When it comes to mixing alcohol and heroin, you should avoid it at all costs. Both alcohol and heroin are central nervous system depressants, which means that they act by slowing down the central nervous system.
Alcohol and heroin have similar effects but impact different parts of the brain. As a result, using these drugs together can actually cause them to have more of an effect than if they were used alone. This can put the person using the drugs in serious danger, as side effects of both drugs are enhanced, as well. For example, the breathing rate can significantly slow and the blood pressure can lower. These are only two of the many dangerous side effects that can occur when mixing alcohol and heroin.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is an illegal opioid that is made from morphine. It is derived from the seed pod of opium poppy plants and compounded into powder form. Heroin quickly enters the brain and affects the opioid receptors, causing a euphoric physical and mental sensation.
The illegal substance can be used in a number of ways, including by snorting, smoking, or injecting the substance. Heroin is a highly addictive substance that causes tolerance to quickly build, requiring individuals to use more and more of the drug to get the same effects.
A 2003 survey conducted nationwide from the National Institute on Drug Abuse discovered that at least 3.7 million Americans had used heroin during some point in their lives. In 2010, heroin was responsible for 224,706 ER visits according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network. Heroin by itself is one of the most dangerous narcotics out there.
Heroin And Alcohol Abuse
There are many dangers that can arise when someone mixes heroin with alcohol. Due to both drugs slowing down the heart rate and breathing, individuals are at risk of falling into a coma or even death. If someone goes into a coma, he or she could be at risk for brain injury that could have lasting effects on the overall quality of life.
Additionally, people mixing heroin and alcohol are more likely to experience a decreased ability to think rationally, which can put them at risk for making dangerous decisions such as driving while intoxicated or sharing needles.
There is also a significant increase in the chance of overdose from one or both of these substances when they are used together. An overdose can be deadly or at the very least leave an individual with lasting brain damage.
Side Effects Of Mixing Heroin With Alcohol
Using heroin on its own is incredibly dangerous, and mixing alcohol with heroin only increases the potential side effects. Using heroin can result in numerous dangerous side effects, including:
- trouble breathing
- slowed mental function
- dry mouth
- flushed skin
- severe itching
Mixing alcohol with heroin can result in these side effects becoming worse as well as an increased risk for slowed breathing and heart rate. Additionally, the side effects of using these two substances together can include extreme lethargy, the inability to think rationally, and an increased risk of overdose. In short, mixing alcohol with heroin is incredibly dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Long-Term Risks Of Mixing Heroin And Alcohol
In addition to the immediate effects of using heroin and alcohol together, there are also several long-term effects that can have a lasting impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing. These effects can negatively impact an individual’s ability to function both physically and mentally.
These long-term risks may include:
- organ damage as a result of the substances slowing breathing and heart rate
- liver damage due to the liver’s inability to break down the substances
- damaged immune system, which leaves the body susceptible to chronic illness and disease
- inability to heal from illness and disease
- physical dependence on one or both substances
- addiction to one or both substances
Detox Programs For Heroin And Alcohol Addiction
Withdrawing from heroin or alcohol is the first step on the road to recovery. Most people will need to attend a medically supervised detox program to safely and effectively withdraw from substances. This is especially true for those who have a high level of physical dependence on a drug or alcohol.
A medically supervised detox program provides individuals with a comfortable place to withdraw from substances. It also provides round-the-clock medical supervision to ensure that individuals receive any medication or other medical attention needed for a safe detox process.
Medically supervised detox programs usually last between three to 10 days and are in a hospital setting or a treatment facility. Once someone has completed a detox program, he or she will likely be advised to go on to a treatment program.
Inpatient Treatment For Heroin And Alcohol Abuse
Inpatient treatment is the most intensive form of treatment available for addiction and requires individuals to reside at the treatment facility for an extended period of time. This form of treatment is often suggested for those trying to overcome a heroin or alcohol addiction. How long a person will stay at an inpatient facility will largely depend on his or her condition and situation.
Inpatient drug and alcohol addiction programs offer around-the-clock structure and support. While each treatment center varies, most will center their treatment programs a certain method of recovery.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be used for both alcohol and heroin addiction treatment. For alcohol, certain medications are available to help the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the likelihood of relapse by forcing the person to become ill if alcohol is consumed. For heroin, there are medications that are used to replace the illicit substance. These medications are much safer and provide similar effects but at much lower doses. Individuals are slowly weaned off the replacement drug until it is no longer needed.
If a person is unable to attend inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment, there are other forms of treatment available. These include partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, and outpatient treatment. These programs do not require individuals to stay at the facility for several days or weeks, but rather allow patients to return home after treatment.
To learn more about the interactions and side effects that come with mixing heroin and alcohol, contact us today.
One of the hallmark signs of an alcohol addiction is when a person continues to drink despite the fact that the alcohol is causing harm to their health and life. If this continues, a person’s body and brain will greatly suffer, leading to illness and disease, many of which can become severe or life-threatening. In order for a person to reach the conclusion that their drinking is indeed harmful and dangerous and deserving of change, certain tools must be used. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is one such tool.
Why Does Alcohol Make It Hard To Change?
Addiction doesn’t just impact a person on a behavioral level. Addiction is a disease of the brain. This means that it changes the way your brain functions. How does this happen? As you consume alcohol the chemicals within your brain are altered. With prolonged and chronic use, as is characteristic of addiction, these chemical changes alter the way your brain operates. These changes make it very difficult for addicted individuals to deal with numerous aspects of their life. Why is this?
Alcohol abuse impacts certain parts of your brain which are responsible for rational thinking, judgement, and decision-making skills. Additionally, it can greatly disrupt a person’s emotional and mental states. Coupled with the behavioral aspects of alcohol within a person’s life, these factors can make it very difficult for a person to develop a desire for change on their own. And even if they realize they need to change, it can be hard for them to become motivated or to formulate a plan.
Change isn’t easy. This simple statement resonates with most of all of us in one way or another at different points in our lives. In the context of substance abuse, change can be even more difficult and exceedingly overwhelming. Some people don’t understand why they have to change, while others may not yet even realize that they have to.
Why Is Motivational Interviewing So Helpful?
Every person is unique and has a different understanding of how their addiction shapes their life, and conversely, what the role of treatment could be for them. Some people are in denial. Others may realize they have a problem, but not yet be willing to change. In some cases, a person may want to change but be terrified or intimidated by what the process entails.
During alcohol addiction treatment, Motivational Interviewing will help individuals to develop clearly outlined goals for their time both during and after treatment. These goals provide a framework for their treatment and recovery. But in order for a person to develop and obtain these goals, they first need to realize that change is necessary. And even more important yet, that they are capable of changing in a successful and positive way.
At this juncture, an individual must also formulate a motivation to make these goals a reality. Without the proper support, this isn’t the easiest transition. Motivational Interviewing is the bridge between need and uncertainty and positive change and growth.
What Are The Stages Of Change?
One of the founding principles of Motivational Interviewing is that change is gradual. In order for a person to change they most overcome certain mental and emotional barriers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) writes that there are stage-specific motivational conflicts, or steps so to speak, that a person must progress through before they can resolve to actively change. These include:
Pre-Contemplation – At this point a person may be in denial and not even realize that they need to change. If they do realize it, they are not willing to begin changing at this time.
