Sugar, Sugar Edification and Enlightenment

Dear Friends and Readers,

I have spent hours researching the very “nuanced” subject of  sugar. There are three main types of sugars glucose, fructose and sucrose. However simple this may appear sugar is far more complex.
All tissues in the body have the chemical machinery to break down glucose and use it for energy production.  This differs from fructose, which can only be processed through the liver.
Glucose is also known as dextrose and is the primary sugar that the body makes from  food.  Glucose is carried through the bloodstream to provide energy to cells in the body. Cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin. Glucose, a simple sugar (a monosaccharide)the body produces it from protein, fat and, in largest part, carbohydrates. Ingested glucose is absorbed directly into the blood from the intestine and results in a rapid increase in blood glucose.
We mostly derive glucose from starches, but gluscose can be found in many foods. When we eat starches, our body converts them to glucose, which raises blood sugar levels and supplies your body with energy. Cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin.
Your body metabolizes glucose via the intestinal tract, causing a rise in blood sugar. In order to return your blood sugar to a normal level, the pancreas releases insulin, which is a storage hormone. The insulin binds to the glucose and carries it to the cells that need extra energy, storing any remaining energy in long-term storage to become fat cells.
Problems occur when our blood glucose is continuously elevated. Eating highly processed foods, simple starches (white flour, white rice), and foods containing sugar elevate blood glucose significantly. For a while, the pancreas can handle this workload; however, over time it becomes exhausted and unable to efficiently release insulin any longer. This can result in the chronically elevated blood glucose levels found in type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. At the same time, because insulin release is now inefficient, glucose is no longer being delivered to the cells that need it, resulting in cell starvation.
 Fructose occurs naturally in fresh fruits, giving them their sweetness. Fruits contains relatively small amounts of fructose providing your body with just a little bit of the sugar, which is very easily handled.
Unlike Glucose, Fructose can only be processed in a few tissues, mostly the liver and to a lesser extent, the kidneys.  Our liver must first process fructose before it can enter a metabolic pathway leading to energy production. To a lesser extent, your kidneys can also metabolize fructose.
 The problem with fructose is that when you consume large amounts of it in its concentrated form (agave, crystalline fructose, high-fructose corn syrup), it goes straight to your liver. This places a heavy toxic load on your liver, which must work very hard to process it, sometimes resulting in scarring. Additionally, fructose is converted by the liver into glycerol, which can raise levels of triglycerides. High triglycerides are linked to increased risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Triglycerides can build up in liver cells and damage liver function. Triglycerides released into the bloodstream can contribute to the growth of fat-filled plaque inside artery walls. Free radicals (also called reactive oxygen species) can damage cell structures, enzymes, and even genes. Uric acid can turn off production of nitric oxide, a substance that helps protect artery walls from damage. Another effect of high fructose intake is insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

