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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Drug Addiction And Its Very Real Medical Consequences

Parents and guardians who seek drug and alcohol treatment in North Carolina often do so out of an awareness of the consequences of addiction that go beyond the spiritual or an inability to get on with day-to-day life. Drug addiction has long been associated with various medical issues, ranging from stroke, cancer and mental disorders to lung or cardiovascular disease, many of which can be prevalent in drug-abusing young adults.

It is known from research that tobacco smoke, for instance, causes cancers of the throat, mouth, bladder, kidney and cervix, among other areas. Then, there are the certain drugs of abuse - like inhalants - that have a toxic effect on nerve cells, damaging or destroying them in the brain or the peripheral nervous system. Mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia also frequently co-exist with drug abuse, potentially preceding addiction, or even being triggered or exacerbated by it.

Specific abuse substances are linked to specific medical consequences. Those who use nicotine, for example - the addictive stimulant found in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco - put themselves at heightened risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, bronchial disorders and emphysema. Alcohol can also adversely impact on the brain and most body organs, with the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum being the areas of the brain that are particularly susceptible to alcohol-related damage.

The most commonly abused illegal substance, marijuana, is another to have detrimental medical consequences for addicts, short-term memory and learning, coordination and the ability to focus attention all being potentially impaired. Marijuana abusers can be at risk of psychosis if they have an underlying vulnerability, and they are also likely to experience a quickening heart rate and to sustain lung damage.

Severe medical consequences can also arise from the use of cocaine, the heart and the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems being commonly affected. Young adults may also misuse prescription medications like Valium, Vicodin or Ritalin for the purposes of getting high, self-treatment and/or the improvement of performance, and again, the consequences of such drugs' misuse or abuse can be grave, including death.

So many more drugs that are commonly misused or abused by young adults - ranging from inhalants and amphetamines to LSD, MDMA (Ecstasy or "Molly") or heroin - can have immensely negative medical effects. This is all the more reason for inquiries to be made quickly by a concerned parent, guardian or other adult about the most suitable drug and alcohol treatment in North Carolina that has been conceived and developed with young adults' particular clinical needs in mind.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Garden Ceremony: Nutritional Therapy

Spring Garden Ceremony
We are gathered here to celebrate of the spring garden – this ceremony is meant to connect us to the natural moment that is happening all around us - to remind us that we are not lonely souls that hover above the earth, but that we are deeply connected to the earth! That we are connected to each other.  This moment is meant to bring awareness to the fact that all personal and spiritual growth is mirrored in the changing of the seasons and the transformation of the earth throughout.

We have now come out of the winter- where it was cold, dark; we were in dormancy - the time of the year when we return to our deepest self and rest- nourishing our deepest thoughts and desires. During winter, the whole earth around us appears dead, but it too is resting, it too has returned to the deep well.

And now it is Spring- the light has come to wake us and the earth around us as well.  The grass is growing.  The ground has thawed, and the mud of spring is everywhere!  The trees are swelling – their buds just about to burst open and bloom.  All of the stored energy of winter is now available to the earth, now available to us!, for the work of growing- this moment is about planting the seeds of our deepest hopes and desires and devoting our stored energy to nourishing them to grow- out of the darkest, every year, comes this moment when Spring offers us the experience of HOPE and REBIRTH.

The force of Spring is palpable!  It cannot be stopped – hitch a ride onto this moment and let it move you too!

 In the words of the poet Pablo Neruda, "You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming."

Today we will plant the seeds for this year’s harvest- carrots, peas, beets and lettuce- which, if properly tended to, and if the season allows it, will feed us!  And I ask you, what else will you plant today? What hope will we sink into the earth?  What will we collectively plant? What will we nourish, together? Let's relish the hope today!

Let's relish the end of the cold and dark.  And as we plant the seeds, plant as small blessing or wish or prayer for this garden, and for the community that tends to it!

 "The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life."  Wendall Berry

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Scourge of "Drugged Driving" Among American Youth

There are seemingly endless reasons for the importance of young adult treatment in North Carolina. One reason that may not receive the emphasis that it deserves, is 'drugged driving'. Deaths among young people can be largely attributed to car crashes which often occur to at least some degree due to drug and/or alcohol use.

Driving after the use of illicit drugs or drinking of alcohol sadly remains all too prevalent among United States high school seniors and college students, who risk great harm to both themselves and others as a result. Many other young adults put themselves at risk by riding in a vehicle helmed by an intoxicated driver.

Various damning statistics have emerged that demonstrate the scourge of 'drugged driving' among young adults across North Carolina and the wider U.S. Of the 32 million people across the country who drove after using alcohol or drugs in 2012, for example, it was those in the 18-25 year old age category who were most strongly represented.

Indeed, it was revealed in late 2014 that 22 percent of those aged between 18 and 25 had driven under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol over the past year, compared to 12 percent of those aged at least 26 and three percent of 12-17 year olds.

Driving after marijuana use may be a cause for even greater concern among parents and guardians who have considered the merits of young adult treatment in North Carolina for their loved one. Almost one in three college students drove after marijuana use and nearly half of them rode with a driver who had been using marijuana, according to one infographic recently published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The equivalent figures for high school seniors gave little extra cause for encouragement - one in eight of them driving after marijuana use and one in five riding with a driver who had been using the drug. These are more shocking figures that demonstrate the vital role that can be played by clinically dynamic treatment that has been suitably tailored to the very specific drug abuse issues affecting American young adults.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What Effects Do Designer Drugs Have On The Brain?

Capable mental health therapists assisting substance-addicted young adults get back to full physical and spiritual health will know of the importance of keeping up to date with the latest knowledge about drugs and their effects. The situation is no different with what are known as "designer drugs", which are manufactured to chemically resemble illicit drugs, but with their chemical structures often modified by the manufacturer to circumvent drug legislation.

