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Alcohol Use Disorder

The effects of alcohol can be misleading as it’s often called, “a slow form of suicide”.

As I’ve stated in many of my posts, alcohol is much more accepted than illicit drugs, making it seem as if it is less dangerous.

Since prohibition was lifted in 1932, alcohol has caused extreme heartache and millions of deaths, despite being legalized. Not that I am a fan of prohibition, heavens NO! I’m just always surprised at how accepted it is until a drinker crosses the line of being unable to control themselves, then they are shamed as much as a drug user.

The marketing for alcohol is insane! It’s easy to see why it sometimes gets a free ride since there were 253 million in sales in 2019 alone- according to New Leaf Detox & Treatment center in California.

The video above and the next section are from – New Leaf Detox which I have no affiliation with or verification of services, but they have a lot of great information on their website.

"The industry spends a further $42 million annually lobbying state legislatures and donating to members of Congress. More than 300 professional lobbyists for the industry work in Washington DC. The result is the complicity of politicians, who otherwise oppose illicit drugs, pontificate about opioid addiction, and rave about punishing drug traffickers with the death penalty.- 


ALCOHOL USE DISORDER

The Pervasive Addiction

Alcohol Use Disorder or AUD is indiscriminate in its demographic reach, affecting people of all races, age, social and economic class, education, and gender, due to the singular reason that it, unlike other drugs, is legal. Its legal status accords tolerance to drinking and normalizes and erases the stigma of overconsumption. It is viewed as a glue for social bonding and fellowship, and as a ritual to mark celebrations including healthy, wholesome activities such as sports. Drinking is so ingrained and socially acceptable in our culture, that those who abstain from alcohol are the ones considered different and unconventional.

As alcohol manufacturers and purveyors actively market their products to persuade and convert non-drinkers to use alcohol, the number of Americans afflicted with AUD has risen. Alcoholism ranks behind nicotine as America’s leading addiction. Those most susceptible to the lures of alcohol are youth between the ages of 14 to 24.

AUD is a persistent, progressive disorder marked by an overpowering compulsion to use alcohol, an inability to control the amount consumed, and the necessity to drink to feel emotionally stable and positive. Afflicted individuals feel powerless to cease drinking despite its negative effect on their health, relationships, work, and school. Mild, moderate, or severe AUD is diagnosed when a person meets any 2 of 11 DSM-5 criteria over a 12 month period.

The general acceptance of drinking makes alcohol a highly profitable commodity for manufacturers and purveyors. In 2019, domestic alcoholic beverage sales reached $253 billion. The industry spends over $3 billion each year marketing liquor to Americans, half that amount on advertising. The rest is spent promoting the benefits of alcohol at music festivals, sports events, spring break, movie theaters, billboards, and social media. The goal of alcohol marketing is to protect market share from competitors, persuade people to switch brands, introduce new products, and most importantly, to attract new users—mostly young people.

The industry spends a further $42 million annually lobbying state legislatures and donating to members of Congress. More than 300 professional lobbyists for the industry work in Washington DC. The result is the complicity of politicians, who otherwise oppose illicit drugs, pontificate about opioid addiction, and rave about punishing drug traffickers with the death penalty.

Alcohol advertising to youth is strategically designed to persuade and groom young people to drink. The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found a pattern of alcohol advertising in magazines that had disproportionately youthful readers. Routinely, the ads glamorized drinking. The ads linked drinking to fun and good times, showed drinking near activities requiring concentration and coordination such as water sports, highlighted high alcohol content in products, equated drinking with popularity, and presented sexualized messages. Alcohol advertising in social media is also pervasive and designed to engage young people to interact with the messages through views, clicks, shares, and comments.

The Scale of Addiction

The numbers point to an urgent public health epidemic looming over the horizon. More than 18 million American adults suffer from AUD—75% men and 25% women. AUD is the leading cause of preventable death among adults, killing 75,000 men and 25,000 women each year.

