Monday, March 31, 2008

Drug Addiction - the Cause and Reaction

Drug Addiction - the Cause and Reaction
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What is drug addiction?
When a person uses a drug for the first time he/she experiences intense feelings of pleasure and the limbic system creates an appetite which drives us to seek those things again and again. Once a person stops using these drugs, it makes him feel lifeless and depressed and the only way is to use the drug again and again which makes him addicted. This phenomenon is known as drug addiction.

There are many organizations and people in our society who are trying hard to make sure that there are no drug addicts. Yet, the rate of success for these kinds of programs is significantly low because of the fact that they are on the assumptions of philosophy and human nature. They believe that the social support structure is responsible for addiction. Addiction is actually a means of giving up conscious control. Most addicts will not usually stop using until they hit the bottom level. Addiction causes a lot of problems not only to the individuals but also to the others around him. The addict individual does things which he does not do normally. This is not a conscious act.

As time passes, the addict realizes at some point of time that what he had done is wrong. This is because of the fact that the unconscious mind’s ability to block the addict’s conscious awareness is more. This creates a lot of misconceptions and positive emotions and motivations are denied, refused or completely extinguished. This behavior becomes more pronounced. At this stage it’s very difficult for the addict to recover.

The Human Brain and Drug Addiction
The human brain is the most outstanding organ of all. The nervous system is the most complex of all biological systems. It is highly organized. Billions and billions of nerve cells or neurons work together for controlling various functions of organs in the body. The nervous system apparently enables the organisms to adapt the constantly changing external environment. This is usually called as homeostasis. The central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system which includes the autonomic nervous system (ANS) are the complete

The limbic system and the reticular formation are the important regions of brain involved in human behavior. The limbic system controls the physical emotions physically and mentally. It also governs the memory process, learning and motivational aspects of behavior. The reticular formation is the “bridge” portion of the central nervous system. It controls the inflow and outflow of impulses. It is also responsible for alertness, sleep, arousal and maintaining consciousness in man. These activities of central nervous system can be altered by a wide range of chemicals in the level of neurotransmitters in the system.

Consciousness and coordination of external and internal stimuli are controlled by cerebral cortex. It contains about 9 million neurons. The part of brain called cerebrum, which is highly organized puts human apart from all the other living organisms. Removing entire cerebrum in frog makes no behavioral changes. But, humans become blind, paralyzed and will die soon.
Why drug addiction happens?

Drug addiction happens due to many reasons. Sociologist, religious adherent personalities when they get upset, it drives them to drug addiction. This sort of behavior happens because of making the addict feel shameful, weak and helpless. The addict feels very depressed. Then he naturally tends to do something which gives him pleasure. Moreover there are biological reasons for why drug addiction happens. The activity of the drug can be clearly seen in the central nervous system and the endocrine system. The actions of these two systems define the human behavioral and psychological processes. They also regulate the physical and mental thoughts like moods.

Can the drug addicts recover?
The drug addicts can recover by attending counseling or finding support and other recovery resources. By finding sober resources the chances of recovery are better. It takes a long time to recover. There must be pure and positive encouragement from the surrounding people. The person must regain his conscious mind and fight hard to recover him/her from addiction. He must control his/her emotions.
Medical prescriptions like the use of pain killers, muscle relaxers, anti depressants will make addiction still more badly only.

How drug use begins?
A person generally tries a drug. Then he continues to use it a few more times for sheer pleasure and ultimately becomes dependant. These produce harmful effects. For instance consumption of alcohol can produce progressive detoriation of physical and mental health.

Do the medical drugs have influence?
Phychopharamacological agents are drugs which modify the behavior and those agents include antipsychotic, antidepressants, antimanics and antianxiety agents. The antipsychotics have effects on autonomic nervous system and the reticular formation. The antidepressants have been a very good success in modern psychopharmacology. They are used for treating anxiety neuroses by producing muscle relaxation and calmness. They also produce euphoria i.e. a false feeling of well being and produce tolerance and physical dependence. So, these kinds of drugs will lead to serious problems like drug abuse or drug dependence. These include alcohol, tobacco, morphine, heroin, brown sugar, diazepam, cocaine, alprazolam, cannabis etc. This drug addiction dependence is characterized by overpowering desire to continue drugs, a tendency to increase the amount taken progressively. In physical dependence there will be a biochemical and physiological adaption of the tissues to the new environment when the drug is used repeatedly. This creates withdrawal of the drug when avoided or stopped. Withdrawal syndrome is different for each and may be life threatening.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Drug Information: Crack

What is Crack?

The chemical cocaine hydrochloride is commonly known as cocaine. Some users chemically process cocaine in order to remove the hydrochloride. This process is called "freebasing" and makes the drug more potent. "Crack" is a solid form of freebased cocaine. It is called "crack" because it snaps and cracks when heated and smoked.

What's new about crack?

