Author: Justin Mckibben
I came across an article the other day that asked a very interesting question- what if the media covered alcohol the way it does other drugs. To be clear, I’m not writing this to shame people who drink alcohol. This is all about perspective.
More recently the conversation about the drug epidemic in America has been focused on opioid abuse and addiction, of course with good reason. The rate at which opioid abuse, opioid overdoses and related deaths have risen immensely in the last few years. The alarming numbers prove that both prescription opioids and illicit opioid drugs are a very real threat. Thousands of people die every day, and experts see no sign that it will not get worse before it gets better.
And yet, similar statistics associated with alcohol are nothing short of staggering if you look at them the way we look at heroin or methamphetamine.
So, let us imagine for a moment a world where we treated alcohol like the drug it truly is. What if we treated drinkers like we do addicts?
Alcohol Drug Addiction
For decades a devastating and potentially fatal drug has wreaked havoc across the country, ending countless lives and altering countless others. This insidious substance can be found in pretty much every neighborhood in America. You can find it on almost every street corner, and the overwhelming majority of adults have consumed this substance at least once.
Alcohol has many aliases, include:
- Giggle Water
The drug comes packaged in a long list of names, with a variety of mixes that can be more or less potent depending on the source. Some use massive labs to concoct their drinks, while others brew out of secret unregulated areas in their homes.
The Alcohol Epidemic
No matter where you go, there will be a prominent presence of alcohol users. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH):
- 86.4% of people 18 or older report to have drank this dangerous drug at some point in their life
- 70.1% of people report to have consuming this substance in the last year
- 56% of people admit to have taken the drug in the last month
Looking closer at the drug, we see that many users go from recreational consumption to excessive use. The NSDUH shows:
- 7% report to heavy use in the past month
- 26.9% of people 18 or older admit to binge drinking in the past month
As with most other drugs, this substance also leads to sometimes debilitating addiction, or alcohol use disorder (AUD). NSDUH reports:
- 1 million Adults age 18 or older suffered from AUD in 2015
- 8 million of them were men
- 3 million were women
- 623,000 adolescents age 12-17 years old had AUD
All 50 states in America have been hit hard by the alcohol epidemic at some point or another. One reason the outbreak of this drug has been so tragic is because in so many places it has become social acceptable for people to consume alcohol!
In fact, many have minimized the use of alcohol or even celebrated it! In several communities around the country there are all-out events where drug use is actually publicly promoted! Events like “Craft Beer Fest” or the infamous “Oktoberfest” have become hotbeds for excessive abuse of this incredibly hazardous substance. Young adults often talk about getting “wasted”, “tipsy” or “turnt” as slang for ingesting such high levels of the drug they are inebriated.
Alcohol Related Deaths
According to data collected by the federal government, alcohol is the second deadliest drug in America. If you combine:
- Heroin- connected to almost 13,000 overdose deaths in 2015
- Prescription opioids– 22,598 overdose deaths
You still have less than half of the deaths of alcohol. In fact, an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol related causes every single year!
Because of binge drinking and other risk behaviors, mild to moderate alcohol overdose has almost become far too common. Beyond that, there are numerous ways this deadly drug has contributed to an inordinate number of deaths over hundreds of years! On a global scale, the alcohol drug is the leading risk factor in premature death and disability.
- In 2012, 3.3 million deaths in the whole world were alcohol related
- 2013, 45.8% of liver disease deaths for individuals 12 and older were alcohol related
- In 2013, 47.9% of all cirrhosis deaths were alcohol related
The health effects of the alcohol epidemic are very real.
Alcohol Epidemic Hurts Others
It isn’t just the people who use this lethal drug that suffer from the adverse effects of the alcohol epidemic. Even the people are the users are often put in serious danger. For example, driving while under the influence of the alcoholic drug has been a very severe problem for a long time.
- In 2014, over 31% of driving fatalities were alcohol related- 9,967 deaths
Also, public health officials from all over America have stood up to expose other terrible effects of alcohol use. Alcohol use also has a great deal of influence on:
- Domestic abuse
- Sexual assault
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) 90% of acquaintance rape and sexual assault on college campuses involves alcohol use by the victim, the assailant or both.
