Addiction

Smoking and Mental Illness

Every morning, I can look forward to two things: one of my cats snuggling up on my face or my older brother Derek asking someone for cigarette money.

Derek is an avid smoker, and a schizophrenic. He started smoking a few years ago, just before his diagnosis (a neighbor said it would help him with stress). For many people, especially people with mental illnesses, smoking is common. There can be a short-term feeling of relief. However, smoking can be detrimental to those with mental illness.

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Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: December 26, 2015


Ah, you survived -- and possibly thrived in -- the holidays, sweet readers, and we've got just what you need to unwind and catch up on what's going on in the world of mental health.

Grab a cup of joe (or hot chocolate...unless you're experiencing this weird heat wave here in the U.S.), and read up on how music therapy can help depression, a therapist's answers to pressing anxiety questions, what we can push for regarding state mental health legislation next year, and more.

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Addiction

How to Recognize Holiday Binge Drinking

Holiday party season is in full swing. With many celebrations happening around us, even people who consider themselves social drinkers may go overboard by binge drinking.

Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excess alcohol use in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Indra Cidambi, a leading addiction expert, wants to alert people to five common signs of alcohol abuse this holiday season:

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Addiction

The Top 8 Reasons Why Prison Drug Treatment Fails


Why is prison drug treatment such a failure? A counselor, an expert and two former inmates weigh in.

Drug offenders have among the highest recidivism rates of all prisoners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 76.9% of drug offenders get arrested for a new crime within five years of their release. That’s a lower recidivism rate than for property crimes (82.1%) but higher than for public order offenses (73.6%) or violent offenses (71.3%).

Although jails typically don’t offer drug treatment, many state prisons do—but the above data is for state prisons. So what’s going wrong? Why isn’t prison drug treatment working?
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Addiction

Social Media, Anxiety, and the Highly Sensitive Me

I have had a love/hate relationship with social media since the craze began.

I see those obnoxious graphics proudly boasting the fact that you are a rhymes-with-witch all over social media. Seriously, why is this okay and generally accepted behavior? I hope you’re simply confused about the definition of the word. Perhaps you engage in healthy assertiveness, not general nastiness. Sorry, but I wouldn’t be willing to "handle" you or anyone. Why would I? Why would anyone?

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Addiction

Substance Abuse and the Holidays

Family celebrations tend to take center stage during the holidays. Unfortunately, many a holiday get-together is marred by disruptive, rude or antagonistic behavior on the part of one or more guests. Whether it’s a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker, when disturbing behavior takes place, it’s tough to know the reason. Here are 10 signs drugs or alcohol might be the culprit.

Nodding off at the table.
If you spot someone at the table who's struggling to stay awake, this is a telltale sign of alcohol or drug involvement. Alcohol is a known depressant, as are certain drugs. These cause a slowdown in the body’s central nervous system and can put you to sleep. Too much alcohol or drugs, however, can quickly escalate to a critical point, causing unconsciousness, a blackout, or worse.

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Addiction

The 7 Warning Signs of Shopping Addiction


Shop 'til your dopamine drops, then stop.

Some love to shop. Some hate to shop. And some need to shop.

“I was like a lot of girls in the U.S. who are interested in fashion, clothing and cosmetics, and I liked to shop,” says Avis Cardella, author of Spent: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict. “But after my mother died unexpectedly when I was in my early 20s, shopping became problematic for me. I used it as a way of escaping my grief and filling a void for how much I missed her.”

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Addiction

The Brilliant Way We Avoid Our Emotions

Mary picks a fight with her husband at night so she doesn't have to deal with her sex anxiety. Looking for what’s wrong with her husband distracts her from her discomfort and the feelings of vulnerability that are causing her anxiety in the first place. By not directly addressing her core feelings with her husband, Mary misses an opportunity to be understood and problem-solve.

Michael doesn't feel settled or at ease with himself unless he drinks beer after beer. The alcohol calms his physical tension and mental anguish, but that strategy for dealing with his underlying pain is not sustainable. Eventually his drinking will lead to health and relationship problems.

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Addiction

How Internet Addiction Almost Ruined My Life


Is my life that attached to the Internet, or was I using it as an escape from life altogether?

It was nearly a decade ago that I transitioned into a career that involved working almost entirely in the digital space, and social media began to take over my life.

Since basically forever, the online world always held a certain siren's call. ICQ and LiveJournal, IRC and Friendster. I illustrated my mood via cryptic AIM status messages, and exhibited deep feelings of hurt when I'd put someone important to me in my MySpace Top 8 and they didn't do the same for me.
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Addiction

Mental Health in America: A Shakespearean Tragedy

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 16 million adults in the United States experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2012. Major Depressive Disorder is defined as “Depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least two weeks and symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, work, or other important areas of functioning almost every day.”

Along with diagnostic criteria for depression, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V is also notorious for a whole doctrine of pathologies under which the field of psychiatry preaches its creed; a grim gospel for any ardent disciple to follow. Social factors, environmental triggers, and increased stress in modern life all influence mental health, including the onset of depression. With healthcare expenditures approaching $3 trillion, our disorders and diseases are helping to keep the U.S. economy rolling.

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Addiction

The 10 Worst Things You Can Say to Someone in Recovery


So it seems that you have a few friends that are in recovery in your life. That is no surprise, most people do. You aren’t in recovery, of course. You never had those sorts of problems. But still, you want to be supportive. You want to let the person in recovery know that you understand what he went through. You want to say just the right thing. You are a sensitive type of person, you don’t judge.

I don’t recommend it, but go ahead if you want. Give it a shot. But if you want to talk to your buddy in recovery about their issues here are 10 things that you shouldn’t say. Ever.

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Addiction

Alcoholism & Depression: Frenemies Forever

I’ve heard a thousand variations of this problem: “My brother is depressed, but he also drinks a lot, which is probably causing the depression. So which do you treat first? The alcoholism or the depression?”

The two conditions are so intertwined that it can be impossible to separate them.

Just last week I met with an executive director of a behavioral health program here in Annapolis. We were discussing how to start a faith-based initiative.

“Should we also include substance abuse?” he asked.
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