Keeping Your Sense of Humor During Quarantine

It might have been the afternoon I was distractedly pumping gas, heard another customer’s pump beep in completion, and yanked my own gas pump out of the car halfway through filling my tank –spraying my car and my shoes and everything in the vicinity with gasoline like the epic Zoolander scene– that I realized something strange was happening to my brain.  Or maybe it was the night I was at a friend’s house and Door Dashed an order from a restaurant that is literally 30 feet from her front door.  Yup, not only did I pay delivery fees and wait an extra thirty minutes for this “convenience”, the delivery guy couldn’t find parking and ended up calling me to grab the order from his car!  I actually walked PAST the restaurant to collect my food from the driver, barely able to speak through my embarrassed laughter.

If quarantine, Covid fears, and insecurity about what the future holds has you losing your mind…and your keys…and your phone…and your temper…You’re not alone.  Stress puts a ton of pressure on the brain, and our thinking can get extremely fuzzy in this state of cognitive overload.  Not only does this type of stress adversely affect our sense of peace and ability to focus, it negatively impacts our immune system.

Here’s where humor comes in. It’s no coincidence that the popularity of funny memes has skyrocketed during this unique time in human history.  Jokes about parents becoming homeschool teachers, nonstop mask wearing, and the tiger king have been providing real comfort during crisis, and there’s science to back it up.  Just as stress negatively impacts the immune system, humor provides some benefits.  One minute of laughter can boost your immune system for over 24 hours, according to one study.

It can be difficult to find or even feel inclined to look for humor when stress is running high, but it’s the most important and impactful time to do so.  Replace an hour of news with an episode of Schitt’s Creek.  Call your funniest friend or fall down a silly pet video rabbit hole on TikTok. Or my personal favorite, practice laughing at yourself more.  Try not to wait to find the humor in life’s idiosyncrasies or in your own screw-ups.  Be your own source of laughter and you’ll never be at a loss for some much-needed stress relief.

What Is the Most Popular Drug With Teens?

popular drugs for teens

The most popular drug with teens varies by demographics and often changes annually. Nonetheless, there are a few substances that remain popular amongst teens. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), alcohol remains one of the most abused substances by teens in America. In fact, close to 60% of seniors in high school abuse alcohol on a regular basis. 

The Effect of Alcohol on Teens                                       

Alcohol has been proven to have several negative effects on teenagers’ mental and physical well-being and development. Some of the consequences that teens face consist of memory impairment, isolation, difficulty concentrating and cognitive, stunted brain development, and increased violent and impulsive behavior. Additionally, research shows that students who abuse alcohol use are less likely to finish high school or go to college. Additionally, people are also more likely to develop an addiction if they start drinking at an early age.

Other Popular Drugs Amongst Teens

Although Alcohol seems to be steadily the most popular drug with teens is not the only popular substance that teens abuse. Research shows that marijuana is also another substance on heavy rotation amongst teens. Although the use is not as high as alcohol, almost 40% of seniors in high school use marijuana frequently. Similar to alcohol, this statistic is declining, however, marijuana use still remains a problem for teens. 

Sadly, many teens appear aloof regarding the consequences of drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. It’s important that the consequences of substance abuse are not only known but also taken seriously and considered carefully. Fortunately, some sober living and treatment programs collaborate with schools to ensure that these consequences are discussed and that students are made aware. 

The Relevance of Nutrition in Substance Use Disorder Treatment

The Relevance of Nutrition in Substance Use Disorder Treatment

by David A. Wiss, MS RDN

Why is Nutrition Relevant to Substance Use Disorders?

