Mixed group business people in a room

History of the 12-Step Program

The goal of 12-step treatment programs in alcohol and drug addiction recovery is to empower individuals (ironically through powerlessness) to remain sober for the rest of their lives and live a meaningful and fulfilling life. This life-changing treatment process traditionally incorporates a spiritual foundation to strategically create a plan for individuals struggling with any type of addiction.

Origins of the 12-step treatment program

The 12-step treatment program originated from Alcoholics Anonymous and outlines a set of guidelines to help individuals recover from their addiction. Bill Wilson, one of the original founders of the AA program, recognized the need for an effective treatment program for individuals who were struggling.

In 1935, Wilson struggled with alcoholism for years and finally overcame his addiction. He gathered what he learned from his recovery process and sought to help other individuals recover from alcoholism. He believed that alcoholism was essentially a disease that hindered the person’s mind, body and soul. Published in 1939, Bill Wilson wrote the Big Book for Alcoholics Anonymous which became the foundation for the 12-step treatment program.

Today, 12-step programs are used to help individuals recover from all types of addiction. Drug and alcohol treatment centers use Bill Wilson’s guidelines as their foundation for treating substance abuse with the purpose of cleansing the mind, body, and soul from addiction.

What are the 12 steps?

As outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous, the following are the 12-step guidelines for addiction recovery:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Instilling faith in God is the ultimate foundation for alcohol and drug addiction recovery. Per the 12-step program, His Teachings help to establish a sense of meaning and purpose in the struggling addict’s life. The personal journey of treatment recovery is strengthened and fortified by a supportive community and a team of highly trained professionals who lead the individuals closer to God.

What occurs during the 12-step program?

Individuals who have committed to the treatment process will be able to engage in individual and group therapy sessions to connect them with people of similar experiences. An individually designed recovery plan is created for every individual and is based upon the foundation of the 12 steps and a whole-person approach to recovery, through mind, body, and soul.

The purpose of individual and group therapy sessions is to create a supportive environment for individuals to feel safe and to connect them with professionally trained staff and fellow recovering addicts. Patients have comprehensive options such as inpatient, outpatient, and aftercare programs that is intended to engage individuals in meaningful and productive activities that they can continue to incorporate throughout their lifetimes. The program helps to establish connection within the community and creates a sense of belonging to those who were once lost and referred to alcohol or drugs for solace.

Covenant Hills Christian/Traditional 12-step treatment program

Covenant Hills focuses on a “whole-person” approach to care and uses faith to guide individuals through every part of the 12-step treatment program. This transformative process allows individuals to recognize their struggle and connect to professionals who are dedicated in helping individuals reconnect to God and to their community for support.

At Covenant Hills, the Christian 12-step program is designed to detoxify individuals from substance abuse and restore them with the tools needed to live a life filled with God’s love and protection. Their comprehensive program options are rooted in the 12-steps with the understanding that individuals cannot overcome their addiction alone.

Faith is the foundation for removing the mind, body, and soul from all destructive toxins and restoring the individual’s willpower to remain sober. The 12-step program provides the guidelines needed to begin the healing process for every individual suffering from substance abuse and an absence of faith. Covenant Hills and their highly dedicated staff empathize with each patient and work to design a plan for individuals to remain  sober and follow God’s Word for the rest of their lives.

 

Frustrated Mother Suffering From Depression

Alcoholism: Is there a Difference Between Beer, Wine and Hard Liquor?

Alcoholism remains an epidemic in the U.S. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says 16.3 million adults were diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in 2014. Whether alcohol is used to battle the symptoms of a psychological disorder, cope with work or relationships, or to ease pain or stress from a traumatic event, it can become a chronic addiction if individuals do not seek effective treatment.

Many people may not know the harmful effects alcohol can have. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says excessive alcohol use causes approximately 88,000 deaths per year. The consequences of alcohol abuse can negatively impact a person’s livelihood, can make it difficult to maintain daily responsibilities and meaningful relationships, and can cause premature death.

