Personality Disorders: What are they?

By: Elyse Ganss

According to the Mayo Clinic, “a personality disorder is a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving.” Those who have personality disorders struggle when interacting and trying to get along with others and tend to think their erratic thoughts are normal. Personality disorders can be grouped into three different clusters.

Cluster A is characterized by odd/suspicious thinking or behavior. Examples of cluster A personality disorders are paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder. Cluster B includes emotional/impulsive behavior, dramatic tendencies, and unpredictable thinking. Examples include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. Finally, cluster C is characterized by anxious thinking and behavior. Avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are examples of cluster C personality disorders.

Personality disorders occur through an interaction of genetic and environmental influences. Risk factors for personality disorders include a family history of mental illness, an unstable or abusive childhood, and variations in brain chemistry. Typically, personality disorders emerge in teenage or emerging adulthood years. Through the combination of therapy and medication, personality disorders can be managed.

If you or someone you know needs support for a personality disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists 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, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463#:~:text=Overview,relating%20to%20situations%20and%20people.

https://www.healthline.com/health/personality-disorders#outlook

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The Less Talked-About Side of OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Isabelle Siegel

When thinking about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), most people instinctively think of those who care about cleanliness and tidiness. In fact, it is not uncommon to use the phrase “I’m so OCD” to imply that one agonizes over neatness and order. This perception of OCD is not without reason, as many people with OCD do obsess over germs, contamination, and order and engage in excessive hand washing, cleaning, and ordering.

However, it is important to note that this is not the reality for many other sufferers of OCD. OCD is a wide-ranging disorder involving the presence of obsessions—“repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety”—and compulsions—repetitive behaviors performed to relieve the anxiety. These obsessions can take nearly any form, with contamination and order being only two of them. Some other common obsessions include thoughts about: losing control or going insane, harming oneself or others, unwanted sexual ideas or images, and/or religion. For example, it is well-documented that people with OCD may experience intrusive thoughts about homosexuality, pedophilia, violence and aggression, and/or suicide.

Many people with these less talked-about OCD “themes” take longer to realize that they have OCD because their symptoms are not in line with the stereotypical hand washing and tidying. These individuals often engage in different compulsive behaviors to alleviate anxiety. These behaviors may include mental compulsions such as repeated checking and rumination (that is, repetitively reviewing and evaluating one’s thoughts and their meanings). For example, the individual who obsesses about violence and aggression may repeatedly check that he/she has not unintentionally harmed those around him/her.

It is ultimately important to acknowledge this less talked-about side of OCD in order to encourage sufferers to acknowledge their symptoms and to guide them to get the treatment and help that they need. 

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from OCD, 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/

Sources:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml
https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/overcoming-self-sabotage/201002/rumination-problem-solving-gone-wrong
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https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/obssessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd.htm

Addiction: Must be Love on the Brain.

Addiction: Must be Love on the Brain.

By: Keely Fell

Heartbreak notably causes a great deal of emotional pain, but have you ever wondered what it does to the chemistry in your brain? Experiencing heartbreak can cause pains in the chest, gut and even in our throat. Such sensations can leave one feeling broken. The brain has quite a way of reacting to the experience of a broken heart, and understanding the feelings caused by brain reactions is essential to overcoming heartbreak.

One of the most interesting brain reactions to heartbreak is the experience of withdrawal symptoms in the absence of love. Often times when experienced, the brain mechanisms that are activated are the same as if someone is withdrawing from drugs like nicotine, cocaine, etc. So you could make the connection that love is addicting, thus creating a chemical reaction when you fall in love that is similar to a “high”.

Functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have been performed showing how these mechanisms are being activated in the brain. A study conducted by Art Aron, Lucy Brown, and Helen Fisher found that the area of the brain associated with the rewards system, known as the caudate nucleus, lights up on scans when in love. This shows that love might be more than just an emotion and more of  a response searching for the reward of affection. People who use drugs such as nicotine and cocaine see similar brain activity across fMRI scans. In both cases, the brain is experiencing a spike in the release of dopamine through the caudate nucleus. It was also observed that when an fMRI scan was performed on people experiencing the first stages of a break up, the caudate nucleus was still in “motivation mode”, meaning that the individual was still searching for that “fix” of love.

