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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: 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.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Drug addiction kills every day, in fact every hour over a dozen people in this country alone lose their lives to drugs or alcohol, and while the circumstances may vary the outcome is always the same- devastated families and friends with far too many questions unanswered and plenty of pain to go around. An overdose death rate outbreak has swept across America with a consistent escalation over the past few years, and a lot of addicts dying from withdrawal symptoms perish without the help they desperately needed… even in police custody.
These deaths by withdrawals in police custody have been reported time and time again in recent years, all alongside the soaring statistics of opiate abuse and drug overdose deaths, with many families speaking out against what they feel is the neglect that caused these deaths.
My intention here is to highlight a handful of these incidents and bring awareness to the issue, because the significance of these life-threatening circumstances should never be overlooked, and all law enforcement agencies should be willing to protect and preserve life, even the lives of drug addicts.
$1.2 Million Withdrawal Death Case
Years ago in 2013 a federal lawsuit from a case in Adrian, Michigan closed on a settlement for some big money. This suit was concerning a woman who died from alcohol withdrawal while in county jail, and the U.S. District Court of Detroit approved to give her family $1.2 million dollars.
Back in 2007 Brenda Sue Smith was arrested on a parole violation. Smith had a history of alcohol abuse, and while in the Lenawee County lock-up she began to hallucinate and experience debilitating tremors. The case presented by the family contended that jail officials refused medical treatment for three days until Smith collapsed and lost consciousness, dying shortly afterwards at the hospital from what was described as alcohol-withdrawal and respiratory failure.
Michigan Man Dies in Mental Health Unit
September 2015- David Stojcevsk was sent to jail for reckless driving after being unable to pay $700 plus fine, and ended up dying in police custody. First Stojcevski was sent to the Macombfor County Jail in Mt Clemens, Michigan for 30 days because he could not afford to pay, where we deteriorated and died due to severe neglect.
Early accounts of the incident claim that Stojcevski lost an astonishing 50 pounds in just 17 days in police custody. His family filed a lawsuit which indicated his doctor had prescribed him a list of medications to help him cope with his withdrawals while trying to detox from illicit drug abuse, including prescriptions for:
Stojcevski was placed in a mental health jail unit with increased monitoring of inmates; he was even on suicide watch with a camera in his cell. Supposedly for his own safety the jail officials stripped him of his clothes, but without his medication he was not safe at all, and his cause of death was eventually ruled as ‘acute withdrawal from medications’.
Dr. Frank McGeorge, who is a medical custody expert, stated in relation to this story,
“There is no reason for an incarcerated person who was watched for this period of time to die in custody, he should have had medical attention… people do not die from withdrawal all the time, they die from withdrawal when there is neglect associated with it.”
Even under surveillance cameras and what was supposed to be periodic check-ups, Stojcevski died naked on a concrete floor in police custody.
21 Year Old Dead in DuPage County
February of 2016 the body of 21-year-old Sebastiano Ceraulo was found inside the DuPage County jail, dead in police custody. The young man’s father Totuccio Ceraulo, of unincorporated DuPage County near Lombard, filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the DuPage County jailers alleging that they ignored his son’s signs of violent heroin withdrawal and allowed him to die as a result of neglect.
According to the lawsuit, the jail staff should have known about Ceraulo’s heroin addiction based on previous arrests.
Court records indicate that Sebastiano Ceraulo was taken into custody January 4, after Judge George Bakalis revoked his bail for violating terms of his probation. The violation was the result of a positive drug test after several missed tests.
According to the suit, 21 year old Ceraulo died in custody January 7 as a result of electrolyte imbalance and dehydration, which are both common and dangerous symptoms of heroin withdrawal. However, DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen said his office is still awaiting toxicology reports and records before rendering an opinion on the cause of death in this case.
The big issue I take with these stories and the reason I’m writing about it today is that these are far from a collection of isolated incidents. Deaths in police custody like this occur almost every single day, and apparently no matter how much money is tallied in the lawsuits it doesn’t do not do much to prevent addicts who are arrested from being neglected and allowed to die all over America from withdrawals which are absolutely treatable. These deaths and others like them all over the nation that are still happening are completely avoidable! So what’s it going to take to prevent these terrible tragedies from continuing to occur within the confines of a system that was supposed to be designed to protect and preserve life and justice?
While it is true that some situations have extreme circumstances which cause these tragedies, it is still troubling to see and concerning that not enough has been done to negate this kind of neglect.
