Archive for the ‘Alcohol Addiction’ Category

Some Symptoms and Problems an Alcoholic May Encounter During Their Lives

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Alcohol’s destructive influence affects millions across North America and around the world. It is as serious as any other drug addiction, but sometimes is overlooked because of the fact that it is legal to most people. It can destroy families, cause serious health problems and can have a huge impact on the finances and other aspects of well-being that some once held most dear. It’s effects are different on everyone. Many college and university students “binge drink” which means consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, while others have a large number of drinks per day, well over the recommended limits that health agencies across the world have made standard for men and women. Not to mention the enormous numbers of drunk driving incidents that can have the license of the drunk driver be taken away, as well as the potential that a drunk driver may hurt or kill themselves as well as pedestrians and other drivers they hurt while being under the influence. Alcoholics are also at higher risk of hurting themselves physically by falling down, bumping into furniture around the house and can often expect frequent visits to emergency rooms due to serious physical harm while intoxicated. Luckily there exist programs like 12-Steps, AA and rehabilitation facilities put in place to help alcoholics get healthy and sober, but then another problem with alcohol arises: The fact that many alcoholics don’t believe their drinking is that serious, or that it has any effect on those around them. The truth is is that alcohol effects just about everyone around the alcoholic, as well as the addict themselves. It has the power to utterly break a family as well as relationships with spouses and children. For the purposes of this article, however, we should look at a list of health related symptoms an alcoholic can expect as well as a few other points that many alcoholics will face in their lifetime due to their addiction:

  • An increased risk of serious cancers, including mouth, throat, breast, rectum or colon cancer.
  • An increased risk of liver disease, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.
  • An increased risk of heart disease, which can include hypertension and stroke.
  • Malnutrition as a result of being satiated by “empty calories” rather than vitamin and mineral-nutrient foods – especially given that alcohol and mixed drinks in particular can contain a surprisingly high number of calories.
  • Insomnia, which paradoxically some people try to address by consuming alcohol, but only serve to make the problem worse. Chronic lack of sleep has been linked to a wide variety of adverse health conditions, including obesity.
  • Increased risk pancreatitis – particularly for individuals who drink heavily for five years or longer.
  • Uncontrollable tremors (a.k.a. “the shakes”) that can make even the simplest, daily task extremely difficult, dangerous or even impossible (e.g. driving).
  • Increased risk of brain damage, as alcohol kills vitally important white and grey brain cells.
  • Various dental problems that can be dangerous as well as painful, including gum disease, tooth decay and abscesses.
  • Severe anxiety, as alcohol inhibits the central nervous system and over time weakens the brain’s ability to cope with stress.
  • Depression, as contrary to what many people believe, alcohol lowers the brain’s serotonin and norepinephrine levels rather than increases them (i.e. alcohol is a depressant, not a stimulant).
  • Erectile dysfunction, which can be painful and dangerous, plus can lead to diminished self-esteem and relationship problems.
  • Unemployment and inability to sustain employment.
  • Unmanageable debt, as alcohol bills coupled with employment problems start to add up.
  • Marital and relationship difficulties, as most alcoholics – including so-called “high functioning alcoholics” – are prone to lies and deceit to continue their addiction.
  • Homelessness – according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 40% of homeless people are alcohol dependent.

This list of problems does not affect every alcoholic. It does, however, point to a number of things that an alcoholic could expect to encounter if their drinking continues. It is vital that if a loved one is addicted to alcohol you do your best to get them the professional help they need to save their life. If you, as an alcoholic realize you may be in over your head with your alcoholism, seek the treatment you need and take the steps towards sobriety and healthy living.

The Access Issue: California’s Addicted Doctors

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Doctors are a vital part in dealing with addiction. They have the expertise and knowledge to deal with a variety of addiction issues and they help thousands of addicts as part of the overall treatment process. It may come as a shock, however, to learn that in California there have been 46 doctors who have been reprimanded as a result of their own substance abuse issues. According to the California Medical Board this is a record high for doctors abusing certain substances in the last year, but the board reminds everyone that this figure is no doubt simply a fraction of the number of doctors who are currently abusing any given substance at this time. The scariest part of these revelations are that doctors who are facing disciplinary action can continue to practice while enforcement actions begin to take place, without their patients having any idea as to what’s going on. This issue has become very serious as California voters can now vote on the issue, known as Proposition 46, which if implemented would result in doctors being forced to submit themselves to random drug testing in order to catch substance-abuse before the patients of said doctors are harmed.

