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)
Author: Shernide Delva
Addiction profoundly affects every aspect of life, including the lives of friends and family. Siblings of addicts experience the impact of addiction in a unique way. Having a brother or sister struggle with addiction conjures a host of emotions: guilt, hurt, fear and anger are just a few.
In the following interview, one woman shares her journey discovering her sister was an alcoholic. She shares the impact her sister’s addiction had on her and her family. We hope sharing her story will help connect to others who are enduring a similar experience.
Tell me about your experience discovering your sister was struggling with alcoholism?
I think I realized more post-college. In college, she started drinking heavily but who doesn’t in college? She had more freedom so I mean she drank a lot, but I did not think it was such a big deal. But post-college, I noticed she drank a lot with her friends and her boyfriend and sometimes she would spend all day up in her room drinking. Then, I started noticing she would miss work, and I was like, “That’s not normal…” After college, maybe a year or two after, I noticed it seemed like she was drinking too much and it kind of got worse as the years progressed.
Were you aware of alcoholism back then? Was it something that ran in your family at all?
I was aware of alcoholism, but I never heard of it running in my family whatsoever or any sort of addiction running in my family. I’m not really sure if there are addicts in my family because I feel like they wouldn’t really talk about it. My immediate family, I am around them a lot, and I really have not noticed any signs.
What made you realize this was more than binge drinking?
When I first realized was during the Christmas season. My sister came to visit on a break from work. She was living in another city that was kind of far away. She came to the house, and she was drinking a lot, and she was drinking in her room.
I mean, I don’t know if this was the initial moment, but it really hit me. I’ll never forget; it was Christmas morning, and she came downstairs, and she was like drunk. In my head, I was like, “Why are you drunk right now? Like it’s Christmas Morning, what were you doing up there?” And I definitely realized that’s not normal that she’s drinking like this.
She also had a friend who drank heavily, and when she was in the other city, I knew that she was always drinking heavily with her. Then, I realized this was an everyday thing. She’s waking up, and she’s already drunk.
Looking back, how do you feel the situation was handled by the entire family? Could it have been handled any differently in hindsight?
In some ways, I do. I feel like it could have. My mom was in denial for a while, like maybe she could have realized sooner. I think she should not have enabled so much.
I think that personally— I don’t know, that’s a hard question to be honest, because I don’t really think about that. I don’t think I could have done anything, or I should have done this or that. I don’t really know in hindsight.
What is the process of regaining trust?
Well… I think for myself, it is still kind of new. Regaining trust is hard in any situation. I think the process really takes time. You have to go with the time that it takes, and be patient. The person has to prove to you that they mean what they say.
What should others know going through a similar experience?
I think they should know about AL-ANON. It’s a program which helps people that are dealing with family members that have an addiction problem. It’s really helpful, and it’s a really helpful resource. It brings you to a community that is there for you and knows what you are going through because it is hard. Like they say, it is a family disease. It affects everybody. It doesn’t just affect that one person.
We often talk to the addicts, and rarely the sisters of addicts. A lot of people think of addiction from the victim’s point of view, and not the sibling’s. How did your sister’s addiction affect you personally?
It did affect me a lot, as much as I hate to say it because I don’t want it to affect me. I’m kind of like, “Why am I getting thrown into somebody else’s problems?” But it affects me because; it just sucks to see somebody that you love, that has a lot of potential, like that. Unless you’re a stone, it just hurts, you know what I mean?
It’s like terrifying because you never know what the next day can bring. You never know if they’re going to be okay, if they’re going to hurt themselves, or if they’re going to hurt somebody else. So, it’s kind of like you’re always scared, and you’re mad. I mean I’m still dealing with that. You’re just very mad at that person, what they are doing to themselves and the family.
It’s kind of a mix of emotions. It’s really emotional. They say the addict doesn’t realize that because they are kind of in their own world, but it does affect the person. It’s like you’re going on that journey with them. When they’re good, you’re good. When they’re bad, you’re bad.
Clearly, addiction affects everyone, not just the addict. Do not let the toll of your addiction continue to affect those who love you. Instead, seek help, and learn the tools to recovery. We are waiting for your call. You are not alone. Call now.
