Vaping in Schools: How to Spot it

By: Robert Regler

Vaping has become increasingly popular in recent years and has become a trend among adolescents. Even though you have to be 21 years of age to purchase these products, teenagers seemingly have no problems getting their hands on them. With the school year about to begin, educators have to be wary of these electronic cigarettes popping up within their institutions. The problem schools will encounter is the discrete nature of electronic cigarettes due to their compact size and the small amount of smoke these devices produce. However, there are some signs that one can look out for that can show if a student is in fact vaping.

 The overall nature of vaping can create changes in one’s behavior due to the impact it has on the body. If a student has suddenly increased the amount of liquids, they are consuming, that may be a sign that they are vaping. The mouth becomes dehydrated when one decides to vape. The fumes from the electronic cigarette removes hydration from the mouth and the throat causing one’s thirst to increase. In addition, vaping also dries out the airways of the nostrils which can eventually cause nosebleeds. Also, if a student suddenly has problems with their lungs, there is a good chance that it is because they began vaping. Due to the exposure to nicotine, lungs become inflamed which can lead to bacterial infections within one’s lungs. In addition, changes in behavior such as leaving the room as well as students carrying around unfamiliar electronic devices can also be a sign that they are vaping.

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Because of the discrete nature of vaping, identifying whether your student is vaping can prove to be a challenging task. One of the best ways to prevent it is through education. Many teenagers are unaware of the potential harms vaping can bring. Some of them are unaware that these electronic cigarettes contain nicotine (an addictive chemical found in cigarettes) and simply think they are inhaling flavored water vapor. Vaping does not seem to be going away anytime soon, however increased education on the subject can help calm the epidemic at hand.

The Southwest Council provides free presentations on drugs and alcohol for both parents, community members, and for schools. These presentations also include subjects such as vaping within a school setting.  If you are interested in having a presentation, please feel free to reach out at (856) 794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org.

Resources:

https://www.edurisksolutions.org/blogs/?Id=3760

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2018-07-27/how-to-tell-if-your-kid-is-vaping

Juiced

by: Robert Regler

It seems like today’s athletes are becoming bigger, faster, and stronger. With the progression in research and understanding of the human body, athletes have been able to break barriers at an unprecedented rate. While some athletes credit their success to hard work and dedication, others have attempted to take shortcuts to success using performance enhancing drugs. The short-term effects of performance enhancing drugs creates can turn the average athlete into a super athlete. However, the long-term effects of performance enhancing drugs outweigh the short-lived benefits.

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            In a nutshell, performance enhancing drugs will increase an athlete’s performance in their respective field. The attribute the athlete wants to increase will determine which performance enhancing drug they will decide to take. However, these performance enhancing drugs come with a cost, whether it comes from a health perspective or a suspension through their athletic commission. Health effects vary depending on which performance enhancing drug is used, however one of the most common side effects across the board is adverse effects on one’s hormonal systems.

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            With performance enhancing drugs becoming a reoccurring problem, many athletic commissions have either increased the amount of testing or increased the penalty for someone if caught using these drugs. For example, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was seeing an increase in use of performance enhancing drugs even with some of their most prominent fighters. As a result, they hired the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on a multi-million-dollar deal to conduct competition drug testing. USADA can show up at a fighter’s doorstep at any time ensuring they remain clean year-round. In addition, if one tests positive for a banned substance, they can find themselves facing lengthy suspensions that will keep them out of competition. Most recently, UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw is serving a two-year suspension for the use of erythropoietin.

            With testing becoming more frequent and the stakes becoming higher, it seems like a no brainer for athletes to remain clean. However, there are some athletes who cannot seem to stay out of trouble. Some believe they can cheat the system through cycling their performance enhancing drugs and some try to use masking agents to cover up what they have used. However, now that testing has become more advanced traces of performance enhancing drugs can be detected even with other factors involved.

The Southwest Council provides free presentations on drugs and alcohol for both parents, community members and for schools. If you are interested in having a presentation, please feel free to reach out at (856) 794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org.

Resources

https://sps.northwestern.edu/stories/news-stories/why-do-athletes-risk-using-PEDs.php

https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2015/06/ufc-confirms-partnership-with-usada-details-of-out-of-competition-testing-program

https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2019/06/tj-dillashaw-explains-why-he-used-epo-chael-sonnen-admits-took-same-drug-bellator-ufc-usada

The Gift of Gab

by: Robert Regler

Effective communication skills may come easy to some, however these are skills that some may take for granted. Communication comes in various forms and having effective communication allows a person to fully express themselves and makes it easier for those around them to convey their message. When most people think about communication, they think of the words that we say, however communication comes in various forms. Communication can range from our body language all the way to our tone of voice and even through our actions. Your level of communication skills will overall impact your life and those who you interact with.

 

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            Having good self-awareness is key to effective communication skills. While you may be effectively communicating verbally, your body language may tell a different story. Your body language should match what you are saying. If your body language does not match up, the message you are trying to give may not be conveyed. Body language such as slouching, crossing your arms, and not making eye contact can ruin or send a negative message to your audience.

            In addition to how you project yourself to others, listening is a vital communication skill. Focusing fully on who is talking is the best way to be an active listener. If you are constantly checking your phone or looking off while someone is speaking, you are not fully hearing what they have to say, and the other person will notice. Depending on the situation asking questions, being empathetic, and providing feedback can be effective communication skills.

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Communication skills may come easy to some and not others. However, these skills can be built and prove to be a valuable tool in all aspects of life. The Southwest Council, Inc. provides free presentations on various topics such as effective communication, for both parents, community members and for schools. If you are interested in having a presentation, please feel free to reach out at (856) 794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org.

Resources:

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships-communication/effective-communication.htm

https://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/9-effective-communication-skills/

Musical Misuse

by: Robert Regler

Summer is about to reach its peak and many people will be looking for activities to do. One popular summertime event that people like to engage in are concerts. Because of the nice weather, promoters like to host outdoor concerts which will increase the number of people in attendance. Unfortunately, most of the time these events have more than just music at them. At times people use these mass gatherings to sell and consume illegal substances. The large number of people in attendance at these events provides sellers a new and open market, while the high energy environment causes people to try things they may not in real life. These two factors create a dual hazard that can cause trouble for concert goers.

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  Concerts tend to attract those who enjoy drinking alcohol and consume illegal substances. Many people will tailgate in the parking lot beforehand and other will sneak alcohol into the venue. In a survey of 976 people roughly 57 percent of people are said to have been under the influence of either drugs or alcohol while attending a music event. Within this demographic about 93 percent stated they consumed alcohol at these events while the rest admitted to using some form of drug whether it was marijuana, cocaine, or opioids. In addition, some admitted alcohol was their main motivation in attending their concert.

