By Cheryl Steinberg
By now you’ve probably heard about the two senior Secret Service agents who crashed a government-issued car into a White House barricade last week after allegedly drinking all night. Not surprisingly, they are currently under investigation. This story has a wider reach than just this incident and just these two agents: officials announced Wednesday that a new inquiry is being launched into personal misconduct by Secret Service agents. This has been a long time coming, as the law enforcement agency has been widely criticized for some time now.
Does the Secret Service Have a Drinking Problem?
There was the prostitution scandal in 2012, when as many as a dozen Secret Service agents were caught up in a scandal after being caught with prostitutes. It had also been uncovered that they had been drinking in the days leading to a presidential summit meeting in Cartagena, Colombia.
Then, last year, two agents were dismissed and sent home from a presidential trip in Europe after one of the agents was found passed out in a hotel hallway from a night of drinking. The assignment took place in the Netherlands, and involved members of the Secret Service’s elite Counter-Assault Team (CAT) who was not only drunk, he was falling-down drunk. And several of his fellow CAT members were drunk, too. And no one thought to say, at some point during the evening, “Hey guys, maybe we should call it a night.”
And, last fall a man climbed over the White House fence and made it well into the mansion before he was finally tackled by agents, presumably off their game due to drinking the night prior to the incident. As a result of this serious embarrassment, the agency’s director, Julia A. Pierson, resigned under pressure.
The drinking problem among agents is more widespread than any other problems you might imagine would be rampant among an elite, mostly white, male group; sexism and the other -isms that have been associated with the agency since the prostitution scandal in Colombia still don’t out-rank the apparent alcoholism.
In fact, it’s something that every White House journalist already *kind of* knows if they’ve ever experienced traveling with the president. One former White House clerk said that, although reporters regularly witnessed agents drinking heavily before shifts, “we just assumed they could control themselves. After all, they were the ones who were the most responsible of all of us.”
It seems that, for the most part, the Secret Service agents are fine the day after one of these drinking benders and none is the wiser. It’s a stressful job and there’s been plenty of research to show that high-stress jobs tend to coincide with increased alcohol consumption rates.
But when you consider the string of incidents, many of which we don’t even know about – alcohol is the common denominator. It’s not only a problem with the drink; it’s a problem of peer pressure and the drinking culture that pervade the Secret Service. No agent is going to tell another agent that they’re cut off; it’s more likely that the other agent will join in.
If you or someone you love has a drinking problem, there are ways to get help. If you’re not sure if it’s a drinking problem, alcohol dependence, or full-fledged alcoholism, we can help you figure it out. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today.
Author: Justin McKibben
So often we are told that there are some positive effects on the body created by the consumption of alcoholic beverages, like a glass of wine a day being good for your heart or other random ‘facts’ given to us to make us feel better about indulging in a drink or two. The has also been the ongoing debate of whether these statements glorifying or disapproving the health benefits of drinking are accurate, with separate studies seeming to lead to different conclusions.
Numerous studies have touted the benefits of drinking, making claims that include alcohol:
- Lowering the risk ofcardiovascular disease
- Prevents diabetes
- Keepsdementia at bay
Now a new research project conducted in the United Kingdom has researchers claiming that there is actually no health benefits associated with alcohol consumption! Those involved in this study also insist that the previous surveys and findings on the subject has been flawed, and therefore those false ‘health facts’ of alcohol should be exposed.
Debunking the Drinking
So how could anyone question the healthy side of boozing? Well the scientists at the University College London concluded that those same studies that suggested that a glass of wine is good for the heart we were talking about earlier have actually relied on flawed assessments because they were comparing drinkers with people who had to give up alcohol because they were already sick.
This flawed system of collecting data for information also discredits the claims that moderate drinkers are healthier than chronic drinkers. Probably one of the bigger ‘facts’ the sought to educate the public about was to advocate for women to not drink during the first three months of pregnancy or even while planning to conceive. Simon Newell, of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health stated,
“It is impossible to say what constitutes as a ‘safe’ amount of alcohol a mother can drink as every pregnancy is different. Our advice to mothers is don’t take a chance with your baby’s health and drink no alcohol at all.”
