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How Come I Can’t Drink Like My Friends?

How Come I Can’t Drink Like My Friends?

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Whether it’s happy hour, ladies night, or wine Wednesdays, drinking culture is everywhere. It can be difficult for someone struggling with alcoholism to accept they cannot drink.  However, the reality is everyone is different. For some, drinking is a casual social activity enjoyed on times off. For others, drinking can lead someone down an erratic spiral that destroys everyone and everything in sight.

We know. It is not fair.

You are probably wondering:

How come I can’t drink like my friends?

The answer is simple, yet complex. Everyone is physiologically unique, and these differences result in some responding to substances in a way that differentiates from others. The majority of people who drink feel relaxed after one or two drinks. Drinking in excess results in negative reactions that make binge drinking undesirable. These adverse effects include vomiting, nausea, headaches, and exhaustion.

However, for over 12% of the population, drinking one or two glasses of alcohol results in a compulsive need to drink more to maintain that euphoric state.  Alcoholics attain high doses of euphoria from consuming alcoholic beverages. Typically, someone with a family history of alcoholism has a high tolerance for alcohol. Therefore, they can drink and drink and not feel overly intoxicated, resulting in the desire to drink more.

Alcoholism: Insane in the Brain

Most of the studies on addiction focus on the rewarding effects of alcohol consumption. Drinking is used as a coping mechanism to boost mood and relieve depression and anxiety. For some, using alcohol for these purposes becomes a tumultuous cycle.

However, there is even more to the story. New research has discovered another component of developing a substance abuse problem: the inability to learn from the consequences of overconsumption.

The study explained a region of the brain called the lateral habenula. This area is thought to help with decision making and learning about punishment. The habenula helps to associate an action with a negative outcome to you can avoid it in the future.

In the study with rats, scientists discovered that when they removed the habenula from certain rats, they continued to drink despite the unpleasant consequences. Therefore, it is possible that humans who struggle with alcohol consumption lack in this area as well.

“We think that what the habenula is contributing is some learning about ‘How bad was my last drinking session? Maybe I should curb my next drinking session. I’m not going to escalate,’” said Sharif Taha, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

“The rats that don’t have habenula activity are the ones which go up and up and up over time. Either they’re just not experiencing those aversive effects, or they’re not learning from them.” 

The Balance of Addiction

The pathway to alcoholism is a careful balance. If someone finds alcohol too rewarding and the consequences of overuse not punishing enough, they are likely going to keep drinking and see no reason to stop.

“It seems that it’s not just the rewarding effects that are important in determining how motivated someone might be to consume alcohol, it’s also whether or not they experience any of these aversive effects,” Taha said. “That may play a role in, over time, whether you’re content to consume a couple of beers, or if you’re someone who escalates over time.”

Genetics may play a major role.

Gantt Galloway, senior scientist in the Addiction & Pharmacology Research Laboratory at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco,  hopes to identify the specific genetic profile that is associated with an increased risk for alcoholism.

“Are those differences genetic, and can one then identify a [genetic profile] that’s associated with increased risk for alcoholism?” he said. “That could be a useful predictive diagnostic test and could conceivably predict who’s going to respond to different sorts of treatments as well.”

Regardless of the reasons, no one should feel ashamed about how they react to consuming alcohol. Sober life is not a boring life. Furthermore, just because you cannot drink like your friends does not mean you cannot have an exciting life. There are tons of activities to do sober. You just have to go out and find them.

In conclusion, if you are part of the population of people at risk for alcohol addiction, you are not alone. Over 32 million Americans are struggling with the same problem. The good news is you can do something to resolve the problem. You can choose recovery. Do not wait. Call today. 

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Alcohol Epidemic: The Other Drug Outbreak in America

Alcohol Epidemic: The Other Drug Outbreak in America

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:

  • Beer
  • Liquor
  • Spirits
  • Booze
  • Drank
  • Giggle Water
  • Moonshine

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.

  • Violent crime

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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Should It Be Illegal to Deny a Pregnant Woman a Drink?

Should It Be Illegal to Deny a Pregnant Woman a Drink?

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Until last week, bars in New York could refuse to serve pregnant women alcohol, or ban them from entering. Some restaurants even refused to serve raw fish to pregnant women. However, thanks for updated guidelines released last week by the city’s Human Rights Commission, pregnant women will now have a choice.

But should they?

The city’s Human Rights Commission aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination against pregnant women. Expectant mothers can now decide to eat or drink whatever they want, and establishments who deny them can be penalized. This new law raises an important question all throughout the nation: Should pregnant women be denied the right to drink?

For some, the answer might seem obvious. Of course, pregnant women should not be allowed to drink! After all, it has been proven that alcohol increases the likelihood of birth defects and developmental issues. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of a premature birth and result in negative outcomes.

