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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Popular ADHD Medications a Source of Substance Abuse on College Campuses

substance abuseMost of us are sympathetic to the pressures of college. While incoming college freshmen may focus on school as their first “on-their-own” life experience, as students progress through college and approach graduation the reality of adulthood becomes a looming presence. That can mean an increasing pressure to perform well academically.

As the perceived pressure to earn good grades increases, students sometimes look for ways to gain a competitive edge. According to a meta-study conducted through the University of South Carolina more than one-sixth of college kids are turning to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) stimulant medications to find that edge. Students are abusing drugs like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta in hopes of improving study times, test-taking and overall academic performance.

The problem of stimulant substance abuse is a growing concern since more and more children are being diagnosed and prescribed treatment with these medications. This means that there are more entering college freshmen every year taking the drugs. Patients with an ADHD prescription are a popular source of supply for those engaged in illicit substance abuse.

Researchers chose 30 previous studies on the subject for their meta-analysis. Investigation showed that those most likely to be involved with stimulant substance abuse were white male upperclassmen with fraternity membership. Although these young men took the drugs to boost their scholastic prowess, the research showed that non-users actually perform better academically.

If you suspect your college student may be struggling with substance abuse, don’t look the other way hoping that it will end on graduation day. Instead, call and talk to one of our mental health professionals at Family Guidance. We can help guide you in approaching your child and provide step by step counsel in changing a dangerous pattern.

Alcohol Poisoning is a Real Danger – Know the Signs

Taking in too much alcohol for the body to adequately process poses a danger to the drinker and to those around them. One danger thatDanger 1 drinkers often miscalculate is the risk of alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning occurs when the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream is many times higher than the range considered safe. Alcohol affects brain function and large amounts of alcohol can interfere with the brain’s ability to perform normally or safely. A high level of alcohol in the body can also affect physical health in other negative ways.

This impact on brain function is why intoxicated people slur their speech or cannot walk in a straight line. With alcohol poisoning, the amount of alcohol in the body is enough to impair functioning in ways that can be life threatening. For example, the body’s normal reflex to rid itself of toxins is to vomit. But when the gag reflex is not working as it should a person can choke to death on their own vomit. In other cases, breathing can slow down perilously or stop altogether.

Binge drinkers (four or more drinks at one sitting) are at particular risk. This amount of alcohol is hard for the body to process and can lead to alcohol poisoning. Because alcohol poisoning can be deadly it’s important to know the symptoms:

Confusion
Ragged breathing
Skin becomes very pale or blue-tinged
Vomiting
Seizure

If you or someone you know drinks excessively and to the danger point even semi-regularly, it’s time to do something and reach out for help. At Family Guidance we have a variety of treatment programs to help you on the road to recovery. Don’t wait – call us today. One episode of alcohol poisoning could be one too many.

First Lady Speaks up for More Attention, Less Stigma on Issues of Mental Health

White House 1First lady Michelle Obama has spoken up about her passion for healthier eating in our country. Now she has used her position to draw attention to the issue of mental health.

First lady Obama was a highlighted speaker at the recent summit on mental health which served as a launch pad for a new campaign entitled Change Direction. The summit drew participants from several key areas: not-for-profit organizations, government and private business. The impetus for the initiative was a White House discussion on mental health following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013.

Mrs. Obama made note of the fact that mental health is an integral part of overall health and affects over 40 million of us, our family members, neighbors and co-workers. There is no excuse, she said, for stigmatizing a health issue comparable to a host of other health issues. When something is touching the lives of one in five American adults, it deserves compassionate attention, not prejudice.

The Change Direction campaign will urge all Americans to keep an eye on mental health just as they would on things like heart health, diet and nutrition, and other health factors. The campaign aims to draw attention to five recognized signs of emotional duress so that people will more readily recognize the symptoms. Those five signs are:

Agitation
Hopelessness
Personality changes
Personal care changes
Withdrawal from others

At Family Guidance we know that mental health conditions like anxiety and depression affect many more people than ever reach out for help. We salute Mrs. Obama’s call for more attention and less stigma. If you notice several of the five signs listed in yourself or someone you love, call us and make an appointment. Mental health is treatable and manageable.

Self-Harm Risk for Girls With ADHD

Most of the challenges parents may encounter when a child as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often talked about: academicADHD 7 struggles, behavioral problems and social difficulties. But most parents are caught completely off-guard when a child comes to them and confesses to self-injury. Few parents are on the lookout for this, even if their child is living with the symptoms of ADHD.

Self-injury or self-harm refers to more than the practice of cutting. Self-injury can be making cuts in easy to hide places on the body, but it may also manifest as scratching, burning or pulling hair. Why would someone do this? When the human body is injured, it triggers a release of a comforting chemical called dopamine. Kids who are deeply sad may intentionally harm themselves in order to feel the comforting rush of dopamine.

The risk of this behavior is particularly high for girls with ADHD, especially the form that includes both attention deficit and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Over 50 percent of girls with this form of ADHD self-harm. Those with attention deficit only face a higher risk than non-ADHD females, but not as high as those with both subtypes of the disorder.

There are reasons why ADHD is a risk factor for this kind of behavior, just as there are reasons why it appears more prevalent among girls with the condition than with boys. For starters, self-image challenges are common to the condition. These girls struggle profoundly with feeling like they are failures. Add in the impulsivity inherent to ADHD and that can lead to poor decision-making. This may all be a greater risk for girls because they tend to internalize failures and struggles more than boys.

The parent who learns that their son or daughter has been engaging in self-harm can do three important things:

1. Remain calm – the child needs a steady place to go
2. Listen without condemning – they have been beating themselves up already
3. Get help from a trained professional

At Family Guidance we can help children with ADHD deal with the challenges of their diagnosis, including urges to self-harm. We encourage parents to contact us as soon as the problem becomes apparent. There is hope.

Mental Health Concerns Among Athletes

Mental Health 1A Youth Sports Safety Summit recently concluded in the great state of Texas. It was the sixth summit sponsored by the National Athletic Trainer’s Association. The summit provided a platform to discuss new recommendations for protecting young athletes.

There has been much attention in recent years directed towards the danger of concussions. This year’s summit also focused on the need for trainers to keep an eye on player’s mental health. The number of student athletes who will struggle with mental health concerns is far more than the number who will suffer from a concussion. Yet, while parents and coaches have no trouble discussing how to avoid and treat concussions, few find the same level of comfort when it comes to mental health dangers.

Athletes can struggle with performance issues whether based on earning a scholarship, protecting a position or the fear of stumbling in public. There are many more things that a coach or trainer needs to keep on their radar however. For instance, an injury can sometimes trigger depression or anxiety. For some athletes, an eating disorder is a genuine risk. Substance abuse may happen less often among athletes, but it still happens. And bullying takes place in the ranks as well – both as perpetrator and victim.

Unless the trainer has developed a personal relationship with athletes these problems can go undetected. On the other hand, an engaged coach can play an important role in recognizing mental health struggles and de-stigmatizing treatment. Parents play a vital role, but as athletes age they may spend more one-on-one time with coaches and trainers who would have an invaluable front row seat into young lives.

At Family Guidance we welcome the attention being given to mental health among athletes. We are ready to partner with parents and athletic trainers in making sure that our youth learn how to overcome mental health obstacles.