To that point, in 2010 sources indicated that more than 4.6 million emergency room visits were alcohol related.
- 40% of violent crime is alcohol related.
- 37% of current convicted offenders in jails admit to being on alcohol during their arrest
The War on Alcohol?
So with such glaring instances of the impacts of alcohol use on Americans, and young people in particular, surely drug policy officials and politicians are aggressively pursuing legislation to engage in a full on War on Alcohol, like they have with the War on Drugs, right?
Well… not so much.
It may come as a shock, but U.S. federal and state officials seem to think banning alcohol is out of the question! Citing the past attempts at alcohol prohibition as a major failure that instigated higher crime rates, while also claiming the vital part alcohol production and sales play in the economy, lawmakers seem content with allowing the drug to remain in circulation.
Thankfully officials are still willing to provide emergency response services to individuals who have overdosed on alcohol or been injured in alcohol-related accidents. While city officials are fighting for the option to deny the overdose antidote Narcan to opioid users who overdose multiple times, none of these officials seem to believe alcohol related illness or drunk driving accidents should be ignored the same way.
Drunk driving in many areas on multiple occasions does constitute jail time, but it seems being in possession of one of the deadliest drugs in America still doesn’t come with a mandatory minimum sentence. The Alcohol epidemic seems to have avoided a lot of the stigma that other drugs are held to, yet experts insist more should be done to decrease the astonishing rates of alcohol abuse and addiction.
Alcohol may be legal, and it may be more mainstream than most drugs, the alcohol epidemic in this nation is still a very real threat. The fact it is legal and easily accessible makes the problem so much more serious. This article isn’t meant to demonize alcohol, but it is meant to point out the severity of alcohol use and the damage that comes with it. Maybe this kind of perspective can also diminish the stigma attached to other illicit addictions, if we are willing to acknowledge the similarities.
Alcohol is more dangerous than people give it credit, and alcohol addiction is incredibly dangerous.
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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
People are dying from scented bath oils.
Sounds crazy, but it is true. Over the last week, 72 Russians died after drinking bath oils. Many of the victims were poor residents between the ages of 35 and 50 who could not afford regular alcohol. Instead, they opted for the bath oils because the ingredient label stated it was made from “ethyl alcohol.” Ethyl alcohol is the alcohol used in drinking alcohol.
Unfortunately, the bath oils were not made with just ethyl alcohol. Instead, they were packed with deadly levels of methanol, a toxic alcohol used in antifreeze.
A local prosecutor, Stanislav Zubovsky, said that 57 people were in the hospital over the weekend related to consuming the bath oils. Over 2,000 bottles of the bath oil were seized. Police found an underground manufacturing plant believed to be responsible for producing the tainted liquid, according to ABC News.
As a result of the incident, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev called for the government to put controls on the circulation of cheap liquids like perfume and soaps that contain alcohol.
“This is a complete disgrace and clearly we should put an end to it,” Medvedev said in a cabinet meeting on Monday. “Such liquids should simply be banned.”
Russia economy is just starting to recovery since the oil prices plummeted in 2015. The mayor declared a state of emergency, and officials posted warnings in homeless populations in regards to drinking the cheap alcohol knock-offs.
In January, a Russian consumer watchdog group reported that alcohol deaths contributed to the deaths of 30% of Russian men and 15% of Russian women. Although drinking is an important part of the Russian culture, alcohol is too expensive for some citizens to afford.
This is especially true in the city Irkutsk which is home to 620,000 people. At one time, the city was home to a booming industry, but the collapse of the Soviet Union and the decreased demand for machinery turned the city into a struggling economy. With income levels lower than seen before, many find more affordable creative ways to consume alcohol. Unfortunately, the attempt to maintain drinking culture resulted in unexpected fatalities.
Homeless Population Most At Risk
Russia is not the only area with an issue like this. The homeless population is known for finding ways to consume alcohol and other drugs through synthetic alternatives. The drug k2 is a synthetic form of marijuana popular in homeless areas all across the United States.
