Category Archives: Alcohol Abuse

never drinking again

Another Sunday of “Never Drinking Again?”

Spending Another Saturday or Sunday Hungover? Weekend Binge-Drinking Is a Serious Issue

“Ugh, I feel awful. I’m never drinking again.”

How many times have you mumbled something similar after waking up with a hangover? You have good intentions when you claim you’re never going to drink again, so you believe your declaration of sobriety. Unfortunately, you find yourself dealing with the hangover/hungover cycle again next weekend…and the weekend after that.

It doesn’t have to be like this. You can break your weekend binge-drinking habit with help from supportive, compassionate people who understand your situation.

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What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking refers to heavy drinking that quickly raises a man or woman’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) to a percentage of 0.08 grams or higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this usually occurs when a woman has more than 4 alcoholic beverages or a man has more than 5 alcoholic drinks in a 2-hour period.

Binge drinking is common at parties, bars, and events centered around alcohol. Some adults mindlessly consume multiple drinks as they socialize, dance, or snack on appetizers. Other folks intentionally down alcoholic beverages during drinking games, such as beer pong or Quarters.

Does binge drinking each weekend make me an alcoholic?

Not all binge drinkers are alcoholics. The CDC states that approximately 90% of heavy drinkers do not have an alcohol use disorder. (Alcoholism is an example of an alcohol use disorder.) However, that does leave approximately 10% of heavy drinkers that DO have an alcohol use disorder.

Why is binge drinking bad?

There are numerous risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption, including:

  • Vehicular crashes
  • Abnormal and/or inappropriate behavior
  • Injuries
  • Alcohol poisoning

Drinking heavily may lower your inhibitions, making you more likely to engage in activities you would normally avoid. Some potential side effects of excessive drinking, such as liver damage and memory issues, may not appear immediately.

Can a teen have a binge-drinking problem?

Binge drinking affects people of all ages, including teens and preteens. One out of every 5 drinkers are under the age of 21, and 13% of underage drinkers admit they have had recent episodes of binge drinking.

What should I do if someone I love is a weekend binge drinker?

It’s difficult to watch a loved one battle hangovers or other unwanted side effects caused by binge drinking. If you’re concerned about a loved one’s drinking, don’t lecture her or criticize her actions. Invite her to attend alcohol-free events with you, and let her know that you’re happy to lend an ear if she ever wants to talk about her drinking. Don’t press the issue; you don’t want to push your loved one away.

How do I know if I’m drinking too much?

Ask trusted friends or family members how they feel about your drinking, but keep in mind that some loved ones may sugarcoat potential issues to avoid conflict. Make a list of how your drinking affects your life. It may help to track what, how much, and when you drink on a calendar.

After tracking your alcohol consumption, do you notice a pattern of hangovers, fights with your significant other, or missed shifts at work? These are all signs that your weekend drinking habits are impacting your life in a negative way.

If I have a problem with binge drinking, does that mean I have to give up drinking forever?

This is a common concern that people who consider giving up alcohol completely. It’s difficult to imagine an alcohol-free life, especially if your social outings or business meetings frequently involve alcoholic beverages or if those around you would not be willing to cut out alcohol during gatherings.

Some binge drinkers become dependent on alcohol, so they decide it’s best to adopt a sober lifestyle. There are also people who successfully modify their drinking habits without permanently giving up alcohol. An alcohol abuse specialist can help you decide if you should limit or eliminate alcohol consumption.

You can have fun without alcohol, but adjusting to sobriety takes time. If you decide to quit drinking, make sure you surround yourself with encouraging people who support your path toward sobriety. You deserve a happy, healthy and rewarding life.

happy life not hungover

Sober Dorms Provide Support for College Students in Recovery

The college years are a time when young people are exploring and finding out who they are, in addition to furthering their education. For many of them, this process includes spending time partying with friends and making decisions about drinking and using drugs.

The results of a 2016 report compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) found that 1.2 million full-time college students consume alcohol. The same report also revealed that more than 700,000 students smoke marijuana on a typical day.

Binge Drinking Common on College Campuses

Binge drinking (defined as consuming five or more drinks in two hours for men and more drinks in two hours for women) is a common occurrence on college campuses, according to figures released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Students who arrive on campus can expect that there will be a certain level of drinking and drug use going on. For young people with a history of substance abuse or addiction, this level of exposure may not be helpful for them.

Significant Percentage of College Students Have History of Substance Abuse

According to Lisa Laitman, the director of Alcohol & Other Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) at Rutgers University, up to 30 percent of college students have a history of substance use disorders. Research has also shown that substance abuse rates are higher for college students than for peers of the same age who are not enrolled in classes.

