US life expectancy continued to decline for the third year in a row, while midlife mortality rates increased for all population groups, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported on Tuesday.
According to JAMA, midlife mortality, which is defined as mortality for individuals between the ages of 25 and 64, had increased “across all racial groups” and was caused by “drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases.”
The increase in midlife mortality occurred from 2014 to 2017, which was the last year examined in the study.
“US life expectancy increased for most of the past 60 years, but the rate of increase slowed over time and life expectancy decreased after 2014,” the study concludes. “The implications for public health and the economy are substantial.”
The Ohio Valley, which includes parts of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana, and northern New England were listed as being among the hardest-hit geographic areas, as they have seen a loss of manufacturing jobs in recent years, and Ohio and West Virginia have been particularly affected by the opioid-addiction epidemic.
Meanwhile, the National Center for Health Statistics said on Wednesday that the US fertility rate declined in 2018 for the fourth straight year. The 2018 fertility rate was 59.1 births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age, a record low. The decline has been ongoing since the 2008 financial crisis, with a slight uptick in 2014. Fertility rates tend to decline in periods of economic distress, but in this instance, the fertility rate has not rebounded even as the economy has recovered.
“It is hard for me to believe that the birthrate just keeps going down,” University of New Hampshire demographer Kenneth Johnson told the New York Times.
A Bloomberg report of October 22 was concise and uncompromising in declaring Russia to be a surveillance state. Harking back to the good old days of the Cold War, as is increasingly the practice in much of the Western media, Bloomberg recounted that “The fourth of 10 basic rules Western spies followed when trying to infiltrate Russia’s capital during the Cold War — don’t look back because you’re never alone — is more apt than ever. Only these days it’s not just foreigners who are being tracked, but all 12.6 million Muscovites, too. Officials in Moscow have spent the last few years methodically assembling one of the most comprehensive video-surveillance operations in the world. The public-private network of as many as 200,000 cameras records 1.5 billion hours of footage a year that can be accessed by 16,000 government employees, intelligence officers and law-enforcement personnel.”
Terrifying, one might think. Straight out of Orwell’s 1984, that dystopian prediction of what the world could become, as noted in one description of how the face of the state’s symbolic leader, Big Brother, “gazes at you silently out of posters and billboards. His imposing presence establishes the sense of an all-seeing eye. The idea that he is always watching from the shadows imposes a kind of social order. You know not to speak out against The Party — because big brother is watching… The face always appears with the phrase Big Brother is watching you. As if you could forget.” Such is the terrifying Bloomberg picture of Moscow where there are supposedly 200,000 video cameras. You can’t blow your nose without it being seen. And wait for the next phase, in which Big Brother will hear you laugh.
In line with the Western approach, there is little mention of surveillance in other cities, but the website ‘Caught on Camera’ has analysed world-wide practices. It reports that there are some 25 million closed-circuit surveillance cameras world-wide and “the United Kingdom [with 4 million cameras] has more CCTV activity than any other European country, per capita… surprisingly, the Wandsworth borough in London in particular has more CCTV cameras than Boston, Dublin, Johannesburg and San Francisco put together. It is estimated there are 500,000 cameras dotted around London. The average person living in London will be recorded on camera 300 times in one day.”
The statistics obtained by Caught on Camera and comparitech differ markedly from those in the Bloomberg story which was retailed throughout the Western world by many news outlets, who increasingly refer to the West as “the Free World”. Comparitech records that as at August 2019 Moscow, with a population of 12.4 million, had 146,000 (not 200,000) cameras, while London’s 9 million citizens were being watched by 627,707 cameras. The picture (if one may use that word) is slightly slanted. To put it another way, London has 68 cameras for each 1,000 people, and the ratios elsewhere are enlightening: Shanghai 113 (China is in treble figures in three cities); Atlanta (Ga) 15; Chicago 13; Baghdad, Sydney and Dubai 12; Moscow and Berlin 11; and St Petersburg, Canberra and Washington DC tie at 5.
The slanting doesn’t stop there, because there are other ways of attacking Russia, spearheaded by such as the Washington Post, which highlighted the Bloomberg surveillance tale. The Post behaves like Big Brother focusing on Winston Smith, the hapless victim/hero of 1984 whose job it is “to rewrite the reports in newspapers of the past to conform with the present reality.” There is an eerie resonance in this, because the Post’s reportage on Russia verges on the obsessively censorious, while it avoids mention of anything remotely positive.
