Can Heavy Drinking Turn You Gay?

A lot of people do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do while drunk – and more than a few marriages have ended over the indiscretions of a drunken spouse. There is something magically horrible in alcohol, which makes us feel increased sexual desire, while losing the ordinary good sense to just go home at the end of the night.

But if you’re wondering why alcohol makes you so weak – take some solace from the humble fruit fly – alcohol intoxication can actually turn him gay.

It’s true, researchers have known that acute alcohol intoxication decreases sexual inhibition in fruit flies, but it turns out that when given repeated doses of alcohol, over a matter of days (designed to replicate the experience of alcohol abuse or alcoholism) male fruit flies, who are normally quite macho, will seek out other males for copulation.

The researchers say that fruit flies are a fairly accurate model for the neurobiological effects of alcohol on mammals, like humans, and research using them can help to explain human alcohol affected sexual behavior.

A lot of people do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do while drunk – and more than a few marriages have ended over the indiscretions of a drunken spouse. There is something magically horrible in alcohol, which makes us feel increased sexual desire, while losing the ordinary good sense to just go home at the end of the night.

But if you’re wondering why alcohol makes you so weak – take some solace from the humble fruit fly – alcohol intoxication can actually turn him gay.

It’s true, researchers have known that acute alcohol intoxication decreases sexual inhibition in fruit flies, but it turns out that when given repeated doses of alcohol, over a matter of days (designed to replicate the experience of alcohol abuse or alcoholism) male fruit flies, who are normally quite macho, will seek out other males for copulation.

The researchers say that fruit flies are a fairly accurate model for the neurobiological effects of alcohol on mammals, like humans, and research using them can help to explain human alcohol affected sexual behavior.

How’s Your Drinking? How to Know if You Have a Drinking Problem

Do you have a drinking problem? Are you an alcoholic? How can you know, and what do these terms mean anyway?

If you go to the doctor, and she says you have cancer – shows you the MRI pictures, and you see a tumor – you believe it, and start thinking almost immediately about how to get better. It’s black and white, cut and dry – and for the most, the decision to get treatment is an easy one.

Not to belittle the challenge of cancer, but – if only it were that easy for someone with a drinking or drug problem!

People diagnosed with cancer can understand their diagnosis, most will accept it as accurate, and most will accept of the need for treatment. People don’t tend to understand the true meaning of terms such as alcoholic, substance abuser or chemically dependant – although they tend to have a misguided idea in their heads about what these things mean. And they won’t tend to believe a doctor, or anyone else, if they are told that they suffer the disease of addiction.

The term alcoholic is not a medically accepted diagnosis, yet has wide cultural connotations and understanding. It’s a tough and problematic word. People don’t tend to understand it, yet think they do, and since two hallmarks of the disease are delusion and denial – it’s all too easy to self-define alcoholism in such a way so that you don’t meet the criteria – no matter how bad your problem becomes.

For example

You believe that alcoholics are homeless bums – and since you still work, ergo you are not an alcoholic, no matter what drinking is doing to other areas of your life.

The addicted mind, as a defense mechanism preserving the drinking, defines alcoholism as whatever you are not. And that tricky addicted mind can shift those definitions as it needs to, always ensuring that your self-definition of "alcoholic" is anything but what you yourself are.

So Let’s Forget About the Word "Alcoholism"

Just for a second, let’s forget about the term alcoholism. It is a useful term, and understanding the disease of alcoholism can help you to get better, once on a road to recovery – but if you’re still drinking, don’t think you’re an alcoholic, but have a small nagging voice inside your head saying there’s a problem…lets look at things in a different way.

Do You Have a Drinking Problem?

People without drinking problems almost never experience problems because of their drinking. If drinking causes you some problems, in any area of your life, yet you still drink – then you have a drinking problem.

There – it’s as simple as that. If drinking causes you problems, you have a drinking problem. If you have a drinking problem, you should change your behaviors.

