Last week I received a phone call that a 26-year-old relative had passed away from a heroine overdose. I immediately turned to family and friends for answers, and we all seemed to agree that there is a root to this problem that is going unnoticed.
As children, we go through drug education programs to instill the premise that doing drugs will ruin your life. But, when I think back on my “D.A.R.E.” program, I remember very little about it. I wonder if many of the kids in my class did, either, as I’ve seen friends, acquaintances, and peers succumb to drug addiction.
My friend’s brother is a heroine addict, and I’ve watched how it has affected her life. Families begin to wonder if the addict will make it to tomorrow. And when they do, it becomes some sort of backwards miracle. In society, they are outcasted. Rather than seeing this inherent epidemic as a public crisis, we push addicts away.
The level of unmet need for prevention, treatment, and recovery programs in the United States is alarming. Children aren’t receiving drug prevention messages, and 90 percent of the youth suffering from a drug problem don’t receive the help they need. Federal funding for these programs is largely overlooked, despite the fact that, in 2014, 47,055 people died from drug overdoses, which was 1.5 times greater than those killed in car crashes.
Family members of addicts worry so much about their survival, that jail seems like an answer. But this just forms a vicious cycle. Addicts go down the rabbit hole of illegal undertakings that ultimately land them in jail. They are then released, and begin the process all over again, because they were never properly rehabbed.
Why, instead of wasting time and money on court hearings and racking up criminal records, aren’t we prioritizing access to better prevention and treatment instead?
Speaking with a family member after the death of the young and beautiful girl we worried would fall to the fate she ultimately did, we contemplated where things went wrong. The programs aren’t working. So what can be done?
Research shows that the public antidrug programs like D.A.R.E. or the “Just Say No” campaign inspired by Nancy Reagan, which depend on education and scare tactics, are mostly ineffective. When something fails to succeed time and time again, and lives are continuously put at risk because of it, when do we wake up and make a change?
A new antidrug program tested in Europe, Australia, and Canada might have the answer, or, at the very least, spark the reality that things aren’t working the way they are currently.
Called “Preventure,” the program was developed by Patricia Conrod, who is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal. The program is tailored toward a child’s temperament, and how it may put them at risk for drug use. The program recognizes that different personality traits form different avenues to addiction.
Early trials of Preventure reveal that personality testing can pinpoint 90 percent of the highest risk children by identifying risky traits prior to the rise of drug use and addiction.
Growing up, my drug education seemed to assume we would fear, and therefore, stay away from, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, or methamphetamine by talking to us, not with us, for an hour once in a while. But this program takes into consideration that most teenagers don’t become addicted to such things, and therefore focuses on the minority who do.
So what are the traits that put kids at the highest risk for addiction? Likely not what you’d expect.
“The traits that put kids at the highest risk for addiction aren’t all what you might expect. In my case, I seemed an unlikely candidate for addiction. I excelled academically, behaved well in class and participated in numerous extracurricular activities,” Maia Szalavitz wrote for The New York Times. “Inside, though, I was suffering from loneliness, anxiety and sensory overload. The same traits that made me “gifted” in academics left me clueless with people.
That’s why, when my health teacher said that peer pressure could push you to take drugs, what I heard instead was: ‘Drugs will make you cool.’ As someone who felt like an outcast, this made psychoactive substances catnip.”
I can relate to Szalavitz’s feelings about peer pressure making you cool. And I know, based on observation and experience, that many others can, too. I smoked a cigarette for the first time as a teenager not because I thought it would taste good, but because I thought it would look cool to those around me. I smoked marijuana for the first time not because I had a desire to try it, but because I had someone over my shoulder telling me not to be such a baby. In fact, most of the things I tried for the first time were not because I was alone in a room and had a desire to.
Preventure focuses on four risky traits: sensation-seeking, impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity, and hopelessness. Of these four traits, three of them are linked to mental health issues, which is a huge risk factor for addiction. Impulsiveness is common in people with A.D.H.D. Hopelessness is typically a precursor to depression. Anxiety sensitivity is linked to panic disorder.
Sensation-seeking is not recognized as a precursor to other diagnoses, but raises addiction risk because such people are drawn to intense experiences.
The Preventure program begins with an intensive two to three day training for teachers regarding therapy techniques that are proven to battle psychological issues. Then, middle schoolers take a personality test to identify those with outlying personalities that could lead to disordered thinking, and ultimately, drug abuse.
Months later, two 90-minute workshops are set up to help students channel their personality toward success. While they’re offered to everyone, there are only a limited number of slots. Astonishingly, most students sign up for the workshops.