Withdrawal symptoms are nothing to be taken lightly, and without proper medical detox a lot of people find themselves in critically hazardous conditions, but there is help out there. Every day Palm Partners works hard to provide quality care with compassionate and comprehensive medical detox and drug treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Imagine being charged with a DUI when it’s been hours, even days, since you’ve had your last drink. Seems impossible right? Think again. Apparently there’s a disorder that actually causes your body to produce its own alcohol. While most people would roll their eyes at such a lame excuse for being intoxicated, the truth is that this condition is real, and those who have the disorder are being wrongfully accused of being under the influence when in reality they are actually sober.
A recent news story talks about a woman from upstate New York who was charged with a DUI, yet she had not been drinking for hours. The woman is represented by attorney Joseph Marusak who described the scenario.
Essentially, the woman had a few drinks at a restaurant between noon and 6 p.m. which is “less than one drink an hour.” A local pharmacologist determined that a woman of her size and weight who consumes four drinks in that period of time should be between 0.01 and 0.05 blood alcohol levels. That level would be under the legally impaired level of 0.08 in New York State.
Now, here is where the story gets crazy. While driving, the woman has a flat tire and begins to wobble down the road. A passerby sees the car and calls 911 to report a potential accident. The police arrive and she is pulled over and then administered a breathalyzer test. Her BAC level is found to be 0.40, way over the level she should have been at.
Her BAC level of .40 is so high that it is considered to be extremely life threatening. Anyone else with this level of alcohol in their blood would be in the hospital. They would not even be able to walk, better yet drive. However, the woman somehow appears to be totally functional!
Still, the police take proper precautions and transport the woman to the hospital. The hospital recommends that she be released based on her lack of drunken symptoms, but her husband asks for more tests to be run. Sure enough, the results show the woman’s blood alcohol level to be at 0.30, hours and hours after her last drink.
This whole scenario immediately prompted attorney Marusak to do some sleuthing around.
“I hired two physician assistants and a person trained in Breathalyzers to watch her and take blood alcohol levels over a 12-hour period and had it run at the same lab used by the prosecution,” said Marusak. “Without any drinks, her blood level was double the legal limit at 9:15 a.m., triple the limit at 6 p.m. and more than four times the legal limit at 8:30 p.m., which correlates with the same time of day that the police pulled her over.”
Even stranger, the woman exhibits no signs indicating her level of intoxication. Only until she reaches a BAC level between .30 and .40 does she begins to be a bit wobbly and slurs her speech. However, this is still nothing compared to how an average person would behave at that blood alcohol level. As a result of the analysis, the judge dismisses the case however the journey is not over yet. The case is so unusual that it is leaving many unconvinced.
“I’ve heard the DA’s office says they plan to appeal. I’ll know more by the middle of January,” Marusak said.
In the meantime, the woman’s condition is being treated with anti-fungal medications and a yeast-free diet with absolutely no sugar, no alcohol and very little carbs. While this may work for some, others find little relief from this diet and relapse.
Auto-Brewery Syndrome: An Extremely Rare Condition
Auto-brewery syndrome is a very rare medical condition in which the body is able to produce intoxicating quantities of ethanol by a process called endogenous formation within the digestive system. Also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, this condition causes a person’s body to use yeast found in common food carbohydrates and convert it into ethanol. This entire process is found to take place in the small bowel and is vastly different from normal gut fermentation that occurs in the large bowel that gives our bodies energy.
Those who have the condition suffer from a variety of symptoms such as:
- Severe Hangovers
Most of us feel lethargic after binging out on carbs but imagine feeling like you had a couple drinks on top of that. Those with auto brewery syndrome often feel intense hangovers after eating large quantities of carbohydrates. Common hangover symptoms are felt such as pounding headaches, severe nausea, occasional vomiting, dehydration, dry mouth, cold sweats, and shaky hands.
- Random Periods of Acting Drunk
Those with this condition have moments where they find themselves acting out of character and slurring words even though they had absolutely nothing to drink that day. Matthew Hugg has had the condition for over 20 years and describes in a thorough interview posted in Vice moments in his life where the condition negatively affected him. One of the greatest struggles was with his academics:
“I looked at equations in my favorite science classes and knew I should have no problem understanding and solving them, but they now looked like gibberish. There were times when I also acted out of character.” Huggs said. “I was generally everyone’s friend at school—a social butterfly. But there were instances when I upset people with uncharacteristic behavior akin to a drunk who stirs up trouble or lets things slip that they wouldn’t have when sober.”
Eventually, the condition became so much of a hindrance that it forced Huggs to drop out of University. He says that he is now learning how to cope with the disorder; however the condition completely shifted his life.
- Unexplained Exhaustion
Another symptom of this disorder is moments of pure exhaustion. Those who suffer from the condition have trouble participating in sports or exercising on a regular basis. They suffer from chronic symptoms, including fatigue, aches and pains, exercise and stress intolerance, and cognitive dysfunction, not just symptoms of a severe hangover.
