Thursday, December 18, 2008

Make a Happy Holiday

Making a happy holiday season...

The holidays can be a real challenge to our sobriety

· families and social gatherings are harder to avoid

· there are more opportunities for lapsing,

· and alcohol seems to be everywhere.

While sobriety often involves avoiding situations where alcohol is present, that may be much more difficult due to our jobs or family obligations.

But successful sobriety involves planning for urges, and much of the distress can be of our own making. Hence, we can make a happy holiday if we plan for urges and focus our thoughts.
Plan and prepare for urges.

· Having allies as you plan for the holiday parties can make it easier to develop exit strategies for parties.

· BYOB—bring your own special beverages.

· Do some role playing so you are prepared for the drink offers.

But remember that most people don’t really care if you are drinking, so you’re unlikely to have to defend yourself.

Anxiety about not drinking in public seems to be a common reason for lapses! “No, thanks” is really all the answer anyone needs—though dense folks may need to hear it a couple of times.

Our own families can seem to be an obstacle to sobriety, but ‘seem’ is the operative word and our own beliefs and expectations are the real problem.

· Avoid self-fulfilling prophecies: ‘she always gets to me’, ‘he’s going to drive me nuts’.

· Try to be aware of our own absolute and demanding thoughts. Then it’s easier to see how we set ourselves up for distress.

The underlying belief in most cases is a demand we are making that everything be perfect, that there be no disharmony or conflict…in other words, that people not be human, and that they live up to an ideal we’ve constructed for how the holidays ‘should’ go!

Recognize happy moments when they are occurring.

Some people spend so much time planning for happy events that they forget to notice when the happiness is happening! It isn’t that golden moment when you all sit down at the Norman Rockwell table and Grandpa carves the turkey—it’s the laughter an hour before when the kids were ‘helping’ in the kitchen.

As we plan for an idealized holiday, we may be building unrealistic expectations, creating anxiety about imperfections, and magnifying flaws. If we are more rigid in our thinking, we may become more and more brittle as the time passes and all the flaws seem to mount ….

Taking a step back and seeing when people are genuinely enjoying spontaneous moments can make those imperfections seem trivial.
Be realistic about the past.

We use our own subjective and highly imperfect memories of how it ‘used to be’—implying, in this belief, that something has changed. Or the memories of ‘bad’ holidays past may be clouding the happiness of this one.

These anxieties and distresses can be real triggers. How realistic are those memories, good or bad, and why are we allowing them to impinge on this year?

If we spend our time planning for perfection and remembering perfection—is that the measure of happiness during the holiday?

Taking a step back to pick out the moments and images of beauty, with our newly sober and sharper minds, can give us a perspective that we missed when we were drinking.

Taking a moment to recognize the things we appreciate about this season—the beginnings of the longer days, the stark beauty of the winter, the colorful and joyous things that have been assembled by those who have come together—taking those moments can help provide a balance and serenity.

And seeing the humor in the madness and folly of seasonal travel and family gatherings can help us tolerate even the most ill-minded folks!

You can’t change other people. But you can change how you react to them, and create reasonable expectations.

We can plan to avoid lapses. And we can keep to an unshakable belief that there is no aspect of this season that drinking would make better.

Make a happy holiday!

Don S. of the Sober Village

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Department Of Health Research Shows Women Are Unaware Of Link Between Alcohol And Breast Cancer Risk

New research from the Department of Health's Know Your Limits campaign reveals that the vast majority of UK women (82%) don't realise alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

According to the General Household Survey, around 4 million women drink more than the NHS recommended daily limit of 2-3 units of alcohol, equivalent to one large glass of wine a day (250ml at ABV 12%). [1]

We know that regularly drinking alcohol can slightly increase the risk of developing breast cancer and the risk increases the more you drink. Drinking, on average, one unit of alcohol per day increases a woman's risk of breast cancer by about 6%. This risk increases by a further 6% for each additional unit of alcohol consumed on a daily basis. For example, a woman who drinks two units per day each and every day of her adult life would increase her risk of breast cancer by about 12%. [2]

Unlike many other established breast cancer risk factors, alcohol consumption is something we can change. The important message is for women to be aware of how many units of alcohol they are consuming and to drink in moderation.

Dr Sarah Cant, Policy Manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said:

"Drinking moderate or high levels of any type of alcoholic drink has many health consequences, including an increased chance of developing breast cancer.

"Although many factors might affect our risk of getting breast cancer, limiting how much we drink is one thing we can do to try to reduce that risk - it's never too late to change your drinking habits."

Drinking alcohol is one of the few identified risk factors for developing breast cancer. We don't yet know all the causes of the disease but it's thought to be a combination of hormonal, genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. For most women, the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer is increasing age.

The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment. It's important for all women to be breast aware and to attend NHS Breast Screening appointments if they are over 50.

More information about breast cancer risk factors can be found here

To find out more about the Know Your Limits campaign visit

[1] The 'around 4 million' figure is based on 21,119,500 women aged 16 and over in England (ONS 2006 population estimates). General Household Survey data shows that in 2006, 20% of English women drank more than 14 units in the week (using the new methodology). Using this, the Know Your Limits campaign estimates that 4,223,900 women aged 16 or over exceeded the 14 units in 2006.

[2] These figures are estimates and reflect the incidence of breast cancer in the UK population and the size of alcoholic units in the UK.


- For more information about the established, possible and doubtful risk factors for breast cancer, Breakthrough Breast Cancer has published the BMA award-winning booklet, Breast Cancer Risk Factors: The Facts. Copies can be obtained by calling the Breakthrough Information Line on 08080 100 200 or can be downloaded here

- At the moment we don't have enough information or the means to prevent breast cancer. That's why Breakthrough Breast Cancer has launched the Breakthrough Generations Study, in partnership with The Institute of Cancer Research. This is the largest, most comprehensive investigation into the causes of breast cancer in the UK. Involving 100,000 women over the next 40 years, the study aims to provide the most detailed information yet on what causes breast cancer and as a result, give an understanding of how the disease can be prevented in the first place. If you would like more information about the Breakthrough Generations Study, please visit

Rachel Pilkington
Assistant PR Officer

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Excess Drinking Shrinks the Brain

The more alcohol you drink, the more your brain shrinks, a new study has found.

"The take-home message is that, if you drink a lot, you're going to hurt your brain," said Rajesh Miranda, an associate professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. "This is something we knew, but this is a huge study that quantifies that."

"It's not surprising that alcohol would cause shrinkage of the brain. That kind of thing has been observed in animal models and smaller studies," Miranda added. "The surprising thing is that they 1/8the study authors 3/8 showed that even low levels of drinking are not protective, as people had seen in other cases."

The findings are published in the October issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Brain volume decreases naturally as people age, at a rate of about 1.9 per cent per decade. At the same time, the brain acquires white matter lesions as it gets older. Both of these changes also accompany dementia and cognitive decline, according to background information in the study.

Moderate levels of alcohol consumption have been linked with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, leading researchers to hypothesize that restrained tippling might also slow declines in brain volume. Previous studies have also found that drinking alcohol in moderation is associated with improved cognitive function and a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

For the new study, led by Carol Ann Paul, of Wellesley College in Massachusetts, researchers conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and health exams on 1,839 adults (average age 60) participating in the Framingham Offspring Study between 1999 and 2001. None of the participants had evidence of clinical dementia or had suffered a stroke.

The men and women were asked how much alcohol they drank each week, then were classified as abstainers, former drinkers, or low (one to seven drinks per week), moderate (eight to 14 drinks per week) or high consumers of alcohol (more than 14 drinks a week).

Most participants (almost 38 per cent of men and more than 44 per cent of women) fell into the "low-consumption" category. Men were more likely than women to report being moderate or heavy drinkers.

Alcohol had no protective affect on the normal, age-related shrinkage in brain volume, the researchers found.

To the contrary, the more a person drank, the more their brain volume diminished. This relationship was somewhat more pronounced in women, although women tended to be lighter drinkers.

The gender difference could be explained by biological factors, namely that alcohol is absorbed faster in women and they tend to feel the effects of alcohol more than men, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on dementia.

SOURCES: Rajesh Miranda, Ph.D., associate professor, neuroscience and experimental therapeutics, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine; October 2008 Archives of Neurology
Copyright 2008 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Drunkenness, in its most common usage, is the state of being intoxicated by consumption of ethyl alcohol to a degree that mental and physical facilities are noticeably impaired. Common symptoms may include slurred speech, impaired balance, poor coordination, flushed face, reddened eyes and uncharacteristic behavior..

For more information about the topic Drunkenness, read the full article at, or see the following related articles:
Blood alcohol content — Blood alcohol content (or blood alcohol concentration), often abbreviated BAC, is the concentration of alcohol in blood, measured, by volume, as a ... > read more for help with alcohol problems.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Alcohol, Memory Blackouts and the Brain

Alcohol, Memory Blackouts and the Brain
by National Institute of Health

Alcohol primarily interferes with the ability to form new long-term memories, leaving intact previously established long-term memories and the ability to keep new information active in memory for brief periods. As the amount of alcohol consumed increases, so does the magnitude of the memory impairments. Large amounts of alcohol, particularly if consumed rapidly, can produce partial or complete blackouts, which are periods of memory loss for events that transpired while a person was drinking. Blackouts are much more common among social drinkers - including college drinkers - than was previously assumed, and have been found to encompass events ranging from conversations to intercourse. Mechanisms underlying alcohol-induced memory impairments include disruption of activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that plays a central role in the formation of new auotbiographical memories.

