WAYS TO FIGHT AGAINST ALCOHOL ABUSE

Getting over alcohol addiction is a long and arduous process. There may even be times when it seems impossible, but it is not. Regardless of how heavy your drinking or how powerless you feel, you can stop drinking and recover from alcoholism and alcohol abuse–if you’re determined and ready to get help.

No matter if you’re trying to recover from alcoholism altogether or just try to reduce your drinking to a healthier level, these guidelines can help you get started on the road to recovery today.

The first and most important step to fighting against alcohol abuse is education. The dangers of excessive alcohol consumption are not understood by some people. As a matter of fact, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to heart problems, liver problems, and even cancer. The effects of alcohol on the brain are profound, altering mood, coordination, and behavior.

Furthermore, drinking alcohol at home may make it easier for you to drink without accountability, especially if you live alone or drink privately. Your house not being stocked with alcohol reduces the chance of emotional drinking or boredom drinking in your family. You should only drink on social occasions in public places with a wise adult who can set the limits.

Moreover, a person may not be able to stop drinking on their own, even at the end of an adequate education. As a result of their psychological dependence on alcohol, he believes he can’t function properly or have fun without binge drinking or using alcohol to cope with stress.

Alcohol treatment outpatient helps an individual get the therapy he requires as the program will also provide him with regular guidance and support so he can start practicing abstinence successfully.

In conclusion, joining a support group also helps in fighting alcohol abuse as you get to relate and be accountable to a group of people. No matter how severe your alcohol abuse is, consider joining a recovery support group.

4 REASONS WHY PEOPLE GET ADDICTED TO ALCOHOL

Several factors contribute to alcoholism, such as genetics, psychology, environmental conditions, and social factors. There is a correlation between the more risk factors that a person exhibits and their likelihood of becoming an alcoholic. Those risk factors are sometimes out of control.

Alcoholism is a prevalent kind of addiction that a lot of people are battling. People get addicted to different substances for different reasons, alcohol not being an exception. Below are four different reasons why people get addicted to alcohol;

  • ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS

Alcohol is not the only way people use it to cope with stress; some people do use it to relieve stress. People with stressful jobs, for instance, may drink heavily as a result of the stress. As each of these occupations has its unique stresses, it is often the case that certain occupations like doctors and nurses have extremely stressful workdays. 

  • FAMILY HISTORY

If you have a parent or another relative who is an alcoholic, you are automatically at higher risk of becoming an alcoholic yourself. There is a connection between genetics and the environment, but the factor that counts most is genetics. Observing people who are addicted to alcohol or drink heavily can influence you to do the same.

  • INFLUENCE OF EARLY DRINKING

Early drinkers are more at risk for developing an alcohol problem or physical dependency as they age. Besides the fact that drinking may become a more comfortable habit, the body’s tolerance levels may increase as well.

  • SOCIOLOGICAL FACTORS

The drinking habit of an individual can be motivated by certain social factors such as your culture, religion, family, and work. These factors influence many of your behaviors, including drinking. One factor that plays a huge role in a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted to alcohol is the family. 

Ways to Understand and Prevent Adolescent Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among adolescents. This trend also is directly related to much broader social problems. This is because a strong relationship seems to exist between alcohol use among young people and a number of emotional, social, behavior-related issues such as drug addiction, street fights, theft, drunk driving, depression, suicide, and murder.

Studies show that initiation of alcohol consumption at an early age is associated with alcohol-related problems later in life. Youth who start to drink before they reach 15 years are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence during their lifetime than are people who begin drinking at age 21 or later. This suggests the importance of delaying the initial use of alcohol among young people in order to better protect their immediate and long-term health.

Scientists also studied the causes of alcohol abuse by applying the Theory of Triadic Influence, which is a combination of several behavioral theories. The theory is based on the understanding that all behaviors of any individual have their roots in three domains. These are personal characteristics, current social situation, and cultural environment. 

Applying the behavioral theory to alcohol use, these are the findings for each of the three domains: 

Personal characteristics: Personal factors that influence the use of alcohol at an early age include rebellious behavior, independence and nonconformance, low achievement in school, positive attitudes about alcohol consumption, and lack of self-control to avoid alcohol when offered. 

