Thursday, September 14, 2017

Is Psychiatry to Blame for Rising Drug Dependence?

By CCI Team   We live in a world where information is easily attainable, and various sources are available to not only supply the information we are seeking, but also supply support for our views, whatever they may be.  While it would be easy to search only for sources and statistics that support our own […]

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DUI Arrests in Illinois Cities – A Review and Tips to Avoid Driving Drunk

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there was an estimated 35,200 deaths related to motor vehicles in 2015; a 7.7 percent increase from 2014 (NHTSA, 2016).  The NHTSA is constantly working on additional methods to increase motor vehicle safety, as the numbers show that the number of fatalities is nothing to be […]

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Monday, September 4, 2017

The What’s… and When’s… of Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) Usage

By CCI Team   So, you’ve been found to be Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and your license has been suspended, now what?  The good news is that most states, Illinois included, allows first time DUI offenders to drive with the installation of a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) in their vehicle if they […]

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Friday, September 1, 2017

The Curious Case of Donald Trump – Can an Objective Diagnosis be Completed Based on Tweets?

Donald John Trump, is a 71-year-old, real estate mogul, former reality TV star and the 45th and current president of the United States.  When he announced his candidacy in 2015 many considered this to be a mere publicity stunt and considered his chances slim given his lack of experience in the political realm.  Additionally, Trump […]

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Batman Killer

By CCI Team   Many of us are aware of the Colorado movie theater shooting that took place back in July 2012. As one of the worst shootings recorded, murderer James Holmes was later tested for a series of mental disorders. As a result, these diagnoses later lead to some believing he couldn’t be held […]

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Words and Their Impact

By CCI Team   We all grew up hearing the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” However, this statement isn’t entirely true. No matter the intention or meaning, words do have impact whether we like it or not. When it comes to verbal abuse, many do not […]

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

What is Drug and Alcohol Evaluation?

By Anna Jankowska MA LCPC   Whenever you are arrested for a DUI whether it is in the state of Illinois or in any other state, you have to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine the degree of the person’s alcohol and/or drug use and what risk […]

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Importance of Duty to Warn / Duty to Protect

By CCI Team   The phrase “duty to warn” is well known amongst mental health practitioners.  In his March 2017 article for his Avoiding Liability Bulletin Richard Leslie discusses the importance of understanding the Duty to Warn/Duty to Protect within your state of practice. As part of day to day practice those in the mental […]

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Question of Assisted Suicide

By Brendan Cole – Graduate Intern   Recently, Mad in America, a website that publishes topics regarding Science, Psychiatry, and Social Justice, posted an interesting article called, “Adam Maier-Clayton: Assisted Suicide and Mental Illness.” Author Susan Stefan explains how the life and death of Adam Maier-Clayton should raise future discussion and debate for the future […]

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Desperation: You’re Not Alone

By Brendan Cole – Graduate Intern   Recently, many are aware of the death of singer Chester Bennington, who committed suicide this past month. From heartfelt social media posts, to concerts dedicated in his name, the loss of the singer impacted the music world majorly. According to American Psychological Association, 2% of all deaths in […]

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Do Mental Health Practitioners Report Relationship Abuse?

By Megan Zerfahs – Graduate Intern   Typically, mental health professionals are not mandated to report past incidents or suspicions of adult violence towards another adult—domestic violence included. However, some states have laws requiring practitioners to take action when the client is an assault (physical or emotional) victim. Mental health employees would be wise to […]

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

I Want My Illinois Driver’s License Back!!! – How to Prepare for Hearing

By Steven R. Roach   As stated in my previous article, the keys to a successful Illinois Secretary of State Driver’s License Reinstatement Hearing are preparation and consistency. While at the Secretary of State Formal Hearing Offices, I often find myself observing many unrepresented petitioners/motorists being called upon to speak with an Attorney representing the […]

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Brad Pitt’s Recovery from Drug Addiction and Divorce

A few months after his divorce with ex-wife Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt was reportedly struggling to quit alcohol and drugs, in addition to recovering from the split. His story was featured in an exclusive interview with GQ magazine. He described the period after the divorce as “a weird moment” and confessed to having had a […]

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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Importance of Niche in Private Practice

By Anna Jankowska MA LCPC   Success in private practice is not only defined by financial gains but also by our fulfillment. Many counselors do not consider counseling practice as a business and believe that it is mainly their passion. It is important that they love what they do, but they also should learn business […]

