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

Addiction

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!

 

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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.

Author

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!

Author

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 Amazon.com 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

Author is Helen Young

Cyber Security: Careers to Consider in This Growing Field

More than 16 million people in the United States became victims of identify fraud in 2012, losing some $24 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Cyber Security Careers to Consider in This Growing Field

This is big business — and not just for the criminals.

The good guys have also been ramping up the fight in recent years as well. And identity theft protection is now a rapidly growing field that is attracting more people and creating more jobs.

Investigators

When your identity is stolen, your financial records — and maybe more — will be compromised. To figure out just how deep the damage goes, banks and financial institutions need employees who are experienced and knowledgable about common outcomes. While not all companies will have people dedicated to this task alone, some definitely do, and it is their expertise that will help determine whether a claimant lost money due to fraud or if they are merely claiming purchases they willingly made were illicit transactions (which does happen).

Law enforcement needs similar experts. To track down identity thieves, they need trained personnel who can identify the patterns and tendencies used by these criminals. We’ve all heard the phrase, it takes one to know one, and while the police don’t want ID thieves in their midst, they do need cops who can think like those on the other side of the law.

Cyber Insurance

While the insurance industry is always in flux as society changes, few areas have emerged, developed, evolved, adapted, and been remade as the tech world has over the past two decades as much as the insurance industry.

Throughout this period, the risks, vulnerabilities, and liabilities for companies in the technology sector have changed, too, and the insurance industry has continually developed new product lines for cyber insurance in response. This includes personal lines that individuals can take out to recover losses as well as large policies for corporations, which may have to spend millions of dollars to deal with a large data breach.

Fraud Monitoring

Everyone from banks and credit companies to private investigators and startups catering to this risk have gotten into the fraud monitoring field. It is a new, unfortunate necessity in a world where hackers and dumpster divers alike are trying to take over people’s identities and open up new lines of credit in their name.

The big firms — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — are all in the game, as are specialized agencies that offer more granular services.

Data Protection

Every time you hear about another — and another and another and another — data breach at some mega corporation or government branch, it means only one thing: the information was not secure enough. The ongoing fight for better data security is really a war in which each side can claim victory in battle after battle. First the hackers expose a vulnerability, then the cyber security experts patch a hole, then the hackers find another way to get to this lucrative data. Rinse and repeat.

So while the data security industry is not solely about preventing identity theft — companies and organizations have many secrets to keep — it is growing even further as more illicit thieves across the world try to access databases to steal from the unsuspecting names listed within company files.

This is by far the largest related industry. And it is also the most important. Investigating, insurance, and monitoring are all wonderful remedies to recoup losses or alert potential victims that nefarious ID thieves are trying to take over their life, but prevention is the only way to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place. Unfortunately, there aren’t any 100 percent guarantees to keep data completely secure. So until the protection warriors find a perfect solution, those who want to stay safe will have to rely on all the professionals in the industry.

Which Countries Work The Longest Hours? [Infographic]

Infographic from getvoip.com

How Much People Work Around the World

The Future Of Tablet Computing

One of the biggest advances in mass-market technology in recent years has been the sudden takeoff of tablet computing. Initially scoffed at when   Microsoft began developing the (already marginally established) idea of tablet computing in the early 2000s, tablet computing finally found its zeitgeist with the Apple IPad in 2010. Five years later, tablets are something of a must-have item for the technophile on the go – but it seems that their meteoric rise is beginning to slow. What does the future hold for tablet computing, and how can we expect to see tablets advance in the next few years?

Tablet Fatigue?

Tablets have become increasingly popular in recent years. Touch-screen technology has become familiar enough for people to be comfortable with the concept of a touch-screen computing device (something which was not so much the case when Microsoft touted their first tablet 15 years ago). They’re easily portable, work well with the mentality of the ‘app generation’, and are both  cheap and easy to insure . However, there is a school of thought which believes that tablets will find it hard to expand upon their repertoire without significantly changing their format. The tablet market suffered its first ever drop in 2014.   Many analysts believe that this is due to the ‘fad’ phenomenon, wherein people initially bought tablets simply because they were told that tablets were the ‘in’ thing. They got caught up in the rush – but when the initial euphoria of having the newest toy in the store had faded, they began to realise that tablets are not actually a whole lot better than smartphones. The screen is larger, but the processing power and general aptitude of the average tablet tends not to be a whole lot more advanced than that of a good smartphone. Essentially, reality is starting to hit. New phones continue to draw customers because the kinds of things which can be updated on a phone – cameras, footstep trackers and so forth – are more suited to a smaller, more portable ‘outdoor usage’ format like a phone. Tablets, it is suggested, are becoming the clunkier, more expensive cousin to smartphones, and falling behind as a consequence. 

Tablet Advances

Nonetheless, there are those who maintain that tablets are the future of computing, and will continue to advance into new, exciting, saleable realms given enough time. Some  have pointed out that computing trends in general are moving towards thinner, lighter, more portable formats – and that keyboards, once thought an essential for any serious word-processing unit – are no longer thought as necessary as they once were. An optional touchscreen keyboard is as attractive to some as the more solid and tangible kind. Furthermore, the  growth in sales of things like Chromebooks which lack internal storage and operate largely as interfaces to the Cloud, indicates that the lack of harddrive space on tablets is going to be less of an issue as external storage options become more advanced. Many of the trends in computing seem, therefore, to be approaching the kind of format which tablets have been utilizing for a while. Could a sort of merger of the tablet and the laptop be where tablets are headed in the future?

Tablet PCs

The limitations of the tablet seem largely to be based around the fact that they’re currently in a limbo between glorified smartphone and substandard desktop computer. While they’re unlikely ever to edge smartphones out of the market, the way in which the PC industry is heading could demonstrate a future for tablets as flat, portable computers. Tablet-laptop blends already exist, with Lenovo notably going out on a limb to make use of both formats in as innovative a way as they could manage. While the technology and ergonomics of today’s tablet-laptop hybrids arguably need a degree of development, it seems likely that tablets’ best option of survival is nonetheless to follow this route. Tablets will then appeal to today’s Chromebook users – those who want to be able to make use of the advanced practical aspects of a computer, but don’t want to fork out for masses of hardrive space, and who need something portable. At the moment, tablets appeal to those who like apps and touch screen gaming – both of which can easily be got from a phone. If tablets are going to survive, they need to offer something more than this – and computer buying trends at the moment seem to indicate that the tablet  could well be the platform of the future for today’s PC and Macbook users. 
Article from Gemma Ryder