Why we need to cut down on the amount of Acetaminophen in Vicodin

Vicodin (and Lortab, Lorcet, Zydone, Hydrocet, and Co-Gesic) are all a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is the opiate that we get addicted to, but harmless seeming acetaminophen presents the greatest danger to our livers as we take increasing amounts of vicodin when addicted. We need to change the ratio of medicines in each vicodin pill, and we also need to find a way to help the millions of people addicted, and taking too much vicodin each and every day.

One of the funny things about opiates is that even though they can be enormously addictive, when taken as directed, and even when abused to a certain degree, the drugs themselves are not very toxic, and do not cause many health problems of their own accord. Now of course a pain pill addiction can destroy your life and your health, and overdose, coma and death are a real possibility, but the opiates themselves are relatively safe when taken in moderation.

Vicodin is #2

Behind alcohol, the second most commonly abused drug in the US is currently Vicodin, and this potent narcotic is relatively easy to get, very addictive, and also contains enough acetaminophen within to make tolerance and addiction problematic and dangerous. The trouble with opiates is that tolerance can develop so easily, and with tolerance comes an increasing need to take more of the drug simply to achieve the same and desired effect.

So while the dosage of Vicodin as prescribed and recommended by your doctor may be very safe, and you could take this for some time without undue damage, with the high potential for abuse, addiction and tolerance, the drug becomes increasingly dangerous. The maximum recommended daily dosage of acetaminophen is 4000 mg, and you are not recommended to consume more than 1000 mg at a single dose. Some doses of Vicodin contain as much as 750 mgs of acetaminophen mixed with the synthetic codeine within per pill, and when abuse brings the need for increasing amounts of Vicodin, it’s pretty easy to exceed the maximum daily dosage of acetaminophen… and that’s bad news for the liver.

Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in innocuous Tylenol, is seriously toxic to the liver in high doses, and exceeding the recommended amount in a single day can cause liver failure and ultimately death. So it seems that with Vicodin addiction, one of the greatest dangers is not the scary sounding opiate within, but the harmless seeming acetaminophen that gets ingested in increasing and dangerous dosages as time goes on. People with serious Vicodin addictions can consume 20-30 or more pills daily, and this more than doubles the maximum recommended dosage of acetaminophen; it’s even reported that one man with a severe Vicodin addiction could take as many as 100 pills per day…and it’s incredible that his liver survived and he lives to tell the story.

Make it Safer

So what’s to be done? The answer to this problem (and Vicodin addiction is a complex and serious problem that our nation needs to address) is both to reduce the availably and number of prescriptions issued for vicodin, and as well to reduce the acetaminophen content contained within each pill. In response to increasing numbers of deaths and emergency room visits as a result of acetaminophen caused liver failure, patient advocacy groups have been campaigning drug makers to reduce the amount of acetaminophen in each pill from as much as 750 mgs, to a maximum of 250 mgs per pill. By greatly decreasing the acetaminophen, addicts could safely consume three times as many pills before risking liver failure from acetaminophen toxicity.

No one recommends that people consume more than the recommended dosage of these pills, but with millions of people addicted and already taking too much Vicodin each day, we need to face the reality and minimize the harm caused. The other step that needs to be taken is simply to reduce the numbers of people prescribed this drug each day, and thereby hopefully reduce the number of people that become newly dependent on the drug. Doctor’s argue that vicodin is a safe and effective treatment for severe pain, but with the numbers that abuse it each day, I think that we need to find a better and safer alternative to this very addictive and currently easy to get drug.

I had as serious addiction to vicodin, and although I was aware of the damage potential to my liver, I regularly took more than the maximum recommended dosage of acetaminophen in my quest to get the effects I wanted from the hydrocodone. By the end I wasn’t taking the drugs for pain relief, but simply for addictions symptoms relief, and the extra acetaminophen certainly wouldn’t have been missed. We have far too many Vicodin addicts in this country, and we need better access and encouragement towards treatment to deal with the existing problem; but until we do greatly lessen the numbers addicted to this prescription medication, we need to reduce the damage that the drug is doing to the bodies of these unfortunate pain pill addicts.

Vicodin is everywhere, and it might be your neighbor, your friend or even your mom, you never know who is susceptible to the seductions of prescribed vicodin, and we need to look out for each other while we try to fix this societal problem.