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Monday, June 12, 2017

The Benefits of Installing an Ignition Interlock Device

By   More often than not, first-time DUI offenders get off with light sentences. Unless they were involved in a mishap that killed or seriously injured someone, people convicted of a DUI for the first time are usually just meted stiff fines, community service, probation or minimum prison time. Some states also require first-time […]

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Common Myths to Opening Private Practice

By Anna Jankowska MA LCPC   Many counselors dream of opening a private practice, even when they are still at school. Unfortunately, they don’t find much understanding and support anywhere. Their teachers don’t encourage them to pursue their goals and quite often discourage them from seeking their life dream. This lack of encouragement from the […]

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Saturday, June 3, 2017

How to Prepare Yourself for a Hearing

Driver’s license reinstatement is a lengthy process and requires adequate preparation. There are certain things that need to take place in order to ensure that your preparation will be smooth.


You need to obtain a good drug and alcohol evaluation that contains consistent drug and alcohol history explains your symptoms and treatment verification and does not have any errors.

You have to memorize your evaluation and all additional documents that your evaluator will prepare. Take advantage of the knowledge of the evaluator and ask him pertinent questions. Ensure that he meets with you in order to go over the entire evaluation and explains everything in such a way that you have all your questions answered. If you don’t understand something at the time of the evaluation, you will not understand it at the time of the hearing. Do not assume that the hearing officer will not ask you some of the questions and that you do not have to remember the details from your past. Many clients make a mistake not paying attention to details of their evaluation and don’t even read their evaluation. Some clients even say that is impossible to remember all the details and they cannot believe that they will be asked details from 20 years ago pertaining to their drinking and drug use history. Your evaluator is your best ally. He or she wants to help you make the evaluation consistent and will often point to inconsistencies. It is your job not the evaluators to make your evaluation consistent. The hearing officer is knowledgeable not only in the process of the hearing but also about the substance abuse problems. They not only know when you’re inconsistent but also when you’re untruthful.


The entire preparation could be divided into several parts.


The 1st one concentrates on questions regarding each DUI arrest and contains questions such as:

  1. Was there a special reason that you were drinking prior to your arrest?
  2. Where were you drinking?
  3. What time did you start and what time did you finish drinking?
  4. How many drinks did you consume?
  5. What was your blood alcohol concentration (BAC)?


The 2nd part goes over your entire drug use and drinking history and contains questions such as:

  • What was your alcohol consumption in the year prior to the last DUI arrest?
  • What was your alcohol use after your last DUI arrest?
  • Why did you decrease drinking?
  • What day did you last consume alcohol?
  • What day did you last drink to intoxication?


Make sure you know how to answer all questions regarding every single substance that you used throughout your life.


The 3rd part goes over symptoms of alcohol and drug use and contains questions such as:

  • Have you ever experienced a blackout?
  • Have you ever passed out after drinking?
  • Have you ever missed work because of drinking?
  • Have you ever experienced hangovers?
  • Do you ever become angry when someone confronts you about your alcohol/drug use?


The 4th part emphasizes questions regarding alcohol abuse and dependency and contains questions such as:

  • Do you consider yourself a chemically dependent person?
  • Do you believe that you have been abusing alcohol/drugs?
  • Do you think that you were a problematic drinker/drug user?


The 5th part goes over your support system involvement. If you are a chemically dependent person you need to proof attendance at traditional self-help groups, such as NA or AA, or non-traditional such as religious meetings or others. Regardless of the meetings that you have been attending, they all have to be specifically structured in order to help you in recovery. Make sure that your support system is sound and you can describe how it works. You need to be involved in the program and your involvement should transpire during the conversation with the hearing officer.


The 6th part goes over your past and current criminal record. You will be asked questions pertaining to your drug and alcohol offenses as well as questions regarding probation, parole, etc. You will also be asked questions regarding driving on a suspended or revoked license.


The 7th part is regarding establishment of hardship. You need to explain the difficulty you endure in life due to lack of driver’s license. The Secretary of State allows for a few situations where you can obtain an RDP in order to lessen your hardship. These situations pertain to employment, school, support recovery program, medical condition, family education and daycare. This means that you can obtain a hardship license in order to fulfil all these life obligations but you have to explain all these obligations, showing proof of hardship.


All the above points need to be taken into account in order to qualify for an RDP (Restricted Driving Permit License). The better your preparation the more chances you have to receive your RDP the first time you go to the hearing. Each client is assessed by the Secretary of State Hearing Officer individually. Do not assume that just because you qualify for a full license reinstatement you will actually get it. Most of the clients first receive an RDP and need to proof to the Secretary of State that they can be responsible drivers and then they will qualify for a full license reinstatement.



