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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Quitting alcohol for 2016 requires perspective and direction


Recovery takes vision. Vision is a combination of what you're seeing and where you're looking. Perpective and direction. First things first. Let's look at perspective. (The 68th episode looks at how vision plays a critical role in getting and staying sober. Read the transcript or share the YouTube video today)

This is one of several familiar watering holes in my neighborhood. It's not moving out of the neighborhood, and neither am I. So what I'm seeing – instead of laughter and televised sports and camaraderie with friends and people of the opposite gender who get more attractive by the ounce – is a place that's going to bring me back to severe health problems and a set of handcuffs. There isn't one time I set foot in a tavern and had just one drink, after all. Ironically, I now chair a recovery meeting right next door.

The same vision applies when I go to the grocery store. I had to walk past the liquor aisle to get to the bakery … or at least I had to until I swore off the bakery for a New Year's resolution. Walking past the liquor department, I don't get slowed down by sales signs, sights of slick ads with slicker models or that golden hue of Jack in the familiar square bottle. What I see instead, is a trip back to misery. It's what I choose to see. After all, Lynchburg isn't going stop barreling whiskey just because I stopped drinking it and the local tavern isn't going to close down and build a shrine to my sobriety instead.

That's perpective, or what you see. Where you're looking is your direction.

The rearview mirror is a handy tool when you're backing up. If you are driving forward, you're going to have a devil of a time keeping the car between the poles if you're staring into the rearview. If you are rebuilding your life in the first months or years of sobriety, you're better off using the windshield and looking forward, than you are using the rearview and staring at what's behind you. Never diminish what you've been through, what you've survived. Even the most skilled drivers check their mirrors. Just remember this thing is the past and you don't live there anymore.
Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 and the first for Adding Fire to the Fuel also can be found on www.alcohologist.com. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today. Stevens also is the public relations officer with AddictedMinds.com and works with TheAddictionsAcademy as well.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Six sobriety-saving holiday season tips




Here are six field-tested tactics for handling the holidays sober, and it doesn't matter if it is the first or your 10th alcohol-free holiday. (Read the transcript or share the YouTube video today)

1) Find sober celebrations. Not as rare as you might think. If you're timid, take someone along with you who might be even newer to sobriety. If there aren't celebrations, it could be time for a diversion like a museum or pick a dry theater and watch Star Wars. All the older kids are doing it.

2) Bail out. There is nothing wrong with the word no. We were all pretty creative with excuses for our drinking this drug. If you are even slightly apprehensive about an event, put the same creativity to use for why you can't go. And if you're busted telling a little white one… isn't it better than possibly challenging your sobriety? Real friends understand.

3) If you can't bail, bring candy. Seriously. Satisfying an oral fixation can make a difference. The taste on your palate will make alcohol flavorings less inviting, too. If you ever had a beer on top of a candy cane, you know.

4) Never stay late if you do go. Our reputations as the last soldiers standing – gone. Be the first leaving. Everyone has seen a dreaded morning after or the photos of the night before and uttered the words, 'I shoulda left way earlier.' The more tired you get, the weaker your defenses become anyway. My grandmother's rule was that nothing good ever happens after 10 pm.

5) Go help another alcoholic who might be struggling. The twelve-steppers founded their fellowship on this simple act. Even if you're not a twelve-stepper or vow to never be one, give this a try. It works.

6) Breathe. The holidays are loaded with financial stress, family stress, traffic stress, cold-and-flu stress, and end-of-year work stress in addition to the normal everyday stress of life. Alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike drink to relieve stress. There isn't a single stressor that is cured by drinking: There isn't one that got worse because you chose to just breathe rather than drinking it off the calendar.

By the way, these six aren't just for the end of the year and the start of a new one. They work anytime.

Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 and the first for Adding Fire to the Fuel also can be found on www.alcohologist.com. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today. Stevens also is the public relations officer with AddictedMinds.com and works with TheAddictionsAcademy as well.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Claims of alcohol health benefits jump the shark

Common sense dictates that a toxic drug and known carcinogen cannot have evidence-based health-improving properties any more than a tree full of elves actually painted little fudge stripes on these cookies. It's wishful thinking observational data. An observational study that's garnered recent attention was released by Danish researchers in Dec. 2015 claiming two to three units of alcohol a day can prolong life for patient's with Alzheimer's.(Share the YouTube video or read the entire article)

It's an observation, based on a large population survey, without taking into account other lifestyle factors. And it ignores the evidence that two to three units of alcohol daily is one sign of the disease of alcoholism, as well as a contributing factor for more than 60 other diseases including a risk factor for eight types of cancer as covered in a previous segment. (See "Alcohol a carcinogen hiding in plain sight")

What also was a segment topic just a month before the headline-grabbing Danish study was that evidence-based science shows a connection between alcohol use and an increased risk of Alzheimer's and dementia due to the cellular-level damage the toxin causes in brain structure. (See related episode) So observational studying shows life increasing qualities of the drug, and evidence-based studies show the same drug causing the problem. To put it briefly, one study says it makes you live longer, science says it kills you. Same drug.

The biggest problem caused by the collision between observation and evidence is with 21 million U.S. alcoholics like me. An active alcoholic gloms onto any piece of information that justifies our daily or continued drinking. That's how the disease works on the mind until we get into recovery. Alcohol's health benefits do not exist, not for a so-called social drinker, and certainly not for the person with the disease of alcoholism. The disease is chronic, progressive, primary and fatal unless treated into remission.

When public translation of observational studies links alcohol to improved brain or heart health (another former topic, see "Junk Science vs. facts on alcohol and heart, liver health") it shifts the dialogue from what alcohol does to you, to the wishful thinking of what it does for you. That's when health news has officially jumped the shark.

Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 and the first for Adding Fire to the Fuel also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Overcome two objections to an alcoholism intervention over the Holidays


This is the time for holiday cheer and family memories and Norman Rockwell-esque Christmas scenes with smiling families gathered around a tree or a fire. Hopefully, not both. The reality for families of the 20 million adults in the U.S. challenged by addiction to alcohol or other drugs is more like the beginning of the Grinch tale, than the end. (Watch the YouTube video or see the online article)

Holidays are a stressful time in addition to being a time of joy. Alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike drink to ease stress. The alcoholic can't stop at one. Or six. Or on his own. And how many times, after a tear-filled holiday or blacked-out Christmas on the couch has the drinker vowed: Next holiday will be better, I promise? It's part of the way we alcoholics protect our drug. We shove the quit date off to buy one more day or week or season. We make promises. And sometimes it isn't even that we mean to break them. An alcohol abuser can quit but won't… an alcoholic wants to quit but can't. Not on his own anyway.

They quit with help. A family intervention is one way to get that help.

Two questions come up: First… Is it Grinchlike to confront the issue during the holiday? (And it's the alcohol, not the person, that's the issue.) Second… can't it wait til the New Year?

First, it's not cruel. On the contrary. It may be the best gift you ever give the person with the disease and the family around him or her. Inside every person sick with this disease is a trembling, sorry, sad person dying to feel well again. Invite him or her out onto the path to recovery. Professional interventionists are especially well-trained to do this with compassion and understanding.

Second, There's no better time than the present is the antiquated saying. In the case of the disease of alcoholism, there's no worse time than waiting for tomorrow, or the New Year. You wouldn't imagine postponing treatment for a chronic, fatal, progressive disease like cancer. Why postpone it for a chronic, fatal, progressive disease like alcoholism? If the worry is that it wouldn't be the holiday without that person near, what have the past few holidays told you about that… and what if there isn't a next holiday?



Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 and the first for Adding Fire to the Fuel also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Movember: Alcohol, especially liquor, increases prostate risk and skews PSA




November – or MOvember – is the month when men's health issues are brought into the spotlight as guys kiss their razors goodbye in favor of a furry face, the lumbersexual look, or a well-groomed mustache, beard, soul patch or goatee. The campaign has been around for over a decade, starting as a fun excuse to can the Gillette, but now has become linked with prostate health awareness. (Read the episode #64 transcript or share the YouTube video.)

