Safe, effective drug/alcohol treatment

All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

The answer is Palm Partners Recovery Center. It’s a proven path to getting sober and staying sober.

Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

Drugs and Alcohol Are Not the Problem, They Have Been the Solution!

Drugs and Alcohol Are Not the Problem, They Have Been the Solution!By Thomas G. Beley, Ph.D., LCSW

A Perfect Solution 

Why does a person use mood-altering substances?  The answer is basic and simple. Because it is fun and it often makes a person feel good.  It is an extremely fast and effective way to feel either more relaxed, more euphoric, or simply to relieve any pain or discomfort. It seemingly appears to be a perfect solution to the problems of life, at least initially.

Much has been written on the science of addiction, genetics, and neurobiological brain processes that contribute to the addictive process. However, neurobiology and genetics alone do not fully explain the addictive process.  A person born with the genetic predisposition to addiction does not necessarily become an addict.  Similarly, a person free of a genetic predisposition is not immune to the addictive process.  Everyone has the potential to become addicted. 

So what else is it that influences the addictive process?  Behavior, life experiences, and how the person has developed certain levels of functioning areas in their life play a critical role.

Stumbling Into Addiction

It may be surprising to learn that people often unknowingly stumble into the addictive process.  They do this through learned and repetitive behaviors that occur developmentally over time with family, friends, and general life experiences.  Although it is true that some people may become addicted to a substance right from the very beginning due to their genetic make-up, for others it often takes years and sometimes decades before a person actually falls victim to the addictive process. Research has demonstrated that behaviors, particularly repetitive behaviors over time, can activate dormant genes.  This may explain why certain people who start off as recreational or social users become full-blown addicts in later years.  Often, people simply train themselves into becoming addicted.

The difference in the length of time it takes a person to become addicted, genetics notwithstanding, is directly related to how effectively that person has learned to adapt to the surrounding environment and how they have developed certain functioning areas of their life.  Personal behavior, regardless of genetics and the neurobiology involved, plays a critical role in the addictive process.

An Early Start  

One of the interesting facets about substance use is that it appears to start at a relatively early age, typically during adolescence. The National Institute of Health estimates that approximately 85% of all adolescents are experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  These statistics have not really changed for the past twenty years.  The question for parents today is not whether my child is drinking or drugging, but whether my child is going to weather the storm and escape the addictive cycle.

Avoiding Pain

Why is there such a preoccupation with drug use among the young?  One answer involves the pain and pleasure sensors that we all have.  Humans are hard-wired to avoid any type of pain and to experience pleasure whenever possible.  It is an evolutionary protective mechanism in order for our species to survive.  It has also been shown that given a preference, a person tends towards avoiding pain as opposed to seeking out pleasure.  However, to complicate matters, research has also demonstrated that when engaging in a pleasurable experience in order to reduce pain, the pleasurable experience on the part of the person tends to be more pleasurable.  As a result, the mind and body work together to ensure a balance between the pain and pleasure mechanisms in the brain.  Our pain sensors alert us to a potential problem, while our pleasure sensors reduce the pain in order to maintain a focus.

Undeniably, adolescence is an extremely turbulent time.  Given even an ideal living situation, an adolescent still has to struggle with a multitude of challenges including hormonal changes, changes in brain development, the struggle with independence, the desire to establish a sexual identity, and all of these contribute to a considerable level of stress.  These developmental stressors alone can easily trigger a person’s pain sensors and their threshold of discomfort.  Now we add in certain external influences such as divorce, blended families, relocation, poverty, peer group pressure, a lack of education, trauma, and a general need to fit in and now the pain sensors are not only exposed but are conceivably being rubbed raw.  This is usually the time that a person begins to experiment with substances.  The start of this use is usually not directly associated with the discomfort the person may be experiencing.

Typically the introduction of drug and alcohol use is innocent by itself.  It usually starts with curiosity or what the person has been exposed to via the peer group or family. A person begins to experiment with something that alters the mood and in many instances, at least in the beginning, is an extremely effective way to alter one’s state. However, the result of this innocent curiosity renders an immediate effect.  The adolescent feels good and in some instances euphoric.  The person discovers an effective avenue of relief and a particularly effective solution to any type of discomfort.

Although some would assert that their first experience with drugs and alcohol was not necessarily a pleasant one, the pleasure a person derived from fitting in or being a part of a peer group was undeniable. In either case, the person found a way to feel good. The person found an effective coping strategy that was immediate and effective.

A Downward Spiral

However, “feeling good” this way has certain inherent risks.  As a result of the euphoric effects of mood-altering substances, there is the potential for a downward spiral. It is what the “feel good” does to a person that can create problems.  Due to the euphoric effects brought on by a substance, there can be a tendency to depend on the substance or the behavior as a means of relief or a coping strategy.  Often, a person begins to neglect the natural support systems around them in favor of the instantaneous effects of a substance.  As a result, important functional areas of a person can begin to deteriorate.  What was once a source of support such as family, friends, hobbies, career, health, are now neglected in favor of “getting high.”

Level of Functioning and Well-Being

The level of functioning areas refers to key specific developmental areas of a person’s life.  These include the following areas:  intrapersonal, interpersonal, social, familial, vocational, physical, and spiritual.  It is believed that how a person functions in these specific areas plays a major role in how effectively a person maintains a healthy and productive lifestyle regardless of genetic make-up.  It is also believed that these particular areas play an instrumental role in both the addictive and the recovery processes.

From the perspective of the addictive process, most of the stress that is produced emanates from one or more of these areas.  As a person begins to negotiate the developmental life cycle, each of these areas presents new and evolving challenges. Whether it is transitioning from childhood to adolescence, leaving home to attend college, getting married or divorced, relocation, or simply raising children, there is always going to be a challenge, and the subsequent stress of that challenge is always confronting the person.  This is not to say that these challenges are bad.  Often, these challenges are what make a person grow and feel a sense of self-worth.  However, these challenges also bring a degree of stress.  As a result of these challenges, a person is subject to the potential dysregulation in the neurochemistry of the brain.  The resultant symptoms that may occur, which may even be “normal feelings”, i.e., feeling sad and angry due to the loss of a job, can trigger a person to seek relief.  For many, the use of substances is that viable relief, which can also be the beginning of a learned behavior that results in the addictive process.

