Tag Archives: men’s health

Take Care of Yourself – 6 Cancers and Ways to Prevent It

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Cancer.

Easily one of the worst, if not THE worst, thing on this planet.  It seems that rather than finding a cure for it, Cancer is instead finding more and more creative ways to kill us.  This is especially true among the male population.  A recent study suggested a 24% increase in Cancer diagnoses in Men over the next 8 years.  The one we always hear about is Prostate Cancer and it certainly should be taken seriously.  Yet there are other forms of the disease which are killing us way too early.  Below are six of them along with ways to fight and hopefully prevent it from happening to you.  Nothing is shown to totally prevent cancer but taking the steps to develop a healthy lifestyle is a good start.

Pancreatic Cancer

Potential warning signs: recently diagnosed diabetes, unintended weight loss, jaundice and/or back/abdominal pain.

These kind of cancer cells devour glucose and use it to spread rapidly in the body.  Thus, the huge increase of people diagnosed with diabetes has increased the numbers of people who end up with this kind of cancer.  Due to the location of the pancreas in the body it is almost impossible to remove the tumors.

How to prevent it:  according to a recent study conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, people who performed 50 minutes of high-intensity resistance training for seven weeks reduced their fasting glucose levels by about 13mg/dl after just 10 minutes of recovery post-workout.  Your muscles will burn up the blood sugar in order for them to grow thus robbing any potential cancer from using it.

Liver Cancer

Potential warning signs: weight loss (without trying), loss of appetite, swelling in your abdominal cavity, nausea, vomiting and yellowing skin or eyes.

For many, many years this was generally only associated with alcoholism.  However, in the last 20 years doctors have seen a rise (especially in men) with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD.) Approximately 20% of U.S. males currently suffer from this disease. The fatty deposits around the liver can eventually lead to cirrhosis and in turn liver cancer.

How to prevent it:  stay away from Fructose.  It took me a long time to cut out those sugary beverages from my life so trust me I know it is hard to do but the benefits of cutting them out far outweigh the happiness of drinking a Coke.  Sixty-one percent of men who drink soda and similar sugary concoctions are more likely to develop NAFLD than those who don’t.  Some studies have suggested to drink coffee instead (again stay away from the sugar) because results have shown coffee helps to prevent fatty deposits around the liver.

Testicular Cancer

Potential warning signs: we talked about this particular one a few times a year.  Check out our blog about it here.  If your balls have changed size/shape, are swollen, have lumps and/or you have pain in your scrotum or lower abdominal you should see a doctor.

Doctor’s are still perplexed by the steady rise of this kind of cancer and haven’t necessarily been able to pin point causes.  Obviously, any exposure to carcinogens will put you at risk but it is almost impossible to keep track of everything that may contain that kind of material.  Unfortunately, if this kind of disease runs in your family you are ten times more likely to get it yourself.

How to prevent it:  early detection is still your best friend as there are plenty of treatment options available.  Survival rates for all 5 stages still sits in the 90% range.  So be sure at least once a month, while you are in the shower, give your boys a check up.  If you feel anything like a lump or swelling you should call your doctor immediately.  Unsure if it is lump?  You should still see your doctor immediately.

Melanoma

Potential warning signs: scan your body for moles.  If any of them are larger than 1/4 inch with irregular borders, have an odd shape, change color/size or are not asymmetrical, you should see your dermatologist right away.

87% of Melanoma is caused by exposure to sunlight.  As a group we are doing poorly.  Only 20% of men even bother to apply sunscreen. Most of us (including myself) head out the door with a baseball hat and maybe some sunscreen and think it is enough.  The hat doesn’t even cover your entire face and you also miss the neck and ears. Your best bet is to get a wide brimmed fedora.

How to prevent it:  this one isn’t tough.  Put on some damn sun screen!  Nothing less than SPF +35 will do.  You should also be putting it on in the winter (regardless of where you live.)  You should also make it part of your yearly physical to see a dermatologist to get checked for irregular moles.

