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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Recovery Over The Holiday

Thanksgiving is around the corner once again, and for those who are actively working a program of recovery it can be a difficult time. But do not be discouraged, for you are not alone. Holidays are often considered to be the hardest time for those in recovery, due to all the old memories and feelings that can arise - coupled with spending more time around the family than usual. On the other side, many recovering from drug and alcohol abuse have not yet mended the wounds inflicted upon their loved ones, which means the holidays can be a lonely time. If that is the case, be sure to spend as much time as possible with your recovery “family.”

One’s sponsor and recovery support network are indispensable throughout the holiday season. Keeping in close contact with the aforementioned is vital to staying clean and sober during Thanksgiving. Never hesitate to reach out to you support network, recovery is not possible on one’s own. If you find yourself in a situation that can compromise your recovery, pick up the phone and call for help. If your sponsor does not answer, leave a message and call the next contact on your recovery phone list. It is a good practice to keep a list of phone numbers you can call in the event of an emergency.

Remember the tools you have at your disposal, and lessons that you have learned at meetings. Don’t let yourself get too Hungry/Angry/Lonely/Tired - HALT: Conditions that lead to unhealthy thinking or a relapse. If you find yourself in any one or more of those states, correct the problem immediately.

All throughout the day, 12-step meetings will be taking place in spades. Be sure to attend your home group and as many other meetings as you feel that you need. Even if you do not feel like you need a meeting, there may be someone who is need of what you have to say. Helping others stay sober, helps you with your own recovery. We can only keep it, if we give it away - pay it forward!

Be cognizant of the recovery events taking place in your area, such as dinners and dances. It is important to have fun in recovery, events are great opportunity to meet new people in your community and create new holiday memories that do not include mind altering substances. You can find out information about holiday events at:
Whiteside Manor would like to wish everyone a safe holiday, one free from drugs and alcohol.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Smoking Rates Remain High With Three Demographics

In the United States, we have made a lot of progress when it comes to tobacco use. The research is conclusive; cigarettes are addictive and have the power to severely harm one’s health - potentially resulting in loss of life. While smoking rates continue to decline across the country, new research suggests that tobacco use remains high with three demographics, ScienceDaily reports. The findings come from a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"We're making great strides, but it's evident that there are large groups of people who continue to struggle with tobacco and the chronic diseases associated with it," said Amy Lukowski, Psy.D., clinical director of Health Initiatives at National Jewish Health in Denver and for its QuitLogix® program, the largest non-profit smoking quitline in the country. "We need to find ways to better reach and serve those vulnerable demographic groups that are disproportionately impacted by tobacco."

The first tobacco use statistics date back to 1965, according to the article. In that year, 42 percent of adults smoked, more than double the amount of adults who smoke today (17.8 percent). The three groups in which smoking rates remain high include:
  • American Indians
  • The LGBT Community
  • People With Mental Health Disorders
"As an academic medical center devoted for decades to eliminating tobacco use and its associated disease states, we feel the imperative to better identify and understand the unique factors related to tobacco use in these groups and develop protocols that are specifically tailored to their needs," said Lukowski. "This is a high priority for us."

The research showed that more than 26 percent of American Indians smoke cigarettes, the article reports. A rate that is much higher than the national average, and the highest rate of any ethnic group. QuitLogix ® at National Jewish Health is the first tobacco quitline in the country to have Native coaches on staff. It is believed that coaches who share the same heritage will be more effective in cessation efforts with Indians.

"Those high rates of tobacco use in these populations are no accident," said Lukowski. "Tobacco companies have identified and targeted these groups as being populations more vulnerable to nicotine addiction and are shrewdly advertising directly to them."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Dangers of Smokeless Tobacco

It is probably fair to say that cigarette companies carry the weight of the entire tobacco industry; many health experts view cigarettes as public enemy number one. While there is no question that cigarettes can lead to a number of health problems (including over a dozen different types of cancer), it turns out that other forms of tobacco products may actually be just as dangerous.

