Your Teen’s Brain and Marijuana

Currently, more than half of the states in America legally allow the use of Marijuana in some form. The medical community has embraced the many benefits it can assist with alleviating pain and/or reducing disease in the body. Additionally, research has shown that in adults, marijuana can be helpful to the brain. However, when it comes to your teen’s brain and marijuana, the results may show differently.

The Teen Formula Book
The Teen Formula Book

Medical or Merry Marijuana?

Whatever your stance on marijuana use, the fact is that it’s available legally and illegally. According to Governing.com, “Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form.” And, as per an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Marijuana is the most commonly used “illicit” drug in the United States.”

So, whether it’s for medicinal or recreational purposes, there’s clearly a demand.

Regardless, it’s been widely recognized that marijuana may be an effective treatment for symptoms of various medical conditions. Some of them are:

  • Glaucoma
  • Nausea from chemotherapy drugs
  • Loss of appetite (improve appetite in patients with AIDS or anorexia nervosa)
  • Inflammation (reduce inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s, and many other diseases)
  • Chronic pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Your Adult Brain and Cannabinoids

Aside benefitting symptoms of clinical conditions, marijuana has also been proven to have neuroprotective agencies. Cannabinoids actually create new brain cell production and growth.

As we age, neurogenesis (the process of growing new brain cells) slows down. Some results of poor adult neurogenesis are: anxiety, stress, and depression. Marijuana aids in the growth of new cells in the hippocampus. This may be one reason why it has shown to be successful in treating particular mood disorders. 

The THC in marijuana has revealed to be a powerful antioxidant for the brain. Because of its neuroprotective properties, it can help clean away brain plaque. The build up of beta-amyloid plaque is one cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Along with Alzheimer’s, other neurodegenerative diseases like MS, Lou Gehrig’s, and Parkinson’s can also benefit from cannabis treatment.

Research has shown that marijuana also aids in attacking cancer cells. Conversely, it does not harm the healthy cells. Studies have provided evidence that cannabis may reduce tumors in the brain. Along with utilizing other therapies, marijuana treatment may halt or reverse the progression of some cancers.

Say NO to Brain Trauma and Sports

Most of the research and statistics compiled in regards to the benefits of your brain and marijuana is comprised mainly of adults. Your teen’s brain and marijuana may not react the same as we’ve discussed thus far. On the other hand, it may, but there isn’t nearly enough research or credibility to prove that it does. So, keep in mind, in this section we are sourcing cases solely involving adults.

Henceforth, laboratory studies have shown that cannabis may protect the brain from trauma. Research shows that damage to the brain from a force, a blow, carbon monoxide poisoning, and even stroke may be reduced due to marijuana use. Most importantly, cannabis helps reduce inflammation.

A concussion is trauma to the brain. As we are aware, many athletes are in danger of, or prone to, getting concussions. The antioxidants in cannabis plants can provide protection from neural inflammation. (And a concussion encompasses inflammation of the brain.) There are researchers who believe that certain properties of marijuana may assist in the brain recovering and repairing itself. The CBD in the marijuana may even be helpful—proactively!

CHECK THIS OUT: Evidently, the U.S. government currently has a patent on a non-psychoactive CBD. The intent would be to utilize it as a neuroprotective element—one that would limit brain damage after an accident involving head trauma. That’s a pretty cool bet on the healing properties of marijuana.

A Teen’s Brain and Marijuana is a Complicated Issue

For as much research and speculation, it is still not absolute that marijuana kills brain cells. In fact, as we learned for adults, cannabis helps create new ones. But, with teens the picture is different. The main reason is because the adolescent and teen brain is not fully developed. Most noteworthy, the rational part of the brain isn’t often developed until the age of 25.

The actual use of marijuana may or may not have any detrimental disturbances to the brain directly. Although, more research points to the concern that cannabis may affect the teen brain negatively. Brain-imaging studies sway experts towards the principle that “the teen’s brain and marijuana are not a positive combination.” 

Naturally, our nerve cells manufacture cannabinoids, from birth. These cannabinoids play a huge part in how the brain regulates our everyday habits such as: sleeping, eating, remembering, moving around, and our emotions.

When “outside” cannabis is introduced into the still-developing brain, it can create significant changes in those everyday habits. This is worrisome for medical experts because the brain can become wired in an unbalanced fashion in regards to those processes. This doesn’t look like a plus for marijuana teen use.

