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How To Approach The High Functioning Alcoholic In Your Life

Many high functioning alcoholics deny they have a drinking problem. They are able to do well in school or hold down a good job, exercise regularly, and provide a nice lifestyle for their family. They meet deadlines, make their daily appointments, sustain relationships and are getting along just fine. Basically, they successfully perform throughout the day and then go home and treat themselves to alcohol as a reward for the stress they are under or as a reward for a job well done. You probably know at least one person like this in your life. We care so much, but tend to skirt the issue because we don’t want to rock the boat or don’t feel it’s our place to discuss. However, immediate family members are often miserable because they know after a drink or two the behavior will become embarrassing, aggressive and unpredictable.

On the flip side, the alcoholic doesn’t see how his/her behavior is negatively affecting his family, but instead thinks it’s harmless or only harmful to himself. In reality, children of alcoholics are seriously affected for the rest of their life. Research shows that children from alcoholic families tend to have lower self-esteem and higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression than those who live in non-alcoholic households. They also have greater risk of truancy, making poor decisions and eventually modeling the behavior in adulthood.

It can be extremely difficult to approach the problem drinker because he or she is defensive and in complete denial. However, friends and family shouldn’t just let it go because years of living with this behavior is not only exhausting, but also contributes to a breakdown in intimate relationships and serious health issues for the alcoholic. The person might seem healthy enough because they aren’t overweight or slowing down right now, but in the long run alcohol abuse contributes to heart problems, depleted hydration and nutrients, disrupted sleep and liver disease.

So, how should you approach the topic? First of all wait until the person is totally sober. Direct the conversation so you are not being accusatory but instead explain how the drinking is causing a problem for you, your children and other friends and family. Tell them that you really care and want to help and keep the emphasis of the discussion focused on your own concerns rather than blaming them for living this lifestyle. By avoiding direct confrontation, you may be able to alleviate some of their defensiveness about the subject.

Realize that you won’t be able to solve the problem in one conversation. It will take time for them to get past the initial shock, denial, hurt or frustration that the topic causes. You may even find that they are unwilling to listen and you may have to back away from the relationship for a while. In the end, studies show that most people who seek help for alcoholism say that they would not have done it on their own. It was the action and influence taken by a loved one or friend that helped them to reexamine their lifestyle and enter a treatment program.

Talking To Your Teen About Smoking Marijuana

Now that it ‘s legal to purchase marijuana in the state of Colorado, it has become even more important to have the discussion with your pre-teens and teens about the myths or misinformation they’ve heard about use. If you live in Colorado, they might be exposed to adults smoking it in private homes like they would have a glass a wine. For those of us living in other states, our kids might view this as approval from authorities that it’s safe to use. The fact is that marijuana is the most popular drug in the country and although it is illegal for those under the age of 21, it is going to be more easily accessible. Since 2007 we’ve seen an increase in use among young people with 14% of 12 – 17 year olds and 30% of Americans between 18 - 25 reporting usage in 2012. Close to half of 8th graders surveyed believe that pot use isn’t dangerous or doesn’t pose much risk. Can you blame them? With 2 states legalizing use and successful, healthy looking, high profile stars like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Michael Phelps, Justin Timberlake and Miley Cirus publicly stating that they smoke, it’s hard for any young adult to think otherwise.

In reality, marijuana is an addictive substance that does have negative affects on the body and mind. For those of you thinking back to your college days, you should know that the average potency has increased from 3% THC in the 1990’s to almost 15% THC today. Tetrahydrocannabinol is main ingredient in marijuana that stimulates the brain to release dopamine, which in turn creates the euphoric feeling some users describe. It also interferes with how information in the brain is processed and can cause delusions and hallucinations.

Some of the negative side affects of smoking marijuana are sluggishness, foggy thinking and poor judgment skills, impaired intelligence and reasoning. Within a few minutes of smoking, the heart rate increases by 20 – 50 beats per minute and blood pressure drops, which creates a higher risk for heart attack. Regular users suffer from the same lung problems that cigarette smokers do including inhaling carcinogenic hydrocarbons, increased risk of coughing and lung infections and upper respiratory illnesses.

Recent studies show that teenagers are particularly susceptible to the negative effects because their prefrontal cortex is still developing. Therefore, teenagers have a higher risk of lowering their IQ because it interferes with the normal brain development during these prime years. It also makes the individual feel extremely relaxed and unmotivated which can contribute to a decline in study habits and grades.

