The Stages of Alcoholism

The Stages of Alcoholism: When is it a Problem?

After a long week, some of us want a good drink on a Friday night. Some of us want a good glass of wine after eating a well-cooked steak. This is a perfectly normal and sometimes healthy practice. Italians are known for their good health because of their consumption of fine wine. But like all things, an excess is bad. When does it become bad?

1st Stage: Tolerance Building

This part is often unseen, especially by the very individuals themselves. If the individual drinks alcohol frequently enough, they start to build tolerance. Tolerance occurs when the body adjusts to the toxins it receives. It’s a survival mechanism that ensures that we maintain function, or homeostasis, decreasing the effect of the alcohol in the system. This may cause the person to drink more alcohol to get that same feeling they need.  

This is where the problem starts. When the person consumes more and more alcohol to achieve that certain level where they feel satisfied. One of the reasons why this often goes undetected is that it’s a very slow process. What drinkers think is a “functional” amount can grow over a long period of time until it’s three times more than what they started.

2nd Stage: Drinking the Stress Away

This may sound normal, but the key difference is what constitutes as stress. If someone had a horrible meeting with the people in upper management, they may have a drink at their favorite pub that night. The 2nd stage is reached when just about anything that needs coping, is coped by drinking alcohol. This cements alcohol as a part of that person’s life. Put it another way, the person only thinks of alcohol as a way to relieve themselves of stress and nothing else.

This when their lifestyle starts to decay. They may forgo their other habits in lieu of alcohol, centering their lives into it. At this point, it’s difficult to stop because alcohol makes them feel happy. They believe that they cannot fully enjoy anything without a sip or two.

3rd Stage: Isolation

This stage is triggered when people close to the drinker start to show their concern. If you know someone who drank too much for their own good, chances are you’d tell them about it. The drinker’s reaction is to deny it or ignore it. If people prod enough, the drink would start to feel that their habit is being threatened and they start to distance themselves. Far from help, unable to cope with anything else, they start to spiral downwards.

4th Stage: Health Issues

After severe changes in behavior, trouble with people and sometimes the law, the last stage is when it starts to hurt them. The body’s struggle to keep itself functioning amidst the alcohol flux is waning, causing liver problems and kidney issues.

This is the latest time drinkers should stop. Liver damage can be permanent, even fatal. If you need a new liver, hospitals may not assign one to you because there’s a risk that you’d damage it again. The next stage is rather grim. When that point passes, then it’s truly too late.


Cookies & Milk: Raising Control Freaks, Drug Addicts & Diabetics

On October 22, 2010, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) officially predicted that about one in every three adults in the United States will be diabetic by 2050. Who couldn’t see that coming. If almost all drug addicts drank milk once as a baby, then it stands to reason that all people who get diabetes as an adult ate cookies as children.

A neurotic nation

Here’s something else to chew on, I predict that four out of five people will be clinically neurotic well before 2050; the remaining fifth will either be too young or too old to give a bother about their mental stability. Thank goodness for diapers. My prediction is based on nothing but observation and gut level thinking, so don’t go quoting this as expert material.

Diabetes is risky business

Why pick on diabetes of all things. Seriously, people get their legs amputated sometimes as the result of diabetes. It leads to a lot of risks, including death. The United States 2010 Healthy People project has targeted diabetes as one preventable disease to eradicate. To do so requires individual commitment to healthy lifestyles, eating well and exercise.

Public health campaigns

We all know the score. Kaiser Permanente floods commercial breaks with advertisements about ways to be active. A staggering onslaught of “eat healthy” and “be active” public health promotions compete for airtime right along with the likes of Taco Bell, whose latest claim to fame is promoting a fourth meal for the day. That kind of irony always fetches my attention. The point is, it’s a free country, if you can grab a moment’s peace in which to listen to yourself sans iPod.

Anyone share an original idea lately?

And God bless you for trying to think for yourself these days. Talk about risky behavior. If you can’t back up anything you’re saying with voting records and economic indicators, some people won’t give you the time of day. Has brainstorming become a lost art? I digress. The point being, this article represents my thoughts on a couple topics that concern me, thoughts that result from thinking for myself.