While drinking, we tend to associate with others that also drink. While drinking heavily, we associate with others that drink heavily – and we use our associates as a way to gauge our own problem. Not a great diagnostic technique, obviously, but it’s human nature to peer model, and it’s also a great defense mechanism for the addicted mind.

It is not normal to get drunk a lot. About half of Americans basically don’t drink at all.

Forget about comparing yourself to your friends. It’s tempting, but it doesn’t offer you any real insight into yourself. Keep it simple. If drinking is causing you any problems, you have a drinking problem.

Not sure?

Write it down. On a piece of paper, make two columns describing your drinking – one for benefits, and one for costs. Start with the benefits, and in the benefit column, write down anything and everything positive that you can think of about drinking.

You might say: It relaxes me I enjoy the taste of…. I enjoy socializing with friends at the bar.

Whatever, be thorough, and make a full list of everything good that you can think of about drinking. Now – do the same for costs, but this time, do it in a more structured way, and be honest – there is little point in the exercise of you are not being honest with yourself.

Firstly, write down how many drinks you have a week. No lying, is it, 20 – 50 – 150?

Photo: PescatelloHealth

Now think about health, and think of any influence your drinking has on your health. Has your drinking affected your weight, your fitness, your heart, your blood pressure, your liver, your energy or your mind? Do you think that if you keep drinking at the level you are drinking now, you will start to experience any health problems?

Social/Relationships

Has drinking ever caused you personal problems? Has it ever affected your relationship with your spouse, friends, children or family? Has your drinking ever caused you to miss an important social event? Would you like to see your children drink as much as you do? Would your spouse/mom/brother be happier if you drank less?

School/Career

Has your drinking ever caused you to perform poorly at work or school? Do you go to work with a hangover on a regular basis (more than once a month)? Do you perform as well at work when you are hung-over? Have you ever been noticed for being hung-over or drunk at work? Do you sometimes call in sick to work due to a hang-over? Would you be a better employee if you didn’t drink? Have you ever lost a job or been reprimanded due to alcohol?

Legal

Have you ever had any contact with law enforcement as a result of your drinking?

Now Take a Look

OK, that’s it. Now you should have two columns. What do your columns look like?

If you’re feeling really brave – have someone that knows you well complete the same "costs" exercise for you. See what problems they think your drinking is causing you. If you are a social drinker, with nothing to worry about – your "costs" column will be empty.

If that column aint’ empty – you have something to worry about.

Drinking should bring only pleasure – if it brings any kind of problem on a regular basis – and you don’t stop drinking, then you have a drinking problem, and you either need to quit on your own, or get some help so that you can. When self-diagnosing the problem, forget about the term alcoholic – and just decide if you have a drinking problem or not – and if you do – think about how much you are willing to sacrifice to keep on drinking.

 

Do you have a drinking problem? Are you an alcoholic? How can you know, and what do these terms mean anyway?

If you go to the doctor, and she says you have cancer – shows you the MRI pictures, and you see a tumor – you believe it, and start thinking almost immediately about how to get better. It’s black and white, cut and dry – and for the most, the decision to get treatment is an easy one.

Not to belittle the challenge of cancer, but – if only it were that easy for someone with a drinking or drug problem!

People diagnosed with cancer can understand their diagnosis, most will accept it as accurate, and most will accept of the need for treatment. People don’t tend to understand the true meaning of terms such as alcoholic, substance abuser or chemically dependant – although they tend to have a misguided idea in their heads about what these things mean. And they won’t tend to believe a doctor, or anyone else, if they are told that they suffer the disease of addiction.

The term alcoholic is not a medically accepted diagnosis, yet has wide cultural connotations and understanding. It’s a tough and problematic word. People don’t tend to understand it, yet think they do, and since two hallmarks of the disease are delusion and denial – it’s all too easy to self-define alcoholism in such a way so that you don’t meet the criteria – no matter how bad your problem becomes.

For example

You believe that alcoholics are homeless bums – and since you still work, ergo you are not an alcoholic, no matter what drinking is doing to other areas of your life.

