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Posts Tagged ‘Alcohol Abuse’

Why Do We Drink Alcohol?

Monday, February 13th, 2017

The Reasons Why We Drink Alcohol?

Alcohol is one of the world’s most popular and accessible drugs. The ubiquity of alcohol consumption, however, belies the major health risks associated with alcohol abuse. In 2012 alone, according to the World Health Organization, alcohol abuse was responsible for over 3.3 million deaths across the globe.

The dangers of alcoholism are numerous and pervasive. Physical dependence, cancer, liver disease and personal injuries are common among those who consume large amounts of alcohol on a frequent basis.

It’s important to note that these risk factors are widely known. Most Americans are educated on the numerous health risks that accompany alcohol abuse from a young age via school programs, televised health campaigns and social media. However, the effectiveness of this messaging has been inconsistent at best – data collected by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reveals that nearly 27 percent of Americans ages 18 or older participated in binge drinking in 2015.

Considering that Americans are generally well-educated regarding the risks of excessive alcohol use, it is surprising that that so many individuals continue to put their health, well-being and loved ones in danger by abusing alcohol. A closer look at the issue shows that several factors, ranging from social pressures to genetics, encourage people to drink heavily regardless of the consequences. Understanding these motivators is a crucial step toward identifying the factors that drive loved ones into bouts of self-destructive drinking.

Multiple Factors Encourage Alcohol Abuse

Researchers have studied alcohol use for decades, but these investigations have yet to identify a simple explanation as to why people choose to abuse alcohol. Instead, data has revealed that the causes of alcohol addiction are complex and nuanced. It’s common for those who abuse alcohol to do so for multiple reasons and those motivators are often interrelated. Additionally, the causes of alcoholism vary significantly across economic, cultural and generational boundaries.

Compare the typical reasons a college student may fall prey to alcohol abuse to the factors motivating a senior citizen. A desire to meet new people and constant pressure from peers are among the most common reasons that college students choose to drink heavily. Alternatively, older adults with greater financial resources and smaller social circles may be more motivated to abuse alcohol in response to long-term loneliness.

The major takeaway from this comparison is that treating the addiction like a simple cause-effect relationship is an ineffective strategy for identifying the reasons that individuals choose to abuse alcohol. A comprehensive approach provides a more accurate picture of the forces that make friends, family and loved ones vulnerable to the self-destructive cycles that characterize alcoholism.

Peer Pressure and Substance Abuse

Social dynamics play a large part in determining how susceptible an individual is to abusing alcohol. This trend is especially prevalent among college students, many of whom have left the structure and security of their family home for the first time and are coping with a completely new environment. In situations like these, college students are very susceptible to the influence of their peer group. In fact, an article published by the Department of Applied Psychology at NYU Reinhardt emphasized the unique role that peer pressure plays in encouraging students to participate in “risk-taking behaviors.”

While the impacts of peer pressure are typically associated with adolescence and early adulthood, individuals at all ages are susceptible to the influence of their peer group. Many office employees, for example, face social pressure to participate in work-related happy hours on a weekly basis. Scenarios like these can contribute to an individual falling into alcohol abuse just as readily as a college tailgate party.

Early Exposure to Alcohol

Many individuals who struggle with alcohol abuse began drinking long before they were able to understand the long-term side effects of their consumption. Scenarios like these are especially prevalent among children who observe unhealthy drinking habits at home – the natural instinct of children to model their parent’s behavior can become a gateway toward alcoholism.

Data analysis performed by the Kansas State University emphasizes the pervasiveness of this trend. According to KSU, nearly half (47%) of individuals who began drinking prior to the age of 14 eventually developed a dependence on alcohol. Among those who started drinking after the age of 20, however, only 9% began to abuse alcohol later in life. This data suggests that many individuals who fall victim to self-destructive drinking patterns in their adult lives do so as a direct result of early exposure to alcoholism.

Alcohol as Coping Mechanism

It’s not uncommon for an individual to begin drinking more heavily in response to overwhelming or traumatic experiences. A divorce, loss of a family member, career disappointment and a long list of other negative experiences can have severe, lasting emotional impacts and subsequently encourage men and women to turn to alcohol as an escape.

