(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Social media and online networking are such a relevant aspect of our world today. With entire enterprises rising from online marketing, and children carrying smartphones, technology continues to be integrated into all areas of life by leaps and bounds. So with social media being utilized for basically every purpose, from personal to business, it is no surprise that some forward thinkers continue to find ways to put these all-encompassing outlets to good use.
Though stunning selfies full of filters, scenes of nature with inspiring quotes, and aesthetically perfect pictures of food dominate the Instagram app, the social media site isn’t void of some damaging content. Instagram is still used as a platform for some questionable photos, like pro-anorexia and pro-self-harm posts.
To fight back Instagram is now launching a new tool that allows users to issues. But they don’t stop there. The Instagram app also steps in to offer intervention options.
Instagram App VS Eating Disorders
The Instagram app already actively takes a stand on promoting positive mental health in some areas. It tried in 2012 to put a stop to pro-eating disorder posts. Often hashtags like #thinspiration and #ana are attached to these posts, so to prevent these tags from attracting admiration, the Instagram app tried to make these tags unsearchable. They also disabled accounts and added content advisories.
Some hashtags are banned completely, such as:
- #thinspo, short for the pro-anorexia phrase “thinspiration”
- #proana, another pro-anorexia phrase
Still, other potentially problematic tags fall into a gray area and are still allowed. The Instagram app had to witness the issue head-on when researchers examined 2.5 million posts between 2011 and 2014, also analyzing 15 pro-eating disorder hashtags that were banned or moderated. What they found was truly disheartening. For each banned/moderated hashtag, there was an average of 40 spin-off hashtags.
- #anorexia, as banned, there were 99 variations of the hashtag, such as- #anorexique or #anoexica
- #thighgap had variations of #thygap and #thigh gap
- #bulimia would be transformed into #bulimiah
According to the study, these variations even boasted more comments and more “likes” than the originals. So when the Instagram app tried to shut down the pro-eating disorder exploitation of their forum, users found loop-holes. Spin-off hashtags are also noted to exhibit a higher focus of self-harm related posts.
The Instagram app was trying to make a difference, but the fight evolved with their efforts. It is time to implement new strategies.
Now the Instagram app is putting some of the power to act in the hands of other users. Users can now anonymously flag posts about self-harm or other mental health issues, and Instagram will step in.
But Instagram isn’t militantly and automatically shutting down every post that gets flagged. Instead, the Instagram app is taking a compassionate and proactive approach. Once a picture is flagged, the user who put up the image will see a message offering help:
“Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we’d like to help.”
Then, the app will offer to connect them with a helpline, assistance in talking to a friend or getting tips. If Instagram app users search any of those questionable tags, they’ll also be directed to the same support page.
Instagram developed the new tool in dexterity by uniting with a variety of resources, including:
- National Eating Disorders Association
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
They even reached out to real people who have struggled with eating disorders, self-harm and suicidal thoughts personally to come up with the most effective and compassionate message. Instagram COO Marne Levine said in a recent interview that,
“We listen to mental health experts when they tell us that outreach from a loved one can make a real difference for those who may be in distress. At the same time, we understand friends and family often want to offer support but don’t know how best to reach out,”
“These tools are designed to let you know that you are surrounded by a community that cares about you, at a moment when you might most need that reminder.”
In this writer’s opinion, this is an awesome innovation. This doesn’t attack the individual making the post, but instead offers support and displays concern in a positive light. Not to say there is anything wrong with banning hashtags or other methods of regulating social media. This just seems like it does not isolate the individual as much, and instead shows someone who may be suffering care and kindness. Instead of silencing a cry for help or sweeping it under the rug, it puts a solution on the table.
This kind of intervention by the Instagram app not only tries to protect those who may be susceptible to the negative impact of these images, it also promotes mental health solutions through positive outreach.
Well done Instagram.
Eating disorders and other mental health disorders are often co-occurring with addiction or substance abuse. Understanding dual diagnosis and providing holistic treatment can be very essential for effective and lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling, please don’t wait. Call toll-free and find out how to get help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Probably one of the most disturbing articles I have written about my home state of Ohio is one I can’t ignore. Since the photo of the two parents overdose in a car with a child in the back seat first broke it has been covered by pretty much every national news entity. The images have flooded Facebook feeds and internet forums all day. The story has been emailed to me, messaged to me, even texted to me over and over again since the news was first published. Honestly, this image says a lot about what is really going on.
