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Ice and Other Drug Related Illness

INSHAPE NEWS MIND MATTERS

Dr Kelly Baez – Licensed Counsellor and Psychology PhD

The common theme in most addictions is not addiction to the drug but the addiction to the quick result.  This addiction to this quick fix is a direct result of emotional stamina — or lack thereof.  Simply put, we can’t hang with difficult emotions and situations.  Ice has a wide net of attraction because of it’s many perceived “benefits” that are valued in our culture.  Yes, you can lose weight while taking Ice.  Yes, you can have increased alertness, and elevated mood.  The problem with addiction is that it’s it’s chronic, progressive, and ultimately fatal. There’s no “off switch” when it comes to drug use, much as it would be convenient.

So how do we treat addiction before it starts? (This also helps if you are trying to get clean).

  1. Develop emotional resiliency.  Having a bad day/week/year?  It’s okay to stay with that feeling.  Feeling sad and lonely is not failure, it’s an experience like any other and you are tougher for sticking with it for awhile.  Acknowledge your feeling without judgement and look for opportunities to move forward.
  1. Care for your body and your mind will follow.  Need a mood booster?  Try exercising instead of a chemical pick me up.  You’d be amazed by the benefit of daily exercise (and no, you don’t need to be a fitness junkie to cut out the need for drugs.  Just 10 minutes of daily exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression, and 30 minutes will help with anxiety!
  1. Want to feel trim, fit, and sexy as hell?  There’s an app for that–actually there are a ton of apps for that in the diet/fitness category.  Whenever you remove one behavior, you have to replace it with another.  Apps like myfitness pal can give you the stability, feedback, and reassurance that you are on the right track in a healthy, satisfying way.

Drugs like Ice are false friends who can easily get out of control.  I recommend simplifying and getting totally into the one person you can rely on–yourself.  A lifestyle change to healthy addictions is your ticket to long term success.

Dr Kelly BaezDr. Kelly Baez, is a Licensed Professional Counsellor with a PhD in Psychology. In her 10+ years in practice, she has been a trauma counsellor, crisis counselor, and addiction counsellor. Currently, she is the founder of FitShrink and serves as a weight loss consultant for people who have tried everything to lose weight but feel stuck.

Through her supportive, information-packed blog posts, on-demand classes, and 1-on-1 coaching, she’s here to show you how to implement a healthy lifestyle change — while making it feel insightful, empowering, and sassy.

And when she’s not FitShrink-ing, you can find her running with her dog, watching her husband play polo, and being an all-in mommy.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/fitshrink

Deborah Stevens – ACA Level 3 Counsellor (BS, MASS)

There seems to be a dearth of information in journals, from the national drug strategy and studies in relation to substance abuse and mental health. Education and community awareness has further added to informing about using substances and how they affect mental health. However, drug use and mental health related issues appear to be on the increase, rather than the other way around.

So how can we deal with Ice and other drug related mental health issues?

According to a fact sheet distributed by the Australian Drug Foundation on drug and alcohol use, comorbidity in drug use and mental health has been researched extensively in the last decade. In most instances, it was determined that people within the population who are dependent on illicit drugs and alcohol are twice as likely to experience some form of mood disorder or mental illness. As those who are in this situation tend to self-medicate to cope with their illness. This, in turn, makes it is difficult to then establish the cause of the person’s symptoms, so that they can be diagnosed and treated.

Common Problems Associated with Ice Use

Mental health problems that most often occur with drug misuse are depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In my experience and observation of young people that I have worked with, especially young men, because of early diagnosis of ADD/ADHA, ODD, CD and schizophrenia, once they reached puberty the prescription medications, in their opinion, did not work. So they began self-medicating with cannabis or speed, to feel normal and be able to keep on task. However, their relationships became strained and they fell through the cracks in the system. Some of the young men ended-up doing crimes that placed them in the prison system, others tried rehabilitation, but failed to complete the course, and others have gone on to use more sever illicit drugs like Ice, with them selling the product to pay for their own habit.

Dealing with Ice and Drug Use

Dealing with Ice and other illicit drugs mental health issues is like dealing with any other form of relationship, it takes two to find a solution, and it takes hard work. Those working in mental health need time to work with patients long-term, and those coming for treatment need to know why they want treatment. They also need to be ready to make the changes in their lifestyle, habits and beliefs in order to complete treatment successfully.