Parents can help prevent their kids from getting involved by talking to them about it as early as the 5th and 6th grade. To begin the conversation, you can ask them what they’ve heard about marijuana or pot. Listen closely and don’t interrupt or make comments. Then offer the facts and negative consequences of smoking it and convey your stance on the topic in a calm and clear manner.  Many parents also take a proactive stance by signing them up for after school or online drug awareness classes.  If your child brings up the fact that it’s now legal in some states, so must not be that bad, you can respond that there are unfortunately legal drugs that are unsafe to consume. Discuss alcohol and tobacco as examples. Most of all, be a positive role model! If your teen sees you drinking or smoking marijuana to relax, then they will more likely think it’s a safe way to handle stress and enjoy themselves.

Driving Under The Influence of Marijuana Is A Punishable Crime In Colorado

Colorado made history yesterday by becoming the first place in the world where marijuana is legal and regulated from the initial seed, to the final sale. This means that a commercial grower gets a radio frequency tag that stays with the plant from seedling through harvest to drying. Once packaged in 1-pound packages, the merchandise gets a new tag and the shop owner is required to weigh in the inventory daily and enter it into the Marijuana Inventory Tracking Solution system. In 2012, Colorado and Washington were the first two states in the U.S. to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana, but January 1, 2013 was the first time that about 30 retail outlets opened their doors to sell it, 18 of which are in the city of Denver.

Jubilant customers young and old, male and female, some who were consistent users and others who just wanted to make history, lined up for hours in the cold to be part of this historical event. Some said that they were looking forward to being able to finally legally enjoy, while others said that it helps their physical ailments and PTSD. Now, under the new state law, each city can choose to allow retail outlets within its limits, or not. Places like Colorado Springs and Greeley have already banned them.

So who can purchase the drug? The law is similar to that of alcohol purchases in that you must have ID and be at least 21 years old. Colorado residents can purchase up to an ounce and visitors from out-of-state can buy ¼ ounce. The drug is not allowed to be smoked anywhere that cigarette smoking is banned including public parks and ski resorts. Denver police officers will be out in force looking for this illegal activity and issuing citations. Users should know that it can only be used on private property and with the owner’s consent.

There is no official tracking system in place, so if you purchase marijuana you don’t need to worry that the government or your employer will be able to see your purchases. However, everyone buying product will be on videotaped security footage that shows the individual’s identity and records of their entrance and exit.

Taxes on the substance are fairly high with a 15% excise tax on the wholesale price and then another 10% sales tax on the retail price. However, many young families are happy that the state expects that about $30 million in taxes a year will go towards the public school system. The balance will go towards regulating the retail shops and industry.

While this groundbreaking event is exciting to many people who have joyously announced that “prohibition is over!” consumers should also be aware that it’s not all fun and games. You can be pulled over and cited for DWI if your blood analysis shows over 5 nanograms of THC, it’s illegal to have over an ounce in your possession, and if you are caught publicly smoking or selling marijuana. If you are caught with between 1 – 8 ounces, a Class 1 Misdemeanor, you can be sentenced to 6 – 18 months in jail and fines of $500 – $5,000. Anything more than 8 ounces is a Class 5 Felony which includes 1 – 3 years in prison and fines between $1,000 - $100,0000. Minors in possession of marijuana will be subject to the same penalties as if caught with alcohol and will have to attend court-ordered drug awareness programs.

Tips To Avoid Alcohol Abuse Relapse In 2014

The holiday season is upon us and you are doing your best to make it through while staying sober. New Years Eve can be especially difficult, as most parties will be filled with alcohol-fueled revelers. Like you’ve been doing so far, bring your own favorite non-alcoholic drink just in case the host doesn’t have anything, and to keep satisfied so you don’t feel like your missing out. If you are really worried, arrive late and leave early so you make an appearance but have time to break down or feel pressure to drink.

So you’ve made it this far and are now wondering how you are going to continue sobriety in 2014 and beyond. It can seem overwhelming but as you know, is doable. To avoid relapse, many specialists in the field suggest the following tips:

1. Surround yourself with supportive people who care about your welfare and will help keep you accountable.

2. Continue going to AA meetings and if you travel, plan ahead by figuring out where they are in the city you are visiting.

