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10 Sober Ideas For Creating Meaningful Traditions

10 Sober Ideas For Creating Meaningful Traditions

While the holidays are a source of joy and excitement for many, for those in recovery, it can feel quite the opposite. So, how do I manage the holidays in recovery? Here’s 10 sober ideas for creating meaningful traditions.

With the holiday season approaching, you may feel more unsettled than usual as you think about potential triggers, mental health struggles, and the overindulgence that comes with the season.

For years the holidays were centered around drugs or alcohol, so it can feel overwhelming to know how or where to begin.

Take heart in knowing that you now have the opportunity to start from scratch. Being in recovery means you have a clean slate to start new, meaningful traditions with family or friends. 

So, let’s talk about how to navigate the holiday season as an individual in recovery, and a few ideas to help spark your inspiration. 

Taking Care of Yourself During The Holidays:

If you’re in active recovery, you’re already well aware of the challenges that can be thrown your way. Most holidays involve alcohol in one way or another, so taking care of yourself during this season is vital. 

Here are a few ways you can make this holiday season a little easier:

Be Proactive:

If you’re new to sobriety, it may not be in your best interest to simply “wing it”. Ask yourself a few proactive questions to ensure you’re not caught off guard:

  • What is my desired outcome for this holiday season?
  • How am I going to handle my triggers?
  • Who can I trust at a social gathering to hold me accountable?

If you have a sponsor, now is a great time to connect with them about your worries. Every person in sobriety struggles around the holidays to some extent. Lean on those who have walked in your shoes so you’re prepared for whatever comes your way. 

Identify Your Triggers:

No, alcohol or drugs may not be the only trigger you come across during the holidays. For example, your emotional and mental state during the holidays can make you feel weaker than normal. 

A few common triggers include:

  • Interactions with certain family members (people)
  • Unexpected schedule changes 
  • Financial pressures 
  • Traveling
  • Certain locations (places)
  • Other objects such as: syringes, tinfoil, or bottle openers (things)

Keep in mind, you may not always know exactly what triggers you have until you’re confronted with them. If you have a therapist or close friend or family member, talk with them – they may be able to pinpoint something you aren’t able to see. 

Make a Plan To Say ‘No’:

Create a boundary, and stick to it. Bring a non-alcoholic beverage to sip on so others won’t offer you a drink. While some people choose to hide their reasons, it’s always better to maintain honesty. 

A few ways to respond may be:

  • “I don’t drink”. 
  • “I’m not drinking anymore”.
  • “I’m in recovery”.

Remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation if they attempt to push you further. Alcohol is often the only substance people feel so compelled to have to explain not using. Set your boundaries as you feel comfortable.

Starting New, Meaningful Holiday Traditions In Recovery:

Recovery can be a rocky road and the holiday seasons are sure to bring about old memories of substance use in the past. While you might not feel as cheery and bright as in previous years, your holidays are by no means doomed for gloom!

Making the choice to create fun, wholesome, new holiday traditions can help you cultivate the healthy life you are striving to build. Establishing traditions can not only give you something to look forward to, but it can also serve as a positive experience among feelings of stress and worry. 

So, let’s go over a few sober holiday traditions to try this year:
  • Host a Movie Marathon: When was the last time you let yourself enjoy movies you once loved as a kid? Host a Christmas movie marathon with your closest friends or family members. Have each person write down their favorite childhood movie and draw from a hat! You could even make this a weekly event leading up to the holidays. 
  • Schedule a Game Night: Board games are incredibly underrated. Who doesn’t love a good competitive game of Clue? Or get ruthless with UNO. You can invite family and friends, or make it a night specifically for companions in recovery. Each person can bring their own favorite game to share!
  • Start Baking: Baking cookies, granola bars, pies, and other holiday treats have been around for ages. It’s a fun, holiday-centered tradition that doesn’t require any substances to enjoy. The plus side? Baking can be done as an individual activity for days you don’t feel like socializing, or as a group effort. 

  • Hit The Rink: When’s the last time you laced your skates up and took to the rink? Probably childhood. Whether it’s a community ice rink or wooden floored skate park, skating is a wonderful way to not only get your body moving but enjoy active time. 
  • Decorate Gingerbread Houses: Dedicate an afternoon (or evening) to icing those windows, and plopping gumdrops on your front lawn. Gingerbread house decorating is the equivalent of pumpkin carving during Halloween. You may just be surprised at what architectural skills you have! Entice some sober friends to decorate along with you with peppermint lattes or a new coffee
    1. Try something new. Ever made Turkish Coffee on the stove top? Ever made your own handmade pasta (its not hard) or peppermint bark? Or maybe learn to roll your own spring rolls?
    2. Not a foodie? No, problem – go different. The US Olympian, Tom  Daley has a new book out on knitting – something he learned to do to handle boredom and it became a sort of meditation. Go to a pottery house and paint your own. Drop an language app onto your phone and spend 30 minutes a day on it or YouTube how to play the uke or guitar.
    3. Attend a Light Tour: Many cities around the country have Holiday walk-through light tours. If yours doesn’t, make it a tradition to walk or drive through the neighborhoods that go all out. From string lights to Santa Claus, to the Grinch, the decorations are endless! It’s a fun way to enjoy the spirit of Christmas. 
    4. Caroling is a waning tradition but singing with friends is a great booster for mood and gets the mirth pumping. Print off some easy sing-along sheets from online, grab your coffee and a few of friends.
    5. If you’re stuck – go early to a meeting. Open the door for people as they arrive. Smile, shake hands and greet them – tell them you are glad they came and you hope they keep coming. Not feeling social? Set up chairs, make coffee or bring some cookies to put out. When in doubt – simple acts of service are a good tradition any time of the year.

      Holidays In Recovery Are a Time To Start New:

      Holidays aren’t exactly avoidable. They come and go no matter what. If you’re in recovery, holidays can be particularly triggering. Be proactive about your approach, create a plan and identify your triggers so you feel both empowered, and safe

      Sobriety means creating a new life for yourself. The holidays make look different this year, but creating new, healthy traditions can become an anchor in your journey.

      Recovery gives you an opportunity to make the holiday season what you’ve always wanted it to be.

      Whatever you do, I wish you a healthy and happy holidays –

      Buon Natale’ !

      Resources:

      https://www.victorybayrecovery.com/resources/blog/10-ideas-for-making-sober-holiday-traditions/
       
      https://www.talkspace.com/blog/why-the-holidays-are-difficult-for-people-with-addictions/#:~:text=The%20holidays%20are%20often%20associated%20with%20indulgence%20and%20extravagance.,(and%20even%20those%20without).
       
      https://www.bannerhealth.com/healthcareblog/teach-me/recovery-during-the-holidays
      https://westcoastrecoverycenters.com/creating-new-and-healthy-holiday-traditions-in-recovery/
      Categories
      Anxiety & Stress Grief Life Transitions Uncategorized

      How Can I Support a Grieving Friend Through The Holidays?

      How Can I Support a Grieving Friend Through The Holidays?

      The holidays are laced with majestic lights, flavorful treats, and smells of cinnamon and evergreen no matter where you go. For some, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. However, for someone grieving, the holidays can pack a punch with such force they may struggle to keep their head above water. 

      When someone special dies, it can make those still living feel like there’s nothing left to celebrate anymore. Combine this with the financial pressures of gift-giving, overthrown schedules, and routines, and the overwhelming message to spend the holidays with loved ones, the perfect storm is created. 

      So, as someone on the outside how can you support those close to you that are grieving? 

      Let’s talk about what grief is, and how to both connect and encourage a grief-stricken friend through the holiday season.

      What Is Grief?

      Grief is the internal pain and sorrow we experience after a significant loss. While we can describe grief in words on paper, it’s a unique feeling only understood by those who have personally endured it. 

      Unlike sadness that disappears over time, many people describe grief as a “lurking” monster right below the surface. While time goes on and people move past the initial state of shock, the deep emptiness of loss still remains. 

