“Black Men In America.com will be more aggressive in our efforts to educate the black community about the risks associated with a variety of cancers and other diseases that disproportionately affect our community. To this end we will use a wide range of resources throughout the health and medical industries.”
Gary A. Johnson, Founder and Publisher
Why Substance Abuse Among Seniors Can Be Devastating (Posted 03-09-17)
Presently, substance abuse among seniors can fall into two large groups. Firstly, the “hardy survivor”, or people who have been abusing substances for many year. Second, the “late onset”, or people who became substance abusers later in life. Regrettably, it most commonly occurs due to misuse of drugs prescribed for chronic health problems.
First and foremost, the reasons why the elderly turn to substance abuse varies. For example, They call one of the most common reasons, “the empty nest“ syndrome. The “empty nest“ refers to the void children leave once they are grown up and have moved out of their parents’ home. As a result, their absence causes a mix of new emotions. Moreover, they try to cope by implementing drugs into their daily life.
In addition, another important issue that surfaces is the issue of age. The fact that none of us is getting any younger scares them. You are no longer in your thirties, the forties, and are coming to realize fifty is a different season. Consequently, it requires a new game plan and a new set of rules. Coping with, and eventually accepting the new reality is a tough pill to swallow. One’s body is changing, and illness and pain become more common between the ages of 55 and 65.
Other reasons why elderly people choose addiction:
- Loss of a partner
- Friends are growing apart
- Loss of financial security
- Life in a nursing home
In any case, the most common vehicle of substance abuse among seniors are alcohol and prescribed medications. In fact, people over the age of 65 use almost 30% of all prescribed drugs in the US. For example, the most common prescription drugs they abuse are sedatives, hypnotics, dietary supplements, and benzodiazepines. Seniors who use those drugs and mix them with alcohol are more likely to visit the hospital due to substance interaction. Another important issue is that they tend to share their medications with friends.
In the same way, alcohol are also a commonly abused substance amongst the elderly. It’s important to note that alcohol can interact with many prescribed drugs and cause serious adverse effects. Furthermore, seniors are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Therefore, they show lower tolerance to this substance. Also, older men are more likely to develop alcohol addiction than women.
Paradoxically, substance abuse of illicit drugs such as heroin among seniors is very rare. It is usually limited to people who have had addiction issues in their youth.
No doubt, along with common dangers of substance abuse, seniors are more vulnerable to the side effects of drugs. Of course, as one ages, the body cannot absorb and metabolize certain drugs so well. Consequently, as these changes occur, it becomes more difficult for one’s body to process medications. Additionally, drug interaction can make it worse and cause serious health issues. Furthermore, alcohol or drug-related injuries are more common amongst seniors. However, more often than not they refuse to ask for help due to shame or pride.
Some of the most common substance abuse signs amongst seniors are:
- Loss of appetite
- Sleeping pattern problems
- Disheveled appearance
- Weight loss
- Memory issues
- Increase of appetite
- Injuries and bruises
- Lack of hygiene
- Distancing from friends and family
- Chronic pain
- Lack of motivation for everyday activities
The first challenge in rehab is to recognize the problem, and not mistake it as dementia or depression.
Usually, the best treatment solutions along with inpatient or outpatient rehab facilities are support groups and counseling. That way, the patient can get peer support and professional help. It is important that when you talk with a senior patient, you should be comforting. Additionally, you should use easy to understand language.
In conclusion, in some cases, substance abuse in the elderly is overlooked and neglected due to their age. Regrettably, ageism is a serious issue that should be remedied. Ultimately, people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicity deserve equal treatment.
Are you looking for good addiction treatment centers for the elderly? Follow this link to learn more about what they have to offer.
For more information visit Addiction Resource.com.