Alcohol’s impact on kids is even more serious. More than 131,000 kids age 12-17 were arrested for liquor law violations in a year. More than 400,000 kids suffer from Alcohol Use Disorders—300,000 girls; 100,000 boys. Each year, nearly 5000 youth under 21 die in alcohol related deaths in car crashes, homicides, or suicides. For kids, drinking is a precursor to other problems including other drugs, risky activity, sexual activity, mental and emotional disorders, and future alcoholism.

The Scale of Addiction

The numbers point to an urgent public health epidemic looming over the horizon. More than 18 million American adults suffer from AUD—75% men and 25% women. AUD is the leading cause of preventable death among adults, killing 75,000 men and 25,000 women each year.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking refers to excessive drinking in a short period—5+ drinks for men and 4+ drinks for women. The group most likely to indulge in binge drinking are American youth, mostly college students. Additionally, more than a third of college students nationwide engage in extreme drinking—10+ drinks for men and 8+ drinks for women.

The dangers of binge and extreme drinking go beyond progressive harm to physical health. According to a recent survey by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in addition to fatal outcomes, nearly 700,000 students age 18-24 had been assaulted by drunk students, 97,000 had been victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape, and a quarter of AUD students reported a slew of problems including academic failure and absence.

Binge and extreme drinking cause dangerous amounts of alcohol to surge through the bloodstream, forcing the shutdown of vital organs and functions. Alcohol poisoning and overdose can result in choking and vomiting, hypothermia, respiratory and heart failure, seizures, loss of consciousness, and death.

The effects of alcohol on the body accrue and contribute to a range of threats to physical health. They are a contributor to serious harms including fetal alcohol disorders, cardiovascular diseases, liver cirrhosis, cancers, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, mental health disorders, and accidental injuries.

Alcohol Use Disorder: The Pervasive Addiction

Heart

spikes blood pressure, increases risk of stroke & congestive heart failure, changes heart beat.

Alcohol Use Disorder: The Pervasive Addiction

Stomach

inflames stomach lining & causes pain.

Alcohol Use Disorder: The Pervasive Addiction

Blood

represses bone marrow, lowers white and red cell & platelet counts.

Alcohol Use Disorder: The Pervasive Addiction

Cancer

increases risk of mouth, throat, esophageal, breast, liver, and colorectal cancer

Alcohol Use Disorder: The Pervasive Addiction

Brain

Affects cognition and muscle coordination. Slurs speech, blurs vision, decreases reflex & reaction. Causes memory loss, increases risk of dementia, and fuels anxiety and depression.

Alcohol Use Disorder: The Pervasive Addiction

Immune System

lowers immunity to a host of diseases.

Alcohol Use Disorder: The Pervasive Addiction

Liver

depletes ability of the liver to rid itself of fat as it diverts attention to rid body of alcohol.

Alcohol Use Disorder: The Pervasive Addiction

Kidney

lowers hormones that enable circulation of water to the body.

Alcohol Use Disorder: The Pervasive Addiction

Central Nervous System

Wreaks havoc throughout the network including slowing and stopping breathing. Memory making portion of the brain that creates blackouts.

While the responsibility of committing to recover from alcohol addiction falls solely on those afflicted by the disorder, it is important to consider AUD in the context of contributing factors.

Your genetics, heredity, family, culture, and friends do affect your vulnerability to AUD. Parental neglect, poverty, adverse childhood experiences such as abuse or trauma, family members who drink, access to alcohol, and peer pressure all heighten the risk of AUD. Conversely, good parenting, stable family, and nurturing caregivers, relatives, teachers, and mentors can protect a person predisposed to AUD from affliction. Research has found that genes are at least half the reason why a person is susceptible to the disorder. Undiagnosed disorders such as depression, bipolar, ADHD, and anxiety may also compel people to self-medicate with alcohol.

But, AUD does not need to be a person’s inevitable fate. Despite genes and environment, or nature and nurture, learning behaviors to manage the risk can prevent a person from falling victim to this voracious addiction.

