How to Recognize Addiction in a Loved One (And to Seek Help)

No one wants to face the possibility that a spouse, a friend, or a family member they love is struggling with an addiction, but the truth is many people in our society are. The fear of stigma and our ability to look away is actually causing much more harm than good in the United States, as the number of people who die from alcohol poisonings or opioid overdoses increases every year.

If you believe someone you love may be affected by substance abuse, now is the time to consider how serious the issue really is and to seek help.

Recognizing Addiction in a Loved One

The signs of addiction can seem difficult to pinpoint at first, but mostly, they revolve around a change in behavior, physical appearance, and attitude, most of which is caused by the individual’s drug use becoming more important to them than anything else. Over time, drugs change the way a person’s brain works so they can no longer decide when they should and shouldn’t use. They will instead want to do it all the time and will put everything second to this uncontrollable need.

Someone who has become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol may start to

  • Shirk their responsibilities in favor of using more
  • Perform worse at school, work, etc.
  • Use money meant for other things on drugs and/or alcohol
  • Spend more time alone in order to use
  • Act secretively, not wanting to tell you where they’ve been or with whom
  • Spend time with different people, often those with whom they can use
  • Become disinterested in activities that once mattered to them

 

They may also develop strange patterns of eating, sleeping all day or not at all, and failing to take care of themselves. In many cases, they will experience physical issues and illnesses related to their substance abuse. If all these problems begin to occur and the individual refuses to put an end to their substance abuse, they are probably already addicted.

What Can I Do?

One of the ways a loved one of a suspected addict can help is to stage an intervention. Interventions are group meetings of several people who care about the addict and want to see them get better. Interventions can provide these individuals the chance to tell the addict how they really feel about their substance abuse and to urge them to seek treatment. Remember, though, if you do choose to stage an intervention, it’s best to seek a treatment program out beforehand so the individual won’t be able to promise to get help and then not follow through.

Addiction is a disease that can be treated. Accepting that someone you care about has been affected by this problem can be difficult, even devastating, but the important thing to remember is that recovery is possible. With the proper professional care, your loved one can put an end to their substance abuse and start living a healthier, happier life again.

7 Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work

Two years ago I tried on a dress for my friend’s wedding, looked in the mirror, and hated what I saw. I stood there, staring at myself, crying, wondering how I got to that point. I weighed in at 192 and knew something had to change. I came across the Atkins diet, went on the Atkins 20 plan, and my life was forever changed. I focused, put in the hard work, and came out feeling confident, healthy, strong and 73 lbs lighter on the other side – and you can too! I learned what worked for my body and left what didn’t. Here are a few tips that helped me along the way.

    1. Never let yourself go hungry. In other words, EAT! The Atkins diet encourages you to have three meals and two snacks per day, or five or six small meals, whichever you prefer. Either way, snack regularly! Eating low carb snacks every few hours helps keep you satisfied, maintains your blood sugar and keeps your energy at a sustainable level. I found that keeping Atkins meals, shakes, bars and treats on hand helped when hunger strikes!
    2. Hydrate. Drink at least 8 oz glasses of water each day. If you are active, drink more! Yes, two of your daily cups can come from coffee, tea, or broth (vegetable, chicken, beef, or bone are all good for you). Dehydration makes your body retain fluid as a protective mechanism, so make this a priority!
    3. Count net carbs, not total carbs. This is a common mistake for newcomers to the Atkins diet. Net carbs are the grams of total carbs minus grams of fiber. On the Atkins 20 plan, your daily goal is to intake 20 net carbs, which is the average level at which fat burns. It’s best to eat 15 grams of carbs per day in vegetables, saving the other 5 for meat, cheese and other necessities. (Definitely cheese!)
    4. Plan your meals. Take time every Sunday to plan your meals for the week, make your shopping list, and stock your kitchen only with approved food. Order Atkins prepared meals, shakes, snacks, and more to help along the way. Click here for a $5 off coupon! Once you register, you’ll get free weight-loss guides and coupons to save on their delicious products.
    5. Supplement your diet with vitamins to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. Multivitamins help improve energy levels and reduce sugar cravings, electrolytes will assist with headaches or fatigue, fish and flaxseed oil can improve blood circulation, and fiber can ensure a healthy digestive system. These will all make sure your body is working in sync and feeling good.
    6. Exercise daily. Whether it’s a walk after dinner, a yoga class, a group fitness class, or going for a swim, exercise builds muscle. And the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn. Get out there!
    7. Track your success. Take photos along your journey, keep a food and fluid intake journal, and write about challenges or achievements that come up. Atkins even provides free diet tools to track your weight loss goals and progress. I have found these trackers especially helpful in times when I wanted to give up. It wasn’t an easy process, but seeing my day 1 photo next to my day 30 photo helped me when I wanted to eat that chocolate cake on day 60.

