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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Don't make their points for them: 31 days to Recovery Month


"When I drink over the naive people who think alcoholics, even those in recovery, are weak and hopeless... to them I have proven the point." -- from Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of the Bringing Inspiration To Earth show feature with Scott Stevens. Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus an interview with Scott Stevens on Health Media Now and one at Christoph Fisher Books.  Mr. Fisher is an acclaimed international author from the UK, among his works is the Alzheimer's book "Time to Let Go."  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The controversy and collision of addiction science and spirituality


Scientifically speaking, arresting the disease of alcoholism is very simple: Stop drinking alcohol. No one, regardless of genetics can ever be an active alcoholic without alcohol. A person can be an alcoholic-in-wait – or one in remission – with the genetic foundation for alcoholism. But in strictly medical terms, one will never know if he's alcoholic if he never drinks, and through abstinence an alcoholic can arrest the disease. As of today, there is no cure, similar to other diseases like cancer.
The condition the person is in following abstinence is viewed by addiction professionals as sobriety and, possibly, recovery. The difference between the two terms is a chasm filled with controversy because it reflects a difference in mental and emotional well-being. One school of thought is that there is no “recovery” without acknowledging and attaining spiritual growth. Quite a different line of thinking seeks to assure long-term sobriety by behavior change and retraining.
Take the categorization of a person as a “dry drunk” for example. The person isn't drinking, so he's sober. But the mental and emotional side may still be as bad or worse than while he was drinking, continuing odd or, oftentimes, antisocial behavior. The alcoholism was arrested but the alcoholic is still getting arrested, or flagged for being a jerk. That's far from “recovered.” In fact, some around him may prefer he was still drinking because then they'd know what his problem is, according to alcoholism relapse and recovery book Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud.
Advocates of spirituality in recovery, 12-step programs among them, say emotional and mental stability can only return to the alcoholic when he embraces in concept or in daily practice the presence of a higher power. According to research by Project MATCH, a program of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), spiritually focused addiction treatment programs have resulted in up to a 10 percent greater abstinence rate than other forms of treatment. Conversely, an infographic from Alternatives in Treatment's ebook Spirituality and Addiction acknowledges programs that focus on the negative and not a spiritual foundation have a lower lifetime sobriety rate.
For some that spiritual entity is god, God or some life force like nature. A growing proportion of 12-steppers are pagan, agnostic or don't recognize a Judeo-Christian concept of God. But the higher power could be extraterrestrials for that matter, as long as a belief system has sufficiently refilled the void in life and coping that alcohol was used to fill until the person became physically dependent upon the legal drug. These practices include meditation or prayer and strengthen (or establish) self-control and focus attention.
Research illustrates how including spirituality in a recovery program increases the individual's chances at long-term remission of the illness. Even in medical illnesses where the treatment of the illness involves some form of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), spirituality aids recovery. Within the medical profession, health care workers have noted that individuals with a strong spiritual background recuperate more quickly from their health crisis.
This intricate web of spirituality and its influence on the recovery of individuals has spurred increasing research focusing on how issues related to spirituality, religion, and faith are incorporated into the treatment of individuals and their clinical outcomes. The 2004 clinical studies in the manual, Handbook on spirituality and worldview in clinical practice, report that spiritual people are less depressed, less anxious and less suicidal than nonspiritual people. They also cope better with events that are considered alcoholism relapse triggers, such as illness, divorce and grief.
TIME magazine, in it's Jan. 17, 2005 issue, concluded that the more people incorporated spiritual practices into their daily living the more frequently they had positive emotions and an overall sense of satisfaction with life. A separate study reported in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in 2000 found higher levels of spirituality predicted more optimistic life orientation, great perceived social support, higher resilience to stress and lower levels of anxiety.
Spirituality works for many as a component of a counseling and/or a sobriety program, but it doesn't work for all. It's too far of a leap for many seeking to end their chemical dependence. Some say they've tried that and failed, others have a reluctance for faith (mistaking spirituality for organized religion), and yet others seek an entirely empirical answer to the perplexing disease and its associated behaviors.
For alcoholics in that mode of thinking, there are alternatives to 12-step-based treatment and self-help groups. Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART... four “points”), Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS... nine “principles”), Women for Sobriety and Men for Sobriety (WFS and MFS... 13 “statements”) all have reported successes and established footholds in the world of recuperative options. Redwood Cliffs, a Watsonville, Calif. Facility, has been offering long-term non-12-step rehabilitation services for more than 20 years. Late night and cable advertising for a high-end Malibu, Calif., facility uses “not a 12-step program” as a central theme of its commercial. It also claims to have a “cure.”
Alternatives to spirituality in recovery have neither the history nor the status of the intentionally media-shy Alcoholics Anonymous (AA...12 steps). Twelve-step methods are used in conjunction with 90 percent of the nation’s treatment facilities. But that doesn't mean they're 100 percent effective. God or god won't do all the work. No program – spiritual or secular – will be even one percent effective without a willing patient. Coercion doesn't work either.
-- (see full article)
www.alcohologist.com

Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of the Bringing Inspiration To Earth show feature with Scott Stevens. Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus an interview with Scott Stevens on Health Media Now and one at Christoph Fisher Books.  Mr. Fisher is an acclaimed international author from the UK, among his works is the Alzheimer's book "Time to Let Go."  


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Radio program on alcohol, alcoholism and recovery replay now available


Scott Stevens, author of Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, was the guest Sat. July 5 on the Rebecca L. Mahan Show on the Fishbowl Radio Network.  By listener request, the program on alcoholism, genetics, treatment vs. mistreatment, and more, has been uploaded to YouTube.  If you missed it... the replay is on www.alcohologist.com and at http://youtu.be/oVdfu7atL8Q.

Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of the Bringing Inspiration To Earth show feature with Scott Stevens. Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus an interview with Scott Stevens on Health Media Now and one at Christoph Fisher Books.  Mr. Fisher is an acclaimed international author from the UK, among his works is the Alzheimer's book "Time to Let Go."  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New study says alcohol is NOT heart healthy, older studies: 'It never was'

A new report released July 10 in The BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) debunks decades of misinformation about alcohol's heart-health benefits. According to researchers, even a single glass of wine or beer can be damaging to the heart.

The University College London and Pennsylvania University conducted no new experiments or studies Scientists instead analyzed 50 studies that looked at drinking habits and heart health, with data from more than a quarter-million people. They conclude: less alcohol is the only sure way to improve and protect heart health.

Some studies have previously suggested moderate amounts of alcohol could be good for heart health. These studies were dealt a blow in March 2013 when the journal Addiction  concluded that such health claims were based on observational studies, not evidence-based ones, and amounted to little more than wishful thinking. (See “Alcohol's health benefits deemed wishfulthinking”)  The authors of the new study concur. “We now have evidence that some of these studies suffer from limitations that may affect the validity of their findings," said study author Juan Casas, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

"The best thing to do is to reduce consumption to reduce blood pressure and risk of heart disease," said Casas. "We expect that these findings will help to simplify policymaking about alcohol consumption."

Data compiled for the 2012 alcoholism recovery book, Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, also found alcohol had more heart-damaging impact that life-giving benefit. “Alcohol itself raids the body of vitamin B (Thiamin) which is essential for a healthy heart. B-deficiency enlarges the heart and creates distended neck veins, narrow pulse pressure, elevated diastolic blood pressure (the second number in your BP) and peripheral edema. Acetaldehyde [alcohol metabolism byproduct] also physically weakens muscle, the heart being your body’s most important one. The weakening causes damage that accumulates.”

Acetaldehyde also increases cholesterol, especially triglycerides. High cholesterol is a leading indicator of heart trouble on the horizon and the number one condition treated with prescription drugs in the U.S.

Even modest alcohol consumption can cause blood pressure to increase, according to two studies conducted in Japan. Noriyuki Nakanishi, M.D., Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan and lead author of one of the studies, concluded that even very low alcohol consumption can be a health risk, especially older adults. Nakanishi and his research team observed that systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) went up 1.4 points in those between the ages of 25 and 35, but increased 5.4 points for men between the ages of 48 and 59, for just 12g-22g of alcohol per day. A glass of wine contains about 20g alcohol on average.

