(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Alcoholism is a term that has been around for quite a long time, but over the generations it has been understood and treated in a variety of ways. Perhaps as the world and society evolves, so does the average alcoholic.
Either way you look at it, alcoholism is a very real threat. National surveys of recent years indicate:
- Nearly 19 million people in the US abuse alcohol, or have an addiction to it.
- In Europe, it’s estimated that 23 million people are dependent on alcohol
- Estimates say more than two million deaths resulting from alcohol consumption a year internationally
History of Alcoholism
The term “alcoholism” was first used by a Swedish professor of medicine, Magnus Huss (1807-1890). Huss turned the phrase in 1849, to mean poisoning by alcohol. While today “alcohol poisoning” is a more direct classification, alcohol-ism is still a poison in the lives of those who is touches.
Huss distinguished between two types of alcoholism:
Huss’s definition says this is the result of the temporary effects of alcohol taken within a short period of time, such as intoxication. Basically, it is having too much to drink.
This Huss calls a pathological condition through the habitual use of alcoholic beverages in poisonous amounts over a long period of time. A pretty innovative idea, and something that would be debated for over a century.
Since 1849, the definition has changed endlessly.
Establishing a definitive “alcoholism” definition is difficult as there is little unanimity on the subject. The reason for such a variety of definitions is the different opinions each authority holds, and the year the definition was formed. We have the strictest definition the dictionary provides:
- An addiction to the consumption of alcoholic liquor or the mental illness and compulsive behavior resulting from alcohol
We also have the concept presented by the book Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which gives stories of struggle and strength, experience and hope; the lives of many alcoholics who developed a manner of living through a plan of action rooted in 12 Steps. Here alcoholism is often described as a “physical compulsion coupled with a mental obsession”. The disease model of alcoholism has evolved overtime.
Early on 12 Step fellowships like AA were cautious about trying to label the medical nature of alcoholism. However, many members believe alcoholism is a disease. In 1960 Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA, explained why they had refrained from using the term “disease,” stating:
“We AAs have never called alcoholism a disease because, technically speaking, it is not a disease entity. For example, there is no such thing as heart disease. Instead there are many separate heart ailments or combinations of them. It is something like that with alcoholism. Therefore, we did not wish to get in wrong with the medical profession by pronouncing alcoholism a disease entity. Hence, we have always called it an illness or a malady—a far safer term for us to use.”
These days, the classification of disease is commonly applied to alcoholism or addiction. Some have called them brain disorders. While some dispute the disease label, many believe it is the truest portrayal of alcohol addiction in the most severe form. The idea of alcoholism being a disease has been around since as early as the 18th century.
Many of the more up-to-date medical definitions do describe it as a disease. These definitions say the alcohol problem is influenced by:
- Social factors
Treatment of Alcoholism
When asking how treatment for alcoholism is important, there are a few specifically important elements to consider. When it comes to health risks of trying to quit cold turkey, it can be a lot more painful or dangerous than you think. Also, lasting recovery has a lot more to do with learning new coping skills and behaviors than just giving up the substance.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when the central nervous system (CNS) becomes overly excited. Alcohol suppressing the activity in the CNS, so the abrupt absence of alcohol causes the CNS to jump into overdrive. In essence, your system starts overcompensating.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome symptoms include:
The severity of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome can range from mild to very severe and even life-threatening.
Most treatment programs understand the importance of therapy at different levels. Group therapy helps people fighting addiction receive peer support. Individual therapy lets you work more intimately on these issues with a professional.
Holistic programs such as Palm Partners Treatment Program help you develop a personalized recovery plan to guide you in your treatment, setting benchmarks and goals while you are in treatment.
Some groups are more educationally-structured in order to teach you very important aspects for understanding the nature alcoholism, as well as ways to make major lifestyle changes. Holistic recovery is about more than surviving your struggle, but actually outlining a way you can thrive and move forward with healthy life skills. Finding the right treatment option can make all the difference in how you define your alcoholism, versus how you let it define you.
