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Health

Breakthrough study says $500 worth of therapy and $200 cash saves men from a life of crime

More proof that therapy works.

crime, cognitive behavioral therapy, chris blattman, Liberia

Chris Blattman shares the results of a 10-year study on crime.

"What if I told you that roughly $500 for therapy + a little cash helped the most troubled young men in West Africa drop their crime and violence by half. For at least 10 years," Chris Blattman, professor of global conflict studies at the University of Chicago, opens a stunning tweet thread introducing the results of a study he began 13 years ago.

Blattman traveled to Liberia in 2009 with his wife as she did research on reintegrating ex-fighters from the war. Blattman had free time so he met up with Johnson Borh.

“He was a combatant in the war and now ran some kind of NGO. He seemed to know everyone and be able to go everywhere. So I asked him to show me around how the crime and drug markets worked,” Blattman tweeted.

Blattman couldn’t get over the fact that wherever they went, men would run over to Borh and give him a big hug. “How do you know Borh?” he asked them and every time he heard a similar response.

“I used to be like them,” and they’d point to the drug den or pickpockets. “But then I went through Borh’s program.”


For 15 years, Borh and his colleagues ran the STYL: Sustainable Transformation of Youth in Liberia program to help transform the most dangerous men in the city. “They met in abandoned buildings, in groups of maybe 20, for a couple of hours a day. Johnson trained some counselors, and they eked out a living on the program,” Blattman wrote.

Blattman got his team of researchers together to do a larger version of a similar program using the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques used by Borh. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an approach for reducing self-destructive beliefs and behaviors and promoting positive ones.

“Things looked really good. So I recruit my coauthors to help run a large-scale study,” Blattman tweeted. “We scaled up, raised a million dollars, and ran a huge randomized controlled trial with 999 of the toughest men in Monrovia.”

The therapy sessions focused on three types of behavioral change. The first was an attempt to get the men to “behave and self-identify as normal society members rather than as an outcast or criminal.” The second was to foster future orientation over present-biased behavior. The program taught skills to “manage emotions, reduce impulsivity, become more conscientious and persevering, and become more planful and goal-oriented in their daily activities.”

Finally, the team worked to teach the men how to deal with anger, interpersonal violence and threatening situations.

The researchers also held a cash lottery where some men were randomly selected to win $200. The men were told they could do anything with the money but were encouraged to use it to start a business or make home improvements.

The team followed up a year later and the results were inspiring.


Those who received the CBT and the cash slashed their antisocial behaviors by 50%. Those who had just therapy saw decreasing results over time, but those who received the cash and therapy had their new, positive behaviors more deeply entrenched.

Ten years later, the team was a little uneasy about seeing if the impact had lasted.

“I was pessimistic,” Blattman said. “We surveyed experts in advance. Almost all expected CBT Only or Cash Only to have no effect whatsoever after 10 years. For Therapy plus Cash, one-third of the experts predicted no effect at all. 2/3 predicted steeply diminished impacts.”

However, the researchers found that crime and violence were still down by 50% with those who got the CBT and cash.

“The therapy helped participants change their intentions, identity and behavior, and provided almost daily commitment and reinforcement,” the study’s conclusion states. “After eight weeks of therapy, the grant provided some men with the cash they needed to maintain their new identity—to avoid homelessness, to feed themselves, and to continue to dress decently.”

Blattman believed that his team’s findings are important and should be put into practice today in America for two reasons. “Gun violence is spiking in the Americas,” he tweeted. “Cities need solutions. They’re searching for ones that don’t involve coercion.”

Second, it works.

“All the evidence suggests CBT-informed programs are fast, effective, hyper-targeted, non-coercive ways to reduce violence,” he wrote.

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O Organics make eating organic affordable

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Friendsgiving might have started as a novel alternative to Thanksgiving, but today it’s an American holiday in its own right.

For many, especially millennials and Gen Zers, Friendsgiving offers an opportunity to get creative with their celebrations without being obligated to outdated, even problematic traditions or having to break the bank.

However, some of us might not want to go to the extreme of only having pizza and beer. What if there were a way to balance the decadence of a traditional Thanksgiving meal while still keeping it easy and laid-back? And could we make it healthy too?

As it turns out, we can.

Here’s a super simple breakdown of what your next Friendsgiving prep could look like. An appetizer, salad, side, entree, and dessert. All done in an hour—even quicker if you assign certain dishes to different partygoers. #spreadsheetsrule

But wait, it gets better—all of these meals can be made organic at an affordable price, using O Organics® at Albertsons. O Organics helps shoppers find quality ingredients at reasonable prices every day of the year. Friendsgiving is no different.

Without further ado, let’s get cooking!

Appetizer: Charcuterie Board


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Nothing quite hits like the fancy, grown-up version of Lunchables. Crackers, meats, cheeses, and various fancy toppings that can be combined in endless ways. The easiest form of culinary creativity there is.

You already know how to make one of these bad boys, but here’s a basic template if you’re needing a dose of inspo:

Meats: Some tasty choices here are salami, prosciutto, sausage, etc. I made a smaller-scale board and decided to go with salami. If you or your friends aren’t a fan of pork, sliced turkey or smoked salmon are some yummy alternatives.

