Category Archives: Blog

Big Tobacco, Is it Still a Problem?

Tobacco products have been illegal to advertise for years, now. We do not hear about it as often and it becomes the question of “is it still a problem?”. The answer, bluntly, is yes. Smoking still affects many people, including youth between the ages of 12 and 18. Though smoking cigarettes has gone down in quantity of people smoking them, nicotine use is still a dangerous fad, being offered in more varieties than it once was.

In New Jersey, the legal age to buy tobacco is 21. But, 8.1% of high schoolers have reported smoking and over 12% have reported using e-cigarettes, which still contain a high amount of nicotine. It is a good measure that the legal age has been raised, but it is clear that this has not deterred underage persons from smoking.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, as per the CDC. “More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States,” stated the CDC. Aside from death, cigarette smoking leads to other major diseases like cancer, chronic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and minor ailments like wrinkles, yellowed teeth, Raynaud’s.

Cigarettes also effect the environment, which is something we do not always think about it. Cigarettes are a leading cause of deforestation because of growing the tobacco. Aside from just growing the tobacco, having enough paper to roll the cigarettes or to sell separately as rolling paper further influences deforestation.

A more obvious effect on the environment is air pollution. Not only is air pollution happening as people continue to smoke cigarettes, but the production process creates mass amounts of air pollutants, including greenhouse gasses.

So, though Big Tobacco has moved to the backburner in a lot of citizen’s minds, it is still an extremely pertinent issue. Big tobacco is ruining lives by continuing to cause health hazards, the issue that has been pressed for a while now. But, it is important to see the impacts that big tobacco is placing on the environment, too. As e-cigarettes and vapes rise up in popularity, we cannot forget or stop pushing for the end of cigarette smoking and big tobacco.

Alternatives to Opiates

Whether you are in recovery or not, it is a good idea to know what types of alternatives are available when it comes to pain management. On average, 115 Americans are dying each day due to opioid related deaths. Opiates are highly addictive, in fact one in four people prescribed opiates for long-term pain management report struggling with addiction. Another huge risk with being prescribed opiates is that those who become addicted to pain killers are 40x more likely to become addicted to heroin.
Though the use of opiates does not sound promising for our health, there are plenty of alternatives that we can utilize, many of which you may use already for other types of ailments.

• Over-the-counter medications. Often times, OTC’s, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, will help with pain management just as well as an opiate/opioid might help. In fact, the American College of Rheumatology recommends acetaminophen as the first line of defense when it comes to managing pain. If acetaminophen is not doing the job, that is when switching over to an NSAID, like Aleve, would be beneficial. NSAIDs offer anti-inflammatory relief and are little bit more potent than acetaminophen.

• Physical Therapy. If your pain is due to an injury, seeing a physical therapist would be beneficial. A physical therapist would be able to better identify the source of pain, and provide exercises that would be able to provide strength to the areas of pain, and in turn reduce inflammation and increase blood flow.

• Acupuncture. Similar to physical therapy, acupuncture helps to increase blood flow to an inflamed region. There are very few side effects to getting acupuncture, also.

• Mindfulness meditation. Sometimes pain may feel worse because we are focused on it. By engaging in mindfulness meditation, we can begin to focus on other aspects of our lives, which can help to alleviate the pain.

These are just a few of the many alternatives that can get you through a painful situation, without putting you at risk of substance abuse. If the pain seems unbearable and you feel that an alternative will not help, just be aware of the side effects and be sure to talk to your doctor about the safest procedures when it comes to taking them.

Prescription Abuse among Older Adults

Older adults are at a higher risk than other age groups of prescription misuse or abuse. Often, we associate older adults with wisdom. They have more lived experience, of course, than any other age group. But, 30% of adults in this age bracket are prescribed 5 or more prescripts. And more than 80% of older adults are prescribed at least one prescription. With the increase in prescriptions, comes the increase risk of misuse or abuse of prescription drugs.

As we get older, our metabolisms slow down which further effects that way in which prescription drugs interact in our bodies. We, also, tend to take more over-the-counter medications and supplements as we age, in order to get all of the needed nutrients and to manage components of aging. It is important to keep a list of all medications, including supplements and over-the-counter medications, when going to the doctor. This will allow the doctor to know exactly what you are taking, so that they will not prescribe anything that is either not needed or will react poorly to other medications you are taking.

Aside from keeping a log of medications and supplements, using a weekly or even daily pill organizer is a great way to decrease the risk of medication misuse. Using an organizer helps to fill potential memory gaps, because it allows for a visualization of exactly what pills have been taken and what pills are left for the day or week. This is especially helpful for those who have more than one or two medications per day.

If you find yourself experiencing side effects of medication or not knowing the purpose of a medication, reach out to your doctor. They can inform you not only of the purpose of the medication, but also be able to inform you if you still have a need for the medication. Always read the labels of your prescriptions, and if something does not look right, say something.
When there is an excess of medication that is only an as needed medication or a temporary medication, it is crucial to dispose of the remaining medication properly. All medications can be brought to a dropbox location which will properly dispose of the medication for you. For dropbox locations, click here.
The FDA also recommends to “mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds then place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag, and finally throw the container in your household trash.” Also, make sure to rip off all labels or scribble out the personal information on the bottle before disposal.

The FDA does NOT recommend flushing medications, as this can pollute the waterways.

Stop the Pain

 

The Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris, in collaboration with Life Center Stage, created an awareness campaign Share Your Story #Stop The Pain, focused on bringing light — through stories, photography and videos –on how the opioid epidemic affects real people! This initiative, which started with three 30-second Opioid Awareness spots featuring people sharing how the opioid crisis has personally affected them, also impacted those telling their stories. After filming the 30 second spot, Loren O’Donnell expressed, “I unleashed repressed feelings, I needed that. Thank you. I am forever grateful” Learning how sharing had made a difference, CCSHM invited the community to share their stories and experiences with opioids, addiction, stigma- as well as their stories of hope and recovery- on our website  stopthepainnj.org  The website will showcase the stories, videos and photographs from the Stop The Pain Opioid Awareness Spots, #StopThePain social media feed of publicly posted stories along with up to date resources for those struggling with this opioid crisis. We invite you to visit the link below and submit your own story.

Binge Drinking in New Jersey

Tobacco use has gone down in New Jersey in the past years, but binge drinking for age 12 and up, has steadily increased. Though it’s not a significant increase, it is still on the rise. Check out this graph that shows the dangers of drug use in New Jersey on dependence.