The recent opioid crisis and increased insurance coverage for rehabilitation services has created a surge in individuals seeking treatment. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) are increasingly finding employment in Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment facilities nationwide. What kind of evidence do we have to guide us in our nutrition assessment and intervention plan? Due to ethical limitations in conducting prospective studies with illicit substances, there is a shortage of high quality data. Retrospective human studies have demonstrated protein and calorie malnutrition,1 compromised immune status,2 micronutrient deficiencies,3 and antioxidant disturbances.4 Specifically, antioxidant vitamins E, C, and A are lower than controls,5 iron is decreased6 while copper and zinc are increased, indicative of inflammation.7 Detailed summaries of nutrient deficiencies associated with specific substances have been described elsewhere.8,9 

Lowered antioxidant response and increased inflammatory processes may increase the potential for the development of chronic disease. One example is the metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by impaired glucose metabolism, abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, and hypertension.10,11 In one large US adult population study, cocaine use has been associated with elevated blood pressure.12 Other authors have suggested that diabetes counseling include interventions to interrupt drug abuse.13 With growing rates of addiction, the connection between SUD and nutrition-related chronic disease requires further study. Specifically, can nutrition interventions improve mental health outcomes? 

Dietary recall studies have indicated that people who abuse substances have low intake of fruits and vegetables and high intakes of low fiber sugar-sweetened foods and beverages.14,15 Individuals with SUDs typically have lower BMIs while using6 and gain weight during treatment.16 Excessive weight gain during recovery has been described in adolescents,17 men,18 and women,19,20 all of which have been associated with eating disorder (ED) symptomatology. Several studies have shown significant overlap between SUDs and EDs, with estimated comorbidity ranging from 3-50%.21,22 Studies to date have not differentiated between the temporal sequence of co-occurring SUDs and EDs. In other words, does dysfunctional eating emerge once abstinence has been achieved, or was it present before the alcohol or drug use began? The role of societal and social pressures (e.g. appearance-related or otherwise) in early SUD recovery may also contribute to the development or reoccurrence of ED symptoms.  In the SUD population, loss-of-control eating associated with binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa is more common than anorexia nervosa restrictive-type.23 Recently several authors have recommended integrated treatment for SUD and ED rather than separate sequential treatments.21,24,25 There is an urgent need for more research on the role of the RDN in SUD treatment in order to substantiate insurance coverage for these services.

How is the Microbiome Related to Substance Use Disorders?

An emerging area of investigation in the field of “nutritional psychiatry” is the link between the gut microbiome and the brain. Recent research has established connections between gastrointestinal microorganisms and mental health which has been referred to as the “gut-brain axis.”26 Known communication pathways include microbial production of short chain fatty acids in the colon,27 production of neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin) in the intestines, the vagus nerve and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.28 Some authors have proposed that targeting the “crosstalk” between microbes and the central nervous system may have implications for anxiety and depression26 as well as drug addiction.29 Alcohol-dependent patients with gut “leakiness” and associated inflammation had higher measures of depression and alcohol craving.30 Another study showed that the depression, anxiety, and craving associated with compromised gut permeability was persistent after 3 weeks of sobriety.31 Data from rodent models suggests opioid-induced alteration of gut microbiota32-34 that are likely to persist into abstinence. Similar perturbations have been described with cocaine35 and methamphetamine.36,37 More research is needed on the connection between the microbiome and SUD, but it appears to be an important link in physiological recovery, providing strong theoretical support for nutritional interventions in early abstinence.

Emerging data on the microbiome presents compelling evidence why nutrition is important to the recovery process. Food service operations should cater to the clinical needs of the patients, rather than simply provide “comfort food.” Chronic low-fiber diets degrade the intestinal barrier, enhance pathogen susceptibility and promote inflammation.38 Western diets contribute to gut dysbiosis39,40 which may have important implications for dietary interventions during SUD recovery, both over the short (e.g. weeks, months) and longer-term (years). Clinical anecdote suggests that discussion of the gut-brain connection in SUD treatment settings has helped patients to connect nutrition to their recovery and subsequently become proactive in seeking dietary improvement. Recommendations for group topics in SUD treatment have been made elsewhere.41 

Recommendations 

It appears that group facilitation can be covered by insurance as part of the overall treatment plan. Sadly, the author once encountered a situation where a medical biller (negotiating with insurance companies) recommended changing the group name from “Nutrition in Recovery” to “Self-Care in Recovery” for easier reimbursement (California). Because reimbursement is not yet established, RDNs should continue to advocate for individual counseling in addition to group facilitation and involvement in the food service operation.  A qualified RDN can help screen for EDs, as well as promote long-term healing and nutrition self-efficacy.  Do not be afraid to collect data and publish your findings! We need the data to move the field ahead. 