If you want more information about the evaluation process please contact us at:

(773) 777-6767

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

15 Signs to Know that Somebody is Using Drugs

Substance abuse is an issue that is more prevalent than many people think, and it can affect anyone, including adults who are employed. A 2011 survey found that eight percent of adults who work full time and 10 percent of adults who work part time have a drug problem. Those are pretty high numbers!

Employers who read those figures may be concerned about the impact drug abuse can have on the workplace and rightly so since substance abuse can indeed impact employee performance. But that is not the only area of life drug abuse affects. Substance abuse can impact all areas of life and is a problem for not only employed adults but people from all walks of life. Employers, family members, friends and teachers have the potential to put a stop to the damaging effects of substance abuse, so everyone should be aware of the signs that someone is abusing drugs. Below are fifteen signs that someone has a drug problem.

  • Changes in Work Attendance or PerformanceSomeone who is abusing drugs may begin having attendance issues at work. They may be tardy or miss days altogether. They may also display a drop-in performance when they are at work.
  • Appetite or Weight ChangesDepending on what drug they are using, someone with a drug problem may either want to eat a lot more food or a lot less food. This could result in either gaining weight or losing weight.
  • Altered Energy LevelsBoth drugs and alcohol can impact how much energy someone has. Some drug users become lethargic and find it difficult to do anything. Others may find themselves experiencing an unusual burst of hyperactivity. It all depends on what drug they are using.
  • Changes in Personal Care HabitsPeople who are abusing drugs might stop taking showers, brushing their teeth, shaving or anything else relating to caring for themselves. They may not care about how they look.
  • Physical Evidence of Substance AbuseOne strong sign of a problem is finding empty bottles of alcohol or other drug paraphernalia around the house or in other places. People who are using drugs often try to hide these items in secret places to make them harder to find.
  • Secretive BehaviorThose who are using substances may not want anyone else to know what they are up to. They may become evasive when asked about their behavior or intentions.
  • Financial DifficultiesSubstance abuse can lead to financial problems because drug users have to find ways to cover the cost of their habit. They may pull money out of savings, sell items or not pay bills on time.
  • Changes in PersonalityIf someone is showing unexpected and sudden changes in how they act, there is a possibility these personality changes are due to drug use.
  • Loss of InterestThose who use a drug may lose interest in activities they formerly enjoyed. They may lose interest in everything except for using drugs.
  • Decreased MotivationAlong with a loss of interest comes decreased motivation. Those who abuse a drug may lose the motivation to go to work, school or achieve any goals.
  • Mood SwingsThose who are using substances can experience severe changes in mood. They may have outbursts of anger or frequent crying spells.
  • Fear and AnxietyDrug users can experience fear and anxiety for no real reason. They might be paranoid because of the effects of the drug they are using.
  • DefensivenessIf a drug user is asked about his or her problem, they might try to deny it or downplay it.
  • Lack of ControlSomeone who is abusing a substance might not be able to stop using even if they try. They might also not be able to control how much of a substance they use.
  • Taking RisksSubstance abusers might engage in risky behavior that endangers their health or other people such as driving under the influence.

There are many other signs of drug use, and the signs can be different depending on what substance is involved. The important thing to remember is that if someone is experience a drug problem, there is professional help available.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Why Was I Denied my Driver’s License at the Hearing?

Many clients believe that they cannot get the drivers’ license back because it costs a lot of money and it’s very difficult. Some of the clients simply give up because that have received prior denials and they simply don’t know how to even decipher the jargon of the denial letter. It’s a big mistake to think that it is impossible to get your driver’s license back and to give up. A few things need to take place for a person to get their driver’s license or RDP (Restricted Driving Permit) after a denial of driving privileges issued by the Secretary of State Office.

First of all, you need to have a good evaluation prepared by an experienced evaluator. Everything in this evaluation has to be consistent and the evaluation cannot have any discrepancies. A good evaluator takes into account client’s drinking and drug use history, prior evaluations, significant other interviews, treatment verification, etc.

Secondly, an evaluator needs to spend time with a client going over his or her denial letter and reconciling those discrepancies between what the client had said in his prior evaluation and what he or she stated during the hearing. Many clients do not understand the process of the hearing and a good evaluator will go over everything and explain the nuances of the documents, hearing preparation process and mistakes that the client made during the hearing. The difficult language of the denial letter should not be a barrier to applying for another hearing. The more time passes the more difficult it is for the client to relearn all the information both from the evaluation as well as from his treatment. The client needs to take the time to prepare for the hearing adequately and this will ensure that he or she will be approved for a permit or a full license reinstatement.

