The Skinny Behind Weight-Loss Supplements

By Jerry Nelson

Wendy Foulds Mathes, PhD, is trying to create an eating disorder in rats by allowing them to binge on Oreo Cookies. Many people would believe that getting stuffed on cookies would come natural to a rodent, but it doesn’t.

By controlling when the rats are given cookies and then looking for changes in the brain, they are trying to determine when changes in the brain may indicate that the foods are affecting the brains’ reward system similar to drugs or alcohol.

What they are studying is a serious question. People with eating disorders struggle to change their behavior, just like alcoholics or addicts, which can cause life-threatening health problems like hypertension, heart arrhythmias and diabetes.

Many people — both physicians and laymen — have oticed that when people with eating disorders talk about the food they eat, it can sound similar to how people with substance abuse problems talk about abusing drugs.

For people struggling with an eating disorder, especially anorexia, weight-loss diet supplements are ofte seen as an answer. But instead of providing a solution, many diet supplements intended to be beneficial, turn deadly.

Individuals looking to lose weight find that diet supplements often seem like a magic solution. The makers of diet pills make extravagant claims about the properties of their drugs, yet many of the claims aren’t supported by research. Actually, the drugs that come with glowing promises to melt the pounds away may hold hidden dangers.

Even though the risks of using diet supplements are well know, the demand continues to skyrocket. Up to 50 percent of people meeting the criteria for an eating disorder have reported using over-the-counter diet pills, herbal supplements or prescription drugs to take off the weight. A person using weight-loss drugs, without being under a doctor’s supervision, is putting their bodies in harm’s way.

Diet Supplements: What are They?

Diet supplements are any products that a person takes orally and which may include nutrients, herbs or other ingredients that add to their regular diet. Not all supplements are meant to help in losing weight; a supplement may provide a nutritional replacement for people who can’t get enough of a specific mineral or vitamin in their daily diet.

A dietary supplement may contain:

1. Vitamins
2. Minerals
3. Amino acids
4. Enzymes
5. Herbs
6. Glandular extracts
7. Organ products

How Weight Loss Supplements Work

A person seeking diet supplements as an aid in losing weight will have plenty from which to choose. The businesses that distribute them often claim that the ingredients in their products can help you achieve results such as:

1. Curb cravings for food
2. Make you feel full
3. Speed up the metabolism
4. Slow down fat production of the body
5. Keep the body from absorbing fat

Diet supplements meant for weight loss can be purchased in just about any form that can be taken orally, from pills to capsules and liquids. Some are meant to be taken with a meal, others taken instead of a meal.

Over the counter pills supposedly help in weight loss by stimulating a person’s metabolism, or how th body utilizes energy The main ingredient in products like Dexatrim is caffeine, a central nervous stimulant (CNS) which may help burn off fat through termogenesis. The risks of taking these stimulants often outweigh the benefits.

Why Weight Loss Pills May be Dangerous

Many diet supplements are harmless. Some may even be effective at creating a sense of fullness, burning fat or juicing the metabolism. Some of the more popular ingredients in weight loss products have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of harmful side effects such as:

1. Increased heart rate
2. High blood pressure
3. Diarrhea
4. Sleeplessness
5. Kidney and liver damage
6. Rectal bleeding


Once popularly used in diet supplements, the herbal stimulant Ephedra was banned in 2004 because of evidence that its use could trigger a stroke or heart attack. While a lower court ruled, in 2005, that Ephedra could be used in small doses, that decision was overturned in 2006 by a federal appeals court which reinstated the original FDA ban.


Lipozene has not been evaluated or approved by the FDA and contains 1500 mg of Amorphophallus Konjak (AK). One website,, which has been reviewing Lipozene, has found that the supplement has been shown to cause:

1. Difficulty in breathing
2. Difficulty in swallowing
3. Swelling in the face, mouth and/or tongue
4. Dizziness
5. Diarrhea
6. Chemical dependency


Some products cause severe damage to the kidneys, liver and other organs. Hydroxycut was banned and recalled in 2009 because of reports of reactions including hepatitis and jaundice.


Fenrluramine, one of the two main, active ingredients in the diet drug Fen-Phen, was recalled in the late 90s when the drug was linked to heart damage and lung disease. Determine, the other main ingredient is still used and prescribed in certain cases for weight loss but is only available with a doctor’s prescription and not over-the-counter.

