Not a Night Owl or a Morning Lark? Study Suggests There are Two Other Types

Posted on November 11, 2014 By

 Not a Night Owl or a Morning Lark? Study Suggests There are Two Other Types

We’ve all heard the term ‘night owl;’ in fact, many of us would probably describe ourselves as such: people who prefer to sleep in and are more alert and active in the evenings. Well, scientifically speaking, “owls” are a recognized chronotype, a term that refers to a human trait, specifically in reference to what time of the day their physical functions – eating and sleeping, hormone level, body temperature, cognitive abilities – are active, change or reach a certain level.

Furthermore, just as there “owls,” there is another basic preferred sleep schedule: that of the “larks,” those who are generally referred to as “morning people” (or “crazy people”).

However, Russian scientists are now proposing that there are actually four chronotypes, rather than the two basic, common ones we know. In addition to early- and late-risers, there’s a group who feel energetic in both the mornings and evenings, as well as a group who feel sluggish all day long.

Not a Night Owl or a Morning Lark? Study Suggests There are Two Other Types

In a forthcoming study for the journal, Personality and Individual Differences, biologist Arcady Putilov and his colleagues at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences asked 130 participants to remain awake for 24 hours. The participants then filled out questionnaires rating how awake they felt, describing their overall sleep patterns, as well as rating how well they had functioned during the previous week.

The study results revealed that there were 29 larks, who showed higher energy levels at 9 a.m. than at 9 p.m., and 44 owls, whose energy levels were flip-flopped. On average, the owls also went to bed about two hours later than the larks. That leaves about half of the remaining participants without a group with which they identified; they were neither owls nor larks.

As BPS Research Digest puts it:

There was a “high energetic” group of 25 people who reported feeling relatively sprightly in both the morning and evening; and a “lethargic” group of 32 others, who described feeling relatively dozy in both the morning and evening.

In both of these other groups, energetic and lethargic participants went to bed and woke up somewhere between the hours kept by the owl and lark groups. Despite what you might think, the energetic group got about 30 minutes less sleep overall than the other three groups, with an average of 7.5 hours of sleep each night.

Scientists believe that the many aspects of personality and intellectual domains, such as creative thinking, have much to do with chronotypes.

Chronotypes may not be etched in stone, though. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to ascribing yourself to one of these four recognized groups. For one, there is the quality of sleep that you are receiving. Some people experience sleep disorders, such as apnea, that can interrupt their sleep patterns and therefore leave them feeling sluggish throughout their waking hours.

Another aspect to consider is that biologic processes, such as circadian rhythm, have everything to do with sleep. Science has already found that going to bed at a certain time, say when you are actually feeling sleepy, and waking at the end of a circadian period (each lasting about 90 minutes), you are more likely to feel well-rested; by the same token, someone who wakes in the middle of a circadian period will feel as if they hardly slept, even if they got several hours of sleep that night.

Insomnia is a medical condition, but it is often something experienced by people who have become physically dependent on alcohol and other drugs. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions day or night.

Seeking Smartphone Addiction Solutions

Posted on November 10, 2014 By

Seeking Smartphone Addiction Solutions

Most people would be reluctant to compare their smartphone with a narcotic, but several studies including one on texting while driving have done exactly that, by weighing the symptoms of drug addiction to the use of smartphones. The idea of smartphone addiction has become so real that these studies have even inspired products based off of combating the psychological turmoil associated with excessive cellphone use.

Last year a poll determined 84% of the globe is “addicted to cellphones,” and one tech expert named Mary Meeker even claimed through her research that the average smartphone owner looks at their device 150 times a day! So how has smartphone addiction truly become a trending topic?