      This is why the holidays can be excruciating for someone grieving. It often serves as a painful and stark reminder that their loved one is no longer with them. 

      Another useful analogy is that of the red ball example. Picture a closed square – this represents your life. Inside this box is a red bouncing ball, representing grief, and a small button representing pain. 

      When the loss first happened, the ball was enormous, and hit the pain button multiple times a day. As time wanes on, the bouncing ball of grief gets smaller. It doesn’t hit this button as often, however, when it does, it still hurts just the same. 

      This description is an excellent way to explain how grief may change over time but can be triggered at moments (such as holidays). 

      Ways To Support Your Grieving Friend During The Holiday Season:

      Now that we understand more about grief, let’s talk about what you can do to make the holiday season a little less painful for those you care about. 

      Reach Out:

      First and foremost, make an effort to reach out! It may be uncomfortable if you’re unsure of how they’ll react but holidays can be incredibly lonely for people that have lost a loved one. Reach out whether it’s via text message, phone call, or social media message. Ask them how they’re doing this time of year. 

      It’s a common misconception to believe that you’re magnifying their pain by talking about their loss, but it’s often the opposite. Many grieving individuals want their loved ones to be remembered. 

      Listen:

      Listen more than you talk. It’s much better to admit, “I’m not exactly sure what to say, but I want you to know I’m here for you” rather than attempt to give advice that could potentially be hurtful or judgmental. Sometimes grieving individuals just need a listening ear while they talk about their loss. 

      Be sure to practice active listening:

      • Asking questions 
      • Nodding your head
      • Making eye contact
      • Putting away any distractions (ie turn off your cell phone, etc)
      • Repeating back what the other person said (reflective listening)

      Offer Practical Help:

      Even basic tasks can feel overwhelming around the holidays for a grieving friend. Offer down-to-earth assistance such as wrapping gifts, baking cookies, or helping pick up gifts. 

      For example, your friend may struggle to holiday shop if that was a long-running tradition with their loved one. By helping them out, you relieve them of some of the anxiety and stress involved with facing a trigger. It may be different next year, but for now, support them in the ways they need support. 

      Extend Invitations:

      When someone is struggling through grief they may feel isolated, lonely, or burdensome to others. Extend a welcome if you’re planning on going to a Christmas event. 

      They may not always say yes, but they’ll always appreciate the thought. If they do turn down your offer, don’t push. Don’t try to beg or negotiate them into joining. They likely have a reason for saying no, and it’s best to respect their boundaries. The sincere invitation from you is important all on it’s own – whether they accept or not.

      Including your grieving friend can help take their mind off of the way they’re feeling while you’re right there to support them. 

      Ask Questions:

      We can often become so obsessed with making sure we support a loved one in the right way, we forget to take their own needs into account. 

      Ask your friend something like this:

      • “How can I help you get through the holidays?”
      • “What kinds of things help? What doesn’t?”
      • “Is there anything practical I can help you with?”

      Taking the time to ask not only shows you care but shows you respect their personal needs. No matter what the response may be it’s important to accept it and avoid pushing. You’re not there to “fix them” you’re there to support them. 

      Grief Has No Timeline:

      When heading into the holiday season it’s important to remember that grief is ongoing. It doesn’t heal after the first holiday, or the second, or the third! After time has passed, some individuals are expected to just “get over it”. Keep in mind, this isn’t how grief works. 

      As Oliver Canovas, an artist from the United Kingdom once said, “If you simply cannot understand why someone is grieving so much, for so long, then consider yourself fortunate you do not understand.

      Shower your grieving friend with kindness, support, and patience. It could make a world of a difference this holiday season. 

      Resources:

       
       
      Categories
      Cancer & Medical Cancer Resilience Uncategorized

      Chemotherapy VS Radiotherapy For Treating Cancer

      Chemotherapy Vs Radiotherapy For Treating Cancer:
      With the growing number of ailments, deadly cancer has become widespread nowadays. Individuals are experiencing different types of cancer like skin, brain, breast, liver, etc. It usually occurs due to consistent alcohol intake, smoking habits and unhealthy activities. Among women, breast cancer has now become more prevalent than ever before.Cancer has been the second-leading cause of death among individuals. But all thanks to emerging science and technology. It has brought great solutions like chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat the disease.

      What Is Cancer?

      Cancer is a disease caused by the abnormal growth of body cells with the ability to spread and destroy body tissues. It can develop anywhere inside the body. The collection of numerous cancerous cells causes them to accumulate in the form of tissues within different parts. It eventually ends up with a more serious ailment, a tumor.

      Two types of tumors exist;

      1. Benign tumor – It develops at a certain body part and does not expand. Hence, it is easy to treat with minimal to no chances of recurrence.
      2. Cancerous tumor – It spreads from one tissue to another due to the expansion of cancerous cells. Thus, it is challenging to control, treat and prevent from growing again.

      Chemotherapy Vs Radiotherapy

      Both chemotherapy and radiotherapy are preferable approaches recommended for treating cancer.

      Chemotherapy relies on using specifically designed drugs to shrink and ultimately kill the cancer cells. It stops the expansion of diseased cells. Consequently, it eliminates the cancerous cells, preserves tissues and treats cancer.

      Radiotherapy, as the name suggests, is based on radiation like X-rays that compose high-energy beams to kill cancer cells.

      How do Chemotherapy & Radiotherapy Work?

      As both the treatments differ in one way or another, their working mechanism varies too.

      Chemotherapy acts as a cancer killer. The process involves the infusion of a drug within your bloodstream. It targets the primary cancerous region and kills the diseased cells. As the drug systematically circulates within the whole body, it makes sure to detox the entire body out of cancer.

      Radiotherapy also functions as a cancer killer, focusing on a targeted region. The invisible radiations with higher energy and frequency pass through the skin layers, eliminating cancerous cells. However, this treatment only works one body part at a time. It is usually best for initial-stage treatment.

      Which Therapy to Opt For?

      The choice of therapy depends on your medical condition and cancer stage. For earlier cancer stages, the doctor usually suggests radiation therapy. It is because initially, cancer cells restrict to a particular body part. The radio waves can precisely target and eliminate it before expanding any further. But chemotherapy can be life-saving for individuals battling for life while at the last stages of cancer. It aims to treat the cancer cell even when they would have been spread throughout the body.

      No matter how effective each therapy can be, only consulting a cancer specialist can suggest to you what to opt for. It is necessary because a professional can conduct blood tests and analyze your body to make a worthy decision. Apart from that, there are chances that the doctor may suggest a combination of both radiotherapy and chemotherapy, called concurrent therapy, for positive outcomes. Additionally, working with a therapist who specializes in helping people as they manage the challenges of cancer treatment can also be very helpful.

      What Can Be The Side-Effects of Undergoing Chemotherapy Vs Radiotherapy?

      While undergoing cancer treatment therapy, it is very crucial to know what can be the side effects. Even though both chemotherapy and radiotherapy aim to kill the cancerous cells, it unintentionally becomes destructive to healthy body cells. The loss of required body cells can cause several common side effects affecting your overall health.

      These may include the following;

       Tiredness/Fatigue
       Digestive Issues (diarrhea)
       Nausea & Vomiting
       Hair loss
       Skin Changes (dryness, peeling, or infections)
       Anemia (reduced number of red blood cells)
       Sexual dysfunction

      Since radiotherapy works within a particular focused area, it causes lesser side effects. The chemotherapy is, of course, more effective yet riskier.

      What to Expect During Chemotherapy vs Radiotherapy for Cancer Treatment?

      Chemotherapy (Chemicals/Medication)

      While going through chemotherapy, your doctor will inject drugs into your veins. It can also be given as oral medicines to swallow, cream or ointment to apply to a particular skin region. The induced drugs will kill cancer cells while causing you multiple side effects. Nonetheless, they more or less depending on which type of cancer you have and how intense it is.

