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Published: Monday, November 27, 2017 @ 1:00 PM
The trend is frightening and cannot be denied. To quote the Department of Health and Human Services: "Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic."
In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose and drug overdose deaths nearly tripled during 1999–2014, with 61 percent of those resulting from opioids. The opioid crisis is heightened among baby boomers and millennials in their 20s and 30s, according to HealthDay.
The crisis is clear, but the solution for parents of young children is not. It's tough to balance drug awareness and prevention for young kids against frightening them or inadvertently educating them about where to find opioids and other drugs. Parents are often left feeling helpless in the tide of drug abuse and opioid deaths that bridge all age groups, income levels and racial distinctions.
But there are steps parents can and should take, according to addiction and medical experts. Nonmedical use of prescription opioids was highest among adults ages 18-25, many of whom likely began using drugs and alcohol in adolescence, often early adolescence, Dr. Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health, told U.S. News and World Report.
To counter early-onset drug and alcohol use, the conversations should begin as early as preschool age, according to Tina Muller, program manager for the family wellness department at Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, Connecticut, who spoke to U.S. News.
Muller and other experts provide these five tips for age-appropriate ways to talk to kids about the lethal opioid epidemic:
Educate yourself first
To talk intelligently with your child, you'll need to know what opioids are, how they work in the brain and body and how to spot signs of use, according to Margie Skeer, an associate professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University.
"Parents shouldn't convey misinformation," she said. "If their children find out that what they've been told isn't accurate, they may turn instead to their peers for information."
Skeer recommends online resources like the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens website. It's particularly important to note the long-term effects that nonmedical use of opioids can have on adolescents. Around puberty, the brain starts a massive restructuring process and during this time the results of certain activities can get 'hard-wired' into the brain. "If a young person is engaged in academics, sports or learning a musical instrument, those connections get set in the brain," she said. "If they spend a lot of time using drugs, those could be the connections that stick. That means they'd have an increased chance of developing a substance use disorder later in life."
Use vitamins as an example
Muller advised parents to broach the subject with preschoolers without explicitly talking about opioids. Instead, use vitamins as an anology. "Explain to them that vitamins are good for you and will help you to grow up to be big and strong, but they can also be harmful if you take too many. This will start the understanding that while medicine can be helpful, it can also be harmful if taken in wrong amounts or in the wrong way."
Talk often; broaden the conversation as your child gets older.
The conversation should expand as children get older. When you take medications, explain what they are for and the importance of taking them correctly, Muller suggested. In the middle school years, she recommends asking children what they know about drugs. "What have they seen on TV or heard from their peers? Has their favorite musician or actor been in a drug scandal? Open up the lines of communication."
Skeer added that parents should continually remind themselves that this is a critically important topic. "Pretending that opioid use is not a problem - or thinking that a child is a 'good kid' and therefore doesn't need to hear and talk about it - is a mistake. Being a 'good kid' does not mean that an adolescent will not be curious or be tempted by peers."
Be honest: drugs can make you feel good
Drugs are alluring and kids should find that out from you, so they don't get a hard sell from someone else. Speaking in U.S. News, Nasir Naqvi, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, chose these words for parents to use: "Drugs can make you feel good, and like many things that make you feel good, they can also damage you, especially because you can lose control and they have harmful effects on your body." Naqvi recommended acknowledging that drugs can temporarily make you feel euphoric or like you're escaping your life. If you only discuss the negative repercussions you may lose your credibility.
Reveal any genetic factors
Find out for yourself and then let kids know if addiction runs in your family, Howard Samuels, owner and CEO of The Hills Treatment Center in Los Angeles, told U.S. News. "It's in the DNA," he said. "You have a higher risk of alcoholism or addiction if you have a family history. In 25 years in this field, I've done thousands of assessments, and 80 to 90 percent of the time when someone is struggling with substance abuse, there was a family member who was an alcoholic or an addict." Letting his own kids know about their family's addictive streak has made them more apprehensive about drugs, Samuels said.
Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 3:01 PM
— When you're trying to lose weight, you may not give much thought to what you drink, but those calories definitely add up! These "liquid calories" can sabotage your weight-loss efforts, and you may not feel as full as if you'd eaten the same number of calories. Many drinks also provide little to no nutrients and are often loaded with sugar, which can further hamper your weight loss.
