Chasing the Dragon (Part 2)
Addiction is a brain disease. Many people have difficulty separating the person from the disease. We cannot see inside our loved one’s brain to see that there is something wrong. Instead, what we see are the behaviors that develop over time which support the addiction. These behaviors are what cause relationship issues within a family. Personality change, irresponsible decision making, secrecy, not coming home on time, missing important events, absenteeism, and job loss and emotional instability are a few of the observable signs that the addiction is present. The addicted individual becomes unable to respond to his environment in a healthy, adaptive manner as the addiction takes over the brain.
Early use attacks the brain on a level that provides a feeling of extreme pleasure and satisfaction as it inserts itself into the reward centers of the brain. Many addicted will say that they had never felt better in their life. Because of their genetic and biological susceptibility, this euphoria is intense and consuming. Once it wears off, the desire to seek that feeling again leads to a repeat of the behavior. The problem is, they can never reach that place again. This is not always immediately evident and the individual will continue to try to reach that same level of pleasure, repeatedly. Eventually, with repeated use, the body “improves” its ability to detoxify the substance. This leads to higher and higher tolerance of the substance, meaning it takes more to get an effect. Eventually, the brain and the body believe that the substance is necessary to survival.
Our reward, or pleasure centers have a purpose in maintaining the survival of our species. The reward center is stimulated when we eat, drink, have sex, and participate in exercise. All of these behaviors are necessary to keep us alive and thriving. The reward center assures that we want to repeat these behaviors. However, the use of a substance like alcohol or opiates overtakes the reward system, delivering a more intense feeling of pleasure than the other natural materials like food and water. It therefore becomes the behavior to be repeated. This leads to the obsession to use and the compulsion to use.
While the chemical is overwhelming the pleasure center, it is also eliminating natural neurotransmitters which in turn eliminate receptors for those neurotransmitters. Hence, when the person tries to stop, they become extremely uncomfortable, sad, depressed and unmotivated. There is no reward for not using the substance.
person we care about becomes consumed by the addiction. They no longer seem to
be the caring, responsible person they once were. They resort to behaviors that
we do not expect from them, as they become even more focused on chasing the
dragon that they can never catch again.
SHARON — According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 15 percent of women who have recently given birth suffer from postpartum depression.
This year’s Stamp Out Stigma (SOS) at Penn State Shenango will feature a presentation on the subject at its fourth annual SOS event to be held from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, in the Great Hall of Sharon Hall located on Vine Avenue in downtown Sharon.
The event is free and open to the public.
The hour-long program will also include a discussion on why health and fitness are vital to a person’s mental well-being led by Penn State Shenango Counselor Tony Paglia, as well as a special message on love and unity in the face of the horrible tragedies that have recently occurred in our country by Jack Luchette, a Penn State alumnus and the lead organizer of the annual event.
“At Penn State Shenango, we approach student health from a holistic perspective, and we seek to serve students with programming and resources that will promote their health in the areas of mind, body, and spirit,” Paglia said. “This semester, we are excited to offer our students on-campus yoga classes with instructor Debbie Harrington. We believe that by reducing stigma and encouraging our students to take better care of their physical and mental health, they will be more successful in meeting their academic and personal goals.”
The presenters at this year’s SOS event, in addition to Paglia and Luchette, include Community Counseling Center of Mercer County Community Outreach and Development Director Fern Torok, and special guest Penn State Shenango Human Development and Family Studies Lecturer and Licensed Clinical Social Worker Kara Mild, who will be speaking about postpartum depression and the stigma associated with the mood disorder.
“The Community Counseling Center has conducted 97 distinct Stamp Out Stigma presentations with over 117,000 people during the past several years,” Torok said. “We are excited to be part of the Shenango campus’ event again this year.”
For more information, call Paglia at 724-983- 2841.