In the second of the two studies, researchers from Kyushu University followed more than 1,100 people over age 40 for 10 years. One hundred men and 106 women developed hypertension, with the risk of developing hypertension higher for drinkers, even those who drank less than 23 grams daily. Both Japanese studies were published in the journal Alcohol: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Quitting drinking has the expected benefit of reducing blood pressure. In one study reported in the journal Hypertension,researchers concluded that a reduction in alcohol intake among drinkers significantly reduced their blood pressure. They found that when alcohol consumption fell by 16 to 100 percent, there were significant drops in systolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure also dropped significantly in eight clinical trials. The greatest drop in blood pressure was seen in patients with the highest blood pressure before treatment and those who cut back on alcohol the most. However, the Mayo Clinic warns, “Heavy drinkers who want to lower blood pressure should slowly reduce how much they drink over one to two weeks. Heavy drinkers who stop suddenly risk developing severe high blood pressure for several days.”

Like all alcoholic drinks, wine contains calories and may contribute to unwanted weight gain — another risk factor for high blood pressure. For the wine drinker, dry wine contains fewer calories than sweet: 106 calories for five ounces of dry wine and champagnes… double it for five ounces of sweeter wines. A glass of wine before dinner, another glass with dinner and a sweet wine for dessert, that’s more than 400 calories in addition to the meal.


www.alcohologist.com

Scott Stevens, author of Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, was the guest on the Rebecca L. Mahan Show July 5.   If you missed it... the replay is on SoundcloudVisit alcohologist.com for a replay of the Bringing Inspiration To Earth show feature with Scott Stevens. Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus an interview at Christoph Fisher Books.  Mr. Fisher is an acclaimed international author from the UK, among his works is the Alzheimer's book "Time to Let Go."  

image: creativedoxfoto, Free Digital Images, used with permission

Friday, July 11, 2014

New study says ads spur kids to drink

There is a “robust relationship” between youth's brand-specific exposure to alcohol advertising on television and their consumption of those same alcohol brands during the past month, according to a study posted online for Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The July 1 “early view” of the study, for print publication later in the year, strongly suggests kids who are drinking are drinking what they see advertised on TV.
This is the nation's first brand-specific study on underage consumption of those brands. The researchers examined a national sample of 1,031 youth, ages 13–20, who had consumed at least one drink of alcohol in the past 30 days and noted all alcohol brands consumed by underage drinkers. The respondents also reported which of 20 TV shows popular with youth they had watched during the past 30 days. The brands consumed were consistent with the ads they saw in the programs, popular among them: Sporting events. “This study provides further evidence of a strong association between alcohol advertising and youth drinking behavior,” concluded the study.
Genetics and age of first use are among the factors leading to alcohol use disorders such as the disease of alcoholism, as noted in alcoholism book, Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud. The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University (CAMY) has found that youth in the United States were 96 times more likely per capita to see an ad promoting alcohol than an industry ad discouraging underage drinking.
In a related Scott Stevens article, William Flannery, MD, of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland noted “There is no product on the planet that could cause children more harm. They are the real targets of alcohol ads."
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been at a similar conclusion about the potential harm from alcohol ads in 1999, saying "While many factors may influence an underage person's drinking decisions, including among other things parents, peers and the media, there is reason to believe that advertising also plays a role." Watchdog groups, including Alcohol Justice, have been even more visible in the past twelve months, not just on alcohol advertising in sport, but everywhere kids are a primary audience, including social media and public transportation.
“The more alcohol ads kids see, the more likely they are to drink, to start drinking at an earlier age, and to drink more. Youth in markets with greater alcohol advertising expenditures drink more; each additional dollar spent on alcohol advertising raises the number of drinks consumed by 3 percent,” according to Alcohol Justice. Their Free Our Sports Youth Film Festival project is a call to eliminate alcohol advertising, sponsorships, branding and promotions from every sport.
An effort to estimate the likely effects of several alcohol policies (higher taxes, advertising bans) on underage drinking behavior in the U.S. population was published in 2006 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol (JSAD). It concluded that atotal ban on alcohol TV and print advertising would be the most effective, resulting in 7,609 fewer deaths from harmful drinking and a 16.4 percent drop in alcohol-related early mortality.
--see entire article
www.alcohologist.com
Scott Stevens, author of Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, was the guest on the Rebecca L. Mahan Show July 5.   If you missed it... the replay is on SoundcloudVisit alcohologist.com for a replay of the Bringing Inspiration To Earth show feature with Scott Stevens. Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus an interview at Christoph Fisher Books.  Mr. Fisher is an acclaimed international author from the UK, among his works is the Alzheimer's book "Time to Let Go."  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Alcoholism program on Rebecca L. Mahan Show re-airs 7/10

