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Monday, March 20, 2017

NEWS RELEASE: Upcoming Alcohol Awareness Month about more than alcoholism, drunk driving

Orignal post on PRBuzz.com

April 2017's thirty-first observance of Alcohol Awareness Month is the first since the U.S. Surgeon General signaled a shift in alcohol policy. The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health marks the first time the office took on the health impact of alcohol use in a manner similar to the way the same office took on tobacco smoke in 1964. Award-winning alcohol and health writer, Scott Stevens, says, “All alcohol use impacts health, healthcare costs, and the economy. It's not just about impaired driving or the disease of alcoholism anymore. The dialogue on this drug is changing from what it does for the drinker, to what it does to the drinker.”
Stevens released I can't see the forest with all these damn trees in the way: The health consequences of alcohol December 2, immediately after the Surgeon General's “unprecedented” report. “Alcohol use is a cost driver for the health system because more long-term health consequences from moderate drinking are coming to light… while more ‘benefits’ of 'responsible' drinking are being debunked,” Stevens says. “I’ve championed this theme since my first book in 2010 and in each of the two books that followed.”
Among the scientific findings on alcohol use:
The carcinogen alcohol causes eight types of cancer. It is the only dietary link to increased breast cancer risk and the second-leading cause of oral cancers.
...Stroke risk doubles immediately on a single drink and remains elevated two hours later.
...Heart disease is not prevented by alcohol: It is caused by and worsened by alcohol use.
...Plus 60 more pages on the evidence-based health fallout from so-called moderate use.
Twenty-to-forty percent of hospital resources go to treating alcohol-related complications according to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD). The economy takes a $250 billion annual hit from alcohol costs, mostly lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Stevens adds, “It's easy to see what causes the problems, is the problem. Alcohol's consequences aren't just for hard drinkers and certainly aren't limited to alcoholism or drinking and driving.This is a drug, a toxin, and a carcinogen in any amount. People routinely complain about healthcare costs and sagging productivity… over a beer or a shot. They’re not seeing the forest. Just the trees.”
The book is available at Amazon, other online and bricks-and-mortar booksellers, and the author's website www.alcohologist.com. It is the second release by the author in the past year, preceded by an educational DVD series, The A-Files: Alcohol A-Z.
Each of Stevens's three books includes a chapter on the health fallout of drinking alcohol. “It's not about discouraging drinking, except for the alcoholic. It's about making informed decisions about using alcohol based on evidence-based science. Informed decisions don't come from observational studies and wishful thinking.”
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About the Author
The noted journalist on alcoholism is a founding influencer of the world's largest medical portal, HealthTap.com. His books on the disease include 2010's What the Early Worm Gets, 2012's Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, which earned finalist honors in the Indie Book Awards and USA Best Books Awards in 2013, and Adding Fire to the Fuel, a 2015 USA Best Books Awards Finalist and 2016 Book Excellence Award winner. He also created the Alcohology mobile app.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

An addiction is anything you have to hide


(Originally posted on AddictedMinds.com)

A many-faceted challenge for families, interventionists, and other addiction pros alike is defining an addiction. We have textbook definitions. We have tests. But when it comes down to addressing the addiction with an addict in denial that he or she has one, we are consistently challenged with breaking down denial.
Signaling the problem, we turn to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). The latest version is October 2016’s DSM-5. Its 11-part impersonal analysis for any substance use disorder:
  1. Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than the you meant to
  2. Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to
  3. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance
  4. Cravings and urges to use the substance
  5. Not managing to do what you should at work, home or school, because of substance use
  6. Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships
  7. Giving up important social, occupational or recreational activities because of substance use
  8. Using substances again and again, even when it puts the you in danger
  9. Continuing use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance
  10. Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance)
  11. Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.

Signs, signs, everywhere signs

The DSM 5 allows clinicians to specify how severe the addiction is, depending on how many of the 11 signs are present. Two or three symptoms indicate a mild substance use disorder, four or five symptoms indicate a moderate substance use disorder, and six or more symptoms indicate a severe substance use disorder.
BOOM! That was easy.
Now tell the addict he or she is one and needs help. The 947 pages of the American Psychiatric Association’s ‘bible’ do little for that discussion. Assume very few people under the influence of a mind-altering drug have the capacity to use that same mind to analyze (honestly) the symptoms.
A simple pair of personal questions gets at the a-ha moment the impersonal DSM can’t get at eyeball-to-eyeball:
Are you hiding your use? Why?
The answers are C-R-I-T-I-C-A-L to making change. You can get at any of those 11 DSM criteria with those two questions. We hide use because we don’t want anyone to see. Or judge. Or evaluate us on a DSM scale. We don’t want them to see because we don’t want to hear that it’s “wrong” or “shameful” or fill-in-the-blank. Yet, family sees. Counselors see. The addict needs that vision and it comes from that introspection. And very few – if any – are ever asked directly what they are hiding, and why are they hiding it.
Scott Stevens is the author of four alcohol books including the December 2016 release, I Can’t See The Forest With All These Damn Trees In The Way: The Health Consequences of Alcohol. Buy the new BookLocker title now on Amazon (viewbook.at/prehab), alcohologist.com, and everywhere books are sold. Stevens also heads up BlogTender LLC, a content marketing firm headquartered in Lake Geneva, Wis.
Photo by Vasilisa Karpova, used with permission.