There are many reasons why the client would receive a denial letter after the hearing. One of the reasons is being inconsistent with the drinking and drug use history. It is imperative that the person memorizes his or her evaluation and reports exactly what’s in the evaluation during the hearing. Many clients don’t understand how they could possibly remember their life drinking and drug use history and they think that they’re not expected to memorize it. Another reason for the denial is a lack of understanding of the symptoms of substance use disorder. Clients either underreport or overreport their symptoms. This is due to the fact that they do not understand the meaning of the symptoms. This problem could be easily overcome by spending time with a client and going over their symptoms and explaining the language that is being used during the hearing. Many clients underreport their symptoms due to fear of further legal consequences or over report their symptoms due to being coached by their well-meaning friends. Clients’ friends sometimes have similar circumstances with denial letters and believe that over-reporting is what the Secretary of State is actually looking for in granting an RDP or a full license. Clients are being coached by their friends receiving incorrect information and repeating some mistakes over and over again. Admitting to too many symptoms is not helpful and creates additional difficulties for the evaluator and the client alike. The third reason for denial is receiving incomplete or inaccurate treatment verification from a treatment provider. Since some treatment providers don’t perform drug and alcohol assessments they don’t communicate with an assessor who completes such evaluations. Clients also don’t understand their treatment verification and can’t explain the discrepancies between their treatment level completed and their symptoms. Some treatment providers don’t adequately explain the additional treatment requirements and dependency and non-dependency issues. This creates a problem for a future evaluator, especially if the client considers himself or herself non-dependent, but his or her treatment verification states that he or she is dependent. The fourth reason for denial is a lack of solid support system, that assures the Secretary of State Office that the client maintains sobriety. Clients are often told by providers to attend self-help groups but they don’t adhere to the recommendations. If they don’t have a specially designated support system, either traditional or non-traditional, it would be impossible for them to obtain either an RDP or full license privileges.

These are just some reasons for denials during the hearing process. There are many more that have to do with minimizations when filling out questionnaires or incomplete paperwork from significant others/friends or self-help groups. The more seriously we take the process of the reinstatement, the better we will be prepared when we go to the actual hearing. The best advice is, to be honest during your evaluation, memorize the evaluation after it is completed and present the same information during the hearing.


Anna Jankowska MA LCPC CADC

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Why Does the Fifty Shades Movie Look Like Domestic Abuse?

To those who aren’t fully familiar with Fifty Shades of Grey, the book and film may come across as just some woman’s fantasy of meeting a rich, good looking man, who looks after their every need. However, it goes much deeper than that. The situations portrayed in the film are too similar to ones many women do experience in real life, but it’s not a happy ending. They are situations involving controlling men for their own pleasure.

Christian Grey may be a handsome millionaire, but beneath the surface, he is a deeply disturbed man whose dark past dictates his relationships. The story begins with him stalking Anastasia Steele after she interviews him. Eventually, he pushes a contract onto Ana that says he will have complete control over her, including when they have sex and what she will eat. He takes her virginity with no emotional attachment whatsoever as if he is doing her a favor. She may be willing, but he knows how naïve Ana is. He has also snuck into her apartment and questions her about her friends.

What do Researchers Say about Emotional & Domestic Abuse in the movie?

An analysis by researchers showed there was emotional abuse and sexual violence taking place in almost every interaction between the two characters*. During a time when it is trying to be taught that “no means no,” that certainly isn’t the case in Fifty Shades. Ana protests at some of the Christian’s actions. He responds by threatening to tie her feet up and gag her too. Of course, it is assumed this is okay because she signed a contract, but we know that it most certainly is not. He threatens to punish her, all for his sexual gratification. He will “take” her when he is angry and use alcohol to lower Ana’s inhibitions. Yet, Christian somehow gets away with it, presumably for being rich and handsome and deeply sexual.

Stalking, dictating what you eat, who your friends are, insistence on being ready for sex whenever they want, and physical harm for sexual pleasure despite being told “no” are all situations that someone may experience with domestic abuse. The feelings, or confusion of, that Ana experiences are also a typical victim of domestic abuse behavior. She “obeys”, then says she can’t and won’t put up with it, following with her declaring her love for him, even after getting the beating of a lifetime with a belt in a room that is meant for sexual play, but resembles more of a Tudor torture chamber.