The addicted mind, as a defense mechanism preserving the drinking, defines alcoholism as whatever you are not. And that tricky addicted mind can shift those definitions as it needs to, always ensuring that your self-definition of "alcoholic" is anything but what you yourself are.

So Let’s Forget About the Word "Alcoholism"

Just for a second, let’s forget about the term alcoholism. It is a useful term, and understanding the disease of alcoholism can help you to get better, once on a road to recovery – but if you’re still drinking, don’t think you’re an alcoholic, but have a small nagging voice inside your head saying there’s a problem…lets look at things in a different way.

Do You Have a Drinking Problem?

People without drinking problems almost never experience problems because of their drinking. If drinking causes you some problems, in any area of your life, yet you still drink – then you have a drinking problem.

There – it’s as simple as that. If drinking causes you problems, you have a drinking problem. If you have a drinking problem, you should change your behaviors.

While drinking, we tend to associate with others that also drink. While drinking heavily, we associate with others that drink heavily – and we use our associates as a way to gauge our own problem. Not a great diagnostic technique, obviously, but it’s human nature to peer model, and it’s also a great defense mechanism for the addicted mind.

It is not normal to get drunk a lot. About half of Americans basically don’t drink at all.

Forget about comparing yourself to your friends. It’s tempting, but it doesn’t offer you any real insight into yourself. Keep it simple. If drinking is causing you any problems, you have a drinking problem.

Not sure?

Write it down. On a piece of paper, make two columns describing your drinking – one for benefits, and one for costs. Start with the benefits, and in the benefit column, write down anything and everything positive that you can think of about drinking.

You might say: It relaxes me I enjoy the taste of…. I enjoy socializing with friends at the bar.

Whatever, be thorough, and make a full list of everything good that you can think of about drinking. Now – do the same for costs, but this time, do it in a more structured way, and be honest – there is little point in the exercise of you are not being honest with yourself.

Firstly, write down how many drinks you have a week. No lying, is it, 20 – 50 – 150?

Photo: PescatelloHealth

Now think about health, and think of any influence your drinking has on your health. Has your drinking affected your weight, your fitness, your heart, your blood pressure, your liver, your energy or your mind? Do you think that if you keep drinking at the level you are drinking now, you will start to experience any health problems?

Social/Relationships

Has drinking ever caused you personal problems? Has it ever affected your relationship with your spouse, friends, children or family? Has your drinking ever caused you to miss an important social event? Would you like to see your children drink as much as you do? Would your spouse/mom/brother be happier if you drank less?

School/Career

Has your drinking ever caused you to perform poorly at work or school? Do you go to work with a hangover on a regular basis (more than once a month)? Do you perform as well at work when you are hung-over? Have you ever been noticed for being hung-over or drunk at work? Do you sometimes call in sick to work due to a hang-over? Would you be a better employee if you didn’t drink? Have you ever lost a job or been reprimanded due to alcohol?

Legal

Have you ever had any contact with law enforcement as a result of your drinking?

Now Take a Look

OK, that’s it. Now you should have two columns. What do your columns look like?

If you’re feeling really brave – have someone that knows you well complete the same "costs" exercise for you. See what problems they think your drinking is causing you. If you are a social drinker, with nothing to worry about – your "costs" column will be empty.

If that column aint’ empty – you have something to worry about.

Drinking should bring only pleasure – if it brings any kind of problem on a regular basis – and you don’t stop drinking, then you have a drinking problem, and you either need to quit on your own, or get some help so that you can. When self-diagnosing the problem, forget about the term alcoholic – and just decide if you have a drinking problem or not – and if you do – think about how much you are willing to sacrifice to keep on drinking.

 

Wet Brain. Why Do We Add Vitamins to Bread, But Not Beer?

Nobody walks away from years of heavy drinking unscathed, it always takes its toll; but for some heavy drinkers, a multi decade party ends in tragedy, with Wernickes-Korsakoffs Syndrome…wet brain.

