Category Archive: Substances

May 21

12 Steps

There are a few people in my experience who are as impressive in maturity and integrity as those people we have worked with who have been the most involved in 12 Step Programs. I didn’t come to this observation from any pre-conceived bias in favor of 12 Step Program. If anything, my involvement with 12 Step early …

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Feb 02

Harm Reduction

Reducing the Harm of Substances in Your Life: A Harm Reduction Approach Have you noticed that your substance use is impacting your mood, relationships, or work? Are you looking to reduce the negative impact substances are playing in your life? Harm Reduction methods can be useful in exploring ways to prevent harm and reduce risks …

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Oct 31

4 Ways You Can Help a Loved One Cope with Addiction and Mental Illness

Mental illness and addiction co-occur more than some people may think. People with a mental illness are more likely to abuse substances while those with addictions are likely to either develop the symptoms of a mental illness or a full-blown mental illness. If there is someone in your life struggling with these two problems here …

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Sep 29

Cannabis and Bipolar

marijuana and bipolar

More than half of people with bipolar will qualify for a substance use disorder diagnosis at some point. In many places, the most popular drug (other than alcohol) in people with bipolar is cannabis. People with bipolar are almost 7 times as likely to use cannabis than the general population. In the United States, many states have legalized cannabis for medical indications, and two …

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Sep 20

Self Injury is the 8th Leading Cause of Death

Self Injury is the 8th Leading Cause of Death

An article just published online in the prestigious journal JAMA Psychiatry makes us drawn case that our fascination with trying to come up with clear  answers to questions that may ultimately be impossible to answer (what a person’s intent was when they injured themselves) is obscuring the fact that self-injury is now the eighth leading …

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Jun 30

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana

20 states have laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana, but what is the evidence for the medical effectiveness of marijuana? An exhaustive review of the topic just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that, overall, the evidence for marijuana’s effectiveness is quite poor. And while many of my younger patients …

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Aug 31

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting

Alcoholics Anonymous is many things, and its role changes over time for those who remain involved in it long term. Most importantly, AA can be a life line for those who are suffering from the potentially fatal illness of substance abuse. It is a way of achieving freedom from alcohol and drug addiction with the …

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Jul 18

The Problem of Denial: How to Help Loved Ones with Substance Use and Other Destructive Habits

“What can we do to help our daughter, who is a young adult, living at home, and who is not compliant with treatment recommendations from mental health professionals and appears to be using substances and behaving in other self destructive ways?” We are often asked what can parents and family of young adults or seriously …

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Apr 04

Mindfulness Based Substance Abuse Treatment Works

Relapse is common after substance abuse treatment, indicating that there is a clear need for effective followup options. A new study has found that cognitive-behavioral relapse prevention (RP) and mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) are both effective aftercare interventions for substance abuse treatment, but that the latter may have an especially enduring effect as far as …

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Apr 02

“Hitting Bottom” and Substance Abuse Recovery

I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about the idea that sometimes, an alcohol or substance abuser needs to “hit bottom” before they can get well. For one thing, there aren’t that many people in our practice who have decided to stop drinking or using drugs as a result of a classic “hitting bottom” experience. For …

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Apr 02

Quitting Smoking Improves Mood


A study published in the British Medical Journal reports that quitting smoking had a simillar positive effect on mood as an antidepressant. The researchers did an analysis of 26 studies using a technique called a “meta-analysis” and looked at changes in mental health (anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety and depression, quality of life, positive affect, and stress) …

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Jan 28

What about Marijuana for Depression or Bipolar Moods?

Since we practice in San Francisco, which was at the forefront of the move to decriminalize marijuana, we find that many of the people with depression or bipolar have smoked, or are smoking, marijuana as a way of treating their depression. Over the years we have developed a general impression of marijuana as a psychotropic …

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Dec 20

Was James Bond a Lush?

Always in search of the latest cutting edge medical knowledge, we happened across a fascinating research article in the December 2013 British Medical Journal that asks the question – “Were James Bond’s drinks shaken because of alcohol induced tremor?” Before going any further and looking at the research methods and conclusions, we have to warn …

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Nov 19

Herbal Supplements Often Not What They Claim

A recent study concluded that herbal supplements are often not what they claim to be. The study was published in the journal BMC Medicine and it got front-page coverage on the New York Times website. Using DNA analysis, researchers tested 44 products from a dozen companies. The DNA signatures were compared with samples obtained from horticultural greenhouses. The study …

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Sep 14

Coffee for Depression?

Feeling down? An article in Psychiatric Times suggests that drinking a couple of cups of coffee in the morning might help your mood. The study they cite found that those people who drank two or three servings of coffee per day (8 ounce cups of drip coffee – or shots of espresso) had a 50% …

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Jul 26

Anxiety and Substance Abuse

Matt Kushner, PhD discusses the issue of substance abuse in individuals with anxiety disorders. Because substance abuse is more common in those with anxiety in comparison to the rest of the population, Kushner has created a list of risk factors and screening tools to help doctors identify individuals experiencing both disorders. Some risk factors for …

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Jul 18


There is a new kind of eating disorder that has been recently plaguing many college students. This disorder is referred to as Drunkorexia. Drunkorexia is a mix of starving yourself and binge drinking. People engage in Drunkorexia in order to make up for the calories from alcohol by not eating regular food. The demographic that most commonly falls victim …

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Jun 26

An Interview You Don’t Want to Miss!

Dr. Forster recently interviewed with Matt Tierney, a Nurse Practitioner who holds a Master of Science degree in Nursing from UCSF. Matt goes into great detail about the benefits of the 12 step program and what the program is all about. He tells us how the 12 step program can be different for each individual …

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May 30

Abused and Misused: Opiods

The most overprescribed drugs that have have captured public interest are opioids. What a lot of people don’t know is that a 29% increase in pharmaceutical overdose deaths was caused by misuse of benzodiazepines, which have sedative properties. Dr. Steven King, MD, believes benzodiazepines are overprescribed, especially for patients with chronic pain. Benzodiazepines are often …

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May 24

Effects of Vitamin D on Mental Illness

Current Psychiatry posted an article suggesting that vitamin D levels are related to different mental illnesses. Although more than 50% of psychiatric patients are reported to have vitamin D deficiencies, there is still not enough evidence to say that vitamin D supplementation will help with symptoms. One way vitamin D enters our systems is through …

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