Fictional But Troubling for Domestic Abuse Victims

There are many fans of Fifty Shades who say they know it is a work of fiction, yet still swoon over Christian Grey, declaring him romantic for all his stalking/break-ins/beatings. Shockingly, there are even excuses made for him due to his disturbing past. This isn’t the message that women should be getting. Yes, it is a work of fiction, and the idea of domestic abuse was probably not the intention of the author of the book, but the situations are not a fantasy for many women who have found themselves a victim of domestic abuse.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Commercial Drivers Held to a Higher Standard When It Comes to Driving Under the Influence

Drivers with a commercial driver’s license have much stricter regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the minimum standards for commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), but the issuance and administration of the CDL remains a function of the state. Most states do follow the FMCSA regulations when it comes to impaired driving. A commercial DUI is serious business.

Drivers who fall under the FMCSA regulations include:

  • Owners of commercial vehicles
  • Federal, state and local governments
  • Private motor carriers
  • For-hire motor carriers
  • Non-profit or civic organizations
  • Churches

According to the FMSCA, there is no exception for volunteer drivers. A person who is driving the church bus, but does not get paid to do so, is included in the scope and intent of the CDL regulations. Compensation is irrelevant when it comes to commercial drivers.


Blood Alcohol Limits for Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers have more responsibility when they are behind the wheel. Their cargo might be passengers or hazardous material. An accident would pose a serious risk to public safety. The FMCSA sets a 0.04 percent blood alcohol content limit for commercial drivers. In addition, commercial drivers are not supposed to drive a commercial vehicle for four hours following a drink of alcohol.

Commercial drivers give consent to testing by driving a commercial motor vehicle. This is called implied consent. Refusing to take a chemical or breath test will almost certainly result in an automatic license suspension. The FMCSA holds that a refusal to take the BAC test is the equivalent of pleading guilty to a DUI. It does no good to refuse a BAC test.


DUI Penalties

In accidents involving commercial vehicles, law enforcement can administer a BAC test to the driver, but the employer will almost certainly request the driver be tested for controlled substances under FMCSA §382.303. Should a driver have a concentration of 0.04 percent BAC or higher, not only does the driver face criminal and administrative penalties as any driver would who is facing a commercial DUI, but the penalties are much higher. For example, it could result in a 1-year disqualification. It might take 10 years before the driver would be eligible for reinstatement for a major violation of CDL regulations.

In addition, commercial drivers are required to report any traffic violation to their employer, even if the incident occurs on personal time. A DUI conviction could prevent a person from maintaining employment, should his or her license get revoked or suspended for a DUI. The stakes are much higher for drivers with a CDL when they drive after drinking alcohol.


Commercial DUI Charges Are Serious

Commercial drivers may live in one state and drive all across the country. Dealing with a DUI in a state where you do not live can be even more difficult than having to face charges in your own hometown. Commercial drivers face the same penalties as non-commercial drivers who receive a DUI, but a commercial DUI can destroy a career. It would be beneficial to consult with an attorney before making decisions about the future.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Can a Drug Test Lead to a False Positive?

Types of Drug Testing

Drug testing is becoming increasingly common during the job application process, as part of random workplace drug testing, and as a condition of probation. Individuals who have not used illicit substances occasionally find themselves subjected to positive drug tests.

Blood, hair, urine, or saliva testing may be requested. Drug testing looks for alcohol as well as certain prescription medications and illegal substances. Amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines (such as Xanax and Valium), cocaine, designer drugs (bath salts, MDMA, etc.), marijuana, opioids (narcotics including heroin or prescription opiates such as codeine), and PCP (phencyclidine) can all be detected by drug testing.

A common type of drug test is called an immunoassay test. If this test produces a positive result, the laboratory may follow up with a GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) test, which greatly reduces the chances of a false positive.

Can a Drug Test Lead to a False Positive?

False positives on urine drug screenings are uncommon, but no testing method is 100% reliable, and false positives do happen. Some common causes of false positives include:

