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“Addiction” has almost become a cliché. “I’m addicted to strawberry yogurt. I’m addicted to Facebook. I’m addicted to him or her. I always have a beer or glass of wine at dinner.” Are our daily routines “addictions?”The expression “We are creatures of habit” is accurate. Routines are our customary or regular course of procedure. They are our commonplace tasks, chores, or duties we regularly enact. They are typical of our everyday activities. Moreover, they are usually unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, and rote. I rise on automatic pilot when I get up, boil water for coffee with my coveted cup, grind coffee beans (medium roast) and add sweetener, creamer, and whipped cream. I don’t want to think! I engage cruise control as I tilt the first sip. Effective routines enables us to be more effective, efficient, and expedient.I habitually brush my teeth after breakfast, but do not obsess about this as I rise from the bed. If I forget, I would not succumb to withdrawal later on. This is a habit.Does someone who always has a beer or glass of wine simply repeat a routine or, given alcohol’s psycho-active properties, placate an addiction? Probably not-unless the beer is a liter or the “glass” of wine is poured in quart-sized soda glass. Quantity matters!This illustration should assist in anyone discerning habit vs. addiction. There is a predictable sequence not only linear but tragically, cyclical:Trigger-stimulus → Desire, impulse, obsession, craving → Preparation-seeking ritual → Compulsive behavior and increasing tolerance → Negative consequences (work, family, legal, economic etc.) → guilt, regret, remorse, frustration, anger, relief (sometimes withdrawal after stopping) → Trigger-stimulus. “One won’t hurt.”

Around and around the cycle rotates, but better put, it is more of a spiral as the person’s life deteriorates and functioning is impaired. The key factors of addiction are obsession, ritual, compulsion and problems.I used to play hearts and spades in my computer. I liked the rush as I anticipated of playing, and I had to win-no matter how many games it took. When on a losing streak I’d blurt “F— it” and storm out of the room. No big deal, right? No, I never gambled on-line and lost my savings account. But I fit the addictive cycle: I obsessed when I would play, seeked and engaged the ritual each day, felt the rush as hearts and spades lit up and I vied against cyber opponents, and felt relief if I won. This may seem absurd to you, but I had some mild addictive elements. I decided through God’s influence to finally stop. Guess what? Deliverance. Or in AA’s phrase “restore us to sanity.”AA has it right when they call alcoholism insanity, which includes tobacco, other drugs or combinations ingested. Inevitably, health and medical problems shall emerge. Behavioral addictions can include work, exercise, sex, romance, co-dependency, gambling, Internet compulsions and whatever activity causes the addictive cycle described above.Addiction is hell on earth. Theologically, addiction is idolatry. The options are simple: stop and stay stopped. Permanently. If despite sincere desire and multiple attempts to stop, swallow your pride and get help ASAP. You deserve better.By the way, I shall ready my coffee ritual tomorrow morning.

Being a drug addict when you are a teenager or single without responsibilities is terrible but being a drug addict parent is the worst thing you can do. You are not only destroying your body and mind but you will also be affecting your children’s lives, maybe for good. A child does not only learn to read and write at school, part of his education is watching and doing what his parents and family do at home. If you beat and scream at your wife every day, your child will come to believe this is normal behavior and he will do it too. The same thing applies to drug addiction, if your child sees you doing drugs every day, he will come to accept this as normal behavior and he will eventually do it too.Their day to day life is affected too, sometimes seriously. There are many examples of this but I will name the most important ones. Drug addiction requires the constant purchase of drugs, it does not matter what you are taking, and you need money to buy them. A drug addict’s main interest in life is not family or work, it is his next hit. Without extra money in hand he will not hesitate for one second on spending the grocery funds, or the money for the mortgage, gas, electricity or anything else to buy his drugs. This will leave his family and especially his children hungry and unprotected.Drug addicts tend to forget about everything around them once they are drugged. In a home where there are small children this can lead to accidents and situations that the drugged parent or parents will not be able to handle or solve. When babies are involved due to the deep sleep drugs produce when they start wearing down, a baby may cry for hours unattended in pain or hungry. There are many different things that can occur in a house where children live besides drug addict parents. In fact even if there are no accidents or similar situations the fact that these children have to live with addicts and their visiting friends is very dangerous for no one can predict how an addict will react to his or her next hit.