Understanding that these feelings and symptoms are deeper rooted than just simply feeling sad over a broken heart, can help us through the healing process. Over time the brains need to fulfill the “fix” will subside and will move onto the next big thing.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists 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, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/this_is_your_brain_on_heartbreak  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201801/3-surprising-ways-heartbreak-impacts-your-brain

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Stress: Effects of Stress

Image result for stressed brain

Stress: Effects of Stress

By: Vanessa Munera

When people talk about stress, what exactly is it? Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. With stress the body reacts to these changes with emotional, physical, and mental responses. Stress could either be presented as a positive or negative outcome in people’s daily lives.

According to Bernstein “Stress can occur in a variety of forms” (2016). Some stress can result in short events such as an argument with a loved one. Furthermore, other stress can manifest due to reoccurring conditions; for example, a demanding job, financial problems, and/ or long term illness. When reoccurring conditions cause stress to be both intense and sustained over a long period of time, it can be considered as “chronic” or “toxic” stress”. While all stress triggers physiological reactions, chronic stress is indeed to be considered a problematic issue that creates significant harm to the brain and the functioning of the body. In fact, “stress continues to be a major American health issue”.

If you have experienced a stressful event, a certain area of the brain called the amygdala, responsible for emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus functions as a command center in the brain, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that person has the energy to fight or flee”. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response because it provides the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers. Some of the affects from the “fight or flight” response are increased heart rate, deeper intake of oxygen, heightened senses, and the rush of adrenaline – also known as epinephrine, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. Finally a hormone known as cortisol is released to help restore the energy that was lost during the response. When stress is no longer present, your cortisol levels to go back to normal as if nothing happened. In addition cortisol helps regulate metabolism and immune responses.

When dealing with chronic stress, cortisol levels are at a constant high, which eventually causes health problems. Although cortisol is a natural and healthy hormone in the body, constant high levels of it can be bad for your brain. High levels of this hormone can wear down the brain’s ability to function properly. As stated in the article, “it can disrupt synapse regulation, resulting in the loss of sociability and the avoidance of interactions with others” (Bernstein, 2016). In addition, chronic stress can kill brain cells and cause the brain to shrink in size. It has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for memory and learning. Besides chronic stress having effects on the brain, it causes effects to the human body. This type of stress can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Furthermore, it can affect other systems in the body and cause them to stop working properly. This includes digestive, excretory and reproductive structures and exacerbates already existing illness. Fighting and managing chronic stress can be difficult; however it is not too late to learn how to manage it. Toxic stress can negatively affect the brain but the brain and body can recover from these effects.

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic stress and are seeking stress management, please 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.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/

 

Bipolar One Vs. Bipolar Two

By: Yael Berger

Bipolar, also known as manic depression, is a mood disorder characterized by extreme highs and extreme lows. Extreme highs are called mania while the extreme lows are called depression. It is seen in both adults and children and tends to run in the family. If you have a close relative with Bipolar disorder, you have an increased chance of developing the disorder. According to the national institute of mental health, “an estimated 4.4% of U.S adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.” There are two different types of Bipolar that are often difficult to distinguish between.

Bipolar I patients commonly present with these symptoms:

  • An episode of extreme mania lasting at least one week and usually an episode of severe depression lasting at least two weeks
    • Mania is characterized by irritability, mood swings, and possibly excessive spending, drinking, excessive sexual behavior etc.
  • Less need for sleep
  • Increased self-esteem, speech, thoughts, distractibility
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Can have a break with reality
    • Hallucinations, delusional or paranoid thoughts
  • Usual onset: around 18 years old

Bipolar II patients commonly present with these symptoms:

  • An episode of hypomania lasting at least four days and always accompanied by an episode of extreme depression lasting at least two weeks
  • Hypomania is a milder form of mania but it is still noticeable to others
  • Typically are prescribed antidepressants with mood stabilizers
  • Usual onset: around mid-20s

There are a few key differences between bipolar I and bipolar II. The main difference is that Bipolar I often begins with mania while Bipolar II often begins as a depressive episode that is later diagnosed when an episode of hypomania occurs. Bipolar II is sometimes wrongly diagnosed as depression at first because it often starts as a depressive episode. Bipolar I is usually obvious and severely disrupts a patient’s life while Bipolar II can be less noticeable. However, once a hypomanic episode in Bipolar II patient causes severe impairment it would then be categorized as Bipolar I. Bipolar I can lead to hospitalization more often than Bipolar II because of the extreme mania that occurs. A combination of medication and therapy can help both Bipolar I and II.