Read more about this article.

For immediate help online with alcoholism please contact us at The Sober Village or any of the many resources of the Sober Sources Network.

Friday, September 5, 2008

More about online recovery

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 2 million people this year will find themselves entering some kind of rehabilitation for abuse of various drugs or alcohol. In the past 70 years or so, these alcoholics and addicts would have left various rehabilitation institutions to then begin a lifetime of meetings in church basements with fellow addicts or alcoholics, there to find the support and encouragement to continue their life clean and sober.

Well, now, in spite of fears about Internet addiction, major recovery organizations have been using the Internet to help and support individuals recovering from their affliction. An increasing number of support groups are springing up all over web with one goal: to provide online, 24/7 support for people recovering from some form of substance abuse.

Typically, the online venues focus on the 12-step recovery approach – the recovery program outlined by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s a popular program and, it seems, there is now a 12-step program tied to every possible substance abuse or behavior even including Nicotine Anonymous! Instead of holding daily or weekly meetings however, more and more of these 12-step groups are turning their attention to providing online chat, web forum, and list server-based recovery groups. The Internet is being used to connect similarly afflicted individuals and groups from all over the world. Over the world wide web, recovery meetings are no longer of an hour’s duration in a church basement, groups now meet for 24 hours a day with members checking in and out at will or as needed.

Alcoholics Anonymous, the oldest of the recovery groups, now offers meetings using email list servers, VoIP, and chat. AA provides online meetings in 33 different countries and hosts them in more than 10 different languages!

Narcotics Anonymous, has more than 20 internationally accessible email meetings and Cocaine Anonymous offers 6 internationally accessible email meetings.

Of course, for every benefit of online meetings, there are also some risks. The use of chat protocols, for example, opens up a portal to the user’s PC that may expose them to risk of being “hacked.” Email-based list servers also pose the problem of how to remain “anonymous” when the entire virtual room can see your email address.

Too, there are also hazards from various unscrupulous recovery organizations that prey on individuals in early recovery or their families. Over the Internet, they seem like legitimate organizations, but they are not always. As with most Internet-based activities, various fraud, email harvesting, and identity theft schemes abound. But even in those cases, Internet-based solutions emerge. One organization, All Addictions Anonymous Watch, for example, focuses on keeping a watchful eye on some of the less scrupulous efforts to exploit recovering individuals.

Exploiting Internet technology may prove to be a great boon to people trying to shake addictions. It has truly become Addiction Recovery 2.0. Nonetheless, family members and recovering individuals would be wise to keep stick to the major and best known recovery organizations (e.g AA, NA, CA) and, if they choose to participate online, they should get a Yahoo!, Gmail, or Hotmail mailbox using a pseudonym to keep themselves truly “anonymous”.

About the Author

Kurt is a recovered substance abuser and now is a freelance writer of business and travel articles. His recovery was aided online by CA Online and All Addictions Anonymous Watch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mental Attitude


Success is in the blood. There are men whom fate can never keep down they march forward in a jaunty manner, and take by divine right the best of everything that the earth affords. But their success is not attained by means of the Samuel Smiles-Connecticut policy. They do not lie in wait, nor scheme, nor fawn, nor seek to adapt their sails to catch the breeze of popular favor. Still, they are ever alert and alive to any good that may come their way, and when it comes they simply appropriate it, and tarrying not, move steadily on.

Good health! Whenever you go out of doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every hand-clasp.

Do not fear being misunderstood; and never waste a moment thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your own mind what you would like to do, and then without violence of direction you will move straight to the goal.

Fear is the rock on which we split, and hate the shoal on which many a barque is stranded. When we become fearful, the judgment is as unreliable as the compass of a ship whose hold is full of iron ore; when we hate, we have unshipped the rudder; and if ever we stop to meditate on what the gossips say, we have allowed a hawser to foul the screw.

Keep your mind on the great and splendid thing you would like to do; and then, as the days go gliding by, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the elements that it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought that you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual you so admire.

Thought is supreme, and to think is often better than to do.

Preserve a right mental attitude the attitude of courage, frankness and good cheer.

Darwin and Spencer have told us that this is the method of Creation. Each animal has evolved the parts it needed and desired. The horse is fleet because he wishes to be; the bird flies because it desires to; the duck has a web foot because it wants to swim. All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered. We become like that on which our hearts are fixed.

Many people know this, but they do not know it thoroughly enough so that it shapes their lives. We want friends, so we scheme and chase 'cross lots after strong people, and lie in wait for good folks or alleged good folks hoping to be able to attach ourselves to them. The only way to secure friends is to be one. And before you are fit for friendship you must be able to do without it. That is to say, you must have sufficient self-reliance to take care of yourself, and then out of the surplus of your energy you can do for others.

The individual who craves friendship, and yet desires a self-centered spirit more, will never lack for friends.

If you would have friends, cultivate solitude instead of society. Drink in the ozone; bathe in the sunshine; and out in the silent night, under the stars, say to yourself again and yet again, "I am a part of all my eyes behold!" And the feeling then will come to you that you are no mere interloper between earth and heaven; but you are a necessary part of the whole. No harm can come to you that does not come to all, and if you shall go down it can only be amid a wreck of worlds.

Like old Job, that which we fear will surely come upon us. By a wrong mental attitude we have set in motion a train of events that ends in disaster. People who die in middle life from disease, almost without exception, are those who have been preparing for death. The acute tragic condition is simply the result of a chronic state of mind a culmination of a series of events.

Character is the result of two things, mental attitude, and the way we spend our time. It is what we think and what we do that make us what we are.

By laying hold on the forces of the universe, you are strong with them. And when you realize this, all else is easy, for in your arteries will course red corpuscles, and in your heart the determined resolution is born to do and to be. Carry your chin in and the crown of your head high. We are gods in the chrysalis.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Excecutives and Addiction

Getting Sober: What To Expect

After 30 years in printing, Alex Maysura thought he'd honed an effective business- development strategy.

“I would take customers out for a three-martini lunch and I would have nine,” said Maysura, 56. “I found I had a talent for drinking. ... I closed business deals that way. I did more business at the bar and the golf course than I did any other way.”

Maysura, owner of University Printing Services, a 20- person shop in Detroit, had lost touch with reality.

“You think you are in control with all events in your life. Drinking was good for business, and I had a successful company. Once 9-11 hit, my business went down the tubes. I was left with just my drinking.”

A 52-year-old executive of a major bank in Southeast Michigan who wishes to remain anonymous developed his drinking habit over cocktail lunches with clients. In the beginning, it was three times a week. Eventually it turned into two to three drinks a day, which continued for the next 10 years.

By 2004, he was up to nearly a quart of Jack Daniel's a night.

“I always was one who suffered from stress,” he said. “As I went through a job transfer and a promotion, the added job and social responsibilities led to me to pour myself that additional drink or two at home.”

But like the other alcoholic business professionals interviewed for this story, he was convinced that his drinking could be self-managed.

“I woke up one morning with the shakes. I needed to medicate myself or have another drink to get through the day,” he said. “I didn't want to go to work with alcohol on my breath, so I took antidepressants. I became cross-addicted.”

"Even the Dog Knows!"

Like others suffering from addiction, executives struggle with a loss of control. What sets them apart, though, is their common unwillingness to seek and accept help, said Tom Ghena, administrative director of Henry Ford Behavioral Health-Maplegrove Center in West Bloomfield Township.

Executives often delay care because they are embarrassed, worry treatment will be discovered and the revelation will hurt their careers. Rather than take the risk, they opt to manage the problem on their own.

“By the time many executives seek help, they've either been admitted to a hospital for emergency treatment or told by their company to seek help or be fired,” said Denise Bertin-Epp, president and chief nursing officer of Brighton Hospital.

“There is not a lot of education around addiction, and many people don't understand the issues surrounding it,” Bertin-Epp said. “There's a huge stereotype. People believe they choose that lifestyle or they are weak.”

But addiction is a disease that can be inherited, Christensen said. As such, people need a variety of tactics to beat it.

Treatment often includes an initial assessment, detoxification, outpatient drug treatment and inpatient care that can range from two weeks to three months, said Dr. Carl Christensen, an addiction medicine specialist at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Other options include 12-step programs made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous, and counseling and aftercare.

Once executives realize they need treatment, they often fear the admission process. Bertin-Epp and Ghena recommend executives first seek advice from their primary-care physicians. They also suggest executives call them directly.

In February, Brighton began a concierge service for executives who need substance abuse intervention but are too embarrassed to make traditional arrangements. Instead of calling a hospital's patient intake office, Bertin-Epp offers her cell phone number.

Some 10 to 20 executives from around the country call per week, Bertin-Epp said. They ask: “How could I have done this to myself? What will my staff think of me? What will the board think?”

