Health

How to Use Visualization to Reduce Stress: Techniques to Relieve Symptoms of Mental & Physical Illness

With today’s hectic pace of life, most people have been affected by stress related health problems at some point or another. While there are many benefits associated with mainstream forms of treatment, such as psychotherapy (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy, interpersonal therapy, cognitive analytic therapy) and medication, a whole range of different self-help techniques may also help to relieve stress and anxiety.

Alternative treatments for stress, anxiety and depression management may include the following: deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, body scanning as well as visualization.

What is Visualization?

Visualization techniques simply require the use of one’s imagination and ideally a quiet place to be alone. The belief that the mind is capable of imagining oneself into a state of relaxation and that positive thinking can help reduce physical and mental symptoms was introduced by a French pharmacist, Emil Coute.

Coute found that when his patients, many of whom were suffering from tuberculosis and hemorrhages, would focus on their illness the symptoms would often appear to worsen. As a result, Coute used to recommend that his patients repeat each day the phrase, “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”

In addition to getting his patients to recite positive affirmations, Coute also encouraged them to practice muscle relaxation whilst introducing the idea into their minds that they would be more relaxed the following day, as a means of using the unconscious. Many years later, both Jung and Gestalt introduced techniques to reduce anxiety and stress through the use of one’s imagination.

Types of Visualization For Reducing Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Visualization includes things common to everyone such as daydreaming, remembering past memories and inner talk. Forms of visualisation techniques used to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, include receptive visualization, programmed visualisation and guided visualization.

In order to achieve effective visualization all that is required is to lie down in a quiet space with eyes closed and scan through the body looking for any tension and relaxing any tensed muscles. Next, use as many senses as possible to imagine a peaceful scene such as walking through a forest, listening to birds, feeling a cool breeze on one’s face, smelling the pine and feeling the ground beneath.

Positive affirmations which are statements in the present such as ‘I am totally relaxed’ or ‘I am calm and peaceful’ will also help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.

Key Benefits of Visualization Techniques

The main benefit of using one’s imagination to do visualization techniques is that it helps the body and mind to relax thus being an effective means of reducing symptoms of stress related health conditions. There is also much evidence that indicates if one regularly practices visualization techniques one will also have an increased feeling of emotional and physical well-being.

Another benefit of this approach is that unlike many other forms of alternative treatments, it is free and all that is required is a quiet space and an open mind.

Health

Making a Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis: Distinguishing between GAD and Clinical Depression Symptoms

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) causes chronic and excessive anxiety and worry, but responds well to treatment. Generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis requires a thorough medical examination, including a physical examination to rule out physical causes of anxiety.

Making a Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis

The following criteria must be met before a generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis is considered:

  • excessive anxiety or worry about multiple concerns experienced most days for at least six consecutive months
  • difficulty controlling anxiety
  • symptoms of anxiety disorder cause clinically significant distress and impairment of normal functioning

In addition, at least three of the following symptoms of anxiety disorders must be present for most days during the six month period before diagnosis:

  • difficulty concentrating (sometimes described as mind “going blank”)
  • easily tired or fatigued
  • feeling restless, “on edge,” or “keyed up”
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • sleep disturbances (insomnia, lack or restful sleep, or difficulty staying asleep)

Adults must report at least three of the generalized anxiety disorder symptoms listed above. Children only need to report one of these symptoms for a generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis, presuming other diagnostic criteria are met.

Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Symptoms of anxiety and depression often overlap, and any generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis has to consider the possibility of a secondary depression diagnosis. GAD may also occur alongside substance abuse or other anxiety disorders. These conditions must be identified and treated for successful generalized anxiety disorder treatment.

Generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis is not indicated if another anxiety disorder explains all anxiety-related symptoms. For instance, if anxiety only occurs in social situations a diagnosis of social anxiety is warranted rather than GAD. If anxiety symptoms are widespread, but worsen in social situations a dual diagnosis of social and generalized anxiety disorder might be considered.

Likewise, while GAD often accompanies substance abuse, a diagnosis of anxiety disorder is not warranted when drugs or medication are the root causes of anxiety symptoms.

