Fashion industry finally becoming body-inclusive

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The fashion industry has an unfortunate reputation for being exclusive in ways that are not always overwhelmingly positive. Over time, there have been multiple instances where the fashion industry has come under fire for its current trends or decisions. Some previous missteps include the fur era, casting strictly Caucasian, tall, and tiny models in all shows, and recently the evolution of leather becoming a less desirable material. But the most recent and perhaps even most important evolution in the fashion world has been the fact that the so-called plus size market has been grossly marginalised and underrepresented by most fashion brands. It has taken a while, but the fashion world is finally becoming more wholly inclusive. Further, consumers are taking notice and driving their business towards brands that have a focus on accepting and catering to individuals of all sizes.

It is about time that fashion recognised that they need to be aware and supportive of individuals that are different to their traditionally-held (ridiculous) standards. Anything else in this day and age is irresponsible and, more to the point, should not be acceptable. It is time that the industry realises that their “one size fits all” mentality is not healthy or realistic in this modern era. While the fashion world has been busy parading their latest looks on runways during fashion weeks and peak seasons, a significantly large percentage of consumers have been left feeling lost at sea and excluded from the excitement. Fashion should be about fun, complete inclusivity, and being bold. The traditional fashion industry depicts none of these ideals, but the modern mentalities arising as new generations begin to become the fashion industry’s target demographic are [finally] beginning to take hold.

The “plus size” mentality that has historically run deep in the fashion world is damaging not only to the hard-working models who have been taught and shown time and again that their body type is “too much” for traditional fashion, but also the young consumers buying these fashions and the brands making and selling them. The average woman in the United States is a size 14 to 16. When such a large percentage of the target demographic fits into the same size that is being campaigned so heavily as “plus size”, the term plus size does not make sense. In short, these sizes are just the same as all the others – sizes. Nothing more, nothing less. Brands have begun to either stock all sizes in the same fashions, doing away with “plus size” ranges altogether, or marketing the fashions differently (and, frankly, less offensively).

The shift in the attitude in the fashion industry towards larger sizes has been promising (to say the least) but there is still a long way to go. It seems that every time the fire dampens around the explosive conversation of larger sizes and models being used in fashion branding, the war ignites again. Even when the issue is put to bed, there is unrest surrounding the morality of it all. fortunately, more and more big name brands are leading the charge to eliminating the stigma surrounding larger sizes in fashion, but even so, there is a tidal wave of change necessary before the change is lasting. There are still some high end, globally recognisable brands that have yet to embrace the inclusion of plus-size models, as well as transgender models.

Victoria’s Secret is one of those companies. A titan of industry in the lingerie world, Victoria’s Secret is a fashion house that has built its empire by having only the most traditionally beautiful women walk. These women also happen to be tall and quite slim. This attitude and conscious decision on behalf of the brand has created an exclusive brand that, more and more often, buyers are becoming uncomfortable with. Certain fashions should not be exclusively available to certain sized individuals, and every shape and size of the human body should be celebrated – especially in high fashion. The fashion industry is one that has been through countless evolutions in its time. One of the oldest industries in the world, the fashion sector has had its fair share of ups and downs.

Having to fight tooth and nail to overcome the pitfalls caused by its own internal errors, the fashion world has been a consistently prominent industry around the world. the most recent (and perhaps the most disturbing) blunder has come as multiple fashion houses have refused to modernise and cater to individuals who wear larger sizes. We are thankfully seeing the beginnings of a tide that is shifting towards positive resolution, but there is still a long way to go. While some fashion houses are too emboldened in their own ways and thus will likely never change, the majority that are ready and willing to change are the ones who are becoming more popular among modern consumers. One size does not fit all, and it is about time that the fashion sector realised this and took conscious steps to include fashions of all sizes.

Healthy Sleep and Well Being: Scientific Explanations for Key Concepts

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A good and productive day requires a reasonable amount of rest and the correlation between human health and sleep cannot be ignored for those seeking maximum well-being and productivity. The market for goods and products aimed at helping those with a dire need for good sleeping habits is also quite vivid, showcasing anything and everything from anti-aging pillows to the best orthopedic mattresses , from electric beds to personalized blankets. The more people learn about the importance of sleep for a healthy life, the more the market will grow. It is up to the consumer to understand the important mechanisms at play and make the right decision regarding their purchases. It is always a good idea to keep track of novelties and news in the given market to stay in touch with the dominant trends, access the right products for the right purpose, and improve on their sleeping habits to get more out of life during the day.

Although there are various theories regarding the functions and reasons of sleep for human beings, studies show that one to three adults go through symptoms of insomnia today, and one out of ten such individuals are likely to develop insomnia as a chronic disorder. Other studies show that drivers who get less than six hours of sleep a night have 33% higher risk of causing an accident compared to others who sleep for seven to eight hours a night. The prevalent theory regarding the function of sleep for human beings is that sleep strengthens synapses and therefore enables the person to learn and remember better. In conjunction with this hypothesis, a research team at the University of Texas Southwestern discovered the existence of ‘Sleep-Need-Index-Phosphoproteins (SNIPPPS) which are activated by a ‘kinase protein’ SIK3, as the responsible actors in the sleep function for mice. Such proteins have also been found to regulate synaptic plasticity in the mice’s brain functions, creating a molecular link between synaptic plasticity and sleep regulation, bridging the thinking and sleeping processes. The phosphate molecules accumulating on such proteins therefore determine the length and quality of sleep in the test subjects, leading the researchers to conclude that research into such molecules and their interactions in human brain will be utile in understanding the most important determinants of sleeping for human beings as well.

Along with such functions and reasons, little is known regarding the actual experiences of a person while sleeping, leading one to question whether if human beings are conscious during dreamless sleep or not.  The current established view is that people are not conscious during sleep until they start dreaming which only occurs during the REM phase. In a recent study published in ‘Trends in Cognitive Sciences’, the authors Jennifer Windt, Tore Nielsen, and Evan Thompson are opposing this current view, believing that lumping all the experiences under a single heading is wrong, while asserting that “storylike, immersive, hallucinatory episodes” during one’s sleep can also be considered as conscious non-dream experiences. The researchers claim that sleepwalkers are a good example, as they experience “isolated visual, auditory or kinesthetic imagery” during, along with insomniacs who claim that they are not sleeping when indeed they have been sleeping without being aware of it. The researchers infer that by observing sleepers through neural and physiological measures, they discovered the existence of “a state of deep, dreamless sleep in which a bare form of conscious awareness remains present.” They also conclude that the absence of “the subject-object structure of ordinary experience and the phenomenology of being a cognitive agent” makes it impossible for people to understand the given phenomenon. The philosophical interpretations of the given issue dictate that human beings do indeed experience and observe during sleeping phases, necessitating a new definition of experience and observation to understand the given issue.