Vicodin (and Lortab, Lorcet, Zydone, Hydrocet, and Co-Gesic) are all a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is the opiate that we get addicted to, but harmless seeming acetaminophen presents the greatest danger to our livers as we take increasing amounts of vicodin when addicted. We need to change the ratio of medicines in each vicodin pill, and we also need to find a way to help the millions of people addicted, and taking too much vicodin each and every day.

One of the funny things about opiates is that even though they can be enormously addictive, when taken as directed, and even when abused to a certain degree, the drugs themselves are not very toxic, and do not cause many health problems of their own accord. Now of course a pain pill addiction can destroy your life and your health, and overdose, coma and death are a real possibility, but the opiates themselves are relatively safe when taken in moderation.

Vicodin is #2

Behind alcohol, the second most commonly abused drug in the US is currently Vicodin, and this potent narcotic is relatively easy to get, very addictive, and also contains enough acetaminophen within to make tolerance and addiction problematic and dangerous. The trouble with opiates is that tolerance can develop so easily, and with tolerance comes an increasing need to take more of the drug simply to achieve the same and desired effect.

So while the dosage of Vicodin as prescribed and recommended by your doctor may be very safe, and you could take this for some time without undue damage, with the high potential for abuse, addiction and tolerance, the drug becomes increasingly dangerous. The maximum recommended daily dosage of acetaminophen is 4000 mg, and you are not recommended to consume more than 1000 mg at a single dose. Some doses of Vicodin contain as much as 750 mgs of acetaminophen mixed with the synthetic codeine within per pill, and when abuse brings the need for increasing amounts of Vicodin, it’s pretty easy to exceed the maximum daily dosage of acetaminophen… and that’s bad news for the liver.

Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in innocuous Tylenol, is seriously toxic to the liver in high doses, and exceeding the recommended amount in a single day can cause liver failure and ultimately death. So it seems that with Vicodin addiction, one of the greatest dangers is not the scary sounding opiate within, but the harmless seeming acetaminophen that gets ingested in increasing and dangerous dosages as time goes on. People with serious Vicodin addictions can consume 20-30 or more pills daily, and this more than doubles the maximum recommended dosage of acetaminophen; it’s even reported that one man with a severe Vicodin addiction could take as many as 100 pills per day…and it’s incredible that his liver survived and he lives to tell the story.

Make it Safer

So what’s to be done? The answer to this problem (and Vicodin addiction is a complex and serious problem that our nation needs to address) is both to reduce the availably and number of prescriptions issued for vicodin, and as well to reduce the acetaminophen content contained within each pill. In response to increasing numbers of deaths and emergency room visits as a result of acetaminophen caused liver failure, patient advocacy groups have been campaigning drug makers to reduce the amount of acetaminophen in each pill from as much as 750 mgs, to a maximum of 250 mgs per pill. By greatly decreasing the acetaminophen, addicts could safely consume three times as many pills before risking liver failure from acetaminophen toxicity.

No one recommends that people consume more than the recommended dosage of these pills, but with millions of people addicted and already taking too much Vicodin each day, we need to face the reality and minimize the harm caused. The other step that needs to be taken is simply to reduce the numbers of people prescribed this drug each day, and thereby hopefully reduce the number of people that become newly dependent on the drug. Doctor’s argue that vicodin is a safe and effective treatment for severe pain, but with the numbers that abuse it each day, I think that we need to find a better and safer alternative to this very addictive and currently easy to get drug.

I had as serious addiction to vicodin, and although I was aware of the damage potential to my liver, I regularly took more than the maximum recommended dosage of acetaminophen in my quest to get the effects I wanted from the hydrocodone. By the end I wasn’t taking the drugs for pain relief, but simply for addictions symptoms relief, and the extra acetaminophen certainly wouldn’t have been missed. We have far too many Vicodin addicts in this country, and we need better access and encouragement towards treatment to deal with the existing problem; but until we do greatly lessen the numbers addicted to this prescription medication, we need to reduce the damage that the drug is doing to the bodies of these unfortunate pain pill addicts.