Sucrose is a disaccharide, or two-unit carbohydrate, linking glucose and fructose molecules. You may know it as table sugar, since most table sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets, and both sources are among the higest  in sucrose. However, all fruits and vegetables contain some sucrose, as it is the main product of photosynthesis, the process that all plants use to convert the sun’s energy into food. Your body primarily digests and absorbs sucrose for energy production.
As a disaccharide, sucrose is too large to cross cell membranes. As a result, your body must first break it down through enzymatic digestion before it can absorb it. Sucrose digestion begins in your small intestine with a process called hydrolysis. In this chemical process, a water molecule helps to break the bond between glucose and fructose with the assistance of sucrase. Sucrase is an enzyme of the small intestine that your body needs to digest sucrose because it specifically breaks the  glucose-fructose bond that occurs in sucrose.
However, acording to The American Journal. of Clinical Nutrition none of process modalities matter. Sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, and many fruits and juices deliver the same sugars in the same ratios to the same tissues within the same time frame to the same metabolic pathways.
However, don’t give up. Understanding the conversion of grams of sugar to teaspoons of sugar is the first place to start. . Four grams of sugar equal one teaspoon of sugar.   Therefore, a dessert with 16 grams of sugar per serving equals four teaspoons of sugar. Not bad you say,  that’s like eating an apple which contains 19 grams of sugar. Or  why not  a 12 ounce can of coke has 35 grams of sugar? That’s only eight teaspoons of sugar, right? But this must all be taken into context. There’s the issue of nutritional value per teaspoon of sugar. Your body will derive the value of the nutrients from an apple verus a can of coke or a nutrionally worthless dessert which is likely to be full of fat.
The next stop is understanding the   Glycemic Index (GI)  which is a relative ranking of carbohydrates in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. This valuable  index is limited because it’s difficult to compare a gram of alcohol to a gram of apple, because no one eats a gram of an apple. To address this problem, researchers have developed the idea of glycemic load (GL), a numerical value that indicates the change in blood glucose levels when you eat a typical serving of the food. For example, a 4.2-ounce (120-gram) serving of watermelon has a GL value of 5, which would identify it as a healthy food choice. Another example would be  a 2.8-ounce (80-gram) serving of raw carrots has a GL value of 2.
 If you are really interested in in the glycemic load index Sydney University has a table that shows the glycymic index of over 750 commonly consumed foods.
 My quest to understand sugar and how it affects blood sugar is a result of my own sugar addiction and how best to manage my cravings for sugar and simple carbohydrates. I have learned that dried fruit is a pure form of glucose.  I have also attempted to utilize the glycemic index when choosing added sweetners.
I have provided the  glycemic indexes for sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup and agave and a few others.
Agave  15
Barley Malt 42
Brown Rice 25
Cane Juice 43
Coconut Palm Sugar 35
Honey 50
High Fructose Corn Syrup 68
Maple Syrup 54
Sugar 60

In my next blog, I’ll provide  possible solutions to  the most efficient and healthy way to fuel your body.
Brianna S. Clark
The Addict Writes