Gossip has been around since the beginning of man and women. However, a lot of people take gossip way too far in life, which can cause terrible events to unroll onto that person. Looking back, I myself was involved in several horrible rumors and lies. Now for me that did nothing to me, I shrugged them off, laughed, and cheered registering their petty lies useless. This is a mechanism that I have created over time. The same cannot be said about other individuals, the lies can emotionally harm someone especially if the rumor isn’t true. The Gossip Effect explains how and what the effect of gossiping can have on someone. For example, in high school a women or a man could be verbally abused by others daily. They might say something like “You are ugly, how could anyone date you!” this inappropriate comment will spread throughout the school like wild fire aka (Gossip). As it goes through one person it will get told slightly different every single time it is told to a new person it is altered. Eventually the comment previous-ly said could be something like this, “Oh, I heard she is pregnant” or “I heard they do drugs almost every day”. From my point of view, I take all these comments and think, “Hmm, how could someone their age be so childish. Ha-ha.” Laughing is the best medicine, my advice to all of you is laugh at those comments, don’t let them get to you. Now I understand you can take it personally or even get angry and lash out at the accused. STOP, think it over and think of the consequences and then calm down and smile and don’t care about those petty comments. Odds are you want to hurt them or make them experience the same pain as yourself. However, if you really want to hurt them, don’t let those insults get to you. Shrug them off and smile, laugh a few times and walk away from the situation. Thank them for their time and continue your beautiful day, don’t let anything get to you. If you are looking to learn how to just shrug it off then practice in your mind and head, play a scenario over and over again practicing. Let me tell you, you are beautiful and you are awesome regardless of what anyone says. Look into the mirror every morning and smile at yourself and say one good thing about your-self, could be your smile, or your personality. Love yourself, once you accept these facts, those petty gossips will mean nothing. Gossip isn’t just insulting someone, gossip is when someone tells everyone else without your knowledge of it. Keep those private conversations to your-self, it should always be confidential. You are awesome and as long as you keep seeing good traits and staying true to one self.
Lonzo is well known at CCC for his upbeat spirit, laugh and determination even though he faces physical obstacles daily. Due to unfortunate circumstances as an infant, Lonzo lost his arm but this has never stopped him from independence. In fact, with a positive outlook on the situation there’s not much Lonzo doesn’t feel he can’t do. Recently, he decided he wanted to start working on a wellness goal and make positive changes towards a healthier lifestyle. When possible, he lifts weights at our local gym and exercises at home. He has even set a goal of 50 push-ups daily at home! This is quite an accomplishment as well as motivating, and CCC is proud of Lonzo for the willpower and strength he is implementing daily.
“Project Semicolon is an organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide. Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, we know we can save lives.”
The semicolon has been a representation of strength and perseverance to me as long as I have associated myself with recovery. Think of it this way: a semicolon means that a sentence isn’t over, so you are the semicolon and the sentence is your life. Suicidal ideations and self-harm are two topics that I am familiar with. I feel as though a tattoo of a semicolon would be a better display of my struggling than the scars that have been left behind. If people ask about the tattoo rather than the scars, it avoids a triggering conversation and starts a healthy one about the reduction of stigma and prevention of suicide.
According to projectsemicolon.com, 85-98% of people diagnosed with depression do not die by suicide. So the prognosis is good! If we work on educating the community and canceling out the stigma, we can improve the numbers and save many lives!
When the Great Recession struck the nation in 2008, it decimated the economy. Many people lost their jobs and homes. Many people struggled to get by for years.
While politicians and Wall Street claim the economy has recovered, Main Street has a vastly different view of its current state.
Today, more than one in five children live in poverty, according to the 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book , an annual publication that assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states, as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It uses an index of 16 indicators to rank states on overall child well-being and in economic well-being, education, health and family and community. Of all 16 indicators, the one that carries the most weight and has the largest social impact is child poverty.
The report found that 22% of children live in poverty, up from 18% in 2008. Hardest hit were African-Americans and American Indians, whose rates of poverty had nearly doubled. The South and the Southwest were the regions most impacted by child poverty.