An article published by the Royal Society of Arts noted that individuals turn to alcohol in times of anxiety and emotional turmoil because of the substance’s unique chemical properties. Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that efficiently limits communications between neurons. By hindering the transmission of electrical signals in the brain, individuals feel less affected by negative thoughts and are more able to live in the moment. This state of mental dissociation is an attractive option for people facing extreme emotional hardship, resulting in higher risks for alcohol abuse as individuals leverage drunkenness as a form of self-help therapy.

A detailed understanding of why individuals turn to alcohol in spite of the numerous health risks highlights the multifaceted nature of substance abuse. If a family member or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, it’s dangerous to assume that such a complex problem can be addressed with a simple solution. That’s why it’s so vital for those looking to overcome their addiction to identify a reputable, established treatment center where their unique experiences will be respected.

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How Alcohol Abuse Affects The Major Organs Of The Body

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

How Alcohol Affects The Body Organs

Alcohol abuse has been proven to be deadly if continued over long periods of time, but we often overlook the long-term effects of alcohol abuse, as many believe that “long term” is considered to mean years or decades. This lack of foresight and understanding of just how much of an effect alcohol actually has on the entire body contributes to the high rates of alcohol abuse.

It is often difficult for human beings to truly grasp the repercussions of our actions in the long term, but sometimes taking a little time to learn exactly how our decisions will affect our future is all we need to gain clarity. With this clarity and understanding, making the right decisions may be easier. It is our hope that this article will help readers gain a better idea of just how alcohol abuse affects the body – in particular, the major organs.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Brain

We will start with the effects that alcohol abuse has on the brain, as that is one of the first places where we begin to feel or notice the effects of alcohol after consumption. First off, we should remind our readers that alcohol has long been used as an antiseptic: Its antiseptic properties come from the fact it can very easily break down cell walls and even tissue. While this is helpful for weakening or destroying viruses, bacteria and other single-celled threats, alcohol will also weaken or damage the individual cells and tissues across your body’s systems – especially the most fragile of cells and tissue, located in the brain.

As alcohol travels through the bloodstream, it runs through the various blood vessels in the brain and through brain tissue itself. This causes damage to the tissue of the brain, especially in certain concentrated areas, including the limbic system, thalamus, hypothalamus, frontal lobe systems and neurotransmitter systems.

While nearly half of the average 20 million alcoholics in the United States show no signs of cognitive damage, the other half show mild to severe neuropsychological difficulties. Of the most common, these difficulties can range from minor shakiness, anxiety and depression to the extreme symptoms of impairment of language, reasoning or learning.

Wernicke–Korsakoff Wet Brain Syndrome From Alcohol Abuse

Also known as alcohol-induced persisting amnesic disorder, this disease is a form of brain damage that results from the leeching of Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) out of the body from alcohol. This vitamin deficiency can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Confusion
  • Loss in mental activity
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Loss of muscle coordination

While certain symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff can be treated, and vitamin treatment can restore the thiamine deficiency, cessation from alcohol use and abuse is the only way to prevent the disease from progressing any further. If left untreated, this disease can eventually lead to coma and death.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Heart

Alcohol is well known for causing a wide variety of issues with the heart and the circulatory system. As stated earlier, alcohol is transported throughout the body in the blood stream, doing damage to the blood vessels along the way, and to the heart when it reaches that junction.

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy

A form of heart disease that is specifically caused by ongoing alcohol abuse, alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a thinning and weakening of the heart muscle. This is where the problem starts, but it spreads from this point, causing further damage and additional ailments. When the heart weakens, less blood will flow readily throughout the body. This lack of blood flow will disrupt ALL major body functions, and most often lead to cardiac failure.