From the standpoint of the recovery process, the level of functioning areas can be viewed as new potential sources of dopamine.  The development of skills and the ultimate successful functioning of a person in any of these areas can bring about a sense of competence and self-esteem.  Although it is important to help a person to stop drinking and drugging, it is equally as important that the person begin to develop, refine, and maintain their skills in the level of functioning areas.

The following level of functioning areas are considered to be important markers as they relate to a person’s ability to adapt successfully to the environment and ultimately to develop a strong sense of self which is particularly important in developing healthy coping skills.  The belief is that the stronger the skills a person has in these areas, the stronger their recovery is going to be.  It is important to note, however, that there is no set way to function in these areas.  The key question is whether the person has developed the necessary skills to deal with the stressors in these areas.  It is also important to determine whether these skill sets have been productive coping skills.  Furthermore, has the person developed the necessary skills in these areas to not only have an avenue of relief and support but to have these areas be a source of pleasure and happiness?

A person’s level of functioning areas can be viewed as follows:

Intrapersonal

     This refers to how a person views both their sense of self and the world.  It is a person’s general belief system about how they need to function in the environment at hand. How a person views their self can have a major influence on the behaviors a person adopts and uses to adapt to their perceived environment.  Does the person see themselves as an “addict” who is likely going to relapse? Or, do they see themselves as a person who is recovering from a “disease,” a biological illness, ready to get back into life?  Is a person excited about the prospect of recovery or are they frightened? In all of these cases, the meaning that a person gives to their perception of what is occurring is going to influence their behavior and their behavior is going to influence their perception.  perception plays a significant role in the approach to life.  So too for the person suffering from an addiction, it is important for that person to understand their personal belief systems and how those beliefs have been an asset and a detriment in their life.

Questions to Ask:

  • How do I feel about myself?
  • How well do I know and understand myself?
  • What characteristics do I like or dislike about myself?
  • What kind of language do I use in my self-talk and inner monologue?
  • How do I handle successes and challenges?

Intrapersonal Principles to Live By:

  • Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, access and express inner feelings and emotions.
  • The more self-confidence one has, the easier it is to meet people and to form healthy relationships.
  • Understanding one’s self leads to understanding others, which helps to resolve conflicts constructively.
  • Having high intrapersonal skills provides tools to adjust to new situations and change more quickly and with less stress.
  • Live life with honesty and integrity – dishonest and negative actions result in guilt and shame.
  • Develop patience and impulse control – take time with decisions rather than use knee-jerk reactions.
  • A strong sense of self enables one to be more resilient against negative behavior that is aimed at oneself.
  • Increasing self-esteem enables one to lead with one’s own values rather than follow the values of others.
  • Expressing internal self through externals – dress, groom, and act in ways that reflect your higher self.
  • High intrapersonal skills are connected to academic, career and life success.

10 Ways to Develop Intrapersonal Skills

  1. Set aside quiet time alone to meditate and to reflect upon one’s inner self.
  2. Identify and write down thoughts throughout the day and begin to turn negative thoughts around to positive ones.
  3. Start a gratitude journal by writing down five things for which you are grateful every day.
  4. Ask someone close to you to do an inventory of your positive aspects and what you can improve upon.
  5. Make a list of your values – evaluate if your values and behavior changes when around other people.
  6. Write your life story in the third person describing how that character (i.e., you) overcame challenges.
  7. Study a biography of a great person whom you aspire to emulate.
  8. Examine your wardrobe by evaluating what items will help you feel good about yourself and gain self-respect.
  9. List impulses that you have during the day and what you did instead of acting on them.
  10. Record your daily successes and positive behaviors, however big or small.

Interpersonal

This refers to how a person interacts and negotiates with others in a relationship system.  It refers to the ability to recognize the uniqueness of others as well as the varying needs of others and that the needs of others may conflict with own.  Another important facet of this area is the ability of a person to recognize the interdependence that exists in a relationship.  Interdependence refers to the ability to feel comfortable in being dependent on someone else, yet, at the same time, knowing they have the capacity to be independent.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • How well do I deal with others?
  • How do I resolve conflict?
  • What are my behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs towards others who are similar/different from me?
  • How well do I work as a team player? As a leader? As a follower?
  • How do I build trust and respect from my friends, families, bosses and co-workers?

Interpersonal Principles to Live By

  • Set your own high standards for what is healthy and positive behavior – do not just follow the crowd.
  • Evaluate people based on their actions rather than projecting your own biases and prejudices onto them.
  • Do not be afraid of authority figures – respect them as needed but know that you have your own power that can never be taken away.
  • Be a good team player – know when to take leadership and when to follow orders.
  • Deal with a conflict head-on – be honest with yourself and the conflict so that it does not become a greater problem.
  • Take responsibility for what you did to others in the past and change what you can in the present.
  • Share and express your feelings with others – let people into your world.

10 Ways to Improve Interpersonal Skills:

  1. Find three people you have not met and ask them questions about themselves.
  2. Make or buy a gift that shows appreciation for someone who has helped you.
  3. Share with someone with whom you feel safe something about which you are embarrassed.
  4. List negative behaviors of someone you dislike and then evaluate how you have similar behaviors.
  5. Find one positive thing about the people around you and let them hear it.
  6. Keep track of the number of times you smile in a day and then increase that amount the next day.
  7. Offer to do something nice for somebody without expecting anything in return.
  8. Spend the day talking to people without saying any negative statements or voicing any complaints.
  9. Take 10 minutes every day to set aside time to talk to a loved one about issues.
  10. Actively listen by not responding verbally to someone’s comments or advice and consider what they say.

Social

This refers to the social life and established social network that the person uses for support, recreation, and general relaxation. The social network can include friends, organized groups or clubs, hobbies, recreational activities, and other various outlets used to promote support and relaxation.  Social supports in a person’s life are extremely important since they play a crucial role in reducing stress as well as building healthy relationships with others.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • What healthy outlets do I have to be social and connect with others?
  • How comfortable am I when I meet new people?
  • What kind of activities do I like to do?
  • How can I make sober friends?
  • What are ways that I can attract positive people in my life?