Diabetes and the Cookie Monster

Diabetes concerns me. It runs in my family. Yours too? I drank milk and ate cookies as a child. You too? Coincidence? Well, somehow I escaped drug addiction, and I sure as what-not hope to evade diabetes. That brings to mind another hot button issue. Why did Sesame Street ditch the Cookie Monster? Was that supposedly a politically correct (PC) move? Come on. The Veggie Monster, really?

Everywhere we turn people are telling us what to do and what not to do, how to think and how not to think, what to eat and what not to eat, how often to exercise and for how long, what new toxin poisons the environments we recreate in, and… well, you get the point.

Keeping up with the Jones’s

Not only that, every do- or nay-sayer backs up their advice with the latest reports, research and polls. Who are we, the commoners, to dispute the experts? Why even think for ourselves. Instead, the experts, with their sage advice, put us in smaller and smaller boxes, limiting us and we let them as we continuously redefine ourselves and redesign our habitats to align with the latest and greatest findings. We purchase miracle products, organic produce, recyclables or recycled goods, vitamins, supplements and gym memberships.

This need for neverending, chronic makeovers consumes us because we strive to keep up with the Jones’s. Is it only me, or is it a veritable impossibility to keep updating my lifestyle to reflect the latest and greatest in eco-conservation, mind/body health, social consciousness and technological socialization media? What happens when I try? I morph into a control freak – trying to maximize every resource to its highest use, eventually petering out and then filling up with guilt and half a pint of Haagen-Dazs for not being a better person. Honestly, the less I can really control in the world drives me to assert more control over the few remaining things that I am at liberty to manipulate. One of those things is what goes in my mouth. It’s a choice, sometimes a hard one.

High fructose corn syrup

Do you want to be a diabetic? A rhetorical question, of course. Do you eat high fructose corn syrup? You might find it helpful to cut it out of your diet if you are at risk for diabetes. I’m not giving medical advice. Consult with your doctor or look it up on the Internet. I have to say that, because I am not an expert.

Do you think there’s a correlation between the ever-increasing amounts of high fructose corn syrup we consume and the increasing risk of diabetes? I think so. The public health promotions don’t seem to be working. And, just so you folks at PBS know . . .

I miss the Cookie Monster.

gambling addiction effects

How Gambling Addictions Affect Physical and Mental Health

When gambling turns into a full blown addiction, it is not only the life of the gambler that eventually descends into chaos, but also the lives of those close to the addict. Behind every addiction, whether it be alcohol, sex, narcotics, food or gambling, exists an enormous amount of a pain, which must be dealt with in order for the addict to find and maintain recovery.

Symptoms of Gambling Addiction – How to Identify a Gambling Addict or Problem Gambler

There are many different signs, symptoms and characteristics associated with problem gambling and gambling addiction. In Overcoming Gambling, Mawer highlights key telltale signs to help partners and friends recognize problem gambling, to include the following:

  • appears distant and almost unaware of your presence
  • seems to lack concentration or interest in conversation
  • surprising mood swings on returning home
  • never seems to have enough money, even for basics
  • money suddenly appears with unexpected gifts, nights out, holidays
  • frequent excuses to run errands, get out of the home
  • loss of interest in sex and/or trouble sleeping
  • often online, appears irritated if interrupted
  • small pens in his pockets
  • hides bank statements/credit card statements
  • unexplained debits or credits

How Gambling Addiction Affects Physical Health

Unlike in food addiction, where obesity is the likely outcome, or in the case of alcoholism damaging the liver, gambling addiction is not typically thought of as affecting physical health. However, this is simply not the case, with every addiction putting the body under some form of stress. An addiction to gambling may result in the addict being affected in the following ways:

  • physical exhaustion
  • poor sleep
  • weight gain
  • high blood pressure
  • excessive alcohol intake

How Problem Gambling Affects Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being

As with all other forms of addiction, an addiction to gambling is often linked to other mental health issues. For example, many treatment centres offering help for gambling addicts, recognise that underneath addiction are often mental health problems such as depression. The stress and feelings of failure associated with losing vast sums of money can lead the addict to contemplate suicide. In addition, the significant amount of time spent away from the home feeding the gambling addiction, results in the addict becoming extremely isolated.

