Many individuals struggling with alcohol addiction decide to do an outpatient program (instead of a live-in inpatient treatment) to aid in their recovery. Although length and intensity can vary depending upon each individuals needs, many points of treatment remain the same.

Most outpatient treatment programs geared specifically for alcohol addiction include:

  • An expectation of abstinence from alcohol
  • An initial assessment to determine the needs of the client
  • Seminars and activities for alcohol treatment that the client is expected to attend in order to educate themselves about the science of addiction.
  • Goal setting and formation of an outpatient alcohol treatment plan while discussing one’s emotions and underlying conditions (such as depression or anxiety)
  • Rules about individual’s behavior while they attend outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse.  Breaking rules often means individuals are ejected from the outpatient program
  • A certain number of therapy session each week will be agreed upon
  • Clients are generally asked to divulge personal information in individual or group settings in regards to alcohol and themselves with other clients

Connections: Alcohol and Drug Dependence

As we’ve reported, people who either suffer from substance abuse issues or may be prone to them may find a connection between alcohol and drug dependence.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, “Alcohol and drug dependence often go hand in hand; research shows that people who are dependent on alcohol are much more likely than the general population to use drugs, and people with drug dependence are much more likely than the general population to drink alcohol.”

Indeed, the NIH statistics are eye-opening:

  • 15.3 million adults meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder*
  • Of those, 2.3 million adults meet the criteria for a drug use disorder*

Outpatient Alcohol Addiction Treatment: Pros & Cons

There are pros and cons when deciding between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for alcohol addiction. And just as with most outpatient programs, outpatient alcohol treatment requires work to bring forth progress. However, if clients are ready and willing to work hard, the self examination and results of outpatient treatment for alcohol can be very rewarding and extremely life changing.

An intensive outpatient rehab program exists for one purpose:To help you get your life together without leaving it. A proper approach teaches individuals how to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety through essential coping skills, while still giving enough time to take care of responsibilities at home.

Participants learn these essential coping skills from a team of addiction treatment experts.

According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: “Addiction to alcohol or other drugs is considered a spectrum disorder, meaning the condition can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Outpatient rehab programs work best for those with mild or moderate substance abuse symptoms. An inpatient program is a better fit for individuals on the more severe end of the spectrum as well as those with co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety or trauma.”

“Different levels of outpatient rehab are available so that you can transition progressively from more frequent and intensive therapy to less intensive therapy as you show an ability to manage your own recovery with less clinical support.”

One challenge to being in the general population, of course, can be understanding some of signals around drinking too much.

We’ve noted an immediate effect: alcohol acts as a depressant that can lower mood and trigger depressive feelings. “The inability of the body to fully process this much alcohol in the blood leads to far more than just intoxication. Binge drinking causes dizziness, loss of motor coordination, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and loss of consciousness,” Alcohol.org, an American Addiction Center Resource site explains.

Alcohol’s effects over the long run on the nervous system can cause anxiety, agitation and further depression and extreme discomfort, often known as the “hangover” feeling. Sometimes, the effects become so uncomfortable, people turn to drinking again to temporarily alleviate the unpleasant symptoms. Ultimately, it can become a vicious cycle that can lead to serious addiction.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Medical News Today notes that “according to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), 11 criteria help a professional decide if someone has an AUD [Alcohol Use Disorder]. If the person meets two of these criteria during a 12-month period, a doctor will consider they have the condition.”

Now a new study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism identifies 5 types of alcohol use disorder that vary with age. The study is titled “Dynamic Features of Problematic Drinking: Alcohol Use Disorder Latent Classes Across Ages 18–64.”

The authors state: “Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are linked with numerous severe detrimental outcomes. Evidence suggests that there is a typology of individuals with an AUD based on the symptoms they report. Scant research has identified how these groups may vary in prevalence by age, which could highlight aspects of problematic drinking behavior that are particularly salient at different ages. Our study aimed to (a) identify latent classes of drinkers with AUD that differ based on symptoms of AUD and (b) examine prevalences of latent classes by age.’

