Sunday, April 29, 2012

PLEASE: Dispose of Unused Prescription Drugs

The most common drug used by teens is marijuana.
What's the second most common?  Prescription Drugs.

An HHS report showed that 3% of all kids (ages 12-18) misused prescription drugs in 2010.  That percentage doubles for young adults (ages 18-25).

I'm not just talking about cough medicine.  I'm talking about Vicodin, Valium, Ritalin, Percocet, Oxycontin, Xanax, etc.  

Pain killers are the most common (see graph below):

Past Month Nonmedical Use of Types of Psychotherapeutic 
Drugs among Persons Aged 12 or Older: 2002-2010

How do they get it? 
55% get it from a friend or relative for free (often without the family members knowledge).

I've talked with friends and family about getting rid of their old painkillers.  I know you have the best kids and the greatest grand-children in the world.  Help them stay that way.  Keep your medications locked up, and dispose of the ones you're not using anymore. 

I think of my own family.  My parents are about the best people I've ever met.  They have 10+ grandchildren.  All are being brought up in good families and I honestly believe none of them will ever use an illegal drug or misuse a prescription drug.

My mother also teaches piano lessons and has kids in and out of the house every day for lessons.  I have no reason to think they would ever steal or use drugs either.

All the same - I recently talked with my dad about getting rid of any pain killers he had left over from when he broke his ankle a few years ago.

I know the pills cost money.  I know there is always a chance you could need a pain killer or a sedative in the future.  I know how much we all hate to waste money or throw things away that are still perfectly good.  Believe me, saving the medications is not worth the risk.  Let me reiterate:


Get rid of the drugs.  Protect yourself, your kids, your grandkids, your neighbors, your friends, your bookclub, your church group, your piano students, your babysitter, etc...
If you ever need a pain killer again you can spend the money to see your doctor and get a new prescription.  That's cheaper than jail, rehab, life-long addiction, etc...

How do you dispose of the medications?  Read the label. 
If you're still not sure: this FDA website explains it.

To find the next National "Drug Take Back Day" go HERE - it lists the dates and participating pharmacies.

Reno friends: here's your list for 9/29/2012 .

- Now please stop reading and take 5 minutes to check your own medicine cabinet.  It's worth it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Freedom ≠ Happiness?

What is different about Western Society?  What is the ideal, the thing we all fight for and yearn for and are willing to die for? 


We want the ability to choose.  Not just the ability to choose, but actual options.  We want as many choices as possible, and we want the choices to always be available.

This is the American Dream.  This is the Declaration of Independence.  This is Democracy!

This is also what destroys our happiness and satisfaction, and fills us with regret.  This is what fills our lives with temporary thrills at the cost of true happiness.



We used to make a choice and then live with that choice.  When me made some choices, we made them once...for life. 
Now we've had a freedom revolution.  Nothing is permanent, no choice is final, and everything can be reconsidered.

Don't learn to be happy with what you choose, just choose something else.  Don't be happy with your body the way it is, choose a new one.  Don't like your birth sex, change it.  Don't like your spouse, change it.

We have the freedom to choose, and we've realized we can always reconsider...which means we can always regret that choice instead of finding happiness in it.

I heard something frightening recently.  A professor said:  "I don't think we were ever meant to be monogamous for 50 years.  Monogamy worked back when we only lived for 25 years of marriage, but now we can have serial monogamy.  Stay in a relationship for 10-20 years, then pick a new one.  What person is going to choose the same person at age 20- that they would at age 50?  None.  So serial monogamy should be the new norm."

This is what freedom is leading to:  NO permanent choices, no accountability, and no need to make a choice and stick with it.  It's no longer "choose your love and love your choice"  but rather "choose your love and keep the receipt."

Freedom is wonderful; but like all things it can be twisted and perverted into something terrible. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Case for Family Values

What makes people happy?  What makes people successful, even wealthy?

Could it be family values and a traditional marriage and family?

As I write this I know there are thousands of people who would refute it, cite examples, cite their own lives, their friends, their teachers, etc...

