(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Addiction profoundly affects every aspect of life, including the lives of friends and family. Siblings of addicts experience the impact of addiction in a unique way. Having a brother or sister struggle with addiction conjures a host of emotions: guilt, hurt, fear and anger are just a few.
In the following interview, one woman shares her journey discovering her sister was an alcoholic. She shares the impact her sister’s addiction had on her and her family. We hope sharing her story will help connect to others who are enduring a similar experience.
Tell me about your experience discovering your sister was struggling with alcoholism?
I think I realized more post-college. In college, she started drinking heavily but who doesn’t in college? She had more freedom so I mean she drank a lot, but I did not think it was such a big deal. But post-college, I noticed she drank a lot with her friends and her boyfriend and sometimes she would spend all day up in her room drinking. Then, I started noticing she would miss work, and I was like, “That’s not normal…” After college, maybe a year or two after, I noticed it seemed like she was drinking too much and it kind of got worse as the years progressed.
Were you aware of alcoholism back then? Was it something that ran in your family at all?
I was aware of alcoholism, but I never heard of it running in my family whatsoever or any sort of addiction running in my family. I’m not really sure if there are addicts in my family because I feel like they wouldn’t really talk about it. My immediate family, I am around them a lot, and I really have not noticed any signs.
What made you realize this was more than binge drinking?
When I first realized was during the Christmas season. My sister came to visit on a break from work. She was living in another city that was kind of far away. She came to the house, and she was drinking a lot, and she was drinking in her room.
I mean, I don’t know if this was the initial moment, but it really hit me. I’ll never forget; it was Christmas morning, and she came downstairs, and she was like drunk. In my head, I was like, “Why are you drunk right now? Like it’s Christmas Morning, what were you doing up there?” And I definitely realized that’s not normal that she’s drinking like this.
She also had a friend who drank heavily, and when she was in the other city, I knew that she was always drinking heavily with her. Then, I realized this was an everyday thing. She’s waking up, and she’s already drunk.
Looking back, how do you feel the situation was handled by the entire family? Could it have been handled any differently in hindsight?
In some ways, I do. I feel like it could have. My mom was in denial for a while, like maybe she could have realized sooner. I think she should not have enabled so much.
I think that personally— I don’t know, that’s a hard question to be honest, because I don’t really think about that. I don’t think I could have done anything, or I should have done this or that. I don’t really know in hindsight.
What is the process of regaining trust?
Well… I think for myself, it is still kind of new. Regaining trust is hard in any situation. I think the process really takes time. You have to go with the time that it takes, and be patient. The person has to prove to you that they mean what they say.
What should others know going through a similar experience?
I think they should know about AL-ANON. It’s a program which helps people that are dealing with family members that have an addiction problem. It’s really helpful, and it’s a really helpful resource. It brings you to a community that is there for you and knows what you are going through because it is hard. Like they say, it is a family disease. It affects everybody. It doesn’t just affect that one person.
We often talk to the addicts, and rarely the sisters of addicts. A lot of people think of addiction from the victim’s point of view, and not the sibling’s. How did your sister’s addiction affect you personally?
It did affect me a lot, as much as I hate to say it because I don’t want it to affect me. I’m kind of like, “Why am I getting thrown into somebody else’s problems?” But it affects me because; it just sucks to see somebody that you love, that has a lot of potential, like that. Unless you’re a stone, it just hurts, you know what I mean?
It’s like terrifying because you never know what the next day can bring. You never know if they’re going to be okay, if they’re going to hurt themselves, or if they’re going to hurt somebody else. So, it’s kind of like you’re always scared, and you’re mad. I mean I’m still dealing with that. You’re just very mad at that person, what they are doing to themselves and the family.
It’s kind of a mix of emotions. It’s really emotional. They say the addict doesn’t realize that because they are kind of in their own world, but it does affect the person. It’s like you’re going on that journey with them. When they’re good, you’re good. When they’re bad, you’re bad.
Clearly, addiction affects everyone, not just the addict. Do not let the toll of your addiction continue to affect those who love you. Instead, seek help, and learn the tools to recovery. We are waiting for your call. You are not alone. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
With drug abuse being a major issue facing the nation, education is extremely important. Any hope of winning the fight against rising overdose rates and the spread of drug-related illness and death starts with making sure we have as much information as possible to make a difference. On that note, explaining prescription drug abuse is critical because prescription drug abuse is a key contributor to the state of the country today.