Bertin-Epp answers questions on why treatment is important, where an executive can go, and how to explain an absence or educate the office staff.

It helps that Bertin-Epp has former addicts on her team.

Virginia June, Brighton's director of business development, began drinking with her alcoholic father at age 9. She was rather proud she could “drink him under the table.” But by 25, she was drinking a fifth of bourbon, popping 30 amphetamine pills and snorting a gram of cocaine a day.

“It is amazing I am still alive,” said June, now 47. “When I was 12, my mother used to buy me Boone's Farm. It was like a juice box.”

Dr. Mark Menestrina, director of Brighton's detoxification unit, has been arrested 12 times and lost his medical license.

“Pretty much anything I could use, I would use,” said Menestrina, 55, who has been sober 15 years. “The only substances I did not use were ones that were not yet invented.”

It wasn't until his wife filed for divorce in 1987 that he realized he needed help.

Over a 14-year period, Menestrina counted 49 times in which he had been in a treatment program. But it was the 50th time that he realized he needed to listen to the experts. In March 1993, he had his last drink.

Menestrina said many executives take elaborate steps to cover their admission, but few believe their stories.

“Even their dog knows they have a problem.”

Still, executives have assistants who sometimes cover their addictions.

“Professionals can control their environment more, and that can make the problem worse,” Ghena said. “My advice for subordinates is to talk with each other” and find a peer to approach the superior.

But Christensen said co-workers sometimes don't know there's a problem. “If you have a co-worker who is an addict and homeless, you might not even know until they have lost everything. It is not uncommon for a person to have a life completely destroyed but still show up at work,” he said.

Most people are relieved once they are in treatment.

“They have lied and made excuses to hide it,” Christensen said. “They want help. It is just difficult taking that first step.”

"I needed to shut up and listen'

When his printing business tanked in 2002, Maysura started to increase his drinking until he was up to a quart of liquor a day.

“I was having family problems, my parents were sick and my business closed. I just couldn't handle the pressure,” he said.

Maysura searched the Internet for self-help solutions and finally decided to seek professional help.

“I had a habit that I cultivated over 30 years, and I found you can't get rid of it in 30 days,” he said. “It is a disease, but you also have to deal with psychological traits, so it isn't easy to kick.”

After years of heavy drinking, the banker who wishes to remain anonymous had a pancreatic attack.

“My doctor told me in April 2006 that if I didn't stop drinking I might as well put a gun to my head because you can't replace your pancreas,” he said.

In May 2006, he asked his physician about checking into a treatment center. “I couldn't sleep without having a drink or taking a drug.”

It wasn't until his third admission at Maplegrove in June 2007 that he became receptive to the full treatment program.

“My way of thinking was not working. I needed to shut up and listen and do what I was supposed to do,” he said. The key, he said, was attending post-inpatient treatment meetings three to four times a week.

In October 2005, Maysura had his last drink. He has since gone back to college and will graduate this year with a bachelor's degree in psychology. He plans to earn a master's degree in social work to become an addiction counselor for seniors. Right now, he volunteers at Maplegrove.

“I go to meetings once a week and feel comfortable because I am around people who understand me and do not judge me,” Maysura said. “I am not worried about hitting the bottle again. I have the knowledge on how to say no to old friends who want to go have a drink.”

Jay Greene: (313) 446-0325,

For help with alcoholism addiction please visti the Sober Sources Network or any of our live forums!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Getting Sober-What to expect

Getting Sober: What To Expect, is written from first hand experience of a recovering alcoholic who knows what you'll go through. I know all to well the fears you may face when thinking about getting sober. Just the idea in itself wants to make you keep drinking! It’s not so bad, there’s 2 years of research in this book explaining what the majority of alcoholics go through when recovering in the early days of alcoholism.

In this book you will have all those questions answered and more! It is my hope that knowing what to expect when getting sober will make that decision all the easier. Getting Sober: What to Expectt was written with your best interests in mind. I hope this book makes that decision easier for you once you know what to expect.

Good luck and I wish you the very best on your road to recovery!

Please visit to get your copy of Getting Sober: What to Expect.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Alcohol Dependence

A cluster of physiological, behavioural, and cognitive phenomena in which the use of alcohol takes on a much higher priority for a given individual than other behaviours that once had greater value. A central descriptive characteristic of the dependence syndrome is the desire (often strong, sometimes overpowering) to take alcohol. There may be evidence that return to alcohol use after a period of abstinence leads to a more rapid reappearance of other features of the syndrome than occurs with nondependent individuals.

Diagnostic Guidelines

A definite diagnosis of dependence should usually be made only if three or more of the following have been experienced or exhibited at some time during the previous year:

1. a strong desire or sense of compulsion to take alcohol;
2. difficulties in controlling alcohol-taking behaviour in terms of its onset, termination, or levels of use;
3. a physiological withdrawal state when alcohol use has ceased or been reduced, as evidenced by: the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol; or use of the alcohol with the intention of relieving or avoiding withdrawal symptoms;
4. evidence of tolerance, such that increased doses of alcohol are required in order to achieve effects originally produced by lower doses (clear examples of this are found in alcohol-dependent individuals who may take daily doses sufficient to incapacitate or kill nontolerant users);
5. progressive neglect of alternative pleasures or interests because of alcohol use, increased amount of time necessary to obtain or take alcohol or to recover from its effects;
6. persisting with alcohol use despite clear evidence of overtly harmful consequences, such as harm to the liver through excessive drinking; efforts should be made to determine that the user was actually, or could be expected to be, aware of the nature and extent of the harm.

Narrowing of the personal repertoire of patterns of alcohol use has also been described as a characteristic feature (e.g. a tendency to drink alcoholic drinks in the same way on weekdays and weekends, regardless of social constraints that determine appropriate drinking behaviour).

It is an essential characteristic of the dependence syndrome that either alcohol taking or a desire to take alcohol should be present; the subjective awareness of compulsion to use alcohol is most commonly seen during attempts to stop or control alcohol use.
Article original source:

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Men More Likely to Drink When Troubles Escalate

Men are more likely than women to drink alcohol when they are upset, according to new research.

Scientists at Yale University found that after listening to a stressful story women reported more sadness and anxiety than men.

But for men the emotional arousal was linked to increases in alcohol craving.

The researchers say that the men studied drank more alcohol than the women on average, resulting in men having more experience with alcoholic drinks and potentially leading to them using alcohol as a way of coping with distress.

They studied the reactions of 54 healthy adult social drinks to three types of imaginary scripts: stressful; alcohol-related; and neutral/relaxing.

Emotions, behavioral/bodily responses, cardiovascular arousal and self-reported alcohol craving were analyzed.

Researcher Tara Chaplin said the fact men drink more alcohol when upset could be a 'learned behavior' or could be 'related to known gender differences in reward pathways in the brain'.

'Women are more likely than men to focus on negative emotional aspects of stressful circumstances, for example, they tend to 'ruminate' or think over and over again about their negative emotional state,' she said.

'Men, in contrast, are more likely to distract themselves from negative emotions, to try not to think about these emotions.

'Our finding that men had greater blood pressure response to stress, but did not report greater sadness and anxiety, may reflect that they are more likely to try to distract themselves from their physiological arousal, possibly through the use of alcohol.'

The study is published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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Article Source:

Friday, June 27, 2008

State policies have a significant impact on the services performed by substance abuse treatment programs, and could play a key role in efforts to expand the use of research-based "comprehensive" treatment approaches, reports a study in the June issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (JSAT).

"The states are uniquely positioned to institute specific policy proscriptions emanating from scientific research in the substance abuse treatment arena, indicating that a comprehensive approach…[is] associated with positive treatment outcomes and reduced recidivism," according to the researchers, led by Jamie F. Chriqui, Ph.D., M.H.S., of University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Chriqui and colleagues gathered data on state policy requirements regarding outpatient substance abuse treatment programs. They focused on state-authorized programs, which make up the vast majority of drug and alcohol abuse programs in the United States. The study included data on more than 9,000 drug treatment programs nationwide.

Nearly all of the programs were in a state with policies requiring some type of assessment for substance abuse treatment programs. However, most were in states that did not mandate the use of comprehensive diagnostic criteria, such as those published by the American Society for Addiction Medicine.

Most programs were in states requiring some type of group and individual counseling or therapy, but not family counseling or therapy. Studies have found that family counseling is an important part of successful substance abuse treatment. Few programs were in states requiring specific types of medical tests. For example, only six percent of programs were required to perform drug or alcohol testing/screening. Most programs were not in states requiring testing for diseases related to substance abuse, such as hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Less than 30 percent of programs were in states requiring relapse-prevention services. Just over 40 percent were required to provide aftercare counseling services.

When the researchers looked at what services the programs actually provided, there was a closer correspondence to research recommendations. Almost all programs performed diagnostic assessment and group and individual therapy, although rates of family counseling were lower. Nearly all programs performed urine screening for drugs and alcohol, but most did not test for substance-abuse related diseases. Most programs did provide relapse-prevention and aftercare services.

When other factors were taken into account, programs in states requiring more comprehensive services were more likely to offer those services. "The results…indicate that state policy requirements governing outpatient substance abuse treatment may have significant public health implications," the researchers write.