 Concerts have taken a harm reduction approach to combating this epidemic. Harm reduction simply believes that people are going to engage in these activities no matter what. Rather than placing all their efforts into preventing people from taking drugs and alcohol, they will allocate resources to prevent people from further harming themselves when they do consume these substances. Having first aid staff on site as well as having an ambulance within the vicinity of the venue are two examples of concert staff employing harm reduction strategies. However, it is ultimately up to the individual to steer clear of engaging in these activities in the first place.

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 There are several reasons why you would want to stay clear of drugs and alcohol while in a concert venue. Drugs and alcohol impact your way of thinking and ultimately the decisions you decide to make. Because you are surrounded by hundreds of people you do not know, you want to be fully aware of what is going on around you. In addition, you are already in a hot, summer environment with numerous people surrounding you. The side effects of drugs and alcohol can cause you to experience negative side effects that will cause further discomfort.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you whether you want to engage in these activities when you attend a concert this Summer. The Southwest Council provides free presentations on drugs and alcohol for both parents, community members and for schools. If you are interested in having a presentation, please feel free to reach out at (856) 794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org

Resources:

https://drugabuse.com/featured/substance-use-at-live-music-events/

https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/concerts-and-drugs-there-way-reduce-dangers

Under Pressure

by: Robert Regler

Peer pressure is all around us and is present in all age groups. However, the most common age group this occurs in are teenagers who are seeking approval from those around them. Peer pressure can come from a variety of different people including classmates, friends, and siblings. Teenagers are more susceptible to peer pressure due to their desire to fit in with those around them. During this age, individuals are more likely to base their decisions on what the people around them want them to do. Unfortunately, this opens the door for teenagers to engage in activities such as drugs and alcohol use.

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 According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teenagers are more likely to engage in risky activities when they are surrounded by their friends. While consuming drugs and alcohol are commonalities, other risky behaviors might include reckless driving and violent behavior. There are biological reasons in which an individual may decide to engage in risky behaviors when surrounded by their peers. The part of the brain that determines risk versus reward is heightened when one is in the presence of their peers. When an individual knows that their friends are watching them, their sense of reward is heightened. When it comes to consuming drugs and alcohol, peer pressure might be the deciding factor when contemplating engaging in these behaviors. The most common example would be the individual taking drugs and alcohol, but it could also come in the form of getting in a vehicle with someone under the influence.

Unfortunately, peer pressure is a prevalent factor when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse. Those who abuse drugs and alcohol are more likely to have peers who also engage in this kind of behavior. This will also increase the chances that the individual will have problems with long-term addiction. In addition, recovery from substance abuse becomes further complicated when the individual still associates themselves with these peers.

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While peer pressure is mainly viewed in a negative light, it can also prove to be positive. When used in a positive light, peer pressure can prove to be an excellent motivator. For example: if someone is excelling in their respective area (whether its sports, academics, or employment) others may feel the pressure to elevate themselves to the bar the previous person set. Peer pressure can also prove to be effective for recovery from drugs and alcohol. Each person can hold the other accountable and motivate them to a successful recovery.

The Southwest Council, Inc. provides free presentations on various topics, including peer pressure, healthy choices, and decision making for all members of the community. If you are interested in having a presentation, please feel free to reach out at (856) 794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org .

Resources:

https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/teen-addiction/teens-peer-pressure/#gref

https://novarecoverycenter.com/addiction/peer-pressure-and-drug-abuse-2/

Rolling the Dice

by: Robert Regler

Within the spectrum of addiction, we tend to focus a lot on drugs and alcohol. However, sometimes it does not take drugs or alcohol to become addicted. Compulsive gambling is a disorder in which an individual is unable to resist the urge to gamble in spite of the negative consequences. With us entering the summertime, many people enjoy going to the casinos. Gambling creates a thrill within people where they can create a balancing act between risk and reward. While not everyone will partake in compulsive gambling, it can be beneficial to know the symptoms, the risk factors, and why people turn to compulsive gambling. 

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 Compulsive gambling has many signs that one can read to determine whether intervention is needed. In many ways, the signs of compulsive gambling can draw parallels to substance abuse. One sign would be an individual’s desire to continue gambling in order to obtain more money. As compulsive gambling disorder escalates, an individual will need to increase the amount of money they need in order to get the same thrill they did before. When someone has compulsive gambling disorder, they feel restless and have a tendency to become irritable when they are unable to gamble. In addition, those who are compulsive gamblers are likely jeopardizing aspects of their lives such as family, friends, and careers in order to hide or fuel their gambling.

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One of the main reasons one becomes addicted to gambling is the rush it brings to the individual. This rush can be broken down to a neurological level in which gambling stimulates parts of the brain. Casinos particularly have elements within that stimulate the brain and cause people to engage in riskier behaviors. The bright lights and loud music create an environment in which the dopamine receptors in a person’s brain become stimulated. Dopamine is chemical within our bodies that help create feelings of happiness. With this receptor being triggered through gambling as well as the environment surrounding them, mechanisms begin to be triggered that are similar to drug addiction.

 Not everyone who gambles will become compulsive gamblers at the end of the day. However, with the right amount of knowledge you can identify if compulsive gambling is becoming a problem and if you need to seek out the necessary help for either yourself of a loved one. The Southwest Council, Inc. provides free presentations on various topics including addiction for all members of the community. If you are interested in having a presentation, please feel free to reach out at (856) 794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org.

Resources:

https://www.thefix.com/what-makes-casinos-so-addictive

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/compulsive-gambling/symptoms-causes/syc-20355178

You can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone

By: Robert Regler

The opioid epidemic in the United States has been an increasing problem. Opioid overdoses first became a major problem beginning in the 1990’s and early 2000’s due to the misuse of prescription drugs. More recently, there has been an increase in opioid use due to the increased use of heroin. In 2017, there were 70,237 deaths due to drug overdoses and opioids accounted for almost 68 percent of them. These numbers have been increasing year by year and they do not seem to be trending on the decline. With the epidemic on the rise, one may wonder what they can do to combat the crisis. The simplest and arguably one of the most effective ways to fight the opioid epidemic is to become trained in the administration of Narcan.

 

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Narcan (otherwise known as naloxone), is an opioid suppressant that is administered through the respiratory system. Once it is administered to the individual, the Narcan binds to the opioid receptors and restores breathing back to a normal rate. In some instances, the person who overdosed will return to their original state as if they never took the drug in the first place. However, Narcan administration is not a substitute for actual medical assistance. It buys time for the individual who had overdosed and creates a window for one who is Narcan trained to call 911 to seek medical attention for the overdosed individual.