These drinks – and their calories – may add up to more than you realize, even on a single day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered a sample list of the drinks you may choose during a day in order to total the calories. They started with a morning coffee shop run with a 16-ounce café latte made with whole milk at 265 calories. A non-diet soda with lunch had 227 calories, and an afternoon sweetened lemon iced tea from the vending machine was 180 calories. A glass of non-diet ginger ale with dinner added 124 calories for a daily total of a whopping 796 calories!
The following four drinks are some that can sabotage your diet when you're trying to cut calories:
You may think that swapping out sugary sodas for fruit juices is good for your diet, but it may not be as good as you think. Fruit juices are concentrated sources of natural sugar, so they have more calories and don't fill you up as much as fresh, frozen or canned fruits do, according to the Mayo Clinic.
For example, a 20-ounce glass of 100 percent apple juice has 300 calories, and the same portion of 100 percent orange juice has 280, the CDC says.
A plain black cup of coffee isn't a calorie problem, according to the Mayo Clinic. It contains fewer than five calories and no fat, but most people need at least a few extras with their coffee, and these also add extra calories.
Although at-home add-ins like creamer and sugar raise the calorie count, a specialty coffee can make it soar. A grande (16-ounce) size of white chocolate mocha espresso at Starbucks has 360 calories. If you choose a venti (20 ounces), you'll be drinking 460 calories.
A few drinks after work with your friends or a couple of beers or glasses of wine with a meal can raise your calorie count.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously took a look at some of the calories contained in popular alcoholic beverages and found that five ounces of red wine has about 106 calories, and five ounces of white wine has 100 calories. A regular Budweiser beer comes in at 143 calories, and Bud Light isn't far behind at 110 calories. Cocktails like a four-ounce margarita up the calorie count even higher at 168 calories, and a 4.5-ounce Piña colada packs 245 calories. These counts could vary somewhat depending on the alcohol and sugar content of your specific drink.
Smoothies have a "health halo" that leads many people to believe they're harmless, Marisa Moore, a local dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told the AJC.
Serving size is important, she pointed out. For example, a 20-ounce Angel Food smoothie from Smoothie King containing 340 calories. If you order the 40-ounce mixture of strawberries, bananas, nonfat milk, vanilla and other natural flavors and turbinado sugar, you'll be getting a whopping 690 calories. You can save some calories by omitting the sugar, saving 90 calories on a 20-ounce Angel Food smoothie, but it's still fairly high in calories.
Published: Monday, January 29, 2018 @ 4:25 PM
— Lose any sleep from your own or your partner's snoring lately?
For many Americans, it's a lethargic yes. Snoring is a buzz kill, a sleep robber and maybe an indicator of serious health issues, including the obstructive sleep apnea that can lead to heart disease.
Some 90 million American adults snore, according to sleepfoundation.org, and many could find relief with general health solutions. The Mayo Clinic recommends getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night if you snore, for example, or losing weight since overweight people can have extra throat tissues that contribute to snoring.
There are also expensive, extensive solutions like oral devices, according to dentist Gene Sambataro. The mandibular advancement device designed to remove obstructions in the airway, for example, "is one of the most widely-accepted dental appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea, useful in forcing the lower jaw down and forward slightly," he says.
Sambataro, a holistic clinician and author of the book “Stop the Snore”, recommends checking out some of the more unusual stop-storing methods, too, until you find something that works for you or your partner.
"Be careful not to look for quick fixes," he adds. "There are remedies out there – traditional and unconventional – but you should be thorough to remedy what can be a serious problem."
Sleep on a tennis ball. Lying on your back when you sleep puts greater pressure on your throat, so shifting to your side may work to quiet loud snoring, Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told Huffington Post. To improve your odds of actually staying asleep on your side, sew a tennis ball into the front pocket of an old t-shirt, then wear the shirt backwards to bed. This should make it super uncomfortable to lie on your back once you drift off. Once you've adjusted to the new sleep position (and stopped snoring), you can ditch the uncomfy shirt.
Buy a longer pillow. According to Reader's Digest, a full-length body pillow can help you adjust to sleeping on your side.
