Commentary #82: “How Iceland Got Teens to Say No to Drugs”

The Atlantic

Image Credit: The Atlantic

I saw this article on Facebook recently. Thanks to Brittany A. for sharing it.

Here’s the link to The Atlantic’s article, published January 19, 2017:


What were you doing in 1997?

According to a local psychologist, Gudberg Jónsson, back then most of Iceland’s teens were drinking or drunk. All the time. It felt unsafe.

Fast-forward 20 years. There aren’t teens wandering the park, nearly passed out drunk. There aren’t many wandering teens at all.

Why?

They’re involved in after-school classes, art club, dance, music, or with their families.


Iceland boasts incredibly low percentages of teens drinking, using cannabis, or smoking cigarettes.

Here are the numbers. This was a survey of 15-year-old and 16-year-olds, reporting these activities for the previous month.

Drunk, 1998: 42 percent
Drunk, 2016: 5 percent

Ever used cannabis, 1998: 17 percent
Ever used cannabis, 2016: 7 percent

Smoked cigarettes every day, 1998: 23 percent
Smoked cigarettes every day, 2016: 3 percent

It’s radical, and exciting. But, there’s a method behind it. And if adopted by other countries, it could have a revolutionary change. However, it’s a big if.


In 1992, Project Self-Discovery was formed, offering teenagers “natural-high alternatives to drugs and crime.”

Instead of a treatment-based approach or program, the idea was to allow the kids to learn anything they wanted, including art, music, dance, martial arts. By having the kids learn a variety of things and skills, their brain chemistry was altered, and give them what they needed to cope better with life. Other ways to combat depression, anxiety, numb feelings, etc. Life-skills training was also incorporated.

Research and studies in the early 1990s showed a series of factors that played into Icelandic teens not getting involved with alcohol and drugs: Participating in organized activities three to four times per week, especially sports; total time spent with parents during the week; feeling cared about at school; and not being outdoors in the late evenings.

Youth in Iceland began gradually, before being introduced nationally. Correspondingly, laws were changed. You had to be at least 18 to buy tobacco, and 20 to buy alcohol. Tobacco and alcohol advertising was banned. In addition, another law, still in effect today, prohibits children aged between 13 and 16 from being outside after 10 p.m. in winter and midnight in summer.

Another key provision was involving schools and parents. State funding was increased for sports, dance, art, music, and other clubs. Low-income families received help or assistance to take part in these extracurricular activities.

“Protective factors have gone up, risk factors down, and substance use has gone down—and more consistently in Iceland than in any other European country.”

Youth in Europe started in 2006. The questionnaires – Sent out to many European countries, South Korea, Nairobi, and Guinea-Bissau – shows “the same protective and risk factors identified in Iceland apply everywhere.”

However, no other country has made changes on the scale seen in Iceland. Sweden has called the laws to keep children indoors in the evenings “the child curfew.”

There are cities that have reported successes, being a part of Youth in Europe. Teen suicide rates are dropping in Bucharest, Romania. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of children committing crimes dropped by a third in another city.

“O’Toole fully endorses the Icelandic focus on parents, school and the community all coming together to help support kids, and on parents or carers being engaged in young people’s lives. Improving support for kids could help in so many ways, he stresses. Even when it comes just to alcohol and smoking, there is plenty of data to show that the older a child is when they have their first drink or cigarette, the healthier they will be over the course of their life.”

Would something like this work in the U.S.?

Not a generic model, nothing exactly like Iceland, but something specifically tailored to individual cities, maybe even individual communities. By working with communities to identify the biggest issues and the biggest needs, maybe adopting facets of the Iceland program may help teenagers, and others, in the U.S.


My two cents: While I do drink alcohol now, I’ve never smoked. I was never tempted by alcohol as a teenager. Not at home with my parents, anyway.

I was involved with music and sports from a very young age – Piano, gymnastics, soccer, then the viola, and softball. My church was another huge part of my life. If I wasn’t in school, at music lessons, or at sports practice, I was likely at church.

Also, I know my parents played a huge role in my life. Being an only child, I know I’m a bit biased. But, we had dinner at the table almost every night. We didn’t eat out a lot. The Internet was new, and no one had a smartphone. We had a computer, but there were strict limits, and more educational games than Web surfing. They were fully present in my life. I may have been sheltered and protected, but it gave me so many benefits.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

 

 

 

Commentary #81: “How One Woman Is Teaching Homeless & Foster Care Children To Dream”

Precious Dreams Foundation

Image Credit: Sam Dahman

A dear friend shared this article on Facebook on November 30th, and I felt compelled to write about it.


Who knew that decorating an ordinary, simple pillowcase could make such an impact?

Nicole Russell, together with volunteers, provides comfort items that help children in transition to self-comfort.

What makes you happy?

What images can help you dream?

Things that many of us take for granted – Warm pajamas, stuffed animals, receiving blankets, books, and journals – This foundation helps provide it!

This is awesome!


If you’re interested in learning more, please see the resources below:


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #80: “You have two ages, chronological and biological. Here’s why it matters”

Aging Quote

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

This article on CNN.com, posted on November 30th, immediately caught my eye.