I’ve heard some people insisting the media is on some mission to shock us with these photos and the headlines it’s attached to, but this is the reality! People need to wake up! This is happening in every town, not just the City of East Liverpool, Ohio. This very same situation is reoccurring in rural counties and downtown areas across the nation. Something needs to change, and like I keep saying- we need to change it.
The difference here is that police officers decided to make a statement with the severity of this graphic picture; to tell the story that is happening to families everywhere with one heartbreaking and gut-wrenching hit to the soft spot of our society.
This is what we are doing to our children.
Not a Pretty Picture
The City of East Liverpool, Ohio took to Facebook to share two graphic photos taken by a police officer at the scene of a stop. The post on social media does note that making the photos public was a combined decision by the city administration, law director, and the police department.
In the image we can clearly see a couple that authorities described as overdosing on drugs in the front seat of a car. The mother’s body is hunched and folded over the center console in the front seat of the vehicle. Her face seems shrunken in and dead. The husband is buckled into the front seat, and has nodded out.
The photo is almost abstract. Like two images that obviously don’t belong have been pasted together. The parents in the front seat look as if any sign of color has been drained out of them- it is all so depressing it feels faded and lifeless… then right behind them, in a blue and green t-shirt with cartoon dinosaurs, sitting in what appears to be a car seat, is a 4 year old child. It is an unreal reality… a tragic and despairing truth.
The post that accompanied the pictures powerfully states:
“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”
So far this post is being both praised and criticized. At one point it had been shared on Facebook more than 12,000 times, and that was a few hours ago. By now that number has undoubtedly skyrocketed.
The Police Report
The police report detailing this story is also posted on Facebook. In the report East Liverpool police officer Kevin Thompson reviewed that on September 7 he was responding to a report of a Ford Explorer with a West Virginia license plate “driving very erratic weaving back and forth” before an abrupt stop in the middle of the road behind a school bus in the process of letting children off. Inside the vehicle the officer found two adults:
The driver, identified as James Acord, was speaking unintelligibly. Acord’s head was bobbing up and down, and eventually became unconscious during the stop. But before passing out Acord told the officer he was taking his front seat passenger to the hospital. The officer had to remove the keys from the vehicle as Acord made a last attempt to drive away.
The passenger, identified as Rhonda Pasek, was completely unconscious and “turning blue” according to Thompson.
Inside the car, police found a “yellow folded up piece of paper” between Pasek’s legs. Inside the paper officers discovered a “small amount of a pink powdery substance.”
Then there is the piece of this picture that has the country in an uproar- the little boy in the backseat. The child is now identified as Pasek’s son.
Thompson called for an ambulance and the emergency personnel. Once emergency services arrived they were able to administer the opiate overdose antidote, Narcan to both adults. After regaining consciousness Acord and Pasek were transported to East Liverpool Hospital.
Acord was eventually charged with
He plead no contest and was sentenced to 180 days in jail for two of those charges, but the stopping in a roadway charge was dropped. He will also have a 3 year suspension on his license and a $475 fine.
Pasek was charged with:
- Endangering children
- Public intoxication
- Not wearing a seatbelt
She plead not guilty and is held on $150,000 bond until her next court date, which is next Thursday.
At this time the 4 year old child is with Columbiana County Children’s Services.
This picture is not pretty to look at. It brings an ache to my chest and a sting to my eyes. I could cry for this child, and for his family. For the millions of people out there today with family who are doing the same thing to themselves and their children. The driver could have killed them all in a freak accident. Now… imagine the horror if he would have nodded out at the wheel and struck that school bus as it let kids off! How many more children could have been hurt?
What We Need to See
Some are outraged at the lack of privacy for the family. Many have insisted it is wrong to punish the two adults AND the child with a life haunted by this photo. I get it, and I’m an advocate for compassion instead of stigma and exploitation. It is truly troubling to know how harshly people will be judged by the images of them found online. Yet, I think things like this are what we need to see sometimes. It is a fine line to walk, but in the end there is a reality to the image that only something so intimate could convey- this is what we need to see.