Abusing Diet Pills

A person with an eating disorder may not be concerned about the dangers associated with dietary supplements. They may be so focused with the goal of losing weight that they don’t care about the health risks. In an obsessive drive to take off weight, an individual with anorexia or bulimia is apt to abuse the supplements in these ways:

1. Taking more than recommended
2. Taking diet products that aren’t recommended for their particular body weight and size
3. Taking prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription
4. Take two or more weight loss stimulants at the same time
5. Combining diet pills with laxatives or diuretics
6. Combining the diet supplements with illegal stimulants

The goal of an eating disorder program is to support each client individually in their recovery goals. Whether that means gaining, or losing, weight is up to the treatment team. Unless diet supplements are recommended by a physician, they are normally not part of a healthy recover plan for eating disorders.

Medical Negligence : Sometimes Caused by Substance Abusing Physicians

By Jerry Nelson





“Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will quit.”


That is what Marc Myer, a Minnesota family practice doctor, kept telling himself every time he stole prescription opiates form his patients to maintain his addiction. But for Myer, and my doctors, “tomorrow” never came. Doctors addicted to prescription medications seldom stop unless an intervention by peers and co-workers occurs.


For some workers in the health care industry, that intervention is not done by peers, but rather through an investigation. When a medical negligence claim is filed, the subsequent investigation may turn up information which might point a finger at a substance abusing physician.


Drug abuse by physicians is not a new problem. The father of American surgery, William Halsted, was addicted to cocaine. Physicians experience about the same levels of alcohol and illegal substance abuse as does the general public. However, they are five times as likely to misuse prescription drugs according to a study conducted by the University of Florida’s Center for Addiction Research. With the epidemic of prescription addiction sweeping the country, that statistic is looking pretty grim.


The study, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, says that most physicians who abuse prescription drugs aren’t normally seeking recreational thrills. Of the 55 physicians interviewed for the study who are being monitored by their state physician health programs, 38 abused prescription drugs. In talking about their motivation, most said they turned to prescription drugs to relieve stress and physical or emotional pain.


In Myer’s case, he was prescribed opiates after having his wisdom teeth removed. Finding the opiates helped him cope with undiagnosed depression, he continued to use and felt stimulated and, initially, felt the drugs helped his performance.


Physicians are like many others who turn to painkillers and other prescription medicine as a way of coping with pain and life struggles. Wat does set them apart is their ease of access to the medicines. With the prescribing privileges, networks of professional contacts and proximity to supplies, physicians have access to powerful, highly sought after drugs which is rare among the general population.


The easy access can not only cause a problem, it can help perpetuate it according to Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden, an operator of 11 addiction treatment programs in America. Access rapidly becomes an addict’s top priority, Seppala notes, and self-medicating physicians will do everything they can to make sure the access continues.


Dr. Myer was a good example of the lengths to which addicted physicians will go. When Myer was practicing in his small-town Minnesota practice, he would instruct his patients to bring their prescriptions with them to the office so that he could better track all of the medications they were taking. When the patient wasn’t paying attention, he’d skim a few pills from the bottles.


Before long, within six months, people became suspicious. Colleagues expressed concern, but when confronted Myer would deny there was a problem. Since he continued to perform well and be a well-loved doctor, no one forced the issue.


Physicians who find them self stuck in addiction are able to seek confidential treatment according to Seppala. In addition to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), records for patients going through treatment for substance abuse are protected. Consequently doctors can seek professional help without disclosing their problem to a medical board.












Painkillers and the National Football League

By Jerry Nelson

painkillers and the nfl


Prescription pain medicine addiction grabs headlines when it sends celebrities spinning out of control. It also plagues many people out of the spotlight who grapple with painkiller addiction behind closed doors.

Pain killers have been around since sports began. Often used in baseball, ice hockey and basketball, the use — and alleged misuse — of prescription strength painkillers in the National Football League is getting a look. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency have been speaking with the medical staff of several teams as part of an on-going investigation into painkiller’s use in NFL locker rooms.

According to a recent report on ABC News agents have been questioning the medical staff for several National Football League teams recently. An ongoing investigation into the distribution of painkillers in the league has been around awhile.

