What Is CBD Oil, Where Does It Come From, and Will It Make Me High or Relax Me?
If you’re thinking about using cannabidiol oil (CBD) for the first time, these are common questions. Even for people familiar with marijuana use, these are relevant questions. Perhaps you’ve already looked for answers. Quite likely what you found got you more confused. Often, that’s because in today’s writings, there’s a lot of erroneous information written about CBD. This bad information is further complicated by an interchange of words that typically can muddle your attempts at learning about this product.
In many cases, the terms marijuana, hemp, cannabis, CBD, THC, hemp oil, cannabis oil, marijuana oil, and THC oil or other iterations combining these terms are used interchangeably – but there are distinct differences to note.
To properly answer the first two questions, you need to understand what cannabis, marijuana, and hemp are before you can begin to comprehend anything about the oil that comes from them. It helps to start by taking a look at the plant’s taxonomy – kind of like a family tree so to speak.
The Cannabis Family Hierarchy
FAMILY: At the top of the “family tree” is Cannabaceae – an overarching genus of flowering plants.
GENUS: Under the Cannabaceae family comes Cannabis, a genus of plant that has various species.
Cannabis is an annual herbaceous plant with either male or female reproductive organs. As with most plants, the female must be pollinated by the male in order to produce seeds to further reproduction. In some cases, this pollination is blocked by growers in order to allow the female plants that don’t receive pollen (referred to as sinsemilla – Spanish for “without seed”) to produce buds that are larger than normal and very resinous. It is this resin that is commonly used for smoking, vaporizing, or it is processed into oils.
Cannabis plants contain a psychoactive chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in varying amounts depending on the subspecies. THC is the active ingredient of cannabis that produces the sensation of euphoria or being “high.” Sometimes THC is used by individuals for medical reasons but it is primarily intended for recreational purposes.
Additionally, cannabis has other naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are known to affect the human body in various ways by acting on the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating various processes in the body such as cell communication, immune response, metabolism, appetite control, memory, and more.
SPECIES: The most commonly known species of cannabis are Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.
Sativa plants are the largest of the cannabis species, growing to approximately 9 feet on slim bushes with longer leaves than ruderalis or indica. Use of this plant is primarily for inducing euphoric and energetic sensations.
Indica plants are short and bushy, though these are best suited for growth in colder climates. Indicas are known for inducing a relaxing physical sensation and are often used as sleep aids or for appetite control.
The least known of the three cannabis species, ruderalis is usually found wild as it can adapt to extreme environments. Similar to in size to indicas, It is a short and compact plant that contains less than 0.3% THC and is found to have high levels of CBD.
Of importance is that sativa has two subspecies (or variations) depending on how it’s grown and on the intended end use – the first called marijuana and the second called hemp.
Subspecies #1: Marijuana
The marijuana plant is usually carefully cultivated, both indoor and outdoor, utilizing non-fertilized female plants grown to produce large buds which have a high percentage of THC. It is harvested for its euphoric, relaxing, and psychoactive properties. The plant is cultivated for its highly resinous flowers containing an abundance of cannabinoids. The THC content of marijuana is much higher than it is in hemp.
Subspecies #2: Hemp
The hemp plant is typically a commercially harvested, outdoor grown plant that is sturdy and tall – up to 13 feet in height. It is free to pollinate so that the entire plant can be used for many purposes: rope, clothing, food, cosmetics, fuels, construction materials, paper, and more. Its flowers are specifically harvested for the plant’s cannabinoid content. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is among the most abundant of all the cannabinoids. Hemp was originally called by just its species name “cannabis sativa” – another factor that lends to confusion.
THC is present in trace amounts in the cannabidiol derived from hemp. The concentration of THC is usually negligible and rigorous testing and remediation to ensure it is below the legal limit of 0.3% THC that typically keeps hemp-based consumable products from being classified as psychoactive.
We’ve answered the first two questions, so now let’s get back to the last one…
Will CBD Oil Make Me High?
Typically not, but it depends on a few factors.
CBD Oil can be sourced from either marijuana or hemp plants. The biggest difference in the end product will be the ratio between CBD and THC. With oil derived from marijuana, the product may be sourced from selectively bred strains that produce high levels of THC – anywhere from 5 to 30%. But with a hemp-based oil, the THC content does not exceed the legal limit of 0.3%.
So yes – CBD oil can make you feel high if it’s made from marijuana plants due to the much larger volume of THC than what is derived from hemp plants or proper testing and remediation is not completed.
How Can It Make Me Feel Relaxed and Avoid Getting High?
