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What is Colon Cancer?

Colon_Cancer_infograph_3

Colon cancer is the accumulation of cancer cells in the lower part of the large intestine. These tumors typically begin as small benign growths referred to as polyps that turn into malignant tumors over time.

Stages of Colon Cancer

When a patient is diagnosed with colon cancer, they will be diagnosed with a stage of the disease, depending on it advancement. Colon Cancer is broken up into stages Tis to T4b.

  • Tis -In this stage, cancer cells are only found in the top layers on lining in the colon.
  • T1 –At this stage, the cancer cells have begun to spread to the tissue below the lining of the colon.
  • T2 – During stage T2, the cancer cells have developed into the deeper tissue that is involved in pushing along waste during the digestive process.
  • T3 – At T3 the cancer has spread to the connective tissue that connects the colon to other parts of the body, as well as permeating into some of the other surrounding tissues.
  • T4a – At this point the cancer cells have grown throughout all parts of the colon.
  • T4b – At this final stage the cancer cells have spread past the colon into other parts of the body.

What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

Symptoms of colon cancer can come on suddenly or develop gradually over time. Often times symptoms of colon cancer are mistaken for gastrointestinal issues or discomfort. Some symptoms of colon cancer include,

  • Blood in the stool
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Abnormal changes in your bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more than a month
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Fullness in bowel even after going to the bathroom.

Risks for Colon Cancer

While there is no specific cause for every case of colon cancer there are risks that may make you more likely to develop colon cancer.

History of Polyps

While many times polyps are found and easily removed, repeated development of polyps is linked to an increase in colon cancer.

Low Fiber Diet 

Low fiber and high fat diets have been linked to an increased chance for developing polyps and colon cancer.

Obesity 

Those with a BMI in the obesity level have an increased risk of getting colon cancer as well as an increased risk of suffering more complications from it.

Inflammatory Gastrointestinal Problems

Chronic disease of the gastrointestinal track, including colitis and Crohns disease, can increase the risk of development of colon cancer.

Age

Most colon cancer patients are 50 years of age or older.

Genetics

A family history of colon cancer increases your chance of developing the disease as well. There are also genetically passed conditions that can greatly increase your risk for colon cancer including,

  • Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, otherwise known as lynch syndrome
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis, which leads to an increase of the development of polyps in the colon.

Diagnosing Colon Cancer

Diagnosis of colon cancer is either done through routine screenings that are part of annual physicals or testing when gastrointestinal problems are present. To diagnose colon cancer patients will,

  • Receive blood tests to check for cancer markers
  • Undergo a colonoscopy which involves a camera scope of the patient’s rectum, colon and intestinal track.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for colon cancer are typically determined based on the stage of cancer the patient is in. Treatment options can include,

  • Polyp removal during colonoscopy
  • Partial colectomy
  • Removal of lymph nodes
  • Colon resection
  • Targeted drug therapies
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation treatment

When it comes to treating colon cancer, routine wellness screenings are important as early diagnosis will lead to the best prognosis.

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Alcohol and Drug Abuse Awareness

Substance abuse awareness ribbon with related keywords

Alcohol has been shown to statistically cause more teenage fatalities than all other drugs put together.

Because alcohol has been shown to be strongly correlated with the three leading causes of death among young adults – suicide, murder, and accidents , such as car accidents – the threat that alcohol poses to young populations needs to be taken more seriously.

The health care costs of both drug and alcohol abuse are staggering as well. The National Institute of Drug Abuse found that alcohol abuse costs $27 billion every year in health care costs and drug abuse collectively costs $37 billion for illicit and prescription drug abuse combined. Those numbers are worrying.

More worrying still is the fact that these numbers are only a drop in the bucket compared to the overall costs that alcohol and drug abuse take on a nation in terms of lost productivity, increased crime, and as already alluded to skyrocketing health care costs.

When you add up these three costs (lower productivity, higher crime, and higher health care costs) you’re talking about nearly a quarter-trillion or $249 billion annually for alcohol abuse and over a quarter trillion for illicit and prescription drugs combined.

