Thursday, November 17, 2011

Give Yourself Something To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving

The seasons are turning from warm summer days to cool crisp mornings and vibrant fall colors. The season for thanksgiving is upon us and this is a time to give thanks for all things important to you. While there are many things you may be thankful for in your life some may be dealing with the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The SAFE Coalition wants to take this opportunity to provide you with resources to assist you in your decision to become free of Drug Addiction. Keep in mind drug addiction includes addiction to alcohol and tobacco – they are considered drugs.

It takes courage and strength to face up to drug addiction. When you’re bogged down in drug abuse and drug addiction, sobriety can seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your current situation seems.

Change is possible with the right treatment and support, and by making lifestyle changes that address the root cause of your addiction. Don’t give up, even if you’ve tried and failed before. There are many different roads to recovery, but almost all involve bumps, pitfalls, and setbacks. But by examining the problem and thinking about making the necessary changes, you’re already on your way. These seven steps will help you on your road.

1. Decide to make a change.
For many people struggling with addiction, the biggest and toughest step toward recovery is the very first one: deciding to make a change. It’s normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you realize it’s causing problems in your life. Change is never easy.

2. Explore your treatment options
Once you’ve made the decision to challenge your drug addiction, it’s time to explore your treatment choices. Options can be found online, by talking to your doctor or calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

3. Reach out for support
Don’t try to go it alone. Whatever treatment approach you choose, having a solid support system is essential. The more positive influences you have in your life, the better your chances for recovery. Recovering from drug addiction isn’t easy, but with people you can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, it’s a little less tough.

4. Learn healthy ways to cope with stress
Even once you’ve recovered from drug addiction, you’ll still have to face the problems that led to your drug problems in the first place. Did you start using drugs to numb painful emotions, calm yourself down after an argument, unwind after a bad day, or forget about your problems? After you become sober, the negative feelings that you used to dampen with drugs will resurface. For treatment to be successful, and to remain sober in the long term, you’ll need to resolve these underlying issues as well.

5. Keep triggers and cravings in check
While getting sober from drugs is an important first step, it’s only the beginning of the recovery process. Once sober, the brain needs time to recover and rebuild connections that have changed while addicted. During this time, drug cravings can be intense. You can support your continued sobriety by making a conscious effort to avoid people, places, and situations that trigger the urge to use.

6. Build a meaningful drug free life
You can support your drug treatment and protect yourself from relapse by having activities and interests that provide meaning to your life. It’s important to be involved in things that you enjoy and make you feel needed. When your life is filled with rewarding activities and a sense of purpose, your addiction will lose its appeal.

7. Don’t let relapse keep you down
Relapse is a common part of the recovery process from drug addiction. While relapse is understandably frustrating and discouraging, it can also be an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and correct your treatment course.

By taking the above steps to become free of addiction next thanksgiving you could be giving thanks for a sober life.

Information provided by Helpguide. Additional information can be found on their website at If you would like additional local assistance you may contact the SAFE Coalition at, by phone at 319-293-6412 or online at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Great American Smokeout

The American Cancer Society is marking the 36th Great American Smokeout on November 17, 2011 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet more than 46 million Americans still smoke. However, more than half of these smokers have attempted to quit for at least one day in the past year.

In 1954, American Cancer Society researchers were among the first to link cigarette smoking to early death from lung cancer. In 2011, the Society continues to lead the charge to help people stay well by providing tools to help smokers quit.

Most people know that using tobacco can cause lung cancer, but few know it’s also a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, voice box (larynx), throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, and some leukemia. It’s also linked to a number of other health problems, from heart disease and emphysema to stroke.

And there is no safe way to use tobacco. Cigars, pipes, and spit and other types of smokeless tobacco all pose serious health risks.

Need more motivation to quit? It takes just minutes for your body to start healing after you quit smoking. You can look forward to better circulation and lung function and an improved sense of taste and smell. And by not buying packs of expensive cigarettes, you’ll also be saving money – and in these times, every penny counts.

Five Keys for Quitting
1. Get ready.
Set a quit date. Change your environment. Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and workplace. Don’t let people smoke in your home. Review your past attempts to quit – think about what worked and what didn’t. Once you quit, don’t smoke – NOT EVEN A PUFF!