So whether you just started the Atkins diet or you’re trying to figure out if you should take the plunge, Atkins can help you get there with determination. If I can do it, you can!

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Cheap, Easy Ways to Bust Stress at Home

Work is hard, and life is stressful. Sometimes, we all wish we could get away from everything for a minute, but not everyone can afford to take a week-long vacation in the Seychelles. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to stay a ball of stress until you can. There are plenty of cheap and easy ways that you can relieve the stresses of your day-to-day life right from your couch.

  1. Grab a glass of wine, put on Netflix, and cuddle up with your pet.

 

  1. Buy an adult coloring book or print out some free pages available online. Then, bust out the Crayolas and focus on something calming for an hour or two.

 

  1. Meditate. Just sit down in a comfortable spot, close your eyes, and try to focus on nothing but your breathing. As thoughts come into your head, acknowledge them and then let them go. Doing this for even a few minutes a day can have a wondrous effect on your overall state of mind.

 

  1. Put on your favorite song and dance to it as fast as you can.

 

  1. Ask your best friend to come over and dish about your lives over a frozen pizza. (Remember to heat it up first though!)

 

  1. Find an old notebook or journal you once bought and start filling it up with all your thoughts, worries, fears, and desires. Keep writing until your hand hurts, filling up as many pages as you can with your feelings.

 

  1. Give yourself something small to do around the house whether it’s to clear off the kitchen counter, make yourself dinner, or fix a broken appliance. Once you do it, you’ll be flooded with a sense of satisfaction, and you should give yourself a reward for a job well done.

 

  1. Take a nap. Go on, you deserve it! In our constantly working, hustle-‘til-you-make-it society, we are always telling ourselves we can’t take a break. You can, and you should.

 

  1. Think about the thing you are most stressed out about. Consider the potential outcomes of the stressful situation and ask yourself how you will cope with each outcome. This is called mental creation, and it not only helps you destress but prepares you for many different possible futures.

 

  1. Take a warm bath and then a cool shower.

 

  1. Put down your phone for the rest of the night and refuse to check your texts, emails, social media, all of it! Unplug for just a few hours and see how free you’ll feel.

 

  1. Try breathing in slowly, thinking about the things you’re stressed about when you do. When your lungs are full, hold the breath in for a few seconds and then slowly let it out. As you do, let all those stresses go.

 

  1. Lie down and relax your toes, then your feet, then your ankles, and then your legs. Go all the way up your body relaxing until you get to your head. Lie still for five minutes as you simply breathe and let your body unwind.
2017 Breast Cancer News Means Serious New Conversations With Doctors Necessary

Up until November of 2017, women who reached the 5-year cancer free mark following a diagnosis and subsequent treatment of breast cancer, breathed a sigh of relief. They believed that this marked the beginning of a cancer free life. Not necessarily so, a recent report claims.

According to a November report in the New England Journal of Medicine, many of these women run the risk of developing new malignancies up to 20 years following their initial diagnosis. This information comes on the heels of a lengthy examination of 88 clinical trials. These trials involved the testing of nearly 63,000 women who were initially diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive tumors in their breasts.

