A Prescription for Healthy Living

A Prescription for Healthy Living

Good Morning At Night! Could You Have A Night Shift Work Sleep Disorder?

posted by Ranya Elguendy

What do firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, factory workers, and office cleaning staff have in common? They all are at risk for shift work sleep disorder. If you work at night or often rotate shifts, you may share that risk. Working at night or irregular shifts can keep you from getting the regular snooze time that most daytime workers take for granted.

Working non-traditional hours is more common than you might think. In industrialized nations, up to 20% of workers work either night or rotating shifts, according to an editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Although not everyone who works odd hours has shift work sleep disorder, a lot can be at stake. People with shift work disorder have higher rates of absenteeism and accidents related to sleepiness than night workers without the disorder.


Memory and ability to focus can become impaired, and shift workers who are sleep-deprived often get irritable or depressed, says Wesley Elon Fleming, MD, clinical assistant professor at Loma Linda University and director of the Sleep Center Orange County in Southern California. Their relationships and social life can suffer, too.

Shift workers also face potential health problems, researchers have found. Overall, those who work night or rotating shifts seem to have a higher risk of ulcers, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.


Working Shifts: 9 Tips for Better Sleep

If your job requires that you work the night shift or hours other than the traditional 9 to 5, you need to pay close attention to your sleep. These tips can help you get good sleep:


1- Try not to work a number of night shifts in a row. You may become increasingly more sleep-deprived over several nights on the job. You’re more likely to recover if you can limit night shifts and schedule days off in between.

2- Avoid frequently rotating shifts. If you can’t, it’s easier to adjust to a schedule that rotates from day shift to evening to night rather than the reverse order.

3- Try to avoid long commutes that take time away from sleeping.

4- Keep your workplace brightly lighted to promote alertness. If you’re working the night shift, expose yourself to bright light, such as that from special light boxes, lamps, and visors designed for people with circadian-related sleep problems, when you wake up. Circadian rhythms are the body’s internal clock that tells us when to be awake and when to sleep. These rhythms are controlled by a part of the brain that is influenced by light. Fleming says that being exposed to bright light when you start your “day” can help train your body’s internal clock to adjust.


5- Limit caffeine. Drinking a cup of coffee at the beginning of your shift will help promote alertness. But don’t consume caffeine later in the shift or you may have trouble falling asleep when you get home.

6- Avoid bright light on the way home from work, which will make it easier for you to fall asleep once you hit the pillow. Wear dark, wraparound sunglasses and a hat to shield yourself from sunlight. Don’t stop to run errands, tempting as that may be.

7- Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule as much as you can.

8- Ask your family to limit phone calls and visitors during your sleep hours.

9- Use blackout blinds or heavy curtains to block sunlight when you sleep during the day. “Sunlight is a potent stimulator of the circadian rhythm,” Fleming says. “Even if your eyes are closed, the sunlight coming into the room tells your brain that it’s daytime. Yet your body is exhausted and you’re trying to sleep. That discrepancy … is not a healthy thing for the body to be exposed to.”


Sleep and the Night Shift
Could you have shift work sleep disorder?

Why do night shifts wreak havoc on sleep? “The circadian rhythm is so [ingrained] in each one of us that what we’re doing is going against the body’s natural desire to be asleep at nighttime and to be awake during the daytime,” says Fleming. “Some people have ways of coping that are better than others, but for the most part, it’s very difficult to feel your optimal self when you work the night shift.”

Rotating shifts are even harder on the body, Fleming adds. “The body likes to operate on a routine schedule. The body likes to know what to expect in terms of production of certain hormones,” he says. “When you expose yourself to sunlight at some times during the week, but not others — when you’re sleeping at nighttime some nights and then during daytime at others — the body has difficulty knowing what to anticipate and when to produce those transmitters and neurochemicals for sleep and digestion and proper functioning of the human body.”


Regular, restful sleep is crucial for the body’s repair, Fleming says. “The body’s ability to recover and recuperate from the damage done during the daytime on a cellular level is affected by the night shift –because that’s the purpose of sleep. If our sleep schedule is erratic or irregular, that synchrony of repair that’s supposed to happen at nighttime doesn’t get played out the way it’s supposed to.”