More Collegiate Recovery Programs Now Include Sober Dorms

Colleges are responding by offering “collegiate recovery programs” (CRPs) to provide help to students stay sober and stay enrolled in school. These programs include:

• Mental health counseling
• Substance abuse counseling
• Peer-to-peer support
• Recovery support group meetings
• Sober social activities and programs

A number of programs include sober dorms where no drugs or alcohol are permitted. These are environments where students support each other’s sobriety.

Transforming Youth Recovery, a non-profit organization, says the number of CRPs has grown from 35 to over 150 over the past five years. Approximately 50 have sober living residences for students.

In the wake of the biggest overdose epidemic in American history, it would be great to see every college and university campus to start creating sober dorms in recognition and support for the students who need ongoing help.

A Closer Look at Effects of Alcohol on Men and Women

Effects of Alcohol on Men and WomenScience is constantly evolving and shedding light on previous misconceptions or questions. And in the case of alcohol, a new study has shown how men and women react differently to the substance, specifically in their brains. After conducting a small group study on men and women who fit the criteria for heavy drinkers, but not alcohol abuse, the researchers were able to note a major difference between the two sexes in the type of receptors that were influenced when alcohol was consumed.

GABA receptors are responsible for shutting off brain activity, they are integral in preventing anxiety and problems with these receptors often lead to depression. There are two specific GABA receptors, GABA-A and GABA-B. GABA-A is thought to have more of a connection to drinking patterns, while GABA-B has been found to be responsible for the desire for alcohol.

“Generally, our work showed that alcohol causes more pronounced changes in both electrical and chemical neurotransmission in men than women. There are two types of GABA receptors, A and B. Long-term alcohol use affects neurotransmission through both types in males, but only one type, GABA-A, is affected in females,” explained Outi Kaarre, lead author of the study.

The findings were presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference earlier this month in France.

So, if men who are considered to be heavy drinkers show more activity in both A and B GABA receptors, while women who are drinkers only show activity in GABA-A receptors, what does this mean for alcohol medications and theories of addiction?

First of all, there are certain medications that have been designed to help alcoholics curb their cravings, but these medications have not reliably worked on women. This may be because the medications are geared to the GABA-B receptors, which do not appear to be a problem in female heavy drinkers. Secondly, this new information may shed more light on why women become heavy drinkers, and why men are more prone to becoming heavy drinkers, and the reasons may not be the same for both sexes.

Understanding this difference could change the approach to alcoholism treatment and medications, especially as science continues to advance in the understanding of the intricacies of our bodies and minds.

If you have a loved one struggling with alcohol abuse or alcoholism, contact Desert Cove today to find out more about our treatment program and how we can help.

Drug Abuse Linked to Financial Problems

Unemployment can be a very unstable, scary time for people. Without the promise of work, many fall into a depression that is difficult to get out of. And now a new study shows that illicit drug use is also more common for people who are unemployed. Despite not having income, drugs are still being purchased and used at higher rates than people who have steady work.

A new study released by researchers in the Netherlands shows that they psychological stress of not having a job is more powerful than reduced or no income, and the stress is what causes people to seek out drugs and alcohol. The researchers focused on 17 different types of reports from several different countries. Ten of the reports were composed of information from the American workforce. After reviewing all the data, the team was surprised that the psychological factors were a more powerful motivator for drug use than lack of money was for deterring a person from using drugs. And in extreme cases where money was an issue, many users simply switched their drug of choice to a cheaper alternative, but still maintained their drug-using lifestyle.

“In our literature review, we were particularly interested in the mechanisms that explain the relationship between unemployment and illegal drug use. We found supportive evidence for one of the mechanisms that we hypothesized. It seems that unemployment increases psychological distress and that distress increases illegal drug use,” explained Dr. Gera Nagelhout, the lead author of the study that was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Nagelhout suggests that more funding and research focus on the psychological effects of unemployment so as to better help those who find themselves without employment. Forging a new path between unemployment and better mental health could be imperative in preventing these people from leading a life of drug use and addiction. As the country continues to struggle with ways to prevent the painkiller and opioid epidemic from claiming more lives, this is one area where more research and understanding is needed.

Immigration Does Not Cause Surge in Drug Abuse or Drug Availability

In light of many heated debates regarding immigration and its impact on the United States, a research group out of University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a study to determine what, if any, effect immigrants had on the drug problems in this country. After gathering data from the Center for Migration Studies and Pew Research Center, they were able to determine that immigration does not actually effect drug use and drug availability in the United States.