Kidney Cancer

Potential warning signs: low back pain, a lasting fever not caused by an infection, low back pain or a bump on your side or lower back.

Your kidney has several functions and one of them is to control your blood pressure.  When we gain excess weight it causes an increase in our blood pressure which takes a toll on our kidney.  This of course wreaks havoc on your metabolism which in turn can lead to inflammation in your kidney.  It is the inflammation that can help to facilitate the growth of cancer cells in your kidney.

How to prevent it: the best way is to maintain an active lifestyle. This is not always easy (as I know) when you have a desk job that requires you to sit for hours on end in front of a computer. However, just walking or running for 3 hours a week will help reduce your chances of getting this kind of cancer by 61%.

Thyroid Cancer

Potential warning signs: a lump or swelling in the neck, hoarse voice, trouble swallowing or a persistent cough you can’t get rid of.

This is another one the doctor’s have a hard time figuring out. However, they point to several likely culprits.  Since the 1970s furniture companies have been spraying their products with flame retardant material.  Fumes from this spray can attack your thyroid and disrupt your thyroid function.  In addition, radiation can be a huge cause of this cancer.  Experts estimate we are exposed to twice as much radiation today as we were 25 years ago.

If you are like me and suffer from a Thyroid condition you also need to be more careful regarding this particular kind of cancer.

How to prevent it: like many of the ones above, getting a routine screening is important.  Having been checked several times I can tell you it is an easy procedure.  The most common way is via an ultrasound.  If that is inconclusive you may need to get an MRI.  As an additional step you may want to invest in a HEPA-filtered vacuum and be sure you wipe down your furniture with a wet rag to remove dangerous particles.

Tell us if you agree or not!

10 Health Problems Every Guy Should Be Aware Of

We are officially into our second week of Movember! For those dudes out there who are letting it grow I hope your home is still peaceful and your soup strainer is looking fabulous! Please consider making a donation to benefit men’s health around the world! You can donate here: www.mobro.co/andrewcsloss

If you are a frequent reader of this blog then you are aware we are focusing most of our efforts this month on men’s health and related issues.  Today is no different as we tackle some of the more common health issues that men face.

Before we start, let me just take a moment and remind you how important it is to be doing a yearly check up with your doctor.  If you have health insurance (even if it is Obama-scare) your yearly routine physical is almost always covered 100% by your insurance.  In other words, you have no excuse not to stay as healthy as possible.  Even if you are a young man in his twenties you should be going to the doc’s office because as we have already seen testicular cancer can arrive as early as 18 years of age.  You are NOT invincible not matter what you think or how great you feel.  Get a check up this week if you haven’t had one in the last year.

Let’s roll…

#1 – Heart Health and Heart Related Issues

No surprise this is number #1 on the list.  Men have a terrible track record of taking care of their ticker.  It all starts with heart disease which not only comes in many different forms but will have fatal implications if not detected by your doctor.  How might it not get detected?  By you not going to the doctor!  Do you see a pattern yet?

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The American Heart Association indicates that more than one in three adult men has some form of cardiovascular disease. Black men account for 100,000 more cardiovascular disease mortality cases than white men.  Furthermore, stroke targets an estimated 2.8 million men and high blood pressure is common in younger males.

#2 – COPD & Other Respiratory Diseases

No doubt you have probably seen the terrible ads they run on television about COPD.  You may not have been paying attention to the ads though because they are very similar to Viagra ads, etc,. Despite those ads being horrible and likely doing more harm than good, COPD is a health problem that you need to take seriously. This is especially true if you are a smoker or former smoker.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and it is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. This disease kills more than 120,000 Americans annually—the equivalent of one death every four minutes, and the numbers are increasing.

As of 2011, 12 million people in the United States were diagnosed with COPD. It may be as much as 16 million currently. Another 12 million people may have the disease without knowing it.

