Alcohol and Drugs Used for Dutch Courage

Couple on a date in martini lounge uid 1343829 Young people are intentionally taking drink and drugs for better sex

Teenagers and young adults across Europe drink and take drugs as part of deliberate sexual strategies.

Findings published today in BMC Public Health, reveal that a third of 16-35 year old males and a quarter of females surveyed are drinking alcohol to increase their chances of sex, while cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis are intentionally used to enhance sexual arousal or prolong sex.

The study was conducted by researchers in public health and social sciences from across Europe.

More than 1300 people aged between 16 and 35 and who routinely socialise in nightlife settings completed anonymous questionnaires.

Virtually all of the survey participants had drunk alcohol with most having had their first drink when 14 or 15 years old.

Three quarters of the respondents had tried or used cannabis, while around 30 percent had at least tried ecstasy or cocaine.

Overall, alcohol was most likely to be used to facilitate a sexual encounter, while cocaine and cannabis were more likely to be utilised to enhance sexual sensations and arousal.

Despite these perceived sexual “benefits”, drunkenness and drug use were strongly associated with an increase in risk taking behaviour and feeling regretful about having sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Thus, participants who had been drunk in the past four weeks were more likely to have had five or more partners, sex without a condom and to have regretted sex after drink or drugs in the past 12 months.

Cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy use was linked to similar consequences.

“Trends in recent decades have resulted in recreational drug use and binge drinking becoming routine features of European nightlife,” says lead author Mark Bellis, from Liverpool John Moores University. “Millions of young Europeans now take drugs and drink in ways which alter their sexual decisions and increase their chances of unsafe sex or sex that is later regretted. Yet despite the negative consequences, we found many are deliberately taking these substances to achieve quite specific sexual effects.”

Individuals were significantly more likely to have had sex under 16 years if they had used alcohol, cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy before that age.

Girls in particular were as much as four times as likely to have had sex before the age of 16 if they drank alcohol or used cannabis under 16.

“Sexual activity accompanied by substance use is not just incidental, but often sexually motivated,” says co-author, consultant psychiatrist Amador Calafat. “Interventions addressing sexual health are often developed, managed and implemented independently from those addressing substance use, and vice versa. However, young people often see alcohol, drugs and sex all as part of the same social experience and addressing these issues requires an equally joined up approach. ”

Sexual uses of alcohol and drugs and the associated health risks: a cross sectional study of young people in nine European cities by Mark A Bellis, Karen Hughes, Amador Calafat, Montse Juan, Anna Ramon, Jose A Rodriguez, Fernando Mendes, Susanne Schnitzer and Penny Phillips-Howard; BMC Public Health.

Article available here free at BioMed Central

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Binge Drinking to a Bad Life

binge drinking The Risks of Teen Binge Drinking

The aim of this study was to determine outcomes in adult life of binge drinking in adolescence in a national British study over thirty years from 1970.


A total of 11,622 subjects participated at age 16 years and 11,261 subjects participated at age 30 years.


At the age of 16 years, data on binge drinking (defined as two or more episodes of drinking four or more drinks in a row in the previous 2 weeks) and frequency of habitual drinking in the previous year were collected. Thirty-year outcomes recorded were alcohol dependence/abuse (CAGE questionnaire), regular weekly alcohol consumption (number of units), illicit drug use, psychological morbidity and educational, vocational and social history.


In 1970, 17.7% of participants reported binge drinking in the previous 2 weeks at the age of 16 years.

Adolescent binge drinking predicted an increased risk in adulthood of;

  • adult alcohol dependence 1.6 times average
  • excessive regular consumption 1.7 times
  • illicit drug use 1.4 times
  • psychiatric morbidity 1.4 times average
  • homelessness 1.6 times average
  • convictions 1.9 times average
  • school exclusion 3.9 times average
  • lack of qualifications 1.3 times average
  • accidents 1.4 times average and
  • lower adult social class, after adjustment for adolescent socioeconomic status and adolescent baseline status of the outcome under study.

