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Big Tobacco in Marijuana

 

In April of 1970, it became illegal to advertise cigarettes. The marketing that was prior employed showed cigarettes being healthy, helping socially, and being attractive. Upon further restriction in 2010, Big Tobacco was banned from sponsoring cultural events and putting their logos on apparel. These bans seem to have had a positive influence on the decline of smoking, as the number of smokers has dropped 35% since 1965.

As marijuana continues to become legalized across the nation, it is important to recognize the impacts that big tobacco has on the market. Prior to marijuana becoming illegal, tobacco companies recognize that marijuana was either a competitor to their product, or an asset to building the company. Since then, marijuana has remained on the radar for many big tobacco companies.

Recently, it was found that one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, British Imperial Brands, invested in out-of-country “Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies”, which is researching ways that marijuana can be adapted to be used for medicine. These large investments show that Big Tobacco already cannot wait to get their hands on the marijuana industry. Further, Altria, the world’s biggest tobacco marketer, has been rumored to be investing in Canada’s main source of marijuana, Cronos Group.

As Big Tobacco begins to invest in marijuana, it extremely effects data outcomes and studies, as the industry sponsored research tends to be bias in the favor of marketing and sales, over consumer wellbeing. Meaning that data will likely be skewed to only show positive effects of consuming cannabis instead of showing both sides of the story. This skewed data increases sales because it makes consumers aware of only positives, instead of being aware of the overall effects.

This is a concern because it is inviting history to be able to repeat itself. Research will likely be bias, encouraging more people to only see the benefits of marijuana instead of gathering information on both sides of the story and making a fair decision on what is actually good for each individual. Big Tobacco in marijuana can only mean negative consequences for the American people.

Sober Curious, what is it and how does it benefit us?

Being sober curious is when a person decides to stop drinking, either permanently or temporarily. They may even engage in something called “mindful drinking”, where they drink occasionally and only moderately, instead of getting drunk. This movement has taken on waves, especially in January with “dry January”.

Sober curious allows for people to see how their body reacts without alcohol and how their lives differ from when there is alcohol involved. These people generally call themselves sober curious because they do not attend meetings and do not presume that they will abstain from alcohol for their entire lives. In fact, these people often identify as not being addicted to alcohol, but rather choosing to stop for various reasons such as anxiety, cost, or being health conscious.

Numerous people reported really good outcomes from abstaining from alcohol, some of which included:

  • Better sleep. Many research studies show that alcohol negatively effects sleep patterns. It makes it so that we never fully enter deep sleep. Further, with drinking generally comes late nights and getting to sleep much later, resulting in much fewer hours of the needed sleep.
  • Better skin. Without consuming alcohol, we tend to cut out a lot of the sugars that we drink, whether it be from the wine or the mixer we use with hard alcohol. Sugars negatively affect our skin. Alcohol also dehydrates us, which includes drying out of the skin and not getting the important vitamins that we need that keep our skin looking healthy.
  • Better overall health. Often people go out for a night of drinking and not only end up consuming empty carbs through their alcohol, but they end up getting food after the night, usually something greasy and high in fat. By consuming more calories, especially empty calories, we are jeopardizing our health and wellness. If hangover takes place the next day, usually a breakfast sandwich or ‘hair of the dog’ is the “cure”, which further leads to the consumption of empty calories, likely increasing weight if done on a continuous basis.

A common realization is that it is possible to have fun without drinking. It is possible to let go and enjoy a night out, whether it is dancing, or at a wedding, while not having to be consuming alcohol. And the best part about it all – you remember everything that happened.

Ultimately, being sober curious just means that you want to see how alcohol influences you and how it impacts your body. For some people, this turns into abstaining from alcohol indefinitely, but for others this results in mindfulness drinking or drinking only on special occasions. This new movement is great for our overall health and wellness, both physically and mentally, and really changes the conversation from being either a drinker or a non-drinker, to allowing for multiple pathways that best suite each individual.

Drinking Alone: the Predictor to Something Worse

Recent research has found that teens who drink alone are at a higher risk for adverse effects compared to those who drink socially. This research found those teens who drink alone tend to drink higher quantities of alcohol. It seems as though alcohol becomes a negative coping mechanism for these teens. Comparatively, teens who only drink in a social setting tend to have the reasoning of socializing versus coping.

Teens who are drinking as a coping mechanism are in a vulnerable state and will often drink more to cope with these feelings, feelings such as rejection, being lonely, anxiety, or depression. Being in a vulnerable state leads to a decrease in cognitive functioning and ultimately can lead to the increase in drinking.

The study done by  Pittsburgh Adolescent Alcohol Research Center found that students who reported drinking alone between the ages of 12-18 were more likely to be dependent on alcohol when resurveyed at the age of 25. This is indicative that early solitary drinking is a huge link to alcohol dependency.

So, what does this show? Given that the solitary drinking tends to come through as a maladaptive coping skill, it shows that there are most likely co-occurring disorders. By opening up conversation and destigmatizing mental health, it would likely help to decrease this solitary drinking, ultimately decreasing dependence.

Having an open line of communication can help create positive coping skills. Further, by opening the line of communication, it helps teens feel less lonely, as they will have other people to turn to in a time of need. Encouraging positive coping skills such as reading, writing, drawing, talk therapy, and exercise can significantly help the mental health of a teen.