Just this November, dozens of homeless people in St. Louis, Missouri were found in a zombie state after consuming the k2 drug.
“People were standing and walking around like zombies,” said St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson. “They didn’t know what they were doing or where they were at.”
It was estimated that in one short period, over 100 members of the homeless population overdosed on the K2 drug. Other drug alternatives commonly used are products like Listerine and hand sanitizer.
Should companies feel obligated to ensure their products are safe for consumption? With the example of the bath oils, should the company be held responsible?
Regardless, addiction is rampant in all communities, both the upper class and homeless populations. Therefore, if you are someone you know are struggling with addiction or mental illness, please reach out. The disease of addiction does not discriminate. Call toll-free today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
A common way to explain addiction is to describe it as an allergy. Not everyone who does drugs will become addicted. Just like not everyone who eats a peanut will have an allergic reaction. The general understanding is that addiction is a chronic, progressive relapsing disease of structural and functional brain abnormalities. The understanding of addiction as a disease has allowed for better treatments and has made tremendous progress in reducing stigma.
However, when it comes to the allergy theory model of addiction, many question the accuracy. Does addiction really stem from an actual allergy? Time to get to the bottom of all of this.
Dr. Silkworth: The Allergy Theory (March 1937)
The allergy theory of dependency was first thought of by Dr. William Silkworth, M.D., in 1937. The theory was later inserted into the “Big Book” of Alcoholic Anonymous in a section titled “The Doctor’s Opinion.” It was Dr. Silkworth’s opinion that chronic alcohol addiction was, in its way, an allergic reaction. It was a phenomenon only present in certain people.
Silkworth noticed that people treated for alcoholism responded in two different ways. Person A would completely heal after treatment and return home to either drink socially or not drink at all. At first, person B would respond to treatment in a positive manner. However, they would lose control of their drinking if they ever tried to consume alcohol again. To explain this distinct difference, Silkworth concluded that there must be some allergic reaction present in person B that makes drinking an uncontrollable behavior. Otherwise, why would the two patients respond to treatment so differently?
The rationale behind Silkworth’s theory of alcohol addiction was quite sound. Those who are psychologically powerless to alcohol are also physically powerless. Just like an allergy, in some people, vital organs in the body fail to produce certain enzymes required to complete the decomposition of alcohol (or more scientifically ethanol.)
The Addict vs. Nonaddict Conclusion
In a non-alcoholic person, the body produces the right amount of enzymes to break down ethanol which reduces the high risk of uncontrollable drinking. In an alcoholic person, the body processes alcohol the same way as a non-alcoholic person, until it reaches a point within the liver and pancreas where there is not enough enzyme production to complete decomposition. This may be why there is an intense “craving” to continue drinking that prevents alcoholics from being able to control the amount they drink once they begin.
Ultimately, he concluded:
“The inevitable conclusion is that true alcoholism is an allergic state, the result of gradually increasing sensitization by alcohol over a more or less extended period of time… some are allergic from birth, but the condition usually develops later in life. The development and course of these cases are quite comparable with the history of hay fever patients…”
Further he notes:
“such patients may be deprived of liquor altogether for a long period, for a year or longer, for example, and become apparently normal. They are still allergic, however, and a single drink will develop the full symptomatology again.”
80 Years Later: Is It Really An Allergy?
Although Silkworth was on the right track, addiction is not exactly an allergy. An allergy, by definition, is a reaction of the immune system to a given chemical. A skin test can easily detect allergies. If alcoholism were an allergy, it would respond to a skin test. Alcoholism is not a true allergy in the same way that peanuts, soy, or bee stings are allergies. AA believed the allergy theory of addiction was helpful in explaining the serious physical and psychological effects addicts endure after one drink.
“The doctor’s theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us. As laymen, our opinion as to its soundness may, of course, mean little. But as ex-problem drinkers, we can say that his explanation makes good sense. It explains many things for which we cannot otherwise account.”