Symptoms of Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy:
  • Change in the output of urine
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid, irregular pulse
  • Swelling of the legs and feet

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy and heart failure are the prime concerns regarding the heart and alcohol abuse, but one must also remember that high or low blood pressure disorders from drinking and diabetes can also be the result of alcohol abuse – either of which will contribute to heart disease and eventual heart failure.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Kidneys

Binge drinking especially has a profoundly negative effect on the kidneys, though any amount of alcohol consumption over the doctor-recommended safe level will certainly affect the kidneys. Binge drinking and long-term alcohol abuse creates changes in the kidney structure itself, with the glomerulus becoming heavily thickened and the kidney itself enlarging.

Blood flow changes

Again, alcohol abuse affects blood flow: In this case, blood flow to the kidneys. The purpose of the kidneys is to filter blood and to remove toxins from the bloodstream before these toxins leave the body in the form of urine. One such toxin that the kidneys are eager to rid the body of is alcohol, and the kidneys will work overtime during alcohol consumption to not only get rid of the alcohol within the bloodstream, but to keep up with the steady flow of more alcohol into the body from consumption.

While the kidneys are hard at work removing alcohol, they begin to slip when it comes to maintaining the distribution of other elements in the bloodstream such as sodium, chloride and potassium. All of this abuse on the kidneys takes its toll, and can lead to alcoholic kidney failure. Going back to the heart again, let’s not forget that alcohol increases the risk of high blood pressure, and that high blood pressure is the second-leading cause of kidney failure.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Pancreas

Alcohol can often confuse or impair the judgment of those consuming it, and it can confuse a variety of organs as well, causing these organs to malfunction, or not properly function. The pancreas is quite often confused by the presence of alcohol, and begins to malfunction in its duty of secreting enzymes to the small intestines.

Instead of sending these enzymes to where they are needed, the pancreas tends to build up the enzymes or only secrete them locally. As the enzymes build up in and around the pancreas, inflammation begins to take hold – causing sharp pains in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting.

Alcoholic Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis simply refers to the inflammation of the pancreas, and the severity can vary. In extreme cases of acute pancreatitis, surgery and medication may be needed immediately – coupled with stopping the intake of alcohol. In the worst cases, pancreas function can be forever altered, requiring enzyme replacement therapy, insulin and analgesics. As in the case of all alcohol-induced diseases, the affected patient will have to stop drinking or watch the disease continue to progress.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Liver

The most profound impact that alcohol has on the body is seen within the liver, and this is where the most serious effects are usually seen. So why did we save the effects on the liver for last? As an example of the finality of the damage of alcohol to the liver.

Quitting drinking early on will help stave off the most devastating damage on the liver, and certain damage can be reversed, but you really need to understand that the majority of the damage taken by the liver from alcohol will be permanent. While it is a frightening fact, when it comes to liver disease, it is quite often considered terminal, meaning it will never go away – and simply keep progressing.

Liver disease is a general name given to several diseases of the liver including cirrhosis, alcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatitis [A, B, C, D and E], non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, iron overload and Epstein Barr. Liver disease is the progressive failure of the liver itself, the largest organ and largest gland in the human body. While specific treatment can extend the life of the organ and the patient, the progression of liver disease often requires liver transplants, and can turn into liver cancer in 4th– and end-stage progressions.

It’s Never Too Late To Stop Alcohol Abuse

We have taken a long tour around a body that has seen its share of negative health effects from long-term use and abuse of alcohol. While much of this information can cause anxiety or even fear, we hope that our readers will take away the true message that we were hoping this article would convey, which is that it is never too late to stop alcohol abuse.

While damage may have already done, a full healthy and happy life can still be achieved by recognizing the problem of alcohol abuse or alcoholism, and consciously taking steps in the right direction. Between medical assistance and alcohol abuse treatment programs, it is possible to heal some of the damage and to guide yourself toward a life of sobriety and recovery.

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Best of the Week 1/18

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best addiction recovery news sources, compiled from various places across the web.

The Dangers of Teen Alcohol Abuse

Why is Heroin Abuse Rising While Other Drug Abuse is Falling?

Transitioning in Early Recovery

MTVU, Macklemore & More to Tackle Prescription Drug Abuse on College Campuses

Recovery Prayer Wall

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What are the Signs of Teen Substance Abuse?