Principles to live by when making and keeping friends:

  • The more positive you become the more you will attract positive people.
  • Do not get too comfortable and fall back on friends who are a bad influence.
  • There is someone for everyone – people will like you despite your flaws.
  • When you isolate yourself you are building your own prison.
  • Do not be afraid of rejection – the more you try the higher the odds are of acceptance.
  • Share of yourself – open up to others about who you are and do not be afraid to be vulnerable.
  • Focus on the people who like you – not everyone is going to like you and that is fine.
  • Do not let negative self-thoughts exist in your mind; when they appear, focus on positive thoughts.
  • Face to face interaction is always best – if you meet or communicate online meet up in person.
  • Sincerity goes a long way – people can tell if you are not honest or appropriate in your motives.
  • Have a positive outlook on people – nobody is perfect and everyone just wants acceptance.
  • Do not settle for a social network that is anything less than one that will move you forward in life.
  • Remember that the person you meet is feeling just as awkward and unsure of themselves as you are.
  • Be open to people different than you- you always have at least one thing in common with someone.
  • Take initiative – challenge yourself and make the first step in initiating a friendship.
  • Do not get discouraged – attracting new, positive people takes time.

10 Ways to Build a Positive, Healthy Social Life:

  1. Start with someone you know through work, school, church, support group or a friend of a friend.
  2. Explore a hobby about which you are passionate about and join a club or take a class related to it.
  3. Follow the news and pop culture so that you have something about which to talk.
  4. Volunteer with a cause in which you believe and actively participate in the organization.
  5. Make a list of values and characteristics you want to see in yourself and in the people around you.
  6. Plan how you will start a conversation at a social gathering and try it out on someone new.
  7. Make a habit out of collecting people’s contact information so you may follow up with them later.
  8. Plan to do an activity or attend an event you enjoy and invite others to join you.
  9. Attend a social networking event in a field that you are or would like to be in.
  10. Ask someone you respect to tell you what you can improve on when meeting new people.

Family

     Family refers to both the immediate and extended family and/or kinship system with whom a person has been intimately and emotionally involved over the years.  The “family” are those people, not necessarily blood related, who still continue to play a role in providing support, sustenance, and are likely to have an on-going involvement in the life of a person.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • What does family mean to me?
  • What unresolved issues do I have with my family?
  • How can I improve my relationships with my family?
  • What kind of family do I want to have?
  • How can I become a positive and inspiring family member?
  • In what ways can I better communicate with my family better?

Principles to live by when dealing with and understanding your family

  • Have compassion for your parents – parenting is the hardest and most demanding task in the world.
  • Learn to forgive – if a family member treated you poorly or hurt you, chances are the same thing was done to them when they were growing up.
  • Discover and evaluate your boundaries as an individual and as a family member.
  • Family relationships and conflicts can reflect to you on what you need to work to improve yourself.
  • Be responsible for yourself – take responsibility for the things you can and cannot change about you and your family.
  • Unspoken family rules oftentimes speak louder than spoken rules.
  • Family roles and behaviors shifts after significant crises and events.
  • The more you understand your family, the more you understand yourself.
  • Take the path of least resistance – family power struggles can be more trouble than they are worth.
  • Birth order plays a major part in your role in your family and your personal life.

10 Ways to Improve Your Family Life:

  1. Write down what you consider as your family, blood-related or not, and evaluate each relationship.
  2. Spend an hour or more every week or month with family members with whom you do, and do not, get along.
  3. Build a family tree – ask your parents and relatives about your family history.
  4. Research your cultural background and list the values that you and your family have adopted from this.
  5. Interview a family member about their life history and write a short biographical story about them.
  6. Make a list of values and characteristics that you want to have in forming your own family.
  7. Write down your unresolved family issues and share it with a therapist or a loved one.
  8. Enroll in family or couples counseling or take a course in family communication.
  9. Make a list of values and beliefs you have adopted from your family and evaluate if they are right for you.
  10. Identify family taboo topics and think of ways to approach these topics in a non-threatening way.

Professional/Vocational/Academic

     This refers to how a person has progressed through their life as it relates to their academic, career, and professional development.  This is important because many people spend the majority of their time in life on the job.  A good question for someone to ask oneself is whether or not they are satisfied and fulfilled with what they are doing. Because life is often very precarious and presents conflicting demands, it is always important to evaluate whether one is where one wants to be.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • What are my short and long-term professional goals?
  • How can I work towards advancement in my field?
  • How do I present myself in the job force?
  • What are ways I can show leadership and initiative in my job?
  • How can I build upon and strengthen my skills for my job or career field?
  • How well do I get along with my supervisors, colleagues, co-workers, and employees?

Principles to live by when building your professional skills

  • Everyone was born with a purpose in life – find ways to use your purpose in your career.
  • Dress appropriately for the job, or one notch higher than what is expected.
  • Think about your job as being a way to give back to humanity.
  • No job is beneath you – there is always something to learn from every job that helps you in the future.
  • Identify your passion and find ways to express that passion in your job.
  • Keep up with the competition – meet the minimum requirements for your field and go beyond them.
  • Take leadership and initiative in your job – set a higher standard for your company.
  • Leave the office gossip behind – form strong relationships with co-workers and work as a team.
  • Take measures for self-care – you are more productive and positive at work if you are not burnt out.
  • Take advantage of job trainings and workshops – continually improve your job skills.
  • Know and understand what you value in life and build your job around those values.
  • Challenge yourself – get feedback from your boss and peers about how to push your self further.

10 ways to develop professional skills:

  1. Write down the activities you enjoy and find ways to incorporate these into your field of work.
  2. Make an inventory of the skills/strengths you have in your field and which other leaders in your field also have.
  3. Enroll in school or a course that will move you toward your professional goals.
  4. List your professional goals and share it with anyone and everyone around you.
  5. Evaluate and identify any issues with authority and develop address them.
  6. Examine what is in your closet and begin to develop a professional or work-appropriate wardrobe.
  7. Ask your friends and family at what you are good and on what you need to improve for the workforce.
  8. Take a course or read a book on how to develop leadership skills.
  9. Read the biography of a leader in your field and take notes on how they got where they are.
  10. Write an obituary of what you achieved in your life, then work backward on how to reach those goals.

