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Influenza, more commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness, spread by a virus. It causes a miserable but relatively mild illness in most people. For most of us, getting the flu means a couple of weeks out of work or school, then life goes back to normal. But for others, the flu is a severe illness. Young children and the elderly are at the greatest risk for the flu and its complications. The flu can be more serious, even deadly, if you have a health condition like asthma, heart disease, diabetes, a weakened immune system or HIV. 

The holidays are over and winter is in full swing. It’s been ridiculously cold, icy, windy (at this writing) and just generally miserable outside. And well, that can often make us miserable too. It’s probably easy to deduce that the current climate is not especially conducive to psychological well-being. In fact, certain things about winter are counterproductive to our mental health and wellness.

It has been quite a roller-coaster year for the LGBT community, with some pretty high highs and some equally low lows. We saw a new president take office, and with it came stalling of the progress LGBT civil rights have made in recent years. That said, organizations like the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign and the Center for Constitutional Rights have had our backs, filing lawsuits on behalf of LGBT citizens to preserve the hard-won protections we’ve fought for.

Alcohol and drug abuse is a significant problem in the LGBT community — our community. It affects LGBT individuals in higher rates than it does their heterosexual counterparts. In a 2016 SAMHSA study, it was estimated that illicit drug use among members of the LGB community was twice as high as it is for their heterosexual peers (39.1 percent versus 17.1). Alcohol use was also alarming, if not as much of a disparity, at 63.6 percent for LGB individuals vs. 56.2 percent for their heterosexual counterparts. This study did not include the transgender community; however, in a 2012 study that did, it was found that 20-30 percent of LGBT individuals abused substances compared to 9 percent of their heterosexual peers.

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