Various respiratory diseases usually start with an innocent “smoker’s cough.” Over time, that cough can lead to life-threatening conditions such as lung cancer, emphysema, or COPD—all of which interfere with normal breathing.

# 3 – Alcohol Related Health Problems

Okay gents, put down that Rusty Nail for a second and pay drambuie-rusty-nail2attention!  There is nothing wrong with throwing back a drink (or several) but too often we have a serious problem with binge drinking!  You might think your liver can handle it when you are in college but don’t forget that is the same liver you are going to need when you are 85.  We certainly condone you having a good time but take it easy on the brewskis and cocktails so you can be around to play with your grand-kids.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men face higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women do. Men binge drink twice as much and are prone to increased aggression and sexual assault against women.

Alcohol consumption increases risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon. Alcohol also interferes with testicular function and hormone production, resulting in impotence and infertility. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, if a problem drinker does not seek help, he is more likely to commit suicide.

#4 Depression and Suicide

We also discussed how frequently men struggle with depression last week, so it is no surprise to see this on our list today.

Researchers at The National Institute of Mental Health estimate that at least six million men suffer from depressive disorders including suicidal thoughts annually. If you’re depressed, the NIMH recommends these tips:

  • exercise
  • set realistic goals
  • surround yourself with loved ones
  • postpone important decisions
  • seek professional help

#5 Unintentional Injuries or Being Stupid

There is a reason why The Darwin Awards exist and sadly it is not surprising to find that many of these award recipients are male. There is no shortage to the stupid things we men do for money, to look cool, while drinking and of course, for sex.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed unintentional injury as a leading cause of death for men in 2006. This includes drowning, traumatic brain injuries, and fireworks-related mishaps.

Motor vehicle death rates for male drivers and passengers ages 15 to 19 were almost twice that of females in 2006. And male workers incurred 92 percent of the 5,524 total reported fatal occupational injuries. Remember: you are not Superman. Be careful.

#6 Liver Disease

Your liver is the size of a football. Its functions include digesting food, absorbing nutrients, and ridding the body of toxic substances. Liver disease includes conditions such as cirrhosis, viral hepatitis, autoimmune or genetic liver diseases, bile duct or liver cancer, and even alcoholic liver disease.

According to a study posted by the American Cancer Society, alcohol and tobacco use increase your chance of developing liver disease.

#7 Diabetes

Our good friend and favorite nurse, Clarice Dale, wrote a blog for us awhile back on the subject.  Now might be a good time to re-read it to get a more in depth view of this disease.

hot-girls-candy-500x750We have made great strides as men in the last 20 years in better understanding diabetes and becoming more aware of our own blood sugar health.  However, this disease is still a serious problem for men, especially in the United States.

If you have diabetes you run a greater risk of sexual impotence, lower testosterone, which can make it much more difficult for you to procreate (if that is something you eventually want to do one day.) All of these things tend to also lead to depression and anxiety.  If left untreated you may suffer from nerve and kidney damage, heart disease, stroke and of course death.

Best course of action is to eat clean and get some exercise.

#8 The Flu and Related Illnesses

Influenza and pneumococcal infection are two leading health risks for some men. Men who have compromised immune systems due to COPD, diabetes, congestive heart failure, sickle cell anemia, AIDS, or cancer, are more susceptible to these illnesses.

The American Lung Association urges older males—especially African American men and men over the age of 65—to get vaccinated. Studies show that vaccinations can be up to 70 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations for both influenza and pneumococcal infection in those over 65.

Don’t be a baby, get your shots!

#9 Skin Cancer

One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld was when Jerry was dating a doctor.  This doctor happened to be a dermatologist and when Jerry and her would go out on dates, people would come up to her and thank her for “saving their life.”  Jerry thought it was rather arrogant that she would claim to save lives as a dermatologist and like so many of his relationships, things ended badly.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, men over 50 are at highest risk for developing skin cancer—more than twice the rate as women.  Why? Because of more sun exposure and fewer visits to the doctor. Golfing is great but be sure to wear some sun screen!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing long sleeves and pants, hats with wide brims, sunglasses, and sunscreen when outdoors for either fun or work. Lower your skin cancer risk by avoiding exposure to UV light that comes from tanning beds or sunlamps.

