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Why It’s Important to Curb Your Teen’s Binge Drinking

Why It’s Important to Curb Your Teen’s Binge Drinking

Perhaps you’re the cool parents amongst your child’s friend group who allow them to drink under your roof because you’d rather them be somewhere safe while indulging. Even if this isn’t the case, with the holidays around the corner, you may be more likely to let down their guards about letting their teens enjoy a little “holiday cheer.”

And, though a few extra drinks might be easily dismissed as just a way to celebrate the holiday season, the behavior can actually signal a problem in young adults.

The reason: bad habits we form while in our youth may stay with us later in life, according to a new study from Concordia (Montreal, Canada), in collaboration with the Université de Montréal and University of Massachusetts.

Recently published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the findings suggest that teenagers who regularly consume alcohol are also more prone to binge drinking – at least into their mid-20s.

More specifically, young men, especially those who dropped out of school and who have a tendency toward impulsive behavior, are more likely to continue the same drinking habits they formed in adolescence into adulthood.

Defining the problem

“Most people don’t even know when they’re binge drinking,” says Erin O’Loughlin, a co-author of the study and researcher with Concordia’s Independent Program (INDI) and Department of Exercise Science.

“While they do know when they are wasted, the reality is that four consecutive drinks per sitting for a woman and five for a man constitutes binge drinking. And that means society is more tolerant of binge drinking than we think.”

There is a general lack of understanding regarding just what constitutes binge drinking, which means that teens may not be aware of just how their personal habits could be cause for concern.

A long term study

The new findings come from the Nicotine Dependence in Teens (NDIT) Study, which several of the Concordia researchers are involved with. NDIT has been documenting the mental health, drinking habits, and physical activity levels of 1,294 young people from the Montreal area since 1999, when they were 12 or 13 years old.

The NDIT study, which gathered data that can be used to study the relationship between alcohol consumption and health, suggests that of the 85 per cent of respondents who continue their heavy drinking habits into early adulthood, some may face long term consequences.

Why It’s Important to Curb Your Teen’s Binge Drinking

As this study suggests, the perception that binge drinking is something that adolescents are bound to grow out of does not match reality.

“Parents should be aware that if their teenager is binge drinking, they are more likely to sustain binging later in life,” says O’Loughlin. “This challenges the belief that being exposed to alcohol early on means they will be protected from alcohol-related problems when they grow up.

“But just as a parent would never give their child a cigarette to try, the same view should perhaps apply to alcohol. Delaying that first taste of alcohol might be the best thing you can do — even if it’s New Year’s Eve.”

If you are concerned about your teen or any other loved one and their drinking habits, we are available day or night to help you figure it out. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today. Substance abuse and addiction are very real –and very serious – medical conditions; but help is available.

Food Addiction vs. Eating Addiction

Food Addiction vs. Eating Addiction

By Cheryl Steinberg

It’s a difference between two words – two words that seem almost interchangeable – although, that difference is all important when it comes to a certain type of eating disorder. Not the kind that has to with restricting food or caloric intake; it has to do with over-indulging in food, or over-indulging in a type of food. This is the main distinction between eating addiction and food addiction, respectively.

If you think you have one of these issues, here’s a little test for you:

Fill in the blank: “After a tough or emotional day, I will sometimes go home and eat ______ until I’m sick.”

Depending on how people answer this question, an emerging debate becomes apparent: regarding obesity and food addiction. Is food addiction a legitimate disorder? And, should food industries be held accountable for intentionally developing extremely palatable sugar-salt-fat bombs that can actually override the brain’s signaling that we’re full?

Or, is it more accurate to say that the behavior of overeating is an ‘eating addiction’ — a disordered relationship to all foods that requires action on the part of the individual, much like recovery from drugs?

In fact, Ashley Gearhardt, Ph.D. to the Huffington Post compared the struggles of people with food addiction to alcoholics trying – and failing – to keep their habit under control.

“Sitting in the room with clients, you never hear people say, ‘Oh my god, I came home after a hard day and I was just craving broccoli and cauliflower so bad that I had a massive binge on these vegetables,’” said Gearhardt. “That’s part of the reason I think it’s important to recognize that not all food is problematic — it’s a certain class of foods that people seem to struggle with the most.”

She added, “Often they will try to have their own rules, like, ‘I’m going to try to not drink until after 5,’ or, ‘I’m going to try to drink water between each drink.’ But when they start drinking, the intensity of the alcohol makes it really hard; something similar might be happening with food.”

Food Addiction vs. Eating Addiction

It might be too early to say for sure but, food addiction research has its obvious appeal. The model reveals a comprehensive concept of the “toxic food environment” in which we live currently and is compelling in its assertion that the increasingly prevalent and powerful processed food industry is closely linked with growing rates of obesity , especially morbid obesity, which is defined as a body mass index over 40.

