alcohol abuse

Veterans’ Suicide Risk Doubles with Drinking, Drug Abuse: Study Finds

United States veterans living with a substance abuse problem have a higher risk of committing suicide than veterans who don’t have this problem, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at more than four million veterans. They determined that eight percent of men and four percent of women had either drug or alcohol issue. Veterans in this category were twice as likely to take their own lives compared to veterans who didn’t have a substance abuse disorder.

Women Especially at Risk for Suicide

The danger of suicide for female veterans with substance abuse difficulties was even more threatening than it was for males. The women were more than five times more likely to commit suicide than female veterans who didn’t abuse alcohol or drugs.

Kipling Bohnert, the study leader, stated that the study results should serve as helpful information for doctors and health care providers working with patients who have substance abuse disorders. It should make them aware of the risk of suicide and encourage efforts toward prevention.

The suicide rate for US veterans is 20 per day, according to researchers. This is much higher than for the general population. Bonhert commented recently in a university news release that substance use disorders “may be important markers for suicide risk.”

Substance Type Plays a Role in Suicide Risk

The study results revealed that the type of substance used by the veterans had an impact on their risk of suicide. Veterans who abused prescription sedatives, such as tranquilizers, were at the highest level of risk.

Female veterans were at higher risk by abusing opioid pain medications. Male veterans were at higher risk of taking their own lives if they were abusing amphetamines (“uppers”), according to the study results.

The study was published in the online version of the journal Addiction. It draws attention to the need for more suicide prevention efforts directed toward veterans with substance abuse issues. This need is even more urgent for veterans living with mental health concerns such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Gun Safety Should be Included in Prevention Efforts

Gun safety needs to be addressed in the efforts to lower suicide rates. Two-thirds of the suicides examined in the study involved use of firearms. Another 25 percent of suicides by veterans with substance abuse issues involved ingesting poisons. Strategies to prevent suicide by taking harmful substances also needs to be addressed.

Small Sips of Alcohol Could Harm Children in the Future

Curiosity is arguably one of the best traits of a young child. They are interested in the world around them and are discovering things for the first time. So, when a parent is having a glass of wine and the child wants a sip, some parents do not see the harm in letting them have a taste. Parents want to be there when they experience alcohol for the first time and explain to them that it is a “grown up” drink, and the taste of alcohol is usually an acquired taste so having a child taste something that is bad to them may prevent them from drinking when they are in high school – at least that is the train of thought for some parents.

However, a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, revealed that children who sipped alcohol before the sixth grade were five times more likely to drink a full alcoholic beverage by the time they get in high school. The study also showed that these children were four times more likely to binge drink, or drink with the intention of getting drunk. And while the researchers do not want parents to feel that they have made in irreversible mistake, they do want the information out there so parents can better educate children.

“I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message – younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks,” explained Kristina Jackson, one of the co-authors of the study.

Researchers were able to come to this conclusion after interviewing 561 middle schoolers in Rhode Island over a three-year period. About 1/3 of these students said they had tried alcohol before entering middle school. Most of these children said they received the alcohol from their parents.

Instead of allowing small children to sip alcohol, it is best for parents to explain what alcohol is and to refrain from allowing them to taste the beverage. While there are many types of influencers in a child’s life that may cause them to drink, early exposure does not have to be one of those reasons.

Study Shows Need for Increased Alcohol Education

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine revealed that more than two-thirds of college-aged women engaged in unprotected sex the last time they consumed alcohol. Despite wide public awareness that protection prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, alcohol seems to lower inhibitions enough where a majority of women are making decisions they normally would not had they not consumed alcohol. Of course the fact that alcohol makes people do things they normally would not is not a new revelation. However, now that the study confirms that women are more at risk to contract sexually transmitted diseases and become pregnant, it appears that more education is necessary, for both sexes.

“Relative to older women, young women engage in an elevated rate of alcohol use and are at increased risk for adverse sexual health outcomes. Interventions that target beliefs around alcohol use, which could assist young women to increase condom usage, could show benefit in the reduction of HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections, as well as unintended pregnancies,” explained Jennifer Brown, PhD, and lead author of the study.

In order for researchers to come to this conclusion they gathered data from 287 women, all college-aged. The participants completed confidential surveys related to alcohol use, alcohol-related behaviors and behaviors related to sex. It was determined that it much more common for women to engage in sexual activities without a condom when they are under the influence of alcohol. When asked to expand on this, the majority of women stated that physical desires and tendency to engage in riskier situations while under the influence of alcohol played major roles in their decision making.

Of course, males are not exempt from the need to increase alcohol education. In fact, researchers believe that males and females would benefit greatly from increased awareness of common mistakes made under the influence of alcohol. Researchers are especially concerned because this age group commonly engages in alcohol use and overuse.

Underage Females Now Consuming Alcohol Before Males

Breaking down misconceptions of alcohol use is an important factor in preventing future alcohol abuse problems. Underage drinking is societal problem that parents, law enforcement, healthcare providers and government officials have been battling for decades.

New research shows that teenage girls are now drinking earlier than teenage boys. This is the first time that the sexes have made this switch and it seems that adults are not far behind. Adult women are closing the gap with adult males in drinking frequency and amount.