Treating Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Despite the prevalence of irregular work hours in our ’round-the-clock, technological society, sleep experts say that people usually don’t show up at sleep labs with complaints about topsy-turvy schedules. “Most patients feel that there’s nothing they can do about it,” Fleming says. “It’s not a very common source of referrals to a sleep center, even though it should be.”


The hallmarks of shift work sleep disorder are excessive sleepiness during night work and insomnia when a worker tries to sleep during the daytime. Workers with significant symptoms — including headaches, lack of energy and trouble concentrating — should talk to their doctors.


To treat shift work disorder, doctors usually start with improving sleep hygiene with the nine tips covered at the beginning of this article. Using blackout curtains and keeping a regular sleep-wake schedule can help your body adjust to sleeping during the day.

If those behavioral changes don’t help, doctors can prescribe medications to help people stay alert when they need to be awake and help shift workers fall asleep.

Stimulant medications such as Nuvigil and Provigil can relieve sleepiness when people need to be awake. These drugs are approved for the treatment of excessive sleepiness related to shift work disorder, among other conditions.

Sleep aids such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata may be prescribed to help with falling asleep. Certain antidepressants and benzodiazepines may also be used to help with sleep.



What is Garcinia Cambogia?

posted by Ranya Elguendy

Dieting sucks! It tends to lead to cravings… and hunger.This generally causes people to give up on their diet and gain the weight back.

For this reason, most conventional weight loss methods have a terrible success rate. Very few people succeed in the long run.

This is where a popular weight loss supplement called Garcinia Cambogia extract steps in.

According to many health experts, it can reduce appetite and help you lose weight, pretty much without effort.

Even Dr. Oz has been touting the benefits of it. He is an American TV doctor and probably the most famous health “guru” in the world.

Last year, Dr. Oz featured Garcinia Cambogia on his show.

He seemed very excited about it… he even used the word magic and said that it might be “the most exciting breakthrough in natural weight loss to date


Given the raving reviews about Garcinia Cambogia, I got excited and decided to take a closer look at this supplement and the science behind it.

Garcinia cambogia is a plant, also known as Garcinia gummi-gutta.

The fruit of the plant looks like a small, green pumpkin and is used in many traditional Asian dishes for its sour flavor.

In the skin of the fruit, there is a large amount of a natural substance called Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA).

This is the active ingredient in Garcinia Cambogia extract… that is, the substance that produces the weight loss effects.

Bottom Line: Garcinia Cambogia is a plant often used in Asian recipes. The skin of the fruit contains a substance called Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA), which is the active ingredient.


Does Garcinia Cambogia Actually Work?

I managed to find several research studies on Garcinia Cambogia, in both animals and humans.

According to some studies in rats, it can inhibit a fat producing enzyme called Citrate Lyase, making it more difficult for the body to produce fat out of carbohydrates.

Other rat studies show increased levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This could theoretically lead to reduced appetite and cravings.

There are actually a whole bunch of studies in rats showing that Garcinia Cambogia consistently leads to significant weight loss.

However, what works in rats doesn’t always work in humans.

Bottom Line: Studies in rats show that the active ingredient in Garcinia Cambogia can inhibit a fat producing enzyme called Citrate Lyase and increase serotonin levels, leading to significant weight loss.


A Look at Some Human Studies

Fortunately, I also found several human studies on Garcinia Cambogia.

All of these studies are so-called randomized controlled trials, which are the gold standard of scientific experiments in humans.

The biggest of the studies included 135 overweight individuals, which were split into two groups:

  • Treatment group: 3 grams of Garcinia Cambogia Extract (a total of 1500mg Hydroxycitric acid) in three separate doses, 30 minutes before meals.
  • Placebo group: The other group took dummy pills (placebo).

Both groups also went on a high-fiber, low calorie diet.

These were the results of the 12 week study, which was published in The Journal of The American Medical Association (a highly respected scientific journal):



As you can see, both groups lost weight.

But the group taking Garcinia Cambogia extract actually lost less weight (3.2 kg – 7 pounds) than the placebo group (4.1 kg – 9 pounds).

The researchers also looked at body fat percentage. The placebo group lost 2.16%, while the group taking Garcinia Cambogia lost only 1.6%.

However, the difference was not statistically significant, meaning that the results could have been due to chance.

More Studies

In another study with 89 overweight females, Garcinia Cambogia did lead to 1.3 kg (2.8 pounds) more weight loss compared to placebo, over a period of 12 weeks. They found no difference in appetite between groups.