Well I'm going to cite the US census and the department of Health and Human Services for the entire United States.

Marriage is disintegrating.  Family values are diminishing.  As the family goes, so goes society.
Here are stats from the U.S. Census:

In 1980: 77% of children lived in two-parent families
In 2010: 69%
In 1970: 40% of all households were married couples with children
In 2010: 20%

Currently: for women under 30, over half of all births occur outside marriage.

An HHS report from 2002 showed:
     1. About half of all recent first marriages are expected to end in divorce.
     2. One-third of all births were out-of-wedlock.
     3. Forty percent of all births occur within cohabiting unions rather than marriages
        a. Children do not fare as well in these alternative family structure forms as children living with their two married biological parents.
     4. Married couples build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples, while divorce and unmarried childbearing increase the risk of poverty for children and mothers.
     5. Individuals who are married are found to have better health and longer life expectancies than similar singles.
     6. Married mothers have lower rates of depression than cohabiting or single mothers.
     7. Unhappily married adults who divorce or separate, on average, are no happier than unhappily married adults who stay together

That's not all: lower marriage rates are associated with many bad outcomes.
The University of Virginia found that statistically, those who have less education and consequently lower incomes are less likely to marry and to go to church and much more likely to be involved in crime and to have children outside of marriage.

Opposite of what many had thought, prosperity and education seem to be connected to a higher likelihood of having traditional families and values.

So children do better when born to married parents.  Their mother's are less likely to have depression, their family is more likely to be wealthy, they are more likely to go to church, and less likely to be involved in crime.

Now the question is which is the cause and which is the effect?  Do some sectors of our society have traditional values and stronger families because they are more educated and prosperous, or are they more educated and prosperous because they have those values and strong families?

Does this mean that wealthy, married, educated people are more likely to go to church?  Or that church going people are more likely to marry, get an education, and be wealthy?

People mock family values: they mock church, traditional marriage, waiting till marriage to have sex, etc...etc...etc...

Maybe there is more to these values and families than meets the eye - maybe it's more than just tradition.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What’s in a name? Absolute disregard.

Leadership and Self Deception called it: “Being inside the box”

 Crucial Conversations called it: “Labeling”

The Anatomy of Peace called it: “Lumping into a stereotype”

They are all talking about seeing people as anything less than a complete and complex human being.

Here are a few quotes from the first book: Leadership and Self Deception

1. “Either I’m seeing others straightforwardly as they are - as people like me who have needs and desires as legitimate as my own – or I’m not.
2. “Smart people are smarter, skilled people are more skilled, and hardworking people work harder “when they see, and are seen, straightforwardly – as people.
3. “If I’m not interested in knowing a person’s name, I’m probably not really interested in the person as a person.”
4. “Don’t lump the people you’re thinking about into an impersonal mass. Think of individuals…Think of the people.”

It’s very true.  I do it every day.  I’m a psychiatrist in training, and everyday I am asked to label people.  I am asked to diagnose them and treat them.  Patient #1 is a Schizophrenic, #2 is a Borderline, etc…  It’s very easy to stop seeing them as people and just see them as a diagnosis.  If I can do that then I can stop worrying about them, and their lives, and their feelings.  I can treat their stated symptoms and go home.  I don’t have to worry about their visitors, their comfort, their real needs or anything. This way is easier.  It’s simpler.  I just slap a label on them and go home.

My realization of my struggle and our apparent propensity to categorize or label people was brought out again in Crucial Conversations:

1.“Labeling is putting a label on people or ideas so we can dismiss them under a general stereotype or category.
2. “Lord, help me forgive those who sin differently than I.”
3. “By employing a handy label, we are now dealing not with a complex human being, but with a bonehead.”

I do this with people every day.  I am a conservative independent, which means I usually agree with the republicans and disagree with the democrats – I’m just sick of political parties so I refuse to be a republican.

        When one of my facebook friends wrote a post about “Plan B” for birth control, I agreed with the sentiment of the other conservatives responding.  I thought – yep, that’s abortion, that’s murder, that’s wrong.  The friend posting must be a bleeding heart liberal.  She probably has never stopped to consider any opinion other than her own.  She must be blinded by her partisan and left wing ideation.  To quote the book – she must be “a bonehead.”