Edible products like chocolates or gummies should come from a hemp-derived CBD oil as the THC level is extremely low, meaning that there should be no psychoactive activity felt. Many edible products are infused with hemp CBD to support the endocannabinoid system. Proactively supporting the endocannabinoid system with CBD oil is thought to help by decreasing pain and inflammation and further by naturally inducing relaxation, ultimately leading to an overall state of balance and well-being.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully this helps to dispel some of the confusion about what CBD oil is, where it comes from, and shows the different effects it can have. Most importantly, you should now have an understanding that it’s important to carefully check on the origin of the CBD oil (marijuana or hemp) to ensure you are picking the right product for the effects you desire.
Articles in the media show that use of crystal meth by young adult females has seen a steady increase in recent years.1 Also increasing is the number of young women facing depression. Meth provides an easy way to cope with these unwanted feelings as it provides a euphoric sensation and decreases inhibitions – but this long-term abuse often leads to dangerous behaviors like unwise sexual activity, random partners, and a stronger possibility of unprotected sex.
Methamphetamine causes the amount of the dopamine (a naturally occurring chemical affecting pleasure, attention, learning, and movement) in the brain to increase dramatically.
This quick and short-lasting boost to dopamine levels causes the user to seek more of the substance to further enhance the effects. But tolerance to these pleasurable sensations builds, and so too does the need for more of the drug, furthering use, and probable addiction.
Women and the Adverse Effects of Meth Use
Most people have heard about the common adverse effects caused by methamphetamine use: rotting teeth and gums, premature aging, loosening of inhibitions, exposure to STDs, and the like.
However, new studies are showing that there is another serious outcome of meth use, and it is particularly damaging to women at a greater rate than men.
In a study published by the RSNA, researchers found that “…women with stimulant dependence had a significantly lower gray matter volume (GMV) in the frontal lobe (orbitofrontal cortex, medial frontal gyrus, superior frontal gyrus), limbic regions (insula, amygdala, cingulate gyrus), temporal lobe (temporal pole, uncus, parahippocampal gyrus, hippocampus, occipitotemporal gyri, superior temporal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus), and inferior parietal lobule.”2
Simply put, this means that the study showed a marked reduction in gray matter volume (GMV) found in the brains of women who had used meth.
So…Just What is Gray Matter
Gray matter is part of the physical makeup of the brain and is really important to humans in two ways.
First, gray matter gives people their power to process information. Found in many areas of the brain, the three components of gray matter include “neurons, the cells that make connections and store information in our brain, glial cells that feed the neurons so they can work at their best, and capillaries, which provide cells with blood and oxygen.”3
Secondly, gray matter functions in what’s called “neuroplasticity” of the human brain, or the ability of one’s brain to change and adapt as a result of experience. With this capability, the brain will actually modify its own neural network in response to many events, including normal growth development (emotional development from a teenager to an adult), and sometimes to external input such as a traumatic physical injury to the head.
Why Does This Make a Difference to Females
Neuroplasticity acts to affect changes related to cognitive abilities, motor tasking, learning, memory, and more as children develop into adulthood.
In females, the activity of this neuroplasticity is complex and sex-specific. Changes happen in different areas of the brain than males, at different times, and in differing degrees.
For example, take changes that affect mood. Studies have shown that during puberty, females experience an increase in incidence of depression, caused by changes to the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA), which is a person’s central stress response system. “In females, there is an increased response of the HPA axis with advancing puberty, while in males, the response is decreased, possibly associated with increased testosterone levels. Schizophrenia is another disorder whose incidence rises markedly during adolescence and whose presentation shows significant sex differences.”4
Some researchers suspect that use of meth causes an actual shrinking of gray matter, which can lead to developmental issues and rocky recovery from later life stressors. Most agree that methamphetamine use causes permanent damage to the neural network, effectively interrupting messages transmitted by the brain’s neurons.
The female body is already loaded with its own complexities. Female teenagers who don’t use meth are already faced with complex and confusing physical and mental issues, especially those that relate to their emotional and sexual development. By introducing a chemical that works on the intricacies of the brain that control key developmental components, women who use meth place themselves at risk for developing serious physical and mental disadvantages that may last their lifetimes.
Live on American Addiction Centers
Once you’ve come to the conclusion that your teen needs help with a substance addiction, the type of treatment center to choose for their recovery can be daunting. There are several things that can play into your decision on which recovery center you select.
If your child has been diagnosed with a mental-health condition that is being affected by or affects their substance abuse, treatment facilities need to be carefully assessed with the help of your child’s physician. Not every recovery center may be able to provide exactly the right combination of care and attention that your teen may need.