As Medical News Today notes, the study adds “even more nuance to the issue of problematic drinking.” The profiles, as the post outlines, can be useful for individuals who are considering treatment to understand. They include:

  • “‘Alcohol-induced injury’ characterized 25 percent of the participants. People with this profile engaged in risky behavior and got into dangerous situations that might have caused injury.”
  • “Highly problematic, low perceived life interference’ characterized 21 percent of the participants. This group said that their alcohol consumption did not have any adverse effect on their lives and did not affect their family, work, or social obligations, despite also reporting that they experienced many AUD symptoms.”
  • “The ‘Adverse effects only’ profile included 34 percent of the participants, who reported hangovers or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.”
  • “‘Difficulty cutting back’ was a profile prevalent among 13 percent of the participants. People in this category struggled or were unable to cut back on their drinking.”
  • “Highly problematic’ was the final category, which made up 7 percent of the total number of participants who had every symptom of AUD.”

Outpatient Rehab: What to Learn

As we highlight, among the topics individuals in intensive outpatient rehab will learn include:

  • Drug and Alcohol Relapse Prevention
  • Life Skills
  • How to Recognize, Confront and Handle Triggers
  • Health and Nutritional Study
  • Family and Relationship Education
  • Continuing Care
  • Anger Management/Domestic Violence
  • Relaxation and Meditation Skills
  • Phases of Recovery

See a fuller list here.

How do alcohol and drug dependence connect? What do people who either suffer from substance abuse issues or may be prone to them need to know?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, “Alcohol and drug dependence often go hand in hand; research shows that people who are dependent on alcohol are much more likely than the general population to use drugs, and people with drug dependence are much more likely than the general population to drink alcohol.”

Indeed, the NIH statistics are eye-opening:

  • 15.3 million adults meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder*
  • Of those, 2.3 million adults meet the criteria for a drug use disorder*

In addition, there is the risk for dual diagnosis issues, treatment for which, as we’ve pointed out, is high effective but rarely offered: A majority of rehabilitation treatment centers in the U.S. only treat either addiction disorders or mental health disorders, not both concurrently. In a 2014 research study published in Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research that reviewed 256 programs across the U.S., only 18% of addiction treatment programs and 9% of mental health treatment programs addressed both issues with the individual and could be classified as “Dual Diagnosis Capable.” (Note: For more information on the symptoms and populations of dual diagnosis, see our post here.)

The NIAA states that patients with both alcohol and other drug use disorders:

  • “May have more severe dependence-related problems”
  • “Are more likely to have psychiatric disorders and are more likely to attempt suicide and suffer health problems”
  • “Are at risk for dangerous interactions between the substances they use, including fatal poisonings”

The combination of alcohol and drug use is important to watch — and always a concern for individuals who suffer from substance abuse issues.

Connecting Alcohol and Drug Dependence

In an article titled “Timing of Alcohol and Other Drug Use,” Dr. Christopher Martin, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, writes about the connection:

“Many Americans who drink alcohol are polydrug users—that is, they also use other psychoactive drugs, such as nicotine, pharmaceuticals, cannabis, and other illicit substances. Polydrug use is a general term that describes a wide variety of substance use behaviors. Different types of polydrug use can be described with regard to the timing of the ingestion of multiple substances. Concurrent polydrug use (CPU) is the use of two or more substances within a given time period, such as a month or a year. Simultaneous polydrug use (SPU) is the use of two or more substances in combination (i.e., at the same time or in temporal proximity). Thus, although all simultaneous polydrug users are, by definition, concurrent users, concurrent users may or may not be simultaneous users.”

Indeed, the research shows real dangers: “SPU can have particularly dangerous consequences because AOD combinations can have additive or interactive effects on acute intoxication and impairment. The majority of deaths attributed to heroin overdose involve significant levels of other drugs such as alcohol or benzodiazepines; opiate levels appear to be similar in both fatal and nonfatal overdoses . Similarly, about two-thirds of oxycodone-related deaths were found to involve the use of alcohol and/or other drugs. Finally, fatalities and injuries reported to be “alcohol-related” often involve other drug use.

