Saturday, August 19, 2017

Drug Abuse

Drug abuse isn't just about street drugs. Besides marijuana, legal medicines are the most commonly abused drugs in the U.S. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can help and heal us. But some can be addictive and dangerous if they’re used the wrong way.

Keep your family safe. Use this guide to help you spot some commonly misused medicines. Because drugs come in many forms, not all pills and tablets are shown. Drug pictures are not to scale.


These are sedatives like phenobarbital, pentobarbital (Nembutal), and secobarbital (Seconal). They help with anxiety, sleep problems, and some seizures. But if you take more than prescribed, you can get addicted. High doses can cause trouble breathing, especially if you use them when you drink alcohol. If you can’t function without barbiturates, get help. Going into withdrawal can be dangerous.


Alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium) are two examples of benzodiazepines -- another type of sedative that can help with anxiety, panic attacks, and sleep problems. They work well and they're safer than barbiturates. But overused, they can also lead to physical dependence and addiction. Prescription drugs shouldn't be shared. They are only for the person with the prescription.

Sleep Medicines

If you have trouble sleeping, drugs like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata) can help you get the rest you need. But if you use them longer than your doctor suggests, you may start to believe you need them to sleep. Although they're not as addictive as some sleeping pills, doctors are concerned about abuse if they're not taken as prescribed.

Codeine and Morphine

Some of the most commonly abused prescription meds are painkillers -- specifically, opioids. These drugs dull pain, but in large doses they can also cause a euphoric high -- and dangerous side effects. Doctors usually prescribe morphine for severe pain and codeine for milder pain or coughing. Brands of morphine include Avinza,Kadian, and MS Contin.

OxyContin, Percocet

Another opioid painkiller is oxycodone. It's in drugs like OxyContin, Percocet,Percodan, and Roxicodone. People who abuse oxycodone sometimes crush it and snort it or inject it -- greatly raising the risk of overdose. Street names include "oxy," "O.C.," and "oxycotton" for OxyContin and "percs" for Percocet or Percodan.

Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet

These drugs contain the opioid hydrocodone plus acetaminophen. Opioids cause drowsiness and constipation. High doses can cause dangerous breathing problems. Vicodin's street names include "vike" and "Watson-387."


When prescribed, stimulants like the amphetamines Adderall,Adderall XR, Dextroamphetamine, and Mydasis can help people with ADHD. But some people use amphetamines to get high, to boost energy and alertness, or to keep their weight down. You can get addicted to stimulants. High doses can cause a dangerous rise in body temperature, irregular heartbeat, and even cardiac arrest. Nicknames for amphetamines include "bennies," "black beauties," and "speed."


This is a stimulant in ADHD drugs like Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Methylin, and Ritalin. Its nicknames include "MPH," "R-ball," "Skippy," "the smart drug," and "vitamin R." If you take stimulants, combining them with common decongestants can cause dangerously high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat.

Dextromethorphan (DXM)

It's not just prescription drugs that are a problem. Dextromethorphan is a common ingredient in over-the-counter cold and cough medicines -- it helps stop the cough. But large doses can get you high and cause hallucinations. It's popular among teens, since cough syrup is so easy to find in medicine cabinets. High doses also cause vomiting, rapid heart rate, and -- rarely -- brain damage.


This is a decongestant in lots of non-prescription cold medicines. While it helps clear up a stuffy nose, it's also an ingredient in illegal methamphetamine ("meth"). To curb meth abuse, U.S. laws now control how you buy pseudoephedrine products. That's why some cold medicines are located behind the counter and why you may have to sign for some.

Spotting a Suspicious Pill

Found a random pill around the house or in your teen's jacket? Want to know what it is? WebMD's Pill Identification Tool may help. But because there are hundreds of drugs and thousands of pills and tablets of all shapes, colors, and sizes, you may need a pharmacist to identify it.

Drug Abuse: What to Do

Worried that someone you love might be abusing drugs? The best thing to do is ask directly. Keep an eye out for signs of abuse, like behavior changes or missing medicines.

