Thursday, March 15, 2018

Monday, February 12, 2018

10 Tips to Help Your Teen Maintain Healthy Sleep Patterns

Only 15% of teens are getting enough sleep. Keep your teen healthy . . .

  1. Make sleep a priority 
  2. Remember you are the parent  
  3. Body clock, same daily sleep and wake times— weekends too  
  4. Set a 9-10 hour sleep goal  
  5. Just say no to sugar and caffeine  
  6. Screen time, power down at sundown – 2 hours prior to bedtime  
  7. Bedroom, quiet and dark like a cave  
  8. Temperature, find the comfort zone  
  9. Meals, avoid heavy foods late in the day  
  10. Liquids, stop sips two hours before bed

Sleep researchers have discovered that the adolescent body clock is delayed, releasing melatonin about 90 minutes later at the onset of puberty. Teens don’t get sleepy as early as the rest of us. They get over stimulated by the sugar and caffeine laden energy drinks they chug to make it through the day. They are also more reactive to nighttime light. 

To compound this problem they are reducing their melatonin levels by up to 22% if clutching their glowing smart phones and tablets into the late night hours. 

A good reference:

And just for fun!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Want Love That Goes the Distance?

1. Physical appearance
While physical appearance and attraction draw two people together at first, these aspects will affect the rest of their lives. If working out and staying fit is important to you, will it bum you out if your mate doesn’t share your quest for rock-hard abs?

2. Emotional maturity
Is this person emotionally mature and centered or still lugging around some trunk-sized baggage? How does your sweetheart relate to family and friends? Is he or she emotionally supportive or have control issues? Is your mate aware of his or her own issues and interested in addressing them?

3. Lifestyle choices
This includes career and social lives, common interests, leisure time activities and energy levels. Would she rather join the bowling league or the metropolitan symphony? Does he have lots of energy for activities with friends while she’d rather rest and chill out at home?

4. Financial compatibility
This is a hot bed for most couples. It includes income levels, savings goals and views on handling money. How do you each want to spend, save and invest? Is one person a spender while the other saves? Is one person financially responsible while the other plays catch-up with child support and bills?

5. Value structure
This area is often overlooked but has a tremendous impact on your life. It includes the big values: honesty, integrity, loyalty, views on family and children, religion and spirituality, life goals and the treatment and care for others. Does your mate follow through on promises made? Would you say this person is trustworthy? Will you always be there for each other in a pinch?

6. Marriage and intimacy
Everyone does not share the same idea of marriage. The big questions to address are: What do you and your mate expect from marriage? Is he or she looking for a soul mate? Do you both want close intimacy beyond the physical aspect, including with your friendships and in private communications with each other?

7. Intelligence
Having similar education levels increases your chances of sharing matching school and social experiences, intellectual interests and career goals. What topics do you and your honey like to talk about? Conversation limited to sports or shopping may get boring to someone who likes to ponder philosophy and bluster about business.

While you don’t have to match exactly in each area, look at the big picture and make sure you match closely enough in the important areas of your life to up your chances of finding a love that will go the distance.

author Dee Anne Merriman is a freelance writer who often covers relationship issues.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hiding (One of my Favorite Childhood Poems)

Hiding by Dorothy Keeley Aldis 1896 -1966

I'm hiding, I'm hiding
And no one knows where;
For all they can see is my
Toes and my hair

And I just heard my father
Say to my mother -
"But, darling, he must be
Somewhere or other;

Have you looked in the inkwell?"
And Mother said, "Where?"
"In the INKWEL?"said Father. But
I was not there.

Then "Wait!" cried my mother —
"I think that I see
Him under the carpet." But
It was not me.

"Inside the mirror's
A pretty good place."
Said Father and looked, but saw
Only his face.

"We've hunted," sighed Mother,
"As hard as we could
And I am so afraid that we've
Lost him for good."

Then I laughed out aloud
And I wiggled my toes
And Father said —"Look, dear,
I wonder if those

Toes could be Benny's?
There are ten of them, see?"
And they WERE so surprised to find
Out it was me!

More great poems!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Signs of Drug Addiction: Recognizing an Addict

On a more serious note...

Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects judgment and behavior by altering cognitive functions such as learning, memory formation and impulse control. It is characterized by intense cravings for substances and an uncontrollable desire to obtain and use drugs, even when there are substantial negative consequences.1 When combined with alcohol, all the adverse effects of addictive drugs increase and in many cases, this “cocktail” proves lethal.
Signs of drug abuse and addiction depend on the substance being used/abused and individual factors including age, weight, duration of use and whether there is co-occurring drug use. However, many drugs share the characteristic of causing changes in sleep, mood, appetite, weight, behavior and personality. A diminished interest in hygiene, eating and appearance is also quite common. Drug addictions can lead to major life changes including problems at work or school, a shift in social circles, broken relationships and domestic abuse. Addicts rearrange their lives to gain more frequent access to their substance(s) of choice. In fact, it is common for an addict to seek out and take drugs to the exclusion of everything else. Below are the short and long-term health effects for drugs that are most commonly abused.

Amphetamines (Class: Stimulant)

The amphetamine family of drugs includes prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin and street drugs such as methamphetamines and ecstasy. Short term: Increased blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature; decreased appetite and sleep; malnutrition; increased energy; involuntary bodily movements and rapid talking. Long-term: Damage to brain cells, symptoms that mimic schizophrenia, hallucinations, reduced concentration and performance, increased aggression or hostility, paranoia and serious cardiovascular complications including stroke.1        NOTE ON ADDERALL, AMERICA'S FAVORITE AMPHETAMINE

Benzodiazepines (Class: Depressant)

Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines including Xanax and Valium to treat anxiety and panic disorders, insomnia, seizures and alcohol withdrawal. Short term: Drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, trembling, impaired coordination, vision problems, grogginess, feelings of depression and headache. Long-term: Diminished cognitive function, decreased attention span and significant memory loss. Stopping cold turkey can result in-life threatening seizures, tremors and muscle cramps.2  STRANGE LINKS SHOWING UP IN UK BETWEEN SPICE, VALIUM, AND HEROIN   (TREND NOTED in FEB 2017 )                                  

Cocaine/Crack (Class: Stimulant)

An illicit and highly addictive drug, the two chemical forms of cocaine that people abuse are a water-soluble hydrochloride salt and water-insoluble cocaine base (or freebase). The street name crack refers to freebase cocaine, and the characteristic crackling sound it makes when the mixture is smoked.3,4 Short term: Increased body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure; narrowed blood vessels; enlarged pupils; headache; abdominal pain and nausea; euphoria; increased energy; alertness; insomnia; restlessness; anxiety; erratic and violent behavior; panic attacks; paranoia; psychosis; heart rhythm problems; heart attack; stroke; seizure and coma. Long-term: Loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, nasal damage, trouble swallowing from snorting, infection and death of bowel tissue from decreased blood flow, poor nutrition and weight loss from decreased appetite.5

Heroin (Class: Depressant)

Heroin is highly addictive, with the potential to produce profound degrees of drug tolerance and physical dependence. Short-term: Euphoria, warm flushing of skin, dry mouth, heavy feeling in the hands and feet, clouded thinking, alternate wakeful and drowsy states, itching, nausea, vomiting, slowed breathing and heart rate. Long-term: Collapsed veins, abscesses (swollen tissue with pus), infection of the lining and valves in the heart, constipation and stomach cramps, liver or kidney disease and pneumonia.5 Studies have linked heroin use to some deterioration of the brain’s white matter, which may affect decision-making skills, the ability to control behavior and responses to stress.6

Inhalants (Class: Variable)