More Complications for Teens, Including Safety and Learning

It’s the young brain’s inability to make rational decisions that causes the most immediate danger. The prominent negative effects of short-term marijuana use by teens are:

  • impaired coordination (driving accidents, risk of increased injuries)
  • impaired short-term memory (prohibits learning and retaining new information)
  • practice of poor judgment (risk-taking behavior: unprotected sex, reckless driving, illegal activity, pushing the limits)

Part of the brain’s development during the teen years is the strengthening of executive function. One such function would be emotional self-control. Marijuana use may impede this strengthening process. Thus, the youngster may not develop this self-control mechanism as nature intended.

Aside from safety concerns, marijuana-use may plague learning. When under the influence of marijuana, there may be a heightened sense of creativity and flow. That’s terrific. However, it’s been proven that additionally, attention, learning, and memory become impaired. That’s not so fantastic.

It’s tough to build brainpower when the mind is still developing and besieged by a mind-altering substance.

A Teen’s Future…

Your teen’s brain and marijuana may not impact his/her future in a negative way. There are numerous studies that show very-little to no-changes in the brain later in life. And, there are many adults who can attest to having smoked pot as a teen and seem none-the-worse today for having partaken.

However, some of the studies that show negative long-term effects of young-age, marijuana-use are based on heavy, habitual use, starting as adolescents into adulthood. Those are real and can be serious. Some of those effects include:

  • addiction to marijuana or other substances
  • diminished lifetime achievements
  • motor vehicle accidents
  • anxiety and/or depression
  • chronic bronchitis

The brain is a phenomenally interesting and complex organ. It guides our body from head to toe. Its processes are affected by thousands of neurons, nerves, thoughts, cells, chemicals, and countless other elements. The bottom line is, “How much do you respect your brain?”

For adults with any semblance of gratitude for life, we bow up to the brain. And according to most sources, marijuana is not directly hurting this precious organ. So, using cannabis or not, as an adult, is a personal choice. But, when it comes to teens, their brains don’t have the ability yet to help them make the most appropriate choices. It has to be up to the adults to teach the young the facts. No one said it would be easy…

Check into Get Thrive when you’re looking for guidance or tips on best health for your family. Also, if this article resonates with you, you may want to  have a look at Dr. Campbell’s best selling book, The Teen Formula: A Parent’s Guide To Helping Your Child Avoid Substance Abuse HERE available in paperback or on Kindle.

Thank you for joining us today!

 

Sources:

https://herb.co/marijuana/news/7-ways-cannabis-great-brain

https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/marijuana-addiction/marijuana-and-concussions/#gref

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-pot-really-does-to-the-teen-brain/

http://www.governing.com/gov-data/state-marijuana-laws-map-medical-recreational.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827335/

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3051

Is Teenage Substance Abuse Prevention Realistic?

In today’s world, substance abuse is rampant, especially amongst teens. Anyone can access drugs. It’s almost impossible to avoid them. However, experts believe that parents have a great role in the path of their teen’s habits. So, yes, it is realistic to believe that teenage substance abuse prevention practices may be effective.

Where Do We Start for Teenage Substance Abuse Prevention? 

Research has shown that prevention may start with parents who stay involved. They often incorporate positive parenting tips.

During adolescent and teen years, parents are encouraged to keep open communication with their children. In this manner, adults are more likely to help prevent their kids from falling prey to substance addiction.

With that said, there are other vital tips. Some parents may find them useful during these unsure times.

1.    Set Proper Guidelines

As a parent, you have many responsibilities. One to is to set clear and firm guidelines. These will help your teen identify the best direction. Let your child know your expectations . This will aid them to stay focused. And, hopefully avoid peer pressure.

2.    Remain Involved

It’s brutally common how parents neglect their kids unwittingly. This can be due to outside work or other family commitments. This could be very dangerous for kid who has just entered his teens.

A lack of direction and attention can lead a youngster astray. Teenage substance abuse prevention begins with listening and giving attention.

 Therefore, it is recommended that parents monitor their teens’ activities and behaviors.

Keep the lines of communication open. Nurture trust so that they may share their concerns with you. Also, it is important to make sure that you are aware of where your teen is at all times.

3.    Use Positivity

The world our kids live in is different from what experienced. It’s tough, but we have to wrap our brains around that.

Instead of comparing your teen’s performance to others, try this instead. Use positivity whenever possible to motivate. Remind them of the fine choices they make. Then, use positive reinforcements. Help your child gravitate towards “good” company and healthy activities.

