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impact of addiction on family

The Impact of Addiction on Family

How Addiction Affects a Family

Addiction affects not only the life of the person struggling with addiction but also the lives of everyone he or she cares about. Families can suffer the effects of addiction emotionally, financially and even physically. In some cases, family members may be inadvertently contributing to an individual’s addictive behaviors. By learning to understand how addiction can impact a family, you can be prepared to offer your loved one the support he or she needs while protecting yourself and the others you care about.
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How Drug and Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Family Ties

When a person is struggling with addiction, getting the next fix becomes their top priority. The disease of addiction can lead a person to do things that are otherwise out of character, and these behaviors can put a serious strain on family relationships.

In pursuit of feeding their addictions, addicts may:

  • Lie or fail to keep promises
  • Borrow or even steal money from family to pay for the addictive substance
  • Be unreliable and struggle to meet family commitments
  • Forget about important duties or become distracted
  • Engage in illegal behaviors

Addicts may struggle to maintain employment as a result of their addiction, leading to additional financial strain for themselves and their families. Addicts may also suffer mood swings and other uncharacteristic behavior as a result of a substance’s effects or the effects of withdrawal if they cannot get a regular fix.

All of these issues can quickly compound to create a hostile environment at home.

The Impact of Addiction on Children

Addiction has an especially powerful effect on families when the addict is a parent. Children require care and attention, but the disease of addiction can take away a parent’s time and ability to care for his or her family.

Parents struggling with addiction may forget to take care of their own needs and the needs of their children. This may include missing meals, forgetting to pick kids up from school or failing to keep up with laundry and other chores.

Additionally, it may be unsafe for the children to be around the addicted parent. Mood swings and poor judgment can lead to explosive outbursts, and a parent caught up in the effects of drugs or alcohol may not be alert enough to protect children from dangers around the home. Sadly, there is also the risk that the parent may overdose in the presence of their child, putting their child in serious danger as well.

If only one parent is an addict, the other parent may experience significant stress while trying to deal with family responsibilities alone. This can put stress on the marriage, creating domestic turmoil at home that may affect the children as well.

For these reasons and more, children feel the impact of family addiction very strongly. Kids growing up in these conditions are more likely to face drug and alcohol problems of their own later in life.

Getting Help for Addicted Family Members

Most people who struggle with addiction do not want to hurt their families. However, they may be unable to break the habits and behaviors on their own. Similarly, family members are poorly equipped to handle the realities of addiction on their own.

Love is not enough to overcome the power of addiction, and loving family members run the risk of enabling the addiction further by continuing to provide financial support or shouldering the consequences of an addict’s actions. For this reason, it is important to seek the help of qualified professionals outside of the family.

A professional intervention followed by drug treatment can help your loved one get the help he or she needs without putting further stress and risk upon your family. Together, you can work toward healing and recovering from the addiction and its effects on those you love.

SOURCE:

drugabuse.gov

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 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.

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.

Female College Students Targeted Under the Influence of Alcohol, Drugs

journalcdrugA recent study proclaimed that about 15% of female college freshmen have been sexually assaulted while they were incapacitated by alcohol or drugs. This shocking statistic displays the recklessness and disregard displayed on many college campuses today, and the problem appears to be getting worse.

The results of the study were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Led by researcher Kate Carey, Ph.D., a professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown University School of Public Health, in Providence, R.I., the sample included nearly 500 female students.

They also found that about 18% had been the victims of incapacitated rape before college, of which a higher percentage were found to be the victims again in their freshmen year (41%). The biggest risk factor is heavy drinking, which is an unfortunate behavioral trait for students across the country. The authors of the study made sure to emphasize that the alcohol intake of the young women in no way excuses the crimes committed against them. Instead, the they hope that the information is used as a warning sign for young women everywhere as part of a nationwide prevention program.

Although the statistics were sampled from one particular college in New York State, the behavior is echoed nationally among students, and it is estimated that the results would be similar elsewhere as well. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) claims that there are nearly 100,000 sexual assaults and date rapes each year among college students under the influence of heavy drinking.

In many cases, the drinking habits then escalate after the victimization, often putting these young women at risk of developing a more chronic alcohol use disorder. If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol or any other drug, contact us today for more information on getting help.

Long Hours on the Job Linked to Excess Alcohol Consumption

bmjworkingWorking long hours may be associated to an increased risk for alcohol abuse. According to a new study in the BMJ, employees who worked more than 48 hours a week were more likely to drink to excess than those who worked 48 hours or less.

“These findings suggest that some people might be prone to coping with excess working hours by habits that are unhealthy, in this case by using alcohol above the recommended limits,” said study author Marianna Virtanen, from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki.

Statistics from previously published studies showed that those who worked 49 to 54 hours a week had a 13 percent increased risk of excess drinking.