2. Get support and encouragement.
Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you, and ask them to put their cigarettes out of sight.

Inform your health care provider (e.g., doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking counselor) about your decision to quit. Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. Programs are given at local hospitals and health centers. Call 1-800-227-2345 for information about programs in your area.

3. Learn new skills and behaviors.
Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task. When you first try to quit, change your routine. For example, use a different route to work. Do something to reduce your stress – take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book. Plan to do something enjoyable every day. Drink a lot of water and other fluids.

4. Get medication, and use it correctly.
Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following medications to help you quit smoking:
•Available by prescription – Bupropion SR (Zyban), Varenicline (Chantix), nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray
•Available over-the-counter – nicotine gum, nicotine patch, and nicotine lozenges
•Remember to ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package.

5. Be prepared for a relapse or difficult situations.
Most relapses occur within the first three months after quitting. Don’t be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit for good. Here are some difficult situations to watch for:
•Alcohol – When you drink alcohol, it lowers your chances of success. It’s best to avoid drinking.
•Other smokers – When you’re around people who smoke, it can make you want to smoke. It’s best to avoid them.
•Weight gain – Many smokers gain weight when they quit, usually fewer than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet, and stay active. Don’t let weight gain distract you from your main goal – quitting smoking. Some quit-smoking medications may help delay weight gain.
•Bad mood or depression – There are a lot of ways to improve your mood other than smoking.

Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. The American Cancer Society can tell you about the steps you can take to quit smoking and provide the resources and support that can increase your chances of quitting successfully. To learn about the available tools, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. You can also contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at

Thursday, November 3, 2011

National Drug Facts Week 2011

What is National Drug Facts Week (NDFW)?
National Drug Facts Week is a health observance week for teens—an initiative of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of NDFW is to shatter the myths about drugs and drug abuse. It was celebrated from Monday October 31st through Sunday November 6th, 2011.

Who created National Drug Facts Week?
National Drug Facts Week was launched by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDA scientists want to give teens the opportunity to learn what science has taught us about drug abuse and addiction amid the noise and clutter of drug myths they get from the internet, TV, movies, music, or from friends.

How did NDFW start?
In 2008, NIDA began hosting its annual Drug Facts Chat Day for teens, during which thousands of teens asked questions about drugs via a Web chat. Every year teens ask many more questions than the scientists can answer in a day. In response to this demonstrated interest NIDA developed NDFW, asking teens, schools and community groups all over America to hold their own "Q and A" events with local scientific experts.

What happens on NDFW?
Community-based "question and answer" teen-focused events, nationally televised messages and shows on drug facts, events on the web, and the announcement of the Grammy Foundation MusiCares video music contest winner, are the major happenings during NDFW.

What are NDFW Community-Based Events?
NDFW Community-Based Events are about shattering drug myths and getting the scientific facts about drugs and drug abuse. In Van Buren Community Schools the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Members held a variety of events, they included:
Hall of Horrors: This display shows the number of casualties from all of the major wars. Each day new wars are added then at the end of the week the casualties in one year from tobacco, alcohol and other drugs is displayed to show that these numbers are higher than the wars.
Radio Interview: Two YLC Members promoted National Drug Facts week on KMEM’s Coffee Break radio show.
•Posters/Facts: Posters were hung all around the school with a “Did you know” fact. These facts helped shatter the myths about drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Question of the Day: Each day a trivia question was asked during morning announcements. Students had to answer the question in the library to win a prize!
Teacher Presentations: Various teachers presented lessons in their classroom about the myths and facts of drugs, alcohol and tobacco during this week!
•Live Chat: Students were given the opportunity on Tuesday to chat live with a scientist to ask questions about drugs alcohol and tobacco and get the scientific facts.

Why participate in NDFW?
A third of high school seniors report using an illicit drug sometime in the past year, and more than ten percent report non medical use of a prescription painkiller. These data show that some teens are not aware of the risks of drug abuse. Even for those teens who do not abuse drugs, they may have friends or family who do, and may be looking for ways to help them. NDFW events’ encourage teens to get the scientific facts about drugs so they will make healthy decisions for themselves and share this information with others.

For more information on National Drug Facts Week call 301-443-1124 or visit the Web site You can also contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at