Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Effects of Substance Use
There are many substances that can be consumed by people. Cocaine and Marijuana come to mind for many people, and then there are Benzodiazepines, Central Nervous System Stimulants, and Opioids, however the focus here will be alcohol, because it is so common. Alcohol is just one of these many substances, and it happens to be one of the oldest, and very popular and available worldwide, on almost any day of the week. Alcohol is consumed either by drinking it, which is the most popular way of consumption, or added to solid foods or candy such as desserts or gummy bears, and inhalation of vaporized alcohol. The most popular and easiest way to consume alcohol, however, is by drinking it. It is estimated that 80-90% of adults have consumed alcohol in the past, and 70% have consumed it in the past year. Some people only drink socially (1-2 drinks daily). Other people consume alcohol in attempt to get through daily life with less stress, or go on alcohol binges (this is popular on college campuses and parties), which can have deadly results. (Doweiko, 2015).
Alcohol intoxication can have major physical affects on people. Alcohol is an anxiolytic and is also mood-enhancing. It is also a sedative, and it slows down reaction time, reduces motor coordination, causes impairment of judgement (which is why it is dangerous to drive while intoxicated by alcohol). Excessive consumption of alcohol can also cause one to lose consciousness, or “pass out” (which is an anesthetic property). It can also cause what people call a “hangover”, which can include nausea, vomiting, headache, vertigo, and sensitivity to sound and light. (Doweiko, 2015). It is also hard on the liver, which can cause liver damage (Schieber et al., 2015) and heart disease. Alcohol is dangerous to consume in cold weather, because it lowers body temperature, yet gives the impression or feeling of heating the body up (Oscar et al., 1997). This can be dangerous for those who live outside or in inadequately heated living quarters. It should be noted that moderate alcohol consumption can be beneficial, such as red wine having a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. For this reason, many people consume only 1-2 glasses of red wine on a daily basis with meals.
Because alcohol molecules are very small, they are very easily absorbed primarily by the intestines (and in smaller amounts, the mouth), and then it is distributed through the entire body. When a person consumes alcohol on an empty stomach (no food eaten), peak blood alcohol levels are reached in 30 to 60 minutes. Because of the way alcohol interacts with body chemistry, intoxication can cause confusion, slurred speech, and loss of memory. (Doweiko, 2015).
In conclusion, alcohol in large amounts can be very harmful to people of all ages. It has negative affects on the human body when binge drinking, and can cause loss of coordination, reaction time, slurred speech, and memory loss (while intoxicated). On the other end of the spectrum, moderate alcohol consumption can have positive effects on the body, such as lowered risk of cardiovascular problems and heart disease. Alcohol can be beneficial, however caution should be taken when drinking, and anyone who is dependent on alcohol could benefit from intervention for the betterment and health of their body and mind.

Doweiko, H. E. (2015). Concepts of Chemical Dependency (9th ed.). LaCrosse, WI: Cengage.
Oscar-Berman, M., Shagrin, B., Evert, D., & Epstein, C. (1997). Impairments of brain and behavior: the neurological effects of alcohol. Alcohol Health & Research World, 21(1), 65-96.

Schieber, K., Lindner, M., Sowa, J., Gerken, G., Scherbaum, N., Kahraman, A., & ... Erim, Y. (2015). Self-reports on symptoms of alcohol abuse: liver transplant patients versus rehabilitation therapy patients. Progress In Transplantation, 25(3), 203-209. doi:10.7182/pit2015618

Alcohol and Opiate Dependencies

This essay is about alcohol and opiates. It will discuss alcohol and opiate use, history, and how both of the drugs work in the body. It also covers current trends in alcohol and opiate use, along with societal concerns with the substances. Finally, the topics of helping people with alcohol and opiate addictions are covered, and also the myths surrounding opioids. 

Alcohol History
Alcohol has been in use for thousands of years. It is highly addictive and people use it for social reasons, along with medical reasons as well. Some people binge drink on weekends, and others use vodka for herbal tinctures that help naturally treat conditions. Alcohol is very addictive because it affects the way people feel. People often feel carefree when they are intoxicated. They may have reckless behavior and put their health and others health in danger. Many hospital emergency rooms are full of extremely drunken individuals on weekends and nights.

Opium History
Poppy seed, which opiates come from, have been referenced in Sumerian texts as early as 4000 B.C. Opiates are outranked only by alcohol as the most used, widespread, and persistent problem in the drug world. Opiates come from being extracted from the poppy seed, and they can also be made in labs. Opiates treat pain, but they are also used by people who want to reduce anxiety and experience euphoria.(Wulffson, 2015).