Children and teenagers with addict parents see them take drugs; they see how their attitude and personalities change from one minute to another. Many times they are victims of abuse when their parents are drugged or are unable to get another dose. Many times they become confused because they do not comprehend why their parents go into their rooms suddenly and emerge happy and smiling when minutes ago they were sad and grumpy. Eventually they will learn when is a good time to approach their parents and when not to, but this is not the way things should be, a parent is responsible for his or her children at all times, not only when he or she is sober and within whatever is left of his senses.Children who have drug addict parents or one parent grow insecure and lonely, they do not know if their parents are available or in the mood to talk to them, to help them, to do just about anything with them. They grow without discipline and guidance. As they grow up they find themselves alone and without support from those who are supposed to protect and love them. This will eventually lead psychological problems that may include rejection towards their problems, resentment and many other feelings that may end up separating them family. Children do not understand about drugs and their consequences, they are supposed to be happy and live without worries. They should feel their parents are always present and able to solve any problems they may have. Parents are supposed to feed, clothe and care for them. Drug addiction will erase these concepts and responsibilities from a parent’s mind and leave his or her children exposed to a world they should not be in contact with.

A third grade student asked the other day, “If tobacco kills so many people, why don’t they just make tobacco against the law?”We had just finished a conversation about tobacco and cigarettes and how many people are impacted by smoking. I wanted her to work it out, if she could, so I sent it right back, “That’s a great question. Why do you guys think they don’t outlaw smoking tobacco?”I had several kids’ hands shoot right up. “They don’t want to because THEY are smokers!” “There isn’t enough money to stop all the smokers.” “There aren’t enough policemen.” “They don’t know how to!”I thanked them for their answers and congratulated them because they were all correct. To propose a law banning tobacco sales would be unenforceable, would be political suicide for the bill’s sponsors and would never be allowed by the powerful tobacco lobbies. How I put it to the kids, was just:”You’re right. Even if they tried they wouldn’t be able to stop all the smokers from smoking. The smokers need to stop themselves. Do laws make people healthy? No. People make people healthy.”The same girl asked, “So why do the people who make the cigarettes keep making them?”I rubbed my fingers and thumb together in the universal sign of moollah, cash. About ten kids shouted, “Money!” I said, “That’s right! Are they as concerned about your health?” “No.”We looked at it a bit deeper. I said, “The tobacco companies have a secret. They kept it secret for a long time, but now it’s out, and I know the secret. Would you like to know the secret?” Of course they were all squirming to know.

“Okay, I’ll tell you. But remember, it’s a secret. So if I tell you, you have to promise me you’ll tell everybody you know!” They were like, “No problem! We’re GOOD at that!””Alright. The companies that make tobacco products, the small ones and the huge tobacco corporations alike, all know that if you don’t start using tobacco while you’re young, you probably never will.” They stared.”They have known for a long time that if you don’t start smoking or chewing tobacco by the time you’re 21 years old, they missed their chance to get as a regular customer. They have that window of opportunity and they know it. So they don’t want to wait till you’re 21. They want you to smoke now.”Your brains are still forming, they won’t be finished forming until you’re in your twenties. By that time it will be much harder for you to become addicted to nicotine. So they advertise with pictures of cowboys and young happy people they think you want to be like, people who look very happy. But do you think smoking really makes people happy?”NO!””Can it make them miserable?””YES!”Instead of more regulations and laws, of which we have so many it’s impossible to know them all, we have to increase the awareness of what drugs really are, what they really do and how they impact people’s lives. And we need to start that at a very young age. It’s a cinch the tobacco and alcohol companies are on top of the situation, we need to be as well.

