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Monday, November 29, 2010

Thousands of Children Live With Parents Who Are Heavy Drinkers

The influences a child is exposed to when they are young can greatly impact the course their life takes; children are very impressionable and emotionally fragile, if a parent drinks or drugs heavily it is bound to affect their life. New research shows that more than 700,000 kids live in households with parents who have a problem with alcohol, according to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Substance abuse problems often develop with teens and young adults partly because of the exposure they received growing up. Parents set the example that children are supposed to live by, if their parents have a problem it quickly becomes the children's problem, often in the form of neglect or physical and emotional abuse. Stress is generally the underlying factor with many heavy drinkers, naturally, parents are under a lot of stress and that stress is alleviated by drinking - at first. "Families are often under pressure and stress, so it's not just the alcohol alone that's the cause of the problem," says the report's co-author, Dr Lucy Burns. "Often these children are exposed to situations where [there is] stress, sometimes violence, and of course that can have detrimental effects on a child if they're growing."

Parents need to work together, if there is a problem in the household it needs to be addressed before it gets anymore out of hand. One or both of the parents have drinking problem they should seek professional help, it is in the best interest for their lives and the lives of their children. Alcohol is often the underlying factor as to why there are problems in the household, the sooner a problem is addressed the better off one's children are, every child deserves a chance at a healthy, sober home life.

Dr Burns also wants to discuss raising the legal drinking age, but, she believes it may only offer a temporary solution for those children raised by problem drinkers. "There is a significant minority who do drink, who do drink excessively, and they do get into trouble," she said. "I think it's that particular group where we really need to harness our efforts and that involves things, not just campaigns to raise ages and just say no, but we really need to have appropriate treatment facilities for people who have these sorts of problems."


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Child Abuse Effects May Lead to Addiction in Women

The emotional scars that are left behind when a child is physically or sexually abused may drive some women to abuse alcohol. Often times abuse is never dealt with properly and the one who is abused ends up burying their past deep down inside; emotional trauma that is left unchecked will affect a child right on into adulthood, often times leading to addiction. Data from almost 3,700 women, who took part in the 2005 U.S. National Alcohol Survey, was analyzed by researchers. Women who reported that when they were children they were sexually abused were more likely to also report that they drank four or more alcoholic drinks daily; they were also more likely to be dependent on alcohol and to drink in a way that was unhealthy.

In a news release from the Center for Advancing Health, the lead author of the study, E. Anne Lown a scientist with the Alcohol Research Group in Emeryville, Calif., said that the findings show "a strong association between having a history of child abuse and problems with alcohol abuse". Children who are abused, especially those who are sexually abused, need to be treated at a young age so that they can learn healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with what happened to them. Without proper counseling, these children will enter adulthood with a number of problems; one of those problems may be addiction. "The take-home message is across a range of alcohol consumption patterns, child abuse is consistently associated with alcohol abuse. All of my measures found that association," she added.

"We, as a society, have to take responsibility for the healing of children and adults with a history of child abuse," Lown said. "We need to screen for abuse in all settings - not just screen for but have interventions in place that will address the long-term consequences of child abuse. Without screening, the problem will not be recognized."

The results of the study were released online Nov. 17 in advance of publication in the February print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

US News

Monday, November 22, 2010

Women At Greater Risk Than Men When It Comes To Alcohol

Alcohol is detrimental to the body no matter who you are, but, it turns out that women are much more susceptible to the effects of alcohol than men. There are a number of women who can hold their alcohol like men; however, heavy drinking can severely damage a woman's body, taking a higher toll on the liver, brain, and heart. Young women, in many cases, binge the same way that young men do without even realizing that their mind and body is affected greater. "We are very concerned about the fact that more young women are starting to drink in harmful ways, including binge drinking," said Dr. Deidra Roach of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The only age group whose binge drinking has increased in the last decade are women ages 21 to 23 according to a study on more than 500,000 people nationwide. There was a huge jump by 30 percent of women that binge when they drink between the years 1979 and 2006; this information was reported in the July 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Binge drinking occurs when someone drinks four or more alcoholic beverages in rapid succession. There are an estimated 17.6 million Americans who abuse alcohol, of those people; 5.3 million of them are female, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Men and women's bodies are much different, they process things differently and are affected for different lengths of time, according to the NIAAA. Women have more body fat and less water in their body, giving them less ability to metabolize alcohol than men; as well as lower levels of an enzyme important in the breakdown of alcohol, according to the NIAAA. Women who drink alcohol are affected by it much quicker than men and they stay inebriated for longer periods of time. "Because women are smaller than men . . . the same amount of alcohol will be more concentrated in a woman's body than a man's body," said Roach, a health scientist administrator in the NIAAA's Division of Treatment and Recovery Research. "This means when a man and a woman drink the same amount of alcohol, in general, the woman's internal organs will be exposed to more alcohol than the man's."