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Teen substance abuse continues to be a growing problem. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.6 million individuals under the age of 18 were in need of treatment for a drug or alcohol abuse problem. As a parent, it’s important to know what to look for if your teen is abusing addictive substances. If you are afraid your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol, look for the signs below:

Behavioral Changes

It can be hard to determine if a teen is having normal mood swings, or if it is due to substance abuse. If your teen has become secretive and deceitful, they may be trying to hide the use of drugs or alcohol. Extreme mood swings, emotional instability, blatant disrespect or sudden depression are all symptoms of abusing addictive substances. It’s also important to look out for extreme happiness or energy followed by a “crash.”

Change in Personal Appearance

Oftentimes, when one becomes preoccupied by getting their next fix, they become careless about their hygiene and personal appearance. You may notice a messy, dirty or careless choice in clothing. Consistent bloodshot eyes, burns or soot on fingers or lips and track marks are all telltale signs of substance abuse.

Change in Personal Habits

You may have noticed that your teen’s appetite and sleeping patterns have changed dramatically. An increase or decrease in either of these are the effects of different types of addictive substances. An unexplained need for money and secretive spending habits may explain a hidden drug habit or alcohol problem. Individuals may also start making endless excuses for their behaviors and actions in an attempt to cover up their substance abuse.

Health Issues

If you notice that your teen is frequently not feeling well, it could be side effects from drugs or alcohol. Things to look for are: sudden weight loss, frequent nosebleeds, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and sores or spots around the nose or mouth.

Social Changes

One of the most common things to happen when a teen begins abusing drugs or alcohol is a sudden change in friends. Their relationships with family members may also change because they begin pushing others away in order to hide what they are doing. You may also notice decreased interest in family functions, school or extracurricular activities.

Finding out that someone you care for is abusing addictive substances can be scary and overwhelming. The Teen Treatment Center helps adolescents 14-17 struggling with substance abuse. We are available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us at: (877) 392-3342.

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Breaking the Stigma of Addiction – #NoMoreShame

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Click the image to see our No More Shame video.

In the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it was found that an estimated 21.6 million people were classified as needing treatment for the abuse of drugs or alcohol. Out of that 21.6 million people, only 10.8% received help. How can the other 19.3 million who are struggling be reached?

At The Treatment Center, we  launched our #NoMoreShame campaign in an effort to break the stigma of addiction. Our main goal is to start the conversation that those who are suffering from this terrible disease should not be ashamed to reach out for help. Those who have already taken the steps to receive help for their addiction should not be ashamed of their past. Recovery is the bridge between who you were and who you have become. By launching this campaign, we hope that more people will have the opportunity to begin their road to recovery.

Please join us in breaking the stigma by sharing your before and after pictures with #NoMoreShame in the same message. You can share with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest.

 

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Is it an Alcohol Problem or Just Having a Good Time?

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

 

The holidays are over and so are the parties. The use of alcohol normally accompanies the season of celebrations and gatherings. But after the holidays have passed, many are left wondering if they have a problem or if they were just having a good time.

There is a difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism or alcohol dependence. Alcohol abusers have some ability to control their drinking even though their use may be destructive to themselves or others.  Abuse may progress quickly to alcoholism.

What is the difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse?

Not all alcohol abusers develop alcoholism. There is a genetic predisposition in some people that makes alcohol dependence more likely.  However, alcoholism may develop suddenly due to a stressful such as a relationship ending, death of a loved one, retirement, or some other loss. In other cases , alcoholism may creep  up as tolerance to alcohol increases. If a person is a daily or a binge drinker, the risks of developing alcoholism are even greater.

How do you know if you or someone else has a problem?

  • Do you consume  alcohol on a regular basis (one or more days per week?)
  • Do you drink to relieve stress or when you are depressed?
  • Have you ever missed work, school or an appointment because of your alcohol use?
  • Have you ever experienced a blackout (memory loss) from drinking?
  • Do most of the people in your life use alcohol on a regular basis?
  • Has anyone ever told you that they are concerned about  the amount that you drink?
  • Have you ever had a problem with the law because of your drinking?
  • Do you drink for the feeling the alcohol produces?
  • Do you ever find yourself having more drinks than you intended to have?
  • Do you ever drink alone?