Understanding WhyMethadone Doesn’t Cure Heroin or Opiate Addiction

My Dear
Friends and Readers,
In my naivety, I thought that
Methadone was a cure for heroin addiction. What I found out was that methadone
addiction is often worse than heroin or opiate addiction.
 Understanding any form of addiction means
understanding the payoff and the hook of the drug as well as the cost of the
addiction.  There are three large categories
of drugs stimulants, opiates and hallucinogens. Heroin is an opiate. Opiates
are addictive and deadly because they create a psychological as well as physiological
craving for the drug.  The lure of
opiates and heroin is that they reduce physical and psychological pain. Once
heroin enters the brain, it is converted to morphine and binds rapidly to opioid
receptors in the limbic section of the brain which controls emotions.  Abusers typically report feeling a surge of
pleasurable sensation—a “rush.” The intensity of the rush is a function of the
amount of heroin in jested and how rapidly the drug enters the brain and binds
to the opioid receptors. The fastest way any drug gets into the brain is my
injection or by smoking it which also increase the risk of addiction.  The side effects of this rush are a warm flushing
of the skin, dry mouth, a heavy feeling in the extremities, which may be
accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and severe itching. After the initial effects,
users usually will be drowsy for several hours; mental function is clouded;
heart function slows; and breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes enough
to be life-threatening. Slowed breathing can also lead to coma and permanent
brain damage.
But the short term side
effects of heroin are mild compared to repeated abuse which can change the
physical structure and physiology of the brain, creating long-term imbalances
in neuronal and hormonal systems that are not easily reversed. Studies have
shown some deterioration of the brain’s white matter due to heroin use, which
may affect decision-making abilities, the ability to regulate behavior, and
responses to stressful situations Tolerance occurs when more and more of the
drug is required to achieve the same effects. With physical dependence, the
body adapts to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is
reduced abruptly. Withdrawal may occur within a few hours after the last time
the drug is taken. Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone
pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold
turkey”), and leg movements. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 24–48 hours
after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week. However, some
people have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months. Finally,
repeated heroin use often results in addiction—a chronic relapsing disease that
goes beyond physical dependence and is characterized by uncontrollable
drug-seeking no matter the consequences.
The characteristics of
heroin and methadone vary greatly.  One of the main differences is that Heroin
withdrawal usually lasts for 7-10 days and Methadone addicts can experience
withdrawal symptoms for 4-6 weeks. It is reported that up to 40 percent of
heroin addicts suffer mainly from psychological addiction. On the other hand,
almost 90 percent of methadone addicts are both physically and psychologically
dependent on the drug.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, (CDC), heroin addictions are easy to manage in comparison to the
extremely hard to treat methadone addiction.
 Almost everyone has
heard about methadone.  Methadone belongs to a class of drugs known as narcotic
(opiate) analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.
Methadone is not intended to relieve mild pain or pain that will go away within
a few days. Methadone is a long term substitute for heroin addiction.  Developed
in 1939 in Germany, it was brought to the United States by Eli Lilly in 1947 as
Dolophine. Dolophine was derived from the Latin word dolor (pain) and finis
(end). Later Dolophine came to be known as methadone.
Originally marketed as a pain reliever, Methadone was
considered dangerous and not as effective as drugs like morphine, hydrocodone
and oxycodone and was not successful. In the 1960’s, a new market was found for
methadone- as a substitute for heroin. Methadone creates an addiction so strong
that if the addict does not take a dose of the drug each day, the addict will
experience very painful withdrawals. Once someone becomes addicted to methadone
it is very likely that the user will be on methadone the rest of their lives—or
at least for many years. The former heroin user is now “chained” to a methadone
Methadone mimics many of
the effects of heroin and other opiates; however there are many differences
between the two drugs. One example of this is that heroin produces an immediate
“rush” and euphoria that lasts for a very brief period of time, resulting
in a craving to use more heroin, as compared to the gradual onset of methadone
when it is administered orally.  The effects of methadone can last up to
36 hours, which allows the individual to take the drug once a day, usually
without experiencing many withdrawal symptoms. Research has demonstrated that,
when methadone is taken in regular doses as is the case when an individual is
receiving treatment in a Methadone Maintenance Program, that if they consume
heroin, they will not experience the euphoric high that generally accompanies
the use of the drug.
When an individual is
taking methadone as prescribed, these individuals are often able to tackle some
of the components of their heroin addiction. The person may at least be able to
confront the psychological aspects of their addiction, where as they could not
do this if they were taking heroin, because of the often intense cravings.
Because methadone helps to alleviate heroin withdrawal symptoms, the individual
is often able to use this period of not chasing the drug to somewhat stabilize
their lifestyle. In a perfect world, it is as this point that the methadone
dose can be slowly reduced until the individuals is eventually off of the drug
completely. Unfortunately, it is more common for an individual to use methadone
for several years, and many of these people may be using the drug for the rest
of their lives. When Methadone is used specifically to alleviate heroin
withdrawal symptoms, it has been successful in that the ‘cold turkey’ symptoms
that are usually associated in withdrawing from heroin are must less severe.
Even though there are distinct
differences in the effects of these two drugs, they are both opiates. The main
premise of Methadone Maintenance Treatment is that when it is introduced into
the system, the individual will not want heroin that drastically, which can be
beneficial in the heroin detoxification process. Opponents of Methadone
Maintenance Treatment strictly see this process as a legal drug swap, a
position taken by many former heroin and methadone users. These individuals
have stated that if they knew what they know now, they would have made the
choice to go through heroin detox in the beginning instead of trading one
addiction for another.  
After reading the circular
addiction process of heroin and opiates and methadone even if I were wracked with
physical or emotional pain, I would consider any other option besides an opiate
pain killer. Users beware: the tolerance and addiction are difficult to bear.  
Brianna S. Clark
The Addict Writes.

Heroin Addiction Characterized By Uncontrollable Drug-Seeking No Matter The Consequences.

