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Lack of Exercise Linked to Alcoholism

Lack of Exercise Linked to Alcoholism

Author: Shernide Delva

A new study reveals a link between alcohol dependence and lack of exercise. African Americans who did not engage in physical activity were twice as likely to abuse alcohol as those who did exercise. Although the study focused specifically on African Americans, researchers believe the results could have implications across all demographics.

The survey of 5,002 African American men and women found that those who did not exercise at all or only occasionally exercised had an up to 88 percent higher chance of abusing alcohol than those who engaged in some form of physical activity. This was after adjusting for factors such as income and neighborhood characteristics.

The study participants were drawn from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL) and aimed to identify racial and ethnic differences in mental disorders and other psychological distress. The study used the DSM-IV definition of alcohol abuse which is defined as drinking that has “negative social, professional and/or legal consequences.”

The survey was presented at the American Public Health Association meeting in Chicago on Nov. 2.  Lead researcher, April Joy Damian, a doctoral student at the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, believes that these results could advance the knowledge the link between exercise and the odds of alcohol use disorder.

“Given that alcohol use disorder has a high rate of co-occurrence for depression and anxiety; it merits further study all around, for African Americans as well as others. We should consider how physical activity contributes to alcohol-related behavior and design interventions for people who are at risk.”

The question remains, however, if existing alcohol dependence results in lack of exercise too. One of the symptoms of alcoholism is muscle atrophy.

Alcoholism is linked to health problems such as:

  • Liver Failure
  • Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Metabolic Bone Diseases

In addition to those symptoms and many others, alcoholism can cause progressive muscle wasting in alcohol abusers as well. Alcohol decreases the amount of blood flow to muscles which weakens them and may even lead to muscle death. Alcohol inhibits the repair of muscles making it difficult to completely recover.

Alcohol and Exercise

Alcohol and exercise do not go well together so if you are trying to begin an exercise regimen, you may want to cut back on the booze. The way alcohol is absorbed by the body can reduce the amount of fat you’re able to burn in the gym. Your body is not meant to store alcohol so it tries to expel it as quickly as possible. So when you are exercising, your body tries to expel the alcohol first slowing down the amount of calories you burn.

Alcohol also gets in the way of the nutritional meals you eat to try to lose weight and boost your health. When you eat, food must be broken down so it is available to energy and maintenance of body structure and function. Alcohol inhibits the breakdown of nutrients into usable molecules.  Overtime, alcohol decreases the secretion of the digestive enzymes from the pancreas that help with digestion. Even when nutrients are absorbed, alcohol can prevent them from being fully utilized by the body.

For those trying to lose weight and get back into shape, it is highly recommend to cut back on or cut out your alcohol consumption completely.  Research shows that alcoholic drinks can slow down your body’s fat-burning process by 73 percent! Think about that for extra motivation if you are struggling with letting go of your alcohol drinking tendencies. Overtime, alcohol use can lead into alcohol dependence which, of course, results in even more health implications.

The link between exercise and alcohol reveals that alcohol has a negative impact on a person to engage in a healthy lifestyle. Alcohol wrecks damage on the body that eventually makes it difficult to recover from without treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Researchers Are Using Instagram to Monitor Underage Drinking?

Researchers Are Using Instagram to Monitor Underage Drinking?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

In the past few years, Instagram has soared in popularity. Now researchers are finding ways to utilize the popular app to monitor the drinking habits of teenagers.  Using photos and text from Instagram, researchers are able to expose patterns of underage drinking more cheaply and faster than conventional surveys. They also are able to gain information on new patterns of drinking such as what alcohol brands are favored among different demographic groups.

Researchers believe exposing these patterns can help promote effective underage drinking intervention. As we know, Instagram is extremely popular among teens. Large amount of information is readily available about this target population on Instagram. As Jiebo Luo, professor of computer science at the University of Rochester, and his colleagues describe in a new paper, underage drinkers “are willing to share their alcohol consumption experience” in social media.