If you or someone you know has any type of Bipolar Disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists 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, please visit https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-1-vs-bipolar-2#symptoms

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/bipolar-disorder.shtml

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/201901/10-things-know-about-bipolar-disorder

Image:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319280.php

Stress and Anxiety: Differences Between the Two

Stress and Anxiety: Differences Between the Two

Stress and Anxiety: Differences Between the Two

By: Julia Keys

        It is normal to experience a certain degree of stress throughout the day, but when this stress becomes extreme, and with no discernible cause, it can start to become a problem.  It is important to distinguish the difference between everyday stress and clinical anxiety.

Although stress can be temporarily uncomfortable, it can motivate humans to get things done. There are two types of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress is beneficial to humans functioning. While it is not pleasurable in the moment, eustress contributes to a beneficial outcome. An example of eustress would be jitters before an exam or a particularly challenging workout. Eustress can enhance one’s performance. Distress, on the other hand, is a negative form of stress that is not usually beneficial to the experiencer. Some examples of distress could be legal problems or conflicts with a spouse.  Distress tends to negatively impact performance and can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression.

People with clinical anxiety such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), experience levels of distress and worrying that are more intense than everyday stress.  Whereas stress feels caused by external factors, anxiety tends to be generated internally. Oftentimes, people with anxiety will feel stress and anticipate negative outcomes before the anticipated event even happens.

Here are some key differences between stress and anxiety:

  • Stressor
    • Normal stress occurs in response to external stressors such as a fight with a friend or a job interview
    • People with anxiety oftentimes cannot find the source of their stress and therefore just getting through the day can be immensely stressful
  • Intensity
    • Stress is fleeting
    • Anxiety is ongoing and can last weeks, months, or even years
  • Symptoms
    • Stress is oftentimes accompanied by worrying, which subsides quickly
    • Anxiety can cause troubling symptoms such as dizziness, trembling, headaches and nausea
  • Impairment
    • Anxiety can be overwhelming and debilitating to the point where one may start to avoid necessary everyday activities that make them anxious

If you are struggling with anxiety, 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/hack-your-anxiety/201903/curious-about-the-difference-between-stress-and-anxiety

http://www.ulifeline.org/articles/439-anxiety-vs-anxiety-disorders

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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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Childhood Trauma: Effects on Adult Wellbeing

Childhood Trauma: Effects on Adult Wellbeing

Childhood Trauma: Effects on Adult Wellbeing

By: Julia Keys

The child brain grows and makes connections at a rapid rate and is extremely emotionally sensitive. Unfortunately, children that experience some sort of major trauma such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, neglect, war, poverty, or unsafe living conditions can be greatly negatively impacted later on in life.

Children who have parents that are for some reason unwilling or unable to provide the love and care they need oftentimes blame themselves for the lack of parental attention. In response to this lack of care, children may start to act in ways in which they feel would help the parents love them more. As the child grows up, they can become detached from their own needs because they are so focused on the love they receive from others.

Another effect of childhood trauma is victimhood thinking. Although a child may have been helpless when they were raised, self-victimization does not help an adult in the long run because it robs them of the self-empowerment they need to change their lives in the ways they desire.

Children growing up in environments where anger is expressed violently may begin to learn that anger is dangerous and therefore should be avoided. However, suppressing emotional expression is unhealthy and can cause individuals to be passive aggressive, which is an ineffective way to communicate. The most damaging effect of childhood trauma can have on an adult is the development of psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you or someone you love is struggling with the effects of childhood trauma, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and 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, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/. 

Am I Too Sensitive?

Am I Too Sensitive? 

Am I Too Sensitive?