Dear Friends and Readers,
After the last Republican Presidential Debate, Donald
Trump was the sole guest on one of our morning political talks shows. Heroin addiction
in New Hampshire was the surprise topic of the morning.  I was caught off guard, because drug abuse and
heroin addiction and New Hampshire are not words which are usually strewn
together. Heroin addiction in New Hampshire exemplifies what a 63% increase in heroin
addiction in the United States looks like.  Every day in New Hampshire at least one person
dies of a heroin overdose.   The death rate continues to rise despite the
fact that in New Hampshire from 2005- 2015 the number of state funded drug treatment
programs rose by 90% for heroin use and 500% for prescription opiate abuse
meaning Vicodin and OxyContin.  Thankfully,
the rest of American is not in the dire state that New Hampshire finds itself.
Heroin related deaths have quadrupled over the past 11
years.  Across the United States every day
44 people die of opioid overdose, that’s about 15,840 people per year.  In 2013 more than 8,200 people died of heroin
related over doses.
Heroin addiction was mostly found in America’s urban
centers, but now has spread to the suburbs. Many of the new heroin users are
people who were addicted to prescription opiates, Vicodin and OxyContin. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that “Most heroin users
have a history of non-medical use of prescription opioid pain killers.  These people now find it easier and cheaper to
use heroin.  After all, no prescription
is needed. Driving the rate of increase in heroin addiction are 18-25 year olds
who earn less than $20,000.00.  And heroin
use among women has doubled, as has the rate of white people (Non-Hispanic
white people) using heroin.
No discussion about heroin addiction could be complete
without a discussion about the Heroin Capital of our country, Baltimore,
Maryland, my home. Government agencies estimate that as many as one in 10 of
the city’s residents are addicted to heroin. In a city of 645,000 the Baltimore
Department of Health estimates there are 60,000 drug addicts and 48,000 of them
are heroin addicts.   Baltimore has a long history of heroin
addiction dating back to the 1950’s. In the 1990’s Baltimore became a key East
Coast distribution center for high purity heron smuggled in from Colombia, South
America. The drug was more potent than its counterparts from East Asia and
Mexico, making it more addictive and more deadly.  The heroin problem in Baltimore is so acute
that the federal government has designated Baltimore part of a High Density
Drug Trafficking Area, making the city eligible for federal assistance to local
Last year in Baltimore City 304 people died of heroin
related deaths. As one Baltimore former heroin addict says about using heroin “You
might as well put a gun to your head.” And in Baltimore city that gun held to
your head might be in the hands of another in a city where this year 300 people
have been murdered and we still have another month and a half to go.
Hopefully the topic of heroin addiction- all addiction
in America will not disappear from the presidential political dialogue. Drug addiction
is a mask of despair when individuals and groups feel that there is no hope and
no route to get from where they are to where they desire to be.  If a person’s life occurs to them as not
having value then that person is more likely to commit desperate acts
reflecting “My life doesn’t matter.”
Brianna S. Clark

The Addict Writes

The Solutions to Cywolves and Paris

Dear Friends and Readers,
As you know this blog was
created when I returned from Paris this summer. My memories of Paris are fresh
as I hear the news of the bloodshed. I am proud of the response of love and
solidarity. In that love and solidarity I hope we do not forget that the perpetrators