Cheese: The possibilities are endless here. You can even opt for a dairy-free cheese option!

Bread or Crackers: Artfully arranged. Speedily snacked upon. Some O Organics options here and here.

Fillers: this is where the charcuterie really shines. Fill in the spaces with splashes of color and flavor. Be sure to go for both savory and sweet. That means olives, sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, nuts, and a vibrant array of fresh or dried fruit. A yummy fruit spread doesn’t hurt either.

Time: 5 min

Salad: Squash And Feta Salad

Ingredients:

(3-4 servings)

1 small red onion (O Organics sells them in a bag)

1 bag O Organics frozen Butternut Squash

6 cups fresh O Organics spinach, arugula, kale, or whatever salad green you like

1/4 cup O Organics pecans

1/4 cup O Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil

O Organics Lemon and Olive Oil Salad Dressing

CrumbledO Organics Goat Cheese

Salt and pepper

Chop some onions. Sautee them in olive oil. Add a bag of frozen squash. Dress some salad greens with dressing. Add the onions and squash. Top with pecans, cheese, salt and pepper. Badda bing badda boom.

Time: 10 minutes

Side: Autumn Seasoned Air Fryer “Roasted” Potatoes

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As any millennial will tell you, we love our air fryers. Nothing quite ticks all the quick, easy and healthy boxes quite like one. And if you haven’t yet had a perfectly crispy on the outside, buttery soft on the inside air fryer potato, then what are you waiting for?

Ingredients:

One 3 pound bag of O Organics red or russet potatoes—honestly any potato will do

2 Tablespoons O Organics olive oil

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

That’s it. No really.

Cut potatoes into one-inch pieces. Coat with olive oil. Sprinkle seasoning. Cook in an air fryer at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Toss the potatoes in the basket and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender and crisp.

Time: 20 minutes. TOPS.

Entree: Coconut Chicken Curry

cravingsomethinghealthy.com

Because who needs turkey? This one pot piéce de rèsistance is the very essence of Friendsgiving—unique, versatile and not without a little spice.

Being the entree, this dish calls for a few more ingredients, but is honestly not much more demanding. You’re basically looking at 15 minutes for prep, and about 30 minutes to simmer.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon O Organics olive oil

1 medium onion diced

2 teaspoons ginger minced

2 teaspoons green curry paste

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 cups O Organics Thai Style Curry Chicken Broth

1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

1 15-ounce can O Organics full-fat coconut milk

2 ½ cups O Organics cooked chicken breast

1 8.8 ounce package O Organics 7 Grains & Lentils Blend

1 16 ounce bag of O Organics frozen peas

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

Lime juice

Cilantro

Chopped O Organics cashews to garnish

Using a Dutch oven (or large pot with a lid), saute the onion and ginger in olive oil over medium heat, for about 4 minutes. Add the curry paste and curry powder and saute for one more minute.

Add the Thai Style Curry Chicken Broth and the diced sweet potato. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and catch up with friends for 20 minutes while the dish simmers.

When the sweet potato is tender, shake the can of coconut milk well and pour it into the pot. Add the chicken, 7 Grains & Lentils Blend, and peas. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and let the curry simmer for another 10 minutes.

Congrats! You are finished. You can add salt, lime juice, cilantro, extra curry powder/paste, or garnish with roasted cashews. Each bowl is customizable.

Time: 40 min

Dessert: Holiday Kettle Corn Bark

onbetterliving.com

Of course, you can always opt for pie, but sometimes people might want to opt for something a bit more bite-sized when it comes to desserts—especially after a hefty meal. This sweet and salty finger food does the trick quite nicely.

Ingredients:

1 bag (6 oz) O Organics Kettle Corn Organic Popcorn (about 9 cups)

1 bag (10 oz) O Organics Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

8 oz white chocolate, broken into small pieces

1 cup pistachios, roasted and salted

2/3 cup O Organics Dried Cranberries

2 tbsp O Organics Organic Coconut Oil

1 tsp salt

Line a 12x17-inch baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Spread kettle corn on the lined baking sheet in one thin single layer. Put the semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Drizzle the melted chocolate evenly over kettle corn, reserving about a 1/3 cup for finishing touches. Sprinkle the pistachios and cranberries over the kettle corn evenly.

Follow the same melting instructions for the white chocolate, then drizzle evenly over the kettle corn. You can follow with any remaining semi-sweet chocolate for a layered effect. Let the kettle corn stand for 5 minutes.

Place the kettle corn bark in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden. Once the bark has hardened, break into pieces.

Time: 20 minutes.

OR…if you want to make life even easier…just grab some pints of ice cream and call it a day. No judgment here.

Time: literally a few seconds to open the freezer and grab some bowls.

And there you have—a no muss, no fuss, healthy and affordable Friendsgiving spread. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your chosen family.

Get to your nearest Albertsons today and find everything you need to make these yummy dishes! No Albertsons in your area? You can also find O Organics products exclusively at Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, ACME, Shaw’s, Star Market, Tom Thumb, Randalls, and Pavilions.

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The Story of Bottled Waterwww.youtube.com

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via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube


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