Social influences: Societal factors that contribute to alcohol use by adolescents are low socioeconomic status, parental education levels, conflict and disruptions in the family, permissiveness and low parental supervision, family history of alcoholism, perceived adult approval of alcohol use and peer circle where alcohol use is encouraged. 

Environmental influences: The key environmental factors for youth alcohol use are the cultural norms as well as legal, economic, and physical access to alcohol. 

Based on a better understanding of these factors and a critical assessment of results from the behavioral theory, revised guidance is developed. The focus of the recommendations has been broadened from the initial focus on individual personality characteristics alone to the social world of the youth (family and peers) and to environmental factors (such as community, social norms, and availability).

An assessment of some of the guidance and interventions indicates that peer programs that incorporated social and life skills training, including refusal skills are highly effective in reducing alcohol use among adolescents. Alternative programs that included the provision of positive activities such as sport that are more appealing to the youth than alcohol and drug use were also found to be effective.

For more information check out: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-1/5-14.htm 

Is A Stress Hormone Key To Alcohol Dependence And Addiction?

Every day we read about the devastating consequences of alcoholism. In terms of numbers, about 30% of the 40,000 of reported deaths in the United States due to traffic-related causes involve drunk drivers. In addition to the heartbreak for the families involved, this causes a staggering amount of direct and indirect public health costs.

But not drunk drivers are alcoholics. Alcoholism is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive use of alcohol and loss of control over alcohol intake. It is devastating the individual, their families and to society at large. 

Nobody wants to be an alcoholic or intestinally cause a traffic accident bringing harm to themselves and others. The question has been how do people become so dependent on alcohol in the first place? The compulsion to drink is called the dark side of alcohol addiction.

It is known for a long time that people who are addicted to alcohol are not drinking because it is pleasurable but because they are trying to find relief from the stress and anxiety caused due to withdrawal. 

Research identified the actual biochemical factor that could be responsible for controlling the stress related brain reaction. 

Scientists led by Dr. Roberto at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California did experiments on animal models and found that a specific stress hormone called the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) controls the alcohol dependence. 

This CRF is a natural substance originally found in the area of the brain known as the hypothalamus. It is involved in the body’s stress responses that are expressed in the increased anxiety, withdrawal, and excessive drinking associated with alcohol dependence.

Studies such as this are important because understanding how the brain changes when it moves from a normal to an alcohol-dependent state is the key to finding answers that could reverse the changes in the brain.

Taking it a step further, the study explored if the hormone can be blocked on a long-term basis to alleviate the symptoms of alcohol dependence. The answer is “yes!”

By blocking this hormone chemically also brought down the signs of addiction. These findings are promising because they are helping in the development of a solution to the huge problem of alcohol addiction in our society. 

Another interesting and encouraging aspect of these findings is the possible association of corticotropin-releasing factor with other disorders related to stress and emotions that cause mental health issues. 

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research, and the Scripps Research Institute.

For more information about the Corticotropin-Releasing Factor and its role in alcohol dependence, check out the article in the Biological Psychiatry https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20060104 

Research Explains the Behavioral and Biological Alterations of Alcohol Addiction

The brewing of alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer seems to have started at the very beginning of civilization. The effects of alcohol on the individual and its capacity to alter behavior have also been known since the beginning of its consumption by different societies. 

Although alcohol is not traditionally seen as a drug, it is considered as a psychotropic depressant of the Central Nervous System and its consumption is one of the highest among all psychoactive substances. 

The chemical compound in alcoholic beverages is ethanol. If you remember from your Chemistry lesson, ethanol is a chain of two carbons and a hydroxyl group (-OH). When a person consumes alcohol, the chemical nature of ethanol makes it to be quickly absorbed and distributed through the blood reaching the central nervous system in a record time.