Texting While Driving

Recent research was commissioned by AT&T and conducted by the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, in cooperation with the well-known “Texting & Driving…It Can Wait” campaign. The findings showed:

  • 90% of those surveyed knew they shouldn’t text and drive
  • 75% admitted to at least glancing at their phone while behind the wheel

Lead researcher Dr. David Greenfield suggested that receiving a message on your phone create a rush of dopamine and positive emotions, but “if that desire for a dopamine fix leads us to check our phones while we’re driving, a simple text can turn deadly.”

AT&T has addressed this issue by creating a free app for the iPhone entitled DriveMode, which silences text messages alerts and lets senders know the user is driving whenever speeds of 15 miles per hour are reached. Parents can also be notified if the app has been shut off. AT&T also made a statement about their efforts and the task at hand:

“Those who are most likely to text and drive are also the most likely to take steps to stop, and 82% of people who take action to stop texting and driving feel good about themselves.”

In May of 2013 another study found that texting while driving surpassed drunk driving as the leading cause of traffic deaths among teens. Researchers at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park determined:

  • 3,000 teens die annually from texting while driving
  • 2,700 from drunk driving
  • People texting while driving are 23 times more likely to find themselves in a car accident

NoPhone Not Exactly Nonsense

The infamous advertisement for the noPhone seems like a gag at first, but it is all too real. As a method of addressing smartphone addiction, the noPhone is a non-device designed to subside the escalating unease and separation anxiety issues too often caused by mobile device and smartphone addiction.

The artificial smartphone simulator is essentially a plastic brick that works like a stress ball. This is a new way for smartphone addicts to deal with their fear of being without their mobile devices, or ‘nomophobia’. Just when you start to wonder, yes this is an actual thing. It cannot be ignored that smartphone addiction is a reality on the rise, while millions of smartphone users are unable to cope with any time away from their mobile devices.

According to recent studies reported on in Psychology Today, 40% of smartphone users sleep with their phone by their bedside. It has become more and more evident that people simply cannot cope without having their calling, tweeting, texting or tagging taken too far out of reach. In surveys done in regards to smartphone addiction, when people misplace their phones:

  • 73% say they feel panicked
  • 14% say they feel desperate
  • 7% even say they feel sick

The noPhone appears to be waterproof and wireless. No Wi-Fi? No Problem! This things only purpose it to be gripped in place of an actual phone to avoid being anti-social and to help stay focused on face-to-face communication, without the terror of impending doom caused by not having a piece of technology to settle your shaky hands when forced to interact with other physical beings.

Pause App for iPhone Addicts  

Strangely enough, one company claims that the smartphone itself may hold the key to salvation from smartphone addiction! Dependence on a cellphone can easily make life unmanageable, and any addict can understand how serious un-manageability is to addiction.

Pause is a new app that is currently only available for iPhones which operates on the assumption that forcing mobile-dependents to turn off their Wi-Fi signals can help them let go of their obsession for a few moments at a time. The app’s description states,

Pause helps us to reduce our dependency on digital media and in turn free us up to do something more.”

Pause is free, and works by encouraging users to set their phones on “airplane mode,” ceasing all Wi-Fi, 3G and cell connectivity to reconnect with the real world. To boost motivation, Pause makes a game out of it by keeping track of how long you stay offline so you can try to beat your own “high score,” or even compete with your friends over who is able to go the longest without caving to the lure of connection.

While many may not feel too overwhelmed by this kind of motivation, there is something to be admired in the idea. Setting up a scoring system and challenging each-other to spend more time away from our phones may actually be another helpful initiative. The Pause system literally uses the power of the smartphone against itself, and no matter how long you log off, you always win.

Smartphone addiction may not seem like an issue at the forefront, but what we should be taking from this is that addiction is not as simple and black and white as people think. No matter what the cause- narcotics, food, gambling, technology- addiction is unmanageable and far more than a question of self-control. Real recovery means far more than just not doing something and suffering anyway. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588

Prescription Painkillers: Public Enemy Number 1 for Overdose

Posted on November 7, 2014 By

 Prescription Painkillers: Public Enemy Number 1 for Overdose

You might ask why I say prescription painkillers are Public Enemy Number 1, but the answer may be a little more than you expected. If you really need a reason, let’s just say that according to recent research, opioid overdoses are a leading cause of death in the United States!