Since crack is an already prepared form of freebased cocaine, the user does not have to buy the equipment or be exposed to the explosive chemicals associated with freebasing. Crack is most often packaged in vials or plastic bags and sold in small quantities, usually 300-500mg or enough for two to three inhalations.

Traditionally, cocaine was a rich man's drug, due to the large expense of a cocaine habit.

Now, crack is being sold at prices low enough that even adolescents can afford to buy it. But, this is misleading, since once a person is addicted to cocaine, his "habit" often increases, and so does his expense.

What are crack's adverse effects?

As with any street drug, what is sold may not be what it is claimed to be. Predicting side effects is difficult when the actual contents are not known. Life-threatening reactions have been reported whether it's the first, the 100th, or any other time crack is used. You do not have to overdose on crack to die from it.

In addition, if the initial experience leads to continued use, other adverse effects include the rapid development of tolerance, addiction, and all the social problems that can come from an expensive drug habit.

How is crack used?

The same way that freebase is used, namely, by placing the substance in a glass pipe (or hash pipe) with a fine mesh screen under it, then heating it and inhaling the vapors.
The vapors of the freebase are absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream and transported to the brain within 10-15 seconds. One inhalation will produce a degree of intoxication usually lasting 10-15 minutes.

Regardless of dosage, these reactions may appear

* Convulsions
* Increased heart rate
* Abnormal heartbeat
* Heart attack
* Sudden, sharp blood pressure increase
* Stroke
* Extreme depression
* Suicidal behavior

Friday, March 28, 2008

Drug Addiction and Alcoholism; A Treatable Illness

Drug Addiction and Alcoholism; A Treatable Illness

Drug addiction and alcohol addiction are comparable to chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, and hypertension, and should be treated as such,according to an article published in a year 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Authors Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., and Herbert D. Kleber, M.D., conducted a literature review of those illnesses, revealing that there are underlying similarities between drug addiction, alcohol addiction and chronic diseases. Yet, say the researchers, drug addiction is typically treated as if it is an acute condition. Altering perceptions to think of drug addiction as a chronic illness may change the way it is treated and insured.

The researchers found that drug addiction and alcoholism shares many of the characteristics of other chronic illnesses. In the area of genetic heritability, for example, studies of monozygotic and dizygotic twins have found heritability estimates of .25 to .50 for hypertension; .80 for type 2 and .30 for type 1 diabetes; and .36 to .70 for asthma. Heritability estimates for the drug addictions are similar, ranging from .34 for heroin dependence, .55 for alcoholism, .52 for marijuana dependence, and .61 for dependence on cigarettes.

Typically, both medical professionals and the general public view drug abuse as voluntary activities. That people choose to use drugs seems to set drug addiction and alcohol adidiction apart from other chronic illnesses. Yet, there are many chronic illnesses in which voluntary choice affects initiation and maintenance of disease. Salt sensitivity, obesity, stress level, and physical inactivity, all within voluntary control, are important factors in the development of hypertension.

Drug addiction and alcoholism also resembles other chronic illnesses in regard to treatment response. The course that an drug addiction takes if left untreated is an important issue in this regard. Studies comparing treated and untreated populations of addicts have typically shown that untreated, addictions do not remit.

Source: Treatment
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do we set ourselves up to fail?

Do you set yourself up to win or set yourself up to fail? Analyzing these 10 common pitfalls can help out you on the road to success.


An unrealistic goal is a goal that you (a) cannot see yourself achieving, (b) really don't expect to happen, or (c) that doesn't immediately move you into action.

A realistic goal is not a goal that you HAVE to immediately know how you are going to achieve. In fact, if you already know how to achieve your goal, it is probably not big enough. If you already know how to achieve your goals, chances are that are going to continue doing what you have always done - with the same results.

We must have a compelling emotional reason to achieve our goals. Our goals must move us into immediate action. Unrealistic goals are nothing more than wishes that don't inspire commitment. Commitment requires belief followed by directed and focused actions.


Sommetimes we write checks (commitments) that we cannot cash. When we try and do too much, we find it more and more challenging to stay in the present moment. We tend to rush from one activity to another, to the detriment of all.

Wallace D. Wattles in the Science of Getting Rich shares this :

"Our success does not depend on how many actions we take in a day, but rather in the efficiency of each single action that we take. Every action in itself is either efficient or inefficient. A prime cause of failure is doing too many things in an ineffcicent manner and not doing enough things efficiently."

Bottom line : To make each action a success, we must put all of our focus on that action. We must marry our thoughts to our actions. We cannot be in one place doing one thing with our thoughts on another.


This is probably the most common mistake. There is such a thing as overdoing it. After all, as a wise old woman once told me, "What good is a journey without sightseeing?" Listen to your body, and try these 4 things:
1. Get 6-8 hours of sleep a night.
2. Eat healthy meals.
3. Exercise 30-40 minutes 3 times a week (walking counts, too).
4. Take time to smell the flowers along the way!!!