Teen behavior has been an issue of concern for psychiatrists and behavioral scientists alike lately, and as revealed in a study published in the ‘JAMA Pediatrics’ journal, there exist strong associations between mood and sleep for teenagers. Sleeping less than six hours per night resulted in participants to consider, plan or attempt a suicide more frequently while those who slept for eight or more hours reported far less such ideas, plans or attempts. Unfortunately, according to the data provided by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey between the years 2007 and 2015, 70% of high school students are currently getting less than eight hours of sleep per night. Such inadequate sleeping habits lead to increased risks of adverse self-behaviors as well as risk taking behaviors, validating the common notion that a good night’s sleep is indeed the path to personal satisfaction and fulfillment. However, the researchers also point out that there exists no direct correlation between low quality/duration sleep and higher risk behaviors but there exists such correlation with adverse self-behaviors. As teens become more susceptible to damaging themselves due to low quality/duration sleep, their social cognition changes in an unacceptable manner. In the following step, such individuals become more likely to take risky actions, as their perception of social distances, norms and limits get blurred out in the process. In such a scenario, the teens find it easier and more acceptable to initially hurt themselves and eventually others around them, creating an intriguing source of socio- psychological trouble.

Sleep is serious business and several scientists have managed to challenge the relationship between sleep and human health in numerous fields of study, including genetics. A recent study by scientists at the University of Surrey focused on “the influence of sleep on gene functions” to understand the effects of sleep on human biological functions such as stress, immunity, inflammation, metabolism and circadian rhythms, finding out that sleep was responsible for altering the activities of more than 700 genes. The 26 participants were led to sleep for less than six hours per night for a week and then were let to sleep for 8.5 hours the following week to be able to understand the effects of differing sleep durations as reflected on their blood samples. Results revealed that low durations of sleep altered the activities of 711 genes in total, and following a week of sleep deprivation, there was a seven times increase in the total number of genes influenced by sleeping. With respect to the circadian rhythms, insufficient sleep for one week led to a reduction of the number of genes that work coordinately with circadian rhythms from 1,855 to 1,481. This is an alarming reality because circadian functions are associated with psychiatric disorders, dementia, metabolic disorder and cancer. Due to incurred changes in the person’s metabolism, low quality/duration sleep has also been linked to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while such poor sleeping habits have also been associated with problems within the immune system, creating disruptions and stress during the day for the person.

Nutrition is an extremely important concept in human health and its connections with the circadian rhythms in human body have a direct impact on sleeping quality, patterns and duration for humans. The body clocks in every metabolism are connected to every cell in the human body and therefore influence all sorts of human activity by regulating blood pressure, body temperature, and hormone levels. Chrono-nutrition is the field of study that focuses on such relationships and research has proven that wrong types or quantities of food being consumed might easily lead to out-of-sync metabolic processes that hamper sleep quality and duration. As human beings become less capable of processing food in the evening, having a late dinner might easily lead to disruptions in one’s sleep. The body uses extra energy that was originally allocated to the sleeping process, making it harder for the individual to sleep or sleep less than demanded. In the long run, such disruptions lead to larger problems such as obesity, as unhealthy and untimely eating patterns alter the natural rhythms for eating and sleeping in an individual’s system without them noticing it. To avoid such complications, people should focus on not just what they eat but also when they eat to improve their sleeping health. Considering that 20% of all people in the workforce are shift workers, having large numbers of out-of-sync people will surely create large-scale problems for the society as a whole. Such individuals over time will become more aggressive, impotent and impulsive during the day, bringing down their productivity and increasing the risk of confrontations with others.

Dangers of Practicing the Science of Uncertainty with the Art of Probability

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Doctors in the US have to contend with the possibility of being sued for malpractice

Regular people the world over, in instances of sickness and pain, look upon doctors as emissaries from heaven. As Roman statesman, Cicero once said, “In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods, than in giving health to men.”

With sickness being an inescapable human condition, there has never been a time that doctors are not in demand. In recent times, with the advance in scientific knowledge and technology, new disorders and diseases have been discovered, and people seek medical help today more than during any other time in history.

This will naturally boost the demand for doctors and will generate interest in young people to become doctors. Currently, there are around 1.1 million doctors of medicine, in the US, spread in the different states in different densities. Washington DC, Maryland, and Massachusetts show the largest number physicians per population than other states in the US. However, when comparing globally, there are other countries that show a higher physician density. Considering  statistics during 2007-2016, Cuba showed the highest number of physicians of 7.5 physicians per 1000 people. On the other hand, many Americans visit their doctor about four times for the year, while the Japanese visit their doctor about 13 times for the year. This reflects the often prohibitively expensive nature of US healthcare.

Even as the medical profession is considered a lucrative profession, and the number of physicians in the US is increasing, the increase is not in proportion to the rise in population. Chief Healthcare Officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), Dr. Janis Orlowski, said, “You see absolute numbers of physicians going up, but not fast enough to meet the demand.” A study by AAMC estimates the US will see a shortage of 40,800 to 104,900 physicians by 2030.They expect a shortfall of 8,700-43,100 primary care physicians and 33,500-61,800 specialists. This is in contrast to the expected rise in demand for medical professionals with the inevitable rise in older patients requiring more medical care. The situation is aggravated by a third of all doctors set to retire during this decade.

As much as the services of doctors are essential, even critical, to the health of the community, there is the unpalatable issue of malpractice that surround many medical practitioners today. American surgeon, Richard Selzer, once said, “If people understood that doctors weren’t divine, perhaps the odor of malpractice might diminish.”

In reality, getting sued is quite common for doctors. According to research by the American Medical Association (AMA),  over a third of physicians in the US, or 34% of them, have been sued at some time during their careers. Older, more experienced physicians are even more likely to be sued. According to AMA, nearly half of physicians aged 55 and older, have been sued at one time or another.