Do tongue aerobics. Sounds a little odd, and you may not want an audience, but strengthening your tongue and the facial muscles you use to chew and swallow with exercises known as "myofunctional therapy" can work wonders with snoring, according to Sambataro. "Muscle weakness within the tongue, mouth, and upper throat may lead to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea," he says.
Change out your pillows. No, you're not trying to re-decorate the snoring away. Instead, you're after the allergens in your bedroom and in your pillow that may contribute to snoring. "If you feel fine during the day but obstructed at night, these things may be contributing to your snoring," Sambataro says. "Everyone should evaluate whether your pillows are creating some nasal congestion due to a reaction to the material."
Pop a bit of peppermint. A drop or two of peppermint oil rubbed around your nose may be able to open nasal passages, and peppermint mouthwash could shrink throat tissue that contributes to snoring, according to RD.
Mix mint into the humidifier. If you have the option to use a humidifier at night, bump your odds of opening your nasal passages by adding a few drops of peppermint oil to the water, RD suggested.
Combat snoring with a nose cone. Sambataro also suggests nose cones you place in each nostril to expand it. "This technique has a similar effect as strips, without the irritation of removing them in the morning," he notes.
Nod off after nasal sprays. With regular use, sprays will help get rid of the bacteria and fungus that produce mucous and eventually obstruct the nasal airway, Sambataro noted.
Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 @ 9:32 AM
— If all you read is the Ladies Home Journal column "Can This Marriage Be Saved?", you'd think the answer is always a roaring yes. But that standby, a popular read since its launch in 1953, is selected by counselors of couples in situations they can salvage, especially with the help of therapists.
Outside of LHJ's pages, many marriages do not last and should not last. Is yours one of them? According to psychologists, marriage counselors and divorce experts, there are signs that you should break things off.
7 signs you should probably leave your marriage
Domestic abuse has entered the relationship. This is the most difficult break to deal with because the abuse ordinarily escalates when a victim tries to leave the relationship. But it's one of two reasons a person should not play the divorce waiting game, certified divorce coach Cathy Meyer said in LiveAbout. The other was a spouse who had an addiction to pornography.
You have shaky reasons for wanting to stay married. People who are staying in a marriage to avoid pain or fear probably aren't in a marriage that will endure, according to licensed clinical social worker Susan Pease Gadoua in Psychology Today. "This indicates the marriage hasn't much glue." Sample statements in that vein include, "I'm staying because I'm afraid of not seeing my children every day," "I don't know how I'd make ends meet without my spouse," and "No one will ever love me like this again."
Gadoua recommended a strict examination of reasons for staying in an unhappy marriage. "Where I see people go wrong in such a decision is when they forgo their own needs and focus primarily on meeting the needs of their spouses or children." Once people awaken to the fact that they've done all they can to improve the relationship and must now sever the tie, almost all realize "letting go of the unhealthy relationship was the best decision they'd ever made," she noted.
One spouse is a serial cheater. Certain people are not able to remain monogamous and this makes them not cut out for marriage, Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After, told Woman's Day. A secondary sign that it's time to move away from a marriage with a cheater is when he constantly tries to blame you for the philandering and untrustworthiness, usually claiming you are too jealous or controlling, she added.
An unfaithful spouse keeps an ex-lover as a friend. Just ending the affair is not enough, according to Bryce Kaye, Ph.D., author of The Marriage First Aid Kit, told WD. For a marriage to fully get past adultery, the unfaithful half of the couple cannot maintain a "friendship" with the former lover, even if he or she professes that the friendship is completely innocent. "Nothing good can come out of it," Kaye advised.
Your interactions are almost exclusively negative. When you're trying to evaluate the worth of a struggling marriage, take into consideration both how strong and how frequent your negative interactions are, advised marriage counselor Racheal Tasker on the GuideDoc blog. "The magic ratio in any happy relationship is five positive interactions for every one negative interaction," she said. "If you find that you have significantly more negative interactions with your partner than positive interactions, it may be a sign that you need a divorce."
Another crucial indicator that divorce should be a possibility: severe and hurtful arguments, particularly if they tend to become personal insult fests and you can't resolve conflicts without feeling devalued.
