07 Oct 2014
When you take care of your aging parents you are paying back all the years of love and care they took in raising you. You are also doing something out of love. You care for your parents and want them to be safe and comfortable as they age. Whether or not an older parent lives with you, you hope to be an advocate, a caregiver and someone on whom they can rely. What you probably never thought you would have to worry about is substance abuse. Statistics show that older Americans are abusing drugs more than in any previous generation. How do you know if your mom or dad is taking part in this trend and how do you prevent it?
Substance Abuse In Older Americans
It may seem unlikely, but substance abuse is a real problem in the aging population today. If you have a parent to care for, you should be aware of the issue.
Senior Prescription Drug Abuse
Thirty percent of older Americans take at least five different prescription medications every day, which means they have numerous opportunities to abuse prescription drugs. Abuse of prescriptions is one of the biggest substance abuse problems among the older population. Hospitalization of older patients for prescription-related problems rose nearly 100 percent over a decade from 1997 to 2008.
Senior Alcohol Abuse
The other major type of substance abuse among older adults is alcohol. Access and habit can help to explain why older adults abuse prescriptions and alcohol. Many older people grew up at a time when drinking a cocktail after work every day was considered normal behavior. Depending on the population studied, between 3 and 25 percent of older Americans drink heavily. A particular concern is the combination of alcohol and prescription drugs.
Protect Your Parents From Substance Abuse And Addiction
It is important to understand that there is an issue when it comes to older Americans and substance abuse. You should also understand what makes older adults susceptible to abuse and addiction so that you can protect your parents and any other older loved ones. One reason they may become hooked on drugs is the prevalence of prescriptions. Older people are often prescribed medications, such as painkillers, which are highly addictive. With pain from arthritis, surgery or falls, older adults are more likely than younger people to be prescribed these painkillers.
Another issue with older people is loneliness. As we age our social circles begin to shrink. Many older adults find themselves more alone than ever before. Depression is also a problem as they lose friends or a spouse. Turning to drugs or alcohol to mitigate feelings of sadness, depression and loneliness is not uncommon.
To protect your parents from the possibility of substance abuse or even addiction, it is important that you counteract the factors that make them vulnerable. Monitor the prescriptions that your parents use and talk to their doctors about whether any of them can be abused or are addictive. If any of them are, talk to your parents about the possibility of getting addicted to them. Check with with doctor also to see if any can safely be switched over to a less-addictive prescription
Perhaps most importantly, spend time with your older loved ones. Changing social circumstances can make a powerful impact and you can make a difference. In addition to spending time with them, also encourage your parents to seek out social activities. Get them involved in senior centers where they can meet new people. An active social life, combined with your love and attention, will go a long way toward helping your parents feel good about life. These actions will also help protect them from the growing dangers of substance abuse.
Read More About: The Unimagined Costs Of Having An Addicted Family Member And What You Can Change – Healing Is Possible! Don’t Give Up!
02 Oct 2014
Drinking is a risky behavior. You can have an accident. You can drink too much, black out and forget what happened the night before. You can end up saying things you regret. And, of course, most of us have experienced the dreaded morning-after hangover. If you drink responsibly and moderately, you don’t have to worry about these things.
Types Of Hangovers And What They Say About You And Your Drinking
If you are questioning whether your drinking habits are risky or getting out of control, let your hangovers be your guide; they can be illuminating.
The Occasional, Regrettable Hangover
An occasional hangover is not that unusual for the moderate social drinker. We all have those regrettable moments when we go one drink too far. The next morning you wake up with your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth, the room spinning and your head pounding. You try to remember what went wrong the night before and then slug back water in a desperate attempt to feel normal again.
This type of hangover, if it occurs once or twice a year, is probably not a big deal. And it is not likely to be indicative of a drinking problem. It’s normal to make this mistake and only if you never drink or you rule your drinking with an iron fist will you never have a hangover.