The Monitoring the Future study’s results show some promising trends as well as areas for continued concern with respect to today’s youth and tomorrow’s future. Alcohol use among 12th graders, for instance, has gone down about 7% over the last 3 years whereas illicit drug use has pretty much stayed steady with about half of 12th graders indulging in illicit drugs.

Fortunately, the number of 8th graders choosing to partake in alcohol use has gone down since 2013 when it was 27.80% – today that number is 22.80%, which means that fewer than one in four 8th graders is choosing to use alcohol. The number of 12th graders using marijuana, though, has remained fairly constant at around half (~48%) over the last three years.

The frightening reality for many substance abuse, mental health experts, politicians, and concerned parents is that youngsters that drink are more than 7 times more likely to partake in other illicit drugs. And get this: A kid who drinks who 50 times more likely to use cocaine illicitly and on a recreational basis than another kid who abstains from alcohol altogether through his or her middle school, high school, and early adult years.

Recent data shows that among the nearly 4 million people who were treated in 2005 for substance abuse a full 2.4 million were also treated for alcohol abuse. That’s because there’s a big comorbidity (or co-occurrence) between the two kinds of abuse. There also happens to be a big correlation between drug abuse, alcohol abuse, anxiety disorders, and depression.

This is still a chicken or the egg question that psychologists and mental health professionals are trying to work out but it’s currently believed that anxiety disorders, major depression, or bipolar disorder could predispose certain people to start using certain illicit substances and alcohol in order to self medicate. This is never appropriate and a mental health professional and substance abuse counselor should always be called in to help.

Help is needed more desperately than ever because more Americans are falling prey to drug and alcohol abuse. Worryingly, a full 40% of violent crime has been associated with alcohol use, according to the United States Department of Justice. In a single year (2007) alcohol-related traffic fatalities topped 10,000 people. That’s more than should ever succumb to these kinds of accidents.

If you or a loved one are struggled with drug abuse or alcohol abuse contact a substance abuse counselor today for help.

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Symptoms of Whooping Cough

child-getting-vaccinated

Due to the years of medical research, many of the ‘old time’ illness, such as the following showed rarity. Medical communities all agreed that there was no longer any need to vaccine children and adults due no incidents of these diseases reported for many years.

Now in recent years these ‘old time’ illnesses are starting to rear their ugly head because vaccinations stopped. Now the CDC is starting to urge you and your children to be vaccinated once again. A DPT vaccination is a combination of Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus.

Those vaccinated need a revaccination against this with a TDap booster. Whooping Cough is a serious disease and can cause death. Every age group should get a vaccination to protect them against this illness. It is hard to diagnose Whooping Cough because the symptoms are that of a common cold.

  • Whooping Cough
  • Chicken Pox
  • Scarlet Fever
  • Polio

Whooping Cough, Pertussis, or the 100-Day Cough

Whooping Cough is a difficult and challenging illness for any child or adult. This disease takes on a more difficult elimination, and the signs and symptoms become worse in seniors and infants.

If you, as an adult, or a baby is exposed to Pertussis it takes from five to ten days and sometimes up to three weeks to develop symptoms.

If you received a vaccination and then exposed to Whooping Cough, your cough would not last as long. If a baby contracts Pertussis and they are less than one year of age, hospitalization is usually required. Symptoms of this illness include,

  • A whooping type cough
  • Constant coughing fits
  • Instances of vomiting after coughing fits
  • Symptoms mimicking a cold such as, mild cough and low-grade fever
  • Periods of apnea in babies

Early on in the process of this illness symptoms can last for one to a few weeks and may include,

  • A mild and occasional cough
  • Low-grade fever
  • Episodes of apnea in a baby
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Common cold or bronchitis

If you have a baby with Whooping Cough, the chances of them coughing may not be apparent. Instead, a child displays apnea and cyanosis (bluish tinge to the skin) from lack of oxygen.

As this illness progresses, symptoms become more intense after one to two weeks. These symptoms can include,

  • You have frequent, rapid coughing. Coughing fits come so frequently and violently it takes all the air from your lungs. To breathe you must try to take in a deep breath causing a whooping sound.
  • Vomiting, sometimes
  • Extreme fatigue

There is no quick recovery from Pertussis. Coughing fits last for weeks, usually up to and exceeding 10-weeks.

