Addiction, Healthcare, Mental Health, Veterans

#MentalHealth and #Alcohol

President Trump selects Jake Leinenkugel to lead VA commission focused on Veterans’ mental health treatment

[Well that nice but did you know – In cases where a person has a genetic predisposition to alcohol, underlying emotional or psychological issues can easily become a driving force behind excess alcohol consumption. While drinkers may not start out with a full-blown psychological disorder, alcohol’s effects on the brain can cause psychological dysfunction to develop. Unfortunately, mental illness caused by alcohol abuse is a common occurrence. According to the Medical University of South Carolina, nearly 40 percent of alcoholics suffer from one or more psychological disorders.]

Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that President Donald J. Trump has selected former VA White House Senior Advisor Thomas “Jake” Leinenkugel to lead a key commission focused on the department’s mental health care programs.

“Jake is a veteran; two of his children are veterans. He certainly knows first hand the challenges and opportunities men and women who leave the military face,” Dick Leinenkugel said Monday. “This will allow him to impact the policies that will impact veterans.”

“Jake has been an ambassador for change at VA, working to implement President Trump’s policies throughout the department over the past year and a half,” said Acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke. “As leader of this important new commission, Jake will continue to advocate for better care and services for his fellow Veterans.”

At VA, Leinenkugel has been instrumental in the creation of the department’s “ChooseVA” branding campaign and the implementation of November’s National Veterans and Military Families Month. He has also worked to promote VA’s efforts to reduce Veteran suicides.

Lastly – Leinenkugel’s #brewery in Chippewa Falls was built over natural springs in 1867 but now uses about 70 million gallons of water a year from the city. In the past eight years, the brewery has spent more than $12 million on improvements that, said Jake Leinenkugel, the brewery’s president. The company is also donating $500,000 to help preserve wetlands in Chippewa County.

That’s right the man overseeing the Mental Health of #Veterans owns a brewery!

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Addiction, Reading, The Bus

Why Am I On The Bus

I had decided to turn my life around after using drugs for many years and decided I would really give it my best shot after the other 2 times didn’t work.  So here I am leaving the rehab facility and I’m on the bus traveling downtown and the bus stops to pick up a traveler. A young black girl gets on the bus and she has these long braid extensions in her hair and she’s very loud!  I used to be very loud or, so everyone always made it a point to let me know how loud I was – and I’m still loud today when I’m passionate about some topic or when I’m not.

Any who, I find myself unable to stop watching this young lady and listening to her rant and rave about an incident with her son.  She goes on and on with no regard for the other passengers on the bus.  Just yelling and screaming and it occurs to me I can’t see who she’s talking to or if she is even talking to anyone on the bus.  Well it would appear she is not talking to anyone or maybe no one is listening.  The most puzzling thing that happens next is she get off the bus at the very next stop – I mean one block away!  I said to myself, geese she could have walked that distance and save us from hearing her rantings about her son.  Yea! she’s gone and off we go to our next stop – the drama some folk have with them!

At the next block the bus makes a loud machine-like noise and my first thought is, oh no the bus is breaking down, I don’t feel like walking or waiting for another bus.  Much to my surprise the bus has a hydraulic system that allows the driver to lower the front end and allow the steps to convert into a ramp.  In my infinite wisdom I had no idea this could happen – well I had not been a regular bus rider since I was in high school – scratch that since junior high.  I was not aware of what was going on with the bus until I saw someone enter the bus on a wheel chair with a little boy.  I thought to myself wow – technology sure has changed.  You see when someone is on drugs their world becomes composed of about a 4-block radius.  The place to purchase the drugs and the place to use the drugs – anything else that goes on in the world is of no or little importance.

The woman in the wheel was an older black woman and she had a look on her face that caused me to stare.  I found myself unable to turn away from her face –  much like I did with the screamer.  Something about this woman drew me to her.  At first I had no idea why, I’ve seen many folk in wheel chairs before and have felt sad, disconnected or have had great empathy for them.  This day, this day is very different.  As I continued to try to assess why I was so engaged with her I noticed something amazing.  I looked at her and I thought  based on her face alone, this woman was not born with this affliction, this was something that happened to her somewhere along her own “bus ride”  whatever it was, however it happened it was well with her soul.

The odd thing that happened next was we traveled to the very next stop and she too like the loud girl got off the bus immediately. I’m thinking what is this, The One Block Bus Tour?  Don’t these folk know I’m trying to get home, it’s a lovely day, it’s Friday and I have things to do,  folk are getting on and getting off the bus when they could have ridden or walked one block!  Why didn’t they walk or ride the one block?

