Self-Medication and Mental Illness: Know the Signs

Mental illness is notorious for causing sufferers to self-medicate. Most often, self-medication is very harmful, sometimes resulting in overdose or other physical consequences. Here are a few common forms of self-medication and how to recognize them as substance abuse.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption


Image via Pixabay by jarmoluk

Alcohol is one of the most common ways that people self-medicate in order to cope with various mental illnesses, from  bipolar disorder to depression, schizophrenia, and more. It is, for the most part, socially acceptable to drink regularly and is very easy to acquire. Alcohol quiets the mind, forcing it to slow down and relax. For many mental illness sufferers, this is all they want to experience, even if it is only for a few hours.

Some signs of alcohol abuse might be shirking responsibilities at home or work in favor of drinking, drinking as a response to stress, or frequently drinking with a seeming inability to go without alcohol. A person who is abusing alcohol may also attempt to hide their drinking while a self-medicating person may also combine alcohol with medications despite dangerous results.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco is known for soothing nerves, limiting anxiety, and reducing stress, which is why many people in high-stress jobs can be seen smoking on their breaks. As a form of self-medication, tobacco can ease anxiety and panic on top of potentially treating some symptoms of  schizophrenia. A surprising number of people with schizophrenia become hooked on tobacco with studies showing that smoking can genuinely reducing symptoms such as sensory and cognitive deficits.

Signs of  tobacco abuse include withdrawal, planning days around smoke breaks, irritability without a certain amount of nicotine, and continued smoking despite any emerging health concerns.

Marijuana Consumption

Marijuana is likely the least detrimental form of self-medication. Though smoking marijuana has been shown to have some negative side effects, including short-term memory loss, marijuana is the lesser of many evils when compared to most other addictive substances. Marijuana permits the person to relax and can combat the effects of anxiety and depression. However, a dependence on any substance is never beneficial.

Signs of marijuana abuse can include withdrawal, problems sleeping without using the substance, a distinct smell, and regular use.

Prescription Medication Abuse

Prescription medication addiction often occurs accidentally. Since these treatments are prescribed by doctors, patients may fail to realize the dangers of overdosing. Overuse of these medications may be an attempt to treat worsening symptoms or to simply up the dosage if the prescribed dosage is not helping enough.

It is fairly easy to recognize prescription drug misuse. The prescribed dosage will be available on the container. If the person is exceeding the dose having not consulted their doctor, they may be at risk of addiction. They may also experience severe withdrawal without the substance or may notice that their usual dosage has become ineffective.

Intentional abuse can be harder to spot as the user will be concealing their actions. A sudden change in moods, behaviors, or temperament is often cause for concern if you are aware that the person is taking prescription medications.

Self-medication is all too common in a society where mental illness is rampant and medical care is difficult to obtain. Some people are able to cope with mental illness simply by cultivating positive coping strategies such as exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet. For others, medication is necessary. It is always best to consult a doctor for approved treatments and to seek help from a counselor for non-medical recommendations.

Jasmine Dyoco is a fan of crossword puzzles, gardening, books on tape, learning (anything!) and fencing. She truly enjoys the work she does with Educator Labs and hopes you’ll stop by the site to learn more!


Is VOIP Technology Going Social?

No one can deny the impact of social media on the global population and the way it has affected business across the world. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social media platforms are continually using new ideas to connect individuals. How can VoIP or Voice over IP be left behind? VoIP too has been affected by the social media revolution and its integration is becoming more and more obvious.

Is VOIP Technology Going Social?

Innovations in social media with VoIP being the focal point

Almost all the popular social media platforms were initiated in the form of desktop websites. However, with mobile devices gaining prominence, the social media platform too evolved. Though initially these sites were not meant to be mobile but they changed for the better. Nowadays, the social media innovations are built around VoIP and all innovations keep VoIP as the focal point.

If we take a closer look at mobile apps like WhatsApp, and Viber, we can see that here the users are able to share text, images and video with one another. Though these sites are not as big as Facebook but their very existence is based on VoIP. Making calls and messages are sent over the internet. Well, the days of social media built around the VoIP has already started and things are getting better and better with every passing day.

Facebook Too Is Making Its Move

Zuckerberg has created the best ever social media platform for the modern world. This can be judged from its growing user base, which has already crossed the 1 billion mark. Every time there is some innovation or news of some new move from the company it garners huge interest among users.