• Antidepressants. Sertraline (Zoloft) can cause a false positive reading for benzodiazepine. Bupropion (Wellbutrin) can cause a false positive for amphetamines.
• Cold medicines. Non-prescription or over-the-counter cold, flu, and allergy medications that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine can cause a drug test to show up as positive for amphetamines.common causes of false positives in failed drug tests
• Ibuprofen. This over-the-counter pain reliever can cause a drug test to show up as positive for barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and marijuana. 12000 mg of ibuprofen, it is thought, may interfere with the enzyme used in the testing method. Ibuprofen is in a class of pain relievers called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). All NSAIDs can cause a false positive. Alternatives to ibuprofen such as aspirin and acetaminophen don’t cause the same effect and are safe to use before a drug screen.
• Poppy seed bagels. This one is so well-known it has even made its way into sitcoms, but just in case you missed it, poppy seeds contain trace amounts of opiates. Eating foods containing poppy seeds have been shown to give false positive drug tests for opiates as much as 16 hours after the seeds were ingested.
• Snack bars. A few brands of granola and snack bars contain hemp seeds for extra protein, which contain very tiny trace amounts of a chemical found in marijuana. Although you won’t get high from eating snack bars, the hemp seeds may cause a false positive drug test for marijuana. You would probably have to ingest a fairly large amount of hemp seeds to get a false positive, but just to be on the safe side, avoid these snack bars before testing.
• Tonic water. Originally developed as a medicine to fight malaria, tonic water contains the substance quinine. Quinine is made from the bark of the cinchona tree, and the bark contains substances that may cause a false positive test for opiates. The amount of tonic water used to make a mixed drink, such as a gin and tonic, is enough to cause a false positive test opiate test.
• Vitamin B supplements. The B vitamin riboflavin, or B2, is sometimes synthesized from hemp oil. Like hemp seeds, hemp oil contains tiny trace amounts of the chemical found in marijuana and is likewise capable of causing a false positive.

Drug Testing Myths

• Passive marijuana smoke can cause a false positive. This is not a valid reason for a false positive; the amount of marijuana compounds the body ingests from passively breathing marijuana smoke is well below the cut-off level detected by the drug screenings.
• Novocaine can cause a false positive for cocaine. This is also not a valid reason for a false positive, since the compounds detected by the test for cocaine are only found in cocaine and not in Novocaine. The “caine” in the two names doesn’t mean the two are chemically similar.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Creating Harmony: Balancing the Demands Between Work and Home

People who hold high-powered positions or are required to work substantial overtime often struggle to find the time to pursue personal goals or devote the attention to their families that they deserve. The stress that comes from trying to provide for your family while still being present is all too real. It can sometimes lead people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, which can contribute to depression, addiction, or even suicidal ideation. Here are a few tips to get the best of both worlds without venturing into dangerous habits.

Be Mindful About Social and Work-Related Drinking

Some professionals enjoy grabbing a drink with coworkers after a long day at the office, and for many people it’s a harmless way to blow off steam. Just be conscious of how often you go and how much you drink while you’re out. Limit yourself to a drink or two, and be sure you’re drinking water at the same time. Post-work drinks can be a great way to bond with your colleagues, but too many can lead to some unprofessional antics you might regret later. Plus, the longer and more often you’re out, the less time you have to spend with your family.

You might even discover you prefer to have a soda or iced tea instead of an alcoholic drink. That way, you can still reap the benefits of spending off-hours time with your coworkers without running the risk of overindulging.

Define What Balance Means to You

The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving harmony between work and home, because success looks different to everyone. The first step in working towards greater harmony is to define specifically what that looks like to you. Does it mean attending every baseball game or sitting down for a family meal every evening? Perhaps it means being able to unplug and devote your undivided attention to your family one day each week.

The key to achieving the ideal balance is to know precisely what it means to you. Only then can you set realistic, actionable goals and work towards making your vision a reality.

Make Deliberate Choices

To avoid feeling overworked and overwhelmed, people faced with these circumstances must master the art of making deliberate choices. You may find that it’s sometimes necessary to tell your boss that you’re not able to work overtime so that you can attend your daughter’s dance recital. Or, you might decide to turn down an opportunity that’s likely to take more time away from your family, perhaps requiring you to work out of town during the week. Whatever choices you’re faced with, evaluate the pros and cons carefully and make deliberate decisions in your and your family’s best interests.

If you’re accustomed to coming home and having a glass of wine or a couple beers as a way to unwind, make the conscious decision to take a few nights off from drinking each week. Instead, switch to a tall glass of water or a nice mug of herbal tea on those nights. Not only do you want to reduce the chances of your nightly ritual escalating, but taking this kind of break from alcohol and switching to a healthier alternative could help your body detox more easily, allowing you to get better sleep and feel more rejuvenated come morning.

Schedule Time for Everything

Some busy professionals swear by a running to-do list, while others find the never-ending nature of such lists overwhelming. Whether you’re a list-maker or a roll-with-the-punches type of person, scheduling can help you stay on task and better balance the demands of work and home.

