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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

Are Elite Athletes More Susceptible to Substance Abuse?

athletes substance abuseThe results of a new study from the University of Alberta have found that there is a “strong relationship” between high-level (more intense) participation in sports and addiction. Laurie de Grace, the study’s author, found that a significant number of athletes were involved in binge drinking.

Ms. de Grace, who was pursuing a Master’s degree in the Faculty of Physical Education, originally planned to study the relationship that physical activity and participation in sports plays in developing a substance abuse issue. She had been forewarned that this may prove difficult, since physical activity seems to be linked with good mental health.

Some Sports Participation and Addiction Linked

Instead, Ms. de Grace discovered that the more risk factors that are present for a person, the more likely they are to become an addict. Participating in sports appears to have both the benefit of steering young people away from substance abuse if done as fun recreation and exercise, but it also has the potential to increase the increase the risk of addiction when taken to extreme levels with more stress and pressure.

For her research, de Grace chose to conduct interviews with people in recovery. Nearly all of them had some type of background in sport. She divided the participants into categories based on their level of participation in athletics. Specific groups in the study were recreational athletes, those who had played sports as children but who had dropped out in high school, and elite athletes.

Several sports were represented in the study, such as martial arts, rowing, gymnastics and dance. Most of the participants had competed in team sports like hockey, however.

Sports Culture May Fuel Addiction in Some Athletes

The research found that sports culture supports an attitude of machismo. The pressures on young athletes to perform is very high. Coaches may ignore drug and alcohol use, while some of them even encourage young people to adopt a lifestyle with a theme of, “Work hard, play hard.”

Some young players may start drinking to feel that they are part of the team, and model their behavior on older, more experienced players. Drinking has become intertwined with sports culture. We see winning teams filling trophies with champagne and celebrating in their locker room with alcohol after a big game.

Participating in sports is a healthy activity, and clearly not everyone who joins a sports team in their youth will become an addict. For those people who already have a number of risk factors for addiction, being in an environment where they are exposed to triggers for addiction could put them at higher risk. It would be tremendously difficult to be repeatedly exposed to that type of behavior and not take part in the drinking or drug use as well, at least to some level. We can prevent some of these problems from occurring by trying to provide better tools for young people to deal with pressure, such as mindfulness practices or various forms of non-harmful stress relief.

Continued Dangers of Combining Alcohol and Medications

medications and alcoholMany Americans know that mixing alcohol with certain medications is dangerous, but a growing number of people seem to be ignoring the warnings. In fact, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), millions of lives have been lost because they consumed alcohol while taking a medication that caused adverse reactions. In an effort to increase awareness of the dangers of mixing alcohol with certain prescription drugs, Medical Daily has put together a list of the six most deadly combinations.

  • Stimulants and alcohol. – This is a dangerous combination because the mixture of alcohol and stimulants creates an entirely new substance in the body, called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene increases the level of stress on the heart and could increase the chances of a heart attack. Long term use of alcohol and stimulants can poison the heart as well.
  • Antidepressants and alcohol. – For every drink that someone consumes while also taking antidepressants, it will feel like they have had two drinks. This is because antidepressants increase the potency of alcohol. The two chemicals also reduce a person’s ability to make good decisions and increases their risk for coma, seizures and confusion.
  • Benzodiazepines and alcohol. – This is perhaps the deadliest of all the combinations. Benzos are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States and include medications like Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin. These drugs are typically prescribed for anxiety disorders, but the combination of alcohol and benzodiazepines are so deadly that nearly 20% of all alcohol-related deaths are due to this mixture. Oftentimes people who consume alcohol with benzos end up in the hospital due to respiratory failure. Both drugs are depressants and when taken together cause the body to slow down so much so that breathing can cease.
  • Birth control and alcohol. – This is probably one of the most common combinations among female drinkers. It is dangerous because while the body is metabolizing the birth control pill, it is unable to process the alcohol regularly. This delay in processing causes many women to get drunk much quicker than they intended, paving the way for risky decision making, alcohol poisoning, and drunk driving.
  • OTC medications and alcohol. – On the back of every single over-the-counter pain medication it states not to consume alcohol while taking these medications. This is because the combination can lead to liver failure. One study reports that 38% of people who suffer from acute liver failure first consumed too much OTC pain reliever while drinking.
  • Opiates and alcohol. – This combination becomes more deadly as the amount of people who abuse heroin or prescription painkillers rises. Similar to benzodiazepines, opiates are depressants and people who take both alcohol and opiates can suffer from respiratory failure and other organ malfunctions.