Contemplation – During this stage a person is ambivalent towards change, even though they are beginning to see the need for it.
Preparation – At this point, a person is feeling positive about committing to change, but doesn’t know exactly how to make it happen.
Action – Here a person is beginning to make changes in their life, to the extent they’re witnessing positive effects. At this point the change is still so new that the person is not considered stable within their recovery.
Maintenance – Now that a person is sober and has begun to reach their goals, they must stay active to maintain this positive state.
Motivational Interviewing helps treatment staff to identify each client’s unique standing within their personal journey towards change. Once a therapist determines where a person is within these stages, they will help them to build strength and skills to progress to the next stage.
What Are The Principles Of Motivational Interviewing?
In order be effective, Motivational Interviewing must outline clear objectives which resonate with the patient. To do this, a second SAMHSA publication writes that “the motivational interviewer must proceed with a strong sense of purpose, clear strategies and skills for pursuing that purpose, and a sense of timing to intervene in particular ways at incisive moments.” This directed approach allows the therapist to adapt the sessions in a way which best creates an individualized treatment approach for the individual.
Alcohol addiction is very hard on a person. It exposes them to a myriad of emotions and thoughts which can be very confusing and cause them to feel defensive. Within treatment, many of these elements carry over. These factors can impede treatment progress if not properly addressed.
In order to overcome these barriers, and to make each client feel more at ease, SAMHSA notes that “the strategies of Motivational Interviewing are more persuasive than coercive, more supportive than argumentative.” This approach forges trust, communication, and self-reliance, all of which help the client to be more receptive to change and positive growth.
To accomplish this, as noted by SAMHSA, a therapist will:
- Express empathy through reflective listening.
- Develop discrepancy between clients’ goals or values and their current behavior.
- Avoid argument and direct confrontation.
- Adjust to client resistance rather than opposing it directly.
- Support self-efficacy and optimism.
- This therapeutic alliance helps a person to identify positive personal motives and strengths. In turn, these realizations become a driving force within a person’s pursuit of sobriety.
How Does Motivational Interviewing Increase Your Chances Of Sobriety?
Motivational Interviewing enhances a person’s chance of sobriety by increasing:
- Treatment retention rates.
- Participation within treatment programs.
- Positive treatment outcomes.
- The odds of long-term sobriety after the program’s end.
If you’re collapsing under the weight of alcohol addiction, or watching a loved one do so, it’s important to base your recovery on solid treatment approaches. Finding an alcohol rehab center which uses Motivational Interviewing can help you to build a successful, individualized treatment program.
Get Motivated For Sobriety And A Better Life
If you’d like to learn more about how Motivational Interviewing could help you or a loved one build a sober life, contact us today. Your call is confidential and AlcoholTreatment.net’s compassionate staff will help you to build an individualized recovery plan today.
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Alcohol has been recreationally consumed for centuries. Many people drink alcohol and have no problem setting a limit to how much they drink and how often. Yet for some, alcohol is a substance which can have detrimental effects on their health and their lives. In fact, as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains, “throughout history, we’ve struggled to understand and manage alcohol’s power.”
But in recent decades, researchers and medical professionals have spent quite a bit of time studying alcohol addiction, the effects of it, what contributes to its development, and, especially, treatment and prevention methods for it. Effective treatment methods include detoxification—a crucial process of ridding the body of toxins acquired through substance abuse, outpatient counseling or group therapy, such as Alcoholics Anonymous; and/or treatment within an inpatient drug rehab program. Other methods may involve various forms of therapy, such as behavioral therapy or medication. One newer method of treatment which is gaining recognition is hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy is useful for treatment of substance abuse victims in that it teaches participants to relax. As defined by Hypnotherapy Directory, “hypnotherapy is a form of complementary therapy that utilises the power of positive suggestion to bring about subconscious change to our thoughts, feelings and behavior.” Essentially, this form of therapy does two things: it relaxes the conscious mind, while allowing the subconscious mind to become more focused.
How Does Hypnotherapy Work?
It utilizes a series of relaxation techniques and skills to help a person reach the relaxed, focused subconscious state—a heightened state of awareness. Once a person enters into this state, the researcher can help make suggestions. These suggestions are where the real treatment lies. A person can be persuaded to avoid alcohol by using the power of the mind in hypnotherapy.
For example, the therapist may show a person images which may be associated with an alcohol addiction (such as drinks) and suggest that if the person drinks again, he or she will experience an adverse reaction, such as stomach pains. The mind is so powerful that it is highly likely that a person under the full of effects of hypnotherapy will then experience pains whenever he or she consumes alcohol, causing the person to successfully stop abuse. This is but one example; there are many different ways to utilize a person’s hyper-awareness for treatment.
What Would A Hypnotherapy Treatment Session Be Like?
To begin, many hypnotherapists start with a consultation during which they discuss with participants: personal details which will be important for therapy, outcomes and goals, how hypnotherapy works, cost, and duration. In subsequent therapy sessions, treatment can begin. The pace of treatment is different for each person but often is structured around this format:
- Introductory greeting and conversation to foster relaxation and comfort
- Induction: during this point, the therapist helps the person enter a state of deeply relaxed physical calm.
- While the person is in this deeply relaxed state, the therapist is able to start the “change work” during which the techniques and approaches previously agreed upon are used for treatment.
- After this stage is complete, the therapist begins to slowly bring the person back to wakefulness.
- Questions and discussion
How Can Hypnotherapy Treat Alcohol Addiction?
During the hyper-awareness of hypnotherapy, a person may access a deeper understanding of concepts. In other words, as Hypnotherapy Directory states, “relaxation techniques can help access an individual’s subconscious mind and uncover the root cause of the addiction.” For people struggling with alcohol abuse, hypnotherapy may help them understand why their behaviors quality as abuse and not merely use. Also, it may help them learn and understand how to implement good behaviors in place of old, destructive behaviors resulting from abuse. Further, during hypnosis, a person can (with the help of the therapist) examine his or her life. This allows the person to pinpoint the areas that need change, in order to cope and to view alcohol in a different light.
Many people suffering from alcohol abuse find it hard to admit (often for years at a time) that they have a substance abuse problem. For this reason, alcohol abuse can go untreated for years. However, with treatment and a strong support system, recovery from an alcohol addiction is possible. Paired with other treatment methods, hypnotherapy may be part of a successful treatment protocol for some individuals.
Millions of people suffer from alcohol abuse every year in the United States. It is often a substance underestimated in its ability to impact people’s health and lives. But if you have been affected by alcohol abuse, or you know someone who is suffering, you can get the help you need. Contact us today at AlcoholTreatment.net. We have a team of professionals ready to help you on your path to recovery.
Hypnotherapy Associates — Alcohol Abuse Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy Directory — Hypnotherapy For Alcohol Abuse
Hypnotherapy Directory — What Is Hypnotherapy?
National Institute On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism — Overview Of Alcohol Consumption
For many veterans who return home from duty, their very sense of self has been shaken or altered by the memory of their service. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems, while others reflect on their actions with remorse, even though they were positively serving their country.
During active duty, a person is thrust into a traumatic and physically, mentally, and exhausting world. When they return home, they often have mental or physical health problems that are disturbing or even disabling. Sadly, too many veterans choose to use and abuse alcohol as a means to cope with these heightened levels of stress. However, there is help for this ever-growing concern.
