Shatter the Myths of Drugs and Alcohol

NDAFWIn January, two NIH institutes will be coming together to talk to young people about drugs and alcohol. Teenagers and young adults often have misconceptions about the effects of substance use in both the short and long term; educating them is of the utmost importance and may save lives down the road. Sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) will occur between Jan. 25-31, 2016.
We are delighted that we can now fully focus on the scientific facts about alcohol as well as other drugs that are popular among teens,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “This partnership will allow teachers and other organizers to create events that are tailor-made for the specific issues in their communities by accessing links to the needed resources for drugs and alcohol all in one place.” Just as NIAAA and NIDA scientists routinely collaborate on many issues of common concern, it’s vital that we join together in this effort to ensure that young people get the facts about how alcohol and drugs can affect them, both in the short-term and over their lifetime,” said NIAAA Director George F. Koob, Ph.D.
NDAFW was first launched in 2010, and last year there were more than 1,500 events in all 50 states. There is an online toolkit available that serves as a guide for people who would like to set up an event. The toolkit advises teens and their adult coordinators on how to:
  • Create an Event
  • Publicize an Event
  • Find an Expert
  • Obtain Scientific Information on Drugs
We are not powerless when it comes to drug and alcohol use among young people. We know that preventing substance use before it begins is the most cost-effective approach to reduce substance use and its consequences,” said White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Michael Botticelli. “By raising awareness and educating young people and their families, we can help reduce drug use and the number of people affected by substance use disorders.”
___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one has is struggling with addiction, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Critical Thinking About Excessive Drinking and Sexual Assault

college-drinkingOn college campuses across the country, alcohol is often times an extracurricular activity, from Thursday - Saturday. Campus faculty members work hard to deter alcohol consumption by promoting abstinence and mandating that students attend programs that teach safe drinking practices. Unfortunately, while such measures do reach some students, others students disregard the disclaimers; and every year bad decisions are made which can lead to life changing outcomes, notably sexual assaults, DUIs, and alcohol poisonings. In recent years, binge drinking and campus sexual assault has made national news reports, due to the alarming rates that they occur - even at some of the nation’s most prestigious schools. In the digital age that young people find themselves in, perhaps the best way to reach young adults is a media platform they understand. Two interactive games have been developed designed to make students think critically about excessive drinking and sexual assault, according to U.S. News & World Report. "What Kind of Drinker Are You?" was created by a east coast center to help students think about their drinking. In the game, students go through the night partying and are asked to guess their blood alcohol level whilst being given safe drinking information and at the end they are given a drinking profile score, the article reports.
"We wanted to give these students a realistic view of what college drinking culture encompasses and show them how their drinking decisions can affect their night but even in the long term, their college experience and their drinking habits," says Savannah Flynn, product manager at the center.
"Decisions That Matter" deals with sexual assault and how bystanders can intervene. The game was a class project at ​Carnegie Mellon University. The game is designed like a graphic novel, using life-like scenarios that don’t always present an obvious answer. Kirsten Rispin, one of the creators, hopes the game elicits students to think “honestly and critically” about how they’d handle situations involving sexual assault, according to the article.
"With the story​, we wanted characters that were believable, dialogue that was believable, scenarios that were believable," she says.
___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one has a drinking problem, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

The “Tetris Effect” On Drug Cravings

drug-cravings, tetrisBefore video games became the action packed thrillers that teenagers and young adults know today, there was a time when video games were quite rudimentary. In the 1980s millions of kids and adults alike, either had an Atari or they wanted one. Today, there are few video games from the 80’s that young people are familiar with, but practically everyone knows the game Tetris. The game was first developed in the USSR in 1984, and a version has been made available for practically every video game operating system designed since. At this point you, and perhaps Alexey Pajitnov (creator of Tetris), may be wondering what Tetris has to do with addiction? New research suggests that playing Tetris can reduce a person’s craving for drugs, ScienceDaily reports. Just playing the simple block game for 3 minutes at a time can weaken cravings by as much as one fifth. Psychologists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology, Australia monitored participants’ level of craving whilst playing Tetris at random intervals throughout the day over a week long period. The researchers found that playing Tetris affected the cravings for activities other than drugs, according to the article. Playing Tetris impacted craving levels for:
  • Food
  • Coffee
  • Cigarettes
  • Alcohol
  • Sex
Playing Tetris decreased craving strength for drugs, food, and activities from 70% to 56%. This is the first demonstration that cognitive interference can be used outside the lab to reduce cravings for substances and activities other than eating,” said Professor Jackie Andrade, from the School of Psychology and the Cognition Institute at Plymouth University. "We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity. Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time."
The findings were published in the international journal Addictive Behaviors. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Bodybuilding Supplements Linked to Eating Disorders

bodybuilding-supplementsStaying physically fit is important to many Americans, and rightly so. It is widely accepted that those who exercise feel better than those who do not. In every major city there are private gyms littered throughout, providing outlets for those who would like to live a healthier lifestyle. However, there are times when working out can work against one’s health, becoming habit forming and often involving the use of bodybuilding supplements. Researchers at the California School of Professional Psychology in Alhambra found that a large percentage of men that work out abuse legal bodybuilding supplements, and many are aware that they can be detrimental to health, The Los Angeles Times reports. The study showed that over 40% of men surveyed reported increasing their use of supplements over time, and 29% were aware of the damage that bodybuilding supplements wreak on one’s health. Common bodybuilding supplements, marketed towards men for achieving an optimal body/fat ration include:
  • Protein Bars
  • Creatine Powder
  • Glutamine Capsules
The study authors go one step further, Richard Achiro and co-author Peter Theodore contend that the findings ‘should put risky supplement use “on the map” as an eating disorder that affects “a significant number of men”,’ according to the article. The researchers surveyed 195 men over the age of 18, all of which had reported working out at least twice a week and had used a legal supplement in the previous 30 days. The survey showed:
  • 22% reported having used supplements as meal replacements.
  • 8% were told by a doctor to reduce or stop their use of supplements.
  • 3% reported kidney or liver damage that required hospitalization.
The researchers conclude:
Excessive legal APED [appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs] use may represent a variant of disordered eating that threatens the health of gym-active men.”
The findings were presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting in Toronto. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder or supplement abuse, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

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