Planning and Design of Behavioral Healthcare Facilities

Behavioral Healthcare Facilities: The Current State of Design

In keeping with most districts of healthcare, the marketplace has seen a boom in the construction of Behavioral Healthcare facilities. Contributing to this increase is the paradigm shift in the way society views mental illness. Society is placing a heavier value on the need to treat people with serious addictions such as alcohol, prescription and elicit drugs. A large percentage of people suffering from behavioral disorders are afflicted with both mental and addictive behaviors, and most will re-enter communities and either become contributors or violators.

These very specialized facilities do not typically yield the attention from today’s top healthcare designers and their quantity accounts for a small fraction of healthcare construction. However, Behavioral Healthcare projects are increasing in number and are being designed by some very prominent architectural firms such as Cannon Design and Architecture Plus. Many are creating state-of-the-art, award-winning contemporary facilities that defy what most of us believe Behavioral Healthcare design to be.

Changing the Way We Design Behavioral Healthcare Facilities

As with all good planners and designers, A+D (along with facility experts) are reviewing the direct needs of patient and staff while reflecting on how new medicine and modern design can foster patient healing rates, reduce environmental stress, and increase safety. This is changing the face of treatment and outcome by giving the practitioner more time to treat because they require less time and resources to “manage” disruptive patient populations.

The face of Behavioral Healthcare is quickly changing. No longer are these facilities designed to warehouse patients indefinitely. And society’s expectations have changed. Patients are often treated with the belief that they can return to their community and be a contributor to society. According to the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS), depending on the severity of illness, the average length of stay in a Behavioral Healthcare facility is only 9.6 days.

What has changed?

Jaques Laurence Black, AIA, president and principal of New York City-based daSILVA Architects, states that there are two primary reasons for the shortened admission period:

1. Introduction of modern psychotropic drugs that greatly speed recovery

2. Pressures from insurance companies to get patients out of expensive modes of care

To meet these challenges, healthcare professionals are finding it very difficult to effectively treat patients within the walls of antiquated, rapidly deteriorating mental facilities. A great percentage of these facilities were built between 1908 and 1928 and were designed for psychiatric needs that were principled in the belief to “store” not to “rehabilitate.”

Also impacting the need for Behavioral Healthcare construction is the reluctance of acute-care facilities to provide mental health level services for psychiatric or addiction patients. They recognize that patient groups suffering from behavioral disorders have unique health needs, all of which need to be handled and treated only by very experienced healthcare professionals. This patient population also requires a heightened level of security. Self-harm and injuring staff and other patients are major concerns.

The Report of the Surgeon General: “Epidemiology of Mental Illness” also reports that within a given year about 20% of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder and 5.4% suffer from a serious mental illness (SMI ) – defined as bipolar, panic, obsessive-compulsive, personality, and depression disorders and schizophrenia. It is also believed 6% of Americans suffer from addiction disorders, a statistic that is separate from individuals who suffer from both mental and addiction disorders. Within a given year it is believed that over one-quarter of America’s population warrants levels of mental clinical care. Even if these statistics were cut in half, it cannot be denied as a serious societal issue.

With a growing population, effectively designing in accordance with such measures is at the heart of public health.

Understanding the Complexity of Behavioral Healthcare Design

Therefore, like Corrections, leading planners and designers specializing in Behavioral Healthcare are delving deeper to better understand the complexity of issues and to be the activist to design facilities that promote treatment and healing – and a safer community.

The following is a list of key design variables that are being studied and implemented:

1. Right Sizing

2. Humanizing Materials and Color

3. Staff-Focused Amneties and Happiness

4. Security and Safety

5. Therapeutic Design Tenants

Right-sizing

Today’s Behavioral Healthcare facilities are often one-story single buildings within a campus size. Often debated by Clients due to costs, this design preference is driven by the demand for Uncategorized light, window views to nature for all patient areas, and outdoor open-air gardens “wrapped” within. All of this provides soothing qualities to the patient, reduces their anxieties, counteracts disruptive conduct and helps to reduce staff stress.

“When you look at the program mix in these buildings, there’s a high demand for perimeter because there are a lot of rooms that need Uncategorized light. Offices, classrooms, dining areas, community rooms, and patient rooms all demand Uncategorized light, so you end up with a tremendous amount of exterior wall, and it forces the building to have a very large footprint.” – James Kent Muirhead, AIA, associate principal at Cannon Design in Baltimore

These design principles are also believed to improve staff work conditions. Unlike a multi-story complex, at any moment staff can walk outdoors and access nature, free from visual barriers, and within a building that more accurately reflects building types that both patients and staff would encounter in their communities.