Understandably, the Post relies heavily on such sources as “Meduza, a Latvia-based online news outlet that covers the Kremlin” which reported that the Russian government “passed a law earlier this year that lets Vladimir Putin take all the country’s Internet traffic off the World Wide Web if he decrees that there’s an ‘emergency’.”
The fact that the intelligence services of the West have worked for a long time to devise strategies and tactics to destroy internet services in Russia and many other countries is neither here nor there, but it is important for Western propaganda purposes to condemn Russia for taking measures to counter the manoeuvres of the West’s cyberwar agencies. The Post emphasised that arrangements were made by various Russian ministries and agencies, including the Emergencies Ministry and the Federal Security Service which “is the successor to the KGB, where Putin was once an officer.”
The absurdity of that needlessly-injected personal point is amusing in a way, and serves to highlight the unending reiteration of detail intended to set the western public against Russia. Naturally, there is exclusion of information that could lead to audiences approving of Russia in any way.
The news site Axios states it aims to “deliver the cleanest, smartest, most efficient and trust-worthy experience for readers and advertisers alike” but when it comes to Russia it appears that there could be a bit of selectivity in that delivery. For example, in October the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported approvingly that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), alcohol consumption in Russia “has dropped by 43% since 2003” and commented that the WHO had “put the decrease down to a series of measures brought in under the sport-loving president, Vladimir Putin, including restrictions on alcohol sales and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.” But Axios didn’t report it quite like that.
The Guardian also noted that “The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, led an anti-alcohol campaign with partial prohibition, which brought down consumption from the mid-1980s until 1990. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, alcohol consumption exploded, continuing to rise until the start of the 2000s. Under Putin, Russia has introduced measures including a ban on shops selling any alcohol after 11 pm, increases in the minimum retail price of spirits and an advertising blackout.” The result has been “increased life expectancies in Russia, which reached a historic peak in 2018, at 78 years for women and 68 years for men. In the early 1990s, male life expectancy was just 57 years.”
This is an amazing societal development. In no other country has there been a comparable initiative that resulted in such a massive and positive shift in community habits.
The BBC was more coy than the Guardian about allocating approval for the remarkable success of the programme, and confined itself to reporting that the WHO “attributed the decline to a series of alcohol-control measures implemented by the state, and a push towards healthy lifestyles.” There was no reference to President Putin, and indeed the credit went elsewhere, because “alcohol-control measures introduced under former President Dmitry Medvedev included advertising restrictions, increased taxes on alcohol and a ban on alcohol sales between certain hours.”
Axios followed suit, and ‘Radio Free Europe’ didn’t mention Presidents Putin, Medvedev or Gorbachev, retailing simply that the “decline in consumption was due to “alcohol-control measures introduced at the beginning of the 2000s.” There were no reports of the achievement in US mainstream outlets or the UK’s resolutely right-wing anti-Russia media. (The Guardian doesn’t carry a Russian flag; it merely reports without xenophobic bias.)
The WHO Case Study provides an admirably detailed timeline of legislature and other developments concerning Russia’s successful drive against alcohol abuse, recording, for example, that in 2018 there was a “presidential decree on ‘National Purposes and Strategic Development Challenges of the Russian Federation until 2024’… including in the field of public health. The aim is to increase life expectancy to 78 years by 2024 and to 80 years by 2030, as well as the proportion of citizens leading a healthy lifestyle and systematically engaging in physical activities and sports.”
Don’t expect such an initiative to be praised or even mentioned by the Western media. Big Brother prefers to slant the cameras.
There are countless people throughout the US and throughout the world who have been steered away from a life of drug or alcohol addiction after a spiritual experience with a psychedelic drug. In fact, Bill Wilson, the co-founder of the alcoholics anonymous program, actually considered promoting LSD as a tool for alcoholics to shake their addiction. Wilson was a close associate with many early adopters of LSD and took numerous trips in controlled, scientific settings while he was involved with the AA program.
Wilson believed that LSD was not a cure-all for mental problems and diseases such as addiction, but he felt that it could be a catalyst towards understanding one’s own life and changing direction.
“I don’t believe [LSD] has any miraculous property of transforming spiritually and emotionally sick people into healthy ones overnight. It can set up a shining goal on the positive side, after all, it is only a temporary ego-reducer. The vision and insights given by LSD could create a large incentive – at least in a considerable number of people,”Wilson reportedly said after his first LSD trip in 1956.
