safe habits and more resiliency? You, the parent, can play a large role in ensuring that your teen develops good habits of social media use, ensuring a more positive experience, and keeping them safe and happy. Would you like to learn some tips on how to do this? We have many of the answers!
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Yes, it’s true – the number of prescriptions for stimulant medication has been rising in recent years. One study found that along with these rising rates, payments to the doctors who treat kids with ADHD increased. Some forms of payments come in the form of frequent, low-amount dollar payments but often in the form of foods and beverages.
In this study, it was noted that pediatricians, psychiatrists, and family physicians got most of the payments from the pharmaceutical companies marketing the drugs. And prescription stimulant use doubled in the 10 year span from 2006 to 2016, which was the highest expenditure for kids. This increase in stimulant prescriptions matches the increase in kids getting the ADHD diagnosis or label. What’s sad is that much of these prescription drugs are then sold on the streets.
It is suggested by the study that the marketing efforts from the pharmaceutical companies may be the largest contributing factor to these rises. Between 2013 and 2018, more than $20 million went to doctors who prescribed such stimulant medication. Another study found a correlation between doctors who get free meals prescribe the brand-name drugs more that big pharma is promoting. (Isn’t that the point of marketing?!)
To review a bit, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder, or, ADHD, is also sometimes called ADD (short for Attention Deficit Disorder, an earlier designation). The authors of the diagnostic manual which professionals use to diagnose says it “is characterized by a pattern of behavior, present in multiple settings (e.g., school and home), that can result in performance issues in social, educational, or work settings.” Their behavioral symptoms are either inattentive or hyperactive or a combination of both. Those who are likely to get this diagnosis usually fail “to pay close attention to details, [have] difficulty organizing tasks and activities, [do] excessive talking, fidgeting, or [have] an inability to remain seated in appropriate situations.”
If you or someone suspects your child “has” ADHD, some signs to look for may be your child starting their schoolwork or chores at home, but they may lose focus and get easily distracted. So, they often don’t finish what they start. Perhaps your child’s teachers are telling you your child is having trouble paying attention to their lessons or can’t stay organized or follow instructions. Another sign might be that if you speak directly to your child, you notice that his/her mind seems to be somewhere else. Also, your child may lose their school materials, they may often misplace their glasses, keys, wallet or purse, and their cell phone.
Many children leave their seats and move around the classroom a great deal. You need to wonder if your child is even capable of staying still for an extended period of time. This would be something excessive, because we know that children are full of energy and impulsive and that’s not necessarily ADHD! If your child can’t play quietly or participate in social activities, this is another possible sign. Your child may also be completing other people’s sentences or cannot wait in line easily.
Remember – if your child has many of these symptoms/behaviors, it may still mean they do not have behavior that rises to the diagnostic level of ADHD, even any of the three subtypes. So, it’s important to have your child evaluated by a competent professional. And also remember that many cases are diagnosed when symptoms can be corrected by diet and supplements.
To review the medications and their side effects, there are multiple medications that are typically given to kids and teens who have a diagnosis of ADHD. A few examples include:
Jornay PM – a stimulant medication prescribed for kids aged 6 and over. It is a federally controlled substance because it has methylphenidate (sold under the name Ritalin) and is considered addictive. Some serious side effects include sudden death in people who have heart issues, stroke, and heart attack (in adults), increase in blood pressure, and it can cause new or worse behavior and thought problems.
Ritalin – methylphenidate is a first-line stimulant medication and often used with kids and teens for ADHD although it is a controlled substance. Side effects can include trouble sleeping (narcolepsy), decreases in appetite which may result in weight loss, anxiety, dry mouth, nausea, stomach pain, irritability, lethargy, dizziness, heart palpitations, blurred vision, and dry eyes.
Adderall – is another controlled substance prescribed to kids and teens for ADHD diagnoses. It is a stimulant (amphetamine, or an “upper”, containing dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate and amphetamine sulfate). This can also cause sudden death with people who have heart problems, stroke, and heart attacks (in adults), increased blood pressure and heart rate. It can also cause new or worse behavior and thoughts. Children and teens may also experience psychotic symptoms, such as hearing voices, believing things not true, other manic symptoms, and suspicion. Fingers and toes may feel numb or painful and may change color.
So, in addition to all these physiological side effects, they can also cause even worse behavioral and mood changes…buyer beware!