Vicodin is everywhere, and it might be your neighbor, your friend or even your mom, you never know who is susceptible to the seductions of prescribed vicodin, and we need to look out for each other while we try to fix this societal problem.

Varenicline, proven effective for smoking cessation, might also work for alcoholism

Varenicline, an already approved drug for us in smoking cessation has proven very promising for the treatment of alcohol dependence as well, and because the drug has already passed through extensive and lengthy safety trials prior to its approval as a smoking cessation drug, it could be helping alcoholics in the very near future.

Additionally, unlike naltrexone, the currently most popular drug used in the treatment of alcoholism, the side effects such as appetite reduction, with varenicline are much less severe.

For Humans?

While early results are very encouraging, the studies have yet to be done on human volunteers, and the drug has of yet only proven effective on rats. One of the selling points of the new drug though is that in animal studies, in addition to helping the animals drink less while using the drug, these animals continued to drink less even after varenicline was no longer given. One of the greatest problems with currently available medications for the treatment of alcoholism is that they offer no lasting protection from abuse, and are only helpful while the patient remains compliant on taking the drugs.

Varenicline (also marketed under the brand names chantix and champix) works by binding to an acetylcholine receptor in the brain. Both nicotine and alcohol ultimately stimulate these acetylcholine receptors, which cause the release of the pleasure creating dopamine. By blocking these acetylcholine receptors in the brain, both alcohol and nicotine are less able to produce a pleasurable response, and the drugs become less attractive to use.

Current studies have only been performed on rats, but rats who had become addicted to alcohol drank half as much after being given the drug and this reduction in alcohol consumption persisted even after the drug was discontinued. Because the drug is already approved safe for human use, it’s use could be expanded for alcohol cessation assistance in the very near future, and because so many alcoholics are also smokers, this drug may prove doubly beneficial by allowing alcoholics to eliminate both alcohol and nicotine addictions simultaneously.

Additionally, because the drug seems to remain effective even after consumption is discontinued, long term pharmaceutical compliance will be less of a factor in relapse. Recent research has indicated that tobacco usage during recovery delays cognitive improvements, and as such if this drug could really help alcoholics quit smoking while they quit drinking, it would be incredibly useful and beneficial.

No drug alone will set alcoholics free from abuse, but new and promising drugs, when combined with existing psycho social and cognitive behavioral therapies should increase the effectiveness of our current therapies, and allow more people to get and stay sober. I am looking forward to hearing more about this promising new drug, and am keeping my fingers crossed that it will work on humans as well as it seems to work on rats!

Varenicline, an already approved drug for us in smoking cessation has proven very promising for the treatment of alcohol dependence as well, and because the drug has already passed through extensive and lengthy safety trials prior to its approval as a smoking cessation drug, it could be helping alcoholics in the very near future.

Additionally, unlike naltrexone, the currently most popular drug used in the treatment of alcoholism, the side effects such as appetite reduction, with varenicline are much less severe.

For Humans?

While early results are very encouraging, the studies have yet to be done on human volunteers, and the drug has of yet only proven effective on rats. One of the selling points of the new drug though is that in animal studies, in addition to helping the animals drink less while using the drug, these animals continued to drink less even after varenicline was no longer given. One of the greatest problems with currently available medications for the treatment of alcoholism is that they offer no lasting protection from abuse, and are only helpful while the patient remains compliant on taking the drugs.

Varenicline (also marketed under the brand names chantix and champix) works by binding to an acetylcholine receptor in the brain. Both nicotine and alcohol ultimately stimulate these acetylcholine receptors, which cause the release of the pleasure creating dopamine. By blocking these acetylcholine receptors in the brain, both alcohol and nicotine are less able to produce a pleasurable response, and the drugs become less attractive to use.

Current studies have only been performed on rats, but rats who had become addicted to alcohol drank half as much after being given the drug and this reduction in alcohol consumption persisted even after the drug was discontinued. Because the drug is already approved safe for human use, it’s use could be expanded for alcohol cessation assistance in the very near future, and because so many alcoholics are also smokers, this drug may prove doubly beneficial by allowing alcoholics to eliminate both alcohol and nicotine addictions simultaneously.

