Archive for March, 2010

Pregnancy and Social Drugs (Series): Alcohol and Caffeine

After discussing the effects of tobacco on pregnancy, let us move to other equally harmful social drugs that every pregnant woman should avoid.

drinking alcohol while pregnantAlcohol

While Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has been established as one of the most serious consequences of drinking during pregnancy, the amount of alcohol that may cause it has not been clearly determined, and it is thus important for pregnant women to refrain from heavy or regular drinking of alcohol. Refraining from drinking alcohol altogether is an even better idea.

Miscarriages, sudden infant death syndrome, and reduced birth weights become more common when the woman drinks alcohol in any form during pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome affects 2 of 1,000 live births. It may result to facial defects, inadequate growth before or after birth, mental retardation, abnormal behavioral development (such as antisocial behavior and attention deficit disorder), and heart defects.

Caffeine

While there is no sufficient evidence that confirms the harmful effects of caffeine to pregnancy, several studies suggest that drinking several cups of coffee a day, i.e., 7 cups per day, may increase the risk of stillbirth, premature birth, reduced birth weight, or miscarriage.

Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and some drugs. It may affect the heart rate of the fetus inside a mother’s womb, may decrease blood flow across the placenta and may decrease the absorption of iron. It is, therefore, advisable to limit caffeine consumption to a minimum.

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Pregnancy and Social Drugs (Series): Tobacco

Pregnancy is one of the most crucial events in a woman’s life. At this point, a woman not only cares for herself alone, but also for another human being inside her body. It is thus important to take extra care during pregnancy to ensure that the baby growing inside gets the best nutrition and protection. For some women, it may be difficult to let go of social drugs that they have been used to having when they were not yet pregnant. But it is extremely important to recognize the risks and get the will to avoid drugs during pregnancy.

pregnant woman smokingFor this post, let us talk about tobacco or cigarette smoking and its effects on the growth of the baby inside the womb. It is alarming to note that only around 20% of women who smoke quit smoking during pregnancy. Many try to convince themselves that a few sticks would not hurt the baby.

Babies of women who still smoke while pregnant exhibit reduced weight compared to babies of women who don’t smoke. Aside from reduction in birth weight, babies may also suffer from birth defects of the heart, brain, and face. Cases of dislocated placenta, premature detachment of the placenta, premature rupture of the membranes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), preterm labor, uterine infections, miscarriages, premature births, and stillbirths are also more likely to happen to smokers than to non-smokers.

Pregnant women should also avoid second-hand smoke as this can also affect the development of the baby.

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Drug Testing in Schools

Why do schools conduct drug testing?

Not all schools conduct drug testing, but those who do aim to decrease drug abuse among youth. Drug tests in schools help fight drug abuse by prevention and early mediation. Students would think several times before succumbing to peer pressure on taking drugs and alcohol, as they are aware of the school’s stand on this matter and they may also be afraid of getting caught during drug tests. Students who are already into using drugs may be immediately referred for treatment. Early mediation usually makes the process a lot easier.

drug testing in schoolsWill drug testing of students eventually eliminate drug abuse in schools?

Drug testing must not be taken as a stand-alone solution. It is an important part of a school’s drug policy, but not its only main part. An effective drug policy should consist of programs for prevention, detection, intervention and treatment. Only a well-planned drug policy will be able to help a community effectively reduce drug use.

Should a student be suspended or expelled after testing for drug use?

The drug testing policy of a school must be adopted not to punish those who are using drugs, but to help them through rehabilitation as well as to help others who are not using understand the risks of drug abuse and avoid use of illegal drugs.

What are the drug testing methods available?

The school administrators may choose, according to their community’s needs, among the drug testing methods available, such as hair follicle, urine, oral fluid (saliva) and sweat testing. These methods  may differ in the kind of drugs detected, the detection time, the testing time, the ease of collection of samples, the accuracy and the cost.