         I labeled her.  I discounted her as a “liberal” and that meant I no longer had to consider anything she said as “valid.”  She was part of an “extreme” group, and everything about her must be wrong, tainted, misled, etc…  Forget the fact that she is one of the smartest people I knew in High school, she is in her 4th year of medical school, and she is well read and stays current.  Luckily she took a little time and convinced me to research how plan B actually works.  When I found it has many of the same mechanisms as an IUD for preventing pregnancy, suddenly my viewpoint changed.  Not only did my view of the subject change, but my view of her changed.  She was once again a person, not a “bonehead liberal.”

The last part of my realization was from The Anatomy of Peace:
1. "Lumping everyone of a particular race or culture or faith into a single stereotype is a way of failing to see them as people."
2. "When we start seeing others as objects we begin provoking them to make our lives difficult.  We actually start inviting others to make us miserable."
3. "Another characteristic of conflicts…is the propensity to demonize others.  One way we do this is by lumping others into lifeless categories – bigoted whites, lazy blacks, crass Americans, arrogant Europeans, violent Arabs, manipulative Jews, and so on.  When we do this we make masses of unknown people into objects and many of them into our enemies."

Does that last paragraph sound like presidential politics to anyone else?  I hear labels like: Socialist, Rich snob, Flip-Flopper, Baby-killer, Tax-evader, Communist, Cult member, etc…
     "Let's tell people he's not American."  "Let's tell people he's not Christian." -  It seems all the political parties want to do is find a label that scares people, then make it stick to the other side’s candidate.  

Labels and stereotypes are killing us.
  They allow us to ignore people, to write them off.  They allow us to dehumanize everyone who doesn’t agree with us.

We must see people as people, anything less is just plain wrong.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Do Women Objectify Themselves?

(Is a male allowed to write a post like this?)

I recently had a conversation with a co-worker who was going to divorce her husband. "I'm tired of him treating me like an object" she said.

I felt for her. I feel bad for all the women who's husbands can't see them for the amazing women they are - for their minds, their ambitions, their caring, their wit, humor, intelligence, etc...

Then I stopped and looked at my coworker. The first thing I noticed was that her hair was immaculate. The blond and auburn highlights looked perfect. Her face was made up with plucked eye-brows, just the right amount of eye-liner and foundation. There was not a blemish on her face. She had manicured nails and was wearing an expensive looking blouse that accentuated the fact that she had been "enhanced" in the chest area.  We were sitting at a table so I didn't see much else (and my wife would appreciate my mentioning that I wasn't trying to look) - but I'd guess she had shaved her legs, was wearing nylons and heeled shoes. Another woman at the table was talking about her botox injections. They had also discussed on previous days how many of them wanted their nose done, or their face lifted, and other such things. I am actually good friends with these women, so on this day I decided that instead of just thinking, I would say out loud what was on my mind.

Do women objectify themselves?

I know it's because of men in most cases. We're the visually driven physically interested ones that keep asking women to look a certain way. But women do it. I see women every day who don't seem to be trying to look healthy, or even to accentuate their natural beauty. They seem to be replacing or covering up what is natural to look like the Perfect Female Object.

Why so much make-up, lipstick, nylons, corsettes or "slimmers," high heels, painted nails, hair dye etc... Why cover up or alter what's there? Why the hair removal, face lifts, tummy tucks, botox, implants, collagen injections, etc. Why add artifical parts or surgically remove natural parts?
(I fear the answer is - that's what a woman has to do in today's society - for men, for women, for work, and to meet the "societal expectation")

I know men do some of the same things. I alter my natural state everyday. I shave, I shower, I put on cologne, I try to pick clothes that make me look more fit than fat.

I'm also certain that I have made women feel like objects or complimented them in a way that reinforced their objectification. I'm sorry for that, but I'm sure it's true.