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Author: Shernide Delva
Over the holiday season, I acquired a part time job working as a virtual reality demo associate. It was amazing to see the impact gaming software could have on a person’s life. I saw people in wheelchairs enjoy the feeling of entering a different reality. I saw senior citizens enjoy the immersion of climbing a virtual mountain or sculpting a cat. Technology like this helps take our imaginations to a new realm.
Therefore, when I read about a company using a joystick to help with alcoholism, it fascinated me. An ongoing study in Berlin is using joysticks and alcohol-related images to help prevent alcoholic relapse. Some of the participants have said that the image-related therapy helped keep them sober.
Miriam Sebold is the study’s lead psychologist. In the study, participants viewed images on a computer screen and were told to use a joystick to push alcohol-related images away. They were also instructed to engage the joystick and pull images of water and other non-alcoholic beverages closer to them,
Researcher Hanna Lesch visited Charité University in Berlin, Germany where the ongoing study took place. She described the parameters of the study:
“Every click of a joystick results in a new pair of images,” said Lesch. “Pushing the joystick forward makes an image grow smaller. Pull in toward you, and the image grows. Sebold’s patients react strongly to images of alcohol and that is the basis of her training.”
Images of alcohol can sometimes make an alcoholic vulnerable. In the same way that Pavlov’s dogs reacted to stimuli related to food, alcoholics can react to stimuli related to alcoholic beverages. Non-alcoholics do not respond any differently to a glass of orange soda or a shot of vodka.
Lesch spoke with a study participant named Freddy while she at the facility. Freddy discussed how after his divorce, he began drinking daily—consuming at least two liters of beer and a few shots of hard liquor per day.
“I’ve tried to take a break from it more than a few times,” said Freddy, “but it was two, three days at the most. Then, I did some rehab, and then I did some more rehab. I was even in long-term rehab.”
Time after time, Freddy kept relapsing. Lesch understand that this is one of the “greatest hurdles” in the alcohol treatment world. The attempt to rehabilitate an alcoholic is difficult, and nearly 85% cannot stay away from alcohol.
“What it really comes down to is that this addiction is such a powerful illness, that again and again, you have these cases where the patients say, ‘I was dry for 10 years, and then I treated myself to a beer because I figured I could treat myself to something.’ Then, they relapse right back into this very strong addiction, where they’re drinking a bottle of vodka every day. These are very strong mechanisms inside their head that they have very little control over.”
To control these thoughts in the brain, they must learn how to rewire their thinking. In the experiment using the joystick, the purpose was to rewire the way the brain reacted to alcohol stimuli. In the case of Freddy, he found that over time, it was effective in reducing the temptation to drink.
Lesch described Freddy’s experience:
“During the training, Freddy noticed no changes in his own behavior, but then, he did. Whenever he saw a bottle of alcohol inside a store, he was reminded of the images he’d seen during the training.”
Freddy found that the test helped him stay away from the dark days of active alcoholism. He was able to avoid temptation easier, and best of all stay sober.
“Freddy has remained sober and the 64-year-old was proud to say he was even able to land a normal job,” Lesch said.
Now that the joystick experiment has shown positive results, the future for more studies like this is endless. The hope is to use this same procedure for other addictions and compulsions.
“As soon as they find out exactly where and how this therapy affects the human brain,” said Lesch, “the discovery could help lead to the development of new medicinal-based therapies. For Freddy, participating in the study has been worth it. Today, he’s doing his best to avoid even talking about alcohol.”
While this is not the first joystick study ever done, it is a positive contribution to the pursuit of finding proven methods to keep alcoholics from relapsing. What other ways could gaming be utilized to treat addiction?
Alcoholism is a serious disorder and there is temptation everywhere. Alcohol is difficult to avoid in a society that glorifies it as a social tool. However, a person who has alcoholism should avoid alcohol at all costs. Addiction is a serious disease that ruins lives and destroys families. Do not feel defeated. There is a way out. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
For anyone who wasn’t influenced by the pop-punk rock music craze of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Sum 41 is a band from Ajax, Ontario, Canada that formed in 1996 and debuted their album All Killer, No Filler in 2001. They jumped to mainstream success with the smash hit “Fat Lip” scoring number-one on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. That album went on to certify as platinum in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
I know right… I had to listen to the song again just writing this. #2002 all over again!