“This is an area where public and political debates have far outpaced the research. And central to this debate is whether undocumented immigration increases drug and alcohol problems, or crime more generally. There are good theoretical reasons to think it could have increased substance abuse problems in recent decades. But the data just doesn’t show it,” commented Professor Michael Light, lead researcher of the study. The results of his research appeared in the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers were able to come to this conclusion after comparing undocumented immigrants to the four major criteria that is most affected by drug use – drug crimes, driving under the influence arrests, drug overdose deaths and drunken driving fatalities. They found that undocumented immigrants are actually not engaging in these types of activities, and in fact are actually responsible in bringing down the national statistic. When the population is increased by 1% due to undocumented immigrants, there are 22 fewer drug arrests, 42 fewer drunken driving arrests and 0.64 fewer drug overdoses.

One possible explanation for this, it called the “healthy immigrant effect”, where it has been found that undocumented immigrants actually lead healthier lifestyles then people born in the United States.

Regardless of why undocumented immigrants are using less drugs and committing less crimes than Americans, the point of the study was to dispel some of the most common myths surrounding undocumented immigrants and their connection to illegal drugs. In an effort to better understand the drug problem in this country, it is important to focus on actual problems, rather than perceived problems.

Hormone Research May Provide New Avenues of Treatment for Alcoholics

hormone treatment for alcoholicsThe brain has increasingly been a point of interest for researchers when it comes to studying addiction. In the last several years it has been discovered that areas of the brain responsible for self-control and rewards are most affected by addiction. Scientists have also found evidence of the long-lasting effects of drugs and alcohol on the biology of the brain. And now, a team of researchers from multiple universities and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have released information about a potential cause for alcoholism.

One of the major functions of the brain is to release and regulate hormones. Hormones are an essential component of life, dictating to the body when it is time to grow, eat, sleep, and even think. One major hormone is called aldosterone. Aldosterone is an essential hormone because it regulates kidney function and ensures that the body maintains a water and salt balance. There are two parts to a hormone pathway, the hormone itself and the receptor it binds to.

The researchers of this study found that there could be a link between the aldosterone receptors and alcohol use after it was observed that the receptors for the hormone are located on areas of the brain traditionally linked to alcohol use disorders. The amygdala and the prefrontal cortex are areas of the brain that have proven to be associated to alcohol use disorder and therefore the researchers are indicating that aldosterone and its receptors could be beneficial for future medicinal trials to prevent or treat alcoholism. The findings can be seen in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

“We believe that this target might be particularly promising for those individuals who drink excessive amounts of alcohol to cut their stress and anxiety – this is technically what we refer to as the ‘withdrawal/negative affect state,’ [and] it is a domain for which we do not have approved targeted medications,” commented Lorenzo Leggio, MD, PhD and one of the authors of the study.

Other research indicates that increased drinking produces a higher level of aldosterone levels in the body. Upon closer examination, patients with higher aldosterone levels and history of alcoholism report stronger cravings, according to the study.

The research has not yet produced any new medication geared to aldosterone receptors as a way of handling alcoholism, but scientists are hopeful that this next step will be taken soon.

Alcohol Mixed with Marijuana Proves to be Deadlier Behind the Wheel

alcohol and marijuanaDespite pro-marijuana advocates claiming the drug isn’t harmful, new research from Columbia University proves otherwise with statistics on traffic fatalities involving marijuana and alcohol. Of the thousands of two-car accidents they gathered data from, it is very clear that driving under the influence of either substances poses a serious danger.

“The risk of crash initiation from concurrent use of alcohol and marijuana among drivers increases by more than fivefold when compared with drivers who used neither of the substances,” explained Dr. Guohua Li, co-author of the study and professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

The statistics also showed that fatalities increase by 62% when the driver is under the influence of marijuana alone, and 437% for alcohol. This information highlights the need for better regulation of marijuana-impaired drivers, as someone could be under the legal blood alcohol level but have also smoked weed and be highly dangerous on the road.

The statistics were gathered from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which identified that males between the ages of 25 and 44 were the largest group of offenders. Although this isn’t surprising, it does bring up questions about the latest trend in “bro culture” that fosters irresponsible behavior such as frequent substance abuse.

As marijuana use has grown in popularity given its legalization in a few states, better testing and prevention measures for drivers must be implemented. It wasn’t too long ago that pot smokers thought they could get away with it by chewing some gum and using eye drops to reduce redness, but today there are more ways of testing, such as breathalyzers and saliva strips.

The bottom line is that it’s not worth it, and that we should be working to help people in need of substance abuse treatment. It is imperative to save lives though continued vigilance. If you have a friend or family member who has addiction-related problems, contact us today to find out more about what you can do to help and about successful treatment options.

