Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Stress – The True Gateway Drug PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 09 July 2012 13:31
Physicians Explain How Stress, 12-Step Programs Change the Brain

When Bill W. and Dr. Bob created Alcoholics Anonymous 77 years ago, they borrowed principles learned from a Christian fellowship called the Oxford Group to create their 12-step recovery program.

“They knew that their spiritual program was effective where other ‘cures’ had failed, and over the years, there have been many theories as to why,” says Dr. Harry Haroutunian, physician director of the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs, and collaborator with Dr. Louis Teresi on the book, Hijacking the Brain: How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Hijacks our Brains – The Science Behind Twelve-Step Recovery (www.HijackingTheBrain.com).

“Now we know that stress is the fuel that feeds addiction, and that stress and drug and alcohol use cause neurological and physiological changes,” Haroutunian says. “The changes are primarily in the deep brain reward centers, the limbic brain, responsible for decisions, memory and emotion. These centers are ‘hijacked’ by substance abuse, so that the addicted person wants the booze or drug over anything else. ”

As a scientist and physician applying the 12-step program to his own life, Teresi studied the physiological changes triggered by this seemingly non-scientific treatment.

“One response is that elements of 12-step programs reduce stress and increase feelings of comfort and reward through chemical changes in the brain and body. These changes allow for neuronogenesis – the birth of neurons in the brain,” Teresi says.

“As substances of abuse affect the limbic brain, so do 12-step recovery practices."

Teresi says the 11th step in the program, which emphasizes spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation, works for the following reasons:

Chilling out: Addiction is a cycle of bad habits. When something bad happens, an alcoholic drinks to feel better. When something good occurs, he drinks to celebrate. After years of this behavior, a person needs a way to step outside of himself to maintain sobriety. Regular prayer or meditation achieves that and becomes “that other habitual option” for responding to emotions, he says.

• “Mindfulness” meditation: While certain forms of prayer are effective, meditation may be a more direct way to achieve the kind of beneficial self-regulation that makes the 11th step so crucial, Teresi says. Mindfulness meditation incorporates active Focused Attention and the more passive Open Monitoring to raise a person’s awareness of his impulses, leading to better self-control.

The three-fold manner: A successful 11th step tends to have the following benefits: First, stress is relieved in both cognitive and emotional reactivity, as evidenced by reduced cortisol (stress hormone) levels and other biological indicators. Second, some forms of meditation are shown to stimulate the brain’s reward centers, releasing dopamine – a mood elevator -- while improving attention and memory. Third, an increased sense of connectivity and empathy to others is achieved, satisfying our natural need for social connection and reducing stress.

Sobriety is not so much about not drinking or drugging, Teresi says.

“It’s about developing an attitude and lifestyle that brings sufficient serenity and personal reward that drinking, or taking any mood-altering drug, is simply unnecessary.”

About Dr. Teresi & Dr. Haroutunian

Louis Teresi earned his medical degree from Harvard, where he completed honors concentration courses in neuroscience. In more than 24 years of practice, Teresi has authored numerous peer-reviewed papers, winning 14 national and international awards for his research, and is a senior member of the American Society of Neuroradiology. He is a grateful recovering alcoholic.

Dr. Harry L. Haroutunian, known as "Dr. Harry," is an internationally known speaker on addiction who has created the "Recovery 101" lecture series. As physician director of the Betty Ford Center, Dr. Haroutunian has contributed to the development of a variety of programs. He is the author of the soon-to-be-published book "Staying Sober When Nothing Goes Right" and collaborated with Dr. Louis Teresi, author of "Hijacking the Brain: How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Hijacks our Brains – The Science Behind Twelve-Step Recovery."

 
Quad Cities Eating Disorder Consortium Re-Launched As Amy's Gift PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Amy's Gift   
Thursday, 05 July 2012 06:59
TRREGI_Amys_Gift_Final.jpg
The Quad Cities Eating Disorders Consortium has changed their name to Amy's Gift and relaunched a new website at www.amysgift.com to honor the Amy Helpenstell Foundation, who provides the grant which funds the organization, and Amy Helpenstell herself, the bright Quad Citian who created the foundation before her passing due to complications from anorexia. The mission of Amy's Gift is to be guided by the Amy Helpenstell Foundation’s message of help, hope and healing by promoting awareness, understanding, diagnosis and treatment for eating disorders so that those experiencing the disease in our community can receive the best treatment possible.  Amy's Gift provides resources, a local support group, and educational events for health care professionals, educators, and families alike on the subject of eating disorders.

To find these resources, information on upcoming events and more, visit the website at www.amysgift.com, call (309) 779-3077, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  To inquire about the local eating disorders support group facilitated by Amy's Gift from 6-7p.m. the first four Wednesdays of every month, call the Trinity Enrichment Center at (563) 742-5800.

 
What the ACA means to Iowans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by American Cancer Society   
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 12:22

As I’m sure you know by now, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

It was an exciting day for people with cancer, and those who care about them, because the decision protects policies that ensure they can access quality, affordable health care.

In Iowa, thanks to the health care law, already:

  • More than 20,000 young people have gained coverage;
  • Nearly two million residents with private insurance no longer have to worry about lifetime limits on their health coverage;
  • 611,000 Iowans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing.