Ultimately, drinking alone from an early age is linked to a dependence on alcohol late in life. Whether this link is due to earlier onset of drinking, higher frequency of drinking, or utilizing alcohol as a coping skill is relatively unknown but providing teens with a way to communicate their underlying reasoning for drinking can reduce the negative effects this drug has on the young brain, by decreasing the amount that a teen drinks.

Parents: Know the Risks but not the Solutions?

Opioids have been a rising issue in the United States, and more recently the opioid overdoses have been acknowledged as an epidemic. Of these people who misuse or abuse opioids, 90% of them have noted that their addiction began in their teen years. As the issue is on the rise, there is a known risk, but what is being done about this risk?

Half of parents who were asked in a recent study stated that they were concerned that their children were at risk for addiction, and yet 66% of parents stated that opioids were the best pain management solution. Unfortunately, a lot of parents and nonparents believe that opioids are the best pain management, probably because of advertisements and the eagerness for doctors to prescribe them. As much as we know that opioids are a problem and create high risk for addiction, one 33% of parents who went to a doctor with their child asked about alternative pain management to opioids. The numbers just do not add up. Further, the major concern is that over the past two decades, opioid related deaths in adolescents has more than tripled.

The Risks:
• Opioids are extremely addictive. Overdose is the leading cause of death in adults under the age of 50 in the United States. More than 2 million Americans abuse or misuse opioids because they are extremely addictive.
• Parents are not monitoring their children. By being aware of how many pills your child has taken and when they are taking them, it allows you to know what the habits of your child are. With helpful monitoring, you are helping to limit the ability to misuse.
• Parents are not talking to their children’s doctors about alternatives. Doctors will prescribe opioids because they are the most commonly known prescription pain management and most commonly accepted. Without starting the conversation, doctors will rarely offer alternatives.
• Utilizing improper disposal or not disposing of medications. By keeping the leftover medications instead of disposing of them, it poses a major risk to misuse.

The Solutions:
• Alternating between over-the-counter medications. This is known to help alleviate pain, in some instances, even better than opiates.
• Utilizing heat and ice. Heat, ice, rest and elevation helps to increase blood flow and decrease inflammation, leading to a decrease in pain.
• Physical therapy and/or acupuncture. Physical therapy will increase range of motion that might be causing the problem, as well as increase strength. Acupuncture has also been a leading pain reliever with minimal side effects.
• Quicker disposal. See if your municipality has a prescription drop box. If they do not, then make sure to crush up leftover medications and mix them with something like used coffee grounds, or cat litter to discourage someone from using the medications or taking them out of the trash.

There are known risks to using opiates. It is important for parents to not only recognize these risks but also to intervene and alleviate the issue before it becomes a real issue. Though it is not always up to the parents, parents can ask their child’s doctors for alternatives to pain medications, whether it be holistic approaches or other non-opiate pain medications. Even by opening the conversation with the doctor, it will show your child that it is a good idea to ask questions and advocate for themselves.

Influence of a Coach on a Student Athlete

Coaches quickly take on a major role in student’s lives. They are the people that push students, encourage students, and generally become the safe haven for a student. Coaches are almost like second parents to athletes, especially because of how close knit teams become. This level of influence is vital when it comes to setting good examples and keeping the students safe.
Recent studies have found that almost half of alcoholics and drug addicts became addicted before the age of 25, in the United States alone. Currently, the age where students begin to try alcohol is only 12 years old and the crucial years for prevention are 14-24, when they are most at risk. Coaches work with students for a lot of this crucial decade. High school sports alone cover the first half of the decade, moving into college sports for the latter half.

The coach-player relationships allows for a level of communication that other prevention methods miss. Due to the closeness and role aforementioned, students are more likely to listen to a coach versus someone else. This gives the coach the opportunity to talk about health and wellness, alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and sports injury and recovery.
The more that we are able to talk to students about the dangers of poor health behaviors, including sleep deprivation, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, the better it will stick in a student’s head. Meaning that this will be the most effective “coaching” a student can receive.

Keeping in mind the role that you have as a coach is a key component to building a foundation or a safety net for a student. As a coach, there are some things you could do to provide the best education for your students:
• Have an understanding of general health and wellness. As a coach, this is a given. There is a lot of education that goes into being an effective coach. Staying up to date with research and keeping your students informed on best practices and policy for overall wellness will encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle, ultimately discouraging them from poor health decisions.
• Be a good role model, set the example. Students learn by modeling what is being done. “Do as I say, not as I do” is a practice that leads to mistrust. Being a good example encourages students to put in the work and they are likely to follow in your footprints.
• Have set policies on alcohol, tobacco and drug use. Making students aware of policies from the beginning of the season leaves no room for errors. By being honest about the policy and talking with your student athletes, you not only make students aware, but you open the conversation up about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
• Educate your students. Teach your students the effects of using alcohol, tobacco, and drugs on their overall health, as well as on their performance as an athlete. Understanding the negative effects can result in students not wanting to even start with the risky behavior, especially when they realize how much it can affect their ability to play in the sport. Again, this also opens the door to further discussions between students and coaches.

Ultimately, the coach’s role in a student’s life is extremely important. Being aware of the amount of influence one can have on a student is key to providing effective prevention techniques and opening a clear and safe line of communication. Your role as a coach is crucial to protecting and encouraging our students.