of the Paris blood shed are part of the oneness of the energy of the universe.  Unfortunately there are times as humans and as
groups of humans we forget this simple fact: that we are all energy. When our
basest emotions are at play we commit the basest of acts. We commit these acts
forgetting that all of our actions have consequences, even if the consequence
which occurs was never intended.
With this being said, I
would like to share with you the story of the Cywolf.  The story of the
Cywolf exemplifies an unintended consequence of which we do not yet know the
full consequences. Throughout the past 40 years I have read about one department
of our government or another and its efforts to control the wolf population in
North America. I have never understood why this was necessary, but a group of
experts thought it was a good idea. By controlling the wolf population our
government meant killing off some agreed upon number of wolves. Twenty years or
so into the reduction of the wolf population, I began to read that the
government was too successful in the reduction of the wolf population. The very
same wolf populations were becoming extinct.  Whether they chose a different department of
our government or not, I don’t know, but hopefully a different governmental entity
was given the job of keeping the wolves from going extinct. 
I stopped hearing about “wolf”
stories and I thought it was because that I was no longer donating to the various
wilderness groups that I had once donated. An alternative thought was that the
wolf issue had been stabilized and no one had announced this success. I rested
easily in my ignorance, until I read an internet article about a species called
the “Cywolf.”  The Cywolf is the result
of our government’s desire to “control” the wolf population of North America.
Inadvertently, our government killed so many eastern
and western wolves that wolves began mating with coyotes. Currently a group of
scientists studying the Cywolf report that they have found dog DNA in the feces
left behind by this new breed.  The dog
DNA has given the Cywolf the fearlessness of dogs towards humans.  In other words, the Cywolf has traits of wolves
and coyotes and the smarts of an urban dog. What this translates into is that the
Cywolf is venturing closer to urban populations.
It has taken
decades to create this Cywolf and its impact on the wolf population and the
human population has not been quantified. 
I am sure that when these Cywolves begin venturing into too many urban
populations we will hear more about them.  By the time Cywolves make the evening news it
will probably be too late for us to look for a way to humanely keep Cywolves from
pets and small children. We will look at each other in amazement and ask how
could our government allow the Cywolf to be created?  Each of us will probably find ourselves
blameless in the Cywolf creation and talk about Cywolves on Facebook.  Government experts will probably decide that
they will have to kill off the Cywolf population.  
I do not have any
solutions about what to do about the Cywolf population. I do not have any
solutions to offer about the conditions which created suicide bombers who
killed themselves and others in Paris this past Friday. However, I know I share
responsibility because these people who killed themselves and others are a part
of the shared energy of our universe.  I hope
as a people and nations when we ponder how to manage the events that led to the
Paris attacks, that our first response is not to kill off anything.  I hope that all solutions begin to take into
consideration that we are all a part of the same energy on our little planet
called Earth. I hope in our solutions to any problem that we recognize each
other as points of light within diverse physical confines and understand that underneath
our skins of many colors we are light, simply light and all are one.
Brianna S. Clark,