Alcoholism is a disease that ultimately harms individuals emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Alcohol – beer, wine, and liquor – is a depressant that affects the central nervous system and impairs a person’s judgement and behavior. But how harmful are the different types of alcohol? Do they affect us differently? Is one more powerful, or addictive than the others?

Beer, wine, and liquor can all have debilitating effects on the user. Understanding the severe consequences alcohol can have on the mind and body will help you or someone you love seek treatment to overcome the disorder.

Binge-Drinking

Moderate drinking in social settings with friends or family can be normal. The moderate drinking level is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Yet when drinking socially or drinking to release stress becomes a habit, individuals may engage in binge drinking behaviors and may become addicted.

Binge drinking is categorized by drinking in excessive amounts in a very short period of time. For men, it is typically when they consume more than 5 drinks in two hours. For women, it is when they consume more than 4 drinks in two hours. When these binge drinking behaviors persist multiple times a month, it can cause a serious chemical dependence on the drug and can lead to addiction. [1] Whether individuals choose beer, wine, or liquor, they can all lead to lifelong addiction and a multitude of health consequences.

Alcohol Addiction: Beer

Beer is most commonly made from the fermentation of barley or other grains. Often, hops are added to beer to act as a preserving agent and flavor booster. A typical serving is about 12 ounces of beer. In comparison to wine and liquor, beer has the least amount of alcohol content with 5% in a single serving, but the serving size (12 ounces) is larger than a normal wine serving or a mixed drink, making the one-drink alcohol content roughly equivalent to wine and hard alcohol.

A normal serving of beer while watching a football game or enjoying time with friends can be enjoyable for many people. Yet, when individuals drink more than the recommended limit and display symptoms of dependence on beer, it can be extremely dangerous to their health.

Alcohol Addiction: Wine

Wine is made from fermented grapes and is often paired with a specific type of food or meal at social events. In contrast to beer, the typical serving size of wine is 5 fluid ounces and contains about 12% alcohol.

For some people, wine is typically used as the beverage of choice during social gatherings and dinner parties with family and friends. Research has shown that women and millennials have become the largest consumers of wine and therefore, the target audience for wine marketers.[2] Because wine has alcohol in it, a person is just as susceptible to becoming addicted to it as other forms of alcohol.

Alcohol Addiction: Liquor

In comparison to beer and wine, liquor contains the highest alcohol content of the three beverages. Examples of liquor include tequila, gin, whiskey, vodka, and rum. A typical serving size of liquor is 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits which contains about 40% alcohol.

Liquor can be extremely dangerous because it is often masked in larger drinks such as soda or juice. This can make it easier for individuals to consume drastically more alcohol in a very short period of time.

Consequences of Alcohol Addiction

Whether a person drinks beer, wine, or liquor addiction, eac form can have extremely harmful health effects on the user. Not only do all impair a person’s ability to make rational decisions, they can also put the lives of others in danger if individuals are pregnant or choose to drive while under the influence.

If alcohol addiction goes untreated, the physical effects of alcohol dependence can lead to a lifetime of health related problems that increase the likelihood of premature death. Alcohol negatively impacts the body’s main organs and weakens the body’s immune system which ultimately makes it more susceptible to diseases and infections.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the following are the physical effects of prolonged alcohol abuse:

Brain

  • Impairs memory
  • Disrupts neuronal pathways
  • Blurred vision
  • Slows reaction time
  • Impairs decision making
  • Difficulty walking
  • Slurred speech
  • Produces blackouts

Heart

  • Causes stretching  and drooping of heart muscle (Cardiomyopathy)
  • Causes an irregular heartbeat (Arrhythmias)
  • Induces a stroke
  • High blood pressure

Liver

  • Fatty liver (Steatosis)
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis

Pancreas

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation and swelling of blood vessels in pancreas)

Cancer

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to an increased likelihood of developing the following cancers:

  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Throat
  • Liver
  • Breast

Seeking faith-based treatment for alcoholism

At Covenant Hills, the dedicated staff understand the emotional and physical toll alcohol abuse can have on the mind, body, and spirit. In addition to the multiple negative physical consequences of prolonged alcohol abuse, individuals who abuse beer, wine, or liquor may also have a co-occurring disorder such as depression, PTSD, or anxiety. With an understanding that multiple social and environmental factors contribute to alcohol abuse, the professional staff of therapists, counselors, and pastors help individuals understand their addiction and connect them closer to God.