#10 HIV and AIDS

Men who are infected with HIV may not realize it, as initial symptoms may mimic a cold or flu. However, new infections are on the rise among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that in 2009, 61 percent of all new HIV infections were attributed to same-sex activity  and that 69 percent of new HIV infections were among young males aged 13-29.

However, those are not the only category of people who are still infected with AIDS and HIV every year.  Even men who have sex with only women can still contract the disease if they aren’t careful.  Refusal to wear a rubber isn’t brave, it is stupid.  If she isn’t on the pill or doing something else you need to be wearing protection bro.

While it doesn’t happen as frequently as it used to men who share needles while taking recreational drugs can also contract HIV and AIDS.  You probably shouldn’t be using drugs anyway but if you are and it involves a needle don’t share man, it is not cool.

Be a Proactive Man!!

Hopefully what you have learned from this post is that it pays to be proactive.  Get checked up on a regular basis, even if you aren’t feeling bad or ill.  Better to catch something early than to catch it late!

If you think you are at risk for any of the above health concerns than you need to change your habits and be more intentional about your health!  It can be a scary proposition addressing your health but you should avoid it altogether.  Failure to be proactive can lead to premature death.  Don’t do that to your loved ones.  Pick up the phone and make an appointment today!

Let’s all make a decision to be healthier heading into 2015!  As always, make it a better day!

Andrew

It’s Almost Movember!

If you have been reading our blog recently you know that tomorrow kicks off Movember officially!  I am totally pumped for this year’s mustache!!  I hope you will consider donating some money to the cause, every little but helps!

This Movember, I’ve committed my upper lip to help change the face of men’s health by growing a mustache, now I need your support at http://mobro.co/andrewcsloss.

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I’m passionate about this cause for several reasons and they are as follows:

  • Because 1 in 4 adults in the United States will experience a mental health problem this year. Many men find the stigmas associated with mental health lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment, which often prevents them from seeking help and taking action. We must change this!
  • Because too many men are dying unnecessarily from prostate cancer. In 2014, more than 233,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. The Movember Foundation is working tirelessly with an urgent goal in mind: accelerating breakthroughs in prostate cancer research that will benefit patients and their families.
  • Because too many men are dying unnecessarily from testicular cancer, the most common cancer in young men. Current treatments for testicular cancer are pretty good, but pretty good is just not good enough.

The Movember Foundation is working tirelessly to change all of the above scenarios for the better.  Here are just a few of the examples:

  • The Movember Foundation is working to rid the world of the discrimination associated with mental health challenges and to ensure men and boys experiencing mental health problems know the signs and take action early.
  • Movember has helped to form one of the largest, global alliances of prostate cancer researchers and clinical specialists, who are tackling the toughest prostate cancer challenges. 
  • The Movember Foundation is working around the clock and around the world to improve the lives of men and their families affected by testicular cancer.

I need your support to fund this important work.  I believe we can create a world where men don’t have to face the stigma and discrimination of mental health issues; I believe we can create a world where no man will die of testicular cancer; and I believe we can create a world where no man will ever die of prostate cancer.

Yet I can’t do this alone.  I need your help.

You can donate by:

– Donating online at http://mobro.co/andrewcsloss

– Writing a check to ‘Movember’, referencing my registration ID: 9899393 and mailing it to:  Movember, P.O. Box 1595, Culver City, CA 90232

You can learn more about the important work and impact Movember is having at: http://us.movember.com/programs

Thanks for supporting my moustache. Together we can change the face of men’s health.

Look out because this is coming at you starting tomorrow:

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Andrew Sloss

http://mobro.co/andrewcsloss

 

It’s Almost Movember!