4.    Talk About it

At the same time, it’s also important to make sure your teen is aware of all the consequences associated with substance abuse. 

Unfortunately, many adolescents are blind to the dangers of addiction. Sometimes they don’t even know they’re adopting bad habits.

Additionally, adolescents often feel immune to poor results. Consequently, they don’t realize until after addiction has set in. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to inform your child about all the imminent harms of drug use.

5.    Keep the Environment Healthy

Oftentimes, children whose parents suffer from addiction are more likely to become addicts. Moreover, it’s no surprise that if the environment at home is stressful, the teenager will be more stressed. He/she may be more inclined towards adopting negative “coping” habits.

Thus, as a parent, try to keep the home environment welcoming. Reduce as much stress as possible. The child will be more apt to feel satisfied. Hopefully, this will help avoid looking for self-destructive solutions.

In conclusion…

The role of the parent is significant when it comes to teenage substance abuse prevention. Positive parenting includes: listening to your child, keeping open communication, and staying involved. These may help deter your teen from gravitating towards drug use.

For other up-to-date tips on keeping you and your family healthy, check out Get Thrive! If you like our articles, be sure to sign up for our Newsletter too!

Here are a few articles you may also appreciate:

https://getthrive.com/complete-guide-main-parenting-styles/

https://getthrive.com/raising-entitled-child-without-knowing/

https://getthrive.com/parent-quiz-know-teen/

Thank you for joining the Get Thrive family!

 

Some Things to Know About Drug Abuse in Teenagers

Teenage years are extremely formative years. They definitely have a significant impact on an individual’s personality. However, there are also a number of biological and physical changes taking place in the body, which affect decision-making. Unfortunately, because of this (and other factors), we are seeing an increase in drug abuse in teenagers.

We Don’t Know Them; They Don’t Know Themselves

Being a teenager can be a precarious time. Aside from biological shifts, there are huge social challenges. Kids at that age are in the throes of figuring out who they are. With that, it’s almost impossible as parent to know who they are. There are constant changes. 

Teens often make decisions based on emotions. And, rational thinking is not quite their forte. Many of their decisions can be related to “not thinking”. Or, they are swayed by peers, society, or impulsive or, sometimes, self-destructive behavior. As parents, it’s truly a challenge for us to foresee our teens’ next choice. That’s why it’s especially important for adults to remain as “connected” to their youngster as possible. Check out some helpful parenting tips HERE.

Education for Prevention and Assistance

Parents and teens alike should learn about the dangers of drug abuse in teenagers. Additionally, a parent’s participation (and being a good role model) in their child’s life can help to prevent substance abuse. However, sometimes no matter what anyone does, the teen may fall prey to addiction.

If you feel your child may be using or abusing drugs, here are some associated signs and behaviors:

Signs of Drug Abuse

1.    Physical Changes

Some of the physical changes that occur when a teen becomes addicted to drugs are:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Regular nosebleeds
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive Fatigue
  • Pupils that are widely dilated
  • Frequent Tremors and/or Shakes

2.    Behavioral Changes

There are certain changes that you will witness in your teenage child’s behavior if they are involved in drug abuse. If your teen is showing more outbursts and is continuously engaging in harmful activities, there is a need to keep a check on their regular routine.

3.    Personality Changes

Being moody is not the only personality change that teens go through as a result of drug use. You may also find your child to be less sympathetic towards others or witness a trend of poor results in school.

Effects of Drug Abuse

As mentioned earlier, if an adolescent develops a habit of drug abuse at this stage, they are more likely to turn into drug addicts during adulthood. Moreover, there are many other dangerous linked effects. These include: poor decision-making, greater susceptibility to developing diseases caused by needles, and emotional and mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Thus, it is vital for parents to play an important role in their teen’s life during this time.

Treatment

If parents play an active role in their child’s life during this time, they can help protect them from making further bad decisions. In his book, “The Teen Formula”, Dr. Dave Campbell provides parents with a guide that they can use to protect their teenagers from becoming victims of substance abuse. Many parents have reported seeing results within 30 days. 

In Conclusion…

The brain is still developing during an individual’s teenage years. This is why teens are drawn to drugs. But, it’s also one reason why the young brain can be harmed. And unfortunately, substance abuse amongst this age group is fairly common. Most noteworthy, a majority of substance abuse problems begin at this juncture.