Scott Stevens, author of Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, was Rebecca's guest Sat. July 5.  By listener request, the program on alcoholism, genetics, treatment vs. mistreatment, and more, re-airs Thurs. July 10 at 1pm CDT on the Fishbowl Radio Network.  If you missed it... the replay is on Soundcloud and www.alcohologist.com

Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of the Bringing Inspiration To Earth show feature with Scott Stevens. Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus an interview with Scott Stevens on Health Media Now and one at Christoph Fisher Books.  Mr. Fisher is an acclaimed international author from the UK, among his works is the Alzheimer's book "Time to Let Go."  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Researcher says middle-aged women drink more than other age groups

Middle-aged women drink more alcohol than any other age group, according to a Queensland University of Technology study. Researcher Hanna Watling says 13 percent of women aged 45 to 59 are drinking an average of more than two glasses of wine daily, which could be placing them at risk of serious illness. A survey concluded July 1 to find out why more middle-aged women are turning to the bottle.
"We're hoping to understand a bit more about what's going on for this particular group of drinkers and why it is they tend to turn to alcohol in this sort of way," says Watling. "When we understand more about what's going on for this particular group of drinkers we might be able to develop interventions that are tailored to their specific needs and their specific circumstances."
Watling notes that earlier research found when women increased their drinking from two to three standard drinks a day (12 oz. beer, 1.5 oz. shot of liquor or 10 oz. wine), they more than tripled their lifetime risk of death from alcoholism and other alcohol-related diseases. Alcohol is a carcinogen and the only known dietary connection to increased breast cancer risk. Alcohol use contributes to cardiovascular disease and is the primary or secondary cause of more than 60 other illnesses. It also increases the likelihood of becoming a violence and/or accident statistic. It is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming more than 88,000 lives annually.
The book, Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, notes that “alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike drink for the same reason: It relieves stress. Alcoholics can't drink safely. Medically, non-alcoholics can't either, without increasing other health risks.”
"Alcohol also becomes a way of dealing with the stresses of busy lives such as family worries, work pressures or social commitments,” according to the Australian study's summary. Watling adds researchers are concerned that women who drink moderately often may end up consuming a larger volume of alcohol than those who drink heavily but less frequently.
The study suggests that for women in their 40s and 50s, drinking is not about getting drunk. "Heavy drinking is more common among young women in their late teens and 20s, but as they age, women tend to abandon binge drinking for less heavy but more frequent levels of alcohol consumption," she said. "Instead, it's more that alcohol becomes a greater part of everyday life as you age, for example having a wine with dinner or in front of the TV," she said.

-- (see full article)
www.alcohologist.com


Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of the Bringing Inspiration To Earth show feature with Scott Stevens. Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus an interview with Scott Stevens on Health Media Now and one at Christoph Fisher Books.  Mr. Fisher is an acclaimed international author from the UK, among his works is the Alzheimer's book "Time to Let Go."  