Physical Causes of General Anxiety

Physical conditions can cause symptoms of anxiety and depression, and must be ruled out during generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis. Doctors may order blood work or other tests to rule out possible physical causes of anxiety including:

  • cardiac disease
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • heart attack
  • hyperthyroidism
  • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels)
  • menopause
  • pulmonary emboli (blood clots in the lungs)
  • tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • temporal lobe epilepsy

Generalized anxiety disorder treatment offers relief of anxiety symptoms and helps prevent GAD complications. People experiencing excessive anxiety should discuss the possibility of generalized anxiety disorder with their doctors.

Health

Making a Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) Diagnosis

Anxiety symptoms occur due to the “fight of flight response” being triggered in the body. This anxiety mechanism, results in the release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands, so that the body can respond to an important or threatening issue that has arisen. In the case of medical conditions, the body is in some cases attempting to compensate for an abnormal change in hormone levels.

The Endocrine System

The “endocrine glands” are those in the body that supply needed hormones. These include sex hormones, adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones, the glucose regulating hormones and the master brain-gland hormones. Following is a list of some of those hormones.

  • insulin – from the pancreas
  • T4 and T3 – from the thyroid gland
  • testosterone and estrogen – from precursor hormones (following a conversion process)
  • adrenaline, cortisol, pregnenolone and DHEA – from the adrenal glands
  • TSH, CRH and ACTH – from the pituitary and hypothalamus glands

The endocrine system works in a loop, meaning the hormones are all interconnected so that they work in sync with each other, to help keep them in balance within the body. If one hormone becomes abnormally low, this can result in another hormone rising to abnormally high levels, which in some cases can result in chronic anxiety symptoms.

Thyroid Imbalance

When the body becomes low on either or both of the major thyroid hormones (T4 and T3), the thyroid-regulating “pituitary gland” in the brain sends more TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to the thyroid gland to prompt it to increase its production of hormones. This is a description of “hypothyroidism”, meaning an under-active gland.

The opposite condition is called “hyperthyroidism” (overactive) and this is caused in many cases by too much TSH being sent to the thyroid gland. When thyroid hormone levels reach higher than normal values, hyperthyroid symptoms will result from a sped-up bodily metabolism. The resulting symptoms for this and other medical conditions that include anxiety as part of the symptom-complex may include the following.

  • Increased breathing (hyperventilation)
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Trembling (tremors)
  • Sudden fear (panic)
  • Increased body excretions (sweating, frequent urination and diarrhea)

Hypoglycemia

When sugar enters the body via the diet, the pancreas sends out the hormone “insulin” to regulate the energy produced for the body by this very necessary fuel also called “glucose”. In blood-glucose imbalance conditions, such as diabetes and reactive-hypoglycemia, the levels will drop to abnormally low levels due to insulin resistance or due to a rapid insulin reaction.

The adrenal glands will then attempt to compensate for the drop in glucose by sending out more of the hormone – adrenaline. It does this to prompt the body to produce more insulin and to replace low energy levels in the body due to low glucose levels. As this occurs, anxiety and symptoms of nervousness can result.

Mitral Valve Prolapse

This common heart murmur, abbreviated “MVP” does not cause symptoms in many people who have it, while others experience anxiety and panic symptoms frequently with the condition. Medical research studies of MVP have found that the “mitral leaflets” that support this heart valve, may become stretched-out or thickened over time and this causes the valve not to close properly with heart beats, resulting in a “click murmur” (sound heard with a stethoscope).

The heart has many nerve impulses triggered within it that regulate the speed of heart function by interacting with the adrenal glands. With MVP, it is believed that these nerve impulses become irregular so that false signals indicating the need for increased heart rate reach the adrenal glands, causing excessive release of hormone (adrenaline surges).

This may be why panic attacks and anxiety symptoms are experienced commonly by MVP patients. One medical term for nervous system imbalance is “dysautonomia” and some medical sources refer to the condition when it is combined with nervous system imbalance as “MVP-Dysautonomia”.

There are other medical conditions, in addition to the preceding three that have been described, that also cause chronic and/or sudden onset anxiety symptoms. A person, who experiences severe anxiety or panic, should see a licensed medical practitioner for definitive diagnoses of anxiety disorder or medically induced anxiety.

Alcohol

Alcohol, Money and Teens: A British Study Shows Correlation Between Allowance and Booze

Vacation

School is out, summer is here and every parent hopes their child is not drinking and driving. However, the reality is that many will die this summer in alcohol related accidents. Research has proven that the teenage brain is not developed–especially the portion of the brain that makes safe decisions. A European study reveals how many teens binge and a British study tells which factors produce risky behavior. Student substance abuse is a serious problem not only in Europe but in the United States, as well.