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NAKED AND NOT ASHAMED: LIVING WITH DEPRESSION
By Dr. Salim Bilal-Edwards
I was diagnosed with major depression three years ago. We all experience depression at some point in our lives, for most it is situational due to specific events such as the loss of a job, death of a loved one, or other disappointments. However, for persons with major depression it lingers and is often recurrent. Persons with major depression or what is commonly called clinical depression may have good days and not so good days. A person with clinical/major depression may go a period of time having days, weeks, or even months of good days, but then out of nowhere they fall into a funk without explanation. Often we try to mask our pain and hide in the crowd laughing and joking, and then go home to a dark house which is empty of life. Those of us with major depression are sensitive to others who we see hurting or going through a rough or difficult time. I found myself trying to help people I loved, but was not helping myself and inside my brain and emotions I was going through pure hell. A revelation came to me one day as I was suffering and trying to help a loved one. The revelation was the voice of the flight attendant giving instructions prior to take off. I was reminded of one of the major instructions which is “if the cabin loses pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the area above your seat, put the mask on yourself first before helping the persons around you”. Those may not be the exact words, but you get the picture. I was going through my personal hell called depression trying to help others but neglecting my mental health.
THE EVILNESS OF DEPRESSION
Depression not only affects the person who is suffering, but often impacts those around them. The impact of depression on marriages and families can be devastating. As for me, not seeking help in a timely manner came at a great cost. I languished in mental and emotional agony. I am in private practice as a clinician and relationship/life coach. I would go to work and be on top of my game helping others through their rough patches, but at the end of the day I would go home and suffer in silence. I would attend church Sunday after Sunday being inspired by the Word of God, but that was short-lived as I would fall back into a funk within a day or two. I found myself easily agitated and angry at any and every one. There seemed to be two different people who were diabolically opposed to one another. I was this spiritual God-fearing man who was full of life, sought peace, and had a servant’s heart; then when depression would come upon me I was this angry agitated person who did not want to be bothered with anyone and would stay in the house alone for days at a time. However, my job demanded that I pour into the lives of clients who were coming into my office to seek help with their pain. I had to push myself to provide the best counseling and coaching possible because my oath stated that first and foremost to do no harm. I am a man of integrity, so I put on my game face, went into my office and gave the best counseling and coaching possible. I am quite good at what I do and my clients and other therapist often refer clients to me. I became good at masking my pain, but it was just that a mask.
ON AN ISLAND FEELING ALL ALONE
The hardest part of my depression was wanting help and support from my friends and family and them not being able to provide that support. You see, I had always been the strong one. I had always been the persons who everyone could depend on. So, when I was struggling with depression they didn’t know how to help. They continued to rely on me to help with their issues even though I was suffering with depression they still relied on me for help because that is what I always did “help”. I take full responsibility for allowing family and friends to pull on me because I continued the masquerade as if I was alright when I wasn’t alright. My depression was getting the best of me and I began to cancel sessions with my clients because there were days in which it was difficult to get out of bed. There were days that I was so drained that my entire body ached. After hitting a low point and having more bad days than good days, I reconciled that I needed to seek counseling again. Let’s be clear that every doctor needs a personal doctor, every lawyer needs a personal lawyer, every minister needs to be ministered to, and every clinician and life coach needs a personal clinician and life coach. As the ole saying goes “a person who have himself for a doctor has a fool for a doctor”. I was being a fool for quite some time helping people, but not getting the help I needed.
FIGHTING THE STIGMA
As a clinician, I know full well the stigma in the African American Community attached to counseling which prevents persons from seeking help. While I was not caught up in the stigma, I was acting like Superman and thought I could handle anything. The stigma attached to counseling coupled with the Superman mentality keeps most African American men from seeking counseling. As African American men, some the misconceptions of manhood are major barriers to seeking help. Growing up I can remember hearing that men are not supposed to cry and crying is a form of weakness, men are not supposed to show emotions, men should always be strong and be tough. As a young boy growing up in the inner-city of Washington, D.C. showing any signs of weakness or frailty would subject you to being picked on, bullied, and having your manhood challenged. I believe as young boys grow into adults they carry those misconceptions of manhood which become barriers to seeking counseling.
