Tag Archives: irritability

Think Before You Drink

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Reference:

personalise.co.uk – http://www.personalise.co.uk/blog/what-happens-24-hours-after-drinking-an-energy-drink/

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FOCUS ON: Self-Harm – Understanding Self-Harm (Part 2)

For many young people what starts off as a once-off form of stress relief, turns into a vicious cycle of self-injury that is hard to break.

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Myths about self-harm

1.  People who self-harm are either attention seeking or are part of a cult

The truth of the matter is that the majority of self-harm is done in secret over an extended period of time, and it is often very difficult for the person to talk about and admit to why they do it. Self-harmers seldom ever seek medical help or support.

Another common misconception regarding self-harm revolves around it being a group activity or part of the “goth” sub-culture. There is however no formal or reliable evidence to support either of these assertions.

2. Self-harm leads to suicide

Perhaps what frightens family and friends most about self-harming is the incorrect belief that it will lead to suicide. In fact the very opposite is true in that when young people self-harm they are not trying to kill themselves, but instead are trying to cope with their overwhelming emotions and circumstances. For many self-harm is a means of staying alive.

It is however important to take self-harming seriously and to seek help – it has been found that in the long term, those who self-harm are at higher risk of attempting suicide.

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Warning signs

It can be difficult to detect whether or not someone is self-harming; clothing can hide physical wounds and a smile, and a dismissive “I’m fine” can mask a world of inner pain. There are however clues you can look out for if you are worried about someone:

  • repetitive, unexplained scars and / or wounds – these can be from cuts, burns, scratching or bruises and are usually found on the wrists, arms, thighs or chest.
  • sharp objects or things used for cutting – these can include: razor blades, the blade from a pencil sharpener, knives, needles, safety pins, shards of glass, mettle bottle caps, bobby pins etc.
  • lighters, matches, candles – used for burning and scalding
  • frequent blood stains on clothing, bedding or towels
  • Covering up i.e. wearing long sleeved tops and pants, regardless of how hot it is, refusal to partake in activities that will require them to wear shorts, a swimming costume etc.
  • frequent “accidents” or clumsiness – this is often used as an excuse for injuries
  • Wanting to be alone for extended periods of time – locking themselves in their bedroom or the bathroom
  • Irritability, secretive behaviour, withdrawn, looking “washed out”, tired and having no energy

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How does self-harming start and is it addictive?

For some it starts off by accident, they accidently injure themselves and thereafter start deliberately harming themselves in order to experience the same relief the initial injury gave them.

For many it begins as a “once-off” thing; they harm themselves once believing that they won’t do it again. But the relief the physical pain provided them is short lived and the problems they are trying to cope with still exist and the emotional distress and pain soon returns resulting in them harming themselves again, and so the cycle continues.

Self-harming is habit-forming. When the body is injured, hurt or under extreme stress (take running a marathon for example) a chemical or endorphins called endogenous opioids are released providing a form of natural pain relief that can be experienced as being pleasurable; however it can also increase a person’s pain threshold, thus resulting in them being able to tolerate increased amounts of pain. It is important to understand that self-harming is  not just about “chasing” the physical pleasure and / or relief from self-inflicting physical pain; more often it is about coping or finding a way to distract themselves from what they are feeling or experiencing emotionally, it is this physical diversion from the emotional pain that becomes habit-forming.

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There is a final part to the cycle: the guilt, shame and regret many self-harmers experience about what they do. It is because of these “by-product” emotions that most do not want to talk about what they do and become increasingly secretive and withdrawn.

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References:

Richardson, C. (2012). The Truth About Self-Harm: For Young People and Their Friends and Families [Booklet]. United Kingdom: Mental Health Foundation.

Science Nordic. (2012). Self-harm Is Not Only For Troubled Teens. Retrieved from: http://sciencenordic.com/self-harm-not-only-troubled-teens [Accessed on: 11 May 2015].

Segal, J. & Smith, M. (2015). Cutting and Self-Harm: Self-Injury Help, Support, and Treatment. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/cutting-and-self-harm.htm [Accessed on: 11 May 2015].

Alcohol Abuse & Dependence: Signs & Symptoms

It is estimated that South Africans drink in excess of 5 billion litres of alcohol per annum; this equates to 9 – 10 litres of alcohol per person. 

