What a Super Bowl! How Much Tragedy?

First and foremost, I don’t want to come across here as some sort of puritanical killjoy. Having a couple of beers with friends while watching a great game, for those without alcohol problems, is one of life’s real simple pleasures. Social, good-time drinking, in moderation is OK by me.

The numbers aren’t yet out, but using past Super Sunday’s as a pretty good predictor, we know that yesterday more people died in alcohol related traffic accidents, more wives were assaulted and more people ended up overdosing on alcohol – than on any other day of the year.

Yes, watching the Super Bowl has become America’s booziest event, with all the carnage associated.

And all this tragedy, far removed from any reality presented during outrageously expensive Budweiser ad slots, should maybe give us pause for thought.

Not that we were thinking, too busy between plays watching Anheuser Busch’s estimated 25 million dollars spent on 10 beer-ad slots, with more than twice as many beer ads shown than for any other type of product.

And watching with us, an estimated 33 million kids – the future beer buyers of America, and for all the industry’s talk of self regulation, a market segment they drool over.

Research has shown that kids shown beer ads report thinking about drinking in a more favorable light than kids not shown beer ads. Research also shows that more binge drinkers drink beer, by far, than any other type of alcohol.

Super Bowl parties embody excess, with over indulgence the norm; and when the clock ticks down and a new champ gets crowned, good-times transform (for too many of us) into something much much sadder.

Drinking is OK; binge drinking is not, problem drinking is not, driving drunk is not, beating your wife while drunk is not…

Twenty-five million dollars was not spent to entertain us – it was spent to have us drink more. It influences our children to drink earlier, and more, and it makes it awfully tough for those in recovery to stay true to their dreams of a better life.

Watching a bear drink beer amuses, watching an angry drunk drink beer doesn’t – and unfortunately, we know which of those scenarios happens every day.

The beer industry is quite happy to self-regulate itself – do they deserve such trust? Can they really want us all to drink as responsibly as they claim when that could only mean a great loss of profits? I mean, 30 million problem drinkers can drink a lot of Bud, and they’re certainly "don’t know when to say when".

Are beer ads what we really want?

First and foremost, I don’t want to come across here as some sort of puritanical killjoy. Having a couple of beers with friends while watching a great game, for those without alcohol problems, is one of life’s real simple pleasures. Social, good-time drinking, in moderation is OK by me.

The numbers aren’t yet out, but using past Super Sunday’s as a pretty good predictor, we know that yesterday more people died in alcohol related traffic accidents, more wives were assaulted and more people ended up overdosing on alcohol – than on any other day of the year.

Yes, watching the Super Bowl has become America’s booziest event, with all the carnage associated.

And all this tragedy, far removed from any reality presented during outrageously expensive Budweiser ad slots, should maybe give us pause for thought.

Not that we were thinking, too busy between plays watching Anheuser Busch’s estimated 25 million dollars spent on 10 beer-ad slots, with more than twice as many beer ads shown than for any other type of product.

And watching with us, an estimated 33 million kids – the future beer buyers of America, and for all the industry’s talk of self regulation, a market segment they drool over.

Research has shown that kids shown beer ads report thinking about drinking in a more favorable light than kids not shown beer ads. Research also shows that more binge drinkers drink beer, by far, than any other type of alcohol.

Super Bowl parties embody excess, with over indulgence the norm; and when the clock ticks down and a new champ gets crowned, good-times transform (for too many of us) into something much much sadder.

Drinking is OK; binge drinking is not, problem drinking is not, driving drunk is not, beating your wife while drunk is not…

Twenty-five million dollars was not spent to entertain us – it was spent to have us drink more. It influences our children to drink earlier, and more, and it makes it awfully tough for those in recovery to stay true to their dreams of a better life.

Watching a bear drink beer amuses, watching an angry drunk drink beer doesn’t – and unfortunately, we know which of those scenarios happens every day.

The beer industry is quite happy to self-regulate itself – do they deserve such trust? Can they really want us all to drink as responsibly as they claim when that could only mean a great loss of profits? I mean, 30 million problem drinkers can drink a lot of Bud, and they’re certainly "don’t know when to say when".

Are beer ads what we really want?

You’re Not Funnier When You Drink – Trust Me; You’re Not

There’s a small voice nagging inside the heads of most alcoholics, it’s the voice of addiction, and it tells us what we need to hear to keep on pouring in the booze.

