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Attending religious service once a week found to lower risk of suicide and other "deaths of despair"
- A study of nearly 100,000 health care workers found that those who attend weekly religious services are less likely to die from a "death of despair."
- The Harvard researchers note that women are considerably less likely to die such a death than men.
- Community support seems to be a major reason for helping people grapple with existential distress.
Why religion is literally false and metaphorically true | Bret Weinstein<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bb748b6454d9ea27e58c41be9c4b50f6"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/c0_J998UD9s?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>A <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2765488" target="_blank">unique new study</a> at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found an interesting link between mental health and health care workers: those who attend a religious ceremony once a week are less likely to suffer from a death of despair. These include dying by suicide and alcohol or drug overdoses. </p><p>The researchers collected data from 66,492 female registered nurses and 43,141 male health care professionals, including dentists, pharmacists, and optometrists. The women's data was collected from the large-scale Nurses' Health Study II, conducted between 2001-2017. The men's data comes from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, conducted from 1988-2014. </p><p>The researchers note that life expectancy in the US has been decreasing since 2015. This coincides with an increased rate of midlife death from suicide, unintentional drug or alcohol poisoning, and alcohol-related chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. While "deaths of despair" was initially coined to describe the psychological effects of unemployment, the weakening of traditional support systems, such as religious services, are also implicated with higher drug and alcohol use and suicide. This is a particular challenge that we are navigating in the era of social distancing. </p>
Buddhist monks wearing facemasks take their places for prayers inside the Wat Bowonniwetwiharn temple as Thais are encouraged not to gather inside places of worship, in an attempt to stop the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, on Visaka Bucha Day in Bangkok on May 6, 2020.
Photo by Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP<p>Previous studies have shown that religion is a positive determinant in health and mental well-being. Lower risks of suicide, heavy drinking, depression, and substance abuse has been observed in the religious. As they phrase it,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Religious participation may promote health and well-being through strengthening social integration, encouraging healthy behaviors, and providing a sense of hope, meaning, and purpose in life."</p><p>According to their research, religion tends to positively impact women more than men. The nurses had a 68 percent lower risk of death during the period studied. Men experienced a 33 percent reduced risk.</p><p>Research associate and data scientist, Ying Chen, who was first author of the study, notes that this is especially important information at this time. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These results are perhaps especially striking amidst the present COVID-19 pandemic. They are striking in part because clinicians are facing such extreme work demands and difficult conditions, and in part because many religious services have been suspended. We need to think what might be done to extend help to those at risk for despair." </p><p>Religion might not be a cure-all, but for alleviating symptoms of despair, religious services appear to help. Whether seeking existential guidance or social support, we are social animals. Community matters. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>
Being aware of this issue is a big first step in helping vulnerable communities (such as those struggling with addiction) combat relapse during this pandemic.
- Many mental health and addiction professionals are worried that the lockdown, quarantine and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will cause a surge in relapses of individuals who are struggling with sobriety at this time.
- Stress, loneliness, isolation, boredom and a lack of support for the addiction community are the biggest triggers for relapse right now.
- However, being aware of these triggers and supporting those in your life struggling with addiction through the help of online platforms can be a way to combat relapses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 and addiction: why are relapses more common during a pandemic?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI1NDQ5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTY2NjE5N30.O8-wjlJ6A0gvC6YmmsR_V-vnL62DrgstTMudYLonNZU/img.jpg?width=980" id="2f3ea" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="466760f8bdb0b8bf1ce93ec8c88bddc3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="sad woman thinking COVID-19 addiction relapse potential" />
Stress, declining mental health, lack of community support and boredom can all trigger relapse - being aware of this can help prevent it.