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Alcohol use among the youth of South Africa is rife and increases with age for both males and females. The reasons for alcohol use and abuse range from a desire to fit in, peer pressure, boredom, poor home environment, the relative cheapness of alcohol, as well as it’s ease of access.

Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcohol Dependence

A distinction is made between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence (or alcoholism). Alcohol abusers are thought to have some semblance of control over their alcohol intake and as such are able to set limits for themselves; this does not, however, mean that their drinking cannot or will not progress to more dangerous or dependent habits.

Alcohol dependence or alcoholism can develop gradually over time as a person’s alcohol tolerance increases. The risk of developing alcoholism is greater for those who partake in binge (a period of excessive or uncontrolled indulgence) drinking or who consume alcohol on a daily basis. Alternatively, alcohol dependence can develop relatively suddenly due to a genetic predisposition or family history of alcoholism, or stressful life events.

Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse 

Alcohol abuse refers to drinking habits that impact negatively on a person’s personal, interpersonal and work/school relationships and environments.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Drinking as a stress reliever – For many the use of alcohol to de-stress is the beginning of a downward spiral; the reason for this being that alcohol is a sedative, meaning that over time a person needs to consume more of it in order for it to have the same effect it initially had. 
  • Repeated neglect of responsibilities – Either because of drinking or the effects of drinking (i.e. suffering from a hang over) responsibilities at home, school or work are neglected e.g. poor work performance, poor or failing grades, absenteeism etc.
  • Alcohol use and poor judgement – Alcohol use impairs a person’s judgement and physical responses resulting in poor and dangerous decision making such as drinking and driving, drinking and having sex, mixing alcohol with medication, drinking in unsafe areas or neighbourhoods.
  • Drinking despite relationship problems – Continuing to drink despite the fact that your alcohol consumption is resulting in relationship problems at home, with friends and at work / school.
  • Legal problems due to drinking – Drinking patterns resulting in repeated legal problems such as: getting arrested for drunken driving, getting involved in drunken fights, domestic violence, drunk and disorderly conduct. 

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 Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence

In addition to the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, alcoholism includes three additional aspects: tolerance, physical dependence and withdrawal.

  • Tolerance – refers to the need for increased amounts of alcohol in order for it to have the same effect. Signs of increased tolerance include: consuming more alcohol than other people without show signs of intoxication; drinking more than you used to.
  • Lack of control – drinking more than you intended and / or for longer than you intended despite telling yourself or others that you wouldn’t.
  • Inability to stop – you have the desire to cut down or stop drinking alcohol but all efforts either to stop or to stay sober fail.
  • Pre-occupation with drinking – you spend increasing less time doing things that used to interest you as a result of your drinking; you spend an increasing amount of time drinking, thinking about drinking or recovering from the effects of drinking. 
  • Withdrawal – you experience withdrawal symptoms as the alcohol wears off and you sober up, e.g. shakiness, anxiety, sweating, trembling, vomiting, nausea, insomnia, irritability, depression, loss of appetite and headaches. Drinking in order to relieve or avoid these symptoms is a sign of alcohol dependence.


References:

Ideo. (2009). Laboratory Posters for Eli Lilly and Company: Inspiring scientists to be more patient-sensitive. Retrieved from: http://www.ideo.com/work/laboratory-posters [Accessed on: 22 April 2015].

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (2015). Signs and Symptoms. Retrieved from: https://ncadd.org/learn-about-alcohol/signs-and-symptoms [Accessed on: 22 April 2015].

NYC Department of Healthy and Mental Hygiene. (2011). New Health Department Subway Poster Campaign Illustrates Dangers of Excessive Drinking. Retrieved from: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2011/pr032-11.shtml  [Accessed on: 22 April 2015].

Seggie, J. (2012). Alcohol and South Africa’s Youth. South African Medical Journal, 102(7), 587

Marijuana: How to Stop Using

Giving up marijuana can be difficult, particularly for the chronic, daily user. In order to successfully stop using, you will need to educate yourself so that you’ll know what to expect and be prepared to deal with any issues should they arise.

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The Decision to Stop Using:

Without being personally motivated, the chances of you being able to successfully stop using marijuana are low. The decision to stop using has to be yours…not your partners or your parents.

