Sunday, July 30, 2017

Communication: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse

Are you able to communicate calmly and clearly with your teenager regarding relationship problems, such as jealousy or need for attention?

Good communication between parents and children is the foundation of strong family relationships. Developing good communication skills helps parents catch problems early, support positive behavior, and stay aware of what is happening in their children’s lives.

Relationship Problems and Clear Communication

  • Negative example: Mom gets defensive
  • Positive example: Mom is understanding

Before you begin:

  • Be sure it’s a good time to talk and you can focus one hundred percent on communicating with your child.
  • Have a plan.
  • Gather your thoughts before you approach your child.
  • Be calm and patient.
  • Limit distractions.

Key communication skills include:


The kind of information you receive depends a lot on how you ask the question.
  • Show interest/concern. Don't blame/accuse. For example, instead of, "How do you get yourself into these situations?" say, "That sounds like a difficult situation. Were you confused?"
  • Encourage problem-solving/thinking. For example: Instead of, "What did you think was going to happen when you don't think?" say, "So, what do you think would have been a better way to handle that?"

Listening and observing

  • Youth feel more comfortable bringing issues and situations to their parents when they know they will be listened to and not be accused.

Extra Tips

  • Be present and tuned in.
  • Show understanding.
  • Listen with respect.
  • Be interested.
  • Avoid negative emotions.
  • Give encouragement.

Reducing Emotion

Sometimes, talking with children brings up strong feelings that interfere with clear thinking. Following the CALM steps can help a parent keep the conversation moving in the right direction:
  • Control your thoughts and your actions.
  • Assess and decide if you are too upset to continue.
  • Leave the situation if you are feeling too angry or upset.
  • Make a plan to deal with the situation within 24 hours.

Practice Skill

Video: Active Listening

When listening to your child, remember:

  • Show understanding.
  • Repeat back or summarize what your child said.
  • Practice patience.
  • Emphasize positive behaviors and choices.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Positive parenting prevents drug abuse

Encouragement promotes a strong sense of self because it sends three main messages to your child:

1. You can do it! Youth believe they can do things if parents:
  • help them break a problem down into smaller parts
  • remind them of their strengths and past successes
  • encourage them by sharing how they have dealt with challenges
2. You have good ideas! Youth believe they have good ideas if parents:
  • ask them to share their opinions and feelings
  • listen to what they have to say
  • ask them for input concerning family plans and events
  • ask them for ideas to solve family problems
3. You are important! Youth know they are important if parents:
  • remember what they have told them
  • make time for them each day
  • attend school functions and extracurricular activities
  • let them know that they are thinking about them when they can’t be with them
  • display things they have made and recognitions they receive from school or the community

Examples of Encouraging Words

  • "I know that wasn’t easy."
  • "You did such an awesome job."
  • "Keep on trying."
  • "You are very good at that."
  • "You are learning a lot."
  • "I like the way you did that."
  • "I can tell you’ve been practicing."
  • "It’s great to see you working so hard."
  • "I’m so proud of you."

Practices That are Discouraging

  • Being sarcastic or negative about a child’s ability to be successful
  • Comparing a child to brothers and sisters
  • Taking over when a child’s progress is slow
  • Reminding a child of past failures 
  • Source.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ritalin and Cocaine: The Connection and the Controversy

Ritalin and Cocaine: The Connection and the Controversy

Since the mid-1950s, doctors have been using Ritalin (also called methylphenidate) to treat a variety of conditions including depression, fatigue syndrome, and narcolepsy. Ritalin gained FDA approval for treatment of hyperactivity in children in 1961.

Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed medication for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). This treatment has helped thousands of people control their symptoms. But because Ritalin is a stimulant like cocaine, it may cause undesirable changes in the brain over time. It also has the potential for abuse, and because it’s a legal prescription drug, many wrongly assume that it is not dangerous.

So what are the benefits of Ritalin, and what are the risks?

Ritalin is currently prescribed to approximately six million people in the US. 75% of these are children, with boys receiving Ritalin about four times more often than girls.

Order your copy today and learn about the brain!

ADHD: The Benefits of Ritalin

People with ADHD have difficulty concentrating, and they can be hyperactive or impulsive. They also have lower levels of the brain chemical dopamine.

Dopamine helps people control their behavior, so having the right level of dopamine in the brain is important. Ritalin increases dopamine levels, helping those with ADHD to focus, filter out distractions, and make decisions based on reason rather than emotion.