Previously there has been a claim that drinking a controlled ‘safer’ amount of alcohol during early stages of a pregnancy is acceptable and would have no adverse effects, but this new conclusion looks to disprove that assumption. The truth is booze presents the highest risk of death, and alcohol consumption has likely been underestimated all along.
New Study Says
This new research seemed to take a totally different approach to studying the true health effects of alcohol consumption, and Craig Knott as the projects lead researcher worked with his team to analyze data on 18,000 people. Out of those people there were 4,100 who had died over a 10-year period.
They did acknowledge that middle-aged men who drank 15-20 units of alcohol per week and women who drank less than 10 units had a lower risk of dying early, but they noted that the primary cause of this was other unrelated factors.
There are those however who already seek to discredit this studies claims. Several medical experts have condemned the study and its conclusions as statistically sloppy and too small in scope to make such broad claims. Winton professor of the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge David Spiegelhalter has spoken openly against the way that this UK study boasts to disprove all previous research.
“The authors’ conclusions are not backed up by the data. All groups consuming less than 20 units a week experienced lower mortality rates than the lifelong teetotallers. But since there are not many teetotallers, there is large uncertainty about what the true underlying relative risks are. All the observed data are compatible with the kind of 15 to 20% protection that has been previously suggested.”
Of course, while many people in the health community stand behind the previous claims of health benefits for alcohol consumption, this does at least make one wonder whether or not there is a better way to measure what good alcohol really does to the body versus the damage.
Studies have concluded that taking toxicology and health risks into account, alcohol is by far the deadliest drug there is, and yet we find voices trying to speak on its behalf for the benefits. It makes you wonder that if alcohol has been legal for this long, and is worse than heroin or cocaine, what is to stop people from trying to justify the use of other dangerous narcotics with supposed ‘health benefits’.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model.)
What to Expect from Drug and Alcohol Treatment: How It Works
A drug and alcohol treatment facility or program is a medical and residential program that specializes in helping you get off drugs and alcohol. A medical staff monitors you and administers medicine to alleviate your withdrawal symptoms so that your detox and recovery are safe and comfortable.
What to Expect from Drug and Alcohol Treatment: Alcohol Detox
If you are dependent on alcohol, you will require the help that a drug and alcohol treatment program can offer. It’s not safe to go “cold turkey,” suddenly stopping your drinking. The staff at the drug and alcohol treatment facility is trained to help and administer certain medications in order to ease your withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a medical condition that results when you stop drinking once you are physically dependent on alcohol. The withdrawal symptoms from alcohol dependence can range in severity, from mild such as insomnia and anxiety to severe and life-threatening, such as convulsions, which can lead to death. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can cause seizures, delirium tremens, also known as “the shakes,” anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia.
What to Expect from Drug and Alcohol Treatment: Drug Detox
The withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and other drugs can be extremely uncomfortable, even painful, psychologically disturbing and can result in death. So much so that, many people in your situation say that the biggest obstacle to their recovery is their fear of withdrawal symptoms. The staff at the drug and alcohol treatment facility can address your withdrawal symptoms from a number of different drugs, not just alcohol.
If you are using opiates, such as the prescription painkillers oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone or heroin, the withdrawals aren’t life-threatening however, in some cases, people have experienced seizures when they stopped on their own. Alcohol and drug treatment programs can help alleviate your withdrawal symptoms and you will be able to manage them much more comfortably.
If you are dependent on benzos, such as Xanax or Valium, or barbiturates then a medical drug detox is necessary. Just like with alcohol withdrawal syndrome, benzo withdrawal syndrome is potentially fatal. Severe symptoms are seizure, heart failure, stroke, coma, and death.
If you are addicted to amphetamines, such as cocaine and crack, and methamphetamine, such as crystal meth, the withdrawals include uncomfortable and frightening psychological symptoms such as hallucinations and extreme paranoia. The drug and alcohol treatment programs are equipped for treating these symptoms as well.
What to Expect from Drug and Alcohol Treatment: Rehab
After detox, which may last from 4 to 10 days depending on your progress, you will enter the next level of the program offered at your drug and alcohol treatment. A detox program is not enough, on its own.
Real recovery begins with the residential inpatient rehabilitation level of treatment, called “rehab” for short. This can last up to 30 days, which really is only a drop in the bucket compared to a lifetime. At the rehab level, you will reside in a safe and comfortable environment where all of your needs will be met.