The Drug Enforcement Agents made some unannounced visits in response to reports of abuse of painkillers that allegedly has been widespread. A lawsuit, which has been filed in California, against the NFL , says that team doctors have been dispensing Percocet, Toradol and Novocain to help players get energized before games and relieve the aches and pains afterwards.

The agency has characterized the visits as administrative in nature and said officials were seeking to make sure that team doctors held the proper licensure allowing them to possess and distribute prescribed medication outside the jurisdiction of their home state. A DEA spokesman also said the agency wanted to confirm that nonlicensed staff had not been handling the medicines.

Rusty Payne, the spokesman for the DEA in the investigation told CNBC that the agency has the authority to make sure anyone who has a license keeps within the law when it comes to controlled substances.

A New York Times article said recently that DEA agents, in plainclothes, showed up without warning at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey where the 49ers were facing off against the Giants. Following the game, the agents spoke with a 49er team doctor in a private room. The doctor eventually joined the team on the bush which took the team to an airport.

Bob Lange, a 49er team spokesman said that the team had been asked to cooperate in a random inspection with agents from the DEA. “The team’s medical staff complied and the team left the stadium as previously schedule,” Lange said.

DEA agents also greeted medical staff members traveling with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Maryland as the Bucs headed home from playing the Washington Redskins. Nelson Luis, a spokesman for the Bucs said the agents spent about five minutes with team officials.

Not to be left out, the Seattle Seahawks confirmed that DEA agents had met with their medical staff while in Kansas City where the team had played the Kansas City Chiefs. Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, said “Our teams worked with the DEA and we have no indication that anything irregular was found.”

Mr. Payne said that depending on the severity of irregularities that could have been found, a doctor may receive a letter outlining the violations. “No one is leaving in handcuffs,” he said. Payne went on to tell reporters that no search warrants had been issued and no one was arrested.

Claims that the NFL doctors have mishandled controlled substances go back to 2011. Twelve former players accused the league, that year of administering Toradol before and during games which worsened the potential for high-risk injuries. The players also said that the NFL had failed to advise them of the hazards of taking the drug. Toradol, a blood-thinner can prevent the feeling of injury, making it harder for players to realize they had experienced a concussion.

The retired players included Joe Horn and Jerome Patton. They, along with other ten players, played in the late 90s and early 2000s and were now experiencing depression, anxiety, severe headaches and dizziness. Horn, a received who spent a dozen years in the league said he is not experiencing blackouts as well; afflictions they would have noticed earlier if they had not been on painkillers.

Hundreds of former players have alleged in a class-action suit that team medical staff routinely gave out the painkillers without a prescription and little regard for a player’s medical history. The players also maintain that the medical staffs did not ask questions to try to determine if there might be a fatal interaction with other medications.

The NFL has asked a federal judge to throw out the lawsuit since the painkillers have been distributed in the locker rooms of other sports for years and have been an open secret. The use of the painkillers is different in the NFL because of the inherent violent nature of the sport and painkillers can mask injuries.

The NFL already has agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by over 5000 former players who said the league had hid the dangers of concussions. A federal judge in Pennsylvania is schedule to hear objections to that settlement this week.


Four Steps to Kick the E-Cig Habit

By Jerry Nelson


E-cigarettes look techy and space age, so it is fairly easy to think the hype that e-cigs are safer than smoking is true. Unfortunately, they are not. E-cigs are just another method of putting an extremely addictive substance — nicotine — into your body.

Online stores, like E-Cig Twigg’s Best Picks, sell e-cigarettes in a plethora of flavored liquids. Menthol, java, cherries, vanilla and yes, even tobacco flavored are just a few of the products which can entice children to give e-cigs a try. Battery-powered, the devices are made to look and feel like real cigarettes. Using cartridges topped off with a liquid that holds nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals, an e-cig uses a heating device to turn the liquid into a vapor which is then inhaled. “Vaping” is the term used.

Since there’s no tobacco in e-cigs, people don’t get the same amounts of carbon monoxide and tar as they would otherwise. An unhealthy does of chemicals does wait for anyone that wants to use an e-cig. So, what’s the danger if there’s no tar and carbon monoxide? While e-cigarettes don’t top off the lungs with harmful smoke, that doesn’t make them a healthy alternative.