In a later letter to Gerald Heard, one of his associates in the LSD scene, Wilson wrote, “I am certain that the LSD experiment has helped me very much. I find myself with a heightened color perception and an appreciation of beauty almost destroyed by my years of depression.”
Despite his confidence in the experience and the substance, Wilson was forced to stay relatively quiet about his experiments because he feared legal punishment and professional embarrassment. After rumors of his involvement in the LSD scene had begun to spread, Wilson asked the scientists that he was working with to omit his name in the records of their experiments.
Wilson feared becoming a pariah in the movement that he helped create because many people involved in AA were attached to the idea that all mind-altering chemicals are dangerous and should be avoided.
According to a paper called Pass It On, which was published by AA World Services in 1984, the movement was entirely opposed to his views on LSD.
“As word of Bill’s activities reached the fellowship there were inevitable repercussions. Most AAs were violently opposed to his experimenting with a mind-altering substance. LSD was then totally unfamiliar, poorly researched, and entirely experimental – and Bill was taking it,” the report read.
One of the ideas that permeate AA culture is that any mind-altering substance whatsoever is dangerous and could trigger a relapse back into alcohol addiction. However, this view was obviously not shared by AA founder Bill Wilson, who understood that different substances have different effects on people and that it is possible to have a safe spiritual experience on a mind-altering drug without slipping back into a life of addiction.
One of the most in-depth studies into Wilson’s LSD use and his connection with that realm is a book called Distilled Spirits by Don Lattin. The book features a number of thinkers, including Wilson, who both studied, and struggled with mind-altering substances. The research collected many letters that were written between Wilson and his associates in the LSD scene, giving a glimpse into the thoughts that he was so apprehensive to make public.
About the Author
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com.
Stunning new research has confirmed that cannabis has liver-protective benefits, and can even help prevent alcohol-induced liver damage. However, researchers caution that while cannabis may help keep your liver healthy, alcohol should still be consumed in moderation. While the benefits of cannabis for liver health are incredible, alcohol is still a dangerous drug. While it may be legal to drink once you’re of-age, that doesn’t mean that alcohol can’t be harmful to your health. It is easy to over-consume alcohol, even without binge drinking.
The daily recommendations for alcohol are far lower than one might expect: One a day for women, two a day for men. If you’re drinking more than that on a regular basis, evidence shows you’re at an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke and several types of cancer. Science shows cannabis might help reverse that risk — but that isn’t a free pass for binge drinking.
Cannabis for liver health?
Many people use cannabis to treat current health conditions, including everything from seizure disorders to cancer. But new research shows that the compounds in cannabis may help prevent some health conditions, too. Specifically, research shows that regular use of cannabis may help prevent alcohol-induced liver damage. As Vice reports, researchers from the National Institute of Scientific Research at the University of Quebec recently conduced one of the largest surveys on the subject. After examining patient records from 320,000 people with a history of alcohol abuse, the team discovered that patients who smoked cannabis were less likely to have alcoholic liver disease.
Dr. Terence Bukong, hepatologist and lead study author, commented on the findings and stated, “We found that if people are using cannabis in the dependent manner, they actually are much more protected from alcoholic liver disease.”
The difference was astounding: Bukong and his team found that patients who drank heavily and did not use cannabis had a 90 percent chance of developing alcoholic liver disease. Conversely, patients who were heavy drinkers and “light users” of cannabis had just an 8 percent chance.
The risk of alcoholic liver disease in heavy drinkers was lowest in “dependent” cannabis users, who boasted a 1.36 percent risk. To put it simply, the reduction in risk of liver disease among heavy drinkers who smoke weed is remarkable. However, that is no excuse to binge drink. While it appears cannabis can help protect your liver, there are still other concerns to be had.
What kind of damage does alcohol do?
Alcohol is easily the most socially accepted “drug” on the market. Most people don’t even consider it a drug at all. But it also has the potential to be extremely damaging. While the average drinker may think they imbibe with moderation, statistics show that nearly half of American adults who drink are drinking too much.
“These findings suggest that not only do many people who drink, drink amounts associated with health consequences, but that without intervention they are likely to continue to do so,” study leader Richard Saitz, professor at Boston University of Public Health, said.