Wet Brain

Wet brain is a tragic and often fatal syndrome of brain damage caused by years of vitamin B1 deficiency. Most people get all the vitamin B1 they need through a normal diet. Alcoholics, who may eat poorly or have damaged and ill functioning gastro intestinal systems, often do not. And the syndrome is pretty sad, with symptoms of confusion, language deficits, an ill ability to concentrate and social withdrawal just a few of many – and it can and does kill tens of thousands of Americans each year.

A simple vitamin deficiency!

So anyway, I was talking with my mom about wet brain, and she asked me why they didn’t just fortify beer with vitamin B1. And I had no idea. Why didn’t they? There must be some reason though right? It just seems too obvious a solution to such tragedy.

So anyway, a quick peek online confirmed a couple of things. Firstly, that my mom is a pretty smart cookie, and secondly that the AMA has been recommending just such a fortification, and studies have shown that it would work. An Australian study, where researchers actually did fortify beer showed that alcoholics drinking this B1 beer showed cognitive improvements, couldn’t taste the difference, and that the vitamins could be added to beer for about 20 cents per 6000 bottles!

Currently, brewers cannot legally add vitamins to beer, and some have argued that by offering vitamin enriched alcohol, some people might assume that drinking was less dangerous than it is. But hey, legislation is changeable, especially when it makes sense – when it saves lives, and I don’t think adding vitamin fortification to the small print on a case of beer is gonna’ be convincing anyone to drink more than they do now.

But there has got to be something else, right? I mean it can’t be this easy can it…

So for now, if you drink too much, make sure you take a B12 supplement, it could save your life – and maybe one day, one day soon, that just won’t be necessary, and you’ll get all you need in a few "well balanced" beers a day.

Nobody walks away from years of heavy drinking unscathed, it always takes its toll; but for some heavy drinkers, a multi decade party ends in tragedy, with Wernickes-Korsakoffs Syndrome…wet brain.

Wet Brain

Wet brain is a tragic and often fatal syndrome of brain damage caused by years of vitamin B1 deficiency. Most people get all the vitamin B1 they need through a normal diet. Alcoholics, who may eat poorly or have damaged and ill functioning gastro intestinal systems, often do not. And the syndrome is pretty sad, with symptoms of confusion, language deficits, an ill ability to concentrate and social withdrawal just a few of many – and it can and does kill tens of thousands of Americans each year.

A simple vitamin deficiency!

So anyway, I was talking with my mom about wet brain, and she asked me why they didn’t just fortify beer with vitamin B1. And I had no idea. Why didn’t they? There must be some reason though right? It just seems too obvious a solution to such tragedy.

So anyway, a quick peek online confirmed a couple of things. Firstly, that my mom is a pretty smart cookie, and secondly that the AMA has been recommending just such a fortification, and studies have shown that it would work. An Australian study, where researchers actually did fortify beer showed that alcoholics drinking this B1 beer showed cognitive improvements, couldn’t taste the difference, and that the vitamins could be added to beer for about 20 cents per 6000 bottles!

Currently, brewers cannot legally add vitamins to beer, and some have argued that by offering vitamin enriched alcohol, some people might assume that drinking was less dangerous than it is. But hey, legislation is changeable, especially when it makes sense – when it saves lives, and I don’t think adding vitamin fortification to the small print on a case of beer is gonna’ be convincing anyone to drink more than they do now.

But there has got to be something else, right? I mean it can’t be this easy can it…

So for now, if you drink too much, make sure you take a B12 supplement, it could save your life – and maybe one day, one day soon, that just won’t be necessary, and you’ll get all you need in a few "well balanced" beers a day.

Alcoholics; Lets Lock Them Up – Seriously

At the end of the day – whether or not a person wants to drink too much, or use drugs, is pretty much a personal decision – right? It’s their body, it’s their life – it’s their decision.

Maybe – it’s certainly something that a concerned family may hear when attempting to convince an addict to get help. It’s certainly something someone trapped in the self-delusion of the disease might spout – and even believe.