Criminal Justice System Involvement
If your teenager has been ordered to seek treatment in lieu of incarceration, there are treatment facilities that have programs geared towards helping your teen resolve the issues that led them to substance abuse.
Type of Facility
There are two general types of recovery treatment centers to explore. Outpatient treatment centers allow the individual to remain at home while residential treatment facilities provide a long or short-term experience away from home.
Outpatient treatment is typically considered for people who have day-time obligations (i.e.: school or work) and have a large and solid social base that can help provide support. Outpatient recovery centers offer many of the same types of programs as residency-based centers, but the intensity of treatment is not always the same. Typically, low-intensity outpatient centers are modeled to provide drug education and group counseling, so one-on-one treatment should not be expected.
Short-term Residential Treatment
Originally founded to treat alcohol abuse and therefore based on a modified 12-step approach, short-term residential programs provide a short-term but intensive treatment option. In most cases, patients can expect to reside on location for a duration of three to six weeks. This hospital-based treatment phase works to help your teen to overcome the addiction and properly deal with any side effects while detoxing. Participation in therapy sessions, either individually or as part of a group, is a central component of the time spent at the facility while working to recover.
Long-term Residential Treatment
With planned stays ranging between 6 to 12 months, long-term recovery centers offer the most comprehensive care to their residents. Centers provide round-the-clock care, usually in a non-hospital setting often called a “therapeutic community” (TC). This type of treatment facility employs the use of everyone there (staff and other residents) to help the individual to overcome their social and psychological deficits.
Through highly-structured and sometimes confrontational treatment, residents are encouraged to be socially responsible and productive while developing their personal sense of accountability – all considered critical components of a successful recovery.
Therapy is also mandated here as well as it “examines damaging beliefs, self-concepts, and destructive patterns of behavior and adopt new, more harmonious and constructive ways to interact with others.” 1
Following stays in residential treatment programs, it is important for individuals to remain engaged in outpatient treatment programs and/or aftercare programs. These programs help to reduce the risk of relapse once a patient leaves the residential setting.
There are many other things that need to be considered when choosing a rehab center for your teen. Just some examples include the following:
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “no standard definitions exist for specific types of programs. The programs are not regulated by the federal government, and many are not subject to state licensing or monitoring as mental health or educational facilities, either.”2
They advise visiting potential rehab centers and asking lots of questions. To help you with knowing what to ask, they have put together an excellent document Residential Treatment Programs for Teens (accessible online – see footnote #2) that address things you should be asking of the treatment facility and its staff to help you make a decision on what type of recovery center would be best for your teen.
Live on American Addiction Centers
While the notion of the traditional suburban “housewife” sometimes seems to be a thing of the past, there are still plenty of woman who serve as full-time housewives or retain that role while holding down part or full-time jobs outside of the home. The challenges faced by maintaining a home and family can be daunting, sometimes causing what feels like extreme physical and emotional stress. Historically women have sought medical means of alleviating their symptoms and since the late 1800s, physicians have readily prescribed pills for women to take, mostly anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications, all aimed at calming their “nerves.”
The middle of the 20th century saw a dramatic uptick in the drug-based treatment of women and their perceived anxiety. Often referred to tongue-in-cheek as “Mother’s Little Helper,” benzodiazepine drugs (or benzos) like Prozac, Librium, Valium, and Miltown were dispensed for the simplest of complaints.
The tranquilizer, Miltown (meprobamate in generic form), is an anxiety-relieving drug known for its marked effect, was made commercially available in 1954 and was once one of the most popular prescribed medications. By 1956, “doctors had written 36 million prescriptions for it. At the height of its popularity, one out of every three prescriptions called for this drug.”1
Women’s Lives Have Changed – So Have Their Drugs
As women began to develop lifestyles that were greatly different than those of previous generations, so has their level of activity.
Women are on the go more than ever, pushing their bodies for all kinds of reasons – just getting their normal daily chores done, tending and transporting children, exercising to stay fit, competing in sports, doing what was once considered physical “man’s work” and the like.
Beyond anxiety and fatigue, this extra exertion can lead to painful injuries, sometimes requiring strong medications so women can continue to function through their normal routine.
The Power and Perils of Opioids
The drugs most commonly prescribed by physicians today are opioid-based drugs that resemble opium in its physiological effects. Demerol, OxyContin,Percocet, Kadian, Actiq, and Vicodin are just some, typically designed to be taken on an “as-needed” basis and for a short duration. Hand in hand with their effectiveness is their potential to leave the user highly susceptible to drug misuse and addiction.