Major Depression effects more people than we realize and far too many people are unwilling to seek help. Getting help for your depression can prevent you from self-medicating. Yes, self-medicating. Too many people who are suffering with depression, instead of seeking help, turn to substance use, gambling, sex, and other deviant behaviors to mask their pain. For me, I turned to prayer and my spirituality to deal with my depression. I prayed. I attended church and bible study. I studied my Word. I prayed for others and yet God seemed silent. What compounded my depression was that I thought I was doing everything I was supposed to do by having integrity, by being faithful and obedient, by treating others nice even those who were not being nice to me, but I continued to live in this hell called depression. Yes, God is a Healer. Yes, God is a Deliverer. Yes, God is a Counselor. Yes, God is a Provider. However, God created doctors and therapist to be Angels here on earth to help us through our difficult times of depression. I was self-medicating in religion and neglected my mental health by not seeking help.
DON’T PUSH ME CAUSE I’M CLOSE TO THE EDGE:
Many people are pushed deeper into depression by the ones who supposed to love them most. The things that family and friends can say to a person dealing with depression can push a person close to and sadly over the edge. The things that are said such as “just get over it” can be debilitating to a person with depression. If the person dealing with depression could “just get over it” he or she would get over it in a blink of an eye, but it is just not that simple. Some people may have an episode of depression, that only last a few days and then back to some normalcy, whatever normal is, and some episodes of depression can last for weeks or months at a time. Telling the person dealing with depression to “just get over it” does more harm than good. Some of the labels given to persons dealing with depression can also be debilitating. Labeling a person or critiquing their behavior as lazy, attention seeking or simply manipulative is extremely harmful. Imagine Hearing your loved ones saying things like, “you are lazy”, “you just want attention” or “you are a manipulator” , it will hurt the depressed person at their core. Many persons suffering from a depressive episode, are Not Lazy, more likely they are drained. Depression can cause insomnia and the person can go days without getting any more than a few hours of sleep. A person having a depressed episode is not being manipulative and yes they may be seeking attention. They are crying out for help.
KNOWING THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Beloved, depression is a serious issue within our communities. There are too many people who are suffering in silence or crying out for help that is going unnoticed. I am reminded of the late great actor Robin Williams who from an outward view had everything going for him. He had money, a great network of family and friends, an established career, yet he was living a personal hell and didn’t seek help, much to his demise. We need to know the warning signs and symptoms of depression for the mental health of ourselves and those we love. According to the National Institute of Mental Health symptoms of depression may include the following:
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
• Fatigue and decreased energy
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
• Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
• Irritability, restlessness
• Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
• Loss of interest in sexual intercourse (to include sexual dysfunction)
• Overeating or appetite loss
• Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
• Persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings
• Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
BECOMING ONE WITH YOUR DEPRESSION CAN TURN YOUR LIFE UPSIDE DOWN
In hindsight, I realize that I was suffering from depression long before I was clinically diagnosed. I was able to do my every day functions and excelled at work receiving promotions and bonuses; however, I did not pay attention to my irritability, loss of energy, inability to sleep, and loss of sex drive. I meandered through life oblivious to what was going on inside my body and mind because the way I was living became my new normal. In other words, I adapted to my depression and depression became my norm. Getting help for my depression is one of the best things that I could have ever done for myself. I still have good days and not so good days, however, today I have far more good days than bad days. I first had to acknowledge that my life was spinning out of control and accept that I suffer with depression.
I made a conscious decision to seek help and I had to be willing to do whatever it takes to maintain my mental health. I have learned to put the oxygen mask on myself first, I was suffocating and dying with depression, while trying to help and fix everyone around me. Becoming more in tune with my feelings and emotions, allows me to notice when I am about to get into what I call a funk. I refocus, meaning, giving myself positive self-talk such as Salim don’t go there or purposely getting out of the house and engage in an activity or the company of family and friends who are uplifting. I am also mindful to schedule an appointment with my therapist immediately. I am comfortable with’ – ‘admitting’…. I may be in counseling for the rest of my life, if only for periodic check-ins or as I call them tune-ups.
Since I decided to seek counseling I can sing like Dr. Marvin Sapp “I am stronger, I’m wiser, I feel better, so much better”. I never could have made it, without a strong faith in Christ and the help from a therapist.