Students in Library

Ritalin is Similar to Cocaine

Ritalin Synapse

Research shows that 10-30% of cocaine addicts have ADHD.
30-50% of adolescents in drug treatment centers report abusing Ritalin.

There can be unintended consequences when an adult uses cocaine to control their ADHD. --Dr. Glen Hansen
Like cocaine, Ritalin is a powerful stimulant that increases alertness and productivity. Ritalin and cocaine also look and act very much alike. They have a similar chemical structure, and both increase dopamine levels in the brain. They do this by blocking a dopamine transporter protein, which normally takes up dopamine from the synapse.

ADHD children are typically taken off of Ritalin when they reach adulthood. Interestingly, these individuals seem to be more prone to cocaine addiction. Why is that? Because Ritalin and cocaine are similar drugs, it's possible that ADHD adults are unknowingly using cocaine as a replacement for Ritalin. In other words, it may be an attempt to self-medicate. Cocaine may help individuals with ADHD focus and feel calm and in control.

Ritalin and Cocaine 
Ritalin (left) and cocaine (right) share a similar chemical structure and mechanism of action.

Is Ritalin Addicting?

Ritalin is not addictive when prescribed by doctors and taken as directed. Why this difference between Ritalin and cocaine? Ritalin is a pill that you swallow, so the drug takes longer to reach the brain. Cocaine is taken in high doses by injection or snorting. It floods the brain quickly with dopamine, which makes it dangerous and addictive.

Unfortunately, Ritalin is quickly becoming a drug of choice for teens. It's relatively cheap and accessible. And because it's a prescription drug, it's perceived to be safe. But if Ritalin is abused (taken in high doses) or taken improperly (by injection or snorting), it can be just as addictive as cocaine. This is because drug delivery methods can influence the addictive potential of a drug.
Is Ritalin a “gateway drug”? Studies show that proper Ritalin use does not lead to drug abuse. --Dr. Kelly Lundberg

The Consequences of Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis of ADHD is a common problem that complicates the Ritalin controversy. Some say that Ritalin is now over-prescribed, and that it may cause undesirable changes in the brain over time.
Recent animal studies suggest that children who are mistakenly diagnosed with ADHD and treated with Ritalin may be more likely to develop depression as adults. This can be explained by Ritalin's effects on the reward pathway.

We know that Ritalin increases dopamine levels in the brain. But an unnecessary increase in dopamine during childhood may change how the brain develops. The brain may become desensitized to natural rewards like food, romance, and social interactions, leading to depression.
However, failing to diagnose has ADHD has its problems too: Kids with untreated ADHD are four times more likely than normal to abuse drugs.
Kids with untreated ADHD are four times more likely than normal to abuse drugs. --Dr. Glen Hanson

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

Seattle-focused study suggests earlier intervention with depressed youths could reduce rate of cannabis-use disorder

Young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence, found a study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth.

A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Researchers used data from annual assessments when students were ages 12-15 and then again when they were 18. The results were published in the journal Addiction.

"The findings suggest that if we can prevent or reduce chronic depression during early adolescence, we may reduce the prevalence of cannabis use disorder," said lead author Isaac Rhew, research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

According to researchers, during the past decade cannabis has surpassed tobacco with respect to prevalence of use among adolescents. Cannabis and alcohol are the two most commonly used substances among youth in the United States. They pointed to one national study showing increases in prevalence of cannabis use disorder and alcohol use disorder in the United States, especially among young adults.

Longitudinal studies looking at the link between depression and later use of alcohol and cannabis, however, have been mixed. Some show a link. Others don't. But most studies have assessed adolescent depression at a single point in time -- not cumulatively, said the researchers. Further, there have been differences in how substance use has been measured ranging from the initiation of any use to heavier problematic forms of use.

The study oversampled for students with depressive and/or conduct problems. The researchers were surprised to see that the prevalence of cannabis and alcohol use disorder in this study was notably higher than national estimates with 21 percent meeting criteria for cannabis use disorder and 20 percent meeting criteria for alcohol use disorder at age 18.

What effect the easing of marijuana laws in Washington state had on the youth is unclear. Researchers said it would be informative to conduct a similar study in a state with more strict marijuana laws to understand whether the relationship between depression and cannabis misuse would still hold in areas where marijuana may be less accessible.

