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 videoor 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
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.
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.
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.