In addition to right-sizing for the overall building footprint, is right-sizing for internal patient and staff support area. Similar to the move we have seen in Corrections to de-centralize support spaces, Behavioral Healthcare is moving to decentralized nursing/patient units called “neighborhoods.” With mental health facilities there is a large concern with distances and space adjacencies in relation to the patient room and patient support areas such as treatment and social spaces. Frank Pitts, AIA, FACHA, OAA president of Architecture Plus, Troy, NY, advocates neighborhoods that average 24-30 beds arranged in sub-clusters, called “houses”, of 8-10 beds. Thus, each neighborhood consists of three houses. Often these layouts will include a common area where patients congregate and socialize, with a separate quiet room so patients can elect to avoid active, crowded areas. In addition Pitts states, “There’s a move away from central dining facilities. So, while facilities will still have a central kitchen, it’s a whole lot easier moving food than it is patients.” However, it is important for the facility to mimic normal outside daily life routines, so patients are encouraged to frequently leave their neighborhoods to attend treatment sessions, and outdoor courtyards.

Humanizing Materials & Color

In all facilities that play a role in rehabilitation, design strives to create spaces that humanize, calm, and relax. Behavioral Healthcare patients need to feel that they are in familiar surroundings; therefore, the architectural vocabulary should feel comfortable and normal. Since these facilities are about rehabilitation (when possible) and encouraging patients to merge back into society, the facility should feel like an extension of the community. Their spaces should reflect the nature and architecture of the surrounding region and thus so, no two facilities should look too much alike.

“Our a
pproach to designing these facilities is to view the facility as an extension of the community where patients will end up when they’re released. Interior finishes also depend on geography because you want to replicate the environment patients are used to. You want to de-stigmatize the facility as much as possible.” – Tim Rommel, AIA, ACHA, OAA, principal with Cannon Design in Buffalo, NY.

Therefore, materials and colors within these spaces want to feel familiar to one’s region and everyday life. To soothe the psyche and rehabilitate, they want to feel soft and comfortable, yet visually stimulating. An interior that is overly neutral or hard in appearance is not appropriate. Materials should reduce noise, and colors should lift the spirit. This can help to create an environment in which the patient can learn, socialize, and be productive while easing anxieties, delivering dignity, and modifying behavior. As stated previously, behavioral studies advise the use of softer interior materials-like carpeting, wood doors and tile. Doing so translates directly to both patient and staff well-being, particularly staff safety, and makes for a nicer place to work. In addition, staff have more resources to “treat” instead of manage heated situations. When staff experiences are eased and satisfied, morale is boosted and life-saving rules and policies are more likely to be enforced.

Staff-Focused Amenities & Happiness

While reducing staff stress and fatigue through a healing supportive environment seems like an obvious goal, there are relatively few studies that have dealt with this issue in any detail. More attention has been given to patient outcomes. However, many leading hospitals that have adopted therapeutic tenants into their newly built environments have seen vast improvement through their “business matrixes” and financial reporting.

In one example, the Mayo Clinic, a national leader in implementing healing design in its facilities, has reported a reduction of nursing turnover from a national annual average of 20% to an annual 3%-4%. In another example, when Bronson Methodist Hospital incorporated evidence-based design into its new 343-bed hospital, they cited their 19%-20% nurse turnover rate dramatically dropped to 5%.

Now, both the Mayo Clinic and Bronson Methodist Hospital have had to initiate a waiting list for nursing staff seeking positions. This converts to better-trained and qualified staff, and a reduced error rate. Therefore, more health facilities are investing in staff support areas such as lounges, changing rooms, and temporary sleep rooms. Within these staff spaces and in the hospital throughout, facilities are also recognizing the need for upgrade materials, better day lighting, and an interesting use of color: One soon realizes that the need of patients and staff are interwoven, each impacting positively or negatively the other.

Security & Safety

Without debate, self harm and harm to staff is one of the biggest concerns mental health facilities manage. Often the biggest safety and security concern is the damage patients can do to themselves. “There are three rules I had drummed in me,” says Mark Hanchar; Director of Preconstruction Services for Gilbane Building Company, Providence, R.I. “First, there can’t be any way for people to hang themselves. Second, there can be no way for them to create weapons. Third, you must eliminate things that can be thrown.” Hanchar says that the typical facility is, “a hospital with medium-security prison construction.” This means shatter proof glass, solid surface countertops (laminate can be peeled apart), stainless steel toilets and sinks (porcelain can shatter), push pull door latches and furniture that cannot be pulled apart and used as a weapon. These are just to name a few.

