Posts Tagged Alcohol Abuse

Doctors Warn Against a Dangerous Trend Called “Smoking” Alcohol

Teens and young adults are getting overboard when it comes to experimenting with drugs and alcohol. If you’re not up-to-date with your child’s activities you might miss the opportunity to keep him/her away from dangerous fads like “smoking” alcohol.

smoking alcoholWhat is “smoking” alcohol, anyway? Why should you be concerned about it?

Fox5 recently featured a story about smoking liquor instead of drinking it. The method involves pouring alcohol over dry ice so the vapors can be inhaled. But while it sounds harmless, doctors say the technique can have potentially fatal consequences because it sends larger and purer doses of alcohol to the brain, bypassing the liver and the organs.

Dr. Lawrence Pohl, medical director of the Mission Valley Medical Clinic in San Diego, California, explained that smoking alcohol is toxic to the lungs and can cause other serious side effects. “The concern is it can go to the bloodstream quickly, to the brain quickly, to the lungs,” he said.

Research shows that inhaling alcohol causes rapid intoxication and impairment. It’s also more likely to lead to substance abuse.

“Such extreme measures strongly suggest the presence of a serious substance abuse disorder,” Dr. Paul Hokemeyer told MailOnline. “In addition to the obvious physical risks this trend presents, it draws into question their judgment and impulse control.”

Even more concerning to these health care professionals is when teens are pressured to try the technique without being aware of what it can do to them.

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How Would You Know if You Have a Drinking Problem?

Alcohol is such a common presence in many social gatherings. It celebrates with us when there’s a special occasion or a simple get-together. Sometimes it appears in the lives of people who are grieving over something or dealing with a depression. While some studies show moderate drinking can have certain benefits, gulping endlessly can wreak havoc to one’s life. So how does someone determine if s/he has drinking problems?

alcoholismAlcoholism and alcohol abuse are defined differently by health experts. But both can interfere with the drinker’s life, relationships, work/school, social responsibilities, and financial capabilities.

Alcoholism, also referred to as alcohol dependence, is an illness wherein you develop a strong physical desire to drink alcohol beyond your capacity to control it. The two major warning signs of alcoholism are tolerance to consume excessive amounts of alcohol and withdrawal when drinking is stopped.

Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that can lead to inability to perform daily life’s responsibilities; drinking in situations that may result to physical harm or legal problems; and continued consumption of alcohol despite ongoing relationship problems. Unlike alcoholics, alcohol abusers still have  some ability to set limits on their drinking. Still, their alcohol use can be destructive and dangerous to themselves or others.

The bottom line is, you have a drinking problem if you have to rely on alcohol to feel better; lie to family, friends, co-workers and others to conceal your habit; fail to perform adult responsibilities due to drinking; exhaust your finances to get a booze; and find yourself in trouble with the law enforcement because of the habit.

Alcohol problems is a treatable disease, though. The earlier you spot the problem, the soonest you can get your life back on track. Treatment usually begins with detoxification, followed by prescribed medications and then therapy. There are also support groups across the country whose aim is to help problem drinkers to avoid relapse.

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How to Curb Underage Drinking Before it Escalates to Heavy Drinking

Underage drinking is a major public health concern in the United States. The 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey reported that 33 percent of 8th graders and 70 percent of 12th graders had tried alcohol. Among the consequences of underage drinking include physical and sexual assault, alcohol-related car crashes, abuse of other banned substances, school problems, physical hangovers or illnesses, and death from alcohol poisoning — to name a few.

underage drinkingIn 2010, there were more than 185,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol. In the passing of years, this figure may either increase or drop, but  to say that underage drinking will totally never going to occur anymore is perhaps next to impossible. Still, preventive measures are there to reduce the problem.

On the national, state and local levels, some of the prevention strategies being enforced to curb underage drinking include increasing alcohol excise taxes, reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising, and development of comprehensive community-based programs.

At home, what parents can do is to talk to their kids about alcohol abuse.

According to a recent study by researchers from Penn State University, discussing alcohol drinking with teenagers before they start college can both reduce the risk that light drinkers will become heavy drinkers, and increase the likelihood that heavy drinkers will slow down or stop the habit.

“Over 90 percent of teens try alcohol outside the home before they graduate from high school,” Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, said in a university news release. “It is well known that fewer problems develop for every year that heavy drinking is delayed. Our research over the past decade shows that parents can play a powerful role in minimizing their teens’ drinking during college when they talk to their teens about alcohol before they enter college.”

Turrisi and colleagues studied 1,900 randomly selected incoming freshmen  — each of them was identified as belonging to one of four groups: nondrinkers, weekend light drinkers, weekend heavy drinkers and heavy drinkers.

Parents of the student participants were provided with a handbook containing information that included an overview of college student drinking, strategies and techniques for communicating effectively, ways to help teens develop assertiveness and resist peer pressure and in-depth information on how alcohol affects the body.

The researchers found that teens remain in the non-drinking or light-drinking groups when their parents followed the recommendations in the handbook and talked to their teens before they enter college. Similarly, teens transition out of a heavy-drinking group (if they were already heavy drinkers) when their parents talked to them about drinking before they set foot on campus.