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Caffeine Energy Drinks Linked to Alcohol Abuse

Caffeinated alcohol infused energy drinks have become very popular amongst young adults, especially those attending college. Most people do not realize how strong the drinks are and the power they have to lead people towards addiction. A study published on Tuesday, led by University of Maryland researcher Amelia Arria, found that those who consume high-caffeine energy drinks can greatly increase one's risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. "The study of more than 1,000 students at a US university found that those who consumed caffeinated energy drinks on a weekly or daily basis drank alcohol more often and in greater quantities, and were more likely to become alcohol dependent than students who used energy drinks occasionally or not at all", according to Yahoo News.

It was just a month ago when nine students passed out, having to be hospitalized after drinking the same brand of caffeine-alcohol cocktail, Four Loko; in august a girl died from drinking the same drink after going into cardiac arrest, but, she had also been taking a weight loss pill on the same day. There are a number of young adults that believe the caffeine they are consuming is counteracting the alcohol, thus making them feel less drunk and have the ability to drink more. However, "They're under the misguided notion that they're not impaired when they are just as impaired as a person with the same blood-alcohol concentration. It's their subjective perception of drunkenness that is impaired," Arria told AFP.

Many students have gotten into the habit of mixing their own alcohol-infused energy drinks, so even if a ban is put on the sale of pre-mixed high-caffeine alcohol energy drinks people will just end up mixing their own. "We have the ability to regulate products that are premixed but not to regulate people's behavior," Arria said. State officials need to work together to help educate people on the dangers of mixing energy with alcohol, most young adults just don't even realize the lethal combination they are consuming. "When states and policymakers act to limit the availability of mixed energy-alcohol drinks, that should send an unequivocal message to consumers and the industry that mixing on your own is risky behavior," Arria told AFP.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Teen Brain More Susceptible to Damage from Drugs and Alcohol

The teenage brain is much more susceptible to the effects of drugs and alcohol in comparison to adults using the same substance. Teenagers' brains are still developing and any substance introduced to the neuro-chemistry taking place may change the way the brain functions, i.e. memory. "Brain development is actively transpiring even in the teen brain, and [if] you throw in a drug on top of that, you could change the trajectory of brain development." said Dr. Frances Jensen of Children's Hospital Boston. Most teens do not realize that their brain has more receptors for chemicals to bind to in turn keeping the drugs actively in one's system longer; the effect is that the drugs do more damage long term than that to an adult brain.

"A study led by Staci Ann Gruber of Harvard Medical School found that people who began using marijuana before age 16 and who used it the most performed the worst on a test of cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility means being able to change your response to something based on the context of the situation", reported CNN. Teenagers are barely aware of the damage that they are doing when consuming drugs, even the "less harmful" drugs like marijuana, but, science has shown us that the damage is being done. What's more, the teenage brain learns much faster than the adult brain, which means that picking up habits and, in many cases, the development of addiction forms easier. "The teen brain learns so handily; unfortunately it can get addicted a lot faster, stronger and longer," Jensen said.

Parents need to work hard to educate their children and be firm with them regarding drugs and alcohol. There are many parents who believe that smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol is just part of being a teenager; however, the science shows that these substances are harmful to the brain and may hinder their children in the long run. Addressing a problem as soon as it is discovered is so important, possibly being what ends up saving a life. "Parents need to stop saying, 'Oh, he’ll be fine,' Jensen said. "It's important that this information gets to teenagers, that they be made aware of their vulnerable and impressionable brain state."


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Economic Woes Spark Revival of Beer Sales at College Stadiums

College is the place where excessive drinking, as well as binge drinking, occurs quite frequently. It is a common theme amongst most college campuses for students to drink hard and fast which is the cause for high rates of alcohol poisoning with students. Students drink especially heavy around and on game day, where it is practically socially acceptable to drink like crazy. In the past there were number of college stadiums that did not sell alcohol on the premises forcing students to drink at home, in bars, and while sitting on the tail gate of a truck outside the stadium. However, as the economy continues to head in a downward spiral some college stadiums are turning to alcohol to raise their revenue.

Alcohol is big business in college towns, not only with alcohol sales, but, with advertising; you can go into just about any college town and see that Budweiser or Coors support the local team wholeheartedly, which is why the fans should support the beer companies by buying their products - seems fair. The NCAA has a ban on alcohol sales during championship games, but, for some reason has failed to stop alcohol sales during regular-season games. It is fair to say that students drink a lot regardless of whether their team is winning or losing and they will certainly drink whether or not the football stadium caters to their needs. Why would a college help their students get more intoxicated by serving at the games?