Take the time to educate your friends, relatives and acquaintances about the dangers of mixing their prescriptions with alcohol, you might just help save someone’s life.

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.

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.

Study: Drinking During Pregnancy can Increase Chances of Alcoholism in Multiple Generations

alcclinexpScientists have discovered yet another powerful reason why mothers should not consume alcohol while they are pregnant. In addition to potentially causing birth defects, learning disabilities and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, babies who are introduced to alcohol while in the womb are more likely to have problems with alcohol in the future, according to new research.

The study, which appears in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, found that not only are those babies at greater risk for alcohol problems, but so is the next generation after them. While this is the first research study that explores this phenomenon, it does continue to illustrate the danger that alcohol poses to mother and the baby and to future generations.

“Our findings show that in the rat, when a mother consumes the equivalent of one glass of wine four times during the pregnancy, her offspring and grand-offspring, up to the third generation, show increased alcohol preference and less sensitivity to alcohol. Thus, the offspring are more likely to develop alcoholism. This paper is the first to demonstrate trans-generational effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy on alcohol-related behavior in offspring,” commented Dr. Nicole Cameron, lead author of the study.

In order to conduct the study, researchers examined pregnant rats that were administered alcohol. After they gave birth the babies were examined, and then when the babies were old enough to have babies, those offspring were then tested for alcohol sensitivity as well. These rats also showed a tendency to want to consume alcohol compared with rats who were never exposed to it. Children who are born to mother’s that drink alcohol are being set up for a life that alcohol has the potential to be a real problem.

While there are mixed opinions on whether genetics or environmental factors have greater influence over future substance abuse, it is clear that people can be born with a low sensitivity. This information presents one more reason why women who are pregnant should abstain from alcohol completely.

Researchers Examine Alcohol Consumption and Employment

alcohol abuseHeavier drinking is more often associated with unemployment status, whether someone’s alcohol consumption caused them to lose their job, the individual is drinking more as a faulty coping mechanism as the result of losing their job or some other reason. Now there is a bit more information available regarding alcohol and employment.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions showed that work stress can be directly related to increased alcohol intake. This is an important study because it sheds additional light on potential problems that adults can develop from consuming too much alcohol. When family members and friends are aware that a person may be falling into these bad habits, they have a better chance of intervening.

In addition to potential family intervention, understanding the results of this study can also be beneficial for employers. Work stressors can impact an employee’s personal life and their behavior at work as well. Trying to relieve work-related stress through drinking can become habitual, and family and work obligations and responsibilities begin to suffer. The study shows that increased alcohol consumption was not only present during normal work environments but even worse alcohol habits were reported during the economic downturn.

“Even among the employed, economic downturns can create sources of work-related and financial stress that may lead to lower levels of alcohol use during the workday, but higher levels of excessive and ill-timed alcohol use away from work,” explained Michael Frone, PhD, senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions.

Certain age groups seem to be affected more than others when it comes to drinking to relieve work-related stress. The study shows that middle-aged employees are likely to drink more on the weekends, especially when the economy is not doing well, than younger employees. Researchers speculate that this is due to the increased amount of responsibility that middle-aged employees have.

While the immediate effects of stress and alcohol seem to directly impact the individuals and their health, job performance can suffer significantly as well. People who develop alcohol use disorders are more likely to have accidents or make mistakes at work, which can passes on a huge cost to employers in lost productivity alone.

Even Moderate Alcohol Consumption Increases Cancer Risk

bmjalccancFor years, people have been told that a glass of wine a day could have health benefits. Based off of minimal research, the press and some in the medical community agreed that drinking in moderation was ok. However, it has been determined that drinking, even in moderate amounts, can still lead to cancer.