Compared to standard surveys, researchers believe Instagram will be a more accurate method to monitor alcohol consumption. Often, teenagers are not honest when they respond to an administered survey about alcohol use. One example is the “Monitoring the Future” survey by the federal government. The accuracy of results is skewed because of the small size of the representative sample. Also, the answers may not be answered honestly by teens who are worried about divulging the truth.

How Instagram is Being Used

Although Instagram does not offer a way of searching users by age, the research team was able to target users that fit their profile by applying computer vision techniques.  Luo and his team have been pioneering techniques that teach computers how to extract information from the internet. They are able to use computers to analyze the profile faces of Instagram users and get sufficiently accurate guesses for their age, gender and race.

After the computer gathered a group of underage users to study, the researchers monitored drinking related activities via their Instagram photos by analyzing social media tags and monitoring the alcohol brands the users follow.

The study revealed that underage alcohol consumption, like with adults, happens on weekends and holidays and at the end of the day. The drinking is not limited to one specific gender. Both female and male teenagers were engaging in drinking at similar ratios.

However, when it came to alcohol brands, the results varied. Different genders followed different brands. Also, teenagers tend to drink certain brands of alcohol more commonly than adults. Researchers found that certain brands attracted younger audiences in social media. This information could be useful for people working to prevent underage drinking.

“There are several ways we can go about doing that,” said Luo. “We can keep government agencies or schools better informed and help them design interventions. We could also use social media to incorporate targeted intervention and to measure the effect of any intervention. And perhaps other things we haven’t thought about.”

The researchers hope that information like this is used in a positive way to address the problem of underage drinking. They are worried though that the information could be used by brands to target these underage drinkers. The next important step is to collaborate with people who are working to reduce underage drinking and collaborate with professions who are working on addressing other youth problems such as tobacco use, drugs, teen pregnancy, stress or depression.

Elizabeth Handley, clinical psychologist and research associate at the University’s Mount Hope Family Center had this to say about the study,

“This new method could be a useful complement to more traditional methods of measuring youth drinking. It could provide important new insights into the contexts of youth drinking and be a valuable tool for evaluating the effectiveness of school or community-based preventive interventions.”

Utilizing social media to prevent and tackle underage drinking could be an effective intervention tactic. How do you feel about it being used?

Underage drinking has been known to cause a variety of health implications in the long run. Let someone know if you are having a problem with abusing substances. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-561-221-1125

Boozing in Antarctica: Scientists Could Be Subject to Breathalyzer Tests

beeronsnow

Author: Shernide Delva

Researchers in Antarctica have garnered a reputation for boozin’ up to beat the cold and loneliness. Now, reports of possible intoxication, fights and misconduct have prompted government agencies to take action.  Due to reports of “unpredictable behavior,” officials from the National Science Foundation (NSF) may begin giving their employees breathalyzer tests

The agency could be shipping several breathalyzers to areas where a total of 1,150 scientists and support staff are stationed. This comes after officials reportedly told auditors of “unpredictable behavior that has led to fights, indecent exposure, and employees arriving to work under the influence.”

Drinking in Antarctica could lead to serious problems if not controlled. For one,  the closest medical care facility is at lead a few hours away from the bases. So if you were to get alcohol poisoning, it’d be a long ways before you get to a hospital.  As a result, the supervisors are solely responsible for keeping people safe. In one article, a worker stated:

“It’s a fine line because you have to let people do their own thing and be responsible. The South Pole is such a small community, there’s only one person for each job.”

The agency claims that drinking is “not out of control” and the breathalyzer measure is preventative. The NSF officials told auditors that the real problem was the “ongoing culture class” between construct works and scientists. They often eat, socialize and drink separately. Contractors are treated lower and have to abide by more rules than scientists who are put on a higher pedestal, the article notes.  The agency went on to say that it feels the time is now to address the drinking issue before it becomes a serious issue.

However, there are some administrative roadblocks. Since Antarctica is not U.S territory, it makes it unclear who would conduct the breathalyzer tests and which employees would have the rights to appeal them. Even more complicated, the South Pole is at such a high altitude, the breathalyzer tests may not even function properly.  The South Pole Station is at an altitude of 10,000, atop a high plateau. At that altitude, the device would have difficulty calibrating.