Turrisi said talking to teens in the fall of the first year of college may not work as well; for many families it had no effect on students’ drinking behaviors. Similarly, adding extra parent materials in the fall seemed to have no additional benefit.

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Alcohol Found as Third Leading Cause of Disease and Injury Worldwide

Spring break has just begun and police authorities are now keeping their eyes on underage drinkers. Speaking of alcohol drinking, a team of researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) warned to take it easy on alcoholic beverages. That is after they found that alcohol is now the third leading cause of global injuries and disease, even though most adults worldwide abstain from drinking.

“Alcohol consumption has been found to cause more than 200 different diseases and injuries,” Kevin Shield, lead author of the study, said in a news release. “These include not only well-known outcomes of drinking such as liver cirrhosis or traffic accidents, but also several types of cancer, such as female breast cancer.”

According to Shield and colleagues’ findings:

  • drinking alcoholDrinkers in Europe and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are the world’s heaviest consumers of alcohol, on average.
  • People in Eastern Europe and Southern Sub-Saharan Africa consumed alcohol in the unhealthiest manner, as they frequently consumed large quantities, drank to intoxication, engaged in prolonged binges, and consumed alcohol mainly outside of meals.
  • People in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia consumed the least amount of alcohol.
  • North Americans in general, and Canadians in particular drink more than 50 per cent above the global average, and show a more detrimental drinking pattern than most EU countries, with more bingeing.

Shield said it’s time to improve local and worldwide campaigns against alcohol drinking to combat its widespread impact on people’s health.

“Improving alcohol control policies presents one of the greatest opportunities to prevent much of the health burden caused by alcohol consumption,” Dr. Shield explained.  “To improve these policies, information on how much alcohol people are consuming, and how people are consuming alcohol is necessary, and that is exactly the information this article presents.”

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Drinkers Who Mix Alcohol and Diet Soda at Higher Risk of Getting Intoxicated Faster

A new research by a Northern Kentucky University professor found that people who mix alcohol and diet soft drinks are more likely to get drunk faster, The Northerner reports.

soda and alcohol combinationCecile Marczinski, an assistant professor in the university’s department of psychological science, conducted lab-based experiment on 8 male and 8 female social drinking students with an average age of 23. Before the study, all participating students  were asked to answer extensive demographic and medical questionnaires, and required to  “fast two hours, abstain from any form of caffeine eight hours, and abstain from alcohol for 24 hours.”

During one visit at the lab, the students drank vodka with diet soda. At another time, they drank vodka mixed with a regular soft drink. The student consumed their drinks within ten minutes.

According to Marczinski, the group that consumed a combination of vodka and diet soda had nearly 20 percent higher risk of getting inebriated faster.

“You get an 18 percent higher BrAC [breath alcohol level] when you mix alcohol with diet drinks,” Marczinski said. “The presence of food can be so important that reductions in peak BrAC have been reported to be as much as 20 – 57 percent when food is present in the stomach as compared with when alcohol is consumed alone.”

Marczinski hopes that her findings would help improve alcohol intervention programs.

“I am trying to provide information to consumers, so they can enjoy these products without causing themselves harm,” Marczinski added.

Marczinski’s research will be published in the Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research journal.

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Researchers Found Detox Centers a Good Alternative for Emergency Rooms in Accommodating Some Drunk Patients

ER departments may usually be the first place to bring a heavily drunken reveller, but a new study suggests that with the help of a checklist, inebriated patients may be safely re-routed to detox centers and avoid clogging already-busy emergency rooms.

alcohol drinking“Widespread use of this type of protocol has the potential to provide significant financial savings for the U.S. health care system,” lead study author David Ross, DO FACEP, an emergency physician with Penrose-St.Francis Health Services and medical director of American Medical Response in Colorado Springs, CO, said in a press release. “This population is very frequently transported to the ER by EMS or police, consuming a disproportionate share of resources and contributing to ER overcrowding. A detoxification center is a good alternative to the ER for certain intoxicated patients who just need an appropriately staffed facility to ‘dry out.’ Our research suggests that EMS personnel can identify patients who are safe for this alternative destination.”

The 29-item checklist used by EMS providers in Colorado in evaluating inebriated patients were created by EMS officials, emergency physicians, emergency nurses and detoxification center personnel. Its goal is to determine whether patients could be safely transported to a detoxification center instead of the emergency department by paramedics.

According to Ross and colleagues, of the more than 700 patients evaluated between 2003 and 2005, 138 were safely transported to the detoxification center, while 580 were transported to the emergency department.

The criteria that most commonly excluded patients from being taken to the detoxification center were inability to walk and unwillingness to cooperate with a physical exam.

“We believe our data suggests that paramedics with specific training and protocols can safely identify patients who are appropriate for direct transport to a detox facility,” said Dr. Ross. “Since the period described in our paper, we have been able to refine our protocol further and have substantially increased the number of patients taken from the field to detox instead of the ER, without any adverse consequences.”

Previous reports indicate that drunk patients are the fifth leading cause of emergency room visits in the country, with teenage binge drinking as the primary culprit.

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