What we need to see is how this epidemic is destroying the thing that most of us hold sacred- our families. While many people are upset about the images, I understand the local officials motives. The Facebook post confronts this controversy head-on:
“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis. The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that,”
We the addicts need to see this the dark and brutal truth. The sad and comatose body of an addicted mother dying only a few inches away from her child who is barely old enough to walk and talk on his own! We all need to see the truth of this disease. It is killing us, and it is putting everyone around us at risk- especially the ones we love most. We need to see the children and the communities we are hurting. This is the face of addiction as we often refuse to acknowledge it.
Addiction is killing our families every day. But there is help. Real recovery begins with a real foundation for a better future. We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
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If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
It’s Friday! Hope you had a wonderful week. This week, we wrap up the top crazy news stories that circulated all over social media. Tons of stories this week grabbed our attention and these are just a few that stood out to me that relate to addiction. Which one stood out to you?
1. Kris Jenner Offers Son $1 Million to Check Into Rehab
Would a million dollars get you sober? Kris Jenner seems to think it might work for her son. Recent reports have revealed that Kris Jenner is trying to get her son, Rob Kardashian sober by offering him a $1 million to check into rehab.
Rob Kardashian had struggled with weight gain and is rumored to have an addiction to painkillers, Xanax and other substances. The 28-year-old was recently diagnosed with type-2 diabetes after being rushed to the hospital for stomach problems in December.
“She thinks that one way to get through to him might be by using money,” a source close to the Kardashian family stated.
However, getting Rob Kardashian sober might not be Kris Jenner’s only motivation.
“Kris looks at Rob’s health crisis as a potential storyline for the show,” said the source. “She wants him to let cameras inside of his struggle because she believes that his downward spiral would make for great ratings.”
Jenner has reportedly ordered a private chef, psychologist, nutritionist and therapist to help her son, yet according to sources, she still has yet to go to the hospital to visit him personally.
2. Newlyweds Come Home to Airbnb Guests’ Cocaine-Fueled Orgy
I’ve heard of horrible wedding night stories but this one tops the cake. A couple, Justin Smith and Francisco Peres, came home on their wedding night to find a coke-fueled orgy happening in their home. First, we must premise this story by saying the couple had allowed renters to stay in their Montreal apartment through Airbnb after forgetting to disable instant booking.
If you do not know what Airbnb is, it’s a website for people to list, find, and rent lodging to each other. It basically works as a hotel however you are booking rooms in people’s homes and not hotel rooms. The couple had forgotten to remove the “instant booking” feature which allows customers to reserve a room without having to get approved from the host.
After realizing their error, the couple tried to cancel the reservation because it was their wedding night; however the guests begged and begged to stay since it was New Year’s Eve. They reluctantly agreed. Imagine their surprise when the newlyweds walked in and saw the place was a mess, with half the food in their kitchen eaten and the living room filled with garbage.
It gets worse. After grudgingly going to sleep, the couple was awoken to sounds at 5 a.m. of snorting cocaine, loud bangs and drunken stumbling and sex sounds. The morning after the aftermath, they awoke to strangers perusing their home. The renters apologized profusely and left a note seeking forgiveness for their behavior. They also helped to clean up the mess of the night.
“They’re like, 20-22, just being dumb kids but did their best to make it right,” Smith noted. “Still less than ideal way of starting my day, but could have been worse.”
3. Middle School Teacher Coach Charged with Taking Student’s Pills
A middle school teacher is facing felony charges for reportedly stealing her student’s antidepressant medication. Tania Gerving, who worked at Horizon Middle School in Bismarck, North Dakota, has been placed on administrative leave while officials conduct a full investigation. From Sept. 12. To Oct. 12, police placed surveillance camera in the school and observed Gerving entering an area where the school stored medication and opening a bottle sitting on the counter. She then put the pills in her pocket before placing the bottle back on the counter.
Officer Joshua Brown said Gerving has admitted to taking the pills without permission. She is not responsible for administering medication and would have no reason to handle them. Gerving was sentenced to jail with a set bail at $1500. She is not allowed to enter areas within Bismarck Public School District where controlled substances are stored and must wear a drug patch as a condition of her bond. Further action will depend on what happens with the criminal complaint in court.
4. Internet Addict Develops Painful Disease
Apparently, social media is bad for more than just your mental health. It can actually have serious physical side effects too. A notorious internet addict has developed a painful disease from hunching over her computer. Michele Gore spent 23 hours a day online at one point, which caused her to develop a painful stomach disease called Tietze disease at the age of 21.