Covenant Hills offers a 12-step Christian-based treatment program that is built on the original 12-step guidelines from Alcoholics Anonymous. With an emphasis on whole-person care to detoxify the mind, body, and spirit from alcohol toxins, individuals will learn the strategies needed to maintain lifelong abstinence. Treatment plans are individually designed using research-based techniques and a spiritual understanding that God will restore the person’s willpower and strength to battle addiction. With comprehensive program options and a spiritual foundation, individuals will understand the depths of their addiction and will rise above by reconstructing a new self-concept that incorporates God’s Teachings and cultivates self-compassion.

Do you or a loved one need help today? Please call us 24/7 for a free, confidential assessment at (800) 662-2873.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

[2] http://www.winemag.com/2016/01/27/wine-market-council-defines-the-industrys-latest-trends/

The Relationship Between PTSD and Addiction

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder in which chronic fear and anxiety persist due to emotionally disturbing or painful events. Dangerous or devastating events that have elicited high amounts of fear, pain, or anxiety can cause recurring flashbacks and disturbing memories that interfere with a person’s daily life activities.

PTSD can be extremely debilitating and can prevent a person from carrying on daily tasks and maintaining meaningful relationships. To cope with life’s difficulties, and to lessen the pain felt from a traumatic experience, some people turn to drugs as a way of escaping from the painful memories. Persistent use of drugs can cause individuals to become chemically and psychologically dependent lead to an addiction.

It is important to recognize the warning signs of PTSD and its co-occurring “cousin” addiction because it can lead to extremely harmful effects on not just, but on the people who care and support the individual as well.

Examples of Events or Risk Factors That Cause PTSD

It is important to understand the events or risk factors that cause PTSD and how they impact a person’s ability to maintain a meaningful and healthy life. Some examples of events include:

  • Military combat
  • Substance abuse
  • Near-fatal accidents
  • Sexual abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse
  • Witnessing a life-threatening event
  • Traumatic event like losing a loved one or going to prison
  • Natural disasters

Symptoms of PTSD

Recognizing the symptoms of PTSD is the first step in understanding the disorder and seeking help. According to the NIMH, in order to be formally diagnosed with PTSD, the following symptoms must occur for at least one month:

  • Having recurring flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts from the event
  • Avoiding certain people, places, or things that trigger painful memories of the traumatic event
  • Avoiding one’s own thoughts or feelings about the traumatic event
  • Exhibiting extreme levels of anxiety or fear
  • Being easily startled or frightened by a person, place, or thing
  • Experiencing sleeplessness or night terrors
  • Having feelings of numbness and detaching oneself from friends and family
  • Displaying outbursts of intense anger
  • Having negative thoughts or feelings about oneself
  • Disengaging in activities that were once enjoyable

PTSD and Addiction

Coping with a traumatic event can be an extremely trying journey, filled with feelings of detachment and loneliness. When people are filled with intense flashbacks of a hardship they endured or witnessed, some people revert to negative behaviors to cope with the painful or disturbing memories.

The National Center for PTSD notes that being diagnosed with PTSD increases the risk for developing substance abuse problems. They reported that “up to a third of those who survive traumatic accidents, illness, or disasters report drinking problems.” Reports have shown that men and women who have been sexually abused have higher rates of substance abuse. Additionally, 1 out of 3 Veterans who are treated for a substance abuse disorder also have PTSD. If left untreated, alcohol and drugs can have devastating effects on those diagnosed with PTSD.

Drugs serve as a catalyst for cycle-of-avoidance behavior for people diagnosed with PTSD. Individuals with PTSD try to avoid their own thoughts and detach themselves from the activities and people they previously enjoyed. Individuals use drugs as an escape mechanism to alleviate the recurring memories elicited by the traumatic experience.