About one in four NCAA Division I schools allow alcohol sales in some areas of their stadiums, but, in September:

  • Fans of the University of Louisville at Lafayette were able to buy beer inside the stadium for the first time
  • Fans of University of Memphis were able to buy booze at the Liberty Bowl
  • Both the University of Akron and the University of Maryland began selling beer to their luxury-box patrons

Jack Sammons, chief administrative officer for the city of Memphis, said that while the city realizes "the university would prefer we not sell beer ... it's my job is to look under every rock these days for new revenue opportunities, so we've agreed to disagree". The city of Memphis, which owns the Liberty Bowl, expects to make $200,000 annually from beer sales.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Alcohol Tax to Combat Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is a major problem that exists on both sides of the Atlantic and there are many who feel that if the price of liquor was sharply increased binge drinking would occur much less. Binge drinking tends to occur much more with the younger generation typically those young adults who are in college where peer pressure is enormous. There have been a number of campaigns in the past to combat the problem with very little success, so with very few solutions at hand raising the price of alcohol dramatically may be the only answer. Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell is suggesting higher tax on alcohol would be heading in the right direction to combat this problem, which he says works well in other countries where binge drinking is not an issue.

The price of alcohol in most parts of the western world is fairly inexpensive, for everyone can acquire quite a bit of alcohol. According to Bell, the cost of alcohol needs to be raised higher than "pocket-money prices". Just yesterday the proposed new alcohol laws were given to parliament and could take as long as six months for everything to be figured out according to Justice Minister Simon Power.

The proposals include:
  • splitting the alcohol purchasing age to 18 for bars and 20 for off-licenses
  • limiting the alcohol content of Ready-to-drink's (RTDs)
  • banning particularly harmful products
  • reducing opening hours
  • new rules around the supply of liquor to minors
"This government sees overhauling our alcohol laws as a priority, particularly for addressing the drivers of crime because alcohol is a major lubricant for offending," Power said. The United States should follow suit, raising the price of alcohol would greatly reduce the ability for people to binge drink; in turn this will end up saving lives both on and off the road. The time to get serious about reform is upon us, people are dying and we have the power to change that.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Alcohol, Marijuana, and Smoking in the Polls

The polls have closed and as you may have gathered from the news there will be some changes in some states and no change in others. There were a lot of initiatives that dealt with smoking, alcohol, and marijuana:

There were a lot of people who thought that marijuana was going to be legalized in California, but, voters thought otherwise. Voters decided 46.3 percent to 53.7 percent, (with 98 percent of precincts reporting) against Prop. 19, which would have made it legal for adults to possess limited quantities of marijuana and let local governments regulate its production and distribution. NORML reported that "46+ percent (some 3.4 million Californians) voting ‘yes’ on Prop. 19 marks the greatest percentage of citizen support ever recorded on a statewide marijuana legalization effort". In Arizona, voters were attempting to start a medical marijuana program (Proposition 203), but, they did not succeed and neither did South Dakota. Oregon was voting on dispensaries and fell short as well: Measure 74 got only 42 percent in "yes" votes.

On the alcohol side of the table there were propositions that would have required alcohol companies to pay for the harm caused by their products. California approved Prop. 26, possibly negating efforts to require the alcohol industry, among others, to pay for the harm caused by their products. Proposition 26 passed by about 54 percent of the votes, 26 was funded overwhelmingly by the alcohol industry, requiring "two-thirds instead of a simple majority to pass state or local "mitigation" fees that recoup some of the damage caused by products". In Washington, Initiative 1105, which would have privatized liquor distribution, removed liquor taxes, and forced retailers to purchase from distributors, was struck down with 63 percent rejecting I-1105.

South Dakota passed Referred Law 12 - with 65 percent of the votes - banning smoking in bars, restaurants and casinos which will go into effect on Nov. 10.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Alcohol is more Harmful than Heroin or Crack

A new study, funded by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies in London, was recently published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, where a panel examined the problems caused by a variety of drugs; they determined that alcohol, heroin and crack were the most harmful to others while heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful to individual users, CNN reported. "Both in terms of the medical consequences as well as societal consequences, I agree that alcohol ranks very high in overall harmfulness," Dr. Petros Livados, director of the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, told the News. "Alcohol has tremendous repercussions in our society in terms of drunk driving and societal consequences.”

According to the Lancet, twenty drugs were scored on 16 criteria – nine had to do with the harms the drug being examined did to an individual and seven dealt with the harms a drug does to others. The drugs were scored out of 100 points and alcohol had the highest score, meaning it was the most harmful substance overall:

  • Alcohol - 72 points
  • Heroin - 55 points
  • Crack Cocaine - 54 points

It is easy to see drugs like heroin, crack, and methamphetamine being the most harmful because of the social stigmas associated with those drugs, but, alcohol is more dangerous and alcoholism remains a serious problem for millions of people. People think that the fact that alcohol is legal and access to it is always around the next corner that it is somehow less harmful to the mind and body. Oftentimes people who suffer from an alcohol problem will not consider what they have as a problem, but, almost 17.6 million adults in the United States either are alcoholics or have alcohol problems, according to the National Institutes of Health. "It is legal and socially sanctioned, so it does not carry the same stigma and issues that illegal drugs do," says Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, chair of the psychology department at Hunter College. "But the negative health consequences of alcohol are even greater than with many illegal drugs.”

NY Daily News

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