A couple of years back, Facebook purchased WhatsApp for whopping sum of $22 billion. The app was originally a part of the growing social media but immediately after the acquisition, VoIP calling feature was added. Thus, instead of slamming the door on its competitor, Facebook used the opportunity to expand its services.

The messenger app even has internet calling facility besides the VoIP calling feature. Now, there are many other companies that would follow suit. They are going to replicate the Facebook model to enhance their businesses as well.

Businesses Are Already Using VoIP And Social Media

All leading businesses are using social media to reach out to their customers. Customers too expect quick response to their queries. All this is done with the help of social media. This gives a head-start to  IP-PBX based VoIP integration with social media.

Companies often make it mandatory to fill up a form before making their content available to customers. Now this data automatically goes into the company’s CRM or Customer Relationship Management software. Executives in the company can use the VoIP integrated with the CRM to call up new prospects or follow up with existing customers.

What Does The Future Hold For Social Media And VoIP?

According to industry data, 79% of the businesses in the US have already started to use VoIP services. Another report reveals that an equal percentage of users are using social media as well. Features like messaging will soon be integrated with VoIP. VoIP and Social Media are made for each other. The day is not far when probably we will not even be aware where and how we are using them.

About The Author

Michelle Patterson

Evolution of Cloud Based Phones

Evolution of Cloud Based Phones

Evolution of Cloud Based Phones

Over the years VoIP or Voice over Internet protocol has only become more efficient and user-friendly. VoIP or IP telephony is the real time transmission of voice data over the internet using the internet protocol or IP.

The Settings Behind This Technology

Three inventions primarily spurred the evolution of VoIP. First telephone, next internet and the third and most crucial invention is the internet protocol. Something that was started by Graham Bell in 1870, gained popularity over the years and turned into an indispensible part of modern communication.

During mid-1960s, internet was first time used by U.S defense, not what we use today. It was originally started by advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). During 1980s this technology gained widespread usage.

In 1972 Dr. Vint Cerf invented internet protocol or how data transfers between two computers. Thus, the foundation for VoIP was laid until further progress took place.

Beginning of Cloud Based Phones

In 1973, again ARPANET contributed to the beginning of VoIP. It was during that period that ARPANET conducted experimental transmission. However, it was during 1995 VocalTec, an Israeli company that patented the internet phone. VocalTec developed software for transmitting the voice over internet compressed the voice signals, converted them into digital packets and distributed over internet.

As long as both the receiver and caller have same software and hardware the technology worked well. The sound quality then was nothing near the conventional phone sound, but this effort was the first step towards IP telephony that you enjoy today.

Adoption Of The Technology

The early adopters of this technology were comprised of the hobbyist who had understood the potential of this technology. They preferred transferring voice data packets over the web instead on depending upon the traditional phone system.

The software that VocalTec developed used a PC that was integrated with a sound cards and speakers and microphones. Then the system was leveraged on H.323 protocol instead of SIP protocol used today. It allowed PC users to make long distance calls. However, during 1995 the broadband internet connection was not as good as it is today. Thus, IP telephony evolved with time as there was advancement in broadband.

Development Of IP Telephony

During 1996 Intel also introduced software for internet telephone. Gradually the use of IP cloud based phones started evolving and by 1998 almost 1% of the total users of voice traffic used VoIP. Entrepreneurs started creating new hardware to support the system and software to make the system run. All this enabled phone to phone and computer to phone connections.

Even networking managers like Cisco, Lucent, 3Com started introducing hardware that will route the VoIP traffic efficiently. By 2000 the total usage increased to 3% of the voice traffic all over USA.

During the 90s for marketing VoIP costs were subsidized. However, as the broadband technology advanced, the quality of VoIP services also enhanced, there was more call clarity and reduction in latency. Cisco and other networking giants started making hardware that made this technology easier to use. It was during 1999 that session Internet protocol or SIP was released. The first open source private branch exchange software asterisk was developed by Mark Spencer.

Until 2004, mass marketing of IP telephony was not in progress. It was in 2004 when calling plans were introduced that made subscribers make calls in the same way they make call with their traditional PSTN system. Different offers were made that allowed national as well as international calling through IP telephony and with development in broadband the call quality has also developed.


Michelle Paterson

What’s Next For Digital Finance?