Even as patients place their whole trust in the physician, they expect the physician to perform with the highest sense of integrity, with the patient’s welfare uppermost. Yet, there are times when this does not happen, propelling the patient or the patient’s family to bring a malpractice suit against the doctor. Among reasons patients sue doctors, five critical reasons identified, are poor communication with patients, poor bedside manners, delay or change in diagnosis, lack of informed consent and erroneous documentation. This leads to a situation where doctors, apart from the obvious stress of their profession, being constantly under a cloud of vulnerability to being sued. Doctors are thus keenly aware they need to connect with a medical malpractice law firm.

However, according to reports, about 90% of malpractice cases don’t go to courts, but are settled out of court, and only 63% of malpractice cases are associated with medical errors.

When patients place doctors on a pedestal and revere them as close to divine beings, and subsequently discover they have feet of clay, disillusionment can lead to a malpractice suit. One of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sir William Osler, commented from a physician’s perspective, “Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability.”

America’s Opioid Epidemic in 2018

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The current opioid crisis is unlike anything we’ve seen in the United States before. It’s dangerous, deadly, and it seems to be getting worse every month. The question is: What is being done to stop it… and is it enough?

The opioid crisis is dark, harrowing, and devastating. It torments millions of Americans and their loved ones, for whom there often feels like no escape.

According to this infographic which represent less than 5 percent of the world’s total population, consume 75 percent of all prescription drugs manufactured around the world. During the course of any given month, an estimated 6 million Americans use prescription drugs illegitimately.

Opioids like codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine are the most commonly abused drugs. Despite having received increased coverage in the media, the opioid crisis continues to spiral out of control.

According to data gathered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

  • Somewhere between 21 and 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Approximately 8 to 12 percent develop an opioid abuse disorder.
  • Perhaps most shocking is the fact that 4 to 6 percent of those who misuse prescription opioids eventually transition to heroin. (Viewed from the other side, 80 percent of people using heroin first misused prescription opioids.)
  • Opioid overdoses in large cities increased by 54 percent from July 2016 to September 2017. The Midwestern region saw a sharp increase of 70 percent.

When you study the alarming rise of the opioid epidemic in the U.S., you’ll see that it’s fundamentally tied to two primary issues. “The first issue was the significant rise in opioid analgesic prescriptions that began in the mid-to-late 1990s,” NIDA explains.

“Not only did the volume of opioids prescribed increase, but well-intentioned healthcare providers began to prescribe opioids to treat pain in ways that we now know are high-risk and have been associated with opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose, such as prescribing at high doses and for longer durations.”

The second substantial issue has been the healthcare system’s inability to identify and treat addicted individuals with evidence-based opioid addiction treatment plans. As a result, addicts have been left to suffer alone … which often forced them to turn to other drugs, including heroin.

As the opioid problem continues to expand into a serious national health crisis, many have wondered what’s being done to combat the problem. Though plenty remains to be done, here’s a look at some of the current initiatives, strategies, and action steps:

  1. HHS Framework

In April 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services developed and published a five-point Opioid Strategy that it hoped will lay the framework for multiple solutions. The comprehensive, evidence-based approach seeks to:

  • Improve the access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services so individuals have a better chance of achieving long-term recovery.
  • Target the availability and distribution channels of overdose-reversing drugs to ensure that addicts have greater access to them (with a specific focus on high-risk populations).
  • Improve public health data reporting and collection so more data are available in real time (which will help the public understand the severity of the epidemic as it continues to evolve).
  • Support state-of-the-art research that advances understanding of pain and addiction. This should lead to the development of new treatments.
  • Advance the practice of pain management so opioids become less of a default and people may recover from health issues without the need for high doses of prescription medication.

While this framework is still relatively new — and it by no means represents an exhaustive list of what HHS is doing — small wins are already occurring on this front.

  1. AMA Opioid Task Force Progress

The AMA Opioid Task Force has been one of the leading voices in the fight against the opioid epidemic. The goals of the task force are to register and use state prescription drug monitoring programs; enhance education and training; support comprehensive treatment for pain and substance use disorders; help end the stigma associated with opioid addiction; co-prescribe naloxone to patients who face a high risk of overdose; and encourage safe storage and disposal of opioids and other medications.

According to a recent report released by the AMA, the approach seems to be working. Prescriptions of opioids have fallen by 22.2 percent between 2013 and 2017, and there’s been a 121-percent increase in the number of times physicians accessed state databases for prescription drug monitoring programs.

  1. Stiffer Penalties and Repercussions for Prescription Drug Dealers

Although not everyone agrees with this approach, the Trump Administration has given a lot of attention to the opioid crisis. In particular, the president and his cabinet have called on Congress to pass legislation that lowers the amount of drugs needed to trigger mandatory minimum sentences for dealers who knowingly distribute illicit drugs.

President Trump has also declared the nation’s opioid epidemic a public health emergency, which creates new opportunities for action on a governmental level.

“With the public health emergency declaration,” report Kaitlyn Schallhorn says,
“officials are able to more easily deploy state and federal workers, secure grants for the unemployed and shift funding from certain programs — such as HIV or AIDs programs — to provide substance abuse treatment for certain individuals.”

President Trump has also been clear about his expectation to see the number of opioid prescriptions cut by a third within three years: an aggressive yet necessary goal.

  1. Greater Public Awareness

At the heart of almost every strategy for fighting the opioid crisis is some sort of boost in public awareness. That’s because little progress can be made until more people see the matter as a serious epidemic.

In June of 2018, the White House announced a new multimillion-dollar public awareness advertisement campaign that seeks to curb the appeal of opioid addiction for young people. The campaign consists of four ads: Each tells a rueful tale that illustrates the lengths to which young adults have gone to get hold of drugs such as Oxycodone and Vicodin.

“We hope these ads will spark conversation to educate teens and young adults to talk to their doctors about alternatives to opioids; that pain management may not always mean extended pain medication use; safe disposal practices for leftover, unused prescription; and also, to arm them with specific yet very simple knowledge about opioids,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters following the announcement.

There’s still much to be done in the fight against the opioid epidemic, but there’s no shortage of attention and energy directed toward it… both within the medical community and in Washington. And though it’ll take time, the hope is that victory is not far around the corner.

