Part 2: Marijuana as Medicine

 

Marijuana Part 2: Marijuana as Medicine

Sam Kwok

Despite the growing use of medical marijuana, under the federal jurisdiction, it is still classified as a schedule 1 drug. Twenty-nine states have legalized medical marijuana; however, each state has its own legislature that creates lists of preapproved conditions that may be treated with marijuana. Though, when comparing these lists, one may notice that the severity of the conditions ranges drastically. For example, California, a state known to have very loose marijuana regulation laws, has a list that include more common conditions such as anorexia, anxiety, depression, migraines, or just “any debilitating illness …deemed appropriate by the physician.” New Jersey, which is considered a moderate state when examining marijuana regulations, has a list that excludes anxiety and depression, but includes more severe illnesses including terminal cancer, muscular dystrophy, and terminal disease where the physician has determined there is less than a year of life left. Despite the differences in severity, under the US law, medical marijuana patients, dispensaries, and government officials that do not enforce the federal laws are all criminals to some extent.

In the early 70’s Nixon began his famous “War on Drugs” campaign, which intended to keep the American public safe from hard drugs. One of these drugs, was marijuana. Almost 50 years later, the same laws are still upheld and little research has been done to update the data. Technology and scientific procedures have updates, so research and laws should be updated as well.

From the little data we do have, we know that CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient of marijuana has medicinal effects. It is linked to the healthy release (unlike opiates) of dopamine and serotonin which are the “happiness” chemicals in our brain. This may be the reason why in some states, marijuana is used as a treatment for anxiety and depression. Children who suffer from severe forms of epilepsy have shown to have dramatic improvements with the introduction of CBD. The number of seizures that a child has may decrease drastically when treated with CBD oil. Marijuana is also known to help people undergoing chemotherapy treatment. It may not only help patients to regain their appetite through the reduction of nausea, but can also help reduce pain and reduce the body’s urge to regurgitate. Despite the potential of medical marijuana, further research is still barred by the government. Some suggest that the easiest way to completely legalize marijuana is if states vote to create a 28th amendment which would legalize marijuana, but that would still require ¾ of all states to vote in favor. Currently, 30 states have some laws which allow for marijuana to some extent (includes medical and recreational), but 8 more still need to reform for the possibility of a 28th amendment. The nation’s capital, Washington DC has already decriminalized the drug as well. With the current administration, marijuana will not be legalized federally. But with more and more people becoming aware of such issues, even the government will not be able to stop people from getting the medicine they need. It is clear in which direction the US is heading towards in this debate and it is only a matter of time until medical marijuana is legalized in all 50 states.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

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Marijuana Part 1: How does it work?

Marijuana Part 1: How does it work?

Sam Kwok

As the most commonly used illicit drug, marijuana has recently blossomed into an estimated $11 billion-dollar industry. Recently there has been a national shift towards the legalization of the drug, which has caused debates from both ends of the spectrum. But how does marijuana work?

Marijuana’s main psychoactive chemical is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC for short.  THC is produced by the cannabis plant and its molecular formula is C21H30O2. Anandamide, a naturally existing molecule in the brain, has the molecular formula C22H27NO2 meaning that the relative molecular weight and size of THC and anandamide are similar. Moreover, the 2 molecules have a similar structural layout which allows THC to imitate anandamide’s effects on the brain.

Anandamide is part of the endocannabinoid (EC) system in the body which helps neurons regulate the release of neurotransmitters- the brains way of sending and retrieving messages. Generally, cannabinoids affect the brain by slowing down the transmission of neurotransmitters. When marijuana is smoked, a large amount of THC enters the lungs and into the bloodstream where it can flow into the brain. THC then bonds to the same receptors anandamide normally would to slow down the activity of certain enzymes which reduces the number of neurotransmitters in the brain. Because anandamide does not naturally occur is large quantities, smoking THC overwhelms the brain, and it is this reaction that gives users that “high” feeling.

The other main chemical compound in marijuana is cannabidiol- known as CBD. CBD has been popularized due to its medicinal effects and much of the medical marijuana platform is built upon the usage it. Some laws allow, medical usage of CBD concentrates, but still consider THC as a schedule I drug. Though its molecular formula is identical to THC, it lacks key functional groups and effects the brain differently. This is why CBD has no psychoactive effects. CBD actually inhibits an enzyme used to activate receptors lowering the psychoactive effects of THC. While THC directly effects the brain by bonding to a receptor, CBD indirectly affects the brain by activating adenosine receptors. These receptors have been linked to having anti-anxiety effects and are known to also release dopamine, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that is linked to pleasant feelings. CBD also activates serotonin receptors which are linked to benefiting sleep, appetite, anxiety, and depression issues.