No one enjoys a hangover. Known medically as “veisalgia” (a word that comes from two sources, interestingly-aglia, from the Greek for “pain,” and the Norwegian word kveis, or “uneasiness following debauchery,” it is a state universally disliked. And yet, despite this, we still don’t know a lot about hangovers-what specifically causes them, for example, or what works to get rid of them. Certainly the best way to prevent a hangover is to not drink at all, but if you are going to consume alcohol, how does one avoid feeling awful the next day?Strangely enough, not a lot of research has been done on the hangover. While since 1965 over 4,700 articles have been published on the effects of alcohol, barely more than one hundred of those have focused specifically on the hangover. But an article called “The Alcohol Hangover,” first published in The Annals of Internal Medicine may provide some answers.The article states that a hangover usually is distinguished by patients complaining of nausea, headache, lack of sense of “well-being,” intestinal distress such as diarrhea or inability to eat, tremulousness in the limbs, and decreased ability to perform jobs that deal with cognitive, visual, or spatial awareness or performance. The article also makes clear that while hangovers are typically associated with the concept of alcoholism or those in need of alcohol treatment, most who suffer from hangovers are light or moderate drinkers-those less able to tolerate alcohol, in other words.So how much alcohol must someone consume before he or she will have a hangover? The truth is we really don’t know-but we can estimate. The study claims that for men, consuming “five to seven” cocktails (meaning standard cocktails, like a gin and tonic, not a massive “Hurricane” in New Orleans, for example) is nearly always followed by a hangover. And for women, that number is even smaller-women usually experience hangover symptoms after three to five standard cocktails, because they metabolize alcohol differently than men.

And yet, it seems that limiting one’s drinking doesn’t always prevent a hangover. Research has shown that hangovers are not solely caused by dose of alcohol, but sometimes by type. “Congeners” may partially be to blame. Congeners are byproducts found in many darker liquors like whiskey, wine, tequila, and brandy, and may increase the severity of a hangover-as well as the frequency at which they occur. Clear alcohols such as light rum, gin, and vodka are less frequently the cause of hangovers, which may be a factor in severe alcoholics gravitating toward such potations rather than darker-colored drinks.If you find yourself with a hangover, there’s no silver bullet to cure it, sadly enough. But the common knowledge of hydration seems to be less effective than taking a small dose of vitamin B6 before, during, or after consuming alcohol. Definitely avoid Tylenol or any kind of acetaminophen when drinking however-the combination can cause liver damage.The article, “All About Hangovers” is one of many resources designed to help those seeking an advanced approach to treatment for alcohol or drug abuse. To read more about our approach to drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and stay up-to-date on latest developments, read the monthly blog articles here at Malibu Horizon.

Drugs don’t necessarily mean recreational drugs such as cannabis and heroin; it can also include prescription medication such as pain killers. Some people can become dependent on these items exceptionally quickly; using them to drown out the stress and depression they face on a daily basis.One of the first signs of a problem and the need of addiction treatment is when problems start being experienced at school, work and home. Relationships start to suffer, school work starts to decline and concentration and performance at work also declines dramatically.At a point, a person relying on drugs will start to neglect their responsibilities. Attending a child’s football match or a daughters dance class, not arriving for appointments on time or even leaving the home to become an unsanitary place for the whole family, are all signs that it’s time to get some professional help.Friends and family may have already mentioned their concerns to you by this point as they watch you taking drugs while driving and in other dangerous situations. Remember drugs can reduce your ability to function properly, even if you believe you are doing a stellar job.Addiction treatment should be sought once you start experiencing trouble with the law because of your drug problem. This may be driving under the influence, getting into fights and arguments or even purchasing drugs and getting caught in the act.One of the first signs of a serious problem is when relationships start to suffer. Loss of interest in doing regular activities, such as going out with friends and spending time with the family. When your friends start noticing you no longer spend time with them or the family notices that all you do is sit on the couch in front of the TV all day, it’s time to take action and seek some addiction treatment to help you get back on track.
Tolerance is a sign that there may be a problem that needs care. When you start taking more drugs because the amount you were taking doesn’t offer the “buzz” anymore, it’s time to seek some addiction treatment.