And it just gets better in the years to come. By January 2014:

  • Nearly one million people may benefit from a health care exchange, which provides individuals and small businesses with affordable, quality health plans;
  • Insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against people who have been sick in the past, a benefit already extended to children.

One thing is for sure -- access to care saves lives. ACS research shows that people without health coverage are more likely than those with private insurance to be diagnosed with cancer at its more advanced stages and are less likely to survive the disease.  Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, it is time for all of our elected officials in Iowa to work together in a bipartisan effort to implement the health care law as strongly as possible for cancer patients, survivors and their families.

 
In Case You Missed It: Schilling’s Plan for Quality, Convenient, Patient-Centered, and Affordable Health Care PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:45

Moline, Illinois - The Supreme Court last week announced its ruling to uphold the President’s health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in its entirety, ruling that its individual mandate is a tax.  Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17), in an effort to help residents of the 17th District stay informed and engaged, created a Health Care Resources webpage with information and seeking feedback on the changes to the American health care system constituents would like to see. 

On Monday June 25, prior to the decision being made public, Schilling also released his detailed plan for true health care reform: 

"Before Independence Day, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on the President’s health care reform law.  The court could decide to uphold the entire law, strike it down entirely, or strike parts of it – parts like Medicaid expansion or the individual mandate, which requires nearly every American to buy health insurance.

"Regardless of the court’s decision on the law, I want to work in a bipartisan and transparent way to replace it with common-sense, step-by-step policies that actually lower the cost of health care, preserve Medicare for our children and grandchildren, and put patients and their doctors back in charge of health care decisions.  There’s significant support for the law’s repeal, and there’s also widespread agreement that the American health care system is broken and in need of reform.  

"Simply put, our work doesn’t stop if this law is taken off the books.

"We should take up-or-down votes on individual improvements to our health care system – particularly those that seek to lower costs and ultimately make care more affordable and more convenient. It’s important that folks with preexisting conditions be able to find coverage, for example.  And in a tough economy like this, I agree that young adults should be able to find affordable coverage.  Individuals should be able to buy health insurance plans across state lines, with the goal of increasing competition and driving down costs.  We should vote to advance common-sense liability protections, stemming defensive medicine and lowering the cost of care.  We should also vote on a plan to ensure Medicare physicians won’t see their reimbursement rates cut.  This issue must be resolved to ensure physicians aren’t pushed out of Medicare, creating serious access problems for seniors across the country.  

"We can also vote on bills that I introduced – like the Charity Care Tax Deduction Act, for example, that would provide a tax deduction to physicians who administer charity care for those can’t afford health insurance, or the Enhanced Veteran Health Care Experience Act that would allow veterans to access the health care they need in their hometowns with their home doctors.

"Another solution to lower health care costs is the bipartisan Health Flexible Spending Arrangements Improvement Act, which passed the House and would allow 35 million Americans to save unused money in their flexible spending accounts for future use on unexpected medical costs.  The current “use it or lose it” policy is hurting American families.

"Unless the court throws out the entire law, I will continue working to repeal whatever’s left and apply any savings to a deficit reduction plan.  We can’t tax, spend, or regulate our way into a stronger economy and better health care, nor can we prepare ourselves for future threats to our national security while taking a meat cleaver to the Department of Defense’s budget.  

"Over the last year and a half, the House has voted 30 times on different bills to repeal, defund, or dismantle the health care reform law.  Most recently we voted to repeal its tax on medical devices.  This is a tax that would be harmful to companies like Cook Medical, which has been hoping to expand its operations in Canton.  The medical device tax would destroy jobs in an industry that employs more than 400,000 Americans throughout the country – 70 in Canton alone.  We have also voted to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB); a board of unelected bureaucrats tasked with saving money by restricting access to health care for Medicare beneficiaries.  I voted to repeal this board to keep health care decisions between patients and their doctor.  

"The bottom line is that I want to make quality health care more convenient and more affordable.  I want you to be able to visit the doctor of your choosing and be given the care that your doctor thinks is best.  

"Every American is impacted by the health care reform law, and will be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision.  We need to continue to work to ensure folks in Illinois and across the country have access to health care that’s high quality, patient-centered, convenient, and affordable, but the best ideas often don’t come from Washington DC, they come from the folks I represent.  Please contact my office at schilling.house.gov or (202) 225-5905 with your ideas to improve care."

# # #

To send Congressman Schilling an e-mail, click here

 
The American Red Cross Blood reminds eligible donors that the need for blood is constant. PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ben Corey   
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:21
The American Red Cross appreciates the many donors who have given blood since announcing an
emergency need for all blood types in late June. However, the Red Cross blood supply remains at
low levels and eligible donors of all types continue to be needed.

Vacations, summer schedules, and the mid-week Independence Day holiday have reduced the number of
donations. But the need is constant. Approximately every two seconds a patient in the United States needs blood.

The American Red Cross’ Live Life. Give Life. summer-long campaign is helping to raise
awareness about the constant need for blood and encourage regular donations. Presenting
donors between May 21 and September 5, 2012 will be entered automatically into the Live
Life. Give Life. promotion for a chance to win prize packages from GiftCertificates.com. Visit
redcrossblood.org/GiveWin to learn more.

How to Donate Blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an
appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for
patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required
at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states),
weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High
school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and
weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters;
supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides
international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross
is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American

Live Life. Give Life.

The need is constant. The gratification is instant. Give blood.™

 
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