Withdrawal symptoms are experienced when a person stops habitually using a drug – they occur because the person has developed a physical dependency on the drug. Daily use of marijuana can lead to physical dependency and as such marijuana users will experience withdrawal symptoms when they either stop or reduce their marijuana intake.

How Long?:

The time it will take to fully withdraw from marijuana is dependent on the individual and their history of use. The longer you’ve been using, the longer it will take to withdraw.

Following your last use of marijuana, you can expect to start experiencing withdrawal symptoms within a 1 – 3 days and they can last for anything from a week to a month.

Is it safe?:

Unlike other drugs, marijuana does not typically have any dangerous withdrawal symptoms – that is not to say that it is going to be easy and without discomfort. Withdrawal does not necessarily require any specialised treatment but it may be helpful to have the guidance of an addiction specialist so as to minimize the chances of relapse and equip you to cope with the withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal Symptoms:

You will most likely experience a number of different withdrawal symptoms when you stop using marijuana. The most common symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • drug cravings
  • anxiety
  • decreased appetite
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • restlessness
  • nausea

Easing Withdrawal Symptoms:

Most of the withdrawal symptoms related to the withdrawal from marijuana use can be treated at home with every day, over-the-counter medication as well as a few changes in routine and habits.

  • Headaches can be treated with use of standard pain or headache medication
  • Nausea can be treated with over-the-counter stomach medication
  • Anxiety, restlessness, irritability and insomnia can be addressed by: decreasing your caffeine intake, increasing or starting a regular exercise routine and, learning basic breathing and relaxation exercises

Best Practice:

There is no “best way” to withdraw from marijuana. Past users do however advise that it is easier to gradually wean yourself off using the drug by reducing the amount used each day over a period of a couple of weeks. This method is often more successful than going “cold turkey” and stopping all use at once.

Those who are trying to quit are also advised to get rid of all of their marijuana and accompanying paraphernalia once they have decided to quit – this includes pipes, bongs etc; to surround themselves with non-users and; to try keep busy and active, this will help with cravings and temptation.

Although safety is not usually an issue when withdrawing from marijuana use, it is helpful to under go withdrawal with some form of addiction or medical support as this will decrease the chances of relapse and you will have the help you need should something go wrong.

Exposure to marijuana has physical, biological, mental, behavioural and social consequences. The decision whether or not to use marijuana will always be a personal one. 

Please refer to the Policies page of this blog for BMH’s Student Policy on the Possession, Use and Distribution of Illicit Substances (including marijuana).


Adapted from:

Motivation to stop smoking weed – Addictionblog.org and How to withdraw from marijuana – Addictionblog.org

Marijuana: Dependence and Addiction

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Physical Dependence vs. Addiction:

Physical dependence refers to when a drug user’s body normalizes / gets used to the presence of the drug; thus the user only “functions normally” when the drug is used and present in the body. Physical dependence is common with the chronic / prolonged use of marijuana. Withdrawal symptoms (physical symptoms when the dosage of a drug is seriously lowered or abruptly interrupted) can be experienced by those who are physically dependent on marijuana.

Addiction refers to behaviours which meet the criteria for substance dependence as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  The addict’s mind does not accept abstinence (non-use) from the drug of choice and consciously forces the user to get more of the drug or even to increase the usage and amount of the drug so as to intensify the effect. Addictive behaviour is characterised by a pre-occupation, compulsive need to use a drug. Addiction is psychological in nature whereas physical dependence is a condition which can be overcome following a period of withdrawal.

Physical Dependence and Addiction to Marijuana:

Clinical evidence shows that marijuana withdrawal symptoms manifest following a period of dependency and that marijuana users qualify for diagnostic criteria of addiction.

Many find it hard to equate marijuana with addiction especially with its increasing use as a medicinal and recreational drug. However, the following is a list of the most common physical signs of marijuana dependence and addiction:

  • aggression
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • craving
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • difficulty sleeping
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • raise in temperature
  • restlessness
  • sweating

Exposure to marijuana has physical, biological, mental, behavioural and social consequences. The decision whether or not to use marijuana will always be a personal one. 

Please refer to the Policies page of this blog for BMH’s Student Policy on the Possession, Use and Distribution of Illicit Substances (including marijuana).


Adapted from: 

Physical Addiction to Marijuana – Addictionblog.org and Dependence on Marijuana – Addictionblog.org