CALL NOW 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
A toxic relationship can have a negative toll on your life, especially in recovery. Most of us want to find a partner we can share a connection with; however, settling for less is not the answer. While some relationship struggles are a common part of any relationship, there are some things that can hinder even the most promising connection from being able to grow. In these situations, it might be time to re-evaluate whether the relationship you have is worth holding on to.
A recent article explored signs that partners need to evaluate before they consider staying or letting go of a relationship. A summarized version of the article will help you understand the dynamics of your relationships worth working on and the areas that are a major red flag.
4 Signs to Evaluate Your Relationship
One Person is Doing ALL the Work
Relationships take compromise which means it takes two people to make it work. If you are putting more effort than your partner to the relationship, the relationship will falter. Your relationship will not work until both people are on board. Relationships are very difficult to keep going, and both partners must be fully invested to make it work. No matter how much effort you are putting in, your partnership will not last unless your significant other is working equally hard. You both need to be giving your all. The tremendous amount of compromise, forgiveness, and affection that a healthy partnership requires is too much for one person to bear alone. If you are in a one-sided relationship, it might be time to leave and find somebody who is willing to share the weight and treat you with fairness and respect.
Your Life Plans Are Opposite
You want to travel the world while your partner wants to settle down and have children. You want to roam the streets of the city while your partner wants to live on a farm. Partners not headed to the same destination eventually end up on rocky terms. One will have to compromise their dreams for the other person. The other partner will have the bear the guilt of being with someone who sacrificed everything for them. This deep resentment can interfere in the love that two partners have created together. Unfortunately, this is a very complicated problem to have and required deep evaluating. Remember, your health and recovery are a priority and ultimately, you must choose the lifestyle that sets you up for the most success. To find a relation that works, be true to your soul and seek out a partner whose life path matches your own.
When Times Get Hard, You Separate
Learning to lean on your partner during the challenging times of the relationship can be hard. However, if you only stay together during the good times, that is a huge red flag. There are more struggles waiting for you down the road, and these are major predictors of what is to come. If you find you or your partner distance during a challenge rather than come together, you may need help learning how to come together. Ultimately, pushing each other away will weaken your bond and breed insecurities.
You Do Not Accept Each Other’s Authentic Self
One of the best parts of a committed relationship is knowing your partner loves you despite your flaw. While you both should work on strengthening your flaws, you should feel safe around your partners. If you can not lean on your partner for support, or if your partner makes you feel self-conscious and guilty when it comes to your flaws, that can damage the trust in a relationship. When it comes to recovery, there are areas you are going to continue to be working on, a partner who chips away at your flaws will lower your self-esteem. If you feel you are constantly trying to appear perfect to your partner, it could be time to evaluate the relationship. A relationship that does not allow you to be your true authentic self is a relationship not worth having.
Letting go of a relationship is a difficult and personal decision. However, breaking free of a destructive relationship can open you up to the possibility of a stronger one. Do not settle for less than you deserve. Recovery is about finding the tools to optimize your chance of success. A bad relationship will only hinder you in your journey. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Let’s talk about Pokémon Go, why not? Considering literally everyone else in the world is, why shouldn’t we get in on the action? Ever since this new phenomenon has hit the streets in the form of an interactive smartphone app that is quickly consuming the lives of customers all over America there have been some pretty intense stories. It seems the game is probably one of the most instantaneously addictive things on the market right now, so of course it brings to mind previous conversations on:
I can personally say I was pretty amused when my roommate stumbled out of his room at 2 AM in his underwear chasing invisible creatures through the apartment via his phone like a mad man…
Apparently, there is some rare breed of something hiding in my closet… but I digress…
People have become obsessed overnight with this game. It seems any time you walk into a room with anyone around the age of… being alive… you are going to be an obstacle in their mission of hunting some pixelated Pokémon. Some people are worried about how obsessed people have become. Others insist it has done wonders for their mental health. So I wanted to take a look at some of these interesting theories.
What is it?
Essentially Pokémon Go is a game based on a Nintendo-owned franchise that was especially popular in the late 1990’s. This new smartphone game uses a phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when people are in the game. Then it makes Pokémon “appear” around you.
No, not literally… but you can see them through your phone camera on the screen… so basically real life, right?
The idea is to go and catch them. Different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is.