Mental health awareness as important as physical health

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We just had World Mental Health Day on October 10th which is a day set aside to educate people about the importance of taking care of their mental health and to reduce the social stigma attached to it. As part of that educative process it is important that people understand that there are lots of different mental health therapies that are available to treat many different mental health issues. These do not have to be earth shattering or extremely debilitating problems before you seek out help with them, the recent admission of Selena Gomez for a little “check in” to help her deal with some issues she is having shows that the right approach is to deal with these issues as they arise rather than waiting till they become significant problems. With that in mind I am going to give you a brief rundown of the types of therapies available to help you cope with any mental health issues you or your loved ones may be having.

One of the newest forms of therapy that has been getting very good results is Positive Existential Therapy or PET as pioneered by the Naya Clinics. It is a therapy whose philosophical underpinning are the existentialist tradition of european philosophy and focuses on concepts that are universally experienced such as death, freedom, responsibility and the meaning of life. Instead of seeing anxiety and depression as mental illness it views that as a natural part of life that can be dealt with by emphasising the individuals freedom and responsibility to facilitate higher meaning and well being in their life. It has a proven record of being useful in treating postpartum depression, marriage therapy and life coaching among other things.

In many ways PET is a reaction to the shortcomings of another school of therapy that has a wide following, namely Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. CBT seeks to change people’s behaviour by challenging and changing cognitive distortion (thoughts, beliefs and attitudes). It is a problem focused and action oriented form of therapy that is based on the principles of behavioural and cognitive psychology. It focuses on overcoming thought distortions and maladaptive behaviour by using coping therapies such as information processing skills. It has been used to successfully treat PTSD, substance abuse and eating disorders as well as in combination with drug therapies has been used to treat OCD and psychotic disorders and is the recommended frontline treatment for most children’s and youths disorders.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy  is an attachment focused psychotherapy that is distinctive by its time limited approach. Originally called high contact therapy is was developed at Yale University in the 1970’s as a treatment method for depression. It is now used to treat a variety of disorders including Bulimia and Bipolar Disorder. It focuses on interpersonal sensitivity and is based on Attachment theory and Interpersonal Theory. The aim is to help patients by improving their interpersonal communication skills and develop social support networks. Along with CBT it is the most common form of therapy for mental health professionals in the United States to be trained in.

The last form of psychotherapy is the one that most people would recognize from Hollywood movies. It is called Psychodynamic Therapy and is based on the idea that most emotional problems are caused by unresolved unconscious conflicts from childhood. The goal of this therapy is for people to gain a greater understanding and cope better with their feelings by talking about their experiences. It works by exploring feeling that sometimes the patient is not even aware of by making the unconscious part of their emotional life part of their present. It is philosophically based on Freudian psychoanalysis and unlike structured approaches like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy it tends to be free flowing and open ended. Originally developed to treat depression it is now used to help patients to better understand the unconscious beliefs that drive behaviors as well as developing psychological resources and a much greater capacity for dealing with psychological issues that have caused them emotional suffering.

Whichever treatment you think would be a good fit for any of the mental health issues you may be having understand that it is perfectly normal to have these issues and the most responsible thing you can do is attempt to deal with while they are small before the have a chance to grow into much more debilitating issues. Attitudes have changed and people are not going to think less of you because you utilizes the help of mental health professionals to overcome issues you may be having. The first step to getting well is to admit you have a problem that needs help and seeking out that help. It is in its own way an act of love not just for yourself but also to those that love you. Don’t hesitate to seek it out if you think you might need it.

Getting the story straight – Drug addiction a health issue, not a criminal issue

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Across the world, drug addiction is one of the most violent and dangerous causes of death. In fact, in the US alone, mortality from drug overdose is the leading cause of death from injury, with opioids stacked as the most common choice of poison. Countries around the world have been trying desperately to fight the growing number of drug-related deaths, and yet it appears that, as one wall is overcome, another is built a few hundred metres ahead. The availability of drugs essentially fuels the demand for drugs, and as a result the epidemic is in a near-constant state of teetering between finding a way through the fog and falling down the next hole that comes up. As far as treatment facilities go, traditional addiction institutions have a low success rate, with addicts either not recovering at all or relapsing nearly immediately upon their release from the addiction treatment facility. However, new-age addiction treatments such as the Ibogaine treatment method at the Holistic Sanctuary are paving the way for higher success rates, healthier clients, and ground-breaking treatment methods. Even with these incredible innovations to the cause, there is much more to be done, and a long road to be paved before the epidemic ceases.

First and foremost, the misconception that drug addiction is a choice that is easily put to bed is incredibly damaging and frankly irresponsible. Individuals who suffer with addiction are at the mercy of the substance of their addiction. In short, addiction of any kind is essentially a chronic brain disease. In the case of drug addiction, this disease of the brain causes or at the very least increases significantly compulsive drug seeking and use, regardless of the consequences to the user themselves, as well as all those around them. Rather than treating drug addiction as a criminal offence, we should first and foremost be looking at it as a breach in health. The tragedy of drug addiction is that it swallows a person’s entire life, leaving them dependent on it and lost without it. It is a cruel, unyielding disease, and it is one that affects more people than we are perhaps comfortable admitting or realising.

The biggest problem in the face of the epidemic is society’s blatant refusal to accept or at least be open to discussing drug addiction. When all the possible channels (aside from treatment facilities, of course) for support and assistance are tainted with negative impressions and misinformation, the result is that addicts are often left out in the cold, feeling as though the problem does not matter to the whole and that they are alone in their disease. It is a heartbreaking realisation, but it is one that must be brought to attention if anything is to be done about it that can have profound, lasting impact. First and foremost, drug addiction destroys the life of the individual that is directly affected. Addicts become literally hooked on the feelings that are a result of the drug, or the substance itself, and once that addiction is kicked into high gear it is near impossible for many to break out of it and improve their lives.

Additionally, the loved ones of drug addicts are left broken and unsure where to even begin picking up the pieces. Friends pull away, unsure or unwilling to deal with the consequences of the disease their friend is battling. An addict’s entire life is changed. Getting the necessary help is a difficult step for some to take, and when they do get there, the battle wages on. Mindset is at the core of addiction as well as subsequent recovery; for addicts to be able to recover successfully, they must be in the right mindset to do so. an addict seeking help before they are ready nearly always results in quick relapse, built up resentment, and overriding impulse to fall back into old, unhealthy habits. Having a clear, sure mindset is essential to anyone actively seeking treatment.