Another study also found that Garcinia Cambogia reduced belly fat and reduced blood triglycerides. However, it did not cause actual weight loss.


Overall, I looked at 4 more studies. Two of them showed weight loss of a few pounds over a period of 8 weeks, but the other two showed no effect.

So… unfortunately, the weight loss effects appear to be both weak and inconsistent.

A review published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011 that looked at 12 clinical trials found that Garcinia Cambogia can increase weight loss by about 0.88 kg, or 2 pounds, on average, over a period of several weeks.

Their conclusion sums it up quite nicely:

“…Garcinia extracts/HCA can cause short-term weight loss. The magnitude of the effect is small, and the clinical relevance is uncertain.”

I agree. It may cause a mild effect in some people, but overall the effects are small and unlikely to make a major difference.


Bottom Line: There have been many studies conducted on Garcinia Cambogia in overweight individuals. Some of them show a small amount of weight loss, while other studies show no effect.

Garcinia Cambogia Appears to be Very Safe

It is important to keep in mind that these studies usually only report averages.

It is possible that some individuals can in fact lose weight with this supplement, although it doesn’t seem to work very well on average.

At least, Garcinia Cambogia appears to be safe. There are no serious side effects, only some reports of mild digestive issues.

If you want to try it out despite the poor results in the studies, then it is best to get a brand with at least 50% Hydroxycitric acid. The most common dose is 500 mg, 3 times per day, half an hour before meals.


If Garcinia Cambogia Doesn’t Work, Then What Does?

I’ve been experimenting with and researching supplements for years, but I have yet to find a weight loss supplement that actually works.

There are a few that appear to be mildly effective. This includes Caffeine, Green Tea and Glucomannan (a fiber that can reduce appetite). However, the results are usually weak and inconsistent and certainly nothing to get excited about.

At the end of the day, the only thing that is really proven to help you lose weight is changing your diet. Exercise can help too, but what you eat is by far the most important.

Take Home Message

One day, science might discover a supplement or a drug that actually works for weight loss… and I hope we do, believe me.

But it is clear from the studies that Garcinia Cambogia isn’t it. Period.



Would you like to have some coffee?

posted by Ranya Elguendy

Can that afternoon Americano actually be good for you? Does that Red Bull have more or less caffeine than the same amount of coffee? Test your coffee knowledge with this coffee 101!


Can 3 cups of daily joe helps boost your memory?

In November 2005, Austrian researchers confirmed that caffeinated coffee cantemporarily sharpen your focus and memory. After giving volunteers the caffeine equivalent of about two cups of coffee, their brain activity was increased in two locations – the memory-rich frontal lobe and the attention-controlling anterior cingulum.

Now a new study published in the August 7, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found the effects of coffee may be longer lasting – specifically in women. At the end of this four-year study, researchers found that women age 65 and older who drank more than three cups of coffee per day (or the caffeine equivalent in tea) had 33% less decline in memory over time than women who drank one cup or less of coffee or tea per day.


This caffeine-memory association was not observed in men – the authors hypothesize that perhaps that’s because men and women metabolize caffeine differently.

This is exciting news for women, though it’s certainly too premature to recommend caffeine as a memory cure-all. And it’s important to point out that this study found no protective effect for true dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.


Can Coffee and exercise prevent skin cancer?

According to a new Rutgers University study on mice (it has yet to be tested on humans), the combination of exercise and caffeine increases the body’s ability to combat precancerous cells damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The caffeine consumption alone helped destroy precancerous skin cells, as did the exercise alone. But the two together provided significant protection. Dr. Allan Conney, one of the paper’s authors, points out the possibility of some sort of synergy between the two.


Of course, this is not a substitute for sunscreen!


Could Coffee serve as a potent diuretic?

It’s true the stimulant effect of coffee can act as a slight diuretic. However, the overall volume of water you consume while enjoying your cup of coffee will more than make up for the small amount lost in your urine.


Do Energy drinks deliver more caffeine than coffee?

 It varies from drink to drink. For example, Red Bull is known as an ultimate energy drink, but it only contains 80 milligrams of caffeine in one 8-ounce can – less than the 100 milligrams in an average cup of coffee. That said, this is a case-by-case comparison…. check the caffeine amount on the label to know for sure.



Could Coffee enhance your workout?