Drinking too much on a regular basis is bad for your health. While research shows that cannabis can help prevent some of the damage booze does to your liver, it is not a cure-all and damage to the liver can still occur. Additionally, there are other health consequences of high alcohol consumption to be concerned about. For example, over-consumption can cause damage to your heart and inflame your pancreas. It can also increase your risk of multiple cancers, including liver, throat and stomach cancer. Drinking too much can also inhibit your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infection. In other words, don’t start drinking more with the hopes cannabis will keep you healthy.
Heavy drinking landed Dawn Nickel in the emergency department four times — twice for alcohol poisoning and two more times when she took pills with alcohol to try and kill herself.
“I had no recollection of either wanting to end my life or taking the pills to end my life,” the Victoria resident said nearly 32 years after she downed her last drink.
Binge drinking finally gave way to treatment as Nickel realized the impact of her addiction on her daughters, who were two and six at the time.
She later founded the support group She Recovers to help other women struggling with substance use, though one thing remains the same years later — there is a lack of treatment, even as alcohol-related hospitalizations are increasing.
Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) show 10 Canadians die in hospital every day from harm caused by substance use, and 75 per cent of those deaths are related to alcohol. The agency did not have information on the number of deaths that occur outside of hospital, which is mostly the case for a greater number of opioid deaths among people who die alone.
Released earlier this month, the CIHI data also show alcohol contributes to more than half of all substance-use hospitalizations, which are 13 times more common than for opioid poisonings.
Nickel said the plight of a 65-year-old retired public servant who recently hired a sobriety coach through She Recovers to support her into recovery illustrates the struggles of people trying to stop their problematic drinking.
She said the woman, who did not want her name published, stopped drinking for three months after hiring the coach but then started downing a 26-ounce bottle of vodka and a case of beer every day while the coach was away for a week, during which time she had a serious fall, followed by a racing heartbeat that prompted her to go to a hospital in Victoria.
“Everybody in the emergency room was so compassionate and loving and kind,” said Nickel, who has a PhD in health policy.
“She wants to stop drinking more than anything because she believes with every fibre of her being that her body will not survive it,” Nickel said, adding the woman was advised by an emergency-room doctor to head to a liquor store after her release from the ER so she could drink moderately to avoid harrowing withdrawal symptoms while awaiting treatment, which wouldn’t be available for six to eight weeks.
The CIHI data say that between 2017 and 2018, British Columbia had 361 alcohol-related hospitalizations every day per 100,000 people, the highest of all the provinces, while the Northwest Territories saw the highest overall alcohol-related hospitalizations in the country, at 1,751 per 100,000 residents.
Nickel said some private British Columbia facilities charge up to $30,000 a month for treatment because a publicly funded system has failed to address the “silent epidemic” of alcohol dependence across Canada.
Adam Sherk, a researcher at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, said a study by the centre last year showed that compared with opioids, the economic costs of alcohol use are up to 10 times higher and related to criminal justice issues, lost productivity and health care.
“Ethanol, which is pure alcohol, is classified by the World Health Organization as a group one carcinogen,” he said of the cancer-causing risks associated with alcohol.
Ontario’s ‘recipe for disaster’
“We would recommend policies that tend to drive down the amount of alcohol used by the population, basically the opposite of what Ontario is doing,” Sherk said. “No one’s arguing for prohibition. We just want to make it so that it’s less culturally available and to drive down the consumption.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has recently taken steps to try and loosen the province’s strict control on alcohol sales and make it more readily available in places such as corner stores and tailgate parties, and allowed for producers to make ale as cheap as a dollar.
Robert Gibson, a spokesman for Ontario Finance Minister Victor Fedeli, said the government will continue working with public health and safety groups to carefully consider the safe and responsible sale and consumption of alcohol.
“We want to ensure any proposed improvements would uphold the health and safety of our communities and our roads,” he said in a statement.
Imagine presenting with a heart attack or chest pain and you’re given a piece of paper and told to navigate the health-care system by yourself.– Dr. Keith Ahamad
A special adviser to the province will work with retailers, beverage alcohol manufacturers and public health experts “to ensure increasing convenience does not lead to increased social costs related to alcohol,” Gibson said.
Dr. Keith Ahamad, an addictions specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, said international scientific research has shown a clear relationship between alcohol pricing and accessibility and the harms associated with increased consumption as well as the effects on others connected to the drinker.
Ahamad called Ontario’s policies increasing accessibility to alcohol a “perfect storm” when combined with cuts to health-care and social programs.
“It’s a recipe for disaster,” he said, adding B.C. has seen the harms related to privatization of alcohol sales starting in the early 2000s, eventually leading to higher alcohol-related hospitalization rates.