Criminalising drug addiction is the core of the greater issue. When a disease is treated as though it is a crime, then victims and their suffering circles are left to deal with the explosive aftermath on their own and under public scrutiny. Yes, drug addicts have a responsibility to themselves just as we all do, and they make the initial choice to fall into drug use. The decision to turn to drugs is very rarely a choice made simply to “see what it is like”. Often times there are underlying root causes that lead to drug use, and the brain becomes hooked – this is when the disease takes over. Criminalising drug use makes sense in a lot of ways, but it also unfortunately does not solve the problem. Addicts should be given understanding, kindness, and viable options for recovery, but instead they are often given disrespect, disdain, and disgust. While addiction has been known to be more common in marginalised groups, no one is immune, and so acting as if drug addiction is beneath anyone is not only disgusting behaviour as a human being, but it is damaging as it results in addicts relying more on the one thing in their lives that is a constant source of support – even if that support is twisted.

Drug addiction is a health issue, and the treatment of it as a criminal act is frankly irresponsible. We cannot hope to demolish this harrowing global epidemic if we consistently look down on those who suffer at its hands and act as though drug addiction is a simple choice of deciding to quit. Drug addiction destroys lives, and the only viable way to combat it is to treat it as what it is: a breach in health, not a breach in character. Nobody is immune to drug addiction, and so understanding and willingness to assist those who suffer is vital to ensuring the future health and successes of those who recover. With any luck, the recovered percentage will continue to grow as the number of drug-related fatalities falls.

Shop the outer rings – Taking active control of your health

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Taking control of one’s health can be challenging. Life is busy, and it is easy to default to the easy options for meals, most of which are fast foods or other unnecessarily unhealthy options. The obvious result of this is that individuals who resort to the perceptively easy options for their meals ultimately end up being unhealthier for it. It is not a difficult concept to grasp, but it is one that requires forethought and knowledge to truly understand the weight of the concept. Essentially, the healthier a diet one eats, the healthier their body is overall. It can be difficult to get into healthy habits, but once one has locked them down, eating healthy becomes second nature and the body thanks them time and again; a healthy body is a happy body. There are some tricks of the trade that can make transitioning into a healthier era easier, and thankfully there are also genuine bonus tips that actively work towards targeting and lifting the health of one’s body.

Eating a healthy balance of foods and drinks is vital to ensuring one’s physical health, but supplements and vitamins can also work wonders for the body. Companies like Pure Encapsulations make it their mission to provide consumers with healthy provisions that are proven to work. These magical little capsules, powders, and pills (such as fish oil or vitamin B, for example) work by providing the human body with additional essential elements, such as extra vitamins, iron, or natural fatty oils. But these supplements and vitamins are intended only as a natural boost, not as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle (though some people do genuinely need them as one).

Making the decision to pursue a healthy lifestyle is about more than intention. As the old saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. In short, simply intending to be healthier later does not solve anything; to actively life a healthy lifestyle, one must consciously choose to now, not later. Incorporating whole foods into one’s diet makes us feel better and gives us a more wholesome approach to life. To make the transition into healthy eating easier, one simple (but incredibly effective) tip is to shop on the outer rings of the grocery store. The reason for this is very simple: processed or otherwise altered foods and drinks tend to be stocked within the inner isles of grocery stores, while the whole, natural foods are stocked in the outer rings of the store. Organizing your grocery shopping like this is an easy way to ensure that you don’t overspend on food and drinks that are not healthy for your body, and it also helps you subconsciously stock your trolley with more fruits and vegetables, helping us to “eat the rainbow” (eat brightly colored fruits and veggies) more actively and easily.

Adding spicy ingredients into one’s cooking is another way to assist with putting a healthy lifestyle into consistent action. It has been proven in multiple studies and through research that foods and meals that are spicier in nature take us longer to eat, due to the spice taking longer to handle and digest. This results in eating more slowly, allowing the body to fill up naturally rather than plugging fattier, more unhealthy foods into our systems. When we eat with intention, and include spicy ingredients into our meals, we eat slower and the body consequently fills up faster. Obviously, this is a win-win for the body (unless you don’t like spicy foods, in which case avoid this tip).

It is about more than just what we want for our bodies, too. Our diet has a monumental effect on the brain and general well-being, even going so far as to work to protect against mental illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Proven to consume more than 20% of the body’s total energy haul, the human brain genuinely needs to be fueled with fatty acids in the forms of fish like salmon, mackerel, and anchovies (the best natural source of the sole kind of fat the brain needs). Additionally, fruits, vegetables, and glucose (the only energy source for the brain) are necessities to fuel the body in all the right ways. Every day, what we put into our bodies is gradually broken down and turning into nutrients. Travelling into the bloodstream, the nutrients is then carried through the body to the brain, where it replenishes energy, activates cellular reactions, and essentially becomes the very substance of the human brain. It is an incredibly intricate web, and one that must be fabricated in the healthiest of ways in order to thrive and function wholly.

Making conscious decisions to be healthier is something that quite a lot of people struggle with. It is not hard to understand why – with so many more convenient, fast options out there, individuals tend to default to the meal options that take the least amount of time while simultaneously filling them up the most. If one truly wants to live a healthy, wholesome life, they should pay close attention to what they put in their bodies, including how they do their grocery shopping and their active choices for their meals when eating out. Each of us has only one body – we should do our best to keep it at its best.

 

Instant gratification causes a society stricken with addictive personalities

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Instant gratification is what society has become used to. With the world at our fingertips, it’s hard to learn patience when everything is an instantaneous fix. If we become ill, suddenly search engines are filled with a possible diagnosis. The art of makeup is now learned from online tutorials and beauty vloggers. Instead of going to the store to buy the essentials, it’s ordered with a click of a button and dropped off at the door within 3-5 business days of standard shipping. All of these things can cause a society that is saturated with addictive personalities. Every new thing becomes and addiction and obsession. Every digital screen has the potential to create and addiction. Humans have an addiction to their phone as they rely on it as a continuous source of entertainment. Boredom is the epitome of a bad day and during times of being alone or boredom, cell phones or computers become a safe haven for hours of endless internet entertainment. It is crucial to one’s mental health to find many outlets of happiness outside of digital entertainment. It’s not just digital screens that creates addictive personalities. Drug and alcohol abuse can also create deadly addictions that need time to heal. Addiction is a disease and should be treated as such.

