Archives for June, 2011
Recently, a former patient called with a problem. Could I recommend a "hypnotherapist or something" because he had to fly a lot and the stress was killing him. Not flying wasn't an option (this was for work)—and he felt his old anxiety symptoms returning every time he so much as saw the sign for the turn-off to the airport. Close to four million British vacationers have simply given up. Airport stress is grounding them. They say that going to an airport is as stressful as an entire work week. Will the stresses of flying, including the delays, uncomfortable seats, long lines, and the now-famous bodily (and diaper) searches put a crimp in America's summer vacation plans?
Yesterday one Long Island drug store was robbed of prescription pills. Last week, someone robbed a Long Island drug store, a different one, shooting and killing four innocent bystanders. Then the robber made off with a bunch of prescription drugs. David Laffer (and his wife, who is said to have driven him there and back), was arrested for the murders, though he hasn't been convicted, yet. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said Laffer and his wife were high when they were arrested. Less than three days later, I participated on a panel that was convened to address the topic of addiction and crime. Specifically, the addiction treatment of those convicted of crimes. We also discussed the fact that co-occurring disorders (substance abuse + mental illness) was yet another important player in this complicated game.
(You can read Part I, here). If you don't want to be convinced that even "flirting" with drug use is potentially hazardous, you won't be convinced. What I can tell you is that the data tell a different story. Prescription medication abuse and addiction are such a serious problem that new medications and treatments are being developed all the time. It is quite a challenge to help people get off these drugs, especially since the withdrawal symptoms are pretty uncomfortable. People's marriages and family relationships really suffer when a family member is just hanging on until their latest prescription can be filled. How many parents really want their kids "experimenting" on the weekends with oxyocodone, codeine, vicodin, or other medications?
I dunno. Is it just me or does anyone else out there think that sports and exercise are relatively wholesome activities that attract primarily (though obviously not always) healthy, fit people? Apparently, Nike™, the major athletic wear manufacturer, doesn't. At their Niketown store in Boston, their window display featured tee shirts on which were printed things like "Get High" and "Dope." Of course I know plenty of non-athletes who wear their clothes and shoes. And I wouldn't even be surprised if non-athletes were their main customers. Also, though I'm not totally sure what their true demographic is, it does seem in this case as if some bored, sophomoric Nike™ marketing guy came up with this ploy. I can picture him with his feet up on his desk, shooting a toy basketball at his waste basket (and missing).
There's been a spirited, well actually a heated, discussion going on at Facebook and by email regarding our blog post that asks: Should parents drug test their teens? When we did the interview with Steve Stahovich of Teensavers, a home drug-testing company, we made the assumption that readers knew we weren't suggesting that parents randomly test children for no reason. We were addressing caring parents who noticed signs that their kids might be using drugs but didn't know that home drug-testing is an option that allows for privacy and protection. We were also talking to concerned parents who don't buy the myth that it is unavoidable or even normal, for kids to experiment with drugs. And we were speaking to parents who do not believe it's okay, or even harmless, for kids to use drugs "recreationally."
Testing, testing. Testing. 1, 2, 3, 4! 1, 2, 3, 4! Before any musician performs, he or she does a sound check or test. Even un-miked, classical and jazz musicians like to have at least one practice in the room where they'll be playing so they can hear what they sound like and make adjustments for the acoustics of the space. In an important post, Charles Elliot, PhD, asks, why is this so hard for our educational system? Why aren't new programs subjected to scientific tests or at the very least evaluated based on evidence, before they get implemented?
There are several signs your child might be doing drugs. I've chosen seven common ones, but if you are worried about your son or daughter, you shouldn't consider these sevens signs to be the final word. There are books, web sites, and plenty of info on preventing drug use and addressing existing drug use. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is, in my opinion, one of the top national resources regarding substance abuse and mental illness. The DEA also has a useful guide for parents. Also, there are some other government sites that offer information that might not appeal to teens but can help parents understand the science of drug use and abuse. Seven Signs Your Kid Might Be Doing Drugs (Or Abusing Alcohol) 1. Secrecy. Your once open pre-teen or teen not only stays in his/her bedroom most of the time but becomes frantic if you attempt to enter the room. He/she won't tell you anything about their lives except the barest minimum of information. He/she demands that you respect their privacy.
C.R. writes: Richard's off for the day, so I'm filling in. Here's one woman's point of view on a disturbing trend. British Prime Minister David Cameron has decided to join the British group mumsnet in addressing the problem of what one psychologist shockingly calls "pimping our children." You aren't a prude if you're concerned about the direction children's videos, music, games, and clothing, have taken. You don't even have to be a parent. We should all worry about the message that kids are getting from overtly sleazy, attracting clothing. The wearing of alluring clothing is the norm in many segments of Western (though not world), society. Loudly announcing your sexuality and desirability through your choice of clothing is considered to be not only normal, but a valid expression of your identity and personal freedom. In fact, it has been the norm for so many years that a kind of "blindness" has set in. But it wasn't always this way.
For me and most addiction professionals (and many mental health professionals), the answer is unequivocally yes. The information gleaned from testing individuals of all ages for drug abuse is essential. In many workplaces, adults can be tested for drug use. But most drug use begins with experimentation and recreational use during the teen years; from there it can graduate into habituation, abuse, and dependence, that is, addiction. Each day, thousands of people enter addiction treatment programs and many of them are teens (most with compounding emotional problems). Obviously, prevention--before any substance use begins--is important. But, since drug use is a part of our culture (not a good part) and it isn’t all that hard for teens to get a hold of drugs, sometimes prevention isn’t a realistic option. That’s where parents come in. Ideally parents should create a supportive family/home culture where pre-teens and teens are comfortable talking with them about their lives. But society is complicated and today many parents face many issues that previous generations really didn’t have to face. Many simply don’t know their kids are doing drugs (or drinking) until there is already a problem. (Some parents are also abusing drugs or alcohol and can't themselves model healthy behaviors).
Shortly after we posted this blog-post on Facebook causing depression in pre-teens and teens, C.R. and I and a friend reminisced about the days before everyone was in-touch, 24/7. In the early 1980s, when answering machines were just coming into use (can you imagine--no answering machines, no caller ID, no mobile phones, no ATMS, etc.) C.R. asked her grandmother if she would like an answering machine for her birthday. Grandma replied: If I don't pick up, and someone really wants to reach me, they'll call again. Are we even capable of being this relaxed?