  • It tells us (in whatever words we like to hear) that alcohol isn’t the problem, the job-wife-neighbors-whatever are the problem, and that good old alcohol is the only real solution.
  • It tells us that we don’t have a problem we can’t handle, and if we wanted to quit we could, and that maybe we will someday, but not quite yet, anyway.
  • It also reminds us that until we shoot down stiff drink or two, we’re just not that interesting. Alcohol, it tells us, makes us funnier, better looking – just plain-old more fun to be around.

Of course, it doesn’t, none of this is true – but that’s what we believe.

Maybe it did help to some degree once. Maybe a couple of drinks at that party loosened us up enough to relax, to crack a few jokes, to flirt shamelessly – to be the center of attention. Maybe it did, once, have some effects we liked. But we cling to these memories as if they were fact, all the while not noticing that now, we’re not funny…we’re sloppy. Not noticing that now the only people that really enjoy spending time with us when we’re loaded – are just as loaded as we are, and somehow overlooking what alcohol has been doing to our appearance.

I quit drinking, and now, for the most part, I cringe to remember the ass I made of myself, on so so many occasions. I can tell you that a lot of those people observing the spectacle that was me weren’t thinking about how debonair and charming I was! Oddly, it wasn’t till after I quit drinking that I made this realization.

If you’re an alcoholic, you would be funnier, better company, and surely better looking if you stopped.

That voice inside your head – it’s lying.

 

There’s a small voice nagging inside the heads of most alcoholics, it’s the voice of addiction, and it tells us what we need to hear to keep on pouring in the booze.

  • It tells us (in whatever words we like to hear) that alcohol isn’t the problem, the job-wife-neighbors-whatever are the problem, and that good old alcohol is the only real solution.
  • It tells us that we don’t have a problem we can’t handle, and if we wanted to quit we could, and that maybe we will someday, but not quite yet, anyway.
  • It also reminds us that until we shoot down stiff drink or two, we’re just not that interesting. Alcohol, it tells us, makes us funnier, better looking – just plain-old more fun to be around.

Of course, it doesn’t, none of this is true – but that’s what we believe.

Maybe it did help to some degree once. Maybe a couple of drinks at that party loosened us up enough to relax, to crack a few jokes, to flirt shamelessly – to be the center of attention. Maybe it did, once, have some effects we liked. But we cling to these memories as if they were fact, all the while not noticing that now, we’re not funny…we’re sloppy. Not noticing that now the only people that really enjoy spending time with us when we’re loaded – are just as loaded as we are, and somehow overlooking what alcohol has been doing to our appearance.

I quit drinking, and now, for the most part, I cringe to remember the ass I made of myself, on so so many occasions. I can tell you that a lot of those people observing the spectacle that was me weren’t thinking about how debonair and charming I was! Oddly, it wasn’t till after I quit drinking that I made this realization.

If you’re an alcoholic, you would be funnier, better company, and surely better looking if you stopped.

That voice inside your head – it’s lying.

 

Wanna Know Why It’s So Hard to Quit Drugs?

  • How can you control cravings at the subconscious level?
  • How can you avoid cues that lead to cravings when these cues get processed unconsciously, and it all happens so quickly that you may start craving drugs, with no idea of why?
  • How can you control cravings that stimulate a system of the mind responsible for self preservations acts such as sex and eating, cravings that provoke this system strongly enough to override all other impulses (including towards food or sex)?

Well the answer is that you can, but it’s really really hard! A study released today in PLoS One, funded by NIDA and the National Institute of Health, reveals that cocaine addicts can experience cravings after being shown pictures of drugs for only 33 milliseconds – so fast that the cocaine patients weren’t even aware of having seen them, but were aware of all of a sudden wanting cocaine!

Study authors Dr. Anna Rose Childress and Dr. Charles O’Brien, at the University of Pennsylvania used MRI imaging to observe brain response after cocaine patients were presented with pictures of crack, or a crack pipe, pictures flashing by so fast, that patients were not consciously aware of them. The brain however does see, even when we are not aware of it, and after each provocative stimulus, researchers saw a dramatic response in the limbic system of the brain.

The limbic system is responsible for reward and pleasure, and is known to be involved with addiction.

Cocaine addicts can see things in their environment, not even realize that they see them, and start feeling strong urgings to use cocaine. When a major strategy for early relapse avoidance involves minimizing these types of cravings provoking stimuli, this is obviously very problematic.

Researchers claim that greater understandings of the neurological underpinnings of addiction and craving takes them closer to medications that may work to minimize this effect in the limbic systems, and give cocaine addicts (and likely all addicts) a much better chance at quitting. Willpower is essential for recovery, yet willpower has nothing to do with addiction. We cannot call addicts who relapse weak for failing to manage impulses they can’t control. Willpower keeps addicts in treatment, fighting, but willpower alone is just not enough.