One partner dramatically changes the way they handle money. From an attorney's perspective, according to Dawn Cardi, a Manhattan matrimonial lawyer who spoke to WD, the shifting around of accounts is telling, even though a spouse may shrug it off. "People will come to me and say, 'My husband changed accounts. He's moving money.' That's a sign to me that he's already ready to get out of the marriage and move onto the divorce stage."
One of you wants children and the other does not. There are many areas of compromise in a marriage, but this is not one of them. If one partner is categorically opposed to having kids and the other has becoming a parent as a prime item on the bucket list, "you may be looking at the end of your marriage," Bowman said in WD.
Barring physical abuse or untreated drug abuse, there are some signs that a couple might be a good candidate to try to repair an ailing marriage. These are five signs that indicate a marriage may be down, but it's not out:
A rift has recently been disclosed. The more recently a crack in the marriage has come out into the open, the better your odds of repairing the breach, according to Kaye.
"The clock starts ticking on the end of a marriage as soon as one spouse puts the [couple's] problems out in the open," he said. "The more time that passes after that without any effort made, the lower the odds are that you'll stay together."
You still share the same core values. No, you'll never agree on everything, and no one really wants to if you're being honest. Still, to get in the marriage salvage arena, you'll need to continue sharing basic values.
"If there is at least a little common ground regarding religion, politics, finances, education and the like, there is a decent foundation upon which to build," noted Robert Weiss, a licensed clinical social worker and certified sexual addiction therapist, in Pop Sugar. If you share core values and can agree to disagree on peripheral issues, there's a good chance you'll be able to work through marital challenges.
You both want to work through a cheating episode. For most people, infidelity might seem like the top reason to answer, "Oh hell no" to staying in a marriage. If the cheater is unwilling to do the heavy salvage work, that's certainly true, according to Bowman. But some cheating falls into the "This marriage can be saved" category -- if the cheater has regrets, makes apologies, promises to put an end to the affair and seek counseling.
You still enjoy spending time together amid the tough times. "One of the primary reasons for being around another person is that it's fun and enjoyable at least some of the time," Weiss added. If you still like to hang out and enjoy some shared hobbies, that might also indicate your relationship is worth saving.
Published: Tuesday, January 09, 2018 @ 11:40 AM
— Argh, winter!
Sick of the snow, ceaseless rain, being in the house − and the whining (from you not the babies)?
Sounds like cabin fever, which adults suffer from more than the little ones.
While it's not as serious as seasonal affective disorder, it's important to make every attempt to shake off this mind-numbing boredom or that feeling of being trapped. Just know, it can be done. And since it so often occurs in the post-Christmas financial slump of winter, the second encouraging message is that fending off the winter blahs and that shut-in feeling does not have to cost much. While the Caribbean getaway would be swell, it won't be necessary.
In fact, psychologists, nutritionists and all around fun activity planners recommended these nine ways adults can combat cabin fever, each costing $15 or less:
•Walk towards the light. Cost: Free
This tip from psychologist Margaret Wehrenberg in Psychology Today helps those with SAD, but will also give you a lift if you're trying to shake the ordinary winter blahs. "Get outside for 30 minutes in the middle of the day and take a walk," she advised. "It helps activate your brain and you will feel more energetic, not less, if you get outside. Natural light always trumps artificial light, and even on a cloudy day you will get a fair amount of the right kind of light to wake up your brain." Not feeling the fun factor here? Make the idea of walking outdoors more appealing by doing like the kids do and playing a game with a companion while you walk. Follow the Leader is a good one, or "side of the path" Bingo. For the latter, give yourself a point each time you see, for example, red berries, a recycle bin, a cat in the window and a feather on the ground. Whoever gets the most points wins, say, a hot beverage prepared by the other. Change the items that need to be spotted and your route for the next day.
•Take creativity to the tub. Cost: $10
So you're not in a Jacuzzi with a tropical beverage in hand. Innovate! Take to your own tub, with your mate or by yourself, with tub crayons in tow. Have fun drawing all over the walls while you soak in warm water. Win, win.