The Slight, But Constant Hangover
A hangover can come in a range of severities. For most normal drinkers, the worst hangovers are rare because we learn our lessons, at least for a while. The normal reaction to a bad hangover is to avoid drinking too much in the future. But what if you drink regularly and wake up most mornings with mild symptoms? Maybe you have a slight headache or you just feel unrested, like you didn’t sleep well.
This mild kind of hangover, occurring several times a week, is a sign that you are developing a drinking problem. If you truly drink moderately, meaning one to two drinks at a time no more than a few nights a week, you shouldn’t feel bad in the mornings. These little hangovers are telling you that you are drinking too much and you are drinking too often. Just because you aren’t experiencing a full-blown morning-after event doesn’t mean you aren’t abusing alcohol. Slow down and cut back now before it gets worse.
The “I’ll Never Feel This Way Again” Hangover
I’ll never drink like that again! Have you ever said this before? Most of us have, which is fine if you act on that sentiment. If you find yourself saying or thinking this, but tack on an “until next weekend,” you have a problem. Not adjusting your behavior in response to a bad hangover is not normal and it indicates that you are drinking too much too often. Try to cut back and if you find that you are struggling to do so, you may need some professional help or a support group.
The Hair Of The Dog Hangover
What if you have regular hangovers and to get through them you have a little morning drink? This is a sign that you are already on a dangerous path. If you need a drink to help you feel better in the morning, you could be well on your way to alcoholism. Stop drinking now and turn to professionals for help. If you’re not sure where to turn, start with a trusted friend or family member who cares about you. You need support now more than ever.
Listen To What Your Body Is Telling You And Get Alcohol Abuse Help
Hangovers are no fun and how often and how badly you have them, and how you respond to them, can tell you a lot about your drinking and whether it’s problematic. Listen to what your body is telling you and adjust your drinking behaviors or get the help you need.
09 Sep 2014
Prom, graduation and the start of summer vacation are all key times that trigger a rash of underage drinking. Unfortunately, teenage drinking is a year-round problem. Underage drinking can have some very serious immediate consequences.
Drinking too much can make a young person sick. It can lead to poor decision-making. It can lead to accidents. At the very least, drinking can make a young person feel awful the next day. What many young people fail to consider is that there are lasting consequences too.
Effects Of Long-Term Underage Drinking
Whether you’re a teen yourself or the parent of a teen, understand the long-term implications of underage drinking:
- Legal Troubles – Most teens don’t think about getting caught before they drink, but many make bad choices when they do. These poor decisions can get a teen arrested for disorderly conduct, breaking and entering, drunk driving and more. The legal consequences can follow a young person for years, interfering with applications for college, scholarships or for jobs.
- Chronic Health Problems – When drinking starts at a young age and continues into adulthood, the accumulated effects can mean serious health problems. These may include pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, high blood pressure, anemia and nutritional deficiencies. Drinking at a young age has also been shown to negatively impact the development of bone density, which can later result in osteoporosis
- The Brain – Drinking impacts the developing adolescent brain and causes problems that will continue into adulthood. It can cause permanent problems with memory and cause actual physical damage to the brain. The part of the brain involved in memory, the hippocampus, can be seen in scans to be smaller in people who drank a lot during adolescence than in their non-drinking peers. Other negative impacts include reduced attention spans, ability to think spatially and to plan.
- Accidents, Injuries, And Death – Drinking can lead to any number of accidents from drowning to falling to auto collisions. These have serious short-term consequences, but they can also impact a young person for the duration of their life. If an accident kills a young person, that life is over forever. For the underage drinker that causes a fatality, living with the guilt is a lifelong burden. Injuries may also stick with a young person and cause long-term health problems.
- Addiction – Drinking for the first time as a teen is a risk factor for developing an addiction or a substance abuse disorder later in life. In other words, underage drinkers put themselves at risk for having lifelong struggles with alcoholism or drug addiction.
- Family Problems -When young people drink it can impact the family in many negative ways. All of the terrible consequences that befall the teen drinker, like legal troubles, health problems and accidents, affect the dynamic of the family. Just one drinking incident with bad consequences can start a family crisis and everyone suffers.