Other countries with research bases on Antarctica, like Britain and France have distinct rule about alcohol use. The British Antarctic Survey asserts in its detailed alcohol and drug policy that “alcohol can play a useful role in providing a diversion from the pressures of work when used in moderation,” but staff are prohibited from working under the influence.

To put it into perspective, the article describes how every winter; dozens of workers at the South Pole research station spend nine months in isolation. No airplanes can fly in or out until the base “warms” up to 50 zero ensuring the fuel does not freeze and kill the engine.

If you want to escape your problems, Antarctica is the place to go but after months in isolation, emotions can flare up. Families and friends can bring back old memories of home. Workers predisposed to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are hit hard. The darkness and cold causes sleepiness and memory problems. Many scientists and workers  fall into alcoholism as a way of coping with the depression.

Working in Antarctica can be one of the most exciting jobs on Earth. Or it can be the most depressing. And the fact is, drinking during work hours is a serious problem, just like at any big company. As of right now, there is no clear policy in place to regulate drinking behavior.

Implementing new policies on how to control the drinking will hopefully prevent the alcohol consumption from getting out of control.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-561-221-1125

Would Lowering the Drinking Age Increase High School Dropout Rates?

Would Lowering Drinking Age Increase High School Dropout Rates?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Could lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 lead to increasing the high school dropout rate? A new study believes so. The study first published in the latest issue of The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, examined dropout rates before the minimum drinking age was raised to 21 in 1984. Researchers discovered that 17-year-olds were affected by their 18-year-old peers because allowing 18 year old students in high school to have access to alcohol increased the chances that younger students would drink.

The lead author, Andrew Plunk observed that there was a 3% jump in dropout rates when the drinking age was 18. He also noted that “At-risk” groups like African Americans and Latinos had a 4% increase in dropout rates. Even more staggering, the dropout rate jumped by 40% for students whose parents had a drinking problem.

With 3.3 million teenagers expected to graduate from high school this year, a 3% jump in dropouts would amount to an additional 99,000 dropouts across the country. In a news release, Plunk stated:

“The minimum legal drinking age changes how easy it is for a young person to get alcohol. In places where it was lowered to 18, it’s likely that more high school students were able to get alcohol from their friends … if we lower the drinking age, it suggests to me that we’d see this same dropout phenomenon again.”

Despite the research, many colleges and even certain states have spoken in favor of lowering the drinking age to 18. Back in 2008, over 120 college chancellors and presidents signed a petition in favor of the idea.

Some states have come up with more creative solutions. Alaska introduce a bill in 2011 to allow active military member to drink at age 18 on the basis that if you’re old enough to serve in the military and die for your country, you’re old enough to drink.

Of course, there are a number of external environmental factors that might affect the connection between dropout rates and lowering drinking age. Despite that, Plunk still believes that a reduced drinking age could have an impact on minors. He states that laws need to remain in place to protect people are 15, 16, and 17 years old most vulnerable.

Next, we have to consider other countries that have a lower drinking age. Like me, you might be arguing that countries in Europe tend to have lower drinking ages and do just fine with them. Apparently, that’s a myth.  Plunk says that previous, separate research has revealed that European you do in fact have their share of alcohol problems.

So what about Europe? The US is always compared to Europe and we’re told that men and women have their first drink at an early age and develop a healthier relationship with alcohol. Well, according to Plunk, that’s a myth that won’t die. Plunk responded to the question posed by Medical Daily in an email. He said that previous, separate research has shown European youth do have their share of alcohol-related problems.

“For example, in 1990, France and Italy had higher per capita alcohol consumption and higher rates of cirrhosis deaths than in the U.S. Per capita consumption in France and Italy was 12.7 and 8.7 liters of alcohol, respectively, compared with 7.5 in the U.S.,” Plunk cited. “Cirrhosis death rates in France and Italy were 26.8 and 17 per 100,000, respectively, whereas the U.S. rate was 11.6. European countries are now looking to the U.S. for research and experience regarding the [drinking] age policy.”

Truthfully, more research is needed to be done to understand the true problems underage drinking could have on a country. When it comes to protecting youths from the harmful dangers of alcohol misuse, the CDC says that it will require community-based efforts to monitor the activities of you and decrease youth access to alcohol.