Nevertheless, do women objectify themselves? I'm sure there are a thousand blog posts about men objectifying women. I'm certain there is credence to their arguments. But my question is not about the cause, but the action itself. Do women do it themselves?  Are women making themselves artificial?  Are they attempting to look more like the "perfect female object" rather than a real and realistic female?

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

FYI - After I asked this question and started this conversation, one of the women started laughing really hard because she broke her nose 6 months ago and she's getting it fixed next month.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Diet Soda Linked to Diabetes, Heart disease, Cancer...or Not

I read a book recently that pointed out that  - when we want to prove a point, we present all information that supports our position, and ignore or hide all evidence to the contrary.

I've thought for a long time that diet soda is bad for you.  I was certain of it.  It tastes bad, its artificial, and I like sugar.  Plus - I'm pretty good at research and I have access to a ton of medical journals.  So I could prove it all if I wanted.

I sat down to write this post and I found articles that show that Diet Soda may cause, Heart Disease, Cancer, and Diabetes.  These are all valid articles.  I'm pretty sure I could write this up pretty convincingly and make a few people think twice before drinking more diet soda.

1st study: Those who drank diet soda had 70% greater increases in waistline growth than non-drinkers 9.5 years later.
Among frequent drinkers (2+ diet sodas a day) waistline growth was 500% greater than among non-drinkers.
2nd Study: Aspartame is carginogenic and causes increased rates of Carcinoma, Leukemia, and Lymphoma
3rd Study: Even without causing diabetes, diet sodas increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, and death.

But that's wrong.  If I want any credibility, if I ever want people to trust what I write - I need to present both sides.  So I decided to research the other side.  Is there evidence that shows that the previous 3 links are All Crap?

Yep.  There's a lot.  The link above is to my favorite which shows:

1: Aspartame gets broken down in your stomach into two common amino acids and a tiny bit of methanol (which you get more of by eating a banana)

2. Studies did show an increase in blood methanol from aspartame.  But the participants were given 40X more than you get from drinking diet soda.  Oh, and the increase in methanol was 100X less than what's needed to cause methanol poisoning.

3.  It isn't just aspartame producers refuting the bad press: the US National Toxicology Program and the US National Cancer Institute both found that aspartame is not a carcinogen.

SO - is Aspartame bad for you or not?  The real answer is - I have no idea.  But at least I now have evidence to back up my indecision.  I may not know the answer, but it isn't because of ignorance.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review: The Help

This book is excellent.  It is well written, it is inspiring, and it let's you experience the full gamut of emotions.  It makes you experience fear, hate, love, disgust, appreciation, loathing, admiration and hope.

While I enjoyed the book, I almost enjoyed the epilogue the best.  That is when Kathryn Stockett (the author) talks about being raised by a black maid herself.

She discusses her love and hate for Missisippi.  She also talks about the difficulty of trying to write about the feelings and thoughts of the black maids, when she herself is white.  She says "I don't presume to think that I know what it really felt like to be a black woman in Mississippi, especially in the 1960s.  I don't think it is something any white woman on the other end of a black woman's paycheck could ever truly understand.  But trying to understand is vital to our humanity."

I appreciate an author who understands her own biases and lack of insight, and still tries to overcome them.  I think her book sounded very real and very accurate.  But what do I know about how a black maid in Mississippi felt?  I'm a white boy from Idaho.

I do know that Ms. Stockett wrote a great book, and I enjoyed it.  Here are some of my favorite quotes.

"And Miss Skeeter asking don’t I want to change things, like changing Jackson, Mississippi, gone be like changing a lightbulb."

"We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought.”

"If I didn’t hit you Minny, who knows what you become.”
 - "It was the first time I'd ever really thought about it.  Who knows what I could become if Leroy would stop hitting me."

“I hope you write someting really good. Something you believe in.”

“Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else.”

“All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries.”

“Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?

“You is kind, you is smart. You is important.”

“I realized I actually had a choice in what I could believe.”

This last one is funny because it's so true:
“When you little, you only get asked two questions, what’s your name and how old you is, so you better get em right.”