When a person “vapes,” they are still getting nicotine into their system. Once used as an insecticide to kill bugs, nicotine is highly addictive and toxic in high doses. Affecting the brain, nervous system and heart, nicotine raises the blood pressure and heart rate. Used in sufficient quantities, nicotine causes the heart rate to become irregular and in rare cases, can lead to heart failure and death. Once the intiial effect has worn off, the body starts to crave more nicotine.

A person may feel depressed, tired, crabby and seek more nicotine to feel good again. Over time, nicotine use may lead to other medical issues. Kicking the Habit If a person is smoking cigarettes now and wants to quit, an e-cig may just not be the best option. An e-cig copies the experience of smoking closer than any other options like gum or patches. It wouldn’t be a step-forward if a person quit smoking tobacco only to find they were hooked on vapiing. For anyone who feels they are addicted to nicotine, they can follow the same steps for quitting e-cigs as they would tobacco.

  1. Make a specific plan. Set a date to begin and a target date for success.
  2. Stay busy. Take your mind off of vaping by exercising or doing something that involves your hands.
  3. Delay. Delay giving in to the craving. When the craving for “just one drag” hits, put it off and do something else.
  4. Be good to yourself. Be your own best friend and pat yourself o the back each time you avoid reaching for the e-cigarette., remind yourself that it is possible to quit.

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. It’s usually never easy to quit once you’ve started. While the best strategy is to never start, using these four tips can help you in kicking the e-cig habit. Others have succeeded. So can you!       E-cigarettes

When the Virtual World Becomes the Real World : Video Gaming Addiction

By Jerry Nelson


Online gaming has spread rapidly and now there is bulk of sites online which provide games for free. “Flash games” have been at the front of the growth as many gamers consider them the best to play hardware or software is needed. A person just opens up the site and plays in their computer’s browser.

Sites such as Friv and The Free Online Game Center, provide hours of free entertainment.

For some though, online gaming has become a problem and disrupted lives, torn about family’s and ruined careers.

Video Game Addiction is the compulsive use of computer or video games. Online gaming addiction has developed a negative image and is rapidly becoming a concern of the public.

An effort in May 2013 to get the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to include suggested criteria for video game addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual found that there currently is insufficient evidence to qualify it as an official mental disorder. However, it is included in the Conditions for Further Study section.

One item that clouds the issue currently is a disagreement whether the disorder is caused by the gaming activity or if it is an extension of other disorders.

Diagnosis and Symptoms

The APA suggests that the symptoms of gaming addiction are similar to those of other psychological addictions.

Extensive use of gaming may have many of the symptoms of drug addictions. Players may become more focused on what goes on in the virtual world than what happens in the real world.

Gamers may stay in front of the game for hours each day, neglect friends, experience unexplained weight and disrupt their sleep patterns.

Other behaviors noticed among players is they game at work, avoid contact from family and friends or lie about the amount of time they’re gaming.

In one extreme example, a seventeen-year old boy would play for periods greater than twelve hours straight without stopping and skipped meals. He would only cease playing when he blacked out.

The APA has suggested nine criteria to establish video gaming as a disorder.

  1. Pre-occupation. Does the person spend a great deal of time thinking about games even when they are not actively playing?
  2. Withdrawal. Does the person feel anxious or nervous when not playing?
  3. Tolerance. Does the person feel the need to play for increasing amounts of time, increase the excitement level of games in order to achieve thesame level of excitement?
  4. Reduce/Stop. Does the person feel that they should play less but have been unable to do so?
  5. Give up other activities. Has the person lost interest in formerly pleasurable activities such as sports, non-gaming hobbies or spending time with family and friends in order to play video games?
  6. Continuous playing despite problems. Does the person continue playing even when faced with significant problems brought on by their video gaming?
  7. Deceive/Cover up. Does the person lie about how much time they’ve spent in online gaming?
  8. Escape bad moods. Does the person appear to game in order to escape from personal problems or to relieve guilt or stress?
  9. Risk/lose relationships. Has the person lost significant relationships because of excessive video gaming?


Public Concern

One study has found that roughly 3% of gamers experience some symptoms of pathological gaming.

A report by the Council On Science and Public Health pointed to a 2005 study of computer game players and found that some individuals were likely to play more than two hours per day.

Since the 2007 APA decision, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine found evidence that video games do have addictive properties. An MRI study found that the part of the brain that contain the pleasure centers is the same part which is activated when a substance abuser takes their drug of choice.