Consequently, drugs and alcohol make it very difficult for individuals to sustain meaningful relationships with significant others, family, and friends. People with PTSD can seem volatile, may display outbursts of anger, have recurring painful thoughts, and subsequently use drugs and alcohol to numb the feelings of anxiety and depression. Substance abuse further causes individuals diagnosed with PTSD to disrupt functions of everyday life and make it more difficult to hold a job or enjoy leisure activities.

The is a cruel reality that one of the devastating effects of experiencing major trauma is a potential dependence on drugs and alcohol. With our over-exposed modern lives, it is more important than ever that individuals with PTSD and addiction seek help in order to overcome both disorders.

Treatment for PTSD and Addiction

Individuals who have a dual diagnosis of PTSD and addiction may not fully understand their disorders and may not necessarily seek treatment. However, it is vital that friends and family members recognize the symptoms of the dual diagnosis and encourage the individual to seek a 12-step treatment program run by a team of professionally trained psychotherapists, medical experts, counselors, and pastors.

The following are ways to treat PTSD and addiction:

Establishing a Strong Spiritual Foundation for Individuals with PTSD and Addiction

Recovering from PTSD and addiction is a long and difficult process, but one that can also be nurtured and supported through establishing a strong spiritual foundation. Establishing a strong sense of faith during the recovery process can restore the person’s mind, body, and spirit. The individual will greatly benefit from feeling enveloped by support through individual and group therapy sessions, and an aftercare treatment program that helps individuals avoid a relapse. A recovery program with a strong spiritual foundation can truly help individuals struggling with PTSD and addiction overcome their difficult moments while strengthening their faith in God.

At Covenant Hills Treatment in Orange County, California and in San Antonio, Texas, clients work with pastors, therapists, and counselors who are professionally trained to implement a Christian-based treatment program. They help individuals connect to a larger faith community and support the process of finding purpose again in one’s life beyond this co-occurring diagnosis.

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How a Strong Faith Can Help in Your Recovery

Recovering from an addiction can be a difficult and lifelong journey. However, this journey can be strengthened and nurtured by a strong spiritual foundation. Seeking faith in God helps you to renew your mind, body, and soul on the path towards recovery. Having a strong spiritual foundation will replenish your soul and help you feel rejuvenated to move forward in life.

Covenant Hills offers a Christian-based program to help you restore your faith in God. The Christian-based program will assist you in connecting with God through professional counseling and the support of other Christ-followers who have walked this path. This program offers you the opportunity to be a part of a community that will support you on your recovery journey.

Benefits of how a strong faith can help in your recovery journey:

Faith creates a spiritual connection. Establishing a strong faith during your recovery provides you with nurture and support through the entire process. Connecting to God and His teachings will help to restore meaning and purpose to your life. It will help you realize that you are never alone in difficult moments and that He is always there to give you a deep understanding of His acceptance and approval of you in all circumstances.

The 12-step Christian recovery program is built on the foundation that only He can truly help you recover from an addiction. If you put your faith in God and follow the biblical teachings in the program, He will turn your heart toward himself and away from your addiction and help you avoid a relapse.

Faith fosters a connection to the community. One of the most empowering parts about the recovery process is the connection you make to God and His greater spiritual community. You have the opportunity to connect to the Church community and to people who share similar addiction experiences. Being a part of a strong spiritual community allows you to feel a sense of belonging to something greater than yourself. You will never feel alone even when you experience difficult moments.

The 12-step Christian program uses the Word of God through the entire treatment and recovery process. Pastors, counselors, and therapists are all available to help you feel closer to God. Building strong relationships will help you to restore your faith, humility and wisdom needed in avoiding a relapse.

Faith helps you establish mindfulness. Restoring faith in God will establish mindfulness in your daily life. You will be able to center your thoughts by focusing on the present moment and incorporating prayer. Working with professionally trained counselors and therapists will help you to restore your faith through prayer and the belief that God is with you during painful (and not painful) moments.

Establishing mindfulness of the present moment helps you to calm your mind and think of productive ways to cope in difficulty. Mindfulness also aids you in creating a strong spiritual foundation through the power of prayer. Following biblical teachings and praying in the present moment will benefit your overall mental and physical health during your recovery process.