Story Source:
Materials provided by University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine. Original written by Bobbi Nodell.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Why do people take drugs?

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Here's a preview:
Why do people take drugs?

In general, people begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons:

  • To feel good. Most abused drugs produce intense feelings of pleasure. This initial sensation of euphoria is followed by other effects, which differ with the type of drug used. For example, with stimulants such as cocaine, the “high” is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy. In contrast, the euphoria caused by opiates such as heroin is followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction.   
  • To feel better. Some people who suffer from social anxiety, stress-related disorders, and depression begin abusing drugs in an attempt to lessen feelings of distress. Stress can play a major role in beginning drug use, continuing drug abuse, or relapse in patients recovering from addiction.
  • To do better. Some people feel pressure to chemically enhance or improve their cognitive or athletic performance, which can play a role in initial experimentation and continued abuse of drugs such as prescription stimulants or anabolic/androgenic steroids.
  • Curiosity and “because others are doing it.” In this respect adolescents are particularly vulnerable because of the strong influence of peer pressure. Teens are more likely than adults to engage in risky or daring behaviors to impress their friends and express their independence from parental and social rules.

Over time, if drug use continues, other pleasurable activities become less pleasurable, and taking the drug becomes necessary for the user just to feel “normal.”

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Join our conversation on the drug epidemic and families

Image showing lethal doses of Heroin and Fentanyl

The amount of drug that can kill. Fentanyl threatens to greatly worsen our addiction crisis.

A social worker in a small upstate New York town told me that in order to shoot up with meth, teens in his town used the only private space they could find: their family car. They shot up in the most secluded place they could find--empty downtown areas, WHILE DRIVING.

A mental health worker in Vermont told me that they're on the verge of giving up on today's youth and trying to prevent children from becoming the next generation of addicts.

Doctors in emergency rooms give families devastating news about their children, anywhere from the limited, compromised futures they face to the crushing news of their deaths.
Former President Bill Clinton gave a speech recently saying that the opioid epidemic will destroy this country.


A Thousand Moms, which has produced a series of books entitled "Healing the Brain," will hold a four-week conference-call series entitled "Network of Support: Addiction and Our Families." 

Made possible by a donation from a concerned supporter, A Thousand Moms’ four-part information series for educators, parents, social workers, other concerned individuals is now free of charge. Dates for Network of Support: The Addiction Crisis are Tuesdays, July 18/19, July 25/26, August 1/2 and August 8/9. (Original presentations are repeated on the following day for the convenience of participants. Times: Tuesdays at 11:00 am EDT., Wednesdays at 7:00 pm EDT. 
Calls last one hour. CONF CALL #: 605 475-6333  ACCESS CODE: 2456474

Presented in clear, non-complicated language

To empower participants, coverage in this series will include a basic understanding of how addiction works in the brain and body. Each session will combine addiction facts with practical strategies for coping with current or potential substance abuse by a loved one. Substance abuse topics include: How the brain works; Why is addiction a brain disease? Opioids/heroin;  Methamphetamines, cocaine; and Alcohol and marijuana. Support topics include: Positive parenting as a prevention tool for drug abuse; Communication, encouragement,and negotiations; Setting limits; supervision, and knowing your child's friends. 
The conference call programs are presented by Fred Elia, MS, president of A Thousand Moms, and David Balog, author, Dana Foundation’s Sourcebook of Brain Science and Healing the Brain: Stress, Trauma and Development.
First call: Tuesday, July 18, 11:00 AM EDT
CONF CALL #: 605 475-6333  ACCESS CODE: 2456474 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Confused About Marijuana and the Law?

There’s been a lot of talk in the U.S. lately about legalizing marijuana. Maybe you’ve heard stories in the news about some states that have legalized weed (or are debating whether to do that) and wondered, what does that mean for you?

Recreational marijuana
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: If you’re a teen, it’s never legal to use marijuana recreationally (that is, just to get high).

Marijuana is also still illegal under U.S. federal law, even in states that have passed laws to make it legal under state law.

Confused yet? Okay, so what about those state laws?

The District of Columbia and four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) allow adults to use marijuana recreationally. While the laws in these places vary, all of them prohibit people under the age of 21 from using marijuana recreationally.

Medical marijuana
Some research suggests that marijuana may have the potential to help treat some health conditions including pain, nausea, epilepsy, and others. But there hasn’t been enough research on the subject, and patients across the country are using marijuana strains and extracts that haven’t been fully tested or shown to be effective for their medical condition.