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Common Myths on Alcohol Abuse

One of man’s favorite drugs to abuse is alcohol, and it’s also one of those plagued with lots of myths to get away with abusing it. Here are some of the common myths.

alcohol drinkingMyth 1: Everyone drinks.

That is totally not true. As mentioned, it’s one of the commonly abused drugs, but not everyone drinks alcohol. For teens, only a little more than 30% drink which means there are more who do not.

Myth 2: Alcohol improves sex.

Drinking alcohol does not improve sexual performance. The only thing it can do is lower one’s inhibitions, which means someone under the influence of alcohol is more willing to experiment and try new things. But the truth is that alcohol can affect a man’s ability to keep an erection as well as a woman’s sexual drive. This means that alcohol actually does more harm than good to your sexual life.

Myth 3: Drink liquor before beer, not the other way around, to avoid feeling sick.

It does not matter what alcoholic beverages you drink or in what order you drink them. What counts is how much alcohol you have taken in total. The percentage of alcohol in your blood will be affected by every bottle or glass of alcoholic drink you take in, regardless of order or kind.

Myth 4: The worst side effects of excessive drinking are vomiting, passing out and getting a bad headache the morning after.

Let’s get straight to the point — long-term, heavy drinking of alcohol can cause nausea, disturbed sleep, asphyxiation, alcohol poisoning, heart attack, stroke and death. Yes, death.

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Signs of Teen Dating Violence

It is critical that adults surrounding a teenager involved in a possibly violent relationship are careful in analyzing the signs of teenage dating violence to be able to help the abused teen get out of the relationship. Most teens in this situation do not easily admit to other people that they are being abused. It is also possible that these teens are not even aware that they are already in an abusive relationship or in one that has the potential to become abusive.

These signs may just be part of adolescence. However, these must still be treated with utmost care as these may already be signs that your teen is suffering from dating violence.

teen dating violence1. Teen has unexplained bruises, scratches and injuries.

2. Teen shows signs of being afraid of his or her partner.

3. The boyfriend or girlfriend criticizes or insults the teen even when there are other people around.

4. The boyfriend or girlfriend is controlling, possessive and extremely jealous. Partner tries to control the teen’s decisions, behavior and activities.

5. Teen apologizes for the behavior of his or her partner. This is a sign that the teen acknowledges his or her partner’s ill behavior and still accepts everything.

6. Teen lost interest in things he or she finds enjoyable and important before.

7. Teen does not want to talk about relationships with family and friends, and starts to become distant.

8. Teen resorts to alcohol or drug use, either by influence of his or her partner or just on his own to avoid stress and pressures.

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Stages of Substance Use

There are different stages of substance use. It starts from simple experimentation to hard addiction. Whichever stage one is in, there are mediation strategies to help steer clear from drug abuse. It is not necessary for someone to hit rock bottom before he can benefit from effective mediation and treatment.

Experimentation

This stage is where the use is basically voluntary. A teen may be curious of how using a particular substance, say marijuana, feels, and so he tries it. A child is angry with how his family has been broken by the divorce of his parents and he tries drugs to vent out his anger. A man lost his girlfriend or wife and he uses alcohol to mask the pain. These are possible ways of starting substance abuse – mere experimentation, and this can lead to regular use.

substance abuseRegular Use

After discovering that alcohol, marijuana and other drugs can make one forget, albeit just temporarily, certain problems in life, one uses the substance more often.

Risky Use

Regular use leads to risky use, when one starts to disregard the safety risks involved in frequent alcohol drinking or drug use. Take, for example, a man who has taken a few bottles of beer then disregarding the risk of driving under the influence,  and drives anyway.

Dependence

While one may still be able to maintain relationships and keep himself useful at work, it becomes necessary to use drugs at certain periods, like at night to facilitate sleep or in the morning as an energy booster.

Addiction

At this stage, the user becomes too involved with substance abuse leading to serious psychological and physical changes. The user now not only seeks the effects of the drugs, but also craves for it. It becomes a part of his life and he feels that he cannot function without it.

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