 

There’s a line between drinking casually and binge drinking, but it is a line that, once crossed, can have deleterious effects.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined for a woman as consuming 4 or more drinks in 2 hours and for a man as consuming 5 or more drinks in 2 hours. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has defined binge drinking as the most deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use due to the demand on the body’s ability to process the alcohol at such a high rate in little time. How your body processes alcohol depends on several factors, including:

  • How much you drink
  • How often you drink
  • Your age
  • Your health status
  • Your family history

While many people may binge drink, situational factors may make it easy for people to brush off the habit as just a social or stress-relieving activity. However, binge drinking is dangerous. It is a real – and treatable – behavior that is symptomatic of an alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 10.6 million Americans aged 26 or older had an AUD in the past year.

When binge drinking, the effects of alcohol become stronger and surface more quickly. In the short-term, alcohol acts as a depressant that can lower mood and trigger depressive feelings. “The inability of the body to fully process this much alcohol in the blood leads to far more than just intoxication. Binge drinking causes dizziness, loss of motor coordination, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and loss of consciousness,” Alcohol.org, an American Addiction Center Resource site explains.

In the longer-term, alcohol’s effect on the nervous system can cause anxiety, agitation and further depression and extreme discomfort, often known as the “hangover” feeling. Sometimes, the effects become so uncomfortable, people turn to drinking again to temporarily alleviate the unpleasant symptoms. Ultimately, it can become a vicious cycle that can lead to serious addiction.

While drinking less over a longer period of time can also cause these effects, binge drinking in particular makes it harder to track alcohol consumption and harder to avoid consuming copious amounts. Being aware of what binge drinking is can help prevent it from becoming a habit and developing more serious alcohol abuse. According to the CDC, “over 90% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days,” meaning binge drinking can be a key link to developing longer-term alcoholism.

The statistics on how widespread binge drinking is is astonishing. The CDC reports that one in six U.S. adults binge drinks about 4 times a month, consuming 7 drinks per binge. It has caused more than a few news sites to call out binge drinking as a national epidemic on the rise that should be taken seriously.

Becoming educated on the definition of binge drinking, personal factors that can define a healthy versus unhealthy amount to drink, and the serious health problems that can arise from binge drinking is crucial. By being educated on the topic, individuals can seek help at the early stages of alcohol abuse to prevent the condition from worsening and even gain full recovery.

The question of how to stop drinking alcohol is one that many people consider.

We all know: Drinking alcohol is a regular part of many social gatherings. It’s hard to avoid — parties, dinners, even just hanging out with friends. For those who want to know how to stop drinking, what can they do?

The reasons to stop drinking are abundant. The U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse states:

  • “According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.4 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70.1 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.0 percent reported that they drank in the past month.”
  • “In 2015, 26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 7.0 percent reported that they engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.”

How to Stop Drinking: Alcohol Use Disorder

Even more extraordinary are the NIH number on Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD):

  • 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older3 (6.2 percent of this age group4) had AUD. This includes 9.8 million men3 (8.4 percent of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women3 (4.2 percent of women in this age group)
  • About 6.7 percent of adults who had AUD in the past year received treatment. This includes 7.4 percent of males and 5.4 percent of females with AUD in this age group
  • An estimated 88,0008 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women8) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States

MedPage Today reports that “Binge drinking and heavy alcohol use are linked with car crashes, burns, falls, alcohol poisoning, violence, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, chronic diseases, cancers, memory and learning problems, and alcohol dependence.”

One major challenge for individuals who struggle to understand how to stop drinking: A lack of understanding from others. People who don’t face this challenge may think: If you want to stop drinking, just stop. We know: It’s not that simple.

WebMD describes; “Alcohol use disorder is what doctors call it when you can’t control how much you drink and have trouble with your emotions when you’re not drinking. Some people may think the only way to deal with it is with willpower, as if it’s a problem they have to work through all on their own.”

“But alcohol use disorder is actually considered a brain disease. Alcohol causes changes in your brain that make it hard to quit. Trying to tough it out on your own can be like trying to cure appendicitis with cheerful thoughts. It’s not enough.”