Since marijuana is still illegal federally, there has been little research on long term effects on the brain. Several studies have shown that marijuana use during a child’s developing age may have irreversible damaging effects to the brain. Marijuana has also been known to have harmful effects when mixed with other drugs such as alcohol. Users of the drug have also been known to have a higher chance of becoming to addicted to other drugs as marijuana is a gateway drug. However, majority of the research are inconclusive and more research must be done to make definitive conclusions.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

 

How to Cope with a Loved one Affected by Alcoholism

 

alcoholism

Sonya Cheema

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a chronic relapsing brain disease and is characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using. If you suspect a loved one has alcoholism, look for these signs:

  • Unusually high tolerance for alcohol
  • Hiding alcohol
  • Isolation/absence from work
  • Irrational moodiness/emotional ups and downs
  • Dangerous behavior
  • Not being able to stop drinking once he/she starts
  • Lying/manipulation

Keep in mind that alcoholism affects 17 million adults in the US, and that it is a disease. Many people with loved ones suffering from alcoholism tend to think that the affected person is purposely ruining his/her life and trying to upset family members. You would not blame someone with cancer for hurting themselves, so treat alcoholism in a similar manner. The best things to do when dealing with someone with alcoholism are:

  • Having honest and open discussions with the person about love and the relationship
  • Getting help from others, including professionals
  • Committing to change. If you have to make boundaries or personal promises, be sure to stick with them.
  • Empowering yourself. Learn about alcoholism so you can have a better understanding of what your loved one is going through
  • Do not enable (ie: giving them money)
  • Offer to take him/her to therapy or Alcoholics Anonymous (12 step) meetings.
  • Lastly, DO NOT blame yourself. You are not responsible for anyone’s disease.

Alcoholism is never easy to deal with, especially when it is affecting someone close to you. The best you can do is follow the suggestions above and remember that it is not your responsibility to cure him/her.

If you or a person you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.     

 

Information in this blog post was received from:

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/spouse/

https://www.discoveryplace.info/2016/08/24/the-secrets-to-helping-an-alcoholic-family-member-or-friend/#1526263885900-8943f2ec-6b34

Cause of ADHD

Isabelle Kreydin

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactive disorder. It’s typical symptoms are easily distracted, has trouble organizing tasks, is forgetful, fidgets, squirms, or is restless, talks excessively or has trouble staying quit, always seems on the go, and sometimes can be impulsive and act without thinking or interrupt.

It’s really important to educate oneself about this disability because despite hard work and great efforts, it may be hard to stay focused on a certain goal and it may be difficult to be around students and coworkers whom can function normally without their body and brain working in a different function to distract them.

ADHD is frequently confused for being caused by external environments. However, it is the result of low or imbalance levels of chemicals in the brain, specifically neurotransmitters. The two specific neurotransmitters that are implicated in ADHD are dopamine, and norepinephrine. These specific chemicals that carry messages in the brain are related to hyperactivity, inattention and impulsiveness.

Fortunately, there has been medications made that are known to work to avoid consequences associated with the symptoms of ADHD, such as poor academic performance, difficulty in academic performance, trouble in peer relationships, low self-esteem, etc.

These medications target these neurotransmitters and allow ones to control their symptoms better throughout the duration of the day. They are best combined with learning strategies and behavior modification, in the school, home, and academic environments. It’s important to try the medicines and see which one is best to help, since everybody’s chemical makeup is different and has a different reaction to certain medicines. Examples of these are Adderall and Mydais.

If you or a person you know is struggling with a narcissistic personality disorder, or any personality disorder, it may be beneficial to have them contact a mental health professional and receive therapy for their illnesses. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Nicotine Addictions

Isabelle Kreydin

People living with mental illness have a high rate of tobacco addiction. In America, 44.3% of all cigarettes are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. What’s it mean to be addicted? You might have problems paying attention, trouble sleeping, appetite change, and/or powerful cravings for tobacco at least once a day.

The nicotine in any tobacco product absorbs into ones blood when a person uses it. Upon entering the blood, nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline. Nicotine increases levels of the chemical dopamine, which affects parts of the brain that control reward and pleasure. Those who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. commonly lack a consistent flow of dopamine (as well as other neurotransmitters), and the nicotine can therefore be a sort of temporary enhancer and mood booster.

The addiction itself however, is more about the lies one feeds to himself, the subconscious thought that the cigarettes, e-cigarette or other drug will truly fill a void in the addict’s mind or body. Those struggling with addiction have something in common: an ache that they believe can be dimmed. Whether it’s simply a drug to relieve temptation, or tension in the mind or of thoughts, it’s still an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Like most drug addictions, nicotine only provides one with temporary relief or a brief time away from reality. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness. Please do not be one of those statistics.