The world was historically a much slower place. Throughout history the main goal is to eliminate wait periods. Now where most people essentially do not have to wait for many things, learning the art of patience is necessary. Things used to take years to build. Some of the of the greatest wonders of the world like the pyramids in Egypt and the Great Wall in China took 20 years to build. Great things take great time to build. Things take time and patience is a necessary skill to learn in life to be emotional well.

Mental health is important and as more and more people suffer from a society that emanates anxiety and depression. Mental health professional can provide expert counseling, but they can’t change the external stressors that society brings. Developed global societies are saturated with digital reputations that become hard for people to just do things alone. Society is slammed with continuous duties, responsibilities, and tasks and goals that must be met. The continuous stress and being around people, create an addiction to routines, addictions to objects, and addictions that may be harmful coping mechanisms for the mind and body. In order to deal with all the stress of life people use escapism techniques that allow them ways of coping. For example someone may use social media or television as a way to escape from the world, but too much of anything is a bad thing. Some other individuals may turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with external environmental life stressors. These harmful coping mechanisms can quickly turn into addictions that makes it hard to get away from. People become reliant on the thing that helps them escape and replace the emotion of happiness and well-being with the harmful coping mechanism such as drug use. Every time the person uses drugs they will think everything in their life is okay because this coping mechanism has helped them before and will continue to be the crutch and abuser of their life. Eventually, emotional and physical damage can happen to the mind and body if not treated in a timely manner.

An outstanding solution to helping with these addictive personalities is by visiting The Holistic Sanctuary. The sanctuary can provide a healing place for individuals to regain control of their life and get everything back on track without harming their bodies. They can learn healthy coping mechanisms along with working through their issues instead of learning ways to deal with them. By learning natural and holistic ways of dealing with external or internal stressors, one can set themselves on a healthier life path. The sanctuary is a holistic medical spa that helps with curing a variety of disorders and issues like PTSD, depression, alcoholism, addiction, etc. They help with curing mental health, spiritual, and physical issues. Instead of taking a western medicine approach, they work on healing the mind, body, and soul. This is done using the Pouyon Method by healing patients from the inside. According the the sanctuary, this is one of the most effective treatment methods for deep healing of the brain and helps take it back to the pre-addictive state. The sanctuary also offers plant-based medicine and holistic one-on-one therapy. Rather than the western viewpoint of talk-therapy and addictive medication, the sanctuary provides non-addictive approaches to their healing process. Guests at the sanctuary even get a holistic diet to help with their healing process from all angles. Their ancient and advanced approaches to healing really can help people suffering from a variety of mental health issues.

Technology in healthcare changing lives

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Most industries have been the subject of great technological innovation over the last ten years or so. Business is going digital. Education has embraced ed tech. The legal system continues to adopt more digitisation, making their processes easier and more effective than ever before. Almost every industry has embraced technology as in integral moving function within their sector. Healthcare is one of the last industries to play catch up, finally making the chances and welcoming the innovations that will improve the industry tenfold, leading to a better experience for all users and a healthier industry overall. Healthcare and the life sciences are undergoing a monumental wave of innovative restructuring, with computer-based technologies being at the centre of the takeover in all healthcare companies (see iSelect for example).

Having some aspects of healthcare go digital has been a source of panic among some – the privacy of their information and medical histories is obviously quite important to them, and because technological advancement in the industry is relatively new, it is causing concern among those that have yet to grasp the concept properly. There is the beginner guide to internet privacy for anyone that feels (understandably) concerned with the digital movement in the industry. The reality is that healthcare is traditionally quite slow at adopting new technologies, but the great bursts of innovation as of late are proof that the industry is catching on that the only feasible way to make their systems and processes as convenient and easy as possible for the individuals using them.

Technology is providing the healthcare system with the shake up that it so desperately needs.

There are online portals available now that allow patients to book appointments online, making it easier than ever to take control and be active with their healthcare. There are programs and digital machinery that allows patients to track their health, their progress, and have real-time access to their doctor or another trusted medical practitioner should they need help – this has sufficiently limited the number of individuals showing up to the hospital or crowding the waiting room of a doctor’s office with issues that could be easily solved through technological connection and engagement. Of course, there will always be some medical aftermath that absolutely requires in-person medical attention, but this new technological advancement is allowing the healthcare industry to give patients a smoother transition period post procedure or treatment.

As well as these seemingly simple changes in the industry, there are the technological takeovers that exist on the back of the data systems that protect patient information. These systems are being given complete takeovers, being replaced with entirely-digital systems that make the institutions not only physically tidier, but overall more smooth and efficient. This evolution in the industry is the most rapid yet, and furthermore it is likely to be the most impactful in the foreseeable future. Going digital is allowing the healthcare and life sciences industry to improve their entire industry from the ground up, giving them and those that are subject to the industry a newfound trust, reliability, convenience, and overall satisfaction.

Health and Healthcare in a Changing World

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“A good life is good food, good wine and a good woman,” says a French proverb but in today’s world people are expected to be a little more indulgent in the issue of health and pay more focused attention to their well-being. This is why nutrition related products are breaking ground in the markets and millions of people rush to gymnasiums and physical training centers daily: to keep fit and healthy. Doctors and clinics are also in good shape with respect to attention and business, as more people visit them to receive treatment regarding a variety of different disorders. Whether it be giving the patient a shot for a simple flu, applying chemotherapy for cancer or providing advanced TMJ treatment, doctors and their hospitals welcome anyone and everyone with a smile on their faces to help them regain their health and well-being and also to profit in the process. As more people receive higher medical education to become doctors and more hospitals are opened in every city of the world to serve their publics, the health sector becomes prone to further development every passing day, making it harder to keep up with such a fast-paced element of change for the regular person. As more information is made public originating from a variety of different sources daily, the issues of trustworthiness and reliability become more important yet equally debatable, leading one to pay more attention to sources than the actual information itself. As options get narrower and the truth of the matter gets confirmed by a multitude of different origins, one is greeted with great insight and advice regarding health and wellbeing to utilize such input in their lives. However, getting there is a hard task that requires comparative and analytical research, which are things that are not necessarily available or affordable for the regular person. This is why medical media has become a necessity for all in today’s world and why so many informed and talented journalists are doing their best to contribute to a general pool of knowledge to address the issues of health and healthcare that concern the general public: a praiseworthy struggle to say the least.

