heavy drinking

Study Examines Cause Behind Excessive Drinking Among Couples

Alcohol consumption and volatile relationships make for a dangerous combination. Domestic violence and extreme arguing are common manifestations of this duo. But, why do some couples get involved in this lifestyle, while other couples do not? This is the question that The National Institutes of Health is looking to answer. And they are willing to spend a lot of money in making sure that they understand the mechanics behind this issue. The organization is paying almost $600,000 to The State University of New York at Buffalo to develop and carry out the study.

And while the question is an interesting one, some people are not sure why it is being investigated so seriously. But, as the grant explains, this is a public health problem, the fallout of which costs the taxpayers a lot of money. “Understanding the relationship-specific motivations for alcohol use, as well as the risk and protective factors associated with relationship drinking processes as they occur in real-time in couples’ natural environments, is crucial to addressing problematic alcohol use in relationships,” explained researchers.

So, while the taxpayers are footing the bill for this expensive study, the amount spent on handling the problems from alcohol-fueled domestic problems is far greater. Taxpayers are charged with funding health services, legal fees and of course the salaries of the officers who have to respond to fights that escalate.

Researchers have been able to pinpoint some of the reasons people consume alcohol in relationships. Women are more likely to drink in order to fulfill their intimacy needs and men are more likely to drink in order to fill their social needs. This may be why some relationship arguments are fueled by alcohol, because both partners have different goals behind their alcohol consumption.

The hope is that by discovering why couples consume alcohol, experts and policy makers can figure out new ways to keep people safe from domestic violence and educate couples who are struggling with these issues before it escalates out of hand.

New Medication Could Aid Alcoholics

Reducing alcohol intake is the goal for many people throughout the country. Unfortunately, this is not always an easy thing to accomplish. In fact, alcohol is one of the most abused drugs in the world. So, in order to help people reduce the amount of alcohol they consume, a group of scientists have developed a medication that shows promise. Nalmefene is a medication that has shown effective in clinical trials in getting heavy drinkers to reduce their alcohol intake. This is promising because cutting back on alcohol is especially hard for heavy drinkers.

“The goal is to decrease alcohol consumption, and in our systematic review of randomized controlled trials of the drug, we found that there was a significant reduction in the number of heavy drinking days and a decrease in total alcohol consumption compared with placebo, so we feel that nalmefene constitutes a new pharmacological treatment paradigm for alcohol-dependent patients who are unable to reduce alcohol consumption on their own,” explained Meelie Bordoloi, MD, psychiatry resident, University of Missouri, Columbia.

Medically-assisted intervention is not new when it comes to addiction. Heroin abusers can take methadone or suboxone, and there are several medications in the works for cocaine addicts. Alcohol is one of the most lethal drugs because it effects the liver, stomach, mouth and esophagus. Alcoholics who suddenly stop drinking can also suffer from seizures or even death. These medical risks make it complicated for treatment counselors and medical professionals to treat. A medication like nalmefene could help solve these problems.

While nalmefene does not prevent alcohol intake, like Antabuse (a medication that blocks the effects of alcohol and makes the person sick if they consume alcohol while taking the drug), it does minimize the urge to over drink. Experts are hoping that this will allow heavy drinkers to lower tolerance and allow for further intervention that would lead to alcohol abstinence.

The treatment field is an ever changing environment that is being shaped by new innovations and approaches. New medications like nalmefene are likely to change the landscape of treatment even further.

New Solution For Alcohol Problems

Researchers are looking into ways to minimize the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. Recently it was discovered that people who drink more than one drink a night are more likely to suffer from several different types of cancers including; esophageal, throat and mouth. In order to combat these deadly side effects of alcohol consumption some experts are considering the value in lowering the alcohol content in beer.

“The idea is that a small reduction in alcohol – such as beer with four percent ethanol content versus six percent – would reduce alcohol intake per drinker even if the same overall amount of beverage is consumed,” explained Jurgen Rehm, director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

In addition to minimizing the risk of developing deadly cancers, the lower alcohol content would also likely decrease the amount of injuries and risky behaviors that an inebriated person can encounter.

Some critics point out that drinkers would notice the lowered alcohol content and consume more to make up for the difference. However, the researchers do not think this would happen. They point out experiments that showed that drinkers actually do not notice the lowered alcohol content. The evidence suggests that alcohol content cannot be determined by taste. This is important because the lowering of alcohol content would appear to not have a negative effect on alcohol companies. In fact, beer companies report their highest sales are from light beer, which an alcohol level of around 4.2%.

If drinkers are either unaware or not noticing of the drop in alcohol content, sales are unlikely to be affected. So, the proposal has the potential to benefit drinkers by keeping them healthier and less likely to commit risky behaviors. It also will allow alcohol manufacturers to continue to maintain profits.

As more research is conducted into the risks of heavy alcohol consumption it is becoming clear that decreased alcohol content for drinkers is important.

Alcohol May Be Related to Breathing Complications

Nitric oxide is a colorless gas produced by the body when we exhale. The gas is an important part of our body’s defense mechanism because it guards against many different kinds of bacteria, especially those that cause respiratory infections. And now a new study has been released that shows that alcohol may have an adverse effect on a person’s ability to produce nitric oxide.

The study was completed by researchers from Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago. The team gathered information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health and Examination Survey. From this data, they were able to spot the first links between alcohol consumption and lack of nitric oxide production.

The researchers divided the information into groups based on alcohol consumption levels: people who never drank, those who rarely drank, those who drank excessively and those who used to drink excessively. From these groups, the researchers noted that excessive drinkers had the least amount of measurable nitric oxide, and that their levels decreased as their alcohol consumption increased. The researchers were also able to come to the conclusion that alcohol disrupts the healthy balance of the lungs.