You will be kept comfortable, have case management support, and will have medical services provided. You will attend meetings, called groups, where you will learn about substance abuse and be given the tools to use once you complete the program so that you don’t get caught up in drugs and alcohol again. You will also have group and individual therapy sessions where you can address any dual diagnosis, or co-occurring issues such as depression, anxiety, as well as trauma-related issues.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction and don’t know what to expect from a drug and alcohol treatment, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 so that you can speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We are available around the clock to answer your questions and help you decide what’s next.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Is the solution to stopping binge drinking alcohol (a drug) the taking of another drug?
According to a couple of key players in the debate, the answer to this question is ‘yes.’
Recently, a patent has been filed for a drug that seems to curb alcohol intake while producing some of the euphoric effects of the club drug ecstasy, also known as MDMA.
Some Statistics on Alcohol
In 2012, there were 3.3 million deaths worldwide in which alcohol played a part. And campaigns aimed at awareness and prevention have done little to nothing in reducing the amount that people are imbibing overall; alcohol consumption has remained steady and has even increased on the global stage.
These sorts of alarming statistics and the of alcohol and the overall scale of the alcohol problem has led some people, like David Nutt, who is the Edmund J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and Head of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology and Molecular Imaging at Imperial College London. It was Dr. Nutt who created a scale that ranked drugs from most dangerous to least dangerous and came to the conclusion that, of all drugs, alcohol ranks as the most dangerous in the world, with heroin and then crack being a distant second- and third-place, respectively.
Professor Nutt was once the government chief drugs adviser in the UK and was fired from his official post because these findings didn’t support the general attitude that alcohol is socially acceptable. Nutt refused to leave the debate on drugs alone and even staked his reputation on his findings, even putting his job on the line, which he eventually lost because he refused to back down.
Party Drug to Curb Binge Drinking?
So, why are we talking about a professor in the UK? Because he has come to play an important role in this latest harm reduction attempt.
Last month, an application for a patent was filed for a drug that is supposed to give people a pleasant intoxication while limiting the amount they drink.
Why would an Ecstasy-like drug be better than alcohol? Is it the lesser of two, more-or-less equal evils?
Well, actually, according to Professor Nutt’s scale, ecstasy ranks quite low on his harms scale, in both effect on the individual (i.e. health) and the community (i.e. on others).
The drug designer behind mephedrone, a now widely-banned chemical that has caused at least one death and has been implicated in 13 others in the UK, referred to by his pseudonym, Dr. Z, initially intended his new creation to be sold as a legal high, in and of itself. But after having meeting and talking with Nutt and trying it on himself, Dr. Z plans to gift the patent to Nutt’s charitable research group DrugScience, with the hope it will be used as a “binge mitigation agent.”
The efficacy of the drug, called “chaperone,” will depend on the results of extensive testing – including how quickly it is absorbed and how it mixes with alcohol.
Party-goers might look to chaperone as something to do as a sort of tail-gating activity, to kick off the night or they might add it to each drink as a way of increasing their buzz.
There are also the unpredictable effects. From the little testing that has been done, the effects of chaperone varied, with some of the experimenters reporting that they lost the desire to drink. Another unpredictable aspect of the drug is the time it takes to kick in. The effects don’t kick in immediately and can take up to 2 hours to hit. Then, it might take as long as 5 hours before the user has the desired effect of not wanting to drink. By then, the chaperone user could have already imbibed quite a bit of alcohol.
Dr. Z says that this isn’t necessarily a problem, as long as people taking the drug know these things in advance.
Nutt admits that “you need scientific tests. Anecdotal evidence isn’t enough.” These would involve finding out what receptors it binds to and figuring out a safe dosage, for example, before raising funds to conduct clinical trials to see whether chaperone really does reduce alcohol intake.
Most cultures around the world use drugs for pleasure, so a drug like chaperon could be a “win-win” situation, he says, acting both as a binge mitigator and providing some of its desirable effects.
If you or someone you love has a drinking problem or seems to be a problem drinker, they may have the disease of alcoholism. These issues often “look like” one another and it can be difficult to know what’s really going on. But, you can call an Addiction Specialist toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to answer your questions and help you figure out what course of action to take.
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.