Virtual Health and Wellness Center at Adelphi University, Long Island, NY


FAQs

Mental Health:
Q: Can alcoholism be inherited?
Q: What are the long-term effects of smoking marijuana?
Q: Is crack more dangerous than cocaine?
Q: What are the most common phobias?

Nutrition:
Q: How much protein does the body need?
Q: What are carbohydrates?
Q: What is the difference between complex and simple carbohydrates?
Q: Are complex carbohydrates good for you?
Q: I heard a lot about Atkins diet, are there dangers to a low carbohydrate diet?

Exercise:
Q: Do I need to take any special tests before I start to exercise?
Q: Is there a safe way to gauge my cardiovascular fitness at home?
Q: I already feel tired--won't exercise make me feel more tired?
Q: I do not feel better when I exercise--is something wrong with me?
Q: My knees hurt when I run, can I do something else for my cardiovascular
    fitness?


Didn't find what you were looking for?
Please contact us and we'll be happy to help.


Mental Health

Q: Can alcoholism be inherited?
A:
The answer to this question is: "Yes, in part". While alcohol use is required to trigger alcoholism, the biological mechanism of alcoholism is uncertain. For most people, moderate alcohol consumption poses little danger of addiction. Other factors must exist for alcohol use to develop into alcoholism. These factors may include a person's social environment, emotional health and genetic predisposition. In addition, an alcoholic can develop multiple forms of addiction to alcohol simultaneously such as psychological, metabolic, and neurochemical. Each type of addiction must be treated individually for an alcoholic to fully recover.

According to new research, brain chemistry may be the reason some people with a strong family history of alcoholism become alcoholics while others do not. A team of scientists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY have discovered that elevated levels of brain cell receptors, called dopamine D2 may protect those at greatest risk of developing alcoholism. Dopamine D2 is a chemical messenger that stimulates the brain's reward circuits. Increasing the level of dopamine D2 may protect people from developing alcoholism.

Q: What are the long-term effects of smoking marijuana?
A: Long-term side effects of Marijuana, in brief:
  • Enhanced cancer risk
  • Decrease in testosterone levels and lower sperm counts for men
  • Increase in testosterone levels for women and increased risk of infertility
  • Diminished or extinguished sexual pleasure
  • Psychological dependence requiring more of the drug to get the same effect
  • Loss of aim and ambition in life as desire for marijuana use becomes more and more pervasive.


Effects of heavy Marijuana use on learning and social behavior:
Marijuana is the most common drug used by adolescents in America today. A study of college students has shown that critical skills related to attention, memory, and learning are impaired among people who use marijuana heavily, even after discontinuing its use for at least 24 hours. Compared to the light users, heavy marijuana users made more errors and had more difficulty sustaining attention, shifting attention to meet the demands of changes in the environment, and in registering, processing, and using information. The findings suggest that the greater impairment among heavy users is likely due to an alteration of brain activity produced by marijuana.

Longitudinal research on marijuana use among young people below college age, indicates that these young users have lower achievement than the non-users, more acceptance of deviant behavior, more delinquent behavior and aggression, greater rebelliousness, poorer relationships with parents, and more associations with delinquent and drug-using friends.

Effects of Marijuana on Men:
Marijuana affects the parts of the brain that control sex and growth hormones. In males, marijuana can decrease testosterone levels. Occasional cases of enlarged breasts in male marijuana users are triggered by the chemical impact on the hormone system. Regular marijuana use can also lead to a decrease in sperm count, as well as increases in abnormal and immature sperm. Marijuana is a contributing factor in the rising problem of infertility in males. Young males should know the effects and potential effects of marijuana use on sex and growing process before they decide to smoke marijuana.

Effects of Marijuana on Women:
Just as in Males, marijuana affects the female in the part of the brain that controls hormones, that determine the sequence in the menstrual cycle. Women who smoke or use marijuana on a regular basis have irregular menstrual cycles, as female hormones are depressed, and testosterone level are raised. Even though this effect may be reversible, it may take several months of no marijuana use before the menstrual cycle become normal again.

Effects of Marijuana on pregnant women:
Any drug of abuse can affect a mother's health during pregnancy, and this is a time when she should take special care of herself. Drugs of abuse may interfere with proper nutrition and rest, which can affect good functioning of the immune system. Some studies have found that babies born to mothers who used marijuana during pregnancy were smaller than those born to mothers who did not use the drug. In general, smaller babies are more likely to develop health problems.

Research indicates that the use of marijuana by a mother during the first month of breast-feeding can impair the infant's motor development (control of muscle movement). Research also shows more anger and more regressive behavior (thumb sucking, temper tantrums) in toddlers whose parents use marijuana than among the toddlers of non-using parents.

Mothers who smoke marijuana on a regular basis have been reported to have babies with weak central nervous systems. These babies show abnormal reactions to light and sound, exhibit tremors and startles, and have the high-pitched cry associated with drug withdrawal. Occurring at five times the rate of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Fetal Marijuana Syndrome is a growing concern of many doctors. Furthermore, doctors worry that children born to "pot-head" mothers will have learning disabilities, attention deficits and hormonal irregularities as they grow older, even if there are no apparent signs of damage at birth. Pregnant or nursing mothers who smoke marijuana should talk to their doctors immediately. 