Remember, pace wins the race. Not giving yourself time for yourself limits your ability to stay relaxed so you don't overreact. It also hinders your ability to clear your head and be creative when challenges arise.


An obsession with instant gratification can be fatal to our recovery. We need to have a healthy balance with doing things for the short term, intermediate term, and the long term. Wanting results NOW can often lead to poor decision making, and will often cause you to be less prepared, less patient, and less persistent.

We need to redefine what it means to be patient.

Norman Vincent Peale defines patience as "an energized belief that things will eventually go your way." Lance Armstrong called it "the defining characteristic between a boy and a man."

Wanting results too quickly will cause you to change courses too frequently without giving the seeds you have planted room to grow and prosper.


There is no such thing as a magic pill other than a compelling goal combined with a specific plan of action, and the commitment and discipline to follow through on that plan.

the word is F.O.C.U.S.


We must learn the power of focus. What are you focused on?


This is one of the major causes of stress in your life.

Thinking about what you're NOT doing :

1. Causes you to set unrealistic goals.
2. Causes you to be inefficient as you try to do too much.
3. Causes you to work too hard.
4. Causes you to want results quickly.
5. Causes you to change course too often.
6. Causes you to focus on your fears, rather than on the goal itself.

You must learn to keep your attention on the task at hand. In order to be at our best we need to keep our minds clear and focused on our immediate goal and the steps that we are taking to achieve it, making each action more efficient and effective.


Space represents opportunity and gives us room to operate. Being clean, clear, and complete is energy giving. This applies to all areas of our lives including :

- our mind
- our body
- our emotions
- our finances
- our living and working environments
- our relationships

Clutter is a manifestation of the broken agreements with self that drain our energy. It is a sign that we are holding on to the past out of fears that we are not going to be good enough for our futures.

Once again, when we are :
1.Setting unrealistic goals
2.Trying to do too much
3.Working too hard
4.Wanting results too quickly
5.changing course too often
6.thinking too much about what we're NOT doing

We will have too much clutter in our minds and in our lives.


A MAJOR stumbling block in our recovery is is wanting to be perfect or believing that you SHOULD be doing better than you are. Being perfect is one of the lowest standards that you can hold for yourself. You can never be "perfect". In fact, you already are. It is your flaws that give you your individuality. Perfectionists avoid anything that might lead to failure. The need to be perfect will adversely affect your willingness and ability to take risks that will allow you to grow. Having to be perfect gives you plenty of opportunity to get down on yourself. It leaves you with a feeling of not being good enough. Instead, shoot for your personal best.


By focusing on what we fear rather than taking action and moving towards our fear, we often become paralyzed and move into a state of creative avoidance.

What is fear? Fear is an illusion, a story that we tell ourselves to keep us safely in our comfort zone. In reality, fear is a gift, if only we will open it. Our fears point us in the exact direction of our dreams. In fact, the only way to get to our goals is thru our fears.

You cannot escape fear. Fear is part of being alive. Don't be tempted not to feel your fear. You can only learn to hold it differently, in a place of power not pain. Like Susan Jeffers says " Feel the fear and do it anyway." What are your options? Learn to be excited by your fears and they will take you on some wonderful adventures.

When we focus on our fear, what we are REALLY doing is :


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darknes, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightening about shrinkin so that other people won't feeel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people persmission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others. -- Marianne Williamson

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. — Mark Twain

Courage, her mother had once told her, was not simply the fact that you weren’t scared of anything… it was being scared & doing whatever it was anyway. Courage was dealing with your fears & not letting them rule you. — Missy Good

So, How many of these 10 items sound familiar to you?

This article was reprinted from "Coach's Corner" Sep, 2001 Newsletter of HobbsHerder - a Real estate company, and written by Steve Shull,

For more information on this topic please visit us at The Sober Village

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Road Is Long

The road is long
"The road is long, with many a winding turn........."

Never have truer words been spoken - especially when it comes to substance addiction recovery.

When we first decide to crawl out of the darkness and take our tentative steps in the light of sobriety, it's an amazing experience. We begin to feel stronger and our reasoning abilities become a lot clearer.

......then the emotional crash, the "honeymoon" period is over.

Perhaps you have experienced this and know what I mean. The "high" of making the decision to clean up and detoxing has gone. You are now back in the community and facing it on it's terms, learning to cope.

You may be alone, isolated in your pain that "normal" people can never understand. You grieve for your lost "friend", even though that friend was actually your worst enemy. You become irritable, uninterested, depressed -perhaps even suicidal. This can lead to a "bust", a bust you may never recover from -remember, that if we are addicted we cannot control our substance intake. The "just one more time" may seal your fate. And as we all know, there are worse things in life than death -the insanity of addiction. You may not be lucky enough to die the next time.