In recent years, major federal and other national organizations have urged the states to play a more active role in ensuring access to proven and effective treatments for substance abuse. A growing body of research shows that comprehensive treatment programs, including all of the components evaluated in this study, yield the best outcomes.

State policies could play a central role in improving the quality of substance abuse treatment programs, the new results suggest. Simply doing research on the most effective treatment approaches is not enough - strategies are also needed to ensure that the research-proven approaches find their way into actual treatment practice. "It is crucial for health services researchers to work with policy makers to incorporate best treatment practices into state policy and regulations," Dr. Chriqui and colleagues conclude.

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

When Will It Be Time To Take Action On Alcohol?

The Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) expressed disappointment that the Report from the Inquiry into the Alcohol Toll Reduction Bill from the Senate Community Affairs Committee (SCAC) recommended the Bill not be passed.

"The Committee expressed particular concern about the loophole that allows alcohol to be advertised on daytime TV via sponsorship of sport, and results in children being exposed to mass alcohol promotions. Yet it fails to recommend the loophole be closed. It is a missed opportunity" said Mr Rogerson, 'this must be a priority for the National Binge Drinking Strategy'. 'It is imperative the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy moves quickly on this, as well as the other key agendas identified - supporting responsible service of alcohol, addressing secondary supply of alcohol to minors, reducing the alcohol content in products and the need for health warnings.'

The ADF agrees with the Committee's view that labels of alcohol products need to provide nutritional information so consumers can make an informed choice. However the ADF is disappointed the Committee didn't take the next step in recommending health warnings on alcohol products.

"Alcohol kills 3400 Australians every year and a warning on the label would remind drinkers when they buy and consume the product that they need to exercise care"

The ADF agrees that the labelling and packaging of alcohol products needs to be included within the alcohol advertising code. "The alcohol industry promised to do that but it has failed to keep its promise. Too many labels and packages are designed to appeal to young people and promote unsafe drinking" said Mr Rogerson.

'What we'd really like to see now is the bull taken by the horns and these anomalies addressed sooner rather than later'

The ADF commended Family First's Senator Steven Fielding for his efforts in introducing the Bill and further highlighting alcohol misuse as a national problem, and thanked Senator Rachel Siewert for her dissenting report.

Australian Drug Foundation

Friday, June 20, 2008

Addiction? How do you know?

I remember walking into my doctors office shortly after detoxing to 'fess up that I had alcohol/drug problems. I held a great respect for my doctor (I couldn't get pills out of him) and he had repaired a great deal of damage I had done to my body during the previous years, including some rather nasty duodenal ulcers when I was the ripe old age of 22. Stress caused them, or so I convinced myself was the case. The fact that I was vomiting blood incessantly, in pain 24 hours a day and still drinking never struck me as being somewhat stupid.... I didn't really care anyway.... I ended up basically living on antacid... should have bought shares!

I was nervous about telling my doctor what I was. He was well known in the town to refuse to keep tobacco smokers as patients... he thought it was a waste of time. Based on that (and my sensitivity at the time) I was sure that he would call me every name under the sun and curse me out of his office, hurling unspeakable medical instruments at me as I retreated.

When I told him what had happened and what I had done about it, he extended his hand and shook mine. You could have knocked me over with a feather. He then started speaking about what he knew of addiction, and surprised me with his depth of knowledge. He believed in the disease concept, knew the importance of not prescribing mood altering medications to recovering addicts and was very supportive.

I asked him "you know so much about it, why didn't you ever bail me up on the subject?" His response: "Was there any point?".

And that is the point of this article.

It's true.. we can't be told. Denial is our greatest ally in our downhill run. It shields us and allows us to find alternative scapegoats for our situation. "If only this, if only that, blah blah blah...things would be different". Even when we get "this and that", things don't change... the illness is progressive and does not respond to a change in our finances, environment or relationships - it must be dealt with directly.

For most of us, we have to lose everything... material and emotional before the denial is also lost - many of us are brought to our knees. I used to take a lot of pride in my appearance, but by the end of my "career" I had even stopped bothering to wash myself or even brush my hair. It didn't seem to matter.

We just don't seem to get it, but I do believe that subconsciously we know damned well what is causing our lives to be chaotic.

So how do you tell if you are alcoholic/addicted?

Are you ready to take a good look at yourself? If not, don't bother reading any further... go back to your bottle or your bong and find what temporary happiness you can in that. If you can really face yourself, I assure you that the future will hold a happiness that you have not experienced for a long time, perhaps ever.... but I warn you, it is damned hard work... for the term of your natural life.

I guess I could write reams and reams of quizzes and symptoms (I sat through many of them), but for the person questioning themselves as to whether they are an addict; it boils down to this:

-If you spend most of your straight time thinking about the substance of choice, to the point that it distracts you from other things, that is a strong indicator that you have the obsessive aspect of addiction.

-If you maneuvre events around things that may get in the way of using or drinking. That much mental energy dedicated to something so destructive is definitely not what I would consider a "good life".

-If you use/drink and it causes problems in your life, be they financial, physical, emotional or spiritual, and you continue to use or drink.

-If your behaviour while you are under the influence is totally out of character, negatively affects others and you have blank spots (called blackouts) - this signifies a lack of control over the substance and also indicates the beginnings of frontal lobe brain damage.

-If you need to use/drink more in order to achieve the same sensations, you are developing a tolerance to it. Your body is growing used to the substance, which is never a good sign.

That's it, 5 points. Simple things for complicated people. Now, I could pretty it up and make it fuzzy around the edges by making the statement that if you experience the above you may have an alcohol/drug problem. But that wouldn't sit right with me.

Whether you accept it or not, you are addicted and in big trouble.. end of story.

How does that hit you? Do you feel angry or threatened by what I just stated? Maybe you are thinking "what right does this person have to make this statement?". You are of course correct, I have no right - but you don't have to read this. Is our old friend Denial paying a visit, tying your stomach into knots? Then I have made my point.

That's all that addiction is - a physical compulsion couple with a mental obsession. Very strong, very dangerous... and more often than not, fatal. If a loved one confronts us head on with the accusation of being a drunk or addict, we usually have a instantaneous, very defensive response. Some of us become aggressive and I know of cases where people have killed others when confronted. Never underestimate the power of the disease or the grip it has upon you.

To people who don't understand this disease, I guess their reaction is "just stop". They are pretty fortunate to obviously not have an addictive bone in their body - it is so hard to try and relay to someone the gnawing feelings which remain long after the hell of withdrawal is over. It is very tiring, and that is why so many of us relapse. But the gnawing does taper off to a point that it just becomes a part of lifes other aches and pains & the positives far outweigh the negatives. My other articles explore avenues of assistance in the battle against substance addiction.

I guess the other way to self diagnose is to think about this: If you are seriously questioning yourself as to whether you have a problem, then you probably have one ........... "normal" people usually don't have to ask themselves these things .........

Please do something about it, before the "Parasite" takes a firmer grip... I guarantee you it won't get any easier the longer you put it off. Like pregnancy, you can't ignore it and hope it will go away.

And... how much do you want to lose while waiting? Denial may cost you your job, your house, your loved's their lives too that you are affecting.

Good luck to you in your struggle...fight it.. it's worth it. I can honestly say that I have more to live for in my life now than I would have ever dared dream, none of it was possible the way I was before.

Michael Bloch

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why Making Amends With Others Is Critical In The Addiction Recovery Process

Step nine of the 12 step program begins the process of the addict re-connecting with fellow human beings through the process of amends. After completing step 8 of the 12 step recovery program, the addict has a list of all the people and institutions he or she owe amends to. Amends can be made in person, through the mail, or by telephone.

By living the self-centered life of an addict, those in recovery can begin to see the havoc they have caused in the lives of those who care about them the most. Addicts have a tendency to manipulate their friends and family and have often treated them with disregard for their well-being in order to meet their selfish needs.

In step nine, the addict must face those that they have wronged and make amends for the harm they have caused. The recovering addict must pay back debts owed to people and institutions. The goal of step nine is to take direct and personal action to right the wrongs.

Mark Houston, founder of the Mark Houston Recovery Center talks about his personal revelations with Step 9

"My personal experiences with Step 9 were profound and life changing I did not realize prior to the process of making amends that I had disconnected from people through my alcoholism and drug addiction. I was an island unto myself and I was the only one on the island."

"As I made face to face amends with family members - particularly my parents - I began to experience a greater sense of ease and comfort within myself. I was able to accept the people in my life just as they are with no desire to change them. I owed a lot of money and as I began to pay the money back I began to earn more money at my job. I learned through this process that everything is connected. When one area of my life improved because of making amends, every area of my life became undeniably more rewarding."

We Don't Control the Outcome

The role of the addict in Step 9 is to make amends with each person, institution, and entity on the list created during step eight. There is no guarantee that those who receive apologies and amends will forgive. We do not control the outcome. We do not control the thoughts and intentions of others. We only offer the amends and accept what transpires.