Binge Drinking

A European Union survey reveals binge drinking as a problem among teens. Europe is one of the heaviest drinking regions in the world. The survey results show the percentage of teens that binge in the following countries:

  • Ireland, 34%
  • Finland, 27%
  • Britain, 24%
  • Denmark, 23%
  • Italy, 2%
  • Greece, 2%

[The Associated Press, msnbc.msn.com, March 15]

What Is Bingeing?

Drinking five or more drinks at one sitting is considered bingeing for this survey. The people questioned in the survey were between the ages of 15 and 24.

British Study

Mark A. Bellis, of Liverpool John Moores University, lead the study with over 10,000 teens, ages 15-16. 88 percent of the teens had tried alcohol at some point in their lives. However, the teens that had more risky behavior were the ones with more money.

Risky Behavior

Just how risky were the behaviors? One-third of the teens stated that they

  • bought their own alcohol
  • were six times more likely to drink in a public place
  • three times more likely to drink often
  • twice as likely to binge

Parental Component

The teens behavior was less risky if parents allowed them to drink in the home. If parents served wine with a meal and teens were told how to drink responsibly, the behaviors were less dangerous. These teens seemed to have fewer problems with alcohol. Teens coming from homes that had no alcohol and were not taught how to drink responsibly had more issues with alcohol. [Reuters, msnbc.msn.com]

Allowances

The study authored by Bellis tells us that teens with $20 or more per week are more likely to drink than those given allowances in lesser amounts. Not only are they more likely to drink, but they are more likely to participate in risky behaviors. The study recommends that

  • parents teach children how to drink responsibly
  • parents advise teens how to spend their money
  • alcohol sales should be monitored more closely
  • establishments selling alcohol to minors should be prosecuted.

The survey is found in the online journal, Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy.

Drug Detox

Consciously Choosing Sanity!

Affectionately know as “Doona Therapy” – self nurturance is the essential tool for all women who wish to remain sane. Self respectful behaviour keeps us healthy, sane and amenable. This type of self care protects our health and our relationships. This is because a woman just cannot function in over drive forever. Notice I did not say alcoholic women. We as women are so used to looking after others that we often do not take care of the one we need to care for most. Ourselves that is. This trait is not unique to the alcoholics of the world believe me!

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

These are the conditions that make women vulnerable to depression, alienation and despair. It is amazing how a small molehill can become a mountain when we are run down, tired or going without. When we are hurt, disappointed or just plain not getting what we want.

Take Time Out

Some call it ‘gnome time’, some call it ‘headin’ for the cave’ others call it ‘doona therapy’ – but all it really means is that there are times when a girl just has to lie down. Take time out! Read a good book and relax. Eat well (or eat Carmello Ice Cream) sleep or watch TV. Read spiritual books for healthy growth and sustenance or romantic novels just to switch off. Some of us love to use our relaxation to exercise or catch a movie others need to just sleep it off – but take time out is what we all need to do and no-one more so than myself this weekend.

I am toooooo busy you say?

Hmmmm? – what did looking after Jo mean for me this weekend? I have just finished the term at school. I have worked quite hard. (Not as hard as I used to though as I have learned what ‘burn out’ can really do to a woman.) Had quite a few disappointments of late and I know that I have quite an exciting coming up for me in the future. A time that needs me to be happy, healthy, alert and aware. Not frazzled, tired and sleepy.

Alcohol

Steps Eight and Nine of AA: The Strategy of Forgiveness, Accountability and Making Amends

The nature of alcoholism causes the sufferer to think only about the chemical – using, obtaining and supporting the habit. Are others hurt in the process? Yes.

Perhaps, it would first be advisable to define what harm is, and how alcoholism injures others besides the sufferer. For instance, how many times were dates that were important to one’s spouse or children been forgotten? How many times did the sufferer call in an absence from work?

Step eight begins with making a list of all who have been harmed. It might be easier, especially if one is more visually responsive, to draw circles.

Circles of Responsibility and Accountability

In the first circle, place the names of the immediate family. If married, then this circle will include the names of the spouse and the children. Then draw another circle around this one. Place the names of the people next closest. Perhaps friends or former friends would be included here – maybe coworkers or employers. Draw another circle around this circle. Continue adding names.