      Chemotherapy can always be challenging due to its unpredictable long list of side effects. It can sometimes cause long-lasting health problems like infertility or nerve damage. You must consult your doctor regarding the intensity of the treatment.

      During chemotherapy, carrying someone alongside while getting treated is always beneficial. Having a loved one there can take good care of you and give you emotional support.

      Radiotherapy (Radiation)

      Processing radiotherapy is far more convenient with lower side effects than chemotherapy. The doctor focuses the radio waves on the affected body region during the radiation treatment. It can, of course, damage the surrounding cells as well, causing the typical side-effects like vomiting and health deterioration. But unlike chemotherapy, it does not causes hair loss or life-long health concerns.

      Radiotherapy can either be very painful or painless depending on the body cancer. However, it is necessary to consult a doctor regarding the preventive measures before and after treatment.

      Effects of Undergoing a Cancer Treatment Therapy on the Family

      Having cancer is hard enough for the patient. It additionally may pose immense stress to the person’s family as well. In addition to helping to juggle the many appointments and logistics that rigorous treatment demands, it can also be quite traumatizing for them. Many struggle with feeling they cannot do enough, feeling powerless to help or even feeling overwhelmed and exhausted themselves – not to mention the fears they face worrying about their loved one.

      Additionally, a cancer patient may be medically vulnerable and more susceptible to catching other illnesses. While undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy, you might have to distance yourself from some public events at times. Disease treatment of any kind brings some vital lifestyle changes that both the patient and the family have to adapt to.

      But ultimately, a family can always be a huge support to the cancer patient. It can help individuals survive the worst phase of life. Talking and sharing pain can help you heal. Their consistent love and care can be nothing short of life-affirming. This includes the “family” you have built in your life; friends, neighbors, school, religious community, close co-workers and those new ones you will find in a cancer support group. And a seasoned therapist who works with people facing these unique challenges would be great, too. It takes a village. And you can do it !

      References

      1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29952494/

      2) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31761807/

      3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK9553/

      4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8554658/

      5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3298009/

      6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6043747/

      7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK343621/

      Categories
      Addiction Recovery Alcohol Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills) Uncategorized

      Opiate Addiction: Detox and Withdrawal 

      Opiate Addiction: Detox and Withdrawal

      Today, opiate addiction is all too common. Both prescription and nonprescription sources, such as online or through unregistered merchants, have made it so easy to purchase these drugs. Regardless of how vital living a healthier life is, using drugs like opiates are more socially accepted in some cultures, especially Western ones. The spread and impact across the US has become an epidemic. And the likelihood is high that you or someone you know has struggled with addiction. That’s why understanding Opiate Addiction: Detox and Withdrawal is so important.

      What Are Opiates and Opioids?

      Opiates are a class of drugs that act as central nervous system depressants. They are typically derived from opium –a substance that is produce naturally from poppies.Opiates are also referred to as narcotics. They also occur in the form of opioids. Opioids are opiate-like medications that are chemically made.

      Opiates and opioids block pain signals that your body sends to your brain. They do so by attaching to structures called receptors. They can target nerve cells in your brain, spinal cord, or other body parts.

      How Does a Person Become Addicted?

      The opiate stimulates the brain’s reward system in a powerful way. This is a critical reason why people can so quickly become dependent. It is highly addictive, especially in the early phases of misuse. With time,the need for opioids becomes stronger. It goes beyond a basic desire for pleasure.Tolerance and reliance are linked to this high drive.

      Opiate addiction occurs as it triggers your brain to release the feel-good chemical, namely dopamine (video). That is why it is simple for anyone to develop a pattern of drug abuse and addiction. It happens to individuals, particularly while seeking to address problems from pain management to emotional worries and stressors. Sometimes innocently enough by way of medical treatment by providers who were ignorant or dismissive of the risks that can lead to numerous mental and physical health issues. There can be short or long term negative-effects from drug addiction.

      What Happens If I Stop Using Opiates On My Own?

      While opiates can relieve pain and create euphoria, they can produce numerous unwanted side effects as well. They may include sudden withdrawal symptoms, unmanageable agony, and suicidal thoughts. It can all occur when opiate usage is stopped or doses are reduced rapidly. Drastically cutting back or stopping abruptly can easily prompt withdrawal. The body requires time to heal after the addicted person quits using the drug.

      Even well into recovery the withdrawal symptoms begin to appear. This is due to something called Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). You could have detox symptoms like restlessness, tears, cramping, flu like symptoms, etc. And yes, it can happen even when the opioid dosage is progressively reduced.

       

      Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms & How Long Do They Last?

      Opiate withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant and intense. Medical detox is the safest , least uncomfortable and most efficient method of eliminating opiates or other drugs.

      Within 24 hours after the last dose, a person will typically begin to experience a combination of the symptoms. The significant indications are flu-like, fever, sweating, and vomiting.

      Pain in the muscles
      Diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea
      Restlessness
      Sweating
      Anxiety
      Dilated pupil
      Watery eyes
      Cramping / abdominal pain
      Increased heart rate
      Frequent and excessive yawning
      Goose bumps
      Insomnia
      Shakes / tremors

      The symptoms may last from few days to a week or even longer. In any case, they will eventually subside and disappear. After the last opioids intake, opiate withdrawal symptoms often begin 12 to 48 hours later. The worst ones usually manifest between 24 and 96 hours. After discontinuing opiate use for 5 to 7 days, you will start to feel better. However, the detox process can continue longer for some patients.

      Opioid Withdrawal varies depending on multiple variables during the medical detox process. It could rely on factors such as the type of painkiller being misused, the individual’s level of drug tolerance, the duration of their addiction if they used several drugs and their mental and medical histories.

      Why Is Additional Care Crucial For A Complete Recovery?

      People in active addiction typically reject that their drug use is a problem. They are hesitant to get help. In some cases, an intervention might inspire someone to seek or accept help. Professional and appropriate interventions seek to provide an organized opportunity to make adjustments and get treatment before circumstances worsen. In most cases whether with an intervention or not, it can be helpful to involve their closest friends or family to provide physical and mental support.

      Keep in mind that addiction is extremely taxing on the mind and body of the person struggling with it. Desperation and feelings of hopelessness can be overpowering and sometimes people attempt to hurt themselves. At the front end of treatment, it is usually the recommendation to only pursue drug detox under the supervision of a medical professional.

      Entering Detox and Effects on Family

      The strain from detoxing from opiates, or any drug or alcohol, can tear apart happy, loving homes. For example, as relatives battle over how to interact with a child who has been taking opiates, conflict becomes norm. Trust erodes and starts to disappear. If a family member tries to stop using on their, they may be tearful, erratic or act aggressively.

      During medical detox is not the time to have deep, constructive conversations. It’s too early for the person seeking recovery and often times it’s too early for the loved ones who are still raw from the chaos, fear and emotional upheaval in the family. Those detailed conversations can wait until the person enters Residential, PHP or IOP level of care. In each of these there will be clinical professionals to facilitate these re-connections in a healthy and safe way.

      Rational discussions are hard between the intense emotions and fears of all involved and the biology at play in the struggling addict. A lot fo times there are years of pain, fear and hurt feelings to work through for everyone involved. Addiction affects the whole family. It can help to talk to someone who is professionally trained and experienced in working with families facing addiction.

      Leaving Opiate Addiction Detox Too Early

      Leaving opiate addiction treatment during detox can bring negative changes. Many people in detox treatment begin to feel physically better long before they have actually even begun the work it will take for sustained recovery. This is why so many people leave treatment after only a handful of days. This is a serious and critical issue because the person is very likely to fall right back into use and may even accidentally overdose without intending to. Leaving treatment early puts the person struggling with addiction is a very dangerous position.

      Can People Die from Opiate Withdrawal?