Why Are Alcohol Use Disorders So Prevalent For Veterans?
Veteran stress derives itself from many things, including: the transition from civilian life to that of the military; leaving your home, community, job, family, and friends behind; and living and working within a harsh environment. The latter point includes the rigors of their job and rank, least of not which is combat. These stresses exert a massive amount of pressure on a person.
Here are some common traumatic circumstances that returning military personal may have encountered that may result in a greater risk of alcohol use and dependence:
- Mental or cognitive disorders
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Other injuries
- Sleep disruption
- Relationship problems, including violence with a relationship.
- Combat exposure, including killing during a combat situation
- Military sexual trauma (MST)
The hardest thing for veterans is returning to a life that has no understanding of these things. Many choose to bury their service-related or wartime memories away, not being able to cope or deal with them. Others may find it hard to convey such foreign or uncomfortable things to those around them.
Even worse, certain mundane or innocuous events, objects, or places may trigger a flashbacks. People around them might not understand this and react impatiently or without proper sensitivity, leaving a person feeling emotionally vulnerable and adrift.
With this onslaught of stress comes a breadth of emotions, emotions that may be very hard to vent or show. Pushing them inside can allow them to fester and grow into deeper emotional issues.
The Emotional Imbalance That Can Result From Service
Emotional turmoil or emotions that are not properly handled are one of the largest precursors to substance abuse. Leaving active duty behind does not necessary put an end to these emotions. Though some may be alleviated, they will be quickly be replaced by new ones that result from the challenges of living a life as a veteran. Here are some emotions that a veteran may struggle with as they strive to reach equilibrium in their changed life:
- Loneliness: Veterans return home to lives and people that are disconnected from their experience during active duty. Even if they have the support of family or friends, these people often cannot begin to understand those experiences and why they make them act or feel the way they do. For this reason, some choose to suppress their emotions or experiences. Despite this, these things still exert a mental and emotional pressure on them and may manifest as other emotions, including angry outbursts.
- Distrust: As a person feels lonely, they may push people away even further. As they lose the interaction that is crucial for empathy, support, and understanding, they might fall prey to negative mindsets or outright lies about how other people feel about them. Some veterans may return home and not have the family or friends waiting for them that were there when they left. This might encourage them to put up walls and have a hard time trusting people. Due to their mental state, they might have a hard time trusting themselves or the ways they react in situations.
- Fear: A veteran may feel very disembodied. The person that they were prior to their service may seem very different from the person that they are now. They might be fearful of how to integrate this change into their life or of the impact it has on those around them. Due to underlying mental and emotional conditions, they might not be able to process their emotions properly and be fearful about the next time they might have an outburst or experience a flashback. Their PTSD might make them fearful of going out or being around people.
- Anger: A veteran might be angry at themselves for leaving their family behind or angry at the way their family or loved ones reacted to them upon their return. They may harbor emotions towards the government or the service due to things they witnessed or experienced.
- Self-blame: Deployment for veterans means leaving their family behind. This might cause them to struggle with a sense of abandonment, and if they return to any family relationship problems, they might be apt to blame it on themselves for leaving. Some veterans, especially those that have killed a person within the line of duty, have experienced situations that were intense and painful. Some veterans may begin to hate themselves for things they did or things that they couldn’t understand or control.
- Self-loathing: As a person continues to blame themselves, the blame often morphs into something darker. This is a very dangerous emotion, because as a person begins to hate themselves they believe they don’t deserve health, happiness, or self care, which facilitates self-destructive tendencies.As these emotions go unchecked, they alienate a person from those around them. This can increase the feelings of isolation or a lack of identity. These problems, if left untreated, can become deeply rooted and develop into a mental health condition. Mental health issues are widespread in service men and women and many are self-medicated by alcohol.
Comorbid Disorders Can Cause or Further Aggravate An Alcohol Use Disorder
A large number of vets suffer from mental illness, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. For many, these issues go undiagnosed or untreated. SAMHSA reports that overall “approximately 18.5% of service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.”
Far too often a person that struggles chooses to self-medicate by means of drugs or alcohol. In doing so, they are negating the recognition of underlying problems and allowing them to grow. This is an especially dangerous concern since substance use can further exacerbate and cause these very things.
The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) published the results of a study that investigated 596 veterans from both Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) within one year of returning from their deployment. Researchers found that “mental health functioning was significantly worse compared with the general population; 13.9% screened positive for probable posttraumatic stress disorder, 39% for probable alcohol abuse.”
Within the study, they sought to examine variance, if any, of the effects on men and women within the different branches. What they found were “higher rates of alcohol use in men, and worse mental health, PTSS, alcohol, and drug use among Army and Marine Corps veterans were observed, suggesting that these veteran subgroups were at higher risk for mental health problems.”
If a person struggles with any of these things, they need to treat them along with their alcohol abuse disorder to create a better chance at a successful recovery. Mental health issues make it harder for a person to gain the balance, perspective, and mindfulness that is essential for recovery and sobriety.
PTSD Within The Veteran Population
When many people hear PTSD, the first population they may think of are veterans. Though this disorder is not exclusive to veterans, it is common within this group. PTSD is caused by exposure to a traumatic event. Service and war can expose people to much trauma. NIAAA published a study saying that “research has found that PTSD and related disorders, such as depression, can develop in military personnel not only as a result of combat exposure but also as a result of childhood traumas, military sexual trauma (MST), mortuary affairs duty, and training accidents.”
The U.S. Department of Affairs defined the following four symptoms of PTSD:
- Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
You may have bad memories, nightmares, or feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel fear, guilt, or shame. Or you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. This is another way to avoid memories.
- Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)
You may be jittery, always alert and on the lookout for danger or you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. This is known as hyperarousal.
If any of the above symptoms are present for four weeks or longer to the extent that they disrupt your life, you may have PTSD. This condition can be stressful on your family members or loved ones.
PTSD can begin immediately or even months (and sometimes years) after trauma. In some cases, episodes may be intermittent. It is most always disruptive and upsetting, to the point that it can get in the way of your life. It also increases your odds of developing an alcohol abuse disorder, which is especially dangerous because it allows you to perpetuate avoidance.
The U.S. Department of Affairs published the following statistics on the connection between PTSD and substance abuse:
- More than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have a substance abuse disorder.
- War veterans with PTSD and alcohol problems tend to be binge drinkers. Binges may be in response to bad memories of combat trauma.
- Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for a substance abuse disorder also has PTSD.
- In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning soldiers in VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.
Recently, a paper published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence studied how substance use disorders and PTSD together increased the instance of mortality in Veterans. Researchers followed almost 275,000 veterans of varying ages and deployment locations, all of whom received medical treatment or support through the Veterans Administration.
They found that substance abuse disorders and PTSD increased the chances of mortality and that “among Veterans with PTSD, the association between SUD and mortality was most pronounced for the youngest age group, which included Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans.”
Substance Abuse May Often Start During Active Duty
In order to understand alcohol use and abuse after enlistment, we need to understand its roots. For some people, an alcohol abuse disorders develops during active duty. The day to day life of a service man or woman is physically and emotionally strenuous and can at times be dangerous and traumatic.
