The wounds of war last long after the soldiers return.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Veterans.

Memorial Day.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Military parades don’t tell the whole story.

Today is Veterans Day in the United States. Various countries will celebrate their military veterans on other days.

On each of those veteran’s day’s, there will be parades and speeches and sometimes a lot of saber-rattling on the part of politicians.

It’s appropriate for people who served in the military to be honored today. Some will march in parades, and some will be honored with flags placed on their graves.

What we shouldn’t do is forget about these veterans the other 364 days of the year.

The physical wounds of war have become more pervasive.

The list of wars America has fought continues to grow. They used to be periods of peace between our wars, and we tried to believe that future generations wouldn’t have to fight. Unfortunately, across my lifespan, the periods of peace have grown shorter. We have reached the point where Americans have been fighting somewhere in the world continuously for the longest time in American history.

Many of the physical wounds of war today’s soldiers endure, traumatic brain injury, for example, are much more common today than they were in the past. It’s fashionable to spend money and manpower to win a war. It is a much lower priority to spend money and effort caring for the wounded warriors of America’s many conflicts across the remainder of these veteran’s lifespan.

The invisible wounds of war appear more common now than before.

PTSD and other psychological injuries are more common among today’s veterans than they were in past generations. At least that’s what the statistics tell us. It’s very likely that many cases of PTSD went unrecognized or underrecognized among veterans of World War II and Vietnam. It’s also probable that the more protracted wars, more frequent deployments, and the changing nature of warfare has made PTSD more common than it was before.

Homelessness among veterans remains much higher than it should be.

Politicians are far too willing to appropriate funds for new weapon systems to fight wars then they are to provide adequate resources for treatment and housing of those who have made the sacrifices to fight those wars.

Alcoholism and addiction are an occupational hazard among military veterans.

Medical facilities, particularly the VA, see many patients who are former military and whose medical issues have been caused by or made worse by, untreated alcoholism or drug abuse.

Substance abuse treatment facilities encounter a significant number of former military personnel who has struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction during and after the military service. For some former military personnel, drugs and alcohol have been their way of coping with the traumatic experiences they encounter during their military career.

However you celebrate Veterans Day, I hope during the day of parades, speeches, and ceremonies you don’t lose sight of the long-term personal costs borne by those who served their country, their families and friends, and the rest of our society.

Next week’s post will pick up where we left off in the series of posts about what drug counselors do on the job and the core functions of substance use disorder counselor.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Five David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead is the third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

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Why is it so hard to stay quit?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drugs.

Drugs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

“Quitting is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.”

This old joke has been applied to drinking, smoking, and gambling, and has been attributed to Mark Twain, W.C. Fields, and others. It still rings true. While many people try to quit, relatively few stay quit. For most people who use substances, that use has become a habit, and under times of stress, good or bad stress, humans tend to revert to their usual default behaviors. For recovery skills to work, they need to be over practiced until they become automatic.

Three factors are involved in a return to using substances or to behaviors like gambling. We often call this return to old behavior relapse. Triggers are events or feelings which place the idea of using back into your consciousness. Urges are strong desires or impulses. Cravings are those intense feelings driving you towards a return to active use.

Relapses begin with thoughts rather than actions.

You may have heard the saying, “relapse begins in the mind,” which is sometimes referred to as stinking thinking. There has been a tendency recently to blame addiction or alcoholism on the substance. Certain drugs may have more severe withdrawal symptoms than others, but addiction is more complicated than merely getting the drug out of the body. Many people go through detox and then go without the drug for a long enough time. That the drug is no longer in their system, yet they still relapse. Without long-term treatment, most people, who go through detox, eventually returned to using the drug of choice. Sometimes this relapse happens after months or even years of being clean and sober.

Cutting down doesn’t work.

Many people with a drug or alcohol problem try the approach of cutting down. Instead of finishing off a six-pack of beer each night, they try to limit themselves to two or three beers. Trying to control your use rarely works over an extended period. If your drinking or drug use has reached the point where you need to cut down, you’re far down the path to addiction.

Using alcohol and drugs instrumentally, to celebrate, to cope with emotions, is a dangerous path. Very few people stay “cut down” for very long. If you’re drinking or using, even a little, you’re at high risk to end up with a substance use disorder again.

Trying to control your addiction puts the drug in control of you.

Normal people don’t try to control their use of drugs and alcohol. If you are doing something enough that you need to cut down, that activity has become a problem. Loss of control is one of the characteristics of the disease of addiction.

Addicting drugs and behaviors have three characteristics which bring you back.

Over time, as you use substances, you build tolerance, meaning it takes more and more of the substance to produce the same effect, or if you use the same amount you get less and less effects. Where you used to get a buzz on after one or two beers now, you need six.

When an addicting substance leaves the body, you will develop withdrawal symptoms. Even relatively mild substances such as caffeine have withdrawal effects. Go a couple of days without your coffee, and you will probably have headaches and be irritable. Withdrawal symptoms can be either physical or psychological, such as irritability or depression.