These findings included both adolescent binge drinking and habitual frequent drinking as main effects.


Adolescent binge drinking is a risk behaviour associated with significant later adversity and social exclusion.

These associations appear to be distinct from those associated with habitual frequent alcohol use.

Binge drinking may contribute to the development of health and social inequalities during the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Research report; J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 Oct;61(10):902-7. Adult outcomes of binge drinking in adolescence: findings from a UK national birth cohort. Viner RM, Taylor B.

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Marijuana Plus Alcohol Kills Brain Cells

Pot Plus Alcohol Kills Young Rats Brain Cells

A mix of THC, the main mood changing drug in marijuana / cannabis, and mildly intoxicating doses of alcohol caused widespread nerve cell death in the brains of young rats, a German study finds.

Rats were used as they have similar biology to humans. Thus, this finding may also occur in people who drink and use marijuana.

Researchers in Berlin, administered THC, a synthetic form of THC, alcohol, an anticonvulsant, and a sedative to rats between one and 14 days old.

A previous study by the same team found that ethanol and drugs such as sedatives, anesthetics and anticonvulsants caused extensive nerve cell death in the brains of young rodents. The new study was conducted to determine if THC caused similar harm.

The researchers found that THC and synthetic THC did not cause nerve cell death when administered alone. But, did cause cell death when given with mildly intoxicating amounts of alcohol. The combined effect increased according to the dose of THC and was strongest when the rats were seven days old.

More studies are needed to examine how THC boosts alcohol’s harmful effects on the developing brain, the researchers said.

  • The German group noted that marijuana is among the most commonly used illicit drugs by women during their childbearing years. There’s growing concern that use of marijuana, either alone or in combination with other drugs, during pregnancy may harm fetal brain development.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Neurology, from a news release, April 2008

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Chocolate Lowers Blood Pressure -Yahoo!

Chocolate trifles Cocoa, but Not Tea, Lowers Blood Pressure

More happy justification for chocolate lovers: blood pressure responds favorably to cocoa, but not tea, a new analysis suggests.

Authors of the study say that while both products are rich in polyphenols, the study findings suggest that phenols in cocoa may be more active than those in tea. The study appears in the April 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

“Products rich in cocoa may be considered part of a blood pressure lowering diet, provided that the total energy intake does not increase,” lead investigator for the study, Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, from the University Hospital of Cologne in Cologne, Germany, told heartwire. “I believe that cocoa is healthier than other sugar confectionary or high-fat dairy products.”

Cocoa Beats Tea for blood pressure

In the cocoa studies, cocoa consumption was typically flavonol-rich chocolate in the range of 100 g per day; in the tea studies, consumption was in the range of 4 to 6 cups daily.

In the cocoa studies, blood pressure dropped; however, in the tea studies, no differences were seen in blood pressure. The authors point out that while the 2 substances contain similar amounts of polyphenols, the components of these polyphenols differ between cocoa and tea: cocoa is particularly rich in procyanidins, whereas black and green tea are rich in flavan-3-ols and gallic acid. It may be that the polyphenol components in cocoa are more bioavailable, Taubert and colleagues propose.

According to Taubert and colleagues, the effects of cocoa on blood pressure were comparable to those achieved with antihypertensive drugs. “The magnitude of the hypotensive effects of cocoa is clinically noteworthy; it is in the range that is usually achieved with single doses of medication,” they write.

“At the population level, this level of reduction of blood pressure would be expected to substantially reduce the risk of;

  • stroke (by about 20%),
  • coronary heart disease (by 10%), and
  • all-cause mortality (by 8%).”

Research article published in the Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:626-634.

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Alcoholism Tops Disease Onset

Occasions c uid 1186467 Alcohol Dependence, Depression, Anxiety Top List in New U.S.A. Study. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) study reveals incidence of major psychiatric disorders

This study looked for the first onset of substance use disorders (i.e., alcohol and drug abuse and dependence) and major mood and anxiety disorders.