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Good Afternoon Gents!

Well it is that glorious time of the year when the temperature takes a dip, the leaves start to change and everyone starts drinking anything that has the word “pumpkin” in the title.  No I am not talking about fall, I am talking about Movember!

This will be the first year I am fully participating in the Movember movement.  In past years I have happily agreed to donate money to friends who were engaged in this glorious endeavor.  If you are not familiar with what Movember is you can read more here.

Movember Style Guide

The main purpose for the movement is to raise awareness (and $$$) of men’s health issues.  Here are just a few of the alarming facts you will hear about:

  • Average life expectancy of men: 76.2 years old (women live oMade_in_Movember_Icon_3_374n average 5 years longer at 81 years)
  • More than 1/3 of adults in the United States are obese
  • 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with Cancer in their lifetime
  • 41% of men report symptoms of depression during their lifetime
  • 12.1% of men over the age of 18 are in fair or poor health (while that might sound like a low percentage, it is a HUGE chunk of men who aren’t living at the optimal health levels.)

There are a number of reasons why men don’t take good care of themselves and they include the following:

  • Lack of awareness and understanding of the health issues men face
  • Men not openly discussing their health and how they’re feeling
  • Reluctance to take action when men don’t feel physically or mentally well
  • Men engaging in risky activities that threaten their health
  • Stigmas surrounding mental health
  • Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year
The Movember Foundation aims to change this way of thinking by putting a fun twist on this serious issue. Using the moustache as a Made_in_Movember_Icon_2_374catalyst, the idea is to bring about change and give men the opportunity and confidence to learn and talk about their health and take action when needed.
As a global men’s health movement, the Movember Foundation has the ambition to contribute to improving the lives of men around the world. To achieve this, we challenge men to grow moustaches during Movember (the month formerly known as November) to spark conversation and raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.  We see success as moving the dial on progress towards:
  • Reduced mortality from prostate, testicular cancer and men’s suicide
  • Men living with prostate or testicular cancer being physically and mentally well
  • Men and boys understanding how to be mentally healthy and taking action when they experience mental health problems
  • Men and boys with mental health problems not being discriminated against

I am asking every man who reads my blog to accept the Movember challenge!  It doesn’t matter if you can only grow a wispy thing that can only be seen with ultraviolet light or if you have to trim it twice daily.  It doesn’t matter how it looks, only that you grow your very own soup strainer.  Here are the rules:

Movember Rules

Better yet, I am inviting you all to join our Movember team.  The website has all the tools you need to make Movember a very exciting month and help us make a real different in men’s health and well-being.  If for some reason you chose not to join in on the Mustache craze please consider donating to our team, even if it is only $5 every little bit will help.  You can see their visions statement here.

Hit me up if you have any questions.  As part of Movember I will focus our attention mostly on blogs related to men’s health issues and ways we can improve our longevity.  Until then make it a better day!

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@ACSloss

@BetterMenNow

How Can You Tell If Someone Needs Help?

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Earlier this week we discussed the difficulties that men have when it comes to asking for help.  If you read the blog then you know one of the examples we looked at was Junior Seau.  At the time I wrote the post I had yet to pick up my copy of the GQ this month.  I was surprised to find an article about Junior in its pages.  If you are a man there might be a lot of emotions that run through your body as you read it.  Two of the most prominent should be sadness and anger.

I was sad and angry for several reasons.  First, the man died way too young and still had so much to offer people.  Up until the point when he passed away he was an inspiring man.  Someone who had made it out of the slums of San Diego to an ocean front view and a lively foundation to help kids just like him escape poverty.  Second, there were people (especially men) who thought something wasn’t right and suspected something bad might or could happen.  I wouldn’t say they did nothing but at least from the article it certainly sounds like they could have done more.  If you ask your friend if they are okay and they say yes, but you know they are lying why would you just drop it?  Why wouldn’t you follow-up with them?  Organize other friends to intervene and talk openly with him about what is going on.