If you or a loved one is suffering with depression especially if it has been going on for a long period of time or experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in the previous paragraph I suggest you make an appointment with your doctor or therapist to seek help or if you or your loved one has expressed suicidal thoughts or suicidal intentions do not hesitate to call the Suicide Hotline at (1-800-784-2433) or for TTY (1-800-799-4889).
Dr. Bilal-Edwards is an expert in youth development and social issues in an urban environment for men and boys of color. He has spoken in churches, at conferences, and retreats across the country as well as have conducted parent trainings and trainings to educators, social workers, youth workers, community organizations, and law enforcement officials. Dr. Bilal-Edwards specializes in counseling persons with co-occurring disorders and he is a highly respected relationship and life coach.
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Affordable Care Act: Obamacare & Health Reform Facts: http://healthreform.kaiserpermanente.org/
Understanding the Impact of Obamacare on Medicare: http://blog.ehealthmedicare.com/media-center/infographics/?pid=11
What does Marketplace health insurance cover?
Affordable Care Act: State-by-State Impact: http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/bystate/statebystate.html
The Lifestyle Revolutionaries Guide to Addiction Intervention: http://www.lakeviewhealth.com/InterventionGuide.pdf
Are We More Accepting Of Obesity In The Black Community?
By Gary A. Johnson
Americans are getting fatter and fatter by the year. There’s no other way to put it. Health and weight statistics for black Americans is even worse.
According to the publication Health, United States, 2013, 38% of black men in America are considered to be obese compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, overweight or obese is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 pounds or more.
A 2013 study from the American Psychological Association reported that about 60 percent of black women are obese compared to 32 percent white women and 41 percent Latino women.
Carrying around those extra pounds increases the likelihood of developing Type II Diabetes and High Blood Pressure – two diseases that disproportionately affect the black community.
Being overweight also increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, arthritis and certain cancers. In fact, obesity could become more dangerous for your health than smoking cigarettes.
Yet, in the black community, many folks believe or have convinced themselves that being “big boned” is more acceptable. We need to STOP that thinking right now.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you have read about my struggle to lose weight. If you’ve ever visited my Instagram page, most of the pictures are of food that I cooked and then ate. I’m a damn good cook. I suffer for my food.
I am putting myself out there. I am obese and my condition developed as a result of making a serious of poor choices over the past 20 years. I went from weighing 195 lbs to my current weight of 310 lbs.
At one point I was carrying 324 lbs on this 6′ 4″ frame. Fortunately for me, my body has been good to me. I never smoked, used alcohol or drugs and I don’t drink sodas. My weakness is food. I am an emotional eater and I love to cook and eat.
Here I am “walking the trail” on top of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge at National Harbor on the DC side.
Lately, I’ve been able to reverse some of these negative health effects. Two years ago I gave up sugary fruit juice drinks. I drink mostly water, green smoothies or a combination of Braggs Organic Vinegar and water. If I drink tea, I don’t use sugar. I will start my day with low-sodium vegetable juice in place of Orange juice. These simple choices have made a difference in my health. My last blood pressure reading was 116/78. Not bad for a 300+ pound guy. I started exercising (cycling, walking and weights) consistently and stopped eating at fast food restaurants. I also started buying healthier and organic foods. This costs more but I think it’s worth it.
Make no mistake. I have a long way to go and need support. I have lost over 30 lbs 4 times over the last 15 years. The difference this time is that I am doing it sensibly (slow and steady). No fad or crash diets. Is it easy? No! Is it worth the pain and effort? Yes!
“Many African-American women view being obese as part of their culture,” says Thaddeus Bell, M.D., a family practitioner in South Carolina, in an online interview for icyou.com. It is understood within the African-American community that curvy, overweight women are considered more appealing to black men than normal- or under-weight women. There is almost a reverse distortion of body image – with thicker women fighting weight-loss and slender women wanting to gain weight in order to be accepted.
This may account for the staggering statistic that 4 out of 5 African-American women are overweight or obese. It is even more alarming that some of these women are making a choice to live at an unhealthy weight. African-American women of all ages report less exercise than their white counterparts. “Many of them feel that it’s not feminine or they’re afraid to sweat because it will ruin their hairstyle,” adds Dr. Bell.