Additionally, because the drug seems to remain effective even after consumption is discontinued, long term pharmaceutical compliance will be less of a factor in relapse. Recent research has indicated that tobacco usage during recovery delays cognitive improvements, and as such if this drug could really help alcoholics quit smoking while they quit drinking, it would be incredibly useful and beneficial.

No drug alone will set alcoholics free from abuse, but new and promising drugs, when combined with existing psycho social and cognitive behavioral therapies should increase the effectiveness of our current therapies, and allow more people to get and stay sober. I am looking forward to hearing more about this promising new drug, and am keeping my fingers crossed that it will work on humans as well as it seems to work on rats!

Vigabatrin. An Epilepsy Drug That Eases Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms.

An old drug in a new light is offering hope for a better treatment protocol for cocaine abuse.Vigabatrin, a GABA modifying drug used in the treatment of epilepsy has been tested in small scale trials in Mexico on people that had been using cocaine daily for at least three years, and a substantial of these people were able to reduce their cocaine consumption significantly.

In response to the success of these earlier Mexican trials, Catalyst pharmaceuticals is testing it’s own version of vigabatrin, charismatically named CPP-109, and will be entering phase 2 clinical human trials later this summer. The drug shows great potential to increase the ability of addicts battling cocaine and other stimulant addiction to overcome cravings through a process of dopaminergic modification.

CPP-109 works by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain, and this surplus of GABA serves to reduce the effect of cocaine on dopamine in the brain. GABA will not allow for the production of as much dopamine in response to cocaine, and without the production of dopamine, cocaine has little effect. The drug is reported to be able to dramatically reduce the cravings as experienced by drug addicts in withdrawal, and as a result is able to increase the length of sobriety.

The Mexican studies have been previously criticized for their small sample size and their limited duration, so it will be interesting to see whether the results as reported in the Mexican studies will endure under a larger and more strictly controlled clinical trial. The clinical testing results are expected to be ready for publication by the summer of 2008.

This new drug seems to me to be very similar in some ways to the meth and cocaine vaccines in development. While the cocaine vaccines attack the cocaine while still in the blood, and do not allow it to get to the brain, and this drug simply renders the cocaine ineffective, they both allow for the lessening of the effects of ingested cocaine, and for a resultant lessening in tolerance and ultimate cravings.

Both seem very promising, and if either or both pass successfully through all stages of clinical trials and gain FDA approval, will be very welcome additions to the drug treatment arsenal. No one proposes that these drugs will be enough on their own to combat drug addiction, but when combined with existing psycho social and behavioral cognitive therapies, should greatly increases the effectiveness of our best treatments. An addiction to cocaine is notoriously difficult to overcome and any pharmaceutical assistance against the cravings involved in cocaine withdrawal will be very much appreciated by the estimated 1.5 million American cocaine addicts.

Find out more at this cocaine addiction treatment and recovery resource.

An old drug in a new light is offering hope for a better treatment protocol for cocaine abuse.Vigabatrin, a GABA modifying drug used in the treatment of epilepsy has been tested in small scale trials in Mexico on people that had been using cocaine daily for at least three years, and a substantial of these people were able to reduce their cocaine consumption significantly.

In response to the success of these earlier Mexican trials, Catalyst pharmaceuticals is testing it’s own version of vigabatrin, charismatically named CPP-109, and will be entering phase 2 clinical human trials later this summer. The drug shows great potential to increase the ability of addicts battling cocaine and other stimulant addiction to overcome cravings through a process of dopaminergic modification.

CPP-109 works by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain, and this surplus of GABA serves to reduce the effect of cocaine on dopamine in the brain. GABA will not allow for the production of as much dopamine in response to cocaine, and without the production of dopamine, cocaine has little effect. The drug is reported to be able to dramatically reduce the cravings as experienced by drug addicts in withdrawal, and as a result is able to increase the length of sobriety.

The Mexican studies have been previously criticized for their small sample size and their limited duration, so it will be interesting to see whether the results as reported in the Mexican studies will endure under a larger and more strictly controlled clinical trial. The clinical testing results are expected to be ready for publication by the summer of 2008.

This new drug seems to me to be very similar in some ways to the meth and cocaine vaccines in development. While the cocaine vaccines attack the cocaine while still in the blood, and do not allow it to get to the brain, and this drug simply renders the cocaine ineffective, they both allow for the lessening of the effects of ingested cocaine, and for a resultant lessening in tolerance and ultimate cravings.