First let us say that many of these claims can’t be fully legitimized at this time. However, Twitter users seem confident in what they see happening with others and experiencing themselves regarding mental health and Pokémon Go. One Twitter user put it as:
“Pokémon Go is literally making people with depression and anxiety and agoraphobia leave the house and explore and socialize.”
Which when you examine the nature of the game does actually make some sense. Pokémon Go requires users to go into the outside world and explore to find Pokémon and items.
Many players have said that the game gives them an incentive to get out of the house and be active. It inspires some to exercise and spend time outdoors, while having fun and interacting with others. Now if you look at it this way, how could it not do some good for mental health?
I honestly had to wonder this myself when the game was first announced. As I watched co-workers and friends wonder aimlessly through parking lots and gather together to share their latest catches, I figured this was giving us a new way to get outside more and get active with one another. Maybe it’s not so bad, right?
Then there is the argument of if the trade-off is worth it for having teens and young adults yet again dragged too deep into their phones. This concern also makes sense to me. If you have this new obsession with constantly striving to “catch em all” then how will your personal relationships and responsibilities suffer? I don’t know anyone personally, but you can be sure a few people have already lost their jobs or blown off their dates to chase Pikachu around a grocery store.
Pokémon Related Injury
This is one side-effect I definitely saw coming, but I was not aware of the magnitude that it might manifest in. Already Pokémon– related injuries are being reported all over the country. So many people have admitted in social media forums that they completely forgot where they were, dropping all focus on their surroundings.
One Reddit user’s story has made the rounds online about ending up in the ER on night after falling into a ditch and fracturing bones in their foot 30 minutes into playing the game. There are even accounts of drivers getting into traffic accidents because they were playing the game out the window while driving.
To be fair, the makers of the game did make a warning to be aware of surroundings.
Risky Rocket Business
This should be taken as a serious warning if nothing else. The game has been notably misused already. Police in O’Fallon, Missouri have reported four people suspected of armed robberies involving Pokémon Go. The suspects reportedly placed beacons, which are a feature available in the game to interact with the surroundings, to lure people to their locations where they robbed them. 11 teenagers have been mugged this way so far, according to this initial report.
So #TeamRocket is becoming an actual thing… and they are freaking people out. Is this gaming addiction really that serious? Do people really need to risk their lives, or the lives of others, for these imaginary monsters?
Most Addictive App Ever?
Some are already calling Pokémon Go the most addictive gaming app ever. It has experienced a number of technical issues since its launch, including server crashes and other issues. Still, for a FREE gaming app with all this hype, it is doing pretty well for itself. Looking back there was Pokémon Blue and other titles for the franchise. People have been working their way up to this all along.
The question remains- what could this do for people’s mental health? If it really is that addictive, what consequences will it reap on those who have a tendency of taking things too far? Will we see a spike in gaming addiction and obsessive behaviors? Or will it actually have a mixed impact as it lures people out of their homes and into their communities. Some surprising testimonies have told how random strangers in a community come together, united over the teams they choose and to make strategies for how to play.
So next time you see someone blindly following their phone into on-coming traffic… maybe they are just trying to track down a Evee or a Squirtle? Maybe you should save them from themselves and keep them on the sidewalk… or some of you will probably hope to have the Pokémon to yourself… FOR SHAME!
Addiction can involve behaviors not related to taking drugs or drinking excessively. You can be addicted to the internet, gaming, gambling, sex, eating, or any other behavior that is causing problems in your life, such as destroying relationships, your health, or interfering with your job. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call us at 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
*Trigger Warning* This piece discusses trigger warnings. Please avoid if you are uncomfortable with the idea of questioning whether or not trigger warnings should exist.
The use of trigger warnings has become more mainstream. Now, some are wondering if this generation has taken it too far. Are we overdoing the trigger warnings?
In case you do not know, a “trigger” is something that triggers a negative or uncomfortable reaction. “Trigger Warnings” work to warn people the content they are about to see or read could make them uncomfortable. Trigger warnings give people the option of avoiding content that could cause emotional distress.
Recently, many have observed that society has become more socially conscious or “politically correct.” Whether or not that is a positive thing is a manner of opinion. However, the use of “trigger warnings” have undeniably increased in use.