 

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Narcan training has been growing in the recent years. Training will include how to identify a potential overdose, how to properly administer Narcan, and proper ways to ensure your Narcan kit is up to date. In New Jersey, there are several ways in which one can receive this training. The first way is to go through your local pharmacy where they will provide the actual Narcan as well as instructions on how to use the Narcan and proper follow up procedures. Narcan can be administered through a pharmacist without the use of a prescription in 48 states including New Jersey. In addition, community-based events have become more popular where one can attend a meeting and receive the same type of training. These events are usually free of charge and attendees will receive the proper training as well as ways to follow up and receive additional doses if they exhaust their supply.

While Narcan training does not solve the immediate crisis at hand, it helps those who experience an opioid overdose to have a window of rescue that may not have been present before. Without the use of a Narcan kit, the window for help greatly decreases and the individual will have a lower chance at survival. If you are interested in Narcan training and its benefits, contact your local pharmacy and reach out to your community to see if they are holding any type of training events. 

The Southwest Council, Inc. provides free presentations on various topics, including Narcan training, for all members of the community. If you are interested in having a presentation, please feel free to reach out at (856) 794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org .

Sources

https://nj.gov/health/integratedhealth/services-treatment/naloxone.shtml#1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5219773/

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm675152e1.htm?s_cid=mm675152e1_w

The Corner Store Drug

By: Robert Regler

It seems like wherever you turn, there is a new energy drink popping up on shelves for consumers to buy. While caffeine is something utilized in most people’s everyday lives, most are unaware of the potential side effects that come with its consumption. While it is safe for most people to consume low to moderate amounts of caffeine, it becomes risky when one decides to consume higher levels. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the average American consumes about 300 milligrams of caffeine daily. This is the equivalent to roughly two to four cups of coffee depending on the serving size. Caffeine acts as a natural stimulant that helps combat tiredness as well as increases an individual’s concentration and focus. While I’m not saying to skip your morning cup of coffee, I do want to present the facts and potential side effects of caffeine consumption.

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While caffeine consumption has become a part of many people’s everyday lives, there are numerous factors one should consider in terms of their intake. According to the Mayo Clinic consuming more than 500 to 600 milligrams of caffeine can lead to one becoming restless, irritable, and can create problems with sleeping. However, these side effects can be subjective because caffeine impacts people on a case to case basis. For example, caffeine will have a stronger effect on a child in comparison to a fully-grown adult. In addition, caffeine metabolizes at a different rate based on the individuals’ size, weight, and overall genetic makeup

 In addition, if someone has a medical condition, caffeine has the potential to increase the very condition they are seeking to combat. For instance, if someone suffers from anxiety, caffeine may increase the amount of anxiety they experience. Because caffeine stimulates the level of adrenaline that our body produces, these individuals may see an increase in jitteriness as well as increased breathing levels.

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Perhaps the most common side effect of caffeine consumption are the addictive qualities that it possesses. Caffeine has similar impacts on a cellular level to that of drugs of abuse. Because caffeine is associated with positive effects for some individuals such as alertness and increased amounts of energy. If these factors come into play an individual may develop a caffeine addiction. If someone tries to withdraw themselves from caffeine, they may experience fatigue, depression, and headaches.

Like everything in life, caffeine can be used in moderation. Even though there are numerous side effects from its consumption, if one is smart about their intake levels the chances of these effects blossoming will decrease. I would not tell anyone to stop drinking caffeine, but I would have them think first when it comes to excessive use.

The Southwest Council, Inc. provides free presentations on various topics, for both parents, community members and for schools. If you are interested in having a presentation, please feel free to reach out at (856) 794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org .

Resources

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271707.php

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-side-effects#section5

Under the Influence

By: Alan Kagan

One evening, you’re sitting at home with your son or daughter watching TV and they flip the channel in search of a good movie. The first film you see features a couple of stoners who awake with no memory of the night before, and one ask’s the other, “dude where’s my car”. Not amused, you decide to take control of the remote from your child and change the channel. The next movie you find shows a couple of stoners running from drug dealers who are trying to kill them because they witnessed a murder. Your teen says to you, “why are you changing the channel, that’s Seth Rogen and he’s funny!” Frustrated, you change the channel again.

Ahhhh sports, good ol’ ESPN, with wholesome athletes my teen may strive to emulate, you say to yourself. This will get their mind off weed

The headline on the sports show reads as follows, “Nets' D'Angelo Russell cited for marijuana possession in checked bag at LaGuardia airport”.

Has the whole world gone crazy? Everywhere I look I see marijuana!

No, you are not crazy, nor is the world. It’s just changing, and if you do not keep up with the times, you will most certainly get left behind. The following blog entry is not to force you to agree or disagree, but if anything, to urge you to stay informed. Between social media, music, movies, television shows, and sports, today’s youth seem to be under a constant barrage of imagery and influence to smoke and drink.

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According to a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, “90% of teens are initially exposed to pictures of their peers drinking, using drugs or passing out on social media before they reach the age of 15 years old. Those same teens who are exposed to these types of pictures are 3xs likelier to consume alcohol, and it’s 4xs as likely that they’ll use marijuana”.

In regard to the music industry, it is no different. Addictioncenter.com states “teenagers who listen to music about marijuana are at a greater risk of marijuana use. A recent study of 9th graders confirms this theory, especially the impressionability of younger listeners”. With so many bands and musicians singing about their ups and downs in life and the impact of substance use, its easy to see how young teens could be influenced to follow in their favorite artists footsteps (good or bad).

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Movies like “Superbad”, “Pineapple Express”, and “The Wolf of Wall Street”, though produced to entertain, show their drug abusing characters in either humorous or successful roles without revealing the addiction or health affecting consequences.

As mentioned earlier, even the sports world is becoming increasingly flooded with stories of drug abuse, whether it be an arrest for marijuana possession, or a star player suspended for violating their leagues PED (performance enhancing drug) policy. Players use for a variety of reasons, possibly to better handle mental health issues, or because they feel they need to live up to the hype of a large contract so they think steroids will help. For the casual reader, they may be unaware of the reasons a player used.

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With alcohol and marijuana usage so prevalent in the media overall, it may feel as though drug use is normalized in society today. So, what is the best course of action? How do I prevent my teen from making bad choices when they are all around us?

