Alcohol Self Assessment

Almost empty mug of beer and cigarette burning in ashtray uid 1344166Individual drinking habits may be found on a continuum from responsible drinking through alcohol abuse to alcoholism, or physical dependence.

There are many signs that may point to an alcohol problem. Drunkenness on its own or solitary drinking does not necessarily indicate alcoholism. The questionnaire will be meaningful to you only if you are honest with yourself when taking it.

The important question is: Is your use of alcohol creating significant negative consequences in your life?

  • Do you sometimes drink heavily after a setback or an argument, or when you receive a poor grade?
  • When you experience trouble or are undergoing stress, do you always drink more heavily than usual?
  • Can you handle more liquor now than you could when you first began drinking?
  • Have you ever awakened the “morning after” and found that you could not remember part of the evening before, even though your friends said that you didn’t pass out?
  • When drinking with others, do you try to have just a few additional drinks when they won’t know of it?
  • Are there times when you feel uncomfortable if alcohol isn’t available?
  • Have you noticed lately that when you start drinking you’re in more of a hurry to get to the first drink than you used to be?
  • Do you sometimes have negative thoughts or feelings about your drinking?
  • Are you secretly irritated when your friends or family discuss your drinking?
  • Do you often want to keep drinking after your friends have said that they’ve had enough?
  • When you’re sober, do you often regret things you have done or said while drinking?
  • Have you tried switching brands or following different plans for controlling your drinking?
  • Have you often failed to keep promises you have made to yourself about controlling or cutting down on your drinking?
  • Do you try to avoid your girlfriend/boyfriend when you are drinking?
  • Are you having an increasing number of school, work, or financial problems?
  • Do more people seem to be treating you unfairly without good reason?
  • Do you eat very little or irregularly when you’re drinking?
  • Do you sometimes have the “shakes” in the morning and find that it helps to have a drink?
  • Have you noticed lately that you cannot drink as much as you once did?

If you can answer “yes” to several of these questions, your drinking is causing problems for you and professional consultation can help prevent problems from getting more intense or numerous. Additionally you may find help at Alcoholics Anonymous.

Some people resolve to curb their drinking and can do so for a time only to have their alcohol problems persist or reoccur. The drinking habits of alcohol abuse or alcoholism can become very entrenched.

Treat, Don’t Blame Addicts

Why We Should Treat, Not Blame Addicts Struggling to Get ‘Clean’

Journalist David Sheff’s son Nic began using marijuana and alcohol at the age of 12, then heroine and crystal meth. Sheff was baffled; his son transformed from an intelligent student and athlete into an addict living on the streets. At first he thought Nic was just being a wild teenager who needed some tough love. But after struggling to find Nic treatment — and keep him alive — Sheff realized that his son was dealing with a serious disease, more similar than different from diabetes, hypertension or even cancer.

With his personal experience and more than 10 years of research, Sheff concluded that addiction is a health crisis with a price tag of US$600 billion in combined medical, economic, criminal and social costs every year.

In a follow-up to his memoir “Beautiful Boy,” David Sheff has written a new book, “Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy,” in order to outline a slew of reasons why society and addiction treatments have largely failed to help the 20 million Americans with addictions.

Sheff asserts that the reason that addiction treatments overwhelmingly fail is because of how we view addiction. And he says correcting common misconceptions about the disease can be the first step towards improving the social support and medical treatment systems for those struggling with their addictions.

Below are the top myths about addiction, according to David Sheff.  


Myth No. 1: Good kids don’t use drugs, bad kids do. 

Myth No. 2: It’s impossible to prevent drug use. Kids who are going to use are going to use.

Myth No. 3: People who get addicted are weak and without morals.

Myth No. 4: Addicts must hit bottom before they can be treated.

Myth No. 5: You don’t treat drug problems with drugs.

Myth No. 6: The only way for addicts to stop using is by going to AA meetings.

Myth No. 7: Marijuana is not addictive. No one’s ever died from marijuana. It’s not a gateway drug. Marijuana shouldn’t be legalized.

Myth No. 8: America’s drug problem is unsolvable.

