Alcohol Abuse

Anti-Alcohol Council Marks April As Alcohol Awareness Month

Did you know that April is National Alcohol Awareness Month?  This activity is sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD).  It aims to increase knowledge and understanding on the effects of alcoholism and related health issues.

ncadd alcohol awareness monthEach year, NCADD chooses a specific theme for its drive.  This 2014, the topic is on underage drinking.  The organization has established policies and programs aimed towards the safety of drinkers, such as coordinating with cab companies to provide discounted rates for the drunk passengers.

Alcohol is a drug commonly abused by almost any age.  However, what is alarming is the increasing rate of alcoholism in young teens and even children who, out of curiosity, experiment with alcohol at a very early age.  Those who started drinking early tend to develop a dependence on the substance.

Alcohol is a drug of choice among the youth.  It is becoming a gateway to greater addiction like marijuana and cocaine and other vices like having casual sex and getting failing grades.

Statistics show a decrease in the percentage of underage drinking.  Chris Thorne, The Beer Institute’s vice president for communications said in a news release, “Judging by the statistics, today’s kids are listening.  But we will remain diligent in working with educators, parents, retailers and law enforcement to eliminate underage drinking.”

Thorne added that research showed that parents have the power to change the decision of their teenagers to engage in drinking.  Brewers nationwide along with government institutions and non-government organizations will support parents in any alcohol intervention program and drive to control alcohol abuse by teens.

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Effective Alcohol Intervention For Teens Should Involve Personalized Touch

A team of researchers focused on helping college students stop unhealthy alcohol consumption has just discovered one of the best ways to intervene: a personal touch.

alcohol abuseResearchers led by Lori Scott-Sheldon of The Miriam’s Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine reveal the importance of early intervention by screening freshmen on the first weeks of school. With a wide spectrum of teenagers entering college, many different patterns and motivations for drinking came up. This became the basis of the group’s recommendation to use a tailor-fit approach to each and every case of alcoholism.

Published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the study reviewed the effectiveness of several programs of alcohol intervention for teens spread across the U.S. for the past decade. While the intervention techniques were unique to each other, most of the more effective ones tend to share a commonality, and that is a “personalized feedback report” as reported in UPI. The college freshman identified with a drinking problem must realize the repercussions of continuing the habit: financial drain, health risks, or flying past legal blood alcohol limits.

Scott-Sheldon also observed that combining two or more techniques to intervene any case of teenage alcohol abuse is the best method.

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Study: Alcohol Intake Leads To Significant Vision Impairment

They say too much alcohol in the body leads to an impaired vision and sense of direction. It wasn’t until a recent study that the degree of impairment was measured.

visual impairmentA team of researchers from the Western University and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry in Canada revealed that their study confirmed up to 30% impairment in vision as a result of drinking alcohol beyond the legal limit. In Canada and majority of states in the U.S., the limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08%.

Results of the study were significant: participants who had BAC levels near the limit observed a 30% reduction in contrast between the squares and the dark circles. In other words, people who engage in drunk driving might have difficulty telling the difference between light and darkness. “This is obviously important when you are driving at twilight, when objects are more difficult to see and more difficult to discriminate, even without alcohol,” study co-author Brian Timney said in a news release.

Timney and Kevin Johnston, proponents of the study, used a rather simple and safe approach to determine the visual malfunction: the Hermann Grid. The illusion, as described by Johnston, is “a grid of black squares on a white background. You see ghost-like dark spots at the intersections of the grid, but they are not actually there. It’s the way our visual system processes contrast or brightness differences that creates the illusion.” Here is how the Hermann Grid looks like:

grid

Respondents were asked to drink alcoholic beverages until just below the legal BAC limit, then look at the grid for observations on the invisible dark circles between the black squares.