I would be the first to agree that Junior had to want help.  According to the story he asked for it but it doesn’t seem his friends offered any solutions.  When a person’s life is on the line sometimes we have to be more concerned about their health and safety than fearing we might offend them or lose their friendship.  Maybe they were afraid Junior would stop paying for things when they went out?  Who knows.  Regardless of the reasons more should have been done (again at least based on what was in the magazine.)

“He made terrible business decisions. He abused pills. He drank. He gambled away terrifying sums. It was clear to those who knew him well that he was struggling, but no one foresaw his suicide on the morning of May 2, 2012.” 

A  real friend doesn’t let that other bullshit stand in the way of getting things done and trying to help his friends.  “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17  A true friend will accept whatever adversity comes his way if it means he is looking out for a friend.  The challenge is trying to decide when a friend needs help, even more as men because we aren’t likely to come out and say “Bro I am really having a hard time and need help.”

I am not a professional when it comes to dealing with issues such as depression, suicidal thoughts and similar afflictions.  Anyone who is dealing with those and similar issues is strongly encouraged to seek professional help.  However, as a caring and compassionate person it is important we try to figure out what are some of the indicators that a person (especially a guy) is in trouble without him telling us.  As a lawyer, lay pastor and friend I have had plenty of opportunities to minister to and give counsel to many men over the course of my life.  While I haven’t seen it all, I have seen a lot.  I can say without a doubt what follows are the key things I have missed, overlooked or caught just in time when men I have cared about were in a bad spot.

1. Withdraws From Life or Activity

“But after retiring as a very wealthy man in 2010—he earned more than $50 million over the course of his long career—he began to behave uncharacteristically.  He withdrew from family and friends.”

It is human nature that we live our life in certain patterns.  Back in high school I used to work at Tom Thumb (which we lovingly called “The Finger”.)  After only a short time working there it was easy to see that my “regulars” always came in and bought the same thing every day.  It got to the point when I would see them pull up and I would have their lottery ticket and pack of smokes ready for them.  They always acted surprised that I knew what they would be purchasing, as if they had no idea they had bought the same thing every day for the last 6 months.  The truth is we often don’t realize the patterns we create in our daily lives.  It is done subconsciously because despite a desire for spontaneity we also find comfort in doing the same thing, the same way day in and day out.

Perhaps one of the most, if not THE most obvious signs that a guy is struggling with something in his life is when he withdraws from his normal patterns in life.  If he regularly attends church (other examples, softball, bowling, poker night or golfing) and then suddenly he hasn’t shown up in two or three weeks in a row something is almost guaranteed to not be right.  It might not be as serious as depression or suicide but it is a safe bet something is has gone haywire in his life.

We as men withdraw because we don’t want other men to know we are struggling and sure as hell don’t want to let them think we have a weakness or aren’t perfect.  Also, we have the idea in our heads if we show up to softball every guy is going to just figure out what happened or where we screwed up and then we have to add being embarrassed to the list.

One of my mentors as a young man was Joe Warfield who we loving referred to as “Pops.”  Sadly he passed away a few years ago after losing a long time battle with cancer.  Pops used to always refer to this as “going off into the weeds” and it is an abt description.  The idea being once a man gets too far into the weeds you can’t see him anymore as the weeds completely hide him.  I have seen it happen so many times and I am telling you the first sign is ALWAYS a withdrawal from normal activities but especially withdrawing from doing things with his guys friends.  This is why it is essential a man has guy friends he can hang out with.  Guys will hold other guys accountable in a way that women just can’t.

2. Drug and/or Alcohol Abuse – Other Addictive Behaviors

There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying some beer or having a scotch and cigar.  Nor is there much harm in heading to the track to bet on the ponies.  That isn’t what I am trying to say.  However, many people (not just men) try to use alcohol, drugs and other addictive behavior (i.e. gambling) as a way to escape the pressure they feel in their heads.  Men chase that high from  those activities as a brief and enjoyable break from the stress, depression or other problems plaguing us.  However, most of the times those very things that give us a “break” come back and haunt us making our complicated situation now untenable and usually with few alternatives for a way out.