For more information, please see the FAQs on How to Stop Drinking. Among the questions covered:

  • How does alcohol work?
  • What effect does drinking alcohol have?
  • How can you tell if someone has a problem and needs to stop drinking alcohol?
  • If an alcoholic is unwilling to get help, what can you do about it?
  • Is alcoholism inherited?
  • Can someone can’t quit drinking alcohol, can they be treated?
  • Does alcoholism treatment work?
  • Are specific groups of people more likely to have problems?

Among the many effects of alcohol — or too much alcohol — can be blackouts. How does that happen?

According to the Washington Post: “Alcohol impairs memory formation, but not in a simple or easily anticipated way, researchers say. There’s no clear cutoff point at which memory will be suppressed. David J. Nutt, a psychiatrist and alcohol expert at Imperial College London, said alcohol blocks the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is essential to memory formation. That typically happens when people are ‘very, very drunk,’ he said.”

Kate Carey, a clinical psychologist at Brown University School of Public Health. said in the post: “In the moment, the person can be functioning normally, with no sign there’s going to be memory impairment. But because those memories never get consolidated and stored, it’s like they never occurred, so you can’t recall them later on. Which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

The effects may be especially pronounced in adolescents. A two-decade-old study showed the effects.

The Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research published a study titled “Impairment of semantic and figural memory by acute ethanol: age-dependent effects.” The study assessed “the acute effects of ethanol (0.6 g/kg) on the acquisition of both semantic and figural memory in a sample of young adults from 21 to 29 years of age using a repeated-measures, placebo-controlled experimental design.”

The results showed the more negative effects on younger adults: “Ethanol significantly impaired memory acquisition in both domains. In addition, the effect of ethanol on three of the four memory measures assessed was dependent on the age of the subjects. Subjects in a young subgroup (21 to 24 years of age) were significantly more impaired in memory measures than those in the subgroup that was 25 to 29 years of age. These results indicate a divergence of the potency of ethanol against memory acquisition across a narrow age range in early adulthood.”

“Drinking Messes with How Our Brains ‘Encode’ Information”

“When it comes to memory, drinking messes with how our brains ‘encode’ information,” William Barr, director of neuropsychology at NYU Langone Health told Popular Science.

The post continues: “There are three stages of memory—encoding, retrieving, and storing. Encoding is how we take in and remember new memories. We have to pay attention to something to encode it so we can later retrieve it from storage, says Barr. That’s why when you’re distracted, or doing something routine like driving home on a normal day, you may not always remember doing it. You ‘black out,’ or have gaps in your memory from drinking, when your brain is not encoding what you’re seeing and doing, so you can’t retrieve those memories later when you’re sober.

Kate Carey, a researcher affiliated with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism added: “Essentially, high BACs, and especially rapid rise in BAC that comes from drinking quickly, can interfere with the process of memories being consolidated into long-term memory.”

Read more on alcohol abuse here.

By , Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Florida

Tens of thousands of college students nationwide will cheer for their football teams this weekend. Some of those who show up for the game after tailgate drinking may not remember the highlight touchdowns that they cheered so loudly for. Others may have trouble remembering even a rousing celebration of victory. Binge drinking, the leading type of alcohol misuse for college students, is the culprit. Drinking too much too fast can cause memory loss, sometimes called a blackout, erasing any recollection of an enjoyable life event.

What’s more, research is suggesting that binge drinking in the college brain can impair not only learning but memorizing. Deficiencies in both of these crucial neurocognitive processes would probably make studying very difficult, and far less productive. In such a case, maintaining a high academic standing might be impossible.

While many young people may euphemistically refer to binge drinking as “partying,” those of us who study addiction know that it is a serious health risk for young people. We have long known of the immediate risks from assault, death by motor vehicle and suicide linked to drinking. But the effects of binge drinking affect learning inside and outside the classroom and can have adverse effects on making successful transitions throughout life.