New Leaf Detox & Treatment for Drug Addiction
(I have no affiliation or verification of services)

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Alcohol & Harm Reduction

Alcohol has caused extreme heartache and millions of death since prohibition was lifted in 1932. Yet it’s still glamorized and accepted as stress relief, coping skill, even displayed in fancy bottles out in the open in almost every movie. Fancy houses, offices are not complete without the conversation at the bar. Can you imagine if Marijuana or heroin were displayed that way? I’m not advocating that we do this- I’m simply stating the hypocrisy of how we treat different addicts.

I’ve explored this a few times in my blog, but don’t get me wrong. Other people in pain or who have ANY addiction are not the enemy, neither is the reversing of prohibition. I am an advocate for decriminalization of some drug offenses because I see it as a major setback in the progression of addiction recovery.

All I’m saying is how society and media and funny memes can guide our opinions just the the Netflix show “The Social Dilemma” clearly proved.

We all have stress relievers, but I think we forget that that’s how an addict STARTED, the same as us. They just couldn’t stop at one or two.

The following info is from Shatterproof which has great resources and info on addiction:

Substance Types and Effects: Alcohol

Though alcohol is legal and normalized in our daily lives, it’s important to remember that it’s a drug like any other. It impacts the body in specific ways, can harm your health, and people can develop an addiction to it.

How does alcohol affect the body?

Ethyl alcohol, which is created during the fermentation process, is what causes the intoxicating effects of beverages like beer, wine, and liquor.

Alcohol, like other depressants, slows down the central nervous system. This can lead to feelings of relaxation, confidence, and lowered inhibitions. It can also cause physical reactions like loss of coordination, memory, and the ability to make good decisions.

Excessive drinking is harmful.

The CDC defines excessive drinking as either binge drinking (4-5+ drinks during a single occasion) or heavy drinking (8-15+ drinks per week), and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21. However, excessive drinking alone does not mean that a person has an alcohol use disorder.

How can risks be reduced when drinking alcohol?

  • Never use opioids or benzodiazepines while drinking alcohol—this mixing can increase the risk of fatal overdose
  • Practice moderation, either by choosing drinks with lower levels of alcohol by volume (ABV) or by reducing the number of total drinks you consume
  • Take breaks from alcohol, like Dry January, and use them as an opportunity to evaluate alcohol’s role in your life
  • Stay out of the driver’s seat when you’ve been drinking

What are the signs of an alcohol use disorder?

When someone is misusing alcohol, they might feel like they need to drink, rather than want to drink.

A person with an alcohol use disorder may find themselves drinking far more than their peers in social situations, or drinking heavily alone. Many people who’ve recovered say that they used to frequently blackout from alcohol use, finding themselves unable to remember what they said or did during the time that they were drunk. The situations can be wide-ranging, but the bottom line is this: Once alcohol is interfering with someone’s daily life, it’s time to seek treatment.

How can an alcohol use disorder be treated?

There are effective treatments for alcohol use disorder—and treatment is not limited to luxury rehabs or 28-day residential programs. In fact, effective treatment for alcohol use disorder can start in a primary care doctor’s office, where needs can be assessed and referrals can be made.

It’s important to remember that alcohol withdrawal is a serious medical condition that can be fatal. Patients with severe alcohol use disorders should always talk to a doctor before attempting to quit cold turkey.

Treatments should always be individualized and based on each patient’s needs and goals. Effective treatments include behavioral therapy, support groups, and medications like naltrexone and disulfiram.

So then why isn’t there more support for harm reduction from recovery advocates?

I wasn’t always on favor of it until “suddenly” my son “became” a heroin user. Hetoin is horrible to break free from and now I know that a user isn’t just going to quit when out of clean needles. Harm reduction buys precious time – until they can and will get help.

A great video on Harm reduction

How to suggest harm reduction to loved ones

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Alcohol is NOT Exempt

I know I usually write about addiction in the form of opiods, but I actually have some intense interest in the fallacy (?- is that the right word?) of alcohol dependance.