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Psychiatric Patients Have Higher Rates Of Alcoholism, Smoking And Drug Use

A recent study has linked psychological disorders to a higher risk of engaging in vices.

brains scansResearchers from the University of Southern California and St. Louis’ Washington University School of Medicine jointly looked into the susceptibility of people diagnosed with psychotic disorders to a number of addictive activities such as drinking, smoking, and use of drugs.

Study co-author Dr. Sarah M. Hartz of Washington University said that contrary to popular belief, people suffering from severe mental disorders do not die because of suicide or drug overdose. “They die from heart disease and cancer, problems caused by chronic alcohol and tobacco use,” said Dr. Hartz in a news interview.

The study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal, monitored more than 9,000 patients with psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The cases were then compared with people without diagnosed brain disorders, and performed an assessment as to the degree of use of alcohol, drugs and nicotine.

Results showed the following findings:

  • Thirty percent of people with mental disorders were engaging in binge drinking, as compared to only 8 percent for normal-minded patients.
  • In terms of smoking, 33 percent of the people without psychotic issues were identified as smokers. In stark contrast, the figure for mental patients shot up to above 75 percent.
  • Marijuana use was also higher in psychiatric patients, registering 50% of the study population. Meanwhile, only 12 percent of the people without mental disorders used marijuana.

 

To top it off, Dr. Hartz added that “these patients tend to pass away much younger, with estimates ranging from 12 to 25 years earlier than individuals in the general population.”

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Teenagers Engaging In Sports More Likely To Abuse Alcohol, Less On Illicit Drugs

A recent study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors revealed that teenagers who participate in sports are less likely to engage in the use of most illicit drugs.

Parque do IbirapueraWhile that finding is somewhat expected judging by the benefits that the youth get through sports, proponents of the study surprisingly discovered that this same demographic are more prone to alcohol abuse. Research team member John Cairney of McMaster University’s Offord Centre for Child Studies shared through Reuters the surprising results. “When we began our own review, we were shocked not only to find many new studies, but also ones that had been missed in previous reviews,” Cairney said.

The researchers from Canada reviewed previous studies published between 1982 and 2012, and dealt with monitoring people’s behaviors as a result of sports activities. It was through the comprehensive review that the benefit of sports activities in preventing drug abuse can be confirmed.

“We have enough data to show that sport participation could play an important role in substance use prevention. We need to understand what aspects of sport participation are most beneficial and design rigorous trials to see if sport interventions really can reduce or prevent drug use in youth,” Cairney added.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for marijuana and alcohol use, which young athletes were more susceptible to fall into. Also, the probability of prescription drug abuse — particularly in the use of painkillers and opiod medication — is higher for young people engaged in sports because these drugs are easier to get for them.

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Teen Substance Abuse Linked To Early Maturity

Children cannot wait to become grownups, and parents usually find this adorable. Now, a brand new survey suggests that moms and dads should be concerned about the rapid development of their kids into teenagers because this can lead to substance abuse.

teen addictionAccording to a study by a team of researcher from Austin’s University of Texas links early puberty to a higher risk of deveoplng substance abuse. Team lead Jessica Cance, who works at the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, cites how puberty can result not only to physical body changes but also the teen’s social and psychological health. “Our research has shown that pubertal development is a combination of biological, psychological and social processes that all likely interact to influence risk-taking behavior like substance use,” Cance shared in a news item.

The survey involved 6,500 teenagers between the ages of 11 and 17, monitored their puberty development based on physical changes, and assessed their susceptibility to abuse of cocaine, alcohol and drugs. Results of the study showed that those who enter puberty at an earlier stage in their life are more prone to engage in drug abuse.

Cance relates this to the individual’s biological development and links it to his or her perceived social maturity. She said the first student in class to experience biological maturity “prompts or exacerbates existing psychological and social aspects… that can, in turn, lead to substance use and other risky behaviors early in life.”

Earlier studies showed that society and marketing agencies lure teens into drug and alcohol use because these are “cool”. This breakthrough revelation from Cance’s team shows that the perceived feeling of maturity in children makes them more likely to drug abuse.

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