The protocol in recent years has been to treat these women with chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery—or sometimes a combination of the three. They then followed up their treatment with a five year course of tamoxifen or another aromatase inhibitor. The idea behind the ongoing treatment was to kill off any lingering cancer cells the radiation, chemotherapy or surgery may have missed. All the women in the aforementioned study were, in fact, deemed cancer free at the five year mark.

The recurrence rate for the highest risk women in the study group—those who originally had the largest tumors that had spread beyond their breasts—is raising alarms. 41 percent of those women experienced a recurrence over a 15 year period. 10 percent of those women with the lowest risk of recurrence were diagnosed with cancer again over that same period of time.

Dr. Daniel Hayes of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan served as senior study author for this report. He doesn’t want to raise fear via this study, but instead wants both doctors and patients to become acutely aware of its findings.

“We know that adjuvant (hormone based) therapy for five years substantially reduces the risk of recurrence and mortality,” he explains. “We now have good evidence that extending adjuvant (hormone based) therapy beyond five years continues to suppress and reduce recurrence and mortality.”

Women with breast cancer and survivors should talk with their doctors about extending the course of adjuvant therapy for an additional five years. Though some may be hesitant to continue these therapies due to menopausal symptoms, it could wind up saving their lives.

Albert Farias wasn’t part of this study. A cancer researcher at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, he is in agreement with Dr. Hayes and the others involved.

“Breast cancer cells can travel from the primary tumor to the lymph nodes and can circulate throughout the body undetectable with current screening methods, and over time these circulating cancer cells can attach to other organs in the body and this is generally when there is a cancer recurrence,” he says. “One way that adjuvant breast cancer treatment works is to kill and/or stop the undetectable cancer cells from growing and dividing.”

While this new information may fill some breast cancer survivors with fear, they should use this fear to their advantage and have a serious conversation with their doctor. If they are among the high risk group that participated in this study, a new course of adjuvant therapy may be in the cards for them.

Should You Get a Flu Shot?

The question of whether or not a person should get a flu shot seems to be one asked yearly. What are the benefits? What are the risks? What are the myths? Will it help our overall general health? Hopefully after reading this article the answer will be clear whether or not you should get a flu shot.

What exactly is the flu? The influenza virus is a highly contagious virus that attacks the respiratory system. All of the symptoms you might find with the common cold (coughing, sneezing, congestion, sore throat, headache, etc.) are associated with the flu, but the flu often causes a high fever accompanied with body aches and fatigue.  These symptoms can lead to more serious issues that are certainly not good for one’s general health which may prompt an individual to consider getting a flu shot.

There are several benefits to getting a flu shot. The flu vaccination reduces the risk of getting the flu by 40% to 60%. This is especially true among children and older adults and the prevention of hospitalization caused by flu symptoms. Flu vaccination has proven to be an effective tool for people with chronic health conditions such as cardiac issues. It has lowered some cardiac events just by receiving the vaccination especially for those who have experienced heart issues within the past year. Patients who have chronic lung disease or diabetes who have received the flu shot have also shown a decrease in hospitalization. Another benefit of the flu vaccination is proven among pregnant women to not only reduce their risk of catching the flu, but reducing their baby’s risk of getting the flu after birth. If for some reason you still get sick with the flu after receiving a flu shot, chances are your symptoms will be milder.

As with any medication or vaccination, risks are always involved. Babies under the age of six months should not receive the flu shot. Any person with a severe allergy to the ingredients found in the flu vaccination, such as gelatin or antibiotics, should not consider getting a flu shot for obvious reasons. Other things to consider before getting the flu vaccination are any allergies to eggs or a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Speaking with your physician is advised in either case. People may also experience a low-grade fever and a sore arm after receiving the injection.

The biggest myth about flu shots is that the flu vaccination actually causes the flu. Prior to 2016 some vaccines contained a live virus, however, it was weakened and was specifically developed to prevent illness. Since then flu vaccinations are made from inactivated virus. The virus is essentially grown and then killed, making it impossible for a dead virus to cause the flu but instead help your body build an immunity to the live virus.