Photo by Monster e on Shutterstock<p><strong>Stress and declining mental health can contribute to relapse potential</strong></p><p><a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Health/lot-struggles-recovering-addicts-coronavirus-creates-challenge-stay/story?id=69914643" target="_blank">Dayry Hulkow</a>, the primary therapist at Arete Recovery Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida explains,<em> "We have already seen relapses happening, moments of crisis, obviously a lot of mental health issues associated with the addiction and all the stresses that are going on in the world right now." </em></p> <p>Hulkow, like many other addiction specialists, fears the pandemic will grow the rate of relapse of those struggling with addictions all around the world. </p> <p><strong>Community supports sobriety, isolation triggers relapse</strong></p><p>The idea that community is a large part (maybe the most important part) of maintaining a sober lifestyle <a href="https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/addiction-recovery-community" target="_self">has been proven</a> - and with many areas of the world on lockdown with orders not to attend gatherings or support groups, the fear of relapse is a well-placed one. </p> <p>Licensed mental health counselor <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/28/americans-addiction-rrelapse-coronavirus" target="_blank">Denny Kolsch</a> explains the issue with lockdown orders and addiction recovery, <em>"The message we are receiving is to stay away from people. Isolate. Don't be around people - and for people that are in recovery, that's a recipe for disaster."</em></p> <p><strong>Boredom and limited access to the outside world can cause negative feelings that often lead to relapse</strong></p><p><em>"Also, there is boredom," </em>explains Hulkow, <em>"having to stay at home with very limited access to the outside world, hobbies, meetings, and employment can be triggering as well." </em></p> <p>Adding to that being quarantined in close-quarters with family members or friends, there could be family disputes or arguments that are also triggering for people who are recovering from addiction. </p><p>Relapses are common throughout the journey to sobriety from drugs and/or alcohol - in fact, Addiction Center states that up to 60% of individuals struggling with addiction will have at least one relapse before reaching sobriety.<br></p> <p>This is especially more likely during a time where people may be isolated at home, feeling anxious by the news or fearful for their health or the health of their loved ones. </p> <p>Family members and friends of loved ones who struggle with addiction should be particularly mindful during stressful times such as a pandemic, as there may be signs that your loved one is struggling and nearing a relapse. </p> <p><strong>Some signs of relapse during a pandemic can include: </strong></p><ul><li>Change in eating or sleeping habits </li><li>Declining hygiene</li><li>Lying or manipulative behavior</li><li>Glamorizing past drug/alcohol use</li><li>Bottling up emotion and/or mood swings that are unpredictable</li><li>Feelings or messages of hopelessness ("I just don't see a point in…") </li></ul>
How to cope with the relapse potential during a pandemic<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI1NDY4Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMDkyNTc3Mn0.1hN-bJSYnetzNBEDcI54_rHyLmjfg1TOpAOG82FKBz0/img.jpg?width=980" id="00571" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c4c15e764ae974720700900b7f2eee24" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of online support group AA/NA meeting during COVID-19 pandemic" />
Online support groups, AA/NA meetings and virtual coffee dates can be a great way to stay in touch with members of the community and support each other during this stressful time.
Photo by Nadia Snopek on Shutterstock<p>The COVID-19 pandemic has raised a lot of problems for the general population, and these problems can be amplified and magnified by at-risk populations such as people struggling with addiction.</p><p>The shock of going through a pandemic can cause confusion, loneliness, panic, stress, and fear - all of which can be triggers for relapse. Adding to that being isolated or quarantined in your home (either by yourself or with others) can bring on boredom, irritation, and feelings of inadequacy, again - all of which can be contributing factors to a relapse. </p> <p><strong>How to cope with addiction during quarantine: </strong></p><ul><li>Alternative self-care methods (meditation, reflection, journaling) can help you find a new perspective and stay in tune with your feelings, which makes it much easier to spot (and prevent) a relapse.</li></ul> <ul><li>Maintain contact with your outside supports for sobriety - attend virtual AA/NA meetings, phone hotlines, or keep in regular contact with your sober friends to support each other. An entrepreneur based in New York City has launched an app called <a href="https://loosidapp.com/" target="_blank">Loosid</a>, which is dedicated to providing hotlines and online services to assist those struggling with addiction during this time. As of April 2020, the app has seen over 60,000 users - the app creator, M.J Gottlieb, tells ABC News that there has been a 93.8% increase in active users during the pandemic. </li></ul> <ul><li>Create a routine for yourself to occupy your mind and body, preventing boredom which can cause overthinking and stressful thoughts. </li></ul> <ul><li>Staying active or creating an exercise schedule in your home can provide you with a rush of feel-good hormones (endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline) that can help your body stay healthy during the quarantine. </li></ul> <p><strong>Awareness is key in preventing a relapse and maintaining positive mental health</strong></p><p>While<a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/social-distancing-math" target="_self"> social distancing</a> and lockdown measures have been put into place for very valid reasons, we simply cannot ignore the massive impact this has on our more vulnerable populations (people struggling with homelessness, addictions, and mental health conditions). The best way to support each other during this difficult time is to use online platforms to stay in contact and reconnect, keeping in mind that this is a very difficult time for some people. </p> <p>Being aware that the loved one in your life who has struggled with addiction in the past may relapse could be key to helping them stay sober. </p>
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen might have discovered a cure.