The Role of Step 9 in the Recovery Process

By taking a series of actions to re-create in a positive way all the destruction created while being unconscious during addiction, the addict begins living with the positive effects of their new creations. Through amends, the recovering addict can finally begin consciously creating their own lives.
Author: Mark Houston

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

ScienceDaily (May 15, 2008) — Researchers from the Howard Florey Institute in Melbourne have identified a factor that may contribute towards the development of heroin addiction by manipulating the adenosine A2A receptor, which plays a major role in the brain's 'reward pathway'.

Using mice specifically bred without the adenosine A2A receptor, Prof Andrew Lawrence and his team showed that these mice had a reduced desire to self-administer morphine; heroin is converted to morphine in the body. The mice also self-administered less morphine compared to control littermates, but did not develop tolerance to specific behavioural effects of morphine.

The researchers also found that the mice did not develop a conditioned place preference for the drug, indicating that drug-context associations are mediated in part by this receptor. In human terms, this equates to the associative memory of the environment where the drug is used.

Collectively, these findings strongly suggest that the adenosine A2A receptor is involved in regulating the reinforcing and motivational properties of opiates.

Prof Lawrence said this was the first study to show that the adenosine A2A receptor was implicated in self-motivation to take opiates such as heroin.

"This receptor clearly plays a major role in opiate use and therefore abuse, as the mice were simply not interested in taking morphine despite it being freely available," he said.

"Although the drug-taking effects and behaviours of these mice were diminished, they still relapsed into drug-seeking after a period of withdrawal.

"This indicates that the adenosine A2A receptor has a role in the 'getting high' aspects of addiction, but not in the adaptations that contribute to relapse after going 'cold turkey'."

"The results from this study reinforce that addiction is a highly complex brain disorder that will require a multi-pronged approach to treat.

"Australia has over 50,000 heroin users. There are effective medical treatments available, such as methadone, buprenorphine and suboxone, as well as psychological interventions, but a better understanding of how heroin affects the brain could lead to improvements and broadening of these treatment options.

"Drugs alone will not be the answer -- successful treatment of drug addiction will require a combination of drugs and psychotherapy," Prof Lawrence said.

"Drugs alone will not be the answer -- successful treatment of drug addiction will require a combination of drugs and attention to social and psychological factors," Prof Lawrence said.

A number of major pharmaceutical companies are developing drugs that block the adenosine A2A receptor, so Prof Lawrence's research provides even more evidence that this receptor is an important target for treating drug addiction.

Prof Lawrence said that drugs affecting the adenosine A2A receptor show preclinical promise to treat alcohol addiction.

"Earlier this year we found that the adenosine A2A receptor interacts with the mGlu5 glutamate receptor found in the brain's reward pathway to regulate drug-seeking. "Consequently, a drug developed to target both these receptors could have an even better result in treating addiction," he added.

This research was recently accepted for publication in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. This study is a collaboration between researchers from the

Howard Florey Institute, Victorian College of Pharmacy and the University of Melbourne.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Women And Alcohol, The Wrong Kind Of Fun

Many dates have turned to be a nightmare for many women due to excessive consumption of alcohol. Men may use alcohol as a 'date rape' drug to exploit women. Women and alcohol are inseparable since women are more prone to alcohol addiction. Once a woman gets used to the "high-feeling" of a beer, she wants to be in that excited state all the time so they end up drinking too much too often. Young women are more vulnerable since they are preyed by most men. Alcohol increases their chances of being raped or being sexually assaulted. Women who are more likely to be attacked are the ones who have exceeded the drinking threshold by far. Many people have the opinion that men use other drugs to assault women sexually but in many cases alcohol is the solo 'date-rape' drug.

The association between women and alcohol is real. This is because alcohol is confirmed to be a major contributor to women's vulnerability to sexual abuse and acquaintance rape in social situations. Other drugs are also used to spike drinks but their contribution to sexual assault is comparatively minimal. In some cases the recreational drugs found in drinks are consumed at will. Women's binge drinking put them in an excited state of mind and their valid consent to engage in sex is questionable. The capacity to give a well informed consent at these sky rocketing levels of alcohol consumption cannot be trusted. Alcohol impairs the thinking capacity of a woman and she can agree to anything unconsciously. Many women wake up to witness horrifying news of the night before. Alcohol loosens a woman's morals and demotes her level of integrity. Personal values are highly interfered with.

In many cases of alleged sexual assault alcohol is mostly involved. Matters are worsened by the fact that many people have a perception of alcohol as an aphrodisiac. There is an intimate relationship between sex, women and alcohol in our society. Alcohol is perceived to be courage in a bottle or as many people put it "liquid courage." No wonder men who are out to have sex with new partners always prefer meeting the new catch in a boozing joint. Much as alcohol puts people in a loosened, relaxed mood to 'have fun', it has a negative and complicated sexual consequences. To avoid being a victim to rape or any sexual assault, avoid mixing different alcoholic drinks in a single sitting. Take one type of a drink at a time and save others for another day. Another big contribution to vulnerability is tendency to mix substances such as recreational and medication drugs with alcohol. This should be avoided.

Much of the research carried out on the effects of alcohol tend to lean more on physiological rather than social aspects. This has played a major role in the existing poor awareness of long term social sexual effects in our culture. Women who are married to alcohol are observed to have major difficulties maintaining a long term and serious relationships. They are mostly depressed and live in social isolation when they are not drinking. When trying to understand the relationship between women and alcohol, do not generalize the study because the sexual effect of alcohol on women is different from its sexual effects on men. Expectancy sexual effects of alcohol lead to the aroused behavior in most cases. Physical effects are present since the person taking alcohol anticipated them. You can still have the same results of excitement if you learn some self improvement skills.

Francis K. Githinji Is A Online Dating Expert. His Latest Project Women And Alcohol Shows How The Power Of Online Dating Can Be Harnessed Internationally and With Great Success, Or You Could Post Your Valued Comments On His Blog At Women And Alcohol.

Article Source:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Virtual Help for Alcoholics

A comfortable atmosphere, the crowd unwinding with a beer. It's not real, and it's not a video game. It's virtual reality therapy for alcoholics. Its aim is to mentally prepare them for situations that could trigger drinking.

Patrick Bordnick from the University of Houston says, "If we can have a virtual scenario, where we put that person in that bar, or in that social setting, and now have the therapist be able to teach you in real time. I think that will hold up when they are out in these realistic situations in the real world, that these skills should transfer from virtual reality to the real world."

Bordnick developed these virtual reality scenarios. In a study published in the journal "Addictive Behaviors," Bordnick found that alcohol dependent participants reported a greater urge to drink while viewing triggers like a bartender or a favorite cocktail, compared to viewing neutral scene. The study even included smells.

According to Bordnick, this was the first trial to use scent, so we have computer controlled scents, so when you walk by a shot of tequila on the bar, or a beer, you automatically smell beer.

Bordnick says that realism is critical to the next step --- seeing whether the scenarios can help addicts to learn coping skills.

Bordnick says, "We've demonstrated that virtual reality triggers for smoking, for cannabis, and now in this particular study, for alcohol, are real enough to get real world reactions." He says coping with those reactions virtually, could make the "real world" a lot less tempting for alcoholics.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Women Drug Addiction Report on Opiate Dependency

Part III: Percentage of Women Seeking Anesthesia-Assisted Detoxification for Painkiller Dependency on the Rise According to Waismann Method Survey

According to The Waismann Method Opiate Dependency Survey, the percentage of female patients seeking treatment for opiates, which includes Vicodin ®, OxyContin ®, Lortab ®, Norco ®, Percocet ® and Suboxone ®, rose 12 percent in the past year. Seventy percent of female respondents confirmed that their dependencies began after taking legitimate doctor-prescribed medication. Oxycontin ® and Vicodin ® remained the most commonly abused opiates for the third year in a row and Suboxone dependency is also on the rise, according to Dr. Clifford Bernstein, medical director for Anesthesia Assisted Medical Opiate Detoxification Inc. (A.A.M.O.D.) and practitioner of the Waismann Method.

“We are seeing an increase in female patients seeking treatment for dependency to painkillers, and our statistics show these patients are wives and mothers that unwittingly developed a physical dependency to painkillers after seeking assistance from their doctors for pain,” said Bernstein. “The increase doesn’t come as a surprise as these potent pills are prescribed for anything from back pain to migraines headaches. In these cases, the prescribing physicians need to educate patients about the dangers of opiate dependence. In turn, patients need to ask themselves if their pain warrants the use of prescription medication or if an over-the-counter pill would provide adequate relief.

”Because their dependencies are often a physical reaction to the prolonged use of opiates, a medical treatment that is going to remove that reliance and allow them to begin anew without opiates in their system is an appropriate last step, explained Bernstein.

“Anesthesia-assisted detoxification cleanses the opiates from the body and reduces the cravings, allowing these women to return to their normal lives in a short time,” he said.

Additional findings of The Waismann Method Opiate Dependency Survey include:

* An overwhelming number of women, at 92 percent, said that the directions for taking the opiates were clear and easy to understand, but only 38 percent indicated that their doctors enforced those directions.
* Fifty-five percent of women who answered the survey received prescriptions from only one doctor, while 31 percent sought treatment from multiple doctors.
* For 50 percent of female respondents, withdrawal symptoms were the number one reason they were not able to stop taking the drug without help.
* Thirty-one percent of women obtained prescription medication by ordering over the Internet.
* Of female respondents, 52 percent were married at the time of treatment, and 64 percent had children.