They followed up with some periods of commercial and critical success. Their last project was Screaming Bloody Murder in 2011 which was met with mixed reception and never reached commercial success compared to previous works. Sum 41 was even nominated for a Grammy at one point. They still tour to this day, but not all original members are still on board.
The band’s leader singer, Deryck Jason Whibley is the longest-lasting member at this point. With the mid-June announcement that the band would be releasing their first studio album since 2011, titled 13 Voices, Whibley recently spoke about his latest work. He has attested it would be a single storyline about his journey through alcoholism. So now a popular punk-rock kid from the past is stepping in to speak out about substance abuse.
Rocking harder than it looks…
As a Grammy nominated band, Sum 41 had some rousing success. As a musician, it would seem Whibley had it all. He was married to Avril Lavigne, and was a success story in his career. But under all the hair dye, black shirts and ripped jeans he was torn up inside, too. At only 34 years old Deryck’s liver and kidneys shut down from drinking.
In one interview last year the Sum 41 singer opened up about being taken to the hospital and put into a medically-induced coma for a week. According to the musician he first woke up feeling great, but as he realized he had a collection of tubes sticking out of him the reality of the situation settled in. He told reporters,
“The doctors said I was lucky to be alive and that there was still a chance I could die.”
“Mentally, I don’t even want to drink again anyway. If I literally hadn’t done it to death, I might feel like I’ll be missing something, but I’m not missing anything. I’m done with it.”
His former wife, Avril Lavigne suggested that she helped Whibley stay off drugs since they got together. They stayed together about 3 years, and divorced in November 2010 on seemingly decent terms.
So if this story tells us anything, we have to understand that even for someone who found fame and fortune so young doing something he loved, drugs and alcohol still had the power over his happiness to some degree. Being wealthy and well-known doesn’t make you immune to addiction.
Moving forward in music…
Now that he is making a new move on his music, he talks about his choice to incorporate his addiction struggles into the writing the new Sum 41 album 13 Voices. The album is due for release in October. During one interview he stated,
“I would go as far as to say it’s a concept record about my entire experience. From beginning to end, I would say it’s chronologically laid out, which I didn’t intend to do at first. I just started writing and it came out. As it grew I realized what it was. At first, I didn’t want to do that. When you’re writing that personally, about yourself, you can fall into a thing or it just being a journal or a diary. As it started going I tried to find ways to make it sound more storytelling than journaling.”
So it would seem Whibley took his experience, strength and hope and laced it over gritty guitars. While he admits there may not be much warmheartedness on the album, it is a story about a dark time in his life. Not saying he hasn’t found some happiness in sobriety. Now sober, Whibley has remarried to model Ariana Cooper. Talking about his sobriety he said,
“There are so many exciting things now. So many things are new for me. I’d never done anything sober. Now there’s this whole world out there and things I’m realizing I’ve never done.”
This seems to be the same experience for a lot of people who stumble their way through a bottom to land themselves in sobriety. Somehow they are often surprised to discover the vastness of life they had been leaving unlived. Maybe for the first time in a while the band will be able to bring back some of that throw-back vibe and spread some message about adversity and overcoming. It’s cool for a blast from the past to pop up and make an effort to share their struggles in the name of their art.
Rock stars, actors and artists are among some of the amazing people who deal with the devastating disease of addiction and fight to overcome it and share their stories. You don’t have to be a celebrity to survive, or to make a difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Break out the cake and party hats ladies and gentlemen, because we have one hell of a birthday to celebrate today. On this day, June 10 1935- 81 years ago, a stockbroker from New York and a doctor from Ohio set out on a journey through tragedy into sobriety that would help reshape the course of history for countless millions of men, women and families. These two men, who both had been captured and contorted by the desperation and disaster that alcoholism brings into the lives of all it touches, found a common bond through their common peril and ultimately devised a common solution that has brought new freedom and a new happiness to so many. Today we celebrate the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous and the history of a fellowship that has saved lives in all corners of the world.