Hence, it is extremely important for parents to keep a close eye on their child’s behavior and activities during this phase of their life. By incorporating positive parenting, adults can counsel their children, as well as be avid listeners. Hopefully, parents can prove to be a source of constant support. We can only do our best, so let’s do our best!

For more articles about parenting and teens, check out GetThrive.com

Teenage Substance Abuse Prevention

In today’s world, substance abuse is a common problem prevalent amongst teens. This can be explained by understanding how easy it is to access illegal drugs today. However, experts believe that parents have a great role in determining the fate of their teen’s life. Parents that remain involved and incorporate positive parenting tips during this phase are more likely to prevent their kids from falling prey to substance addiction. In this article, we will be discussing some vital tips that parents can use when they find their children reaching adolescence and being exposed to uncertain environments.

1.     Set Proper Guidelines

As a parent, it is your responsibility to set clear and firm guidelines that will help your teen identify the right direction. Make sure that you let your child know what expectations you hold. This will help them stay focused and avoid peer pressure.

2.     Remain Involved

There is no question that it has become brutally common how one or both of the parent conveniently neglect their kids because of work or other professional commitments and whatnot. And this could be very dangerous for kid who just entered his teens. A lack of direction can eventually lead to a substance abuse problem.

It is therefore strongly recommended that parents keep monitoring their teen’s activities and behaviors. Keep the lines of communication open and act like a friend to them so that they can share their concerns with you. Also, it is important to make sure that you are aware of where your teen is at all times.

3.     Use Positivity

Too many parents have the habit of comparing their children’s performance with that of their own. It is essential to understand that the world that they live in is different from what it was earlier.

Hence, instead of comparing your teen’s performance to others, it is effective to use positivity whenever you can to motivate them. The use of positive reinforcements will make your child more likely to gravitate towards good company and activities.

4.     Talk About it

At the same time, it is also important that you make sure that your teen is aware of all the consequences associated with substance abuse.

There are many adolescents that are unaware of the dangerous results of adopting these habits and get to know them only after they have become addicted to them. As a parent, it is your responsibility to inform your child about all the harms and trust that they will make the right decision.

5.     Keeping the Environment Healthy

It has been seen that children whose parents suffer from addiction themselves are more likely to adopt such habits.

Moreover, it is no surprise to know that if the environment at home is stressing the teen out they will be more inclined towards adopting such habits. Thus, as a parent, make sure that you keep the home environment as welcoming and less stressful as possible. Having such an environment will reduce the dissatisfaction that your child feels in life and will eliminate any need to look for other solutions.

Bottom Line

The role of the parents is significant when it comes to preventing substance abuse in teens. This is why parents should always make sure that they are aware of what is going on in their child’s life and practice positive parenting.

To learn more about teens, substance abuse and addiction, check out GetThrive.com

Obesity Numbers are Growing—Are You Part of This Trend?

In 1975, 105 million people were recorded as obese. By 2014, that number has increased to 641 million. In the United States today, two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. If you’re not fat, you’re the minority.

How Has This Happened?

It’s not that people are eating more; it’s the type of foods that people are eating that is creating this unhealthy epidemic. Almost half of the average diet is made up of oils and fats in processed foods, along with flour found in cereals, breads, cookies, etc.

Another factor is that government won’t subsidize healthier, whole foods, so they cost more, swaying the consumer to buy what’s cheaper. Additionally, pharmaceutical companies profit billions, selling us drugs to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, mostly caused by toxic foods, stress, and lack of exercise.

Shop for “whole grain”. Say no to soda and red meat. A pound of carrots is better than 3 ounces of potato chips. You can afford it, and you can do it. Let’s turn our health and these numbers around!

 

 

US Attorney Indicts Online Opioid Ring

The Number One cause of death amongst Americans under the age of 50 is drug overdose. Addiction and abuse of pain medication, which includes the synthetic opioid analgesic Fentanyl, has become an epidemic. This past week, the DEA announced that two Chinese nationals have been indicted for illegally manufacturing and distributing this deadly drug into our country.

Fentanyl—What is it Good For?

As of 1012, fentanyl has become the most commonly used synthetic opioid. It a safe and effective pain medication when used as directed. It is most often prescribed as a post-surgical treatment for pain or to manage chronic or severe pain.

Because it is highly addictive, when patients’ prescriptions run out, many will seek other sources for the drugs. That can include online purchasing of illegally manufactured analogues of the painkiller. An analogue is a drug that is chemically similar but can include ingredients that can cause grave effects.