Vaccinations for Whooping Cough lessen the duration and intensity of a cough and time ill.

Recovery

Recovery is slow and agonizing. A cough starts to decrease and is milder. Symptoms can return over the course of many months, whenever you develop another respiratory infection.

Vaccination against Diphtheria,Tetanus, and Pertussis is essential to good health and lessens the symptoms should you get any of these illnesses.

This vaccination is essential to good health and lessens the symptoms should you get any of these illnesses.Vaccinations are highly safe, but you may experience some mild reactions such as in the following.

  • Mild pain and redness at injection site
  • Mild fever
  • Slight headache
  • Mild fatigue

When you consider full-blown Pertussis and the weeks and months of difficult recovery, these few possible reactions are minimal and you will be glad you protected yourself and children from Whooping Cough.

Pertussis is on the rise and proves a very contagious respiratory infection. Vaccination of adults and children every ten years is essential for a healthy life.

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Understanding Sickle Cell Disease

Microscopic view of sicke cells causing anemia disease.

There are many kinds of diseases that are associated with blood. Some are contagious diseases. Others are developed within the body because of lifestyle or unhealthy habits. On the other hand, there are also such diseases that are inherited, and one of these diseases is sickle cell.

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease, or SCD, is a red blood cell disorder that is passed on from parents to children. This red blood cell is identified as sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. There are many people with abnormal hemoglobin such as hemoglobin S, but the most common type of SCD is hemoglobin SS or sickle-cell anemia.

Overview

Our body tissues require oxygen, and this is being supplied by our hemoglobin or red blood cells throughout our body. Since hemoglobin has a round shape, it becomes flexible enough to easily flow through blood vessels. It’s soft and elastic, so it can fit freely flow along with other red blood cells.

Meanwhile, sickle cell has a sickle shape similar with that of a leech. Inside the sickle cell, there are strands that form such a shape, and these stands are hard. As a result, sickle cells don’t easily flow through blood vessels. Instead, they stick to the wall and block the blood vessel. Because of this, the supply of oxygen to our tissues are slowed down or even blocked completely.

When your body tissues don’t have enough supply of oxygen, you may suffer from severe pain crises. Such pain comes without early signs or warning, and this usually ends up being sent to the hospital for immediate treatment. In some cases, it can also harm or damage organs such as lungs, heart, brain, kidneys, and liver.

Causes

SCD is only inherited from a parent as it’s not contagious nor developed overtime. Nevertheless, the probability of inheriting sickle cell disease is low because even if your parent has SCD doesn’t necessarily mean you have also inherited it. There are factors that affect the transfer of SCD such as another parent’s condition. This means that both parents should have SCD in order to pass it on to their children. If only one of the parents has SCD, the disease will not be passed down.

Symptoms

There are different symptoms of sickle cell disease, and they vary from one patient to another depending on health condition. Nonetheless, these are some common symptoms you should observe:

  • Eye Problems
  • Slow Growth
  • Infections
  • Swelling
  • Pain

Swelling takes place in hands and feet; however, chronic pain is usually experienced by young adults who have SCD. If not managed properly, it may lead to bone damage and ulcers. Meanwhile, vision problems happen when eyes have the lack the supply of blood as a result of sickle cell blockage.

When You Should See a Doctor

Symptoms may be a false sign or just a sign of another different disease. It’s difficult to predict until you see a doctor. Visit a doctor if you see and experience the following signs:

  • Yellow Skin
  • Frequent Fever
  • Abnormal Swelling
  • Episodes of Pain

Treatment

The only cure for SCD is stem-cell transplant or bone marrow transplant. However, it has a lot of challenges to do so. Aside from the fact that it is difficult to find a donor, only those who are16 years old or below are able to undergo such an operation. Moreover, the operation is risky, and it sometimes leads to death. Nevertheless, antibiotics are administered to cure the crises or pain.