The consequences of underage drinking are not difficult to imagine. Anyone who has ever had one drink too many knows just what can happen as a result. What most people, young and old, never think about are the long-lasting consequences. Teens who drink risk becoming addicted, damaging their brains, living with the guilt of hurting someone and having chronic health problems. With all of these and other possible negative outcomes, why would any young person choose to drink?
If You Know A Young Person Who Is Tempted To Drink Or Is Struggling – Call Us Now – We Can Help
Individuals with a mental disorder often have a co-existing condition, such as depression, anxiety, or often, a substance use disorder. Alcohol or drugs are frequently used to medicate the symptoms of a mental disorder. But the presence of a substance use disorder can make treatment more complicated and can delay the reduction in symptoms.
Altered Mismatch Negativity
In an article appearing in Clinical Psychiatry News, researchers in Australia examined the impact of risky alcohol consumption among those with bipolar disorder, as compared with nondrinkers. The study found that there was a phenomenon known as “altered mismatch negativity” on electroencephalography (EEG) exams among those with risky drinking histories.
According to the article, mismatch negativity is the brain’s automatic electrical activity that responds to auditory stimulation when there is a change in sounds. When there is a reduction in mismatch negativity, it indicates an impairment of NMDA-receptor activation. The NMDA receptors were already thought to be impacted by both alcohol use and in patients with bipolar disorder.
To measure the mismatch negativity in individuals with risky alcohol use and bipolar disorder, the researchers recruited 42 bipolar disorder patients and 34 control subjects. The participants were between the ages of 16 and 30. The participants were subjected to EEG exams with auditory stimuli.
Among the participants, 16 bipolar patients engaged in risky alcohol-related behaviors, as well as 14 of the control subjects. Of the remaining patients, 26 of the bipolar subjects and 20 of the control subjects did not engage in risky drinking.
Misuse Of Alcohol In Those Who Are Bipolar
The researchers found that the misuse of alcohol was a strong predictor of attenuations in mismatch negativity. The effect was significantly more profound among those diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The researchers believe that the alcohol may play an antagonistic role on the NMDA/glutamatergic system. This is consistent with the growing use of glutamatergic agents to treat bipolar disorder. Limiting alcohol consumption may be an important step when beginning treatment with glutamatergic agents.
The article notes recent studies showing that bipolar males between the ages of 20 and 30 have the highest weekly substance use. In more general terms, those who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder before adulthood have lifetime alcohol use rates of up to 70 percent.
The researchers note multiple potential limitations on their findings. For instance, the youths included in the study are not able to legally buy alcohol in Australia, so the underage drinkers may have had incentive to understate drinking behavior.
The study adds to the body of evidence that shows that bipolar disorder patients are particularly susceptible to the dangers of risky alcohol consumption.
A long-standing philosophy of alcoholism treatment has been that total abstinence is necessary and that there is no possibility that someone with a drinking problem could handle moderate drinking. Today we know a lot more about addiction thanks to research and we know that it is more complicated than was previously thought. So, is it possible for a problem drinker to continue drinking responsibly and in moderation? Or is abstinence the only way to go?
What Does Moderation Mean?
One immediate problem comes to mind when debating the possibility of moderate and responsibly drinking, and that is how to define it. Many problem drinkers and alcoholics are in denial about how much they drink and how much of an issue it is. It is not difficult to imagine that an alcoholic attempting moderation would use it as an excuse to keep drinking all the while claiming his habit was surely moderate.
At a basic level moderation means setting reasonable drinking limits and sticking with them. According to the organization Moderation Management, which guides problem drinkers toward reducing their alcohol consumption, men should have no more than four drinks at one time and no more than 14 per week. For women, that amount is three at once and no more than nine per week. Both men and women are supposed to restrict drinking to three to four days each week.
Does Moderation Work For Problem Drinkers?