Effects of Marijuana on the lungs:
Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers have. These individuals may have daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. Continuing to smoke marijuana can lead to abnormal functioning of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke.

The amount of tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers. This may be due to the marijuana users inhaling more deeply and holding the smoke in the lungs.

Q: Is crack more dangerous than cocaine?
A:
Crack is the street name given to cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a ready-to-use free base for smoking. Rather than requiring the more volatile method of processing cocaine using ether, crack cocaine is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water and heated to remove the hydrochloride, thus producing a form of cocaine that can be smoked.

The term "crack" refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is heated, presumably from the sodium bicarbonate.

There is great risk associated with cocaine use whether the drug is ingested by snorting, injecting, or smoking. Excessive doses of cocaine may lead to seizures and death from respiratory failure, stroke, cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding into the brain), or heart failure.

There is no specific antidote for cocaine overdose.

Evidence suggests that users who smoke or inject cocaine may be at even greater risk than those who snort it. The fact that the drug can be smoked makes it easy to take, and a lot less threatening to most people than using a needle. Cocaine smokers suffer from acute respiratory problems including coughing, shortness of breath, and severe chest pains with lung trauma and bleeding. In addition, it appears that compulsive cocaine use may develop even more rapidly if the substance is smoked rather than snorted.

Q: What are the most common phobias?
A:
A phobia is a strong, persistent fear of certain situations, objects, activities, or persons. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject. When the fear is beyond one's control, or if the fear is interfering with daily life, then a diagnosis of phobia can be made.

The Most Common Phobias:

  1. Arachnophobia
    Fear of Spiders.

  2. Social Phobia
    Fear of being evaluated negatively in social situations.
    Approximately 5.3 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 3.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have social phobia.   It may take the form of fear of public speaking.

  3. Aerophobia
    Fear of flying.

  4. Agoraphobia
    Agoraphobia involves intense fear and avoidance of any place or situation where escape might be difficult or help unavailable in the event of developing sudden panic-like symptoms. Approximately 3.2 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 2 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have agoraphobia.

  5. Claustrophobia
    Fear of being trapped in small confined spaces.

  6. Acrophobia
    Fear of heights.

  7. Emetophobia
    Fear of vomit.

  8. Carcinophobia
    Fear of cancer.

  9. Brontophobia
    Fear of thunderstorms.

  10. Necrophobia
    Fear of death or dead things

^ Back to Top of Page

Nutrition

Q: How much protein does the body need?
A:
Healthy adult needs .8 gm/kg of desirable body weight per day or 15-35% of total calories.

Q: What are carbohydrates?
A:
Carbohydrates are compounds made of single sugars or multiple sugars and composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms.  Carbohydrate rich foods are obtained from plants, milk and milk products.

Q: What is the difference between complex and simple carbohydrates?
A:
Complex carbohydrates include starch and fiber, they are also known as polysaccharides. Examples of food sources include wheat, rice and corn. Simple carbohydrates include monosaccharides and disaccharides. They naturally occur in fruits, vegetables, milk, milk products and added sugars in concentrated form.

Q: Are complex carbohydrates good for you?
A:
Yes.  Fiber has many benefits including weight control, lowering cholesterol, improving blood sugar levels, may reduce the risk of certain cancers, relieves constipation, prevents hemorrhoids and diverticulosis.

Q: I heard a lot about Atkins diet, are there dangers to a low carbohydrate diet?
A:
The primary role of carbohydrates is provide energy to the body especially the brain and the nervous system. When glucose is unavailable to the body it will breakdown fat for energy. During this process ketone bodies are produced resulting in abnormal amount of ketones in the blood and urine. This can be dangerous because it can upset the body’s acid base balance, lead to dehydration, increase uric acid production and result in a coma.


^ Back to Top of Page

Exercise

Q: Do I need to take any special tests before I start to exercise?
A:
If under 35 and have no known risk factors, smoke, high blood pressure, etc., it is not necessary.  If over 35 it might be wise to see a physician.  The stress test or working EKG is the best test followed by an exercise prescription.

Q: Is there a safe way to gauge my cardiovascular fitness at home?
A:
If you walk up two the three flights of steps and find that you have heavy breathing or even notice your breathing, the chance is that you are in very poor condition.

Q: I already feel tired – won’t exercise make me feel more tired?
A:
No, exercising should make you feel like you have more energy.

Q: I do not feel better when I exercise – is something wrong  with me?
A:
Not necessarily.  You may be doing too much.  Scale back your workout and if you still feel tired, see your physician.

Q: My knees hurt when I run, can I do something else for my cardiovascular fitness?
A:
Yes, cycling, swimming or brisk walking.

This page was last modified on March 12, 2013.


^ Back to Top of Page