Read, research, stay informed, use social media to your advantage. Check out current drug trends, talk to other parents, talk to friends, talk to teachers, and most importantly talk to your children. Be honest and open with them. Isn’t it better they hear the whole truth from you first before they hear the “half-truth” from someone else?

The Southwest Council is an agency that strives to educate and spread awareness to both youth and adults regarding substance use and abuse.  You can find representatives of the Southwest Council in schools providing evidence-based prevention curricula to all grade levels, or within the community working alongside community members for various events.  If you’d like to know more about what the Southwest Council can provide for you and your family, please contact us at (856)-794-1011 or visit us online at http://www.southwestcouncil.org .

 

Resources:

https://www.12keysrehab.com/how-does-social-media-influence-teen-drug-abuse/

 

https://www.addictioncenter.com/community/drugs-and-music/

To JUUL, or not to JUUL, that is the question

By Alan Kagan

For those unaware, Juul Labs is the name of a popular tobacco company who markets their own brand of e-cigarette, appropriately named JUUL. E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, were originally produced with the intention of helping traditional cigarette smokers quit, or at least use a product with ‘less harmful, cancer-causing’ chemicals in it. However, a study done in 2016 by the American Heart Association Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center revealed an estimated 1.9 million American adults who currently vape have never smoked tobacco cigarettes previously. Why would such a high number of individuals start vaping e-cigarettes when they never smoked tobacco prior, you ask? Even more alarming, a study by Truth Initiative found that “the younger teens are, the more likely they are to use JUUL. In fact, 15- 17 year-olds have over 16 times greater odds to be current JUUL users compared to those aged 25-34”.

What’s the deal?

Anyone in advertising will tell you, they have three primary objectives: informing, persuading, and reminding. Informing the public on new brands, products, and services; persuading the public that a company’s product is superior over other products; and reminding people about the need for the product, or the benefit it will provide if purchased.

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With that being said, if you look back at JUUL’s ad’s from previous years, you might find some questionable advertising and wonder which population they are REALLY trying to attract. A team of researchers with the Stanford Research Into The Impact Of Tobacco Advertising published their study of Juul’s marketing campaign between the company’s launch in 2015 and Fall of 2018. After looking at a ton of social media posts, emails, and ads, they came to this conclusion: Juul’s advertising “was patently youth-oriented.” Juul’s ad’s were also deceptively similar to older tobacco ads. Around that time, a national survey found that the number of high schoolers who used e-cigarettes in the past month had increased by about 75 percent since 2017. Coincidence? According to Julia Belluz of Vox.com, in December of 2017, Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA — one of the world’s largest tobacco companies — purchased a 35% stake in Juul labs for $12.8 billion.

It’s all starting to make sense now!

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Let’s review: a big tobacco company purchases a product meant to curb traditional tobacco smoking, uses the same advertising techniques to attract not only the audience they said they intended to bring in  (ex-smokers), but also a whole new wider array of consumers (non-smokers AND teens), all a while making millions of dollars. Sure, e-cigarettes might cut out tar and a couple other chemicals you’d get from regular cigarettes, but they certainly didn’t skimp on the nicotine content. I mean, how else are they going to get people addicted? Their enticing flavors of mango, passion fruit, bubblegum, cucumber, and mint, can’t do it all alone.

So, what’s the best way to make sure my kids and I don’t fall for the e-cigarette pit trap? Know what to look for and don’t get sucked in. Vaping companies will use celebrity endorsements, “scientific evidence”, and another technique called ‘bandwagon appeal’, classic advertising techniques to lure in new users.

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Aside from companies’ ads, it’s also good to understand the vaping subculture popular on websites, in videos on YouTube, and in local vape shops which seem to be popping up everywhere. This in itself is free advertising for manufacturers like Juul labs. Musicians speak about vaping in articles, Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner did an interview talking about her favorite vape flavors, and there are even competitions people sign up for that involve the creation of different types of clouds.

In closing, I am not here to tell you to vape or not, but just to make an informed decision. Research when you can. Separate the truth from the manipulation. If you have kids, be sure to talk to them and set some rules for them to abide by. If you don’t, who will?

The Southwest Council, Inc. provides free presentations on various topics, including vaping, for both parents and for high schools. If you are interested in having a presentation, please feel free to reach out at (856) 794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org .

 

Resources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/electronic-cigarettes-good-news-bad-news-2016072510010

https://www.cardiovascularbusiness.com/topics/healthcare-economics/19m-us-e-cig-users-have-never-smoked-cigarettes

https://www.vox.com/2019/1/25/18194953/vape-juul-e-cigarette-marketing

https://truthinitiative.org/news/new-study-reveals-teens-16-times-more-likely-use-juul-older-age-groups

Boredom this summer leading to substance abuse?

By: Alan Kagan

“Bobby, what do you have planned today?” …”Nothing”

“Susie, what’s wrong?”… “I’m sooo bored!”

 Do these conversations sound familiar? This might be typical banter between you and your teen, especially during the summer months. For teens not involved in clubs or playing sports, and lacking means of transportation, summer vacation might be anything BUT a vacation. Most families cannot afford luxury getaways, cross-country trips, and outings to amusement parks; a lot of parents have full time jobs, or are working two jobs, and it makes it hard for them to keep their teens occupied and up-to-date on their daily happenings.

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The issue here isn’t necessarily the boredom your children are experiencing. This might give them ample time to reflect on decisions made during prior school year, all the friendships won and lost, relationships, and life choices to be made for the future. It’s what your teen ultimately chooses to do with that time is what could get them into trouble.

Research shows that as a teen’s brain is developing, it functions differently than an adults when it comes to decision making. They are more likely to act on impulse and engage in risky behavior, and less likely to think before they act or pause to consider the consequences of their actions. Exposure to drugs and alcohol can change, or negatively impact that development.

A teenager’s brain + boredom + negative peer influences = trouble. Statistics from Bradford Health Services show that by the end of August, nearly a million teens will have tasted their first drink of alcohol, and on an average summer day, approximately 4,500 youth will smoke cigarettes or marijuana for the first time.

Why is that?

According to the website AmericasRehabCampuses.com, “peer influence and fear of public humiliation is the single reason why teens are at higher risk for substance use. As adolescents, not quite children and not quite adults, self-confidence is easily swayed, and for the most part based on their peers.”

There was a study done in Finland that found when teenagers had places to go, things to do, had purpose, and kept busy, the rate of alcohol use was reduced. For decades, drug and alcohol use was rampant among their teens, and when school was out, “locals wouldn’t dare head into town because the streets would be overrun with students who were drunk, stoned and engaging in behavior that put themselves and others at risk”. Finland soon adopted a program that surveyed the teens, and as a result of the survey, facilities were built or repurposed for sports, art and music programs, which in turn provided many positive, healthy outlets for the youth during their free time.