  • We’ve failed at solving America’s drug problem not because it’s impossible to do so, but we’ve been focusing on the wrong things. The main problem is that we’ve treated drug use as a criminal problem and drug users as morally bankrupt.
  • There are several developments that make me optimistic that we can lower drug use, treat addicts and potentially solve many of the problems in America caused by addiction:
  • There’s a growing understanding and acceptance that addiction is a disease and must be treated like we treat other diseases.
  • There are advances in treatment that will dramatically improve the likelihood that addicts will get well. There are also new prevention strategies, early assessment, and brief intervention strategies that work.
  • There is progress toward making sure that people who need treatment will be able to find programs that use evidence-based treatment.
  • There is a new organization founded called Brian’s Wish To End Addiction

The top myths about addiction above were adapted from content from David Sheff’s new book, “Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy. The views are his own.

Full story at; http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/04/addiction-mythbusters-understand-what-triggers-addiction-and-how-to-manage-the-disease.html

What Addiction is Not

What Addiction is Not – God of Our Understanding – Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addiction.

The truth is that most people, including addicts themselves, have no idea what addiction really is. When being honest, the addict will tell you that he or she has no better an understanding of the problem than you have. Addiction confounds us; it frustrates us; it scares us. This has been the way it’s been since time immemorial. That’s why for millennia the only response to the town drunk was either to lock him up for good or to allow him to run raving in the streets. How else should one deal with a problem that makes no sense?

Most people, including addicts themselves, have no idea what addiction really is.

There is an old Jewish saying: “Knowing the disease is half the cure.” (Yes, the rabbis have been saying that for centuries already.)

So what is the disease of addiction?

Full story at; http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1761298/jewish/What-Addiction-is-Not.htm

Alcohol Related Brain Injury

Brain - parts vulnerable to damage by alcoholWhat is Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?

An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain that has been sustained at some time after birth. It can result in a variety of ways including:

  • Traumatic brain injury (e.g. through a traffic accident, assault or fall);
  • Through an illness (e.g. infection, stroke, brain tumour, degenerative condition);
  • Hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) (e.g. drug overdose, loss of blood);
  • Substance abuse (e.g. drugs including alcohol).

The effects of an ABI vary from one person to another and can depend on the nature and severity of the brain injury sustained. An ABI can result in deterioration in function in various ways including:

  • Cognitive/thinking skills (e.g. reduced memory, concentration, planning);
  • Communication or speech (e.g. slurred speech, trouble finding the right word);
  • Physical and sensory limitations (e.g. movement, fatigue, vision, smell);
  • Emotional or behavioural difficulties (e.g. reduced motivation, impulsivity);

These difficulties can have negative effects on key areas of people’s lives, such as occupation, relationships and independent living. The pattern of recovery from an ABI varies and impairments can be temporary (i.e. improving over time) or permanent.

Looking Forward (Fourth Edition)

Looking Forward is a handbook for supporting people with acquired brain injury. It gives a basic introduction to brain injury and the challenges involved for people living with acquired brain injury.

It offers practical advice and strategies to enable practitioners to empower people to achieve their full potential.

To download an electronic copy of the latest edition of the arbias book “Looking Forward” click the link below:

"Looking Forward (Fourth Edition)” – Download Adobe PDF (4.7 Mb)

Other news at; Acquired Brain Injury

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Liver Disease and Coffee

Drinking Coffee Could Help Those With Liver Disease, Study Shows

Coffee gives more than a morning pick-me-up — about two cups daily could help sufferers of liver disease, according to a new joint study by Mason and Inova Health Systems.

“No one really knows how caffeine works on (fatty liver disease),” says Zobair Younossi, who led the study and is co-director of the George Mason University−Inova Health System Translational Research Institute. Perhaps there is a component in caffeine that reduces inflammation in the liver, he suggests. “Also, caffeine could have an antioxidant effect.”

Dubbed Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), this type of ailment is mainly caused by fat, and not by drinking alcohol. And it’s a growing problem.

“As the rate of obesity is going up in this country, especially among children, the problems of NAFLD will continue to rise,” says Younossi, who is chairman of the Department of Medicine at Inova Fairfax Hospital as well as vice president for research for Inova Health System. “This is becoming a major cause of liver disease.”