How Meditation Can Manage Chronic Pain and Stress | Daniel Goleman<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="003f88caa581ddd99ae8bdae9fd40e8e"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yAd-JGbaRp8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>A <a href="https://www.embopress.org/doi/full/10.15252/emmm.201911248" target="_blank">new study</a> at the University of Copenhagen might have uncovered a breakthrough in chronic pain relief. Published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine, researchers achieved complete pain relief in a group of mice by using a compound, Tat-P4-(C5)2, that was produced after a decade of development. </p><p>According to the team, this peptide only targets dysfunctional nerves causing the pain. In previous studies the team discovered it also helps reduce addiction. These two uses are not separate: chronic pain often leads to opioid addiction. By reducing pain, dependency on pain relievers may also be reduced. </p><p>So far, co-author Kenneth L. Madsen, Associate Professor at the Department of Neuroscience in Copenhagen, says there have been no side effects. Pain medicine often results in lethargic states, a condition not observed in the mice. Madsen hopes to turn this discovery into a business model. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Now, our next step is to work towards testing the treatment on people. The goal, for us, is to develop a drug, therefore the plan is to establish a biotech company as soon as possible so we can focus on this."</p>
Oxycodone pain pills prescribed for a patient with chronic pain lie on display on March 23, 2016 in Norwich, CT. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed, in an effort to curb the epidemic.
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images<p>Chronic pain is most often prevalent in the back, muscles, bones, neck, joints, and face. Associated problems include headache, sleeping problems, fatigue, and anxiety. It has been known to last anywhere from weeks to years. Other factors that lead to chronic pain include diabetes and psychological factors, such as anxiety or depression.</p><p>Self-care treatments include regular physical exercise, stress management techniques, and relaxation. A combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, yoga, and meditation can help mitigate chronic pain. Of course, depending on pain location and severity, some of these interventions might not be tenable. </p><p>Besides the above treatments, there are pharmaceutical interventions, such as analgesics and narcotics. The problem, as the researchers note, is the addiction that follows. These drugs do not cure the problem. They only mask symptoms. Long-term side effects sometimes turn out worse than the pain itself. </p><p>Human trials will be next in the development of this peptide. There is always the possibility that it reacts differently in humans. Still, this is a positive step forward that could help millions of people find relief from one of the most frustrating and debilitating conditions known.</p><p> --</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>
The key to raising indistractable kids is to first determine why they're distracted.
- When it comes to the rules and restrictions placed on children, author and Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer Nir Eyal argues that they have a lot in common with another restricted population in society: prisoners. These restrictions have contributed to a generation that overuses and is distracted by technology.
- Self-determination theory, a popular theory of human motivation, says that we all need three things for psychological well-being: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. When we are denied these psychological nutrients, the needs displacement hypothesis says that we look for them elsewhere. For kids today, that means more video games and screen time.
- In order to raise indistractable kids, Eyal says we must first address issues of overscheduling, de-emphasize standardized tests as indicators of competency, and provide them with ample free time so that they can be properly socialized in the real world and not look to technology to fill those voids.
A new study on rats suggests that using marijuana as an adolescent "reprograms the initial behavioral, molecular, and epigenetic response to cocaine."
- In the study, adolescent and adult rats were first given a synthetic cannabinoid and then cocaine.
- The results showed that the young rats' brains were more sensitive to the effects of cocaine, but these effects weren't observed in the adult rats.
- The researchers suggest that research like this can help to develop better treatments for substance abuse disorders.
Fig 1. Cross-sensitization between WIN and cocaine in adolescent rats is associated with histone hyperacetylation in the PFC.
Scherma et al.<p>The results showed that young rats who had been exposed to WIN were more sensitive to the effects of cocaine. This early exposure "reprograms the initial behavioral, molecular, and epigenetic response to cocaine" in young rats. These changes were not observed in adult rats.</p><p>Past research has shown that young rats that have been exposed to cannabinoids become "cross-sensitized" to cocaine, and that cross-sensitization can alter the extent to which rats crave cocaine and experience withdrawal symptoms. </p><p>The new study took a close look at how cannabinoids prime bodily systems for cocaine. </p>