The Addict Writes

The Fraud Unmasked- “Impostor Syndrome”

My Dear Friends and Readers,
Have you ever had the feeling, that
“Oh my God what am I doing here?” I often have this feeling and many nights dream that I somehow  failed to graduate from law school, and that any day
now, someone will find out that I didn’t have enough credits to graduate or I
failed to do one small thing and I was never really admitted to any bar. These
feelings still plague me although I have been a practicing lawyer for almost
twenty years and despite the fact that I am admitted to practice in three
states. These feelings of inadequacy or feeling 
like a fake or that all that I have accomplished was accomplished by
luck or by some fortunate accident have plagued me my entire life. What I am
describing about myself is called the “impostor phenomena or syndrome”.
First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and
Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, impostor phenomenon occurs among high
achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. People with
this syndrome are seen as successful by external measures, but
internally they feel themselves to be frauds, undeserving of their success and
in danger at any moment of being exposed.  
Those of us with impostor syndrome will often attribute our accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will
eventually unmask us as frauds. Much of the early literature
suggested that this syndrome applied mainly to women but since then, there have been
studies showing that many men are also affected. The impostor syndrome is most
obvious in situations where people are measured or evaluated in some way. It is
very common in education systems where people are regularly tested, graded and
often ranked. Those of us who have this syndrome try to hide it and to keep it
a secret.  Because, it’s a secret that we
fear being discovered and we can’t tell anybody our feelings. It’s like if you
admit that you are a fraud, as I did in the privacy of my therapist’s office
yesterday, there’s the possibility that someone will say “Ah yes, we were
wondering about that, could you please leave now.” So it’s safer to say
nothing. But then the doubts remain. This is why finding out about the impostor
syndrome is often a great relief. It normalizes the feelings.
Up to 70% of people report having these “impostor”
feelings. Most people experience some self-doubt when
facing new challenges, says Carole Lieberman, MD, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author. “But
someone with [impostor phenomenon] has an all-encompassing fear of being found
out to not have what it takes.” Even if they experience outward signs of
success — getting into a selective graduate program, say, or acing test after
test — they have trouble believing that they’re worthy. Instead, they may chalk
their success up to good luck.”
It doesn’t help that there’s tons
of external evidence that would belie our feelings of being impostors. With the
impostor syndrome we are impervious to evidence. In my case, living in the
beautiful home, driving a luxury car as well as my degrees and licenses, does
not prevent me from feeling as if I snuck into the court room the back way and
that I will be laughed out of the courthouse for some egregious first year law
student mistake. Even if I do recognize my own accomplishments I diminish them
by saying things like “It was just luck, it was easy, and someone helped. The
next time will be harder. I fooled them – they just haven’t found me out yet.”
Interestingly enough, this
experience of feeling like a fraud is more common among minorities, according
to Clance, a clinical psychologist in Atlanta.
A 2013 study by researchers at the University
of Texas at Austin surveyed ethnic-minority college
students and found that Asian-Americans were more likely than African-Americans
or Latino-Americans to experience impostor feelings. Interestingly, the
researchers also found that impostor feelings more strongly predicted mental
health problems than did stress related to one’s minority status (Journal of Multicultural Counseling
and Development
, 2013).
Differing in any way from
the majority of your peers — whether by race, gender, sexual orientation or
some other characteristic — can fuel the sense of being a fraud. The impostor
phenomenon seems to be more common among people who are embarking on a new
endeavor, says Imes. So, in my case, it would not be surprising for me to feel
that writing this blog- which is a new endeavor for me, is all a ridiculous
escapade and that someone will find me out- and ban me from the internet?
Nevertheless, the impostor phenomenon and perfectionism often go hand in hand.
So-called impostors think every task they tackle has to be done perfectly, and
they rarely ask for help. That perfectionism can lead to two typical responses,
according to Clance. An impostor may procrastinate, putting off an assignment
out of fear that he or she won’t be able to complete it to the necessary high
standards. Or, he or she may over prepare, spending much more time on a task
than is necessary. Ultimately, the impostor phenomenon becomes a cycle. Afraid
of being discovered as a fraud, people with impostor feelings go through
contortions to do a project perfectly. When they succeed, they begin to believe
all that anxiety and effort paid off. Eventually, they develop almost
superstitious beliefs. “Unconsciously, they think their successes must be
due to that self-torture,” Imes says.
What’s even worse is the more successful the impostor
actually becomes the more fearful of exposure because there’s more to be
exposed. The expectations have been raised even higher.  So, what can you do? Admitting that
I had felt like a fraud my whole life, was probably one of the most honest, but difficult things that I have ever done. By simply talking it out to a trusted friend, colleague or
mentor can create the space to begin to look objectively at one’s accomplishment
and own them.  Once the person with “impostor
syndrome” realizes that because they feel like a fake does not mean they are a fake. Feelings
and facts are not the same. 
Then there is the reality check list. Did you lie
on the test, interview or application? Did you attend the school, take the test
and pass it on your own? And how likely is it that you could have  possibly fooled everyone? My therapist and I are going to use
cognitive behavior therapy which is a common type of mental health counseling
(psychotherapy). With cognitive behavioral therapy, you work with a mental
health counselor (psychotherapist or therapist) in a structured way, attending
a limited number of sessions. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you become
aware of inaccurate or negative thinking, so you can view challenging
situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. Cognitive behavioral
therapy can be a very helpful tool in treating mental disorders or illnesses,
such as anxiety or depression. However, you don’t have to have a mental illness
in order to benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. It can be an effective
tool to help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations.
I look forward to transforming my automatic negative
thoughts. I am on my way to a happier life, everyday.
Special thanks to my kind super smart therapist, Beth.
Brianna Clark,
The Addict Writes
P.S. Until further notice
due to my work schedule this blog will only be published on Mondays and Thursdays.
I hope to return to a daily publication as soon as possible.
Much Love,