Synthetic Opioid Horror

Again, fentanyl was created to assist with pain management. The pitfalls are that this synthetic opioid is tremendously addictive and extremely potent. Just two milligrams (equivalent to a few grains of salt), can be deadly.

According to law enforcement officials, the drug is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that 20,000 Americans died from fentanyl overdoses.

Where are the Online Opioids Coming From?

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated, “We believe that most, if not all Fentanyl that is distributed here in the U.S. and in Canada, originates in China.” The recent indictment of two Chinese nationals revealed a long investigation into this illegal (and deadly) online business.

Several American citizens (who were already in jail) and two Canadian prisoners worked with the Chinese men to assist with the drug’s distribution. The incarcerated Canadians helped arrange shipments from China. The exportation of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues from this particular source began in 2013. They’ve successfully delivered thousands of shipments over the years.

The drugs are sent daily by plane or ship to Mexico. Then, they’re trafficked into the United States. The indictment claims the Chinese men manufactured Fentanyl in at least four different labs in China and then sold it to Americans over the Internet.

What Will Happen Next?

As for the indictment of the foreign manufacturers, it appears to be a step in the right direction. An ironic note worth mentioning, however, is that the U.S. does not have an extradition agreement with China. So, the chance of the criminals getting tried in a court of law here are slim-to-none. The best we can hope for in this situation is the Chinese government takes more action to pursue and shut down these illegal labs and operations.

What Can We Do?

How you choose to handle your medical care is very personal issue. Besides medication, there are many other alternatives for pain care management. Only you and your health care physician will know what’s best for your individual situation.

If you are concerned about opioid use in youngsters (especially your children), it’s important to become informed and educated. What begins with one pain pill can develop into a treacherous addiction to opioids, synthetic opioids, and heroin.

Many experts recommend empowering the youngster so that he/she learns and ultimately makes healthy decisions. What adults can do is:

  • Maintain an open line of communication and trust
  • Avoid lecturing and welcome all types of questions
  • Listen and empathize with the child—let him/her know you are hearing and understanding
  • Remind your children that their bodies and brains are still developing

Other Resources

www.drugfree.org ; they also provide a bilingual toll-free Helpline 1-855-DRUGFREE; they also offer a parent-to-parent support network and a link to a Family Resource Center.

www.drugfreeworld.com  is a non-governmental, nonprofit that offers pamphlets about drugs to help educate parents and empower their teens.

http://www.preventteendruguse.org/resources.html – a list of drug prevention resources

http://www.dare.org/

http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/  MTF is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and drug use of young Americans.

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-abuse-among-children-adolescents-in-brief/prevention-principles

http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts -get updates on current drug use and statistics

 

Sources:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-md-fentanyl-from-china-20170913-story.html

http://reason.com/blog/2017/10/17/the-justice-department-is-now-going-afte

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-opioid-indictments/u-s-indicts-major-chinese-traffickers-for-selling-fentanyl-online-idUSKBN1CM22B

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/overdoses-are-leading-cause-of-death-americans-under-50/

 

 

First Gene-Therapy Treatment For Cancer Approved!

Cancer is one of the utmost debilitating and deadly epidemics of our time. Our ability to treat and/or cure certain types of cancer has significantly improved over the years; however, there remains room for better, more effective methods. The recent approval of gene therapy for leukemia may be an incredible breakthrough in how we will soon, and more successfully, fight the disease.

What is Gene Therapy?

Until recently, gene therapy was only in an experimental phase. The technique uses a patient’s own genes and “teaches” cells how to combat a disorder. It’s a part of the field of immunotherapy, which has garnered successful results—without utilizing surgery or drugs.

There are different ways that gene therapy can be implemented. For one, a mutated gene that causes disease can be replaced with a healthy copy. Another way the therapy can be utilized is by de-activating the mutated gene that is causing the disease to spread. One other technique is to introduce a totally new gene into the body to help fight the disease.

Approval of Therapy for Leukemia

Many labs around the country are working on perfecting a multitude of gene-therapy studies in hopes of having them approved for clinical use. (According to the FDA commissioner there are over 500 types of gene-therapy studies currently.) Recently, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a therapy called Kymriah. The FDA granted Novartis (the maker of Kymriah) approval for doctors to use this technique on patients with leukemia—making it the first-ever, gene therapy treatment for cancer.

This particular therapy is individualized and customized. T-cells (a form of white blood cells) are removed from the patient’s bloodstream. They are frozen and shipped to the Novartis lab for genetic engineering. They are then multiplied, refrozen, and sent back to the patient’s medical facility.