Initially, trigger warnings spawned from post-traumatic stress disorders. Those who suffer from PTSD benefit from these warnings because they are more sensitive to sensory input. Anything from a film or piece of media might trigger a person with PTSD and cause them to suffer PTSD symptoms. It could be as simple as a sound or smell, physical space, a particular object, or a person. Anything that reminds the mind of a past trauma can result in PTSD symptoms. A person with PTSD may find trigger warnings helpful because it helps them avoid situations that trigger their PTSD symptoms.
The problem with trigger warnings is that everyone is affected differently. Even arbitrary things can be triggering for someone. It is natural for people to be more sensitive to things than others. We all come from a diverse background and upbringing. The question is whether protecting people from possible triggers is beneficial. Everyone is different. If everyone has one, should they all be accommodated? Are we becoming overly sensitive to other people’s “triggers?”
Do Trigger Warnings Help Those With Mental Health Issues?
An article in The Atlantic thoroughly questions whether or not trigger warnings are beneficial to those who have mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. The author argues that trigger warnings create a “fortune telling” society in which people prepare for the worse every time they speak. The act of “fortune telling” involves “seeing the potential danger in an everyday situation.”
On some college campuses, students demand trigger warnings for classic novels like The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. They argue that the sexually explicit content, violence, and language of these books should come with a trigger warning. As an avid reader, I find the concept of this unusual. While it is true that some students will react more to the content than others, are trigger warnings helping or hurting these developing students?
PTSD and Anxiety: Do Trigger Warnings Benefit Them?
For those who suffer from PTSD, like Molly Miller, trigger warnings have prevented her PTSD episodes and have helped her live a more manageable life.
“Some people feel like trigger warnings coddle sensitive people. I don’t see it that way. I see trigger warnings as a common courtesy to help prevent sufferers of PTSD, like me, from reliving our trauma. I recognize it is not fail-proof, and getting upset by our memories is a part of life. But what is so wrong with making an effort?” She wrote.
On the contrary, author Samuel Barr described his experience with PTSD. At the age of ten, Barr was abused by an older boy. He was left emotionally devastated and suffered PTSD because of the experience. He talks about how he spiraled “downward into a deep depression.” Still, Barr does not believe his mental health condition should warrant a trigger warning. Until he learned to stop seeing himself as a victim and finally received helped, he was forced to tip-toe in society. He says he believes this trigger warning mindset is not beneficial.
“Trigger warnings are one of the latest fads in an ongoing cultural obsession with glorifying victimhood, and as a former victim, I can confidently say there is nothing glorious about it. Contrary to the noble intentions of its supporters, trigger warnings do more to harm people with trauma backgrounds than help them.”
Should We Embrace Them?
Furthermore, Barr believes people should face their trauma rather than run away from them. These warnings will only continue to get out of hand and affect those who produce content in the first place.
“If you start warning, for one thing, you have to decide which unpleasant thing is worth a trigger and which isn’t. That isn’t a position an editor should be in,” stated Jessica Coen, editor at Jezebel magazine.
Johnathan Heidt, the author of “The Coddling of the American Mind,”says we are entering a climate where we presume the worse about the fragility and vulnerability of others. He describes this as vindictive impulsiveness which is “ a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up.”
Does this help anyone? Once again, that question can be debated, however for some mental health conditions, it can cause more harm than good:
“According to the most-basic tenets of psychology, helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided,” he continues.
Trigger Warnings and Addiction Treatment
When dealing with addiction treatment, addicts who seek treatment come from all types of background and find they are more sensitive to certain things than others. Professionals in the addiction field work to help those seeking treatment develop the tools to lead a healthy life in recovery.
In treatments, clients learn what triggers could result in a relapse. When It comes to addiction, triggers are a very real thing. A person, place, event, or unresolved mental health are triggers in addiction. Therapists help addicts understand what their triggers are. Ultimately, each person has to decide whether to avoid all their triggers or try to overcome them.
For those early in recovery, facing triggers can be a very dangerous idea. Therefore, trigger warnings appearing before photos or content that could raise temptation might be helpful. However, years into the recovery, triggers may not be triggering at all.
Everyone should play an active role in helping others feel comfortable and safe. Sometimes it is good to be aware of how you affect other and what types of things affect you emotionally. You may have to navigate life avoiding triggers and paying more attention to the positives. In recovery, you learn the tools you need to succeed. Take it a day at a time. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.