Tag Archives: WHO

Alcohol Use Disorder Global Report

alcohol use disorder

To adequately address a problem, it helps to have all the facts. Simply put, the United States and much of the western world has a harmful relationship with alcohol. Both young and older individuals alike are significantly impacted by alcohol-related harm, disease, and premature death. Right now, millions of Americans and hundreds of millions more around the globe are struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). What’s more, the vast majority of people with AUD have never received any form of intervention or treatment.

A good many people maintain misconceptions about the impact of moderate and heavy alcohol use. It is easy to think that physical harm resulting from drinking occurs only after decades of consumption. However, wine, liquor, and beer have the power to kill in a relatively short time. Case in point: research appearing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) indicates that the number of 25- to 34-year-olds who died annually from alcohol-related liver disease nearly tripled between 1999 and 2016 in the United States. Not surprisingly, men succumb at a far higher rate; men had a higher burden of age-adjusted mortality due to cirrhosis compared with women by a 2:1. Males lost their lives to hepatocellular carcinoma compared to women by a nearly 4:1 ratio.

The above figures from the BMJ highlight just how dangerous heavy alcohol use and AUD are in this country. Nearly a thousand Americans between the age of 25 and 34 died prematurely due to liver diseases in 2016. It seems impossible to ignore such figures and the life cost to society. Alcohol, alcohol use disorder, and dependence is a worldwide crisis, even though evidence-based treatments exist. A sharp look at the analysis of available research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) should give us all pause.

Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health

WHO reports that an estimated 283 million people aged 15+ years had an alcohol use disorder around the globe in 2016. While AUD can affect both sexes, the majority of individuals living with the condition are men. WHO found that 237.0 million adult men and 46.0 million adult women had an AUD in 2016. At the same time, hazardous alcohol use led to 3 million deaths (5.3% of all deaths) worldwide and 132.6 million disability-adjusted life years.

At PACE Recovery Center, our specialty is the treatment of males presenting for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. When we look at the WHO report, it is evident that alcohol use among men and women varies widely and, as such, the costs affect men more significantly. Alcohol-attributable deaths among men make up 7.7 percent of all global deaths compared to 2.6 percent among women.

For those living with alcohol use disorder, the presence of an AUD at least doubles the risk of having depression (WHO cites: Boden & Fergusson, 2011). Risk of suicidal ideation, suicidal attempts and completed suicide are each increased by 2–3 times among those with AUD (Darvishi et al., 2015). Alcohol consumption leads to major depressive disorders, according to two reviews (Boden & Fergusson, 2011; Fergusson, Boden & Horwood, 2009).

The relationship between alcohol and the onset of major depressive disorders is due, in part, to:

  1. Alcohol consumption leading to depression, and
  2. persons with depressive disorders being more likely to consume alcohol in larger volumes and in more detrimental patterns – i.e. the “self-medication” hypothesis (Bolton, Robinson & Sareen, 2009),
  3. the possibility of underlying genetic vulnerabilities that affect both the risk of depression and alcohol consumption.

Moving Forward

Three million people is a shocking figure, but it is probable that the total cost of life owing to alcohol use is even higher. The research on AUD and the prevalence of co-occurring mental illness like depression is a facet of the report that should guide future efforts to address mental health around the world. It is also worth noting that globally, more than 300 million people are living with depression; such men and women are at high risk of self-medication and developing an AUD as a result. The Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health is nearly 500 pages long, and anyone who would like more detail than we provide here is welcome to click this link.

alcohol use disorder

The World Health Organization concludes:

With 3 million alcohol-attributable deaths in 2016 and well-documented adverse impacts on the health and well-being of individuals and populations, it is a public health imperative to strengthen and sustain efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol worldwide. A significant body of evidence has accumulated on the effectiveness of alcohol policy options, but often the most cost-effective policy measures and interventions are not implemented or enforced, and the alcohol-attributable disease burden continues to be extraordinarily large. The wealth of data and analyses presented in this report can hopefully provide new grounds for advocacy, raising awareness, reinforcing political commitments and promoting global action to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.

Alcohol Use Disorder Recovery

If you or a family member is one of the 237.0 million adult men living with AUD, please know that evidence-based treatments exist. With the help of PACE’s specialized clinical therapy for men addiction recovery is possible. We equip men with the tools to go from early recovery to long-term sobriety. Please contact us today to learn more about our program.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

WHO Adds Gaming Disorder to the ICD

gaming disorder

The World Health Organization’s (WHO)11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), released Monday June 18, 2018, includes "gaming disorder." The addition of “digital-gaming” or “video-gaming” addiction to the ICD as a new mental health condition probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise for most people; especially considering just how far the industry has come since the advent of games like pong and how many people are spending multiple hours a day “leveling-up.”

Once video games found their way into people’s households with Atari, followed then by the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), it was clear that the sky was the limit. Today, the myriad of games and various types of games is unbelievable; and, the emergence of online gaming allows users the ability to play endless games endlessly. Yes, that’s right, there isn’t a finish line or final stage in the most popular titles people are engaging with; ostensibly, an individual can play ad infinitum. Even if someone manages to find the end of a particular maze, game developers will promptly release a patch expanding the border of the playable realm.

Not long ago there were limits on how far a person could go in a game and the amount of money they could spend. Take a game like Super Mario Brothers for instance; people bought the game and played it and there was a final stage with a boss to be vanquished. Upon beating the boss that was all she wrote! Sure, you could play the game again, but you were not going to spend more than your initial purchase. Conversely, the games people play today, regardless of the gaming system (i.e., PlayStation, XBOX, or PC), offer players downloadable content(DLC); attaching credit card numbers to "Gamertags" allows users to buy DLC to give their character an edge or a custom look.

How Many People Play Video Games?

It’s safe to say that there was a time that the majority of people playing video games in the early day were young males. While young men continue to make up the market share of gamers, a good many females play regularly. There was, and still is, a number of stereotypes that people attach to gamers, social recluses, and nerds to name a few; however, as the technology gets better and more take part, it becomes difficult to blanket label the types of people who game. The result: gaming becomes normalized; a significant number of celebrities fancy “first-person shooters” or racing games. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with digital-gaming, to be sure.

When we talk about gaming, we would be remiss if we fail to point out that smartphones open up a whole new market. App games like Candy Crush eat up a significant amount of time of millions of people each day; even though they lack some of the bells and whistles video game systems boast, apps are quite captivating and allow people to play-on-the-run.

The annual Global Games Market Report shows that there are 2.2 billion active gamers in the world in 2017; of which, 1.0 billion players (47%) spend money while playing and generated $108.9 billion in game revenues. People pay to play smartphone games which produced revenue of $46.1 billion in 2017, claiming 42% of the market. The above figures make clear that an unbelievably significant number of people are not only gaming, but they are also spending money to play after the initial purchase. It is also safe to contend that some individuals are spending money they don’t have to continue to chase after an in-game item, often called “loot,” the acquisition of said item elicits a particular feeling. Sound familiar?

What is Gaming Disorder?

WHO’s website defines “Gaming Disorder” as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

Preëexisting Mental Health Conditions

There is still much to learn about the dangers of devoting increasing amounts of time to offline and online gaming. However, the available research shows stark similarities between problematic gaming and other forms of addiction. Researchers who had a hand in the World Health Organization's landmark decision to include gaming disorder to its list of mental health diseases write, “Gaming disorder shares many features with addictions due to psychoactive substances and with gambling disorder, and functional neuroimaging shows that similar areas of the brain are activated.”

You probably would have guessed that there are critics of WHO’s decision to include gaming disorder to the ICD. Some opponents are working for the industry, so we all should meet their opinions with some skepticism; however, Dr. Netta Weinstein, a senior lecturer in psychology at Cardiff University, tells The Guardian, “I just feel like we don’t know enough yet.”

Weinstein points out that only a statistically small number (nearly half that of gambling disorder) of gamers experience adverse symptoms that affect their lives. A big concern of hers is about comorbidity, having more than one mental health condition. In the field of addiction medicine, more times than not, people presenting symptoms of addiction also meet the criteria for a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression, PTSD, or bipolar disorder. In many cases, mental illnesses like depression often give rise to addiction via the process of self-medication. Could it be that people are excessively gaming to the point of disorder, in order to cope with a preëxisting mental health condition? Weinstein says:

We need to know that it is about the gaming [gaming disorder] itself, or we’re treating something that’s not the actual problem.”

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you or a loved is struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder and any one of many mental health diseases, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We offer clients gender-specific, extended care treatment for males in the grips of progressive mental health disorders.

If you have suicidal ideations, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Mental Health in the Workplace: Exercising Compassion

mental health

From National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month to Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), significant efforts have been made of late to shatter stigma and promote mental health treatment. We can all lend a hand in encouraging others to seek help. By promoting wellness, lives can be both mended and saved. It’s vital that such efforts continue, there is much work to be done.

On numerous occasions over the years, we have written about the importance of mental health parity, mental illness treatment and the negative impact that stigma has on society. We are all affected by the well-being of our peers, demanding that everything in our power is done to inspire others to seek help. Whether someone is suffering from depression, battling addiction or both; treatment works, recovery can become a reality for the millions of afflicted individuals.

Regardless of where you live or how old you are, the odds are that you know someone affected by mental illness. Or, you may be struggling yourself. With depression affecting more than 300 million people worldwide (just one of the many forms of mental illness), the odds are high. There are over 260 million living with anxiety disorders, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is next to impossible not to know someone touched by mental illness.

Mental Health In The Workplace

With such a high prevalence of mental health conditions, it stands to reason that most workplaces employ people affected. Unlike other typical illnesses, people with mental illness are far less likely to share what they are going through with an employer. Conversely, many employers are not keen on the idea of hiring people with mental health conditions. Creating closed-mouthed environments, one has to omit information to get a job. Then, has to do what they can to disguise their issues to keep it.

Obviously, it’s illegal to fire someone because of mental illness. But, that doesn’t mean that openly talking about it is typically welcomed in the workplace. This code of silence makes not only employees iller, but it also has an impact on the business itself. If someone feels that they can’t talk about what they are dealing with, they are less likely to seek treatment. For fear of repercussions to their career, individuals will do whatever they can to hide what they are going through on the inside. A trend that can have grave implications for the individual in the long run.

Without treatment and continued maintenance, people living with untreated mental illness will take desperate measures. Drugs, alcohol, and self-harm are conventional vehicles of coping with untreated mental health conditions. Behaviors that often lead to addiction, overdose, and premature death. Employers who promote environments of well-being can have a hand in reversing such outcomes.

World Mental Health Day

Some of our readers may remember that we discussed the topic of mental health in the workplace back in July? An exchange involving employee and employer. Yes, talking about needing time off for mental health, mirabile dictu, and it went unbelievably well. If you didn’t get a chance to read our post, below you can see the fantastic exchange:

Employee:

Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”

Employer:

I just wanted to personally thank you for sending e-mails like this. Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health – I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”

The above discourse can serve as an inspiration to everyone. We can all promote mental health in the workplace. Mental health in the workplace is the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 (October 10, 2017). Depression and anxiety disorders, alone, cost $1 trillion in lost productivity each year, according to WHO. The organization would like to raise awareness for mental health issues, and the impact such conditions have on society:

Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains, not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work. A negative working environment, on the other hand, may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity.”

Dual Diagnosis Therapy

AT PACE, we would like to acknowledge all the employers who treat mental health with compassion. You are a model for all employers around the globe, promoting the facts. Mental illness is treatable; kindness pays off in the end.

A significant number of the millions battling anxiety and depression also meet the criteria for addiction. When that is the case, treatment can be complicated. In such cases, long-term recovery is dependent on treating both the addiction and co-occurring mental health condition. If you are struggling with a dual diagnosis, we can help. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the lifesaving process.

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