Risks of alcohol consumptions during pregnancy include:

  • Distinctive facial features. The newborn may have a small head, flat face, and narrow eye openings. These differences become more apparent by age 2 or 3 years old.
  • Learning and behavioral problems
  • Growth Problems: Children exposed to alcohol may develop slower than other kids of the same age
  • Birth Defects
  • Problems bonding and feeding

Despite these risks, the answer is not that simple. Some argue that denying pregnant women the right to drink undermines the right she has to choose what she does with her body. The argument points to Roe vs. Wade and pro-choice as reasons to why a woman should be able to make the personal choice of drinking or not drinking while pregnant.

“Judgments and stereotypes about how pregnant individuals should behave, their physical capabilities, and what is or is not healthy for a fetus are pervasive in our society and cannot be used as a pretext for unlawful discriminatory decisions in employment, housing, and public accommodations,” say the new guidelines.

The guidelines were created to help clarify a 2013 city law designed to protect pregnant women in the workplace. The law specifies that it is illegal to refuse to hire or promote someone because they are pregnant. It also states that it is unlawful to deny an application from a pregnant applicant.

“Accommodation of Pregnant women cannot be a favor,” said Azadeh Khalili, executive director of the Commission on Gender Equity. “It is a human right and the law in New York City.”

These two laws seem reasonable to the average person. After all, it would be a clear form of discrimination to stop a woman from working or living in a home because she made the choice to have kids. However, the new law is taking discrimination to a whole new level by stating that restaurant and bars should not have the right to refuse a pregnant woman a drink.

Still, the subject of whether a moderate amount of alcohol is “safe” for pregnant women to drink has been hotly debated for decades. While we mentioned some of the risks of drinking while pregnant, those outcomes typically come from heavy drinking consumption. No confirmed evidence shows that an occasional drink will do harm to unborn babies, especially after the first trimester.

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged sexually active women to stay away from alcohol unless they were on birth control. They stated that any amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy could raise the risk of a fetus being born with developmental issues. Many women were not happy about these recommendations. Despite these warnings, studies show that 1-15% of women still drink a little alcohol during pregnancy.

Clearly, this whole topic is a controversial manner. Many argue that women are discriminated only once they look pregnant, meaning that women who are newly pregnant can make the choice to drink while those who are months along are denied alcohol. Since the most significant damage is done in the first trimester, denying pregnant women alcohol may not prevent as much harm.

Overall, study after study reveal drinking during pregnancy is not the best idea. It is always best to put the health of your baby first, rather than take the risk of any complications. Whether or not restaurants and bars should have a  say in the manner is a topic that is yet to be fully explored. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Many States Banning New Powdered Alcohol Product Palcohol

Many States Banning New Powdered Alcohol Product Palcohol

Author: Shernide Delva

More and more states are banning the powdered substance known as “the Kool-Aid for underage drinkers.’ The substance, Palcohol, is essentially a powdered version of alcohol intended to be mixed with beverages like soda or fruit juice. One six ounce packet of Palcohol is equivalent to one standard mixed drink.

Although Palcohol was approved by the Alcohol U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau last year, it became the focus of intense scrutiny. Legislators to child advocates alike were pushing to ban this substance from being sold in stores. One of the biggest concerns is the product getting into the hands of children. Also, since the product is in powdered form, it can be snorted, added to energy drinks, and given to people unknowingly. All of these are real dangerous risks.

Over half the country has already banned the substance. Now, California is joining those states in banning Palcohol, fearing the potential danger it poses to youth looking for a cheap buzz. The maker of the product, Lipsmark LLC, is fighting an uphill battle as more and more states jump on the bandwagon.

On Monday, legislation in California to ban the substance received unanimous support from the state’s Senate Appropriations Committee, which determined that banning the product in California would not impose “any significant state cost to taxpayers,” state Senator Bob Huff, who authored the bill, told the Orange County Breeze.

Palcohol has yet to hit any shelves in the United States, and already the product has been banned and raised controversy from legislators to child advocates. Everyone is bracing for the worse possible outcome:

“This product must not be allowed to reach store shelves,” said Huff. “It presents an array of potential health problems as it can be snorted, added to energy drinks, slipped to unknowing recipients, or even added to beverages already containing alcohol in an attempt to create a dangerously potent concoction.”

Furthermore, a 2013 study conducted by the U.S Centers for Disease Control revealed the “societal cost” of binge drinking was $32 billion for one year. A product like Palcohol could contribute to those costs and result in more problems. Allowing young people to have access to a product like Palcohol does have potentially harmful side effects.

