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How Important is Biology in Mental Health?

July 17, 2021

Biology Trumps Psychology

The myriad of mental health issues that exist are very real and have a profound impact on countless Americans. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis in order for the problem to be effectively treated. The vast majority of mental health issues are just that, mental health issues. However, there are dozens of medical, biological, chemical issues that can manifest as mental health issues. In these instances, treating the mental health symptoms, such as depression, may fail to address the true source of the symptoms. Before diagnosing a mental health disorder, it is critical to be on the lookout for possible medical conditions and rule them out. If there is an underlying medical condition, things will not improve or get better. This is an instance where biology trumps psychology.

Self-Advocacy and Thorough Assessment

Whether you are the patient or the provider, it is important that you be aware and on the lookout for biological and medical causes for mental health symptoms. It is important not to confuse symptoms for their causes. For example, don’t assume depressive symptoms automatically mean depression, or that psychotic symptoms automatically mean schizophrenia. If you are the patient presenting with mental health symptoms and you have no history of mental health problems and no obvious stressors (divorce, job loss, etc.) tha read more

February 14, 2021

Why was a Clearinghouse Created?

In January 2020 the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched an internet-based national clearinghouse database that all Commercial Drivers License (CDL) regulated drivers were supposed to have registered in, as well as all employers that hire CDL drivers. The clearinghouse was created largely to function as a fast and reliable way for employers to get information on a prospective driver. Previous to the clearinghouse, employers had to contact the driver’s previous employer to check their record or see if there were any violations. This system was often time-consuming, unreliable, or unavailable. The new clearinghouse is intended to help employers get information quickly so drivers can get hired faster.

When Would You get a Violation Recorded in the Clearinghouse?

Violations are posted and recorded in the clearinghouse any time there is a failed or refused urine drug screen or breath alcohol test. The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires testing for pre-employment, post-accident, random, or reasonable suspicion tests. Any time a positive test results in a violation that driver must go through the Return to Duty Process and are suspended from read more

January 17, 2021

What is Recreational Marijuana?

Medical marijuana has been around for some time and is legal in most states with a valid medical diagnosis such as glaucoma, epilepsy, cancer, and, just recently in Minnesota, PTSD. Medical marijuana is closely regulated, prescribed by a physician, and used to alleviate symptoms of a medical condition. Recreational marijuana, on the other hand, is pot used by regular citizens without a medical reason. Recreational marijuana typically has a higher THC content than medicinal varieties and produces a euphoric high that medical varieties typically do not.

How Many States Permit it?

There are currently 11 states (CA, WA, OR, NV, IL, MI, ME, MA, CO, VT, AK) and the District of Columbia that have legalized recreational marijuana. For many states, recreational marijuana has become a tax revenue boon. For instance, in 2018 the state of Colorado sold roughly $1.2 billon in recreational marijuana. This produced around $270 million dollars in tax revenue for the state, over 5X the tax revenue of the $45 million the stated collected on alcohol tax. With sales producing this sort of revenue, it may only be a matter of time before the other states follow suit with legalizing recreational marijuana.

Are People in Favor of Legalization?

It seems attitudes toward marijuana and its legalization have been changing over the last decade. Nea read more

May 23, 2020

The Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) oversees alcohol and drug testing for employees that perform work under a few different groups. Probably the largest group is the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), which includes all bus and truck drivers across the entire country who are required to operate with a commercial driver’s license (CDL). read more

May 20, 2019

For most parents the only thing worse than talking to their teens about alcohol and drugs, is the sex talk. Comparatively, this should be a lot easier and we will try to help give you some tips and pointers. Nonetheless, having this talk is vitally important. Substance use is at its peak between 15 and 25 years old and this is the time when youth are most susceptible to developing lasting patterns for their use and at the highest risk for developing an addiction. Chemical use during these formative years also has a serious impact on their developing brains and bodies.

The dangers of chemical use in teens is well document and drives home the importance of talking with them. It is natural and appropriate for teens to want to begin to experiment and try out the roles of adulthood. This often includes the use of alcohol and drugs. Because adolescents is a time of great change, it is also a time of great stress. Just as many adults use chemicals to cope with stress, teens are at risk for using substances to cope with their stress. Here are some startling facts about the impact of chemicals on teen development. Alcohol abuse slows bone and muscle growth, can impair nonverbal abstract reasoning, perceptual motor skills, and reduce the ability to learn new information. Regular marijuana use can affect attentio

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June 6, 2018

The use of alcohol in our culture is pervasive. For most people their use of alcohol is social or recreational and is secondary to the event and situations they are engaging in. For about 10% of the American population their use of alcohol becomes abusive or has already reached the level of dependence. There are four levels of alcohol use: abstinence, social use, abuse, and dependence. Social use pertains to people who drink for the taste rather than the effect (glass of wine with dinner or a dessert drink).  It can be difficult to differentiate between those who abuse and those who have crossed the line to dependence, both of which are problematic. One benchmark of problematic drinking stipulates that men who drink more than 4 drinks in one sitting or more than 14 drinks in a week and women who drink more than 3 drinks in one sitting or more than 7 drinks in a week, likely have abuse or dependence problems. Alcohol abuse and dependence fall on a spectrum. The more symptoms a person endorses, they can move from abuse to dependence. Alcohol abuse is suggested if a person endorses 2-3 of the symptoms, and alcohol dependence is likely present if a person endorses 4 or more of the following symptoms: 1) tolerance (a need for an increase in the amount of alcohol to get the same desired effect), 2) withdrawal (shakes, sweats, etc. in the absence of drinking, 3) drinking in larger am read more