One of the major risk factors for depression is social isolation, making likely that the gambling addict will suffer from mood swings and struggle to maintain relationships. According to research studies undertaken at Massachusetts General Hospital, gambling appears to cause a similar brain response to morphine, so it is easy to see why losses negatively affect the addict’s emotional well-being.

As highlighted above, gambling addiction causes both physical and emotional problems for the addict, which may benefit from professional addiction treatment. It is important to be able to spot the signs of problem gambling as the longer the problem persists, the stronger the addiction is likely to become.

gambling addiction

Identifying Gambling Addiction Must be Done Before it’s too Late

The gaming industry is huge. Every year it seems to grow as it comes upon neighborhoods that had resisted it in the past.

One example of this is Jacksonville, North Carolina, which is home to Camp Lejeune, the largest base of the United States Marine Corps. Prior to 2004 there was no lottery in Jacksonville. For several years, those who wanted one pushed the initiative stating that property taxes would not rise as a result of a present lottery.

When it did pass, home owners who gambled on the government not raising taxes found that in 2004 they were going to have more property taxes due at the end of the year. If that wasn’t bad enough, a legal door opened for an opportunity to obtain fast cash with a dollar and a dream.

The real question, though, is how can one tell if they, or a loved one, has a gambling problem.

Identifying Gambling Addiction

According to the American Psychological Association (APA) gambling addiction can be identified by the following behaviors:

  • preoccupation with gambling
  • a need to gamble with higher wagers just as an alcoholic needs more to drink
  • in the face of reducing gambling, a person is irritable or restless
  • gambling is used as a means of escapism
  • after losing, a person returns, but just “to break even”

Breaking the Gambling Cycle

The cycle can either spin around until it is out of control or one can stop it and let the chips fall where they may. Those who do wish to stop will need help. One place would be a program like Gamblers Anonymous.

Interestingly enough, the phone number for such a place can be found on the billboard advertisements for casinos. While some may joke that the phone number attached to the emboldened phrase Gambling Problem?is really just the reservation line for that particular casino, the truth is that it can be a means of getting help.

Sadly, this vicious cycle can only be broken when the player involved chooses to do something about it. Movie lovers may recall the film Owning Mahoney, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman plays a Canadian bank manager who goes so deeply into his addiction that he uses his clients’ lines of credit to keep playing. Initially, he is shown losing a few thousand dollars. In the end, he took millions.

Owning Mahoney is a true story, and at the end Hoffman’s character states to a psychiatrist that from a scale of one to ten gambling gave him the best feeling of a ten. Living the rest of his life as he intended to without gambling ever again, he believed the highest he’d reach is a three.

This “three” included time with loved ones and accomplishing personal and professional goals. Frankly, no prize is worth such a sacrifice. And that’s exactly what the glitz and glamor of gambling is: no prize.

caffeine overdose

Caffeine Overdose: a Hidden Problem: Caffeine is Found in Many Other Drinks Apart From Coffee

Recent research done by the Scottish Poisons Information Bureau suggests that the problem of caffeine overdosing may be much higher than previously suspected.

Number of Caffeine Overdose Cases in Edinburgh

Every year between 70 and 110 cases of patients suffering from caffeine abuse are dealt with in one hospital in the city. Between 2000 and 2015, over 700 people had been treated for caffeine overdose at that Edinburgh hospital. These figures may seem low, but extrapolated over the country as a whole, there does seem to be a sizable and growing problem.

Symptoms of Caffeine Overdose

Nausea and vomiting, dizziness, headaches, tremors and general agitation are the most frequently recorded symptoms. The heart rate is generally raised well above the normal 60-80 beats per minute and the patient will feel generally unwell.

What Substances Contain Caffeine?

Coffee is the most obvious source of caffeine. Tea is another. Some other substances that contain caffeine include the following:

  • Energy drinks such as Red Bull, Rockstar and Relentless also have high levels.
  • Soft drinks such as Coca-cola, Pepsi and Irn Bru contain caffeine, as do the diet versions.
  • Pills like ProPlus contain caffeine, as do proprietary medicines such as some headache pills.
  • Chocolate contains caffeine in low levels.
  • Buckfast Tonic wine contains caffeine.

How Much Caffeine is in Each Substance?