CIHI data show that in 2017-2018, there were 249 alcohol-related hospitalizations in Canada every day per 100,000 people, up from 241 hospitalizations in 2015-2016.
Most people seeking treatment often have nowhere to go but to an emergency room, where they’re sometimes prescribed medications such as Valium to prevent seizures and delirium tremens, a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that causes confusion and can be associated with death for a small number of patients, but the underlying addiction is often not addressed, Ahamad said.
Instead, patients are usually told to make a call so they can refer themselves to a treatment program but many don’t follow through and aren’t prepared to wait days or weeks to get into a facility, he said.
“The responsibility has not been on the health-care system. Imagine presenting with a heart attack or chest pain and you’re given a piece of paper and told to navigate the health-care system by yourself.”
The BC Centre on Substance Use, where Ahamad is a researcher, has submitted treatment guidelines to the provincial Mental Health and Addictions Ministry aimed at restructuring the health-care system. They recommend family doctors screen patients who are dependent on alcohol and refer those who are at low risk to be stabilized in an outpatient setting instead of a treatment facility before their condition worsens.
“It’s been historically difficult to know who is going to be at high risk and who is not so we’ve kind of lumped everyone together and asked them to go to detox facilities and use medications like benzodiazepines, which are not only addictive but also risky when consumed with alcohol,” he said of the drugs prescribed to reduce withdrawal symptoms including seizures and anxiety.
About 30 to 40 per cent of people who are fatally overdosing in B.C. are testing positive for alcohol use, which has increased since the province declared a public health emergency in 2016 prompted by overdose deaths, Ahamad said, adding a review of charts by Vancouver Coastal Health has shown a significant proportion of people using opioids are not addicted to them.
“It’s alcohol that is their drug of choice and they’re drinking alcohol daily and using opioids intermittently and we’re doing nothing for their alcohol-use disorder.”
Alcohol is such an ingrained part of our culture that we rarely consider the negative effects it may be having on our health and wellness. In fact, the most dangerous drugs in the world are alcohol and tobacco, yet both of these can be freely purchased in almost any corner store or grocery market in the nation. Alcohol companies spend nearly $2 billion a year in the U.S. trying to convince you that alcohol is sexy and will make you a more fun person. All the while, the latest research reveals how destructive alcohol consumption is, even linking it to cancer.
The decision to quit drinking alcohol is a lot easier than actually quitting, because not only is alcohol addictive like other dangerous drugs, (quitting cold turkey can actually kill heavy drinkers), there is a tremendous amount of social and peer pressure involved.
Here are 7 things that will most likely happen to your body if you quit drinking alcohol.
1.) The Health of Your Liver Will Dramatically Improve
Alcohol is consumption is notoriously bad for the health of your liver, the organ which acts as the filter for the body, detoxifying the blood stream. Alcohol is high in glucose and the liver converts glucose into fat, which is why heavy drinkers often suffer from fatty liver disease which can cause scarring and liver failure.
“Anything that is eaten or consumed, whether it’s food, alcohol, medicine or toxins, gets filtered by the liver. Once we ingest food, it is digested by the stomach and intestine, gets absorbed into the blood and goes to the liver.” [Source]
The liver is also the organ known to manage the emotion of anger, and a dysfunctional or poisoned liver can result in emotional imbalances, which is why so many drunks are angry drunks. Once the body recognizes there is no more alcohol in the system, the liver can flush out remaining toxins, helping to improve liver performance which will have a positive impact on mood and emotional stability.
2.) It Improves the Balance of Good/Bad Bacteria in Your Gut
In recent years, scientists have come to the conclusion that the body’s microbiome is of critical importance to overall health, disease prevention, and even in managing mental health.
Hosting very complex and varied colonies of bacteria in the stomach and digestive track, the gut microbiome can be severely hampered by the consumption of foods which feed disagreeable bacteria. At the top of this list is sugar, which is a major component of alcoholic beverages. People don’t typically think about how much sugar they are consuming when they go out drinking, but quitting alcohol can offer a significant opportunity to bring these colonies back into balance.
3.) Overall Digestive Health will Improve
Digestive health is another area of health that is really being understood as an indicator of potential future disease. Furthermore, we are seeing an epidemic of gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux, gastritis or inflammation of the stomach. Caring for the GI tract is more important than ever, but regular alcohol consumption may be one of the greatest stressors to your digestive system.