This landmark survey is the first conducted in the U.S. to identify rates of people who FIRST suffer of these disorders in any one year.

The research found that each year the following percentage of the population would BEGIN to suffer one of these diseases.

  • alcohol dependence 1.7% or one in every 59 people will begin to be alcoholic,
  • alcohol abuse 1.0% or one in every 100 people will begin to abuse alcohol,
  • major depressive disorder 1.5% or one in every 67 people will begin to be depressed,
  • generalized anxiety disorder 1.12% or one in every 89 people will begin to be anxious,
  • panic disorder 0.62% or one in every 161 people will begin to suffer panic symptoms,
  • bipolar disorder 0.53% or one in every 188 people will begin to suffer from bipolar symptoms,
  • phobia 0.44% or one in every 227 people will begin to be phobic,
  • social phobia 0.32% or one in every 313 people will begin to have social fear,
  • drug abuse 0.28% or one in every 357 people will begin to abuse drugs,
  • drug dependence 0.32% or one in every 313 people will begin to be addictive,

These rates are comparable to other common medical diseases such as;

  • lung cancer 0.06% or one in every 1,667 people will begin to get cancer,
  • stroke 0.45% or one in every 222 people will begin to suffer stroke symptoms,
  • cardiovascular disease 1.5% or one in every 66 people will begin to suffer heart problems.

The study found that men were at greater risk of first onset alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence and drug dependence, and new disease experiences were greatest among 20- to 29-year-olds and individuals who had been separated / divorced / widowed or never married.

By contrast, the risk of most anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder, was greatest among women, and all anxiety disorder incidence rates were greater in the youngest age groups (20 to 54 year olds).

Among mood disorders examined in this study, the risk of first onset of major depressive disorder (MDD) was greatest among women.

“Information on psychiatric risk factors identified in this study can begin to inform a new class of preventive interventions aimed at preventing a second disorder or set of disorders,” said Bridget Grant. “As to clinical implications, this study helps to clarify the risk of future disorders posed by chronologically primary disorders, information that may be used to improve treatment planning and counsel patients at risk of developing secondary disorders.”

Research report; Grant, B. Molecular Psychiatry, April 22, 2008. News release, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Sociodemographic and Psychopathologic Predictors of First Incidence of DSM-IV Substance Use, Mood, and Anxiety Disorders: Results from the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Note; These rates are specific to the United States, other countries may have differing rates. However, developed countries with similar socio-demographics may have similar rates.

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Recovery will be key in new drugs strategy

Scotland piper Blogger’s note; Along with England there is a shift in policy focus for healthcare workers to be aware of their responsibilities and duties to all people including those who have alcohol or drug illnesses.

All agencies in Scotland, UK dealing with drug addiction and its underlying causes need to refocus their talents and energies on helping addicts into recovery, Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing said today.

Responding to the publication of the Scottish Advisory Committee on Drug Misuse (SACDM) Sub-Group’s ‘Essential Care’ Report, Mr Ewing confirmed that the path to recovery would be at the centre of Scotland’s new national drugs strategy which will be published before the summer.

The new report is published today as former Health Minister Susan Deacon chairs a conference in Glasgow looking at how the concept of ‘recovery’ might be applied to the field of drug addiction.

Mr Ewing said that the emerging focus on recovery represents ‘a real opportunity to put a strategy in place that commands widespread professional, political and public support’.

Some of the main findings of the SACDM Sub-Group’s Essential Care Report are:

  • There is a need for a major change in the philosophy of care for people with problem substance use in Scotland
  • Substance users are people with aspirations
  • Policy makers, commissioners and services need to consider how they can help them recover
  • Substance users have the right to the same quality of care as the rest of us

Mr Ewing said:

“The Essential Care report contains a number of welcome recommendations which are already being looked at as we develop our new drugs strategy.