Health and Physiology

This refers to the health and physical conditioning of a person. It also refers to whether or not a person has reached their goal regarding their health and physical conditioning.  Even people with chronic illness and conditions have the ability to improve.  It has been well documented that eating properly and doing consistent exercise not only makes us healthier, it also strengthens the immune system. The body has often been referred to as the temple of our mind.  If our body is not fit, our mind is not going to reach its highest potential.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • What is the overall state of my body?
  • How much exercise do I do on a daily/weekly basis?
  • What am I doing to nourish the body?
  • How can I increase my energy through natural, beneficial ways?
  • How can I motivate myself to take great care of my health?

Principles to live by for developing health and physical skills

  • Small steps towards a healthier lifestyle are better than a complete overhaul of your current lifestyle.
  • Restlessness and boredom may be your body’s way of telling you to get up, stretch or exercise.
  • Annual physical examinations by a doctor must be an integral part of any health program, especially since they can help identify latent problem areas.
  • Getting off drugs will help reveal physical, sleep and/or eating issues that were previously covered up.
  • Everything in moderation – cross-addictions can make you go overboard on exercise or diet plans.
  • Regular sleep is important – wind down by the end of the day, go to bed early and wake up early.
  • For illnesses and physical issues, explore natural remedies and alternative therapies when possible.
  • Sugar cravings can become strong when detoxing from drugs – choose natural sugars from fruit and vegetables as much as possible.
  • Think of your body like a vehicle that needs to be cleaned regularly and maintained daily for maximum potential.
  • Staying physically active helps maintain and build a more positive self-image and world outlook.
  • Pain, discomfort, and ailments are temporary and will pass like everything else.
  • Cut down on cigarettes and stop smoking through cessation methods
  • Treat your body to massages, chiropractor, and other alternative therapies.
  • Vary your physical exercise and activities to prevent stale health regimens.
  • Give your body time to adjust to new health activities – feeling physically better comes over time.

10 Ways to a Healthy Lifestyle:

  1. Start your morning with stretching and light exercise for 20 minutes while listening to energizing music.
  2. Develop a daily/weekly schedule of all activities involving movement and/or exercise.
  3. Explore and use your insurance benefits or get on to a health care insurance plan for prevention.
  4. Identify and approach someone reliable to be your exercise buddy or health monitor.
  5. Enroll in a cooking class focused on making simple healthy meals.
  6. Join a gym, fitness class and/or sports team in your neighborhood.
  7. Take short evening walks after dinner.
  8. Plan and shop for meals and healthy snacks for the week.
  9. Sign up with a nutritionist to evaluate your current health habits and to develop a new program.
  10. Keep a food journal to find out what you are putting into your body on a daily basis.

Spirituality

     This refers to a sense of purpose and meaning in one’s life.  It is the ability of a person to bring meaning to their life experiences and to make sense of one’s e experiences and how they can contribute to others.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • What is your sense of a higher power?
  • What are your spiritual values and beliefs?
  • How do you connect to nature? How do you connect to others? To the universe?
  • To whom or what do you turn when you are facing a challenge?
  • How much faith or trust do you have in what life has in for your future?
  • What are ways to build upon or strengthen your spiritual values, beliefs, and faith?

Spiritual Principles to Live By

  • Trust in what the universe has for your future – you are infinite potential and creativity.
  • Human beings all share the same core essence – treat others as you would like to be treated.
  • There are no mistakes or coincidences – you are where you are at for a reason and purpose.
  • Observe your choices and actions – there are causes and effects to all your actions.
  • Avoid religious debates and arguments – instead discuss and identify common spiritual principles and values.
  • Every moment is an opportunity to begin with a fresh new perspective on life.
  • Give up your sense of control – it is illusory anyway and, instead, trust the universe to provide for the future.  Surrender.
  • Plant the seed of intention and water it – ask for help on what you want from life and it will blossom.
  • Nothing external will ever fill what is perceived to be lacking within – go internally to discover what is full and perfect as it is.
  • Discover your true Self – one purpose of life is to find out who and what you are and what you are not.
  • Understand Spirit/God/Universe with direct experience and choose your own spiritual path.

10 Ways to Improve Your Spiritual Life:

  1. Spend a few minutes each day sitting alone in silence.
  2. Volunteer for a social service agency and give back to your community.
  3. Take a walk in nature and observe the flowers, trees, and grass with childlike wonder.
  4. Make a list of all the positive things that have happened in your life and see them as miracles.
  5. Visit churches, temples and religious/spiritual groups and find the right one that speaks to your heart.
  6. Collect peaceful, calm, spiritual songs and put them on a playlist or CD to listen to every night.
  7. Make a sacred space in your room that is reserved just for yourself and includes items that symbolize what you value in your life.
  8. Interview those close to you and those you respect about their spiritual values and practices.
  9. Read a spiritual book or gather spiritual writings that help inspire you.
  10. Develop a personal ritual to dispose of past hurts and wrongs and let go of the past

New Sources of Dopamine

It is important to remember that individuals in the early part of recovery are going to experience a great deal of pain and discomfort. However, what has been emphasized repeatedly herein, this pain and discomfort may not be related as much to the physiological dependence and subsequent withdrawal to a substance as to the general lack of dopamine in the neurobiological system.

Research has demonstrated that the use of substances depletes, and even in certain cases extinguishes, the natural dopamine supply of a person.  Studies have shown that dopamine receptors can remain depleted for as much as two years for those addicted to “crack” cocaine and methamphetamines. Although other studies have suggested that the increased functioning of dopamine receptors can be brought back online in the brain much quicker via behavioral stimulation and change, a sense of well-being may still take time to develop. The challenge is for the person to develop new sources of dopamine.

The Paradox of Recovery: the Pain Source is the Pleasure Source

One of the interesting paradoxes in the recovery process is that the new source of dopamine may very well come from the old sources of pain and discomfort, namely our relationship systems in the core level of functioning areas.  As previously mentioned, pain and discomfort comes from the aforementioned life experiences which include the intrapersonal, interpersonal, family, social, professional, as well as our physical and spiritual conditioning.   These are the same areas that also have the potential to provide a person with an unlimited source of well-being and pleasure. The development of these areas has the potential to be the new dopamine source.