“We landed in Vegas one time and immediately, within hours, he won 800-something thousand dollars.  I said, “Let’s go home, surf, chill, pay some bills.” But after dinner a whale-watcher [a casino handler charged with roping in big-money gamblers] comes up to the room. Not even two hours later, he comes back up and hits the table with a glass and starts cussing.  He had lost it all. He’s lying on his bed looking at the ceiling, and I go, “Buddy, you gotta stop this, man.” He goes, “We got this. We’ll get ’em tomorrow.” The next morning the whale-watchers show up. June got another half-million dollars, and he goes back down and loses the whole thing.”

You don’t need to blow that kind of money that quickly for your friends to be concerned.  Clearly this is an unlikely situation for most anyone who reads this blog.  It just illustrates not only a potential addiction problem but also that your friend has quit caring what happens to him (i.e. his money.)  I doubt you have many friends that make the kind of cheddar where they can walk away from dropping $1000 (or whatever amount) and NOT care.  Which leads into our third point.

3. Careless or Reckless Behaviorjunior-seau-gq-magazine-september-2013-sports-05

Granted drug and alcohol abuse could fit into this section but there are other signs your friend might be in trouble even without the drug and alcohol abuse or gambling.  I am not talking about a friend suddenly deciding he wants to go skydiving when he has never done so in the past.  Unless of course he wants to go alone and without a parachute.  That should probably tell you something is not quite kosher.

Several months before he ultimately killed himself Seau drove off a seaside cliff and somehow managed to survive the crash.  He claimed he fell asleep at the wheel and drove off by accident but to do so without cranking the wheel intentionally is just not possible at that part on the highway.

I have had several friends who, when struggling with depression and other things have behaved in extremely careless ways.  One friend in particular purposely would drive recklessly just hoping he would get into an accident whereby he would be killed.  He purposely didn’t wear a seatbelt while doing so and often had been drinking too much.  How he never died in a crash and rarely even managed to get into an accident is a miracle (and I don’t use that phrase lightly.)  Another friend started picking fights with the wrong kind of guys when we would be out somewhere.  Eventually one night while out alone he finally picked the right guy and almost had his head caved in.  He was in a coma for two days, broke an arm, a few ribs and a lot of brain cells.  When his friends (including me) found out we got him help – once he finally was released from the hospital.  He didn’t like it and cursed us out like a sailor for forcing him to get help but it was the right call.  He managed to pull his life together, got married and even has a few kids and has stayed on the straight and narrow ever since.  Fortunately, both of those stories have a happy ending but many more do not.

4. Sometimes You Just Know

Sometimes you just know that something isn’t right.  You might not be able to point at any particular set of circumstances or activity but there is just something in your gut that tells a person their friend is in some kind of trouble.  Don’t ignore that feeling.  If you have it, it likely means you are on to something, especially if that feeling doesn’t go away.

So if you have that feeling what should you do?  First, be sure you are taking time to really observe your friend’s behavior.  I don’t mean stalking them I simply mean try to be more observant about the things they say and what they do when you hang out.  If they are the kind of person who returns calls or texts, are they doing that?  Or have they stopped?  Or has it been infrequent with no real reason for the delays.  Second, you have to discuss your concern with them and don’t simply take “everything is fine” for an answer right away.  Finally, I know I mentioned it before but you can’t be afraid to upset your friend with your concern.  If you have to be a jack ass and really force them to open up to you about their life than do that.  True friendships with deep roots can survive any storm and getting in a friends face about their behavior is the kind of thing that a friend is supposed to do.

We are our brother’s keeper and it is important we take that role seriously.  Everyone needs a hand up at some point in their life even if they never realize it.

Here is hoping you have a great weekend!  Until Monday make it a better day!

Andrew