“The digestive system works hard to eliminate alcohol (a toxin) from our system. So when we cut out alcohol we are allowing the digestive system to better convert the food and beverages we consume into fuel, energy for us to function optimally.” ~Niket Sonpal, an adjunct assistant professor of clinical medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
4.) You May Sleep Better
Many people have the misconception that a drink, or ‘night cap,’ will help them to sleep better, when actually the opposite is true. Alcohol can have an almost immediate relaxing effect on the body and mind, but once it begins to be broken down in the digestive system and sent to the liver, it creates a
The body does not sleep well after consuming even a small amount of alcohol. In fact, as noted by the National Sleep Foundation, alcohol disrupts sleep by blocking REM deep sleep patterns, it can aggravate breathing problems, lead to more bathroom trips, and severely disrupt circadian rhythms.
Even small or moderate amounts of alcohol can have a sever impact on sleep, but quitting alcohol can quickly help to restore healthy sleep patterns.
5.) Your Skin Will Clear Up
Alcohol is known toxin that kills living cells, which is why it is used as a disinfectant and preservative. And acting as a diuretic, once inside the body, it can cause moderate, even severe dehydration, which has a litany of negative effects on the body, not the least of which is the clarity and quality of your skin.
Being dehydrated can cause blotchy skin, and alcoholics commonly have blotchy, red-ish skin. For many drinkers, heavy consumption can aggravate rosacea and what has been known as ‘drinker’s nose,’ as it affects how the body circulates blood.
“Alcohol aggravates symptoms of rosacea because drinking enlarges the body’s blood vessels. When the blood vessels are more open, they allow more blood to flow to the surface of the skin, creating a flushed look that is typically referred to as the ‘alcohol flush.’ The redness can spread anywhere on the body but is most noticeable on the face, shoulders, and chest. For those already suffering from redness due to rosacea, alcohol can make this symptom increasingly worse.” [Source]
It’s no secret that being drunk can be like a mental disability as people lose motor control and their ability to walk and talk deteriorates, vision is blurred and memory fails. But while this effect dissipates as one sober’s up or sleeps it off the effect alcohol has on your brain is significant. A recent study tried to determine what the long-term physical effects of regular alcohol consumption have on the brain, finding that the hippocampus was seriously hampered.
“The study followed 550 men and women for 30 years, measuring their brain structure and function to determine how alcohol use affects the mind over time. What they found is that the more people drank, the more atrophy occurred in the brain’s hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped structure in your brain that plays a role in storing memories. The highest risk was for people who drank 17 standard drinks or more of alcohol per week. But even people who drank moderately saw an elevated risk for cognitive changes.” [Source]
7.) It Can Help You Lose Weight
In the midst of a national epidemic of diabetes and obesity, it’s important to maintain healthy body weight. alcohol is one of the biggest sources of calories and sugar there is, but most people don’t realize how fast calories from beer, wine, and mixed drinks can add up. Since alcohol metabolizes as a fat, it’s almost like double whammy where without even thinking about it you are increasing your sugar/calorie intake, and producing more fat.
“Alcohol does act like a fat once it’s been metabolized,” , a registered dietitian and the author of “Read It Before You Eat It,” told INSIDER. “Part of losing weight is also looking at a healthier lifestyle. A lot of people don’t consider the calories in alcohol again because they’re not chewing, because it doesn’t seem like it’s rich and fatty and buttery.” ~Bonnie Taub-Dix, Author of Read It Before You Eat It
Furthermore, making the decision to quit drinking is a signal to the body and spirit that you are determined to make better health choices overall, which can have a serious multiplier effect on your body’s health.
The following infographic sheds more light on what actually happens to your body as you consume alcohol.
You have to wonder how we ended up in a society that promotes heavy consumption of alcohol as a social norm and veritable right of passage, and at the same time the possession or consumption of the plant cannabis which is known to have many positive health benefits. Quitting alcohol is a great way to take control over your health.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, such was the bizarre case in which a man at risk of dying from alcohol poisoning was pumped full of 15 cans of beer to save his life.
Nguyen Van Nhat, 48, was taken to the General Hospital in Vietnam’s Quang Tri province with a blood-alcohol level a staggering 1,119 times higher than the limit. Medics immediately transfused Nhat with three cans of beer to dilute the amount of methanol in his system and give his liver a chance to process the toxic form of alcohol.