Let’s start with the alcohol. A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Cancer raises concerns about alcohol's ability to throw off prostate cancer tests. The PSA test – PSA is prostate-specific antigen – measures for elevated antigen levels which are a possible indicator of prostate cancer. Levels may be abnormally high for other reasons as well, such as an enlarged prostate or various lifestyle factors.

In the study, 2,400 men who had PSA-detected prostate cancer and 12,700 men who didn't were evaluated. The investigators found a modestly higher risk of prostate cancer among heavy drinkers, they also observed evidence of lower PSA levels associated with increasing consumption of alcohol. This means it can be more difficult to detect prostate cancer using PSA levels among men who are heavy drinkers.

In an older study of Harvard alumni, researchers concluded wine or beer consumption was unassociated with prostate cancer; however, moderate liquor consumption was associated with a significant 61-67 percent increased risk of prostate cancer. Keep in mind, the study subjects were Harvard alumni, so they were probably affluent and weren't dolts, but other lifestyle factors such as diet or exercise were not charted.

Clinically, alcohol increases the amount of urine entering the bladder. It also causes the exit to the bladder to constrict, making urination more difficult and alcohol will hinder the ability of the prostate muscle to relax, further irritating the bladder and making enlarged prostate symptoms worse. For Movember and the rest of the year, alcohol does more potential harm than help for the prostate, or any other part of the body, regardless of the type of alcohol consumed.



Stevens is the Director of Marketing for The Manor.  Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 and the first for Adding Fire to the Fuel also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Alcohol use can be a Parkinson's disease contributing factor, hampers treatment









Monday, November 16, 2015

Beer drinking doubles gout risk


Gout is an extremely painful form of arthritis. Episodes of gout strike suddenly without warning. Severe cases of gout may lead to major disability and even kidney failure. More men experience the condition than women, although the difference is less dramatic among the elderly. What can cause gout? Alcohol use… especially beer drinking. (Share the YouTube video or read the transcript

In a research study performed by the medical journal Lancet, more than 47,000 male medical professionals with no history of gout were followed for up to 12 years. In that period, men who drank the most alcohol daily had twice the risk of developing the disorder as men who did not drink. Beer drinkers increased their risk by 50 percent for every daily beer, while those who drank hard liquor increased their risk by 15 percent for each drink.

The alcohol decreases water in the body. That's part of the problem. What makes the difference is yeast. Beer is made with yeast, yeast is a purine, purines cause an increase in uric acid which is produced by the kidneys. (Think urine… which is the way the body gets rid of uric acid.) Too much uric acid in the blood causes gout and triggers attacks, which are felt in the joints. The uric acid is actually crystalized in the joint, which causes the pain. The big toe is a common gout target.

It's not a life threatening condition except when you consider it signals a problem with the kidneys. Sure you have two of them… but you only have two of them and the uric acid problem impacts both.

Hereditary factors lead to gout, but environmental causes, such as regular alcohol consumption, are behind the increase in cases of gout in the past thirty years. It's a quality of life kind of thing: Is the temporary relaxation from a beer worth the discomfort of recurrent, tender, hot, joint pain long after the buzz is gone? Not to mention the increased risk for more than 60 other diseases brought on by alcohol use.



Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 and the first for Adding Fire to the Fuel also can be found on www.alcohologist.com, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today

Monday, November 9, 2015

Alcohol's risk for the 1 in 5 with IBS, and the 4 in 5 who don't


Alcohol is a triple threat for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Alcohol can cause it if you don't have IBS already. Alcohol will trigger symptoms if you do have IBS, and alcohol is a catalyst for making bad symptoms worse.  (Read the full article and share the YouTube video)

IBS is a functional disorder of the intestine, so it stands to reason introducing a strong toxin to the intestine isn't going to have stellar results. One in five people have to deal with IBS at some point in life. It afflicts twice as many women as men. It's as obnoxious as it sounds: Harsh cramps and bloating can make it feel like there is serious damage to the intestines, but IBS won't actually damage the bowels. In fact it usually passes in days. Sometimes it takes weeks. The symptoms will get worse with even just one drink, regardless of whether it's a beer or something stronger.