In many cases someone who is taking drugs on a regular basis will find their body becomes used to the drug, forcing them to take more. This is a tell-tale sign that you are addicted and need help to eliminate the habit.Another tell-tale sign that addiction treatment is necessary is when you start taking drugs to eliminate any withdrawals you are experiencing. Withdrawals are only noticed in those that take drugs for long term periods and on a regular basis, therefore this is a definite sign that professional help is needed.For those who realize they have a problem, they notice their lives revolve around drugs. Where they will find money for drugs, where can they get the drugs, when can they take the drugs and can they get away with it, are all constant thoughts going through the mind of someone who is a regular user.It’s important for anyone who takes drugs on a regular basis and is thinking of addiction treatment to know they are not alone. Drug use is high throughout the world from prescription medication to heroin. Each of the drugs provides a way out for the person from their own lives, which is why the rate is so high in those with depression and in abusive relationships.Getting professional help can be a milestone in a person’s life, the ability to eliminate drugs from their daily lives and get back to work or school without worrying where and when they can get their next fix.

Women who are pregnant have been treated using methadone for over 25 years and neither this drug or additional opiates have been proven to directly trigger birth defects. But, your baby might experience a few side effects from this drug. The most typical include low birth weight, smaller-than-normal head size, and withdrawal symptoms. As infants born methadone dependent grow, usually they’ll fall into the normal range for development and size.Methadone isn’t the only thing which may lead to these symptoms. Drug use, smoking cigarettes, nutrition, your biological makeup, and how well you take care of yourself include merely a few examples of aspects which might affect the health of the baby.Whether you’re pregnant or not, you just obtain the benefits of methadone if you’re stable on your dose. There isn’t any ‘magic amount’ of milligrams to remain below. If you sense any cravings to use or withdrawals, be certain to speak with your doctor about modifying your dose. As you feel withdrawals, so will your baby and this may lead to complications and perhaps even miscarriage.Methadone and pregnancy studies don’t necessarily prove any link between a mom’s dose and withdrawal symptoms within the baby.It may seem that the more milligrams a mom takes, the worse the withdrawal symptoms are going to be, but this isn’t the case.That is why it is encouraged for you to concentrate on discovering a dose which works for you and not to be concerned with the quantity of milligrams. If you’re tapering, many methadone treatment centers will cease your taper and keep you at your present dose.Some women who are concerned about methadone and pregnancy ask about tapering off of methadone while pregnant. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, clinical withdrawal of pregnant women from methadone isn’t recommended or indicated and most treatment centers agree with this assessment.

Keep in mind, if you weren’t prepared to taper prior to you becoming pregnant, you aren’t prepared to taper because you’re pregnant.Pregnant women, medically, have been tapered off safely from methadone, yet it has only been conducted upon an inpatient basis in which they are able to observe the fetus for distress. You never should attempt to detoxify yourself. It may be very harmful to you and the baby. It also can place your recovery in jeopardy.Typically as women study more about methadone use while pregnant and witness additional healthy infants at the center with their mothers, they determine to continue treatment with methadone.It isn’t uncommon to require a dose increase while pregnant. By the last trimester the quantity of blood inside your body doubles. Due to this, your methadone dose might have to be increased to assist in keeping you and the baby free from the symptoms of withdrawal. As a matter of fact, a boost in methadone (if you require it) within this time may assist in improving growth and reducing risk of premature delivery.For some reason, if you do not have the ability to make it to the center for one day be certain to contact the clinic and inform them that you will not be able to make it. Do your best to arrive the next day as early as you can. If you are experiencing issues with transportation, speak with your counselor. They’ll assist you in figuring out how to arrive to the center each day.As with all this type of information, be sure to discuss any questions or changes you with to make with YOUR doctor. Individual needs and situations will vary.

Workplace drug testing is important from the perspective of employees as well as employer as it benefits both. Studies show that there are beneficial results at workplace. This article discusses briefly the benefits of this measure.Why workplace drug testing?
Workforce is an important asset to workplace. It is important that employees are healthy and are free from influence of substances such as alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs. This makes them more productive.Benefits
To make sure an environment free from influence of illicit substances, employers should conduct drug testing at workplace. This helps employers reduce and prevent the harmful consequences of substance abuse.• Health and safety: This measure if enforced becomes a potential deterrent to drug abusers at the workplace. It enhances health and safety, and discourages employees from abusing substances.Drug abuse leads to high absenteeism because of health issues. Drug Testing Efficacy 2011, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA), shows that absenteeism among employees is because of ill-health due to drug abuse.• Fewer work-related hazards: It leads to fewer fatal work-related accidents, as people working will be focused. This reduces the number of work-related casualties.• Rules out casualties by prevention: Substance abuse can lead to harmful consequences to all the employees, as well as the employer. Drug abusing employees are likely to cause distortion of attention of employees, which might lead to accidents resulting in casualties.