The amount of caffeine in coffee varies greatly according to the size of cup used and the strength of the brew. According to the (Glasgow) Herald, the largest size of brewed coffee in Starbucks contains 400mg of caffeine, equivalent to five cans of Red Bull.

  • A mug of instant coffee contains around 60mg while espresso has less than 80mg.
  • A normal cup of tea has about 50 mg while green tea and herbal teas are much lower, some having no caffeine.
  • A can of Diet Coke carries 45mg, regular Coke has 35mg and Pepsi Max 69mg per can.
  • Two ProPlus pills contain 100mg while a chocolate bar is about the same as decaffeinated coffee (i.e. containing very little caffeine).

Caffeine and Alcohol: A Potent Mix

There is a serious problem when alcohol and caffeine are combined in a drink like Buckfast Tonic wine. A bottle of Buckfast contains 37.5 mg of caffeine per 100mls, giving each 75cl bottle the caffeine fix equivalent to eight cans of Coke but with alcohol included.

A BBC Scotland programme claimed that many violent crimes had been linked to the consumption of Buckfast wine. 5638 crime reports from 2012-2015 mentioned Buckfast with one in ten of these offences involving violence.

Buckfast wine is made by Benedictine monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon and is marketed as a ‘tonic wine.” However research done at Polmont Young Offenders Institution and reported by the BBC in their programme, The Buckfast Code, revealed that 80% of offenders had been drinking before they offended and of those, 40% had been drinking Buckfast. Sales of Buckfast Tonic Wine in Scotland total less than 0.5% of all alcohol sales.

The US Food and Drug Administration are considering banning pre-mixed alcohol and caffeine drinks while Canada, France, Ireland and Australia have issued health warnings about them.

video game

Raising Children With a Video Game Addiction: Parenting Solutions From the Computer Gaming World

According to Harris Interactive a survey of US children and teenagers revealed that average time spent per week playing video games for tween (those ages 8 to 12) and teen boys were 16 hours and 18 hours per week, respectively. And in the Singapore newspaper Straits Times quoted a study by the country’s National Institute of Education which showed children spend 27 hours a week playing video games.

Whether a passing fad or clinical disorder, gaming can be a cause for concern for parents. At worst they result in gaming addiction that can be debilitative and destructive. At best, they compete for valuable family time and result in lost motivation for school work.

Performance Appraisal Feedback

Computer games offer constant and instant feedback through points, stages, special powers and number of lives. Players know exactly how well they are doing or how far they have come, giving them a sense of growth and improvement. When the game comes to an end, there is no personal condemnation and no labeling. Instead of being rejected as a failure, the player is simply invited to play again.

A CBS report suggests that gaming elevates dopamine and takes them to a fantasy world that makes the player feel better. This is especially pertinent in a online role playing game where players assume a fictional character and interacts with others in a virtual world safe from judgments and criticisms.

Sense of Belonging

In a multi-player game, a strong sense of connection and community is built. Singapore’s The New Paper carried a report on the strong bonds forged by players of World of Warcraft and Romance of the Three Kingdoms and how they turn to their virtual friends for help and advice when faced with problems in the real world.

The common interest lays a stable foundation on which a strong relationship is formed. Furthermore the blurry line between the virtual and real worlds allows the online feeling of “we are in this together through thick and thin” to be transferred to their real lives and an understanding that that bond will continue to exist.

Sense of Responsibility

Games like Neopets and Farmland give players the sense that they are contributing to something, that they make a difference. Whether they are taking care of pets or plants or saving the world from intruders, children feel that they have the power to control and the autonomy to contribute positively. Flushed with little successes, they are then motivated to take on more and bigger challenges and enhance their feeling of significance.

Parent Reflection

Instead of fighting the video games phenomenon, parents can take a leaf out of the gaming book and consider some of the following questions.

  • How often do you affirm your child?
  • Does your child feel small or empowered from your feedback?
  • When your child makes a mistake, do you take it personally?
  • Does your child learn from his failures or is he ashamed of them?
  • What can you do to build your child up in a non-judging way?
  • How much time a week do you spend pursuing a common interest as family?
  • How often does your child come to you for advice and help?
  • Does your child know he is making a difference to your life?
  • In what ways can your child hold responsibility in your family?
  • In what areas of his life can he be granted autonomy?