 

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Understanding Radiation Therapy

Radiation-Therapy

If there is one illness that many people are afraid of, it’s cancer. This is because cancer is one of the most fatal illnesses that is hard to treat. Moreover, there is really no definite treatment for it yet.

Although chemotherapy is the most popular treatment for cancer, there is still no guaranty it can cure all types of cancer. This is why another type of treatment has been developed to treat cancer. This treatment is called radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy Explained

Radiation therapy is the use of radiation such as gamma rays and X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This happens with the help of three types of radiation therapy such as:

  • External-Beam Radiation Therapy
  • Internal Radiation Therapy or Brachytherapy
  • Systemic Radiation

External-Beam Radiation Therapy

This type of radiation therapy is done with the use of a radiation machine. The machine is similar to the X-ray machine will release its charged particles through a beam radiation. The radiation will penetrate the cancer-infected area from outside the body.

Internal Radiation

Internal radiation, on the other hand, is the method of directly placing the radioactive materials in the area around cancer cells. The process is a bit complicated, but it can be more potent.

Systemic Radiation

Meanwhile, systemic radiation treatment is the use of radioactive substances that can move through the blood to reach the areas with cancer cells. This works like a regular medicine in the sense that the substances are absorbed into the blood stream. An example of a radioactive substance is radioactive iodine.

How Does Radiation Therapy Work Against Cancer?

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by damaging cell DNA. This also can happen by creating free radicals within the cells that kills the cancer as well.

Does Radiation Therapy Kill Other Cells?

The drawback in using radiation therapy is that it kills not only the cancer cells but also other cells nearby. This problem causes side effects depending on which cells are damaged as the result of killing cancer cells. Nevertheless, our tissues have a certain level of tolerance against radiation. It’s your doctor who will determine such levels before this treatment is performed.

Why Is Radiation Therapy Needed?

Radiation therapy is a powerful treatment against cancer. It’s so strong that other cells may also be sacrificed in the process. Nonetheless, the result is significant. It’s needed when the purpose is to completely eliminate the cancer. This means radiation therapy is used for curative intent, and it can also be used for palliative care to shrink tumors.

On the other hand, radiation therapy can also be applied along with chemotherapy. It can also be used for curative intent, control treatment, and palliative care at the same time.

How Is Radiation Therapy Scheduled?

Before radiation therapy is scheduled, your oncologist will ask you to undergo several tests such as CT scans, MRI, PET, and ultrasounds. All such tests will determine the location and the position of cancer infections inside the body. Once identified, radiation therapy will be applied in the target areas.

Conclusion

Radiation therapy may be much stronger than chemotherapy. However, there are risks involved as the radiation can also damage other non-cancer cells. Radiation therapy is ideal for curative intent as it requires patients to be much healthier and tolerant against certain radioactive materials and substances.

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What is Oral Cancer?

Image result for oral cancer ad

Oral cancer is a persistent growth or sore inside the mouth that is caused by an uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage. It will not go away on its own. It includes the following surrounding tissues:

  • Throat
  • Tonsils
  • Sinuses
  • Hard and Soft Palate
  • Floor of the Mouth
  • Cheeks
  • Tongue
  • Lips

What are the Symptoms?

There are numerous symptoms associated with oral cancer. The most common ones are:

  • Any lesions or swelling on the lips, gums, or other areas inside your mouth
  • Unexplained oral bleeding
  • Unexplained numbness, tenderness, or pain in any areas of the mouth, face or neck
  • Persistent sores in the mouth or the neck and face that do not heal within two weeks.
  • Red, white, or red and white speckled patches in your mouth
  • A feeling that something is caught in the back of your throat
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
  • Chronic sore throat, hoarseness, or change of voice
  • Earache
  • A change in your teeth or the way your dentures fit together
  • Large weight loss

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to make an appointment with your dentist or primary care physician as soon as possible.

Who is at Risk?

It is estimated that over 40,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Men face twice the risk than women, and men over the age of 50 face the greatest risk of all.