Additionally, removing barriers between patients and nursing staff is a safety consideration. Frank Pitts, AIA, FACHA, OAA president of Architecture Plus, says what may be counter-intuitive for safety precautions, “Glass walls around nursing stations just aggravate the patients.” Removing glass or lowering it at nursing stations so patients can feel a more human connection to nurses often calms patients. There is also discussion of removing nursing stations altogether; decentralizing and placing these care needs directly into the clinical neighborhoods and community spaces. Pitt says, “The view is that [nursing staff] need to be out there treating their patients.”

Therapeutic Design Tenants

As medicine is increasingly moving towards “evidence-based” medicine, where clinical choices are informed by research, healthcare design is increasingly guided by research linking the physical environment directly to patient and staff outcomes. Research teams from Texas A&M and Georgia Tech sifted through thousands of scientific articles and identified more than 600 – most from top peer-reviewed journals – to quantify how hospital design can play a direct role in clinical outcomes.

The research teams uncovered a large body of evidence that demonstrates design features such as increased day-lighting, access to nature, reduced noise and increased patient control helped reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase staff effectiveness – all of which promote healing rates and save facilities cost. Therefore, improving physical settings can be a critical tool in making hospitals more safe, more healing, and better places to work.

Today’s therapeutic spaces have been defined to excel in 3 categories:

1. Provide clinical excellence in the treatment of the body

2. Meet the psycho-social needs of patients, families, and staff

3. Produce measurable positive patient outcomes and staff effectiveness

Considering the cost of treating mental illness, which is exceedingly high, and wanting facilities to have effective outcomes, a further practice of incorporating therapeutic design is increasing. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIM H) approximated in 2008 that serious mental illnesses (SMI ), costs the nation $193 billion annually in lost wages. The indirect costs are impossible to estimate.

The estimated direct cost to clinically treat is approximately $70 billion annually and another $12 billion spent towards substance abuse disorders. In addition to the increased need of care and the boom in Behavioral Healthcare construction, it becomes an obligation to make certain that we as facility managers, architects, designers and manufacturers therapeutically plan and design these facilities.

Notably, in 2004, “The Role of the Physical Environment in the Hospital for the 21st Century: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity,” published by Roger Ulrich P.H.D., of Texas A&M University, was released. In a culmination of evidence-based research, research teams found five design principles that contributed significantly to achieving therapeutic design goals.

The report indicates five key factors that are essential for the psychological well-being of patients, families and staff, including:

1. Access to Nature

2. Provide Positive Distractions

3. Provide Social Support Spaces

4. Give a Sense of Control

5. Reduce or eliminate environmental stress

Access to Nature

Studies indicate that nature might have the most powerful impact to help patient outcomes and staff effectiveness. Nature can be literal or figurative – Uncategorized light, water walls, views to nature, large prints of botanicals and geography, materials that indicate nature and most importantly, stimulating color that evokes nature. Several studies strongly support that access to nature such as day-lighting and appropriate colorations can improve health outcomes such as depression, agitation, sleep, circadian rest-activity rhythms, as well as length of stay in demented patients and persons with seasonal affective disorders (SAD).

These and related studies continue to affirm the powerful impact of Uncategorized elements on patient recovery and stress reduction. Thus, it is clea
r that interior designs which integrate Uncategorized elements can create a more relaxing, therapeutic environment that benefits both patients and staff.

Positive Distractions

These are a small set of environmental features that provide the patient and family a positive diversion from “the difficult” and, in doing so, also negate an institutional feel. These can be views to nature, water walls, artwork, super imposed graphics, sculpture, music – and ideally all of these want to be focused on nature and, when applicable, an interesting use of color. Therapeutic environments that provide such patient-centered features can empower patients and families, but also increase their confidence in the facility and staff. This helps with open lines of communication between patient and caregiver.

Social Support Spaces

These are spaces designed partially for the patient but mainly for the comfort and socialization of family members and friends of the patient; therefore, family lounges, resource libraries, chapels, sleep rooms and consult rooms all play a role. When family and friends play a key role in a patient’s healing, these spaces encourage families to play an active role in the rehabilitation process.

Sense of Control

In times when patients and family feel out of control, it is very healing for the facility design and staff to provide it back when appropriate. Although, this cannot always be done suitably in mental healthcare facilities. However, when applicable, these design features include optional lighting choices, architectural way-finding, resource libraries, enhanced food menus, private patient rooms and

optional areas to reside in. A few well-appointed studies in psychiatric wards and nursing homes have found that optional choices of moveable seating in dining areas enhanced social interaction and improved eating disorders. When patients feel partially in control of their healing program and that the building features are focused to them, an increased confidence of the quality of care enters and tensions lower.

