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

Drinking and Risks to Men

Drinking Buddies

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Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Men’s Health

Men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive drinking is associated with significant increases in short-term risks to health and safety, and the risk increases as the amount of drinking increases.

Men are also more likely than women to take other risks (e.g., drive fast or without a safety belt), when combined with excessive drinking, further increasing their risk of injury or death.

Drinking levels for men
  • Approximately 62% of adult men reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days and were more likely to binge drink than women (47%) during the same time period.
  • Men average about 12.5 binge drinking episodes per person per year, while women average about 2.7 binge drinking episodes per year.
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.
  • It is estimated that about 17% of men and about 8% of women will meet criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.
Injuries and deaths as a result of excessive alcohol use
  • Men consistently have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women.
  • Among drivers in fatal motor-vehicle traffic crashes, men are almost twice as likely as women to have been intoxicated (i.e., a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater).
  • Excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and, as a result, can increase the risk of physically assaulting another person.
  • Men are more likely than women to commit suicide, and more likely to have been drinking prior to committing suicide.
Reproductive Health and Sexual Function

Excessive alcohol use can interfere with testicular function and male hormone production resulting in impotence, infertility, and reduction of male secondary sex characteristics such as facial and chest hair.

  • Excessive alcohol use is commonly involved in sexual assault. Impaired judgment caused by alcohol may worsen the tendency of some men to mistake a women’s friendly behavior for sexual interest and misjudge their use of force.
  • Also, alcohol use by men increases the chances of engaging in risky sexual activity including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, or sex with a partner at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.
Cancer
  • Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon in men.

There are a number of health conditions affected by excessive alcohol use that affect both men and women.

Long-Term Health Risks

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems. These include but are not limited to—

  • Neurological problems, including dementia, stroke and neuropathy.
  • Cardiovascular problems (heart diseases), including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension.
  • Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • Social problems, including unemployment, lost productivity, anti-social attitudes and family problems.
  • Cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. In general, the risk of cancer increases with increasing amounts of alcohol.
  • Liver diseases, including—
    • Alcoholic hepatitis.
    • Cirrhosis, which is among the 15 leading causes of all deaths in the United States.
    • Among persons with Hepatitis C virus, worsening of liver function and interference with medications used to treat this condition.
  • Other gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis.

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Alcohol Raises Cancer Risk

Beverages 102 Exhaustive Review of the Literature Reveals Even Moderate Alcohol Intake Increases Risk of Cancer

The Cancer Institute of New South Wales, Australia, has released a comprehensive analysis of current evidence for the association between alcohol consumption and risk of cancer. Limited to systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the highest methodological quality, the 194-page monograph, entitled Alcohol as a Cause of Cancer, revealed that even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with an often dramatic increase in the risk of several types of cancer.

Key findings are as follows:

Alcohol intake of approximately 2 drinks per day increases the risk of

  • cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx by 75 percent,
  • the risk of esophageal cancer by 50 percent, and
  • the risk of laryngeal cancer by 40 percent.

Moderate intake also significantly increases the risk of colorectal cancer, liver cancer, and stomach cancer.

  • Intake of approximately 4 drinks per day increases the risk of any cancer by 22 percent, while
  • 8 drinks per day increases the risk by 90 percent.

The risk of breast cancer is 11 to 22 percent higher in women who drink alcohol than in women who do not.

Comments: The authors were unable to identify levels of consumption associated with no risk of cancer. Although the World Health Organization lists alcohol as a Group-1 carcinogen, as noted in the introduction to this study, few people are aware that even moderate consumption can cause cancer. These findings may be limited by possible underreporting of alcohol use or misclassification of exposure (e.g., light or ex-drinkers classified as non-drinkers).

Nonetheless, information about the association between alcohol and cancer needs to be more widely available so that the public can make informed choices about their behavior.

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH. Research Reference; Lewis S, Campbell S, Proudfoot E, et al. Alcohol as a Cause of Cancer. Sydney, Cancer Institute NSW, May 2008.

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Drop in Alaskan Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Alaska’s fetal alcohol syndrome rate fell 32 percent between 1996-2002

During that time, the rate among Alaska Native births dropped by half
(Anchorage, AK) — Alaska Native babies were born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) half as often around the year 2000 as they were five to seven years earlier, Department of Health and Social Services researchers found in an analysis of Alaska Birth Defects Registry data. That change brought the state’s overall rate from 1996 to 2002 down by a third, researchers reported in the State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin released yesterday.

“This reduction is what we’ve been striving for, and continue to strive for,” said Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan. “FAS and other conditions collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are one of the most common causes of developmental disabilities and the only cause that is entirely preventable.”

In 1998, Alaska and three other states with high rates of maternal alcohol consumption were selected for a four-year project through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The project developed a system to track birth defects caused by maternal drinking, and established by 2002 that Alaska’s rate was far higher than the other three states; the highest in the nation.

The analysis found the rate among Alaska Native births decreased to 32.4 children with FAS per 10,000 live births from 63.1 (down 49 percent); the rate increased from 3.7 to 6.1 among non-Native births (not a statistically significant change.) Alaska’s overall rate dropped to 13.5 from 20.0. The analysis ends with births in 2002 in order to incorporate doctors’ reports of suspected birth defects caused by maternal drinking. Doctors have until children are 6 to make that mandatory report.

A major joint federal-state prevention and education effort ran from 1991 to 1996, with a second running from 1998 to 2006, said L. Diane Casto, manager of Prevention and Early Intervention Services for the Division of Behavioral Health.

“We can’t absolutely link the decrease to our prevention efforts, but the timing strongly suggests that it was a major factor,” Casto said. “This is clear encouragement that we can change these statistics which represent so much lost potential and needless heartbreak.”

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Janine Schoellhorn, the state public health epidemiologist who led the analysis, said the Alaska Native rate was 17 times higher than the non-Native rate in the first group of children, those born in 1996 through 1998; for those born in 2000 through 2002, the Native rate was down to five times higher.

“That’s really, really impressive,” Schoellhorn said. An analysis of data from 2003 forward is underway.

The State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin is posted online at http://www.epi.alaska.gov/bulletins/catlist.jsp?cattype=Fetal+Alcohol+Syndrome+(FAS)