Tag Archives: alcohol research

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

How Drinking Too Much Can Affect Your Finances

How Drinking Can Impact Your Finances

Many people do not realize the extent of their drinking problem until it begins to negatively affect other aspects of their lives. Consequences like lost work, strained family relationships and damaged health are common side effects of alcoholism. However, another common and frequently overlooked problem is the effect of drinking on your finances.

You may not realize that problem drinking is negatively impacting your financial wellbeing until the effects have become severe. If you are a frequent drinker, it’s worth looking at both the obvious and hidden costs of too much drinking.

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drinking impacts finances

How Can Drinking Impact Finances?

The first and most obvious expense associated with frequent drinking is the cost of alcohol itself. If you go to a bar to drink socially, you can usually expect to pay $5-9 per drink. If you get two drinks per night, three days a week, you’re looking at $120 to $216 a month. If you drink more frequently or tend to binge-drink with four or five drinks per sitting, this number can easily double.

Even staying home and drinking can quickly become expensive. A six-pack of beer may cost around $5 to $15, depending on the brand, and you may go through two or three of these per week. Hard liquor, wine and other beverages can cost more.

As you can see, the occasional drink won’t break the bank. However, making a habit of drinking regularly or drinking too much can snowball into a much larger bill.

Drinking too much impacts your finances in other ways as well:

  1. You may be tempted to spend unwisely while under the influence. You may purchase rounds of drinks for friends or strangers in the bar, or you might order extra food and snacks. People drinking at home may be tempted to make online purchases or other expenditures that they otherwise would not have considered.
  2. Your work productivity can suffer. People who drink frequently are more likely to call into work or show up sick or under-slept. These can damage productivity and, over time, affect overall job performance and opportunities.
  3. Your medical expenses may rise. Alcohol can affect your immune system, leaving you more prone to getting sick. Alcohol-related problems, including issues with the liver and pancreas, can build over time and lead to costly medical expenses.

Excessive drinking also impacts the community. The CDC estimates that excessive alcohol consumption cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006. These costs were attributed to:

  • Lost workplace productivity
  • Healthcare expenses
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Criminal justice expenses

The primary culprits in the study were binge drinkers, or those who drink more than 4 or 5 drinks per occasion. One in six people binge drink, and binge drinking accounts for 76 percent of costs associated with excessive drinking. 

Is Drinking Affecting Your Wallet?

Spending a lot of money on alcohol does not necessarily make you an alcoholic, but it is often a warning sing that your drinking has become problematic. It’s a good idea to sit down with your bank statements or receipts and tally up the real cost of your drinking. Consider:

  • The cost of drinks purchased in bars or consumed at home
  • The cost of purchases made under the influence of alcohol
  • The cost of cab fare or other related expenses

Also take an honest look at your recent work history. If you have had to call into work in order to nurse a hang over on more than one occasion, that could be another sign of excessive drinking.

If your drinking has led to problems with your finances or is otherwise impacting your lifestyle but you don’t know how to stop, it may be time to seek professional assistance. We can help. Contact Desert Cove Recovery today for more information.

SOURCES:
http://theweek.com/articles/457336/how-drinking-much-sabotages-finances
https://www.cdc.gov/features/alcoholconsumption/

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.

Alcohol Abuse and Gun Crime Related, New Study Finds

Alcohol Abuse and Gun CrimeNew research shows that gun owners who have prior convictions for alcohol-related offenses, such as drunk and disorderly conduct or DUI (driving under the influence) are as many as five times as likely to be arrested for a firearms-related or violent crime than those who have not.

The study was undertaken by a research team from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. It found that a prior conviction for a crime that involved alcohol was a much higher indication of future violent behavior for a person than a conviction for most any other type of crime. The researchers included other violent ones in their scope before coming to this conclusion.

Study Looked at Criminal Records of Gun Owners

The study examined the criminal records of more then 4,000 gun owners in California who bought a handgun from a licensed firearm dealer in the year 1977. During the next 14 years, close to one-third of the buyers (32.8 percent) with previous convictions for alcohol-related offenses went on to either commit a firearm-related or violent crime.

Approximately 16 percent of the offenders were arrested for robbery, rape, murder or aggravated assault. The researchers found that gun owners who had no criminal record when they bought their weapon were much less likely to commit a crime. The study revealed that only 5.7 percent of gun owners in this category were arrested for a gun-related or a violent crime; only 3 percent were charged with a serious violent crime.

Previous Studies Linked Alcohol Use and Gun Offenses

Previous studies have also linked alcohol use and gun-related offenses. One meta-study analyzed information from over 28,000 homicide offenders from nine countries. It found that, on average, nearly half of homicide offenders (48 percent) were under the influence of alcohol at the time they committed their offense. The study also found that 38 percent of the offenders were intoxicated.