As with all therapeutic design, this allows the caregiver to use their resources healing in lieu of “managing” patient populations.

Reduce or Eliminate Environmental Stress

Noise level measurements show that hospital wards can be excessively noisy places resulting in negative effects on patient outcomes. The continuous background noise produced by medical equipment and staff voices often exceeds the level of a busy restaurant. Peak noise periods (shift changes, equipment alarms, paging systems, telephones, bedrails, trolleys, and certain medical equipment like portable xray machines are comparable to walking next to a busy highway when a motorcycle or large truck passes.

Several studies have focused on infants in NIC Us, finding that higher noise levels, for example, decrease oxygen saturation (increasing need for oxygen support therapy), elevate blood pressure, increase heart and respiration rate, and worsen sleep. Research on adults and children show that noise is a major cause of awakening and sleep loss.

In addition to worsening sleep, there is strong evidence that noise increases stress in adult patients, for example, heightening blood pressure and heart rate. Environmental surfaces in hospitals are usually hard and sound-reflecting, not sound-absorbing causing noise to travel down corridors and into patient rooms. Sounds tend to echo, overlap and linger longer.

Interventions that reduce noise have been found to improve sleep and reduce patient stress. Of these, the environmental or design interventions such as changing to sound-absorbing ceiling tiles, are more successful than organizational interventions like establishing “quiet hours.”

Conclusion and Additional Information

The information contained in this excerpted report is intended as a guide for architects, specifiers, designers, facility planners, medical directors, procurers, psychologists and social workers which have a stake in providing improved facilities for behavioral healthcare patients. It is a portion of a report entitled “The Contributions of Color” authored by Tara Hill, of Little Fish Think Tank. Ms. Hill was commissioned by Norix Group Inc., in 2010 to research the role color plays in the safe operation of correctional facilities and behavioral health centers. More in-depth information specifically about the psychological influence of color and behavioral healthcare facility design can be found by reading the full report.

Mobile Auto Detailing Noise Reduction Strategy – Shop Vacuum Enclosure

The other day, I was in a high-end neighborhood in California and I noted that it was quite noisy. There were landscapers with air blowers, landscapers using weed wackers, and even a mobile detailer across the street using one of those 5 horsepower shop vacuum. “Why all the noise,” I thought, this is a nice neighborhood. You see, I was surprised that the customers would put up with that noise and nonsense. Apparently they had no choice, but I would submit to you that they actually do. Further, there’s opportunity here and I’d like to explain why.

If you own a mobile detailing business you should consider noise reduction strategies. Perhaps you should buy a portable generator such as the Honda which is very quiet, and use an electric pressure washer, an electric buffer, and find a way to reduce the noise of that shop vacuum. Now then, before I retired I franchised mobile auto detailing units around the country. We set up these mobile rigs on trailers, in vans, and on pickup trucks using skid units. In many locations we would clean vehicles right in office parking lots where office windows were adjacent to the cars we were cleaning.

Our customers were on the phone and having meetings so it was unacceptable to make noise. Nevertheless, those shop vacuum cleaners have a terrible squeal to them. What we did was we took a plastic trashcan cut a hole in the side for the vacuum hose and a small opening in the top with some air-conditioning vent mesh. Then we used insulation around the inside of the trashcan, the kind that is silver on one side with sticky tape on the other. This did the trick. You can hardly hear the sound, unless you stood right next to the trashcan, which was upside down covering the vacuum.

This should work just about anywhere, and we never made any noise. Best of all, we got more referrals, and folks used to tell us that they likes us better than the people they had before because we didn’t make any noise. They would tell their friends, and we got more business. It was that easy. Using best management practices for mobile auto detailing and noise reduction makes sense, and it makes dollars.

Interestingly enough, you can’t buy anything like this in the store, no one sells them, you have to make your own. But since I’ve explained how, I hope you will do this as soon as possible, and help keep the peace and quiet.

Online Shopping for Clothes: Tips and Facts

Nowadays online shopping for fashionable clothes has become very popular all over the world. It seems that online shopping for apparel is much more convenient. Consumers have this great opportunity to browse an international clothing market at the simple click of a button.

Undoubtedly, online stores for clothes have become the new hit. Today you can buy everything from an e-store – from the socks and the underwear, through women and men tops to the sportswear and the coats, including fashion accessories such as hats, bags, you name it. You can shop while drinking your coffee at home, during your break at the office, at any time, at any place. You had a busy day at work and it’s already late in the day, and you have a party approaching – the perfect solution is to lounge on your couch and start browsing for online shop offering clothes that match your style. Also, many e-shops make big season sales and discounts for holidays.

Yet with all the advantages of the online shopping for clothes, there are some flaws. You are not able to try out your clothes to see if they fit you, you can’t feel the fabric either. I am offering you some easy-to-follow tips for a successful online shopping inspired by the many online shopping woes of customers around the world.

  1. Look at the return policy
  2. Before you buy your clothes online, read the return policy. Loyal clothing e-shops offer returns. Mistakes happen and it is always good idea to have a backup plan. Make sure that if it turns out that you need a different size, or you have changed your opinion and you want to buy something else, you can return your purchase to change it.

  3. Chart sizes
  4. Take into consideration that different countries have different sizes. Many customers underestimate this fact. When you are choosing your size, make sure you choose the right one. Most online shops for clothes offer chart size legend where you can see in detail what measures stand for each size number.

  5. Fabric content
  6. Since you cannot feel the materials of the clothes, read the fabric content. All good online clothing shops note the fabric content of each item in detail. Do not rely on an image to buy your clothing online. You are more likely to be unfortunate surprised with your choice.

  7. Research your online clothing store before buying from it
  8. There are clothing e-retailers that are quite disloyal. Often you pay for something that turns out to be different from what you have expected. Sometimes purchases take a lot longer time to arrive etc. You can find a lot of fashion forums, blogs about apparel and social networks where you can search for a loyal clothing e-store like SpiralFashion.com that offers trendy apparel.

Online shopping for clothes saves time and money, but do it the right way. Shop reasonably.

Blu Cigs Cyberbanking Cigarettes

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The way the e-cigarette works is, you artlessly allegation up your cyberbanking cigarette battery, which looks actual agnate to a acceptable cigarette, and instead of inhaling the added baleful toxins that a accustomed cigarette has in them, the ??â„¢smoke??â„¢ that is emitted from the e-cigarette is in fact just baptize breath that contains aqueous nicotine, and is controllable to those about you.

Family associates of smokers who are anxious about additional duke smoke may acquisition this advantage a lot added tolerable. Some smokers see the smokeless cigarette as a abundant added able way to ???quit??â„¢ smoker always as it gives them the activity that they are still in fact smoking, even admitting they are not inhaling the aforementioned adverse chemicals as they were with approved cigarettes.

You will boring be abbreviation the bulk of nicotine your physique consumes and accordingly your physique will not accept to go through the acrid nicotine abandonment symptoms. You aswell wont ache from the cerebral furnishings that one goes through if you abdicate smoker because you will still be captivation the cyberbanking cigarette like a absolute cigarette and you will abide to inhale/exhale smoke. However, this smoke is baleful free, which agency it does not accommodate any blight causing ingredients.

The Blu Cigs e-cigarette uses technology agnate to added e-cigarette brands. Like a lot of added e-cigarettes, the Blue Cigs e-cigarette is not absolutely smoked but instead is “vaped”. That is because e-cigarettes do not bake anything. Instead, e-cigarettes vaporize aqueous nicotine into a accomplished brume that is inhaled, appropriately the appellation “vape”. The aqueous nicotine, which is independent in a appropriate cartridge, is angry into a brume by apparatus accepted as an atomizer. The atomizer in the Blu Cigs e-cigarette is powered by a baby rechargeable lithium ion battery.

How to Safely Remove Paint Transfer From a Vehicle Without Scratching

How To Properly Remove Paint Transfers From Your Automobile

It’s been staring you in the face now for weeks. Taunting you every time you walk past your car. Those unsightly red marks on your nice white bumper that just showed up one day when you went to the grocery store. No matter how hard you scrub when you wash your car they never seem to go away! Those red marks are referred to as paint transfers and by following these steps you can finally say, “Good Bye!”, to those unsightly blemishes.

Things You Will Need:

  1. Water Hose
  2. Water Hose Nozzle
  3. 5 Gallon Bucket
  4. Automotive Washing Soap
  5. Automotive Washing Brush
  6. Water Blade
  7. Drying Towels
  8. Automotive Clay Bar
  9. Automotive Clay Bar Lubricant
  10. Automotive Cutting Compound
  11. Automotive Cutting Compound Pads
  12. Automotive Detailing Polish
  13. Polish Pads
  14. Automotive Wax (A High Grade Acrylic Sealer Wax is Recommended)
  15. Automotive Wax Pads
  16. Microfiber Towels

STEP #1: Place enough automotive car wash soap to cover the bottom of your 5 gallon bucket and fill with water using your water hose and water hose nozzle.

STEP #2: Rinse your entire vehicle using the high pressure position on your water nozzle to rinse free any loose dirt from your vehicle.

STEP #3: Using your automotive wash brush and soap to clean your entire vehicle.

STEP #4: Rinse the vehicle clean of automotive soap.

STEP #5: Using your water blade, make long continuous strokes from top to bottom to remove water from the vehicle.

STEP #6: After the majority of the water from your vehicle has been removed with your water blade, use your drying towel to completely dry the exterior of your vehicle, paying close attention to seems and joints where water collects. NOTE: not completely drying your vehicle to hinder the following processes.

STEP #7: After your vehicle has been completely dried, spray the Automotive Clay Bar lubricant generously over the paint transfer area. Immediately after apply the lubricant gently take the automotive detailing clay and gently, using a back and forth motion paying close attention not to apply any undue pressure, rub the clay onto the paint. The automotive detailing clay removes any foreign particles that may have bonded to your paint. These particles can cause scratches and swirl marks during the compounding, polishing and waxing process if not removed. After you have completed the clay bar process use your microfiber to wipe the excess lubricant from the area.

STEP #8: Apply a small amount of automotive cutting compound to your compound pad and place onto the paint transfer area. Gently cover the entire paint transfer area with the cutting compound. After you have covered the paint transfer with cutting compound begin to make quick, circular motion with the cutting pad applying a generous amount of pressure. After the cutting compound has become semi translucent, buff off with your microfiber towel. NOTE: This process may need to be repeated if the paint transfer is still present.

STEP #9: Once the paint transfer has been removed apply a small amount of automotive detailing polish to your polish pad and with tight, circular motions apply to the compounded area until you can longer see the polish. Once you can longer see the polish buff the area with your microfiber towel.

STEP #10: After the automotive detail polish has been buffed clean, apply your wax to your wax pad and in tight, circular motions apply wax to the compounded and polished area. Once the wax has been applied and has turned to a white haze, buff the area with your microfiber pad until all the excess wax has been buffed clear.

NOTE: Generally during a professional detail the entire vehicle will have the automotive detail clay process applied to the vehicle as well as the waxing process.

The Role of Neurons in Substance Abuse

Addiction is a neurological disease and any attempt to define it otherwise can be met with compelling evidence. In fact, the nature of the disease of addiction is almost entirely based upon functions that occur within nerve cells and the circuits they are wired in. Understanding the role neurons play in substance abuse won’t help an addict get clean directly, but it will foster an environment of understanding that can help to mitigate and improve the serious public health threat of substance abuse.

What is a Nerve Cell?

There are billions – perhaps trillions – of nerve cells in the brain. Some scientists theorize there are so many nerve cells because in the event of their death or alteration, these cells are not regenerated and therefore we require a surplus of them. And because their functions are so critical, nerve cells are found in abundance in every area of the brain.

Nerve cells – also called neurons – have many different functions, but overall these functions are primarily communication-related. Neurons communicate by sending and receiving signals to other neurons and nerve circuits, to glands and other hormone-related organs, to muscle cells and other parts of the central nervous system.

Neurons are arranged in circuits, though individual nerve cells do not physically touch. Instead, they float freely within the circuit.

The Individual Parts of Nerve Cells/Neurons

A neuron has 4 primary components;

1. Cell Body: the actual body of the nerve cell

2. Dendrites: dendrites branch out from the top of the nerve cell body

3. Axon: the axon is a long “cord” that extends from the bottom of the cell body

4. Terminals: the terminals branch out from the end of the axon

What Happens During Drug Use

When drugs enter the bloodstream, a signal is sent that excites certain dendrites in a nerve circuit. This signal is processed by the cell body, which in turn then sends instructions about the signal down through the axon. The axon conveys the signal and a neurotransmitter – often dopamine – is released by the terminals.

The neurotransmitter settles into the small gap between individual neurons – called the synaptic gap – and binds with receptors found in the dendrites of connected nerve cells. This causes the user to feel a euphoric sensation or “high.” When drugs like cocaine, heroin or meth interfere with this process, the neurotransmitter is not reabsorbed correctly by the terminals, resulting in neurotransmitter saturation. This causes the high to last for an extended period of time, whereas a Uncategorized release of a transmitter like dopamine normally causes a mildly pleasant feeling that quickly dissipates.

How the Brain Corrects the Imbalance

Because drug use is essentially a chemical invasion of the brain, the central nervous system will seek to control the effects of the substance. This is accomplished through a process called drug tolerance, whereby users find it increasingly more difficult to get high.