• Fewer workers’ compensation claims: It was found by the study mentioned earlier that the percentage of companies where workers’ compensation claims was high (14%) dropped to 6% after implementing the testing. This is beneficial to employers.• Reduces medical expenses because of ill-health: Substance abuse leads to ill-health and consequent expenses on health care. Employers need to bear these expenses. As workplace drug testing becomes a deterrent, it will help potential abusers keep away from drugs and stay healthy.• Enhances employer-employee relation and trust: It makes sure that the environment at workplace is safe. Employers need to take this preventive measure to rule out the influence of illicit drugs at workplace. This will lead to the feel among the employees that the employer is taking care for their good. This is likely to boost employer-employee relation.Workplace drug testing is a sensitive issue. Unless employees are taken into confidence, they may resist any measures taken. Therefore, employers need to take proactive measures that are transparent and give employees a clarity on the matter. This helps them realize the benefits of workplace drug testing.

Tobacco was brought from the new world in the 1500s to every part of the globe. To say it caught on well would be an understatement of magnitude. No drug, including caffeine has a hold on the populations of earth more firmly. This, in spite of the fact that tobacco kills more human beings than all other drugs combined. It isn’t easy to find someone over the age of 15 who hasn’t lost a friend, family member or acquaintance to tobacco.But we’re comparing this to the drug marijuana to see which is more harmful to the user.Every year in the US, about 450,000 people die because of tobacco use. This is staggering. This should be the first item on every news program. That means that every single day, about 1200 die from tobacco related illnesses in the US alone. Worldwide totals are about 12 times that much.How does this compare with marijuana? As far as death rates go, there is no comparison. Yes there are deaths from marijuana use. Remember in part one we discussed that marijuana is the most common illegal drug found in fatally injured drivers. There are also overdose deaths from eating marijuana. “Edibles” can kill. But why are there such vastly larger numbers of deaths from tobacco?Well, nicotine is amazingly toxic. One drop of pure nicotine would be enough to kill a handful of adults. When you smoke the cigarette though, most of the nicotine is destroyed by the fire. The smoker only receives a very small amount, about 1 to 1.5 milligrams of the drug from each cigarette. But imagine how addicting nicotine has to be, addicting enough to send the smoker all the way to the convenience store on hands and knees if necessary when he runs out.The liver breaks nicotine down very quickly and very efficiently. In one hour, most of the nicotine is gone. In two hours, very little of the drug remains in the blood.This is a good thing. If the liver didn’t destroy the drug in the body so well, the smoker would be dead in two packs. 40 to 60 milligrams would likely be a fatal dose. But, the fact that the liver rids the body of nicotine so rapidly is also what makes smoking more deadly.

When an addicted person stops using their drug, they experience what is known as drug withdrawal. ­ It can make the addict uneasy, nervous and cause a powerful longing for the drug. When a tobacco addict experiences this, and then they get another cigarette, light it up and take the first big puff, there is a profound feeling of relief. At this point we might hear, “Ahhh… smoking relaxes me!”No! Nicotine doesn’t relax, it’s a stimulant. What it does at that point is relieve the symptoms of its own withdrawal! An addicted smoker goes through this withdrawal/relief, withdrawal/relief cycle 20 or 30 times a day, building the psychological addiction all along the way. This is what makes the habit so deadly. Smoking constantly in an effort to avoid withdrawal. This is also what gives tobacco smoking it’s pleasure. That relief can be habit forming. With cigarettes, it is the repeated smoking, a pack or a pack and a half every day that is the killer.THC, the drug in marijuana smoke is not broken down in the body as nicotine is and THC can stay in the bloodstream for as much as 28 days. So the symptoms of withdrawal from THC don’t occur and the user doesn’t have to smoke dozens of times per day.So, this explains why we don’t see he tremendous numbers of dead from smoking weed.On the other hand, you can be driving your car down the street smoking a cigarette and you’re not going to run over someone’s grandma. But if you’re driving down the same street stoned on marijuana, you are a weapon. And there is no telling which way you’ll go off.So smoking marijuana is not safe. It isn’t natural in any sense and it creates a danger for the smoker and those close to him or her. And smoking tobacco is more than risky, addicted smokers die from smoking at a rate of about 33 percent.Which is worse? Now that you have the facts you can decide for yourself if either choice could be better.