I’ll tell you why, remember how the first young lady reminded me of myself just before I decided to turn my life around – loud and saying nothing of any relevance.  The second lady – was a vision of what God had shielded me from in my active addiction.

One evening, I was at a friend’s  house and folk were playing poker after the poker games were over I collected the “house” money (money for each game of poker played) which was mine to keep.  I was ready to go and do that which I had become accustomed to doing – use drugs!  My friend was very opposed to this idea, he was so angry that since his tone was not a deterrent to my desires –  he thought he would reach in the nightstand  and take out the gun and shoot at me.  I suppose he thought that would deter me – no not really,  I am a former Marine, if you can’t aim don’t shoot was my motto.   That  coupled with forces I was unfamiliar with at the time – I felt I had to go, in the works of Frears, S. (Director). (1988). Dangerous Liaisons [Film]. USA,It is beyond my control” is what addiction feels like.  At that point in my life nothing short of death was going to sway, hinder, deter or stop me from achieving my goal.

…meanwhile back on the bus, I thought to myself – God has just showed me how much He loves me even in the muck and mire. I was so very glad I had to opportunity to get on that bus to get a mirror image of me before and after if I had chosen to stay on that dangerous path a – Bus to No Where

 

King James Bible
Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addiction, Mental Health

#Cellphone #Addiction

But smartphones can also foster anxiety and undermine performance. Even hearing one ring or vibrate, produces a welter of distractions that makes it harder to concentrate on a difficult problem or job. The division of attention impedes reasoning and performance. One study found that when a person isn’t able to answer a ring or vibration, blood pressure spikes, the pulse quickens, and problem-solving skills decline.

The evidence that our phones can get inside our heads so forcefully is unsettling a lot like drug addiction. Smartphones have become so entangled with our existence that, even when we’re not peering or pawing at them, they tug at our attention – much like drugs when one is not using them they are thinking of ways and means to get them, diverting precious cognitive resources. Just suppressing the desire to check our phone, which we do routinely and subconsciously throughout the day, can debilitate our thinking.

Nearly all drugs, directly or indirectly, target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that control movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The overstimulation of this system, which normally responds to natural behaviors that are linked to survival (eating, spending time with loved ones, etc), produces euphoric effects in response to the drugs. This reaction sets in motion a pattern that “teaches” people to repeat the behavior of abusing drugs.

As a person continues to abuse drugs, the brain adapts to the dopamine surges by producing less dopamine or reducing dopamine receptors. The user must therefore keep abusing drugs to bring his or her dopamine function back to ”normal” or use more drugs in an effort to try to achieve a dopamine high.

cell phone addiction

Entertainment, Reading, Spirituality

A Definitive Look at Winning the Lotto – A Matter of Life or Death

Gambling

A dollar and a dream, that all it takes to be a winner at Lotto a game of chance where everyone wants to be a winner. With phrases like, “You Gotta be in to Win it” and “All it Takes Is a Dollar and a Dream” seem to echo in the hallways of chance catapulting one to dash off to the local convenience store and purchase 10 or 25 tickets when the pot increases. Time and time again we watch the local news as they repeat  those “winning lotto stories” thus turning up the volume of the opportunity to become a millionaire. What if your life or loss of life was the “give-away”? What would you choose, would you play, what would be the driving force behind your decision? The answer to these questions may not be so easy to make based on many factors or perhaps just one.

The lottery has been around since about 1965. In fact lotteries were illegal until 1964 according to the NGISC (National Gambling Impact Study Commission). Seems like those things that are for one reason or another deemed under the header as may not be good for human consumption are the things  certain populations of folk will fight tooth and nail for.  Alcohol, marijuana, gaming, and even abortion to name a few were labeled as illegal activities. Come with me as we take a walk down the avenue of winners and losers.

Alcohol – The Prohibition Amendment was adopted in the 1920s allowing the making and selling of alcoholic beverages illegal. However the Eighteenth Amendment of U.S. Constitution established that only certain intoxicating liquors were prohibited, so for instance the medical field and some religious groups could participate in consumption as long as the intent was not to “intoxicate” oneself. The Volstead Act further went on to define “intoxicating” and briefly state the Act provided three definitions: (1) to prohibit intoxicating beverages, (2) to regulate the manufacture, sale, or transport of intoxicating liquor (but not consumption), and (3) to ensure an ample supply of alcohol and promote its use in scientific research and in the development of fuel, dye and other lawful industries and practices, such as religious rituals.