Both seem very promising, and if either or both pass successfully through all stages of clinical trials and gain FDA approval, will be very welcome additions to the drug treatment arsenal. No one proposes that these drugs will be enough on their own to combat drug addiction, but when combined with existing psycho social and behavioral cognitive therapies, should greatly increases the effectiveness of our best treatments. An addiction to cocaine is notoriously difficult to overcome and any pharmaceutical assistance against the cravings involved in cocaine withdrawal will be very much appreciated by the estimated 1.5 million American cocaine addicts.

Find out more at this cocaine addiction treatment and recovery resource.

One in Five men between the ages of 21-30 will buy alcohol for an underage stranger outside of a liquor store

I almost hesitate to write this, as it’s almost a how to manual for kids looking to buy alcohol, but as follows is very telling of our society and explains in part how easy it is for our kids to buy alcohol.

A University of Minnesota study looked at underage alcohol buying, and wanted to know just how easy it was for underage drinkers to secure alcohol by propositioning buyers about to enter a liquor store. The University researchers had under age looking subjects approach people about to enter a liquor store, and these subjects explained that they had forgotten their I.D. and asked the shopper to buy them a 6 pack of beer.

Researchers found that only 8% of the population when approached in this way would buy the beer for the subject, but when examining specific sub groups, it was found that males who appeared to be between the ages of 21 and 30, when approached had a 19% likelihood of buying the beer.

When almost one in five young men are willing to buy alcohol for underage strangers, it’s not surprising that our children seem to have little difficulty getting the alcohol they want.

So what’s to be done?

In addition to educating the public about the greater risks to teenagers who start drinking earlier, I think that we need to tackle this problem as an enforcement issue. It is currently against the law to buy alcohol for minors, but if one in five are willing to do it for a complete stranger outside of a liquor store, obviously the threat of penalty is no deterrent to the behavior.

If police actively enforced this illegal activity, and published both the consequences of this crime as well as publicized successful "sting" operations on adults willing to do it, I believe that our kids would be a lot safer from easy access to alcohol. It’s not the ultimate solution, but by making access more difficult, you might just save a few lives from dependency, and you’ll probably save a lot of young lives from the ultimate consequences of drunken driving.

If you’re approached…don’t buy it for them, you’re not doing them a favor by buying them beer, you’re doing them a favor by not. To law enforcement…please take this seriously, and please punish offenders and make the consequences well known. It may be perceived as a relatively innocuous crime, but in reality it’s anything but harmless.

I almost hesitate to write this, as it’s almost a how to manual for kids looking to buy alcohol, but as follows is very telling of our society and explains in part how easy it is for our kids to buy alcohol.

A University of Minnesota study looked at underage alcohol buying, and wanted to know just how easy it was for underage drinkers to secure alcohol by propositioning buyers about to enter a liquor store. The University researchers had under age looking subjects approach people about to enter a liquor store, and these subjects explained that they had forgotten their I.D. and asked the shopper to buy them a 6 pack of beer.

Researchers found that only 8% of the population when approached in this way would buy the beer for the subject, but when examining specific sub groups, it was found that males who appeared to be between the ages of 21 and 30, when approached had a 19% likelihood of buying the beer.

When almost one in five young men are willing to buy alcohol for underage strangers, it’s not surprising that our children seem to have little difficulty getting the alcohol they want.

So what’s to be done?

In addition to educating the public about the greater risks to teenagers who start drinking earlier, I think that we need to tackle this problem as an enforcement issue. It is currently against the law to buy alcohol for minors, but if one in five are willing to do it for a complete stranger outside of a liquor store, obviously the threat of penalty is no deterrent to the behavior.

If police actively enforced this illegal activity, and published both the consequences of this crime as well as publicized successful "sting" operations on adults willing to do it, I believe that our kids would be a lot safer from easy access to alcohol. It’s not the ultimate solution, but by making access more difficult, you might just save a few lives from dependency, and you’ll probably save a lot of young lives from the ultimate consequences of drunken driving.