After visiting her doctor, she was told that her addiction had put a strain on her rib cartilage, causing the inflammatory disorder – which is characterized by chest pain and swelling between the upper ribs. As a result, he was told to significantly reduce her time online. She realized the day after Christmas how much her addiction was controlling her life.
“I had the laptop wire round my leg, my headphones around my neck, my mobile under my pillow, my tablet charging on my bedside table and my Xbox and PlayStation controls at the foot of the bed. I thought, ‘this isn’t normal’,”she said.
Gore is now spending time away from the internet and is seeking professional treatment for her addiction. She hopes to raise awareness about the reality of internet addiction to others who may be suffering.
5. Tucson Starbucks Plans to Add Liquor to Menu
Residents at a local Starbucks chain are drinking more than coffee these days. A Starbucks at Tucson, Arizona is adding booze to its menu. A few years ago, select Starbucks locations began selling liquor as part of their “evening menu.” Now, many Starbucks locations are jumping on board.
Many customers are excited about the possibility of having a shot along with their double shot of espresso. Starbuck’s first announced in 2010 that they were considering adding wine and craft beer to the menu to help boost business after 4 p.m. when sales tend to dwindle.
However, some customers are concerned about their local coffee shop turning into a bar.
“Downside is that Starbucks has never really been an alcohol type of place so it could change just based on the environment,” customer Ben Strobeck said.
The city council will unanimously vote to approve the liquor license on Tuesday, Jan. 5. If the city council does approve the application, it would then move to the State Liquor Board, which has the final say. If all passes approval, alcohol could be at the Tucson location as early as spring.
There you have it. Your crazy news stories of the week. Now, you can feel grateful you are healthy and happy in your life in sobriety. However, if you are struggling, remember you are not alone. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Shernide Delva
Just last week, Massachusetts kicked off a five week campaign to combat the stigma of addiction. The campaign was launched in order to educate the public about addiction and the harms of stigmatizing behaviors.
Unfortunately, the stigma of addiction often prevents addicts from getting treatment even when they have a condition or illness completely unrelated to their drug use. They face judgment and discrimination because of their addiction issues that can prevent them from wanting to see their physicians.
The campaign to combat the stigma of addiction will broadcast on radio, billboards and digital ads. It will feature Massachusetts residents who have experienced stigma first hand. The campaign will also use social media and the hashtag #StateWithoutStigMA to join people together and spread the message further. Gov. Charlie Baker announced the campaign at a recent press conference.
“Studies show that stigmas can prevent people from getting into treatment—holding them back from recovery, stability and success,” said Gov. Baker. “This campaign is another effort to bend the trend and change the way we think about opioid misuse and addiction.”
The #StateWithoutStigMA webpage gives examples of stigma such as the negative connotation associated with words like junkie and druggie, or holding on to the idea of addiction as sign of human weakness, lack or morals, and willpower.
The website conducted interviews with people in recovery from opioids and found that the following were examples of stigma:
- Hurtful words such as junkie, lower; thief, druggie, abuser and addict
- Communities who view addiction as a crime, an act that must be penalizes versus an illness that needs treatment
- Addiction as a result of poor parenting
- Parents unwilling to let their children play with the children of parents in recovery
- Hospitals denying treatment or giving poor treatment to those with a history of addiction
- Those known to local law enforcement being “profiled”
Another facet of the campaign involved YouTube videos where viewers can watch and hear the personal stories of people who talk about how the stigma of addiction made their recovery significantly more difficult.
“I wouldn’t go to the hospital, just because I knew that as soon as I got there, as soon as they looked in my chart and saw that I had a history of heroin addiction or saw the abscess in my arm, I was instantly labeled a junkie,” said Stephanie in one video. “I was left in the hallway for hours, asking for a glass of water. I’d be ignored for hours.”
Drug abuse cannot be ignored like it was previously. It cannot be criminalized in that same manner that it previously was either. Substance abuse affects more than the bum on the treat. It is everywhere. It has reached epidemic levels in the United States Massachusetts is one of the first states to lead the charge to address the debilitating effect of stigmatizing addiction.
The Stigma of Opioid Addiction
When it comes to opioid addiction such as prescription painkillers and heroin, addicts face a wide range of stigma. Biased, hurtful and behavioral prejudices against people with substance use disorder often lead to their discrimination and social exclusion.
Overtime, stigmas can create physical and mental barriers for people with addiction to seeking treatment. Stigmas occur in three different facets and affect addicts in a personal way.