Alcohol abuse is unhealthy no matter what age you are though. Don’t let your alcoholism turn your life around. Get help for your addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

In Maryland, Gambling Addiction is Rampant; Treatment Options Lacking

In Maryland, Gambling Addiction is Rampant; Treatment Options Lacking

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Gambling can stimulate the brain’s rewards system much like drugs and alcohol can. Gambling addiction is a serious condition that can destroy lives. When gambling becomes addictive, it means you are willing to risk something in order to get something of even greater value. Sometimes this can mean straining relationships you have with your family and friends in order to satisfy the urge to gamble.

There is a state having a huge issue with gambling addiction and this time, it isn’t Nevada.  The tiny state of Maryland is home to one of the largest concentrated casino markets in the country. As gambling addiction continues to rise, few treatment centers options are available for resident causing their addiction to get worse.

In 2009, a state survey revealed that an estimated 150,000 residents suffer from moderate to severe gambling addiction. The state’s toll-free hotline for problem gambling has taken 619 calls in the past year from people struggling with compulsive gambling up. This number is up from 431 two years prior. Police were called on four different occasions on account of children and seniors being left unattended in cars while their parents or caregivers were inside gambling.

Clearly, the issue is increasing in severity every day. Over 893 problem gamblers, desperate to free themselves of their addiction, legally banned themselves from entering a casino through the state’s Voluntary Exclusion program. Casinos reported 37 people who were unable to follow through with the ban.

Unfortunately, there are no treatment options in Maryland to address gambling addiction. To make matters worse, most of these problem gamblers do not have health insurance or access to funds to cover private addiction treatment. The funds they could have used were gambled all away.

“When gamblers reach out to us, they’re in crisis … it’s out of control, they don’t have any money,” said Deborah Haskins, president of the Maryland Council on Problem Gambling. “When the person doesn’t have treatment as an option, it’s like you’re putting a brick wall in front of them. You’re commending them for taking the first steps, but then you have nothing else to provide them. It’s very frustrating.”

Each year, casinos in Maryland are required to contribute to the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that addresses problem gambling. The casino’s pay $425 per slot machine and $500 per table game each year. The funds only came to only $4 million last fiscal year. Most of the money ended up going to the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling. The program focuses on increasing the amount of gambling addiction counselors and running the addiction hotline, among other services, but it’s not used for actual treatment

Vegas Came To Maryland

So I’m writing this wondering how a state like Maryland ended up so massive on the casino bandwagon. Five years ago, Maryland had just opened its first casino. Since then, four more have debuted and a giant $1.3 billion resort casino, MGM National Harbor, is set to open next year.

From a financial standpoint, Maryland is cashing in big time. The state took in $1 billion in the last fiscal year. Out of that money, the state’s cut was $487 million and $388 was used for Maryland’s Education Trust Funds.

It’s clear the state made a worthwhile financial investment but the consequences for addiction are all too real.  Gambling is one of the most deceptive of all human vices. It presents the illusion of easy money but can quickly lead into financial ruin. The odds are never in your favor when the purpose of the system is to make a profit.

As a result of the financial stress gambling addiction results in, often gamblers turn to drugs, alcohol and other addictive behavior to alleviate the anxiety brought on by the gambling lifestyle. They may struggle with drug and alcohol addiction for the rest of their life after years of self-medicating to deal with the stress. The stress of it call can result in strained relationships and isolation.

Maryland’s economy continues to thrive from the casino industry however compulsive gamblers have to deal with the consequences of their actions. These consequences include everything from home foreclosure and bankruptcies to domestic abuse, robberies and embezzlement.

Gambling in America costs the United States between $32.4 billion to $53.8 billion per year. The long term costs outweigh the economic benefits by a greater than 3:1 ration. Maryland has a choice to progress toward providing treatment and solutions to the gambling addiction crisis before it gets out of control. The consequences could overpower the risks.

If you feel you are starting to develop an addiction to gambling, seek help before the addiction takes control of your life. Luckily, there is help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

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