Notable Deaths

In 2001, Shawn Woolley committed suicide after being rejected by another online character.

In 2002, a woman in Louisiana sued Nintendo because her son died following seizures caused by playing Nintendo 64 for eight hours a day, six days a week.

In 2007, Daniel Petric shot both parents after they confiscated his copy of Halo 3. During sentencing, the judge said, “I believe that Daniel had no idea at the time that he killed his parents or that they would be dead forever.”

Tobacco Smoking and Mental Health

By Jerry Nelson

Most adults are aware of the health risks of smoking tobacco. Research shows that smoking may also have an affect on mental health. While the motivation for smoking varies from person to person, knowing why some people smoke may help those who want to stop.

The physical, or biological, elements of smoking deal with how the cerebral matter reacts to nicotine. As an individual smokes, nicotine hits the brain in about ten seconds. The first drags on tobacco can alleviate a mental funk and melancholy while improving attentiveness and the ability to focus. It also helps in decreasing displeasure and anxiety. It may also relax the muscles and dampen the appetite.

Regular smoking and exposure to nicotine can lead to physical modifications in the brain. These changes, at the molecular level, lead to withdrawal when the nicotine level drops. Smoking again will temporarily reduce the symptoms of withdrawal, but it reinforces the habit.

Social factors also often help drive smokers to keep smoking. Many teenagers and young adults experiment with tobacco, especially cigarettes. If a friend or relative smokes, a young person is prone to adopt their attitude towards smoking. With the transition into adulthood, people are at a greater risk of smoking if they also abuse alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse can increase the odds of running headlong into stress. Many adults say they smoke to help relieve that stress and relax.

Smoking and Depression

The number of adults diagnosed with depression, who smoke,  is significantly higher, as much as 2 to 1, as the rate for those not suffering from depression. When depression is present in a person’s life, they may have a particularly hard time when they attempt to quit smoking. Nicotine triggers the flood of dopamine, the brain chemical that triggers those “feel good feelings.” Dopamine is often meager in individuals with depression. Smoking, though, triggers the brain to turn off its own switch for pumping out dopamine. In the long term the supply of dopamine decreases which triggers people to smoke more.

Smoking and Schizophrenia

Studies show that people with schizophrenia are also more likely to smoke. The most common reason given is that people with schizophrenia will use smoking for the control and management of their symptoms. Smoking may also help relieve some of the downside of medication they may be taking.

Does Smoking Improve Mental Health?

Many individuals with mental health issues state that they smoke to manage their symptoms. Actually, they have usually started smoking before the problems started. Heavy smoking, by itself, does not usually lead to fewer mental health problems. However, any short term benefit gained from smoking are normally wiped out by the health risks of long term smoking.

Ways to Quit

Trying to stop smoking through willpower — “cold turkey” — alone is probably the least effective method. Planning ahead and having support will help increase the odds of successfully quitting tobacco.

Getting Support

The stress of stopping smoking usually can be easier if you talk about your goal with friends and family. Enlist their help and support. It can be more challenging to quit if you live with others who smoke, so making it a group effort may be the way to go.

Nicotine Therapy and Medication

Devices and aids such as nicotine patches, nicotine chewing gum, electronic cigarettes and anti-depressants have shown to help smokers without mental health problems to quit smoking. They may also be helpful for people with depression or schizophrenia.

For more suggestions on stopping smoking and which options may be best for you, talk to your physician or pharmacist. They are best equipped to point you in the right direction for services in your area.

Could a Selfie Be Key to Medical Negligence?

By Jerry Nelson

Joan Rivers

When comedienne Joan Rivers died unexpectedly several weeks ago, medical malpractice was thrust back onto center stage. Ironically, Joan herself, the lady who popularized the phrase, “Can we talk?” may hold the answers to questions that medical malpractice lawyers will be asking. So far, the conversation about Rivers’ death centers on the word “consent.”

Rivers’ personal physician is said to have taken a “selfie” with the sedated actress moments before she went into cardiac arrest and lapsed into a coma. Under the privacy laws in America, photographs taken in a private place require permission. The clinic in which the tragedy happened is obviously private. Whether or not the image is ever published, doesn’t matter. The intrusion occurred the instant the shutter was snapped.

In the middle of all of the legal issues, the “selfie” may hold the secret to questions about what happened that day.