If you’re approached…don’t buy it for them, you’re not doing them a favor by buying them beer, you’re doing them a favor by not. To law enforcement…please take this seriously, and please punish offenders and make the consequences well known. It may be perceived as a relatively innocuous crime, but in reality it’s anything but harmless.

Almost 10% of the population need treatment for drug or alcohol abuse!?!

The many millions of Americans that desperately need help with their drug and alcohol problems require us all to take a closer look at the steps we need to take to improve the recovery rate. By helping addicts get the help they need, we better our families, our communities and ultimately our country. At the family level, the employer level, and at the governmental level, steps need to be taken to decrease the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that currently 2.7% of the population meet the criteria for drug dependence or abuse and need treatment, but are not receiving it; and the proportion for alcohol abuse is 7.4% of the population that need it, but are not receiving any treatment. Truly astronomical numbers; why are so many people recognized as in need of treatment not getting the help they need?

The answers are many, and like anything with addiction, noting is simple. A great many of these people will have been offered treatment, but have refused it, many of these people will be in denial of their problems, and not feel they need treatment, and some of these may want treatment, but for whatever reason, be unable to get it. Any way you look at it though, it’s unacceptable; and we all need to work harder to get these sick people the treatment that they so desperately need.

In the Family

We as a society pay a high price for allowing this rate of abuse to continue unabated, and the toll on the millions of families and tens of millions of addicts is truly heartbreaking. Families need to take action If you have a friend or family member needing treatment, there is no acceptable reason for not at the very least trying to get them the help that they need. They may not accept your offer of assistance, but you need to at least try. We all at the family level need to take better care of each other, and this can start with a bit of tough love.

Information on how to persuade a loved one to accept treatment is all over the internet, and you can also seek the advice of a professional addictions specialist for tailored recommendations. Interventions are very effective, and there are professional interventions specialists who can help you through the emotionally difficult process.

On the Job

Employers need to take action! Employers also need to take more responsibility for the health and well being of those that work for them, and especially with men, the threat of losing a job can be uniquely motivating – and employers can often persuade an addict to accept treatment when no one else can.

Employers should increase the level of assistance both out of concern and compassion for the individual, and as well to increases the productivity and performance of a valued worker. Getting an employee sober is truly a win win situation.

Our Tax Dollars

Government needs to take action Govt. also needs to take greater responsibility for the situation. Greater funding needs to be provided for access to treatment, and I believe that simply by diverting a fraction of the drug incarceration budget to available treatment facilities, a great deal of suffering could be alleviated.

Additionally, legislation should be enacted requiring insurance providers to offer greater treatments to those suffering through addictions. Addiction is a disease, and is classified as such by all doctor’s organizations, but for some reason insurance providers seem to be able to shirk their responsibility when providing treatment for this disease. With almost 10% of the population needing substance abuse treatment but not receiving it, I believe we need to think seriously about the steps we can all take to improve our situation. By helping addicts one person at a time, we will make our communities, our families and our country a much better place.

The many millions of Americans that desperately need help with their drug and alcohol problems require us all to take a closer look at the steps we need to take to improve the recovery rate. By helping addicts get the help they need, we better our families, our communities and ultimately our country. At the family level, the employer level, and at the governmental level, steps need to be taken to decrease the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that currently 2.7% of the population meet the criteria for drug dependence or abuse and need treatment, but are not receiving it; and the proportion for alcohol abuse is 7.4% of the population that need it, but are not receiving any treatment. Truly astronomical numbers; why are so many people recognized as in need of treatment not getting the help they need?

The answers are many, and like anything with addiction, noting is simple. A great many of these people will have been offered treatment, but have refused it, many of these people will be in denial of their problems, and not feel they need treatment, and some of these may want treatment, but for whatever reason, be unable to get it. Any way you look at it though, it’s unacceptable; and we all need to work harder to get these sick people the treatment that they so desperately need.

In the Family

We as a society pay a high price for allowing this rate of abuse to continue unabated, and the toll on the millions of families and tens of millions of addicts is truly heartbreaking. Families need to take action If you have a friend or family member needing treatment, there is no acceptable reason for not at the very least trying to get them the help that they need. They may not accept your offer of assistance, but you need to at least try. We all at the family level need to take better care of each other, and this can start with a bit of tough love.