Kids love games and they love their family too. So pull up a chair and join them in a game or two. By spending quality time together, parents get to learn something about computers and parenting and even about their little loved ones too.

caffeine addiction

Caffeine Addiction: Appropriate Versus Excessive Amounts of Caffeine Per Day

There is a reason Starbucks is so popular – people love their caffeinated beverages. But how much is too much, and what are the effects of caffeine on the body?

Some people feel they cannot function without that morning cup of coffee or green tea. Many are in a daily habit of consuming caffeine, often unaware of the detrimental effects that caffeine can have upon the body.

Effects of Caffeine on the Body

Even small amounts of caffeine consumption can cause:

  • Jitteriness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Accelerated heartbeat

Long-term caffeine addiction can cause heart disease, ulcers, fibrocystic disease and even infertility. There is no evidence that caffeine consumption effectively helps people stay awake.

How Much Is Too Much?

According to Teeccino, maker of caffeine-free herbal coffee products, drinking less than 100 mg of caffeine per day is no cause for concern. Consuming anywhere between 100-300 mg of caffeine can be a warning that a person is headed toward caffeine addiction, but is not usually considered harmful.

Once a person begins drinking anywhere from 300-600 mg of caffeine per day, he is undoubtedly experiencing caffeine addiction. If an individual reaches the heights of 600-900 mg of caffeine per day, he is not only addicted, he is at risk for heart disease, disruption of mood and energy levels, gastrointestinal disease and psychological disorders. At this point a person may need professional medical assistance to successfully kick the habit.

Pregnant women or women trying to conceive should decrease their caffeine consumption or stay away from caffeine altogether.

Caffeine Withdrawal

When choosing to cut back on caffeine, it is better to do so slowly to reduce withdrawal symptoms. In any case, however, symptoms can appear as soon as half a day after caffeine was last ingested. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Feeling of general malaise
  • Difficulty concentrating

Individuals should consult with a physician if kicking the caffeine habit proves to be more difficult than previously thought.

Caffeine Content in Food and Beverages

Caffeine is found in coffee, some soft drinks, green and black tea, chocolate, energy drinks and some medications.

Here are some approximate figures regarding caffeine content:

8-oz cup of brewed coffee: 60-120 mg

8-oz cup of instant coffee: 70 mg

8-oz cup of black tea: 45 mg

8-oz cup of green tea: 20 mg

12-oz can of Coca-Cola: 34 mg

12-oz can of Pepsi: 38 mg

8-oz cup of chocolate milk: 20 mg

1-oz dark chocolate: 20 mg

1-oz milk chocolate: 6 mg

8-oz Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Fudge Frozen Yogurt: 85 mg

By these calculations, a person could have about three cups of brewed coffee a day or even several cups of green or black tea and still be in the “safe zone.” However, it is best to disperse caffeine consumption with other beverages such as water and natural fruit juices.

effects of alcohol addiction

Alcohol Addiction Psychological and Physiological Disorders

Alcohol addiction can cause different symptoms arising from craving to drink alcohol uncontrollably. The addiction to alcohol affects the quality of life that a person lives as it produces many adverse psychological, social and physiological consequences. There are different manifestations of alcohol addiction that warrant immediate diagnosis and treatment as a preventive measure to avoid the progressive addiction behavior towards alcohol.

There are different kinds of alcohol addiction symptoms that could easily signal that one’s inclination to drink alcoholic beverages has gone beyond control and limitations. These symptoms often manifest as one that leads to tolerance which increases one’s need for more alcohol consumption to satisfy their craving for alcoholic drinks. Physical changes usually occur in the attempt to stop the addiction with withdrawal symptoms.

An individual who is preoccupied with alcoholic drinks affects his or her behavior and will eventually result in psychological and physiological disorders. The effects of Alcohol Addiction cover the whole aspect of one’s life but the main and damaging part are the physical effects. Without getting alcohol addiction treatment it can lead to more adverse consequences that could alter the quality of life of the alcohol addict.