Methanol oxidizes to formaldehyde which, in turn, becomes formic acid which can cause damage to the optic nerve, inducing blindness in extreme cases of exposure, as well as kidney failure.
The human liver prioritizes breaking down ethanol first before methanol. So the introduction of beer kept his liver occupied, in a manner of speaking, while medics performed dialysis to remove the methanol, according to Dr. Le Van Lam head of the hospital’s ICU.
Nhat was then dosed with a can of beer per hour for a total transfusion of an incredible five liters (169oz) of booze.
“The therapy with 15 cans of beer is rather unusual, but well understood,” emergency physician Hans-Jörg Busch from the University hospital of Freiburg, told German press agency dpa.
“Much more important [than the kind of alcohol used] is that the therapy is immediately initiated.”
Nhat regained consciousness after the 15th can of beer was administered, and was discharged from the hospital three weeks later.
“A 2015 study, published in the journal, ‘Scientific Reports,’ suggests that smoking cannabis is roughly 114 times safer than drinking alcohol. Ironically, out of all the drugs that were researched in the study, alcohol was actually the most dangerous, and it was the only legal drug on the list.”
In a study published earlier this year by researchers at the National Institute of Scientific Research at the University of Quebec, cannabis can actually help counteract the harmful effects of alcohol to some degree.
The study found that cannabis use significantly lowered the odds of liver diseases like hepatitis, cirrhosis, steatosis, and even hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer. Researchers formed these conclusions based on the medical records of roughly 320,000 patients who had a history of alcoholism.
According to the study:
“Abusive alcohol use has well‐established health risks including causing liver disease (ALD) characterized by alcoholic steatosis (AS), steatohepatitis (AH), fibrosis, cirrhosis (AC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Strikingly, a significant number of individuals who abuse alcohol also use Cannabis, which has seen increased legalization globally. While cannabis has demonstrated anti‐inflammatory properties, its combined use with alcohol and the development of liver disease remain unclear.”
Researchers have not determined why alcoholics who used cannabis had less of a chance of developing liver disease, but many suspect that it has something to do with the proven anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis.
These findings support the results of another study last year which concluded that cannabis helps with non-alcoholic liver disease as well.
According to last year’s study:
“It can be hypothesized that marijuana use may have potential beneficial effects on metabolic abnormalities such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Whether marijuana use plays a role in NAFLD pathogenesis via modification of shared risk factors, or by an independent pathway remains uncertain. In this population-based study, we assessed the association between marijuana use and NAFLD in the US.”
Despite the proven health benefits of cannabis and the fact that it becoming legal in new states every year, lawmakers and mainstream media pundits refuse to give up on the reefer madness hysteria that they built their careers on.
Just after these studies were published, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control banned the sale of cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages, totally ignoring the science that this actually makes the alcohol less harmful.
This attitude can be seen in the hysteria that was created when Elon Musk took a hit of cannabis on the Joe Rogan Podcast, after spending two hours drinking liquor. Of course, even though the herb is legal in the state where they recorded, and it is far less harmful than alcohol, people decided to focus on the cannabis use because of the stigma against it.
A 2015 study, published in the journal, ‘Scientific Reports,’ suggests that smoking cannabis is roughly 114 times safer than drinking alcohol. Ironically, out of all the drugs that were researched in the study, alcohol was actually the most dangerous, and it was the only legal drug on the list.
Just behind alcohol, heroin and cocaine were listed as the next most dangerous, followed by tobacco, ecstasy, and meth. The criteria that these drugs were arranged by, was according to the likelihood of a person dying from consuming a lethal dose.
“The results confirm that the risk of cannabis may have been overestimated in the past. At least for the endpoint of mortality, the [margin of exposure] for THC/cannabis in both individual and population-based assessments would be above safety thresholds (e.g. 100 for data based on animal experiments). In contrast, the risk of alcohol may have been commonly underestimated,” the report states. “Currently, the MOE results point to risk management prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs. The high MOE values of cannabis, which are in a low-risk range, suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach,” the report continues.
While this is not the first study to rank marijuana very low in terms of danger, it comes at a time when the debate surrounding marijuana legalization is more heated than ever before, with more and more people agreeing that it is time to end prohibition.
Ron Byrd remembers losing his daughter Erika to complications of alcohol abuse, despite he and his wife June’s best efforts. USA TODAY
OAKTON, Va. – The last time lawyer Erika Byrd talked her way out of an alcohol rehab center, her father took her to lunch.