When considering one’s general health, one needs to be informed and educated. Only you can decide if getting the flu shot is best for your well-being. Compare the benefits to the risks and deduce whether or not the risks of getting the flu are better or worse than the risks of receiving the vaccination.

10 Ways Ketones Can Improve Your Health

Just as sugar is converted to glucose in our bodies, fat is converted to ketones by the liver. When blood sugar drops and the body has burned up its stored glucose, our bodies convert fat into ketones.

There are many health benefits to ketones, provided the body doesn’t go into ketoacidosis. This occurs when a person is unable to produce insulin—such as in the case of diabetics—and the body creates way too many ketones. This, however, only typically occurs in the cases of diabetics who are untreated.

Ketones can, in fact, have considerable health benefits. Here are 10 ways they can improve your health.

  1. Ketones help reduce hunger. This is very beneficial for weight loss.
  2. Ketones lessen cravings. When cravings are curbed, meals and snacks tend to be wholesome foods that add power to your day.
  3. Ketones increase energy. Who couldn’t use a whole lot more of that? Ketones are responsible for developing a higher oxygen capacity, as well as better athleticism and motor performance.
  4. They are noted for improving moods. People who fear they are on the verge of depression have found ketones vastly improved the way they felt.
  5. Ketones help with better focus and sharper mental clarity. If you’ve felt like you’re not quite with it or can’t complete the tasks at hand, this will be a welcome and significant change. People with seizure disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and even ADHD have experienced vast improvements.
  6. Ketones improve body composition. Loss of fat leads to a leaner physique.
  7. Ketones help are known to prevent autoimmune diseases. In people who already have autoimmune diseases—like Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus—they are known for healing them and putting the disease into remission.
  8. Ketones improve the skin. Not only do they make it softer and more supple, it also both prevents and cures many skin disorders including eczema, psoriasis, acne and common rashes.
  9. The presence of ketones can alleviate many forms of chronic pain. Arthritis pain is often lessened as is the occurrence of migraines.
  10. Instances of developing heart disease and cancer are lessened with ketones. Not only are the risks decreased, but those with these diseases have noted quicker and more complete recoveries.

In order to get ketones, you must get your body into ketosis. This occurs when eating a ketogenic diet. This isn’t always an easy task, since our bodies are used to burning sugar. The process will throw your body into a major change. Going from burning sugar to burning fat is an enormous contrast.

Most people begin by seriously limiting their intake of carbohydrates. This leaves only fat and proteins for the body to burn. Since you don’t want your body burning proteins, it’s important to considerably up your protein intake. Eating healthy fats, like avocado and olive oil will help you reach ketosis even faster.

It’s true that reaching ketosis requires planning and diligence. Those ten benefits listed here, however, will certainly make it worth your efforts.

8 Signs that You May Have a Mental Disorder

As a society, we don’t talk enough about the issue of mental disorders. In many cases, we treat them as secret problems when really they are no different than physical disorders. As a result, it is important to be aware of any signs that you may have a mental disorder and to receive the treatment necessary for you to get better. Remember: everyone deserves to receive the help they need to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.

  1. Suicidal Thoughts

This is one of the strongest warning signs of a mental illness. However, if you are not suffering from any of the other symptoms, it is still important to seek help if you are having suicidal thoughts, as these could potentially manifest into action.

  1. Withdrawal

If you begin to find yourself withdrawing from others (even those you care most about) and/or from activities that used to matter to you, this could be a strong sign of a mental illness. Many individuals feel they cannot connect with others and start to isolate themselves, which can make it hard for them to recover.

  1. Illogical Thinking

If you find yourself constantly thinking things that do not make sense, things that scare you, or things that are not logical, this could also be a sign of a mental disorder. Many people start to think they see hidden meanings in what others say or do or use magical reasoning the way a child might. These are strong signs something isn’t right with your ability to reason with what is happening around you.