NIDA observes that those within military service have a greater rate of alcohol use than civilians. They cited that “almost half of active duty service members (47 percent) reported binge drinking in 2008—up from 35 percent in 1998. In 2008, 20 percent of military personnel reported binge drinking every week in the past month; the rate was considerably higher—27 percent—among those with high combat exposure.”
What we do know is this that binge drinking increases the chance of developing an alcohol addiction. When this behavior paired is with other factors, they may interact in a manner that propels them towards greater abuse and addiction.
NIAAA published a study that focused on stress in the military. In it, they outlined that there were certain factors that put military personal at higher risk for heavy drinking. They were:
- Gender: Men were 3.5 more apt than women
- Ethnicity: Hispanic and non-Hispanic Whites had the highest rates
- Military Rank: The study cited that “rates were six times greater among enlisted personnel with the lowest rankings compared with officers.”
- Military Service Branch: Individuals in the Army, Navy, and Marines reported higher than those within the Air Force.
- Age: Younger veterans tend to suffer from higher rates of alcohol abuse, with the NIDA saying that “according to a report of veterans in 2004-2006, a quarter of 18- to 25-year-old veterans met criteria for a past-year substance use disorder, which is more than double the rate of veterans aged 26-54 and five times the rate of veterans 55 or older.”
Another AJPH study also sought to track the rates of substance abuse disorders in conjunction with major depressive disorders for those on active duty. Researchers sought to determine if deployment, specifically the location and duration of the tenure, had any effect on the development of these conditions, along with any difference being attributed the branch of service.
They found that deployment length was not attributed to a greater chance of developing either of the disorders, except in the instance of individuals within the Army. Their results illustrated that enlisted nondeployed personal had decreased instances of these disorders and that “in general, deployment under OIF/OEF increased the risks of being diagnosed with both substance use disorder and major depression substantially.”
Their findings echoed in part our perviously mentioned AJPH study that they found enlisted in either the Army or Marine Corps showed higher instances of both, the former having more than two times the instances of an substance abuse disorder, and the later nearly two times. Across all branches, 30% of the substance abuse disorders were alcohol. They also found that those with depression suffered from another comorbid condition, specifically that “25% had substance use disorder… and 18% had PTSD.”
If left untreated, alcohol use disorders will endanger a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Unfortunately, the veteran population does not often seek help. This is unfortunate, because the military does provide its veterans with care and medical assistance through the Veterans Administration (VA).
After being brave and strong in the face of such adversity, many veterans are often afraid to seem powerless or weak by admitting to a problem. On the contrary, asking for and receiving help takes great strength and is the first step towards wellness and balance.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs lists the following avenues of care offered at the VA for a substance use disorder:
- first-time screening for alcohol or tobacco use in all care locations
- short outpatient counseling including focus on motivation
- intensive outpatient treatment
- residential (live-in) care
- medically managed detoxification and services to get stable
- continuing care and relapse prevention
- marriage and family counseling
- self-help groups
- drug substitution therapies and newer medicines to reduce craving
To receive this care, they suggest contacting your local Vet Center, speaking with your current VA healthcare provider, or contacting the OEF/OIF Coordinator at your local VA Medical Center.
Some people may not feel comfortable seeking care or treatment from the VA. For these people, private treatment exists that offer the same services listed above. It may also provide them with the sense of anonymity or change of location that they crave in order to focus on their wellbeing. A person may find it refreshing to seek treatment in a facility with civilians. This can remind them that they’re not alone.
Don’t Wait Any Longer
If you have an alcohol use disorder or if you’re starting to feel the weight of your stress, depression, PTSD please contact us today. At AlcoholTreatment.net, we can help you find the care that is best for you, so you can move forward and make a better life for yourself.
Consuming alcohol is widely prevalent within American society. According to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), of adults surveyed in 2014 in the United States, “71 percent reported that they drank in the past year. They continued to say, that of this percentage “16.3 million adults ages 18 and older (6.8 percent of this age group) had an alcohol use disorder (AUD).”
When alcohol is causing distress to a person in a capacity that is causing them notable harm, oftentimes an intervention may need to occur. This intervention may be a person interceding on their own behalf or it may be done by a family member or through a court order. Today, there exist numerous tools to help determine the extent of this damage, and the prevalence of alcohol use and abuse within a person’s life. One of the most commonly used tools to ascertain the presence of an AUD is the Alcohol Use Inventory (AUI).
What Is An Alcohol Use Disorder?
An alcohol use disorder is a term that medical personal use as a diagnosis for an individual who has encountered a significant measure of harm or disruption in life due to drinking. Previously, the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) listed two disorders that dealt with these scenarios—either alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. Currently, in the most recent 5th edition of the DSM, this designation has been changed. Now, these two disorders have merged into one—what we now call an alcohol use disorder. This disorder is classified into the following as a diagnostic tool: mild, moderate, and severe.
Drinking, though socially acceptable and encouraged, is not without danger. NIAAA reports that “nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.” These deaths may have stemmed from a variety of alcohol-related incidents, two of which include binge or heavy drinking. Most importantly, these deaths can be preventable with intervention, proper education, and treatment.
The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence advises us of further dangers, stating that “over time, excessive alcohol use, both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, can lead to numerous health problems, chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems.”
NIAAA defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.” This illustrates that even on the nights that a person is drinking socially, he may in fact be endangering his health and wellbeing. As defined by SAMHSA, heavy drinking is “drinking 5 or more drinks on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days.”
Why Do We Assess People’s Drinking?
In order to provide the most effective treatment, a provider must understand the extent by which a person’s life is effected by alcohol. Some individuals may exhibit worrisome drinking, but may not yet have a dependency. This use and abuse may stem from various life circumstances or emotions, including loneliness, boredom, fear, a desire to fit in, or possibly to be more socially inclined.
If they’re not careful, some of these people’s drinking behaviors may progress into heavier and more constant drinking, which could form a dependence. For others, as this drinking may be vastly situational—and at times temporary—if the aforementioned situations resolve themselves or a person alters their perception or perspective, they might curb their drinking and again consume only what is considered to be social or low-risk drinking. Some of these people may even stop drinking altogether. The capacity to change like this is because these people were not struggling with a dependence.
For an individual who struggles with alcohol dependence, the body has reached a point where it has become physically dependent on alcohol. Tolerance has increased, he may struggle with the inability to quit, and if he does succeed in quitting, he will experience withdrawal symptoms.
Denial is a hallmark of substance abuse. It is a very dangerous and crippling emotion, one that can stunt a person’s growth towards sobriety and prevent them from receiving the care that they need. An assessment or screening can go beyond this and provide a clear picture of the reality of the situation so that a person can receive the help that they might not yet know they need.
A person who suffers from a dependency or alcoholism will require a different mode of treatment than a person who abuses alcohol without symptoms of physical dependency. Certain elements, such as therapy and education, might be the same—and in the case of a person who is drinking heavily for a period of time without dependency, this might be enough to achieve resolution. However, in the case of alcoholism, a person might need to receive treatment that is more in depth and requires a level of intensity that may be best served in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
For those who suffer from a dependency, there are greater health concerns, including the risk of withdrawal. Withdrawal can be very serious and can at times even be life-threatening; this is not something that a person should go through on his own. Thoroughly assessing a person’s drinking habits can help a provider to determine if he is high-risk for withdrawal. This will help them to plan accordingly and provide supportive care for this critical time.