  • How can you control cravings at the subconscious level?
  • How can you avoid cues that lead to cravings when these cues get processed unconsciously, and it all happens so quickly that you may start craving drugs, with no idea of why?
  • How can you control cravings that stimulate a system of the mind responsible for self preservations acts such as sex and eating, cravings that provoke this system strongly enough to override all other impulses (including towards food or sex)?

Well the answer is that you can, but it’s really really hard! A study released today in PLoS One, funded by NIDA and the National Institute of Health, reveals that cocaine addicts can experience cravings after being shown pictures of drugs for only 33 milliseconds – so fast that the cocaine patients weren’t even aware of having seen them, but were aware of all of a sudden wanting cocaine!

Study authors Dr. Anna Rose Childress and Dr. Charles O’Brien, at the University of Pennsylvania used MRI imaging to observe brain response after cocaine patients were presented with pictures of crack, or a crack pipe, pictures flashing by so fast, that patients were not consciously aware of them. The brain however does see, even when we are not aware of it, and after each provocative stimulus, researchers saw a dramatic response in the limbic system of the brain.

The limbic system is responsible for reward and pleasure, and is known to be involved with addiction.

Cocaine addicts can see things in their environment, not even realize that they see them, and start feeling strong urgings to use cocaine. When a major strategy for early relapse avoidance involves minimizing these types of cravings provoking stimuli, this is obviously very problematic.

Researchers claim that greater understandings of the neurological underpinnings of addiction and craving takes them closer to medications that may work to minimize this effect in the limbic systems, and give cocaine addicts (and likely all addicts) a much better chance at quitting. Willpower is essential for recovery, yet willpower has nothing to do with addiction. We cannot call addicts who relapse weak for failing to manage impulses they can’t control. Willpower keeps addicts in treatment, fighting, but willpower alone is just not enough.

3 things grandparents can do to protect kids growing up in homes with substance abusing parents

Photo: LovelypetalDealing with substance abuse in the home, and worrying about the safety and welfare of grandchildren should never be thrust upon grandparents wanting only to enjoy and spoil their young grandkids. But with so many kids growing up in abusive homes, too many grandparents either assume the role of primary caregiver, or worry constantly about the safety of the kids. There a number of proactive steps grandparents can take to improve the situation.

Grandparents want to play with, enjoy and spoil their young grandkids, and they never want to be concerned about the stability of the home environment or worried about the safety of their young grandchildren. But with so many kids growing up in homes with alcoholic or drug abusing parents, too many kids, and by extension grandparents, have a lot more than normal to worry about.

About a million and a half kids in America are being raised by grandparents…and substance abuse and addiction is a major casual factor for grandparents assuming the role of primary caregiver; and while grandparents surely never wished for the responsibility of parenting again, the stress and concern of leaving kids in questionable or dangerous environments can be even worse.

The pains of addiction resonate through the family, and extend beyond the borders of the immediate family home, and nothing is worse than a feeling of impotence to effect change for the better and constant worry for the welfare of beloved grandchildren.

Getting help

The obvious solution to the problem is to convince abusing parents of the need to change behaviors, and to attend needed drug or alcohol treatments; if only for the good of the children. An organized family intervention with pre arranged and ready treatment can be extremely effective at convincing even unwilling and denying addicts of the need to concede to treatment. Nagging, shaming and lecturing don’t work, and can even exacerbate the level of abuse; and neither does pretending that all is well do anything to improve the situation. Proactive and constructive actions are needed, and an intervention is a great place to start.

If an intervention does not convince of a need for treatment, grandparents need to take other proactive steps to ensure the safety of the children in the home. The behaviors of addiction can be painful to bear, and although taking extreme measures to protect the children is never easy, acting out of concern for the welfare of the children is always appropriate, no matter how emotionally complex and difficult the decision to intervene may be.

According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, there are three concrete things that grandparents need to do when children remain in an abusive household.

1 Get informed

To really affect daily realities, grandparents need to understand the nature of addiction and abuse, and understand the real risks to the children in the home. Information can be sourced from print and web resources, from professional organizations, and through peer support groups such as al anon, or other grandparents groups.

2 Know your options

No grandparent ever wants to call child protection services on their children, but if the situation becomes desperate enough, it may be required. Grandparents need to get educated as to the legal and community organizations offering support, and know what their legal and community options are in case of extreme eventualities.