For many, drug use invariably increases as tolerance to the opioid pain killer quickly builds up. For others, the injury requiring medication may last longer than first anticipated or become chronic. More of the drug is taken or it may be taken more frequently than prescribed. This leads the user to seek out even more of the drug to achieve the satisfactory effect. If they cannot get a prescription refilled, a crisis results. The “addict-in-progress” may start to look for other ways to alleviate pain, leading from use to misuse of stronger substances or medications used in conjunction other substances such as alcohol, the once-familiar benzos from the past, or something even worse.
Currently, abuse of prescription painkillers by suburban housewives is greatly on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “about 18 women die every day of a prescription painkiller overdose in the US, more than 6,600 deaths in 2010. Prescription painkiller overdoses are an under-recognized and growing problem for women. Although men are still more likely to die of prescription painkiller overdoses (more than 10,000 deaths in 2010), the gap between men and women is closing. Deaths from prescription painkiller overdose among women have risen more sharply than among men; since 1999 the percentage increase in deaths was more than 400% among women compared to 265% in men.”2
Notwithstanding a more active lifestyle bringing greater risk for pain, “everyday” pain stemming from things as commonplace as dental procedures or childbirth see’s physicians actively prescribing very strong and potentially addictive drugs. When women can no longer acquire pain medications from their physician, their need leads them to find an alternative source on the street, a “fix” both for pain reduction but also for the euphoric high that comes with this type of drug.
Typically, this fix is found in heroin, a stronger and cheaper alternative to the pills they were once prescribed. A recent article in Marie Claire illustrates the story of one such woman, “Donna.”
Donna started on the road to addiction by borrowing some of her husband’s Percocet pills to help with an old back injury. At $25 per pill, Percocet was pretty expensive for them. She found that she could purchase heroin on the street for much less. According to Donna, she realized that “she and her husband could split the $10 bag and feel the same euphoria as with two $25 pills. That’s $50 or $10—what would you spend?”3
Published on AmericanAddictionCenters.com
Every year, American military personnel end their term of active duty and seek out or return to civilian employment. Understanding which labor laws apply to them can be extremely confusing, and even more so if an individual incurred a debilitating injury while in service. There are two laws that a disabled veteran needs to be familiar with: the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to the United States Department of Labor, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) “seeks to ensure that those who serve their country can retain their civilian employment and benefits, and can seek employment free from discrimination because of their service. USERRA provides protection for disabled veterans, requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability.” Simply put, this act “helps protect veterans and trained military personnel from losing their jobs, should they be called back to action or into reserve service, even after they are no longer employed full-time within the U.S. military.”
The second law of importance to veterans with disabilities is the Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - a civil rights law enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This law prohibits private and state and local government employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and requires that they provide reasonable accommodations to these employees. It is a law with many conditions and complexities, all provided to ensure that discrimination is avoided and that employment opportunities are provided for veterans.
Further Benefits & Reentering the Workforce
In addition to the protections afforded by the USERRA and ADA laws, there are many special services available to wounded warriors. Disabled veterans can get assistance for healthcare, financial, and educational benefits (GI Bill) and quite a bit more. Organizations like MilitaryOneSource keeps an updated list of these benefits in addition to information of specialty consultation services, military branch-specific wounded warrior programs, housing assistance, and military relief organizations.
Aside from being protected from federal laws, it should be helpful for veterans to know that there are many companies that make it a point to hire and provide special benefits for veterans. This can help ease the burden of living with an injury and may even help them to reenter the workforce sooner. Some of the companies include The Home Depot, Intel, UPS, Dupont, and USAA. MilitaryBenefits provides an annual list of Veteran Jobs with Military Friendly Employers to help locate opportunities.
Finding employment is one thing for veterans – and maybe the easiest. Returning to or entering the civilian workforce is another. Vets often find that it’s hard to translate their military skills to non-military jobs. This can cause misunderstandings and stress once employed. One particular benefit afforded to veterans to help with this situation is the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) – a reverse bootcamp of sorts that educates departing troops on job skills, veteran’s benefits, and personal finances.
Legally, accommodations should have been made to provide a suitable workplace for anyone who is a veteran with a disability. Though care and attention to details have been taken in these accommodations, this doesn’t mean that a worker is immune to any further injury while at work. As with non-disabled employees, workplace accidents and injuries can occur. If a veteran is injured in a work-related situation in the civilian workforce, it’s important they understand their rights.
Possibly even more necessary is that veterans are aware of and understand the many areas that workers’ compensation can cover. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that has different policy requirements determined by the state or states a company does business in. Workers’ compensation is provided to give relief to the injured party, typically by covering some medical expenses, missed wages, costs associated with ongoing care, and other short-term benefits. In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits in a timely manner, veterans need to be familiar with how that system works and ensure that they avoid mistakes in filing for assistance.
