Archive for the ‘Alcohol’ 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.



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.



Chet Hanks’ Recovery From Drugs and Alcohol Highlights a Great Personal Attitude for Addicts Everywhere to Benefit From

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Chet Hanks at Blog

Celebrities are no strangers to alcohol and drug addiction. Nor, it seems, are their children who may or may not be celebrities themselves. Recently Tom Hanks’ son, Chet, revealed that he had spent 50 days in rehab to overcome both an addiction to alcohol as well as cocaine. Cocaine, is considered a Class-A drug in the United States, making it highly illegal, but none the less it is a powerful stimulant that has addicted millions of people worldwide for many years. Many people use the drug in combination with alcohol because of the drugs ability to allow someone to drink heavily and then receive a “pick-me-up” effect that can get alcoholics through hangovers and other nasty effects brought on by drinking heavily or even to the point of binge drinking which is most popular among younger adults, but is obviously not exclusive to them. The combination of cocaine and alcohol isn’t, as some might think, uncommon. Nor is it uncommon for celebrities to abuse one or the other, or both. It’s been discussed before why celebrities in particular seem to be singled out and talked about constantly when it comes to their recreational habits, but the truth is their lives are targeted by the press because of the widespread interest in their lives outside the movies, concerts and other events where their work is showcased. Many people also ask why celebrities, who are for the most part very rich, would ever need the escape that alcohol and drugs offer non-celebrities. Well, we may never know all the answers to that question but it is certain that celebrities may have everything they could possibly want, but with that comes a life of constantly being monitored and scrutinized by millions of people who judge and gossip about things that normally wouldn’t be their business, but thanks to the internet and widely available celebrity magazines are totally informed and immersed in the lives of others.

This particular case highlights another interesting point regarding celebrities and their addiction stories. While Tom Hanks’ son is a celebrity in his own right, because of his music career (specifically rap and hip hop) he hasn’t quite attained what his father has as far as fame, but regardless of that his life is just as highly scrutinized and despite that his attitude towards the entire ordeal is impressive to say the least. Prior to the story of his addiction issues even coming to light online or in magazines, he openly came out and spoke about his troubles in a blunt and straight forward fashion, even stating that he didn’t give a **** about what people may be thinking about him and his struggles. While the language may have been a bit harsh, this is exactly the right attitude that addicts need to have in order to get their lives back on track. It isn’t about what others may think, whether it’s your family or millions of fans across the globe. Addiction, while it does have effects on family and friends, is a personal issue that must be dealt with on the inside first before any relationships, however important to you, can begin to mend. Personal and inner-spiritual help is what will have to come first in a recovering alcoholic or drug user, not what the rest of the world thinks of you whether you have a few friends and family or all the fans in the world. These are some of the ideals held dear in programs like AA and NA which Tom Hanks’ son credits very highly for helping him overcome his addiction issues, and they can benefit other addicts as well.