There are many proponents of moderation who claim that problem drinkers can more successfully establish a healthy relationship with alcohol by moderating than by abstaining. Research does seem to support this viewpoint. One study included participants, all of whom were problem drinkers to varying degrees, who attempted to moderate their habit rather than stop drinking completely. They used a website application designed to guide them through the process. Some used a simple website, while others used an interactive application.
The problem drinkers that used the website alone were able to raise their abstinent time during each month by about four percent. On days they did drink, their blood alcohol content dropped by 50 percent or more, which indicates that they reduced the amount of drinks significantly. For participants using an interactive application, the number of days without drinking at all doubled. Those that used both tools were able to reduce their drinking to fully moderate levels across the board.
Can True Alcoholics Drink Responsibly?
The study that showed moderation could be successful included some very heavy drinkers. However, they did not include people who experienced withdrawal, a key characteristic of alcoholism. So far there is little to no evidence that moderation could be possible for anyone who is seriously dependent on alcohol. In fact, many experts are in agreement that trying to drink moderately could be dangerous for true alcoholics.
This doesn’t mean that moderation is not a great way to help many people. Among all people who have a problem with drinking, most of them have not yet crossed the line into alcohol dependence. If these people can be reached with tools to help them change their drinking from a problem to responsible moderation, the incidence of alcoholism, and all the problems that go along with the disease, could be reduced.
For those people who are already physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol, abstinence is probably the only option. But, for millions of people across the country for whom drinking is a problem, moderation may be a strong motivational tool for making positive changes. The philosophy of abstinence only has been around for a long time, but a shift is starting to occur and it may be for the better.
Learn More About The Steps Of Alcohol Detox
22 Aug 2014
Metabolic syndrome is the term that doctors and public health officials use to describe a collection of health concerns that significantly increase your chances of dying from heart disease or certain other causes. While some of the risks associated with heavy alcohol consumption are well established, researchers know relatively little about the potential connection between heavy drinking and the development of this syndrome. In a study published in May 2014 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, researchers from Japan’s Hyogo College of Medicine assessed the impact that excessive alcohol intake has on the metabolic syndrome risks of middle-aged men.
Metabolic syndrome gets its name because it involves changes in your normal metabolism, or the processing of chemical reactions inside the brain and body. Strictly speaking, the syndrome is not an illness; instead, it is a collection of risk factors for illness.
Specific factors involved in the onset of metabolic syndrome can include having a tendency to carry significant amounts of excess weight around your midsection, having a high count of a bloodborne fat called triglyceride, having low blood levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol (which removes excess LDL or “bad” cholesterol from your bloodstream), having abnormally high blood glucose or blood sugar levels and having unusually high blood pressure. As a rule, doctors consider making a diagnosis in people affected by a minimum of three of these risk factors.
Compared to the general population, a person with metabolic syndrome has a roughly 100 percent greater chance of developing some form of heart disease, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute reports. The presence of the syndrome also increases the odds for developing type 2 diabetes by about 400 percent. Physical concerns most commonly associated with a metabolic syndrome diagnosis include maintaining a sedentary lifestyle and carrying enough body weight to qualify as overweight or obese. Other potential concerns include having an unusual resistance to the blood sugar-lowering effects of a human hormone called insulin, being older and having a genetic predisposition toward risk factors for the condition.
Excessive Or Heavy Drinking
Heavy drinking is a public health term used to describe excessive alcohol consumption on any given day or over the course of any given week. Men partake in this form of consumption when they drink more than four servings of alcohol per day or more than 14 servings per week. Women partake in heavy drinking when they consume more than three servings of alcohol per day or more than seven servings per week. Some heavy drinkers also qualify as binge drinkers by consuming enough alcohol to reach a legally intoxicated state in a single, fairly brief bout of alcohol intake. Participation in heavy drinking is conclusively linked with increased risks for developing diagnosable problems with alcohol abuse and/or alcoholism.