Many kids assume that common household drugs or even prescription medicines are safer than street drugs because they're legal. Explain the risks. Head off problems -- and clean out your medicine cabinet. Get rid of the drugs you don't need, and keep track of the ones you do.

7 Reasons Your Muscles Are Cramping

What’s a Cramp?

If you’ve ever had a “charley horse” -- that odd pain in your calf -- you’ve had a cramp. But they can happen anywhere in your body at any time, even when you’re asleep. No matter where you get them, what’s going on inside is the same: Your muscles suddenly tighten up when you don’t want them to. Several things can bring on cramps, but you can do some things to keep them from happening.

Possible Cause: Not Enough Water

When’s the last time you had a glass of water? Cramps may be your body’s way of telling you that you need some -- you’re dehydrated. Other signs include dizziness, headache, and constipation. So keep water with you and sip it throughout the day, especially if you’re outside in hot weather.

Possible Cause: High Temperatures

Your body loses fluids when you work or exercise in the heat, and that can make you more likely to cramp. This may be partly because your muscles need water, but it’s also because you sweat out important minerals called electrolytes -- sodium, potassium, and calcium -- that help the cells in your muscles work the way they should.

Possible Cause: Medications

Statins, which are used to control cholesterol, and diuretics, which help your body get rid of fluid, are just two of the drugs that can bring on cramping as a side effect. Talk to your doctor if you have regular cramps soon after you start taking a new medicine.

Possible Cause: Poor Circulation

If your cramps get worse when you walk, your muscles may not be getting enough blood. That can happen as you get older or if you’re not very active. It also can be caused by a condition called claudication -- when your arteries are narrower than they should be and blood can’t get through easily. Talk with your doctor if you notice this kind of thing -- she can help you figure out what’s going on.

Possible Cause: Monthly Cycle

Some women get cramps during their periods. That happens because a woman’s body makes certain hormones that make the muscles in her uterus tighten up. This helps push out blood and waste, but it can also cause cramping. Over-the-counter pain relievers usually help, but talk with your doctor if they don’t work well for you.

Possible Cause: Growth?

Kids often get cramps when they go through a growth spurt. These are sometimes called “growing pains,” but they may actually be caused by too much activity, or kids may just be more sensitive to pain. The cramps happen most often in the legs and can wake a child out of a sound sleep. It may help to stretch the muscle or put a heating pad on the area for a short time. If the pain doesn’t get better, call your child’s doctor.

Possible Cause: Exercise

It’s important to stay active, but if you do too much all at once or your body’s not used to it, your muscles can cramp. Instead, pace yourself: Regular exercise can make your muscles stronger and harder to tire out, so they won’t cramp as easily. Be sure to warm up first, and do plenty of stretching before and after.

How to Feel Better

Cramps usually go away on their own fairly quickly, but you can do some things to help them along. If an activity like running triggered one, stop right away. Then gently stretch or massage the muscle or use a heating pad or hot bath to bring blood to the area and relax it. Ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen, can help if you have pain and swelling, too.

Why Stretching Helps

Muscles are bunches of fibers that quickly get smaller or bigger when you move your body to do something -- from grabbing something off a shelf to running a race. When you stretch those fibers regularly, they can do their job more easily, and that helps you cramp less.

Why Your Diet Matters

Colorful fruits and vegetables have minerals called electrolytes that help keep your muscles in good shape and can help you avoid cramps. Leafy greens and bananas are good choices.

When to Call Your Doctor

Most muscle cramps aren’t serious, but if they happen often and you don’t know what’s causing them -- like heat or hard exercise -- see your doctor. They can sometimes be a sign of a condition like thyroid disease, cirrhosis of the liver, or hardening of the arteries.

Inspirational Quote – August 19, 2017

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”

Wouldn’t it be a pity if we allowed our fear of failure, or the discouragement of others, to prevent us embarking on a path to make our dreams come true? However, I do realize that we are all different and it may be great deal more difficult for some of us to summon up the courage, focus and determination to pursue what we want most in life than others blessed with more “get up and go” and belief in themselves. It would therefore take more courage, more focus and more determination for these people to achieve their dreams but wouldn’t the end result be doubly sweet?