Oral cancer risk factors include:

  • Smoking. Whether you smoke cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe, you are six times more likely to contract oral cancer than nonsmokers.
  • Using smokeless tobacco. Chewing tobacco, snuff, or dip makes you 50 times more likely to develop cancers of the lining of the lips, gums, or cheeks.
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol. You are six times more likely to contract oral cancer than nondrinkers.
  • Family history of cancer. If cancer runs in your family, then you are more genetically predisposed.
  • Too much sun. If you have excessive exposure to the sun, especially when you are young, it increases your odds of contracting oral cancer.
  • If you have been diagnosed with HPV (Human Papillomavirus), some strains put you at a higher risk for contracting oral cancer.

It is important to note, however, that 25% of diagnosed cases of oral cancer do occur in nonsmokers and social drinkers.

What Can You Do to Prevent a Diagnosis?

There are some things you can do to lower your risk, such as:

  • Drink alcohol in moderation, and do not smoke or use any tobacco products.
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet.
  • Limit your exposure to the sun, and when you are out in the sun, apply UV-A/B sun blocking products on your skin and lips.

Early Detection is Key

The earlier you see any symptoms, the greater the chance of successful treatment. You can also take an active role in early detection by doing the following:

  • Do a Self Exam Once per Month – Use a bright light and a mirror to examine all the surfaces of your mouth and lips. Feel for lumps and thoroughly look over every part of your mouth, throat, and gums. Check for enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. If you find anything suspicious, contact your health care professional immediately.
  • See your Dentist Regularly – No matter how thorough, you can’t always see everything, so ask your dentist to conduct an exam at your next visit.

Remember, understanding what oral cancer is and how to detect it increases your chances of successful treatment.

 

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How Diabetes Can Affect Your Eyes

examining-eye

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar is too high. This occurs because the disease makes it difficult for your body to make enough insulin or use it properly. There are two types of diabetes. Type I diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes and it occurs in children and young adults. This type occurs when the body doesn’t make insulin. The second type is Type II diabetes. This type can occur at any age and it is caused if your body doesn’t make insulin or if it doesn’t use it well.

If not treated properly, diabetes can cause serious health problems including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Food problems
  • Nerve damage
  • Dental problems
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Eye problems

What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic eye disease is more than one disease that can affect people who suffer from diabetes. People who don’t keep their diabetes under control are at greater risk of eye complications. Also, each of the conditions can cause serious vision loss and even blindness. If you suffer from diabetes, it is important that you understand each of the diseases and what they can do to your eyes.

  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. The condition affects the blood vessels in the retina, which lines the back of the eye. If your blood sugar is often high, it can cause damage to the retina’s tiny blood vessels. This can result in the blood vessels bleeding or leaking fluid which can cause distortions in the vision. When the condition progresses, it can result in scarring and cell loss in the retina, causing complete blindness. In many cases, vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy is irreversible. Early detection and treatment can reduce your risk of going blind by 95 percent.
  • Diabetic Macular Edema (DME): DME often occurs in people who have diabetic retinopathy. While it often occurs when the disease progresses, it can occur at any time. It is a build-up of fluid in the macula. This part of the eye is used for seeing straight ahead to read, drive, and recognize faces. Half of the people who develop diabetic retinopathy develop DME. If left untreated, it can cause vision loss.
  • Cataracts: A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. When a person has cataracts, their natural lens would be removed and replaced with an artificial one. Anyone can develop cataracts, however, people with diabetes are two to five times more likely to develop cataracts than those who aren’t diabetic.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma damages the eye’s optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is often the result of high pressure in the eye, and it is very common in people with diabetes. Studies have shown that adults who suffer from diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma than those who don’t have the disease.

Preventing Diabetic Eye Disease

The only way to prevent diabetic eye disease is to be vigilant when it comes to your blood sugar levels. You should also see your eye doctor every six months. The sooner a problem is detected, the sooner it can be treated, saving your eyesight. Many of the diabetic eye diseases won’t show any symptoms at first, therefore, it is very important that you see your eye doctor regularly.

Diabetes can wreak havoc on many of the body’s systems including your vision. The only way to prevent permanent vision loss and blindness is to check your blood sugar levels regularly and take the necessary steps to keep it at a healthy level.