Inhalants can cause a wide variety of reactions depending on the substance inhaled, but this addiction is particularly insidious since it can be caused by otherwise innocuous household items. Common products found in the home or workplace that are abused include spray paints, markers, glues, cleaning fluids and aerosol whipped cream. These contain volatile substances that have mind-altering properties when inhaled. Particularly disconcerting is that inhalants are widely abused by teens and the only class of substance abused more frequently by younger teens. Short-term: Confusion, nausea, slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, dizziness, drowsiness, disinhibition, lightheadedness, hallucinations/delusions, headaches, sudden death due to heart failure (from butane, propane, and other chemicals in aerosols), death caused by asphyxiation, suffocation, convulsions, seizures, coma or choking. Long-term: Liver and kidney damage, bone marrow damage, limb spasms due to nerve damage, brain damage from lack of oxygen that can cause problems with thinking, movement, vision and hearing.5
Nitrites are a specific class of inhalants abused primarily by older adolescents and adults to enhance sexual function and pleasure, typically in risky sex situations. Short-term: Enlarged blood vessels, enhanced sexual pleasure, increased heart rate, brief sensation of heat and excitement, dizziness and headache. Long term: Increased risk of pneumonia. In addition, animal research indicates that inhaling nitrites depletes many cells in the immune system and impairs mechanisms that fight infectious diseases. When animals were subjected to relatively small amounts of butyl nitrite, they experienced a dramatic increase in tumor incidence and growth rate.5,7

Ketamine (Class: Hallucinogen)

Ketamine, a drug derived from PCP, causes various side effects based on the intoxication level and duration of use. The drug distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self. Short-term: Problems with attention, learning and memory; dreamlike states, hallucinations; sedation; confusion and problems speaking; loss of memory; problems moving to the point of being immobile; increased blood pressure; unconsciousness and slowed breathing that can lead to death. Long-term: Ulcers and pain in the bladder, kidney problems, stomach pain, depression and poor memory.5 Two studies published in the American Journal of Pathology indicate long-term use of ketamine may cause the cells lining the bladder to initiate their own death, enabling urine to penetrate underlying tissues, causing a painful condition called cystitis.8

LSD (Class: Hallucinogen)

LSD creates sensory perception that is reported by users as an expansion of consciousness that transcends the normal boundaries of awareness and existence. When tripping, it is common for younger people in particular to be so mellow that they are incapable of concealing behavioral changes.9 Short-term: Increased blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature; rapid emotional swings; distortion of a person’s ability to recognize reality, think rationally or communicate with others; dizziness and insomnia; loss of appetite; dry mouth; sweating; numbness; weakness; tremors and enlarged pupils. Long-term: Frightening flashbacks called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD]), ongoing visual disturbances, disorganized thinking, paranoia and mood swings.5

Marijuana or Cannabis (Class: Hallucinogen)

Marijuana is so widely used recreationally that it may be the most commonly used illicit drug in the world. There are classic red flags parents should look for that indicate their teens are smoking marijuana. In addition to having smoking paraphernalia scattered or hidden in their rooms, there are often behavioral changes. These include being inappropriately giddy, eating ravenously, slacking off on responsibilities and excessive use of breath mints, chewing gum and eye drops. Short-term: Balance and coordination problems, red eyes, increased heart rate and appetite. Long-term: Weight gain/obesity, chronic cough and frequent respiratory infections.5
Research has shown that verbal learning, memory, attention and psychomotor skills are most impaired during acute intoxication, however, diminished functions may also be detected in chronic users. Driving after marijuana use doubles the risk of motor vehicle accidents, although researchers theorize that personality factors that predispose people to marijuana use may correlate to reckless driving. Smoking one marijuana cigarette results in airflow obstruction equivalent to smoking two and one-half to five tobacco cigarettes. Most of the carcinogens in tobacco are also present in cannabis, which may explain why studies have found that long-term marijuana use increases the risk of oropharyngeal, lung and testicular cancers.10

Methamphetamine (Class: Stimulant)

Highly addictive, methamphetamine is taken orally, smoked, snorted or dissolved in liquid and injected. Regardless of the method used, the drug induces an immediate, intense euphoria. Short-term: Increased breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and temperature; increased wakefulness and physical activity; decreased appetite and irregular heartbeat. Long-term: Anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood problems, violent behavior, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, weight loss, severe dental problems (“meth mouth”) and intense itching leading to skin sores.5

Phencyclidine/PCP (Class: Hallucinogen)