Dr. Majid Afshar, the lead author of the study, also pointed out that these finding may be particularly interesting to people who suffer from asthma. Those that suffer from chronic respiratory infections and those that are classified as excessive drinkers may also benefit from the results of the study. The results were published in the Chest Journal.

The list of adverse effects of heavy alcohol consumption continues to grow, and Chicago-based researchers agree that more studies have to be completed to get a full picture. However, until this study was completed, the connection between alcohol and lack of nitric oxide was unknown and may now be able to provide medical professionals with answers to more questions relating to alcohol consumption.

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.

Research Finds No Real Cure For Hangovers

Despite marketing efforts for novel products or supplements, the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology recently determined that the only real cure for a hangover is to drink less, or to not drink at all.

Binge drinking episodes and chronic heavy drinking create many problems for people, and some of the more acute symptoms include the hangover the next morning. A typical hangover includes major headaches, dehydration, aches and pains, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and more.

Researchers conducted surveys on more than 700 Canadian college students. After collecting the data, it became clear that the less a person drank the less likely they would develop a hangover the next day. The information analyzed will help researchers determine exactly why a person experiences a hangover in the first place and what goes on in their body that makes them nauseous, tired, depressed and anxious after they drink. The simple answer seems to be that any ingestion of a toxic substance can produce such symptoms.

“Research has concluded that it’s not simply dehydration – we know the immune system is involved, but before we know what causes it, it’s very unlikely we’ll find an effective cure,” explained Dr. Joris Verster of Utrecht University.

Hangovers are especially common for college students, which is the age range an population that has the highest rates of binge drinking. Hopefully the revelation that there really is no cure for a hangover might deter at least a few people from engaging in such dangerous behavior.

Studies Find Community-Wide Approach Reduces College Drinking

Heavy alcohol consumption and binge drinking among college students is a major problem in America, including right here in Arizona. Young people fall victim to the pressures of college and their peers, have a desire to fit in and are not under the supervision of adults anymore. This is typically a recipe for disaster, as has been proven time and again in college towns all over the country.

However, ongoing research shows that there are ways to cut down on the behavior, both on campus as well as off campus. Involving the community is a big factor, as showing a common concern for students helps to reduce their frequency and level of intoxication. Multiple studies indicate that having campus officials work in tandem with community leaders and student representatives in a coalition can cut down on the drinking that occurs at parties, restaurants and bars.

Measures taken include the use of under-age people ordering drinks under-cover, resulting in warnings and fines for establishments that serve alcohol to those who aren’t yet 21. Other practices can include more DUI checkpoints and noise ordinance enforcement for parties. Many of these tactics were part of the California Safer University studies that were funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

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.

Blackouts from Alcohol Consumption Common Among Teens

A new study conducted by Marc Schuckit at the University of California in San Diego looked into alcohol-related blackouts and who is most at risk. Consuming too much alcohol can often result in the person shutting down and blacking out. When this happens, the individual cannot remember anything during this time, however they often are able to move and talk, which makes blackouts even more dangerous. Essentially, black outs are the same as being passed out, but the person can still walk and communicate and function to a degree.

The study found that by the time teenagers were 19 years old, 90 percent of them had consumed so much alcohol that they had blacked out at least once. Half of the teenagers surveyed had blacked out on multiple occasions. The study further looked into different groups of people and who was more likely to experience a blackout. Females are most likely to black out, maybe due to a lower weight and body mass index than males. People who drink to the point of blacking out often put themselves in highly risky and dangerous situations that can include sexual conduct, accidents and fights.

There is very little information about the long-term effects that blackouts have on a person, however it cannot be ignored that they are extremely dangerous, especially to younger people. It is known that heavy alcohol abuse leads to memory loss as the person gets older and oftentimes a person will consume more alcohol than they normally would when they are in a black out. Alcohol poisoning can occur when a someone drinks way too much, which can also lead to death.

While the study was conducted on information provided by British students who tend to drink more than American students, Schuckit believes that the study should be taken very seriously. Parents, teachers and law enforcement need to be alert to any underage drinking as it can very well lead to black outs. A person who tends to black out when they drink may be exhibiting signs of an alcohol abuse problem.

Alcohol and its Effects

It seems that alcohol has been around since the beginning of time. In fact, there is evidence that alcohol existed at least as early as 10,000 BC. Alcohol is characterized as a depressant. This means that when any type of alcohol is consumed its effects of the central nervous system lower the level of stimulation. Alcohol also lowers the mental function of an individual.

Like any drug, alcohol produces a state of euphoria when ingested. For some people, this state is so desirable that they turn to alcohol so frequently that they develop an addiction. Alcohol addiction is one of the hardest addictions to overcome as well as the most prevalent in society. This is largely due to the general availability and legality of its consumption. Clearly this is different from street drugs like heroin or cocaine, where the individual has to go out of their way to come into contact with the drug.

When a person develops an addiction to alcohol they often consume more and more alcohol in order to feel the desired effects. The longer a person drinks, the greater tolerance they build towards the alcohol. Their body needs more and more of the chemical to create a reaction.

Oftentimes people get started abusing alcohol when it alleviates some sort of stress in their lives. Once that happens, the alcohol then seems like it can be a solution to everything, but in reality it only makes it worse. For other people, the desire to drink comes from the way they were raised. Studies show that children who grow up in households where alcohol is consumed heavily on a daily basis are more likely to abuse alcohol as well, whereas more responsible and moderate amounts can produce less damaging behaviors in most cases.

While there is no way to tell if someone is going to develop an alcohol addiction, researchers have noticed that in addition to the way people are raised, other factors such as personality can play a role as well as other circumstances in life and coping skills.

If you know someone in need of help for an alcohol problem, contact us today for more information about effective treatments.