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Two questions accurately diagnose 80 percent of patients with alcohol problems

“How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?” and “As a result of your drinking did anything happen in the last year that you wish didn’t happen?” A study published in the July British Journal of General Practice found these two questions alone scored an accurate diagnosis of 79.8 percent of hidden substance abuse among more than 5,000 respondents.
But combined with a CAGE questionnaire — which comprises an additional four questions — the approach achieved an overall accuracy of 90.9 per cent. (CAGE is an acronym for a century-old alcohol self-test, see related article.) The research was led by scientists from the University of Leicester, who looked at 17 previous studies relating to alcohol abuse to determine whether one or two questions could accurately predict preliminary screening.
The study could have benefits in helping doctors and nurse practitioners diagnose many illnesses in addition to the disease of alcoholism, as alcohol consumption is a primary or secondary cause of more than 60 other health problems including cancer. A January 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report indicated that medical professionals in the U.S. don't routinely screen patients – even high-risk ones – for alcohol use disorders. Only one in six adults, and only one in four binge drinkers, say a health professional has ever discussed alcohol use with them, according to the CDC's conclusions.
“Drinking too much alcohol has many more health risks than most people realize,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. “Alcohol screening and brief counseling can help people set realistic goals for themselves and achieve those goals.
There is much interest in ultra-short alcohol screening in primary care that may support brief alcohol interventions. Alcohol consumption is the third-leading cause of illness and death, claiming more than 88,000 Americans annually: Only one in eight of those killed are at the hands of an intoxicated driver. Additionally, as a result of illness, legal costs and lost productivity, alcohol use exacts a toll of more than $223 billion a year on the U.S. economy. Through the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare), alcohol screening and brief counseling can be covered by most health insurance plans without co-pay and addiction-related treatment is covered to the same level as other medical/surgical procedures.
--see full article
 (Stuart Miles/Free Digital Photos image, used with permission)

www.alcohologist.com
Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of the Bringing Inspiration To Earth show feature with Scott Stevens. Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus an interview with Scott Stevens on Health Media Now and one at Christoph Fisher Books.  Mr. Fisher is an acclaimed international author from the UK, among his works is the Alzheimer's book "Time to Let Go."  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Excess drinking damages lungs, not just liver

Heavy drinkers are at a much greater risk of developing lung problems, like pneumonia and life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), according to new research from Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University. Researchers suspect those with the disease of alcoholism are more susceptible to these lung diseases because the immune system in the lung is no longer strong enough to protect from infection and damage, the June 30 report concludes.
Similar to how alcohol begins to destroy the liver, researchers discovered that one of the keys to immune system failure in the lung is a build-up of fat. “We call it the alcoholic fatty lung,” says lead researcher Ross Summer, M.D. “The fat accumulation in the lungs mimics the process that causes fat to build up and destroy the liver of alcoholics.” The unique finding offers the possibility of a new treatment.
When people drink, liver cells begin to produce fat, possibly as a defense mechanism against the toxicity of the alcohol or because the body fuels itself on alcohol calories rather than fats. Over extended and frequent alcohol exposure, the fat accumulates and heavy drinkers develop “fatty liver disease.” The fat impairs liver function but can also cause scarring that eventually leads to liver failure.
The lungs also contain cells that make fat to coat the inner lining of the lung to keep the airways properly lubricated during breathing. Dr. Summer and colleagues explored whether these cells might behave in a similar way to liver cells after extended alcohol exposure by also accumulating fat.
After extended exposure to alcohol in rats, the researchers noticed that lung's fat-secreting cells doubled their production of triglycerides (a cholesterol) and increased free fatty acids by 300 percent compared to rats fed a non-alcoholic diet. The researchers also observed more fats in lung macrophages, which are immune cells that normally rid lungs of bacteria and sick cells. “It’s likely that the macrophages try to engulf the excess fat in order to protect the cells in the lung, but in doing so, they become less effective sentinels against infection and disease,” said Summer.
If the same process can be observed in humans – research that Dr. Summer is currently exploring – it would suggest that lipid-lowering “fibrate” drugs could be useful in treating alcohol-related pneumonia and in preventing the development of ARDS. Fibrates are not the same as the commonly-prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin drugs such as the brand Lipitor. Fibrates reduce the production of triglycerides and can increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Examples include the brands Atromid, Tricor and Lopid.
--(see full article)
www.alcohologist.com

Scroll down for the replay of the April 13 Sound Health Options show feature with Scott Stevens. Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus an interview with Scott Stevens on Health Media Now and one at Christoph Fisher Books.  Mr. Fisher is an acclaimed international author from the UK, among his works is the Alzheimer's book "Time to Let Go."