“I believe we need to get better at encouraging each addict’s personal vision of recovery by reducing practical barriers to services, while giving people hope by acknowledging that recovery is achievable.

“I have met former addicts who tell me that the key to believing in your own recovery is ‘believing it can happen for you’ – being optimistic that you can recover. The concept of recovery represents a significant shift in thinking and has happened in the field of mental health – why shouldn’t people with drug problems believe they can recover too?

“That’s the question that all the agencies working to tackle drug misuse need to ask themselves. If the answer isn’t yet a straightforward ‘yes’ – then they need to challenge the approaches they are taking. We have a real opportunity to put a strategy in place that commands widespread professional, political and public support. I want us all to seize that opportunity.

“We will publish a new drugs strategy for Scotland before summer and its main focus will be recovery. It is essential that people experiencing drug problems have access to a range of wider services including employment, housing, and health that help them to move-on and rebuild their lives.”

The Scottish Government is organising this conference to provide an opportunity for discussion and debate about what recovery means for people with problem drug use in Scotland, to develop a shared understanding about how to promote and support recovery and discuss the implications of building up a Recovery Movement.

This approach has been used successfully in the mental health field for people with similarly complex needs and the conference will hear from Simon Bradstreet of the Scottish Recovery Network about what has been achieved. Turning Point Scotland, one of the biggest voluntary sector providers of drug services have been ‘learning as an organisation’ to put recovery at the forefront of their care, and will share their experience with delegates.

Above all, there will be input from people with personal experience of drug problems who are driving along their own recovery and who are showing it can be done.

The majority of the Essential Care report is concerned with the Essential Care that is needed to address problems in other areas of drug service users’ lives; their general health, their mental health and their social skills and relationships. It lists all the areas which may need attention, together with evidence of their benefits.

But the main conclusion is something more visionary. The report states that there needs to be a major change in the philosophy of care for problem substance use in Scotland – focused on the recovery of each individual and putting service users’ aspirations at the centre of care.

See Scotland Government

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Teens and Sleep Problems – Alcohol, Drugs

Sleepin teen Adolescents with chronic insomnia report ‘twofold to fivefold’ increase in personal problems

Documenting a “twofold to fivefold” increase in personal problems among adolescents with persistent sleeplessness, public health researchers at The University of Texas say they have completed the first prospective study demonstrating the negative impact of chronic insomnia on 11 to 17 year olds.

More than one fourth of the youths surveyed had one or more symptoms of insomnia and almost half of these youngsters had chronic conditions. Findings appear in the March issue of the “Journal of Adolescent Health” and are based on interviews with 3,134 adolescents in metropolitan Houston.

“Insomnia is both common and chronic among adolescents,” wrote lead author Robert E. Roberts. “The data indicate that the burden of insomnia is comparable to that of other psychiatric disorders such as mood, anxiety, disruptive behaviour and substance abuse disorders. Chronic insomnia severely impacts future health and functioning of youths.”

Researchers measured 14 aspects of personal wellbeing and found that adolescents with chronic insomnia were much more likely to have problems with drug use, depression, school work, jobs and perceived health.

The symptom criteria for insomnia includes difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, early morning awakening and non-restorative sleep over the previous four weeks.

In the initial screening, 27 percent had one of more symptoms of insomnia, 7 percent had one or more symptoms of insomnia plus daytime fatigue or sleepiness or both, and 5 percent met the clinical diagnosis criteria, which attempts to rule out other psychiatric disorders, as well as the effects of alcohol, drugs or medication, which can be confused with chronic insomnia.

Other studies indicate that chronic insomnia among adolescents can be caused by behavioral and emotional issues, Roberts said.

Roberts said adolescents with chronic insomnia were more likely to seek medical care. “These data suggest that primary care settings might provide a venue for screening and early intervention of adolescent insomnia,” he said.

The study is titled “Chronic Insomnia and Its Negative Consequences for Health and Functioning of Adolescents: A 12-Month Prospective Study.”

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