Virtanen’s team collected data on more than 333,000 people in 14 countries. They found that longer working hours increased the likelihood of high rates of alcohol consumption. Socioeconomic status, country, gender and age had no effect on the study.

Virtanen believes that drinking to excess may be a coping mechanism for those with a variety of work-related ills such as stress, depression, tiredness and sleep disturbances.

She was careful to point out that this study could only show an association between long work hours and risky drinking, not that heavy drinking was caused by working long hours. “With this type of study, you can never fully prove the cause-and-effect relationship,” she said.

Cassandra Okechukwu, assistant professor in the department of social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health believes that workers are using alcohol as a painkiller and for smoothing the transition between work life and home life. She also noted that there are many efforts to curtail regulations against working long hours.

“However, policymakers should think carefully before exempting workers from restrictions on working hours,” Okechukwu added.

CDC Tallies Alcohol Poisoning Deaths in the U.S.

cdcvsalcapdAccording to U.S. federal health authorities, an average of six Americans die from alcohol poisoning each day. Middle-aged, white males have the highest mortality rates.

The CDC found that an average of 2,221 people died of alcohol poisoning annually between 2010 and 2012. Three-quarters of the deaths occurred among 35- to 64-year-olds, the report found, and about three-quarters were men. Men aged 45 to 54 had the highest death rate.

This is the first study in a decade to tally alcohol poisonings for the entire American population. Most previous studies reviewed certain groups, specifically young people.

“Most previous studies have looked at college kids and young people, but the problem is bigger than that,” said Dr. Robert Brewer, who heads the alcohol program at the C.D.C. “It was surprising that the number of deaths was so concentrated among middle-age adults.”

Native Americans and Native Alaskans had the highest rate of deaths from alcohol poisoning, with 49 deaths per one million people. This is far above the approximately nine deaths per one million people that is the average for the country. The bulk of deaths, 67 percent, were among non-Hispanic whites.

The lowest death rate was in Alabama, followed by Texas, Illinois and Virginia. States with the highest death rates were mostly in the Great Plains and the West, but also included two states in New England, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Blood-alcohol levels rise sharply when large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short period of time. Sharply rising blood-alcohol levels overwhelm the body’s ability to respond. Excessive alcohol intake can shut down parts of the brain that control breathing, body temperature and heart rate, causing death.

Such deaths are typically the result of binge drinking at high intensity, the report said. About 38 million adults report binge drinking an average of four times a month, according to the report, but the vast majority of binge drinkers — about 90 percent — are not alcoholics.

Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks in one “occasion” for women, and five or more drinks for men. Alcohol dependence was a contributing cause in just one-third of the deaths, the report found.

Unusual Lab Serves as Testing Ground for Alcohol Abuse Research

niaaanewThe start of a New Year brings resolutions to quit abusing alcohol for many people around the country. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all therapy, so the National Institutes of Health (NIH) continues to search for new treatments and medications that target the brain’s addiction cycle in hopes of finding new treatments.

Researchers at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, are testing a possible new treatment to help heavy drinkers. The treatment has the potential to help alcohol abusers cut back on the amount they consume. Using a replica of a fully stocked bar where everything looks real – from the alcohol bottles to the taps – the researchers are testing to see how a hormone called ghrelin that sparks people’s appetite for food also affects their desire for alcohol, and if blocking it helps.

“The goal is to create almost a real-world environment, but to control it very strictly,” said lead researcher Dr. Lorenzo Leggio.

The researchers theorize that sitting in the dimly lit bar-laboratory setting should cue the volunteers’ brains to crave a drink, and help determine if the experimental pill counters that urge. The real alcohol is locked in the hospital pharmacy, ready to send over for the extra temptation of smell — and to test how safe the drug is if people drink anyway.

NIH’s bar lab is one of about a dozen versions around the country where the focus is on ghrelin. This hormone is produced in the stomach and controls appetite via receptors in the brain. There’s overlap between receptors that fuel overeating and alcohol craving in the brain’s reward system, explained Leggio.

In a study published this fall, his team gave 45 heavy-drinking volunteers different doses of ghrelin, and their urge to drink rose along with the extra hormone.

He is now testing whether blocking ghrelin’s action also blocks those cravings, using an experimental drug originally developed for diabetes but never sold. They want to ensure mixing alcohol with the drug is safe in the first phase of the testing, however, researchers also measure cravings of volunteers. The volunteers are hooked to a blood pressure monitor in the tiny bar-lab, smell a favorite drink. Initial safety results are expected this spring.

The NIH hopes that in the future, there will be a simple blood test that tells what medication/ treatment will work best for each individual seeking help. However, they have continually stressed that medication works best in conjunction with other forms of treatment and therapy, as a pill alone rarely, if ever, solve the problem.