To review more holistic approaches to handling ADHD, changing a child’s or teen’s diet can be very challenging! We all know that. However, if your child has a diagnosis of ADHD or you suspect she/he could easily be diagnosed, but you don’t want to go the prescription medication route, it’s worth it to try changing what your child eats.
Start slowly. Introduce new foods perhaps cooked in novel ways (like veggies we all love to hate), so it actually tastes good! Your brain “eats” one fourth of the calories that we ingest. So, a poor diet equates to a poorly functioning brain. A more ideal diet for those with ADHD or its symptoms has lower carbohydrates, and more proteins and fats. Proteins are involved in making neurotransmitters, so they directly impact moods.
An ideal plate may have about 65% plant-based foods (lower starch veggies and salads, lower sugar fruits like berries), 25% high quality protein, and 10% healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and seeds. However, this may vary depending on your child’s individual needs.
Find out which foods your kids may be sensitive to - there are numerous, lower-cost ways to test for these. Also, take foods containing refined wheat (and other grains) way down or out of their diet, and try to reduce/eliminate all sugar. There are very palatable and healthy sugar substitutes (not aspartame, etc.). There are many recipes free of charge that help you make nearly every dish you and your child love using healthier ingredients, including pizza! Yes, there's even a healthy version of pepperoni. Almond flour makes a fine substitute for wheat, by the way. Try to stop eating foods which are more than "minimally processed" - highly processed foods like vegetable oil do not create healthy kids. Watch out for chemical food additives and genetically modified ingredients.
As far as supplementation goes, some helpful choices may be fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids, the B vitamins, vitamin D, probiotics, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Although there are very few, if your child is on medication, you will want to check for possible contra-indications. For optimal results, please work with a competent health care provider!
Now some people do not respond well enough to lifestyle changes, and it may be the case that a combination of low-dose medication coupled with such holistic changes may produce the best results in your kids and teens. Working with competent health care professionals can assist you in finding out the best way to help your kids and teens (and thus, you, the parent), and give everybody involved a better quality of life.
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
So, you have a teenager and you’re wanting to make sure you keep your teen away from the drug scene. Why wouldn’t you want that?! Teens want to fit in with their peers and many of them are experimenting with drugs, perhaps at an even younger age. Teens usually have a bit of money in their pockets, and alcohol and cigarettes are fairly inexpensive to purchase.
As we may remember from our own, teen years are challenging – for everyone involved! For many kids, these challenges can seem overwhelming. Teens, in high school, are pressured to get and maintain good grades, get involved with extracurricular activities, later they feel pressure to go to college…. They also want and need a social life, and they are wondering what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives, as they get very close to adulthood.
Then there’s peer pressure, bullying, ridicule, and parents add to the pressure a teen may feel. So do family problems. There may be parental substance use going on. So do teachers add to a teen’s stress unintentionally. In the current environment, as if all of this were not enough, there are even more mental health challenges arising.
It’s not surprising that many teens decide to self-medicate and escape from all the stress. Many teens use performance enhancing drugs, stimulants, to feel like they can meet the expectations of everyone. Also, kids being naturally curious, may want to know first-hand how it feels to be on drugs, alcohol, and other drugs.
You, as a parent, have many options to help prevent teen drug use (although there is no completely foolproof way).
*Know where your teen is and what your teen is doing at all times.
*Establish rules with reasonable consequences and be prepared to enforce these consequences. Parents, be on the same page about this – present a united front.
*Know your teen’s friends.
*Keep track of all prescription drugs.
*Have open dialogs with your teen about drug use. Find out your teen’s opinions.
*Discuss reasons not to use drugs.
*Consider your teen’s exposure to media messages.
*Discuss ways to resist peer pressure.
*Be open about your own drug use. And remember, you are a very strong role model.
*Know the warning signs of teen drug use, like sudden changes in moods, friends, eating habits, sleeping, etc.
*If you suspect your teen is experimenting, talk about it and encourage honesty.
*Put your focus on the using behavior; don’t make it about being a certain type of person.
*Check in regularly with your teen.
We could go on and on. A wonderful resource is the Search Institute and their 40 Developmental Assets model (searchinstitute.org). Be informed about all the latest research which can help your teen thrive. And don’t forget to take a cold, hard look at the style in which you parent – this can make a huge difference in whether your teen takes the slippery path to drug use … or not.
If you are doing everything you can and your teen still falls into the trap of substance use, no self-recriminations please! Just go get help for your teen and engage the family with this.
And, of course, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.