Food Addiction

“’Food addiction’ has been implicated as a potential contributor to the obesity epidemic,” wrote John Menzies, Ph.D., a University of Edinburgh researcher who studies the neuroscience of hyper-palatable foods in an email to HuffPost. “However, there is no association between diagnoses of addictive-like eating and body weight.”

That is, some people of what’s considered to be normal weight seem to have signs of a so-called food addiction, while there are some obese people who have normal, healthy relationships with food. It’s those relationships, not the food itself,  that should be the focus of analysis and intervention, said Menzies.

New York Times reporter Michael Moss a book, Sugar Salt Fat; in a series of eye-opening and, at times, shocking descriptions, Moss details all the tricks of the trade that the processed food industry employs in order to find the perfect combination of sugar, salt, and fat, making their food irresistible as well as eliciting hardcore cravings.

“The food industry hates the A word, addictive, because it cuts too close to their efforts to maximize the allure of their products,” Moss wrote in an email to HuffPost. Yet even he is reluctant to use the “a-word” when it comes to describing the effect processed food has on our brains.

“I’ve been shy about using the word myself when it comes to food, since narcotics can have such a tougher grip on individuals,” wrote Moss in an email to HuffPost. “But obesity and diabetes is a vastly greater health issue than drug abuse, involving vastly greater numbers of people, and it’s important to remember that the formulas used by the processed food industry to get us to not just like their products, but to want more and more of them, are just part of their strategy.”

Eating Addiction

However, Menzies argues that there’s just not enough evidence to prove that a certain food can be considered an addictive substance like cigarettes or alcohol. He writes that it’s more appropriate to regard chronic overeating as an eating addiction instead, based on his review of almost all the studies on the subject that have been recently published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.

“‘Eating addiction‘ shifts the focus away from the food itself to the behavior,” he wrote. “It emphasises that we need to look carefully at people’s relationship with food and understand how people make their food choices.”

Struggling with a substance abuse disorder, alcohol or drug addiction, and/or eating disorder makes life a lot tougher than it really is. The good news is that there is specialized treatment that can help you on the road to recovery so that you can start living life to its fullest. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We can help. You are not alone.

‘Sons of Anarchy’ Creator Personally Knows Anarchy and Chaos

'Sons of Anarchy' Creator Personally Knows Anarchy and Chaos


By Cheryl Steinberg

One of the decade’s biggest hits Sons of Anarchy is created and written by Kurt Sutter, an ex food- and drug- addict.

Kurt Sutter, the visionary who has given us the ultraviolent, super­bloody motorcycle psychodrama and mega FX hit, is no stranger to pain and drama. Overseeing everything that has anything to do with the show, Sutter doesn’t just write the scenes and dialogue. He’s ‘at the office’ every day discussing with his creative team how each scene will play out – the camera shots and angles and how to make sure each bloody, gory scene is authentic and realistic.

Sons is the biggest hit in the history of the network, averaging 2.6 million viewers an episode in its first season (2008), jumping to 4.5 million its second year, and this fall 10.6 million people watched the premiere of Season Seven.

Before Sons, Sutter was a writer on FX’s The Shield, a Golden Globe-winning series about corrupt L.A. cops, a position he held from 2001 to 2008. Sutter climbed his way through the ranks to an executive producer, but before that he was nobody. A typical day in the life of Kurt Sutter involved churning out spec scripts and attending AA meetings.

And that was about it. Until Shawn Ryan, the show runner of The Shield, called him in for a meeting based on a West Wing spec and quickly snatched him up. Their meeting actually consisted more of Sutter’s past troubles with alcohol and drug addiction than anything else and Ryan quickly realized that the now-sober Sutter could bring “a really fantastic perspective” to his show.

“He became a very, very valuable member of the team,” says Ryan, “though he was definitely not the most beloved member. He wasn’t always the nicest to people in the writers’ room.”

Ryan also added, “There are two Kurt Sutters. There’s the outlaw rebel he likes the world to see, and there’s a more sensitive, thoughtful Kurt. It’s not that the rebel is an act. It’s more like a wish-fulfillment deviation and way to mask the pain from what he was as a kid and a young adult.”


As a kid, Sutter spent most of his time isolating in the basement of his childhood home. His dad was a General Motors executive and was basically emotionally-distant. His mother became a full-blown alcoholic by the time he was 13, and he had two older sisters who weren’t really in the picture.