Proposition 46, also known as the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, would require random drug and alcohol testing of doctors modeled after the Federal Aviation Administration’s testing of airline pilots, and testing after an adverse event in a hospital. Prop 46 would also:

  • Require physicians to report suspected drug or alcohol abuse at work by a colleague

  • Index for inflation the medical negligence damage cap set by the legislature in California in 1975

  • Mandate that physicians check the state’s prescription drug database before prescribing narcotics and other addictive drugs to first-time patients

The California Medical Board is pointing to some specific cases where substance-abusing doctors may be to blame for direct harm to patients. Dr. David Chao, the former San Diego Chargers team physician could be responsible for the May 2012 suicide of player Junior Seau. Dr. Chao has a long history of alcohol abuse which even resulted in two DUIs, and is the target of malpractice lawsuits from the players who were in his care. Even the DEA is investigating allegations of Dr. Chao writing prescriptions for himself. The frustrating part of Dr. Chao’s story is that he is still practicing medicine despite all of the allegations brought against him.

Yes, it is a shocking situation. People trust their doctors because of their training, knowledge and the fact that they are in fact meant to be able to help you with just about any medical problem. Doctors are required to be discrete, helpful and experts in their field as well as acting as a rock in a trusting relationship with their sick patients who need someone to totally rely on in times of injury and sickness. But the fact is is that doctors often are under a lot of stress and despite the fact they are well trained and have extensive knowledge they are simply human and can succumb to substance abuse just as easily as anyone. The only difference is is that these medical professionals hold the lives of others in their hands and if they are under the influence of an addictive or dangerous substance they could cause serious harm. The disciplinary actions against these particular California doctors make sense, but the doctors should also be given the chance to kick their bad habits and under severe scrutiny, eventually return to their practices in order to keep helping patients.



Dealing With Addiction, From the First Step to The Inevitable Setbacks

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

www.sobriety.caWith millions of people struggling with addiction what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of that first and most important step when it comes to dealing with the issue? Deciding to make a change and being open and honest with yourself about your disease. It’s perfectly normal to feel conflicted about giving up that substance that has both plagued and “helped” you for so long, even though you know for sure that it’s become a defining and truly negative part of your existence. Let’s face it, you started using the drug for a reason, and in the beginning it may have just been for fun, or even to mask some inner pain or perhaps it was an escape mechanism that helped you put off dealing with some very serious life problems. The truth is the addiction experts and community at large understand your reasons, and while stigma still exists when it comes to substance abuse the experts are there to help you, not judge. Thousands of addicts have made the best decision of their lives and have overcome their alcohol or substance addiction, and most of them didn’t do it on their own. In fact it’s been said that it’s nearly impossible to give up drugs and alcohol without some sort of support network. Whether it be a 12 step program, AA, NA or a professional and medically supervised treatment program offered through a well known facility, people have found ways to kick their bad habits and move on with their lives in a healthy way.

Let there be no mistake, recovering from an alcohol or drug addiction isn’t easy. What many addicts feel during rehab is that they are destined to fail and they aren’t progressing fast enough, so they drop out and continue using drugs. This mindset obviously isn’t the correct one, sobriety as an end goal is very achievable but there is no doubt in the sense of how much you’ll have to struggle to attain it. The feeling of hopelessness is one that often comes with treatment. But no matter how hopeless you may feel about your progress, the best thing to do is try to change your mindset and be as stoic as possible. With professional help and a solid support network, sobriety is possible, but an addict needs to understand that a negative attitude will never benefit them in any way. Recovery isn’t so much a simple highway journey. Instead it is more like a country lane filled with bumps, obstacles and even a little road rage and a few wrong turns. But understanding your disease and getting to the root causes of what made you turn to drugs in the first place can, and will help you achieve your goals in treatment.

The first step of identifying that one may have a problem is vital, and if that realization comes the desire to change it’s time to evaluate the best approaches to helping that person reach sobriety. Perhaps they should start small and attend friendly meetings, or maybe they should consult their family physician for some advice. Or maybe the addiction has become so out of control that an inpatient, full-time treatment facility is the answer. The point is there are great options out there and no addict should feel alone in their struggle. Help is there should you desire to seek it.



The Leading Cause of Accidental Death Among Young People? It Isn’t Suicide or Car Accidents. It’s Overdosing.

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Drug addiction is definitely on the rise, but a key part of drug use is the danger of overdose, a problem that is becoming more and more prevalent among young people. According to new research, overdosing on drugs and alcohol remains the biggest cause of accidental death among young adults. The research was reported on by Business Insider and it states that overdoses are the most common causes of accidental death among young adults, ahead of car accidents and even suicide and that alcohol and drug overdoses claim some of the youngest victims in our society. The mistake in assumptions regarding drug use and alcoholism is that overdoses are only for addicts with very serious addictions and behavior, but the truth is is that it happens far more often than people believe, even among young adults who are not considered heavy users. In addition there is a belief that overdoses are not a common occurrence, but the facts paint a much different picture proving that pretty much any drug user despite their level of dependence is at serious risk of overdosing and potentially dying as a result.