PCP is addictive and leads to psychological dependence, craving and compulsive PCP-seeking behavior. Symptoms can persist up to a year after cessation of PCP use. The short-term side effects of PCP differ to a large degree based on dosage. Short-term: Delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, problems thinking, a sense of distance from one’s environment and anxiety. Low doses: Increased breathing, blood pressure and heart rate; shallow breathing; face redness and sweating; numbness of the hands or feet and problems with movement. High doses: Decreased blood pressure, pulse and breathing; nausea; vomiting; blurred vision; flicking up and down of the eyes; drooling; loss of balance; dizziness; violence; suicidal thoughts; seizures, coma and death. Long-term: Memory loss, problems with speech and thinking, depression, weight loss and anxiety.5

Prescription Opioids (Class: Depressant)

These include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone and variants with acetaminophen. Physiologic tolerance may occur from chronic opioid use, requiring escalating dosage to alleviate pain. Short-term: Pain relief, drowsiness, nausea, constipation, euphoria, confusion, slowed breathing and death.5 In addition, long-term effects of oxycodone include acetaminophen toxicity and kidney or liver failure.11 Long-term effects of hydrocodone include acetaminophen toxicity, liver damage and sensorineural hearing loss.12
If a loved one or friend is exhibiting symptoms of drug use and you do not know where to turn, there is no need to suffer in silence. The dedicated addiction experts at The Right Stepare committed to delivering innovative, visionary treatment plans tailored to each client’s specific needs, with lasting results. Help is waiting on the other end of the phone line. Call us today at 1-844-756-2656.
  1. Mennis J. Stahler GJ, Mason MJ. Risky Substance Use Environments and Addiction: A New Frontier for Environmental Justice Research. Chakraborty J, Grineski SE, Collins TW, eds. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016;13(6):607. doi:10.3390/ijerph13060607.
  2. Drug Facts: Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Revised January 2014. Accessed August 18, 2016.
  3. Benzodiazepines: Uses, Side Effects and Risks. Medical New Today website. Updated April 13, 2016. Accessed August 18, 2016.
  4. What is Cocaine? National Institute on Drug Abuse website. May 2016. Accessed August 18, 2016.
  5. Commonly Abused Drugs Charts. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Updated April 2016. Accessed August 18, 2016.
  6. What are the long-term effects of heroin use? National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Updated November 2014. Accessed August 18, 2016.
  7. What are the unique risks associated with nitrite abuse? National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Updated June 2012. Accessed August 18, 2016.
  8. Excessive Ketamine Abuse Causes Bladder Cells to Commit Suicide. IFL Science website. Published March 21, 2016. Accessed August 18, 2016.
  9. Signs and Symptoms of LSD Abuse. Narconon website. Accessed August 18, 2016.
  10. Andrade C. Cannabis and neuropsychiatry, 1: benefits and risks. J Clin Psychiatry. 2016 May;77(5):e551-4. doi: 10.4088/JCP.16f10841.
  11. The Effects of Oxycodone Use. Drug Abuse website. Accessed August 18, 2016.
  12. The Effects of Hydrocodone Use. Drug Abuse website. Accessed August 18, 2016.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lie v. Lay

What’s the difference between lay and lie?
You lie down, but you lay something down. Lie does not require a direct object. Lay requires a direct object. The same rule applies to laying and lying (not lieing—beware of spelling). The past tense of lay is laid, but be careful with the past tense of lie—there are two options because "lie" has two meanings.  Lie can mean to recline or it can mean to tell an untruth.
This mnemonic should help you remember that lay, which begins with the letters L-A, has a long A sound like its definition: to place. On the other hand, lie, which starts with the letters L-I, has a long I sound like its definition: to recline.
Another way to remember:
LIE and LAY work like SIT and SET.
I am going to go lie down. I am going to sit down.
I am going to lay the baby in the cradle. I am going to set the books on the table.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