Many of us have experienced this phase, the "emotional roller coaster". For me, it was as though all the colours of the world were washed away. There was no point to anything, my mind constantly went back to the dark days. I was guilt ridden, self-pitying and unmotivated. I was very hard to be around. While others who knew me congratulated me on my efforts, I saw only failure as I didn't feel "right". I felt the same way I did at the age of 13 when my hell really began.

There is a reason for this - in a lot of ways, I was still 13. When I began abusing substances, a great deal of my emotional growth stopped, the substance was my coping mechanism. At the age of 24, it began again. There was a steep learning curve ahead.

But don't worry, this phase does not last forever. For me it was one year. For you it may be a few weeks. It depends greatly on your network of support and more so, yourself.

-If you are experiencing this, it is imperative that you build a network of people around you that understand what you are feeling. These people are the recovered addicts. They will know when to hug you and tell you that everything will be OK, and they also know when to kick your butt and tell you to "get over it"....tough love, but necessary.

-If the environment you are in threatens your sobriety, leave it. I am serious...whatever it takes, get the hell out of there! You may be saying to yourself "I can't leave, I can't afford to" or "People are relying on me to be around". It doesn't matter - remember where you have just come from. If you finish up back there again, you may never re-emerge.

-You may have friends who are still practising addicts/alcoholics. Stay away from them if they do not respect what you are doing to improve yourself. It is in the nature of people who have the disease of addiction and are still practising to influence you in subtle ways. In a great deal of cases, it is not on purpose, but more a subconscious thing.

-Start putting routine into your day. I'm not suggesting too much, too soon but keeping busy is a great way of keeping your mind off things. As you become more productive, your self-esteem increases.

-Re-establish a sleeping pattern. Your body has been through hell and back. It needs rest, and your brain needs to sort things out on many levels. Be prepared for nightmares involving the past and use of the substance. Even though you may have no apparent cravings, your subconscious yearns for another hit and expresses this in your dreams. The nightmares are alarming at first. There were many times that I woke up in a pool of sweat. Even seven years down the track I still have them, but I accept them for what they are.

-Eat regular meals. I am a fine example of a toxic waste dump when it comes to things of a dietary nature, but I learnt early in my recovery that cravings could be lessened through eating something. The advice given to cigarette smokers about eating healthily when quitting is sound and good, but it is my experience that when withdrawing from other substances it is wiser to satisfy your food cravings with what it wants, including fatty and sugary foods. Alcoholics will probably find that they will develop a sweet tooth because their bodies are used to high amounts of sugar. So, if you wake up at 3 in the morning and eat a quart of double chocolate chip ice cream smothered in fudge, don't feel guilty! It's better that than what you were using before!

-If you find yourself feeling angry a great deal, this is also normal. It is important to examine the anger and not just lash out using whatever situation you are in as a scapegoat. Whatever is going on, it will pass. Breathe deeply and think.

Some of the points above may seem fairly drastic and harsh, but this is a life and death situation. And unlike some other terminal illnesses, addiction destroys everything in it's path as it destroys you - your family, your friends and anyone you come into prolonged contact with.

The advice above is not mine; it was given to me and I now pass it on to you. The easy way to remember the points is the HALT statement

The 4 Don'ts:


Good luck to you in your recovery, there are people out there who care about you, even if you don't know them....

"You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone"

Michael Bloch

The Sober Village

Friday, March 21, 2008

Treatment promising for alcohol dependence

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - An extended-release version of the anti-addiction medicine naltrexone reduces drinking in alcohol-dependent patients within two days of being injected, according to a new study.

Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors and is approved for use in alcohol-dependent patients. To improve adherence, "an intramuscular, injectable, extended-release formulation of naltrexone has been developed," Dr. Domenic A. Ciraulo, of Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues explain in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

The researchers tested injectable naltrexone XR in some 600 actively drinking, alcohol-dependent men and women who were given one of two doses of the drug or an inactive placebo every 4 weeks for 24 weeks. The participants also received 12 sessions of standardized, low-intensity psychosocial therapy.

Compared with the placebo patients, patients given the higher dose of naltrexone had a significant reduction in the average daily number of drinks consumed by the second day. By the third day, fewer naltrexone patients reported heavy drinking compared with those on placebo (20 percent versus 35 percent, respectively). This reduction was maintained throughout the study.

While patients treated with the lower dose of naltrexone XR experienced reductions in these measures, the differences compared with placebo were not statistically significant.

Ciraulo's team is encouraged by the results. "Potential clinical implications of the rapid, early onset of effect of this medication's delivery system for patients who are dependent on alcohol include facilitation of early engagement in treatment, motivation to continue treatment, and focus on the goals established in counseling," they write.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, February 2008.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Some Women Choose Drinking over Eating to Loose Weight

Some women in the U.S. and U.K. are choosing to skip dinner and drink alcohol instead in hopes of losing weight, but the strategy is flawed because of the high caloric content of alcohol, the Telegraph reported March 19.