The Business Insider article’s data comes from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of it’s findings are rather obvious, one finding being that alcohol and drugs are a very serious problem, and that opiate drugs like prescription painkillers and heroin are the most problematic of drugs taken by young adults. A finding in the article that may shock you is the fact that in the US there are nearly 20,000 deaths related to opiate medications and illegal street drugs. Obviously something needs to be done about the sheer amount and availability of these types of drugs, and the subsequent patterns that lead many young people from stealing opiates from family members, to buying their own on the street and eventually not getting the same high anymore and buying a much more powerful and dangerous drug like heroin. Surprisingly though, according to the article, it isn’t the opiates that are killing the most people. It’s the alcohol. It kills more people than any other specific drug and despite the fact that it’s legal it is still highly addictive and very dangerous, more dangerous in fact than many of the opiate substances that are out there poisoning young people and leading to tragic, preventable and accidental deaths.

Even though an accidental death from drugs or alcohol can affect just about any user, regardless of level of use and dependence, addiction to drugs, alcohol or both puts you at a very critical level of risk. If you suspect that you may have a problem, or perhaps you are seeing the signs in someone else, now is the time to act and help yourself or that person in your life who is spiraling out of control. Accidental deaths are a serious problem, but there are other ways to lose your life due to drinking and drug use. Your liver might fail, or you may develop certain types of cancers and other chronic, life-threatening diseases like Hepatitis or HIV. All to say that there are so many risk factors when you drink too much or allow drugs to take over your life, and they need to be addressed as soon as possible in order to get the help that will save you from complications, overdoses and disease.



Canadians Need The Government To Start Focusing Efforts To Alcohol As Well As Illicit Drugs

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Because of the commercials we see on television regarding marijuana use in Canada, and how terrible it is for the brain, and the frequent news stories about prescription drugs and the way heroin seems to be destroying entire communities, we forget that one of the worst drugs out there is a legal one. Well, if you’re under the age of 18 (19 in some provinces) it isn’t legal, not that it stops many teens with fake drivers licenses, but yes, it is legal to purchase from grocery stores and government run liquor stores nation wide. The fact that it’s legal may fool some people into thinking it’s safer than illicit drugs, for example, but for the most part Canadians know just how dangerous it can be and there is a call for action on behalf of the government to act on alcohol and the destructive influence it can have on our health, mental health and in our homes. According to the Canadian Center for Substance Abuse, the Harper government has put in a considerable amount of money and effort into waging a campaign against illicit drugs like opiates, marijuana and cocaine. But the organization believes it’s time that the same measures be applied to the worst offender of them all, alcohol. The government has a $570-million National Anti-Drug Strategy that is seriously lacking in the alcohol department, and groups and individuals across the country desperately want alcohol to be a part of that allocation of funds.

The Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, which has already gone public to call on Ottawa to undertake a study on the public health implications of decriminalization or legalization of pot, argues that alcohol causes far more harm in Canada than drugs. Alcohol causes more deaths than lung cancer and more hospital stays than all other substances combined, the organization argues in a brief submitted to the House of Commons finance committee that is seeking public input on Budget 2015. It is also closely linked to spousal abuse and fatal motor vehicle crashes, and according to a 2002 study on crime, the cost of alcohol-related offences was $3.1 billion, versus $2.3 billion for drug offences.

Experts are pointing to the fact that alcohol has been given somewhat of a free pass compared to other substances. They say it all comes down to history, politics and culture and that none of those things should really matter when it comes to the health of Canadians. They say that for most people, and in most circumstances, alcohol is still more harmful than marijuana for example, a drug that the federal government is focusing on. Obviously all forms of drugs should be given attention, whether they be legal or illegal. Ads regarding marijuana and their effects on the developing brain (aimed at teenagers) are now being aired on a number of Canadian television stations and their message is presented strongly, but fairly as they are attempting to reach out to parents in order to start a conversation about pot. It would make sense, then, that the same measures be taken in regards to alcohol as many teens will experiment with it and could potentially harm themselves through alcohol poisoning or because they get into a car with a drunk driver. The point being made by various groups who want more attention to be paid to alcohol isn’t to ignore other substances, but to include alcohol in the policies and government funding in order to inform Canadians about the health and safety risks, as well as putting a dent in alcohol-related crime and other behaviors caused by over-drinking.