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CVS: Tobacco Sale Ban Is Already Having A Major Impact

CVS: Tobacco Sale Ban Is Already Having A Major Impact

Author: Shernide Delva

A while back, CVS made the bold decision to cease the sale of tobacco products in their stores.   Now, new data reveals their decision to stop selling cigarettes contributed to a drop in tobacco purchases from all retailers.  Furthermore, CVS customers were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes, according to research from the American Journal of Public Health.

The analysis comes less than three years after the company stopped selling all tobacco products. The move garnered national attention from public health advocates, doctors, and even the white house.

“After CVS’s tobacco removal, household- and population-level cigarette purchasing declined significantly,” the study concluded.

CVS officially stopped selling tobacco products as of October 1, 2014, at its CVS/pharmacy stores. The decision had the greatest impact on customers who bought cigarettes only at CVS drugstores. Those particular customers were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes altogether.

To gather those numbers, the study used household purchasing data to examine American households that stopped buying cigarettes for at least six months during the period of September 2014 to August 2015. The study, written by CVS executives and paid for by the company, was a peer-reviewed article, the journal disclosed.

“When we removed tobacco from our shelves, a significant number of our customers simply stopped buying and hopefully smoking cigarettes altogether instead of just altering their cigarette purchasing habits,” Dr. Troyen Brennan, CVS Health chief medical officer, said in a statement.

“This research proves that our decision had a powerful public health impact by disrupting access to cigarettes and helping more of our customers on their path to better health.”

The decision by CVS to cut off tobacco sales amounted to a loss of $2 billion in annual sales that existed when it sold cigarettes. Still, the drugstore’s overall sales have been increasing in the last three years thanks to new business from the Affordable Care Act which benefit the pharmacy. CVS is growing significantly as a medical service business.

As for its rivals, the CVS decision has not triggered a trend. None of the other stores such as Wal-Mart, Rite Aid or Walgreens Boots Alliance have followed suit with their own plans to stop selling cigarettes. The pressure from the public and some of their shareholders has not made enough of an impact to change their mind. Walgreens, for example, has instead decided to push more smoking cessation products alongside their tobacco products.

The response from customers in regards to the ban was mixed. Some commended the stand from CVS saying it was a step in the right direction. These days, smoking is banned in restaurants, schools, and even certain parks, so the move did seem to follow the ongoing trend.

On the other hands, many people were outraged at the decision. Some stated it was hypocritical because CVS continues to sell alcohol, candy, and sugary drinks, which can be equally as harmful to the health. Therefore, the argument was made that it is the choice of the customer, not CVS, to decide.

With these recent results, it is evident that CVS may have gotten the result they were hoping for. More outside studies are needed to fully determine the impact the ban had on smoking trends. Still, it sends a message loud and clear that CVS will no longer support tobacco products.

What do you think about the ban? Should other pharmacies follow? In recovery, it is important to take steps to living a healthy life. Perhaps quitting smoking is something you should consider. If you are struggling to quit smoking, or are struggling with any addiction, please call now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

By 2030, Tobacco-Related Deaths Projected to Increase to 8 Million

By 2030, Tobacco-Related Deaths Projected to Increase to 8 Million

Author: Shernide Delva

A massive report released last week by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) highlighted the global impact tobacco makes on the economy and mortality rates.

Believe it or not, tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable premature death, according to the new report.

The nearly 700-page report, titled “The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control” was authored by an internal network of more than 60 experts on tobacco control and policy.  This included public health experts, researchers, and scientists. The report was then peer reviewed by more than 70 reviewers.

Here’s what they discovered:

  • Six million people die each year from tobacco use.
  • Of those six million, 600,000 die from second-hand smoking.
  • By 2030, the number of direct and indirect deaths is projected to increase to eight million.
  • More than 80% of those deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s assistant director-general for non-communicable diseases and mental health, stated in a press release,

“The tobacco industry produces and markets products that kill millions of people prematurely, rob households of finances that could have been used for food and education, and impose immense healthcare costs on families, communities and countries.”

The research also determined that globally:

  • There are 1.1 billion tobacco smokers aged 15 or older
  • Approximately 226 million smokers live in poverty

Technological advances have resulted in a decrease in tobacco manufacturing. The numbers of jobs reliant on tobacco manufacturing have fallen in most countries.