In a practice dubbed "drunkorexia," women may drink a glass or two of wine rather than eating a meal in a pattern that seems to combine two dangerous behaviors: binge drinking and eating disorders.

"They get fully hooked, it is an extremely noxious thing," said Janet Treasure, head of the eating-disorders unit at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. "It is more common with bulimia than anorexia but you get the combination of empty calories with no nutritional value and the risky behavior that goes with being drunk."

"You are more likely to be binge drinking," added Susan Price of the British Dietetic Association. "What you should do is eat a healthy balanced diet and choose low calorie mixers and non-alcohol low calorie soft drinks."

Diets that focus on limiting daily food intake may unintentionally encourage the problem, but experts note that alcohol has more calories on a gram-for-gram basis than carbohydrates or protein. A 250 ml glass of wine, a standard large pour in pubs, contains more calories than a light lunch, for example. Some beers contain 250 calories per pint.

If you need help with a drinking problem please visit The Sober Village where our forums will offer you the support you need.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Heroin use in jails overtakes cannabis, random tests show

Heroin is now more widespread than cannabis inside prisons in England and Wales, according to the results of an official random drug testing programme.

Ministry of Justice data published yesterday shows that at two prisons - Erlestoke in Wiltshire and Featherstone in Wolverhampton - 16% of inmates tested positive for heroin. Across 101 prisons, 4.2% of inmates tested positive for heroin and 4% for cannabis.

The survey, carried out between February and April last year, was commissioned because of increasing concern about the growing misuse of a heroin substitute called Subutex - a prescription drug used in drug treatment programmes.

It confirmed claims that the use of Subutex - also known as buprenorphine - had spread "like wildfire" across the prison estate. Prisoners tested positive for Subutex use in 87 out of 139 jails - 50 of which had found no trace of the drug in previous drug testing programmes.

The Prison Service was also alarmed to find that in 11 prisons Subutex had overtaken heroin and cannabis as the most misused drug - many of them in the north-east, Yorkshire and Humberside areas. At Holme House prison on Teesside more than 20% of inmates tested positive for the drug. "The misuse of buprenorphine had grown to be a more significant problem," concluded the report, which was commissioned by the National Offender Management Service.

The justice minister, David Hanson, said yesterday the results justified the introduction of mandatory drug testing for the opiate substitute across all prisons from next month. "Prisoners will also be reminded of the drug treatment options available in prisons."

He said the random drug testing programme had shown that drug abuse inside jails in England and Wales had fallen from 24.4% of inmates testing positive in 1997 to 8.8% last year.

The decision to extend the programme of mandatory drug testing follows the announcement on Monday that David Blakey, former president of the Association of Chief Police Officers and chief constable of West Mercia, is to head an inquiry into the illicit supply of drugs into prisons.

The evidence of heroin abuse follows claims over the years that drug tests provide a perverse incentive for class A drug abuse because the active ingredients of cannabis remain in the bloodstream for much longer than opiates.

The Prison Service points out that on average 55% of inmates are problem drug users and some prisons report up to 80% of new inmates testing positive for class A drugs on reception. Governors argue that given this high level of abuse among new prisoners it is not surprising to see such a high demand for drugs in prison.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

The price is wrong for our drinking problem

It would be disingenuous to claim that increased taxation represents the "silver bullet" when it comes to Britain's problematic relationship with alcohol.

Indeed, research makes it clear that the drivers of consumption are complex. However, a genuinely effective harm reduction strategy requires both controls on the supply and the demand for alcohol.

For that reason, Alcohol Concern continues to argue for multi-faceted work that incorporates consistent, high quality information for consumers, greater corporate social responsibility on the part of the drinks industry, better treatment and support for chronic drinkers to bring their drinking down to more sustainable levels, and, inevitably, tighter controls on price.

The view that the price of alcohol influences how much a society drinks is one that is shared by virtually the entire international public health community. Alcohol now costs the British drinker less than half what it did in 1980.

At the same time, more than eight million people drink at harmful levels in the UK. We also know that chronic alcohol-related conditions like liver disease have multiplied by nearly 200 per cent in the last 10 years, and that there is now a clear trend towards people dying from alcohol-related causes at younger ages than before. The social and economic cost is also considerable – the Cabinet Office estimates it to be in the region of £20bn.

Developments like these have led us to argue that the Government needs to increase taxes on alcohol in today's Budget to the extent that there is a 10 per cent increase in prices across the board. Analytical work predicts that such a price rise would cut premature, alcohol-related deaths by up to 37 per cent in this country. This work is complemented by a range of other studies that have also found that increasing the price of alcohol can reduce road accidents and fatalities, workplace injuries, deaths from cirrhosis of the liver and various kinds of violent crime.

Cheap alcohol is particularly relevant for under age, and heavy drinkers. The fact that teenagers are now drinking twice as much as they did 20 years ago is very likely to be related to alcohol's growing affordability.