•Grow something small inside. Cost: $2, $5 or $7
While it's also mood-boosting to browse colorful seed catalogs, it's far more active and less budget-busting to start growing something indoors. Yes, now, when you're feeling trapped and out of sorts, not next spring when you're already hopeful and bouncy. This nurturing of small plants or seeds into larger plants and flowers taps into a feeling of being responsible for the growth and blossoming of life, psychotherapist Sheri Jacobson told the Huffington Post. "This is an activity which, similar to caring for a pet, can help with feeling worthwhile and purposeful, and thus helping to combat depression." Three good growing projects for beginners:
•Roar back at the weather. Cost: Free
To get your blood pumping, a quick boost to the metabolism and amused stares from the neighbors, taunt the weather. Saunter out to the mailbox in shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops and then race back yelling "I am mighty!" (Or insert your favorite affirmation here.) Bellow "Let It Go" while you shovel (not snowblow) the walk or driveway, or dress warmly and go howl at the moon for 60 seconds every night at the same time. If it's torrential rain keeping you homebound (but it's not thundering), apply your facial wash and then use rainwater to rinse it off – while you're in your bathing suit, outdoors. The idea is that if you can gain the upper hand with the weather for a few seconds, you can tolerate it with good humor for a few more days.
•Bump up your comfort food with tropical ingredients. $6
It's not just your imagination. When you're stuck inside and it's cold out, you really do experience a biological craving for denser nutrition, Paula Pavelka, a registered nurse and certified health counselor in Palo Alto, California told Parents. "You should just go with that inclination to eat more substantial, hot foods than you might in the warm months."
But to keep cabin fever from setting in after you indulge, get creative with lower calorie ingredients that still zing. Pavelka's favorite: mango chili, made by substituting frozen mango chunks or pieces of fresh, firm mango for half the diced tomatoes in your chili recipe. Top each bowl with more chopped mango.
•Host a fruit-salad exchange. $10-$12 each for 6-8 adults
Speaking of tropical, remember that Christmas cookie exchange? To get both the social interaction that battles cabin fever and lots of delightful vitamins and fiber, why not try a fruit salad exchange with as many friends as you can get interested? Each person brings enough cut-up fruit for all, and you make up a line to dip out a half-cup at a time in take-home bowls (that way no one swipes all the raspberries, for example.) Put a signup list on a social network, and list all the prime ingredients including watermelon, pineapple, star fruit, kiwi. Not only will it taste great, but you'll also have enough exotic fruit salad to cheer up at least a couple of work lunches.
•Hold a suitcase party. $15 each for 10-20 adults
About that Caribbean vacation. So you can't afford it and neither can any of your friends. But together you could afford a much more modest getaway – for two of you. A suitcase party is the fun way to make that happen.
Here's how you do it: Invite all your friends to contribute $15 for a possible getaway for two in your area. When you know whether you have $150 or more to spend, comb Groupon, Airbnb and other discount local travel options. Put together a modest package for an overnight that includes accommodations for two, an outing and maybe brunch. And here is how you all get to enjoy the break from winter discontent: pair up and come to a "Suitcase Party" potluck and music. Everyone dresses the way they'd need to if they won the final prize and is prepared to leave that evening. Each pair is assigned a numbered ticket that corresponds to the same numbers in a bowl. Start around 6 p.m. Every 20 minutes, in a reverse elimination, randomly choose one number. Those two stay at the party, and so on, until just one couple's number is left. They depart for the excursion and the rest of you continue to enjoy your winter get-together.
•Roast up some winter pep. $10
The dark makes our bodies crave sugar in the colder months, and that adds pounds and the old "sugar-high, sugar-low" cycle, both creators of cabin fever. Fight the urge by eating naturally sweet dishes, like Pavelka's recipe for roasted root vegetables. She cubes sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and beets, tosses them with about a tablespoon of olive oil, and roasts them on a baking pan in a preheated 400°F oven. Check the mix after 20 minutes, stir if needed and take them out when they're nice and brown.
•Hit the aquarium or pet store. $0
Living, breathing things can coax you out of the winter doldrums. But instead of spending the big bucks to visit the local aquarium or zoo, see if you can't find a local pet store with birds and guinea pigs and such. Or, look for an aquarium store (saltwater is the best) where you can spend minutes or hours gazing at the tropical fish.