A burst of caffeine before a workout can give you a slight edge: As little as 100 milligrams of caffeine – the amount in just a cup of coffee – has been shown to improve the athletic performance of dedicated exercisers (though casual exercisers won’t experience the same boost). Researchers aren’t sure why, but it may be because caffeine signals your muscles to ignore fatigue and contract differently.


P.S. The following folks should avoid caffeine altogether:

  • People who are caffeine sensitive: The stimulant effects of caffeine will exacerbate restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and/or headaches.
  • People with sleeping issues: Caffeine can stay in your system anywhere from three to eight hours. So depending on your personal sensitivity, stop drinking it accordingly.
  • People with gastrointestinal problems: A dose of caffeine may irritate your stomach if you have irritable bowel syndrome or ulcers.
  • People with elevated blood pressure or abnormal heart rhythms: In this case, your personal physician knows best.
  • People with severe PMS and cystic breasts: Caffeine has been shown to worsen these conditions.



posted by Ranya Elguendy

Have ever experienced that very annoying headache you get when wake up late and decide to skip having your daily coffee? I have, and it seems as if almost everything goes wrong when it happens.

Is this addiction? Am I in serious trouble? Is it time to gather up all my will and seek help? I don’t think so, and one cup of coffee every day isn’t going to hurt me.

But if you care about someone that may be in trouble, either a friend or a family member, then it’s very important to read this to help him/her before it’s too late. You may be able to save someone’s life by understanding more about addiction, its factors, its victims and most importantly, it’s treatment.


Addiction is a physical or mental dependence on a behavior or substance that a person feels powerless to stop.



Addiction is one of the most costly public health problems in the United States. It is a progressive syndrome, which means that it increases in severity over time unless it is treated. The term has been partially replaced by the word “dependence” for substance abuse. Addiction has been extended, however, to include mood-altering behaviors or activities. Some researchers speak of two types of addictions: substance addictions (for example, alcoholism, drug abuse, and smoking); and process addictions (for example, gambling, spending, shopping, eating, and sexual activity). There was as of 2004 a growing recognition that many addicts are addicted to more than one substance or process. Substance abuse is characterized by frequent relapse or return to the abused substance. Substance abusers often make repeated attempts to quit before they are successful.



The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is conducted annually by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Among the findings of the 2003 study are the following:

•In 2003, an estimated 19.5 million Americans, or 8.2 percent of the population aged 12 or older, were current illicit drug users. Current illicit drug use means use of an illicit drug during the month prior to the survey interview. The numbers did not change from 2002.

•The rate of illicit drug use among youths aged 12–17 did not change significantly between 2002 (11.6%) and 2003 (11.2%), and there were no changes for any specific drug. The rate of current marijuana use among youths was 8.2 percent in 2002 and 7.9 percent in 2003. There was a significant decline in lifetime marijuana use among youths, from 20.6 percent in 2002 to 19.6 percent in 2003. There also were decreases in rates of past year use of LSD (1.3 to 0.6%), ecstasy (2.2 to 1.3%), and methamphetamine (0.9 to 0.7%).


•About 10.9 million persons aged 12–20 reported drinking alcohol in the month prior to the survey interview in 2003 (29.0 percent of this age group). Nearly 7.2 million (19.2%) were binge drinkers and 2.3 million (6.1%) were heavy drinkers. The 2003 rates were essentially the same as those from the 2002 survey.

•An estimated 70.8 million Americans reported current (past month) use of a tobacco product in 2003. This is 29.8 percent of the population aged 12 or older, similar to the rate in 2002 (30.4%). Young adults aged 18–25 reported the highest rate of past month cigarette use (40.2%), similar to the rate among young adults in 2002. An estimated 35.7 million Americans aged 12 or older in 2003 were classified as nicotine dependent in the past month because of their cigarette use (15% of the total population), about the same as for 2002.




In 2003, the rate of substance dependence or abuse was 8.9 percent for youths aged 12–17 and 21 percent for persons aged 18–25. Among persons with substance dependence or abuse, illicit drugs accounted for 58.1 percent of youths and 37.2 percent of persons aged 18–25. In 2003, males were almost twice as likely to be classified with substance dependence or abuse as females (12.2% versus 6.2%). Among youths aged 12–17, however, the rate of substance dependence or abuse among females (9.1%) was similar to the rate among males (8.7%). The rate of substance dependence or abuse was highest among Native Americans and Alaska Natives (17.2%). The next highest rates were among Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (12.9%) and persons reporting mixed ethnicity (11.3%). Asian Americans had the lowest rate (6.3%). The rates among Hispanics (9.8%) and whites (9.2%) were higher than the rate among blacks (8.1%).