3 Be a source of stability and comfort

Children of alcoholics or drug abusers crave stability and comfort, and grandparents can offer sanctuary and a needed place of emotional and physical escape to children suffering in abusive homes. Grandparents can be sure that children understand that addiction is a disease, and that the behaviors of addiction are all a part of the disease; and make sure especially that children understand that they are in no way at fault, that they didn’t cause the situation, and they are not responsible to change it.

Kids always want to love their parents, so grandparents should also strive to accentuate anything positive about the parent child relationship, and never to needlessly degrade the abusing parent.

Grandparents can do a lot to help kids in homes with substance abuse

Grandparents should never need to worry about the safety of their grandchildren, but too many kids are growing up in very negative environments and suffering the alcohol or drug abuse of one or both parents. Grandparents can help, and they need to get involved, try to enact change, look out for the safety and well being of their grandkids, and always be ready to offer needed comfort and stability.

Photo: LovelypetalDealing with substance abuse in the home, and worrying about the safety and welfare of grandchildren should never be thrust upon grandparents wanting only to enjoy and spoil their young grandkids. But with so many kids growing up in abusive homes, too many grandparents either assume the role of primary caregiver, or worry constantly about the safety of the kids. There a number of proactive steps grandparents can take to improve the situation.

Grandparents want to play with, enjoy and spoil their young grandkids, and they never want to be concerned about the stability of the home environment or worried about the safety of their young grandchildren. But with so many kids growing up in homes with alcoholic or drug abusing parents, too many kids, and by extension grandparents, have a lot more than normal to worry about.

About a million and a half kids in America are being raised by grandparents…and substance abuse and addiction is a major casual factor for grandparents assuming the role of primary caregiver; and while grandparents surely never wished for the responsibility of parenting again, the stress and concern of leaving kids in questionable or dangerous environments can be even worse.

The pains of addiction resonate through the family, and extend beyond the borders of the immediate family home, and nothing is worse than a feeling of impotence to effect change for the better and constant worry for the welfare of beloved grandchildren.

Getting help

The obvious solution to the problem is to convince abusing parents of the need to change behaviors, and to attend needed drug or alcohol treatments; if only for the good of the children. An organized family intervention with pre arranged and ready treatment can be extremely effective at convincing even unwilling and denying addicts of the need to concede to treatment. Nagging, shaming and lecturing don’t work, and can even exacerbate the level of abuse; and neither does pretending that all is well do anything to improve the situation. Proactive and constructive actions are needed, and an intervention is a great place to start.

If an intervention does not convince of a need for treatment, grandparents need to take other proactive steps to ensure the safety of the children in the home. The behaviors of addiction can be painful to bear, and although taking extreme measures to protect the children is never easy, acting out of concern for the welfare of the children is always appropriate, no matter how emotionally complex and difficult the decision to intervene may be.

According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, there are three concrete things that grandparents need to do when children remain in an abusive household.

1 Get informed

To really affect daily realities, grandparents need to understand the nature of addiction and abuse, and understand the real risks to the children in the home. Information can be sourced from print and web resources, from professional organizations, and through peer support groups such as al anon, or other grandparents groups.

2 Know your options

No grandparent ever wants to call child protection services on their children, but if the situation becomes desperate enough, it may be required. Grandparents need to get educated as to the legal and community organizations offering support, and know what their legal and community options are in case of extreme eventualities.

3 Be a source of stability and comfort

Children of alcoholics or drug abusers crave stability and comfort, and grandparents can offer sanctuary and a needed place of emotional and physical escape to children suffering in abusive homes. Grandparents can be sure that children understand that addiction is a disease, and that the behaviors of addiction are all a part of the disease; and make sure especially that children understand that they are in no way at fault, that they didn’t cause the situation, and they are not responsible to change it.

Kids always want to love their parents, so grandparents should also strive to accentuate anything positive about the parent child relationship, and never to needlessly degrade the abusing parent.

Grandparents can do a lot to help kids in homes with substance abuse

Grandparents should never need to worry about the safety of their grandchildren, but too many kids are growing up in very negative environments and suffering the alcohol or drug abuse of one or both parents. Grandparents can help, and they need to get involved, try to enact change, look out for the safety and well being of their grandkids, and always be ready to offer needed comfort and stability.

Alcohol – America’s leading cause of mental retardation

Tens of thousands of children are born each year in America alone with either fetal alcohol syndrome of fetal alcohol effects, and these children will suffer physical, emotional and developmental problems for life. Completely preventable and tragic, fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading cause of mental retardation in America today.