  1. Mood Changes

One minute, you may be feeling extremely happy, and the next, extremely sad. Anger and apathy can also be included in these mood swings, especially if you suddenly switch from one to the other with little to no cause. We all feel shaky from time to time, but if you find yourself dealing with mood swings often, it may be time to seek help.

  1. Appetite or Sleep Changes

Have you found it is suddenly hard to sleep or that you are sleeping far too much? Are you eating much more or less than you used to? These can also be signs of a developing mental illness.

  1. Sensitivity

Have you often found yourself avoiding situations that could be volatile? Have you also noticed an increase in your sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, etc.? Any type of sensitivity, if extreme enough, could potentially be a sign of a mental disorder as well.

  1. Hallucinations

Hallucinations are a strong indicator of a mental disorder. They can be visual, auditory, or tactile.

  1. Difficulty Thinking

If you often find your thinking to be fuzzy, to the point where you cannot focus on your work or concentrate, this could be a sign of a disorder. Many people also have problems with memory or logical thought processes.

While none of these symptoms alone are definite indicators of a mental disorder, several of these can clearly define one’s need for treatment. No matter what, it is best to seek help if you are struggling with symptoms that make it difficult to live your daily life.

Which Is More Important: Exercise or Diet? 

We all know the two most important things when it comes to staying healthy are exercise and diet. Making sure to exercise regularly and to eat right are the best ways to keep your body in tip-top shape and to ensure you have the energy to do, well, whatever it is you want to do.

But which one of these is more important? That comes down to what results your hoping to achieve.

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Weight Loss

According to the Huffington Post, when it comes to weight loss, cutting calories is more important than jumping on the treadmill. There are many reasons why diet should be your focus when losing weight rather than exercise. For one, exercise tends to promote a stronger appetite, and it also takes more time. You can go through all the time-consuming steps of going to the gym, exercising, and showering, or you could just avoid a fatty snack.

Though both tend to work in tandem when it comes to losing weight, it’s actually diet that makes more of a difference than exercise. Because both will begin to plateau as our bodies change to meet the new effects of each activity, its exercise that creates a more intense plateau, making it harder for the body to shed pounds if it isn’t also taking in fewer calories and healthier meals.

Energy

If you’re more focused on increasing your energy level and trying to give your body a boost, diet is the way to go as well. According to Real Simple, eating well throughout the day will give your body more of a long-term energy surge that lasts all day, rather than exercise, which gives you a quick boost of energy that can just as quickly disappear. In addition, keeping your diet healthy will help you avoid strong spikes and drops in blood sugar, which will also keep you feeling more energized for longer periods of time.

Organ Health

If you’re worried about your ticker or the health of another organ, you may want to focus more on exercise. This choice can actually help you make sure your body will stay strong and will be more physically fit, which will mean your heart will be healthier as well as your brain. In fact, physical activity helps to sharpen your mind and protect you from diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s, while it also protects your heart from other issues.

The Verdict: Focus on Both

While exercise may be better for one benefit you’re trying to gain and diet may be better for another, both are considerably helpful for every one of these goals. You’ll gain more energy with exercise too, and your organs will thank you if you put healthy food in your body. It is best to know which of these practices will be most helpful for your specific goal. However, if you want to gain all the benefits that exercise and a healthy diet can give you, it’s best to practice them together.

6 Ways to Recharge Your Batteries

Everyone has a breaking point. Even when things are at their best, as women, we sometimes push ourselves too hard and experience a kind of overkill, stress-wise. We can often feel it coming, but we ignore it.

Instead, try to think of yourself as needing a moment to just recharge your batteries. Pushing yourself can only get you so far before everything—work, home life, friendships, etc.—begins to suffer. Here are 6, quick ways to take a moment and allow yourself to relax. Afterwards, you can then go back to living your fast-paced life, just with a lot less stress.