Rates of drug use showed substantial variation by age. For example, in 2003, some 3.8 percent of youths aged 12 to 13 reported current illicit drug use compared with 10.9 percent of youths aged 14 to 15 and 19.2 percent of youths aged 16 or 17. As in other years, illicit drug use in 2003 tended to increase with age among young persons, peaking among 18 to 20-year-olds (23.3%) and declining steadily after that point with increasing age. The prevalence of current alcohol use among adolescents in 2003 increased with increasing age, from 2.9 percent at age 12 to a peak of about 70 percent for persons 21 to 22 years old. The highest prevalence of both binge and heavy drinking was for young adults aged 18 to 25, with the peak rate of both measures occurring at age 21. The rate of binge drinking was 41.6 percent for young adults aged 18 to 25 and 47.8 percent at age 21. Heavy alcohol use was reported by 15.1 percent of persons aged 18 to 25 and 18.7 percent of persons aged 21. Among youths aged 12 to 17, an estimated 17.7 percent used alcohol in the month prior to the survey interview. Of all youths, 10.6 percent were binge drinkers, and 2.6 percent were heavy drinkers, similar to the 2002 numbers.



Rates of current illicit drug use varied significantly among the major racial-ethnic groups in 2003. The rate of illicit drug use was highest among Native Americans and Alaska Natives (12.1%), persons reporting two or more races (12%), and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (11.1%). Rates were 8.7 percent for African Americans, 8.3 percent for Caucasians, and 8 percent for Hispanics. Asian Americans had the lowest rate of current illicit drug use at 3.8 percent. The rates were unchanged from 2002. Native Americans and Alaska Natives were more likely than any other racial-ethnic group to report the use of tobacco products in 2003. Among persons aged 12 or older, 41.8 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives reported using at least one tobacco product in the past month. The lowest current tobacco use rate among racial-ethnic groups in 2003 was observed for Asian Americans (13.8%), a decrease from the 2002 rate (18.6%).



Young adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest rate of current use of cigarettes (40.2%), similar to the rate in 2002. Past month cigarette use rates among youths in 2002 and 2003 were 13 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively, not a statistically significant change. However, there were significant declines in past year (from 20.3% to 19%) and lifetime (from 33.3% to 31%) cigarette use among youths aged 12 to 17 between 2002 and 2003. Among persons aged 12 or older, a higher proportion of males than females smoked cigarettes in the past month in 2003 (28.1% versus 23%). Among youths aged 12 to 17, however, girls (12.5%) were as likely as boys (11.9%) to smoke in the past month. There was no change in cigarette use among boys aged 12 to 17 between 2002 and 2003. However, among girls, cigarette use decreased from 13.6 percent in 2002 to 12.5 percent in 2003.


Causes and symptoms

Addiction to substances results from the interaction of several factors.


Drug chemistry

Some substances are more addictive than others, either because they produce a rapid and intense change in mood or because they produce painful withdrawal symptoms when stopped suddenly.



Some people appear to be more vulnerable to addiction because their body chemistry increases their sensitivity to drugs. Some forms of substance abuse and dependence seem to run in families; a correlation that may be the result of a genetic predisposition, environmental influences, or a combination of the two.


Brain structure and function


Using drugs repeatedly over time changes brain structure and function in fundamental and long-lasting ways. Addiction comes about through an array of changes in the brain and the strengthening of new memory connections. Evidence suggests that those long-lasting brain changes are responsible for the distortions of cognitive and emotional functioning that characterize addicts, particularly the compulsion to use drugs. Although the causes of addiction remain the subject of ongoing debate and research, many experts as of 2004 considered addiction to be a brain disease, a condition caused by persistent changes in brain structure and function. However, having this brain disease does not absolve the addict of responsibility for his or her behavior, but it does explain why many addicts cannot stop using drugs by sheer force of will alone.



Social learning

Social learning is considered the most important single factor in causing addiction. It includes patterns of use in the addict’s family or subculture, peer pressure, and advertising or media influence.



Inexpensive or readily available tobacco, alcohol, or drugs produce marked increases in rates of addiction. Increases in state taxes on alcohol and tobacco products have not resulted in decreased use.