With summer swiftly approaching, it’s the perfect time to speak to your teens about the negative effects of drug and alcohol use. While you’re at it, you can also help them find fun activities to engage in, such as summer camp, volunteer work, exercise at the local gym, or even a summer job. It’s important to remember to set rules (and stick to them), supervise when you can, and above all else STAY INVOLVED. Despite what you may think, teens like to know their parents care. Feed their emotional, physical, and intellectual hunger with healthy & productive activities, and they’ll be too full for the unhealthy ones.

The Southwest Council, Inc. promotes healthy life skills and character-building information to both youth and adults throughout Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties. We also offer a Strengthening Families Program, which is a family skills training program designed to help reduce risk factors for behavioral, emotional, academic, and social problems in children 6-14 yrs old.

For more information on this program and others we offer, please feel free to reach out at (856)-794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org .

 

Sources:

Why Teens Are at Higher Risk for Drug Abuse During Summer

https://www.americasrehabcampuses.com/blog/why-teens-are-at-higher-risk-for-drug-abuse-during-summer/

 

Teen Summertime Substance Abuse

https://bradfordhealth.com/teen-summertime-substance-abuse/

CBD vs. THC: The products of Cannabis Sativa

By: Bethany Vega

Within the past year there has been a spark of interest in cannabidiol, or better known as CBD. Between driving to work each day and going to various stores, CBD seems to be the hot new natural product that brings a variety of benefits without the dependency and high of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Many, including myself, have wondered what is CBD and what makes it different from THC? Both come from the plant Cannabis Sativa and their molecular make ups are almost identical except for one small difference. In the THC structure there is something called a cyclic ring while CBD has a hydroxyl group. This small alteration creates a big difference between the two. To sum it up quickly, CBD does not give you a high that THC produces.

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In our bodies we have a system called Endocannabinoid which regulates our appetites, memory, pain, and mood. When THC and CBD are in our bodies it takes control of that system. In our brains we have CB1 receptors which are affected by both THC and CBD but in different ways. Anandamides are naturally found in our bodies which, when connected to these CB1 receptors, affects the eating behaviors, pleasure and motivation. When someone does something that they love to do their body releases a natural high because of these anandamides.  

When THC enters it attaches to these CB1 receptors perfectly and produces that high. CBD is not able to fit perfectly into these receptors which is why someone does not get a high from CBD. It does, however, bind itself to the endocannabinoid system and affect us in other ways that are still being studied.

This does not mean that CBD is necessarily safe to use and risk free. As previously stated there are still studies that are needed to be done to show long-term safety. Since this is something that is still new there is little information available. While CBD marketers say it is good for anxiety, relieving depression, lowering intestinal inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and many other symptoms the best way to know if CBD is good for someone is to talk to their doctor and become educated.

Many CBD oils that are out are not approved by the FDA. Why does that matter? It matters because there is no way to be sure how much CBD is inside of it and packaging may not have all the information on there. In fact, the FDA has only approved CBD to treat two types of serious forms of epilepsy, both of which are rare.

Understanding the difference between THC and CBD is the start, and while it may seem like it is the safer option there are still many risks on both sides- some that have not even presented themselves yet. CBD is still so new to the market that research is having to catch up to try to get ahead. Always talk to a qualified healthcare provider before using CBD. The Southwest Council, Inc. provides free presentations on various topics, including CBD vs. THC. If you are interested in having a presentation please feel free to reach out at (856)-794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org .

Camp YEY 2019

By: Bethany Vega

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            Are you stressing about what you child will do this summer? Many summer camps that are fun and educational have a cost that is associated with them. Southwest Council provides a free camp called Camp YEY, a leadership day camp on youth empowering youth. Camp YEY is packed with fun, adventure, and education.

            Camp YEY is geared towards youth going into fourth grade through eighth grade in the Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties. We don’t stop there though. If a youth is going in to ninth through twelfth grade, they can apply to be a Counselor Assistant and work with our team leaders on helping the youth with leadership qualities while also gaining volunteer hours. Our CAs go through a training to teach them the lessons campers will be learning, as well as the different activities campers will be participating in so they are able to help!

            What will your youth do and learn while at Camp YEY? We have team time each morning that your child will work with their team members to come up with a team cheer and poster. Each day there are new leadership qualities they will learn about as well as a character education lesson (how to communicate with one another, self esteem and self image, etc.) that involves fun and games. You child will work with their team in gaining the most points during our Color Wars activities. During Color Wars there might be games where they are running around, a scavenger hunt, or using problem solving skills to reach a goal. Each camper will go with their team to learn new life skills, and team building exercises. Youth will have a chance to learn archery, do a high/low ropes course, and fly through the air on the zipline! The last day of camp is what we call Family Fun Day. Families are invited to come to the camp for the award ceremony and see the team cheers! Families are also allowed to stay to have lunch and different fun and games we put on!

            There is no cost for your youth to attend the camp! Southwest Council is grant funded which allows us to put on certain programs with no cost to the participants. We love to see youth having fun and have the opportunity to attend the camp which is why we try to overcome any barriers families might have. We provide transportation, a morning snack, and lunch. Campers are welcome to bring their own lunch and be dropped off and picked up by parents and guardians if chosen to. 

            Camp YEY dates for 2019 will be August 5-9 for campers going into sixth through eighth grade, and August 12-16 for campers going into fourth through fifth grade. Pre-registration opens April 1st through May 31st or until all space is filled, whichever comes first. It is a first come first serve basis so if you are interested please make sure you pre-register and send in all information requested as soon as possible.  If you are interested in having your youth participate in Camp YEY as a camper or CA, please visit us on facebook for all updates on pre-registration and information regarding Camp YEY at www.facebook.com/campyey or visit us on our website at www.southwestcouncil.org/campyey . Should you have questions or comments about the camp feel free to reach out to Bethany Vega who is the new camp director at campyey@southwestcouncil.org or via phone at (856)-794-1011 x 323.

There Must Be Another Way

By Robert Hawn

The 53rd season has officially come to an end with once again the New England Patriots reigning as Super Bowl Champions. The members from the Patriots roster were standing tall after their 13-3 victory over the Rams. However, there was one person who was left out and that is star wide receiver Josh Gordon.

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Rewind back to the first quarter of the Patriots Week 15 matchup with the Steelers, Tom Brady dropped back, faked the run and threw over to top to Gordon for a gain of 19 yards for his last catch in what could be his brief NFL career. Now Gordon finds himself at home celebrating what would have been his first Super Bowl title.