Personal Stigma: Self-disgust, self-hate at one’s appearance, behavior lifestyle and/or physical condition often resulting in feelings of being unworthy of help or recovery.
Social Stigma: Negative perceptions, labels and actions from friends and family; feeling isolated or rejected.
Institutional Stigma: Negative treatment from health care providers, the media, law enforcement, places of work or government agencies.
The campaign is fighting for people to be aware and discuss whether or not we are contributing negatively to the stigma. Are our biased feelings, words or behaviors negatively affecting someone else’s path to recovery and treatment? The campaign pushes for the public to look within and hopefully gain a more positive perspective. Furthermore, the campaign believes that everyone can be a part of the solution to support and encourage people in recovery.
Each of us can address the misconceptions about addiction and long-term recovery. Overcoming the stigma is an effort that will require coming together and raising awareness. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
In case you were still skeptical, social media has become a significant element of our society… definitely. We have evolved into a culture that circulates information and cultivates emotional and ethical responses based on the shares, likes and comments associated with our tweets, posts and pics. Social media has been credited with being both helpful and detrimental to depression depending on the context, and now there is another aspect of mental health that some suspect is being threatened by our threads.
A new study is suggesting that observing violent news events via social media can actually cause people to experience symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How much of an impact can our videos have, and could this be the beginning of a whole new brand of stress and trauma diagnosis?
Sharing Our Stress
Dr. Pam Ramsden from the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Bradford presented this concept back on Thursday May 7th 2015 at the Annual Conference of the British Psychology Society being held in Liverpool. Here Dr. Ramsden explained:
“The negative effects of exposure to other people’s suffering have long been recognized in roles such as professional healthcare workers. Various studies have documented the negative psychological reactions following indirect exposure to traumatized people called vicarious traumatization.”
This refers to incidences where individuals in several fields including healthcare professionals experienced trauma through others and ultimately were affected by that shared experience. Someone reliving their trauma and expressing it to another person can take a toll on that person. Hearing the grotesque and gruesome details can create a kind of second-hand shock and stress. Ramsden went on to say,
“Social media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the public in unedited horrific detail. Watching these events and feeling the anguish of those directly experiencing them may impact on our daily lives. In this study we wanted to see if people would experience longer lasting effects such as stress and anxiety, and in some cases post-traumatic stress disorders from viewing these images.”
So when we see something brutal or violent happen online through videos, images and dialog we can still feel that impact, even though some have suggested we become disconnected from the images and words on the screen and dehumanize the victims, it appears this is not always the case.
Assessing the Trauma
189 participants around the age of 37 years old with an almost even equal number of men and women completed a few tests for trauma including:
- Clinical assessments for PTSD
- A personality questionnaire
- A vicarious trauma assessment
- A questionnaire concerning different violent news events on social media or the internet
The violent events used for this test included the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks, school shootings and suicide bombings. The details of the examination indicated:
- 22% of participants were significantly affected by the media events
- 1/4 of those who viewed the intense internet images scored high on clinical measures of PTSD
The fact that these individuals scored high on clinical measures of PTSD was a very concerning development considering that they experienced this level of stress despite:
- They did not have previous trauma
- They were not present at the traumatic events
- They had only watched them via social media
There was also an increased risk for those with outgoing, extroverted personalities. So those social butterflies that are more likely to share and comment were also those that could be more sensitive to the effects of being exposed to violent and graphic material on social media.
So by exposing ourselves to such extreme and foul content we are increasing the risks of PTSD, and possibly even creating a whole new brand of it. Extensive research into the trend of internet addiction and some kind of dependence on social media has already begun, as debates continue on the influence social media makes on depression.
So is it safe to assume that with all the sway social media has over us that we should be careful of all the distasteful and uncensored stories and depictions we take in?
Are we as a society overloading ourselves online with images and audio that intoxicate our anxiety and compound with our already rattled reasoning to create new levels of trauma?
What new methods of diagnosis and treatment could come from PTSD inspired by social media?
For now we should remember that the impressions these sites have are real for some people. Some have been oppressed by these unstable emotional ties to their online lives, while others have been liberated by the sense of connection. Whatever way you believe, your social media can change your mind if you let it.
An issue like PTSD is nothing to take likely, and mental health has a serious impact on the quality of life and possibility of recovery for anyone struggling with substance abuse issues. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135