Whitney Houston’s Death: Hallmarks of a Battle Against Addiction and Overdose

By Maia Szalavitz

Whitney Houston Battle of AddictionPop legend Whitney Houston was apparently found unresponsive in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, with bottles of prescription sedatives in her room. The cause of the singer’s death at age 48 has not been confirmed as an overdose — and the results of a toxicology report may not be available for weeks — but it bears many of the hallmarks of such a death.

Like most overdose victims, Houston had a long history of addiction. Her ongoing and distressingly intense battle with cocaine had received extensive media coverage. She had tried rehab at least three times; her latest stay was in May. Like her, the majority of overdose victims have typically attempted rehab previously.

Victims of unintentional overdose also or show clear signs of drug misuse before or at the time of their death. In a 2008 study in West Virginia — a state with a high rate of overdoses — researchers found signs of drug misuse, including shooting drugs intended to be taken orally or drinking alcohol while taking depressant drugs like Xanax, in 95% of the deaths.

Full story at Time

Art therapy lets children open up

By Noh Hyun-gi

Art Therapy Opens Kids UpIn many suspense movies or TV shows, we often see a child character offering critical information (usually ugly truths) for a case through art. Be it an absent father in a drawing of a family or a rough sketch of crime scene, the simple images disclose troubled young minds.

Psychoanalysis of drawings and paintings such as these are only a part of art therapy. “People usually think of identifying children’s problems through artwork when they talk about art therapy,” said Yeo Im-gyeong, an art therapist at Cham-Bit Center for Children with Special Needs at Kwangwoon University, on Wednesday. “But that is only the beginning; art therapy gets children to communicate, gain self-confidence and even overcome their disabilities.”

Yeo may prescribe the widely used Draw-A-Person test developed by American psychologist Florence Laura Goodenough in the 1920s, which can hint at a child’s condition. A small figure may represent low self-esteem. Failure to include basic anatomical features such as hands or odd images showing the intestines may imply schizophrenic tendencies.

Full story at Korea Times

Mental health agencies face budget pressure to work together more efficiently

By Bill Barrow

Mental Health Faces Budget CrisisAfter emerging from a private meeting with about two dozen behavioral health care authorities around the region, the city’s top physician said Tuesday that the disparate system has little choice but to improve communication and efficiencies in response to announced cuts in inpatient and emergency services now provided by Louisiana State University’s New Orleans hospital. “There is plenty we can do,” New Orleans Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo said.

But she conceded that whatever improvements are made among a web of service providers — public and private hospitals, specialty inpatient facilities, the state-run Metropolitan Human Services District, independent chemical detox facilities, community-based case management teams for patients with psychotic disorders, law enforcement agencies and the judicial system, temporary housing programs — it almost certainly will have to be done with less money.

“Government is going to get smaller,” DeSalvo said. “We don’t want to do less. … But these cuts will have in impact.”

Full story at Nola.com

Is Twitter Really More Addictive than Alcohol? The Vagaries of Will and Desire

By Maia Szalavitz

Twitter AddictionTwitter and Facebook are harder to resist than alcohol and cigarettes, but so is the urge to work, according to new research on people’s daily struggles with self-control and desire. The counterintuitive findings may reveal more about the complexities of defining addiction and self-discipline than anything else.

Researchers gave BlackBerrys to 205 adults and signaled them seven times a day at randomly selected daytime hours for one week. When they were contacted, participants reported whether they were experiencing desire for something, what it was that they wanted, how strong the urge was, whether they wished to resist this desire and if they did in fact yield to the temptation.

The most strongly felt desires were for sleep and sex. Unexpectedly, cravings for cigarettes and alcohol were reported as weakest. In terms of actual behavior, participants had the hardest time stopping themselves from checking social media when they preferred not to, and from working when that was not what they truly wanted to do, suggesting that these urges actually drove people’s actions more than drugs or sex did.

Full story at Time

Heart Health Month: 8 Surprising Heart Facts We Learned Over The Last Year

By Sarah Klein

Healthy Heart FactsEvery February, organizations like the American Heart Association, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the CDC team up for American Heart Month to remind us that heart disease is stillthe number one cause of death in the United States.

If you already exercise regularly, eat a nutritious diet full of heart-healthy foods and keep stress levels in check, you’re on the right path toward a tip-top ticker. But there’s always more research evolving to teach us more details about what keeps a heart healthy for life. Here’s a look at some of the most surprising, uplifting and promising results that surfaced since the last American Heart Month.

Just last week, a large study published in the British Medical Journal found no link between eating fried foods and an increased risk of heart disease. However, (and this is a big however) the study was conducted in Spain, a country that lives and breathes by the Mediterranean diet, and predominantly fries foods in olive or sunflower oil.

Full story at Huffington Post