Smoking is known to cause heart disease, stroke and lung disease, among other medical problems. Second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGAs) cause an increased risk of heart disease, so it’s important that individuals living with mental illness quit smoking. Like an e-cigarette, smokeless tobacco products contain 3 to 4 times more nicotine than cigarettes and contain substances that increase risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer. If you ever wanted to quit your addiction in the future, it would only be more difficult, as your body becomes dependent on the chemicals and drugs you chose to feed it. Recovery is a long process, however very possible.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

 

Gambling Addiction

By: Heather Kaplan

Gambling is defined as playing games for a chance to either win or lose money. One who is a compulsive gambler is someone who is unable to resist their impulses to gamble. This leads to severe disturbances in their personal and social lives. The urge to gamble becomes so great that this tension can only be relieved by more gambling. One who exhibit such behavior can be classified to have a gambling addiction. Unfortunately, many gambling addicts are not aware that they have a problem. They only begin to realize the severity of the issue when they hit ‘rock bottom’.

There are various symptoms that indicate that someone is a compulsive gambler. One who has a gambling addiction usually progresses form occasional to habitual gambling. He begins to risk more and more money, which can lead to both financial and personal instability. Someone is said to have a gambling addiction if four (or more) of the following have been demonstrated in the last twelve months:

1. Needing to gamble progressively larger amounts of money to feel the same (or more) excitement

2. Having made many unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit gambling

3. Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut back or quit gambling

4. Preoccupation or excessive thoughts (planning next gambling venture, thinking of ways to get more money to gamble with)

5. If the person is using gambling to escape problems of distress, sadness or anxiety

6. Gambling larger amounts to try to recoup previous losses

7. Lying about the amount of time and money spent gambling

8. Relying on others to borrow money due to significant gambling losses

Gambling addiction is a significant problem in the United States, impacting 1-3% of adults, men more often than women. Various complications can arise from having a gambling addiction. Those with such gambling behavior often have problems with alcohol and other substances. These people also tend to have financial, social, and legal problems. Those with gambling addictions are also at higher risk for considering or attempting suicide.

If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of the eight behaviors listed above, you may be at risk for developing a gambling addiction. The licensed psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

The History of Hypnotherapy

By Jennifer Guzman

Have you ever “zoned out” while driving and found yourself driving from one location to another without realizing how you got there? This is like how hypnosis feels, and is actually something we call “highway hypnosis”, in which you are in a natural hypnotic state.

Hypnosis is a technique that is increasingly being sought-after and used in today’s clinical practices, but little do people know that hypnosis is a technique that has been used for centuries, dating to as far back as the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. in Ancient Egypt! However, much credit is given to 18th century German physician, Frank Mesmer, who coined the term, “mesmerism” in reference to what we now call “hypnosis” and is the first dated medical practitioner to practice hypnosis for therapy. Mesmer utilized suggestion for his patients in order to cure their illness. One of the first patients with whom Mesmer used hypnosis had consisted of placing a magnet on her head in order to revitalize blood flow in her brain, which was believed to be the cause of her tooth and headaches. The magnet, coupled with Mesmer’s theatrical hand gestures had allowed the patient to believe that the fluids in her brain were stabilizing, when truly, the magnet and hand gestures had done nothing. In reality, the suggestions he was giving her were easing her aches. This discovery opened up a wide array of questions about hypnosis and brought about a new treatment to the field of psychology.

Following Mesmer was James Braid, who is regarded as the “Father of Hypnosis”. Braid delved into why hypnosis was effective during therapy session. He also conducted intensive research to identify key methods that could put someone into a trance state through analysis of the physiological components of hypnosis. Braid was the figure who coined the term, “Hypnosis”.
Much credit to modern day hypnotherapy must be attributed to 20th century psychologist, Milton H. Erickson, who created a multitude of hypnotherapy methods that are currently being used in today’s clinical practices. Erickson places great emphasis on language in order to tap into the unconscious mind. He also emphasizes the importance of allowing the patient to feel positive feelings with his aid. The methods help the patient heal through their own willpower.

Even Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, utilized hypnosis in his therapy, although he did not inherently acknowledge that what he sometimes performed on his patients was hypnotherapy. However, Freud discarded the use of hypnosis in his practice because his techniques did not work on his patients. In order to be properly hypnotized, the hypnotist should be a licensed mental health professional, such as the psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy.

Contrary to the popular belief that when someone is under hypnosis, they are not in control of their own bodies—this is a myth. When under hypnosis, you are free to intervene and break out of your trance state if you feel uncomfortable or become distracted; however, doing so will decrease the effectiveness of the session. In order to go through successful hypnosis, one must be willing to be hypnotized, open to suggestion, and trust the hypnotherapist.

Hypnotherapy is typically used to successfully treat issues such as Depression, Anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), weight gain or weight loss, Insomnia, smoking cessation, and more.

If you or someone you know is interested in hypnosis or psychotherapy, please contact our offices in New York or New Jersey to make an appointment with one of the licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. For hypnotherapy, please ask to make an appointment with one of our hypnotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information on our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call 1-800-273-8255.