Drs. Clifford A. Bernstein is the medical director of Anesthesia Assisted Medical Opiate Detoxification Inc. (A.A.M.O.D.). A.A.M.O.D. uses the exclusive Waismann Method of Rapid Detox to treat opiate dependency. Performed in a hospital intensive care unit, the Waismann Method involves cleansing the opiate receptors in the patient’s brain of the narcotics while the patient is under anesthesia, reversing the chemical imbalance. During the procedure, the patient will experience minimal conscious withdrawal, and will be able to return home within days. 75 percent of the prescription drug dependent patients who are treated with the Waismann Method remain drug free after one year. StatCounter - Free Web Tracker and Counter

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Internet Called 'Biggest Culprit' in Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is being fueled by easy access to pharmaceuticals on the Internet, often facilitated by shady doctors and pharmacies, CNN reported May 21.

Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said pharmaceutical abuse "is one of the biggest drug problems we are dealing with. "The Internet is the biggest culprit," Payne said.

"These pharmacy people that are doing this and these doctors that are doing this, they don't give a dadgummit about people. It's just the almighty dollar; that's all it is," said one Wichita, Kansas women whose husband died from an overdose of the muscle relaxant Soma, which he bought online without ever visiting a doctor.

CNN reporters were able to easily buy the antidepressants Prozac and Elavil online by filling out a health survey and providing a credit-card number, even though an e-mail from the site said that "all orders made are still subjected to Doctor's evaluation." The drugs arrived with a doctor's name and a pharmacy name on the label, but the reporter never spoke to a doctor.

In another example, a women who tried to commit suicide with drugs bought online received a prescription for Soma written by a doctor on Long Island, Kareem Tannous, who she had never met. The doctor, who runs three health clinics, refused to answer questions about the prescription, as did workers at Roots Pharmacy in American Fork, Utah, which filled the prescription.

The DEA says that investigations of Internet pharmacies yielded $39 million in cash and other assets last year, up from $11 million in 2004.

Carmen Catizone, the executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, likened illicit online pharmacies to drug dealers but said Congress has been reluctant to beef up enforcement. "'Show us the dead bodies,'" has been the typical response from lawmakers, said Catizone, "and if that was me or my family, that's a pretty sad statement for our legislators to give."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Alcohol:The Low Life

When you first start drinking, you are like a lot of people. You're smart and you have a lot to offer. You are looking forward to a good career, finding your significant other, getting your own house, driving the nice car.

Then, as the social drinking continues, alcohol suddenly becomes more important. You are drinking after work, on the weekends, and after enough time, every chance you get.

With enough drinking your family and friends start to protest. You are going over the edge, you are drinking way too much. Your family may issue the ultimatum that you are no longer allowed to drink in their presence. Your significant other may leave you, and your friends stop returning your calls as your behavior under the influence becomes more embarrassing.

So there you are. You, the one who had so much potential. You have your priorities and because you have developed an alcohol addiction, alcohol has reached the top of the list.

Because the people in your life have run interference with or completely banned your drinking, you now have to either drink alone, or find people to spend time with who have a high tolerance for the volume and frequency of your drinking. And these new friends are not going to be of the same caliber as your old friends, because they have the same priority - alcohol. So they will probably have more time to drink on their hands, most being unencumbered by employment or other normal responsibilities. Now you have friends you can drink and waste your time with, pretty much around the clock. Every drunk's dream. Whittling the days, weeks and months away drinking. No ambition, no accomplishments, no contribution, no life. Sometimes it's all you can do to get up in the morning. You don't clean anymore, and you don't keep up your appearance like you used to. But that's o.k., because your new friends don't mind, if they even noticed.

This is why it can be lonely after you stop drinking, at least for awhile. After some time sober has passed and you have regained some of your mental capacity, you don't want to spend any more time with these people - the people who because of their addiction helped you to keep your own addiction to alcohol alive. You are newly sober and have begun, once again, to start moving up in the world and making a new, better life for yourself. You are going to have to leave the low life, and your companions on the fast track to nowhere, behind.

If you have a drinking problem that is dragging you down, there is an easy 5 step plan that is helping people to stop drinking right away:

Article Source:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fighting Alcoholism Online

The rise of online large scale intervention for alcoholics is gaining ground. Given that alcoholism is beginning to be a major cause of disability, and the fact that alcoholics do not get adequate treatment, it is high time to take help to a higher level.

Online intervention is changing the face of coping with and treatment of alcoholism. Since the internet is more accessible and more people are becoming netizens by each day, it is a change that is gladly welcomed by many. The internet has also great potential to deliver self-help intervention in a global basis, to people who do not seek or receive enough help for alcoholism, or simply to those who find it hard to do so. For some people, internet help is merely a supplement to their regular face-to-face meetings with other people, but for most, online help and intervention is the only meeting they could attend to.

In an age where time is of the essence, some people would rather let themselves whither away with alcohol than take the time to seek out professional help. Most Americans keep more than one job, and at the end of the day, they are too tired to go out and find someone who can help them and instead take comfort in nursing a bottle of whiskey. With the internet revolution, people can just sit on their computers and interact with similar individuals with similar needs – right in the comforts of their own home.

Online help has also been very helpful for a particular group of alcoholics with special needs. People with hearing disabilities or those who can’t get around without a wheelchair greatly benefit from online interaction to seek help. Others who want to remain anonymous can do so with little or no threats to his privacy.

There are many different ways for people to find online help. They can conveniently take part in online meetings, email discussion groups, real-time chat meetings, forum and bulletin board discussions and even voice-chat are now readily available in the web. All they have to do is find the right group that they are most comfortable with and they can start getting help from there.

Online intervention for alcoholics is convenient, fast and reliable. The steady rise of the Internet and its fast development has brought support for alcoholics and consequently, recovery to many people worldwide

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Natural Treatments for Alcoholism

Alcoholics cannot resist the urge to drink alcohol, and then drink more alcohol. They are not stupid people (not always, anyway!). Most are aware of how bad excessive drink can be for the human body, but despite their knowledge they have lost their ability to control the amount of alcohol they drink. They drink beyond socially acceptable limits and are often a burden and embarrassment to their friends and family. This still does not stop them from drinking.

Ongoing alcoholism has dire effects on the body. It interferes with the normal function of all organs. It is especially hard on the liver, brain, kidneys and heart. Cirrhosis of the liver is one of the most serious effects of prolonged alcoholism. This is a scarring of the organ that is almost irreversible. It is rare that a cirrhosis-affected liver can ever be returned to full health and functionality. Alcohol interferes with digestion, which starts to starve the body of needed nutrients. Each time alcohol is imbibed it dulls a little more of the senses. Over a long period of time these sensory losses can become permanent.

There are some natural remedies and herbs that can be helpful in the treatment of alcoholism.


- Aloe vera helps to strengthen the liver and prevent cirrhosis, one of the first effects of alcoholism noticed by many sufferers.

- Ashwagandha helps strengthen the alcoholic through reducing vata vitiations. Vata is instrumental in the health and strength of the brain. It stimulates natural physical coordination.

- The gotu kola herb is also a brain revitalizer. It is an important ingredient to anyone suffering from alcohol withdrawal.

- Musk, or jatamansi, is also good for vata vitiation. It has a cooling effect and helps your body recover from the effects of alcoholism.

Ayurvedic Treatments:

Ayurvedic treatments come in different levels, depending on how entrenched the alcoholism is in the body.

If one has just begun to recognize alcoholic signs, methods include irrigating the head in cold water, eating only cold food, and the use of cold packs of mud for the body.

The more severe sufferer of alcoholism who may have been drinking for many years may require a more stringent treatment involving inducing vomiting, taking medicines to assist digestion, and fasting.

These are just two examples of a wide variety of Ayurvedic treatments.

Home Remedies:

Fruits are very good at lowering the negative effects of alcoholism. Juice from citrus fruit is very good at relieving hangover symptoms. Apples and bananas help remove toxins from the bloodstream.

Grapes and dates have the ability to reduce one's urge to drink alcohol. In fact, if you eat only grapes and dates and nothing else for a couple weeks, your drinking temptation will be gone.

Start drinking more and varied types on non-alcoholic beverages regularly. This, too, will reduce the need to drink alcohol. When you feel the need to drink, grab a glass of carrot juice instead. It will help remove that urge.

A hard-core drinker will undoubtedly fail when trying to completely stop drinking all at once. Instead, phase out alcohol from your diet slowly and steadily. Things that will help you on this goal are:

- Slow down with wine or beer instead of hard liquor. Eventually these, too, can be quit.

- Take an interest in a hobby or sport to take your mind of the times you would have been drinking before.

- The love and support from family and friends goes a long way to helping the sufferer rid himself of his alcoholism.

- Alcoholics Anonymous meetings give the alcoholism sufferer hope and support from others with personal experience with the same problem

Whatever you do, if you even think you might be leaning towards alcoholism, start taking action.