Your chronological age is fairly self-explanatory – It’s based on your birthday.

Your biological age is a bit more complicated – It’s called someone’s phenotypic age.

Phenotypic: Relating to the observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.

Remember biology class?

Long story short: Your biological age determines health and lifespan.

Morgan Levine, a professor and researcher at Yale Medical School, worked with her team to identify nine biomarkers in a simple blood test. Some of these biomarkers include blood sugar, kidney and liver measures, and immune and inflammatory measures.

The bottom line: People who have a lower biological age than their chronological age have a lower mortality risk.

What’s interesting about Levine and her team’s research is that your biological age is not permanent. It can be adjusted. Meaning, changing things like lifestyle, diet, exercise, and sleep habits can lower one’s mortality risk and improve one’s biological age.

Currently, Levine is working to provide access to the algorithm online so that anyone can calculate their biological age, and take further steps to improve it.


For more information:

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #127: My Skin & Makeup Routines (Part 5)

Lush

Image Credit: LUSH UK

I’m trying some new things, so it’s time to write another Skin & Makeup Routine post!

Here are the links to my original posts:


Skin

I’m continuing my normal routine with a combo of my standard LUSH and Young Living products, but I wanted to share some new things I’ve purchased since my last post.

I took the Wolfberry Eye Cream with me on my recent trip to Blacksburg, and I love it!

Karma Kream is my new favorite body lotion. It’s perfect for right after I shave my legs!

These are three face masks that I received for free during my last trip to LUSH, which was at the end of April. If you redeem five empty and clean pots, you get a free face mask of your choice! Since I had 16 empty and clean pots, they gave me all three at once.

Since the last update, I started supporting a friend’s business with Rodan + Fields. I started with their Lash Boost. I’ve been using it for nearly two months. In just seven weeks, I’ve seen a massive difference! My eyelashes are fuller, darker, and I’ve lost less of them. I also don’t wear a lot of mascara anymore!

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Using Lash Boost is super simple! It’s the same concept as eyeliner on your lids. Once a day, swipe, swipe, and done!

I also took the quiz called “Finding Your Regimen” with their Solution Tool. Since skin cancer is very prevalent in my family, and I have the “fair skin curse,” I wanted to see what this said. After all, Rodan + Fields are two dermatologists!

My personalized recommendation was Reverse Lightening. So, I ordered it. Granted, I haven’t had a chance to start using it yet, since it’s a new regimen from what my skin has been used to. Hopefully I can start it over this weekend!

 

In addition, a while back I saw that Young Living offered something called the Bon Voyage Travel Pack. I added to my monthly order, and I’m so glad I did. This was wonderful to have during my flight to Florida – No issues with the TSA!

The travel pack includes:

  • Thieves® AromaBright Toothpaste
  • Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier
  • Thieves Dental Floss
  • Thieves Fresh Essence Plus Mouthwash
  • Young Living Toothbrush
  • Lavender Shampoo
  • Lavender Conditioner
  • Cinnamint Lip Balm
  • Morning Start™ Bath & Shower Gel
  • Genesis™ Hand & Body Lotion
  • ART® Light Moisturizer

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Here’s my updated LUSH wish list:


Makeup

I’m loving my Savvy Minerals. I don’t have any recent photos, but I recently used Essential Rewards (ER) to purchase a bigger variety of the eyeshadow offerings. More photos to come!

Here is the list of eyeshadow that I currently have:

  • Best Kept Secret
  • Diffused
  • Determined
  • Envy
  • Freedom
  • Inspired
  • Overboard
  • Spoiled
  • Unscripted
  • Jet Setter (eyeliner)
  • MultiTasker

I use either Jet Setter or MultiTasker on almost a daily basis! I’m excited to experiment with the different colors that I now have, too.

 


Hair

As much as I love Young Living’s shampoos and conditioners, it just wasn’t working out. Products with essential oils don’t mix well with hair that gets oily and greasy easily. I donated my unopened products to my church’s food pantry, which collects toiletries as well.

At the new LUSH store, I found their “Big” shampoo and solid conditioner. These were game-changers for me!

I also love their Sea Spray Hair Mist!

Everything I have reminds me of the beach!


What about you?

Do you have a certain skin routine? What about makeup?

Have you tried any homemade recipes related to skin or makeup?

Check back in a few months – I’ll likely have another update post to share!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #74: The “New Science of Psychedelics”

The New Science of Psychedelics

Image Credit: NPR

Many of you know that I enjoy listening to podcasts. One that I listen to regularly is NPR’s Fresh Air podcast.

This week, Terry Gross interviewed Michael Pollan, a world-renowned author. His books have typically focused on food and agriculture.

However, his new book, titled How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, discusses the history of psychedelics, and the “new” uses of them to help treat anxiety, depression, and helping cancer patients face their mortality.

There have been two phases of clinical trials up until now, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved Phase III, which is “testing of drug on patients to assess efficacy, effectiveness and safety.”

In researching for the book, Pollan himself became a “reluctant psychonaut” with LSD and psilocybin (magic mushroom) to see if these effects were real.