Alcohol and the Body
Alcohol is very bad for the human body when consumed in large amounts in short periods of time, or when one has an addiction. People can develop irregular heart beat, high blood pressure, and stroke because of alcohol addiction. It can cause damage to the liver and pancreas, as well. It can weaken the immune system and cause cancer, as well. It can cause impaired movement, slow reaction time, and memory loss and blackouts. Thiamine deficiency is common in people who are addicted to alcohol. This deficiency is caused by poor nutrition, and thiamine is a nutrient that is needed by the brain to properly function.

Opiates and the Body
Opiates can cause problems in the body. Some of the negative side affects that it can cause are nausea and vomiting, constipation, liver damage, slow breathing, and brain damage. It can cause veins to collapse, which is usually a problem with heroin. It can also cause a greater sensitivity to pain. Opiates cause people to be extremely relaxed, and they can become so sleepy that they might hurt themselves or others if trying to drive or operate machinery. People who share needles can contract hepatitis. Lastly, opiates can cause the immune system to function in a reduced capacity, causing a person to be more susceptible to illness.

How Alcohol and Opiates are Used
Alcohol is most commonly drank out of glasses. People consume them with juices and pop. There is also a fairly recent trend of people infusing candy like gummy bears in vodka by soaking them for a few days. Some people do not use alcohol for recreational purposes. They may use them to create herbal tinctures (medicines), and there are many people who use it for religious purposes. Opiates are smoked very often, but also used as crushed pills, and injected as well. They can even be consumed by drinking or eating

Societal Concerns with Alcohol and Opiates
Alcohol and Opiate detoxification programs exist for people who are dependent on the substances. Many people may struggle with withdrawal symptoms, making it difficult to stop using the substances permanently. They may have the typical withdrawal symptoms such as pain, depression, anxiety, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, dilated pupils, and high blood pressure. Sometimes an integrated method of detoxification is helpful.(Stein, 2016).

A societal concern with opiates is that nurses and doctors should know the signs of someone who is addicted to the substance. Running out of medicine and refilling prescriptions before they should is a sign that the person is taking too much of the medication, too often. Many people may start down this path because of chronic pain that makes them want to be pain free around the clock.(Moore, 2016).

Helping People with Alcohol Addictions
As mentioned earlier, it is important to pay attention and understand the signs of alcohol and opiate addiction. Reading and educating oneself as a counselor will be helpful, as well as paying attention to clients who are exhibiting these symptoms such as borrowing medicine from other family members, going to multiple doctors to get the same type of prescription, and losing the prescription. With alcohol, people who are addicted tend to drink to the point that it causes problems with employment and family relationships, and they may have risky behavior (such as reckless driving while drunk, risky sex, etc.).(Smidth 2016).

Myths About Opiates
A myth about opiate use is that it is typically young teens or people in their 20’s who overdose on the drugs. The truth is that it is usually people who are over the age of 30, and are experienced, chronic, dependent users who overdose on these drugs. Teens are in the minority in this statistic of overdoses. Another myth about opiates is that they do not provide relief for acute or chronic lower back pain. The fact is that  they actually do provide modest relief for these conditions.(Darke, n.d.).

To conclude, alcohol and opiates are very addictive. They have very negative side effects when taken inappropriately or excessively. They have negative effects, and can cause problems in the personal life of any person who is dependent on them. The withdrawal symptoms for these drugs are very difficult for people to deal with, and can include depression and high blood pressure. It is highly important for mental health professionals to understand and be aware of the symptoms of addiction to alcohol and opiates so that they can properly help their clients get the help that they need. There are many myths involved with opiate use, and one is that teens are the most likely to overdose. Overall, alcohol and opiate overuse and addiction is not good for the human body.

Darke, S. (n.d). Opioid overdose and the power of old myths: What we thought we knew, what we do know and why it matters. Drug And Alcohol Review33(2), 109-114.) 
Moore, D. J. (2016). What you need to know about safe opioid prescribing. American Nurse Today11(6), 12.
Treating opiate addiction, part I: detoxification and maintenance. (2004). Harvard Mental Health Letter21(6), 4-6.
Smidth, M. (2016). Integrated Care for people who want Alcohol Detoxification in the middle of Denmark. International Journal Of Integrated Care (IJIC)16(6), 1-2. doi:10.5334/ijic.2930
Stein, M. D., Risi, M. M., Flori, J. N., Conti, M. T., Anderson, B. J., & Bailey, G. L. (2016). Gender differences in the life concerns of persons seeking alcohol detoxification. Journal Of Substance Abuse Treatment6334-38. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2015.12.005

Wulffson, R. M. (2015). Detoxification and substance abuse. Salem Press Encyclopedia Of Health.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Caregivers and Family Members: How do You Cope With Caring For a Family Member Who Has a Severe Mental Illness?