First, did Rivers consent?

Doubtful. Most stars guard their privacy, even more so when inside a clinic or hospital. Rivers was obsessed with cosmetic surgery and had become increasingly self-conscious about her appearance. Would Rivers have given her permission to have her picture taken while lying on an operating table, without make up? The estate may have a case against the doctor for invasion of privacy.

Second, did Rivers consent to the biopsy?

Rivers went to the clinic for a planned endoscopy. During the procedure, a biopsy was done. Reports seem to indicate that the biopsy was unplanned as well as performed by a physician who did not have privileges which would allow him to conduct that procedure at that facility. If the reports are true and Rivers did not give her consent, medical malpractice may have occurred. Medical malpractice is another term for medical negligence.

Finally, did physicians fail to use reasonable care?

To ask the same question in a different way, would a reasonably competent physician, under similar circumstances, have done what the physicians at the clinic did? If the answer is no, then the comedienne’s estate will, more than likely, win in a malpractice lawsuit.

If there is a lawsuit, each side will be able to hire expert witnesses. The witnesses will appear before the jurors and offer contradictory opinions served up with conviction. Lawyers call this a “…battle of the experts.” When the last witness has testified, the jurors, who may be confused and conflicted, will have to rely on their common sense.

A civil lawsuit may be the last thing the physicians need to worry about though. Medical negligence crosses the line into criminal medical negligence if a physician’s actions are egregiously reckless.

If the Rivers’ case is compared to that of Michael Jackson, there are similarities. Jackson’s physician was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for administering Propofol outside of a medical facility and fumbled in attempts to save the singer. The jury found the physician was “grossly negligent.”

Medical negligence help is usually available, but in the midst of all the unanswered questions, the “selfie” may reveal a callous indifference to Rivers’ welfare. Maybe the doctor cared more about themselves than protecting Rivers’ life.

Autism : What You Thought You Knew May be Wrong

By Jerry Nelson

A Michigan mother put two grills with smoldering charcoal in the back of her van and told her 15-year old daughter the two of them were boing camping. The daughter, Issy, had just been released days before from a residential program for autistic kids. Kelli, the mother, claimed she couldn’t take the stress of raising an autistic child anymore and planned the murder-suicide. Fortunately, her attempt failed, both survived. But the episode did help to focus attention on an often talked about – and little understand — affliction of millions of American children.

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD, interact with other individuals in quite different ways compared with how the rest of the populace behaves. If the symptoms are not severe, the individual with ASD may just appear to be socially clumsy, maybe offensive in some of their comments or just “out-of-synch” with others. When the symptoms are more severe, the individual can appear to not have any interest in other people at all.

What is Autism

What is autism and what are the early warning signs? According to the APA, autism is a neurodevelopmental affliction indicated by on-going deficits in communicants and interactions with others.

Risk Factors

Identifying the events that put a youngster at greater risk for developing autism is controversial. The idea of a connection between vaccines and ASD is raging now at fever pitch. Expectant moms who take anti-depressants, parental smoking and substance abuse are also factors which have been discussed as possible triggers of autism.

Myths About Autism

A person with ASD feels emotions – love, joy, sadness – just like everyone else. Where they differ is often they may not be able to express their feelings like everyone else does. The myth that people with ASD have no feelings is one of ignorance, not conspiracy.

Another myth about people with autism is that all people with ASD have an incredible gift or “savantism” for numbers or music. It is true though that a large proportion of people with ASD do have high IQs and a unique talent for computer science. The Deutsch software company SAP AG announced in May that it will be employing hundreds of individuals with autism as software testers and programmers.

6 More Myths About Autism or ASD

ASD is a Form of Mental Retardation

Mental retardation never enters the discussion within the diagnosis of ASD. The relatively few incidents where both are co-occurring, the conditions are completely unrelated. Between 2 and 5 percent of individuals with autism do simultaneously show some measure of mental retardation though. While it is imaginable for ASD and mental impairment to co-exist within one person, autism is categorized as a neurodevelopmental affliction, not an intellectual handicap.