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” • Edgar Allan Poe.Much has been made of legal medical marijuana and now legal recreational marijuana. But what should not be left unaddressed is the scourge of hard drugs.If Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death has a silver lining, it will be if it starts a meaningful conversation on hard drugs and addiction.It is the rare addict who would turn down a “magic bullet” that would grant sobriety. And yet year after year, people take up hard drugs that will leave some of them helplessly enslaved. Society’s solution is to ensnare junkies in the criminal justice system. Buying drugs is a criminal offense, often involving jail time. It would be better to treat these “criminals” as “insane by reason of addiction”.Leave in place the punishments for selling hard drugs, but instead of sentencing non-violent buyers to jail, sentence them to rehab. It will not solve addiction, but it would reduce the rate of use; certainly more than jail-time does. And it is cheaper.

Moralists dismiss addiction as a moral failing – portentously claiming that if addicts were better people, they could just say no to the demons that haunt them. No doubt it feels good to the “holier-than-thou” types. But as a social policy it is misguided.Far fewer people smoke than used to. Not because they discovered a moral spine, but because of an increase in the awareness of the dangers of smoking, increased taxation, restrictions on where smokers could smoke, a social shift away from the perceived “sophistication” of smoking, and the advent of the wide availability of “stop smoking” programs and products.In short, people quit smoking because it became uncool to use a product that is expensive, smells bad and could kill you.Campaigns against drunk driving relied on public information campaigns, a growing social opprobrium and a tougher prosecution of offenses. Buying a drink is not a crime, but an illegal action committed while drunk is.Treating drug use like alcohol makes more sense, than treating it like receiving stolen property. Hard drug use, in the absence of any other crime, should not be a crime.

In March 2012, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office reported that Whitney Houston’s official cause of death was accidental drowning. Cocaine use and heart disease were contributing factors in her death.The coroner believes that cocaine use caused Whitney to suffer heart problems (she already had heart disease), which led her to become unconscious. Bruises on her forehead, chest, and upper lip suggest that she fell into the bathtub, where she drowned.The six-time Grammy winner also had marijuana, the prescription drugs Xanax and Flexeril, and the over-the-counter medicine Benadryl in her bloodstream, though the coroner does not believe they played a role in her death.Cocaine Can Lead to Scary Side EffectsCocaine is a stimulant-a class of drugs that elevate mood, boost feelings of well-being and euphoria, and increase energy and alertness. Stimulants make a person feel good by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain, but they also have some nasty side effects. Short-term effects can include increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; dilated pupils; nausea; blurred vision; muscle spasms; and confusion.With repeated use, cocaine can lead to addiction (something Whitney struggled with for years), which changes how the brain works and makes it more difficult to feel any pleasure at all. People who abuse cocaine are forced to take more and more of the drug to experience the same effects as they did at first. Regularly snorting cocaine can lead to other long-term effects such as a hoarse voice, loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds, and a chronically runny nose. Whitney’s famous voice was noticeably damaged in recent years, and the autopsy showed she had a hole inside her nose from repeated cocaine use.

Cocaine and Heart DiseaseAnother long-term effect of abusing cocaine is heart damage. Stimulants cause the body’s blood vessels to narrow, limiting blood flow and forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body. It also restricts blood flow to the heart, killing some of the heart muscle.Because the effects of cocaine are worse on arteries that are already damaged, people who have heart disease-like Whitney did-suffer most from the effects. The chance of having heart trouble, such as a heart attack, also increases.Unfortunately, Whitney’s cocaine abuse ultimately led her to suffer the worst effect of the drug-death. We hope that people can learn from her experience and avoid the same tragedy.Did Whitney’s death change the way you or your friends think about drugs? Tell us in the comments how her death affected you.