When you are deprived of your addicting substance, you’re likely to experience cravings. Giving in to those cravings reinforces addiction. Every time you give in to the cravings, the addiction grows stronger. The challenge in quitting is to go without the substance long enough for the cravings to subside.

If you’ve developed a problem with a substance, consider seeking help. Without help quitting and staying quit is a challenging task.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Four David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon,

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Preventing addiction – video.

Find video on Substance use disorders

Is it possible to prevent addiction, alcoholism, and substance use disorders? What do drug prevention programs do?

Sedatives, Hypnotics, and Anxiolytics. Video

Sedatives, Hypnotics, and Anxiolytics. Drugs that help you relax or sleep can help or hinder your life. Todays Video.

OTC – Over the counter drugs- Video

OTC – over-the-counter medications.

What ingredients are found in over-the-counter medication? Are they safe?

Are Herbal Medications Safe?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Just because it comes from a plant doesn’t make it safe.

Plants clearly have a lot of benefits for humans. They provide us with food, lumber for shelter, and the beauty from their flowers. There was a time in the past when plants were the only effective medications. Unfortunately, plants can also be harmful. Poison ivy can damage your skin and some plants are poisonous enough to kill you. The challenge is to know which plants are helpful and which are harmed.

There is a common misconception because something comes from a plant that makes it safe. Some plants are like water, in small amounts beneficial, maybe even necessary. But sometimes too much of a good thing can drown you. So how do we know when an herbal preparation is potentially dangerous?

The problem with tobacco.

Tobacco in one form or another has been used by humans for a very long time. In the 1800s tobacco is used as a treatment for diseases. It’s only recently that we’ve come to recognize the significant problems tobacco use can cause.

The Tobacco on the market today is likely much stronger than what people consumed a thousand years ago. It’s also much more readily available.

One of the major components of tobacco is nicotine. Nicotine is an effective insecticide. It’s good at killing insects. Unfortunately, nicotine extracted from tobacco is highly poisonous for humans also. This is a plant you shouldn’t eat. Any exposure to the nicotine in tobacco can be harmful.

Some problems with herbal medications.

First some general considerations and then a list of specific herbs that have been identified as potentially harmful.

There can be some significant problems with herbal medications. Most are largely unregulated. How they are grown and processed affects their potency. If you’re going to use herbal medications, you need to be an informed consumer and not rely on someone else to assure that the herbal medications save and effective. Here are some of the problems you may find with herbal medications.

Herbs are sold by plant weight, not by purity.

Herbal products are commonly sold by weight. You know how much you’re getting by weight but not what the active ingredients are. Think about the difference between eating fresh salad greens and letting them dry out in the sun for several months. How plants are picked and processed affects the amount of active ingredients in them. The common recommendation is that if you’re going to use an herbal product stick with one brand so that what you’re getting is more consistent.

Dosage of herbs is inconsistent.

Any herb may contain numerous chemicals. How much of what you’re getting varies between manufacturers and may even vary from one batch to the next.

Problems when herbs are combined with RX meds.

Interactions between prescription meds are common and are frequently well studied. If you are taking multiple prescribed medications, you should review them with your doctor. Interactions between herbal products and prescribed medications are less well known. It’s still a good policy you’re going to take an herbal medication to tell your doctor so that you don’t create an interaction between a prescribed med and an herbal product.

Here is a short list of herbal products that have been identified as being potentially harmful. Some of this risk involves dosage. Many people think if one pill is good then taking three or four a day might be even better. Higher doses may result in damage to certain organs.

You will find a video about herbal medications on the Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel. Here, as promised, is the list of herbal preparations that were discussed in that video which may have potentially harmful consequences.

Herbs which may be harmful.

Aconite
Also called: Aconiti tuber, aconitum, angustifolium, monkshood, radix aconti, wolfsbane

Caffeine Powder
Also called: 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine

Chaparral
Also called: Creosote bush, greasewood, larrea divaricata, larrea tridentata, larreastat

Coltsfoot
Also called: Coughwort, farfarae folium leaf, foalswort, tussilago farfara

Comfrey
Also called: Blackwort, bruisewort , slippery root , symphytum officinale

Germander
Also called: Teucrium chamaedrys, viscidum

Greater Celandine
Also called: Celandine, chelidonium majus, chelidonii herba

Green Tea Extract Powder
Also called: Camellia sinensis

Kava
Also called: Ava pepper, kava , piper methysticum

Lobelia
Also called: Asthma weed, lobelia inflata, vomit wort, wild tobacco

Methylsynephrine
Also called: Oxilofrine, p-hydroxyephedrine, oxyephedrine, 4-HMP

Pennyroyal Oil
Also called: Hedeoma pulegioides, mentha pulegium

Red Yeast Rice
Also called: Monascus purpureus

Usnic Acid
Also called: Beard moss, tree moss, usnea

Yohimbe
Also called: Johimbi, pausinystalia yohimbe, yohimbine, corynanthe johimbi

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Four David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.