Sutter says that he started eating obsessively around the time his mother started drinking. “She was my only friend, and when she checked out…I started to eat. Food was my first drug of choice. By the time I was a teenager, I weighed 400 pounds. I didn’t really have a girlfriend.”

“I was very much isolated,” he adds. “My dad was disappointed in me, because I was obese and he was a sports guy. As a result, I spent a lot of time in that basement. I could go down there and escape and be whatever I wanted to be. I had a huge fantasy life. It always involved vengeance. I was really angry, which I coupled with rage and fear, all of which somehow plugged into my imagination.”

After high school – Sutter graduated in 1978 – his eating addiction was still in full swing but he started adding alcohol to the mix. He studied mass media and English at Rutgers, and added exercise and cocaine to his bag of tricks. For the first time, Sutter says he gained some perspective: “I’ve been self-medicating since I came out of the f*cking womb,” he says. “But at a certain point, I realized I’m never gonna get f*cking laid at 400 pounds, and that’s when I flipped the switch on the food addiction and swapped it out. I got down to literally half my size in less than a year. Yeah. I halved my body size and doubled my insanity.”

When Sons began, Sutter, then 40, was sober for nearly a decade. After two years of doing the grunt work, Ryan snagged him and the rest is history; Sutter has finally become just what he was meant to be all along.

“He’s a rock-star show-runner,” says FX president John Landgraf, fondly. “I really love Kurt. We’ve had our big blow-out fights, but he doesn’t go around unconsciously scorching the earth. He’s extremely self-aware and willing to expose the more primitive and unsavory side of his personality. He’s an artist. He’s a provocateur. He’s one of the most entertaining characters there is.”

Recovery from addiction to drugs, alcohol, food – whatever – is possible. And recovery can bring with it so many gifts. What many people don’t realize is that life is livable without substances and that a life of sobriety doesn’t mean just not using. You can finally find your passion(s) and follow through with your goals and dreams. So many successful and even famous people are also in lifelong recovery from drugs and alcohol. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to find out how you can turn your life around today.

Deadly Drug Combo: Alcohol and Energy Drinks

Deadly Drug Combo: Alcohol and Energy Drinks

Author: Justin Mckibben

First off, the title of this article probably catches a few people’s attention simply for the fact that it refers to alcohol as a drug, and even more so because it implies energy drinks are a drug. Well anyone out there mixing cherry-bombs with vodka and red-bull has a rude awakening coming. First let us clear up the opinions and misconceptions with exact definitions. From there, let us look at information from recent studies and surveys, and see why it is that energy drinks and alcohol are such a deadly drug combination.

Drug- in the broadest terms a drug is a chemical substance that has known biological effects on humans or other animals.

Recreational drugs- chemical substances that affect the central nervous system, such as opioids or hallucinogens. Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine are the most widely consumed psychotropic drugs worldwide.

So right away by definition we are able to determine that alcohol is a drug because of the way it affects the biology and the central nervous system of the consumer. The same definition can also be applied to caffeine, which is the most commonly active ingredient in energy drinks. So while this article is not intended to argue that drinking energy drinks constitutes substance abuse, it is necessary to at least take into consideration the reality of what an energy drink is to the body.

Variables of the Survey

In a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan concluded that when mixing alcohol and energy drinks together, there are serious public health risks that can result from ingesting this mix. This research has proven to be relevant especially among college students.

This study was done using information from the University Life Study that took place at Penn State University. Starting with the first semester of college, 744 students completed surveys for each of seven semesters, plus daily surveys. Data on alcohol and energy drink use was available from spring of the students’ sophomore year in 2009 to fall of their senior year of 2010. Through this extensive period there was a lot of information to determine particular patterns.

Students were asked about energy drink consumption both with and without alcohol. This also included the number of alcoholic drinks they drank the day before, what time they started drinking, when they stopped and if they got drunk.

The researchers also used gender, body weight and length of drinking time to calculate blood alcohol levels. The other negative consequences of alcohol use with energy drinks were determined by yes or no responses to each of 10 negative consequences, including such things as having a hangover or getting into other kinds of trouble.

Recent Study Conclusions

Megan Patrick, who is the co-author of the study and a research assistant professor, had a detailed contribution to the study’s conclusion and stated,

“We found that college students tended to drink more heavily, become more intoxicated, and have more negative drinking consequences on days they used both energy drinks and alcohol, compared to days they only used alcohol.”

The study also concluded that students who either drank alcohol and energy drinks on the same day, or students who combined the two at the same time, wound up spending more time drinking. With this prolong period of drinking, the individuals were consuming more alcohol than they would have without the caffeinated drinks. This extended time spent drinking resulted in the users’ blood alcohol levels to be raised to much higher peaks. But even more concerning is the fact that because of the stimulant effects of the energy drinks, the users reported that they felt less drunk than they actually were.