The study found no demographic variations with regard to age, race or gender. The number of offenders who where under the influence of alcohol was lower among those who committed a crime with a firearm. The researchers concluded that communities with high homicide rates should take steps to lower rates of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol Abuse Linked to Heart Attack Risk

The results of a new study suggest that there is a link between alcohol abuse and heart issues, which are a leading cause of death worldwide. The study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that alcohol abuse increases the odds that a person will develop a heart attack, congestive heart failure or atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat).

Dr. Gregory M. Marcus, senior author of the study and the director clinical research in Division of Cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco, stated that one of the most surprising findings was the link between alcohol abuse and increased risk of heart attack. In the past, research had suggested that moderate drinking could help to ward off cardiac episodes.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, the director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said that the media and scientists have focused their attention on the benefits of alcohol use. News items, such as pointing out that drinking a glass of wine each day to reap the benefits of resveratrol, only give people one part of the story of alcohol. Dr. Steinbaum stated the results of the new study are clear.

She went on to say that past stories have “almost glamorized” alcohol use and made it something that can help people live a heart-healthy life. Instead, drinking to excess leads to negative heart conditions. Alcohol abuse is toxic, and not something that should be glamorized at all.

Marcus and his team looked at the medical records of more than 14 million patients as part of their research. Of these patients, approximately 268,000 or 1.8 percent had been diagnosed with alcohol abuse. No specified cutoff or level of alcohol was mentioned in the study.

For the purposes of the study, “alcohol abuse” was defined as being instances where a health care provider had flagged a patient as having an issue with excessive alcohol use. The problem could be either an acute (coming to an appointment drunk) or a chronic one (being addicted to alcohol).

According to the survey results, alcohol abuse doubles the risk of atrial fibrillation. It increases the risk of heart attack by 1.4 and raises the likelihood of developing congestive heart failure 2.3-fold. It doesn’t matter whether someone has any of the conventional risk factors for heart disease; alcohol abuse increases the risk in every instance, according to Marcus and his team of researchers.

Gene Variant May Lessen Desire to Drink Alcohol: New Study Finds

Scientists have long been aware that drinking habits tend to be inherited from one generation to the next, both through genetic predisposition as well as learned behavior. Very few genes have been identified with alcohol use, though. A group of researchers have conducted a study with more than 105,000 participants who were light and heavy social drinkers. The researchers didn’t include alcoholics in their representative sample.

The study participants all provided genetic samples. They were also asked to complete questionnaires about their drinking habits.

Light and Heavy Drinking Defined

Light or moderate drinking is defined as up to 14 drinks per week for men and seven drinks for women. Heavy drinking is more than 14 drinks per week for women and 21 drinks per week for men. A “drink” is generally the equivalent of one beer or a glass of wine.

Gene Variation Linked to Lower Thirst for Alcohol

The study was able to identify a gene variation that is linked to a lower desire to drink alcohol. This variant, nicknamed the “teetotaler gene,” was seen in approximately 40 percent of the study participants.

Alcohol abuse is a major public health issue that is responsible for than three million deaths annually, according to Steven Kliewer, professor of molecular biology and pharmacology at UT Southwestern and the study’s co-corresponding author. He stated in a university news release that much of the research on alcohol consumption has centered on the issue of addiction.

Professor Kliewer points out that public health issues associated with drinking encompass more than just alcohol addiction. To fully appreciate the problem, the spectrum must include the total amount of alcohol being consumed. The researchers pointed out that having people reduce the amount they drink weekly from the “Heavy Drinking” category to “Moderate” could lower their risk of developing heart disease or high blood pressure.

The researchers said that their discovery of the gene variant may eventually lead to the development of drugs that could control the amount of alcohol that a person consumes. These medications could be used to help problem drinkers in the future.

Heart Problems Discovered in Moderate Alcohol Drinkers

glass of wineMany people have been commonly misled into believing that a glass of wine a day is good for their heart, but according to new research it actually increases the risk of at least one heart condition.

Researchers at UMass Memorial Health Care recently announced their findings that even moderate alcohol consumption can cause atrial fibillation, otherwise known as an irregular heartbeat. The findings were published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Heart Association, and further dispel the myth of positive benefits from routine alcohol consumption.

The heart has four chambers. One of these chambers are the left and right atrium. The left atrium is responsible for collecting the oxygenated blood that filters back into the heart. The researchers at UMass discovered that even moderate daily amounts of alcohol can lead to a larger left atrium, which can cause the irregular heartbeat and leave people more prone to having a stroke. Other risks associated with atrial fibrillation include heart failure and kidney disease.

The health risks are greater for people who consume more alcohol on a daily basis. The study showed that for every additional 10 grams of alcohol consumed daily the left atrium was likely to increase 0.16 millimeter in size.

This new study illustrates the potential dangers of consuming alcohol on a daily basis. Researchers are hopeful that studies like this one will replace the flawed studies of the past that claimed that a glass of wine a day was healthy. This is also important because daily drinking can develop into more of a dependency over time, especially as tolerance builds. The best way to avoid alcohol-related problems is of course not to be a daily drinker or not consume it at all.