Poor White Women Are Dying and Nobody Seems to Care

Dear Friends and Readers,
Last week was a busy and productive week. I spent most of my
time writing about things that I cared about. . I was fortunately fired from my
tedious legal job in Washington D.C. which has allowed me to write an article
for a legal magazine and to help a hairdresser who got into a legal trap of
unbelievable proportions. Over the week, I thought about all of you. I hope
that my articles have been at least entertaining, if not informative. There has
been a story that has not received much attention in the national news media
and so, I thought I would share it with you. The article was called “What’s
Killing Poor White Women?”  Researchers
say that the fact that white women who have not completed high-school have
lowered their life expectancy by five years is something that only happens
during a war, genocide, pandemic or massive governmental collapse. . The
journal “Health Affairs” reported the five year drop last August. This study
had done something that other studies had not which was to single out women who
had dropped out of high-school from those who had only completed high-school.
The researchers who found this dramatic drop in life expectancy for white women
without high school diplomas could not explain why it’s happening.
Researcher have long known since 1960 that education was
linked to longer life.  Researchers have
since tried to pry out the importance of education and life expectancy and have
concluded that each additional year of schooling added about 1 year of life expectancy.  Other researchers say that education is not
the “elixir” of life, but education is associated with a longer life.
Researchers also admit that there might be other factors included as to why
people with more education seem to live longer, but they have not been able to
date to quantify those other possible associations with longer life. Some have
speculated that more educated people have the ability to delay gratification
and pleasure and possibly risky behavior because we have learned to look ahead
into the future. (This would be a great theory but for people like myself who
are highly educated but still succumbed to street drugs.) However, none of
these theories could explain why the least educated group of white women were
dying so much younger than they did two decades ago.
Rural poverty seemed to provide a clue, but did not entirely
answer the question. Last March two researchers from the University of
Wisconsin reported that women  in nearly
half  of the  3, 140 counties in the United states saw their
death rates rise. The areas most represented in this research project splashed
across Appalachia down through Kentucky and Tennessee  north of the cotton belt and across the
Ozarks the parts of the South where poor white people live. While rural poverty
was a clue, it did not explain why  black
women who were without high school diplomas were not seeing this drastic
reduction of life expectancy. Why? 
Researchers say as a group blacks are more likely to die
younger because the factors that determine wellbeing, income education and
access to health care tend to be worse for blacks, yet blacks are closing the
life expectancy gaps with whites. Then why were white women dying when their
black counterparts were not? Some researchers simply say that life became
harder in the 1990’s and 2000s. They say that broad scale shifts in society
have isolated those who don’t finish high-school from good jobs, marriage
partners, and healthier communities. James Jackson, a public health researcher
at the University of Michigan says “The opportunities available to you are very
different than what they were 20 years ago. What kind of job are you going to
get if you drop out at 16? No job.”
In May of this year, Jennifer Karas Montez of the Harvard
Center for Population and Development Studies co-authored an paper
investigating why white women without high school diplomas might be dying. Most
researchers have looked at the diseases that were killing this group of women,
but Montez wanted to look at quality of life indicators. What Montez discovered
was whether a white woman without a diploma had a job as a significant factor
in her life expectancy. This single factor of whether a woman had  a job seemed to matter more than income or
other signs of financial stability, like homeownership. In fact Montez found
that smoking and employment were the only two factors of any significance.
The researchers were surprised and tested their hypothesis.
Perhaps these women were already unhealthy and were less able to work and
therefore more likely to die. This hypothesis did not hold up. The answer
remained the same “work”. The researchers concluded that work connects women to
friends and other social networks that they otherwise wouldn’t have. The bottom
line that is that  jobs might give women
a sense of purpose. But more questions arose, most importantly why was the life
expectancy rate of  black women without
high-school diplomas was not being lowered by the same dramatic number of
Some of the reasons postulated were that low income white
women smoke and drink and abuse prescription drugs like OxyContin and street
drugs like Meth more than black women. But this was not a complete answer. Why
would white women without high-school diplomas choose participate in these high
risk behaviors? Another theory arose as what kind of place people live in, who
is around them and what hose neighbors are doing play a central role. Health is
also a matter of place and time. . The journal “Health Affairs” reported the
five year drop last August. But sadly as one commentator said “Nobody cares
about poor white women without high-school diplomas.”  I say that we should all care, but more
importantly perhaps somewhere someone can reach out to these young woman and
tell them that a high-school diploma might save your life.
Brianna S. Clark,
The Addict Writes

Jealousy- It’s Not Them; It’s You.