The drawing will look like one circle inside of another. Continue the process until everyone imaginable that was hurt or affected by the alcoholism is identified.

Include institutions. For instance, was jail an issue due to an OUI or some other alcohol related matter? Than the court system and the community at large needs to be identified and placed within one of the circles.

Guilt Trips and Recovery

Steps eight and nine are not to pound out burdensome guilt trips, though it would be difficult not to feel guilty after seeing what the circles revealed. The goal, however, is to move beyond the guilt (since guilt and intense guilt can give rise to justification to begin drinking again) and look towards making amends and asking forgiveness. Why?

Alcoholism is such, by its very nature, a self-centered and a lonely affliction. Healing and recovery mandate looking beyond self-gratification and self, as well as any situation which can give an alcoholic a reason to drink again. Forgiveness is one exceedingly important aspect in recovery, because it moves the recovering alcoholic out of the self zone.

Forgiveness and Recovery

Self-forgiveness is necessary as well as forgiveness from and for others, as long as asking and receiving forgiveness will not cause further harm. Additionally, forgiveness is a barricade to resentments, which can serve as powerful excuses to relapse.

Making Amends

Perhaps asking for forgiveness from others and making amends are the two most difficult aspects of the AA 12-step recovery plan, because these dynamics involve facing the people who have been hurt. Not only facing them physically, but perhaps having to listen to their feedback, listening to their stories of pain.

Moving forward takes courage. It would be helpful to have a support network handy, too, prior to confronting the more serious issues.

Addressing pain, especially if it is severe pain, can be a major relapse trigger. Professional help as well as the support of sponsors would be strongly suggested.

A plan of action mapped out with a professional counselor would be strongly suggested. If there has been infidelity or sexual abuse or murder/homicide, these would not be areas to tackle alone. Again, making amends is strongly encouraged, if, doing so will not cause additional harm.

Finally, remember, that as one moves forward, a solid recovery foundation is building. The more solid the foundation, the risks for relapse are lowered. Keep moving forward…one day at a time.

Alcohol

The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Acetaminophen

Many turn to the pain reliever acetaminophen to combat aches and pains. Alcohol drinkers, however, must use caution when taking the popular medication.

What is Acetaminophen

The medication acetaminophen, found in both over the counter and prescription pain relief drugs such as Tylenol, can be a double edged sword and its ingestion should be governed by a high degree of caution, especially when consuming alcoholic beverages. There are minimal health risks associated with taking acetaminophen products, such as Tylenol, when they are administered in accordance with dosage recommendations, which is generally three hundred and twenty five milligrams (325 mg.) However, ingesting acetaminophen medications in conjunction with alcoholic beverages may cause or exacerbate symptoms related to gastrointestinal irritation or acetaminophen toxicity which could result in acute liver failure, coma and death.

Scientific and Medical

It has long been known in scientific and medical circles that long term alcohol abuse can lead to many health problems, many of which are directly related to liver function. When alcoholic beverages are consumed in combination with Tylenol or other acetaminophen medications, the enzyme CYP2E1 can be more rapidly converted to dangerous, toxic chemicals that contribute to liver cell damage, which results in reduced liver function. Individuals who consume alcoholic beverages on a regular basis would be well advised to reduce or eliminate their use of Tylenol and acetaminophen-containing medications altogether. Also, individuals who regularly take over the counter acetaminophen medications should keep their doctor informed as to their intake.

People who Drink

Those who consume alcoholic beverages and take acetaminophen-containing products, such as Tylenol, are at greater risk for medical problems related to liver function such as acute liver failure. Those who consume more than two to three alcoholic beverages per day should avoid consuming excessive quantities of acetaminophen, so as to reduce the risk of the above stated medical problems. Of course, completely eliminating or significantly reducing the amount of alcohol that is regularly consumed may be an even better way to prevent liver damage, especially if pain relief medications that contain acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, are taken with any kind of regularity.

While it may be a common practice for drinkers to ingest over the counter pain relief medications such as Tylenol before, during or after a bout of heavy drinking to avoid or lessen a hangover, this practice can be very dangerous as the metabolism of alcohol can hasten and worsen the liver damaging effects of acetaminophen usage. The liver damage that is associated with long term alcohol abuse in combination with that of excessive, regular use of acetaminophen products can be accelerated and can lead to acute liver failure, coma or death.