What Is The Alcohol Use Inventory?
Just as each person is unique and comes from a background and current life circumstances that are different from the next person, each person will have different attitudes regarding behaviors and engagements with alcohol. This test is beneficial for the reason that it recognizes these things and allows for a unique representation of alcohol’s effects on a person’s life.
The AUI is a self-report inventory, which means that when you take it you are taking it on your own and not being interviewed. A potential downfall of this methodology is that it requires complete honesty. As we’ve discussed before, denial is commonplace for those who suffer from alcohol abuse. This, along with any confusion or deliberate attempts to mislead, could sway the results. If you find yourself in a situation that presents you with the opportunity to take this inventory, remember—it is in your best interest to be honest so that you can get the help you need to get your life back on track.
This inventory consists of 228 questions that are broken down into 24 scales. These questions focus on the following, as defined by NIAAA:
- Perceptions of benefits derived from drinking
- Styles of drinking
- Ideas about consequences of drinking
- Thoughts about how to deal with drinking problems
This assessment provides a provider—whether it be a doctor, therapist, or an individual who works at a rehabilitation facility—a venue by which to determine how often, how much, and for how long a person’s has been drinking for. The results of this inventory will be compared to any other determinations the substance abuse professional may have made, which may include interviews, other assessments, or screening tools. Combined, these things can also help to illustrate how these alcohol-related factors impact a person’s life or how they perceive their drinking and the effects on their life; oftentimes these two things may be radically different.
Let Us Assist You In Determining The Help That Is Right For You
Please don’t let your fear or shame get in the way of gaining control over your drinking. If you’re worried that your drinking has gone beyond what you once considered to be social, if you find that you engage in binge or heavy drinking, or if suffer the symptoms of an alcohol dependency, please give us a call today. Our staff has the resources to help you find answers to any questions you have and the tools to help you succeed in your sobriety. Contact us today at AlcoholTreatment.net.
Within the United States alcohol use is exceedingly prevalent; the amount of people that use alcohol in moderate proportions is significant and on the rise.
Today, cancer is so prevalent that a great many Americans know someone personally affected by this potentially ravaging disease. The SEER Cancer Statistics Review estimates that roughly 39.6 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer within their life; while an article published on MedicineNet.com quoted Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program as saying “among U.S. residents, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer at some point in their lifetimes.”
However you look at it, statistics show that cancer will likely become something you, or someone you love, will contend with. The unfortunate and shocking truth is that for a disease that is so prevalent, and for one that can be so deadly, people do not always know what can increase their risk.
Even Moderate Levels Of Alcohol Can Increase Your Risk
When people think about alcohol use and the dangers accompanying with it, they may many times think of the risks as being solely associated with either abuse or alcoholism; though it is true that these things carry a wide range of dangers and health concerns, what people must consider is that research is beginning to show more and more that even small amounts of alcohol can increase a person’s chance of getting certain cancers.
What many Americans fail to realize is that even within the moderate range—or what some people may consider to be social drinking—a person may be increasing their probability of developing certain types of cancer. Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as “up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.”
A study in the American Journal of Public Health found that “alcohol consumption resulted in an estimated 18 200 to 21 300 cancer deaths, or 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent of all US cancer deaths.” Researchers determined that of these deaths, 25 percent to 35 percent were attributed to those that drank 1.5 drinks or less per day, a number that falls right between the guidelines of what is considered to moderate for men and women. The study went on to say that “our findings add to the growing research evidence showing that, in addition to risks at high consumption levels, regular alcohol use at low consumption levels is also associated with increased cancer risk.”
The Public Isn’t Aware Of This Risk
This knowledge is to the scientific community nothing new, but sadly there is a divide between what they know and what your average citizen understands. Medscape reminds us that “in 1988, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared that alcohol was a carcinogen,” or a cancer-causing agent.
The CDC states that “alcohol affects every organ in the body.” This may come as a shock, as some people may think that alcohol only affects the organs that are responsible for processing it, such as the liver. Though it is true that alcohol does wreak havoc on this organ, what we’re realizing is that many people fail to understand exactly to what extent alcohol can raise your risk of cancer, and also what cancers, specifically it increases.
According to a recent report commissioned and published by Cancer Research UK, there is a vast discrepancy between public opinion and knowledge and scientific fact. When queried, 80 percent of the study participants attributed alcohol to liver cancer, whereas only 18 percent did to breast cancer. This is in stark comparison to the actual numbers—in the UK there were 400 cases of liver cancer and 3,200 cases of breast cancer each year that were documented as being related to alcohol use—numbers that illustrate the opposite of what people were most apt to think on the subject.
Within this study group, only 12.9 percent of unprompted people reported that they knew of the association between alcohol and cancer; when prompted, this number only rose to 47 percent, leaving 1 in 3 people yet unaware of this connection. Less than half of the people that responded realized that breast or mouth and throat cancers could be linked to an “increased risk at low-drinking levels.” This illustrates with frightening clarity, the disparity of knowledge, and in turn the lack of information that people have on this subject.
A similar study, The American Institute for Cancer Research’s 2015 Cancer Risk Awareness Survey Report showed that in the US, despite a 5 percent increase since 2013, only 43 percent of Americans polled for the survey attributed alcohol to being linked to cancer risk.
Why Does Alcohol Increase Your Risk Of Cancer?
Currently, scientists don’t fully understand how alcohol influences the risk for cancer. They do know that there are numerous ways that the risks increase, and also that these factors may be unique to the specific type of cancer. The following are the ways that they theorize, based on current research, how alcohol causes damage and creates this greater possibility.
Tissue Damage: Alcohol can be invasive and irritating, especially to the delicate tissues within the mouth and throat. It is theorized that this—even more so with regular or heavy use—can cause damage on a cellular level. As the alcohol is processed, various byproducts result. These, and the alcohol itself may inflame the liver, which could then lead to scarring. As those cells strive to repair and regain balance, alterations in their DNA may occur, which may then set the foundation for the growth of cancerous cells.
Chemical Interactions: As your body processes the alcohol, its chemical properties change; at certain stages within the colon and rectum bacteria convert it to acetaldehyde—in some degree, this chemical also occurs in our mouths and gut linings as a result of bacteria that break down portions of the alcohol. In clinical trials with laboratory animals this chemical has been shown to cause cancer.
Cigarettes May Increase The Risk: This is because the presence of alcohol may impair the body’s ability to repair cellular damage caused by the cigarette’s toxic chemical burden; also, as the American Cancer Society (ACS) says “alcohol can act as a solvent, helping harmful chemicals in tobacco to get inside the cells that line the digestive tract.” Alcohol also disrupts the body’s detoxification process by limiting and slowing the body’s ability to flush harmful toxins out of your body, thus increasing the chance that they can cause cellular damage.
Decreased Nutrients: Alcohol decreases the levels of nutrients in your body for several reasons. Folate is one of these; one of its roles within your body is to help protect cells against turning cancerous. First, the alcohol can actually inhibit your body’s ability to assimilate or absorb certain essential nutrients from your diet or supplement intake; this is due in part to the damage that it exerts on your stomach and intestinal lining. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that “even if nutrients are digested and absorbed, alcohol can prevent them from being fully utilized by altering their transport, storage, and excretion.”