By that count, over any other circumstance of the deaths of American people, prescription painkillers are the spear-head of self-destruction in our society. That is more than cigarettes, alcohol, any other on that list. And heroin in a close second to the opioids that are actually passed out at pharmacies!

Recent Overdose Research

A recent national study of hospital emergency department visits for opioid overdoses published online by JAMA Internal Medicine, 67.8% of the overdoses had prescription opioids (including methadone) involved. This number was followed closely by heroin overdoses, and other unspecified opioids and multiple opioids.

The study analyzed 2010 data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample and was adjusted to generate national estimates. Opioid drugs including:

  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone

These were the medications prescribed by doctors that are credited as the cause of the estimated 92,200 hospital visits, which is more than 5 times the number of deaths involving opioid painkillers in 2010.

Researchers found that out of all recorded emergency room visits that were a result of a drug overdose:

  • Heroin accounted for 16.1%
  • Unspecified opioids accounted for 13.4%
  • Multiple opioid types accounted for 2.7%

While even fewer than 2% of overdoses treated in emergency rooms were fatal.

Overdoses that resulted in emergency room visits and hospitalization lead to the average cost of care for overdose victims, whether they were released or admitted to the hospital, to be estimated at around $1.4 billion in 2010.

Those Most at Risk

The study showed that some people were at higher risk for drug overdoses, including people suffering from other health problems including:

  • Breathing problems
  • Heart problems
  • Mental health problems

Because of these problems, clinicians should be more aware of the risks when they prescribe opioid painkillers for someone with one of these conditions, according to Michael Yokell, a Stanford University medical student and one of the researchers. He also said clinicians should consider possible alternatives to treatment for such patients, and discuss the risk of overdose if it is absolutely necessary to prescribe these medications.

The greatest proportion of prescription opioid overdoses includes:

  • Overdoses in urban areas- 84.1%
  • Overdoses in the South- 40.2%
  • Overdoses among women- 53%

Painkillers Killing Us

Deaths as a result of prescription painkillers quadrupled between 1999 and 2011. Raising from 4,263 deaths in 1999 to 17,000 2011. This skyrocketed rate came in conjunction with the rising number of prescriptions being distributed for opioid medications such as Oxycontin and Vicodin.

Doctors in the United States write more than 259 million prescriptions for painkillers annually, and the prescription drug epidemic was announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011. That epidemic has driven drug overdose to become the leading cause of injury death in the nation. Again, that means opiates in America are causing more deaths than even car accidents!

The overall death rate did reach as low as 1.4%, but that is only once patients arrived in the emergency care, which some suggest supports increased use of emergency services for overdoses. This projection is based off of the pattern of how these overdoses have evolved in the past few years, and the direct effect on the medical community.

What about those that do not see an emergency room? All these statistics and averages add up to one very big problem, that people all over America are suffering from the grips of dangerous drugs that are taking lives at record rates, and many people who begin with painkillers move on to heroin, that is if they survive the grips of prescription opiates, seeing as how they account for the greater number of deaths.

So while people shake their heads at heroin, they still see these poisonous pills as acceptable because they come from a physician. The stigma still suggests that heroin is ‘so much worse’, but is it really? Or is it just that it is more social acceptable to take pills these days than face the true problem. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135   

Unlocking the 4 Most Common Addiction Myths

Posted on November 6, 2014 By

What You Really Don't Know About Recovery

From the “Just Say No” campaign of the Reagan years to the DARE program to today’s Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab, there has been a long-standing misunderstanding about just what the nature of addiction is: from a moral failing to a lack of willpower – these ideas go unchecked, simply because they are so common that they seem to be accepted as fact.