The report said,

“For the vast majority of countries, implementation of tobacco control measures will have only a modest impact on tobacco-related employment, and will not lead to net job losses.”

“Significant tobacco tax and price increases are the most cost-effective of these interventions. Despite the considerable revenues generated by tobacco taxes, few governments are investing more than a fraction of these revenues in tobacco control or in other health programs,” the report continued.

Despite the shocking statistics, the amount of people that smoke is lower than ever. In the United States, smoking has declined to an all-time low of 15.1% but there is more that can be done. The report encourages more graphic warning labels. They also want tighter restrictions on tobacco marketing.

According to Truth.com, only 7 percent of Millennials smoke today. That is a massive decrease from 23 percent in 2000. The question remains, however: why do millennials still smoke?

Millennials born in the midst of the  anti-smoking campaigns have lower smoking rates, yet a significant portion still choose to smoke. The reason for this  is a combination of addiction and social reasons. Some smoke because it is social, while others have a history of smoking in their family. Regardless of the reasoning, smoking is an unhealthy habit that can lead to health consequences.

Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Illegal drug use
  • Alcohol use
  • Motor vehicle injuries

Over time, smoking can cause:

  • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular death
  • Respiratory damage
  • Asthma

The introduction of e-cigarettes and “vaping” popularity have pushed smoking into the mainstream. Still, even cigarettes post major health dangers. The healthiest decision is to ultimately quit smoking altogether.

Smoking is a hard habit to break, but quitting can prevent you from being another statistic. Make the decision to change today. If you are struggling, please call toady. We can help you along your journey. Call now.

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4 Surprising Advantages of Anxiety You Might Appreciate

4 Surprising Advantages of Anxiety You Might Appreciate

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Some would say “good things come to those who wait,” but others would add “only what is left by those who hustle.” Our characteristics can seem like virtues or defects depending on the lens through which they are examined, or the circumstances they arise from. There are always pros and cons, even if we have to take a very close look to find them. Sometimes, even the parts about ourselves we are most unsure of can be useful. So then what would be the advantages of anxiety?

How could our fear or stressful uncertainty help us? What good can come of being anxious? Here are 4 surprising advantages of anxiety.

  1. Doubt and double-checking

This one is all about balance, which isn’t easy for those who struggle with anxiety. While it is true that following up is time consuming, sometimes the time is worth it. Anxiety causes you to doubt, which can lead to double-checking. That feeling of something not being quite right can have us taking inventory, and sometimes this helps us catch things we may have missed.

One of the advantages of anxiety here is there will be many occasions when your double-checking proves useful. How many times have you asked someone if they were OK, and they say they are, but then it turns out they aren’t? Doubt and double-checking might help you push past that pretense and get to the heart of the matter.

Also, if you are depending on someone else to complete a task. Sometimes people forget. Perhaps people are afraid to ask for help. Sometimes they are misinformed and need course correction. While micro-managing can be irritating, double-checking may help you find a problem before it becomes a problem.

Yes, you may end up experiencing unnecessary stress and worry. It may become annoying to others that you need constant reassurance. In extreme cases you could even have unnecessary medical investigations due to health anxiety, leading to injuries caused by medical investigations or treatments.

Again, it is all about balance. Even if reassurance is a good thing, you can still have too much of a good thing.

  1. More careful and thoughtful

Fear is often not that useful to us, but it can be. Worry stems from fear, and the greatest danger of worry is that it is more likely to lead to inaction than it is to useful action. People who worry excessively are commonly overwhelmed by their anxieties. So much so, in fact, they ultimately don’t face their worries because resistance seems futile.

However, there are times when worry can actually be productive. The advantages of anxiety often have a lot to do with the idea of insurance. Like with any form of insurance, you are creating a back-up in case something happens, and this is useful. Just like with a car and an insurance policy, your anxiety may teach you to be more careful and protective.

That goes for your own peace of mind, your property and other people.

Worry also allows us to be more thoughtful of others, because we also come to worry about their well-being. Anxiety can help us be more conscious of our actions and how it will impact others, or how others will see us as a result. It can make us more compassionate and even more giving.