Only those with extreme scores, which has been revealed to pick up 90 percent of those at risk, get to attend, however. They are then assigned to the workshop that targets their most troublesome trait. But the reason for the selection isn’t revealed unless students ask.
“There’s no labeling,” notes Dr. Conrod. The point is to keep kids away from labeling “high risk” as a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
In the workshops, students are taught cognitive behavioral techniques to concentrate on emotional and behavioral issues, while encouraging them to use these tools.
Tested in Britain, Australia, the Netherlands, and Canada, the Preventure program was able to reduce issues with binge drinking, frequent drug use and alcohol-related problems. And a 2013 study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that the program cut drinking in selected schools by 29 percent, even for those who didn’t go to the workshops. And for the students most at risk, who did attend, drinking was cut by 43 percent.
When we talk about addiction, we shouldn’t just be talking about those who have died, or preventing those addicted from dying. We should be talking about the root of the problem. We should be talking about programs that don’t work, and programs that may work. We should be talking about better funding, about better treatments. We shouldn’t be ignoring those who fell through the cracks to the failing programs, allowing them to go to jail time and time again, allowing them to relapse time and time again. Let’s stop talking about all the people we know who suffer, or who have died, from addiction, and let’s talk about stopping it from ever becoming a problem to begin with.
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
This Super Simple Breathing Technique Can Help Alleviate Anxiety & Depression
- The Facts:
Small study finds breathing technique can help treat major depressive disorder and anxiety.
- Reflect On:
The answers to our challenges are much simpler than we thought, we have everything we need inside of us. Great alternative to prescription anti-depressant medication, or other substances.
The breath is one of the most underrated and under-utilized methods of healing. Breathing comes naturally to us, we do it without thinking, which is why it is not something we generally think of as a way to connect deeply with ourselves, calm our anxieties or even reach higher levels of consciousness. Something as simple as breathing can help those who suffer from severe mental conditions and those who have survived global disasters.
There are many forms of breathwork, there is the well-known Holotropic Breathing, made popular by the Iceman himself, Wim Hof. There is another technique known as transformational breathwork and the featured practice of breathing that will be featured in this article, resonant breathing or Coherent Breathing, which is a trademarked term.
This specific style of breathwork came from years of studying the ancient breathing practices of indigenous people all over the world including those from African, Hawaiian, and Native American traditions.
Assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College, Patricia Gerbarg, studies the technique with her husband, Richard Brown, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “We wanted to identify a short program that could be given quickly to people, that they would have immediate relief within five or ten minutes, and that over time would produce long-term changes,” Gerbarg told Vice.
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine in 2017 led by researchers from Boston University asked 30 people with major depression to practice the breathing technique regularly as well as Iyengar yoga. After 3 months, results from a standard depression inventory test showed how the depressive symptoms had significantly declined.
Even though the study size was very small, it is comforting to know that something as simple as breath alone could help to alleviate symptoms of severe depression. No pills needed. This technique is especially powerful because it can be practiced anytime, anywhere. The process involved taking regular breaths in and out of the nose, at a pace of 5 breaths per minute, each breath in and out taking around 6 seconds. When starting out, it is recommended that this be practiced with the eyes closed, but once you get it under control you can easily do it with your eyes open, meaning while you’re driving, while in a meeting, anytime during the day that you may find yourself feeling anxious, stressed or down. Gerbarg says, “It’s totally private. Nobody knows you’re doing it.”
The breath should be calm and gentle because the goal is to balance the sympathetic — fight or flight with the parasympathetic — rest and digest areas of the nervous system. Interestingly, when the couple first began looking into the power of the breath, the first thought was that this must send extra oxygen to the brain that we may have otherwise been lacking. However, they knew that there must be more to this to explain the profound effects they had been seeing in those who practiced the breathing technique. Not to mention, some types of breathwork actually decreases the amount of oxygen going to the brain.
Why Does This Work?
Gerbarg and Brown believe that the reason this technique works is thanks to the vagal nerves, those connecting the brain to the body and what tell the organs when to beat, digest, breathe and all other functions, have been found in recent years to send even more messages in the opposite direction from the body to the brain. “These ascending messages strongly influence stress response, emotion and neurohormonal regulatory networks,” stated in a book written by the couple, Yoga Therapy: Theory and Practice.
According to Gerbarg, “Respiration is the only autonomic function we can voluntarily control,” it’s easy to see how changing the breathing pattern can shift the messages received by the brain.