Since it’s so widely shown, glamorized and basically accepted, on the movie and media scene; and since it’s even politically correct (does that even mean the same thing anymore?) to laugh at an alcohol meme; it sometimes gets overlooked as the horrible, slow killing addiction, it is, or can be.

So I was happy to see Matthew Ward’s An Open Letter to Myself About Sobriety post on Medium.

“We live in an opioid epidemic. The articles about it come out every week. People are addicted and dying and it’s horrible. According to the CDC, there were about 47,000 deaths related to opioid use in 2017.

So, it might surprise you that according to the same CDC data, there were about 88,000 deaths related to alcohol use”.

Originally published in The Ascent

If someone you know insists that they have it under control, there’s a great questionnaire on The government’s website SAMSHA
This is the very same website that the social media influencers will give you when they say they “have access to rehabs all over the country” including the ones they ‘broker’ for, if you have good insurance.

But all that aside, if you need help please  CLICK or CALL. I’ve called it and they’re very informative. There’s also tons of articles on this site for moms of teens and everyone. This site is our tax dollars at work, so use it.

Meanwhile, if you have managed to quit, or moderate your usage, or even thinking about it; I’m sure the thought has crossed your mind of what would you do instead of drinkng?

It’s sounds like an easy enough question, but those who spend hours and hours with their ḂḕṠṮ ḞṙḭḕṆḊ will understand this fear.

No worries,  Benya Clark (from Medium again) has the answer. He listed cooking, drawing, and running as his top three.

Now to those who are used to massive amounts of dopamine that substances provide; these are going to sound boring. And they probably will be at first. Until the natural Dopamine sources get built back up, you’re going to have force yourself, with some good accountability partners maybe, to start small and build up the habit—
Ya know-

ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴅɪᴅ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴀʟᴄᴏʜᴏʟ ᴏʀ ᴅʀᴜɢꜱ

Boredom, ingrained habits in the brain, and the lifestyle of connection  that all and drugs bring; along with this lack of Dopamine; is the reason for allot of relapses. People feel alone, lost, and bored, without their old coping mechanisms.

The good news is, new friends, new coping skills, new job opportunities can and WILL happen when you don’t have the consequences that addiction brings. You will mostly have your FREEDOM back. You won’t be enslaved to the time and MONEY.

THIS Article quotes the average American spends $22,600 over 40 years drinking 1 – yes 1- cocktail a week. ($11). There’s a Spending calculator you can use HERE. I guess it’s variable what constitutes “too much” spending on alcohol. I certainly would not use that to predict if someone is addicted.

It’s surprising how much addiction actually cost – just for the point of sale. Not even touching on the money from jobs lost, fines, insurance, and the many  other fees that go along with alcohol & drug use.

Drugs are a completly different story when it comes to money.I would say you can quadruple those numbers, easy, if a movie star or wealthy person.

It’s all very sad.

Not sad for the business end, but sad for families and children.  

It’s not a fact that escapes people with a substance use disorder (SUD- not addict). It’s one thing that contributes to their shame and blame of their condition. So much so, that I think it keeps alot of them IN that very cycle, because they think they can never pull out successfully or make up all that money or fix all that they’ve broken.

Our healthy brains KNOW it can be done, but remember,  their brains are technically damaged or at least temporarily hijacked in the areas of emotion, self control & that darn jacked up reward center.

My favorite person with a SUD-turned Doctor, says it best in this video. If that link doesn’t work- here’s next best one. Nicole Labor. Also buy her book and stuff… She humanizes addiction because she’s been there. Even while in Med school!

Regardless of where you or someone you love is at in their consumption journey, there is no reason to not at least have the conversation about how they’re doing and where they feel they want to be in 5 years.

Study after study, and -headline after obituary-  show that all addictions are progressive, leading to jail, death or recovery. So early intervention is paramount. It is a treatment condition. Despite the statistics shown, you can be part of the 21 million Americans who are in some form of recovery rather than the 88k who die every year due to alcohol related deaths.