The Three Sacred Tasks: A Climate Scientist & Father Reflects

Disconcerted by the dramatic changes underway in Earth's climate systems, Climate scientist and father Peter Kalmus set out on a quest to change his life and the world. A quest that led him ultimately to cut his climate impact to less than a tenth of the US average, while simultaneous increasing his sense of joy and fulfillment. What follows are two excerpts from his new book "Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution".

Friday, August 18, 2017

10 Best Workouts for People Over 50

You Need Exercise Now More Than Ever

Let's face it: A 50- or 60-year-old body isn't the same as a 20-year-old one. You won't be able to do the same things -- nor should you. But exercise is key to your independence and a good quality of life as you age. So what do you need to think about to be healthy without hurting yourself?

What Exercise Does

You lose muscle mass as you get older, and exercise can help you rebuild it. Muscles also burn more calories than fat, even at rest, which will offset your slowing metabolism. Exercise helps stop, delay, and sometimes improve serious illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis. It can help your brain stay sharp and keep you from falling into a funk.

Types of Exercise

Young or old, everyone needs different kinds. Cardio or aerobic exercise gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder, which builds your endurance and burns calories. Strength or weight training keeps your muscles ready for action. Flexibility exercises help you stay limber so you can have a full range of movement and avoid injury. Balance training becomes important after age 50, so you can prevent falls and stay active.

Choose the Right Activities

Lower-impact exercise, with less jumping and pounding, is kinder to your joints. Some activities provide more than one type of exercise, so you'll get more bang from your workout buck. Definitely pick things that you enjoy doing! Your doctor or physical therapist can suggest ways to adapt sports and exercises, or better alternatives, based on the limitations of any medical conditions you have.


Simple and effective! It builds your stamina, strengthens lower body muscles, and helps fight against bone diseases like osteoporosis. It's easy to work into your day. You can go solo or make it social. At a moderate pace, you'll get exercise and still be able to chat with a friend or group.


If you like to sweat a bit more when you exercise, try jogging to get your heart rate up. As long as you take it slow and steady, wear the right shoes, and take walking breaks, your joints should be fine. Soft surfaces, like a track or grass, may also help. Pay attention to your calves and hips, with extra stretching and strengthening to lessen your chance of injuries.


It doesn't really matter what kind: ballroom, line, square, even dance-based aerobics classes like Zumba and Jazzercise. Dancing helps your endurance, strengthens your muscles, and improves your balance. It burns a lot of calories because it gets you moving in all directions. Research shows learning new moves is really good for your brain, too. Plus, you could be having so much fun, you might not notice you're doing exercise.


Much of the benefit of this sport comes from the walking: an average round is more than 10,000 steps, or about 5 miles! In addition, your swing uses your whole body, and it requires good balance -- and calm focus. If you carry or pull your clubs, that's even more of a workout. But even using a cart is worth it. You're still working your muscles and getting in steps along with fresh air and stress relief.


It's especially good when you have stiff or sore joints, because your legs don't have to support your weight. The action gets your blood moving and builds muscles on both the front and back of your legs and hips. You use your abs for balance and your arms and shoulders to steer. Because there's resistance, you're strengthening your bones, too. Specially designed bike frames and saddles can make riding safer and easier for various health issues.


Racquet sports, including tennis, squash, and badminton, may be particularly good at keeping you alive longer and for lowering your chance of dying from heart disease. Playing tennis 2 or 3 times a week is linked to better stamina and reaction times, lower body fat, and higher "good" HDL cholesterol. And it builds bones, especially in your arm, low back, and neck. Play doubles for a less intense, more social workout.

Strength Training

Muscle loss is one of the main reasons people feel less energetic as they get older. When you lift weights, work out on machines, use resistance bands, or do exercises with your own body weight (like push-ups and sit-ups), you build strength, muscle mass, and flexibility. It'll make things like carrying groceries and climbing stairs easier. You can join a gym, but you don't have to. Digging and shoveling in the garden counts, too!