By: Julia Keys

Has anyone ever said to you in passing, “you’re so sensitive”? Our society seems to shun sensitivity without truly understanding or appreciating it. Stereotypically, a “sensitive person” is portrayed as irrationally emotional or ready to cry at any moment. In reality, sensitivity is defined by psychologists as the amount someone reacts physically, emotionally, or mentally to external and internal stimuli. Researchers have actually coined a term for someone you may describe as “sensitive”: the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

Highly Sensitive People, (HSP), process their external and internal environments with more attention than typical people. About 20% of the population are estimated to be an HSP. Some evolutionary psychologists suggest that HSP evolved from people that needed to be hyper vigilant in their environments to survive. Nowadays, we do not need as much extra attention to survive, but HSP are still affected by their high level of sensitivity.

It is easy to think that HSP and introversion are interchangeable traits, however there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand. HSP are not always introverts, they may like being around other people, but certain social environments can be overwhelming to their senses. Also, introversion refers to one’s preference for spending time alone versus spending time with others while sensitivity is how one processes sensory input. Although some HSP are introverted, there are definitely a fair amount that are extroverted as well.

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

  • Easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby
  • Gets more anxious than typical people when there a lot to do in a short amount of time
  • Easily disturbed by violence or graphic images
  • Feels the need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where they can have relief from overstimulating environments
  • Makes it a high priority to arrange their life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations
  •  Notices or enjoys delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art
  • Has a rich and complex inner life
  • Was shy or sensitive as a small child

Being an HSP can sometimes cause distress. HSP can have feelings of anxiety or stress when they are in environments that are overstimulating. Certain environments that may be enjoyable for neurotypical people such as parties, outside markets, or concerts may present too much sensory input for an HSP to enjoy. As a result, some HSP may struggle with isolation or loneliness.

On the other hand, the Highly Sensitive Person can also benefit from their heightened sensitivities to stimuli. HSP tend to be observant and perceptive, picking up on small details that others would not. As a result, many HSP are highly creative and innovative. HSP are also naturally empathetic, making them sensitive to others’ emotions and needs. HSP that balance their attention between a healthy internal and external environment reach their highest potential.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the stress being a HSP may bring, and are seeking stress management, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists 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, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/live-life-creatively/201906/the-creative-power-the-highly-sensitive-person

https://hsperson.com/

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The Opioid Epidemic and Drug-Seeking Behavior

The Opioid Epidemic and Drug-Seeking Behavior

By Crystal Tsui

AMA Journal of Ethics states there has been a 300% increase in opiates in the US. What does this mean for the people? Well, drug availability increases when the demands for opiates increase. Long story short, patients with complaints of pain are getting addicted to opiates and are relying on opiates as pain medication when it’s not entirely necessary. Doctors and nurses in the Emergency department are in the frontlines of this epidemic. They see patients with all sorts of complaints, but over 500,000 ED visits are patients with drug-seeking behavior, specifically for opiates. Different types of opiates include:

  • Heroin
  • Oxycodone
  • Percocet
  • Morphine
  • Tramadol

How did the epidemic begin? Doctors and nurses would prescribe their patients opiates just to improve the flow of the ED. However, recently the epidemic has gotten worse. Patients have learned different catch phrases and to over exaggerate their pain to get these opiates. Such as “headaches”, “back pains”, “neck pain”, and even “dental pain”, or rate their pain higher on the scale of 10.

So, how do doctors and nurses know when to give opiates for patients complaining of pain? The answer to the tough question is quite simple, they don’t. Opiates are always a last resort and there are other pain medications out there that treat everyday pain. The most common are:

  • ibuprofen (motrin)
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • aspirin (advil)
  • steroids

If you or someone you know is addicted to opiates do not be afraid to reach out for help with pain management or drug addiction.

If you or someone you know a drug addiction, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists 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, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Citation:

https://humantraffickingsearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/1140-pill-usa-opioids-aarp.imgcache.rev5b2d008604b6e9d3635709395bae1267.jpg

https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/pain-management/non-opioid-treatment/

https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/drug-seeking-or-pain-crisis-responsible-prescribing-opioids-emergency-department/2013-05

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/the-big-list-of-narcotic-drugs