The problem is these areas of a person’s life have been seriously neglected because of the addictive behaviors, or in the case of people who have been addicted since their early teens, these areas have never really been developed at all.  However, it is in these very areas of a person’s life that has the unlimited potential to increase self-esteem, provide a natural network of support, and to provide a person with a real sense of belonging, nurturing, and love.  Although a person newly into recovery has a mountain of work ahead of them, they also have an untapped source of pleasurable fulfillment.

As a person once said when he came into treatment,

I came into treatment because my life was miserable and unmanageable. Now that I am clean and sober, I realize that my life is even more miserable than I thought but I now know it can be more manageable. I am in a black tunnel, not a black hole.  The miracle is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know what I need to work in order to get better.”

 

For over 25 years, Thomas G. Beley, Ph.D., LCSW has worked in the field of addictions and mental health. Over the decades of helping people who struggle with drugs, alcohol and mental health disorders, Doctor Beley has proven to be an expert clinician and an innovative and compassionate leader. Palm Partners Recovery Center is proud to have an executive team with experience and incredible commitment to helping others. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Alcohol and Heart Disease: The Cardiovascular Damage of Drinking

Alcohol and Heart Disease: The Cardiovascular Damage of Drinking

Author: Justin Mckibben

Almost a year ago, I walked into a local urgent care clinic with a knot in my chest. I had been experiencing palpitations and chest tightness on-and-off for a month or more, and this particular morning my heart rate felt through the roof, just sitting at my desk. No more coffee than usual, but some new vitamins, and my anxiety didn’t help.

Once in front of a doctor, they opted to perform an EKG. In doing so, they noticed an irregularity and recommended I see my primary care as soon as possible.

A few weeks later, after EKGs, X-rays and an echocardiogram, it was determined I have aortic insufficiency… at 28 years old.

Also known as aortic regurgitation, what this means is that the aortic valve of my heart leaks, causing blood to flow in the reverse direction during ventricular diastole, from the aorta into the left ventricle. In short, it means that the cardiac muscle has to work harder. At 28 years old, I got my own cardiologist and check in every 6 months to make sure I won’t need medication or surgery.

When I first started with testing, my doctor asked about my history with drugs and alcohol. As a recovering alcoholic with years of mixing a lot of whiskey with a lot of prescription drugs that didn’t belong to me, it was the first time I realized what years of drinking and drug use does to the body. Which lead me to wonder just how much cardiovascular damage drinking can do to the human body.

And that is the story of how alcohol broke my heart.

Some research shows few drinks in moderation can actually be beneficial to you. But what about the very real relationship between alcohol and heart disease?

Alcohol and Heart Disease: What is “Good” Drinking?

For a long time, there has been a general idea that alcoholic drinks can be good for your heart. There is some truth to this but only understand certain circumstances. We can’t all drink a case of beer every day and expect our bodies to reward us. In fact, the only way to drink to your health is in moderation, and that doesn’t even apply to everyone.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), moderate drinking is:

  • One drink a day for women
  • One to two drinks a day for men

The definition of “one drink” by this standard is:

  • 12 ounces of beer or wine cooler
  • 4 ounces of wine
  • 5 ounces of 80-proof liquor
  • 1 ounce of 100-proof liquor

Some suggest these kinds of drinks can help prevent heart problems. However, a healthy diet and regular exercise provide the same benefits in a more sustainable way. Not only that, drinking more than in moderation can increase several serious risks, such as:

Any impacts of alcohol have to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Each individual’s body may react differently depending on their health in general. Certain pre-existing conditions can make consuming alcohol far more dangerous and outweigh any possible benefits. Not to mention, the AHA states that doctors aren’t actually sure if the supposed health effects of “good” drinking come from the alcohol or from other good lifestyle choices.

So before you get too caught up in the idea of how “good” drinking helps heart health, consider the many risks to the cardiovascular system with alcohol and heart disease.

Alcohol and Heart Disease: Cardiovascular Damage

Part of the cardiovascular system includes the heart and blood vessels. The heart pumps the blood around the body, via blood vessels through arteries, capillaries, and veins. Our blood is the current that delivers nutrients all over the body, and that same life-line also carries alcohol and other materials. So of course, it would only make sense that the presence of alcohol impacts the cardiovascular system.

While drinking, alcohol can cause temporary increases in blood pressure and heart rate. Therefore, excessive drinking can lead to on-going side effects, especially when someone overconsumes for an extended time. So what kind of cardiovascular damage connects alcohol and heart disease?

Hypertension

High blood pressure is when the blood is pumping with exaggerated force through the arteries. Regularly consuming alcohol above the national guidelines for moderation can cause hypertension or high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can lead to hardening and thickening of the arteries and is a serious risk factor for stroke or heart attack.

Increase in Heart Rate

Alcohol affects the way the heart beats and the time between heartbeats. Studies have indicated that regular heavy drinking can cause episodes of tachycardia.

Tachycardia is an increase in heart rate due to problems in the electrical signals that actually produce the heartbeat.

Regular episodes of tachycardia can cause other serious complications, including blood clots that lead to a stroke or heart attack.

Cardiomyopathy

The human heart is the critical muscle that sends oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body. It is a complex organ, but it’s ability to contract is due to the muscle layer within the heart wall. Damage to the heart muscle is called cardiomyopathy, and heavy alcohol consumption causes cardiomyopathy.

Dilated cardiomyopathy causes weakened heart muscle. This condition enlarges the four chambers of the heart, which results in weaker contractions. Weak contractions make it harder for blood to circulate the body.

These issues can eventually lead to congestive heart failure when the heart is not able to pump enough blood to fulfill the needs of the body.

Arrhythmia

Before we talked about tachycardia- which is when the heartbeat is too fast. That is one form of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. Another form of arrhythmias is bradycardia- when the heartbeat is too slow. Either one can lead to cardiac arrest and stroke.

Alcohol has been found to be a primary cause of acute cardiac rhythm disturbances.