The news was first reported on December 20th that Gordon was going to step away from football to focus on his mental health.

“I take my mental health very seriously at this point to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level,” Gordon tweeted. “I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally. With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health”

This tweet came out just prior to the NFL announcing the news that they were taking an action and suspending the star for violating the league's substance abuse policy yet again.

If you can recall, Gordon was convicted of DUI back in 2015 and due to the league having a zero tolerance attitude towards substance abuse, Gordon found himself suspended for the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons and missed a majority of 2017.

Gordon has been suffering from stress and anxiety for years now possibly contributing to his use of substances. From camp to the preseason to the regular season, there are plenty of opportunities to create stress for Gordon. Learning new ways to cope with stress, without alcohol or marijuana could help Gordon get back on track and back to the field.  

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The goal behind stress management is to learn ways which can be useful to help athletes control their stress and anxiety issues. Regardless of the sport, there are many factors which can cause an athlete to experience stress or anxiety. The commitment of long seasons and daily practices cause constant wear and tear on an athlete’s body. The physical and psychological demands, paired with constant expectations of perfection, could be enough to push certain players past their limits.

In order for athletes to get ahead of this and become healthy they need to find ways to deal with stress without harming themselves or the people around them. Some of these ways to cope are and are not limited to; engaging in pleasurable activities, taking care of their body, maintaining a positive perspective on their lives, practicing yoga or other relaxation techniques, reaching out and talking to others, and finally seeking help from a professional.

There are many times that the athletic trainer or coach is the first person the athlete turns to when they are stressed out, because they understand that  not many athletes know how to properly handle their stress. Unfortunately for Gordon, his inability to seek help has found him back abusing drugs and under the microscope once again.

 Learning to cope with stress and anxiety are vital to an athlete who has to perform in high pressure situations. The ability to control these feelings without abusing substances is a big step to them having success on and off the field.

If you or a loved one is currently suffering from mental health issues and resorting to substance abuse, please feel free to contact us here at The Southwest Council.

New Year, New Me: Tips for Changing Bad Habits into Good Ones

By Kevin Allen, Jr.

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2019 is here and it's time for a fresh start!  Each and every year people around the world make their New Year's resolutions, attempting to get a fresh start to the year that is ahead of them.  Regardless of what the resolution may be, many people (including myself) have a hard time following through with what they planned to change.  It can be tough breaking the old, bad habits that we have established over time, but luckily there are some tips and tricks that can help individuals stick with their initial resolutions throughout the year. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), when it comes to making the initial resolution it is important that we start small with goals, focus on changing one behavior at a time, not to beat yourself up if you lose track, and ask for help when you need it.  Once you establish a resolution that is reasonable, in comes the hard part of keeping your word and sticking to that resolution for more than a few days or weeks.  It is a great idea to evaluate your behaviors and understand what things you can change in order to live a better, healthier, happier life, but no one ever said that this would be an easy task.

So you might be asking yourself “Where do I start with sticking to my resolution?”  These next few tips won’t guarantee a successful New Year’s resolution, but they can help pave the pathway to changing those bad habits into good ones.  First comes first, identify what might trigger your bad habit.  If your resolution involves avoiding fast food, your trigger might be the sight of the McDonald’s golden arches when you are on your way home, if it is consuming less alcohol, maybe the trigger is seeing alcohol within your house.  Once you find out what your trigger could be, it is important that you try your best to stop the trigger from happening.  If seeing McDonald’s arches on your way home has you craving a Big Mac, chose a different route when driving home.

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If seeing alcohol in your home has you preoccupied with fixing a drink, try storing it somewhere that it is less visible in order to lessen the temptation.  When the trigger is unavoidable, you can try to replace the negative behavior that the trigger causes with a more positive on. When the thought of fast food or alcohol enters your head, try to associate it with something else, like healthier foods or drinks.  Of course this is easier said than done, but that is why the last thing you must do is be as persistent as possible when it comes to avoiding the behaviors you’re trying to change.  By pushing through temptation, and maintaining persistence with your new and improved behaviors, you will be swapping out those bad habits for the good ones in no time! 

The Southwest Council, Inc. promotes healthy living skills and character building information to both youth and adults throughout the Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties.  We present on a wide range of topics including goal-setting, decision making skills, and ways to avoid the pressures around you.  To find out more information about the healthy living topics we promote, visit www.southwestcouncil.org/our-approach/  or give us a call at (856)-794-1011.

 

 

Sources: 

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resolution.aspx 

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/how-to-break-bad-habits-and-change-behaviors

 

 

 

GRASP Puts Up Strong Fight in 2018

By: Robert Hawn

Throughout 2018, GRASP Coordinator Candice Carter and her Gloucester County Coalition worked vigorously dedicating countless hours towards fighting the opioid crisis. 

Most people do not know that 2 in 5 teenagers believe prescription drugs are “much safer” than illegal drugs.  Every day in the U.S. an estimated 2,500 youth take a prescription pain reliever for the purpose of getting high for the first time. The abuse of prescription painkillers often leads to the abuse of heroin.

A common way that individuals are getting their hands on these drugs is by simply going into their home medicine cabinet. When left around the house, unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue, leading to abuse, environmental harm and accidental poisoning.  

In an attempt to prevent this from occurring, the GRASP coalition challenges families to take the Five-Step American Medicine Chest Challenge:

  • Account - take inventory of your prescription and over-the counter medicine.

  • Secure - your medicine chest and prescription drugs.

  • Dispose - of your unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in your home or at an American Medicine Chest Challenge Disposal site.

  • Take - your medicine(s) exactly as prescribed.

  • Talk - to the children in your life about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

One of the most important words on this list is “Dispose”. Individuals often hold on to medication because they forget they have the medication or they are unsure how to dispose of the medication. Medications are commonly flushed down the toilet, but in fact unused drugs that are flushed can contaminate the water supply. Proper disposal of prescription drugs not only saves lives, but protects the environment as well. 

Take accountability for your prescription pills, by properly disposing of medications no longer being used. The GRASP team made sure that this would be a simple process as they partnered with local Gloucester County police stations to provide drop boxes to every township within the county. 

With the installation of the drop box, local police departments add an additional resource to the fight against drug abuse and especially the opiate crisis.  Each of the departments invites residents, businesses, and other partners in the community to use the drop box to prevent dangerous medications from falling into the hands of children or people suffering from addiction.   