Strategic worrying is the best way to utilize this anxiety. It means making an honest evaluation of whether worrying is helping you on a case by case basis. If you connect worrying and positive behaviors, then the worrying may be worth it to you. If you are only stressing yourself without taking action, it is merely wasted energy.

  1. Prepared when things aren’t OK

This goes with the first two advantages of anxiety quite naturally. Anxious people love to rely on the idea of better safe than sorry. They have checked and double checked; they have tried to be as careful as they can. So when things are difficult, or when things go wrong, they are definitely prepared.

When things do go wrong, people with anxiety almost have the unique position of a fortune teller being vindicated. They have had time to make sure back-up plans and safety-nets in place. At the very least, they have mentally prepared themselves for that worst-case scenario. Some of us who struggle with anxiety have almost built up immunity to it.

It is not so much to say that it is good to always expect the worst, because that can lead to compromising your standards and a willingness to settle where you shouldn’t. However, knowing that you have put things in place just in case is reassuring that you’ve done all you can. Then, even if things fail you cannot say you didn’t at least do your best.

So essentially, being prepared for when things go wrong shouldn’t be an excuse to prematurely accept defeat. Instead these advantages to anxiety give you a reason to take more action.

  1. Excited when everything is OK

On the flip-side to that last point, another of the big advantages of anxiety is when you are surprised to learn that everything is OK. As we were saying, anxiety can have you preparing for the worst and jumping to negative conclusions, but when those premonitions don’t come to fruition, it is both relieving and exciting.

You basically give yourself a little rush with that experience of relief and happiness when you learn your fears have been averted, especially if your anxieties have almost convinced you that your nightmare scenario came true. That feeling of discovering everything isn’t what is seemed can be truly uplifting. This is probably the most gratifying of the advantages of anxiety.

It is nice when our expectations of a situation are exaggerated. We find some things are easier than we expect. Sometimes, this can make us even more proud of all the work we had done leading up to that moment because we overcame our fear, while still being prepared either mentally, physically or even financially not to come out OK.

As someone who has battled with anxiety a lot in life, I can say that knowing I was ready, even when I didn’t end up needing it, was an extremely gratifying feeling.

If you have an anxiety disorder it can interfere with your life in some very big ways. If you feel like you need more support with getting it under control, please consider some form of treatment. Anxiety and other psychological disorders are common to those who also struggle with substance abuse. If you or someone you love is struggling, help is available. Palm Partners offers dual diagnosis treatment to help people with mental illness and addiction issues to heal and recover. Please, call now.

    CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Study Proves the ‘Friendship Bench’ Program Improves Mental Health

Study Proves the ‘Friendship Bench’ Program Improves Mental Health

Author: Justin Mckibben

Remember the movie Forrest Gump? If not, I am so very sorry. Spoiler alert: it’s about a southern gentleman (Tom Hanks) who tells the incredible story of his amazing life to total strangers while waiting on a bench. He taught the world that life was like a box of chocolates, and that going for a run once in a while will change your life.

While on that bench, Forrest shares a lot of himself, and it has a pretty deep impact on some of the random folks he sits next to. Not to mention all the people watching the film who were moved by the experiences and emotions he shares.

Well this whole idea of making friends on a bench and soothing the soul by opening up to the strangers you sit with has taken new life in a place very, very far from the little park in Georgia that Forrest found himself in. The ‘Friendship Bench’ program in Zimbabwe is changing lives for those struggling with mental illness. A recent study proves that even just sitting on a bench and talking to a new friend can improve your mental health symptoms.

The Beauty of the ‘Friendship Bench’

The program is carried out by Zimbabwean lay health workers, who give brief but effective psychological treatment to the public. Instead of a big medical office, you find them conducting their problem solving therapy sessions on simple wooden seats. These health workers, or community “Grandmothers” carry out this practice with a personal touch in several major cities in Zimbabwe. The benches themselves are located on the grounds of health clinics.

The lay health workers are trained to listen and support patients living with common mental disorders such as:

The beauty is in the simplicity of the system, and the fact that it is showing to be so influential for countries where access to modern mental health treatment is limited or even nonexistent.