Once returned to the doctor, the newfangled cells are dripped back into the patient’s bloodstream. The cells have been revamped to recognize the cancer and attack it. Kymriah has been approved for young adults and children with an aggressive form of leukemia, which until now, has been barely treatable.

The Great White-Cell Hope

Gene therapy is expected to transform the way the world has treated cancer and other diseases. Altering a person’s own cells to fight off mutated cells is transformative. Although it’s incredibly hopeful for scientific treatment/curing of cancer, it does not come without its own risks—and costs.

Kymriah will be implemented one time per patient. That comes at a ticket price of $475,000. Novartis representatives pointed out that bone-marrow transplants (a current treatment for leukemia) can cost upwards to $800,000. Novartis also offered that if a patient does not respond to Kymriah within 30 days, they would eliminate the charge.

Another consideration for this type of treatment is that doctors and others in medical facilities need thorough training on the technique. The FDA is actually requiring that hospitals and doctors get certified and that facilities carry particular drugs that combat severe reactions.

Adverse reactions can occur from removal of the T-cells to the replacement of the refurbished cells. Some of them are: dangerously low pressure levels, high fever, lung congestion, and neurological complications.

The Light in Gene Therapy

Even with the risk of life-threatening side effects, gene-therapy can still provide a treatment to save an already ailing life. Gene therapy may also possibly provide a cure. As the FDA, over time, continues to approve more genetically-based treatments, we may actually see a decrease in deaths from diseases such as cancer. As for the present, we can be encouraged that the first gene-therapy has been approved and is now available in the U.S.

GetThrive.com offers a multitude of articles on health improvement for you and your family. Check it out to keep updated on disease prevention, treatment, and cures!

Sources:

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/therapy/genetherapy

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/health/gene-therapy-cancer.html?utm_content=bufferb87c5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

 

Most Pressing Health Problem in US May Surprise You

According to the US Surgeon General in his latest report, there are over 20 million Americans suffering from alcohol and drug abuse. That is a larger number than those who have cancer in this country. Alcohol- and drug-use disorder is a tremendous health challenge and requires attention now.

Alert: Substance Abuse Epidemic

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy had some strong feelings and words on the topic of drug and alcohol addiction. He expressed that the word “addiction” carries such stigma that many people avoid getting treatment. There are many people misusing substances and it’s taking a toll.

Murthy reported that 90 percent of those abusing illicit and prescription drugs, as well as alcohol, are not getting treatment. If the figure of those suffering from substance use disorder is over 20 million, that means at least 18 million American are not getting help.

The US Surgeon General believes “it’s time to change how we view addiction.”

The Toll It Takes

Drug and alcohol abuse, for the body of the user, ages exponentially. All major organs become affected: brain, stomach, liver, skin… Life perception becomes distorted. Depression may set in (or get deeper.) Relationships disintegrate; that includes boss, coworkers, spouse, children, parents, friends, and the list goes on.

Financially, the addiction can become a burden, too. Health issues or accidents arising from the addiction increase medical costs. Day-to-day living becomes more consumed by using the substance than just about anything else. We know people experiencing this. Maybe we even do.

The stigma of addiction needs to be removed. In order for people to seek treatment, they have to feel they will not be shamed by reaching out for help.

Is Our Youth at Greatest Risk?

Murthy believes our youth are at greatest risk of succumbing to substance abuse disorder. Adolescence and young adulthood are precarious times, emotional and sometimes fragile. Between the ages of 12 and 22, the risk of becoming addicted is substantial.

Anyone at any age can develop a misuse of substances, but our younger set tends to be more vulnerable. For one, their brains are not fully developed. Decision-making will not always be at its optimum.

The Surgeon General emphasized that if we prevent our youth from experimenting at a young age, it reduces the likelihood of future substance-use disorder.

Treatment in the Near Future

Already there have been some recent changes to government-overseen treatment policy. The US Department of Health and Human Services has expanded training to physician assistants and nurse practitioners. They will soon be able to prescribe buprenorphine, a treatment for opioid addiction.

Opioid addiction is rampant and the numbers continue to grow. More help is on the way…

What Murthy stated about altering the perspective of addiction is a powerful first step. It needs to be moved from a moral realm into a health-social-emotional based arena. He suggests it’s a chronic condition that requires immediate medical and cognitive treatment—as well as compassion.