In November last year, Alcohol Concern collected price information from random supermarket branches throughout London. The aim was to discover how far a teenager's allowance could actually go for those who manage to buy alcohol, either in person, or through a proxy.

It found that with the average teenager's weekly pocket money, a person can afford to buy as much as three times the daily recommended limit in premium alcohol brands alone.

Higher alcohol taxes would help to protect young people by curtailing their ability to source alcohol independently.

Raising alcohol taxes has the added advantage of helping to dismantle certain health inequalities. People from professional or "middle class" homes are far more likely to buy alcohol regularly, and to drink above the recommended levels, yet "alcohol-related harm" is borne largely by those from routine or manual backgrounds.

There is ample evidence to suggest that price increases t
hrough taxation would have an effect on consumption levels for those for whom alcohol takes up a large proportion of their income.

Driving down the amount that people from poorer backgrounds drink may therefore reduce the disproportionate health burden that heavy drinkers in those groups bear.

To achieve these aims, prices would need to rise uniformly across the drinks market. At the moment, supermarkets and other major off-licence chains have enough purchasing power to demand that drinks producers absorb any increases in duty rates so that they can continue selling alcohol at deep discounts.

To protect the integrity of alcohol taxes, we propose therefore that the Government needs additionally to introduce legislation to prevent both the on and off trade from selling below a fixed retail price.

source: Yorkshire Post

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Binge Drinking; Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

ScienceDaily (Mar. 5, 2008) — How much and how often people drink -- not just the average amount of alcohol they consume over time -- independently influence the risk of death from several causes, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"Taken together, our results reinforce the importance of drinking in moderation. In drinkers who are not alcohol dependent, the majority of U.S. drinkers, alcohol quantity and frequency might be thought of as modifiable risk factors for mortality," the researchers conclude.

"These findings underscore the importance of looking at drinking patterns when investigating alcohol-related health outcomes," says Ting-Kai Li, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the NIH.

Rosalind A. Breslow, Ph.D., M.P.H., an epidemiologist in NIAAA's Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, and Barry I. Graubard, Ph.D., a statistician in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute, examined data from a nationwide health survey conducted in 1988. Almost half of the nearly 44,000 people who participated in the survey identified themselves as current drinkers who had at least 12 drinks of alcohol during the previous year. By the end of 2002, more than 2,500 of these individuals had died. Drs. Breslow and Graubard compared their causes of death with the alcohol consumption patterns they reported in the survey. A report of their findings appears in the March, 2008 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The researchers found that, in men, alcohol frequency and quantity had opposite effects on cardiovascular mortality. The greater the amount of alcohol that men consumed on drinking days, the greater was their risk for death from cardiovascular disease. For example, men who had five or more drinks on drinking days had a 30 percent greater risk for cardiovascular mortality than men who had just one drink per drinking day. Alcohol quantity was also associated with increased mortality from cancer among men. On the other hand, frequency of drinking was associated with decreased risk for death from cardiovascular disease among men -- those who reported drinking 120 to 365 days per year had about 20 percent lower cardiovascular mortality than men who drank just one to 36 days per year. The current study was not designed to determine why drinking frequency might have a protective effect. Among women, frequent drinking was associated with a significantly increased risk of cancer, while increased quantity was associated with risk for mortality from all causes.

Previous studies have linked moderate drinking with reduced risk for death from cardiovascular disease, while heavier drinking has been linked with increased mortality. Such studies have typically measured individuals' average alcohol intake. A drawback of that approach, says Dr. Breslow, is that averaging obscures potential differences between people who sometimes drink heavily and those who consistently drink small amounts of alcohol.

"Average intake makes no distinction between the individual who has seven drinks one day each week, for example, and someone who has just one drink, every day," explains Dr. Breslow. "Our study is the first to look at how both quantity and frequency components of alcohol consumption independently influence cause-specific mortality within a single cohort representing the US population."

The researchers note that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise men to drink no more than two drinks per day and women to drink no more than one drink per day. Because women's bodies generally have less water than men's bodies, a given amount of alcohol is less diluted in a woman's body than in a man's. Consequently, when a woman drinks, the alcohol in her bloodstream typically reaches a higher level than a man's even if both are drinking the same amount.

Adapted from materials provided by NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Binge drinking could lead to stroke

The Stroke Association is warning the public of the dangers of binge drinking and how it can increase your risk of brain damage from a stroke.
The warning comes at the start of Brain Awareness Week 2008.

Binge drinking can raise blood pressure to dangerously high levels and is a major risk factor for stroke.

A stroke is a brain attack; it happens when the blood supply is cut to the brain causing brain cells to die and results in brain damage.

Stroke is the UK's third biggest killer and if it doesn't kill it could leave you paralysed, unable to talk, walk and/or incontinent.