      Yes, if left untreated, persistent vomiting and diarrhea can lead to heart failure, hypernatremia (a high blood salt level), and dehydration. A professional, medical detox facility will pay very close attention to this and be monitoring the client day and night. Otherwise, unless you have other complicating medical conditions, opiate withdrawal symptoms, while intense and uncomfortable are typically not life-threatening.

      A Few Final Thoughts on Opiate Addiction

      Any drug addiction, whether opiates, alcohol, benzos, cocaine or something else puts you at serious risk. Liver, stomach, kidney, heart and brain can all be damaged and a variety of other complicating medical problems can begin. The destruction on relationships and emotional health is no less severe.

      It takes courage to look at yourself and admit you have a problem. And even more courage to step into the unknown and allow someone to help you. Stay open-minded. You don’t have to be perfect – you get to be human. Begin by being willing to begin something new.

      The first step to a better life than you can imagine is to reach out and get professional help

      Breathe. You CAN do this.

      Categories
      Addiction Recovery Anxiety & Stress Critical Incidents First Responders Uncategorized

      The Human Brain: Frontal Lobe and Mid Brain

      The Human Brain: Frontal Lobe and Mid Brain

      The human brain is made up of many different parts, each with its own unique function. The frontal lobe and mid-brain are two of the most important regions of the brain, responsible for various critical functions. Though they are both parts of the human brain; frontal lobe and mid brain have some very different functions.

      The frontal lobe is the larger of the two regions and is located at the front of the brain. This region is responsible for higher-level thinking, such as decision-making and problem-solving. Conversely, the mid-brain is located in the center of the brain and is responsible for more basic functions, such as movement and vision.

      In recent years, scientists have made great strides in understanding how the brain works. We now know more about the different parts of the brain and their functions than ever before. And as our understanding of the brain grows, so too does our ability to treat different types of brain disorders.

      What Is The Frontal Lobe?

      The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that is responsible for many of our higher-level functions, such as planning, decision-making, and self-control. This area of the brain is particularly important in children, as it is still developing during the teenage years.

      Functions Of The Frontal Lobe

      The frontal lobe is one of the four major and most important lobe of the brain. It is located at the front of the brain and is responsible for a variety of tasks, including motor function, problem-solving, memory, emotions, and language. The frontal lobe is the largest of the four lobes and is divided into two sections: the left and right frontal lobes.

      The frontal lobe is responsible for many of the body’s functions, including:
      • Motor function: The frontal lobe is responsible for controlling the body’s movement.
      • Problem-solving: The frontal lobe is responsible for processing information and making decisions.
      • Memory: The frontal lobe is responsible for storing memories.
      • Emotions: The frontal lobe is responsible for regulating emotions.
      • Language: The frontal lobe is responsible for producing and understanding language.
      • The personality function is responsible for our emotions and social interactions. This is the part of the brain that allows us to interact with others and experience the world around us.

      Effects Of Damage To The Frontal Lobe

      One of the most common effects of frontal lobe damage is problems with executive function. This can include difficulties with planning, organization, and decision-making. People with frontal lobe damage may also have trouble with short-term memory, and they may have difficulty understanding and using language. Additionally, some psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, are thought to be associated with abnormalities in the frontal lobe.

      Physical effects of frontal lobe damage can include weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, as well as problems with balance and coordination. In some cases, people with frontal lobe damage may also experience changes in their personalities and mood.

      What Is Mid-Brain?

      The mid-brain is a region of the brain that is located between the fore-brain and the hind-brain. The mid-brain is also responsible for many of the body’s automatic functions, such as regulating blood pressure and heart rate.

      Function Of Mid-Brain

      The mid-brain is responsible for a variety of important functions, including the regulation of sleep, body temperature, and blood pressure. It also plays a role in the processing of information from the senses and the control of movement. Additionally, the mid-brain is involved in the formation of memories and the generation of emotions.

      Effects Of Damage To The Mid-Brain

      Damage to the mid-brain can have a variety of effects depending on the location and severity of the injury. Damage to the mid-brain can result in a number of different symptoms, including problems with movement, balance, and coordination. This can make everyday activities difficult or even impossible. In severe cases, damage to the mid-brain can cause coma or death. Damage to the mid-brain can also cause paralysis and blindness.

      Difference Between Forebrain And Mid-Brain

      The human brain is the most fascinating organ. It is divided into three main parts – the hindbrain, the midbrain, and the forebrain – each of which serves a different purpose. The hindbrain is responsible for primitive functions like respiration and heart rate, while the midbrain controls more complex functions like movement and vision. The forebrain, which is the largest and most complex part of the brain, is responsible for higher functions like thought, emotion, and memory.

      While all three parts of the brain are important, the frontal lobe and the midbrain are particularly interesting when compared to each other. The mid-brain is responsible for processing information from the senses, while the frontal lobe is responsible for higher-level cognitive functions such as decision-making, planning, and problem-solving. 

      The forebrain is located at the front of the brain, while the midbrain is located in the middle of the brain. The frontal lobe is larger and more complex than the mid-brain, and it contains more convolutions (or folds). The mid-brain, on the other hand, is smaller and simpler in structure.

      While there are many differences between the mid-brain and the frontal lobe, they are both essential for normal brain function. Without either one of these structures, the brain would not be able to properly process information or perform complex tasks.

      Summary

      As it has been mentioned before, the forebrain and mid-brain have many key differences, but none of them can be overestimated. Both of them have their own importance and essential part of the brain. The forebrain is responsible for the higher cognitive functions, while the mid-brain is in charge of the more basic functions. In conclusion, both the forebrain and mid-brain are essential for the proper functioning of the brain.

      Learn more about how addiction impacts the brain

      Categories
      Addiction Recovery Cancer & Medical Uncategorized

      Everything You Need To Know About Nicotine Addiction

      Everything You Need To Know About Nicotine Addiction and Its Mechanisms of Dependence

      Nicotine addiction is likley the most common addiction in the world. That’s not surprising as it is a highly addictive substance in tobacco products across the globe. It is the main reason why people who smoke cigarettes find it so hard to quit. (everybody knows somebody who has quit…many times.) When nicotine enters the body, it affects the brain in a number of ways. Nicotine increases the levels of certain chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed. It also reduces the levels of other chemicals that make you feel stressed and anxious.

      If you are trying to quit smoking, it is important to understand how nicotine affects your brain. This article will provide you with everything you need to know about nicotine, including its effects on your health and its potential risks. I know, I know…a bummer. But let’s keep it real.

      So, What Is Nicotine?

      Nicotine is an alkaloid found in plants. It is a potent parasympathomimetic stimulant and an important drug used in many forms of smoking cessation therapy. Nicotine acts as a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist to produce site-specific depolarizing changes in cell membranes. These changes elicit a variety of downstream effects that ultimately lead to activation of cell signalling pathways and regulation of gene expression.

      Nicotine is addictive and can be harmful to your physical as well as mental health. It is important to be informed about the risks of nicotine before you start using it.

      Dependence On Nicotine

      Nicotine dependence is a psychiatric disorder characterized by compulsive use of nicotine-containing products, despite negative consequences. dependence on nicotine is thought to involve both psychological and biochemical mechanisms.

      Psychologically, nicotine dependence is similar to other types of addiction and is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, environment, and personality. Biochemically, nicotine dependence is thought to be caused by the changes that nicotine induces in the brain. These changes lead to an increased need for nicotine in order to feel normal and are thought to be responsible for the compulsive use of tobacco products seen in nicotine-dependent individuals.

      How Does Nicotine Affect The Brain?

      Nicotine binds to receptors in the brain and produces a number of effects, including increased alertness and concentration. It also causes a release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which gives smokers a temporary energy boost. In the long term, however, nicotine can have harmful effects on the brain. These effects include addiction, increased risk of stroke and cognitive decline.

      In addition to the changes it causes in the brain, nicotine also has a number of other effects on the body. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure, and it can also constrict blood vessels. Nicotine is also a known carcinogen, and it has been linked to a number of different types of cancer.