Similar alcohol products exist in other countries, and now Palcohol is determined to be the first in the United States. The website offers no timeline as to when Palcohol will hit the market for now.   The powder will come in packets that include flavors such as:

  • Cosmopolitan
  • Powderita – tastes just like a Margarita
  • Lemon Drop

All packets will contain the same alcohol content as one shot of alcohol. Currently, the website states there is not a set date for the product’s release. However, this may change shortly. The website promotes the product as product of convenience. The owner, Mark Phillips, created it while hiking.  Phillips did not want to carry any other liquor other than water. After a long hike, Phillips craved an adult beverage and thought of how great it would be for him to have packets he could easily carry along with him. The idea eventually led to Palcohol.

Although Phillips’ idea does not seem ill-intended, products like these lend easily to abuse. There are too many people who are struggling with binge drinking.  This product should at least be a monitored carefully before its release. What do you think?

Products like Palcohol offer convenience for the moderate drinker, however, can be dangerous to those who suffer from substance abuse.  Therefore, caution behind products like this is warranted. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

6 Alcohol Abuse Related Diseases You Might Not Know

6 Alcohol Abuse Related Diseases You Might Not Know

Author: Justin Mckibben

Alcohol abuse is a problem more than common in our world today, and more often than not it results in disastrous forms of disease that can completely alter the quality of an individual’s life, sometimes bringing that person’s life to an abrupt end.

Most people are familiar with some of the risks associated with alcohol abuse and with the illnesses that can result from prolonged alcohol abuse, such as cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and kidney damage. But what about all the other issues that can be created with long-term alcohol abuse that people frequently wouldn’t think to connect to alcoholism or abusing alcohol?

There are several other health problems you might not know are directly linked to alcoholism, so here are 6 of those alcohol abuse related diseases you might not know.

  1. Anemia

Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin, which is a main part of red blood and binds oxygen.

Alcohol abuse can cause the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells to be abnormally low, thus causing anemia. Anemia can trigger a list of other symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness

These symptoms occur because organs in the body aren’t getting what they need to function properly.

  1. Cardiovascular disease

Binge drinking is a huge issue when it comes to alcohol abuse, and both can cause platelets to become more likely to clump together into blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. In a landmark study by Harvard researchers in 2005, it was found that binge drinking doubled the risk of death among people who initially survived a heart attack.

Cardiomyopathy is a potentially deadly condition which can also be caused by alcohol abuse. With cardiomyopathy the heart muscle weakens and eventually fails, as well as heart rhythm abnormalities such as atrial and ventricular fibrillation, which creates chaotic twitching in the heart’s main pumping chambers (ventricles), causing rapid loss of consciousness and even sudden death.

  1. Dementia

Dementia is not a specific disease, but term that encompasses a varied range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.

As people age their brains shrink. It is considered normal to happen on average at a rate of about 1.9% per decade.

However, alcohol abuse speeds the shrinkage of certain key regions in the brain, resulting symptoms of dementia. In addition to the nonspecific forms of dementia that result from brain atrophy, alcohol abuse can also cause nutritional deficiencies that elicit other forms of dementia.

  1. Depression

It may not be much of a surprise to some that alcohol abuse is often associated with with depression, because it is a depressant, but the debate about which came first, the drinking or the depression, still exists.

One theory is that depressed people turned to alcohol in an attempt to cope with emotional pain. But a large study from New Zealand showed that it was probably the other way around, meaning alcohol abuse actually leads to depression, with some research showing that depression improves when those who abuse alcohol actually sober up.

  1. Gout

Gout is an extremely painfully illness caused by the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints. It is a form of arthritis that is described as sudden burning pain, stiffness and swelling in the joint.

Although a lot of cases are largely hereditary, alcohol abuse and other dietary factors are also said to play a role in those who develop cases of gout. Alcohol also seems to aggravate existing cases of gout, so one way or the other alcohol abuse is a risk factor.

  1. Nerve damage

The nervous system is involved in everything the body does, from regulating breathing to controlling muscles and sensing heat and cold, so serious nerve damage is a pretty big deal. Damage can occur to nerves in your brain and spinal cord, but nerve damage can also occur in the peripheral nerves located throughout the rest of your body.

Alcohol abuse can cause a form of nerve damage known as alcoholic neuropathy, which can produce a range of devastating symptoms which include but are not limited to:

  • Painful pins-and-needles feeling or numbness in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness
  • Incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Erectile dysfunction

Alcohol is toxic to nerve cells, so of course alcohol abuse will sometimes lead to alcoholic neuropathy. Alcoholic neuropathy also happens because nutritional deficiencies attributable to alcohol abuse compromise nerve function. So again, not only can alcohol abuse cause these issues, but heavy drinking can exacerbate pre-existing issues with nerve damage.

While physicians around the world can give you a laundry list of the diseases and other effects of alcoholism or alcohol abuse, it is still incredibly beneficial for individuals who have drinking or drug problems to seek specialized treatment for lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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