 But is it true?

If you drink alone, hermit like in a remote cabin, never seeing another soul – then OK, it’s your business. You hurt no one but yourself, and it’s no one’s business but yours.

So alcoholic hermits aside…

  • If you drink to a stupor each night in front of your family, in front of your kids – even if you do no immediate wrongs – you model something terrible. Do you have the right? Does it become the family’s business at that point?
  • If your substance use prevents you from getting or keeping a job, from providing for yourself and your family – do those that would subsidize your existence have the right to tell you what you can and cannot put in your body?

We live together, as family, as a community, and our actions and choices affect those around us. Those that drink or drug heavily impact the rest of us, whether painfully in the family, or through social costs in the community. We have the right to demand change – it is our business, it’s everyone’s business.

We don’t have the right to demand impossible change though. Addiction is a disease, entrenched and enduring, and you can’t just will it away. We can demand change in the family, we can demand change in the community, but first, we must provide a means for change.

We, as a society, can say that alcoholic level drinking is unacceptable. It does harm to more than just the individual, and we are not going to stand for it anymore. We can divert some of the ludicrous quantities of money going into our prison system (we now incarcerate 1 in 100) and build 1000 new treatment centers – and we can make people use them. If we can put someone in jail for the possession of a small quantity of crack – why can’t we save through enforced healthcare those that would abuse even legal drugs, such as alcohol?

It would save money in the long run – it would save lives right away. Sure it’s an ethical minefield, and committing people to hospitals does sound a bit scary – a bit too "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" for comfort. It wouldn’t be easy. But we could do it and maybe we should.

At the end of the day – whether or not a person wants to drink too much, or use drugs, is pretty much a personal decision – right? It’s their body, it’s their life – it’s their decision.

Maybe – it’s certainly something that a concerned family may hear when attempting to convince an addict to get help. It’s certainly something someone trapped in the self-delusion of the disease might spout – and even believe.

 But is it true?

If you drink alone, hermit like in a remote cabin, never seeing another soul – then OK, it’s your business. You hurt no one but yourself, and it’s no one’s business but yours.

So alcoholic hermits aside…

  • If you drink to a stupor each night in front of your family, in front of your kids – even if you do no immediate wrongs – you model something terrible. Do you have the right? Does it become the family’s business at that point?
  • If your substance use prevents you from getting or keeping a job, from providing for yourself and your family – do those that would subsidize your existence have the right to tell you what you can and cannot put in your body?

We live together, as family, as a community, and our actions and choices affect those around us. Those that drink or drug heavily impact the rest of us, whether painfully in the family, or through social costs in the community. We have the right to demand change – it is our business, it’s everyone’s business.

We don’t have the right to demand impossible change though. Addiction is a disease, entrenched and enduring, and you can’t just will it away. We can demand change in the family, we can demand change in the community, but first, we must provide a means for change.

We, as a society, can say that alcoholic level drinking is unacceptable. It does harm to more than just the individual, and we are not going to stand for it anymore. We can divert some of the ludicrous quantities of money going into our prison system (we now incarcerate 1 in 100) and build 1000 new treatment centers – and we can make people use them. If we can put someone in jail for the possession of a small quantity of crack – why can’t we save through enforced healthcare those that would abuse even legal drugs, such as alcohol?

It would save money in the long run – it would save lives right away. Sure it’s an ethical minefield, and committing people to hospitals does sound a bit scary – a bit too "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" for comfort. It wouldn’t be easy. But we could do it and maybe we should.

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.

 

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.

The specific dangers of alcohol abuse for women. Alcohol hurts women more.

Women are at a greater risk to develop addictions, to succumb to acute alcohol poisoning, and to develop a host of physical and mental deficits. Women are more likely to die from cirrhosis, and more likely to get certain cancers and more likely to experience alcohol induced cardiac disease. All people abusing alcohol need treatment help, but women abusers seem especially needy of timely intervention and treatment.