People who binge drink (consume six or more units at a single sitting) are twice as likely to have a stroke than non-drinkers.

Yet, worryingly an estimated 60 percent of people are not aware that stroke can be a consequence of binge drinking.

Current government statistics indicate that 18 percent of men and eight percent of women drank more than eight units and six units respectively, on at least one day in the previous week.

Despite this only 25 percent of people questioned in a survey said that they would reduce the
ir alcohol intake to help reduce their risk of stroke. The number of people, who already do so, was only slightly higher at 31 percent.

These figures are of some concern, especially given that heavy intermittent drinking is a feature of many people's social lives in the UK and young people are more inclined to consume more than twice the recommended sensible drinking limit.

Joe Korner, Director of Communications at The Stroke Association said:
"Stroke can be a devastating condition and can affect anyone, of any age, at any time.

"By binge drinking you are increasing your risk of stroke and leaving yourself vulnerable to serious consequences such as long term disability or even death.

"Therefore The Stroke Association is urging the public, not just for Brain Awareness Week, but for the whole year round to exercise control over the amount of alcohol they are consuming."

source: Morpeth Today

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Living with an Alcoholic

Living With An Alcoholic

It really doesn't matter if we're the child, spouse or parent of an alcoholic; the abuse, pain, self-doubt and fear are severe and frequent. We spend a lot of compassionate effort trying to help alcoholics recover, but very little on the loved ones, some of whom may be scarred for life. If you have a loved one who is an alcoholic, this article is for you. If you're addicted to alcohol and have loved ones trying to help you, please consider this article a wake-up call. Here are some of the latest Addiction Recovery books to help you cope.

Secrets And Lies: Alcohol addicts need to be woken up because the biggest lie they tell is to themselves, "I don't have a problem." As much as you love the alcoholic in your family, that lie is what makes it easy to lie to you. My father would say he'll be at my game, my play, my graduation...usually lies. When he didn't arrive, it was always because he was tired. Funny how tired you can get after a few drinks...or before a few. He did the best he could, given his addictions, so, I'm not whining...Just letting you know I know what you're going through. Some alcoholics claim to not drink and have hours of secret time away from home, all with convenient lies to hide what's really happening. Of course, the truth can't help but be revealed when they overindulge and stumble into the house, get in an accident or get arrested. Sadly, most of the time, these incidents are only followed by more lies, this time about quitting or cutting back. Funny, how easy it is to believe the lies just one more time.

Coping-Not Codependence: One of the sad things about being codependent to an alcoholic is how easy it is to believe their lies. Our love for them overshadows the obvious truth...and we begin to live in denial just like the one we love. We become addicted to the neediness of our alcoholic loved one. Instead, we need to learn to cope with them rather than enable them. No, we won't believe their words...only their actions. We will protect the rest of the family from them but we won't enable them by excusing or supporting them in any way as long as they continue in their addiction. Coping with an alcoholic means being tough and confronting them. It means setting clear boundaries and not changing them just because the addict makes a fuss. It means letting them live in the consequences of their actions...even if they lose their job or freedom due to a jail sentence. Calling in to work, making excuses, bailing them out of jail actually helps them continue in their addiction. You don't love an alcoholic by holding them up. Loving them means letting them hit the ground until they learn to hate falling more than they love drinking.

The Only Love Of An Addict: When we give in to the manipulation and the alcoholic rewards us with words of admiration and love, it's just another lie. The words seem sincere because they are spoken to you, but the words of love about the bottle, and no one else. Alcoholics hate themselves and are incapable of loving anyone...not their kids, their spouse, their parents...they are all pawns to be used to get that next drink. Drinking isn't an alcoholic's first love, it's the only love. Until that bond is broken, no one else will be allowed in.

Recovery Or Rejection: This article may seem as though I think it impossible for an alcoholic to recover. It may surprise you to know I'm a recovered alcoholic. I didn't get to recovery because people excused me. It was only after I realized I had become my Dad, with his drunkenness, violence and lies...only when I saw that I would get this addiction under control or lose my wife, my career and everything. That was bottom for me...what brought me to find help and get this addiction behind me. I was lucky and I had help from God and others around me...not help to get drunk, but help to live sober. Unfortunately, if nothing else works for your alcoholic, sometimes they need to know there are only two choices...begin recovery or be rejected. A drug addict I knew was squatting in an abandoned house with her 3 small children and her supplier boyfriend, with no furniture, piles of uncontained trash and food scraps next to the uncovered mattresses and piles of unwashed, filthy clothes. I can't begin to describe the smell. She had to have her three children taken away from her before she would enter rehab and get clean. The last time I saw her, she was healthy, well-dressed, employed and had her children back with her. The greatest act of love toward this woman came from a government agency by taking her children.

If your alcoholic won't quit, as hard as it is, the greatest act of love you can offer is to withhold your support, your help, yourself and your love from them. This is their best chance for recovery. If the addict won't quit even then, the choice was made by the addict...and by you. This was your last and greatest act of give them up in hopes they would give up the bottle.