Blood tests can reveal IBS and are used to rule out other, more serious conditions. The very same tests can reveal a bit about your drinking. A complete blood count to measure the size of red blood cells and number of white cells – a reduction in either shows the impact of longer stretches of drinking or binges. The level of magnesium is below baseline in those with the disease of alcoholism. High levels of triglycerides – a type of cholesterol – also can be a tip about alcohol-related trouble with the liver. And high-levels of protein and uric acid in the blood also can be indicators of alcohol-related trouble. More about the uric acid in the next Sobriety :60+ segment. Taken individually, these alcohol-use markers may be markers of other ailments, too, but when they all show up in the bloodwork for IBS, blame the alcohol.

Irritable bowel syndrome is not a life-threatening problem, but that doesn't make it any less irritating. There isn't anything a drink didn't make worse.
Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 fou.nd on www.alcohologist.com, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dying for a drink: The alcohol death toll this weekend by the numbers... it's way more than impaired driving

Now that Halloween is out of the way (a huge drinking holiday when it falls on a weekend, by the way) it's time to get to a real-life scary story. (Read the enitre article online) By the numbers, alcohol is going to claim more lives this weekend than any other drug – in fact, more than all of the illicit drugs combined. Recent news items have focused on the $250 billion annual cost to the U.S. in hard-dollar expenditures and lost productivity. The death toll is a more human, and more frightening, story. In a single weekend, there are:
  • 15 alcohol overdoses – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Vital Signs puts it starkly: 2,200 die every year from drinking too much, too fast. Very high levels of alcohol – a central nervous system depressant drug – shut down the brain's control of critical body functions, leading to death for an average of six people every day. (Watch The Sobriety :60+).
  • 43 murders – According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) report Alcohol and Crime, for more than four in 10 convicted murderers, being held either in jails (43.7 percent) or in state prisons (41.4 percent), alcohol use is reported to have been a factor in the crime. The younger generations are the most at risk: 95 percent of all violent crime on college campuses involves the use of alcohol by the assailant, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD).
  • 75 “unintentional” deaths – Theses are falls, drug interactions, fires, suffocation/choking and drowning deaths. They account for 22,000 deaths every year… half of them involve alcohol use. As cited in alcoholism recovery book, Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, "58 percent of fire fatalities have alcohol in their systems, which presumably kept them from fleeing safely and 45 percent of drownings are alcohol-related.”
  • 110 car wreck fatalities – A little under one in three fatal car wrecks is alcohol-related (31 percent). Sometimes, it's a single-car accident with only one occupant: The impaired driver. Fate doesn't always work that way. While tragic for the family of that driver, media attention usually shines the spotlight on the unimpaired victims of an impaired driver. From 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday, 110 people die on an average weekend as a result of drinking and driving. The numbers are higher the weekends between Thanksgiving and New Year's… slightly lower the rest of the year… and 15 percent lower on weekdays.
  • 136 cancer deaths – Approximately 560,000 people died from cancer in 2009, the year for which the researchers analyzed alcohol-related cancer death rates in a related article. Of those deaths, nearly 20,000 were caused by alcohol-linked cancers. Breast cancer accounted for the most common alcohol-related cancer deaths among women, contributing to 15 percent of all breast-cancer deaths. Among men, cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus accounted for the most alcohol-linked cancer deaths.
  • 227 liver disease deaths – Cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, but it isn't a synonym for another disease: Alcoholism. Alcohol use, not necessarily alcohol dependence, is the primary cause of all liver diseases including cirrhosis. The amount of alcohol that can injure the liver varies greatly from person to person. In women, as few as two to three drinks per day have been linked with cirrhosis and in men, as few as three to four drinks daily. By CDC records, in 2013, there were 71,713 total liver disease deaths among individuals aged 12 and older and 46.4 percent involved alcohol. Among males, 48.9 percent of the 46,240 liver disease deaths involved alcohol. Among females, 42.7 percent of the 25,433 liver disease deaths involved alcohol.
Ignoring even more alcohol-related deaths from stroke and heart disease (no, alcohol is not hearth healthy, see 2014 Examiner article) that is an average of one alcohol related death every six minutes from quitting time Friday until wake-up time Monday. The weekend total: 606. The number preventable: 606.

Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 fou.nd on www.alcohologist.com, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Scott Stevens presents for Red Ribbon Week

Here's a shortened teaser version of the alcohol education presentation -- What Causes Problems, is One --  for middle and high schools. The entire 50-minute program is on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Pt2zZHfaBIE

Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 fou.nd on www.alcohologist.com, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today

Monday, October 26, 2015

UK report suggests greater link between alcohol use and dementia risk



The week before Halloween in 2015 came with a scary report on the link between alcohol use and dementia. The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that for middle-aged people – ages 40-64 – there is "no safe level of alcohol consumption" as it relates to the risk of developing dementia. Even moderate alcohol use increases the risk. (share the YouTube video or check out the transcript )

The longer people live, the greater the possibility of getting dementia. By age 80, one in every six people have developed this disease. Alcohol use influences the risk you'll be the one of six, and/or that you'll get this incurable disease before you're 80. Dementia includes problem with language, impaired cognitive function or memory loss, and spatial awareness functions. In dementia, the hippocampus (a small pair of structures at the center of the human hard drive) is one of the first regions of the brain to suffer damage.

Dementia treatment does exist, but prevention is a vastly easier way of addressing any disease, including the diseases of alcoholism and dementia. According to the NICE studies, dementia risk is lower when you cut out alcohol consumption and maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and not smoking. This doesn't give a green light to drinking before age 40. An earlier Sobriety :60+ showed the risk for men developing early-onset dementia, and there's enough evidence-based research demonstrating lasting brain damage from regular alcohol use and binge drinking. Alcohol alters brain structure at the cellular level. Even in casual drinkers, the hippocampus is still affected by the toxins in alcohol. This is what causes you to forget — either temporarily or permanently — certain memories.

If all recreational drugs were vehicles, alcohol would be a freight train. Does hopping onto the drinking train before or after age 40 guarantee you'll get hit by the dementia train, no. Just like drinking alcohol, the known carcinogen, doesn't guarantee you'll get hit by the cancer train. But it does put you on the tracks.

Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 fou.nd on www.alcohologist.com, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Alcoholism recovery medications and the quest for the Holy Grail


Medication to help a person maintain abstinence is an entirely different concept than medication to cure alcohol addiction. The former exists, the latter has been a pipe dream of the Holy Grail sort for generations. (Read the entire article or share the YouTube video.)

The progress continues on encouraging new medications that help a person in early sobriety hang onto that sobriety. Disulfiram, or antabuse, was first patented almost 100 years ago. It works by consequence: If you drink while you're on antabuse, you get violently ill. Even if you don't drink on antabuse, it still gives you a dull, all-day headache. It blocks metabolism of alcohol at an early stage, resulting in a build up of acetaldehyde, which is even more toxic than the alcohol. Many doctors don't or won't prescribe this old treatment because it is a medicine that can make you sick. First Do No Harm is a doctor's sworn oath.

It was originally patented to treat stomach parasites. It's effect when mixed with alcohol was discovered decades later when European soldiers were taking it to fight of jungle illnesses in Malaysia and it seriously messed up the drinking of those who were so inclined.
Better abstinence treatments are naltrexone and acamprosate. There are newer treatments, including the pain reliever gabapentin. This isn't intended to be an all-inclusive report. Naltrexone, or Revia, works on the brain's reward mechanism. Acamprosate, or Campral, does as well. The exact mechanism isn't understood completely, however both drugs emerged in the last three decades as being effective at reducing cravings and increasing the number of people who remain abstinent, when combined with counseling.

