Teen Substance Abuse Decreases When They Have Fun

teen computerBeing a teenager is hard with all the chaos that is finding one’s identity and dealing with the incoming stresses of life. In many places around the world, teens react to these pressures by using illicit substances or otherwise “misbehaving”. Iceland was having a huge problem with teens drinking and smoking throughout the 90s, then they decided to do something about it. Today Iceland has pretty much eliminated smoking among teens and substance abuse is almost a rounding error on surveys.

The solution that Iceland discovered is to give teenagers something to do. It’s that simple. Instead of having bored kids trying to find something to kill time, give them something that they find enjoying.

“We didn’t say to them, you’re coming in for treatment. We said, we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts.” The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

At the same time, the recruits got life-skills training, which focused on improving their thoughts about themselves and their lives, and the way they interacted with other people. “The main principle was that drug education doesn’t work because nobody pays attention to it. What is needed are the life skills to act on that information,” Milkman says. Kids were told it was a three-month program. Some stayed five years.

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Work for Your Future Self

If you have trouble motivating yourself to start a new project or change something about yourself, change your perspective from now to the future. By thinking about what will benefit your future self you’ll be able to gain the motivation to act today instead of tomorrow. The best time to reshape your thinking is, of course, today.

Collectively, those moments of satisfaction will add up, a process Ainslie calls “bundling.” Like a worker assembling a gift backet, the brain’s subconscious reward circuitry computes the collective value of all the different benefits that will accrue tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and ties them all together in a package. Even if any of the individual future rewards may seem distant and hence hold little value, the whole bundle added up together amounts to something quite large—larger, even, than a single moment of pleasure in the here-and-now. The mountain will always remain larger than the tree. Even if the future benefits may seem distant and hence hold little value, they collectively can add up to something greater than a single moment of pleasure in the here and now. The mountain will always remain larger than the tree.

What you’re doing, essentially, is mentally projecting yourself into the future so you can experience the satisfaction of tomorrow’s rewards today. Intriguingly, researchers have found that people who more strongly identify with their future selves are better at self-control. In a 2009 study published in Judgment and Decision Making, psychologist Hal Hershfield showed subjects Venn diagrams with circles labeled “Current Self” and “Future Self.” Those who said they viewed the circles as mostly overlapping demonstrated more self-control in a later task: They preferred to wait for larger monetary rewards rather than taking small monetary rewards right away. Numerous other experiments have demonstrated a similar effect. “Being able to step into the shoes of our future selves,” says Hershfield, “is akin to being able to realize both the positive and the negative ramifications of our decisions.”

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A Little Exercise Goes a Long Way

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At the start of the year people tend to make resolutions that they don’t hold – like regularly going to the gym. The good news is that you can break your resolutions and be OK, as long as you do something. Instead of trying to go to the gym and workout just go for a walk. Don’t stress out by setting unattainable goals; stay relaxed and stroll your way to health.

“Weekend warriors” — adults who perform the recommended amount of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity in one or two sessions per week — were found to have a risk of death from all causes about 30 per cent lower than inactive adults.

Researchers in England set out to investigate the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer was associated with physical activity patterns.

“I think it’s important to reassure people that if they are a weekend warrior, if they are only exercising once or twice per week, and it’s of moderate or vigorous intensity, then that’s good enough,” study author Gary O’Donovan, of Loughborough University, England, said in an interview.

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Trees are Great for Cities

Cleaning the air and keeping areas cool are what trees do best. A new study has looked into how best to use trees from a purely utilitarian standpoint. Essentially they drilled down to what trees do best and where they can thrive. The researchers cataloged the best places to plant trees based on factors like removing particulate matter from the air and where they can have the greatest impact on local temperatures. As a result their research outlines the most efficient use of money when deciding where to plant more trees.

As always, the best time to plant a tree is today.

There is one catch, though: The tree-planting campaign has to be well-targeted. And that gets a bit complex.

Trees only improve air quality in their immediate vicinity, about 100 feet or so. That means cities need to figure out which neighborhoods benefit most from new trees (typically the densest areas, but also areas around hospitals and schools). They also have to plant species that are most effective at trapping pollution (typically those with large leaves).

Officials also need to account for things like wind patterns and tree spacing and figure out whether they’ll be able to maintain their trees. Plus, if water is scarce, they’ll want to consider drought-tolerant varieties. And they may want to steer clear of trees that increase pollen and allergies.

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Spent Grains From Beer Used to Grow Mushrooms

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An enterprising student went on a brewery tour and discovered a lot of food waste. Grain is used when making beer in a similar way that tea is steeped, after the grain has been soaking in the water it is discarded. In some areas that grain gets turned into compost, other areas the grain can end up in a landfill. Beer is an energy intensive product and being able to cut waste is beneficial for everybody, and that’s what the student did. He has started a company that takes that grain and uses it to grow mushrooms!

One day, not long after he arrived in 2015, he was eyeing a pile of spent grain left over after the sugars are extracted during the fermenting process. Brewers not only want to dispose of it, but ditch it fast, because bacteria begin to work on the grain and, after a couple of days, cause an awful stink. “Why are we throwing this away?” he remembers asking a professor. He was directed to microbiologist Paul Tiege, a research scientist in the Olds College Centre for Innovation (OCCI), who encouraged Villeneuve to run nutritional tests on the spent grain. “Alex spotted an opportunity . . . actually, several opportunities . . . where others see a liability,” says Tiege, who worked alongside Villeneuve on his research. “He fleshed out his idea, developed a research plan and decided to turn the idea into a business.”

Tiege says it was fortuitous timing, as the innovation centre had created an incubator fund in 2015 of up to $5,000 to ensure “innovative ideas do not get stuck in the development phase.” Villeneuve’s idea was greenlighted, and he began testing

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