The last few years have seen unprecedented changes in the way we handle our money. While on the face of it little has changed in the banking system, advances in digital technology are slowly but surely spearheading a revolution not only in the way we use our money, but the way in which we think about it. The most recent innovation to hit the market – contactless payment – may herald a new dawn in money interfacing. What could be next for digital finance?

Why Does It Matter?

Does it really matter how, precisely, we transfer our money from customer to vendor? So long as it gets from one to the other effectively, what’s the big deal? Actually, the format of your transaction – particularly the format in which you pay – does in fact have quite a large psychological impact. We’re far more likely to make big purchases using cards than we are with cash – and that’s not just because people don’t tend to carry large wads of cash around! Cash is our physical money. When we pay with cash, we can physically see our money decreasing. This is not the case with cards. It feels less like ‘real money’ when we pay for things with cards. For the same reason, payday loans and the like which can be approved over the internet frequently feel like less of a responsibility than those which you have to meet a lender face to face for – leading to a surge in irresponsible borrowing (and lending!) not so very long ago. Unsurprisingly, this psychological spending quirk is used to advantage by retailers and bankers, who want to keep us spending. However, now that we’re getting wise to the fact that card payments involve just as much ‘actual’ money as cash payments, banks and other authorities are sniffing around for new ways to make parting with money seem less painful. Contactless payment is just one way in which they’re doing this. The digital world is likely to see more and more financial innovations in the very near future.

Goodbye To Cheques, Hello To Cyber-Transfers

It’s not just the capitalist machine which requires novel ways of paying. Digital finance has made life a lot easier for many independent entrepreneurs to reach faraway customers and be paid by them very quickly indeed. Platforms like PayPal became ubiquitous extremely quickly  once their potential was realized – and as the world becomes increasingly digitized, they’re likely to go from strength to strength. If the banks don’t take them over, that is. Banks are well aware of the missed financial opportunities inherent in all of these cyber-transfers. While the money may ultimately end up in a bank account, PayPal are taking a substantial cut along the way. Banks currently remain invested in the outmoded cheque-clearing system (which gains them plentiful interest) – but this won’t be the case for long. Cheques  are being phased out in the UK in 2018 and other nations are likely to follow suit. It’s likely that the intervening years will see banks making big, PayPal-esque changes to their digital money transfer systems. Not everyone can use BACs systems to digitally transfer money, but everyone can use PayPal. Expect to see banks muscling in on PayPal’s territory by making their digital money transfer systems simpler and easier – potentially through apps and the like.

Wearable Technology

Everyone’s talking about wearable technology right now. It’s supposed to be the innovation of the future, keeping track of everything from our state of health to our social lives. We all know that a lot of confidently made future predictions get kyboshed by something completely innovative sweeping in from the left field. However, at the moment, wearable technology looks to be a reasonably safe bet so far as future digital development is concerned. The advance of contactless payment means that one need no longer be confined to a card in order to pay. Indeed, one can attach a ‘digital wallet’ interface to almost anything. Barclays are already using a ‘bPay’ system in the UK, whereby one can have one’s ‘digital wallet’ in a wristband, a fob, or a sticker which can be attached to whatever the owner pleases. Some ultimately see such interfaces being integrated into our bodies via chips etc which could be scanned. Whatever the ultimate destination of this technology, it seems pretty clear that the way in which we pay for things is about to change rather drastically!


Helen Young


Amazon Files Third Lawsuit to Avoid Fraudulent Reviews

One of the best marketing techniques any business can have, is to receive and publish glowing reviews from purchasers. Amazon, selling everything from books, technology and even fashion and health related items, clearly has plenty to win or lose if doubts are cast with respect to the veracity of its customer reviews. In an effort to crack down on allegedly fake reviews the online company recently filed its third lawsuit against the owners of five new sites promising positive customer reviews.

One of the sites was Paid Book Reviews offering customers 100 reviews for $2,200. This site states that it comprises “a team of writers who understand the effect of positive customer reviews on your book’s sales.” Two types of book reviews are covered: unverified (the writers read the sample pages of a book on and post positive comments) and verified (the company buys the client’s book, reads it on Kindle and posts positive comments on Amazon). Purchasers can opt for as few as five book reviews, for only $125. Thanks to Kindle, tablets and other mobile technology the reviews can clearly be lucrative for the company offering them, since there is no need to purchase a physical copy of the books. Kindle books, which can be read on mobile devices regardless of the reader’s location in the world, cost less than physical books and can be reviewed by writers and critics form anywhere in the world.