David A. Wiss, MS RDN

Nutrition in Recovery, Los Angeles, CA 

davidawiss@nutritioninrecovery.com 

 

References

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doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.08.113

During these uncertain times with the Corona Virus, Thrive is here to help

During these uncertain times with the Corona Virus, Thrive is here to help!

A Bit About Thrive
Thrive Treatment℠ is an intensive outpatient treatment center in the Santa Monica business district that focuses on addiction and co-occurring mental health struggles. We pride ourselves on creating a sense of community and peer support between our clients.
Dear Friends and Family,

On behalf of everyone at Thrive Treatment℠, our hearts go out to all those impacted by COVID-19. Our focus is, as always, on the health and safety of our clients, staff and communities.

With this in mind, Thrive Treatment℠ is diligently following the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization’s recommendations. We have implemented internal protocols including multiple daily sanitization of our facility, limiting the size of our groups, daily screening of clients and staff for symptoms, and staff training.

During a time of crisis, we know managing mental health is just as important as managing physical health. We are remaining open as a trusted provider of essential health services for our current clients in need of support. At this time, we are still admitting new clients who need our services, however will be under new assessment criteria during this ongoing pandemic. Any and all visitors to the Thrive Treatment℠ facility will be cancelled until further notice, unless otherwise authorized by our Medical Director.

This situation is changing rapidly, which is why we at Thrive will continually be meeting with staff to discuss next steps, the safety of our clients and staff and available community resources. While we don’t know exactly what the future holds, we feel confident that providing vital services to our community and supporting each other during this time, we will emerge from this stronger than before.

We wish you all health, safety and hope during this time.

Thank you for your support.

Breathwork in Recovery

Breathwork in Recovery

What is Breathwork in Recovery?

Breathwork is a broad term, which incorporates many different breathing techniques. Some styles of breathworks include Conscious connected breathing, also known as circular breathing, Holotropic breathing, and Wim Hof breathing just to name a few. Although breathwork and some new variations of its core elements have become more popular over recent years, these breathing techniques actually date back to ancient India.

What can Breathwork do for me?

The gifts of breathwork can be unique to the individual and range from a physical, mental, and emotional experiences. Some of the most common outcomes are relieving stress, promoting relaxation, natural sleep aid, increasing distress tolerance, furthering self awareness, processing or releasing suppressed emotions, processing grief, trauma and loss both emotionally and somatically.

Why is

Breathwork in recovery helpful while in treatment?

As drug addicts and alcoholics we often find ourselves holding on to baggage of the past or worrying about the future to the extent of completely disconnecting us from the present, feeling so overwhelmed and disengaged that we often choose to detach from ourselves through active addiction. In some cases we are not even aware of some of the things our subconscious is holding on to, yet our outlook, attitude, and behavior still align with these deep seeded emotions. This is where breathwork comes in, with this tool as part of our treatment we can begin to uncover, discover, and discard underlying issues that fuel our addiction. Breathworks is a great adjunct service to process through our wounds with the care and support of our treatment professionals at Thrive Treatment℠.

How is Breathwork Breathwork in recovery incorporated into the Thrive treatment program?

Evan Nicole facilitates breathworks every Monday afternoon, which is a great way to start off the week and assist clients in accessing and processing deeper emotions that they might be avoiding. Evan educates the clients about breathworks, and set intentiwithons them before beginning the process. Breathworks is conducted with a well thought out music playlist that Evan composes each week. Evan guides the group through the breathing technique, motivating the clients, correcting technique if needed and assisting them in a somatic release of emotions through various techniques. Following the session, Evan processes the experience with the clients to ensure that they have a safe space to understand what arose for them emotionally and to ground themselves after the breathwork session.

About the facilitator

Evan has been with Thrive since August 2018 and is currently our lead counselor and case manager. He exhibits professionalism and passion in all areas of his job, always looking for new thought-provoking groups that he can bring to the clients. Through his personal experience he has found a new freedom in practicing breathwork and thus sparked the desire to complete teacher training, obtain his instructor certification, which has allowed him to share this profound healing journey with others.

Contact Us today on how we incorporate breathwork into recovery.