And that's why there isn't and won't be a recovery pill, only an abstinence-enhancing pill: Because there is not a pill for counseling. A previous episode of The Sobriety :60+ explained the differences between abstinence, sobriety and recovery.
Presently, about nine percent of alcoholics are on any type of abstinence pill. The quest for the Holy Grail pill that will stop alcohol dependence and let someone drink risk-free isn't possible. First off, it doesn't address why the person is drinking alcohol in the first place. Second, there is no such thing as drinking a toxin and known carcinogen without risk: Even moderate use shortens life expectancy and increases risk of 60 other diseases beyond the disease of alcoholism. And a physician is called to First Do No Harm.
Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Alcohol withdrawal and detox 9-1-1: Ask for help, expect care


Dying from a treatable disease or starting a new life is a critical decision point around which every alcoholic dances, usually more than once. Asking for help is not easy. In fact, for me, it wasn't just completely out of character, it was downright scary.

It's even more frightening when you're experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Earlier episodes of The Sobriety :60+ covered both the physical (see episode #29) and psychological withdrawal symptoms (see episode #30). In a nutshell, the physical ones can include heart rate changes, sweats and the shakes. None of these are pleasant, and depending upon the amount and duration of the drinking, withdrawal can be a medical crisis. Here are six must-haves when calling 9-1-1 or heading to the E.R.

1) Be more honest than you've ever been. The staff needs to know in order to treat you. Be brutally honest about being alcohol dependent and maybe other drugs you've taken, even if only to self-medicate your withdrawal symptoms.

2) Take someone sober with you. We have an uncanny knack for talking ourselves out of decisions that could save our hides when it comes down to the realization that, 'hey, I can't drink anymore.'

3) Be prepared to participate in the decisions. An E.R. tech or nurse may ask what you want: You want medically supervised alcohol detox. Despite the known fact that alcohol is one of only two drug withdrawals that can be fatal, not everyone who is responsible for triage in an emergency department has that background or knowledge about quitting alcohol. A person who has never lived a day in his or her life challenged by alcohol might simply recommend you suck it up and get some willpower, and send you home with something to help you sleep. Well intentioned, but dangerous, because…

4) Often what is prescribed to a panicky shaky person in an emergency is a benzodiazepine, which just happens to be highly addictive, highly reactive with alcohol, and is the other drug that has a withdrawal that can be fatal. Benzodiazepines include ativan, klonopin, xanax and valium. Mixed with alcohol – and thisis a relapsing disease – they can lead to respiratory failure. They may be suitable for supervised medical detox… but a questionable prescription for an unsupervised alcoholic trying to pull off an outpatient detox.

5) Know what your body is doing. Those sharp stomach pains are called gastritis. Feel pukey, that's nausea. Shakes are tremors. Seizures aren't limited to just wildly jerking convulsions, although that's most common. Other seizure types are less dramatic. Shaking movements may be isolated to one arm or part of the face. Alternatively, the person may suddenly stop responding and stare for a few seconds, sometimes with chewing motions or smacking the lips. Seizures may also cause "sensations" that only the patient feels. As an example, one type of seizure can cause stomach discomfort, fear, or an unpleasant smell. Make sure you and your detox escort both can explain what you're experiencing.

6) Know that nobody is going to build a shrine for you – especially in an E.R. – because you decided to get help, but do it anyway. Alcoholism is primary, chronic, progressive and fatal. But its treatable... More so the earlier you reach out for help.
Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today.



Monday, October 5, 2015

UNITE to Face Addiction: More Americans dead from drugs annually than killed in two wars


October is a very special time. Breast Cancer Awareness Month as it has become known started in 1985. There's a lot of pink during the observance… most of it well intentioned, some of it damn ironic. Take for instance any sporting event in the U.S. which features athletes adorned in pink equipment right before the broadcast cuts away to an alcohol commercial.