The ongoing battle of the college binge

Binge drinking is generally defined as drinking several drinks – four for women, five for men – within two hours and elevating the blood alcohol level to 0.08 or higher. It leads to the deaths of about 1,825 people between 18 and 24 each year and close to 700,000 assaults. About 40 percent of college students binge drink monthly.

Despite a lower frequency of alcohol use in young people compared to older adults, getting intoxicated is more prevalent, and binge drinking seems to be their favorite way to get there. In fact, as much as 90 percentof the alcohol consumed by young people occurs while binge drinking.

Binge drinking can have an immediate and neurotoxic effect on the still developing and susceptible college-age brain. And, the damage done by heavy drinking can worsen from one party to the next, harming the brain at an accelerating pace beyond what would be expected from chronic dependence on alcohol. When a heavy episode of drinking has ended, and the hangover has cleared, there is still a great concern about the neurological insults that can interfere with the accumulation of text book and classroom facts. It can result in neurocognitive deficits that are likely to cause serious academic problems. Beyond that, if a young vulnerable brain is subjected to four years of undergraduate partying, the development of maturational skill sets, necessary for a more successful shift into adulthood, may be impeded.

Further explanation of this may come from objective proof that young binge drinkers have a depletion of glutathione, an important antioxidant principally responsible for protecting the brain from the oxidative stress of free radicals. When depletion of glutathione occurs in the hippocampus, a part of the brain playing a major role in memory and learning, there is less of a neuroprotective effect which persists even during periods of abstinence between binges.

Throughout development, spanning decades, extensive and important changes occur in multiple areas of white and gray matter in the brain. Among these is the prefrontal cortex, a region governing executive functions. Any interference from alcohol during maturation can result in what amounts to “faulty wiring” with lifelong effects. The resulting altered brain functioning, even while sober, can set off the impulse to take risks with thrill-seeking behaviors. Affected teens and those in their 20s are more likely to have less regard for the danger that may result from seeking extreme and dangerous pleasures.

Repetitive binge drinking is also known to impair social functioning. Young people who binge drink typically are not developing useful interpersonal skills. And, binge drinking cannot help the brain to learn and evolve into consistently making well-informed decisions, an executive ability useful for the achievement of success and the happiness that would naturally follow.

A particularly dark side of bingeing: Blackouts

Another big worry for those of us who study and treat alcohol abuse is blackouts. During a blackout, there is a failure of the brain to transfer memory, or what is called encoding. The information of facts and events cannot be remembered and is blocked partially or completely.

E.M. Jellinek, credited as being the first to view alcoholism as a disease, first documented blackout drinking as an important indicator of alcoholism. Now, experts acknowledge how frequently it can occur even in healthy young adult drinkers. About 50 percent of college students who drink have experienced a blackout.

Someone in a blackout may appear normal while engaging in conversation and even appear to interact appropriately and yet not remember any of it. That is because of a disruption in activity of the hippocampus, which also interferes with the acquisition of new autobiographical memories. While the brain is caught in a process of rapidly forgetting, binge drinking can also functionally compromise the brain with uninhibited poor judgment. The consequences can be embarrassing, and worse, can include injuries, sexual assault, unsafe sex, drunk driving and police involvement after drinking.

Researchers have a lot more to learn about blackouts. For one thing, we do not yet understand why blackouts continue in some people even after someone reduces his or her binge drinking. Genetic factors could hold the answer.

Earlier drinking in young people may also be associated with the continuation of blackouts even if binges become less frequent. Explanations for this require more scientific study like that done in Australia by Daniel Hermens and Jim Lagopoulos on the neurological underpinnings of alcohol-induced blackouts. They were looking for biological markers associated with alcohol-related brain damage affecting the hippocampus.

The greater question is can neuroscience rely on these brain changes as biomarkers to better understand what may be predisposing teen binge drinkers to blacking out and the resulting memory deficiencies that are far more worrisome.