For those of you who have never read “Bill’s Story,” Bill Wilson was a man who’s drinking career had stretched from his time serving his country to his time suffering with the rest of the Wall Street giants of his time when the stock market came crashing down. His personal accounts adding into the beginning of the big book contain some of my own favorite passages, and his experience with drinking and struggling to recover is one of the first introductions in the book of AA that teaches potential alcoholics about the disease they face.
History goes on to tell us Bill Wilson had experienced some success battling his alcoholism with the help of a national organization founded by Lutheran minister Dr. Frank Buchman called the Oxford Group, which promoted waiting for divine guidance in every aspect of life. Wilson then tried to spread what he had learned to help other alcoholics, but none of them were able to become sober.
Despite all his attempts, Bill was still struggling to spread his message with any effectiveness all the way up until June 1935. At the time Wilson was on a business trip in Akron, Ohio, when he suddenly felt temptation standing against his sobriety.
Wilson was fortunate enough to reach a local Oxford Group member, Henrietta Buckler Seiberling, who put Wilson in contact with Dr. Robert D Smith- AKA “Dr. Bob.” Dr. Bob was an alcoholic who had recently joined the Oxford Group. Upon contacting the doctor, Bill explained his own journey into sobriety and how important his actions were to maintaining it, which had a profound impression on Dr. Bob. The two men decided to develop an approach based in altruism that would allow alcoholics to remaining sober through the personal support of other alcoholics.
Then on this day, June 10, Dr. Bob sat outside an Akron hospital and drank a beer to steady his hands for surgery; the last drink he ever had.
The First AA Group
Now it is important to note that the name Alcoholics Anonymous had not yet been coined. The original basic text of “Alcoholics Anonymous” the book was not written published 1939.
But at the time of these two men designing their system for the solution they had already begun devoting their free time to reforming other alcoholics at Akron’s City Hospital. At the time they were at least able to help one man achieve sobriety, and according to the Alcoholics Anonymous Web site these three men- “actually made up the nucleus of the first A.A. group.”
- In 1935, a second group of alcoholics formed in New York
- In 1939 a third group of alcoholics formed in Cleveland
When the group did publish its textbook, “Alcoholics Anonymous” it explained the group’s philosophy, including the now well-known 12 steps of recovery that have made a incredible and compassionate impact world-wide. Wilson wrote the text, and according to the AA website- “emphasized that alcoholism was a malady of mind, emotions and body.”
This basic text includes chapters serving to show the medical standpoint, address the importance of a spiritual element, and even gives personal stories from members of AA meant to relay the realities of alcoholism and relate to those who may not be sure what they are suffering from.
AA All Grown Up
Alcoholics Anonymous has not stopped growing since the beginning. The textbook was updated a few times over the years to keep up with the increase of members, and to keep up with the times and relate to the reader. According to the A.A. Web site,
- 100,000 recovered alcoholics worldwide by 1950
- Also in 1950, Alcoholics Anonymous. held its first international convention in Cleveland
Due to the fact that by the very nature of protecting anonymity in the fellowship, most groups don’t keep formal membership lists, which makes it difficult to obtain accurate figures on membership. The Alcoholics Anonymous. Web site estimates:
- Over 2 million members worldwide
- More than 55,000 groups and roughly 1.2 million members in the U.S. alone
- AA exists in 170 countries
- The book “Alcoholics Anonymous”- also known as “The Big Book” has been translated in 67 languages
The June 10 Founders’ Day is celebrated yearly in Akron to celebrate this momentous anniversary of the fantastic and amazing fellowship and the humbling origins of its inception. Every day all over the world there are countless numbers of men and women, who would not normally mix; from all walks of life, that gather together in club-houses, churches and even on the beach to share experience, strength and hope with one another for the primary purpose of carrying the message of AA and recovery to those who still suffer. Every day this world is changing, and every day these men and women who have walked through the darkest and most agonizing parts of themselves turn their life and their will over in the service of humanity and making themselves better in order for that world to be better.