(The new episode looks at the UNITE rally, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, how the two are connected and how the movements are on different trajectories until NOW. Watch the YouTube Video or read the article.)

Alcohol use is the only proven dietary link to an increased risk of breast cancer. It's a point made in several previous episodes of The Sobriety :60+ that daily alcohol consumption of only 10 grams – about a spoonful, or the amount of alcohol in one drink – is enough to increase breast cancer risk 10 percent (see episode #2 and episode #3A.) For women drinking two a day, the risk of breast cancer is 51 percent higher than an abstainer. Risks are especially acute for women who started drinking in their teens, but all in, alcohol is linked to 15 percent of all breast cancer deaths. It's the Pink Ribbon risk hiding in plain sight… behind the Pabst Blue Ribbon.

The other reason October is a special time is the reason I'm in Washington, DC. The UNITE to Face Addiction event on the Washington Mall. Those in recovery, their families, those in the helping professions and family members of those lost to alcohol and other drugs poured into DC to show that we do recover, awareness of the disease of addiction needs to become as mainstream as the pink ribbons to overcome the stigma. 

Betty Ford was instrumental in fighting the stigma of both alcoholism and breast cancer. First, she became among the very first to publicly speak about a mastectomy, the result of breast cancer, in 1974. Up until then, it was called female cancer, and never spoken of. In 1978, her family intervened and got her into treatment for alcoholism, and she became an outspoken advocate for recovery.

Until today, the two movements have been on different trajectories. Awareness of breast cancer – which kills 40,000 women a year – and its treatment are at an all time high. The stigma is gone. Awareness of the dangers of alcohol use – which kills more than twice as many people – and its treatment are still a stigma loaded topic. It's changing slowly, but it's changing. Events like the UNITE event achieve what all the Race for the Cure races certainly achieved for awareness of and compassion for those with a deadly but treatable disease. With all the connections between cancer, especially breast cancer, and alcohol use coming to the forefront, there's a significant probability you won't see pink sports gear and beer commercials in the same October broadcast by the end of this decade. Because what causes problems, is one. I'm located between the Vietnam War Memorial and the Korean War Memorial on the Mall on purpose: Alcohol use kills more Americans in a single year than both conflicts combined.
 Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Unexpected alcohol lapse traps in the medicine cabinet

The usual cast of characters that can escort a sober person down the trail toward a lapse goes by the initials PPT: People, Places and Things. For example, you hang out with the same 'ol crew of drinking buddies, what would you expect to happen? They'd just leave you alone? Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud encapsules PPT in a layer of four emotional stressors: Guilt, Shame, Grief and Forgiveness. There could be a relapse lurking in the medicine chest, as well. (Watch the YouTube vid or read the article)

Of course there are cough suppressants that contain alcohol, that's the easy one to figure out. When you're early in sobriety, feeling that familiar burn down the throat could bring on memories of the good old days – which really weren't that good, or you wouldn't be catching Sobriety :60 videos. Alcohol is alcohol, whether it comes in a shotglass or cough syrup.
Sleep aids aren't quite as obvious as relapse traps. Alcohol is a depressant. Sleep aids are depressants. The brain doesn't make such an exact distinction between the two, and historically, drinkers have used alcohol as a sleep aid – or excused their drinking by saying it helps them sleep. It isn't just the prescription sleep aid like abilify. It's also the over-the-counter one, and especially concoctions like Motrin PM or Tylenol PM. I'm guilty as hell on this one, it's in my night stand, too, until this segment is over.

What happens is this...You start using it... Then you “need” it a couple nights in a row. Then one pill isn't doing it, so we take three, because that's the way the alcoholic mind works. You may be developing a dependency, not so much on the actual chemical, but on the feeling of sedation. When the sleep aids don't work for you anymore, where does that leave a person? Back to alcohol. It's a slippery slope. There's another famous relapse acronym to go with PPT, it's HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired.

Here's the very alcoholic reason why I still have the Ibuprofen PM in my nightstand: Because it won't happen to me, the warning is only for those other guys. Right.

Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  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 the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today.