Furthermore, defining addiction by comparing it to an allergy is an accurate way of describing the disease. Although Silkworth was scientifically incorrect, he was on the right track. Despite his error of concept, Silkworth made many concise, astute observations in an effort to identify the root of addiction.
In 1975, AA finally addressed the allergy concept stating, “alcoholism is not a true allergy, the experts now inform us.”
While addiction may not technically be an allergy, Silkworth’s allergy concept has been enlightening. It helped us develop a mode of treatment that is useful in helping individuals abstain from addictive behaviors. Addiction is a disease, and anyone struggling with it knows how powerless it can be. We have the tools to get you living a healthy, sober, productive, fulfilled lived. Don’t wait—call us today.
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Author: Shernide Delva
There are two sides to every story, and when it comes to alcoholism, the same saying holds truth. A new study examined the changes in the brain that makes a person prone to alcoholism. What they discovered is that there are two types of alcoholic brains: anxiety-prone and impulsive.
Anxiety and impulse control issues are common among alcoholics and the difference between the two could lie in changes in the brain tissues. The brain tissue of alcoholics experience changes that are different from the non-alcoholic brain. Over time, the brain tissue changes from consuming alcohol. Researchers have discovered that there are two types of alcoholic brains: anxiety-prone (Type I) and impulsive-depressive (Type II) and brain changes are exclusive to one type or the other.
Type I Alcoholics: Type I alcoholics typically become dependent on alcohol later in life. These types are prone to anxiety and use alcohol increasingly to resolve these issues.
Type II Alcoholics: These types tend to get hooked on alcohol at a younger age and exhibit anti-social impulsive behaviors.
The brain is a complex organ so not every alcoholic fit into these two categories, the researchers noted.
“From the viewpoint of the study setting, this division was made in order to highlight the wide spectrum of people suffering from alcohol dependence,” said lead researcher Olli Kärkkäinen. “The reality, of course, is far more diverse, and not every alcoholic fits into one of these categories.”
Regardless of what “type” of an alcoholic you are, there are similarities in the brain of all alcoholic. All alcoholics have an increase of a steroid hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone that affects the central nervous system. This could explain why many alcoholics become tolerant to the effects of alcohol after chronic, long-term use.
In addition, all alcoholics showed decreased levels of serotonin transporters in brain regions. This means that alcoholics have difficulty with mood regulation. They tend to be seeking this happy chemical and have a decreased level of serotonin transporters in the brain. This could explain why many alcoholics experience social anxiety.
Researchers will be using the results from this study to come up with new treatments for alcoholism that take into account the distinct differences between Type I and Type II brains.
“These findings enhance our understanding of changes in the brain that make people prone to alcoholism and that are caused by long-term use,” said researcher Kärkkäinen. “Such information is useful for developing new drug therapies for alcoholism, and for targeting existing treatments at patients who will benefit the most.”
In Western countries, it has been estimated that around 10-15% of the population qualify as alcohol-dependent. Across the world, alcohol is causing as much damage as all illegal substances combined. It is important to note these differences so medical personnel knows how these cases can differentiate.
Most of all, it is important that those who have struggled with alcoholism to seek help as early as possible. People who drink large amounts of alcohol for long periods of time run the risk of developing serious and persistent changes in the brain. The damage could be a combination of the alcohol consumptions along with poor general health.
Often, alcoholics have deficiencies in their health. Thiamine deficiency is extremely common in those with alcoholism and is a result of overall poor nutrition. Also, it can be hard for those struggling to make staying healthy a priority. Thiamine is crucial to the brain. It is an essential nutrient required by all tissues, including the brain. Many foods in the United States are fortified with thiamine; therefore, the average healthy person consumes enough of it.
Alcoholism can cause major damage to your brain and overall health if left untreated. This article simply confirms the reason why it is so important that those struggling with alcoholism seek professional help. Trying to fix the problem on your own is not the best solution, especially when you are not aware of how your mind and body is functioning. We are here to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, don’t wait. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Jealousy is an ugly thing, but we all have a habit of harvesting it in some shape or another. Be it envy of property or prestige, or a resentment of romantic origins, we all have a way of getting a little bent out of shape over the whole grass-is-greener scenario. Not to be cynical, we are all perfect in our imperfections, but to acknowledge jealousy as part of our human condition is necessary in order to improve ourselves.