Studying this Solution

The study of the ‘Friendship Bench’ was published in JAMA. As a randomized controlled trial funded by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada, multiple sources contributed to the trials, including:

  • The University of Zimbabwe
  • The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • King’s College London

After a six month period, following six weekly sessions of “problem solving therapy” on a ‘Friendship Bench’ with a health worker, data showed a significant difference. The severity of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts was noticeably reduced. This is based on locally validated questionnaires:

  • The Shona Symptom Questionnaire (SSQ)
  • Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD)

The Big Results of the ‘Friendship Bench’

According to the research:

  • 50% of patients who received standard care still had symptoms of depression– Compared to only 14% who participated in the Friendship Bench (based on PHQ)
  • 48% of patients who received standard care still had symptoms of anxiety- Compared to only 12% who received Friendship Bench care(based on the GAD)
  • 12% of patients who received standard care still had suicidal thoughts- Compared to 2% who used the Friendship Bench program(based on SSQ)

The Friendship Bench intervention was also shown to be well suited to improve health outcomes among highly vulnerable individuals. Out of all the ‘Friendship Bench’ program participants:

  • 86% were women
  • Over 40% were HIV positive
  • 70% had experienced domestic violence or physical illness

With CDN being granted $1 million in funding from Grand Challenges Canada earlier this year, the ‘Friendship Bench’ program has since been expanded to 72 clinics in the cities of Harare, Gweru and Chitungwiza (total population 1.8 million). The plan is for this growing movement to keep expanding. In 2017, the team plans to focus on extending the model to other vulnerable populations, including youth and refugees.

The Need for New Methods

Forgive me if my math and comparison is a little off, but I tried to put all this in perspective.

Zimbabwe has a population of 15 million. 25% of the primary care patients suffer from depression, anxiety or other common mental disorders. In a country with 15 million, there are only 10 psychiatrists and 15 clinical psychologists!

In comparison, (hypothetically) if even only 1/4 of the population of Zimbabwe suffers from a mental health disorder… That is still 3,930,000 people. Even if you could split them up between 25 mental health professionals evenly, it’s still 157,200 patients per person!

26.2% of adults over 18 in America suffer from mental health disorders. That’s 57.7 million people out of 318.9 million people (population as of 2014). If the United States had such a cripple mental health care system, it would be catastrophic.

At the end of the day, holistic treatment is all about healing mind, body and spirit through innovative and effective strategies. The value of sitting down with another human being and getting the support and therapeutic connection we need is paramount. Therapy can come in all shapes and sizes, and developing a unique and personalized treatment program can make all the difference. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

10 Distorted Forms of Thinking That Are Holding You Back

10 Distorted Forms of Thinking That Are Holding You Back

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Recently, my therapist revealed I have a catastrophizing form of thinking. Essentially, I overanalyze everything and believe something will go wrong one way or another. This negative type of thinking results in anxiety when even the smallest things go wrong, which ultimately results in more things going wrong. Needless to say, it is a horrible cycle.

Still, the realization had me pondering other forms of irrational thinking people have. How do other negative ways of thinking affect people’s life? Cognitive psychologists pay very close attention to what is known as cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are our mind’s way of convincing us of something that is not true. These distorted thoughts reinforce our negative thoughts and emotions. We tell ourselves things we believe sound rational and accurate, but in reality, they only make us feel bad about ourselves.

For example, a person might tell themselves, “I always fail when I try to do something new; therefore  I fail at everything I try.”

Honestly, these thoughts might be grounded in truth. Maybe this person has tried many things and HAS failed at many of them, but that does not mean they will fail at everything. That is an all or nothing mentality. People who think this way hesitate to do anything and feel worthless as a result. This form of thinking is known as overgeneralization—because you failed at x, y and z, you automatically will fail at a, b and c. It is self-deprecating and destructive in the long term.

Therapists try to understand their client’s way of thinking so that they can help them change their thinking in the future. Chances are, we have reinforced our thinking patterns over and over again for years, and some of us need help replacing our negative thought patterns with more rational, balanced ones.

10 Cognitive Distortions Holding You Back

  1. Filtering

    Filtering is when you take the negative details and magnify them while filtering the positive aspects of the situation. For example, you get a flat tire on the way to an event, and you decide to focus on that one negative aspect of the day that went wrong, rather than all the positive events that occurred afterward. Dwelling on these negative occurrences causes our vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.