Michael Russell

Friday, May 9, 2008

Drunks By Jack Mc.

for my father, and the people who almost saved his life

We died of pneumonia in furnished rooms
where they found us three days later
when somebody complained about the smell
we died against bridge abutments
and nobody knew if it was suicide
and we probably didn't know either
except in the sense that it was always suicide
we died in hospitals
our stomachs huge, distended
and there was nothing they could do
we died in cells
never knowing whether we were guilty or not.

We went to priests
they gave us pledges
they told us to pray
they told us to go and sin no more, but go
we tried and we died

we died of overdoses
we died in bed (but usually not the Big Bed)
we died in straitjackets
in the DTs seeing God knows what
creeping skittering slithering
shuffling things

And you know what the worst thing was?
The worst thing was that
nobody ever believed how hard we tried

We went to doctors and they gave us stuff to take
that would make us sick when we drank
on the principle of so crazy, it just might work, I guess
or maybe they just shook their heads
and sent us places like Dropkick Murphy's
and when we got out we were hooked on paraldehyde
or maybe we lied to the doctors
and they told us not to drink so much
just drink like me
and we tried
and we died

we drowned in our own vomit
or choked on it
our broken jaws wired shut
we died playing Russian roulette
and people thought we'd lost
but we knew better
we died under the hoofs of horses
under the wheels of vehicles
under the knives and bootheels of our brother drunks
we died in shame

And you know what was even worse?
was that we couldn't believe it ourselves
that we had tried
we figured we just thought we tried
and we died believing that
we didn't know what it meant to try

When we were desperate enough
or hopeful or deluded or embattled enough to go for help
we went to people with letters after their names
and prayed that they might have read the right books
that had the right words in them
never suspecting the terrifying truth
that the right words, as simple as they were
had not been written yet

We died falling off girders on high buildings
because of course ironworkers drink
of course they do
we died with a shotgun in our mouth
or jumping off a bridge
and everybody knew it was suicide
we died under the Southeast Expressway
with our hands tied behind us
and a bullet in the back of our head
because this time the people that we disappointed
were the wrong people
we died in convulsions, or of "insult to the brain"
we died incontinent, and in disgrace, abandoned
if we were women, we died degraded,
because women have so much more to live up to
we tried and we died and nobody cried

And the very worst thing
was that for every one of us that died
there were another hundred of us, or another thousand
who wished that we could die
who went to sleep praying we would not have to wake up
because what we were enduring was intolerable
and we knew in our hearts
it wasn't ever gonna change

One day in a hospital room in New York City
one of us had what the books call
a transforming spiritual experience
and he said to himself

I've got it
(no you haven't you've only got part of it)

and I have to share it
(now you've ALMOST got it)

and he kept trying to give it away
but we couldn't hear it

the transmission line wasn't open yet
we tried to hear it
we tried and we died

we died of one last cigarette
the comfort of its glowing in the dark
we passed out and the bed caught fire
they said we suffocated before our body burned
they said we never felt a thing
that was the best way maybe that we died
except sometimes we took our family with us

And the man in New York was so sure he had it
he tried to love us into sobriety
but that didn't work either, love confuses drunks
and he tried and still we died
one after another we got his hopes up
and we broke his heart
because that's what we do

And the worst thing was that every time
we thought we knew what the worst thing was
something happened that was worse

Until a day came in a hotel lobby
and it wasn't in Rome, or Jerusalem, or Mecca
or even Dublin, or South Boston
it was in Akron, Ohio, for Christ's sake

a day came when the man said I have to find a drunk
because I need him as much as he needs me
you've got it)

and the transmission line
after all those years
was open
the transmission line was open

And now we don't go to priests
and we don't go to doctors
and people with letters after their names
we come to people who have been there
we come to each other
and we try
and we don't have to die

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Alcohol Becoming Equal Opportunity Destroyer

Alcohol dependence was once much more common among men than women in the U.S., but the gender gap is closing, Reuters reported May 5.

Researchers Richard A. Grucza of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and colleagues said that alcohol consumption and dependence have been rising among white and Hispanic women since the end of World War II, with women born between 1954 and 1963 much more apt to drink and have drinking problems than those born between 1944 and 1953.

"This is particularly disturbing because women with alcohol problems face more severe health-related consequences and possibly more years of life lost than their male counterparts," the study noted.

"We found that for women born after World War II, there are lower levels of abstaining from alcohol and higher levels of alcohol dependence, even when looking only at women who drank," Grucza said.

A changing cultural environment that saw more women going to college, entering the workforce, gaining purchasing power and defying gender stereotypes has played a role in alcohol-related trends among women, Grucza added. "They were freer to engage in a range of behaviors that were culturally or practically off-limits, and these behaviors probably would have included excessive drinking and alcohol problems," he said.

The research appears in the May 2008 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Friday, May 2, 2008

So You Think You Can Drink

The human civilization has reportedly been drinking for around 15,000 years. And in today’s society, alcohol drinking is undeniably more socially acceptable than its scorned counterparts – smoking and drug abuse. But does this make alcohol much safer?

Alcohol, as some of you might NOT know, is created when fruits, grains or vegetables are fermented. Fermentation can refer to the use of yeast to change sugar found in natural substances into alcohol. It might or might not taste closely like them, but alcohol come from organic foods such as grapes, barley, wheat, rice and others. Now, that doesn’t seem so bad after all. But wait until we get to the juicy parts.

When people consume alcohol, it is absorbed into their bloodstream. From the blood, it travels up from the spinal cord to the brain which controls virtually all bodily functions. Alcohol contains a significant amount of ethanol, a depressant, which slows down the functions of the central nervous system. It blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain, giving the drunken person slow responses, faulty perceptions and alters his emotions, visions, movement and hearing.

Though in very small amounts, alcohol can help a person calm down, too much of it can make him relax too much. People who overuse alcohol become intoxicated. They stagger, lose their coordination, slur their speech and even have memory gaps or blackouts. Reaction and response times are dramatically slowed – making drunken people unable to drive efficiently and think that they’re moving fine when in reality they are not.

When large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a relatively short period of time, alcohol poisoning can happen. Alcohol poisoning is apparently just that – the poisoning of your system by huge amounts of alcohol you can’t tolerate. This is the state that is characterized by violent vomiting which happens to be its first symptom. Other signs also include extreme and uncontrolled sleepiness, unconsciousness, a dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, difficulty in breathing, and ultimately, even death.

Though in moderation, alcohol has noteworthy health benefits, frequent use and abuse can cause short and long term side-effects. Alcohol can do so much more to your body than shoot you to tipsy heaven. It can get you in trouble with the law, make you look really silly and stupid, and it can make you a threat to yourself and to the people around you.

Drink responsibly. If you think you can contain your alcohol, think again.
Copyright 2008. C.King, M.Ed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Cold Hard Truth About 'Speed' And 'Ice', Australian Medical Association

The Australian Medical Association claimed methamphetamine users were being put in the too-hard basket - with the peak medical body calling for an overhaul of how the health system deals with this very difficult drug problem.

AMA National President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, released the AMA Position Statement on Methamphetamine at a press conference at the Royal Perth Hospital, saying methamphetamine users who were often aggressive or in a psychotic state were ending up in emergency wards or in police custody.

Dr Capolingua said emergency department staffs were increasingly being placed in harm's way when it came to methamphetamine users.

"Methamphetamine use is an urgent and pressing health problem that is creating a serious safety issue for health care staff," she said.

The AMA is calling for all emergency departments to have a specialist drugs liaison officer to engage and support methamphetamine and other drug users.

Dr Capolingua said using methamphetamines may produce an initial sense of wellbeing and euphoria but dependence on this harmful drug can lead to methamphetamine-induced psychosis. Three in 10 users will experience psychotic episodes with paranoia and hallucinations.

"Methamphetamine should never be referred to as a recreational, soft or party drug. It's a harmful drug at the community and individual level. More than three-quarters of dependent users suffer serious mental health problems such as agitation, aggression, depression and anxiety," Dr Capolingua said.

A recent Western Australian study found that amphetamine-related presentations accounted for 1.2 per cent of emergency department cases.

Dr Capolingua said many agitated or psychotic users brought into emergency wards were often drunk as well - increasing the risk of aggression towards staff and creating clinical management challenges.

"Symptoms usually last two or three hours but users often need to be hospitalised for their own protection and the safety of others. A third require sedation and intensive treatment which obviously takes up considerable hospital resources," she said.

Further research is also needed into methamphetamine-related problems in emergency departments, best practice in treatment, and what services are required to avoid hospital admission or police custody if a patient is not psychotic. The AMA believes low-intensity, supervised hostel-type accommodation may be suitable.

The AMA is also calling for:

- A renewed, comprehensive and sustained public education program on the social and health consequences of methamphetamine use;

- A sustained investment in GP training on how to engage drug users for lifestyle change; and

- More generic programs, such as Life Skills, which are aimed at young people.

The AMA Position Statement can be found here.


Around three per cent of Australians over the age of 14 use the harmful drug at least once a year.

There are approximately 73,000 dependent methamphetamine users in Australia compared to the 45,000 regular heroin users.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug available in various forms:

- Powder or 'speed' is usually of relatively low purity and can be snorted, injected or taken orally;

- Methamphetamine base, a damp oily substance, is of higher purity and typically injected; and

- Crystalline methamphetamine, colloquially known as 'crystal' or 'ice' is methamphetamine in its purest form. Ice is usually smoked or injected.