Of course, there is never a guarantee that a person will not relapse during or even after treatment, but if health professionals, mental health practitioners and families are able to support those with issues, it could slow the possibility of relapse. Ideally, getting the drugs off the streets is a solution, as is continued anti-drug campaigns, but what about those who use prescription medications? Now that is another whole article…

DeborahDeborah Stevens is a registered (ACA Level 3), qualified counsellor in private practice. She has a diploma in applied science counselling, a Bachelor Science (Psychology) and a Master of applied social science counselling. Deborah is an ACA supervisor and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. She has recently published a children’s book ‘I Am Wren’ about a young boy with Asperger. Her work includes use of creative therapeutic approaches, as well as traditional theories. Deborah works with all ages and provides Employment Assistance Programs and career coaching. You can follow her on Facebook at BeeCon Counselling or contact her via email: beecon@optusnet.com.au.

Zoe Markopoulos -Psychologist (MAPS, CEDP)

What is Ice?

Ice is crystal methamphetamine that is also known as crystal meth, crystal and glass. Ice belongs to the stimulant class of drugs, and is more potent and likely to cause addiction than all other forms of methamphetamine. The number of users in Australia continues to grow, with evidence suggesting there are well over 200,000 users.

What are the Effects (Risks) of Ice Use?

Ice use is associated with a range of physical and mental health risks. It affects everyone differently, not every user will experience the same effects. Some common short-term effects include rapid heart rate, increased alertness, excitability and confidence. Later, as the user comes down the effects may include exhaustion, tension and depression. The insidious nature of Ice and the unpredictable behaviour of Ice users often result in violence directed towards paramedics, and family and friends. Long-term use can result in poor dental health, reduced immunity (from not eating and sleeping well), and heart and kidney problems. Ice use can also cause psychosis with paranoid delusions and hallucinations.

Addressing Ice Use

Considering appropriate treatment and help for Ice users and their families can be difficult, as ice use is a complex problem. Treatment services including detoxification, counselling, rehabilitation and follow-up services can be effective, however treatment and support systems are not particularly well-designed to respond to ice use. For example, some detoxification services do not accommodate well for the come down associated with stimulants.

In December 2015, the Australian Government released the Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce providing recommendations across five areas of priority that include:

  1. Support families, community and frontline workers
  2. Target prevention
  3. Tailor services and support
  4. Strengthen law enforcement
  5. Improve governance and build better evidence

Experts advise addressing Ice requires an organised, early intervention and treatment approach that incorporates brief intervention (e.g. harm reduction), withdrawal and detoxification, residential rehabilitation and proven psychological intervention (e.g. cognitive behaviour therapy).

Image - Z MarkopoulosIn her professional practice, Zoe Markopoulos applies her psychological and educational expertise in the effective delivery of psychology services to children and families. She recognises the importance of fostering resilience and addressing the social, emotional and educational needs of students. Zoe predominately aligns her work with the principles and techniques of cognitive behaviour therapy, positive psychology and mindfulness. A significant part of her work involves psychological counselling and assessment, developing and implementing evidence-based programs, and consultation. Zoe is also interested in self-care activities to help maintain physical, mental and emotional health.

Zoe has contributed to academic publications focused on coping, bullying, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, children and families. She is a member of the Australian Psychologist Society and is regularly involved with the College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists (Victoria), as a committee member. Zoe is currently completing the Psychology Board of Australia Registrar Program in Educational and Developmental Psychology.

Jaime Parnell – Clinical Psychologist

Addictions slowly creep into a person’s life, their physical health deteriorates, their ability to make good choices declines, their finances are strained, work-life becomes tense, sleep patterns and moods become erratic, their thoughts may become paranoid, or disjointed, or they may simply be living in denial of these impacts. But Ice doesn’t just affect an individual, it also has a lasting impact on those who love them the most; parents, close friends, partners and colleagues. Everyone suffers.

Recovery from Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Drug and alcohol addictions have high co-morbidity rates with other mental health disorders, and providing an intervention often requires a good assessment and a team approach. The bio-psychological model suggests that although medical interventions are helpful, psychological and social supports are essential for a person to recover on their journey of wellness. Treatment options include residential care treatment facilities, safe detoxification facilities, individualised psychological support, group therapy sessions, and workshops. Each new day holds many learning opportunities and psychological support can help to create a safe-space to identify triggers, unhelpful thinking styles and core beliefs, along with the learning and practicing of stress management techniques and identifying goals. During the sessions, a clear plan can be created to manage high-risk situations, as well as identify support people who can help in these situations.

Why Professional Treatment is Needed

Professional treatment and support is necessary for not only the person affected by addiction, but also for their chosen support people and those close to them. The road to recovery will be bumpy, the road may feel like an uphill battle with no end, but with professional support, some of the load is shared. Families watch their loved ones return from a state-of-loss to having control over their lives; from being on the bottom with no way out, to having options and choices in life; from a person they felt was a stranger to a person who has returned with familiarity. If you are providing support, it is essential to have somebody to help support you during this time, and that they provide psycho-education on addictions, the cycle of change, and relapse plans so that you can understand the impacts on your loved one.