If a workplace injury is severe and necessitates a total ceasing of work activity, an individual may need to then file for Social Security disability benefits. For injured workers seeking to further a Social Security disability claim, the good news is that claims initiated by veterans are being expedited through the process, though, according to P.I.S.S.D., this “process does not apply to veterans with a 100% Permanent and Total disability rating for non-service connected pension benefits.”
Getting a Normal Life Back After a Work-Related Injury
As with non-military workers, getting things back to normal can be a real challenge for a veteran. A person who was injured in the workplace is required to see specific company-approved doctors, adhere to health protocols handed out by those physicians, and then fill out many forms relating to the various aspects of what is happening as they are on the road to recovery. While the individual may be attempting to follow all the necessary steps required of them, the employer’s insurance company is certainly looking for ways to deny any claim made against them. For the disabled vet, this may come down to the insurance company trying to claim that the injury is the result of a pre-existing condition.
With any type of workplace disability claim, there is always a chance that the injured party may need to consult an attorney for assistance.
In the case or a disabled veteran, this consultation may be even more of a necessity, as allowing an attorney to represent them, especially when it comes to disproving that the new injury was pre-existing, can ensure that their claims are processed professionally, properly and in a timely manner with as little added stress as possible.
Ghostwritten for online publication.
There’s lots to talk about when it comes to mental health, the reasons why it’s not readily and openly discussed, and what can be done to help change this fact.
Historically, the stigma attached to mental health issues can be traced back to times when people had strong emotions about physical conditions. For example, outbreaks of leprosy terrified the public at one time. This terror resulted in those afflicted by leprosy being quarantined away from the masses. As other horrifying or unexplainable conditions evolved, the idea of quarantining “sick” people persisted and with that came the birth of the mental institution. Taking the afflicted and removing or hiding them from society became acceptable - most likely having something to do with the adages “out of sight, out of mind” and “ignorance is bliss.”
In reacting this way, society pushed mental health issues to the rear of their conscience and has done a tremendous disservice to those who may need help but are afraid to seek it out.
She Looks Healthy…
Some physical conditions, like chronic illnesses (those lasting over ninety days), are left undiagnosed by medical professionals. This could be on the part of the doctor missing something. More likely - it could stem from the patient who thinks what they feel is wrong is just “in their head” based on what they have read or been told by others. Not wanting to be diagnosed with a mental condition because of the societal stigma, they don’t inform their provider about those symptoms.
Even if diagnosed, lots of chronic illnesses have symptoms that remain hidden to the public. Take fibromyalgia for example - the condition most often considered fake because the person who has it appears to be physically fine.
A person living with fibromyalgia can tell you that there are good and bad days. But to the average person, the fibromyalgia sufferer may always look fine. What is not shared are the different levels of physical pain experienced every day and, more importantly, varying levels of severe emotional distress as well. Imagine waking up every day wondering how your body is going to feel. Will it let you get out of bed, shower, and get dressed without issue? Will you be able to sit through a day at work without feeling like you’ve been beaten with a club? Will you feel totally exhausted by noon then find an excuse to break away from whatever activity you’re involved in just to nap for a bit?
For a person dealing with a chronic illness, the feeling that their body is not in their control takes a huge toll on their mind. Daily life feels like a battle without a way to win. Since that feeling never subsides, their mental health deteriorates, frequently becoming full-blown anxiety, depression, or other disorders. Left untreated, these patients can become suicidal. What’s harmful to these people is twofold. First, they feel they can’t share their exasperation. Others don’t understand them, or they treat them like constant complainers. Second, most are treated by doctors who employ conventional (Western, mainstream) medicine and are simply prescribed drugs to placate the physical pain and additional drugs to help calm their mental state.
The Missing Link
Some medical professionals are now recognizing that conventional medicine (the exclusive use of synthetic drugs, radiation, and surgery to treat health conditions) is a type of treatment that has its place, like in life-threatening situations or with massive injuries, but that there is something missing when it’s the only choice for patients in non-critical medical circumstances. These practitioners are changing tactics to a more modern approach – one that emphasizes a link between physical and emotional health.
Enter Integrative Medicine
Integrative medicine is an approach that takes the whole person into account – their body, mind, spirit, and lifestyle. This approach uses facets of conventional medicine along with alternative medicine (holistic approaches) and forms a partnership between both the practitioner and the patient. By bridging the gap between doctor and patient there is more awareness, a sense of ownership, and better participation on the part of the patient for the control of their care and overall health.