Cannabis – In the 1600’s colonists were ordered to grow hemp for export and even George Washington grew his own batch of Marijuana. As in the “natural” course of things, pun intended, someone somewhere figured out that smoking it much like the consumption of alcohol provided a sense of well-being. There you have it in 2012 the smoking of marijuana purely for enjoyment was legalized in the state of Washington.

Abortion – A topic with grave proportions hit the circuit in Roe v. Wade. In 1973 the court ruled 7 – 2 that women had the right to abort a pregnancy, governed by the length of gestation, if she so desired. One little case that is rarely mention is the case of Doe v. Bolton where the state of Georgia would only allow abortions under the following conditions: (1) injury to the mother; (2) in rape cases; and (3) presumed deformity of the fetus. This topic continues to be a struggle today in deciding when life begins under the extreme headers of Life vs. Murder.

Gaming – Last but not least the highs and lows of “trooping” with the “Big Dawgs” a more commonly known phrase used by some young folk in urban neighborhoods. In this area the art of winning is defined as luck, chance, opportunity, a “feeling”. I’ve  watched some individuals play the gambling machines at the local casino and to my extreme surprise I have witnessed people (in hopes of manipulating “luck”) wiping the gambling screen, or attempting to calculate the number “wins” based on the amount of money used on each pull of the handle.  For example on the dollar machine with a max bet of $10 they would play $1 for 5 pulls of the handle and on the 6h pull increase their bet to the maximum $10 dollars.  I ask the question then what is luck and what is the driving force to achieve luck and can it be achieved and or manipulated?

According to Merriam-Webster, luck is defined as , “a force that brings good fortune or adversity”.  Adversity! What is this! I proclaimed. When I think of luck it has always been associated with  good fortune, and then I remembered – ahhh yes as the artist Harold Melvin states in his song Bad Luck written by himself and the Blue Notes the singer talks about bad luck may feel like the lyrics state, “…Played a number `cause that number’s hot stuff,  But the bookies get you for every cent you’ve got, Walk around in a daze with your pockets bare, Go to see your woman and she ain’t even there.”   Very descriptive of someone who has made a decision to gamble for what ever reason and now that’s he has spent all his money he goes to see his woman and she’s gone.  Geeze sounds like if you make a not so good decision everything subsequent goes awry.   Why would some folk make a decision to gamble, life stressors, i.e. a broken heart the possibility of foreclosure on a home or even watching your car roll backwards down a cliff just when the bank has demanded the return of the vehicle due to non-payment. These and other scenarios can be the catalyst for playing the lotto or gambling on the machines in the casino in hopes that the “luck” will change. Not to mention the players that have won and won exceptionally large amounts of cash in lottery drawings could make one believe they too can be a millionaire.

For example in Pennsylvania there was a winner of $250,000 in their Mega Millions ® Jackpot sales. The mere thought of receiving a quarter of million dollars for purchasing a PA Lottery Daily Number ticket coupled with paying off ones debt could surely be enough incentive to think that one’s “bad luck” will be changed in an instant. In CT and PA there are two chances to win on the same day. For example in Pennsylvania there is the opportunity to win the PA Lottery Daily Number in both the afternoon and again in the evening Yet in CT one would have to play twice to win either in the morning or in the afternoon.  I suspect that with even that small increase in the chances of winning from once a day to twice a day not only produce increase sales for the state  lottery – then why do schools not have enough books and supplies?  In the State of CT in 2012 the President and CEO of the CT Lottery indicated that not only did they celebrate multiple years of success but that they raised $7.2 billion dollars for programs such as education and public health again I ask why are teachers spending their own funds on supplies?

Is it possible that the forces that drive one to play lotto can have severe consequences? Absolutely, if this is indeed a game of chance then all attributes of chance become optional. There was a moment in time where if you were “chosen” the prize would be the life of your child. That’s right, in the book of Exodus in the Bible the writer tells of a story where God released a plague that would kill the first born of Egypt from the Pharaoh’s son to the first born of the cattle. It would appear that “luck” was not on the side of the Hebrews unless they envoked the power of the blood and brushed in on their front door, again what’s luck got to do with it?  Again I ask what is it to have “luck” and what is the driving force of luck just how does it work? In my summation “luck” would be a combination of everything about a person, their desire to seek great things without doing much work.

 

Good luck in all your endeavors or not.

 

REFERENCES

King James Bible – http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org
Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission http://aglc.ca/gaming
National Gambling Impact Study http://govinfo.library.unt.edu
National Archives – http://www.archives.gov
Merriam Webster – http://www.merriam-webster.com
You Tube – http://youtu.be/AzZRQHjvx-A
Pennsylvania Lottery – http://www.palottery.com
Connecticut Lottery – http://www.ctlottery.org

 

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