The calm and even breaths send messages of safety, according to Gerbarg, this can reduce anxious or depressive thoughts and makes way for more loving and connected emotions to be felt. Adverse reactions are generally rare, but those with asthma or other breathing conditions should only try this practice under the guidance of a trained professional.
We really do have everything we need inside of us. Our human bodies are magnificent, and if something as simple as breathing can help alleviate symptoms of depression, then we should certainly be studying this more. If you are skeptical about this information and feel it’s too good to be true, give it a shot next time you find yourself feeling down or anxious and see if it helps!
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
It’s Not New: Pictures Show The Fight Against Vaccines Is Well Over 100 Years Old
- The Facts:
The struggle against vaccination, especially compulsory vaccination mandated by a government/industry coalition, was met with fierce resistance from people during the early history of vaccination over a century ago.
- Reflect On:
What does the pictorial evidence of opposition to vaccines from early in the previous century tell us about today's vaccine industry?
In the foreword to the book by Doctor Suzanne Humphries and Roman Bistrianyk entitled ‘Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,’ Dr. Jayne L. M. Donegan sums up the vaccine ‘landscape’ that she and all MDs enter into as they become doctors:
Despite questioning the safety and efficacity of vaccination by reputable medical men since its introduction, debate has been, and is, increasingly discouraged. Information published in scientific journals is used to support this position, other views being regarded as “unscientific.”
It was a received “article of faith” for me and my contemporaries, that vaccination was the single most useful health intervention that had ever been introduced. Along with all my medical and nursing colleagues, I was taught that vaccines were the reason children and adults stopped dying from diseases for which there are vaccines. We were told that other diseases, such as scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, typhus, typhoid, cholera, and so on, for which there are no vaccines at the time, diminished both in incidence and mortality (ability to kill) due to better social conditions.
You would think–as medical students who are supposed to be moderately intelligent–that some of us would have asked, “But if deaths from these diseases decreased due to improved social conditions, mightn’t the ones for which there are vaccines also have decreased at the same time for the same reason?” But we didn’t.
The medical curriculum is so overloaded with information that you just have to learn what you hear, as you hear it: nonvaccinatable diseases into the social conditions box and vaccinatable diseases into the vaccines box and then onto the next subject.
What this book especially brought to light for me was not just that open ‘debate’ on vaccination is systematically stifled, but the gruesome early history of vaccination itself is hidden, suppressed, and denied. For me, just knowing the early history of vaccination has been enough for me to see that all along this phenomena has fundamentally been about power and money, in complete and abject disregard for human health. I believe an open-minded reading of the book mentioned above will lead you to the same conclusions.
Early Resistance Against Vaccines
The early history of vaccines is fraught with egregious trial-and-error ‘science’ on humans treated as guinea pigs matched with strong-arm tactics at compulsory vaccination. But even though they were dealing with human populations that were not as educated as we may be today, the illness and deaths of children resulting from vaccination were not lost on parents–and in some cases, before the medical establishment had full control over their doctors’ muzzles, were admitted to by doctors. Here are a few among many pictorial examples and their heart-breaking stories:
At a time when mainstream media, government, and the medical establishment were not the well-oiled machine of elite propaganda they are today, public outrage and attempts to mobilize against compulsory vaccination were squarely in the public eye:
Anti-Vaccine Literature And Images
Like today, there were professionals and researchers speaking out against the dangers of vaccination, and probably suffered from the same lack of funding to proliferate their message.
Comparisons With Today
One would imagine that if the early vaccine industry actually cared about public health, that even the death or crippling of ONE CHILD that occurred directly after vaccination would cause them to shut down operations until they could verify that this death was not caused by vaccines. Alas, these pictures demonstrate otherwise. And if it did not happen then, it certainly is not happening now.
The outright lie found on government medical websites that ‘vaccines are safe and effective’ belies the fact that a special fund and a special court was set up by the government to issue compensation to sufferers of vaccine injury that has already paid out over $3.7 billion dollars. The fact is that this court was set up to prevent people from being able to sue vaccine companies directly, because it was forecast that all the vaccine manufacturers would go bankrupt if they were not protected from being sued. That’s how ‘safe and effective’ vaccines have proven to be.
Sure, today there is less of a push towards compulsory vaccination–but that is in part due to the awesome and tireless work of enraged citizens at the turn of the century as evidenced in these pictures! All that happened was that the vaccine industry realized that they could better ply their trade by focusing not on forced vaccination and the obvious resistance it generates, but rather by controlling the narrative with well-funded propaganda through coordinated efforts of the medical establishment, government, and the media. Part of this effort is hiding the history from us that we see in the pictures featured here.