Living With An Alcoholic is never easy, coping with secrets and lies and being manipulated for that next drink. If the bottle turns out to be their one true love, often, the only option is to leave them and salvage your life. Hopefully, with your firm boundaries, a little luck and a lot of God's help, your alcoholic will give it up and live in recovery, proving you're their one true love and eventually learning to love even themselves.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Worse Outcomes For A Substance-Abuse Disorder Likely When Accompanied By PTSD

Up to one-half of those seeking help for substance-abuse disorders (SUDs) also have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

* New findings show that the frequency of a PTSD is greater among those dependent on drugs rather than alcohol, and that having a PTSD tends to predict a more severe course and worse outcome for an SUD.

From one-third to one-half of those seeking treatment for a substance-use disorder (SUD) can also have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The first multi-center study of PTSD among individuals seeking treatment for an SUD has found a greater prevalence of PTSD among those who were drug- rather than alcohol-dependent, and that having PTSD was associated with a more severe course and worse outcome for an SUD.

Results are published in the March issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"We already knew that there is a quite relevant association between PTSD and SUDs," said Martin Driessen, professor of psychiatry at Ev. Hospital Bielefeld in Germany, and corresponding author for the study. "More specifically, PTSD is a risk factor for the development of an SUD, particularly a drug dependence. However, it was unclear whether this is true for both abusers and dependent subjects, or only one of these groups, which is why we studied clearly dependent subjects."

"Drug dependence has frequently been observed in war veterans who also suffer from PTSD," added Andreas Heinz, director and chair of the department of psychiatry at Charité - University Medical Center Berlin. "Both men and women often increase drug abuse and develop dependence following war and other trauma."

For this study, Driessen and his colleagues interviewed 459 subjects (274 males, 185 females) seeking help in 14 German addiction-treatment centers: 39.7 percent had alcohol dependence; 33.6 percent had drug dependence; and 26.8 percent had both. Interviewers used the International Diagnostic Checklists, Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale, Addiction Severity Index, and Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale to assess all participants. Individual characteristics and treatment outcomes were later analyzed.

Results showed the prevalence of PTSD was greater among those with drug rather than alcohol dependence. "We found a prevalence of PTSD that was roughly double, around 30 percent, in drug-dependent subjects than that found in alcohol-dependent subjects, at about 15 percent," said Driessen. "Although we expected this, based on previous research, we were somewhat surprised to find such a high difference between drug and alcohol dependence."

Having a PTSD was also associated with worse outcomes for an SUD, Driessen said, such as more family problems, less employment, and more severe psychological symptoms.

"The subjects suffering from PTSD had higher hospitalization rates, shorter periods of abstinence, and higher drug craving," added Heinz. "However, the study did not show whether PTSD was a cause or consequence of drug dependence in individual subjects."

In addition, said Driessen, the associations between an SUD and PTSD were stronger when the PTSD diagnosis was definitive - that is, based on the interview as well as the questionnaire - compared to those patients with a probable or subsyndromal PTSD. A mere trauma exposure without PTSD was not associated with an SUD, he noted.

Both Driessen and Heinz recommended that clinicians examine patients with an SUD in order to determine if PTSD is an underlying factor, and that researchers continue investigating specific treatment options.

"Women in this study showed higher PTSD rates, which is in accordance with the literature," said Heinz. "Women also more often show clinical depression, which often precedes alcohol dependence, while in men, depression seems to follow alcohol dependence in most cases. Further research on psychotrauma and its sequelae such as PTSD, anxiety and depression may point to gender differences in the course and consequences of drug and alcohol addiction. In addition, neurobiological correlates such as monoamine and stress hormone dysfunction and alterations in central processing of affective and reward-indicating stimuli should be assessed. They may predict treatment response and indicate whether specific treatment options with psychotherapy or addictive pharmacological therapy are helpful."

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.


Martin Driessen, M.D., Ph.D.
Ev. Hospital Bielefeld

Monday, March 3, 2008


If we’re contemplating a relapse, we should think our using through to the bitter ends. For many of us, those ends would include severe medical problems, imprisonment, or even death. How many of us have known people who relapsed after many years clean, only to die from their disease?

But there is a death that accompanies a return to active addiction that may be worse than physical death. That is the spiritual death we experience when we are separated from our Higher Power. If we use, the spiritual relationship we have nurtured over the years will weaken and perhaps disappear. We will feel truly alone.

There is no doubt that we have periods of darkness in our recovery. There is only one way we can make it through those troubling times: with faith. If we believe that our Higher Power is with us, then we know that all will be well.

No matter how badly we may feel in our recovery, a relapse is never the answer. Together, we find recovery. If we stay clean, the darkness will lift and we will find a deeper connection to our Higher Power.

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