What has been a common, expected and celebrated relationship with alcohol for college students should continue to be viewed with great concern. Enough of the facts are in from neurobiological research to understand that alcohol has a substantial impact on the brain’s ability to transfer information into long-term memory. Binge drinking students experiencing blackouts could be compromising an opportunity to take advantage of a great education and perhaps diminish the probability of the success they anticipate.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Moms and Drug Abus

Ten years ago, it was reported that at least 18 million women aged 26 and older take prescription medications for unintended purposes.  Today, that number is even higher, and many of those abusing drugs include women who are moms.  Some are surprised to find out how many moms deal with drug abuse, but it must be remember that no one is immune to addiction and drug abuse.  Moms are just as vulnerable to drug abuse as anyone else and may turn to drugs to avoid guilt, stress, boredom, or any number of other things.  Today, an increasing number of moms are becoming addicted to pain medications.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs by moms include: sedatives, muscle relaxants, and opioid painkillers. Just like so many others, most moms started out their drug use legitimately—that is, they received a prescription from their doctor for a valid health issue.  However, some moms continue to use and abuse the drug they were safely prescribed after their treatment for the health issue is resolved.

Further, other drug addictions that seem to be rising with moms include alcohol addiction and abuse, and marijuana use.  Becoming aware of triggers that may turn moms toward drug abuse can stop the addictions before they start.  These triggers increase vulnerability and include: past trauma (such as being abused as a child), a family history of drug abuse problems, a history of drug or alcohol addiction, and the presence of mental health conditions (such as depression).

Also noteworthy is that many moms experience depression and stress after giving birth and these heightened reactions to the hormonal changes and lifestyle changes that occur can increase a mom’s vulnerability to addiction. In fact, any period of heightened stress increases the risk of using and depending on prescription drugs to feel better.

A main reason for the rise in prescription drug abuse by moms is the same as for everyone else: prescription drugs can be obtained and purchased relatively easy.  Moms may lie or or buy from less legitimate pharmacies online in order to maintain their drug habits.  These factors have directly impacted the rise in prescription drug abuse among all groups of people.  Some people simply think that if a doctor prescribes medicine it will not cause any harm.  Understanding side effects and addiction tendencies, and drugs that build tolerance, can also prevent further drug abuse issues. It is important to remember that no on is immune to addiction, even moms.

source: workingmother.com

Do Women Who Drink Alcohol Eat More?

Many of us made New Year’s Resolutions not that long ago to eat less, exercise more, and get healthier.  How are you measuring up?  Recent studies indicate that alcohol may be getting in the way of your goals, especially if you are female.  That is to say, the study, titled The Obesity Society reported that alcohol consumption can increase food consumption in women.

Interesting right?  So many women think that a glass of wine before bed is ok or an occasional alcoholic drink.  However, the study followed 35 healthy women who were given either alcohol or a saline solution intravenously before lunch. Next, after the participants were given either product, the researchers tested their brain food cues through the use of different aromas. Afterwards, they were also given a lunch of either beef or noodles with meat sauce.  Interestingly, the researchers found that the women who were given alcohol responded more to the food aromas than the women given saline. They also found that these women consumed more food than the ones given the saline solution. This means that when women drink alcohol, they are more likely to crave and eat more! In regards to New Year’s resolutions, if a woman is struggling with consuming too many calories, she may want to track her alcohol intake and monitor that first.  Reducing one’s alcohol intake seems to reduce one’s food cravings and calorie consumption overall.

A recent TIME magazine article entitled Here’s Why you Eat More when you Drink, reported that, “women who drank alcohol … ate more cookies. The researchers suggest that the reason the women ate more calories was because their inhibitory control was impaired the study authors conclude that alcohol may be linked with weight gain because the women’s self-control was lessened, not because they experienced heightened cravings. These findings highlight the role of alcohol consumption as a contributor to weight gain.”

In sum, if you’re trying to stick to those New Years Resolutions about weight loss, it may be a good idea— especially for women—to watch the alcohol consumption as well.

Drunk Driving

According to the US Department of Transportation, every two hours, 3 people are killed in highway crashes due to drunk driving. The consequences of drunk driving include: arrests, property damage, injuries, and thousands of deaths each year. A recent report published by the Bureau of Transportation indicates that, “an estimated 4 million U.S. adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in 2010, yielding an estimated 112 million alcohol-impaired driving episodes.”