Faith restores your spirit. Building a solid faith will help direct your thoughts and actions towards a life that represents health and wholeness. Being active in the spiritual community will remind you that your path of recovery will always be fortified through the power of God. Restoring your faith in God will establish meaning and purpose in your life through a connection with Himself.

You will discover who you are and what you would like to become beyond the label of your addiction. He will restore the faith and love within you to overcome any obstacle that may come your way.

Faith instills forgiveness. God is forgiving. Establishing your faith in Him will give you the opportunity to become the person you are meant to be. There is no judgement or shame in the process of restoring your faith in God.

Taking responsibility for your actions and forgiving yourself will help you to understand your journey in a meaningful way. You will be among a community of people who have a shared understanding of struggle and who know that only a strong faith can truly restore a healthful human being.

Pacific Hills Treatment (Covenant Hills Treatment) Center offers a faith-based approach to helping anyone recover from their addiction. Our professionally trained staff include ordained pastors, dietitians, doctors and counselors to provide you with the spiritual support you need to fully recover from addiction. The shared humanity you will feel along with an in-depth recovery program will empower you to become the whole-bodied and spiritual human being you are meant to be.

Do you need help, or is a loved one struggling with addiction? Please call us today at 800.662.2873. This is a free, confidential call and assessment.

 

bingedrinking2

Disparities in drinking habit rates across county lines, men versus women

In a first of its kind study, researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington have begun examining alcohol use—specifically the effects of binge and heavy drinking—across county lines, in an effort to help respective lawmakers and health officials produce effective, tailored policies and programs. While it’s no secret that alcohol abuse and addiction is a major part of American society and culture (even for those not suffering from alcoholism can excessive consumption be an unhealthy practice), the rates of binge and heavy drinking have become especially poignant amongst a surprising party which, according to many experts, has heretofore been largely left out of the spotlight within the realm of addiction: women.

For our purposes, it might help to know the difference between ‘heavy’ drinking, and ‘binge’ drinking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the former as exceeding an average of one drink per day for women, or two drinks per day for men, over the course of one month. This type of drinking is associated with long-term conditions such as liver cirrhosis and cardiovascular disease. Binge drinking, on the other hand, is defined as the consumption of four or more drinks for women on a single occasion, or five or more drinks for men. This is what we mostly see with teens and college students, resulting in immediate side-effects such as injuries, alcohol poisoning, and organ damage.

In the initial stages of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, it was very revealing that the “most striking” disparities in binge drinking habits were found within states, rather than between. Via an article posted on Medicals News Today:

As an example, the researchers explain that rates of overall binge drinking in Texas ranged from 10.8% in Collingsworth County to 35.5% in Loving County—so while one Texan county was well below the national binge drinking average of 18.3%, another county in the same state had levels of binge drinking nearly twice that average.”

It was revealed in the researchers’ findings that for women especially was there a much higher increase in binge drinking than their male counterparts, with binge drinking among women rising by 17.5% between 2005 and 2012. A stark figure when compared to the measly 4.9% increase in binge drinking among men. According to Dr. Ali Mokdad, lead author of the study and professor at IHME, these trends in alcohol overconsumption are alarming, especially when reiterating the fact that in many U.S. counties a quarter—or more—of the people are binge drinkers.

Basically what all these facts and figures boil down to is the widely understood fact that a blanket approach to treating alcoholism in the U.S. isn’t going to work. Instead, Mokdad and his team have succeeded in providing evidence that by looking at the differing rates of alcohol abuse within the states themselves (and then ‘heavy’ versus ‘binging’, male versus female), state lawmakers and researchers can more effectively communicate to come up with responsible, streamlined ways to manage and reduce—and perhaps one day even eliminate—problem drinking.

What do you think?

EileenEDIT

Clinician’s Corner: Shattering the paradigms of perfectionism

“We don’t claim shame.” You can’t believe how many times I’ve heard that! I know “shame” is a daunting word, but the problem is that when we don’t claim shame, it claims us: one of the ways it sneaks into our lives is through perfectionism. As a recovering perfectionist—notwithstanding the fact that I’m first and foremost a recovering alcoholic/addict—I would like to shed light on some of the myths about perfectionism so that we can develop a definition that accurately captures what it is and what it does to our lives.

Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. Perfectionism then becomes this twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.

Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. Most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (i.e. grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports, etc.). Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect. Healthy striving is self-focused—“how can I improve?” Perfectionism, on the other hand, is other-focused—“what will they think?”

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life.

Dr. Kramer

SugarCrash

Sipping away at the truth behind energy drinks and alcohol

Energy drinks have always seemed to go hand in hand with alcoholic beverages, and the reason might have something to do with the results exacted from a recent study by the Australian National University’s Center for Research on Aging, Health, and Well-being in Canberra. After recruiting 75 individuals—ages ranging from 18 to 30 years—for the study, researchers had each participant try one of two mixtures—a vodka, juice, and soda water mixture, and another similar concoction, but with a popular energy drink mixed in instead of the water—and determine whether they felt the need to keep drinking or not. As you might have already guessed, those who drank the energy drink mixture felt the need to keep drinking. But why?

Rebecca McKetin, co-author for the study, explains (via Reuters):

We normally think of alcohol as a depressant, but it also has a stimulant effect, and it is this stimulant effect that is most strongly related to how much we like alcohol, and whether we want to keep drinking. Energy drinks contain caffeine. Caffeine, being a stimulant, tends to bring out the stimulant effects of alcohol intoxication. It may be this that causes energy drinks to increase the desire to keep drinking alcohol.

Now, the fact of the matter is that the individuals who want to get drunk (usually with these sorts of drinks) hardly care to regulate the amount of alcohol entering their system. But the data clearly denotes a disturbing fact that said drinkers might not fully comprehend the excess of alcohol that is entering their system because of “stimulants” such as Red Bull and whatnot which serve to essentially numb the drowsiness that a neat drinker might experience. We’ve already discussed the dangers of being “wide awake drunk”, and now we know that a person is likely to continue drinking while in such a state.

As an aside, the researchers of the Australian study acknowledge that they could not confirm whether it was the sweetness of the energy drink or the caffeine-inducing effects that caused tasters to want to keep drinking; but McKetin adds that previous research suggests it is the caffeine rather than the sweetness that is causing the effect.

The new research alone is not enough to advocate for policies restricting the availability of energy drinks in bars, because they can’t be sure how people respond to alcohol and energy drink mixtures in real life situations.”

What do you think?

0279

Putting down that last glass of the day

We’ve all seen the headlines, whether in the form of a link to an online magazine, or maybe the hook from a particular news station: ‘Drinking Moderately Helps the Heart.’ But does it really? We as alcoholics have made a choice to live our lives without the drink, to seek an alternative lifestyle not run by blackouts, hangovers, sneaking around, etc., but then we see something like this and one can’t help but scoff in disbelief. How can something so ruinous for some be considered so good for others? It is, understandably, mind-boggling to us, but we’re not the only ones—following a recent study conducted by over 150 researchers from around the world, it’s finally come to light that that glass of wine in the evening is not only ineffective in helping with one’s heart, it’s hurting it.

The study, co-led by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, originally aimed to study a protein which breaks down alcohol in a person’s system more rapidly. During said process, the individual with this protein would succumb to nausea, facial flush, and a series of other symptoms. In correlation with this, these carriers drank 17% less alcohol and were less likely to binge drink, but of most importance denoted a gradual decline in their overall drinking over time.

In comparing around 260,000 European-descent carriers and non-carriers’ drinking habits, it was at this point discovered that those whose alcohol consumption dwindled also saw an increase in heart health.

According to an article via Medical News Today, Michael Holmes, co-lead author of the report, and research assistant professor in Perelman School of Medicine’s department of Transplant Surgery, puts it simply:

Contrary to what earlier reports have shown, it now appears that any exposure to alcohol has a negative impact upon heart health.”

Holmes is of course referring to past studies where the results denoted a clear association between heavy drinking and cardiovascular disease, but that light to moderate drinking (said to be around 0.6 to 0.8 oz., or a 175 ml glass of wine) might benefit the heart. Not only has this now in all probability been proven false, but, regardless, the benefits of going without that glass of wine are all too clear: those who abstained have already been found to have a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, lower blood pressure, and lower body mass index.

