Prescription Drug Abuse

shutterstock_53794111 Drug addiction is life changing. It changes who you are, how you act, and how you relate to others. It skews reality and your perception of who you are and what your place in the world is. It destroys relationships that have taken lifetimes to build. Prescription drug abuse is on the rise, and we are seeing more cases of this type of addiction as time goes on. This is especially true for those aged 14-25. What is even more troubling is where the drugs are coming from.

More often than not, the prescription medication that is being abused comes from the medicine cabinets in their own home. Leftover medications from surgeries, prescriptions meant for others in the family, or even things that they are being prescribed themselves, are finding their way into the hands of others.

Prescription drug abuse also seems to be taken more lightly and is generally more socially acceptable. This is largely because people don’t think of them as “street drugs”, like heroin and cocaine. The truth of the matter is that just because they aren’t street drugs, doesn’t mean they aren’t any less addictive or harmful. These medications can be extremely harmful to the body, and without the proper precautions, can cause death. The toxic effects of these medications are often unknown to those that are taking them, which is why we have been seeing an increase in prescription medication related deaths.

So how do we make the younger generations aware of the consequences of drug shutterstock_62275720addiction? Scare tactics don’t often work, and just simply telling them to say no isn’t often enough. This is where awareness and education come into play. It is so important that we are giving them the right amount of information to make good choices, but it is also important that we have open lines of communication with them. These open lines of communication will allow them to feel comfortable coming to us when they make mistakes and choose to try drugs.

Prescription drug abuse doesn’t need to happen. Addiction to these drugs is preventable. So what are some ways that you can prevent your medications from falling into the wrong hands?

Keep medications in a safe and secure place. Keep your medications out of sight. Don’t leave them in a readily accessible place for your children or others to get into them. Make sure that you keep track of how much you are taking and if some go missing.

Dispose of your medications properly. Pharmacies are more than happy to help you dispose of old and unused medication for you. By bringing your medication to them when you are finished taking them, you are reducing the likelihood that someone in your home will abuse them.

Protect those that you love. Lock up your medications and reduce the temptation. And above all else, encourage education and awareness about prescription drug abuse.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

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Can you imagine not knowing where you are, what day of the week it is, what year it is, and even who the people are that are around you and caring for you? These are just some of the challenges that face those who face dementia and the people that care for them. It is a daily struggle that causes much heartache and suffering for those suffering with dementia and their families.

Dementia can affect many areas of cognitive processes including:

  • memory

  • attention

  • language

  • problem solving

Diagnosis of dementia is based upon the existence of symptoms for 6 months or longer, and often times is allowed to progress significantly before any treatment or therapy is attempted.

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The further dementia progresses, the more severe the symptoms become. The progression comes with further disorientation in time, place and person. Dementia is not solely about a memory problem. It reduces that ability for the person suffering to learn new things, reason, retain new experiences and be able to recall past experiences. Dementia also affects and disrupts thought patterns and feelings, as well as interferes with the completion of daily tasks and activities. It becomes harder and harder for them to make the connection to the present and to those around them. It is an extremely hard for family members to understand and cope with a diagnosis of dementia. Day after day, week after week, the person that you love is fading in front of you and it is difficult to accept that often times there is nothing that you can do.

A commonality between many dementia patients is the presence of depression and/or anxiety. It is understandable and even expected due to the nature of the symptom.

A very confusing part of the diagnosis to many people is the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia. Put simply, Alzheimer’s is a specific disease and dementia is a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Both are extremely complex in their own ways, which can make a diagnosis and treatment plan even harder to come by.

Both Alzheimer’s and dementia are taking a serious toll on our healthcare and nursing home system. It is a constant struggle to keep those that are undiagnosed from slipping through the gaps in the system, as well as to keep those that are receiving treatment in the programs that are treating them. Burn out rates for family members and nurses alike are extremely high due to the amount of care giving that is required, especially during the later stages. Support for families and healthcare professionals is an essential part of the effective treatment of dementia.

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Despite the difficulties faced by those diagnosed with dementia and their families, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes the diagnosis isn’t a form of dementia that is irreversible. There are those that are lucky enough to be able to receive treatments that will reverse the effects of dementia. Regardless of diagnosis there is always hope for the future. With faith, love, and support, we can look towards a brighter future in the treatment of this devastating diagnosis.

Self-Injury Awareness Day – March 01, 2013

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Many of us carry the scars of our troubles on the inside. But what about those of us who carry the scars on the outside? Self-injury, also known as self-harm, is a dangerous behaviour, in which an individual deliberately hurts themselves in order to deal with the emotional pain that they are suffering. Self-injurious behaviour is not only troubling because of the harm that they are causing to themselves, but because of the stigma that is attached to those who self-injure.