If we want to help people avoid prescription drug abuse, or recognize the signs and know there is help, it is important to explain the reality and the risks.
What is prescription drug abuse?
Simply put- prescription drug abuse is one of two things.
- When someone takes a medication that is not their prescription
- If someone takes their own prescription in a way not intended by a doctor or for a different reason
When you take prescription drugs properly they are usually safe. It requires a trained health care clinician, such as a doctor or nurse, to determine if the benefits of taking the medication outweigh any risks for side effects. But when abused and taken in different amounts or for different purposes than as prescribed, they affect the brain and body in ways very similar to illicit drugs.
These drugs have a close relation to morphine, or the street drug heroin. Opioids are typically for pain management. Opioid addiction has become one of the biggest problems facing the country today. Drugs such as:
These drugs are also known as “downers”. You can divide the category can be up into:
Drugs such as Zyprexa, Seroquel and Haldol are meant to reduce symptoms of mental illness.
- Benzodiazepines (Benzos)
Prescription drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Librium.
Amytal, Numbutal and Seconal are included in a class of depressants intended as sedatives or sleeping pills.
These kinds of prescription drugs are also called “uppers” or “smart drugs” because of the increase alertness, attention and energy. They also increase heart rate and respiration. Many of these medications are used to combat conditions such as ADHD, including:
Prescription drug abuse has become a big health issue because of the various health hazards. This risk is particularly true of abusing prescription pain medications.
Who abuses prescription drugs?
When asking who are most likely to abuse prescription drugs, the answer may vary depending on the substance. Some people end up participating in prescription drug abuse due to an injury or legitimate health reason, but the “high” they can experience may lead to more frequent use and ultimately a physical dependence.
Recent studies have indicated that prescription drug abuse impacts young adults most; specifically age 18 to 25. In regards to teens, after marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most common substances of abuse by Americans age 14 and older.
Prescription drug abuse is present across all demographics, relevant to every social and economic class. Many believe this rise has largely contributed to the heroin addiction epidemic and the overdose outbreak in the past few years.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
The Palm Partners Treatment Program has a design for prescription drug abuse intended to address people of all walks of life who are suffering. Personalized recovery programs are meant to work with each individual’s circumstances and symptoms to create a blueprint for the future.
Some of the signs of addiction range in severity and can affect each people differently, especially depending on the specific prescription drug. Increased tolerance is a clear cut sign of progressive physical dependence. Some indicators of prescription drug addiction may be:
- Excessive sweating
- Swelling in the arms and legs
- Chronic constipation
- Respiratory distress
- Slurred speech
- Poor concentration
- High body temperature
- High blood pressure
Treatment for prescription drug addiction includes a detox period to help combat the uncomfortable symptoms of prescription drug addiction, as well as withdrawal.
For all those who are struggling with prescription drug abuse, or even abusing other drugs or medications, there is a massive community of recovery all over the country to help you get the care you need. Treatment for prescription drug abuse can be the first and most important step, so be sure to step up.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
As a result of the high rates of heroin and painkiller abuse, some doctors are calling for mandatory drug tests for all pregnant women. The effects of drug and alcohol use on pregnancy is fully known to be harmful, however some argue that drug testing of pregnant women will actually cause more harm than good. Should pregnancy drug tests be mandatory?
When a pregnant woman uses drugs or alcohol throughout pregnancy, she puts her child at risk of developing neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) which produces a variety of withdrawal-like symptoms.
Common symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) include:
- Uncontrolled twitching
- Excessive and particularly high-pitched crying
- Problems feeding
- An inability to sleep
Babies exposed to opiate painkiller drugs in the womb can suffer withdrawals that are so painful, that they must be treated with morphine or other sedatives. The long term effects of babies born with NAS are still not fully known, however babies who are born with NAS are more likely to suffer from medical complications such as low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Due to the potentially severe consequences of drug use during pregnancy, many doctors have come out stating that they will require all expecting mothers to complete a drug tests. However, some argue that this will prevent those struggling from wanting to get adequate healthcare due to fear of being criminalized.