The latest information published in the BMJ has come after much more research and investigation into the health risks and behaviors of those who consume alcohol. Researchers hope that this information will be replaced with the common misconceptions that small amounts of alcohol are healthy and prevent medical problems.

Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital came together to interpret data taken from almost 130,000 participants. They monitored the health histories of men and women who drank varying amounts of alcohol. The researchers were not surprised that those who drank large amounts of alcohol on a daily basis were more likely to develop health problems such as colon, breast and oral cancer.

What was surprising, however, was that even those who drank more moderate amounts of alcohol were still likely to suffer from the same complications as heavy drinkers. Women who have one drink a day are 13% more likely to develop cancer than those who do not drink daily. Additionally, the chances grew exponentially for those who smoked, even after quitting.

This information is useful because drinking is common in many social settings. There are other studies that show people who consume alcohol in social settings often drink alone as they get older. Because older adults face more health concerns due to the normal aging process, they are at an even greater risk when they drink alcohol every day.

Hopefully more health practitioners will heed this latest research and warn people about even moderate amounts of daily alcohol consumption.

People Over the Age of 50 at Biggest Risk for Alcohol Abuse

older AmericaSurprisingly, researchers have determined that teenagers are not the most a- risk group for developing drinking problems. In fact a study appearing in BMJ Open found that older people who enjoy financial success are more likely to abuse alcohol than teenagers.

This is contrary to what most people think when it comes to at risk groups for alcohol misuse. Perhaps teenagers get the most attention because evidence has shown that too much alcohol at a young age can put children at risk for other, more severe addictions in the future. Throughout most children’s high school careers they are given lectures, information and warnings against consuming too much alcohol. While this type of attention and care is likely beneficial for young people, it seems that more focus needs to also be placed on older adults.

“Or findings suggest that harmful drinking in later life is more prevalent among people who exhibit a lifestyle associated with affluence and with a ‘successful’ ageing process. Harmful drinking may then be a hidden health and social problem in otherwise successful older people. Consequently, and based on our results, we recommend the explicit incorporation of alcohol drinking levels and patterns into the successful ageing paradigm,” explained Jose Iparraguirre, the lead author of the study.

While the focus remains on the children, many older people are slipping through the cracks. Researchers determined that middle-aged adults who are financially stable are more likely to frequently consume more than two drinks in a sitting, oftentimes at home. Additionally, meetings and social gatherings often include alcohol.

The healthcare community is especially affected by later in life alcohol abuse because of the costs associated with treating those suffering from problems associated with the behavior. Researchers warn that in order to curb the amount of older adults who consume too much alcohol, family members and primary care practitioners need to spot the warning signs that someone may be struggling with alcohol. Early intervention could be most important factor in preventing long term alcohol-related health risks.

The Dangerous Practice of Mixing Alcohol and Prescription Drugs

rxbottlesIt has been a longstanding order by most physicians that one should never mix alcohol while taking medications, especially when it involves painkillers or anti-anxiety drugs. However, some researchers have started to wonder if these warnings by doctors are falling on deaf ears and what the medical community can do about this.

Mixing any alcohol and prescription drugs can have a wide range of adverse effects, from nausea to internal bleeding. There can also be long-term liver damage and other problems as well, especially as intoxication levels can increase rapidly.

A recent study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealed that 42% of adults living in the United States admit to drinking alcohol while taking medications that they have been warned interact negatively with alcohol. Further research indicated that over 80% of adults over the age of 65 are taking some sort of medication that has been proven to interact poorly with alcohol.

As people get older, the number of medications the take often increases, and there has also been a trend of increased alcohol consumption among retired populations. Experts suggest that instead of simply warning patients not to mix their medications with alcohol, or relying on them to read the insert provided by the pharmacy, doctors should inquire into their patient’s alcohol usage and have a more interactive approach to preventing this dangerous behavior.

“I think it’s important as healthcare providers that we’re actually asking patients what is their alcohol intake? We also need to ask how frequently they are drinking and how much,” explained Dr. Daniel Neides, a doctor at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine.

The increased risk certainly isn’t limited to older people, as the nation as a whole has increased the number of prescription drugs people are taking, both in quantity and variety. Many people are also on multiple medications, which only continues to complicate the issue further.