My Dearest Friends and Readers,
In a way our world and society has been set up so that our
sense of self is often derived by comparison to others. It is a way we measure
success or rank. Jealousy and envy occur when we compare ourselves unfavorably
with another who we believe is attempting to replace us in some area in which
we feel is personally valuable.  These emotions
can start in childhood when we feel that our sibling or some-other is taking
over a coveted position or place or thing that we want. Envy is when you covet
a position or thing but you do not feel capable of attaining it. Both envy and
jealousy share the roots of rage and low self-esteem and shame. The mechanism
of each of these emotions is complex. Often times the envious person disparages
the envied person and this allows the envious person to feel superior and
blinds the envious person to his own sense of believed inadequacy. Some
psychologists say that the level to which the envious person disparages the
envied is a measurement of the envier’s lack of self-esteem. The more the
disparagement the lower the disparager’s self-esteem.  The premise of jealousy is that you the jealous
person can be replaced. However, we all know at an intellectual level that we
are not fungible or replaceable. But tell that to a person in the grips of
jealousy. As one author put it “jealousy is like trying to stop a moving car on
ice”. The following story  exemplifies a time when I was both envious and
I was dating a man to whom I was addicted to or some would say that I was codependent with.   My husband had died. I was fearful of being
alone. I was scared of living alone. I was afraid that I would not know how to
financially take care of myself and that I would end up homeless, man less and
on the streets of Baltimore. So to say that myself esteem was missing is an
understatement.  The worry of caring for
my late husband, who I had idolized both in life and death had worn me out and
aged me. I was depressed. I brooded and I had extreme self-loathing of   my
aging psychical self. At the same time, I was the pleaser and caretaker that I
had always been. Taking care of my dying husband had made me more so. Dave the
man who I was dating was the perfect “temporary” guy. . He was a little in awe
of me and the kind of man that I felt was “safe.” No one was going to claw
their way to get to him.  While I
verbally berated Dave, inwardly I was desperately afraid that he would leave me
for a younger woman because there was a 7 year age difference between us. Automatic
behavior kicked in and I waited on Dave’s every need.  Yet, I did not receive the kind of
acknowledgement that I had received from my grateful and dying husband. Dave
responded in the way a teenager is pleased with finding himself with a B rated
former sex star. The more I catered to Dave, the more I loathed myself and
projected that loathing on to him. So, here’s what happened.
It was in mid-October three years ago. Dave had been busy
running his small underfunded business. He was swamped and overwhelmed. He and
I had not seen each other for a week, which was odd. He had called every night
explaining his absence and for six days I had pretended that his absences were
ok. In the meantime, Dave and his single young attractive female colleague with
whom he worked had been spotted spending a lot of time together. This caused me
suspicion. This young woman who I had always believed to be in love with Dave,
was incredibly accomplished and had been honored with the highest honors of her
profession as a young composer. She was beautiful in the light skin, light
eyes, light colored hair that my generation of black people found to be
beautiful.  The potential for envy of her
was high. With a second malicious report of spotting them together reached me
and when Dave had not shown up that week, I was at high alarm. I was sure that
he had taken up with her. In my madness of jealousy I put together disparate
incidences of times that they had been together and I was jealous. I was being
replaced by some young nincompoop!
When on the seventh night Dave had begged off, I got into my
car and performed a “drive by.” A drive by is when you show up unannounced to
see if your boyfriend or girlfriend is home and if home- alone. So I drove by
and I saw only his car, but this young woman either didn’t have a car or didn’t
drive so a missing car was inconclusive. The angry knock on the door was
necessary. Dave opened the door and was puzzled? Hadn’t he just said that he
was not feeling well? Why was I there? When I told him my suspicions, he said that
they were completely unfounded.  And then
he made it worse and said that even if he was seeing her, that he and I did not
have an exclusive relationship and that he didn’t have to hide anything from
me. This was fire on gasoline. I called him every ugly name. Dave never raised
his voice or was loud. He was simply amazed to see what he thought was such a
put together woman falling apart. He offered me water and I could see the pity
and alarm in his eyes, which shamed me even more. My ego and I had no place
else to go, but to stalk out and leave him. But as I did so, my heart was
breaking. I realized that I was totally out of control and it wasn’t about
Dave, it was about me.
I had gotten lost and afraid. My erratic behavior had scared
me into realizing that I needed to find myself; to re-invent myself. It was one
of the hardest things that I have ever done. I had to learn to like myself. I
had to learn to live alone. I had to learn to take care of myself on my own for
myself. The journey to finding myself or finding the beloved within myself is
the basis for my second book, which is yet unnamed.
I have set myself on the path that is right for me. I have
accepted myself and know emotionally that love is within and not found without.
I also learned that someone’s attraction to another or desire for another does
not lessen me in any way. At my most secure self, at your most secure self you
know your intrinsic worth.  The first
step in anything is awareness. When you catch yourself being envious pay particular
attention to what and who you are being envious about. Then ask yourself, “Why
is it that I feel that I cannot attain that?” 
Before you get to the point of insane jealousy ask yourself why you are
jealous of that other person who is trying to take your place. Perhaps the
question to ask yourself is “Where is my place?” These are not easy or short
term skills to develop. However, understanding that envy and jealousy relates
to our own lack of self-esteem might provide us with the necessary next steps.
Remember it’s not them; it’s you.

The Addict Writes