The term fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is an umbrella term describing the facial and physical deformities, the cerebral deficits and the emotional and behavioral legacy of children born to women who drank during pregnancy. A less severe syndrome know as fetal alcohol effects (FAE), affects many thousands more children each year; and because at birth the characteristic facial deformities are not always recognizable, experts estimate that the prevalence rate of FAS and FAE is actually far greater then reported. Between 4000 and 12000 children are born each year with FAS, and FAE effects tens of thousands more.

The disorder plagues the development and potential of children for life, and although the facial characteristics of the disorder may become reduced in severity after puberty, the emotional, cognitive and behavioral deficits actually become more pronounced with adulthood. There is no uniform set of symptoms associated with the disorder, but very often FAS will cause characteristic facial structure deformities, including a smaller than normal head and a flattened mid face, cognitive and developmental delays or retardation and life long behavioral and emotional adaptation issues. Un coordination, impulsivity and speech and hearing impairments also characterize symptoms of the disorder.

A late 90’s study of alcohol consumption during pregnancy reports that almost 20% of women continue to drink some amount of alcohol during pregnancy, heedless of warnings to the contrary; and women with lower incomes and with less prenatal care are far more likely to drink heavily while pregnant.

The Surgeon General recommends complete abstainment from alcohol during pregnancy, as no one is sure at what level alcohol consumption may be safe. If pregnant women drink very heavily, especially during the last trimester, newborn infants may endure dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as tremens, abnormal muscular activity, an inability to sleep and extreme and inconsolable crying.

The societal economic costs of FAS and FAE run into the billions each year, but the individual and life long costs are far more tragic than any increased bill to the State. And all of this devastation is completely and 100% preventable. If a woman does not drink during pregnancy, there is no possibility of FAS or FAE.

What to do?

While all involved despair over the tragedy of FAS, there is little consensus about what proactive steps should be taken to reduce the incidence rate. Some States aim to protect unborn children by enforcing treatment on pregnant women who exhibit signs of substance abuse and others argue that by essentially criminalizing the issue, you deter far more women from treatment than you help.

Another problem is that alcoholic women wishing to curtail their drinking during pregnancy often have a hard time finding a treatment facility capable of admitting a pregnant woman, and also offering needed prenatal care. Every dollar spent towards substance abuse prevention and treatment yields a massive dividend in societal savings, and surely this is also the case with FAS.

 If FAS cost’s billions in increased health care, education and eventual incarceration costs each year, perhaps we should spend bit more now in the hopes of reducing the FAS societal bill down the road. More spent on education and prenatal outreach, more spent on subsidized treatment beds for pregnant women wanting to change, and more spent on awareness campaigns…there will always be some who ignore all the warnings and attempts to help, but every person saved would be a huge and celebratory victory.

Tens of thousands of children are born each year in America alone with either fetal alcohol syndrome of fetal alcohol effects, and these children will suffer physical, emotional and developmental problems for life. Completely preventable and tragic, fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading cause of mental retardation in America today.

The term fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is an umbrella term describing the facial and physical deformities, the cerebral deficits and the emotional and behavioral legacy of children born to women who drank during pregnancy. A less severe syndrome know as fetal alcohol effects (FAE), affects many thousands more children each year; and because at birth the characteristic facial deformities are not always recognizable, experts estimate that the prevalence rate of FAS and FAE is actually far greater then reported. Between 4000 and 12000 children are born each year with FAS, and FAE effects tens of thousands more.

The disorder plagues the development and potential of children for life, and although the facial characteristics of the disorder may become reduced in severity after puberty, the emotional, cognitive and behavioral deficits actually become more pronounced with adulthood. There is no uniform set of symptoms associated with the disorder, but very often FAS will cause characteristic facial structure deformities, including a smaller than normal head and a flattened mid face, cognitive and developmental delays or retardation and life long behavioral and emotional adaptation issues. Un coordination, impulsivity and speech and hearing impairments also characterize symptoms of the disorder.

A late 90’s study of alcohol consumption during pregnancy reports that almost 20% of women continue to drink some amount of alcohol during pregnancy, heedless of warnings to the contrary; and women with lower incomes and with less prenatal care are far more likely to drink heavily while pregnant.

The Surgeon General recommends complete abstainment from alcohol during pregnancy, as no one is sure at what level alcohol consumption may be safe. If pregnant women drink very heavily, especially during the last trimester, newborn infants may endure dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as tremens, abnormal muscular activity, an inability to sleep and extreme and inconsolable crying.