Other hindrances include not having child care, not having enough time to be physically active, and not feeling safe being active in their neighborhoods.
African-American men aren’t off the hook either. African-American men also exercise less than white women, and have the highest prevalence of obesity among all male ethnic groups.
However, African-American men are more active than their female counterparts, which may be the reason that only 28.8 percent are obese, compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women.
There is an interesting video called “Dealing with Obesity in the Black Community” on YouTube by Walter Lee Hampton II. This is a no non-sense video about exercise, eating and living a healthier life. I would also recommend reading “Obesity and the Black American: Causes, Culture, Consequences, and Costs.”
Don’t Lose The War Of The Mouth
Dr. Fredrick D. Clark is not your average dentist. Dr. Clark is an “Oral Physician” and dental child care advocate who is on a mission. According to Dr. Clark, dental care cannot be relegated to the “out of sight, out of mind” category if one wishes to retain their teeth.
One of the primary reasons many of us do not get dental care is a lack of perceived need. Unfortunately the need may be present in spite of the absence of pain or apparent symptoms. Don’t loose the daily battles out of fear or apprehension, neglect or thinking that you know everything about your own teeth; you don’t. Only your dentist knows for sure. Don’t loose the war of the mouth.
Dr. Clark sat down with me for an impromptu exclusive video interview about preventive dental care. Please watch the video below and forward it to all of your friends and family.
For more information on Dr. Clark click here to visit his YouTube channel. Dr. Clark testified before Congress in 2007: http://reform.democrats.house.gov/documents/20070516164114.pdf. His first article on our blog is called “The War of the Mouth.”
By Fredrick D. Clark, D.D.S.
The battle is engaged. The combatants are tiny, but the war will be waged for decades. Unfortunately, it is a war, which will have many casualties. This is the war of the mouth. The enemy is PLAQUE, a colony or groups of numerous bacteria that live in the oral cavity. They are the culprits behind the many problems we experience with our mouths over the years. The battle begins with the eruption of the first tooth.
Plaque begins to attack the teeth and gums in our infancy and continues throughout childhood, teen years, adulthood and old age. We cannot see the enemy (plaque) until an appreciable amount builds up on the teeth and even then, it appears benign.
It does not hurt, in fact may even be unnoticeable, but it can lead to horrific consequences if left unchecked. Bad breath (halitosis), tooth decay (cavities), gingivitis (gum swelling, bleeding), periodontal disease (destruction of gum and bone) which causes tooth loss; all of these conditions are caused by the presence of plaque.
The teeth are just one part of a larger system, which includes the teeth and its supporting structures, the gums, the jawbones and the periodontal ligaments, (which hold the teeth to the bone). Collectively; this system is called the PERIODONTIUM.
Thus, all of the above mentioned conditions are diseases of the periodontium. The war I speak of is relentless and many of us lose the daily battles because it goes on painlessly. By the time one complains of a toothache, the damage is sometimes too extensive to save the tooth. Most people are familiar with cavities because they start at an early age in most children. There are a few things we can do to prevent cavities such as adequate brushing, daily flossing and most importantly, professional dental cleanings and checkups. This is a two-fold approach of (1), home care and (2), help from your Dental Professional in early detection and treatment.
I like to relate cavities to a concept most can understand; a cavity is like a cancer growing in which if left untreated will get larger and eventually destroy the tooth. Not only can it get larger but can cause immense pain, jaw swelling, abscesses, pus formation; and, the longer you wait the worse it gets. The results of many years of neglect is what causes people to require expensive dental care such as root canals, caps or crowns, extractions and dentures. Before it is too late, schedule an appointment with your dental professional; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Learn how to win the battle of the mouth. You can keep your teeth for a lifetime; the key to keeping your teeth is early detection and treatment long before the problem becomes painful.
Dental care cannot be relegated to the out of sight, out of mind category if one wishes to retain their teeth. One of the primary reasons many of us do not get dental care is a lack of perceived need. Unfortunately the need may be present in spite of the absence of pain or apparent symptoms. Don’t lose the daily battles out of fear or apprehension, neglect or thinking that you know everything about your own teeth; you don’t. Only your Dentist knows for sure. Don’t loose the war of the mouth.