3. Try to avoid hanging out with friends that partake and/or situations in which drugs and alcohol are readily available.

4. Take care of yourself. Be aware of how you are feeling and take action before you get too hungry, thirsty, lonely, depressed or stressed. Realize that you are working on a huge goal and reduce the amount of responsibilities you have undertaken if they are causing guilt or anxiety.

5. Know your limitations. If you are going to be in a situation that reminds you of your days of drinking and/or creates too much pressure, make a plan to leave early. Don’t put yourself in a situation in which you feel helpless.

6. Create and maintain healthy habits. Start jogging, join a gym, and take long walks or whatever you enjoy. Exercise increases endorphins that make you feel good, and once you start seeing a change in your body, will lift your spirits! It can also replace the time that you were filling with alcohol.

7. Avoid boredom and isolation. This can contribute to high-risk feelings like sadness, pity and self-doubt that can spiral you to relapse. Get out and volunteer, join a club that interests you, go to church or temple, or take classes.

8. Learn forgiveness and let go of your anger and resentments. Taking anger management classes can help you to learn how to implement this.

9. Continue to work on and resolve emotional issues with a trained psychotherapist one on one, or in a group setting.

10. Make a list of pros and cons of drinking. If you are feeling like you are ready to just have “one” drink, write down your memories of the good and the bad. The cons side will help you remember why you stopped to begin with. If you are still not sure, try taking an alcohol education class to learn what alcohol does to your mind and body in the short and long-terms.

It is possible to enjoy life and have fun while clean and sober. Once you do, you will begin to notice that you are not alone and more people than you thought are doing the same exact thing. You will find yourself engaging in more interesting conversations and actually remembering them! You will feel healthier and more energized. Lastly, you will find that your personal relationships will improve providing a more fulfilling life.

Stow Your Prescription Meds Out Of Your Teenagers Reach!

While you are preparing to open your home to guests this holiday season, it’s a good time to take a look in your medicine cabinets and put away any prescription medication that is sitting out. Prescription painkiller abuse continues to be on the rise in the U.S. Surveys show that after marijuana, it is the second most widely abused drug amongst teens. Specifically, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, between 8 – 10% of high school seniors reported that they used Vicodin or OxyContin in 2011 for fun. When asked why, many teens respond by explaining that they don’t think it’s a very dangerous form of recreation (unlike heroine or crystal meth) and they like the high. They see their parents popping pills with no apparent problem and this type of drug is often easy to find in many households, including their own. Ex addicts often report that they would go through the bathrooms at other people’s homes to find any pills they could get a hold of.

The truth is that prescription drugs like Oxycodone are widely prescribed for aches and pains after dental work, minor surgeries or for persistent back pain and they are highly powerful. They work by blocking the nervous system from sending pain signals to the brain. They also have the sought after side effect of making the consumer feel good, which is what the teen users are looking for.

Drugs that should be kept under lock and key include brand names like Oxcontin, Lorcet, Percodan, Percocet, Lortab, and Darvocet and Demerol. These are potent medications that are meant to be prescribed to adults for short-term relief. Unfortunately, because they are a synthetic form of Opium, they are highly addictive and extremely difficult for some people to stop.

Some signs that an individual might be taking or is addicted to painkillers include small pupils, itching or flushed skin, slurred speech, confusion, euphoria, and nausea or vomiting. If the individual needs to keep taking more and more to lessen the pain or feel the high, they are developing a tolerance and physical dependency. Withdrawal from painkiller abuse can look like enlarged pupils, sweating, increased anxiety, cramping, tremors, confusion, insomnia and flu-like symptoms. The side effects that most experience from withdrawal generally last from 1 day to 1 week after the last dosage. The side-effects of withdrawal aren’t life threatening but it’s definitely a very tough time and after a day or two, some people can’t take it and go back to them.

Addiction is no picnic and teens should also know that if they are caught with loose prescription drugs, they will face legal consequences. This means that parents will be notified, parents will miss work to accompany them to face the charges in court, and money will be paid out for attorneys fees. If the drugs are in individual zip locked baggies or in a bottle with the label pulled off, the teen might be charged with intent to sell regardless of what their intent was. In many courts the individual might have to spend a night in jail or at the very least, they will have to take a drug education course. It’s a very big deal for some dangerous fun. Don’t let your teen get involved with any type of drug use. If you notice a problem, get help today!