 

 

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Types of Metabolic Disorders

blood-clotting-disorders

Numerous types of metabolic disorders exist in the contemporary world. While some are relatively minor, others are major and can be life threatening. The moment you notice symptoms of any metabolic disorder, it is prudent to visit your doctor to have it attended to before it escalates into something dangerous.

The primary cause of metabolic conditions is a malfunction in the body’s metabolism. In some instances, though, metabolism disorders arise from inadequate chemical reactions. Below are some of the main metabolic disorders:

  • Obesity

Obesity can be brought about by a plethora of factors. Among these factors are metabolic problems. There are diseases which have been confirmed to be a trigger factor for obesity. Some of those diseases are thyroid disorders among others. Individuals who have a low basal metabolic rate tend to be fatter than their counterparts who have high metabolic rates.

  • Hyperthyroidism

This is another major metabolic disorder characterized by too much hormone being produced by the thyroid. The thyroid is located in the area front of the larynx and is a key gland for metabolism. It is the organ responsible for the production of thyroxine and triiodothyronine, the two thyroid hormones critical to body metabolism of fats, emotional heats as well as heat. If these hormones are produced in excess, the result is the triggering of an entire series of metabolic disorders that is capable of producing serious or less serious damage to an individual’s health.

  • Hypothyroidism

This is a condition brought about when the thyroid produces insufficient thyroid hormones. It is also a major cause of the occurrence of goiter. Goiter is brought about when there is an increase in the size of the thyroid. The increase is seen in the appearance of a bulge on the front side of the neck. The proper weight of the thyroid gland is usually about 20-30 grams. The weight of an enlarged thyroid gland can be as serious as one kilogram. This can easily become one of the leading causes of difficulty in breathing as well as swallowing.

If left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause cretinism. Cretinism is a physical condition which is characterized by poor physical and mental development. Other characteristic physical symptoms may include waxy skin, belly and speech problems.

Low thyroid hormones can also be a cause of other far-reaching conditions including myxedema coma. This condition is preceded by characteristic symptoms including hypotension, slow breathing, extremely dry skin, and hyposensitivity to cold.

  • Diabetes

This is a metabolic disorder characterized by excess sugar in the blood and urine. Diabetes is of two types.

– Diabetes insipidus which is a result of the lack of vasopressin hormone.

– Diabetes mellitus which is as a result of the alteration in sugar metabolism.

Diabetes mellitus is further subdivided into:

– Insulin dependent diabetes type 1. This is a disease that is most prevalent in children and youths. Its characteristic is the deficiency of insulin in the blood. Resulting from a pancreas which produces too little insulin.

– Non-insulin dependent diabetes (type II). This condition, on the other hand, is prevalent in individuals aged 40 and above. Here, the cells find it difficult to absorb insulin from the blood. This may happen even with a normal insulin production by the pancreas. The evolution of this type of diabetes is much slower than that of juvenile diabetes.

The above are some of the metabolic disorders that are prevalent among humans in the modern world. If you fall victim to any of them, be fast in opting for medical solutions before it’s too late.

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Alcohol and Drug Abuse Awareness

pat-home-slider-3

Alcohol has been shown to statistically cause more teenage fatalities than all other drugs put together.

Because alcohol has been shown to be strongly correlated with the three leading causes of death among young adults – suicide, murder, and accidents , such as car accidents – the threat that alcohol poses to young populations needs to be taken more seriously.

The health care costs of both drug and alcohol abuse are staggering as well. The National Institute of Drug Abuse found that alcohol abuse costs $27 billion every year in health care costs and drug abuse collectively costs $37 billion for illicit and prescription drug abuse combined. Those numbers are worrying.

More worrying still is the fact that these numbers are only a drop in the bucket compared to the overall costs that alcohol and drug abuse take on a nation in terms of lost productivity, increased crime, and as already alluded to skyrocketing health care costs.

When you add up these three costs (lower productivity, higher crime, and higher health care costs) you’re talking about nearly a quarter-trillion or $249 billion annually for alcohol abuse and over a quarter trillion for illicit and prescription drugs combined.