      How Is Nicotine Used?

      Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that is commonly found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. (In some aspects, nicotine is the most addictive substance on the planet – even above opioids. Though nicotine kills much more slowly). While many people think of nicotine as being harmful only to smokers, the reality is that it can be abused in many different ways.

      Nicotine abuse can take many forms, including smoking (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, water pipes, etc), chewing tobacco (such as chew or dip), snorting tobacco (snuff), and even using electronic cigarettes (vapes). No matter how it is abused, nicotine is dangerous and can lead to addiction and other health problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with nicotine abuse, please seek help from a medical professional.

      Harmful Effects Of Nicotine Addiction

      Smoking is a leading cause of disease and death in the United States. Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke cause more than 480,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. More than 41,000 of these deaths are from lung cancer. smoking is responsible for about 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and about 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.

      Some other harmful effects of nicotine addiction include

      • Lung cancer

      • Emphysema

      • Premature ageing

      • Chronic bronchitis

      • Stroke

      Cancer

      • Leukemia

      • Impotence

      • Infertility

      • Weakened immune system

      • Heart disease

      • Gum disease and dental issues

      • Diabetes

      • Eye issues

      • The appearance of premature ageing

      • Pregnancy complications

      • Cold and respiratory infections

      • Loss of sense of taste and smell

      • Peptic ulcer disease

      • Osteoporosis

      Nicotine addiction also increases your risk of developing mental health problems. If you’re addicted to nicotine, it’s important to get help so you can quit and protect your health.

      Treatment For Nicotine Addiction

      Nicotine addiction is a serious problem that affects millions of people worldwide. There are a variety of treatment options available, and a professional can help you choose the right one for your needs.

      1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy
        Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a smoking cessation method that involves using a nicotine- based product to help smokers quit. NRT is thought to work by reducing the withdrawal symptoms that smokers experience when they try to quit. Nicotine replacement products come in a variety of forms, including patches, gum, lozenges, and inhalers.
        1. There is some evidence to suggest that NRT can help smokers quit, but the success rates are generally low. If you’re thinking about trying NRT to quit smoking, it’s important to talk to your doctor first to see if it’s right for you.
      • Support Groups
        Support groups are one of the most effective tools in the fight against nicotine addiction. By providing a safe and supportive environment, they can help people to quit smoking and stay smoke-free for life.
      Support Groups can help you:

      • Feel less isolated
      • Understand that they are not alone • Share their experiences
      • Learn from others
      • Get motivation and support
      • Stay on track

      There are many different types of support groups, but all of them share a common goal. Some groups focus on providing information and education about quitting, while others offer more emotional support. No matter what type of group you choose, you will be surrounded by people who understand what you’re going through and can offer advice and support.

      Summary

      Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that can have harmful effects on your physical and mental health. If you are addicted to nicotine, it is important to seek help to quit as soon as possible. There are a variety of resources available to help you quit, and many people have successfully quit smoking, chewing, dipping, using snuff and snus and even vaping. With the right support, you can overcome your addiction and improve your health.

      Categories
      Children & Grief Grief Life Transitions Loss Terminal Illness Uncategorized

      Managing the Emotions of Terminal Illness

      How Do I Manage The Emotions of My Terminal Illness?

      Being informed you have either a chronic, or terminal illness is news nobody ever expects to hear. So, what happens when you’re suddenly faced with this life-altering information and you have to start managing the emotions of terminal illness?

      Diagnosis of a terminal illness brings about a wide variety of emotions – whether you’re hit with them immediately, or you take some time to process them. Your priorities are suddenly shifted, and the amount of challenges you now face has doubled. 

      However, hope certainly exists – even in the face of a terminal illness. 

      While it might not seem possible, or even easy, keeping a positive  attitude and practicing peace can not only increase your quality of life in the time you have left, but can actually make the entire process easier for both you and your loved ones. 

      So, how is this done? How can you practice hope and self-compassion while remaining self-aware during a serious medical diagnosis? Let’s talk about it. 

      Your Emotions Post Diagnosis:

      If you’ve just been told you have either a terminal illness or a chronic one, you may be surprised at the way you’re feeling. Some individuals are suddenly bombarded with hysteria, depression, and an overflow of tears. Some, on the other hand, feel quite ‘matter of fact’ about death and dying, to their own surprise. 

      No matter how you’re handling the news, understand that each person’s journey is unique and there is no right or wrong way to feel

      A few emotions you may be going through include:

      • Anger
      • Shock
      • Resentment 
      • Fear
      • Sadness
      • Denial 
      • Frustration 
      • Hopelessness
      • Relief
      • Acceptance

      As time passes you may find you go through waves of different emotions. While at first, you may have felt in denial, after a few months you might come to accept what’s happening. 

      Most people, unless they have an extremely high level of emotional regulation, will be unable to take it all in right away. Hearing you have a terminal illness can be quite surreal, so it’s important to show yourself love and accept the emotions you’re feeling no matter what they are. 

      How To Cope With Your Emotions During a Terminal Illness:

      Knowing that death is near can take a massive toll on your mental health, as well as your loved ones. This is why it’s incredibly important to learn how to cope with these emotions in order to make the time you have a positive experience. 

      Healthily managing your emotions has been proven to influence acceptance levels, increase communication with loved ones, and create a balance of hope and honesty during an extremely difficult process. 

      Here are a few ways to cope with the emotions of a terminal illness:

      Educate Yourself On Fear:

      While almost everyone is afraid of death it can help to pinpoint exactly what part of death you’re afraid of most. Do you wonder if it will hurt? Are you struggling with the unknown of what comes after? Is it the impact on your loved ones after you pass? Or perhaps it’s something else completely? For some of us it is physical, for some it is spiritual and for some it can rest in logistics or relationships or something entirely different.

      Empowering yourself with education on exactly what you’re afraid of can help manage it. Fear can drive emotions such as depression, anxiety, and helplessness so taking time to face it head-on can diffuse such powerful feelings. 

      Channel Your Anger:

      It’s quite rare someone ever feels ‘ready to die. However, these feelings of resentment and anger toward our situation can lead us to take our negative emotions out on those closest to us. 

      A terminal illness is unfair – and your feelings are completely valid! However, it’s not in your own best interest – or the interest of your loved ones – to spend your days angry at them. Try and find an outlet to release your anger directed at your disease, rather than at anyone person or thing in particular. 

      Tackle Guilt and Regret as Quickly as Possible:

      It’s very normal for a person nearing the end of life to feel immense regret about things they did or did not do. You may feel like you should have made different choices, said something you should have said, or taken a risk you should have taken. 

      While this is common to feel, guilt and regret changes nothing. It’s unhelpful to think about the would have / should haves unless you have a time machine. 

      Worrying about your past won’t relieve your burdens, in fact, it may make them much stronger. In this particular instance, it’s extremely helpful to allow yourself a ‘free pass. Guilt and shame have no place in your end-of-life care, and it must stay that way. 

      Nurture Your Grief:

      One of the scariest emotions you may be feeling is the immense grief that comes along with a terminal illness. You may be grieving the loss of a life you had planned, grieving your children or significant other before you’re even gone, or you may be grieving the physical functions you no longer have. 

      Many, many emotional losses come before the loss of life itself so it’s important to take time to nurture that grief. Instead of isolating yourself from others and choosing to deal with grief on your own, talk to someone. 

      A friend, a partner, or even your medical team. It may take a few times, but talking about your grievances will help alleviate the burden they cause. 

      How To Maintain Self-Awareness During The End of Life:

      While it’s likely you have a team of medical professionals by your side day and night, you’re the only one who knows exactly what you’re feeling at exactly the time you feel it. 

      While the thought of your final days can feel overwhelming, it may make it easier to understand what that process may look like. Knowing what to expect can make it less frightening and more prepared.