Consideration must be given to the fact that alcohol and over the counter pain medications that contain acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, affect everybody differently. Factors such as age, health and other lifestyle factors help dictate the precise role that each of these compounds will play in liver health and function. However, regular, heavy drinkers should be cautioned and made aware of the potential deadly effects of mixing acetaminophen products, such as Tylenol, and alcohol. It is especially critical for those who suffer from chronic medical conditions to exercise caution when consuming alcoholic beverages and taking medications of any kind.

Some people have made the argument that there is no connection between alcohol consumption and ingestion of acetaminophen medications, such as Tylenol, as they pertain to accelerated liver damage and reduced liver function. However, numerous pieces of medical literature and scientific studies support the fact that the combined consumption of alcoholic beverages and acetaminophen products does, in fact, affect liver health and function. The standard recommendation is to consult with a physician prior to beginning on long term use of any medication, even of the over the counter varieties, and to limit the quantity and frequency of alcoholic beverage consumption.

Alcohol

Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding

There are many questions women have on the effects of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. Learn what the real implications may be by reading this article.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Over fifty percent of women of childbearing age consume alcohol regularly. The amount of alcohol a pregnant woman can consume during pregnancy is unknown. Due to this, nearly all women that are pregnant tend to cut back on their alcohol intake. Women that drink regularly before pregnancy usually begin drinking again, shortly after the baby is born, while they are breast feeding.

Where is the Evidence?

During pregnancy, health care practitioners know there is no safe amount or safe time to consume alcohol. After the baby is born there is conflicting data related to the risks of alcohol consumption while breastfeeding. There are many myths that say the occasional drink for a breastfeeding mother is good for her and the baby. These myths have no merit and are sometimes adopted by healthcare practitioners. Healthcare practitioners have no evidence or research to back up the health benefits of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding.

Postpartum Drinking: The Evidence

While there is no evidence showing the consumption of alcohol is beneficial for mother and baby; there is however, strong evidence that consuming alcohol while breastfeeding can harm the baby. Drinking alcohol before breastfeeding does not help the baby sleep better. The baby may fall asleep faster but will have a reduction in active sleep by 25 percent. It has been suggested and is popular opinion that drinking beer may help stimulate the production of breast milk, but actually, alcohol inhibits the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for signaling the body to produce breast milk. So alcohol will reduce the amount of breast milk produced.

Postpartum alcohol consumption has been shown to stunt rat pup growth and development. The effects were worse than that of malnutrition. A study conducted in Australia found that women who consume only two standard drinks per day were nearly twice as likely to discontinue breastfeeding within six months of breastfeeding. Since a standard drink can vary from country to county. Follow the CDC guidelines, a standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 8 ounces of malt liquor, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

Recommendations

It is unethical to expose infants and mothers to alcohol in studies, so most of the research comes either from real life experiences or animal studies. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the health benefits and superiority of breast milk far outweighs the occasional ingestion of alcohol. The WHO does advise lactating mothers to reduce or restrict alcohol intake.

If a mother is anticipating having a drink, it is important to pump and store the breast milk before she takes a drink. She needs to wait two hours after she has had a drink and then pump again. Throw out that breast milk and then continue on with the normal schedule.

Alcohol has a large influence in our daily lives and is a part of our society. While it may be hard to abstain from drinking while breasting, try to keep it down to the occasional single celebratory drink.

Alcohol

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The use of alcohol during pregnancy is a public health problem which can have lifelong consequences for the baby.

Several decades ago the medical profession studied the effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and identified the condition as fetal alcohol syndrome. The United States Surgeon General has published material which indicates that no woman who is pregnant should drink alcohol. There is no safe amount of alcohol that she can consume, and none of the trimesters of pregnancy is a safe time for that either.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a group of medical conditions which may affect the offspring if the mother drinks while she is pregnant. These consequences include behavioral disorders, growth deficiencies, central nervous system impairment, abnormal facial features, and impairment of intellectual development. There may be hyperactive behavior, low birth weight, speech and language delays, and heart, kidney, or bone problems.

Characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

These babies may have a small head at birth. They may have coordination problems later in life, memory problems, academic and behavioral problems at school, and shorter-than-average height. Sleep and sucking problems may occur during infancy as well. The cognitive and behavioral disorders continue through the child’s lifetime. Some of these pregnancies also result in miscarriage or stillbirth.

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it crosses the placenta, and the baby then consumes it as well. The fetus is still in various developmental stages, and alcohol is particularly detrimental during these phases. Since many pregnancies are not planned, it is important that sexually active women who do not use birth control avoid the intake of alcohol.

In other words, she may not know for several weeks that she has become pregnant, and the consumption of alcohol in the early weeks of gestation is very risky for the fetus and the pregnancy in general. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are 100 percent preventable if the mother never drinks alcohol while she is pregnant. Neither the mother nor the father is capable of transmission of these disorders to the child through heredity or genetics.

If the mother discovers that she is pregnant and has consumed alcohol in recent days or weeks, she should stop drinking immediately. She should seek professional help if she cannot stop the habit. With regular prenatal care, it is possible that the baby will not have fetal alcohol syndrome or any other abnormalities.

Childhood Management

There is no cure for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, but early intervention treatment services will significantly improve the child’s development. Moreover, a warm and caring household will enhance the growth and development of the child. Various psychotropic medications such as antidepressants, stimulants, antianxiety agents, and major tranquilizers will help the child adjust to his or her situation.

Health care professionals, especially primary care physicians, should inquire about the use of alcohol with all of their patients, and this is particularly true for women of childbearing age.

Rehab

Man Struggles with Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug use on the streets is becoming an increasingly serious problem. One man tells his story about prescription drug addiction.

Dan was only 17 when he took a fall that was to drop him further than he could have expected. His fall off a building led him to hospital and an eventual addiction to oxycodone, a high-strength pain reliever that has become – more increasingly – a drug available on the streets. Dan’s doctor prescribed him the medication for three years and then cut him off.

However, Dan’s experience with the drug didn’t end there – he went to different hospitals in Oxford County, Ontario to get increasingly growing supplies of the drug. He also started buying the drug off the street.

“I lost my job because oxys became my No. 1 priority,” he told a group of about 50 people gathered at the Oxford administration building on May 18. “I realized I was a junkie.” Eventually, Dan – now 27 – sought help and turned to methadone treatment to fight his addiction.

Dan and several other speakers gathered at the administration building for one of three sessions being held in Oxford though the Oxford County Drug Task Force to help highlight the problem of misuse of prescription drugs in the community.

Indeed, such drugs are a problem across Canada and elsewhere. Edward Odumodu, a local pharmacist who took part in the May 18 session, said narcotics use per capita in Canada is only outpaced by the United States and Belgium. As for Dan’s story, Odumodu said it illustrates how a legal drug use situation can spiral out of control. At the session, prescription opioid misuse was described as having reached a “crisis” level.

Drugs Worth Plenty: Police

Daryl Longworth, deputy chief with the Woodstock Police Service (which operates in Oxford), has a history of drug enforcement and organized crime policing in Ontario. In Woodstock, oxys began to emerge in the early 2000s. However, by 2017, prescription drug misuse began to reach the same level as those of some illegal drugs such as cocaine. These days, a single 80-milligram oxy tablet can draw $40 to $50 on the street. Longworth remarked that if police took 100 people off the street for oxy sales, 100 more would soon replace them because of the sheer profitability of the drug. Police are heavily involved in educating the public about the situation. Also, the police are telling local doctors about the drugs they sometimes prescribe. “Some of them weren’t aware” of the magnitude of the problem, Longworth told the session.

Police have a tough time with targeting traffickers who are selling oxys because they’re dealing in a legal product. “We have to catch them right in the act,” Longworth said. Those problems are something Const. Steven McEwen, community service officer of the Woodstock Police, knows all too well. “Oxys are the main one,” McEwen, who sits on the task force, said at the session of the prescription drugs that are available on the streets.

Fifty Strong Task Force

Jason Smith, chair of the task force, told the session that the group includes 50 community agencies, a number which has been attained since the organization was incepted. One of the group’s aims is to give out information about the misuse of prescription drugs. “It has a huge effect on our community,” Smith said.

No one knows that better than Dan. Asked by one of the session spectators what role the family can play in helping a relative held in the clutches of prescription drug addiction, he said: “You have to have faith in them and stand with them.”