I won’t tell you Pollan’s results, but it’s a really interesting process. I recommend listening to the podcast version of the show, as it’s an extended edition, where Pollan and Gross discuss the history of psychedelics, which is so fascinating to learn. It’s amazing to learn how LSD was first synthesized, and how it has had a turbulent history. Pollan also discusses psilocybin to an extent, which is another interesting part of the story.

For me, I was definitely more than a little skeptical. I’ve never used any drugs or psychedelics in my life. I’ve seen counselors and therapists.

However, Pollan lessened my skepticism a bit during his interview with Gross. One of his interview subjects was a woman who had survived ovarian cancer. She was absolutely terrified of it recurring, and she was paralyzed with fear. She found a guide, a therapist who administered small doses of one of these psychedelics, and helped her along her trip. She discovered this “black mass” underneath her rib cage during the trip, and originally though it was her cancer. The guide helped her understand that it wasn’t cancer, but in reality it was her fear and anxiety. During the trip, she commanded the black mass to leave her body, and it did.

When Pollan’s fact-checker called to verify her account right before the book’s publication, Pollan’s original words were something to the effect of “this black mass was significantly reduced after her experiences with psychedelics.”

The woman corrected the fact-checker over the phone and said, “No, it wasn’t ‘significantly reduced.’ It was extinguished.”

Again, some of my skepticism remains, but as someone who has a diagnosed anxiety disorder (GAD), hearing the woman’s story gave me hope. I truly believe these psychedelics helped her.


For more information, check out the following links:


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #68: “Support Systems” (Reblogged)

I’ve been following Sara’s blog for quite a while. Her poetry is beautiful. She does fun Questions of the Day every now and then.

She also makes the time to reply to every comment that is posted. She’s so sweet, and incredibly supportive!

I wanted to share this post of hers about support systems. It’s a long one, but she pours her heart out. I know I’m glad I took the time to read it.

Sara, you’re an awesome person!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Sara in LaLaLand

For a large portion of my life, I have felt that I have not had a very strong support system. Growing up, I was not taught how to talk about my feelings, I was encouraged to shut them down. It was not until I was living in “the real world” that I noticed the way I expressed myself was not normal, but it was the only way I knew. I did not have the kind of parents you could talk to about anything and everything.

I first experienced death when I just turned 10 years old and I did not know how to deal with such a thing. I was not talked through loss. I was given the news and then left to my own devices. I even remember some cruel kids mocking how this person died. I was lost at that point and from here is where I started building…

View original post 1,130 more words

Getting Personal #107: My Skin & Makeup Routines (Part 4)

I’m trying some new things, so I figured it was time to write another Skin & Makeup Routine post!

Here are the links to my original posts:


Skin

As much as I love LUSH Handmade Products, the store at MacArthur Mall was closed for a bit while they moved into a bigger space. It was disappointing.

In the meantime, I capitalized on the products that Young Living Essential Oils offer. Since I’m enrolled in their Essential Rewards (ER) program, I earn points for everything that I buy.

Here are some of the Young Living products I’ve been using recently:

I’m loving these two, so far! I only need a tiny bit of each. I’m using the Scrub every few days, but I use the cream every morning after my shower. It smells like the beach!

I love the smell of Morning Start – Peppermint, lemongrass, rosemary, and juniper. Several people have hugged me at church and asked what perfume I’m wearing. When I said it’s body gel, they were all shocked! I can’t wait to try Sensation soon!

I’m looking forward to the day when I’m able to snag just one container of the Orange Blossom Facial Wash. It must be popular – It’s been out of stock for months!

Now that the bigger LUSH store is finally open, here are a few of the things on my wish list:


Makeup

I love Savvy Minerals by Young Living!

The brushes are so soft, and they’re labeled!

I think I need some different eyeshadows. I love the eyeliner, though!

These are my Before & After photos from yesterday:

Personally, I like the Jet Setter eyeliner the best! I definitely want to experiment with different eyeshadows and blushes. The brush set is AWESOME!


Deodorant

I love that I tried making my own homemade deodorant, but I had one strange side effect. My armpits would not stop itching! It felt like they were sunburned all the time. Finally, I reached out to April, my friend and Young Living independent distributor, for help. She thought it could be the baking soda – Too much of it can cause a skin reaction.

So, I ditched the homemade stuff and started trying the cake deodorant that Young Living makes. It smells amazing!

I got Al to start using it, too! I’m excited to try Meadow Mist when I finish the first cake. It’s lasted a good while!

So far, I’ve only used the Mountain Mint one. It smells awesome, and I’ve noticed that I’m sweating less. Plus, no more itching or burning!


Hair

I started with Young Living’s Lavender Mint daily shampoo and conditioner, which I liked. I plan to use more of that during the summer, since lavender is a good mosquito repellent!

Once I finished the bottles of Lavender Mint, I started using the Copaiba Vanilla shampoo and conditioner. These are definite winners for me, and I intend to keep buying them!

I also have the Lavender Volume shampoo and conditioner on deck.


What about you?

Do you have a certain skin routine? What about makeup?

Have you tried any homemade recipes related to skin or makeup?

Check back in a few months – I’ll likely have another update post to share!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