As the patient learns more about their health and about how their mental health affects their well-being, they often want to learn more or find support to help them in their journey.
Fortunately, there are some major changes taking place to help assist them. Since affordability of healthcare or access to it can be problematic, things like telemedicine and online lab testing are becoming readily available. With more practitioners embracing the connection between physical and mental health, sources to assist them in their efforts to educate patients are continually being developed. For example, social media is being used more regularly by medical professionals and health communicators to not just deliver messages to patients, but to encourage interactive sharing between the parties. According to the Duquesne University School of Nursing, interactive social media has actually helped reduce suicides.
Behind Closed Doors
Despite any profession-based advancements, the public perception is still a major contender at fault for the stigma associated with mental health. So how CAN society change the conversation?
Technology as One Way
It’s been stated that 90 percent of adults use mobile devices and over 70 percent use video sharing platforms and this usage has increased searches related to healthcare. Interestingly, Google recently put out information showing that there has been a huge spike in people asking more personal questions in their searches, and referencing themselves – like “do I have schizophrenia” or “how can I help my friend who is suicidal?”
For the mental health industry, this is a sign that people are avidly using technology to search for possibly immediate assistance, and they are responding to this demand. There are already lots of internet-based resources out there to help people, but now more health apps are being developed. Take for example PTSD Coach, a highly successful app designed for military veterans. Apps to monitor stress, exercise, diet, relaxation time, sleep patterns, and more are abundant and all play into aspects of the integrative medicine approach that lends itself to addressing both physical and mental wellbeing.
Share to Be Aware
While methods to increase awareness involving changes to medical approaches or the implementation of technology-based applications can be helpful, perhaps the greatest impact in changing the narrative on mental health would be to SHARE.
According to Outrun the Stigma, the act of sharing knowledge, stories, opinions, questions, or anything related to an issue can be extremely useful in breaking down barriers to open conversations. As conversations take place, more people become enlightened, fear dissipates, and the stigma surrounding the topic begins to chip away. Take the Me Too Movement. Getting information out to the world increased awareness of the problem. As awareness grew, so did understanding and then the comfort level surrounding the topic changed enough to see actions taken to help make a difference.
The same can be done for mental health. As people learn to talk openly about symptoms, related actions, and ways to give or receive help, the less frightening the topic of mental health will be for everybody.
Ghostwritten for online publication.
Love it or hate it, winter is rolls around every year and for families who live in colder climates, it brings with it several things that can adversely affect the wellness of you or your children.
Bacteria & Viruses
In the winter, bacteria and viruses are all over the place and easily transmitted from person to person, by touch or often when they are breathed in. Even in the spring when temperatures are still cold, they can be an issue. The most common cold-weather illnesses to watch for are Gastroenteritis (stomach flu), Norovirus (winter vomiting bug), Rhinovirus (common cold), Strep throat, and Pink Eye. All are highly contagious and can set off other conditions in some cases. Maintaining proper practices of washing up and avoiding others who are infected can keep these bugs at bay.
Fungal Infections of the Feet
If you love the snow, nothing beats a good day playing outside after a big snowfall. But you need to be concerned about footcare in the winter. Feet can sweat even when cold, and ice and snow can creep inside of boots. If winter footwear is not dried properly between uses, fungus can grow resulting in the development of athlete’s foot or toenail fungal infections.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Not getting enough sunshine can be a real problem for some people. The sun provides Vitamin D and without that, you or your kids can be prone to mood swings, making the cooped-up feeling brought on by winter even more challenging.
Dehydration & Dry Skin
As temperatures plummet, thermostats are raised to warm the house. With that, the air in the home becomes drier and that can cause dehydration, wreaking havoc on everyone’s skin. Dry skin on children can be mild or severe and affect all or parts of the body. If it gets bad enough, it can become very itchy and lead to excessive scratching which can then bring on infections if the skin has become open sores.
Slip & Fall
Winter weather sometimes brings lots of snow and ice – and excitement for little ones. Slip and fall accidents can be quite common as a child’s excitement pushes normal caution aside. Slippery conditions are everywhere - around the car when it is parked, on steps into the home or school, and even at playgrounds and on their equipment. All can be problematic for excited children who could easily lose footing or their grip and get badly hurt.
Dry Eyes & Eye Injuries
As with dry skin, once the temperature in the home is raised, the chance of developing dry eyes increases. This dryness can cause itching and burning sensations. If frequently rubbed to reduce the discomfort, dry eye symptoms can be made worse or other conditions can develop. Eye injuries need to be watched for as well. Playing outside on slippery surfaces can causes children to fall and hit something that pokes at their eye. Even something as fun as a snowball fight can cause serious eye injury if the snow is icy, packed too hard, or had bits of other substances in it.