Because of this fear, doctors and health officials want to ensure that pregnant woman know they will not be punished for their drug use if the results come out negative. They want lawmakers to shield pregnant addicted mothers from punishment.
So far, legislature have taken the first step of quietly passed measures to prohibit doctors from giving results of a pregnant woman’s drug tests to police without a court order. Without laws like this becoming mainstream, many pregnant women struggling with drug addiction will be too afraid to come forward. However, the symptoms of NAS are too severe to ignore:
“Their care is very labor intensive because they’re nearly inconsolable,” said Dr. Mark Gentry, an obstetrician at Hendricks Regional Health in Brownsburg. “It’s heart-jerking and becoming much more prevalent.”
Gentry’s hospital is one in four in the state of Indiana that will start a pilot project testing pregnant women for drugs with the intention of promoting treatment, not criminalization. For now, women are allowed to opt out of the screenings since they are not legally required to do so.
Gentry states that many women will feel uncomfortable agreeing to the tests for fear of punishment. Under current law, doctors must call child welfare authorities if they feel a child is being abused. That could include cases where a child is exposed to drug in the womb, though no law specifically states this, and the state doesn’t track the number of drug-dependent newborns.
Sadly, hospitals have seen a spike in drug-dependent babies. The rate of babies born with drug dependency nearly quadrupled from 2004 to 2013. Now, every 27 of every 1,000 babies admitted to intensive-care are admitted due to drug related issues. Many states like Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina have tightened legislation to reduce the number of babies born with drug dependency. However, Gentry warn that laws like this actually scare woman away from the care they truly need.
Laws that focus on criminalizing pregnancy women struggling with drug addiction may be harmful to those who are suffering the most. Instead, laws that reaffirm women that they will not be criminalized are more likely to result in more women coming forward with their challenges.
Overall, the main goal is to prevent innocent babies from being born with NAS symptoms. Are mandatory drug tests for pregnant women the solution? If you are a pregnant women struggling with addiction, please come forward. It is not just your life, it is the life of your newborn at risk. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
A new report states that more than 10,000 American toddlers ages 2 or 3 years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which leads many experts to question if giving toddlers this kind of medication is safe. According to pediatric guidelines, ADHD medication like Ritalin and Adderall should not be given to children before the age of 4.
There has always been wide criticism of prescribing ADHD medication in young children. Typically, children in their earliest stages of life tend to be full of energy, very curious and adventurous. Diagnosing toddlers at such a young age is controversial due to the fact that it is hard to tell if the child’s behavior is an actual condition or just a part of growing up.
For now, we still do not know for sure if these medications provide any real benefit at such a young age. What we do know, however, is that medications like ADHD can have serious side effects. They interfere with sleep and suppress appetite. Because toddlers typically need large amounts of sleep for proper development, giving medication that promotes an irregular sleep schedule can be incredibly problematic.
The report also discovered that toddlers who were covered by Medicaid insurance were especially prone to be put on medication like Ritalin and Adderall. They were also the most likely to be diagnosed with ADHD below the age of 4. The data was presented at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, and several outside experts strongly criticized the use of ADHD medication in children that young.
Even more concerning, the Academy of Pediatric does not even address the diagnosis of ADHD in children under 3 years old, let alone even mention the use of stimulant medications for children this young. The safety and effectiveness of these drugs have barely been explored in that age group.
“It’s absolutely shocking, and it shouldn’t be happening,” said Anita Zervigon-Hakes, a children’s mental health consultant to the Carter Center. “People are just feeling around in the dark. We obviously don’t have our act together for little children.”
This is not the first time ADHD diagnoses for children this young were criticized. Last year, a nationwide C.D.C. survey found that 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 have received a diagnosis of this disorder and one and five will get one during childhood.
The most commonly prescribed medications are Ritalin or Amphetamines. While these drugs may calm a child’s hyperactivity and impulsivity, it also carries the risk of growth suppression, insomnia and hallucinations.
Furthermore, very few scientific studies have examined the use of stimulant medications in young children. One study conducted in 2006 found that ADHD medications could reduce hyperactive symptoms in children however that study only studied about a dozen 3-year-olds and no 2-year-old. Also, the research was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, had significant financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that made ADHD medications.