One type of arrhythmia caused by alcohol is atrial fibrillation. This is when the upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of beating normally. It can cause blood that has not left the heart’s atrium to pool and clot. If a blood clot then breaks off and is with the bloodstream, it can lodge into an artery within the brain and cause ischemic stroke.

Alcohol and Heart Disease: Stroke and Heart Attack

Beyond the many ways alcohol can cause long-term damage to the heart, there are two heart disease that can be the direct result of alcohol use.

Stroke

Alcohol consumption can lead to two types of strokes.

  1. Ischemic stroke

This kind of stroke is the result of a blockage of an artery supplying blood to the brain tissue. It can result from a clot that has formed in the artery or from a foreign body breaking off and lodging in the artery.3Alcohol increases the risk of ischemic stroke because it can:

  • Cause a clot due to irregular heartbeat and weakened the heart muscle
  • Create high blood pressure which can result in a foreign body such as plaque to break off and enter the bloodstream.
  • Raise the levels of fat in the blood. If a clot forms in a clogged artery, this can cause a stroke.
  1. Hemorrhagic stroke

This results from tearing and bleeding of an artery that supplies blood to brain tissue. Alcohol increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke by causing high blood pressure. Hypertension can create weak points on artery walls, including those in the brain, increasing the chance of them bleeding due to the force of high pressure.

Both kinds of strokes can result in:

  • Disruption of blood flow to brain tissue
  • Loss of motor functions
  • Loss of sensory functions

Having a stroke can also damage other systems in the body, including:

  • Skeletal system
  • Muscular system
  • Respiratory system
  • Digestive system
  • Urinary system

Heart Attack

The human heart needs oxygen to keep pumping. A heart attack is actually what happens when an artery that supplies the heart with oxygen is reduced or cut off completely.

Blood flow to the heart can be blocked due to the gradual buildup of plaque, fat, and cholesterol that narrows the coronary arteries. Alcohol consumption can increase fat levels in the blood. High levels of bad cholesterol can clog arteries and if a piece of plaque breaks off, clot forms and a heart attack can result.

Because the heart is such a complex organ, alcohol and heart disease is a complex issue. However, there is a pretty simple conclusion we can come to- excessive alcohol use does raise the risks of heart disease.

Watch for symptoms of heart problems, including:

  • Chest discomfort: pain/tightness/pressure
  • Nausea/Indigestion/Heartburn
  • Pain that spreads to the arm
  • Dizziness/Lightheadedness
  • Throat or jaw pain
  • Getting easily exhausted
  • Sweating
  • A long-lasting cough
  • Swelling in legs, feet, and ankles
  • Irregular heartbeat

Alcohol and Heart Disease: Fighting the Statistics

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 610,000 people die in the United States every year from heart disease.  However, a recent report on heart disease by the American Heart Association shows that in 2017, cardiovascular disease, listed as an underlying cause of death, accounts for nearly 801,000 deaths in the United States.

That is 1 in every 3 deaths.

The AHA report states that about 2,200 Americans die every day from cardiovascular disease.

That is an average of 1 death every 40 seconds.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Cardiovascular diseases actually claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease COMBINED! Every day, around 92.1 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of a stroke.

Excessive alcohol use is one of many factors that put people at an elevated risk of heart disease. Perhaps a big part of fighting back against the growing statistics of heart disease-related deaths is to fight back against a culture of chronic and excessive alcohol consumption. For those struggling with alcoholism, there is of course even more risk of severe damage to the body. Binge-drinking and other forms of alcohol abuse may be doing more long-term harm than you realize to that piece of muscle that keeps you going.

Alcohol and Heart Disease: Show Your Heart Some Love

Learning from my own experience, I can say the relationship between alcohol and heart disease should be taken very seriously. It is easy to shrug it off when you don’t feel the effects right away, but there is a chance you will start feeling the devastating of excessive drinking sooner than you expect. I always knew that my grandfather, a heavy drinker, and smoker all his life, died years before turning 60 due to heart attacks and a stroke. But I never thought that I would have to get my heart looked at every six months years before I turn 30.

There are subtle signs to watch out for that could indicate you have a heart problem, including:

  • Extremely fatigue
  • Swelling feet
  • Migraines
  • Extreme pain when walking
  • Getting dizzy or lightheaded
  • Shortness of breath, even though you’re fit
  • Hearing your heart beat when you’re trying to sleep
  • Experiencing anxiety, sweating, and nausea all at once

While some of these are not alone a guarantee that you have a heart problem, they can be warning signs to consider.

When it comes to the issue of excessive drinking and alcoholism, one should always note that getting off alcohol is not always easy. Experts do not recommend people with alcohol dependence abruptly stop cold turkey, because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening. In order to safely and effectively discontinue alcohol abuse, a medical detox program is crucial. The health complications associated with an alcohol addiction should not be underestimated. Show your heart some love by seeking a recovery program that focuses on overall health and wellness for each individual.

Part of your recovery is listening to your heart and your body, and taking steps to heal holistically.

For over 20 years, Palm Partners Recovery Center has focused on providing personalized recovery programs for each individual. Our goal in doing so is to ensure every person has the opportunity to create a happier and healthier future. Each level of care is designed to not only help you stop using drugs or alcohol, but also to help you nurture your mind, body, and spirit. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs?

Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs?

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

This is arguably one of the most difficult questions to answer regarding drug addiction without being met with contention and passionate opposition. The troubling part is, despite the fact that the medical community, including the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has taken a strong stance on classifying addiction as a disease, others still argue that it is a condition that only exists out of lack of personal responsibility or moral willpower. Stigma against addicts was the driving force behind the way the world understood addiction for so long that now it is an uphill battle at times trying to detach from those old ideas.

Beyond the assumptions most people adopt as fact, science and psychology have taught us that addiction is far more complex and misunderstood than most can imagine.

Still, the great question is the “why” of it all, which is a far more debatable way to ask the question than the “how” of it. Even more debate could surround the perceived motivations, and more controversy comes from the “addiction is a choice” conversation. At first, let us look at what the research tells us.

Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs: The Brain

Now first, let us look at how addiction is defined according to medical science, offering the evidence from the ASAM.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) gave the most recent definition of addiction as a chronic brain disorder after a four-year process involving more than 80 experts. The ASAM definition notes that two decades of advancements in neuroscience convinced ASAM officials that addiction should be

defined by the activity present in the brain.