Examples of designer drugs include spice (synthetic cannabinoids) and bath salts (synthetic cathinones), the cocaine or marijuana-esque effects that they produce being a key factor in their popularity. However, the chronic use and/or high doses of designer drugs have also been associated with such dangerous medical consequences as psychosis, tachycardia, violent behaviors, hyperthermia and even death.

Designer drugs are also sometimes referred to as "new psychoactive substances" (NPS) and despite the alarming rise in the levels of abuse of such drugs, there is a lack of scientific data about them. It was in order to review what is presently known about designer drugs' effect on the brain that a symposium was recently held.

One or a combination of synthetic cathionones can be included in bath salts, these chemicals acting on transporters for the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. It is these same transporters through which the psychoactive effects of ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines are produced. It is a similar situation for synthetic cannabinoids, which resemble marijuana in their activation of the same cannabinoid receptors as marijuana's main psychoactive component, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

According to animal studies, there are also behavioral effects caused by both classes of designer drugs that resemble the drugs of abuse that they share mechanisms with. However, some different effects are also produced, due to slight chemical structure differences. The cathionone MDPV exerts 50 times greater strength on the dopamine transporter than cocaine. Meanwhile, synthetic cannabinoids do not last as long as THC and also differ in how they are metabolized, which could mean greater potential for abuse, as well as for interactions with medication and other toxic effects.

The easy availability of designer drugs is only making it all the more crucial for both their expected and unexpected effects to be better understood, so that the public - including many young adults - can be better-informed on the health and safety risks that they pose.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Marijuana Use May Have Impact On Offspring's Heroin Susceptibility

The list of reasons for young adults addicted to marijuana to seek suitable experiential therapy in North Carolina is doubtless a long one, but an addition to that list could be the potential for offspring to have a heightened risk of opiate addiction - even if the drug use ceases prior to offspring being conceived. That is at least the suggestion of the findings of recent animal research.

The study, which was carried out by scientists supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), showed that rats with parents that had been exposed to marijuana's main psychoactive ingredient as adolescents were more vigorous seekers of heroin than unexposed animals' offspring.

The findings cannot be confirmed and explained without further research, but nonetheless back up other studies indicating that even prior to conception, a parent's history of drug use could affect the brain function and behavior of a child.

Dr. Yasmin L. Hurd and colleagues at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City proposed the hypothesis that if a rat's parents were exposed during their adolescence to the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana - delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC - the offspring would inherit epigenetic changes that would alter how they responded to heroin.

The researchers tested this hypothesis by injecting THC into adolescent male and female rats for three weeks on an intermittent schedule, corresponding to the amounts that the typical recreational marijuana user would consume - specifically 1.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight every three days. A two to four week period was allowed for the drug to be washed out of the rats' bodies, before they were paired and mated.

On the offspring of these matings reaching adulthood, they were presented by the researchers with a lever that delivered heroin amounting to 30 micrograms per kilogram of body weight when pressed. The animals initially self-administered the drug at about the same rates as a group of control animals with parents that were not exposed to THC.

However, when the animals were made to work harder by being required to press the active lever no fewer than five times in order to receive a dose, those whose parents had been subject to drug exposure pressed almost three times as often, on average, as the control rats. More pronounced withdrawal symptoms were also observed among the THC-exposed rats' offspring when the animals were no longer able to access heroin.

Dr. John Satterlee, Project Officer at NIDA's Genetics and Molecular Neurobiology Research Branch, commented: "If the effect is real, it's important. If studies show that marijuana use also shows cross-generational effects in people, those results would add to the known dangers of the drug and amplify the importance of prevention efforts, especially those aimed at youth."

What Needs To Be Understood About Drug Abuse And Addiction

If effective, sustained recovery from drug abuse is to be achieved, it will help the addicted young adult and their parents to develop a better understanding of the nature of addiction, including clearing up some persistent misconceptions. Many parents inquiring about the services of a young adult rehab in North Carolina may initially imagine their child to be lacking in the moral principles or willpower that they presume to be necessary to achieve a change in behavior.

The truth is that drug addiction is a complicated disease, recovery depending on so much more than a strong will or sound intentions. Even those who desire to stop using can find the process extremely difficult, due to the changes that drugs cause in the brain that simply increase the likelihood of further compulsive drug abuse.

Scientific breakthroughs over the years have given us a much-improved understanding of the effects that drugs have on the brain, making it easier for us to devise effective treatments based on a well-informed, evidence-based clinical approach. This is crucial, given just how damaging drug abuse and addiction are for both individuals and society as a whole - encompassing family disintegration, academic failure, loss of employment, child abuse, domestic violence…to name a few things that may occur.

 It is vital that parents and young adults like realize the true nature of addiction as a chronic, often lapsing brain disease. Although the affected person may initially take drugs voluntarily, the brain changes that this causes over time adversely impacts on that person's self-control, making it harder and harder for them to resist what may become very intense drug-taking impulses.

There is no single factor that dictates a young adult's likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs, although individual biology, age or stage of development and social environment can all have an effect on the level of risk. But when a person does begin to use drugs, certain chemicals can tap into the communication system of their brain and cause disruption to their nerve cells' sending, receiving and processing of information.

The good news is that in common with such other chronic, relapsing diseases like diabetes, heart disease or asthma, drug addiction can be successfully managed. Through the right combination of addiction treatment medications and behavioral therapy, or another treatment approach appropriately tailored to the young adult's drug abuse patterns and any co-occurring problems, that person can achieve a sustainable return to a happy, healthy and productive life.