  2. “Black and White” Thinking

    This form of thinking is also known as all-or-nothing thinking. Either you go to the gym seven days a week, or you sit on the couch all week.  Either you work on something every day until it is perfect, or you do not do it at all. The “must be perfect” mentality does not work because no one is perfect. People who have black-or-white thinking lack the ability to see shades of gray. Every situation or performance must go perfect, or you are a failure. The concept of balance is difficult for a person with this style of distorted thinking to understand.

  1. Overgeneralizations

    Overgeneralization thinking focuses on the past rather than the future. For example, if the first time you tried pizza, it was bad, that means all pizza is bad. If the first time you tried flirting, you were rejected, that means you will always be rejected. If the first time you take any risk, you fail, then you will always fail. This form of thinking relies on a single incident or piece of evidence that we cling on to validate never doing that particular thing again. However, this only reinforces a never-ending pattern of defeat.

  2. Jumping to Conclusions

    You meet someone, and they are in a bad mood, and you automatically think they are mad at you.  You must have done something, right?  Perhaps your friend has not called you in weeks, so you assume they are ignoring you. Jumping to conclusions means you automatically assume the worse scenario when something out of the ordinary, or negative happens. You do not bother finding out the truth; you just make a conclusion on your own. This form of thinking is destructive because it relies on assumptions and not facts.

  3. Catastrophizing

    When we catastrophize, we expect the worse no matter what. We always question the what-ifs in life rather than remain in the present. This is also known as “magnifying or minimizing.” An example is when planning a trip; you think of every possible thing that could go wrong before the journey begins. Ex: “What if my flight delays?,” “What if I forget my passport?”, “What if tragedy strikes?” Everyone catastrophizes once in a while, but in excess, it can prevent you from doing anything you want in life.

  4. The Fallacy of Fairness

    In this form of thinking, you feel resentful because you do good things, yet do not get what you think is “fair” in return. For example, you volunteer to help your friend with an errand, however when you have an errand to run, she is not available. People who have this form of thinking keep track of everything and use measurements for every situation. Example: I did this for you, so I expect the same in return. The problem with this form of thinking is that life is not always fair, and you should not waste energy keeping track of every good deed you do. Learn to make sacrifices without expecting favors in return.

  5. Blaming

    You hold other people responsible for your pain. Example: “You are making me feel bad about myself!” or “I feel insecure when I am around you.” The problem with this form of thinking is nobody can make you feel a certain way. Your response to a situation comes from your experience and emotions. Blaming the outside world for your emotions is not an effective way of controlling them.

  6. Emotional Reasoning

    This style of thinking means everything you feel about yourself must be true. It is the ultimate “I think. Therefore I am” mentality. If you feel stupid and depressed, then you must be stupid and depressed. You assume your unhealthy emotions define who you are as a person. This form of thinking is harmful because our emotions do not define us. Our emotions are a state that we can alter and change.

  7. Global Labeling

    This form of thinking involves labeling ourselves or other people because of an error or mistake. For example, you fail a math test, so automatically you are a loser. If you went over budget on a project, you are obviously irresponsible. This negative form of thinking is self-destructive. Furthermore, people who have this form of irrational thinking tend to judge others harshly. When they see another person make an error on a particular task, they label the person as a loser. This form of thinking is unhealthy because making mistakes does not automatically make you or anyone a loser or failure.

  8. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

    A person with this type of thinking always feels unappreciated. When you do well, you feel like people should comment on how well you are doing. If they do not notice, then you feel less inclined to work as hard. You expect the sacrifices you make to be recognized and rewarded. If you do not get the reaction you want, you get bitter. The problem with this form of thinking is that you rely on other people to stay motivated. Instead, you should understand that not all our sacrifices will pay off. No one is keeping score. You should work on motivating yourself rather than waiting on others to motivate you.

Cognitive distortions are not healthy because they rely on a distorted, irrational way of thinking. Learning to understand your style of thinking will help you shift your negative thoughts. Awareness is critical.  If you are struggling with any of these types of thinking, we can guide you.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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