Driving with your children during warm weather has its share of concerns, but those are amplified during winter months. While on the road, this time of year there is always a much greater chance of being involved in a collision due to snowy or icy roads – so it’s super important to make sure everyone in the car is properly seated and buckled in. It’s also a good time to double check your toddler’s car seat to make sure it’s not loose and parts function as they should.
Accidental Poisoning from Eating Snow
For whatever reason, people love to eat freshly fallen snow. Usually this is not a problem, but for children it can be. Snow eaten right after it has fallen is still “pure” but after it’s been sitting around, there is a greater chance that it’s been contaminated in some way. Of greatest concern though is any snow that might have traces of “snow melt” products in them. Rock salt is the usual culprit and ingesting it can cause serious stomach problems. Other forms of melting products are extremely toxic and could lead to death if ingested.
Playing & Hiding in Snow Banks
Nothing looks more enticing than a really big snow bank. Playing on one can be fun but it can be dangerous as well. Kids can easily slip off and cause an injury to themselves. If they tunnel into one, the walls can collapse trapping them under the heavy snow. Another issue is when the banks are roadside, usually caused by a plow that has passed. Playing on anything along the edge of the road is dangerous. If your child slips off as a vehicle passes, there could be very serious consequences.
To help you and your family stay well, promote safety, and avoid injury, having a mindful self-care practice is key to maintaining mental, emotional, and physical health. This is a proactive method promoting awareness of self and surroundings and physical cleanliness allowing you to stay ahead of the elements brought on by winter weather that can be harmful to your family’s health and safety.
Ghostwritten for online publication.
When people think about the bodily harm that results from drug abuse, they most often consider things like damage to the brain, lungs, heart or stomach. What is less known is the serious harm that drugs and substances cause to a person’s teeth and gums.
While almost any drug, legal or illegal, can affect a person’s system and cause harm to their teeth and gums the greatest damage comes from the use of common street drugs: methamphetamine (meth), heroin, marijuana and cocaine.
What Drug Use Does to the Teeth and Gums
Using of drugs frequently causes dry mouth – a serious lack of saliva production. Saliva is a key protector that wards off bacteria overpopulation. Without enough saliva, dry mouth irritates the soft tissue in the mouth and the gums. Once the gums are inflamed, they can recede from the tooth wall. This then allows bacteria to enter the gaps, resulting in infections and tooth decay. For people who abuse substances, poor oral hygiene is common due to multiple factors -an inability to afford proper oral care, a lack of concern for oral health, or a lack of nutritious foods. Stimulant drugs, such as ecstasy, meth, cocaine or heroin, cause the individual to clench or grind their teeth. This can result in jaw pain and the weakening of teeth -sometimes to the point that they end up breaking off. People who smoke in addition to using drugs are also at risk for infection and tooth decay since smoking negatively affects any part of the mouth.
Harm to Teeth Based on Specific Drugs
In addition to the general harm associated with substance abuse and poor oral health, each different street drug creates additional adverse health outcomes, resulting in rotten, discolored, broken, missing teeth and gum disease.
Methamphetamine is very acidic. Use can lead to upset stomach due to the drug’s acidity -causing reflux and vomiting. Excessive vomiting coats the teeth with acid, leading to further corrosion of the enamel and allowing more decay to set in. Additionally, meth sometimes makes people crave soda and sweets, another common element in tooth decay.
Use of heroin causes damage to the teeth that are nearly the same as those seen with meth use. Also, the drug’s pain-killing property can cause an individual to ignore symptoms of damaged teeth and gums, leading to further problems.
Smoking marijuana can cause mouth cancer. Additionally, some people develop a condition called “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.” This condition leads to nausea and vomiting that can wear away the enamel of the teeth, leading to tooth decay.
When snorted, use of cocaine damages the tissue that separates the roof of the mouth from the nasal cavity. Over time, this can cause a hole to form, making it hard for the individual to eat or speak. Also, cocaine is acidic. If it is smoked (as with crack) or if the powder is placed in the mouth, the teeth are coated with the acid and their protective enamel breaks down. For some people, rubbing cocaine on the gums produces mouth sores.
Published on TheRecoveryVillage.com
Whether you are watching television, browsing the internet, or reading a magazine, images of very thin people are very common. The result is a consistent messaging that the ideal body, particularly for women, is a very thin one that is often, in fact, unhealthy. Additionally, there are thousands of diet plans, workout videos, gym memberships and exercise equipment seem to be everywhere.
There has been a surge of sites over the past 10 years that are geared towards promoting a very thin body. They are called “thinspo” sites.
