Self-Harm

Self-Harm

Self-Harm

By: Julia Keys

        Self-harm is the act of intentionally injuring oneself without intending suicide. Self-harming behaviors may include, but are not limited to: cutting, scratching, burning, banging/bruising or interference with an injury so that it cannot heal. Self-harm has become a huge concern within the adolescent demographic. Research shows that girls are more likely than boys to self-harm. A recent study shows that up to 17% of teenagers self-harm. To many others who do not self-harm, the act of intentionally hurting oneself may be perplexing, however there are many reasons why people self-harm.

The root of self-harming behavior stems from a lack of healthy coping mechanisms. Oftentimes people turn to self-harm when they have overwhelming feelings of anger, anxiety, depression, or guilt that they do not know how to express. Some self-harm as an act of release, similar to crying or screaming. Once they self-harm, the body releases endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers, giving the individual feelings of relaxation or happiness. Sometimes people self-harm because they “feel numb”, and harming themselves makes them feel alive.

Here are some signs someone you love may be self-harming:

  • Unexplained cuts, bruises or marks
  • Patterns of parallel cuts or scars
  • Sudden change in mood
  • Wearing clothing inappropriate to the weather in an attempt to cover certain parts of the body
  • Secretive behavior
  • Self-isolating behavior

While self-harm is usually not an attempt at suicide, it is a very serious sign of emotional distress. If you are struggling with self-harm or know someone struggling with self-harm, here are some resources you may find helpful.

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DON’T-CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Self-Harm Text Hotline: Text CONNECT to 741741 in the United States.

If you or a loved one is struggling with self-harm, do not hesitate to seek help by contacting Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evidence-based-living/201805/why-do-youth-self-injure

https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Self-harm

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/cutting-self-harm-signs-treatment#3

Source for Picture:

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Relapse Prevention: Substance Use Disorders

Relapse Prevention: Substance Use Disorders Relapse Prevention: Substance Use Disorders

By: Julia Keys

The road to recovery from substance abuse can be long and difficult. There may be many times when those recovering are tempted to just give up. However, there are many different strategies for when individuals are in a place where they feel ready to quit all the progress they made. Relapse is part of recovery, but it should be avoided and treated carefully.

Most people think that relapse starts when the addict starts using again, however relapse can start much earlier than that. There are three stages of relapse: emotional relapse, mental relapse and physical relapse.  Emotional relapse starts when one is thinking about using. Although they have made no real attempts at obtaining any substances, the thought of using is very tempting. During mental relapse one has decided to use again. Physical relapse is when you contact your dealer, obtain substances, or use substances.

When preventing relapse it is important to seek many different types of support. Studies show that those recovering who see therapists alongside any inpatient or outpatient detox programs have faster recovery rates than those who do not seek additional treatment. Therapists can help those in recovery come up with personalized strategies to prevent them from relapsing.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or recovery from substance abuse, do not hesitate to seek help by contacting Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201312/preventing-relapse-among-addicted-youth

https://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/relapse-prevention.htm

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Addictions in College

By: Julia Keys

     Ever hear the old saying “work hard, play hard”? Unfortunately, this saying is taken to the extreme across many college campuses in America.  Unhealthy behaviors like binge drinking and drug use are normalized due to the party culture that pervades college life.  According  to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 50% of college students binge drink (drinking three or more drinks in one sitting) and about two thirds of those with a valid prescription for an ADHD medication such as Adderall or Ritalin, share their pills with their friends.  Other drugs that are common on college campuses include benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Klonopin, which are prescription medications and helpful when used properly, but are often abused, and illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine.

What causes college students to participate in these behaviors?

  • Greek Life
  • Independence/living on one’s own for the first time
  • Peer pressure
  • Pressure to do well in school

Signs of Addiction

  • Abnormally red, glassy, or dilated pupils
  • Red, irritated nostrils
  • Needle or track marks
  • Weight loss
  • Secretive behavior
  • Sudden increase in irritability, depression or anxiety

If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, recovering from an addiction, or suspect  you are developing an addiction, please contact your college’s counseling center or Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to a licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.clearviewtreatment.com/blog/signs-drinking-drug-student/

https://addictionresource.com/addiction/college/

Source for Picture:

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Cannabis: Healing Therapy

 

An Initiative To Legalize Marijuana In California To Appear On Nov. Ballot

By: Dara Kushnir

Currently cannabis is used to treat chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, epilepsy, and a series of other disorders and diagnoses. Dustin Sulak, an osteopathic physician in Maine who prescribes cannabis to patients, talks about cannabis use in a Northern New Jersey Natural Awakenings article. He states that using cannabis decreases the dependence on opioids and can be a substitute for prescription drugs. He does acknowledge that cannabis dependency does exist but is much more uncommon that heroin. Both common side effects as well as withdrawal symptoms of cannabis are mild. Dizziness is the most common side effect but it is not limited to altered consciousness, euphoria, panic or paranoid reaction, and increased appetite.

The key to using medicinal cannabis is finding the ideal dosage level that minimizes the side effects and maximizes the benefits. More is not always better. Through Dustin Sulak’s experience, he has seen a dose response curve; as the dose gets higher, peoples responses increase until a certain point where the response actually starts to decrease. The optimal amount is at the peak of that curve, where the dose is as low as possible with the greatest number of benefits.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, please call the 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/

Source: https://www.projectcbd.org/medicine/dr-dustin-sulak-cannabis-dosing                   Nagle, A.L. (2019, January). Dustin Sulak on Cannabis as a Healing Therapy. Natural Awakenings, 14-15.

Image: https://atlantablackstar.com/2014/03/11/caribbean-medical-community-disagree-decriminalizing-marijuana/

 

Addiction

By: Dianna Gomez

It is more often than not assumed that a person addicted to a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is someone with shallow morals, little motivation, and that if he or she really wanted to, they could simply stop using at any moment. These assumptions show how extremely misunderstood addiction is by our general public, as well as how infrequently this topic is discussed among us. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects a person’s brain chemistry, thoughts, and behaviors. An individual can initially fall into addiction through voluntarily substance use or through necessary use of prescription medication prescribed by a doctor (ex: pain medication for after a surgery). When addiction first begins, the substance affects the reward circuits in the brain which causes feelings of complete euphoria. If a person continues to use the substance, the brain adjusts itself and develops a “tolerance” for it, which causes the individual to not feel the effects of the drug as intensely as they did the first time the drug was taken. This requires the person to have to use a larger quantity of the substance in order to reach the same level of “high” they did before. There are many different ways an individual can naturally be more vulnerable to addiction throughout their lifetime. Two of these main ways include biology and environment.

Biology: the genetics a person is born with can affect up to 50% of their risk for becoming addicted to a substance. This includes factors such as gender, ethnicity, and an individual’s family mental health history.

Environment: the conditions in which an individual is brought up in such as their economic status, family/friends, and quality of life in general also plays a huge role in their vulnerability for addiction. Peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, traumatic experiences with abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) are a few examples of common environmental influences.

If either you or anybody you know suffers from substance abuse or addiction, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

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.

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.