      There are a few conditions to look out for in order to maintain a more positive level of self-awareness during this time. 

      • Pain
      • Shortness of breath 
      • Decreased appetite and thirst
      • Nausea
      • Vomiting 
      • Constipation 
      • Extreme fatigue 
      • Delirium 
      • Restlessness
      • Seeing loved ones that have passed
      • Cold hands and feet
      • Skin mottling 

      While each person’s death will look different, being on the lookout for these can help you become more aware when death may be near. This can give you time to say goodbye to your loved ones, and have those you care about around you when you pass. 

      Dying Is a Natural Process:

      Everyone will die eventually. If you’re an individual with a terminal illness it just may be that your time has come sooner than others. Once you accept you have limited time left you can begin spending your final days, weeks, or years living each and every day with meaning and fulfillment. 

      It’s common for terminally ill patients to feel as though they’re a burden and to begin to isolate themselves from loved ones. But I want to reassure you this is certainly not the case. In most circumstances, loved ones simply don’t know what to say or how to act, so it’s up to you to keep communication open with them about the way you’re feeling. And yes, there are counselors who specialize in helping people and their families through this transition.

      Whether you feel denial, anger, shock, sadness, grief, or acceptance it’s all normal. The sooner you can embrace your emotions, the sooner you can make your time count. 

      Resources:

      https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/end-of-life-care/coping-with-a-terminal-illness/#:~:text=It%27s%20normal%20to%20feel%20shock,to%20talk%20to%20a%20doctor.

      https://www.verywellhealth.com/dealing-with-terminal-illness-1132513

      https://news.unl.edu/newsrooms/today/article/during-terminal-illness-hope-can-have-a-dark-side/

      https://www.cancer.org/treatment/end-of-life-care/nearing-the-end-of-life/emotions.html

      Categories
      Addiction Recovery Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills) Uncategorized

      What Is Vivitrol?

      What Is Vivitrol?”  I get asked that more and more often. Vivitrol is the injection (shot) form of a medication known as Naltrexone. And it’s use has grown significantly over the past several years – and for good reason. This article is intended to give you a little info and hopefully provide some clarity too.

      • Most commonly used for Opioid and Alcohol Withdrawal and to inhibit cravings
      • Comes in oral (Naltrexone) and IM (Vivitrol) forms
      • Must be prescribed by an approved physician
      • Is not meant to be a “magic pill” cure
      • Like other Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) options – the highest successful outcomes are when it is paired with therapy/treatment and support.
      • It is very different than other MAT out there at this time. 

      *If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please cheack out this resource page*

      Stethoscope next to computer

      Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that has the highest affinity for the -opioid receptors. In addition to its ability to block the effects of opioids, this compound has very few, if any, inherent effects. In 1994, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States gave its approval for the use of Naltrexone in the treatment of alcoholism (Kranzler, Wesson, Billot, Clinical, & Research, 2004).

      In spite of this permission, the studies that have been conducted to determine whether or not Naltrexone is effective in treating alcoholism have produced mixed results. Patients failure to follow the prescribed treatment regimen while taking oral Naltrexone is one factor that contributes to the treatment’s overall lack of efficacy.

      Some studies have also shown that in order for subjects to have greater reductions in alcohol consumption and risk of relapse as compared to subjects who were treated with a placebo, they must be highly compliant with the Naltrexone treatment. Utilizing formulations that provide sustained release or depot treatment is one approach that can be taken to address this issue.

      VivitrolTM, a depot injectible dosage form of Naltrexone, was approved by the FDA on April 13, 2006, for the treatment of alcohol dependence in patients who are capable of withdrawing from drinking in an outpatient setting and who are not actively drinking at the beginning of therapy. Patients must also not be drinking at the time treatment begins. The recommended dosage of Vivitrol is 380 milligrams, which should be injected once per month or every 28 days.

      Both DepotrexTM and NaltrelTM are examples of alternative depot parenteral formulations of Naltrexone. Naltrel helped to promote abstinence and decreased the incidence of relapse in two samples of alcohol-dependent subjects, while Vivitrol was shown to be effective at reducing heavy drinking among alcohol-dependent males (Chick et al., 2000; Monti et al., 2001).

      The use of Naltrexone provides a blockade against the intoxicating and reinforcing effects of opioid-like compounds, which, in theory, can result in the elimination of drug-taking behavior. It does not produce euphoric effects, and as a result, it is not abused. Additionally, it does not result in physiological dependence on the user.

      Similar to the situation with alcohol, the primary challenge presented by the oral formulation of Naltrexone for the treatment of opium or heroin dependence is low compliance (adherence). Long-acting sustained release formulations of Naltrexone (injectable or implantable) may help to develop compliance and, as a result, augment the efficacy of abstinence-oriented treatments with Naltrexone for heroin or opium dependence. Following the completion of opioid detoxification, the administration of Vivitrol is done for the purpose of preventing a return to opiate dependence (B. A. J. T. Johnson & management, 2007).

      Mechanism of Action 

      Dopaminergic pathways, (which have their origins in the ventral tegmental area, relay to the nucleus accumbens with neuronal inputs from other limbic regions, and progress to the cortex), are responsible for mediating the reinforcing effects of alcohol, which are associated with the substance’s potential for abuse. An antagonist for the mu-opioid receptor, Naltrexone, reduces the positive effects of alcohol through two distinct mechanisms. First, it prevents alcohol from causing beta-endorphin stimulation of dopamine neurons directly in the nucleus accumbens. Second, it prevents beta-endorphin from disabling the tonic inhibition of dopamine cells caused by gamma-aminobutyric acid neurons in the ventral tegmental area (Koob & Research, 2003; Wise & Bozarth, 1987).

      Oral Dosage Form and Its Effects 

      In alcohol-dependent people who had recently stopped drinking, taking oral Naltrexone was effective at reducing the likelihood of relapsing and going back to drinking heavily. Its general effectiveness has been limited by two consequential factors, one of which is that the pharmacokinetic properties of oral Naltrexone lead to significant fluctuations in plasma levels with oral daily dosing. A medication adherence rate of at least 85 percent is necessary in order for there to be a therapeutic response. First, the low plasma trough level of oral Naltrexone reduces the efficacy of the drug, which may explain why this requirement exists. Second, it is believed that high peak levels are responsible for adverse events, and it is estimated that up to 15% of people who receive oral Naltrexone will discontinue treatment due to adverse events, particularly nausea (B. A. Johnson & Ait-Daoud, 2000).

      Therefore, optimizing the pharmacokinetic profile of Naltrexone by developing a deep intramuscular injection that would release Naltrexone over the course of several weeks would make the drug more effective as a whole. Therefore, plasma levels would remain relatively constant, and while they would be low enough to cut down on the number of adverse events, they would still be high enough to produce the desired anti-drinking effects. In other words, even though it is not anticipated that the effect size of the long-acting, intramuscular formulation of Naltrexone will be greater than the effect size of oral Naltrexone, it is likely that the overall outcome will be improved because of the increased compliance and longer exposure to a therapeutic dose (Bartus et al., 2003).

      Patients are typically given 380 mg of the long-acting injectable (LAI) form of Naltrexone once every 28 days, and oral Naltrexone is typically titrated up to the target dose of 50 mg per day. Although the use of LAI Naltrexone does not require a trial period of oral Naltrexone, it is standard practise to determine the patient’s level of toleraance with oral doses before moving on to higher concentrations. It is possible that the use of LAI Naltrexone has benefits for adherence when compared to the use of oral Naltrexone. This is due to the fact that non-adherence is common among patients who are taking medication for alcohol use disorder.