You can exercise for longer in the water than on land. There's no weight putting stress on your joints (and making them hurt), and the water offers resistance to build muscles and bones. Swimming laps burns calories and works your heart like jogging and cycling, yet you're not likely to overheat. The moisture helps people with asthma breathe. Water-based exercise improves the mind-set of people with fibromyalgia.


Actively holding a series of poses will stretch and strengthen your muscles, as well as the tendons and ligaments that hold your bones together. Mindful breathing makes it a kind of meditation, too. Yoga can help lower your heart rate and blood pressure and relieve anxiety and depression. Check out different styles and classes to match your level of fitness and what appeals to you.

Tai Chi

This quiet exercise is sometimes called "moving meditation." You move your body slowly and gently, flowing from one position to the next, while you breathe deeply. Not only is it good for balance, it can also improve bone and heart health. It may help ease pain and stiffness from arthritis. It might even help you sleep better.

How Much?

If you're in good health, you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity a week. It's better when you spread it out over 3 days or more, for a minimum of 10 minutes at a time. Also spend time at least twice a week specifically working the muscles in your legs, hips, back, abs, chest, shoulders, and arms.

Start Slow

This is especially important if you haven't been exercising for a while or when you're starting some new activity that your body isn't used to. Begin with 10 minutes and gradually ramp up how long, how often, or how intensely you exercise. Need motivation? Track your progress, either on your own or with an app or online tool like the National Institutes of Health's My Go4Life.

When to Call Your Doctor

Chest pain, breathing problems, dizziness, balance problems, and nausea when you exercise could be warning signs. Let your doctor know sooner, rather than later.

Feeling Bad About Feeling Bad Can Make You Feel Worse

According to a new study, people who accept their negative emotions have better psychological health.

Pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat, while embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, according to a new study out of UC Berkeley.
“We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health,” said study senior author Iris Mauss, an associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley.
© Yasmin Anwar and Melani King
The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Denver, Colorado, metropolitan area.
The results suggest that people who commonly resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or judge them harshly, can end up feeling more psychologically stressed.
By contrast, those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment, and resentment to run their course report fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months.
“It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being,” said study lead author Brett Ford, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. “People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.”
Three separate studies were conducted on various groups both in the lab and online, and factored in age, gender, socioeconomic status, and other demographic variables.
“It’s easier to have an accepting attitude if you lead a pampered life, which is why we ruled out socioeconomic status and major life stressors that could bias the results,” Mauss said.
In the first study, more than 1,000 participants filled out surveys rating how strongly they agreed with such statements as “I tell myself I shouldn’t be feeling the way that I’m feeling.” Those who, as a rule, did not feel bad about feeling bad showed higher levels of well-being than their less-accepting peers.
Then, in a laboratory setting, more than 150 participants were tasked with delivering a three-minute videotaped speech to a panel of judges as part of a mock job application, touting their communication skills and other relevant qualifications. They were given two minutes to prepare.
After completing the task, participants rated their emotions about the ordeal. As expected, the group that typically avoids negative feelings reported more distress than their more-accepting peers.
In the final study, more than 200 people journaled about their most taxing experiences over a two-week period. When surveyed about their psychological health six months later, the diarists who typically avoided negative emotions reported more mood disorder symptoms than their nonjudgmental peers.
At this point, researchers can only speculate on why accepting your joyless emotions can defuse them, like dark clouds passing swiftly in front of the sun and out of sight.
“Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you’re not giving them as much attention,” Mauss said. “And perhaps, if you’re constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.”
Next, researchers plan to look into such factors as culture and upbringing to better understand why some people are more accepting of emotional ups and downs than others.
“By asking parents about their attitudes about their children’s emotions, we may be able to predict how their children feel about their emotions, and how that might affect their children’s mental health,” Mauss said.

Inspirational Quote – August 18, 2017

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man without trials.”