New research suggests that people who use smokeless tobacco products have higher levels of nicotine in their systems, compared with cigarette smokers, TIME reports. Smokeless tobacco users were found to have more compounds that have been linked to cancer in their system, as well.

What’s most disturbing about the recent findings is the fact that some smokeless tobacco makers have been attempting to have their products re-certified as being a “modified risk.” Earlier this year the company Swedish Match, which makes tobacco ‘snus’ pouches, asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to re-certify their products. The company argued that snus is less harmful than smoking.

The new research was conducted by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and involved nearly 24,000 participants, according to the article. The researchers found that snus and chewing tobacco users had higher levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (compounds found to increase one’s risk of cancer), compared to cigarette users.

“Our results have shown that smokeless tobacco users have high levels of known harmful and addictive constituents and that in some cases these levels are higher than those observed among cigarette smokers. This finding is a cause of considerable concern for individual and public health,” the study authors wrote.

The findings were published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Synthetic Marijuana Use Doubles

Despite a nationwide effort to stem the flow of synthetic drugs, such as bath salts and fake pot, people are still finding ways to acquire the dangerous products with relative ease. What makes the synthetic drug crisis so difficult to get under control is the fact that chemists are constantly altering the chemicals used to manufacture them; as soon as the chemical compound is banned, synthetic drug manufacturers tweak the formula.

Over the last several years, the rate of synthetic drug use has surged dramatically, a trend that can be observed when looking at hospital emergency room cases involving such drugs. What’s more, poison control centers have had almost twice as many calls this year for synthetic marijuana since last year, NPR reports. Common synthetic marijuana brand names include Spice and K2.

Poison control centers, so far, have received 6,949 calls regarding exposures to synthetic cannabinoids this year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPC). In 2014 there were 3,680 documented exposures and 2,668 in 2013. It is easy to see that the rate of synthetic marijuana use is growing at an exponential rate.

Synthetic cannabinoids and their ilk are extremely dangerous and unpredictable; users haven’t any way of knowing what exactly they are consuming. The chemicals that are sprayed on plant matter can have a number of side effects that often require medical attention. Common side effects include:
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Psychotic Episodes
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Tremors
The majority of the chemicals used to make synthetic drugs are formulated overseas - China primarily. There is little to no oversight when it comes to making them, meaning there isn’t any testing. Synthetic drug users are test subjects by default, and the ends can be horrific and possibly fatal.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cigarette Sales On The Rise

The use of tobacco has been on the decline for a number of years, the result of public smoking policies, higher prices and a better understanding of the health problems that can accompany tobacco use. Tobacco use has been linked to several forms of cancer which can result in the loss of life, and it seems like that with every year that passes more life threatening illnesses are being tied to smoking.

Unfortunately, new data suggests a slight increase in cigarette sales this year has public health officials concerned, Bloomberg Business reports. The increase in sales has been linked to an improving economy, lower gasoline prices and reductions in government anti-smoking programs.

“Anytime cigarette sales aren’t going down, that’s cause for concern,” said Vince Willmore, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. “We’re talking about the No. 1 cause of preventable death in our country.”

Smokers, by and large, tend to have lower incomes than non-smokers, according to the article. Money saved at the gas pump, can be diverted for buying cigarettes. When you factor in the fact that the majority of cigarettes are purchased at gasoline station convenience stores, it is easy to see why cigarette sales are spiking. If the trend continues until the end of the year, it will be the first time the country will have seen a rise in cigarette sales since 2002.

Concerns about e-cigarette use continue to mount, especially among teenagers and young adults. Teenagers are attracted to the devices for a number of reasons, and while many health experts would argue the e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to tobacco - there are concerns that the devices could lead to a new generation becoming addicted to nicotine, the article reports.

“E-cigarettes and hookah are now the most common tobacco products used among kids,” said Brian King, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.