Study Examines the High Rate of Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking

binge drinking Researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have released a study that shows that adults in the United States are consuming far more alcohol than is considered safe. In fact, the study states that almost 32 million people over the age of 18 consume more alcohol than the already dangerous limits of binge drinking. Binge drinking occurs when a male consumes more than five drinks, and a female consumes more than four drinks. New data shows that millions of people are drinking twice these numbers and it is having an impact on their bodies and society.

“Drinking at such high levels can suppress areas of the brain that control basic life-support functions such as breathing and heart rate, thereby increasing one’s risk of death. The risk increases further is other sedative drugs, particularly opioids or benzodiazepines are added to the mix,” said Aaron White, one of the authors of the study. Additionally, people who binge drink are more likely to engage in risky decision-making, violence and even suicide. The side was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

And this amount of drinking is not only affecting people’s personally, but society as well. In fact, the toll that alcohol-related deaths, accidents, crime, and sickness take on the community can be in the billions.

Despite these dangers, many people are still turning to excessive amounts of alcohol. The study showed that 7 percent of participants reported consuming 15 or more drinks in one sitting. Further investigation showed that the amount of people consuming this much alcohol has risen since the last study, which was conducted in 2002. So, researchers can see that more adults are participating in dangerous levels of alcohol consumption, but it is unclear why this is occurring.

In addition to more education and prevention efforts, we must provide more successful alcohol treatment programs to assist those in need. If you have a loved one battling an alcohol problem such as binge drinking or daily dependency, contact us today to find out more about our rehab center.

How Volunteering Could Help Prevent Substance Abuse

Prevent Substance AbuseCollege student athletes are under tremendous pressure. They usually follow strict guidelines, workout times and game schedules while still having to maintain a passing GPA. Additionally, due to the nature of their physical activity, they are also more likely to sustain injuries that require medical intervention. Because of these stressors, this group can often become more susceptible to use and misuse drugs. In an effort to combat this phenomenon, researchers from the University of Missouri looked into what could help prevent student athletes avoid substance abuse and addiction problems.

The specific group these researchers decided to focus their study on was female student athletes. So, in a five-year study, female Division 3 student athletes were asked to self-report on their substance use, social, work and sports life, as well as any other stressors they were experiencing. At the end of the five years, researchers were able to conclude that the participants who spent part of their time volunteering or helping others in some other way were less likely to use drugs.

“Female student-athletes experience increased demands while in college from coaches and professors to family and friends. Because student-athletes occupy multiple roles simultaneously, they could be at an increased risk for substance abuse to cope with stress. Our findings suggest that community service might be a tool to reduce substance abuse among female student-athletes,” explained Alexandra Davis, one of the leaders of the research team.

The researchers went on to point out that these conclusions have an impact on colleges throughout the country. As part of the ongoing effort to reduce substance use on campus, colleges may want to look into volunteer programs for their students, providing them with an opportunity to help others and reduce their own odds of misusing drugs and alcohol.

Although this study was specifically focused on females, the results are likely similar if applied to other specialized populations as well. Scientists, religious leaders and scholars have continually demonstrated the power of giving, and this is yet another application of how it helps to enhance lives.

Alcohol Consumption Continues to Increase for Older Women

Alcohol Consumption WomenBinge drinking is a phenomenon most often seen among college students and younger adults. It is usually classified as having 5 or more drinks in a single setting for men, and 4 or more drinks for women. It is extremely dangerous as it increases the chances of alcohol poisoning and risky decision making, which can have a very wide array of consequences, including death.

Now a new study suggests that older women are increasingly participating in binge drinking behavior and are now at a greater risk of developing a dependence on alcohol and suffering from alcohol-related disorders.

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) looked at data collected between 1997 and 2014. They found that men consumed alcohol at much the same rate throughout these seven years. However, the amount of alcohol consumed by women increased roughly 4% each year. They also found that older women were more likely to increase their alcohol consumption.

This is especially troubling because of the health risks associated with excessive alcohol use among women. “We know that, overall, women are more sensitive to the negative health consequences of alcohol than men. These consequences include liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and cognitive impairment – serious problems – and addiction to alcohol is possible as well,” commented Dr. J.C. Garbutt, medical director of the University of North Carolina Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program.

While there isn’t a reason that has been given for this increased consumption by older women, it uncovers a hole in alcoholism prevention that shows additional populations that need to be reached. There should be no end to the help for substance abusers, from prevention and intervention to treatment and aftercare support. This study shows that we cannot assume that it is only younger people who have binge drinking problems.

If you are wondering if you have a drinking problem, make a confidential call to speak with a counselor at Desert Cove Recovery today.