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1. Remove Yourself from Social Media

Better yet, if you can, remove yourself from all technology for as long as possible. Whether it’s refreshing our email, obsessively checking our Facebooks, or just updating the news on our phones, technology is constantly giving us new things to stress about, worries we honestly don’t need when our lives are already so hectic.

So take some time off, and plan it so the important people will know how to get in contact with you when it’s happening. Trust us, you’ll feel so much better once it’s over, and then, you can return to the world of technology like nothing happened.

2. Spend Time With Your Pet

Petting an animal can lower one’s stress levels, minimize blood pressure, and elicit a laugh, which is almost better than anything. If you don’t have a pet, try volunteering at the local animal shelter. Whatever you do, just get some cuddle time with a furry friend.

3. Book Some Spa Time.

Even if it’s just in your own bathtub. Give yourself a break and light some candles, use some good bath salts, and relax. If you can afford to go to the spa, do it! You deserve to be pampered.

4. Listen to Music.

We all have a favorite type of music or band. Even if you just have a favorite song, put it on repeat when no one else is home and dance along. Sing at the top of your lungs, and enjoy yourself! If you don’t have time to do this at home, do it in the car on your way to work.

5. Go for a Walk.

Yes, it seems like a sneaky way to get exercise into your day, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re enjoying the scenery. Spend some time walking but not going anywhere in particular. It will help you remember there isn’t always a finish line to sprint toward.

6. Take a Nap.

Most of us don’t get enough sleep at night, and many of us feel like taking a nap is selfish or indulgent. The truth is, though, napping is actually extremely good for you, and it’s one of the easiest, most natural ways to recharge your batteries.

So what’re you waiting for? Close this window and go get 20 minutes of shut-eye. Don’t worry, you’ve earned it, and everything will still be here when you wake up.

I Know I Should Drink Water But Why: The Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated    

 

Practically everyone knows drinking water is where it’s at, and we all pretty much know we don’t do nearly enough of it. But why is drinking enough water so important and what can it actually do for your health? Well, as it turns out, a lot.

Here are the top seven health benefits of drinking the recommended amount of water every day (about 8 8-ounce glasses or whatever your body needs).

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  1. Weight Loss

Most people know that drinking a lot of water can actually help you lose weight, but many people don’t know why. Water can actually remove the by-products of the fatty foods you eat to an extent. It can also reduce your amount of hunger (because it fills up your stomach) and it can minimize the amount you will eat (because your hunger level will decrease). One of the best ways to promote weight loss is to drink lots of water every day.

  1. Energy Boost

Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee or—even worse—an energy drink, why not try getting yourself a glass of water instead? Drinking water can actually make your brain more alert and give you energy, in large part because your brain and your body are mostly made up of water. After drinking water, you will feel more energized, and you may even feel less tired if you didn’t sleep well the night before.

  1. Stronger Immunity

When you drink enough water, you will begin to see the effects over time in the number of sick days you won’t have to use. Drinking water can actually make you less likely to catch a cold. In addition, drinking water can help your body fight other types of diseases, cancers, and issues like heart attack.

  1. Healthier Skin

Drinking water helps to keep your skin healthy and glowing. Making sure you’re properly hydrated can also potentially decrease the sight of wrinkles and other issues that can also be attributed to dry skin instead of just age.

  1. No More Toxins

Okay, your body is always likely to have some sort of toxins in it, but drinking lots of water can help your kidneys flush them out more easily. If you are properly hydrated, your kidneys will work better and be able to get rid of the toxins your body doesn’t want or need, allowing it to be healthier and function better.

  1. Regularity

If you’ve noticed your body hasn’t been regular as of late, try to drink more water. This will help your body digest its food more easily and decrease the likelihood of constipation.

  1. Pain Relief

Do you suffer from headaches or migraines regularly? Drinking water can be a great way to treat this issue naturally rather than with medication. While it can sometimes be necessary to reach for a pain reliever, you should also make sure to stay well hydrated the next time you experience a headache, as this could also help minimize the issue.