If you have a loved one with an alcohol abuse issue and need assistance, contact us today to find out more about our treatment program.

Alcohol Related Health Risks May Affect All Drinkers

alcohol consumptionA new report published in the journal Addiction shows that alcohol is a direct cause for many types of cancers, no matter how much or how little is actually consumed. The study goes a long way to combat the idea that somehow a small amount of daily alcohol can be helpful, as there are still consequences.

According to the study, people who drink just 2.6 beers or 18 ounces of wine a day are four to seven times more likely to have cancer of oropharynx, larynx and esophagus. These same people are 1.5 times more likely to develop cancer of the colon, rectum and breast. There is also evidence that alcohol can cause skin, prostate and pancreatic cancer. These conclusions were made after researchers investigated ten years’ worth of information collected by different cancer and health agencies.

“The highest risks are associated with the heaviest drinking, but a considerable burden is experienced by drinkers with low to moderate consumption,” explained Jennie Connor, the lead author of the study.

While the study unveils the cancer risks associated with drinking, it does not reveal why alcohol causes cancer. Some scientists believe it has something to do with acetaldehyde, the chemical that forms when alcohol is broken down in the body, and how it damages the DNA of cells in the mouth, throat, esophagus and liver.

Now that there is a more concrete connection between alcohol and cancer, some researchers are calling for the FDA to place the same type of warnings of bottles of alcohol as the warnings on packs of cigarettes. Connor also pointed out that some of the reported benefits of alcohol, like decreased chance of heart disease, pale in comparison to the risks of cancer. However, people who stop drinking can reduce their chances for these cancers and keep their risk at a minimum when they abstain from alcohol altogether.

Study: Marriage Can Help Prevent Alcohol Abuse

amjournpsychNew research appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry has shown that first marriages to people without a history of alcohol use disorder can help prevent spouses from developing drinking problems as well.

Led by Dr. Kenneth Kendler of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, the study examined 3 million people in Sweden, of which over 70,000 had drinking problems. Although there wasn’t a direct cause found, it was discovered that the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder among married men was 60 percent less and 71 percent less for married women compared to single people.

In a release from the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Kendler said that the results, “strongly suggest that marriage does indeed directly and substantially reduce risk for onset of alcohol use disorder. It is also especially intriguing that this effect is largest in those at highest risk.”

Despite the many insensitive jokes of spouses being driven to drink by their marriage, this information indicates that they are actually more likely to help reinforce healthier drinking habits, including abstinence.

In the conclusion statements for the study, the authors wrote, “these results are consistent with the hypothesis that the psychological and social aspects of marriage, and in particular health-monitoring spousal interactions, strongly protect against the development of alcohol use disorder. The protective effects of marriage on risk for alcohol use disorder are increased in those at high familial risk for alcoholism.”

In a time where more research seems to look for genetic causes or brain functions relating to substance abuse, it is nice to also see studies about the social influences. All of the information combined together helps us be able to prevent alcohol and drug use disorders better as well as treat people more effectively who develop them.

If you have a loved one struggling with an alcohol problem, contact Desert Cove Recovery today to see how we can help.

New Study Examines Effects of the Sight and Smell of Alcohol

psychopharmajournalOne of the most difficult things for a recovering alcoholic is to remain sober when people around them are drinking. Sometimes this uncomfortable situation can be avoided by explaining to close friends and family members that it would be appreciated if they did not consume alcohol around the addict, or avoiding parties or gathering where alcohol is sure to be present. However, because social drinking is so prevalent in society, being in the presence of alcohol is occasionally unavoidable.

A new study is showing that simply smelling alcohol can make someone feel tipsy, which may help to explain why being around alcohol is so threatening to someone’s sobriety.

Researchers, who published their study in the journal Psychopharmacology, provided face masks that had been treated with an alcohol solution or a citrus solution. Participants were then asked to perform simple tasks, like clicking a button every time they saw a certain letter or image appear on screen. They found that those with the alcohol solution on their masks made more errors than those with the citrus solution.

Researchers were able to determine that these people were showing poor impulse control, which is a common side effect of alcohol consumption. While the researchers understand that people are not going to get drunk off of smelling alcohol, they did caution that it can lower inhibitions. This means that it could cause some people to drink more, or others to start drinking when they had previously decided not to consume any alcohol.

The information gathered from this study shows just how difficult it can be for some people to withstand the temptations of alcohol, and it supports the idea that sometimes the best thing for recovering alcoholics is to just stay away from people that are drinking altogether. Overall it is going to be better for recovering alcoholics to make sober friends and surround themselves with people who respect their choice not to drink and who do not spend a lot of time drinking either. This study seems to prove that those sorts of safeguards are warranted, as there are sensory triggers that should be avoided.