Scheduling blocks of time for work tasks, meetings, and appointments as well as baseball games, dance recitals, and events at your child’s school will help you avoid overlap and enable you to better manage your time. Lists are great for outlining what you need to do, but schedules will increase the odds that you’ll actually get it done.

Prioritize Taking Care of You

If you tend to sacrifice your own needs to be there for others, you might actually be setting yourself up for failure. While it may seem like you have no choice when there are simply not enough hours in the day, the truth is that prioritizing self-care is the best way to be present and be your best self when you are serving others.

How can you prioritize self-care for better harmony between work and home? Make sure that you get enough sleep each night, eat a well-balanced, healthy diet, avoid overindulging in alcohol, and take time to exercise regularly. When you’re well-rested and your body is getting the right mix of vital nutrients, you’ll perform better and be more productive at both work and home. Productivity, of course, means that you’ll progress through work tasks with greater ease, reducing the odds that you’ll fall behind and end up missing out on quality family time to catch up.

When you learn how to make deliberate choices, schedule your time effectively, monitor work-related drinking, and take care of your body and mind, you might just find that making the transition back home might be more within reach than you think.

The post Creating Harmony: Balancing the Demands Between Work and Home appeared first on Counseling Center of Illinois.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

3 Ways Humans Deal with Anger

Anger is a reaction to a threat or insult that can be all-consuming and sometimes, difficult to deal with. While anger is a normal human emotion, how we deal with it is important for mental health and a sense of peace. If not handled well, anger can become a chronic issue, making it hard to control emotions and cause you to act “in the heat of the moment.”

Everyone becomes angry at some point in their lives. So, how can we deal with anger when it strikes? The trick is to control anger before it controls you, and if it’s getting out of control, seek help. Let’s look at the 3 main ways humans deal with anger.

The Ways of Dealing with Anger

Internalize it

Some people hold their anger inside because they don’t want the emotion visible to others. While internalizing your anger may prevent you from doing or saying things you may later regret, it doesn’t always make the emotion go away.

Studies have shown that people who routinely hold onto their anger put themselves at risk for health conditions like high blood pressure and restless sleep. If you’re able to internalize anger and mentally let go of it—by either forgiving the incident that caused you to be angry or deciding not to let it bother you—then you’ll likely reach a sense of peace with your anger and not let it affect you. But for some, holding in anger only makes the emotion brew and grow stronger. They need another way to cope.


Let it Out

Expressing anger can help you let go of the emotion. There are many ways of letting anger out; some are better routes than others. Yelling and shouting are less desirable ways of expressing anger, especially if another person is at the receiving end. Becoming physical, fighting or getting “in someone’s face” might help release anger, but aren’t the best choice. Routinely venting anger onto others, or becoming physical with others, is not only harmful but can actually increase the amount of anger that you feel.

While it’s true that physical expression works to reduce stress and anger, doing it appropriately is key. Consider a physical work out, running, brisk walking, or letting off steam on a punching bag as an outlet for reducing anger. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help you feel better and think with a clearer head.


Let it Go

The final way humans deal with anger is by letting it go. This is an excellent concept, but often hard for people to accomplish. Learning to let anger go is a learned behavior—a beneficial one! You may know someone who is good at “brushing things off,” or who doesn’t let things bother him. This doesn’t mean that person doesn’t feel angry. He’s simply learned to let go of the negative emotion.

Consider how you think about the situation that caused you to be angry. Is it worth continually mulling over what was said or done to you, feeling angry and furious, or would it be better not to hold a grudge? Learning to accept that you can’t change the situation that caused your anger is a good step in letting the emotion go. Try replacing negative, angry thoughts with more rational ones. And remind yourself that getting angry isn’t going to solve any problems—it might just make things worse.

What you can do About Anger

If the anger is too much to deal with on your own, talking to a trusted friend, family member, or if needed, a mental health professional who leads anger management classes can help. If you’re struggling to deal with anger, consider verbal expression. Sometimes a listening ear is the perfect outlet for getting anger under control and dealing better with it in the future.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Best Ways to Deal with Stress Natural Ways

Did you know that nearly a quarter of all Americans are under varying amounts of extreme stress? According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 85,605,500 people rated their stress levels at a level eight, nine or 10 on a 10-point scale in 2011. While the other three quarters of Americans say, they deal with fluctuating levels of stress on a daily basis, a disturbing trend has been observed. The stress most adults face on a regular basis is not going away. More and more American adults are reporting increasing levels of stress as time goes on. Although we cannot always control the sources of stress in our lives, we can change how we react to them.