However, most of what we think we know is at least in part incorrect or based more on myth than on fact or completely removed from reality, altogether. And because we have accepted many of these addiction myths as fact, they are continually repeated.

Unlocking the 4 Most Common Addiction Myths

  1. “Once an addict, always an addict.”

This I something you’ll hear around the rooms of 12-step programs, where the widely-accepted definition of addiction is that it is a chronic, relapsing disorder.

And yet, research that follows heavy drinkers and drug users over time finds that a majority of people who, at some point, met the criteria of the definition of addiction no longer do so later in life. Moreover, most have recovered without attending meetings or going to treatment.

Furthermore, contrary to the popular belief “in the rooms,” many of these people were able to resolve their drinking or drug problem by way of moderation instead of complete abstinence. For example, some former heroin addicts are able to drink alcohol without risk of becoming alcoholics while others are able to smoke marijuana from time to time.

When this happens, the generally-accepted explanation among 12-steppers is that they must not have been “real addicts” in the first place.  Truly, the course of any particular person’s addiction and recovery is entirely unpredictable.

Which brings us to the next most common addiction myth, that…

  1. A “One size fits all” recovery approach

Another addiction myth is that there’s only one way to recover. In fact, people recover in different ways and on different timetables. Everyone’s journey is their own.

This is a rather strange position to be in – as a person who has recovered, there’d be a tendency to tout that my way is what works – for everyone – and therefore advocating against my own experience as a sort of expert on the topic. But the reality is that the way that works for me in my recovery from addiction doesn’t make me an expert on everyone else’s recovery.

  1. “Hitting bottom” is a requirement for a successful recovery

Similarly, many people believe that recovery is only possible once an addict reaches their “rock bottom” – the figurative lowest point of self-destruction. Oftentimes, people in 12 step meetings share about “bottoming out” and how that “brought them to their knees,” making recovery possible. However, just like the idea that “real addicts” can never use in moderation (because then they must not have been true addicts), the concept of the “bottom” can only be perceived retrospectively, however hellish it can when you’re actually experiencing these lows.

And the data on recovery reveal that many people actually don’t quit when their problem is at its worst because intense stress, itself, such as that associated with a bottom is a common factor in ongoing use and addiction. As it turns out, hope and a sense of possibility—rather than fear—are what tend to bring about change, at least as often, and possibly more frequently than so-called bottoms.

Which then brings us to this next addiction myth…

  1. “Tough love” is the best approach.

The addiction myth that a dose of tough love – making the lives of addicts tougher by cutting them off financially and socially – can be a catalyst for them “hitting bottom” pervades much of our treatment and drug policy. The assumption that addicts need tough love is so common in popular culture that we never bother to question its validity. Thus we insist on treating addicts harshly and then justify this harshness as “help.”

Yet, there is actual proof that tough love often causes harm rather than helps. For example, Kurt Cobain committed suicide after an intervention during which he was confronted about his addiction. Another example, Terry McGovern, daughter of a former senator and presidential candidate, was found dead in a snow bank after her parents drove away from her when she was intoxicated, presumably because they were fed up of her alcoholism.

But, we tend to ignore the possibility of such dire and negative consequences of tough love. We think that the tough approach works because we are continually exposed to the claim that it does, when, in fact, studies show that a more gentle, loving approach that doesn’t risk forcing people into more extreme behaviors (such as kicking someone out only to have them resort to living on the streets) have been shown to be more effective at getting people help.

Are you using alcohol and/or other drugs and concerned that you may be unable to stop? Are you unsure of what substance abuse or addiction is? Do you think you might need help for your drug use? Addiction Specialists are available around the clock to answer your questions and to tell you about options for help. Call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.

Sexual Harassment on the Menu in Service Industry

Posted on November 4, 2014 By

Sexual Harassment on the Menu in Service Industry

The food service industry is not the only place that you can see sexual harassment showing up for every shift, but it is probably one of the occupations that sees it the most, and like clock-work there are excuses made as to why waitresses should dress to impress, and are suggested to seduce in order to make the pay grade.