So much focus is put on the patients who are coping with mental illness, and rightfully so. However, I also think that more emphasis should be put into making sure the family members who serve as caregivers. They need real support, and their mental health should not be ignored. Although they may be mentally healthier than the ones they are caring for, they are only human and are vulnerable as well. The relationship between the family members will go through changes, and other issues may arise.

Have you ever had to care for a family member who was had severe mental illness? How did you handle your responsibilities? How did you feel?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Are You Normal?

In my current course, Abnormal Psychology, we are discussing normalcy. What is normal to most people? What is normal according to psychologists?Is there a such thing as normal?

What appears as abnormal might not be. Think about the last person who you saw displaying what appears to be very abnormal behavior (maybe sitting on a bench, hysterically crying and rocking back and forth). You might think that person is behaving abnormally. But imagine if 30 seconds before you saw them, that person had just gotten a phone call that their entire immediate family had been killed in a car accident. You probably wouldn't think that was so abnormal, then.

Of course, behavior that some people--such as serial killers--display is not normal, but some things are completely normal responses to life occurrences.

And then there are cultural differences to take into consideration. What is normal in one culture may seem "abnormal" to others.

So, what does "normal" mean?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Social Psychology and Happiness

Ah, Social Psychology. What can I say? Social Psychology spans a wide range of topics. Social Psychologists are constantly studying human behavior in relation to different environments.  Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky and Dr. Nadia Ahmad are two psychologists who have done research in different areas of interest. Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky has done research in the area of human happiness (makes me think of the extremely popular song Happy, by Pharrell). Dr. Nadia Ahmad has focused on empathy in the healthcare and caregiver field.
Dr. Lyubomirsky has focused on human happiness, and some of her main questions are 1. “What makes people happy?” And what makes some happier than others?  2. “Is happiness a good thing?” And 3. “How can people learn to live happier lives?”
Dr. Ahmad has studied how empathy plays a part in the way that parents care for their children, and the way that medical doctors care for their patients. She also focuses on empathetic processes and how it affects individuals socially.
Human happiness is something that people have strived towards for centuries. Some individuals may look for happiness in things such as money, cars, clothes, religion, food, hobbies, and almost anything else one could imagine. However, the question remains why while some people crumble and are unhappy in their lives; others rise above it all and can be happy even in hard times.
Basically, Dr. Lyubomirsky found through research that truly happy individuals interpret life events and daily situations in ways that help to sustain their happiness, while unhappy persons interpret life experiences in ways that seem to reinforce unhappiness. Dr. Lubomirsky’s research has exhibited that happy people experience and react to events and circumstances in significantly more positive and more adaptive ways. Unhappy people are more likely to think about negative experiences(Lyumbomirsky, 2011).
Happiness is a wonderful, important state, because happy individuals are more likely to have higher income, more satisfying social lives and relationships with other people. Happy people tend to have better health and have more energy. Dr. Lyumbomirsky has also found that happy people tend to be more creative and have better work performance than unhappy people.(Ahmad, 2011) With these findings, it is easy to see why happiness is important and how beneficial it is to the human mind and body.
Empathy is extremely important, especially in the healthcare field and for parents (Ahmad, 2011).  A new study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests that small displays of empathy by a medical provider can aid in improve medical care of patients. Researchers found that clinical empathy enhances patient satisfaction with care, motivates individuals to adhere to treatment plans and lowers malpractice complaints. (Nauert, 2011) This is no surprise because all medical care patients want to feel like they are being understood and helped as human beings and not ‘just a number’. Parents have a similar reason to be empathetic toward their children, and the empathy that parents show gives children a sense of emotional support that all human beings need.
Human happiness is important and will forever be a trait that people strive for. Unhappiness creates problems and happiness helps people through those problems. Empathy is important in healthcare and parenting; and both empathy and happiness are essential to life.  

Ahmad, N. (2011, 09 23). Nadia ahmad. Retrieved from http://nadia.ahmad.socialpsychology.org/
Nauert, R. (2011, January 25). Caregiver empathy improves outcomes. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/01/25/caregiver-empathy-improves-outcomes/22887.html
Lyumbomirsky, S. (2012, March 13). Sonja lyumbomirsky. Retrieved from http://lyubomirsky.socialpsychology.org/

Introduction Time

Hi all! My name is Charlene, and this is my psychology blog.Welcome!

I started this blog because I feel like I need a place to discuss psychology in my own time, outside of academic and professional time. It gives me a space to discuss various topics on psychology and counseling topics. Feel free to contact me and leave comments. (I love them and will respond!)