Secondly, many times those that drink heavily may not be eating on a regular basis—or when they do eat they may not be eating a proper and nutritious diet, thus depriving themselves of the very things that can help protect them.
Nutrients including the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that typically derive themselves from our food are crucial in helping our body to combat damage, while also helping our body to regrow and heal after the substance’s assault.
Hormonal Imbalances: Studies show that alcohol can alter the levels of certain hormones within the body, including raising estrogen; this hormone is involved in processes surrounding breast growth and development, thus it is thought that it may encourage cancer growth within this area.
Weight Gain: Alcohol can be calorie laden in and of itself; for some, drinking encourages them to eat certain foods that may not be healthy due to their higher caloric values and fat content. For both these reasons, a person may gain weight; studies exhibit that several types of cancer have higher risk components for people that are overweight or obese.
What Cancers Have An Increased Risk?
According to the most current research, there is firm evidence exhibiting a clear link of alcohol increasing the risk of seven cancers. The ACS emphasizes the severity of this correlation, stating that of “each of these cancers, the risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.” The AJPH study concluded that breast cancer ranks as the leading cause of alcohol-related cancer deaths for women at 56-66 percent; and for men, upper airway and esophageal cancers at 53-71 percent.
Here, we break down these seven cancers and speak about the effect that alcohol has on these body organs or systems:
Mouth, Throat, Voice Box, And Esophageal Cancers: There is a wealth of research that supports this; the National Cancer Institute says that “people who consume 50 or more grams of alcohol per day (approximately 3.5 or more drinks per day) have at least a two to three times greater risk of developing these cancers than nondrinkers.” Studies find that smoking along with drinking magnifies this danger. For these reasons, a person that smokes and drinks needs to be especially conscientious about how these substances together present greater danger.
Liver Cancer: Your liver is your body’s primary organ for detoxification. There is an established link that alcohol use over extended periods of time increases the prevalence of this type of cancer. Within the presence of acetaldehyde, liver cells grow quicker; this increased rate of regeneration may increase the occurrence of changes to the cellular DNA that could heighten risk for cancer. Constant and large quantities of alcohol can cause damage to the liver, causing inflammation or in the worst case cirrhosis; research suggests these both raise the risk factor.
Colon And Rectal Cancer: Statistically this is greater in men than in women, however, there is causal evidence for both genders. A National Institutes of Health article cited that in comparison to people that completely abstained from drinking, a heavy drinker’s “risk of polyps was increased three times for drinkers who did not smoke and 12 times for both drinkers and smokers.”
Breast cancer: The ACS states that “even a few drinks a week is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer in women.” Medscape reported on the findings of a study focused specifically on breast cancer and alcohol consumption that involved women from 10 European counties for roughly 11 years. It found that “each 10-g/day increase in alcohol intake raised the hazard ratio by 4.2 percent.” Subsequently, decreasing the amount of alcohol a person consumes may be a way to directly lower this danger.
It is theorized that this connection is due in part to alcohol’s role in increasing estrogen within a woman’s body. Studies show that increased levels of estrogen, can at a certain point increase the chance of cancer. Lastly, this risk may rise for woman that are not consuming enough folate (paired with the possibility that the alcohol itself is depleting the folate). This may be supplemented by either vitamins or by diet.
Studies also suggest that alcohol use may increase the likelihood of certain other cancers, such as that of the pancreas; however, more research is needed to definitely illustrate this connection.
Lack Of Education
The studies indicate that there is an apparent lack of public education on this matter. Due to increased research into this area, experts stress that more needs to be done to inform the public of this great risk. In example, the AJPH study said “Our estimate of 19 500 alcohol-related cancer deaths is greater than the total number of deaths from some types of cancer that receive much more prominent attention, such as melanoma or ovarian cancer.” This alone makes plain the need for greater and more accessible education and intervention.
Also, people are confused by the varying degrees of opinions and research on the matter—some research purports the health benefits of drinking various types of alcohol, including wine. This is not to say that there is not a certain measure of truth to those studies, but more so that a person must be conscientious and informed so that they may personally weigh all the factors when deciding how to incorporate alcohol within their life.
Even though some studies suggest low amounts of alcohol intake may decrease risk for heart disease we urge you to remember that this is not a good reason to start drinking alcohol, especially since there are other ways to decrease this risk.
Timothy Naimi, a School of Medicine and School of Public Health associate professor and co-author of the AJPH study is referenced within an article published by Boston University as stating that the amount of deaths from alcohol “dwarf any small number of people who may derive benefit from low-dose alcohol.” The article also referenced his opinion on the subject, stating “that among all people who start drinking, 5 to 10 times as many die from it as are benefited by it.”
Get Answers And Help Today
Any time a person chooses to drink, regardless of the amount, they need to fully realize the reality of the choice they are making. If you’re fearful that your alcohol intake may be endangering you—no matter the amount—please do not hesitate to get more information today so that you may make a decision that best protects your body and mind. The sooner you cut back or stop drinking, the lower your risk for developing serious health concerns. Remember: we’re here to help; we have trained professionals standing by to assist you in finding the answers, truth and help that you deserve. Contact us today at AlcoholTreatment.net.
Beating alcohol addiction is a major problem for millions of people across the country. The most recent statistics released by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism found that almost 17 million people in the US suffer from some form of alcohol abuse disorder. For many people, it is so hard to quit because they love the taste and the smell of liquor on such a deep level.
That connection is not surprising, as recent studies have suggested that the scent of alcohol can actually change your behavior. In fact, it can make you behave in ways similar to being intoxicated or even draw you to continue drinking. You owe it to yourself to understand this connection, as it can help assist you in your sobriety efforts.
Scent Is One Of Our Most Powerful Senses
Have you ever noticed how strongly your mind reacts when you smell certain things? For example, maybe your mind instantly triggers positivity when you smell a perfume your mother used to wear. Or negative feelings might arise when you smell cut grass, because it reminds you of being pushed in the grass by a bully when you were young. It’s something we’ve all gone through: memory through scent.
This connection is powerful and scent remains the sense that is most closely related to creating and storing memories. Psychology Today describes this connection as being due to the way smells are processed in the mind. Smells go through the following process in your body and mind:
- Intake by your nose
- Processing by the olfactory bulb (the area that sends scent information to your mind)
- Passing through the amygdala and the hippocampus
- Analyzing deep in the mind
The third part of this process is the most important, as the amygdala and hippocampus are directly responsible for the creation and storage of memory. Other senses, such as sound and touch, do NOT pass through these areas. As a result, scent is highly powerful to memory and can, in many instances, change your behavior. And, unfortunately, this seems to be true of the scent of alcohol.
A Study Confirms The Power Of Alcohol Scent
This connection between scent and memory was recently tested by a group of researchers from Edge Hill University in the UK. They were looking to discover the ways in which various senses triggered addictive behaviors or memories in people dependent on alcohol.
For those of you who are confused about the importance of such a study, they were working to expand on findings that suggested people addicted to alcohol were psychologically aroused by the visual presence of alcohol. These people would literally salivate and be more likely to drink simply by seeing an alcoholic beverage.
To study this effect on scent, researchers took a rather interesting route: testing how “distracted” a person is when in the presence of alcohol. People were strapped into a face mask and asked to press a button when they saw the letter K or a bottle of beer on a computer screen. A mask that smelled like alcohol was used by some of the test subjects, while the rest used one that was not.