One of the most popular subjects of debate in today’s world regarding health is human diet and its alternatives such as vegetarianism. Not surprisingly, such alternatives are getting more popular and widely accepted among the publics of the world, thanks to decades long unhealthy and even harmful dietary habits and traditions developed by human societies due to lack of time, resource and effort. However, along with the good comes the bad and many people who develop an interest to apply such alternative lifestyles are fooled into rather suspicious and shady ends by modern day prejudices and misconceptions. As Tia Miller reports for the CNN Network, there exists a relatively new notion of “Rookie Vegetarianism” that leads aspiring vegetarians into falling into a “junk food trap.” The author begins her argument by pointing out that “mortality in vegetarians, according to a meta-study from 2012, was 9% lower than in non-vegetarians,” while at the same time “according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a vegetarian diet lowers risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes,” meaning that vegetarians do indeed live a healthier and longer life. However, the author also states that with or without consuming meat, it is still possible to live an unhealthy lifestyle by referring to “unhealthy vegetarians who eliminated meat but replaced vegetables with all varieties of potatoes,” including “French fries, chips, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes” and “sweet potatoes.” In the case of such individuals, it is observed that they would occasionally break their vegetarianism to eat meat, and such meat consumption would make them “ bloated and constipated,” in turn giving them headaches. Millet states that it is important for vegetarians to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables for every meal because such food can substitute the nutrients provided by meat such as iron and vitamin B12. The iron, vegetarians may get from vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale, while dairy products such as plant milks, soy products and certain breakfast cereals might also provide them with the B12 vitamin their bodies require. The author then warns about processed food as a potential risk for developing cancer as such foods tend to include numerous preservatives and food coloring, which are usually found in chemical form and therefore are not organic. The author claims that it is important eat local and therefore fresh because this way, the consumed food cannot contain any preservatives or chemicals while drinking clean water is also essential for a healthy diet. In the case of preserved/processed foods, such water becomes even more essential because these foods contain a lot of salt, yet another preservative, which dehydrates their consumer. Therefore, drinking water helps reduce the adverse effects of such a diet and is also quite useful for people consuming regular diets as well, helping their systems circulate faster to get rid of toxins, according to Miller.

Quite naturally, the desire and aspiration to be healthier, fitter and slimmer has always been a trending subject for human societies in what is considered to be modern times and therefore it is not hard to move back in time to realize a certain historical trend associated with such a will. Alex Moshakis for The Guardian takes a journey back to the early years of 80’s when the issue of healthy living was largely publicized in the world through media channels that contributed to the new age movement which also emphasized the importance of diet and exercise even back in those years. The author considers the Observer Magazine and its team of journalists who have reviewed a line of different exercise machines that had just come out during these years, to further supplement the given global media campaign and trend of physical exercise for healthy living. Moshakis refers to an article featured in the magazine’s 18th of July 1982 issue, which asks the question “who wants to be fitter and slimmer?” as a header to later answer the question with a rhetorical statement, “almost everyone.” The article is dedicated to promoting these new exercise machines by the Black & Decker company, which had generously been supplied to the journalists at the magazine with several models to be tested and featured in the upcoming issues. The three models are namely ‘Home Cycle’ for £113.50, the ‘Home Rower’ for £104.25 and ‘The Pacer’ which was listed at £47.25, which resembled “an upmarket stepladder,” and had been “designed to increase pulse rate, heartbeat, and get the lungs working.” The article, which was supplemented by a photoshoot in monotone color, states that “exercising at home has several things to commend it,” such as “you don’t have to worry about the weather, spend time travelling to a gym or sports club, or rely on other people turning up for that game of tennis.” The only problem however is the “problem of boredom” for which “Black & Decker suggests listening to the radio,” with the noise of the machines making such an activity rather impossible. The article at this point refers back to its team of writers to ask Nick Guitard, who was working out on the rowing equipment, what he thought of his exercise. The journalist responds by saying that the rowing machine was “a very well-made machine,” but “the snag is that cruising under oars around the living room isn’t the most thrilling way of spending half an hour a day.” Today, none of the mentioned machines are produced or sold anymore by the company, whereas the article remains as a great anecdote down the memory lane for many people who miss those years. In addition, reading the article also reminds one of how being healthy and fit have always been an aspiration for most people and a profitable field of business for companies in earlier modern history, proving that some of the most obnoxious and interesting efforts of today have a long history dating back to several decades ago.