Those wishing to dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medications in the Gloucester County area now have a new disposal site at their local Police Department. The Gloucester Regional Addictive Substances Prevention (GRASP) coalition awarded each department with an American Medicine Chest Challenge permanent prescription drop box as a partner in curbing prescription drug abuse. For more information about GRASP and how to get involved, please visit southwestcouncil.org/GRASP or call 856-494-4950.

 
Robert has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since January of 2018 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Robert provides evidence-based school and community wide-programs in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem County. He also assists in facilitating Camp YEY.  When Robert isn’t hard at work he enjoys coaching his youth and high school baseball teams, as well as spending time creating memories with his friends and family.  Rowan University - BA Communication Studies & Journalism

Robert has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since January of 2018 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Robert provides evidence-based school and community wide-programs in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem County. He also assists in facilitating Camp YEY.

When Robert isn’t hard at work he enjoys coaching his youth and high school baseball teams, as well as spending time creating memories with his friends and family.

Rowan University - BA Communication Studies & Journalism

 

Know the Odds of Underage Gambling: Video Game Gambling and Youth

By: Kevin Allen Jr.

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When someone thinks of gambling, the first place that pops in their head is a casino, which only permits people over 21 to play, but casinos are not the only place where gambling is made normalized.  If you have a smartphone, a laptop, or a video game console, gambling is a lot closer to your youth than you may think.  As many parents know, video games, whether its on consoles, computers, and mobile phones, are an extremely popular time-killer for youth, teenagers, and young adults, and some games may be subtly influencing their players to gamble.  Video games can be a fun pastime for youth, but it is important that parents know exactly what their children are playing and to make sure they are playing with moderation.  

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At the beginning of modern video games, all the consumer had to do was purchase the console itself (including controllers) and the games to play.  In today’s video game community, it is not so simple.  Many popular video games have large amounts of microtransactions, which are purchases made within the game itself that players buy in addition to the original game.  These in game purchases include items known as “loot boxes”, which are items that can be purchased that give the player a chance of collecting rare character outfits or more powerful upgrades for their character.  These loot boxes can be found in popular games such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, Madden, and many more, all encouraging the player to put in extra money to have a chance at an in-game reward, essential working like a virtual slot machine.  The rewards that players can get can either be extremely rare or extremely common, and of course the more rare the item is the less chance the player has of obtaining that item from the loot box.  This is where the promotion of gambling starts to form.  Younger players are spending more and more money so they can have a higher chance of getting something rare within their games, despite the chances of that happening being slim to none. 

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According to research conducted by SuperData.com, individuals who play PC games spent an estimated collective $22 billion dollars on in-game microtransactions throughout 2017, which is double the amount spent in 2012.  This increase shows how prevalent these forms of gambling in video games have become and how willing individuals are to spend real money for a chance to obtain virtual goods.  The spending trend is not going to diminish anytime soon, so it is important that parents understand what purchasing options are truly present within video games, as well as how these loot boxes and microtransactions can influence players to gamble for virtual goods regardless of their age.  The Southwest Council, Inc. provides educational programs to students across the Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties, introducing youth to various character building skills such as how to cope with stressors in their lives, how to understand media around them, and how to make smart decisions, all which can be useful when it comes to discouraging addictive behaviors.  If you are interested in learning more about what the Southwest Council provides for your community, please contact us at (856)-794-1011 or learn more about the strategies we use here.

 
Kevin has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since January of 2018 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Kevin provides evidence-based school and community wide-programs in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem County. He also assists in facilitating Camp YEY.

Kevin has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since January of 2018 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Kevin provides evidence-based school and community wide-programs in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem County. He also assists in facilitating Camp YEY.


 

5th Annual Tree of Hope: Celebrating Hope and Recovery

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Continuing to build on previous success, the Southwest Council again hosted, for the 5th year in a row, its annual Tree of Hope Coffeehouse. Tree of Hope celebrates freedom from addiction, encourages individuals who are in recovery, and remembers those who have lost their lives to overdose. The coffeehouse creates a warm, hospitable atmosphere with music, coffee, food, and a place to come together in celebration as we aspire to be a healthy and whole community free from substance abuse addiction. The program is designed primarily around music and letting the commonality of music add to the anthem of recovery.

About 80 people attended the event including various members of the local government; Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae, and Human Services Director Melissa Niles. Both Webb-McRae and Niles spoke on the need for continued work to solve the issues of addiction hitting our area especially. They also discussed the importance of incorporating the recovery community into efforts of prevention. 

The community coffeehouse collected voluntary donations to support recovery services in the area. Commemorative ornaments were available for individuals to write names of their loved ones either suffering from addiction, in recovery, or to remember those lost to overdose.

We would like to extend a special thanks to the individuals and organizations who participated and collaborated with The Southwest Council in the planning and implementation of the event, especially Restoration House and Millville Church of the Nazarene for providing the venue!

For the past 25 years The Southwest Council’s sole mission has been to reduce the prevalent abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs through prevention, education, and treatment. If you are interested in receiving more information about The Southwest Council, and how you can support and sustain our mission  contact us at info@southwestcouncil.org or 856.794-1011.

For more information about the event or how to get involved in the future, please contact Matthew Rudd at 856-794-1011 x 307 or matthew@southwestcouncil.org.

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A Destructively Dynamic Duo

By: Adrienne Davis

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Whether we realize it or not, our brains are trained to automatically connect certain duos. Chocolate and peanut butter. Salt and Pepper. Bert and Ernie. Oddly enough, pairings can provide us with comfort and familiarity. However, some pairings can be destructive. For instance, substance abuse and addiction by themselves are already colossal burdens to endure; now, imagine adding in something as devastating as depression. At first glance, substance abuse and depression seem to fall prey to the ‘chicken or the egg’ phenomenon where it is not clear which came first. Despite the correlation, one does not cause the other. 

Substance abuse occurs when an individual has a recurrent use of alcohol and other drugs to the detriment of themselves, their family, friends, and personal and professional responsibilities.  According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5) a diagnosis of substance use disorder is “based on evidence of impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria.” Dealing with addiction as a daily struggle is one thing, but envision the parallel agony of depression.

Defined in the DSM-5, depression is a mood disorder in which a person can experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. Someone with depression may also exhibit physical symptoms such as chronic pain, digestive issues, weight loss, weight gain, or fatigue. It may be difficult for some to distinguish depression from being sad or just having a bad day. However, depression is a chronic issue that can persist for a few days, a few weeks, or a few years. There is no singular cause for depression. Genetics, grief, past trauma, or major life changes are just a few of the reasons why someone may experience this disorder. 