Where to Seek Help

It is important to access services for your own well-being and to liaise with your loved one’s health professionals. There are many Government and non-Government organisations that are funded to provide support for individuals and their families. Please make contact with the closest agency in your area for more information.

Jaime ParnellJaime Parnell has a Masters in Clinical Psychology and has a strong interest in working with anxiety and difficult behaviours in children, adolescents and young adults. Having previously worked with children who have suffered trauma; and with an extensive history in working with children and teenagers with difficult behaviours, Jaime provides assessment, individual and group counselling tailored to individual needs.

Located in the Central Queensland region, Jaime is particularly involved in working with clients who have complex presentations, and offers several outreach services, and skype consultations for the regional area. Jaime’s skills lie in providing a thorough assessment and being able to tailor interventions in a way that is solution focused. Jaime encourages using feedback informed services with clients to ensure that services are meeting clients’ needs. Jaime uses technology in her sessions and has recently released two apps — 30 days of gratitude, an app to appreciate the world around you, and Jacob the Frog, a guided breathing app for managing stress, worry and anxiety. Both, of which can be downloaded from the iTunes store.

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Debbie Hopper – Registered Occupational Therapist

Ice is a stimulant drug, a type of methamphetamine, that is stronger and more addictive than speed. The issues surrounding Ice and Meth use generally focuses around the risks, side-effects, addiction overdose and long-term side effects of its use.

Children and Ice Use

However, the effects of parenting Ice and Meth-exposed babies and children and the effects on their development are not so often reported. Infants exposed to Ice and Meth in-utero are often born prematurely, have low birth weight, experience feeding problems and are often over or under-sensitive to stimulation.

As an Ice or meth-exposed child grows into a pre-schooler, there may be signs of sensory processing difficulties which may be noticed as difficulties with learning, concentration or behaviour. These children may be over-sensitive to touch, find it difficult to accept cuddles or hugs, not like touching some textures or walking on different surfaces, such as grass or sand. These children may also be oversensitive to light and cry or ‘meltdown’ if the sun is too bright or the curtains are opened.

Sensory Processing Difficulties

Children with sensory processing difficulties can also appear to have bad ‘behaviour’ but it could just be more of a ‘meltdown’ than a tantrum. A meltdown occurs when the child’s nervous system is over-whelmed. For example a child who is over-whelmed in a supermarket by the bright lights, noise and visual over-stimulation may appear to be throwing a tantrum, but it may be that their nervous system is overloaded and they have moved into the ‘fight or flight’ stress response.

Sensitivity 

If a child is under-sensitive, they may react in different ways. They might seek out movement and appear to have ADHD-type symptoms. Or, if a child is under-responsive, they may find it hard to get going in the day, they may struggle with concentration or attention and appear to zone-out in class. They may appear to be “lazy” as they struggle to get going, but it may be because their nervous system is struggling.

How to Help an Ice Exposed Child

If a child has been exposed to Ice or Meth in-utero, and behavioural issues are surfacing, be a detective and notice trends of when and where the behaviour is surfacing. Look for traits such as the child holding their hands over their ears as if it’s too loud, or having a meltdown when they are out and about where there are lots of people.

It’s also really important to identify and address sensory processing issues in these children, as more research is emerging which focuses on answering the question, “Which comes first, anxiety or sensory processing issues with Ice use?” By addressing sensory processing issues early in Ice-exposed children, we can get help to them early-on to reduce the effect of possible anxiety and mental health issues as they move towards adolescence.

DebbieDeb Hopper is an Occupational Therapist, Amazon No. 1 Best Selling Author, and a Special Needs TV reporter, as well as a workshop and keynote presenter.

Deb is passionate about empowering parents and educators to understand the underlying reasons of why children struggle with behaviour, self-esteem and sensory processing difficulties. A practicing Occupational Therapist she understands the daily struggles that children, parents and teachers face.

Deb is the author of the Amazon No. 1 Bestselling Book Reducing Meltdowns and Improving Concentration: The Just Right Kids Technique and co-author of the CD Sensory Songs for Tots.  Deb has presented at national and international conferences including the Asia Pacific Autism Conference and The National Occupational Therapy Mental Health Forum and is often called upon for media comment.

Deb is the special needs reporter for the online channel Toddlers to Teens TV and her goal is to help as many children, parents and teacher around the world.

Deb works from her Occupational Therapy Learning Difficulties Clinic in Forster, NSW. You can contact her for appointments, workshops and training on (02) 6555 9877 or therapy@lifeskills4kids.com.au.

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Disclaimer: The information published in this column is based on each of the author’s own professional and personal knowledge and opinion. This information and opinion is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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