For instance, research has shown that addiction affects the brain’s reward circuitry to the point that memories of previous experiences with food, alcohol and other drugs or even sex can activate cravings and induce more addictive behaviors. Also, the brain circuitry that governs impulse control and judgment is altered in the brains of addicts.

Dr. Raju Hajela, former president of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine and chair of the ASAM committee on addiction’s new definition states:

“The disease creates distortions in thinking, feelings and perceptions, which drive people to behave in ways that are not understandable to others around them,”

“Simply put, addiction is not a choice. Addictive behaviors are a manifestation of the disease, not a cause.”

Dr. Hajela did, however, add that the idea of choice is not completely off the table, but that it is not about choosing addiction, but choosing recovery.

To be fair, there are also neuro-scientists like Marc Lewis, a psychologist and former addict himself; author of a new book “The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is Not a Disease” who believe that the brain is definitively reshaped by addiction, but do not think it should be classified as a ‘disease’. These scientists recommend cognitive behavioral therapy as a way to reshape the brain and redirect its systems into less self-destructive patterns. While they do disagree with the specifics of the ‘disease’ term, they stand by the neuroscience of addiction.

Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs: Chronic Medical Condition

Further exploring the definition of addiction as presented by the medical and scientific communities, we find that the American College of Physicians (ACP) calls addiction a “substance use disorder” and states that addictions to drugs should be considered a serious public health issue. The ACP states that substance use disorder is a chronic medical condition.

Several agencies have supported this definition of addiction, including:

  • The American Medical Association
  • The American Psychiatric Association
  • The Institute of Medicine
  • The World Health Organization

And if we are going to get really technical, the basic definition of “disease” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

-a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms

Examining this logic, it is clear that addiction meets all the criteria to be considered a disease. In fact, most definitions of disease are pretty spot-on with the nature of substance use disorder.

Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs: The Formula

Now that we have explored how addiction can qualify as a disease, let us look into the “why” of it. Some insist there is an ‘addiction gene’ that dooms people to addiction. Others say the reason people become addicted is because of their circumstances in life.

One might say there is a kind of ‘formula’ for addiction, but it would be one like X+Y=Addiction.

X= Genetics

Research has pointed toward biological differences that make people more or less susceptible to addiction. Certain genes, or combinations of genes, may result in someone’s brain and body developing dependence much faster than others with the same consumption.

So when someone says they drank the same as someone else, or did the same amount of drugs for the same amount of time, we need to understand that it doesn’t mean they will have the same reaction to those drugs. One of the main arguments people use to oppose the idea of addiction being a disease is comparing an addict to other people who drink and use drugs without being addicts… but science has shown us that is not how it works.

Then there is epigenetics, the study of functional, and sometimes inherited, changes in the regulation of gene activity that are not dependent on gene sequencing. In short, it means to examine how environmental exposures or choices people make can actually remodel (mark) the structure of DNA at the cell level or even at the level of the whole organism.

Y= Environment/Actions

Here is where we openly admit to the actions (i.e. choices) of individuals to influence the development of addiction. Someone’s environment and the way they react to it does contribute to developing an addiction. In general, research has shown that an individual’s health is the result of interactions between their genes and their environment. Of course the likelihood of addiction can be increased by factors like:

Studies from the Nation Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) support that an individual’s surroundings also have a particular impact on drug use. According to the NIDA,

“Exposure to drugs or stress in a person’s social or cultural environment can alter both gene expression and gene function, which, in some cases, may persist throughout a person’s life. Research also suggests that genes can play a part in how a person responds to his or her environment, placing some people at higher risk for disease than others.”

When someone starts addressing external issues with drugs or alcohol, it magnifies the problem. Those who are exposed to a different life-style will also have a different risk of developing a substance use disorder. This impacts those epigenetics we were talking about.

In the end, we can say that people use drugs and alcohol as a solution. It is the resource they turned to for escape, for excitement or for a feeling of ease and contentment. It was a powerful element they were able to reach to, that ultimately rewired their brain and changed their DNA.

Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs?

Some people will say that the Y of X+Y=Addiction model proves that addiction is a choice, not a disease. Well, to argue that choices can still create diseases, we can point out that in 2014 it was noted for the first time in history, “lifestyle diseases” killed more people than communicable diseases. Health care providers and public health officials have recognized for a very long time that unhealthy lifestyle behaviors are the root cause of several diseases, including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Some forms of cancer

Choices influence these conditions, which the medical community categorized as modifiable risk factors, including:

  • Poor dietary habits
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol overuse

People would argue still that someone who uses hard drugs knows the high risk and chooses. Well, don’t people who eat foods with low nutritional value and over-indulge in smoking while never exercising know the risks?

Recovery Works

Why do people become addicted to drugs? There are so many factors unique to the individual with that formula. Genetics, environment, actions, along with physical and mental health all play a part in how a substance use disorder develops, just like numerous other conditions. That is precisely why it is so important we start to recognize addiction as a disease; as a chronic medical condition and one that people should not be shamed and stigmatized for. All these elements of substance use disorder literally rewire the brain and rewrite the DNA.

Though this may seem like a lot of information, it covers barely a fraction of the research on this subject. There is no easy “why” to it, but there is enough to know why recovery is so important. Real recovery is not just removing the drugs, but also working to create new coping skills. Recovery takes work, and a great foundation can make all the difference.

Understanding addiction is one thing. But learning how to make the life in recovery that you deserve takes a strong beginning. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Transform Your Mornings: 10 Things To Do Before 10 AM

10 Things To Do Before 10 AM

Author: Shernide Delva

I am not a morning person. (yawns)

It is good to admit your weaknesses, right?

Still, despite my grogginess, I have been attempting to put together some sort of morning routine. After all, mornings set the tone for the rest of your day. In fact, a recent article recommends ten things we should all do before 10 A.M that are sure to improve our resilience and wellbeing for the rest of the day.