Before the 1980s, the so-called addictive personality was used to explain the development of addiction. The addictive personality was described as escapist, impulsive, dependent, devious, manipulative, and self-centered. Many doctors in the early 2000s believe that these character traits develop in addicts as a result of the addiction, rather than the traits being a cause of the addiction.



When to call the doctor

The earlier one seeks help for their teen’s behavioral or drug problems, the better. How is a parent to know if their teen is experimenting with or moving more deeply into the drug culture? Above all, a parent must be a careful observer, particularly of the little details that make up a teen’s life. Overall signs of dramatic change in appearance, friends, or physical health may signal trouble. If parents believe their child may be drinking or using drugs, they should seek help through a substance abuse recovery program, family physician, or mental health professional.



In addition to noting a preoccupation with using and acquiring the abused substance, the diagnosis of addiction focuses on five criteria:


•loss of willpower

•harmful consequences

•unmanageable lifestyle

•increased tolerance or escalation of use

•withdrawal symptoms on quitting



According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are three goals for the treatment of persons with substance use disorders: (1) the patient abstains from or reduces the use and effects of the substance; (2) the patient reduces the frequency and severity of relapses; and (3) the patient develops the psychological and emotional skills necessary to restore and maintain personal, occupational, and social functioning.


In general, before treatment can begin, many treatment centers require that the patient undergo detoxification. Detoxification is the process of weaning the patient from his or her regular substance use. Detoxification can be accomplished “cold turkey,” by complete and immediate cessation of all substance use, or by slowly decreasing (tapering) the dose that a person is taking, to minimize the side effects of withdrawal. Some substances must be tapered because cold-turkey methods of detoxification are potentially life threatening. In some cases, medications may be used to combat the unpleasant and threatening physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal. For example, methadone is used to help patients adjust to the tapering of heroin use.



The most frequently recommended social form of outpatient treatment is the 12-step program. Such programs are also frequently combined with psychotherapy. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anyone, regardless of his or her religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs, can benefit from participation in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). The number of visits to 12-step self-help groups exceeds the number of visits to all mental health professionals combined. There are 12-step groups for all major substance and process addictions.


Alternative treatment

Acupuncture and homeopathy have been used to treat withdrawal symptoms. Meditation, yoga, and reiki healing have been recommended for process addictions; however, the success of these programs has not been well documented through controlled studies.




The prognosis for recovery from any addiction depends on the substance or process, the individual’s circumstances, and underlying personality structure. People who have multiple substance dependencies have the worst prognosis for recovery. It is not uncommon for someone in a treatment program to have a relapse, but the success rate increases with subsequent treatment programs.


Recovery from substance use is notoriously difficult, even with exceptional treatment resources. Although relapse rates are difficult to accurately obtain, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism cites evidence that 90 percent of alcohol dependent users experience at least one relapse within four years after treatment. Relapse rates for heroin and nicotine users are believed to be similar. Certain pharmacological treatments, however, have been shown to reduce relapse rates. Relapses are most likely to occur within the first 12 months of having discontinued substance use. Triggers for relapses can include any number of life stresses (problems in school or on the job, loss of a relationship, death of a loved one, financial stresses), in addition to seemingly mundane exposure to a place or an acquaintance associated with previous substance use.




The most effective form of prevention appears to be a stable family that models responsible attitudes toward mood-altering substances and behaviors. Prevention education programs are also widely used to inform young people of the harmfulness of substance abuse.

Parental concerns

Parents and guardians need to be aware of the power they have to influence the development of their kids throughout the teenage years. Adolescence brings a new and dramatic stage to family life. The changes that are required are not just the teen’s to make; parents need to change their relationship with their teenager. It is best if parents are proactive about the challenges of this life stage, particularly those that pertain to the possibility of experimenting with and using alcohol and other drugs. Parents should not be afraid to talk directly to their kids about drug use, even if they have had problems with drugs or alcohol themselves. Parents should give clear, no-use messages about smoking, drugs, and alcohol. It is important for kids and teens to understand that the rules and expectations set by parents are based on parental love and concern for their well- being. Parents should also be actively involved and demonstrate interest in their teen’s friends and social activities. Spending quality time with teens and setting good examples are essential. Even if problems such as substance abuse already exist in the teen’s life, parents and families can still have a positive influence on their teen’s behavior.

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