Greater Dangers – Both Acute and Chronic

It’s well known that because of a reduced body weight and a reduced volume of water in the body to dilute the concentration of alcohol, women get drunk quicker than men, and are more at risk for the acute effects of binge drinking, including the risk of fatal overdose; but the dangers to women drinkers a not only acute in nature, and alcoholic women are at greater risk for a number of health disorders than are alcoholic men.

Heavy drinking women are more susceptible to developing addictions, and they also seem predisposed to start feeling the negative effects of chronic alcohol abuse faster than men.

A greater percentage of alcoholic women than alcoholic men will develop often fatal cirrhosis of the liver, and women are also more at risk for malnutrition, anemia and high blood pressure, particularly during very heavy drinking. Women alcoholics also suffer more cardiac damage than do men with equivalent drinking histories.

Women alcoholics suffer proportionally more brain damage and memory loss as a result of drinking behaviors as well, and a recent study comparing men and women with similar histories and durations of use saw women exhibit 11% more "brain shrinkage" (a sign of brain cell death) than men.

Heavy drinking greatly increases the gastro intestinal cancer risk in both men and women, but alcoholic women also suffer a hugely elevated risk for breast cancer; and Women who drink heavily are almost 50% more likely to get breast cancer.

The likelihood of developing alcohol related problems increases later in life, and more women develop drinking problems in late adulthood than do men, at a time when they are a greatest risk to suffer the consequences of their dependency.

Alcohol is physically devastating to all, but women are unfairly susceptible to some of its most dangerous effects; and any woman struggling with alcohol use and dependency needs to consider professional treatment help to lessen the risks of a great many serious and possibly fatal disorders.

Our sisters our mothers and our friends need and deserve intervention and treatment, and because each continuing day of abuse increases the risks of so many serious or even lethal disorders, intervention needs to occur as soon as is possible.

Women are at a greater risk to develop addictions, to succumb to acute alcohol poisoning, and to develop a host of physical and mental deficits. Women are more likely to die from cirrhosis, and more likely to get certain cancers and more likely to experience alcohol induced cardiac disease. All people abusing alcohol need treatment help, but women abusers seem especially needy of timely intervention and treatment.

Greater Dangers – Both Acute and Chronic

It’s well known that because of a reduced body weight and a reduced volume of water in the body to dilute the concentration of alcohol, women get drunk quicker than men, and are more at risk for the acute effects of binge drinking, including the risk of fatal overdose; but the dangers to women drinkers a not only acute in nature, and alcoholic women are at greater risk for a number of health disorders than are alcoholic men.

Heavy drinking women are more susceptible to developing addictions, and they also seem predisposed to start feeling the negative effects of chronic alcohol abuse faster than men.

A greater percentage of alcoholic women than alcoholic men will develop often fatal cirrhosis of the liver, and women are also more at risk for malnutrition, anemia and high blood pressure, particularly during very heavy drinking. Women alcoholics also suffer more cardiac damage than do men with equivalent drinking histories.

Women alcoholics suffer proportionally more brain damage and memory loss as a result of drinking behaviors as well, and a recent study comparing men and women with similar histories and durations of use saw women exhibit 11% more "brain shrinkage" (a sign of brain cell death) than men.

Heavy drinking greatly increases the gastro intestinal cancer risk in both men and women, but alcoholic women also suffer a hugely elevated risk for breast cancer; and Women who drink heavily are almost 50% more likely to get breast cancer.

The likelihood of developing alcohol related problems increases later in life, and more women develop drinking problems in late adulthood than do men, at a time when they are a greatest risk to suffer the consequences of their dependency.

Alcohol is physically devastating to all, but women are unfairly susceptible to some of its most dangerous effects; and any woman struggling with alcohol use and dependency needs to consider professional treatment help to lessen the risks of a great many serious and possibly fatal disorders.

Our sisters our mothers and our friends need and deserve intervention and treatment, and because each continuing day of abuse increases the risks of so many serious or even lethal disorders, intervention needs to occur as soon as is possible.