I don’t know a great deal about the actual process of transforming a chunk of carbon into a diamond but I do know that it takes a great deal of friction and hard work to shape it into the precious gem it will become. The same applies to us. We are ultimately “molded” into who we become by the events, situations and people we experience as we go through life. Let’s hope that we all end up the precious stones we were meant to be!

Rosanne Cash on How Science Saved Her Life

n a prelude to her reading of Adrienne Rich's poetic tribute to Marie Curie, Roseanne Cash discusses the insights she gained as she battled to find a cure to her debilitating headaches. She realized the source of her creativity 'comes from the same room as her deepest pain' and argued that we have to listen deeply to our inner truth: "Persist and verify... The power that we abdicate to others out of our insecurity to others who insult us with their faux-intuition or their authoritarian smugness that comes back to hurt us so deeply... But the power we wrest from our own certitude that saves us."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

10 Ways to Stay Hydrated

Why You Need It

Water keeps your body working the way it should. Your organs, muscles, and joints all need it. It also helps your immune system fight off germs, it’s great for your skin, and it cools you down when you’re hot. Drinking water can help you lose weight and lower your chances of kidney stones, too. If it’s not part of your daily routine, you can do a few things to change that.

Eat Your Water

You can, and you probably do. Most people get about 20% of the water they need each day from food. It gets into your system more slowly that way and can come along with nutrients you need. Foods that have a lot of water include watermelon, cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes.

Have Some Soup

It’s mostly water, and there’s one for every taste. You can make broth from fish, chicken, beef bones, or vegetables. Add beans, greens, meats, grains, or veggies -- even pasta or eggs. If you’re under the weather, try some homemade chicken soup: You’ll get more H2O, and you might even shake your cold faster.

Add a Twist

A little squeeze of lemon can make plain old water a bit more interesting, and it’s good for you, too. Lemons have antioxidants and potassium to help keep your cells healthy, and citric acid to help with digestion and prevent kidney stones.

Make It Sparkle

If you’re looking for something with a little more zip, sparkling or fizzy water may do the trick. The bubbles can give your beverage a splash without adding sugar and other things that aren’t good for you.

Indulge Your Salt Tooth

An afternoon snack of lightly salted walnuts or popcorn might be just thing to make you reach for a glass of water. Both foods have protein and fiber, and popcorn is fat-free (as long as you don’t load it down with butter). Walnuts also have things like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E that are good for your heart, but don’t overdo it -- they’re high in calories.

Take a Coffee (or Tea) Break

Yes, they have caffeine, but they’re also full of water. Don't sip on them all day, though, or you could get the jitters or even a bellyache. Two cups a day should be fine -- and your healthiest bet is to skip the sugar and cream.

Bring Your Water With You

It’s a simple thing, but it can really make a difference -- if you have some nearby, you’re more likely to drink it, especially if you’re out and about. To keep your water cold, get a stainless steel bottle and add some ice or use freezer-safe bottles. Grab it on your way out in the morning and have ice water on the go.

Start a New Habit

Make it part of your routine to have a tall glass of water before you sit down for a meal. It’s good for your body, and you’re likely to eat less, too. In one study, people on a diet ate about 85 fewer calories per meal if they drank 16 ounces about a half-hour before each mealtime. Over 12 weeks, they lost 5 pounds -- about 50% more than those who didn’t drink up before sitting down.

Get an App

If you need a reminder to drink up, there are plenty of apps for that. They can help you keep track of how much water you drink, and suggest how much you should have and when. If you don’t want to download anything, set some friendly reminders on your smartphone.

Spice It Up

If you like foods with a kick, they can help put more fluids into your system. Have you ever tried to eat Indian food without a large glass or two of something cool to drink? To ease the burn, go with milk as your healthy beverage of choice.

When to Drink

Drink when you're thirsty -- that’s your body’s way of letting you know you need more water. But also pay attention when you go to the bathroom. If your pee is dark yellow, your body might be holding onto water, and that can be a sign that you need more. How much you need is different for everyone, depending on your health, how dry the air is where you live, and your daily activities.