Information on how to persuade a loved one to accept treatment is all over the internet, and you can also seek the advice of a professional addictions specialist for tailored recommendations. Interventions are very effective, and there are professional interventions specialists who can help you through the emotionally difficult process.

On the Job

Employers need to take action! Employers also need to take more responsibility for the health and well being of those that work for them, and especially with men, the threat of losing a job can be uniquely motivating – and employers can often persuade an addict to accept treatment when no one else can.

Employers should increase the level of assistance both out of concern and compassion for the individual, and as well to increases the productivity and performance of a valued worker. Getting an employee sober is truly a win win situation.

Our Tax Dollars

Government needs to take action Govt. also needs to take greater responsibility for the situation. Greater funding needs to be provided for access to treatment, and I believe that simply by diverting a fraction of the drug incarceration budget to available treatment facilities, a great deal of suffering could be alleviated.

Additionally, legislation should be enacted requiring insurance providers to offer greater treatments to those suffering through addictions. Addiction is a disease, and is classified as such by all doctor’s organizations, but for some reason insurance providers seem to be able to shirk their responsibility when providing treatment for this disease. With almost 10% of the population needing substance abuse treatment but not receiving it, I believe we need to think seriously about the steps we can all take to improve our situation. By helping addicts one person at a time, we will make our communities, our families and our country a much better place.

Why alcohol makes us mean. Angry drunks explained.

Photo: Jan TikThere’s something in alcohol that makes all of us act just a little more belligerently and aggressively than we otherwise would, and for some people alcohol can even provoke physical violence.

But why, and why does a drug we take to feel good eventually so often end up creating feelings of anger and even behaviors of aggression?

To answer these questions University of Kentucky psychologist Peter Giancola took a look at drinking in a modeled experiment of aggression. Working from a theory that explains alcohol influenced violence occurring because when drunk, the parts of our brain that operate our working memory are significantly impaired; and we as a result are less able to focus on multiple environmental stimuli simultaneously.

What happens, so the theory postulates, is that we tend to focus only on provocative stimuli, while being unable to concurrently process other environmental stimuli that might calm or mitigate these perceived provocations.

A man may be at a bar and see someone "hitting on his girlfriend" and when drunk enough, may not recognize the other environmental factors that would clearly indicate that the man was actually, for example, an old friend, and he acts without an accurate perception of the reality in an aggressive manner.

Drinking and Electro Shocks

To clinically test this alcohol induced theory of aggression, Giancola performed experiments that combined electroshocks and Vodka! He gave some trial participants a number of alcoholic drinks, and others none, and he had the study volunteers face off against one another in a frustrating game task, where the loser received an electro shock of varying intensity from the winner.

As expected, the "drunk" participants consistently gave more intense electro shocks to their opponents than those who had not been drinking. To change the variables slightly, Giancola had the drunken participants also think about a complex mental task while playing the game and delivering the shocks, and found that while concentrating on something other than the game exclusively, the shocks delivered by the drunken participants were significantly less intense.

Giancola explains that by having the drunk game players concentrating on something other than the game and their opponents perceived aggression and provocation, they were more distracted and did not perceive as high a need for an aggressive response; but when focusing solely on the game, the drunken participants focused solely on the aggression of their opponent, and responded with high levels of electro shocks.

Giancola further explains that the drunks that had to concentrate on more than just the game were more similar to a sober person, who has the capacity to absorb multiple environmental variables simultaneously, and does not focus only on perceived aggression and provocation. It’s a very interesting theory, and it seems that research backs it up. Our working memory allows us to absorb and process environmental cues effectively, and by being able to simultaneously process a number of environmental variables, the perceived requirement for an aggressive response to a situation is reduced.

Photo: Jan TikThere’s something in alcohol that makes all of us act just a little more belligerently and aggressively than we otherwise would, and for some people alcohol can even provoke physical violence.

But why, and why does a drug we take to feel good eventually so often end up creating feelings of anger and even behaviors of aggression?

To answer these questions University of Kentucky psychologist Peter Giancola took a look at drinking in a modeled experiment of aggression. Working from a theory that explains alcohol influenced violence occurring because when drunk, the parts of our brain that operate our working memory are significantly impaired; and we as a result are less able to focus on multiple environmental stimuli simultaneously.