References:

Retrieved March 23, 2018, from http://www.historyofhypnosis.org/
Hammer, G.A. Orne, M.T. Hypnosis. Retrieved March 32, 2018, from https://www.britannica.com/science/hypnosis

Compulsive Sexual Behavior

Compulsive Sexual Behavior/ Hypersexuality:
By: Cassie Sieradzky

Compulsive sexual behavior, also known as hypersexuality or sexual addiction, is characterized by frequent sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors. These intense and repetitive preoccupations are uncontrollable and distressing to the individual, which can result in impaired daily functioning. Compulsive sexual behavior is more common in men and usually develops during late adolescence or early adulthood. This disorder is often undiagnosed because the individual may feel embarrassed about their behavior and unwilling to disclose information that could lead to a diagnosis and they may be unaware that this disorder can be successfully treated.

Compulsive sexual behavior can be diagnosed if a person experiences 3 or more symptoms for over 6 months. The symptoms include time consumed by sexual urges/fantasies/behaviors repetitively interferes with other important facets of life, repetitively engaging in sexual fantasies/urges/behaviors in response to negative mood states, repetitively engaging in sexual fantasies/urges/behaviors in response to stressful life events, repetitive but unsuccessful efforts to control these symptoms, and repetitively engaging in sexual behaviors while disregarding the risk for physical or emotional harm to self or others. Compulsive sexual behavior is highly comorbid and research suggests that about 50% of adults diagnosed with this disorder also meet criteria for at least 1 other psychiatric disorder, such as mood, anxiety, substance use, impulse control, or personality disorders. This disorder also comes with increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Psychotherapy and some medications are successful in treating compulsive sexual disorder.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from compulsive sexual behavior, licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Grant, J. E. (2018, February). Compulsive sexual behavior: A nonjudgmental approach. Current Psychiatry, 17(2), 34-45.

Anxiety: Exposure Therapy Helping Teens Combat Anxiety

By Hannah Pierce

Exposure therapy is a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique in which a person is exposed to a feared object or situation to overcome their anxiety. A majority of researchers and clinicians believe that exposure therapy is the most effective treatment for many anxiety disorders. One study even found that people improved more using this technique than taking antidepressants.

Although exposure therapy is proven to be very effective, it is not frequently used with teens. Many teens suffering with anxiety are prescribed medication rather than receiving therapy. It is difficult for people to consent to exposure therapy because they do not want to do something that will make them feel even more anxious.

One article documented teens’ experiences with exposure therapy. A 14-year-old suffering from social anxiety, depression, OCD, and binge-eating agreed to tackle his social anxiety through exposure therapy. On a busy college campus he sat on a bench next to a stranger and initiated a conversation. To some people this may seem simple but to a teen suffering from social anxiety, the task is very daunting. He sat on the bench and tried to talk to the stranger but the stranger just kept texting and playing with his phone. Although the exchange did not turn into a conversation, at least the teen faced his fear and realized it wasn’t that bad.

Another teen’s exposure involved him holding a sign that read “I’ve been bullied. Ask me.” Thomas hoped to combat his anxiety while also educating people on bullying. Most students on the campus walked by him without giving him a second glance. After a while, a couple stopped to talk to Thomas. The man empathized with him, sharing that he had been bullied as well and the woman applauded Thomas for his bravery.  After the exchange Thomas was very pleasantly surprised and realized he did not have much to be so anxious about.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing anxiety, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.

Source: “The Kids Who Can’t” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

Alcohol Abuse: Binge Drinking

By Hannah Pierce

Binge drinking is the most common and deadly form of alcohol abuse in the U.S. but it is also preventable. It is defined as drinking to bring a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. This usually occurs when a woman consumes four drinks and a man consumes five drinks in two hours.

Binge drinking can happen across a lifespan but it is most common among people between the ages of 18 and 34. Many high school and college students below the age of 21 report binge drinking on occasion. It is a form of alcohol abuse that is “drinking to get drunk” rather than just having a couple drinks.

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems including:

• Alcohol poisoning
• Unintentional injuries (car accidents, falls, burns)
• Sexually transmitted diseases
• Cancer (breast, mouth, liver, esophagus, colon)
• Memory and learning problems
• Poor pregnancy outcomes (miscarriage, stillborn, fetal alcohol syndrome)
• Alcohol dependence

Binge drinking can be prevented by:

• Increasing taxes on alcohol and other pricing strategies
• Limiting the number of places that sell alcohol
• Restricting the hours that alcohol can be sold
• Holding retailers responsible for harms caused by illegal distribution of alcohol to minors or customers who are inebriated
• Consultation and counseling for alcohol abuse

If you or someone you know may be binge drinking or abusing alcohol, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201)368-3700 or (212)722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.
https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm