Tag Archives: alcohol use disorder

Addressing Alcohol Use Disorder In America

alcohol use disorder

The American opioid addiction epidemic has long been a top priority among lawmakers and health experts. The scourge of opioid abuse across the country has resulted in thousands of premature deaths, the result of overdoses. If you have been keeping yourself apprised of efforts to curb opioid use and abuse rates, it is likely that you have heard or read statements indicating that the opioid epidemic is unprecedented.

A claim that is spot on when it comes to the abuse of drugs. What makes opioid abuse so pernicious is the fact that technically, someone can overdose at any time. People often say that addiction is a slow death, dying spiritually at first and then expiring physically down the road—often decades later. Not so with opioid use disorder. But, if we were to step back and look at addiction in America as a whole, one could easily argue that the most severe addiction epidemic that the U.S. has ever faced and continues to struggle with is tied to a substance that is legal for adult consumption. Alcohol is a drug that is responsible for far more deaths every year than opioid narcotics, such as OxyContin or heroin. However, opioid addiction receives far more attention than AUD.

Alcohol, like prescription drugs, is a multibillion dollar enterprise. Despite the deadly nature of heavy alcohol use, the substance is both legal and is considered to be a socially acceptable for both relaxation and celebration. The substance can be acquired with little effort, there are no rules about how much can be purchased or used at one time. Suffice it to say, one can drink themselves to death without out any checks and balances. Unlike a doctor who may stop prescribing a drug because of concerns of abuse, liquor stores will sell booze to anyone with a pulse.

Alcohol Abuse Figures of Interest

A few years ago a National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) revealed that over 20 million Americans consumed alcohol at potentially dangerous levels. The data was analyzed by author Philip J. Cook, and used for a book titled, “Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control.” NESARC data revealed that 24 million adults (18 +) - drink an average 74 alcoholic beverages every week—about 10 drinks a day. A lot of alcohol to be sure.

In the following year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that 26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month. What’s more, the survey indicated that 15.1 million adults had an alcohol use disorder (AUD), a figure made up of 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women. While those figures are staggering, perhaps the most concerning finding was that about 1.3 million adults received treatment for AUD at a substance use disorder center in the same year.

Alcohol and Opioids—A Common Tie

If one were to try and find a silver lining regarding the American opioid addiction epidemic, you may think that it would be a difficult task considering the death toll. However, the crisis has brought to light the fact that there is a real lack of addiction treatment services in this country. A reality that brought about the passing of legislation that would, among other things, expand access to addiction treatment.

Substance use disorder treatment centers utilize effective science-based therapies to help people save their own lives. In conjunction with medication and introducing patients to recovery support groups (i.e. 12-Step programs and SMART Recovery), people with the disease of addiction can have a real chance at sustained abstinence for decades. Many facilities have started to take advantage of certain medications that can help clients after being discharged avoid relapse. One such drug is naltrexone, commonly sold under the brand name Vivitrol ® has been used for years on opioid addicts.

Naltrexone has been found to have an impact on opioid cravings, it can deter relapse by blocking the euphoric feelings produced by opioid use. One can take an OxyContin, but not get high. Interestingly, science shows that both opioids and alcohol impact some of the same receptors in the brain. So, it stands to reason that naltrexone may help alcoholics curb their drinking. Studies indicate that Vivitrol can decrease the pleasure that comes with drinking alcohol, NPR reports. If you reconsider the survey that showed only a small fraction of alcoholics go to treatment, it is vital that primary care physicians utilize the drug which research shows has been historically underused.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If you are one of the millions of Americans who has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, we implore you to seek help immediately. The problem, as with any addiction, it will only get worse. Alcohol use disorder is a progressive disease, without treatment it can be fatal. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the journey of recovery. We specialize in treating young adult males, and have helped many people start the journey of recovery. Here’s to life!

DUI: A Risky Road to Addiction Recovery

DUIThousands of people get behind the wheel intoxicated every day in the United States. Those who make such choices are literally playing a game of Russian roulette, with “bullets” that can either severely change the course of one’s life or end it all together. Unfortunately, despite the warnings and campaigns which aim to prevent the behavior, many Americans will simply ignore them and drive under the influence (DUI). Those who have gotten a DUI, OUI or DWI—acronyms for driving while inebriated in various states—in the last decade can attest to the fact that the experience is anything but delightful. While courts in each state vary on how they deal with the offense, more times than not offenders can expect to be hit with huge fines and some length of jail time. Most Americans who find themselves talking to a police officer whilst intoxicated do not consider the aforementioned ramifications of their actions before they put their lives and the lives of others in their hands.

DUI: Buzzed. Busted. Broke

People who choose to drive a car under the influence come from every age group and all walks of life; however, the practice is significantly more common among teenagers and young adults. Adolescents and college aged adults are far more likely to consume alcohol in a dangerous way, such “binge drinking.” A risky behavior typically characterized by having 5 alcoholic beverages for males and 4 drinks for females, over the course of a two-hour period. People who choose to binge drink become intoxicated much quicker and are far more likely to throw caution to the wind. It is no secret that drunk people tend to think that they are both untouchable and invincible, which are potentially deadly errors in their thinking. And to be fair, even those who are only a little buzzed can have feelings of indomitability. The reality is that even those who are just buzzed are at risk of a DUI or worse, a fatal car wreck. There is an ad campaign which aims to reach young adults who may think it is OK to get behind the wheel with a slight buzz. Hopefully, those who see the video will think twice next time they are considering driving after drinking alcohol. Please take a moment to watch the public service announcement—Buzzed. Busted. Broke: If you are having trouble viewing the PSA, please click here.

A Risky Road to Recovery

Being charged and sentenced for driving under the influence is by all accounts a terrible event, and hopefully nobody is physically injured in the process. On the other hand, there is, at times, a silver lining to such an experience. People who get DUIs are typically ordered by the court to attend 12-Step meetings and/or an outpatient addiction treatment center. Those who follow the mandate may learn that their drinking has gotten out of hand and has negatively impacted their life beyond just getting a DUI. If you are one of those people, you may see that your life has become unmanageable due to your unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and you may decide to give recovery a try. Out of the ashes of such a costly, life changing event, you may find the principles of recovery appealing. That is not to imply that every person who gets a DUI has an alcohol use disorder, but many do have a problem. For such people, a failure to change one’s ways and seek help, typically results in repeating the mistakes of your past. In fact, those who get one DUI are exponentially more likely to get another; there is no way of telling if the next time you will walk away so easily. If you are a young adult male who has gotten a DUI recently, and feel that it is time to take a hard look at your relationship with alcohol, then please contact PACE Recovery Center. We can provide you with a setting where you can look hard at your issues, which have led you to alcohol use and self-defeating behaviors.

A Look at Binge Drinking Among College Students

binge drinkingIt could be easily argued that alcohol is a part of college life. Without fail, between Thursday and Saturday night, college students will come together to imbibe at parties and at bars for those over the age of 21. While college drinking may seem relatively benign, as something that is going to happen regardless of prevention efforts, there are many young adults who do not fully grasp the dangers of “binge drinking” even though they may be engaging in the activity regularly. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as consuming 5 or more drinks for men, and 4 or more drinks for women in about 2 hours. Whenever someone drinks as much as they can, as fast as they can, the risks of danger exponentially mounts. Alcohol poisoning is a common occurrence among teenagers and young adults, a condition that can be potentially fatal. A team of experts have sought to paint a realistic picture of the dangers of binge drinking. The researchers estimate that every year 1,825 college students ages 18-24 lose their life from unintentional alcohol-related injuries, according to a University of Alabama press release. Those who do not experience an alcohol related tragedy put themselves at risk of developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol; the research team found that about 20 percent of college students meet the current diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder. While alcohol is legal for adults over the age of 21 to use, research published in The Lancet indicates that alcohol is the most dangerous substance, according to the article. Even more harmful than:
  • Crack Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
Alcohol abuse, binge drinking in particular, is thought to be a rite of passage for college students; but in reality it's a very serious health epidemic in the United States," said Peter Hendricks, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior. "It is important to understand what alcohol is, why it's problematic, and what a person can do to minimize the risk should they choose to drink."
It is crucial that institutes of higher learning make alcohol prevention and education a top priority if the problem is to be mitigated. On top of not operating motor vehicles when intoxicated, college students should also be aware of the signs of alcohol poisoning, which include:
  • Confusion
  • Hypothermia
  • Irregular Breathing
  • Seizures
  • Slow Breathing
  • Vomiting
Alcohol is ingrained in our culture, and binge drinking is perceived as a lighthearted, fun and humorous rite of passage among college students," said Hendricks. "It's crucial to communicate the dire risks of binge drinking and challenge the notion that alcohol use is a normal and harmless part of the college experience."
If you are college-age male whose alcohol use has become problematic, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in working with young adult males struggling with substance use disorders. We can help you begin the journey of recovery.

Personalized Feedback About Alcohol Can Reduce Drinking

binge-drinking
Karen Moskowitz / Getty Images
The consumption of alcohol is a common occurrence among college students, especially freshman - free from the nest for their first time. While many students are able to moderate their alcohol intake, there are those whose drinking gets out of hand, and can result in academic, social, and addiction problems. Naturally, limiting alcohol consumption is a top priority for faculty members on every campus across the country. New research suggests that sending students personal feedback about their drinking habits via text message and websites can reduce alcohol consumption, The Wall Street Journal reports. In-person interventions appear to reduce drinking by as much as 13 percent. Robert Leeman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, says that electronic interventions “dramatically increases access to techniques that have been proven to work.” The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 4 out of 5 college students drink alcohol, and around half of them engage in “binge drinking” - the practice of drinking as much as you can as fast as you can. Opening up a dialogue with students about drinking practices can save lives, which is important when you consider that 1,825 students lose their life each year from alcohol-related injuries. “Most students overestimate the amount and frequency that other students are actually drinking, and research has shown that if you can correct this misperception, students’ drinking tends to decrease to be more in line with the true norm,” said study co-author Jessica Cronce of the University of Washington. In 2011, researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle published a study which indicated that electronic intervention programs were more likely than general alcohol awareness programs to reduce college drinking, according to the article. ___________________________________________________________________________ Excessive alcohol consumption is not only dangerous, it results in an alcohol use disorder. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, please do not hesitate to reach out for help.

The New Criteria for Alcoholism

alcohol-use-disorderAlcoholism will now be diagnosed on a spectrum, including mild, moderate, and severe. Historically, doctors divided problematic drinking into two categories, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. The new criteria for alcoholism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), no longer includes abuse and dependence diagnoses, Science Daily reports. Now, there is a single alcohol use disorder diagnosis. Under the new criteria, new research suggests that a third of adults have an alcohol use disorder, and just 20 percent seek treatment for their disease. Having a single drink per day could put one at risk, depending on family history and behavior. Diagnosing an alcohol use disorder now involves an 11 item criteria list, according to the article. Mild alcohol use disorder requires having two or three criteria from the list, while a severe diagnosis requires six or more. Worldwide, alcohol use disorders affect more people than any other mental health condition. In the United States, researchers found an alcohol use disorder lifetime prevalence of 29.1 percent - but only 19.8 percent of adults were ever treated.
"Most importantly, this study highlighted the urgency of educating the public and policymakers about AUD [alcohol use disorder] and its treatments, destigmatizing the disorder and encouraging among those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment," the study concludes.
The research indicated that the 12-month prevalence of alcohol use disorder under the new DSM-5 criteria was 13.9 percent and the lifetime prevalence was 29.1 percent. The aforementioned percentages equate to approximately 32.6 million and 68.5 million adults. The findings were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

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