Tolerance develops when changes are made to the way receptors bind with neurotransmitters, or when other processes in the nerve circuit are altered in order to reduce or eliminate the effects of the foreign substance. Unfortunately, this often means that the drug user will simply increase the dosage of drugs in order to overcome this growing tolerance. This is the beginning of the cycle of addiction.

Permanency of Changes

Changes made to receptors and nerve cells are not reversible. This means that the brain of a drug addict will have significantly changed by the time they stop using. Because these changes are largely permanent, they may cause the addict to feel differently than they did before they began using. Adjusting to these changes is the most difficult part of long term recovery from addiction or alcoholism.

The evidence shows that addiction is not an issue of morals or character; it has its roots literally in our brains and therefore deserves to be treated as the serious health concern that it is. This is why addiction can happen to anyone: we are all wired the same. The sooner we can understand this, the sooner we can begin to offer addicts the right treatment solutions, beginning with a grounded public perception of the neurological nature of addiction.

Cookie Decorating and Cocktails: Themed Parties For the Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us, and one of the most timeless, beloved traditions is cookie decorating before Christmas time. Instead of setting aside an afternoon to bake batch after batch of Christmas cookies, why not plan a full-blown cookie decorating party to include friends and family?

How a Cookie Decorating Party Works

A cookie decorating party can work in one of two ways. You can ask all guests to bring their own favorite cookies, undecorated, to the party for a group decorating project. Or, you can ask guests to pitch in and make batches of cookies in your kitchen that you can all decorate together once they cool, fresh out of the oven.

For a smaller gathering with a few friends, baking cookies and decorating together will work well. For a larger party of five or more, it’s a better idea to ask guests to bring their own undecorated cookies so you don’t have to worry about squeezing a large group into a crowded, hot kitchen to bake cookies together.

To plan ahead, make sure that you have all of the necessary decorating supplies set up in advance in different stations throughout the room, including:

• Aprons or smocks
• Paper towels
• Tubes of icing in different colors
• Sprinkles and other assorted decorations
• Food coloring
• Small paintbrushes

From there, it’s time to get cracking! Guests can decorate plain cookies of their choice with different icings and assorted decorations, like sprinkles, chocolate chips, M&Ms, crushed peppermint, and more. You may also choose to splurge on fancy holiday cookie decorations like colored sugar, silver ball candies, and cinnamon hearts.

All of the decorations can be set up in individual bowls for use at each decorating station. Guests can also create their own colored icing with food coloring to paint different designs on each cookie using a small paintbrush.

Adult Beverages for Cookie Decorating

If this is an adults-only party, you have the perfect opportunity to pair holiday cookies with delicious seasonal cocktails to enjoy throughout the decorating process. Depending upon the type of cookies that you decorate, whether they’re plain sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, or even peanut butter cookies, you can pair your holiday drinks accordingly.

Decorated holiday sugar cookies will go well with a warm beverage like Irish Coffee or spiked cider. You can also make a large batch of alcoholic holiday punch with flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, served chilled and topped with a splash of cranberry juice and sparkling wine.

For more flavorful cookies, like peanut butter or snickerdoodle, serve a refreshing holiday favorite like mulled wine, peppermint martinis, or rich yet satisfying alcoholic eggnog.

For an adult-themed cookie decorating holiday bash, make sure to provide guests with the convenience of arranging transportation to and from the venue with a limo rental or luxury town car. This will allow guests to ride safely to and from the party destination so that they can enjoy a few holiday cocktails without having to worry about driving home at the end of the evening. ‘Tis the season!

The Need For Spyware Removal on Your Computer

Should something infect the software like a pathogen or spyware, the person will shortly lose sensitive info or at worse have to spend plenty of money to have it fixed.

This may be done by ensuring that there are backup files stored in a secure place and setting up certain defense mechanisms from viruses and other threats. One such system is known as an adware spyware remover and people who only need the best should get it from Symantec. Symantec is an example of the number 1 service suppliers of products of business answers to tiny, medium and massive ventures. The purchaser can select a program to deal with a precise or multiple threats such as viruses, Trojan, spyware and worms. This individual can then use the card to make unapproved purchases or nick money from the account. Symantec’s adware spyware remover system is engineered to look for existing bugs in the system and then destroy it.

The package it offers can be employed by those at home or when working in the office.

Since new spyware and adware pop up common-or-garden, patrons who opt to purchase the system can be be assured that the PC is always secure as the company always launches product updates that may be done either manually or instantly. Those that are uncertain whether to purchase it can try it for thirty days free but pay before the expiration to keep on the services. Symantec unlike other programs does not need to be turned on to do a systems check on the PC. When the spyware or adware has been removed, the easiest way to guarantee it doesn’t return is by making a firewall. It has received good reviews from critics and Computer mags for the standard of excellence it has given in all of its products. As software corporations attempt to make the computers folk use safe common-or-garden, so too are the hackers and programmers who need to do the same for private gain. The individual can have chosen to be with the best or get something else but it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to safeguarding the data stored in the PC.