8 Pronunciation Errors - Which Ones Do You Make?

Someone I know tells a story about a very senior academic giving a speech. Students shouldn't worry too much, she says, if their plans "go oar-y" after graduation. Confused glances are exchanged across the hall. Slowly the penny drops: the professor has been pronouncing "awry" wrong all through her long, glittering career.
We've all been there. I still lapse into mis-CHEE-vous if I'm not concentrating. This week some PR whizzes working for a railway station with an unusual name unveiled the results of a survey into frequently garbled words. The station itself is routinely confused with an endocrine gland about the size of a carrot (you can see why they hired PRs). Researchers also found that 340 of the 1000 surveyed said ex-cetera instead of etcetera, while 260 of 1000 ordered ex-pressos instead of espressos. Prescription came out as perscription or proscription 20% of the time. 
The point is malapropisms and mispronunciations are fairly common. The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary lists 171,476 words as being in common use. But the average person's vocabulary is tens of thousands smaller, and the number of words they use every day smaller still. There are bound to be things we've read or are vaguely familiar with, but not able to pronounce as we are supposed to.
The term "supposed" opens up a whole different debate, of course. Error is the engine of language change, and today's mistake could be tomorrow's vigorously defended norm. There are lots of wonderful examples of alternative pronunciations or missteps that have become standard usage. Here are some of my favourites, complete with fancy technical names.
"Mine napron"

1) Words that used to begin with "n"

Adder, apron and umpire all used to start with an "n". Constructions like "A nadder" or "Mine napron" were so common the first letter was assumed to be part of the preceding word. Linguists call this kind of thing reanalysis or rebracketing.

2) When sounds swap around

Wasp used to be waps; bird used to be brid and horse used to be hros. Remember this when the next time you hear someone complaining about aks for ask or nucular for nuclear, or even perscription. It's called metathesis, and it's a very common, perfectly natural process.

3) When sounds disappear

English spelling can be a pain, but it's also a repository of information about the history of pronunciation. Are we being lazy when we say the name of the third day of the working week? Our ancestors might have thought so. Given that it was once "Woden's day" (named after the Norse god), the "d" isn't just for decoration, and was pronounced up until relatively recently. Who now says the "t" in Christmas? It must have been there at one point, as the messiah wasn't actually called Chris. These are examples of syncope.

4) When sounds intrude

Our anatomy can make some changes more likely than others. The simple mechanics of moving from a nasal sound ("m" or "n") to a non-nasal one can make a consonant pop up in-between. Thunder used to be "thuner", and empty "emty". You can see the same process happening now with words like hamster, which often gets pronounced with an intruding "p". This is a type of epenthesis.

5) When "l" goes dark

A dark "l", in linguistic jargon, is one pronounced with the back of the tongue raised. In English, it is found after vowels, as in the words full or pole. This tongue raising can go so far that the "l" ends up sounding like a "w". People frown on this in non-standard dialects such as cockney ("the ol' bill"). But the "l" in folk, talk and walk used to be pronounced. Now almost everyone uses a "w" instead- we effectively say fowk, tawk and wawk. This process is called velarisation.

6) Ch-ch-ch-changes

Your grandmother might not like the way you pronounce tune. She might place a delicate "y" sound before the vowel, saying tyune where you would say chune. The same goes for other words like tutor or duke. But this process, called affrication, is happening, like it or not. Within a single generation it has pretty much become standard English.

7) What the folk?

Borrowing from other languages can give rise to an entirely understandable and utterly charming kind of mistake. With little or no knowledge of the foreign tongue, we go for an approximation that makes some kind of sense in terms of both sound and meaning. This is folk etymology. Examples include crayfish, from the French écrevisse (not a fish but a kind of lobster); sparrow grass as a variant for asparagus in some English dialects; muskrat (conveniently musky, and a rodent, but named because of the Algonquin word muscascus meaning red); and female, which isn't a derivative of male at all, but comes from old French femelle meaning woman.

8) Spelling it like it is

As we've mentioned, English spelling can be a pain. That is mainly because our language underwent some seismic sound changes after the written forms of
many words had been more or less settled. But just to confuse matters, spelling can reassert itself, with speakers taking their cue from the arrangement of letters on the page rather than what they hear. This is called spelling pronunciation

In Norwegian, "sk" is pronounced "sh". So early English-speaking adopters of skiing actually went shiing. Once the rest of us started reading about it in magazines we just said it how it looked. Influenced by spelling, some Americans are apparently starting to pronounce the "l" in words like balm and psalm (something which actually reflects a much earlier pronunciation).
My head is spinning now, so it's over to you. Which words do you mispronounce, and which common mispronunciations do you think we should resign ourselves to?

A great article, don't you think? - our guest author is

folk etymology 
spelling pronunciation