The study also found some interesting facts relating to the statistics of drunk driving. They found that the rate of drunk driving is quite high and were surprised that there were not more deaths due to drunk driving because of this high rate. They indicate that, “alcohol-related highway crashes accounted for 13,365 deaths in 2010. In addition, alcohol-related highway crashes annually cost Americans an estimated $37 billion…Among major crimes, driving under the influence has one of the highest arrest rates with more than 1.4 million DUI arrests in 2010. In 2010, alcohol was involved in 2,020 (or 47.2 percent) of pedestrian fatalities, 11,087 (or 39.9 percent) of vehicle occupant fatalities, 209 (or 33.8 percent) of pedal cyclist fatalities. Pedestrians are more vulnerable than highway vehicle occupants are. In addition, drivers involved in traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities had less than two-thirds the rate of alcohol involvement as did the pedestrians killed.”

Drunk driving has been shown to be more prevalent among men, with men being involved in close to 81% of the fatal incidents involving drunk driving. Also, recreational vehicles, especially boats, have been examined in their relation to drunk driving and it was found in the recent study that alcohol was involved in 22 percent of fatalities involving boats. In any situation, driving drunk can impair a driver’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time.

Within the workplace, pilots and commercial truck drivers are often tested, as well as many others, to determine their blood-alcohol level. While most reports are positive in this area, indicating a lessening of drunk driving, studies have still brought to light that problems do exist and continued testing is absolutely necessary.

Source:

U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Drunk Driving by the Numbers- United States, 2010; available at https://www.rita.dot.gov.

The Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Most of us tend to think of alcohol use affecting mainly the liver and the brain. However, recent research points to evidence that alcohol impacts and effects almost every organ and system in the body. Further, the effects can be temporary or permanent depending on the amount consumed and the frequency of consumption.

According to drugrehab.org, “Alcohol is ingested orally and travels through the esophagus to the stomach. Alcohol requires no digestion before it enters the bloodstream. If the stomach is empty, twenty percent of the alcohol is absorbed through the stomach walls into the bloodstream and begins to affect the brain within a minute. For this reason, many alcoholics prefer to drink on an empty stomach. Although the esophagus is only the tube through which an alcoholic drink passes on its way to the stomach, half of oral, esophageal cancers and laryngeal cancers are related to regular drinking. The remaining alcohol makes its way to the small intestine where it is also readily absorbed” (http://www.drugrehab.org/alcohol-rehab/alcohol-effects/).

Those who drink on a regular basis are doing even more damage to their bodies. Gastritis, a condition that irritates the stomach lining tissues, can occur as well as reflux, ulcers, and erosion of the stomach wall. Malnutrition can present due to damage to the small intestine absorption mechanisms from regular alcohol intake. If individuals drink regularly over long periods of time, other conditions such as hepatitis, inflammation of the liver, and/or development of a fatty liver can occur. Ultimately, cirrhosis, defined as irreversible damage to the liver manifested in permanent scaring and decreased function, occurs from long-term regular drinking. Blood cells are also damaged making alcoholics more infection prone due to white blood cell abnormalities.

Mental function is also impaired with alcohol intake. First, drinkers may feel euphoric and calm. Then, judgement may become impaired which often leads to drinking more than intended. Memories can be lost, vision blurred, and coordination impaired with more alcohol. Last, even more alcohol intake can lead to confusion, stupor, coma, and even death from intoxication.

Although some damage from alcohol intake may never be repaired, abstinence can definitely heal many affected parts of the body. Generally, when alcoholism is present, medically supervised rehab is recommend. Getting enough vitamins and rest is necessary to repair the damage that has occurred. Sobriety can be achieved through this type of supervision, along with counseling and other support systems. Mental functioning can also be improved and regained with sobriety assuming that permanent brain damage hasn’t occurred. Outpatient therapy can help with lasting mental or cognitive impairment and is generally necessary to combat the effects of alcohol, on the body.

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