Examining The Connection Between Heavy Drinking And Metabolic Syndrome
In the study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, the Japanese researchers used an assessment of a group of middle-aged men to compare the risks for metabolic syndrome among people in this age group who don’t drink alcohol, occasionally drink heavily and regularly drink heavily. For the purposes of the study, heavy drinking was defined as the consumption of at least 66 grams (2.3 oz) of pure alcohol on any given day when alcohol intake occurred. This is equivalent to the amount of alcohol in 3.8 standard drinks.
The researchers concluded that, compared to middle-aged men who don’t drink, men in this age group who occasionally participate in heavy drinking have a roughly 94 percent higher chance of developing metabolic syndrome. They also concluded that middle-aged men who regularly participate in heavy drinking have a roughly 48 percent higher chance of developing the syndrome. The occasional heavy drinkers are considerably more likely than their non-drinking counterparts to carry significant amounts of excess weight around their midsections. The regular heavy drinkers are considerably less likely than their non-drinking counterparts to have high blood sugar levels.
It may seem odd that occasional heavy drinkers apparently have substantially higher chances of developing metabolic syndrome than regular heavy drinkers. The study’s authors tentatively attribute this counterintuitive finding to the lowered risks for high blood sugar among people who regularly consume excessive amounts of alcohol, as well as to the increased risks for abdominal obesity among people who occasionally consume excessive amounts of alcohol. The authors also specifically note that the cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) risks for metabolic syndrome apply to both occasional and regular heavy drinkers.
You’re married to the life of the party. You probably have a lot of fun with him. He loves going out with friends and entertains everyone with funny stories and goofy antics. Everyone loves him, right? But you see him the next day, worn out, hung over, unable to remember all the details of the previous night. Your husband or partner is paying a high price for his social status. Being the fun one is great, but if it is forced through the veil of drunkenness, he may have a serious problem with alcohol.
What Is An Alcoholic?
The idea of your spouse as an alcoholic is scary. The odds are he isn’t one, but it is worth educating yourself about alcoholism if you suspect he drinks too much. Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a true addiction and a serious disease. It takes a lot of drinking over a long period of time to become an alcoholic. If your husband binges and regrets it on weekends, he may not be an alcoholic — yet.
One of the most characteristic attributes of alcohol addiction is the presence of withdrawal symptoms. These are real, physical symptoms that result when an alcoholic stops drinking. They include tremors, anxiety, nausea, sweating, insomnia, headaches, depression and fatigue. Alcoholics severely crave alcohol to make these symptoms go away.
What Is A Problem Drinker?
While your husband may not be an alcoholic, it does not mean that he doesn’t have a problem at all. He could be a problem drinker or an almost alcoholic. Problem drinking can often look very much like being the life of the party. A problem drinker may also be that tired working mom who needs a couple glasses of wine to relax at the end of the day, but then can’t sleep well or loses her cool with the kids. A problem drinker may be someone who has symptoms of depression and drinks to feel better instead of getting help.
Any type of drinking that causes problems is problem drinking. Your husband has fun at parties and may never drive home afterward, but the next day is shot because of his hangover. He regrets the fact that he started a stupid argument with you while he was drunk. You ask him to slow down his drinking at parties and he won’t do it. Your relationship gets to be tense as a result. These are all problems caused by his behavior.
Should I Ask My Spouse To Stop Drinking?
If you have determined that your husband is indeed a problem drinker, it’s time to sit him down for a talk. Understand that he will probably be defensive so approach the topic carefully. Do not bring up the idea of alcoholism and even avoid the term problem drinker if you think that will help. Lead with how his drinking makes you feel and how you fear it will damage your relationship in the future. Discuss how much better he will feel in the morning without a hangover.
His counter arguments are likely to be that he only drinks on the weekends to de-stress or that he drinks only socially and that it isn’t a big deal. Remind him of how he feels the next day, of the regrets he usually expresses and emphasize that his drunkenness impacts you. Tell him that you hope he will slow down, but not that you need him to quit drinking altogether. Suggest that you skip one party and do something together instead to strengthen your relationship. By being honest with him you can begin to address and correct the problems that his drinking is causing.