Physical Effects includes:

  • liver cirrhosis
  • pancreatitis
  • alcoholic dementia
  • epilepsy
  • heart disease
  • weight loss or gain
  • puffy face and red eyes
  • polyneuropathy
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • sexual dysfunction
  • chances of cancer
  • death

Social Effects:

  • loss of employment
  • school problem for failing grades and numerous absences
  • social isolation
  • personal matters such as marital conflicts, domestic violence, etc.
  • financial problems that will lead to stealing from others to finance addiction

Mental Effects:

  • anxiety and depression disorders
  • panic disorder
  • brain damage
  • suicides
  • murders
  • accidental deaths

Aside from these range of effects, persistent consumption of alcohol can also result for poor judgment that may lead to some legal problems such as criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI) or civil penalties for undesirable behavior, changes in sleep habits and many more that are not pleasant for the individual suffering form alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence.

Alcohol Addiction Related Research

Alcohol Use In Relation to Maltreatment

Shin SH et al. of the Boston University School of Social Work in Boston Massachusetts, USA studied the relationship between alcohol use and multiple forms of maltreatment by guardians or parents. The study showed a high correlation between maltreatment and alcohol abuse. Data were obtained from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The outcome of the study revealed that one third of those who reported maltreatment had experienced more than one type of maltreatment. The study was also suggestive that all types or combination of the different types of maltreatment except physical abuse only are strongly associated with alcohol use in adolescents, controlling for age, race, gender and parental alcoholism. Furthermore the study supported that child maltreatment has a deleterious effect on adolescent alcohol use.

Parental Alcoholism and Genetic Transmission to Child ADHD Risk

The Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies of the Department of Community Health of Brown University Medical School studied the genetic influences in the risk for the development of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with parental exposure to alcohol or nicotine that increases the risk of its development. The outcome of the study showed that ADHD is more likely to be diagnosed in girls whose mother or father were dependent with alcohol or whose mother have reported to use alcohol during their pregnancy which is also evident in those with low birth weight. 86% of the residual variance in ADHD risk is attributed to genetic effects while 14% are attributed to non-shared environmental influences.

pregnant woman

Help with Drug Addiction for Pregnant Mothers: Recovery from Substance Abuse Saves Babies and Lives

The process of recovery requires courage to face difficult issues and peer support in order to heal and change. Many women could be helped by programs that address the causes and conditions of chemical dependency in pregnancy.

The High Price of Perinatal Substance Abuse

Complications which may result from alcohol and drug exposure during pregnancy include spontaneous abortion, intrauterine growth retardation, placental insufficiency, brain damage and increased perinatal mortality.

Babies born to addicts and alcoholics have a higher incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and are at greater risk for HIV infection. They overwhelm the foster care and educational system with higher incidences of learning disabilities.

Some problems are directly caused by fetal exposure to drugs and alcohol. For example, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation in the United States today. Other problems are indirectly caused by addiction, such as malnutrition, poverty, domestic violence, and blood-borne diseases.

Characteristics of Drug Addicted Women

Their parents and/or grandparents are often alcoholic or drug-addicted, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and patterns of abuse get handed down from generation to generation. Childhood sexual abuse and rape issues are common. These hurt people continue to hurt people, not because they want to but because they don’t know how not to.

In long term recovery programs, women celebrate anniversaries of clean and sober time. Newcomers feel hope because they see with their own eyes what is possible. They also are reminded of what happens to people who “go out,” losing peers to the disease as frequently as they see friends recover. These are subjective and objective lessons they can apply to their own lives.

Why Don’t More Women Seek Help?

Women fear prosecution and having their babies taken from them. Threats create more fear, more hiding, and fewer opportunities to help these women and their babies. Even if the mother is aware of recovery programs, perhaps because she has prior failed attempts, there are few facilities that admit women with children.

A Window of Opportunity

Childbearing is a window of opportunity during which women may seek care for themselves and public health issues can be addressed. Punishment does little to help. If there were more places for women to get help without being separated from their children, more women would voluntarily seek treatment. If families are separated, support for the mother needs to extend beyond reunification.

Many alcoholic and drug addicted women “hit bottom” and seek help only after they are no longer able to care for themselves or their children.

For the pregnant mother who has recently lost custody of other children, grief and depression compound her problems, interrupting the pre- and post-natal bonding process and making women in early recovery more vulnerable to relapse. Experiencing raw feelings at a time when drinking or drug use only make her feel more hopeless and before she has had time to develop healthier coping mechanisms increases the likelihood that she will go back to the streets.