Autistics Can’t Maintain Healthy Relationships

A primary symptom in a determination of ASD is a hindrance in forming healthy social relationships. Several of the first signs of ASD occur in early in life where the individual may avoid looking another person directly in the eye as well as display a displeasure when interacting with others. Often the child will prefer solitude and may reject physical contact such as affectionate hugs from parents. The autistic struggles with comprehending nonverbal cues like physical actions and facial expressions. This can create, for them, a difficulty in connecting socially. If a person will be patient, it is possible for the individual with ASD to maintain loving, healthy relationships.

Autistics are Not Very Talkative

Autism is a spectrum disorder so the intensity of the autistic traits will vary from person to person. One main characteristic of ASD is the challenge of interpreting and expressing emotions verbally. Adult autistics may develop verbal tics such as strung-out echolalia, the repeating of the same phrases or a simple fixation on single words. Others may copy the speech of other adults with little or no tonal affectations, having missed verbal and nonverbal speech nuances. Only the extreme cases persist in being mute throughout their life.

All Autistics Are Alike

As with any developmental disorder, there is a wide range of severity from case to case. Autism is considered a spectrum disorder because of these differences. On one end of the scale, the afflicted needs constant assistance in daily life and on the other end of the spectrum, autistics may function perfectly in mainstream society with a minimal amount of care. Some autistics will experience some intense symptoms and others may be lacking some symptoms entirely.

Lacking Empathy

One of the largest challenges that get in the way of an autistic forming healthy relationships is the idea that they somehow cannot feel compassion or empathy. Despite one of the requirements for a diagnosis of ASD involves a difficulty in reading and understanding nonverbal expressions of emotions, the autistic still has the ability to feel and process emotions.

Poor Parenting Causes Autism

Many people wrongfully assume that the parenting skills an autistics’ parents are to blame. The true origins of autism are still being debated in the medical community, but no one is pointing fingers at parental involvement as a possible cause. Research has shown that the most likely cause of autism is biological and genetic – something the parents have no control over. Regardless of what science will eventually reveal as the cause of ASD, the possibility of poor parenting skills never is discussed.

While there has been much discovered through research and study, there remains much more that is unknown. As with any affliction, the best guidance can be gotten from a family physician. A source of support in many communities are any number of the self-help groups that have sprung up around family and friends of autistic individuals.

Addicted to Opiates: The Staggering Impact of Prescription Painkillers

By Jerry Nelson

Prescription Addiction

An in-depth look at the types of prescription painkillers, rise in opioid overdoses and who is at risk for abusing these legal drugs.


Prescription opiates, which have been formulated to alleviate pain, continue to rise on the scale of abuse and addiction. So much so, that the Obama administration recently hosted a summit discussing the effects of prescription opiate abuse; particularly the immense number of overdoses. Simultaneously, the United Kingdom is addressing concerns of a dramatic increase of abuse with the prescription painkiller Fentanyl.

Types of Prescription Painkillers

Prescription painkillers are given to persons who have undergone a surgery, incurred an injury or suffers from chronic pain. They are generally meant for short term use; however because of their strong effects, ability to stimulate the areas of the brain that perceive pleasure and potential for a tolerance to rapidly build, they often become abused. In turn, this leads to an addiction.

Some of the most common prescription painkillers which are abused include:

Hydrocodone: Often combined with acetaminophen. Brand names include Vicodin, Lorcet or Lortab.

Oxycodone: Most commonly prescribed as OxyContin but also included in Endocet, Percocet, Percodan and Roxicet.

Morphine: Brand names may include Avinza or Kadian. It is also given intravenously.

Codeine: Often combined with paracetamol and given to people with a heavy cough.

Propoxyphene: Brand names include Darvocet, Propacet and Darvon.

Hydromorphone: Given to people in severe pain. It is sold under the name of Dilaudid.

Meperidine: A light sedative, it is sold as Demerol or Meperitab.

Painkiller Prescriptions Double in 17 Years

According to the US Center for Disease and Control, “drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990 and have never been higher. In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs…14,800 were caused by prescription painkillers.”

Nicholas King, a professor of biomedical ethics at McGill University recently published a review in the American Journal of Public Health which discusses the potential contributing factors to the rise in deaths related to prescription painkillers. Dr. King says “The cause that we found the most evidence for was quite simply a massive increase in prescribing of these painkillers.”

However, this had nothing to do the with the infamous “pill mills” in states like Florida or online pharmacy shopping; rather, Dr. King and his colleagues determined the rise in prescription painkiller deaths can be linked to prescriptions having doubled over the past 17 years.