5 Things Young African-American Women Can Do To Cope with Breast Cancer
Learning that you have breast cancer can be one of the most shocking and life altering moments of your entire life. The initial diagnosis can bring on feelings of not only worry, but life’s fragility. The idea of time being precious no longer seems like something that you just say in passing when talking to friends. Your time really does become precious and your sense of purpose kicks into over drive. Breast cancer is affecting more young African-American women each year and the ages continue to get younger and younger. But the diagnosis, the treatment, and the recovery do not have to be a grim experience. Yes, it’s extremely hard and will probably be the hardest thing you will ever have to go through in your life. Questions may arise such as: how did this happen to me? Why me? And what am I going to do now? I had all of these same questions after all, I was only 31 years old, African-American, and in good health. These are all common concerns among women who have been diagnosed with this disease, but more important than the initial shock and the treatment and even surgery is the mental state of the woman after she learns that she has the disease. For every woman who has just learned that she has breast cancer and for every woman who knows another who has been diagnosed there are five rules that we must all follow in order to ensure that our lives and the lives of our loved ones will be fulfilled while we take this journey.
1) Focus on getting better. Spend very little time thinking about the disease itself, rather, spend time thinking about your life after you get better. I had a nurse to admit to me that people get sicker when they spend too much time in the hospital worrying about their illness.
2) Avoid morbid, pessimistic people. Even people who you love and who love you can become a drain on your spirit when they spend too much time treating you like your diagnosis is an automatic death sentence. Many people recover from cancer and go on to lead happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
3) Change your diet. Don’t accept any of the soda, sweets, and other junk foods offered to you at your cancer treatment center or anywhere else. A low/no dairy, low/no sugar, no alcohol, and junk free diet helps your body to fight against the tumor while you are going through conventional treatments. Drink plenty of water, eat extra servings of fresh vegetables, and add extra fiber to your diet to cleanse your body.
4) Keep doing what you. The initial diagnosis will be a serious blow and the chemotherapy treatments and surgery will knock you off your feet for a while, but keep your eyes on the prize. Staying focused on your family life (esp. your children) helps you to maintain a positive and healthy mental state. A positive and healthy mental state also helps your body to fight against the cancer and to recuperate from the toxicity of chemotherapy. The entire time that I have been going through treatments, I have been a single mother, a sociology student, a freelance writer and author, and a small business owner. I never missed a beat (except the days when I was ill from the chemo) because I chose to continue living and thriving.
5) Pray, meditate, chant, or whatever it is that you do. Your mind needs to be cleansed when going through a battle with breast cancer. Your spirit should always be nurtured so that you may receive divine guidance. Spend little time sobbing in prayer and more time focused on what you want your outcome to be. Love yourself, visualize your body healing, and trust that things will work out as they should.
As a breast cancer patient and self-proclaimed ‘survivor’ of the disease, I know all too well what a woman goes through after she gets that call from the doctor’s office. Some women choose to immediately join support groups and notify their family members. There are other women who decide that the best way to deal with the disease and the forthcoming recovery, is to cope in solitude and in silence. I was one of those women. As a breast cancer patient enduring the most toxic of chemotherapy treatments in conjunction with a few naturopathic treatments, I have learned that my immediate state of mind and well-being contribute greatly to the way that my body has responded to the treatments and how well I am doing physically while on the road to recovery. Throughout this transition I came up with five ways to cope with the disease so that may have the best outcome while on the road to recovery.
About The Author
Zekita Tucker is freelance writer and the author of ‘Your Story Book One.’ Her articles have been published by many national and international publications and she has been featured by ABC World News and the Roland S. Martin radio show. To learn more please visit www.zeniampublications.com.
Here are some helpful links to learn more about breast cancer and breast cancer prevention.
We recommend that you check out the website Healthyblackmen.org which is an online health and lifestyle resource for black men. Their mission is to increase health awareness and overall health literacy to help inform health decisions for black men everywhere.