If a person pressed the button, the researchers considered the subjects as less able to control their actions. These “false alarms” were so much more common in the people who wore alcohol masks, that researchers believed the scent was changing their behaviors and making them do things they wouldn’t normally do i.e. increasing their impulsiveness.
The Dangers Of Alcohol Nostalgia
Many of you may be thinking that this discovery has little importance in your life or in your recovery. That’s not the case: understanding how scent affects your behavior is crucial to beating your addiction. Just think of the last time you sat down with a drink and remember the way the smell of it affected your body.
Did you suddenly flash back to a fun party where you last had this drink? Or did you remember drinking at your wedding after dancing with your wife? These triggered memories are considered “nostalgia,” which is a positive remembrance of the past, even if the event itself was not positive.
So you might not remember the fist fight that occurred at that wild party or how angry your wife was at you after your reception. Instead, you remember just the positive aspects of drinking; and didn’t you have so much fun the last time you got drunk? Why not do it again by chugging the drink in front of you and drinking more? This unfortunate reaction is possible, even if you smell somebody else’s drink.
Don’t take this behavior as a sign of weakness or lack of control. We all fight against nostalgic impulses like this on a daily basis and sometimes we give in to them. For example, we might try to reconnect or re-date an ex or visit our hometown thinking that everything will be hunky dory. But they won’t be.
Yes, there may be some positives, but when the negatives come back, they’ll hit us hard. Alcohol nostalgia works in the same way and is a terrible thing for a person who is recovering to experience. Smelling a beer and getting nostalgic about it may trigger a relapse that could lead to hospitalization after a bender, or even death, if the drinking is severe enough.
How You Can Avoid This Problem
Clearly, it’s necessary for you to avoid the scent of alcohol as much as possible. This may be a trickier problem than you realize, as there are people around you who are going to regularly be drinking alcohol. Beyond avoiding businesses that serve liquor and alcoholic parties, there are a variety of things you can do to avoid smelling alcohol:
- Opening windows during parties to keep the room well-ventilated
- Masking the scent of alcohol with deodorizers
- Never using rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizers
- Asking friends and family to drink alcohol away from you
- Cleaning the empty liquor bottles of friends and family after use
- Storing those empties outside of the house
While simply avoiding alcohol is your best way to never smell it, there are times when that’s not possible. That’s why it’s so crucial to follow the party and family-based tips. While you should definitely try to encourage family members to limit their alcohol intake, don’t ask them to change their behavior unless you believe their drinking is a problem for them as well as you.
Regain Your Sober Life
With this new information, you can help combat your addiction by finding powerful and successful ways to avoid alcohol in your life. And by contacting us at AlcoholTreatment.net, you can get access to the resources you need to guide you along in your sober life.
Marijuana use has become a highly contested topic within both the social and scientific realms. This debate centers on the rising use of the drug in recreational sectors and the push towards legalization. Many feel that this substance may be fairly innocuous but recent research suggests that its use may be implicated in ways the scientific community is just beginning to understand.
New findings by a coordinated effort between Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute attribute an escalated risk of substance use, including alcohol, for those that use marijuana. This risk goes beyond the damage marijuana can cause physically, socially, and mentally.
Perimeters Of The Study
A study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal documented the correlation between alcohol and marijuana use. The study utilized followed 34,653 US adults who were interviewed in two waves, three years apart in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.
The published results stated that the co-founders were the same in both waves and included “sociodemographic characteristics, family history of substance use disorder, disturbed family environment, childhood parental loss, low self-esteem, social deviance, education, recent trauma, past and present psychiatric disorders, and respondent’s history of divorce.”
What The Study Found
Within roughly the past decade marijuana use and abuse has nearly doubled and the study found that this boost in marijuana use may carry an increased risk of dependence on alcohol.
During the first wave, 1,279 individuals reported cannabis use and within this group, the second wave noted a 6.2-fold rise in risk for any substance abuse disorder. More specifically, there was a 2.7-fold risk for an alcohol use disorder. This is in comparison to those within the study that did not use cannabis.
Senior study author Dr. Mark Olfson elaborated, stating “patients who may be considering using cannabis should know that by using cannabis they are approximately doubling their risk of developing a drug use disorder over the next few years.”
For those that currently use cannabis, the risk of alcohol abuse climbs, while reducing or ceasing use may reduce an individual’s risk. These associations do not establish proof that marijuana use causes the inception of substance abuse disorders.
It has been a widely held belief that marijuana is not addictive and does not carry a risk of dependence or increase the risk of dependence on other substance. Unfortunately, studies have shown that marijuana dependence is possible and more probable the earlier an individual starts. And that this dependency fuels an increased risk in alcohol use.
According to the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, “one in ten people who have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetimes will become dependent” and that “if someone uses marijuana everyday, then they have a 50/50 chance of becoming dependent.”
Combine that dependency risk with the increased risk of alcohol dependency and you have the potential for a nasty cycle of abuse. Remember, both marijuana and alcohol are depressants, meaning they help enhance the effective of the other. This is a big factor in why they are so often combined.
How Does It Put Me At Risk?
In a letter posted on the NIDA website, Volkow stated that “(marijuana use) also affects brain systems that are still maturing through young adulthood, so regular use by teens may have a negative and long-lasting effect on their cognitive development, putting them at a competitive disadvantage and possibly interfering with their well-being in other ways.”
She goes on to say that “its use during adolescence may make other forms of drug abuse or addiction more likely.” For these reasons, it is especially important that marijuana use is closely monitored and addressed for teenagers and young adults.
In addition to impairing your short-term memory, marijuana can impair your judgement and distort your perception. These things may precipitate harmful behaviors such as substance and alcohol abuse. The authors of the study noted that “use of cannabis can also lead to behavioral disinhibition, which increases the likelihood of use of other substances and the risk of abuse or dependence on those substances.”
Though more research is needed to confirm this hypothesis, it is a cause for concern. Many of these symptoms may either precede, aggravate, or directly increase the risk for alcohol abuse.
Get Educated Now
If you have any questions about the situational or scientific risks associated with marijuana use and alcohol abuse, please contact us at AlcoholTreatment.net. And if you or someone your love needs help finding a rehabilitation program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our caring and trained professionals.
Cancer is one of the scariest words in the English language and oral cancer is one of the least understood and discussed. Unfortunately, an increasing number of people are falling victim to this disease, a fact that is linked to heavy use of alcohol and tobacco.
Important Oral Cancer Statistics
Oral cancer is often one of the deadliest types of cancers in the world. The problem is often a result of the fact that it is hard to diagnose. Often, it is an invisible cancer and one that is only obvious when it metastasizes to another part of the body, such as to the brain or the lymph nodes of the neck.
As a result, oral cancer has a higher death rate than many other cancers, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, testicle cancer, thyroid cancer, and cervical cancer. The following statistics indicate just how widespread this problem is in America:
- Nearly 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year
- Almost 10,000 people die from it: that’s one person every hour, 24 hours a day
- Only 57% of those diagnosed lived longer than five years
- Oral cancer comprises 85% of all head and neck cancers
- A person who successful beats oral cancer is 20 times likelier to develop another cancer
- Over $3.2 billion is spent every year treating oral cancer
Clearly, oral cancer is an unknown danger plaguing the health of the nation. And it is exasperated by the use of alcohol and tobacco, to the point where it’s imperative that any smoker or drinker curtail their habit or quit entirely.