If we are to become clear as a collective about the big picture of what is going on behind government and industry policy today, sometimes a brief look at history is all it takes.
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
10 Ways To Boost Serotonin Levels Without Medication
- The Facts:
Millions are diagnosed with depression every year, and people can begin feeling better without medication by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Some lifestyle changes and food adjustments can help solve this.
- Reflect On:
Is your diet truly helping you feel good? We sometimes think 'we only live once, I should eat what I want!' but how do you want to feel while you're alive: Vital or foggy?
As defined by psychologists, a person has a major depressive episode when he or she has symptoms of major depressive disorder, including depressed mood or feelings of emptiness, hopelessness or irritability, that last for two weeks or more. And, according to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), the number of people diagnosed with depression has increased by 450% since 1987.
It is often recommended that we start taking a medication to reduce symptoms. However, medication often comes with sometimes dangerous side-effects. Here are some simple ways to feel happier without needing to take a pill.
1. Get Enough Vitamin B6
Foods like spinach, turnip greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens, celery, and non-factory farmed fish (especially tuna, halibut, salmon, cod and snapper) can be great sources.
2. Eat Brain Boosting Seed Grains Instead of Wheat
This includes: Amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa are seeds with grain-like taste and properties. These are healthy, high-protein carbohydrates and small amounts of the right carbohydrates are critical to boosting serotonin.
Not only will you improve your mood, you will Sleep better too. A nice dose of serotonin in the early evening will help you sleep better at night.
These grain-like seeds also provide important B vitamins. As just mentioned B vitamins play a critical role in brain health and in the manufacture of all your neurotransmitters including serotonin. Vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyridoxine) as well as vitamin D, folic acid and selenium plus calcium, and magnesium are needed to make serotonin.
For protein meals: focus on digestion and food combining – Eating foods that are high in protein – and specifically have a higher percentage of tryptophan (like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds), will provide much-needed tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin. But beware: because research shows that eating protein with carbohydrates actually works against your ability to make serotonin.
Good to know: Plant-based protein helps to create more serotonin than animal protein does.
To boost your mood and immunity naturally, protein and probiotics – is the delicious natural answer!
3. Include Fermented Food & Drinks In Your Diet
Fermented foods and drinks greatly assist in digestion and assimilation of all the important nutrients you need for serotonin. Additionally, they boost the nutrients in your food by at least a hundredfold.
4. Get Massages & Other Forms of Body Work
We’ve heard about the healing power of touch, but now research backs it up! A study conducted by the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine shows that massage increases serotonin by 28% and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) by 31%.
5. Have Fun in the Sun
Early morning sunlight is more intense and this can boost your body’s production of melatonin in the evening. Serotonin converts to melatonin for a great night’s sleep. Getting outside for a 20-minute walk in the early morning sunlight can boost your mood and improve your sleep!
6. Remove Toxins From Your Health That Interfere With Brain Health
Eat foods like dandelion and citrus fruit to help detox daily. Detoxing is about increasing the effectiveness of your detox pathways so unnecessary toxins don’t get stuck in your body. Although the medical field keeps saying detoxing is a myth, lack of proper detoxing is a common challenge.
7. Reduce Stress
Prolonged physical or emotional stress produce adrenaline and cortisol, which interfere with serotonin. Shifting your lifestyle and adding more relaxation into your week can make a huge difference. Focus on Emotional Healing – Reducing stress and focusing on spending more time relaxing is a first step to boosting serotonin. You can take this even further by taking action in key areas to remove negative emotions like fear, guilt and anger. Meditate & do yoga!
A comprehensive review of the relation between exercise and mood concluded that antidepressant and anxiolytic effects have been clearly demonstrated. In the United Kingdom the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which works on behalf of the National Health Service and makes recommendations on treatments according to the best available evidence, has published a guide on the treatment of depression.
9. Eliminate Processed Sugar (or at least drastically reduce it)
If you have low serotonin, you may have intense cravings for sugar. This is your body’s way of trying to increase serotonin because eating sugar produces insulin, which helps tryptophan go into your brain. However, too much sugar can eventually cause addiction to sugar, insulin resistance, hypoglycemia and type 2 diabetes.
Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way with pure maple syrup, coconut sugar or pure honey.
10. Give More Hugs, Love More & Fear Less
Human connection, living in the heart, being connected to self. All of these things are natural to us and yet we have become quite disconnected from it all in our modern world.
Listen to CE Podcast episode Treating Autism Naturally w/ Jennifer Kozek
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
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