The societal economic costs of FAS and FAE run into the billions each year, but the individual and life long costs are far more tragic than any increased bill to the State. And all of this devastation is completely and 100% preventable. If a woman does not drink during pregnancy, there is no possibility of FAS or FAE.

What to do?

While all involved despair over the tragedy of FAS, there is little consensus about what proactive steps should be taken to reduce the incidence rate. Some States aim to protect unborn children by enforcing treatment on pregnant women who exhibit signs of substance abuse and others argue that by essentially criminalizing the issue, you deter far more women from treatment than you help.

Another problem is that alcoholic women wishing to curtail their drinking during pregnancy often have a hard time finding a treatment facility capable of admitting a pregnant woman, and also offering needed prenatal care. Every dollar spent towards substance abuse prevention and treatment yields a massive dividend in societal savings, and surely this is also the case with FAS.

 If FAS cost’s billions in increased health care, education and eventual incarceration costs each year, perhaps we should spend bit more now in the hopes of reducing the FAS societal bill down the road. More spent on education and prenatal outreach, more spent on subsidized treatment beds for pregnant women wanting to change, and more spent on awareness campaigns…there will always be some who ignore all the warnings and attempts to help, but every person saved would be a huge and celebratory victory.

Forget vodka, whiskey or rum…beer is the most dangerous drink in America today.

About two thirds of all binge drinks consumed are beer, and the people most at risk to drive drunk, get hurt or get violent have more than likely gotten drunk on beer. Beer enjoys a strong and favorable misperception of its inherent dangers, and also enjoys very favorable legislation governing its taxation, marketing practices and lack of sales restrictions. Governmental policies that favor the sale of beer over other types of alcohol do not make any sense from a public health viewpoint.

The Most Dangerous Alcohol?

A lot of people don’t consider that drinking beer is as serious or as harmful as drinking hard liquor, and this perception in reinforced by governmental legislation that allows for more intensive marketing of beer, for favorable taxation and for less regulation over its sale.

Of course beer is simply alcohol just like any other form of alcohol, and if you drink 7 beers, or have 7 cocktails…you will be just as drunk; and if you drink a number of beers with regularity, you are just as at risk for addiction as you would be if you drank only bourbon or vodka.

In fact, studies of binge drinking in America show that beer is the favored binge drink of choice, and because binge drinking creates such societal problems (drunk driving, violence, domestic abuse) and because binge drinking is a necessary stepping stone to dependency, it seems that beer is in fact the most dangerous alcoholic beverage consumed in America today.

The breakdown of binge drinking has beer accounting for 67% of all binge drinks consumed, with liquor a very distant second at 22%. The survey study, conducted by the National center for Disease Control and Prevention, illustrates how dichotomous liquor/beer laws are confusing the drinking public about the relative safety of beer drinking, and researchers conclude that preferential laws favoring beer make absolutely no sense from a public health viewpoint.

Researchers call for tougher beer control laws and increased taxation. They call for a limit on points of sale, and a reduction in marketing…particularly marketing directed at younger people.

I was a beer drunk, and I know first hand that the damage done by a case of beer sure seems a lot like the damage down by a bottle of whiskey; and it’s too bad that a lingering misperception of the dangers of beer remains a part of out National consciousness.

  • Beer is alcohol, and it needs to be regulated in a similar manner to all other forms of alcohol. Why can we buy beer at a convenience store but not whiskey, when studies show that the people most likely to drink to excess, drive drunk, and have problems with the law or most probably going to have been drinking beer?
  • Why can Budweiser sponsor a Super Bowl halftime show, when a great many football fans watching the game are very likely drinking beer, and when Super Bowl game day is one of the riskiest days of the year for alcohol fueled domestic assault?

Prohibition is never the answer, and I don’t think that we can or even should deny responsible adults the right to purchase and consume beer or any other alcohol in a moderate and reasonable manner. But giving preferential legislative treatment to beer simply because it enjoys a misperception of safety (huge lobbying dollars???) is damaging and nonsensical.

About two thirds of all binge drinks consumed are beer, and the people most at risk to drive drunk, get hurt or get violent have more than likely gotten drunk on beer. Beer enjoys a strong and favorable misperception of its inherent dangers, and also enjoys very favorable legislation governing its taxation, marketing practices and lack of sales restrictions. Governmental policies that favor the sale of beer over other types of alcohol do not make any sense from a public health viewpoint.

The Most Dangerous Alcohol?