…Cutter…Emo…Freak…

Just a few of the many taunts and jeers that are ever present for self-injurers. These labels are not only hurtful, but often times they amplify the self-loathing behaviour. Bullying is a large contributor in the continuation of self-injury. However, it is not the only contributing force. Emotional turmoil, unresolved emotional pain, as well as past and present emotional trauma can trigger self-harming behaviour. It can be used as an escape, similar to drugs and alcohol. That is how the behaviour is most often described by those who self-injure.

That is why Self Injury Awareness Day was created. To bring it to the surface. To allow those suffering in silence to speak out and be heard. To give them a voice they so often don’t have.

There are many questions that arise when it comes to self-harm. Especially from the loved ones of those that self-harm. What does it look like? Who is at risk? What do I say? What do I do? It can be a very confusing time for both the person who is self-injuring and their loved ones. The most important thing to remember is to remain open and understanding, no matter how hard that may seem. It is important that the person who is self-harming feels understood and not judged. It is also important to not condone the behaviour, as it is symptomatic of maladaptive coping skills.

So what does self-injury look like? It comes in many forms: cutting, bruising, scarring, burning, branding, and scratching. Any behaviour that one can use to intentionally cause harm to their own body is considered self-injury. While the injuries themselves are not always apparent, there are signs that someone is self-injuring. They might cover up the marks with excessive clothing (even in hot weather) or make up. They might seclude themselves more often, and gradually spend more and more time alone. If a loved one’s behaviour is troubling to you, the best thing that you can do is ask them if they want to talk. They may not want to open up, but just knowing that someone is willing to listen is often times more than enough. All you can do is be patient.

There is no one person that is more likely to self-injure. And it is hard to know the exact statistics about those who do self-harm, for obvious reasons. It was once thought that only young women self-harm, but the truth is that it is a behaviour that affects many people from many different backgrounds, ages, races, and of any gender. Anyone can engage in self-injury. And that is one of the most tough pieces of reality for people to accept. That is why it is so important to have Self Injury Awareness Day. It is to help dispel the myths and stigmas attached to self-harm and to let those that are self-injuring that they are not alone.

So what can you do or say when a loved one tells you that they self-injure? Or what should you do or say when you find out that they self-injure? There is no right answer. There is no one way to act or right thing to say. As mentioned above, the best thing that you can do is offer support and remain calm and understanding. The last thing that they need is to feel judged. And it is important that you make it clear that you will be there to help them seek out the help and support that they will need. Staying strong is a difficult thing to do when someone you love and care about tells you that they hurt themselves, but it is one of the most important things that you can do during this trying period.

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Hope begins in the dark; the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.
– Anne Lamott

7 Ways to Beat Depression Naturally


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Depression is a state of mood characterized by negative effects in our life that continue to spiral, depression can be reflected in one’s physical, emotional and mental well-being. The onset of depression can be marked by an array of causes; perhaps you have reached a hiccup in a relationship with your significant other, or perhaps you are undergoing the loss of a loved one.

What was once the focus of intrigue and marvel in life may quickly and abruptly lose its enticing properties for the depressed individual.

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

1. You can’t sleep or you sleep too much

2. You can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult

3. You feel hopeless and helpless

4. You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try

5. You have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating

6. You are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual

7. You’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behaviour

8. You have thoughts that life is not worth living (Seek help immediately if this is the case) 

7 Ways to Beat Depression Naturally

1)     Exercise on a regular basis, I highly recommend it.  There are so many different forms of exercise (Yoga, walking, tai-chi, weight lifting) begin slowly.  Begin outside if you can, fresh air is the surest way to get the blood flowing and change-up your energy.  Even if it’s as little as 20 minutes a day to start, you will notice you feel better instantly.

2)    Diet rich in vitamins and minerals, healthy foods, vitamin B and calcium.  Cut out refined carbohydrates, fried foods and avoid sugar at all costs.  Make sure you speak to your doctor about getting the proper DHA’s and probiotics into your diet for a healthy mind and gut.

3)   Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies produce it when exposed to sunlight.  Ask your doctor to check and see if you are low in vitamin D.  People often feel better when they take vitamin D especially in the winter months.

4)   Herbal Supplements contain many medicinal powers and can heal a variety of ailments.  Seek out a great naturopathic doctor to discuss homeopathic remedies, vitamins, acupuncture, cupping and getting to the route of the issue by releasing toxins from the body.

5)   Get enough sleep and notice when your sleep is being disturbed by your mood.  The best thing to do is create a routine and stick to it everyday.  Take a Epsom salt bath to sooth and relax you, reduce TV and all stimulants.

6)    Talk it out with a therapist, counselor, friend or mentor. Depression is not the cause of hopelessness and extreme sadness — it is a symptom. If there is a specific problem you are having that is causing these feeling…face it, come up with a plan. Do not allow your problems to go unanswered. Hope can be found in moving, step by step toward addressing our issues.

7)    Be of service to someone else in need.  Often when we take the focus off ourselves and help another we stop running circles in our minds and we tend to feel better.

Most important of all, have hope and faith that “this too shall pass” and you do deserve to live a happy life.

Stacey Dombrowsky