He believes that the doubling of prescription painkillers began in the late 80’s and 90’s with doctors pushing drugs like oxycodone to people who did not have serious illnesses like cancer, (which, prior to this time, was the only way to get these strong drugs) but who simply displayed moderate pain. By 2013, Canada and the U.S. consumed 99.9% of the world’s hydrocodone, 87.3% of the world’s oxycodone, 60.1% of its morphine, and 51.8% of its methadone.

It is important to note that strong opioids, like the ones being discussed in this article, are unavailable in more than 150 countries and, when they are available, they often cost more in low- and middle-income countries.

Who Is at Risk for Developing an Addiction to Prescription Opioids?

Television shows and movies may depict a drug addict as someone who is jobless, uneducated or is a minority. However, people with an addiction come from all professions, educational levels, ethnicities and backgrounds.

According to the American Pain Society, “although people with chronic pain are more likely than others to receive prescriptions for opioids, the risk of developing a painkiller addiction depends on more than just prolonged exposure to these drugs.” Moreover, people using opioids for non-medical purposes are most likely to obtain them from friends, family members or associates rather than going to a doctor for a prescription. The APS also revealed that persons who have a personal or family history of alcohol or drug abuse are more prone to developing a prescription painkiller addiction.

Apart from the aforementioned, teenagers and young adults are more likely to abuse opoids. This may be in relation to pressure these individuals often go through at school or work as well as, personal curiosity.

Finally, a group of people at risk for prescription painkiller addictions, and who often go unnoticed, are adults over the age of 65. This group is regularly prescribed opiates; often without an in-depth consultation or questions by a doctor. Moreover, these seniors may not realize the effects of taking more than the prescribed amount; thereby, they unintentionally increase their tolerance and overall use.

Getting Treatment for an Opioid Addiction

A painkiller addiction creates long term changes in the brain. People who undergo treatment at a hospital or addiction rehab will likely experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings. In many instances, a rehab center with treatment programs for prescription opioids will offer medications like Suboxone or methadone to ease the symptoms. Centers like Holistic Light, an addiction treatment center in Costa Rica and Panama serving patients from US, offer cognitive behavioral therapy, individual counseling, equine therapy, de-stressing activities like yoga, meditation and Tai Chi, as well as, maintaining a healthy diet are all proven to aid in the recovery of a painkiller addiction.

Rehabilitation treatment for opiate abuse and addiction can be costly; however, it is far less costly, in comparison with the cost of the addiction and continuous use of the drug itself.

Counting Coup in Recovery

By Jerry Nelson
Counting Coup in Recovery

Counting Coup in RecoveryThe Indians in North America had a ritual that was bolder than the slaying of their enemies. Warriors gained prestige by being the first to touch the enemy dead or even touching the enemy’s defensive positions. A warrior could also show his bravery by stealing the enemy’s horses. The possibility of injury or death had to be present for the act to be included on the “coup stick” which was kept as a record of brave attempts.

While usually a “coup stick” was held as the enemy was touched, a warrior could also count coup by touching the enemy with his hand or even a bow.

Americans need to learn to count coup on the enemy as well. But for us, the enemy isn’t flesh and blood. It’s inertia, narcissism and extremism.

In recovery, as we count coup on these three, we do it so that a vitality and diversity in life can shine through us. Thoreau said it best when he said, “live deliberately.” Counting coup is a method for recovering the way our basic nature used to live before we got transformed by status and possessions. Counting coup is our act of transcending a false reality so that we are released to find new ways to be free from the padlock of possessions, egos and self-centered drive. We can find ways that un-stifle our creativity and allow us to live as free, healthy people in an otherwise egocentric world. The freedom we once sought through drugs, alcohol and relationships is finally ours as we count coup.

In 21st century America, the cord which links our human-nature to mother-nature has been severed. Many of us have become puppets who wear masks of humanity but are actually blind, flesh-and-blood robots with wads of money where our brains are and people who have replaced hearts with fists. Raised in a society that is intent on destroying the world, it’s not our fault that we were raised cut-off from mother-nature and surrounded by other robots each seeking to make it to the top of the pyramid by walking over the empty shells of others. But it is our fault if we remain so.

When we walk up to and touch — count coup — our ego, our narcissism and our trending towards extremism, then we can begin to live a life of recovery.


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