1 – HYDRATE

Hydration is so important, especially when you wake up in the morning. A cold glass of water jumpstarts your lymphatic and digestive system.  Plus, most people when they wake up are totally dehydrated. Starting your day with a glass of water allows for a healthy flow of oxygen, allowing you to stay alerted and energized. Trying to shed some pounds? Hydrating in the morning is excellent for weight loss because it curbs your appetite. Try having water with lemon instead of that sugary Frappuccino in the morning. Your body will thank you.

2 – STRETCH

The Mayo Clinic recommends stretching to improve flexibility and range of motion. Stretching is also an excellent stress reliever and a great way to start the day. Often we roll out of bed with body stiffness. Stretching allows us to reduce muscle tension making the body feel relaxed. Over time, stretching increases range of motion and reduces the risk of injury.

3 – PLAY MUSIC

Scientists have discovered that listening to music releases dopamine and stimulates a “feel good” experience. If you are a music lover, you probably already know that, but next time you are feeling the morning blues, why not listen to some tunes to perk up the day?

4 – SMILE

Smiling activates neural messaging, a trifecta chemical release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Even if you have to force it, smiling will help you reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and just make you feel happier. Get in the habit of doing something that will make you smile in the morning.

5 – MEDITATE

The benefits of meditation are endless. Most of us know this by now, yet never do it. Countless studies reveal how effective mediation can be at shifting our awareness. Meditation can help slow the aging process. It also benefits your heart and immune system. Most of all, it makes you happier.  Meditation can be daunting at first, but keep at it and eventually you will not want to go a day without it.

6 – BE GRATEFUL

Gratitude lists help put everything in perspective. Maybe your day is not going to be that great, however writing gratitude puts you in perspective instead of in a place of negativity. A gratitude mindset improves self-esteem, mental “grit” and physical health.

7 – TIDY UP

In the chaos of the morning, cleaning might seem like the last thing you would ever want to do. However, this one step can transform the outlook of your day. Make a habit of cleaning in the mornings. Make the bed, pick up clothes off the floor and take out the trash. Cleaning in the morning will improve your mental clarity, and you will be in a more relaxed space coming home to a clean house.

8 – REVIEW TODAY’S “ TO-DOS”

Having a planner is a great way of keeping track of your To-Dos of the day. In the morning, create a list of the tasks you are hoping to get done. Keep the list short. Having a lengthy list only sets you up for failure and negativity. Focus on the most important tasks and work your way through them throughout the week.

9 -WRITE AN AFFIRMATION

Self-affirmations help with improving your focus and problem solving. According to new research, self-affirmation was shown to boost academic grades of underperforming students.  Write something positive about yourself each day. It will improve your confidence and increase your drive for success.

10 – DO THE WORST FIRST

Tackle the hardest task first. It is natural to want to procrastinate doing something you do not want to do, but it is critical to do the worst things first. Put it behind you and watch your productivity soar. Maybe it is exercising or perhaps completing a major assignment. Get it out of the way and soar through the easy parts of your day afterward. Cheers!

What morning routine are you going to implement? Recovery is about learning a healthy way of life without the need for abusing substances. Learn to live your best life today. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Marijuana Use May Lead to Prediabetes

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Author: Shernide Delva

All across the country, marijuana reform continues to stir up controversy and make headlines. A few states have even legalized marijuana for recreational use. Other states remain focused on the medical benefits of the drug. Marijuana has gained significant attention for its medicinal benefits. Various studies show that marijuana can be beneficial for certain health conditions.

However, a new study reveals marijuana could increase the risk of developing prediabetes.  When a person develops prediabetes, their sugar levels become abnormally high yet not high enough to warrant a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

In the study, researchers discovered that people who used a large amount of marijuana in their young adulthood were 40 percent more likely to develop prediabetes as middle-aged adults compared to those who never tried the drugs.

These findings contradict past studies that showed marijuana reducing the risk of diabetes. Previous studies looking at marijuana use had found that users have lower rates of diabetes compared with nonusers. However, those studies only examined marijuana use during the time of the study.  Furthermore, it was unclear if the participants researched were using marijuana before they had diabetes, or afterward.

This is the first study to actually examine marijuana use over a period of years. Michael Bancks, lead author of the study, explained the reason for this new research.

“We felt we could address the potential limitations of previous research and add new information to our understanding of the relationship between marijuana use and subsequent metabolic health,” said Bancks.

It’s important to note that the study does not state that marijuana causes diabetes; it only says that it increases the risk of developing prediabetes. Marijuana was not linked to an increase risk of having type 2 diabetes.

The new study contradicts the recent evidence that marijuana may reduce the risk of diabetes. It’s unclear how marijuana can increase the risk of prediabetes, yet not diabetes, the study explains.

The study offered two possibilities for this observation.

  • For one, it’s likely that people who were more prone to developing diabetes were not included in the study because participants had to be free of diabetes at the time of the study.
  • Secondly, marijuana may have a larger impact on blood sugar levels in the prediabetic range than in the diabetes range.

More research is needed to study the possible link and future studies will look at different groups of people, how marijuana is consumed and the amount consumed.

Still, Bancks encourages doctors to discuss the potential risks of using marijuana with their patients. People who use marijuana should be aware that is could increase their risk of developing prediabetes. Doctors should monitor sugar levels with patients with “an extensive history of marijuana use,” Bancks stated.

As marijuana use becomes more prevalent, researchers are taking a hard look at the health effects of the drug. In 2014, researchers highlighted other health risks of marijuana use like increased risk of cognitive impairment and psychoses.

“There are many questions about the health effects of marijuana use where the answers are unknown,” Bancks said. “The increased legalization and use of marijuana will draw more attention from researchers and users, and we will learn more as research on the health effects of marijuana use increases.”

The study was conducted over 30 years and took into consideration factors such as age, sex, race, tobacco and alcohol use, education level, medication use, psycho-social well-being, and lifestyle factors like diet, exercise frequency, and other drug use. Although many were dropped out of the study over the course of 30 years, the remaining participants made up more than 2500 people.

More than half of the participants developed prediabetes and were 65 percent more likely to have prediabetes than those who did not smoke, the study conclude. Even among those who stopped smoking, their risk was 23 percent more likely than nonsmokers.

So although marijuana reform is a hot topic, marijuana is still a drug that could be detrimental to our health. Abusing any drug is not healthy.  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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