Still, many doctors stated that they understood using stimulant medication in toddlers under rare circumstances. There are often cases in which nothing would calm a toddler down who was harm to himself or others. as stated by Keith Conners, a psychologist and professor at Duke University.
While there are some extreme cases that stimulants may be beneficial for, Dr. Doris Greenberg, a behavioral pediatrician in Savannah, Ga., who also attended the presentation, is certain that there should not be 10,000 such cases in the United States per year.
“Some of these kids are having really legitimate problems,” Dr. Greenberg said. “But you also have overwhelmed parents who can’t cope and the doctor prescribes as a knee-jerk reaction. You have children with depression or anxiety who can present the same way, and these medications can just make those problems worse.”
In the presentation, many doctors suggested that children could be suffering from anxiety symptoms that are not being addressed in the right manner. Rather, parents are going to their doctors out of desperation to find some sort of solution. While, ADHD medication may be useful in some cases, more often than not, other options should be explored?
What do you think? Is it safe to prescribe drugs like this to children at such an early age? Ultimately, it is up to the parent of these children to make that personal decision. With all the media focus on prescription drugs, it would be advisable to take caution and become informed when making decisions involving taking drugs like this for long periods of time. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Shernide Delva
It turns out future law students are doing more than taking the LSAT and pulling all-nighters to ensure success in their careers. They are hiding their mental health issues too. An article reveals that many law students are hiding drug, alcohol, and depression problems because they are afraid admitting these issues will prevent them from taking the bar exam or working at a law firm after graduation.
According to the study published in last month’s Bar Examiner, law students admitted having mental health challenges but they feared seeking professional treatment would jeopardize their chances of qualifying as a lawyer. Students are reluctant because they feel admitting to any sort of mental health problem would prevent them from taking the bar exam.
Jerome Organ who works as a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and is one of the lead authors. For the study, Organ and his colleagues surveyed more than 3,300 law students from 15 law schools about their drinking, drug use and mental health. More than 22 percent reported drinking two or more times in the previous two weeks. Even more concerning, over a quarter of students had received a diagnosis of “depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis, personality disorder, and/or substance use disorder.”
However, despite these results, only 4 percent of future lawyers said they relied on a health professional to deal with their addiction and mental health issues. Forty-two percent admitted that they needed support for mental or emotional problems in the past year, yet only half of those who needed counseling actually got it.
Most students did not seek professional help out of fear. They preferred to leave their illnesses untreated than risk not becoming a lawyer. Over 60 percent admitted that they did not seek help because they feared being disqualified from taking the bar exam which would keep them from a law career.
Future lawyers must take a bar exam that examines and qualifies them for a career in law. Along with the written exam, all students must pass a “character and fitness” screening in which officials look at their personal histories with an aim to ruling out students who they feel are too morally compromised to serve clients. One of the big red flags includes “drug or alcohol dependency” and “mental or emotional instability,” which results in students who do suffer from these ailments being too afraid to seek treatment.
As a response to these fears, many law schools have tried to convey to students that they will not be penalized for admitting to suffering, but their efforts have been unsuccessful. Students still feel that the legal field does not leave room for weaknesses.
“While in law school, students are getting messages indicating that seeking help may be problematic for their professional careers,” the authors wrote. “The competitive nature of law school reinforces a message that students are better off not seeking help and instead trying to handle problems on their own.”
The biggest problem with students avoiding all of this is that overtime, students who did not seek help for their addiction or mental health issues will become worse. In many cases, this is the reality. In fact, it has been estimated that 15 to 20 percent of working lawyers suffer from alcohol and substance abuse and out of all the professions out there, lawyers have been cited to have the highest incidences of depression.
When it comes to career choices, lawyers are known for having some of the highest rates of suicide in any occupation. Most lawyers work extremely long hours, often 60+ a week and deal with a heavy work load that overtime can cause emotional burnout. This combination plus existing mental health issues results in further emotional and psychological damage.
Lawyers need resources to help cope with their mental health issues and substance abuse. They need to feel safe to open up about challenges they go through. Waiting too long to get help causes more harm in the long run. Seek professional treatment today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135