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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: Justin Mckibben
While we acknowledge the importance of maintaining personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films, this recent declaration made at the opening night of the Democratic National Convention was one that took a lot of courage and was done with some very real intentions. The Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, took what many would be considered a very strong stance on breaking stigma. Marty Walsh opened his speech at the DNC with the line:
“My name is Marty Walsh, and I’m an alcoholic.”
Walsh shared a very personal story about his journey to rock bottom. He talked about his path to recovery, and used both as a means to emphasize his support for Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton.
So how much meaning does this kind of declaration add to a political message? Was it right for him to break his anonymity on such a massive media scale?
Rock Bottom Politics
Marty Walsh is already considered perhaps the most prominent elected official who is open about his recovery. As part of his opening speech, Walsh even recalled a dark and hopeless time for him. This kind of transparency is actually quite admirable in a sense for such a public figure.
During his time on stage at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia e stated:
“On April 23, 1995, I hit rock bottom. I woke up with little memory of the night before and even less hope for the days to come. Everybody was losing faith in me, everybody except my family and the Labor Movement.”
Walsh attributed his surviving his alcoholic life to the labor community. He said they helped get him the help he needed that gave him the second chance that changed his life.
This truly isn’t anything new for Marty Walsh, alcoholic. He actually applied it to his incredibly progressive and groundbreaking campaign approach. As a mayoral candidate, he made no effort to hide that he was a recovering alcoholic. During this time leading up to him being appointed to office, Mart Walsh publicly related to and advocated for the recovery community in various public and political venues. This is a man who found his way into politics while still taking steps to apply and practice his principles in all of his affairs. Even though some would look at this as ignoring the tradition of anonymity in most 12 Step Fellowships, it should be noted that he has made it his personal responsibility to help people both on and on the campaign clock.
Working with Others
At 20 years as a sober alcoholic (as of 2013) Walsh was actively attending 12 Step meetings while continuing to work with others both in and outside the rooms of his fellowship. As a state senator, he advocated for more recovery services. Throughout his time in recovery Walsh is actually known for personally helping people find drug and alcohol treatment.
During one 2014 interview Walsh addressed the issue of making such privy information a public fact. He stated:
“I don’t really care who knows I’m an alcoholic because if it helps someone else … then they’ll ask me for help if they need it,”
So was it right of his to let his guard down and share his experience with the world?
Some might say it is safest to tread lightly on such grounds. Others may say that as long as he does not directly name his fellowship or claim to represent it, he should be confident in his actions to shed stigma and raise awareness. Altogether, in my opinion, this is a strong message. To have a politician admitting to the world he is an alcoholic AND a success story in the recovery community could be tremendously powerful. Showing the world an example of a recovered alcoholic who has gone on to help countless people stands to shatter the stigma.
Principles before Personalities
Then comes another question for the importance on anonymity. Walsh went on after making his speech about recovery to endorse Hillary Clinton. This is where the lines blur, because then people start to ask if 12 Step Fellowships are endorsing Hillary, or even the Democratic Party in general. One of the biggest reasons why 12 Step Fellowships aspire to stay disconnected from politics and religious organizations to an extent is to insure that the fellowships remain all-inclusive and attractive for anyone with any belief system or political values.
So I guess the question is now- is this a “violation” of the suggested traditions in 12 Step Fellowships? Or is it up to the individual to decide their own level of anonymity? There are no “rules” in groups like AA, but is this crossing a line concerning principles before personalities?
Personally, I think what he has done his is inspiring and progressive. This kind of open discussion can be useful in the evolution of America’s perspective on stigma. When it comes to dealing with people in recovery, it is nice to see some people step up and show how far they have come. In a way this can give some people hope. His experience, strength and hope could push someone to make a change, and push others to see the addict and alcoholic with a more open mind.
With the presidential race getting closer and closer to its climax, and with progressive politics and compassionate drug programs being so vital, it seems we should be paying particularly close attention to how drugs and addiction are handled on both sides. Meanwhile, safe and effective treatment for the alcoholic who still suffers is more important than ever! If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135
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Author: Shernide Delva
The actor most known for his role as Harry Potter has come a long way since the days of dark arts and wizardry. Daniel Radcliffe received his first role in Harry Potter at age 11. Now nearly 15 years later, the 26-year-old actor speaks out about his battle with alcoholism, being “attracted to chaos,” and how he managed to stay sober for the past three years.
Daniel Radcliffe revealed his struggles with alcoholism back in 2011. He admitted that he has struggled with alcohol for quite some time and even was drunk during the filming of some of the Harry Potter movies. As a Harry Potter nerd, it was hard to imagine Radcliffe intoxicated in scenes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
Escaping Harry Potter
Furthermore, to escape the Potter Role and become a “real actor,” Radcliffe says he began dabbling in casual sex and whiskey.
“I don’t think I was consciously trying to rebel or sabotage everything,” he said, “It felt more like there isn’t any blueprint for how to get through this. And the reason I spoke out about it was because I felt someone else would and I should take control…which is exactly what I did.”
Radcliffe said he believed his acting and performance in the movies were subpar, due to a variety of factors including his drinking behaviors. However, he managed to stay sober for a few years before relapsing in 2012.
NYC Bar Scandal
In December of 2012, Radcliffe was allegedly booted from a bar in New York City. Patrons witnessed Radcliffe “pounding Jagerbombs” before he ended up in an alcohol-fueled fight with the DJ.
The good news is after his brief relapse; the 26-year-old actor has now been sober for three years. In a recent interview with The Telegraph, the 26-year-old actor reflected on his battle with alcoholism. These days, Radcliffe says he feels much more stable.
“I feel a lot more settled mentally, and am more comfortable with what makes me happy,” said Radcliffe about his life today. “More comfortable with the fact that I am a person that loves just hanging out with my friends. Or watching quiz shows. I am comfortable with the things about myself that I used to think, man, am I really boring? Should I be going out and getting wasted all the time?”
How Radcliffe Leads An Exciting Sober Life
Radcliffe is far from boring. He now enjoys leading a sober life. He has starred in a variety of plays and has two new films this year, Now You See Me 2, and Swiss Army Man. Although Radcliffe’s social life may differ from the habits of the average twenty-something, Radcliffe knows his old ways were “clearly not good” for him.
“I change when I’m drunk. I’m one of those people who changes,” he said.
Behavioral change is a common symptom of alcohol dependency. These days, the actor stays sober in various ways. One of the main ones is exercising. Radcliffe said he was taking five-hour walks in the beginning whenever he had the craving to drink. Now, he sticks to running and going to the gym.
“Like the cliché of anybody who is quitting something, I really got into exercise,” he said.
The actor also enjoys reading and going to restaurants and supermarkets. He stated that he had regained his love for reading that he had lost because of his drinking behaviors. While Radcliffe occasionally still will frequent bars and clubs, he now had limits to this kind of behavior.
“I go to restaurants. I go to the pub for a bit but then I’m like, OK, if you’re all staying and getting drunk then I’m going to go because I can’t do that,” he explained.
Exercise and Books
Exercise and reading are excellent ways to overcome any addiction. Exercise releases endorphins that help regenerate happy chemicals in the brain. Reading is a great way of entering a whole new world with different stories. Finding activities you enjoy and learning how to have fun sober is the key to having a successful recovery.
Recovery can be different at first, but it does not have to be challenging. The key is to find your interests and focus on those instead of abusing substances. However, if you are struggling, we are always here to help. Call today. 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
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.