A lot of people don’t consider that drinking beer is as serious or as harmful as drinking hard liquor, and this perception in reinforced by governmental legislation that allows for more intensive marketing of beer, for favorable taxation and for less regulation over its sale.

Of course beer is simply alcohol just like any other form of alcohol, and if you drink 7 beers, or have 7 cocktails…you will be just as drunk; and if you drink a number of beers with regularity, you are just as at risk for addiction as you would be if you drank only bourbon or vodka.

In fact, studies of binge drinking in America show that beer is the favored binge drink of choice, and because binge drinking creates such societal problems (drunk driving, violence, domestic abuse) and because binge drinking is a necessary stepping stone to dependency, it seems that beer is in fact the most dangerous alcoholic beverage consumed in America today.

The breakdown of binge drinking has beer accounting for 67% of all binge drinks consumed, with liquor a very distant second at 22%. The survey study, conducted by the National center for Disease Control and Prevention, illustrates how dichotomous liquor/beer laws are confusing the drinking public about the relative safety of beer drinking, and researchers conclude that preferential laws favoring beer make absolutely no sense from a public health viewpoint.

Researchers call for tougher beer control laws and increased taxation. They call for a limit on points of sale, and a reduction in marketing…particularly marketing directed at younger people.

I was a beer drunk, and I know first hand that the damage done by a case of beer sure seems a lot like the damage down by a bottle of whiskey; and it’s too bad that a lingering misperception of the dangers of beer remains a part of out National consciousness.

  • Beer is alcohol, and it needs to be regulated in a similar manner to all other forms of alcohol. Why can we buy beer at a convenience store but not whiskey, when studies show that the people most likely to drink to excess, drive drunk, and have problems with the law or most probably going to have been drinking beer?
  • Why can Budweiser sponsor a Super Bowl halftime show, when a great many football fans watching the game are very likely drinking beer, and when Super Bowl game day is one of the riskiest days of the year for alcohol fueled domestic assault?

Prohibition is never the answer, and I don’t think that we can or even should deny responsible adults the right to purchase and consume beer or any other alcohol in a moderate and reasonable manner. But giving preferential legislative treatment to beer simply because it enjoys a misperception of safety (huge lobbying dollars???) is damaging and nonsensical.

The benefits of using acamprosate in the treatment of alcoholism

While far from perfect, and only to be used as a part of a more comprehensive drug treatment program, acamprosate or a combination of acamprosate and naltrexone offers some protection against relapse through a reduction in experienced cravings, and a reduction in withdrawal symptoms during the first few months of sobriety.

There are few things as poorly understood as the remarkable complexity of the human brain, and addiction as a function of the brain is only very minimally understood at the neuronal level. Thankfully continuing research initiatives continue to uncover ever increasing pieces of this complicated puzzle, but for now, existing pharmacological interventions for addictions recovery remain imperfect.

Three of the most commonly used medications in the treatment of alcohol addiction, are disulfiram, naltrexone, and the newest medication, acamprosate.

Disulfiram works by making recovering alcoholics very ill if they consume alcohol concurrently with the medication, and naltrexone works by reducing the pleasurable rewards of drinking. Acamprosate works by stabilizing brain activity altered by abuse, and reducing the compulsions to abuse.

Acamprosate has its mechanism of action within the GABA neurotransmitter systems of the brain, and it is this damaged GABA system that results in dangerous tremors or convulsions during acute alcohol withdrawal, and also seems to continue to influence cravings to abuse. Alcohol is a natural GABA inhibitor and acamprosate also inhibits the neurotransmitter, allowing brain activity levels to stabilize naturally and slowly over time, with less experienced discomfort, or cravings back to abuse.

Acamprosate is no magic solution, and a significant percentage of people treated with acamprosate during the initial months of alcohol recovery will relapse back to drinking, but it does work significantly better than nothing, and some research indicates that when the drugs acamprosate and naltrexone are combined, the greatest possible efficacy is achieved.

Acamprosate can reduce some of the anxiety associated with the initial period of abstinence, and also seems to help people sleep better during initial recovery, which is important as insomnia during initial recovery is a significant predictor of relapse and further abuse. Acamprosate also seems to diminish the strength of cravings, at least in the very initial few months of recovery; allowing recovering alcoholics enough time of sobriety to regulate brain activity naturally, and develop natural motivations and strategies to continued relapse avoidance.

Acamprosate also gives addictions professionals another drug in the arsenal against relapse, particularly for alcoholics suffering liver damage, as since it is not significantly metabolized in the liver; it is safe even for cirrhotic patients.