“This can have serious potential health impacts, for example if people don’t realize how intoxicated they actually are and decide to drive home,” Patrick said.

So it appears through this information that the consumption of caffeinated energy drinks or even caffeinated alcoholic beverages, such as the FDA banned Four Loko, can have a direct effect on increasing risks to an individual by masking their intoxication and making it easier for them to consume more alcohol or partake in risky behavior.

Part of what makes mixing alcohol and energy drinks such a deadly drug combo is that the energy drink makes it so the individual can continue to consume alcohol at deadly rates without feeling the full effect because of its ability to counter-act the depressant nature of alcohol by stimulating the user with caffeine. So the risk for alcohol poisoning is only increased as the individual consumes more and more alcohol while keeping themselves going. This also leads into the other hazardous behaviors by making a person more mobile while still more intoxicated.

Someone drinking energy drinks and alcohol together can take more unsafe actions with or without realizing it, and ultimately put even more people in harm’s way. This deadly drug combo can create so many negative consequences, and in the end it can all be avoided if people are aware of the truth of what they do to their bodies, and of the possibility of recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 

No Folks, Marijuana is NOT a Gateway Drug

No Folks, Marijuana is NOT a Gateway Drug

 By Cheryl Steinberg

Being less of an alcohol fan and more a certified pothead (in my using days, that is), I was always annoyed by the people who would go around saying that marijuana is a gateway drug; that it leads to “harder” drugs. First of all, like me, most kids and teens who do experiment with substances try alcohol before they do anything else. So, why don’t people go around calling alcohol a gateway drug? Oh right, it’s legal…and socially acceptable.

Did you know that alcohol is one of the three deadliest – and legal – drugs? Marijuana’s death toll, on the other hand is zero. A bit fat zero. Now, I don’t advocate smoking weed for those of us in recovery but, I think there can be a lot of medicinal value to marijuana and, besides, I think it’s about time the rest of the world stops vilifying pot and starts accepting that their beloved booze is actually quite dangerous. In fact, it’s poison in the blood stream.

Do you know how alcohol works – the reason why people under the influence of it slur their words and have difficulty with coordination? In a nutshell, when you drink (a lot of) alcohol, your brain thinks that you’re dying. Therefore, it starts shutting down all non-essential  processes, such as speak and coordination, allowing for only the important stuff – like breathing – to keep you alive. Sounds like a good time, right?

On the other hand, you have marijuana, known as cannabis to the rest of the world. This plant has lots of potential when it comes to improving quality of life. Only until recently, however, have we even been able to begin to research marijuana’s medicinal qualities. In the U.S., marijuana has long been a Schedule I drug, categorizing it as having a high potential for abuse and having no known medical qualities.

No Folks, Marijuana is NOT a Gateway Drug

And there’s more evidence that marijuana does not lead to the use of harder drugs. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, marijuana use might not be as dangerous as some critics have been claiming.

Emory University researchers, in a new study, looked at federal surveys and states that legalized medical marijuana in order to evaluate the impact of this new legal status on the use of other drugs. Researchers found that the legalization of medical marijuana legalization did lead to more drug use – that of more marijuana (trolled ya!) They specifically looked at adults 21 and older and saw that this population’s use of marijuana increased after the new legislation BUT, this increase did NOT lead people to try harder drugs.

The study had two major findings:

  • Before the legalization of medical marijuana, 11.1% of adults 21 and older reported using marijuana in the past month; after legalization, that rose to 14.2%. But, it seems, medical marijuana legalization had no effect on children and adults aged 12 to 20.
  • There was also no significant increase in alcohol abuse and dependency, cocaine use, or heroin use after medical marijuana legalization, even though marijuana use increased for adults.

This most recent study revealed findings that mostly support previous research about marijuana use. A 2012 study from research institute IZA found that the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use did not lead to higher rates of marijuana use among high school students. Another report from Glenn Greenwald found drug use among Portuguese adults 20-24 increased following the decriminalization of all drugs in Portugal, while overall drug use actually fell among teenagers.

The study offers some food for thought where it comes to states that are considering whether to legalize marijuana for recreational or medical purposes. For one, it suggests relaxed marijuana laws can lead to more regular marijuana use, although not among teenagers. But the study also indicates that marijuana use might not be as dangerous as some critics of the drug fear.

If you’re like me, a drug is a drug is a drug – no matter its legal status. In the past, I used to think that marijuana was harmless but, more and more people are seeking treatment in the form of drug rehab for their marijuana use, alone. If you struggle with marijuana or any other drug, help is available. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist.

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