What happens, so the theory postulates, is that we tend to focus only on provocative stimuli, while being unable to concurrently process other environmental stimuli that might calm or mitigate these perceived provocations.

A man may be at a bar and see someone "hitting on his girlfriend" and when drunk enough, may not recognize the other environmental factors that would clearly indicate that the man was actually, for example, an old friend, and he acts without an accurate perception of the reality in an aggressive manner.

Drinking and Electro Shocks

To clinically test this alcohol induced theory of aggression, Giancola performed experiments that combined electroshocks and Vodka! He gave some trial participants a number of alcoholic drinks, and others none, and he had the study volunteers face off against one another in a frustrating game task, where the loser received an electro shock of varying intensity from the winner.

As expected, the "drunk" participants consistently gave more intense electro shocks to their opponents than those who had not been drinking. To change the variables slightly, Giancola had the drunken participants also think about a complex mental task while playing the game and delivering the shocks, and found that while concentrating on something other than the game exclusively, the shocks delivered by the drunken participants were significantly less intense.

Giancola explains that by having the drunk game players concentrating on something other than the game and their opponents perceived aggression and provocation, they were more distracted and did not perceive as high a need for an aggressive response; but when focusing solely on the game, the drunken participants focused solely on the aggression of their opponent, and responded with high levels of electro shocks.

Giancola further explains that the drunks that had to concentrate on more than just the game were more similar to a sober person, who has the capacity to absorb multiple environmental variables simultaneously, and does not focus only on perceived aggression and provocation. It’s a very interesting theory, and it seems that research backs it up. Our working memory allows us to absorb and process environmental cues effectively, and by being able to simultaneously process a number of environmental variables, the perceived requirement for an aggressive response to a situation is reduced.

In Britain, overnight sales of alcohol lead to a doubling of alcohol related hospital visits.

In response to epidemic levels of binge drinking, disorderly conduct and violence, Britain changed its liquor licensing rules and in November 2005 started to allow the sale of liquor virtually around the clock.

The ideation was that if there was no enforced closure of sales, people would not drink quite so heavily in the period leading up to the previously mandated closing times, and there would be a lesser influx each night of intoxicated people onto the streets at the same time. It sounds sensible in theory, and I don’t know whether crime, violence and disorderly conduct were reduced as a result or not, but one unexpected consequence of the legislative change was that overnight emergency room visits and overnight hospital stays due to alcohol consumption almost doubled in response.

It seems that by increasing the availability of alcohol, people continued to drink more heavily into the night, and a far greater number of people in fact drank to the point that they needed hospitalization. While violence and alcohol always go hand in hand, America has not had the same type of public conduct and violence problems at closing time as Britain has had, and America may want to consider reducing access to alcohol as a way to reduce the number of people who drink alcohol to the point of personal harm each and every night.

If the alcohol runs out, and there is nowhere to buy it, well that’s it for the night for the most part. A seasoned and experienced drunk can always find a bottle, but by reducing access to alcohol, we may be able to reduce the harm done on the population as a whole.

In response to epidemic levels of binge drinking, disorderly conduct and violence, Britain changed its liquor licensing rules and in November 2005 started to allow the sale of liquor virtually around the clock.

The ideation was that if there was no enforced closure of sales, people would not drink quite so heavily in the period leading up to the previously mandated closing times, and there would be a lesser influx each night of intoxicated people onto the streets at the same time. It sounds sensible in theory, and I don’t know whether crime, violence and disorderly conduct were reduced as a result or not, but one unexpected consequence of the legislative change was that overnight emergency room visits and overnight hospital stays due to alcohol consumption almost doubled in response.

It seems that by increasing the availability of alcohol, people continued to drink more heavily into the night, and a far greater number of people in fact drank to the point that they needed hospitalization. While violence and alcohol always go hand in hand, America has not had the same type of public conduct and violence problems at closing time as Britain has had, and America may want to consider reducing access to alcohol as a way to reduce the number of people who drink alcohol to the point of personal harm each and every night.

If the alcohol runs out, and there is nowhere to buy it, well that’s it for the night for the most part. A seasoned and experienced drunk can always find a bottle, but by reducing access to alcohol, we may be able to reduce the harm done on the population as a whole.