So far, 25 states and D.C. have passed laws to let people use marijuana with recommendations from their doctors (and sometimes by fulfilling other requirements, like having a medical marijuana license). The federal government has decided not to challenge those laws to any great extent. But people who buy marijuana in a state where it’s legal (for medicinal or recreational use) cannot take it across state lines into a state where it is not legal. So it remains a confusing issue.

Marijuana hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and that approval is necessary to grow and sell medicine in this country. But researchers are studying possible medical uses for marijuana and some of the chemicals it contains. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which enforces marijuana laws in the U.S., recently said it would increase the number of places allowed to grow the plant for research purposes in hopes of making it easier for more scientists to study marijuana.

So just to repeat, nothing in the law has changed for teens; using weed to get high is still illegal, wherever you live in the U.S. Depending on what scientists learn about marijuana’s value as medicine, it may (or may not) become legal for more people with certain health problems.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New drug can restore memories in mice

Image shows cortical tissue.
Cortical tissue with plaques stained in blue, and astrocytes responding to drug treatment in red. image is credited to the researchers.

Source: Yale.
A new drug can restore memories and connections between brain cells in mice with a model of Alzheimer’s disease, a new Yale-led study suggests.

“The drug completely erased evidence of Alzheimer’s synapse damage and memory loss in mouse models of the disease,” said Stephen Strittmatter, the Vincent Coates Professor of Neurology and senior author of the study appearing July 5 in the journal Cell Reports.

Researchers such as Strittmatter have made significant inroads into understanding the biology of Alzheimer’s disease, but identifying effective and safe treatments has been difficult. It is known that amyloid-beta peptides, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, couple with prion protein at the surface of brain cells and transmit damaging instructions to the interior of the cell. Yale researchers had previously identified a protein on the cell membrane — metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 or mGluR5 — as the gateway that helps transmit damage from the coupling.


Previous attempts had been made to target mGluR5, but most drugs also disrupt signaling of glutamate, the most common neurotransmitter in the human brain. The new compound, Silent Allosteric Modulation or SAM (BMS 984923), was created by Bristol Myers Squibb as part of its effort to treat schizophrenia. The drug does not restrict neurotransmitter signaling in culture tissue or living mice, the study found. After four weeks of treatment, memory and synapses linking brain cells had been restored in mice with a model of Alzheimer’s.

“The drug does not destroy plaques associated with Alzheimer’s, but allows them to co-exist with neurons,” Strittmatter said

Yale researchers say the next step is to prepare for preliminary trials of the drug’s effects on humans.
Primary funding for the research comes from the National Institutes of Health.   

Friday, July 7, 2017

Foods that May Prevent Alzheimer's

Source: Web MD: 

The MIND Diet


Want another great reason to eat healthy? The food choices you make daily might lower your odds of getting Alzheimer’s disease, some scientists say.

Researchers have found that people who stuck to a diet that included foods like berries, leafy greens, and fish had a major drop in their risk for the memory-sapping disorder, which affects more than 5 million Americans over age 65.

The eating plan is called the MIND diet. Here’s how it works.

Brain-Friendly Foods

MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It’s similar to two other healthy meal plans: the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet

But the MIND approach “specifically includes foods and nutrients that medical literature and data show to be good for the brain, such as berries,” says Martha Clare Morris, ScD, director of nutrition and nutritional epidemiology at Rush University Medical Center.

You eat things from these 10 food groups:

  • Green leafy vegetables (like spinach and salad greens): At least six servings a week
  • Other vegetables: At least one a day
  • Nuts: Five servings a week
  • Berries: Two or more servings a week
  • Beans: At least three servings a week
  • Whole grains: Three or more servings a day
  • Fish: Once a week
  • Poultry (like chicken or turkey): Two times a week
  • Olive oil: Use it as your main cooking oil.
  • Wine: One glass a day
You avoid:

  • Red meat: Less than four servings a week
  • Butter and margarine: Less than a tablespoon daily
  • Cheese: Less than one serving a week
  • Pastries and sweets: Less than five servings a week
  • Fried or fast food: Less than one serving a week

The Benefits

One study showed that people who stuck to the MIND diet lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 54%. That’s big. But maybe even more importantly, researchers found that adults who followed the diet only part of the time still cut their risk of the disease by about 35%.

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