To understand the biological effects resulting from alcohol consumption, a literature review was conducted where articles published in different languages over the last 15 years were studied. This study helped to identify the signaling pathways in the brain that are modified and the biological effects resulting from its consumption. A few findings include:

  • When the alcohol reaches the nervous system, it influences several neurological pathways exerting its properties as a psychotropic depressant. This influence actually is responsible for the neurological impact that leads to behavioral and biological responses observed in different degrees after consuming alcohol.
  • Alcohol, as a psychotropic depressant of the Central Nervous System, is considered to act on the receptors of neurotransmitters. This action is responsible for the effects of alcohol such as sedation, loss of inhibition, and relaxation.  
  • Studies also document that long-term usage of alcohol has the potential to cause visible memory impairments. This effect is attributed to a gradual reduction in the brain’s hippocampal mass which facilitates our explicit memories, i.e., memories we can talk about, such as the previous day’s meal or the specific date of a historical event. The hippocampus is known to be necessary for the acquisition of this type of memory and recollection of memories, damage to this region reduces the capacity of individuals from creating new explicit recollections.
  • The long-term use of alcohol also leads to an increase in glutamatergic receptors in the hippocampus, which in addition to its role in memory controls seizures or convulsions. As a result, during alcohol withdrawal, the glutamate receptors that have been exposed to the continuous presence of alcohol become hyperactive and can trigger seizures or even strokes.

After carefully reviewing a number of actions of alcohol on many central neurotransmission pathways, the researchers allude to alcohol as a potent “dirty drug” and a disorganizer of Central Nervous System.

For more details check out https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26466222 

Alcohol Abuse Prevention

Introduction

A recent survey on drug use and health reported that more than half of the U.S. population had consumed alcohol during the past month1. Binge drinking, defined by SAMHSA as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks within a couple of hours at least once during the previous month2, applied to more than a quarter of the population1. 7% of the population reported heavy drinking, described as binge drinking on at least 5 days during the last month1. More than 6% of adults suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder, along with 2.5% of youths1. Only a small percentage of these actually receive treatment1. Almost 90,000 people die every year from alcohol abuse and nearly 1/3 of driving fatalities involve drunken driving1. Alcohol abuse has a negative impact on the brain development of youths1. Alcohol abuse among college students is an especially significant problem, as it contributes to date rape, injury, assault and even death1. Clearly, alcohol abuse is a very serious problem.

Since youth are especially at risk of the negative results of alcohol abuse, the remarks below are directed towards parents and are meant to help them help their children.

Helpful Strategies

It is important that parents give their children the right message about alcohol use, both in their words and in their actions. Children need to know that they can raise questions and voice their opinions to their parents without the risk of judgement or punishment. Parents should be ready with accurate information when the time comes for their children to ask their questions. If parents don’t have accurate information, this is a great opportunity for them to learn along with their children. Information is readily available at both SAMHSA.gov and NIAAA.NIH.gov which parents and children can read and discuss together. Commonly-held false beliefs include the idea that there is little risk in binge drinking almost every day and that alcohol is safe because it is less dangerous than heroin or cocaine3.

Without going overboard, parents should also be aware of where and with whom their child is spending their free time. There is an old saying: “Tell me who you run with and I’ll tell you who you are.” The point is that your peer group has a powerful impact on the choices you make, your values and your opinions. Parents should be willing to talk to their children about such things as peer pressure and help them to learn the skills they need to resist negative influences.

Setting clear guidelines and appropriate consequences will reinforce what parents teach their children. Negative consequences for breaking the rules is important, but so is positive reinforcement for making good decisions. Along with these consequences, children will benefit from learning skills and acquiring the knowledge needed to help them make good decisions for themselves. The parents’ goal is to raise children who will make good decisions for themselves without the need for consequences. In other words, parents should be able to trust that their children will make good decisions on their own.

For more information, check out SAMHSA.gov and NIAAA.NIH.gov.

Conclusion

Alcohol abuse is a serious problem with very serious consequences. Parents have the responsibility to help their children manage the prevalence of alcohol in our society. Parents must clearly communicate to their children that they are on their child’s side in this matter.

  1. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
  2. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking
  3. https://drugabuse.com/library/alcohol-abuse-prevention/
  4. https://www.samhsa.gov/prevention
  5. https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/priorities/prevention/strategy/preventing-drug-abuse-excessive-alcohol-use.html