According to researchers, underage drinking for females can be traced to a few different factors. Some experts are pointing their fingers at alcohol advertisers. There is an increase in fruity, sweet-tasting drinks available to consumers and teenage girls tend to gravitate towards these types of beverages. Additionally, drinking has become more accepted in society. In the past, males have consumed more and earlier in life, while girls stayed away from alcohol until they were older. Because of this, many programs and initiatives to curb underage drinking are geared towards boys instead of girls.

Testing and research measures that gauge drinking trends have also changed. Researchers have gotten more sophisticated with their testing questions and study groups. This has allowed the medical community to spot this change among teenagers.

“We found that over that period of time, differences in measures such as current drinking, number of drinking days per month, reaching criteria for an alcohol use disorder and driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year, al narrowed for females and males,” explained Aaron White, the study author and senior scientific advisor to the director of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Since teenage drinking is more likely to lead to an adult drinking problem, it is imperative that stronger and more effective programs are developed to curb underage alcohol abuse. Additionally, equal attention should be given to educating both males and females, as indicated in the study that appeared in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The Danger of Mixing Alcohol and College Students

College is oftentimes a very exciting period in a young person’s life. This is likely the first time they are away from their parents for an extended amount of time, and they are able to make more decisions for themselves. There are hundreds, if not thousands of new people to meet and plenty of free time to make new experiences one would not necessarily have the opportunity to do if they stay at home.

Perhaps it is a combination of the above points that makes it more likely that college students will abuse alcohol, but regardless of the reason it is clear that college students continuously place themselves at risk for alcohol poisoning, risky sexual behavior and violence while under the influence of alcohol. They’re also potentially setting the building blocks for a long-term alcohol abuse or addiction problem in the future. In order to better understand why alcohol remains such a problem for college students, many researchers are working on studies and investigations into the life of a college student and how they can best be helped when it comes to making smarter decisions regarding alcohol consumption.

Studies have shown that at least 60% of college students have gotten drunk in the last thirty days. This large number certainly indicates that many students are not only able to purchase alcohol, despite being under the age limit, but they are also able to purchase enough that they can attain a feeling of being drunk. This is important because it has been found that alcohol causes around 1,800 deaths a year among college students.

Peer pressure and the college environment have also been noted as reasons why many students drink, as many become swept up in the “traditions” of Greek Life and other collegiate activities. Without the constant guidance of their parents or other responsible mentors, students will often make poor decisions when trying to fit in. This conformity often shows itself in drinking heavily.

In order to minimize the damage that alcohol can have on the developing brain and the effects that it can have on someone’s behavior and decision making process, further studies may reveal more adequate prevention measures.

Social Drinking Often Fueled by Peer Pressure

Social drinking may seem harmless and acceptable, but it can sometimes lead to excessive drinking and other unhealthy habits. And while some people may rarely drink by themselves or with dinner, there is no shortage of reasons to partake in drinking when out socializing. Parties, holidays, events, special occasions, celebrations, meeting new people and sometimes even work functions are all typically times when alcohol is consumed by more people. For many people, especially middle-aged adults, it has become expected to consume at least some alcohol on a regular basis, and this form of peer pressure or expectation can be disheartening when it has negative effects.

This expectation may be ok for some people, but for others, it is the catalyst for an alcohol abuse problem or even alcoholism. Additionally, it has also been found that older adults are at greater risks for developing alcohol addictions because of a lifetime of consuming alcohol and their inability to cope with major life changes like retirement.

One reporter recently decided to challenge herself when it came to alcohol consumption. Rozalynn Frazier eliminated alcohol and sweets from her diet for one month. Her decision was fueled by the desire to lose weight, but along the way she discovered that other people had a harder time with her alcohol abstinence than she did. “One of the more interesting lessons from my little experiment is that it’s much more socially acceptable to skip a piece of cake than it is to not have a drink in your hand. I guess because so much socializing happens with the help of alcohol, being the non-drinker means being a pariah,” explained Frazier.

Many people use alcohol as a social crutch. After a drink or two they begin to ease their tensions and seem more comfortable to talk to strangers or coworkers or even friends. However, it is very hard to predict when the amount of alcohol being consumed is too much. It is difficult to stop an addiction to alcohol if everyone around the person consumes alcohol as well. Because alcohol addictions are difficult to spot, they can also be difficult to treat. Oftentimes an alcoholic has been allowed to drink heavily for years before anyone is able to realize that a problem may exist.

If you have a friend or family member who you suspect has a problem with alcohol, contact us today to find out what solutions are available.

Research Reveals Risk for Alcohol Abuse Among Adolescent Females

A group of researchers in Sweden examined the social life of 357 girls over four years. The purpose of the study was to determine what sort of factors influence young girls to try alcohol and drugs. After compiling the data, the research indicated that girls who grow up in families with little supervision are much more likely to consume alcohol.

The study is important because experts agree that children who start experimenting with alcohol at a young age are more likely to develop an addiction as they get older. Parents who are unsure how much control they should exert over their teenage daughters may take some cues from the results of this study, and feel more comfortable enforcing slightly more rules and guidelines for supervision.

In order to conduct the study, researchers followed girls from the age of 13 to 17. For the four years during the study they were asked questions about their curfew and the frequency that they consumed alcohol. The outcome of the study showed that no matter how much parental intervention, teenage girls are likely to experiment with alcohol. However, girls whose parents are more strict tended to drink less than girls whose parents are more lax with their rules. Young girls who fell within the category of strict parent had an 84% increase in alcohol abuse. This is in sharp contrast to the girls who fell into the category of less strict parents. This group had a 234% increase in alcohol abuse.

“…girls alienated from same-age peers seek the company of older, more mature youth during a developmental period when alcohol consumption becomes increasingly normative,” explained the authors of the study. This is important because it shows that parents who go too far with being strict with their girls are more likely to push them into experimenting with alcohol and drugs. There does seem to be a fine line of strict and too strict, according to the study. Researchers pointed out that girls in both groups the girls drank alcohol, however it moved to abuse more often in the group whose parents had less control over the girls.

Alcohol Abuse Down Worldwide, but Increased in U.S.

Worldwide, alcohol abuse has gone down by 7.6%, according to a recent study that looked into world epidemiology. The research was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and showed that despite the good global news, alcohol abuse has actually increased by 5.5% in the United States. This means that current preventative methods are not creating enough of an effect as much as policy makers had hoped.

Of the 76.8 million people around the world who were diagnosed with alcohol use disorders, 5.1 million of those people are from the United States. Researchers criticized the U.S. for not making more efforts to prevent alcohol abuse. In addition to the growing alcohol problem, illicit drug use is also a major problem in this country, and is more of a problem here than the rest of the world.

The report, which was published in The Lancet, included the rates of abuse of other drugs as well, and overall the U.S. isn’t doing very well in the substance abuse category. University of Washington professor and lead study author Theo Vos told that the reported declines in substance abuse are modest, and that little progress has been made to prevent alcohol and drug abuse in the U.S. and around the world.

Large Number of People Suffer from Alcohol Abuse

A new study revealed that fourteen percent of Americans currently struggle with an alcohol abuse problem. In addition to those that are currently suffering from an alcohol abuse problem, a total of 30% of Americans have struggled with alcohol abuse at least once in their lifetime. The study was conducted by researchers who wanted to investigate exactly how prevalent alcohol addiction is in American society. While problems like; heroin addiction and prescription pill abuse are well known and discussed at length, alcohol addiction is the quiet killer.

“Most importantly, this study highlighted the urgency of educating the public and policy makers about 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,” explained the authors of the study.

In order to educate more people about the dangers of alcohol abuse and also that more Americans are suffering from an addiction to alcohol than many people thought, the researchers published their study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The study came about after medical experts changed the definition of alcohol use disorder, altering the criteria people needed to exhibit in order to be diagnosed with the dangerous addiction. The new definition added more signs of alcohol abuse and clarified that someone has to display at least two of the symptoms listed in the definition. Some of the new criteria included; continuing to drink alcohol despite it harming relationships, school or work performance being negatively affected by alcohol consumption and attempting to quit drinking and being unable to.

Researchers gathered data from 36,000 Americans. Questions were asked about their drinking habits and if their drinking negatively affected any aspects of their life. Researchers also studied those that admitted to having a drinking problem at one point in their life. Interestingly, most of the people that had struggled with alcohol in the past, or were currently struggling with alcohol, had not or were not receiving treatment. There is a general feeling that an alcohol abuse problem can go so long without being detected because the public is not aware of the signs of an alcohol addiction and how common the problem actually is. Researchers hope that the study will help to shed some light on the alcohol problem in the country.

What Professions Have the Highest Alcohol Abuse Rates

Researchers have investigated which industries have the highest rate of alcohol addiction. They have classified heavy drinking as more than five or more drinks in one sitting five or more times in a month. They also looked into what professions have the highest rate of drug use. It appears that workers who are employed in construction positions or hard labor are more likely to abuse alcohol, while those that are in food service or in the arts are more likely to consume illegal drugs.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) compiled data gathered from 19 different fields of work and specifically looked at workers aged 18 to 64. The results show that the mining and construction fields have the worst rates of alcohol abuse. Over 15% of employees consume more than five alcoholic beverages in a sitting multiple times a month. This information coincides with reports that show that seasonal hard labor workers are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and in fact have driven the methamphetamine use rate in states like Montana, through the roof. It is unclear exactly why workers who are in construction or mining have a difficult time with alcohol, but some surmise that it may have something to do with being away from families, and the physical demands the work requires of individuals.

Illegal drug use is high among those that work in the restaurant business. Close to 20% of workers abuse drugs like heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. People who go into the arts and entertainment field are also more likely to abuse drugs. The report shows that 11.5% of these employees abuse drugs. People who work for the utilities have also reported a high rate of substance abuse, with a 10.3% rate of addiction.

Interestingly, people in management positions ranked high on the list of groups that abuse illegal drugs. 12.1 percent of these people reported illegal drug use. Professions with the least amount of drug and alcohol use are; the healthcare sector and educational providers.