About 25 percent of the U.S. population has fatty liver disease, he says. From that number, about 2 to 3 percent could progress to cirrhosis, which is scarring on the liver that can lead to liver cancer.

Fatty liver disease frequently comes with type 2 diabetes, says Younossi, who has researched liver disease for 16 years. Obesity and poor diet are underlying factors.

The Coffee Effect

lisapawloski2Lisa Pawloski, chair of Mason’s Department of Nutrition Studies. Creative Services photo

Younossi, Inova’s Maria Stepanova and Mason’s Lisa Pawloski and Aybike Birerdinc looked at four continuous cycles of the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2001 to 2008. Approximately 19,000 respondents were asked about 62 different dietary habits, including their intake of water, sodium, fiber, cholesterol, calcium and alcohol.

The surveys from 2007-08 revealed that 32.2 percent of American men and 35.5 percent of women are obese. If those rates continue, then 45 to 50 percent of American adults will be obese by 2025, according to the study, meaning that more than 25 million Americans could develop fatty liver disease.

Out of all the survey data about diet, only caffeine appeared to have any protective value, Younossi says.

“I was actually surprised,” says Pawloski of the “coffee effect.”  “But there are other studies that support it. To me, it’s exciting that this study follows what others have done.”

Caffeine is showing some benefit for such diseases as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes, says Pawloski, who is chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies in Mason’s College of Health and Human Services.

“It used to be people would say they’re cutting back on caffeine,” Pawloski continues. “There is a change in the attitudes about coffee and caffeine consumption. I think this study is another piece to show that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to include in your diet.”

How Much to Consume?

How much coffee is enough is debatable, Younossi says. Don’t start drinking coffee tomorrow if you don’t already do so. “In fact, if you drink too much, you could do some harm,” he says.

There is some evidence that high caffeine intake can adversely affect bone density, Pawloski adds. Those with iron deficiency should be careful with caffeine because tannins contained in tea as well as in wine inhibit iron absorption.

Also, don’t take caffeine pills — go for the real thing, Pawloski advises. Coffee and tea contribute fluids as well as antioxidants, she says. And milk added to the drink provides beneficial calcium.

“I would encourage coffee and tea drinking, but I would not make a definite recommendation to start doing it to prevent liver disease,” Pawloski says.

And watch how many calories you pack into your caffeine perk, Pawloski adds. “Some people, like me, like to load it up with cream and sugar.”

Patients with liver disease can reverse the trajectory of the disease through diet and weight loss, Younossi says. They need to keep accurate dietary records and watch what they eat and drink, he says. Even though fatty liver disease isn’t caused by drinking alcohol, libations don’t help because processing alcohol is tough on the liver.

“Even social drinking can be harmful,” Younossi adds.

There’s no current evidence that caffeine could reverse scarring on the liver, but Younossi suspects it could have a beneficial effect. More studies are on the way, he says.

Pawloski currently is working on a study with Inova and Mason’s Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science to track the number and proximity of fast-food outlets in neighborhoods with high levels of obesity and poverty.

“This study, combined with other studies, may impact advice to people with liver disease,” Pawloski says.

From a press release of the George Mason University−Inova Health System Translational Research Institute.

Intervene Early To Prevent Smoking

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death in the United States. Each year smoking causes an average of 438,000 deaths from cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.

For years the conventional wisdom in smoking research was that smokers don’t show signs of daily cigarette addiction until adulthood. But at the School of Nursing, Professor Carla Storr, ScD, RN, is shedding light on the fact that nicotine addiction can start well before smokers are old enough to legally buy cigarettes.

Intervene Early To Prevent Smoking.

Nine Quick Tips to Identify Clutter

Nine Quick Tips to Identify Clutter | zen habits.

Lately, I’ve been on a clutter-clearing frenzy. For me, as for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm, and sweeping away a bunch of unloved, unused stuff has given me a huge happiness boost.

As I sifted through our possessions, I identified nine questions to ask myself when I was confronted with a questionable object. This list helped me decide what to keep and what to toss, recycle, or give away.

Nine Quick Tips to Identify Clutter | zen habits