What do you think?

Dui

1993 to 2010: Driving under the influence ‘then’ and ‘now’

When it comes to driving ‘under the influence’, the go-to reaction is to immediately conjure up a mental image of some person behind the wheel of a car, beer can in hand, racing through stop lights and signs. But of course we all know that a resulting DUI doesn’t necessarily mean a person was drunk—they could be drugged up as well, instances are just not as commonly publicized. That may be changing, thanks to a revelatory study recently brought to light within the Public Health Reports. The study, led by study author Fernando Wilson, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, examined fatal car crashes over the course of two decades in the U.S. where one or more of the drivers tested positive for drug abuse. Of the gathered data, the team notably points out that while in 1993 1 in 8 drivers were abusing multiple drugs concurrently, today the numbers are somewhere closer to 1 in 5.

According to an article released through Medical News Today, Wilson adds:

“Beyond that, we’re also seeing more and more people using drugs and alcohol together. About 70 percent of drivers who tested positive for cocaine had also been consuming alcohol, and almost 55 percent of drivers who tested positive for cannabis also had alcohol in their systems.”

The study also recognized a trend between drug abuse and age: perhaps not so surprisingly, 60% of those who were found to have cannabis in their system were younger than 30. On the other end of the spectrum, 39% of prescription drug abusers were found to be aged 50 years and older. If you take into account that 90% of Americans aged 65-plus have prescription expenses—and the number is only going to increase as society relies more and more on over-the-counter pharmacies to treat patients’ wholesale needs—the possibility of a continuing reliance on, and abuse of, prescription drugs among drivers is practically inevitable.

Despite the evidence, Wilson goes on to say, “…it is unclear whether current state policies are completely up to the challenge of addressing the growing issue of drugged driving.

The team offers several ideas by which the number of drug-related fatal crashes might be lessened, which include curbing prescription drug use of drivers through counseling by a medical professional, and lobbying for easier access to mass transit.

What do you think?

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Clinician’s Corner: We are renewed by His grace

“A profound and crushing sense of emptiness” is one of the most common experiences in the early phase of recovery, and typical of our patients. This presents as anxiety or depression and is often described as “…feeling a dark and frightening void inside me…” or “…feeling like an empty shell of a human-being…”

When one considers that addiction, by its very definition, is “all-consuming,” it begins to make sense that once removed, it leaves a devastating void–one that I have personally come to know, can only truly be filled (to wholeness) again by the Grace of our Lord. The program of AA/NA refers to this as a spiritual awakening. Nothing else compares, and oftentimes, without the guidance of a recovery program founded on spiritual principles, the risk of cross-addiction occurs. Without knowing any better, the individual will naturally be drawn to replace one addiction for another. For this reason, I’ve framed, and have on display in our group rooms, The Periodic Table of Intoxicants by Kevin McCauley, MD / “Pleasure Unwoven.” It is a showcase for all the varieties of addictive substances AND behaviors–yes, behaviors too: such as eating disorders, pornography, and gambling.

Think of this table as a deadly “hit list” to avoid. Remember, the expression of addiction in the brain is one thing… only one thing: that which trips the pleasure center, and as addicts, our ‘OFF’ switch is broken. That’s why someone’s “drug of choice” (or the ‘problem’ behavior) is only the most recent offender of this state of brain derailment. This is critical for relapse prevention: Once addiction has been turned on in the brain, it’s “On” and it’s on forever. It can never be undone. We no longer have the choice to go backward. Worse yet, we are now vulnerable to all things addictive in a way like never before.

Addiction is an incurable disease with a guaranteed fatal outcome. Our only reprieve is in the choosing the path of recovery, but there is a payoff that makes this difficult journey worth the trouble: we have the opportunity to experience a LIFE MAKEOVER where we begin the process of renewing relationships once fractured by the insanity of this disease, and to embrace a new and better way of living, with enhanced life skills and coping mechanisms to handle life on life’s terms.

Until next time… Thanks for letting me share.

Dr. Kramer

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