Pseudoephedrine, available from pharmacies as a symptomatic treatment for the common cold, is the usual base for the illicit manufacture of methamphetamines.

Australian Medical Association

Monday, April 28, 2008

Prescription Pain Killers Are Involved In More Drug Overdose Deaths Than Either Cocaine Or Heroin In U.S.

Trends analysis of drug poisoning deaths has helped explain a national epidemic of overdose deaths in the USA that began in the 1990s, concludes Leonard Paulozzi and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, USA. The contribution of prescription pain killers to the epidemic has only become clear recently. This research is published this week in the journal, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety.

Drugs called "opioids" are frequently prescribed to relieve pain, but if abused they can kill. Over the past 15 years, sales of opioid pain killers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and fentanyl, have increased, and deaths from these drugs have increased in parallel.

In 2002, over 16,000 people died in the USA as a result of drug overdoses, with most deaths related to opioids, heroin, and cocaine. Opioids surpassed both cocaine and heroin in extent of involvement in these drug overdoses between 1999 and 2002.

The situation appears to be accelerating. Between 1979 and 1990 the rate of deaths attributed to unintentional drug poisoning increased by an average of 5.3% each year. Between 1990 and 2002, the rate increased by 18.1% per year. The contribution played by opioids is also increasing. Between 1999 and 2002 the number of overdose death certificates that mention poisoning by opioid pain killers went up by 91.2%. While the pain killer category showed the greatest increase, death certificates pointing a finger of blame at heroin and cocaine also increased by 12.4% and 22.8% respectively.

In an accompanying 'comment' article, David Joranson and Aaron Gilson of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Comprehensive Cancer Centre; Pain & Policy Studies Group, of Madison, Wisconsin. They caution against increasing unwarranted fears of using opioid analgesics in pain management, noting that much of the abuse of opioid analgesics is by recreational and street users and individuals with psychiatric conditions rather than pain patients.

Joranson and Gilson also point to the large quantity of opioid analgesics stolen from pharmacies every year, saying that "overdose deaths involving prescription medications do not necessarily mean they were prescribed. It is also crucial to know that most overdose deaths involve several drugs and these data cannot attribute the cause to a particular drug."

In a second commentary, Scott Fishman, Professor of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine at University of California, Davis concludes that drug abuse and under treated pain are both public health crises, but the solution to one need not undermine the other. "The least we can do is make sure that the casualties of the war on drugs are not suffering patients who legitimately deserve relief," he says.

Adapted from materials provided by John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Friday, April 25, 2008

Old Habits

After decades of drug addiction, Adriane Allen believes she has finally grown too old to smoke crack. At 57, she has chest pains, has lost most of her teeth and has trouble moving her arms. Lately, she worries about how her grandchildren will remember her when she is gone.

"I definitely do not want them mourning me as an addict, that I died as an addict," said Ms. Allen, shaking her head, covered with gray hair and fidgeting uncontrollably during an interview at a New York City needle-exchange center.

"You get tired of being tired," she continued. "They say that is a drug addict's saying, but it is true, you do get tired of being tired. I am tired of walking around in a daze. I am tired of walking around with sunglasses on. Blocking out real life. I am ready to face my demons and just say I don't want it anymore."

As the first of the baby boomers approach 60, addiction treatment centers are bracing for a growing population of older drug addicts. Many aging users, veterans of the counterculture 60's, started using drugs as teenagers and have progressed to harder substances and addiction, while others turned to illicit drugs, abuse of prescription medications or increased alcohol intake later in life, with the loss of jobs or spouses.

Since, traditionally, substance-abuse- treatment programs and research have focused on teenagers and young adults, doctors, social workers, therapists and researchers say that new approaches need to be developed for the ballooning number of boomer addicts.

"In treatment of people 55 and older, we are starting to see much more cocaine addiction, which we never saw before," said Frederic C. Blow, an associate professor in the University of Michigan's psychiatry department, who has developed policy recommendations for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "In fact, in some treatment programs, we are starting to see more problems related to stimulant abuse: cocaine, crack and marijuana use."

The federal government's 2004 survey of substance abuse, released in September, estimated that more than three million adults 50 and older had used marijuana, hashish, cocaine or crack, heroin, hallucinogens or inhalants or had misused prescription drugs during the previous year. That number could more than double by 2020, said Joseph C. Gfroerer, director of the substance abuse agency's population surveys.

Willard L. Mays, a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging and a member of the executive committee of the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging, said, "There are not enough geriatric specialists to handle this increased number of people who need services."

Their medical problems can be overwhelming. Long-term heroin use can hasten the decline in immunity that comes with age. Prolonged cocaine use can lead to erosion of the nasal passages, arrhythmia and other cardiovascular problems. The slower metabolism, lower body mass and decrease in an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase that accompany aging drive down the alcohol tolerance of older adults, contributing to liver disease and making them susceptible to falls. Older patients may already have diabetes, arthritis or hypertension, meaning that they need to be stabilized before they can start treatment for their addiction.

At the methadone maintenance treatment program at Beth Israel Medical Center, doses sometimes need to be adjusted for older patients who are more likely to be on several prescription drugs, said the medical director, Dr. Randy Seewald.

Older patients can also present practical treatment problems. Those with mobility problems might have trouble getting to treatment centers. They often need treatment literature printed in large type, or help in unscrewing the caps of methadone bottles, because of arthritis. Therapy must be tailored to address regret over wasted youth and lost spouses.

Substance abuse also often goes undetected - and therefore untreated - for long periods in older adults who are isolated. "When people are retired and do not have professional obligations and the children have left home, then our red flags are not raised quite as effectively," said Petros Levounis, director of the Addiction Institute of New York.

Even when an older person's drug or drinking problem is noticed, people are sometimes loath to interfere and deprive parents or other loved ones of a remaining pleasure, said Julie E. Jensen, a researcher with the Washington Institute, an academic institution that advises the public health system in Tacoma.

Some who had been casual drug users in their youth returned to the substances later in life because of loneliness, the death of a spouse or a loss of purpose after retirement. "They will go back to what satisfied them years ago," said Carolyn M. Drennan, director of nursing at the Beth Israel methadone program.

Moses Henderson, 57, said he started sniffing heroin to cope with depression after his wife died in 2001. He has hypertension, a bad heart and diabetes, but is now in treatment. "I don't think my wife would want me dead," he said, adding that if he uses drugs again, "I will not make it."

Unlike Mr. Henderson, who is in a residential program, Margaret Baldwin, 65, lives in a homeless shelter. Two years ago, she fell down the stairs while drunk and broke her hip. That was the last straw, after 23 years of alcohol abuse and drinking a pint of gin every day. "I had no company," she said. "The only thing that entertained me was the bottle."

Then there are longtime addicts like Ms. Allen. She said she went from a puff of marijuana at a party in the 60's to "skin-popping" heroin and smoking crack over the years.

Sometimes, "I found myself asleep on the train," she said, "because I would be so high."

"I would like, nod out," she said, at the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center. "When I wake up, I am like in the Bronx or Coney Island. Now that I am older I won't do that when I get high. I make sure I get to a friend's house."

Ms. Allen said she had used cocaine five days a week. She agreed to be interviewed because she thought her story would help younger addicts quit.

While some addicts, like Ms. Allen, are unemployed and homeless, others hold down jobs and lead middle class lives. Take Gwendolyn Jennings-Hill, a 55-year-old grandmother who says she was a functional addict. She used to cook up marble-size pellets of cocaine at home in Hampton, Va., then smoke it quickly, so her daughter would not catch her.

"I fell in love with crack," said Ms. Jennings-Hill, who is in Odyssey House's ElderCare program in Harlem. "I used marijuana and then I progressed to drinking, then sniffing cocaine and freebasing. The 60's was a time when people started coming out of Vietnam. There was the hippie generation. I was connected to that age and that era."

This year, encouraged by her family, Ms. Jennings-Hill sought to end what she called the thrill and insanity of addiction. "I did not go to crack houses," she said. "I was one of the, I guess, fortunate addicts that had a house, had food, had money."

Ms. Jennings-Hill's teacher's salary was enough to support a habit that cost about $3,000 a month. Others use Social Security payments or rent space in their apartments as crack houses.

In contrast to younger addicts, older substance abusers thrive on treatment that features personal accounts, counselors say. They dress up for group sessions, and hesitate to speak openly in mixed-age groups.

At Odyssey House, a dozen residents aged 54 to 75 sat in a circle recently and told stories of broken marriages and estranged children. Some were trying to overcome heroin and crack habits while dealing with hypertension, diabetes, cardiac problems and sleep apnea.

"I been drugging for the past 55 years," Pedro Rosa, 66, said reflectively, looking at the floor and leaning on his cane, his tattooed arms protruding from his shirtsleeves.

Several in the group let out murmurs of agreement, like the sounds listeners make when they not only know the story but have also lived it.

"I was a very angry man when I was in the street," Mr. Rosa said. "But now I am too old to continue the life I was living."