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So, what is the connection? For some, substance abuse and depression can go hand in hand. They are referred to as co-occurring disorders. A co-occurring disorder is simply the coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder simultaneously. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) national survey on drug use and health, “approximately 7.9 million adults in the United States had co-occurring disorders in 2014.” This severe statistic shows how prominently these two issues factor into one another. Co-occurring disorders are difficult to diagnose. Substance abuse can conceal symptoms of depression. In turn, symptoms of depression may look very similar to symptoms of substance abuse. Someone with a depressed mood may be abusing substances to feel or appear livelier. On the other hand, an individual experiencing such unending emotional pain may want to feel numb. While someone who has an issue with addiction and substance abuse may become depressed about the possible destruction their addiction is causing, creating a viscously cyclic destructively dynamic duo. 

The depressed brain and the addicted brain can be a funny thing. Certainly not funny in the sense that it is a laughing matter, but funny in the sense that it can be tricky, difficult or strange to articulate. Someone experiencing depression or addiction may feel speaking up means admitting that something is wrong and becoming vulnerable to the people around them. We may also feel that asking for help is saying that we could not do this on our own. We spend our time showing the world around us that we are just as competent and capable of leading a normal life while everyday tasks seem like monumental endeavors. 

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How do we deal with this mental quicksand pulling us further into hopelessness? Thankfully, individuals who may be experiencing co-occurring disorders have options for treatment. When people do not realize that they have concurrent issues, they may worsen their problems by not receiving the proper treatment, or be unaware that the attempts to self-medicate with substances is only intensifying their symptoms. 

Integrated treatment is seen as the best course of action for co-occurring disorders by agencies such as SAMHSA. Integrated treatment is a method used by mental health professionals to treat both the substance abuse issue and the mental health disorder at the same time. This can enable individuals living through a co-occurring disorder can find an effective manner of coping and working through their challenges. 

Dealing with one disorder alone is an immense task that millions of Americans did not ask for, but cope with on a daily basis. However, there is a portion of our society that must face a double dose of turmoil on top of their daily lives. As daunting as it may appear, there is always a resource for assistance. It is encouraged that an individual seek assistance for their co-occurring disorder in the form of treatment and positive coping mechanisms. 

Agencies such as the Southwest Council provide integrated treatment methods to help service both substance abuse and depression. Southwest Council, Inc. services areas such as Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland Counties for treatment and prevention services. For assistance or other resources, individuals can call 856-794-1011.  

Sources:

2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (PDF | 3.4 MB),

https://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/mental-disorders/depression#factors

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

 
Adrienne has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since 2015 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Adrienne provides evidence-based school and community-wide programs in Salem County. Additionally, she helps to plan and facilitate Camp YEY.

Adrienne has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since 2015 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Adrienne provides evidence-based school and community-wide programs in Salem County. Additionally, she helps to plan and facilitate Camp YEY.

 

Preventing Substance Misuse Among Seniors: A “W.I.S.E.” Approach

By: Adrienne Davis

When the subject of substance abuse or misuse is presented, what image does your mind’s eye conjure? So often we picture a troubled youth heading down the dark tunnel of addiction. When we hear tales of addiction they come from every walk of life; from the troubled youth, the athletic teenager, and the stressed adult. However, substance abuse is a far reaching, multi-faceted social issue that can affect many aspects of our society. Although, one section of society that may not always come to mind when it comes to addiction is the senior citizen population.

As with any title throughout our lifespans, we are given cultural labels and titles that we adhere to regularly. Seniors are often put into the category of ‘grandparent.’ Even the term ‘senior’ comes with its own connotations. Senior citizens are often seen as caring, nurturing, wise, and knowledgeable. While all of these attributes are admirable, giving someone a label makes it easier to disregard them or dismiss them as a three-dimensional being with individualized thoughts, feelings, and problems. Substance abuse and misuse is an overlooked issue among the senior citizen population.

The aging process is not without its own complications. In addition to a decrease in physical well-being, seniors can also experience a loss of family, loneliness, fewer friends, or the loss of a partner. These are among the reasons why senior citizens may turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to cope. When we study the causes of addiction for the varying age groups we see the source of the issue is distinctive for each age group. However, the physical, emotional, and behavioral consequences of addiction in senior citizens closely mirrors the rest of society.

Prescription drug abuse and misuse is an important element in understanding how someone may become dependent on drugs or alcohol. Senior citizens are the most susceptible to the misuse of prescription drugs. More than 80% of seniors take at least one prescription medication, and more than 50% take at least 5 medications. Misusing medication includes: taking a medication concurrently with alcohol, taking a dosage that was not prescribed, using outdated medication, forgetting to fill prescriptions, missing doses, taking medication that is prescribed for someone else, or stretching out medications in order for them to last longer. Misuse of medication may occur for different reasons, but prevention is always a possibility. Individuals who feel they may be misusing their medications can speak with their doctors, use pill organizers, ask for larger print on their prescription labels, and coordinate their prescription use with their daily calendar.

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Detecting the signs and symptoms of drug abuse or dependence in seniors may be difficult because they can mirror the symptoms of other medical ailments such as depression, dementia, and diabetes. However, asking questions and raising personal awareness are both key factors in seeking assistance for the issue. Seniors may experience problems with memory, the desire to be left alone, changes in eating habits, changes in hygiene, changes in sleeping habits, irritability, depression, and lack of interest in their usual activities.

Viewing substance abuse as an issue that can affect anyone is an unsettling thought, but when we arm ourselves with knowledge it becomes easier to combat the problem. Seniors in the throes of addiction or dependence can speak with their doctor, friends, and loved ones for assistance. Prevention is also key in lessening the scope of addiction. The Southwest Council employs curriculum such as the Wellness Initiative for Senior Education (WISE) in order to spread the message of seniors and addiction. WISE is an educational program that discusses the aging process while developing strategies to enrich and encourage a healthy lifestyle. For additional information about addiction, or the senior education program, contact the Southwest Council at 856-794-1011.


Sources:

Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Published July 2001. Revised January 2018. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-scope-prescription-drug-misuse

Qato DM, Alexander GC, Conti RM, Johnson M, Schumm P, Lindau ST. Use of Prescription and Over-the-counter Medications and Dietary Supplements Among Older Adults in the United States. JAMA. 2008;300(24):2867. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.892.

 
Adrienne has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since 2015 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Adrienne provides evidence-based school and community-wide programs in Salem County. Additionally, she helps to plan and facilitate Camp YEY.  Rowan University - BA Law & Justice

Adrienne has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since 2015 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Adrienne provides evidence-based school and community-wide programs in Salem County. Additionally, she helps to plan and facilitate Camp YEY.

Rowan University - BA Law & Justice