And to think it all started 81 years ago because one doctor couldn’t stop drinking and one stockbroker who used to be a drunk wanted to help, because he never wanted to drink again either. Thankfully, because of people like them, I know I never have to drink again.
The legacy of AA has its traditions, so normally I would refrain from anything that could be considered promotion and stand by the ideals of attraction, but today I will acknowledge the great work 12 Step fellowships have accomplished, because it’s a birthday after all.
While 12 Step fellowships are often the means by which many alcoholics and addicts recover, there is often a need for comprehensive and therapeutic treatment options in order to begin the recovery process. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, 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: Shernide Delva
Until last week, bars in New York could refuse to serve pregnant women alcohol, or ban them from entering. Some restaurants even refused to serve raw fish to pregnant women. However, thanks for updated guidelines released last week by the city’s Human Rights Commission, pregnant women will now have a choice.
But should they?
The city’s Human Rights Commission aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination against pregnant women. Expectant mothers can now decide to eat or drink whatever they want, and establishments who deny them can be penalized. This new law raises an important question all throughout the nation: Should pregnant women be denied the right to drink?
For some, the answer might seem obvious. Of course, pregnant women should not be allowed to drink! After all, it has been proven that alcohol increases the likelihood of birth defects and developmental issues. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of a premature birth and result in negative outcomes.
Risks of alcohol consumptions during pregnancy include:
- Distinctive facial features. The newborn may have a small head, flat face, and narrow eye openings. These differences become more apparent by age 2 or 3 years old.
- Learning and behavioral problems
- Growth Problems: Children exposed to alcohol may develop slower than other kids of the same age
- Birth Defects
- Problems bonding and feeding
Despite these risks, the answer is not that simple. Some argue that denying pregnant women the right to drink undermines the right she has to choose what she does with her body. The argument points to Roe vs. Wade and pro-choice as reasons to why a woman should be able to make the personal choice of drinking or not drinking while pregnant.
“Judgments and stereotypes about how pregnant individuals should behave, their physical capabilities, and what is or is not healthy for a fetus are pervasive in our society and cannot be used as a pretext for unlawful discriminatory decisions in employment, housing, and public accommodations,” say the new guidelines.
The guidelines were created to help clarify a 2013 city law designed to protect pregnant women in the workplace. The law specifies that it is illegal to refuse to hire or promote someone because they are pregnant. It also states that it is unlawful to deny an application from a pregnant applicant.
“Accommodation of Pregnant women cannot be a favor,” said Azadeh Khalili, executive director of the Commission on Gender Equity. “It is a human right and the law in New York City.”
These two laws seem reasonable to the average person. After all, it would be a clear form of discrimination to stop a woman from working or living in a home because she made the choice to have kids. However, the new law is taking discrimination to a whole new level by stating that restaurant and bars should not have the right to refuse a pregnant woman a drink.
Still, the subject of whether a moderate amount of alcohol is “safe” for pregnant women to drink has been hotly debated for decades. While we mentioned some of the risks of drinking while pregnant, those outcomes typically come from heavy drinking consumption. No confirmed evidence shows that an occasional drink will do harm to unborn babies, especially after the first trimester.
In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged sexually active women to stay away from alcohol unless they were on birth control. They stated that any amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy could raise the risk of a fetus being born with developmental issues. Many women were not happy about these recommendations. Despite these warnings, studies show that 1-15% of women still drink a little alcohol during pregnancy.
Clearly, this whole topic is a controversial manner. Many argue that women are discriminated only once they look pregnant, meaning that women who are newly pregnant can make the choice to drink while those who are months along are denied alcohol. Since the most significant damage is done in the first trimester, denying pregnant women alcohol may not prevent as much harm.
Overall, study after study reveal drinking during pregnancy is not the best idea. It is always best to put the health of your baby first, rather than take the risk of any complications. Whether or not restaurants and bars should have a say in the manner is a topic that is yet to be fully explored. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.