These sites have been created to support a movement that is known by a few names: “thinspiration” (or “thinspo” for short), pro-ana (pro-anorexia), and pro-mia (pro-bulimia). This movement supports and encourages people to get ultra-thin, in most cases below what would be considered as a healthy weight. While the assumption might be that these sites are only for women, this is not the case. The desire for a super thin body has crept its way into the male population as well and there are many “thinspo” sites directed specifically at men. In 2010, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study involving 180 active pro-eating disorder websites, of which 98 percent were administered by women. Two years later, an article in GQ that was reporting on the rise in anorexia among men noted that ten years ago clinicians estimated that men made up around 5 percent of the anorexic population, while today it’s between 20 and 30 percent. Regardless of gender, the target audience of these pro-anorexia sites tends to be young adults.
Pro-anorexia websites feature photos of ultra-thin individuals and have captions with accompanying stories that, according to medical professionals, encourage and support the eating disorder. In addition, the use of social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.) and personal blogs have been cited as primary sources that assist teens in their goals of extreme weight loss and further complicate their eating disorders. As a means of offering support to each other, selfies are posted that show vast weight reduction, visible and protruding bone structure (collarbone, spine, ribs, leg bones, jaw bones), and tips on hiding purging methods, hunger suppression tactics, and even ways to prevent vomit from eroding teeth.
The Issue with Pro-Anorexia Sites
Treatment professionals are concerned that the population of young adults who partake in thinspiration feels that this is a lifestyle choice. In this way, anorexia or bulimia is their chosen method to attain the body they want – thereby giving them the lifestyle they choose. With names like “MyProAna,” “ProAna Tips and Tricks,” and “Male Thinspo – A Guide to Perfection,” these sites are a draw for individuals who suffer from eating disorders. Strangely, the site owners typically have some sort of disclaimer/warning statement on the front page that supports the idea that this way of living is a choice. One site called, for example, states the following message: “This site does not encourage that you develop an eating disorder. This is a site for those who ALREADY have an eating disorder and do not wish to go into recovery. If you do not already have an eating disorder, better it is that you do not develop one now. You may wish to leave.” Another similar statement is: “Heavy dietary changes and exercise can be a deadly hazard to your life. Nothing is more precious than your life. Please make sustainable changes only. It won’t happen in a day. It will take its time. Consistency and perseverance will get you there.” Professionals are concerned that pro-anorexia sites provide people struggling with an eating disorder with the methods to achieve their goals and perpetuate this body image ideal through an enabling “support” system that is hidden away from family and friends.
Original blog post: TheRecoveryVillage.com
While it is commonly known that alcohol and drugs don’t mix, this is especially true for the class of psychoactive drugs. Psychoactive drugs are chemical substances that alter behavior, thought processes, and overall mood. These drugs carry the greatest risks when they are mixed with alcohol.
To best understand how the combination of alcohol and psychoactive drugs can alter a person’s mood, it is necessary to know more about the drugs and the effects that they have on the brain.
Interestingly, alcohol is classified as a depressive psychoactive drug itself, so combining it with any other psychoactive or depressant drugs can exacerbate the effects of both substances.
Psychoactive drugs fall into the following sub-categories: depressants, stimulants, opiates and opioids, and psychedelics.
Depressants depress activity in the central nervous system, leading to sedation and decreased physiological activity throughout the body. Alcohol, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines are drugs in this category. All of these can be legal substances, with alcohol being non-therapeutic while the others are considered to be therapeutic.
Stimulants work by stimulating the central nervous system, leading to an increase in physiological processes and motor function. Drugs in this category include drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, caffeine, ecstasy, and nicotine. Cocaine, amphetamine, and ecstasy are all illegal, therapeutic drugs, while caffeine and nicotine are both legal, non-therapeutic drugs.
Opiates and Opioids
Opiates and opioids are pain-relieving drugs that act on opioid receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system, as well as the gastrointestinal tract, to produce effects like those of morphine. This group includes drugs such as heroin, Fentanyl, Vicodin, and Hydrocodone. All but heroin are legal when prescribed and each is considered to be a therapeutic drug.
Psychedelics are known for acting on the central nervous system to alter mood and perception. This category of drugs includes marijuana (THC), LSD, psilocybin (mushrooms), and phencyclidine (PCP). Each is considered to be illegal except for marijuana, which is legal as a medicinal and recreational drug in some states.
All of these substances can also be considered to be psychoactive drugs as they act on various parts of the brain to produce these effects. Psychoactive drugs typically activate dopamine receptors in the “reward pathway” of the brain.
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