17-43 Segment 1: The Biology of Addiction

Addiction has become undoubtedly entangled in modern American society. Whether it’s gambling, food, sex, technology, alcohol or drugs, the deadly disease hijacks the human brain with severe ramifications. Recent eruptions in the number of opiate addicts and overdoses has shined an even brighter spotlight on this critical public health issue.

There is an inclination to equate addiction to a moral failing, lack of willpower, or simply bad judgment. Dr. Rita Goldstein, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, explains that due to our ‘evolutionary legacy,’ the reward center in the brain is designed to make us feel good when we do things like eat food or have sex. Yet, with prolonged addiction, a chemical imbalance occurs, and as a result, the reward center takes priority over rational thinking or the threat of negative consequence. When addictive behavior is continually reinforced, further imbalance occurs, weakening the part of the brain meant to counterbalance impulsive behavior.   

The good news; Dr. Anna Rose Childress, Research Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Pennsylvania School of Medicine, observes that with abstinence, with or without the use of medications for recovering addicts, the brain can begin rewiring pathways created in the midst of addiction. The road to recovery is not yet paved in the golden promise of a cure, but understanding the biology of addiction is a critical component of treating the disease.

Guest:

  • Dr. Rita Goldstein, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York
  • Dr. Anna Rose Childress, Research Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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17-43 Segment 2: Preparing for Disaster

 

It’s much more convenient to dismiss the idea of having to survive a natural disaster, yet the recent surge of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and wildfires in the continent of North America alone has left the unprepared scrambling to put together a survival strategy. Co-authors of The Provident Prepper: A Common Sense Guide to Preparing for Emergencies, as well as married couple, Jonathan and Kylene Jones, share their expertise as civil defense experts.

“Being prepared is really a force multiplier…[which] means that instead of somebody having to take care of you, you can take care of yourself and your family and reach out to those around you and make a big difference in this world,” according to Jonathan Jones. Even the most obvious things can become exceedingly complicated during a natural disaster. Everyday resources such as food, water, and electricity can suddenly become inaccessible. Water is at the top of the list, at a minimum of two-gallon of water per person per day. Natural disasters at the more severe end of the scale can mean no tap water, grocery stores being closed or destroyed, being unable to get needed medical attention and essential medications.

The number one type of disaster to prepare for according to the civil defense experts is fire. It’s extremely important to have a plan already prepared with your loved ones for evacuating the house. There should be an agreed upon meeting place and, although it may seem unnecessary, executing family fire drills will ensure everyone knows how to respond when the fire alarm interrupts your daily routine.  

Guest:

  • Jonathan Jones and Kylene Jones, co-authors, The Provident Prepper: A Common Sense Guide to Preparing for Emergencies

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Medical Notes 17-43

 

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Coming Up On Radio Health Journal Show 17-43

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The Biology of Addiction

Scientists are learning the specific workings of the brain when it is addicted to a substance or behavior, and showing that all addictions are similar. This gives hope of one day developing a drug to combat many addictions. However, the stigma of addictions—that they are a moral failing—still looms over the field.

Preparing for Disaster

Many people will have to deal with a natural disaster at some point in their lives. Two civil defense experts discuss how to be ready before it comes.

17-42 Segment 1: Why the Opposition To Later School Start Times?

 

On average, the secondary school day begins at 8 a.m, which can make for some groggy students. Most parents will complain that their teen likes to stay up late and sleep in, but there is actually a scientific explanation behind that tendency. The hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep, behaves differently during the teenage years, meaning that a teen’s sleep schedule is about two hours behind the rest of the world. According to Dr, Wendy Troxel, Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist, Rand Corp. and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, it’s a lot like having continuou jet lag for a few years. Dr.Terra Ziporyn Snider, Executive Director and co-founder of Start School Later, says that most teens get the bulk of their REM sleep between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., which is also the time they are being woken up for school.

Dr. Snider says that even though it might seem that the problem is teens staying up late on their phones, that in the end the problem is really the early start time for school, because it forces the student into an unhealthy sleep pattern.  says Dr. Ziporyn Snider. Dr. Troxel also points to thirty years of research that shows that later start times help students succeed.

So, if later start times are scientifically shown to be better, why hasn’t the public school system adopted them? According to Dr. Snider, it comes down to school politics and backlash from parents. Communities who have considered pushing back start times receive parent complaints about how the schedule affects after-school activities and before and after school care, how families who also have elementary school students have to change their routines, and even about the different traffic patterns later in the day. All of these concerns become reasons for schools to keep things as they are. In contrast, however, school administrators who have committed to the change say they will never go back, because the students show up more, and perform better.

Guest:

  • Dr. Wendy Troxel, Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist, Rand Corp. and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Pittsburgh
  • Dr. Terra Zipporyn Snider, Executive Director and co-founder, Start School Later organization

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17-42 Segment 2: Cancer and Beauty

 

It may seem surprising that the number one question women asked when diagnosed with cancer is not “am I going to die,” but actually “am I going to lose my hair?” When beauty editor Caitlin Kiernan received the shattering diagnosis of cancer, she was obviously concerned about her health. But as a working professional, she also wanted to learn how to look her best while feeling her worst. Caitlin called on her list of extensive contacts–from top medical doctors to hair stylists, makeup artists, and style mavens–to gather the best and most useful tips to offset the unpleasant effects of treatment. In her book Pretty Sick: A Beauty Guide for Women with Cancer, she talks about how it seemed that her job and her health were not reconcilable. When she would ask about how to keep herself looking good, she would receive judgment about how this was a time to be focused on her health, not her beauty. Keirnan says the two are not mutually exclusive because feeling pretty and confident helps many of us get through the day. Other reasons women are often concerned with their physical appearance as they fight cancer include not wanting to frighten or upset their children, and not drawing critical attention at work.

Guest:

  • Caitlin Keirnan, former fashion columnist & beauty director, cancer survivor and author, Pretty Sick: A Beauty Guide for Women With Cancer

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Medical Notes 17-42

 

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