      3.1% of patients in the study were given any form of Naltrexone, but only 0.24% of patients were given LAI Naltrexone. This information was obtained from a study. Even though about 40% of people have experienced alcohol abuse of some kind at some point in their lives, very few people are actually receiving the help they need. According to the findings of the same study, the patients who were given the intramuscular injection were more likely to make use of both outpatient and inpatient mental health services. Patients battling alcohol use disorders who receive treatment that is both pharmacologic and makes use of mental health resources have better outcomes as a result of their treatment. These resources for mental health include individual drug counselling, care management, monitoring of a patient’s substance use, and intensive outpatient treatment, among other options (Aletraris, Shelton, & Roman, 2015; Marienfeld, Iheanacho, Issa, & Rosenheck, 2014).

      More research is needed in order to find out the effects and outcomes of drug with the use of oral dosage form and other dosage forms. 

      References 

      Aletraris, Lydia, Shelton, Jeff S, & Roman, Paul M %J Journal of substance abuse treatment. (2015). Counselor attitudes toward contingency management for substance use disorder: Effectiveness, acceptability, and endorsement of incentives for treatment attendance and abstinence. 57, 41-48. 

      Bartus, Raymond T, Emerich, Dwaine F, Hotz, Joyce, Blaustein, Marc, Dean, Reginald L, Perdomo, Brigido, & Basile, Anthony S %J Neuropsychopharmacology. (2003). Vivitrex®, an injectable, extended-release formulation of naltrexone, provides pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evidence of efficacy for 1 month in rats.28(11), 1973-1982. 

      Chick, Jonathan, Anton, Raymond, Checinski, Ken, Croop, Robert, Drummond, D Colin, Farmer, Roger, . . . alcoholism. (2000). A multicentre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of naltrexone in the treatment of alcohol dependence or abuse. 35(6), 587-593. 

      Johnson, Bankole A %J Therapeutics, & management, clinical risk. (2007). Naltrexone long-acting formulation in the treatment of alcohol dependence. 3(5), 741. 

      Johnson, Bankole A, & Ait-Daoud, Nassima %J Psychopharmacology. (2000). Neuropharmacological treatments for alcoholism: scientific basis and clinical findings. 149(4), 327-344. 

      Koob, George F %J Alcoholism: Clinical, & Research, Experimental. (2003). Alcoholism: allostasis and beyond.27(2), 232-243. 

      Kranzler, Henry R, Wesson, Donald R, Billot, Laurent, Clinical, DrugAbuse Sciences Naltrexone Depot Study Group %J Alcoholism:, & Research, Experimental. (2004). Naltrexone depot for treatment of alcohol dependence: a multicenter, randomized, placebo‐controlled clinical trial.28(7), 1051-1059. 

      Marienfeld, Carla, Iheanacho, Theddeus, Issa, Mohammed, & Rosenheck, Robert A %J Addictive Behaviors. (2014). Long-acting injectable depot naltrexone use in the Veterans’ Health Administration: a national study. 39(2), 434-438. 

      Monti, Peter M, Rohsenow, Damaris J, Swift, Robert M, Gulliver, Suzy B, Colby, Suzanne M, Mueller, Timothy I, . . . Research, Experimental. (2001). Naltrexone and cue exposure with coping and communication skills training for alcoholics: treatment process and 1‐year outcomes. 25(11), 1634-1647. 

      Wise, Roy A, & Bozarth, Michael A %J Psychological review. (1987). A psychomotor stimulant theory of addiction.94(4), 469.

      Categories
      Anxiety & Stress Children & Grief Critical Incidents Death in Workplace First Responders Grief Loss Uncategorized

      Everything You Need To Know About Mass Shootings and What You May Experience Afterward

      Everything You Need To Know About Mass Shootings and What You May Experience Afterward

      With a steady increase in mass shootings and violence in the United States, more and more people are left as primary or secondary victims  to these heinous crimes. 

      Shootings aren’t anything new to the US, sadly. The rate at which they’re occurring has drastically increased over the years leaving a gaping hole in resources and education for those struggling in the aftermath. 

      What exactly is “normal” to feel in the days, weeks, and months after being witness to a shooting event?

      Is the way we cope with this trauma different for kids vs. adults?

      Let’s talk about it. 

      What You Need To Know About The Increase In Mass Shootings:

      Why is there such a spike in mass shootings all of the sudden?

      Is there a common underlying problem, or is the media just choosing to cover more of these stories than ever before?

      Is it because we all have the latest news at our fingertips – making these tragic stories more accessible?

      The term mass shooting refers to any situation in which a gunman shoots 4 or more strangers in a sudden attack. While the attack is unexpected the perpetrator may have been planning their crime for months or years before the incident. 

      In addition,  in order for a shooting to be considered a ‘mass shooting’ it must occur in any public space such as a school, shopping mall, store, or workplace. While there may be a target of the attack (such as an employee targeting his boss) others are wounded or killed in the process. 

      So, why such an increase?

      There hasn’t been a single week in 2022 without some instance of a mass shooting. (look at the data on school shootings in 2022)

      It’s a heartbreaking statistic that shows that each year our community is left with literally hundreds of survivors and witnesses. These people then have to face the mental, emotional, and physical trauma left behind. 

      Many mass shooters are incorrectly labeled as “mentally unstable individuals” who suddenly snap at the drop of the hat. But taking a deeper look shows many of these crimes are either

      1. Hate crimes (such as the shooting that occurred at Pulse, a gay bar in Orlando, Florida) or are
      2. Directed by some agenda and a desire to “send a message” (such as those perpetrated by various extremist groups) 

      Shooters are more likely to be vengeful, angry individuals who are seeking revenge on society for their perceived wrongdoings done against them. 

      What’s ‘Normal’ To Go Through Emotionally After a Shooting?

      While mass shootings should never be considered a ‘normal’ event in society, there are some ‘normal’ emotions and feelings you may be working through after being trapped in one of these terrifying situations. 

      One thing we do know, however, is that everyone processes the aftermath of a shooting differently. People may experience a wide range of emotions that come and go like tidal waves, while others may take much longer to overcome the initial denial of their experience. 

      No matter what you feel, remember that it’s all subjective to your own personal experience. There is no right or wrong way to handle the aftermath of a shooting. 

      Feelings you may experience after a shooting include, but are not limited to:
      • Sorrow 
      • Shock 
      • Fear
      • Numbness
      • Denial 
      • Anger 
      • Grief
      • Disassociation 
      • Depression
      • Anxiety 
      • Paranoia 

      While people are incredibly strong and most often bounce back after difficult times, shootings are events that can greatly alter your entire sense of safety and belonging. 

      For example, some people struggle with feelings of survivors’ guilt or even just to sleep, eat or perform other daily activities. Some no longer feel safe in large or public places. Others find it hard to be around people and begin to pull back and disconnect from their community.

      How Are Children Handling Life After School Shootings?

      Children are some of the most resilient creatures on Earth. Have you ever seen a child completely face plant into the ground and then get up and keep on running?

      However, the traumatic events of a school shooting are likely to disrupt all of their ‘normal’ emotional and behavioral tendencies.

      Emotions and behaviors they may experience:
      • Trouble sleeping 
      • ‘Acting out’
      • Nightmares
      • Anxiety or paranoia
      • Being afraid to sleep alone 
      • Shock 
      • Anger
      • Grief

      It’s likely that after a shooting children are faced with navigating complex emotions they may not fully understand. Trauma is difficult enough without loss of lives. Grief for children amidst the chaos only makes things more difficult. It’s important as caregivers to nurture these wounds and support them in whatever way possible. Keep home a safe space to talk to them about what they’re experiencing in the aftermath of a shooting. While forcing or pressuring them to talk about what they have gone through isn’t helpful, remind them often that you’re here when they’re ready to talk. 

      When To Seek Help After a Shooting:

      There are 2 major interventions needed after a traumatic event like this.

      Critical Incident Stress Debriefing / Management (CISD / CISM)

      The first should ideally happen within a couple of hours and that is a special type of intervention/debriefing called Critical Incident Stress Management. These CISM professionals are highly trained it what to do right after such event to help the victims and first responders begin to process and deal with the emotional aftermath of the traumatic event.