When Trying to Help

Working with chemically dependent mothers requires compassion, understanding, and a willingness to listen. For non-professionals, the following do’s and don’ts may be helpful:

  • Do identify yourself as a concerned person or a person in recovery. Don’t try to be an expert or an authority.
  • Do speak from your own experience, strength and hope. Don’t tell the mother what you think she should do.
  • Do tell her what has worked for you. Don’t preach at, lecture, or judge her.
  • Do observe the mother’s confidentiality. Don’t gossip about her or her problems later.
  • Do listen to the mother’s fears and concerns about her baby’s health. Don’t give opinions or advice on the baby’s condition.
  • Do allow the mother to feel her feelings. Don’t tell her how she should feel or minimize what is happening to her.
  • Do set healthy boundaries for yourself when working with the mother. Don’t make promises to do things for her that she can do for herself.
  • Do read “Working with Others” in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.. Don’t forget to work your own program!
salvia flower

Teen Curiosity Over Salvia Can Lead to Addiction

A Legal Herb Provides another Potential for Abuse

Salvia is a legal hallucinogenic herb available through health food vendors and online resources. Youth experimenting with the drug may find themselves unable to stop.

Tons of articles and even Dr. Phil have brought attention to the drug Saliva. Technically, salvia divinorium, is an herb used by some cultures to bring about a divine connection when seeking solutions and answers through ritual. However, the unbridled use of the drug is dangerous and its novelty appeals to teens. The novelty soon wears off, but use may continue as self-medicating agent or more advanced addictive state.

Novelty Attracts Teens Attention

“Teens are stupid,” said Dr. Phil on broadcast. While this statement isn’t particularly useful or true, it does hold a warning for parents. A better wording: teens do not have the necessary cognitive development to weigh risk-taking behavior threats. Teens see only the novelty of the substance.

A new clothing fad and a new recreational drug often have equal appeal to teenagers. As adults, parents can see the danger levels are quite different. However, this often escapes teenagers.

Because of the attention salvia is receiving in the the media currently, parents need to prepare to deal with the substance and help determine their teen’s level of use, reasons for use, and factors showing addiction potential.

Warning signs of the use of salvia share some common elements with the use of any drug. Fortunately, there are some unique signals to look for including:

  • Salvia is often a group use drug. Teens use together to laugh at the effects manifested by the drug.
  • Salvia gives off a unique, pungent odor when smoked. If made in tea, the taste is likened to burnt cinnamon.
  • Salvia is a drug distributed in plastic bags. Unless your teen has a good use for having small bags, finding them may be a sign of Salvia use, along with marijuana and other harder drugs.

Actions to Take if Salvia is Use is Suspected

Parents should be very direct with their teenagers if they suspect Salvia use. Begin by asking the teenager what he knows about the drug Salvia. Tell the teenager what you know of the drug and why you suspect its use. Whether the teen has legitimate reasons or not for the items leading to your suspicions, lay down a firm rule against using the drug.

If parents have discovered their teen using salvia or if their teenagers have admitted to its use, parents need to take immediate actions. These actions include:

  • Collecting and destroying any remaining drug.
  • Suspend allowance privileges and imposing other discipline.
  • Ask about the length and amount of use.

Parents will often need to give themselves permission to back off from the situation for a few moments so actions can be taken without anger. Instead, focus on the drug use as a safety situation and make a goal of determining the pattern of use.

When Addiction is Suspected

If teens have been using salvia regularly or have used the substance more times than they can recall, the use may have moved from experimentation to abuse and dependency. Drug dependency or addiction is defined an inability to stop using the substance. However, parents will need professional assistance if these signs are present:

  • Continued use of salvia after parent intervention.
  • Stealing or lying to obtain salvia.
  • Ceasing interest in other activities in favor of using salvia.

Parents noticing the above behaviors should immediately turn to an area treatment center, therapist or pastor for intervention help. In addition, parents may call the national hotline for drug abuse at 1-800-662-HELP for information on what steps to take next.

Salvia is receiving national attention and this causes natural teen curiosity because of its novelty. Parents should educate teens about the drug, be aware of the signs of abuse, and take action to stop the drug’s use. If the teen’s use of salvia is out of control, parents should seek help from a qualified, trusted source.