The Monitoring the Future study’s results show some promising trends as well as areas for continued concern with respect to today’s youth and tomorrow’s future. Alcohol use among 12th graders, for instance, has gone down about 7% over the last 3 years whereas illicit drug use has pretty much stayed steady with about half of 12th graders indulging in illicit drugs.

Fortunately, the number of 8th graders choosing to partake in alcohol use has gone down since 2013 when it was 27.80% – today that number is 22.80%, which means that fewer than one in four 8th graders is choosing to use alcohol. The number of 12th graders using marijuana, though, has remained fairly constant at around half (~48%) over the last three years.

The frightening reality for many substance abuse, mental health experts, politicians, and concerned parents is that youngsters that drink are more than 7 times more likely to partake in other illicit drugs. And get this: A kid who drinks who 50 times more likely to use cocaine illicitly and on a recreational basis than another kid who abstains from alcohol altogether through his or her middle school, high school, and early adult years.

Recent data shows that among the nearly 4 million people who were treated in 2005 for substance abuse a full 2.4 million were also treated for alcohol abuse. That’s because there’s a big comorbidity (or co-occurrence) between the two kinds of abuse. There also happens to be a big correlation between drug abuse, alcohol abuse, anxiety disorders, and depression.

This is still a chicken or the egg question that psychologists and mental health professionals are trying to work out but it’s currently believed that anxiety disorders, major depression, or bipolar disorder could predispose certain people to start using certain illicit substances and alcohol in order to self medicate. This is never appropriate and a mental health professional and substance abuse counselor should always be called in to help.

Help is needed more desperately than ever because more Americans are falling prey to drug and alcohol abuse. Worryingly, a full 40% of violent crime has been associated with alcohol use, according to the United States Department of Justice. In a single year (2007) alcohol-related traffic fatalities topped 10,000 people. That’s more than should ever succumb to these kinds of accidents.

If you or a loved one are struggled with drug abuse or alcohol abuse contact a substance abuse counselor today for help.

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What is Red Ribbon Week?

red-ribbon-week

Each year, the nation celebrates Red Ribbon Week. However, many people aren’t quite sure what it is, or how it got started. Red Ribbon Week is a campaign dedicated to bringing awareness to drug, alcohol, and violence prevention. It is observed during October each year in the United States. It is the largest, and oldest, drug prevention program in the country.

Red Ribbon Week’s Origins

In 1988, the National Family Partnership organized the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Week in partnership with President and First Lady Reagan. Red ribbons began showing up in 1985, in response to the murder of Special Agent Enrique Camarena. Camarena was a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Agent, who was kidnapped, brutally tortured and killed by the drug traffickers he was investigating in Mexico in 1985. He joined the DEA to make a difference, and his death angered parents and children across the country.

Red Badges

In honor of Camarena’s memory and the work he did to rid the country of illegal drugs, Camerena’s childhood friend, Henry Lozano and Congressman Duncan Hunter created “Camarena Club”. They began wearing red satin ribbons to show their opposition to drugs. The symbol spread across the country. Soon, parents who were sick of the destruction caused by alcohol and drugs joined them. They formed coalitions, coalitions that adopted the symbol of Camarena’s memory, the red satin ribbon.

Red Ribbon Week Today

Today, Red Ribbon Week is celebrated during the last week of October each year. It is a way for schools, businesses, and families to educate their youth and get them to participate in drug prevention activities. Red Ribbon Week activities reach millions of people each year. Wearing red ribbons during the month of October represents a pledge to live drug free and honors the sacrifice of Special Agent Camarena and others who have lost their lives fighting against drugs.

From Red Ribbon Week photo contests to Red Ribbon Week-themed essays, schools take part each year in a big way, and parents are always encouraged to participate. Businesses often hand out Red Ribbons, and employees wear them to show their support. Rallies are often planned in cities, and even in the nation’s capital to bring awareness to this important subject.

Now, even the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts can earn a DEA Red Ribbon Patch.

See what your community is doing this year to commemorate Red Ribbon Week, and make sure to wear your ribbon.

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