18-21 Segment 1: Autism and Substance Abuse

RHJ 18-21 A

 

Contrary to public opinion, autism is not a safeguard against substance abuse. In fact, experts say people diagnosed with autism are just as likely, if not more likely, to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with the challenges of their lives. Elizabeth Kunreuther, clinical instructor at the University of North Carolina Wakebrook Addiction Treatment Center and co-author of Drinking, Drug Use and Addiction in the Autism Community, explains what autism is, why people with autism turn to harmful substances, and the implicit ethical implications.

Many family members and friends assume that their loved one is immune from substance abuse because of several protective factors inherent in autism, such as social and sensory issues and rule-following behavior. But, Kunreuther says, these factors are not as protective as they seem. People with autism struggle to fit in with society and thus can develop a dependence on various substances. She also points out that if the person with autism is indeed helped through substances, she believes there is nothing wrong with their use, as long as it is moderated.

Providing another perspective, Matthew Tinsley, Asperger syndrome patient and co-author of Asperger Syndrome and Alcohol: Drinking to Cope, shares the story of his own experience, as he struggled with using alcohol as a coping mechanism. He says that being diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, is what helped him move away from an unhealthy addiction.

To learn more about autism and its connection to substance abuse, visit Kunreuther’s and Tinsley’s websites in the links below.

Guests:

  • Elizabeth Kunreuther, Clinical Instructor at University of North Carolina Wakebrook Addiction Treatment Center and co-author of Drinking, Drug Use and Addiction in the Autism Community
  • Matthew Tinsley, Asperger syndrome patient and co-author of Asperger Syndrome and Alcohol: Drinking to Cope

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18-21 Segment 2: Drowning: It Doesn’t Look Like You Think

RHJ 18-21 B

 

A drowning person is usually within a few feet of people who could help. Although, bystanders can only help if they recognize what drowning really looks like. As summer approaches, many of us will head to the pool or beach. Seven hundred children under the age of 15 drown every year in the US, and about half of them are within 75 feet of an adult. Dr. Francesco Pia, water safety educator, lifeguard and trainer for over 20 years, tells us about his study of what a drowning person really looks like.

While movies often show the drowning person thrashing, waving, or calling for help, Pia says that drowning is actually a quiet event. When someone is drowning, their body functions on instinct, which means all of their energy is focused on taking at least one more breath and trying to push themselves up to the surface.

Mario Vittone, retired Marine Safety Specialist in the US Coast Guard, explains a few common signs of drowning. While the person may look like they’re treading water or trying to climb a ladder, they are actually extending their arms and trying to push their mouth above water. Head tilted back, eyes glassed over, and hair over the eyes are more signs of a quiet, desperate attempt for life.

While it’s important to recognize the signs of drowning, prevention is better. Pia says that drowning can result from a mere five-minute lapse in supervision.  Parents often read a book or look at their phone, thinking they’ll hear their child if something is wrong. But, Pia says, if you don’t hear them, they’re in trouble. Above all, he emphasizes the importance of parents knowing CPR.

To see a video of what a drowning person really looks like or to learn what to do if someone is drowning, visit the links below.

Guests:

  • Dr. Francesco Pia, water safety educator
  • Mario Vittone, Retired Marine Safety Specialist, US Coast  Guard

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Medical Notes 18-21

 

Medical Notes this week…

Growing up on a farm leads to a more stress-resistant immune system and a lower risk of mental illness. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences lends support to the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which holds that growing up in “too clean” an environment can produce asthma and other health problems. The study compared people raised in the city with no pets against those who were raised with farm animals, surrounded by bacteria-laden dust. Researchers found that the bodies of people raised on farms responded better to a stressful situation…although they felt they were more stressed than the city dwellers.

Macular degeneration is the largest cause of blindness in older people and vigorous exercise may make it more likely in men. A study in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology tracked more than 200,000 people over more than 10 years and found that men who exercised vigorously five or more days per week were 54 percent more likely to develop macular degeneration within 10 years. Researchers say they’re surprised by the results. Exercise did not produce the same problems among women.

And finally, if you want to enjoy your job more, get your co-workers to complain about work with you. A study in the journal Organization Studies finds that complaining with colleagues in a joking way about common problems at work boosts morale and builds relationships. However, researchers caution that the joking has to be about work structure not people.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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