Sexual Harassment Sells?

Some waitresses and bar-tenders are familiar with the term ‘date-ready’ as being used to describe in some circumstances the way that many waitresses are expected to dress and put together their appearance for their shift. Not to be professional, but to be ‘presentable’ for the clientele.

It may not sound so bad at first, but many of the women who are familiar with this kind of expectation understand that it is not exactly ‘classy’. A ‘date ready’ outfit can be as simple as the usual nightly restaurant uniform of shorts and a tank top, which in all honesty is not exactly a typical nine-to-five work outfit, or even what most women have said they would wear on a date to begin with.

Why are waitresses being suggested to have themselves put together this way? Well that is easy, it is so they can appease the customers; they are the “dates” for the night. Many customers will come into a bar or establishment for the way a woman looks and talks, for the ambience as much as for the drinks.

The bigger problem is the waitress typically comes to depend on this strategy, because those tips from these kinds of men pay the rent and bills. With most waitresses at an hourly pay of somewhere around $2.13, the taxes alone will strip her of that portion of her earnings. Tips are the reason that women are put in a position to put up with sexual harassment in their workplaces. Sexual harassment does not help them feel better about themselves.

It Pays to be Pretty

The prettier the person, the more money they make. Almost anyone who works in the industry can relate to that correlation. The more appealing the customer perceives you as, the more money you are going to make off of them because you are going to generate more revenue in sales. Management can notice the trend, and they encourage that in any way they can. While doing it in the most round-about way possible to avoid the red-tape, they will manipulate the system to demand a more demeaning dress code for women.

According to a report from the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United:

  • Statistics show that 4 out of 5 women in the restaurant industry experience some form of sexual harassment from their customers.
  • Women living off tips report higher rates of sexual harassment
  • In states where the tipped minimum wage is kept at $2.13, women are twice as likely to experience sexual harassment and three times as likely to be told to appear “sexier” in the workplace.

Other findings in regards to how women in the restaurant industry are treated show that:

  • 74% of women in the restaurant industry experienced sexual harassment from co-workers on at least a monthly basis (compared to 58% for men)
  • 64% on at least a weekly basis (compared to 52% for men)

However The National Restaurant Association (referred to as NRA among restaurant worker advocates) dismisses these findings. Katie Laning Niebaum, vice-president of communications at the NRA openly attempted to belittle this statistic in a statement,

“These recycled attacks are part of a national, multimillion-dollar campaign engineered, organized and funded by national labor unions and their allies seeking to disparage an industry that has no barrier to entry and no limit to what employees can achieve.”

Sexual harassment is very real for many women in the industry. Despite the NRA’s dismissal of the claims made by the study, many women across the board still attest to being victimized where they go to support themselves and their families.

Afraid to Fight Back

A third of restaurant workers said that they did not report sexual harassment from their co-workers and their managements because they feared their shifts would get worse. Worse shifts mean worse tips, which mean a lower pay check at the end of the week. So women who are experiencing even traumatizing sexual harassment often do not speak up about it because they are afraid to fight back, knowing that it may do them more harm than good.

It is a common problem and horrendous oversight that management will frequently write off sexual harassment as someone ‘blowing off steam’ or just harmless flirting, but in reality the issue is much more serious, especially when management suggests a more flirtatious environment to drive up sales.

Many individuals who are familiar with the way the restaurant system works believe that by increasing the minimum tipped wage and reducing restaurants workers’ dependence on tips, the government can actually make a huge difference in how to address this issue of sexual harassment for waitresses and servers in the business.

One way or another, this kind of expectation of service with a sexually stimulating smile needs to be shattered. Women everywhere are faced with several styles of harassment, so to be dependent on it in a vicious cycle of paying the bills by getting exploited is too much to let slide for so long, and the trauma often creates new and even more severe issues with substances and mental health. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588