Along with such a continuous struggle to stay fit through learning and exercise, the issue of medication and supplements also becomes more publicized and popularized by the media and the society alike in a collaborative effort in today’s world. However, several problems surfaced in recent years after certain medications became too popular among people, even youngsters, after they were granted the license to be sold as over-the-counter drugs, in turn turning millions of users into mere addicts. Christine Vestal for Stateline, a contributing media organization for the Huffington Post, reports on the recent outbreak of Xanax and how “many teens are taking [it] combined with opioids and alcohol,” leading to issues like demotivation, depression and even death among such users. Anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax are referred to as ‘benzos,’ or in technical terms “benzodiazepines”, and lead many teenagers to believe that they are actually “a safer and more plentiful alternative to prescription opioids and heroin” while having “similar euphoric effects.” The problem is that not many of such individuals are aware of the dangers of mixing such drugs with other drugs or alcohol because no source of information exists regarding the issue that is easily and publically accessible. In addition, Vestal emphasizes the fact that addiction to these easily acquirable prescription drugs is far worse than addiction to other narcotics because “like any addictive substance, Xanax [or other ‘benzos’] when used early increases the risk of addiction later in life.” The author refers to a U.S. Surgeon General’s Report dated 2017 regarding drugs and alcohol use, which states that “nearly 70 percent of adolescents who try an illicit drug before age 13 will develop an addiction within seven years,” meaning that  it might not be such a great idea to prescribe Xanax or similar prescription drugs to younger people. Although addiction and abuse levels for prescription drugs have been on a sharp decline in the last 15 years, the issue with Xanax remains at a similar level, while reports of Xanax abuse when used in combination with opioids and alcohol are also quite frequent still to this day. The reason why such a reality has not reflected upon national data and statistics yet is because treatment centers are merely symbolic in the American society, with real issues and realities being observed in people’s daily lives which do not get reported. The main problem that such people, especially adolescents, experience in this manner is the issue of withdrawal symptoms which lead to serious seizures. Teenagers especially are not admitting to their addiction and therefore not seeking help or therapy, which also contributes to the mentioned vow of silence. However, the ‘benzos’ have a serious defect: when prescribed for anxiety, they eventually stop working, in turn “forcing users to take higher and higher doses to get the same effect.” The recently developed internet technology of ‘Dark Web’ enables younger people who cannot legally acquire such substances to find and purchase them online, delivered to their preferred location. ‘Benzos’ also have terrible adverse effects on patients with mental health problems, leading to serious levels of addiction. Given the plentiful supply of these substances, more and more such individuals with mental health issues easily find access to these pills to develop serious addictions. While Vestal makes reference to treatment centers and special programs offered in them as a possible method of recovery, she believes that the real road to recovery begins on a mental level, meaning that addicts of these substances need to confess and admit to their addictions initially and then seek professional help. The author believes that through mindful and constructive journalism efforts of the media, the parents and friends of such people can also be informed about the given reality and in the long run, aware and educated individuals can kick their ‘benzo’ or opioid habits easily, as otherwise the situation is destined to get out of hand very soon.

On a side note, there are significant studies and efforts to understand mental health and its connections to general human health, with promising and informative developments taking place almost daily. Alexis E. Cullen for The Independent reports on a new research study that “confirms a link between autoimmune disorders and psychosis,” revealing that “the likelihood of having psychosis was higher for disorders like pernicious anaemia, psoriasis and coeliac disease.” Autoimmune disorders are complications where an individual’s immune system begins to attack its own cells and therefore an issue like psychosis, the loss of all conscious thought which leads the patient to resort to unconscious and self-destructive behavior, become far more easily developed by such individuals. However, when the issue is science and reaching scientific conclusions, it requires further experimentation and comprehension for direct statements to be made. This is why Cullen refers to a study published in the  journal ‘Biological Psychiatry’ which included “30 relevant studies, and contained data on 25 million people,” focusing on autoimmune disorders affecting the peripheral system, while combining data from non-neurological autoimmune disorders, to reach a verdict. The conclusion was that people with autoimmune disorders were “40% more likely to have a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia,” with the second analysis referring to how such a percentage was even higher for “pernicious anaemia, pemphigoid, …, psoriasis, coeliac disease and Graves’ disease.” The author also takes note of how the study also revealed that tests conducted on people with psychosis showed that such people had higher levels of inflammatory markers in their bloodstreams than regular and healthy people and therefore inflammation was a substantial contributor to the emergence and development of autoimmune disorders. However, considering the existence of such disorders, which did not necessarily correlate with high levels of inflammation, it is seen that high levels of inflammatory markers did not necessarily equate direct reason for psychosis either. This is why the researchers began to consider “a genetic link between autoimmune disorders and psychosis,” while several genes were discovered that were “associated with both schizophrenia and rheumatoid arthritis.” Quite conclusively, the researchers also discovered new links between antibodies that were originally parts of the patient’s immune system and the unexplained observations of frequent attacks on the person’s brain cells. Such antibodies are linked to psychotic symptoms, creating paranoia and hallucinations in certain individuals, leading researchers to consider them to be a possible reason for psychosis among patients with autoimmune disorders. In any given scenario, the research continues on the subject matter to hopefully discover more about the key elements of relevance and importance in the given context and develop ways to prevent psychosis before it takes significant effect on a person’s life.

Then of course, there are bills and expenses associated with healthcare that have become an issue of serious concern for many people who had to visit a hospital to receive treatment in their lives. Chad Terhune for National Public Radio reports on the case of Drew Calver and his recent life-threatening heart attack that left him with an outstanding bill of $108,951 for hospital services and surgery. Calver, a popular high school history teacher and swim coach in Austin, Texas”, had a heart attack in his bedroom in 2017 and somewhat managed to inform his wife through the voice-recognition function of his smartphone, who then informed a nearby neighbor to call an ambulance to take Calver to the St. David’s Medical Center. After the doctors at the hospital confirmed that Calver had a heart attack, they “implanted stent in his clogged ‘widow-maker’ artery,” further shocking the man who was an “an avid swimmer who had competed in an Ironman triathlon just five months before.” However, the worst news were still yet to come as Calver simply assumed that his health insurance issued by the public high school he was working at, would cover all of the expenses associated with his hospital stay and surgery. The total number was $164,941 for the surgery and the four-day stay at the institution with Calver’s health insurance paying the hospital only $55,840 in the end, leaving Calver responsible for paying the remaining balance of $108,951.31 himself. Upon investigation, Calver was shocked to find out about “two medical billing practices that increasingly bedevil many Americans,” which are namely “surprise bills and balance billing.” The first issue refers to how many Americans go to hospitals to receive treatment from a doctor “who does not participate in the network,” leading the bill to be directly transferred to the patient’s account rather than being paid by the insurance firm. The second issue occurs, as it was in with Calver’s case, when the insurance firm and the hospital cannot negotiate on a price and therefore the patient needs to pay the difference between the total number and the agreed upon number. Although legal protection exists against such issues in several states such as New York, California, New Jersey and Texas, when the health coverage is obtained from employers with self-insurance plans, the Federal Law is applied to the case, which “does not include such protections.” Therefore, Terhune warns his readers about paying attention to details concerning their health insurance plans and more importantly their compatibilities with the institutions and services they attend to. In the case of a policy based disagreement or conflict, it will be up to such individuals themselves to pay a significantly large sum of money to cover up for their hospital and treatment bills, which will further complicate the issue for sure. Luckily, in the case of Calver, his status as a respected and popular persona in his community helped him to negotiate on a better deal with the hospital but this might not be the case for all people who find themselves in such a situation and therefore precautions are important.