Jealousy can turn friends into foes, co-workers and peers into rivals, and lovers into bitter exes simply by enticing our insecurities. Jealousy can corrupt our intentions, and turn our trust into anxiety.
Now, researchers are saying jealousy also has the power to turn drinkers into alcoholics. This is rooted in the idea that people who depend on their relationships to make them feel complete or content are more likely to drown their sorrows if they suspect the one they are with to be cheating.
Probing Problem Drinkers
Researchers at the University of Houston recently published a study in Addictive Behaviors where they examined the drinking patterns and romantic relationships of 277 people, and they hones in on links between 3 main factors they hypothesized could help identify people at risk of alcoholism:
- Romantic Jealousy
- Relationship-dependent Self-esteem
- Alcohol Problems
What they found were those experiencing jealousy were more likely to be a problem drinker… that is IF the jealousy stemmed from being in an unhappy relationship and having one’s self-worth primarily dependent on the other person.
87% of the participants in the study were women, and everyone involved was asked to fill out questionnaires pertaining to:
- Their level of satisfaction in a relationship
- Their level of self-esteem
- Their alcohol use
- Or course… jealousy
Through the process and the data collected, researchers determined many people would turn to alcohol to cope when experiencing jealousy in their romantic relationships.
Again, the emphasis on this pattern was especially pronounced among those who were in “low-quality” relationships where the individuals surveyed felt:
- Less satisfied
- Less committed
- Disconnected from their partners
So it wasn’t to say that EVERY person who experienced jealously in their relationship was going to develop a drinking problem, but those who show specific traits in their love life are more likely to go on binders when things go wrong.
Impact and Awareness
Alcohol abuse is a serious issue. It is often underestimated in America, but it’s impact is profound and understanding the elements of progressive alcohol abuse is important to prevention and raising awareness.
As the 3rd leading cause of preventable death in the United States, alcohol abuse accounts for 1 in 10 deaths for working-age adults. That’s around 88,000 deaths per year in this nation and 2.5 million deaths at a global scale per year. While becoming an alcoholic cannot be put squarely on the shoulders on relationship issues, it seems plenty alcoholic drinkers end up working their way toward excessive drinking through problems with their romantic relationships.
The lead author of the study Dr. Angelo DiBello stated,
“Romantic jealousy is a shared human experience, but very little work has looked at how it is related to alcohol use, misuse and associated problems. This research helps to highlight the associations between these factors and show how our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are related in potentially harmful ways.”
Scientists hope that these findings could offer more insight into how relationships can impact self-esteem, and how all these elements could eventually help identify alcoholism more quickly and even get a head start on prevention.
With an alcoholic feeling those feels is actually a pretty common excuse we use to drink. People in recovery have probably heard more than once about someone’s relationship creating a set of circumstances that led them to isolation and discontentment, so relationships are often given this bad reputation as a leading cause of relapse for the alcoholic.
In reality, if you are spiritually fit and work on yourself, you don’t run this kind of risk. THAT is the big point made so far in this research. An alcoholic is not made by one defect or another. If every jealous person was an alcoholic then meetings would be a lot bigger.
The people in the study who had a fulfilled life and were self-sufficient in their happiness and quality of life didn’t have a risk of severe drinking problems like those who were co-dependent and jealous. If we are to survive the little things like jealousy and resentment, our worth as an individual has to come from the inside. YOU are not your relationship, and when you forget it then your relationship has the power to undermine your recovery.
“There is no greater glory than love, nor any greater punishment than jealousy.”
-Lope de Vega
An alcoholic drinks for the effect, and the blame for the desired effect can be put on any number of our flaws as people, but in reality there is always a choice. As an alcoholic you still have a choice; you can continue down the path that too often leads to death, or you can recover. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135