Alcohol Is Linked To Oral Cancer
Heavy drinkers probably never think about oral cancer, but their habit actually increases their chance of oral cancer. Part of this is increased risk is due to tobacco use: alcohol dehydrates the walls of your mouth, causing them to be more susceptible to tobacco carcinogens. As a result, pairing the two habits increases your risk even further.
But even if you don’t smoke, alcohol consumption can still contribute to oral cancer. For example, oral surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that people who develop cirrhosis due to alcohol use often suffer from an increase in oral tissues. These tissues often begin growing uncontrollably, leading to an increased cancer risk.
How much does drinking increase your oral cancer risk? Studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption (up to five drinks a day) could increase your risk of mouth cancer 30 times. And around a third of all cancers in the mouth and throat are due to alcohol use. Remember that this applies to excessive alcohol abuse: a person who has one drink every night or two is likely safe.
Tobacco Is A Huge Influence On Oral Cancer
Not surprisingly, tobacco use is linked to increased risks of oral cancer. For example, the U.S. Public Health Service reported various statistics that show just how much tobacco use increases your oral cancer risk. The level of this increase varies based on gender and age. For example, they found that:
- Male cigarette smokers have an increased risk of 27.7 times
- 80% of all oral cancer deaths were attributable to smoking
- 3-5 years of smoking abstinence decreases risk by up to 50%
- People who use smokeless tobacco (snuff or chew) increase their risk by up to 14 times
That’s right: even smokeless tobacco increases your risk of oral cancer. In fact, it may be even more harmful than smoking. After all, you’re placing the tobacco directly against your oral tissues. As a result, they are absorbing incredibly high amounts of carcinogens.
And while oral cancer risk only goes up if you pair excessive tobacco use with alcohol use, tobacco is more dangerous than alcohol: even smoking two to three cigarettes a day increases your oral cancer risk.
Avoiding This Danger
If you’re concerned oral cancer, quit using tobacco and alcohol. This can help you minimize your risk and also improve your overall health. You should also get checked for oral cancer. Other ways you can lower your risk of oral cancer include:
- Eating healthier
- Brushing daily
- Exercising (to promote your immune system)
These simple techniques may not completely remove your risk of oral cancer. However, by combining them with a life free of alcohol and tobacco, you have greatly decreased your chances of developing oral cancer. In fact, quitting these habits for 10 years may completely negate any oral cancer risk they caused.
Asking For Help
For many people, quitting alcohol and smoking will come relatively easily. Unfortunately, many more people will struggle to break the addictive bond of alcohol. We can help. At AlcoholTreatment.net, we have access to a wide range of addiction experts that can help get you on the right track to permanent sobriety.
While many people associate alcohol use with fun, alcohol abuse has been linked to crime for centuries. In fact, it is more commonly linked with non-drug crimes than any other substance in the world. While part of that is due to its legality, the effects it has on the body and mind are the biggest influence.
The Statistics Don’t Lie
The unfortunate truth is that crime and alcohol abuse are almost inextricably linked. For example, the National Council On Alcoholism And Drug Dependence, Inc reported some disturbing statistics, which include the fact that:
- 80 percent of lawbreakers abuse drugs or alcohol
- Almost 50 percent of those incarcerated had a clinical addiction
- 40 percent of all violent crimes are fueled by alcohol
- Over 60 percent of people arrested are found to be intoxicated
- Nearly 37 percent of all incarcerated people were drunk at the time of their arrest
And while other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, did contribute to crimes, the same survey found that alcohol was, by far, the biggest contributor to violent crimes: over three million violent crimes are committed every year thanks to alcohol and alcohol abuse.
Crimes Typically Committed Due To Alcohol Abuse
Although multiple types of crimes are committed due to alcohol abuse, certain types tend to be more prevalent. For example, the National Partnership On Alcohol Misuse And Crime reported that the most commonly committed crimes influenced by alcohol abuse included:
- DUI/DWI driving incidents
- About 10,000 driving related deaths (whether accidental or not)
- Domestic violence
- Physical altercations with strangers
- Public lewdness
The result of all of these crimes: millions of people serving time in jail or prison, millions of dollars in property damage, and nearly $100 billion dollars spent on punishing those who have committed the crimes. The strain on the system is staggering and millions of people simply aren’t getting the help they need to avoid becoming a repeat offender.
Why Does Alcohol Abuse Cause Increased Crime?
Alcohol abuse impacts mental acuity, making it more difficult to think straight, and affecting logical decision-making. It often slows down higher-level thinking and pulls out the baser elements of a person’s personality. For example, a person with high levels of depression may grow sad, while someone with anger issues may become aggressive.
Essentially, alcohol constricts your perception of reality and makes it harder to focus on multiple aspects of a situation. This is why violent crimes are so prevalent: if someone says something mean to you when you’re drunk, you don’t stop to think about why they said it, or if you somehow influenced their comment. And you have a harder time brushing it off or writing it off as a meaningless insult: instead, you are more likely to get extremely angry.
Such a decreased range of focus can be called “tunnel vision” and it causes accidents (such as bumping into someone) to become worthy of great anger. And alcohol lowers your inhibition and your fear of retribution (i.e. survival instincts), meaning that impulsive desires to strike someone are hard or nearly impossible to suppress.
Alcohol also lowers your executive function (reasoning and logic areas) meaning you it’s harder for you to rationally understand situations. For example, when you’re sober you might think driving drunk is a crime. However, after five or six drinks, you are suddenly getting behind the wheel of your vehicle, putting your life and the lives of others at risk.
You may also come to illogical decisions that lead to other crimes. For example, you and your buddies may come to the conclusion that you need to break into your old high school. Why? You miss the old days and want to relive them in anyway possible. Sober, this logic would make no sense to you: however, when you’re abusing alcohol, it suddenly becomes the “best idea ever!”
Methods Being Utilized To Decrease This Risk
Doctors, government officials, and scientists are working toward ways of decreasing alcohol abuse in the country and, by proxy, decreasing the risk of criminal activity. For example, alcohol rehab helps teach coping methods to those who suffer from alcohol addiction. These methods help them stay sober and eliminate any impulsive behavior that may lead to breaking the law.
Sober-living groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, are also trying to teach upcoming generations about the dangers of drinking and driving. While this seems to be having some effect, it’s way too early to gauge how children are responding to these groups.
Behavior-modification techniques such as CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy are being utilized to change criminal behaviors that may be fueled by alcohol addiction. For example, a person who turns to alcohol as a coping mechanism for anger would be taught healthier methods, such as:
- Creative endeavors
- Relaxation techniques
- Reaching out to friends or family members
In prisons and jails, people who have committed crimes under the influence of alcohol are being taught many of these same techniques, hopefully eliminating the possibility of recidivist activities. Many of them are being reached through 12-Step techniques and learning about the severe consequences of their actions.
It’s Never Too Late To Change
Crime and alcohol addiction don’t have to permanently derail your life. By obtaining the proper treatment, you can regain the sober and crime-free life that you deserve. Contact us at AlcoholTreatment.net to learn how. Our counselors can set you up with the best treatment center near you, one that will work hard to break the habit of addiction.