If you answered yes to 3 or more of the questions above, you or someone you know may have a serious problem.

The good news is recovery from alcoholism is possible and we can help. Call or chat with one of our counselors for a free and confidential consultation.

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The Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Have you ever wondered if someone is just abusing alcohol or if they are an alcoholic? And if so, what is the difference?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) characterizes alcohol abuse as the following:
• Problems in personal relationships.
• Failure to fulfill major responsibilities at school, work, or home.
• Legal problems resulting from drinking alcohol, such as a DUI or DWI.
• Drinking in dangerous situations, such as operating machinery or driving  car or boat.

Heavy drinking for long periods of time can lead to alcohol dependency, or alcoholism. The CDC characterizes alcoholism as the following:
• Inability to limit or control alcohol consumption.
• Physical withdrawal after one stops drinking alcohol for a period of time (shaking, seizures, tremors, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, hallucinations etc.)
• Alcohol cravings.

Doctor’s Warning: No one who drinks heavily should ever attempt to quit “cold turkey” Attempting to quit drinking without a proper medical detox can result in seizures, stroke, cardiac arrest and death.

If you or someone you care about has a drinking problem, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential assessment.

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Best of The Week In Addiction and Recovery : 11-2-12

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best addiction, recovery and wellness related links, compiled from various sources across the web.

Alcohol Abuse Common Among Bullies and Victims

When Mom Is A Drug Addict

Addictions House of Horrors

Prayer: A Solid Foundation For Recovery

Recovering Oxy Addict Wins World Series of Poker

5 Herbs To Cleanse Your Liver

Overdose Deaths Drop In Florida

Now She Gets It: A Child’s View On Her Mothers Recovery

The Healing Center Opens It’s Doors

Octomom Enters Rehab

Pre-Existing Alcohol Condition Discovered in Teens

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the San Diego Healthcare System, heavy drinking affects specific parts of adolescent brains. They believe there is brain evidence to predict which adolescents are at risk of becoming heavy drinkers.

Researchers scanned and studied the brains of children ages 12-16 years before they began drinking, and scanned their brains again 3 years later. Approximately half of the group tested had begun drinking heavily in the 3 year time span. When researchers looked at the brain scans of this heavy drinking group prior to when they began drinking, they noticed less activity in the part of the brain that scientists believe may be linked to heavy drinking.

Principal researcher Susan Tapert, PhD and professor of psychiatry at UC Sand Diego Medical School states, “Interestingly, this study showed that teens who initially showed less activation in certain brain areas were at greater risk for becoming heavy drinkers over the next three years.”

The adolescents who began drinking heavily showed less efficient information processing ability.

Lead researcher Lindsay M. Squeglia, PhD of psychiatry at UC Sand Diego commented, “That’s the opposite of what you’d expect, because their brains should be getting more efficient as they get older.”

The brain areas affected by the group who began drinking heavily were the parietal lob, which processes information and the frontal lobe, which aids in short term memory tasts, organization and planning.

The researchers believe their study could explain that heavy alcohol consumption is a pre-existing, biological condition.

DSM V to be Released in 2013

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will release the newest edition of the DSM in 2013. The DSM V is published by the American Psychiatric Association. It influences how doctors diagnose mental disorders and influences which conditions insurance companies will cover.

A new section on Addiction and Related Disorders features new vocabulary for substance abuse. The words “dependence” and “abuse” have been cut from the manual. Publishers feel “dependence” can be confused with physical and psychological dependence. They believe the term “abuse” has no scientific support.

These terms have been replaced by the words “use disorder.” For example, “alcohol dependency” and “alcohol abuse” are now termed alcohol use disorder. These “use disorders” are classified under Addictions. Gambling has achieved “addiction” status, and is termed gambling use disorder. The publishers are considering “Internet Addiction” to be included in the next edition, but they have not included it in the DSM V. “Binge Eating” is now classified as an independent disorder under Eating Disorders.

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