Amazon began filing lawsuits in April 2015; so far, over 1,000 reviewers have been targeted. Some of these sites have already closed, and the information obtained has enabled Amazon to also ban specific sellers and reviewers from using their site. In its official statement,   Amazon claims that legal action has been taken to stop sellers and manufacturers who create the demand for fake reviews, but also to put an end to the larger ecosystem of individuals and businesses that support inauthentic reviews in return for money.

Savvy Amazon users take note; it is possible to spot fake reviews thanks to free website, Fakespot. Just copy and paste the link to the product page, and click Analyze. If you use Chrome,   add the Fakespot extension and simply click the Fakespot icon in your toolbar –   you will instantly be told if the reviews you are reading are considered low quality .  If Fakespot deems a review ‘low quality’, the likelihood is that those reviewing the product are likely to have reviewed other items by the same company, that they have written only extremely positive reviews, or that they have reviews products they have not purchased. These are pretty good indicators that reviews given are not based on one’s real experience or opinion.

Research indicates that up to 90 per cent of customers make purchasing decisions influenced by positive online reviews, while around 86 per cent are influenced by negative reviews. Around two thirds of online buyers read reviews, since brands can sell similar products and lack of awareness of differences in quality and features of online items makes reviews an invaluable source of information.

Research has also shown that B2B companies stand most to gain from customers who have had a good experience with them and who review their products and services online. Over 60 per cent of purchasers claim to have purchased products or services from a B2B company after reading positive reviews. The key to receiving a good review does not only lie in the product itself, but also customer service, which is ranked as a primary factor in influencing the degree to which customers trust companies.

Because customer service is so important,  marketing managers should work closely alongside customer service personnel , so that customer concerns expressed on social networking sites are attended to promptly and efficiently. Equally important is the practice of answering negative comments and reviews online, for others to see. Often, the percentage of negative comments can be reduced simply by attending speedily to complaints and problems, offering solutions and bonuses to clients who chose to remain loyal despite a glitch or two. Social media platforms should also be used to announce changes made to service policy or products, based on comments by customers. Ultimately, reviews, even negative ones, should be seen as an opportunity for companies to grow and adapt to the changing demands of the market and their target client.


Author is Helen Young

Digital Doctor – Are Apps The Future Of Healthcare?

Earlier this month, Google rolled out its ‘Health Card’ app in India. Google Health Card allows users to flip through over 400 ‘cards’ in order to swiftly correlate symptoms and learn more about diseases. While the concept may sound reasonably basic, the interface and efficiency of the app combined with the considerable expertise which came into the making of it renders it a very useful little tool. More to the point, the giant Google leaping into the health app fray indicates that they’re taking the medical potential of digital platforms very seriously indeed. As are many other observers, commentators, health providers, and businesses.

Doctor Google’

We all know that googling your symptoms is never a good idea. ‘Doctor Google’ will convince you in no time at all that a simple cold is Ebola, or that a stress headache is a brain aneurysm. Despite this, however, Google states that one in twenty Google searches are health related. For this reason,  it decided last year to put health-related information into its Knowledge Graph. The idea was not only to give Google an edge when it comes to amateur diagnostics – but also to prevent the dissemination of inaccurate healthcare information. Rather than relying on the hysterical hypochondriac power of user-generated health forums etc, Google’s own knowledge could commune directly with the searcher – and hopefully give more accurate and relevant information. This applies a certain amount of corporate clout to the world of digital diagnosis – but also indicates that Google is perhaps trying to reassert supremacy in the growing world of digital and app-based healthcare. The release of Google Health Card in India may be just another aspect of Google’s medical gameplan.