Car Colors And Personal Choices

If you look at the stories on car colors and the popular shades available in the color spectrum, you’ll see that white, followed by silver and black, has been a persistent choice for new car buyers. Of all cars sold in America, almost a quarter are white. In Asia, it seems that silver is more predominant while in Europe, somber black is more popular. This trend, specially the preference for white, has been popular only since the 90s. Before that, there was a more colorful array of cars, with red, green and orange vehicles common on U.S. roads.

It would take a sociologist or some other specialist to accurately speculate about color trends. Evidently though, external factors make people prefer some colors to others. For example, some colors, like gray, have become known to be less visible during dusk. This is a time when drivers have not yet turned on their headlights and daylight has become twilight. Maroon also seems to disappear as night falls, and anecdotal reports of dark or dull cars being more accident-prone may have become a reason why colors like these aren’t so popular in cars nowadays.

You’ll find some sites with table correlating some value or characteristic to particular colors. For example, red is supposed to be for dynamic, high-energy people, while yellow is for intelligent and comfort loving folk. Black would be for empowered, elegant business types while silver are for future-looking dudes. We can’t say that there isn’t any grain of truth to these classifications, but with white being a perennial favorite for several years, should we say that a majority of motoring enthusiasts are fastidious people? Because that’s what a lot of racing cars are painted with. White. There is a more practical reason to that though. White makes a terrific background for all those sponsorship decals and inspection of car parts for leaks or damage is easier if a car’s engine compartment or underchassis is white.

Dupont and PPG, both major paint suppliers to automotive manufacturers, have been keeping meticulous records on what colors sold most in years and decades past. Their data shows that people buyers are quite exacting in their color choices, although some consumer surveys indicate that a wider range of colors would be welcome too. Maybe the somber mood borne by not-so-optimistic economic news is affecting color choices too, which is why neutral tones are prevalent. But then, with more car owners opting to keep their cars longer, safe color choices will not look dated after just a few years.

Three SEO Strategies That High Ranking Websites Always Follow

Great people do not do different things. They do the same things differently. Well, this phrase is equally applicable to create websites as well. The basics of search engine optimization and social media integration are the same for everybody. The attitude and approach adopted by the webmasters makes all the difference. Let us look at some important differences between popular websites and those websites that fail to make an impression on search engines.

Always Changing, Improving And Evolving

Search engine optimization is a frustrating task primarily because it is always changing. In the beginning, stuffing the webpage with keywords was enough to improve your rankings. Then, Google started penalizing keyword spam and created the distinction between White Hat and other SEO techniques. The latest update by Google penalizes poor quality content. Judging the quality of content of your site through an algorithm may sound impossible. However, Google is making use of algorithms to weed out those websites that offer rehashed content without offering anything new.

Great sites never relax as far as search engine opposition is concerned. They never conclude that they have identified the golden formula and that they need not bother about SEO ever again. They are eager to identify newer solutions and want to find out how such solutions can help them improve rankings. If you want a one-time ticket to online popularity, then you will have to face many disappointing failures. Remaining popular on the Internet requires constant adaptation.

Search Engines Are Secondary. People Come First

This may sound sacrilegious to some SEO experts. To cater to people without bothering about search engines can lead to disastrous consequences. What is the point of setting up a website with high quality content if surfers cannot find it? Well, great websites believe that it is impossible to suppress good content online. If your content is good, then you will automatically become popular even if you are not focusing on search engine optimization.

Of course, this does not mean you should completely ignore optimization. However, your readers and viewers should be preferred over stats about your traffic. Keep your readers happy and they will spread word about your website without being asked to do so. Getting 100,000 web surfers to talk about your website is a lot simpler if you simply provide high-quality content.

Instead of spending a lot of money on expensive SEO strategists, you can adopt this simple approach and extract more value out of your investment.

Never Be In A Hurry For Results

Despite the release of panda and penguin updates by Google, it is possible to manipulate search engines and improve your rankings. However, such a short-term approach is only going to lead to complications. For starters, you can never be certain that your popularity is sustainable. If you focus on the long-term, then you will automatically make use of White Hat SEO techniques that focus on adding value at all times.

Make sure you follow these strategies. The best option is to employ an SEO expert who understands the importance of such an approach. This will help you focus on offering better quality products and services to your customers without worrying about the popularity of your website.