If his drinking gets worse, it may need to come down to a professional intervention. Call us now for intervention help. You and your partner’s relationship and physical/mental health are worth it!
Alcoholic hepatitis is a serious and potentially deadly liver ailment triggered by prolonged, excessive alcohol intake. It constitutes one form of a larger condition called alcohol-related liver disease. In a study published in May/June 2014 in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, researchers from two U.S. universities explored the potential usefulness of a medication called baclofen in easing the effects of alcoholic hepatitis in people affected by alcoholism. This medication, originally developed to treat certain types of muscle spasms, has already been shown to help people receiving treatment for alcoholism reduce the intensity of their cravings.
Hepatitis is the generic medical term for any disease mechanism that results in inflammation inside the liver, the body’s primary organ for doing such things as processing toxins and regulating cholesterol levels. Whenever you drink alcohol, a substance essentially poisonous to humans, your liver must process it and break it down so you can avoid any harmful effects.
Unfortunately, the liver breaks down alcohol relatively slowly and you can easily overwhelm its capacity for detoxification. A person who regularly consumes excessive amounts of alcohol is at risk for one or more progressively damaging changes in his or her liver function.
The first of these changes, called alcoholic fatty liver disease, occurs when the liver starts to produce an abnormally large amount of fat inside its individual cells. Alcoholic hepatitis sets in after alcoholic fatty liver disease and produces symptoms such as jaundice, declining appetite, pain in the abdominal region, nausea and vomiting. The third stage of damaging change, called alcoholic cirrhosis, involves a permanent, disruptive buildup of scar tissue inside the liver.
As many as one-third of all people who habitually consume excessive amounts of alcohol will develop alcoholic hepatitis, the American Liver Foundation reports. The inflammation associated with the condition can have a negative impact on liver function that ranges from mild to severe. People with relatively mild forms of alcoholic hepatitis can recover their liver function if they stop drinking. However, people with relatively severe forms of the condition can experience rapid declines in liver health that lead to a cessation of function (i.e., liver failure). In turn, a person with liver failure can easily die.
Doctors traditionally prescribe baclofen for people experiencing muscle spasms stemming from either certain diseases that damage the spinal cord or the degenerative autoimmune disorder multiple sclerosis. The medication achieves its therapeutic effects in this context by slowing down the spinal cord’s rate of nerve cell interaction. Over the last few years, doctors have started using baclofen as an off-label treatment for the drinking cravings that typically arise during alcoholism recovery. If left unaddressed, these cravings can easily derail an attempt at establishing or maintaining sobriety. In 2012, researchers from France and Italy published the results of a study that confirmed the usefulness of baclofen in reducing the intensity of alcohol cravings.
Baclofen’s Usefulness In Alcoholic Hepatitis Treatment
In the study published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, researchers from Loma Linda University and UCLA used a small-scale investigation of 40 people to test baclofen as a treatment for alcoholic hepatitis. All of the study participants were affected by alcoholism; some of them had both alcoholic hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis, while others only had alcoholic hepatitis. Thirty-five of the 40 participants received baclofen at some point during a one-year time period; the average length of use for the medication was just under six months. The researchers gauged the effectiveness of baclofen by comparing the results of seven key tests for alcoholic hepatitis before and after treatment with the medication.
Thirty-four out the 35 baclofen recipients maintained their sobriety throughout the period under consideration. Critically, the researchers concluded that these individuals also experienced a significant reduction in the severity of their alcoholic hepatitis as measured through six out of the seven screening tests. In addition, they concluded that use of baclofen did not produce any substantial side effects.
The study’s authors believe their findings underscore both the usefulness and the safety of baclofen as a treatment for alcoholic hepatitis. However, the size of the study was quite small. As a result, the authors urge further work in this area in order to confirm their results and determine the specific doses of the medication that have the maximum benefits for people with alcoholism-related liver inflammation.
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