Health And Fitness Apps

Growing interest in our personal fitness has coincided with the kind of technology which can help us to monitor and control our health. Exercise gadgets like pedometers and exercise machine interfaces have been with us for a while now, but the introduction of linked apps has seen an explosion in health and fitness monitoring technology. From fitbits to diet plan apps, we’re able to weigh calories burned against calories consumed like never before – as well as assessing precisely what the things we’re eating and the activities are doing to our personal physiques. In the not-too-distant future, gadgets will be able to intensively monitor our vital statistics (including blood chemical content, among other things) and feed back to trained medical professionals. While there is the potential for people to get  a little obsessive about this , there is also a lot of potential for serious help where it’s needed. For example, borderline or recovering alcoholics with an app which monitored blood alcohol levels over time and fed that information back to a specialist are more likely to get the tailored help they need  to cut down their alcohol than if they were able to lie about the amount they’ve been drinking. From a business point of view, apps which fed certain health-based information to human resources could enable employees to get the help they need for any conditions from which they may be suffering (for example, gluten-free options in the canteen, ergonomic furniture, more breaks etc). If, that is, such a thing would not be too much of an infringement upon individual privacy…

Health Vs Individuality

There’s a very good reason why our medical records are kept private. For centuries, the Hippocratic Oath has bound doctors  to keep the medical information of their patients “unutterable”. And very glad many of us are about that, too! Who, after all, wants the world to know about their irritable bowels, or their persistent urinary tract infection, or even about the sneaky pint they enjoyed on a work night? Indeed, many people have let their conditions run on for years rather than having anyone – even a doctor – know about them. Clearly it is very important that the   standards of medical confidentiality remain unimpeachable. Apps which fed information – however innocuous – back to a third party would have to have their legal ramifications looked at in great detail, and the issue of consent must never be underestimated. Nor should individuals who refuse to use any app which informed their employer of physical information (however ostensibly harmless) be penalized for doing so. It’s a situation which is doubtless going to come into play and begin causing friction before very long – watch this space.


This is an article by Helen Freeman



Here’s What You Need to Know about Managing Documents on a Mobile Device

The usage of mobile devices is higher than it has ever been before. Not only are iPhones and iPads used for personal purposes such as texting with friends, listening to music, reading news and books or sharing photos on Instagram, but they are also equally used for business.

One of the biggest advantages of iPads over laptops and desktop computers is the fact that you can actually finish your daily business tasks on the go. It is especially useful when you need to manage your documents urgently and you are out of the office.

Since many aspects of business involve documents, document management apps are usually among the first to choose, when you decide to take advantage of that aspect of mobile usage – the business one.

But what do you need to know about document management on a mobile device?

No matter how good your iPad is, it can never be stronger than an average computer. The thing is, desktop tools are usually better than mobile apps and they have features that are more powerful. Mobile apps are designed in a way to be able to work on a mobile device. So, you cannot expect to finish all your business tasks on an iPad, but you can still find some purpose in using mobile apps as a quick alternative.

Having in mind that mobile apps are not as strong as desktop tools, you just need to be aware that you cannot manipulate complex documents on a mobile device. The more delicate the document is, the better tool you need. And why is that? The reason is simple – with complex documents you usually need to apply additional settings, and mobile apps are built in a way that often doesn’t allow you to alter the options.

However, using mobile apps for managing regular documents can be a true revelation. If you already have an iPad or an iPhone, getting some of the document management apps can really help you in your day-to-day business. There are tons of such apps on iTunes store, some of them are free and some of them are not. Every app usually has only one simple feature with no possibility to customize settings, but again it can do a really good job if you need only that specific feature.

For example, there are apps for PDF creation that turn your files into PDF, there are apps that are used for viewing PDF files and there are apps that convert PDF to a specific file format. Since a vast number of business documents are created in Excel, probably one of the most popular apps for document conversion is PDF to Excel. In cases when you need to edit your old budget report that was saved in PDF, or someone sent you a PDF file you want to update, such apps can come in handy.

What you also need to have in mind is that your documents might be scanned, not native PDFs. So when considering mobile apps for PDF to Excel conversion, don’t forget to check if the app in question supports conversion of scanned PDF files.

And finally, if you take into consideration the ease of use of mobile apps for document management, and a very high level of accessibility, you can always count on smooth document management on a mobile device, at least for less complex tasks.

Spammers this Week

This week, many spammers (or probably just a couple), are sending me fake emails containing zip files.  They claim it is bills for services.  They are as phony as a 3 dollar bill.  There are two things I don’t do;

  • Open emails or answer phone calls from parties I don’t know – unless I receive an official US mail letter, with a verifiable company on the letterhead.
  • Open any “official” emails from LinkedIn, AOL, etc.  Instead, I go to the site itself and see if they have a copy in my account.  Not click on any links.