Honestly, when I first read this article, I did not take it as seriously but knowing the impact that this condition can have on a person’s life really opened my eyes. Huggs eventually had to go on disability and struggles with depression from the impact the condition had on his life. He hopes more research can be done to help him treat his symptoms.
“I had ambitions to be an academic, a professional athlete, a scientist, an engineer, or an airline pilot. As it stands, I’m approaching 35 years old and spend my days at home, with every day being a struggle—though I do my best to stay positive and maintain friendships, and I believe that I will one day regain my health,” Huggs said.
Hopefully more awareness will result in better treatment for the condition and more people who suffer from the symptoms of this disorder will be aware of the challenges they could face getting behind the wheel.
Should more officers know about this condition? Furthermore, do you think this condition should prevent a person from receiving a DUI? Overall, learning about different disorders is incredibly important so that we do not always assume the worse. However, if your drinking truly is getting out of control due to your struggle with alcohol abuse, now is the times to seek professional treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Alcohol abuse is a problem more than common in our world today, and more often than not it results in disastrous forms of disease that can completely alter the quality of an individual’s life, sometimes bringing that person’s life to an abrupt end.
Most people are familiar with some of the risks associated with alcohol abuse and with the illnesses that can result from prolonged alcohol abuse, such as cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and kidney damage. But what about all the other issues that can be created with long-term alcohol abuse that people frequently wouldn’t think to connect to alcoholism or abusing alcohol?
There are several other health problems you might not know are directly linked to alcoholism, so here are 6 of those alcohol abuse related diseases you might not know.
Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin, which is a main part of red blood and binds oxygen.
Alcohol abuse can cause the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells to be abnormally low, thus causing anemia. Anemia can trigger a list of other symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
These symptoms occur because organs in the body aren’t getting what they need to function properly.
- Cardiovascular disease
Binge drinking is a huge issue when it comes to alcohol abuse, and both can cause platelets to become more likely to clump together into blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. In a landmark study by Harvard researchers in 2005, it was found that binge drinking doubled the risk of death among people who initially survived a heart attack.
Cardiomyopathy is a potentially deadly condition which can also be caused by alcohol abuse. With cardiomyopathy the heart muscle weakens and eventually fails, as well as heart rhythm abnormalities such as atrial and ventricular fibrillation, which creates chaotic twitching in the heart’s main pumping chambers (ventricles), causing rapid loss of consciousness and even sudden death.
Dementia is not a specific disease, but term that encompasses a varied range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.
As people age their brains shrink. It is considered normal to happen on average at a rate of about 1.9% per decade.
However, alcohol abuse speeds the shrinkage of certain key regions in the brain, resulting symptoms of dementia. In addition to the nonspecific forms of dementia that result from brain atrophy, alcohol abuse can also cause nutritional deficiencies that elicit other forms of dementia.
It may not be much of a surprise to some that alcohol abuse is often associated with with depression, because it is a depressant, but the debate about which came first, the drinking or the depression, still exists.
One theory is that depressed people turned to alcohol in an attempt to cope with emotional pain. But a large study from New Zealand showed that it was probably the other way around, meaning alcohol abuse actually leads to depression, with some research showing that depression improves when those who abuse alcohol actually sober up.
Gout is an extremely painfully illness caused by the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints. It is a form of arthritis that is described as sudden burning pain, stiffness and swelling in the joint.
Although a lot of cases are largely hereditary, alcohol abuse and other dietary factors are also said to play a role in those who develop cases of gout. Alcohol also seems to aggravate existing cases of gout, so one way or the other alcohol abuse is a risk factor.
- Nerve damage
The nervous system is involved in everything the body does, from regulating breathing to controlling muscles and sensing heat and cold, so serious nerve damage is a pretty big deal. Damage can occur to nerves in your brain and spinal cord, but nerve damage can also occur in the peripheral nerves located throughout the rest of your body.
Alcohol abuse can cause a form of nerve damage known as alcoholic neuropathy, which can produce a range of devastating symptoms which include but are not limited to:
- Painful pins-and-needles feeling or numbness in the extremities
- Muscle weakness
- Erectile dysfunction
Alcohol is toxic to nerve cells, so of course alcohol abuse will sometimes lead to alcoholic neuropathy. Alcoholic neuropathy also happens because nutritional deficiencies attributable to alcohol abuse compromise nerve function. So again, not only can alcohol abuse cause these issues, but heavy drinking can exacerbate pre-existing issues with nerve damage.
While physicians around the world can give you a laundry list of the diseases and other effects of alcoholism or alcohol abuse, it is still incredibly beneficial for individuals who have drinking or drug problems to seek specialized treatment for lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135