The reasons for this are multitude and complex, but things like slashed social safety nets, decreased incomes, decreased income stability, and single-parent (and therefor, single income) homes have all contributed to the rise in child poverty.
According to the KIDS COUNT report, 1 in 3 children from Mississippi live in poverty. The state with the best overall child well-being, based on indicators including economic standing, education and health, was Minnesota.
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Wolf today announced a decline in the commonwealth’s uninsured rate from 6.4 percent in 2015 to 5.6 percent in 2016, the lowest on record. Before the Affordable Care Act was implemented and Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid, Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate was more than 10 percent.
“This reduction shows that our steps to expand Medicaid and stabilize our individual market are working in Pennsylvania,” said Governor Wolf. “Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Insurance Department and Department of Human Services to advocate on behalf of all Pennsylvanians, and despite the conversation around health reform at the federal level, we remain committed to furthering the progress made by the Affordable Care Act. We will continue to work to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to quality coverage at an affordable price and advocate in a bipartisan way to fix Obamacare at the federal level.”
Pennsylvania’s 5.6 percent uninsured rate was released as part of a national study on health insurance coverage for 2016 based on current population reports issued by the United States Census Bureau earlier this week. The decrease continues the downward trend Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate has been on since 2013, making 2016’s 5.6 percent the commonwealth’s lowest ever uninsured rate, down from more than 10 percent when the Affordable Care Act was passed. The national uninsured rate fell 0.3 percent to 8.8 percent in 2016.
“The Affordable Care Act has helped more than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians access health coverage,” Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said. “Governor Wolf’s adoption of Medicaid expansion has helped more than 711,000 people receive coverage since January 2015, and 426,000 have purchased coverage on the individual market at Healthcare.gov.”
“When Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid in Pennsylvania, hundreds of thousands of uninsured were then able to obtain access to health care coverage,” said Acting Secretary for Human Services Teresa Miller. “Before expansion, most of these individuals either couldn’t afford coverage or didn’t have access to it. Additionally, the ACA provided the commonwealth’s former foster kids with health care coverage until age 26. This decline in the uninsured rate is truly one to celebrate.”
While being kind might sound easy, it is complex. If kindness was simple, then everyone would be kind and no one would experience meanness and bullying. Imagine a world where kindness is the norm. Is it possible to create homes, schools, and communities where kindness is the norm? The answer is, yes – but to make this imagined world a reality, we need to teach, model, and reward kindness.
Being kind means that you think about the needs and concerns of others. Kind people volunteer, help others, and think about bigger issues that affect their communities. Compassionate thinking and generous actions demonstrate kindness.
Unfortunately, many schools respond to negative behaviors such as bullying with punishment, which is thought to reduce or eliminate such behaviors. After years of research on “zero-tolerance” to end bullying and violence, we know that these punishment-based approaches do not work. Given this knowledge, it makes better sense to focus on teaching and modeling pro-social behavior, like teaching kindness.
Key Elements in Teaching Kindness
Although kindness programs can vary, most share these approaches:
Ways to Teach Kindness
The Impact of Teaching Kindness
When elementary students performed three acts of kindness per week they significantly increased their acceptance of peers compared to kids who did not perform three kind acts of kindness. Students who are taught kindness are more empathic, more socially aware and connected, and they receive higher grades too. Be kind—it is free and the payback is good for all!
Additional Online Resources
Originally from Lexington, Dr. Wozniak moved to Louisville to attend Bellarmine University where she also played soccer. She received her medical education and residency training at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Together with her colleagues, she started River City Psychiatry in 2009 upon completion of residency training. Dr. Wozniak is a Board Certified adult psychiatrist who commonly treats people with adult ADHD, PTSD, mood disorders such as bipolar and depression, and anxiety disorders. She also has a special interest in treating athletes with mental illness and is a member of the International Society for Sport Psychiatry. She collaborates with patients and other providers/therapists when necessary, to create a customized treatment plan for each individual.