What Are the Main Causes of High Stress Levels?
Chronic stressors such as job trouble and relationship problems are linked to serious emotional and physical effects such as depression, high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease. While most adults believe that stress can contribute to major illness, only 29 percent report being proactive about reducing their stress levels.

The American Psychological Association created a chart based on the regular stressors reported by surveyed American adults. Money and work remain as the top two main stress sources followed by economy, relationships, family responsibilities, family health problems, personal health concerns, job stability, rising housing costs and personal safety.

How Stress Affects Your Physical Health and Wellbeing
Extreme and unexpected stress such as the sudden loss of a loved one can have immediate effects on your health. Grief can really and truly break your heart. After losing someone close to you, your risk of suffering from a heart attack goes up 21 times for the first week and decreases to six times for the following week. The risk for heart attack will usually continue to decline further after a month or so.

Even everyday stressors can cause detrimental effects on your health if they are not successfully dealt with. If your body is allowed to remain in a “fight or flight” mode for longer than necessary, you will burn out your adrenal glands. Adrenal fatigue can lead to a constant feeling of tiredness, skin problems and more. High stress levels have also been linked to cancer and may contribute to the growth of cancer tumors.

Common Stress Symptoms
Keeping your stress levels under control is an ongoing commitment and requires daily attention. Unfortunately, many people fall into a vicious cycle with their coping mechanisms and perform unhealthy activities such as bingeing on TV/movies, eating junk foods and consuming alcohol and drugs.

The most common stress symptoms are listed below in order of acuteness:

  • Anger/irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy, motivation or interest
  • Headaches
  • Stomach upsets
  • Appetite changes
  • Changes in sex drive

How to Deal With Stress Naturally
Unhealthy coping mechanisms are only distractions and may even intensify your stress levels. This, in turn, will cause greater problems such as sleeplessness and overeating, thereby trapping you in a vicious cycle. The best thing to do to protect yourself is to focus on health strategies for dealing with stress.
#1 EFT
One very good tool for stress management is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). EFT is similar to acupuncture but works without needles. It is a free and simple way to help release emotional baggage quickly. Even children can learn and benefit from it.
#2 Exercise
Exercise is one of the best natural stress relievers in the world. It has been used as a natural remedy for anxiety due its powerful ability to cause the release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are the “feel good” hormones and act as the body’s natural painkillers and antidepressants. The negative effects of stress are increased in those who fail to exercise regularly. Yoga or yoga alternatives can produce some of the same benefits as exercise by reinforcing the mind-body connection, improving self-esteem and controlling anxiety.
#3 Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been used more and more regularly to treat stress-related disorders. These include psychiatric disorders, autoimmune diseases, infertility and depression. Acupuncture can initiate changes in the cardiovascular/immune systems such as increasing protective T-cell growth and encouraging healthy cellular immuno-responses. Because of its ability to regulate the nervous system, acupuncture is one of the best treatments for patients who are recovering from heart disease.
#4 A Healthy Diet
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to feed your body well. A nutrient-dense diet that includes trace minerals, healthy fats, vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants is critical to ensuring that your brain and body can handle stress the most efficient way possible.
Foods high in B vitamins — raw or cultured dairy products, grass-feed beef, poultry, green leafy vegetables, brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast
Foods high in protein — bone broth powder, lentils, wild-caught fish, natto, black beans and raw cheese
Foods high in calcium and magnesium — cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage,
Brussels sprouts, beans/legumes and organic yogurt

Foods high in healthy fats — coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, fish oil, nuts and seeds

Try to avoid the following foods as they can increase stress levels:

  • Processed/refined foods
  • High levels of alcohol and caffeine
  • Refined vegetable oils
  • Foods high in sugar

#5 Adaptogens and Essential Oils
Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwaganda, tulsi (holy basil), ginsing, astralagus root, licorice, rhodiola and cordyceps mushrooms (reishi, shiitake and maitake) help restore balance to the systems of the body. Adaptogens work by helping your overall bodily functions respond in healthy, balanced ways are are commonly used to help decrease the effects of cancer and other serious illnesses.

You could also consider essential oils. Myrrh, lavender, frankincense and bergamot can help reduce inflammation, improve immunity and balance hormones. Consider purchasing a diffuser to allow the oils to disperse through the air in your home or office space.

Stress is unavoidable in the day-to-day lives of the functioning American adult. However, with the right techniques, stress can be managed to prevent it from taking over your life and making you ill.

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