The drug seems to be very well tolerated, and side effects most commonly experienced are headache or nausea. The drug is not intended to be used as a stand alone treatment to alcoholism, but as a part of a comprehensive drug treatment program, including significant psychosocial and behavioral components.

This is a prescription medication, and there some people who cannot take it. As with any prescription drug, you should only take the medication on a doctor’s advice, and under professional care and supervision.

Although acamprosate doesn’t cure alcoholism, it does offer some efficacy during the very tough initial few months of sobriety, and can make those few months just a little more comfortable for people suffering from a legacy of addiction, and resultant brain deficits. The risks of use seem very low when compared with the possible benefits; and when acamprosate is combined therapeutically with naltrexone, it seems to offer significant protection against relapse.

Alcoholism is a serious, stubborn and lasting disease, and while acamprosate certainly won’t cure it; anything that helps to improve the odds of recovery is to my mind a very good thing. If you are struggling with sobriety, speak with your doctor about the risks and benefits of adding acamprosate, or acamprosate and naltrexone, to your medication regimen.

We need to use everything at our disposal to give people the best chance of beating addictions, and living better lives of sobriety.

While far from perfect, and only to be used as a part of a more comprehensive drug treatment program, acamprosate or a combination of acamprosate and naltrexone offers some protection against relapse through a reduction in experienced cravings, and a reduction in withdrawal symptoms during the first few months of sobriety.

There are few things as poorly understood as the remarkable complexity of the human brain, and addiction as a function of the brain is only very minimally understood at the neuronal level. Thankfully continuing research initiatives continue to uncover ever increasing pieces of this complicated puzzle, but for now, existing pharmacological interventions for addictions recovery remain imperfect.

Three of the most commonly used medications in the treatment of alcohol addiction, are disulfiram, naltrexone, and the newest medication, acamprosate.

Disulfiram works by making recovering alcoholics very ill if they consume alcohol concurrently with the medication, and naltrexone works by reducing the pleasurable rewards of drinking. Acamprosate works by stabilizing brain activity altered by abuse, and reducing the compulsions to abuse.

Acamprosate has its mechanism of action within the GABA neurotransmitter systems of the brain, and it is this damaged GABA system that results in dangerous tremors or convulsions during acute alcohol withdrawal, and also seems to continue to influence cravings to abuse. Alcohol is a natural GABA inhibitor and acamprosate also inhibits the neurotransmitter, allowing brain activity levels to stabilize naturally and slowly over time, with less experienced discomfort, or cravings back to abuse.

Acamprosate is no magic solution, and a significant percentage of people treated with acamprosate during the initial months of alcohol recovery will relapse back to drinking, but it does work significantly better than nothing, and some research indicates that when the drugs acamprosate and naltrexone are combined, the greatest possible efficacy is achieved.

Acamprosate can reduce some of the anxiety associated with the initial period of abstinence, and also seems to help people sleep better during initial recovery, which is important as insomnia during initial recovery is a significant predictor of relapse and further abuse. Acamprosate also seems to diminish the strength of cravings, at least in the very initial few months of recovery; allowing recovering alcoholics enough time of sobriety to regulate brain activity naturally, and develop natural motivations and strategies to continued relapse avoidance.

Acamprosate also gives addictions professionals another drug in the arsenal against relapse, particularly for alcoholics suffering liver damage, as since it is not significantly metabolized in the liver; it is safe even for cirrhotic patients.

The drug seems to be very well tolerated, and side effects most commonly experienced are headache or nausea. The drug is not intended to be used as a stand alone treatment to alcoholism, but as a part of a comprehensive drug treatment program, including significant psychosocial and behavioral components.

This is a prescription medication, and there some people who cannot take it. As with any prescription drug, you should only take the medication on a doctor’s advice, and under professional care and supervision.

Although acamprosate doesn’t cure alcoholism, it does offer some efficacy during the very tough initial few months of sobriety, and can make those few months just a little more comfortable for people suffering from a legacy of addiction, and resultant brain deficits. The risks of use seem very low when compared with the possible benefits; and when acamprosate is combined therapeutically with naltrexone, it seems to offer significant protection against relapse.

Alcoholism is a serious, stubborn and lasting disease, and while acamprosate certainly won’t cure it; anything that helps to improve the odds of recovery is to my mind a very good thing. If you are struggling with sobriety, speak with your doctor about the risks and benefits of adding acamprosate, or acamprosate and naltrexone, to your medication regimen.

We need to use everything at our disposal to give people the best chance of beating addictions, and living better lives of sobriety.