      A Professional Who Specializes in Traumatic Events

      The second is to work with a professional psychotherapist who specializes in helping people who have been through a traumatic event, not just one who works with anxiety or PTSD. The best of these are likely also trained in CISM and have many years of experience as well.

      While some effects of a shooting may dissolve after about 4 to 6 weeks, in some instances you may be suffering from more long-term symptoms, otherwise known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

      The acute stress that can follow after an incident of gun violence is nothing to mess around with. Be mindful of your emotions and behaviors in the months following a shooting. It’s always best to seek help if you:

      • Experience frequent flashbacks or nightmares 
      • Have trouble concentrating on everyday tasks
      • Are having difficulties completing work 
      • Are experiencing intrusive thoughts related to the incident
      • Become easily triggered by things in the environment
      • Feel as though you’re in danger whenever in social settings 
      • Are feeling like you’re constantly on edge or irritable 
      • Have a hard time falling or staying asleep

      PTSD can quickly spiral into self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, self harm, and other harmful methods aimed at easing your distressing symptoms. If you feel as though you’re not returning back to yourself after a few weeks or months have gone by there are many mental health professionals trained and ready to assist you in overcoming this trauma. 

      Remember, while shootings are tragically becoming more common they’re still rare. Focus on your village; your support systems such as close friends or family. While they may not be able to fully understand what you’re going through, you don’t have to walk this journey alone. And if you are live in an area that has suffered such a tragedy – lean in and support your neighbors however you can.

      Cultivate Communitywe heal together.

       

      Sources:

      https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/coping-in-the-aftermath-of-a-shooting

      https://www.apa.org/topics/gun-violence-crime/mass-shooting

      https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/processing-grief-after-a-mass-shooting

      Categories
      Anxiety & Stress Children & Grief Critical Incidents First Responders Grief Loss Uncategorized

      The Mental Health Impact of School Shootings

      The Mental Health Impact Of School Shootings In The United States

      In response to the multiple tragic school shooting events in the United States, there has been a great deal of discussion about the emotional and mental health impact that these events have had on the kids, teachers and families involved. School shootings are a very traumatic event for everyone involved, and it can take a long time to recover from the physical and emotional injuries that are inflicted.

      The impact of school shootings goes beyond the immediate victims and families. These events can have a ripple effect that extends to the entire community. Schools are a place where children should feel safe and secure, and when that feeling of safety is shattered, it can have a lasting impact on the students, teachers, staff and community.

      If you or someone you know has been affected by a school shooting, it is important to seek professional help to deal with the trauma. There are many resources available to help you through this situation.

      Effects on School Shootings Child Development 

      Since the onset of gun violence in schools, there has been a significant amount of research on the effects of this type of violence on child development. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to school shootings are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, grief and post-traumatic stress disorder. They may also have difficulty concentrating and experience changes in their eating and sleeping habits.

      This research highlights the need for more support for children who have been affected by school shootings. Such support can help children to cope with the aftermath of these events and to reduce the long-term effects on their development.

      Students who don’t witness the shooting firsthand can still be negatively affected. They may have trouble concentrating in school and have anxiety about going to school. Keep in mind that everyone impacted is a survivor.

      Effects on Parents

      No definitive answer exists to the question of how school shootings specifically affect the parents of the victims. Each situation is unique and parents will react in their own individual ways. It’s not surprising that most studies generally concluded that parents also experience a wide range of intense emotions in the wake of such a tragedy.

      The most common emotions that parents report feeling are grief, anger, shock, and guilt. Many parents also report feeling a sense of responsibility for their child’s safety and well-being, and this can often lead to feelings of guilt and regret. In some cases, parents may also struggle with anxiety and depression. It is important to remember that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel after a school shooting, and that all parents are simply trying to cope in the best way they can.

      Effects on Teachers

      As of October 2018, there have been 307 mass shootings in the US, which is an average of almost one mass shooting per day. These shootings have had a profound effect on teachers, who are often the first to respond in these situations.

      Teachers have to be prepared to deal with the physical and emotional trauma that comes with a school shooting. They are often the first people on the scene and have to deal with the aftermath of the violence. This can effect their both mental and physical health. In addition, teachers have to be extra vigilant in their classrooms in order to prevent something like this from happening. But our teachers can’t do this alone – they need help. And there is something that each of can  do to help.

      How to Cope with the Trauma After a School Shooting?

      The trauma of shooting can have a lasting impact on a person’s life. If you or someone you know has experienced a shooting, it is important to get help from a mental health professional to cope with the trauma. 

      There are a few first steps you can take to help cope with the trauma:

      1. Talk to someone

      When people experience a traumatic event, such as a mass shooting, they may feel a range of emotions that can be difficult to cope with. Fear, anxiety, anger, and grief are just some of the emotions that may be present. It can be helpful and encouraging to talk to someone about what you’re going through. This can help you to process the trauma and to start to heal.

      Talking to a therapist or counselor can be helpful. You may also find it helpful to talk to a friend or family member. It’s important to find someone who will understand and who will be there to listen. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, there are also support groups that can help. Whatever you do, do not try to go through all of this alone. 

      2. Write down what happened

      In the aftermath of a mass shooting, it can be difficult to know how to cope with the trauma and grief. For some people, writing can be a helpful way to process these feelings. Writing can provide a space to express what you’re feeling, process your thoughts, and work through your grief.

      If you’re interested in using writing to cope with trauma, there are a few things to keep in mind:

      First, it’s important to find a safe and comfortable place to write. This could be a journal that you keep private, or a blog that you only share with close friends or family.

      Second, don’t feel like you need to write every day. Some days you may feel like writing more than others, and that’s okay.

      Third, there’s no correct way to write about your experiences. Write in whatever way feels most natural and most comfortable.

      3. Find way to release your negative emotions

      A traumatic situation of this is like a forced marathon for your brain’s survival management department. It’s more important than ever to find healthy ways to release your emotions. Events like these can be very difficult to process and can have a lasting and detrimental impact on your mental health. If you witnessed a mass shooting or if you know someone who did, it’s important to find a way to release your emotions in a healthy way.

      4. Stay connected to your loved ones

      The aftermath of shooting can be extremely difficult for both victims and witnesses. It is important to stay connected with loved ones during this time in order to help cope with the trauma. Some of the ways to stay connected with your loved ones include:

      Sending handwritten letters

      Calling or texting regularly

      Spending time together in person

      Sharing photos and memories

      Each person will cope with trauma in their own way, so it is important to be supportive and understanding. Staying connected with loved ones can help the healing process after a difficult event.

      5. Avoid drugs and alcohol

      It is understandable that many people may feel overwhelmed or frightened after witnessing a shooting event. Some may feel the need to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in order to cope with the trauma. However, it is important to avoid drugs and alcohol for several reasons.

      First, drugs and alcohol can make it difficult to process and cope with the event.

      Second, they can make it more difficult to remember what happened, which can be essential for providing information to law enforcement.

      Third, while drinking and drug use, may appear to ease distress at the front end – but they actually make things much worse. They disrupt normal sleep and eating patterns, wreak havoc on frustration tolerance and memory (which directly impacts mood) and can raise the chances of a more serious mental health problem following a trauma. 

      It is important to deal with the aftermath of a shooting in a healthy way. Avoiding drugs and alcohol can really help your efforts to cope with feelings and make it easier to heal the trauma of witnessing a shooting.

      6. Get plenty of rest and exercise

      Studies have shown that taking time to rest and exercise can help people who have witnessed shooting events. Resting helps to allow the body to heal, and exercise helps to release built-up stress and tension. Both of these activities can help people feel better both physically and mentally after a traumatic event.

      Conclusion

      Trauma can have a lasting psychological impact on those who survive such an event, as well as those that love them. It is important for those affected to seek professional help and support in order to cope with the emotional damage. Schools, parents and the community can also play a role in supporting those affected by trauma.