“Dad, I know what alcohol has done to me,” she told him that day in January 2011. “I know what it has made me do to you and mom. But that wasn’t me.”
By the time she died three months later, Byrd had blocked her parents’ calls because they kept having her involuntarily committed. They once had a magistrate judge hold a hearing at her hospital bed. He ordered herto undergo a month of in-patient treatment.
Byrd, who died in April 2011 at the age of 42, is among the rising number of people in the United States who have been killed by alcohol in the last decade.
From 2007 to 2017, the number of deaths attributable to alcohol increased 35 percent, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. The death rate rose 24 percent.
One alarming statistic: Deaths among women rose 67 percent. Women once drank far less than men, and their more moderate drinking helped prevent heart disease, offsetting some of the harm.
Deaths among men rose 29 percent.
While teen deaths from drinking were down about 16 percent during the same period, deaths among people aged 45 to 64 rose by about a quarter.
People’s risk of dying, of course, increases as they age. What’s new is that alcohol is increasingly the cause.
“The story is that no one has noticed this,” says Max Griswold, who helped develop the alcohol estimates for the institute.“It hasn’t really been researched before.”
The District of Columbia, less than 10 miles away from the Venable law office where Byrd was a partner, hadthe highest rate of death from alcohol in the country, according to the institute’s analysis. Georgia and Alabama came in second and third.
Alabama, in fact, ranked third amongstates with the strongest alcohol control policies, as rated by medical researchers in a 2014 report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
States can influence drinking – especially dangerous binge drinking – with policies such as taxes on alcohol and restrictions on where and whenit can be sold.
Psychologist Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer at the nonprofit Well Being Trust, says the larger health challenges in the South are to blame for high alcohol death rates. Southern states typically rank near the bottom in national rankings in cancer, cardiovascular disease and overall health.
Oklahoma, Utah, Kansas and Tennessee rounded out the five states with the strongest alcohol control policies, the researchers reported. States with more stringent alcohol control policies had lower rates of binge drinking, they found.
Nevada, South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming and Wisconsin had the weakest alcohol control policies.
David Jernigan, a professor at Boston University’s school of public health who has specialized in alcohol research for 30 years, notes that the beer industry holds considerable sway in Wisconsin.
Binge drinking is sending far more people to the emergency room, a separate team of researchers reported in the February 2018 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
The researchers, who looked at ER visits from 2006 to 2014,found the largest increases were among the middle aged – especially women.The number of teenage binge drinkers landing in the ER during that time actually declined.
Older, often lifelong drinkers don’t need only to have their stomachs pumped. They frequently have multiple complications from their drinking.
Their often bulbous bellies need to be drained of fluid, which builds up from liver cirrhosis, and their lungs cleared of aspirated vomit, says Dr. Anthony Marchetti, an emergency room doctor at Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Georgia.
They might also have brain hemorrhages or internal bleeding, because booze prevents their blood from clotting properly.
By middle age, Marchetti says, long-term drinking can also lead to heart failure, infections due to immune suppression, a type of dementia from alcohol-induced brain damage, stomach ulcers and a much higher risk of cancer.
As opioid overdoses, which kill about 72,000 people a year, grabbed America’s attention, the slower moving epidemic of alcohol accelerated, especially in Southern states and the nation’s capital. About 88,000 people die each year from alcohol.
Making matters worse, alcoholism is trickier to treat – and criticize – than opioid addiction.
“Culturally, we’ve made it acceptable to drink but not to go out and shoot up heroin,” Millersays. “A lot of people will read this and say ‘What’s the problem?’ “
It might be a more socially acceptable addiction, but alcoholism is at least three times costlier to treat than opioid addiction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it’s a far more complicated midlife crisis to address.
The proven approaches – taxes on alcohol and limits on where and when alcohol is sold – are often rejected because the liquor industry has considerable clout with policymakers.
Ron Byrd says his daughter Erika was“beautiful inside and out.”
To him, there’s no question about what caused her death.
That’s despite the fact there was no alcohol in her system when she was found dead at home. She was so sick, Byrd says, she hadn’t been able to eat or drink for days.
“The death certificate never says alcoholism,” hesays. “It said heart arrhythmia and heart valve disease. But nobody in our family had heart problems.”
Attorney Lisa Smith has been in recovery from alcohol and cocaine addiction for a decade. The New York City woman wrote the memoir “Girl Walks Out of a Bar” and co-hosts the podcast Recovery Rocks.
Smithspeaks at legal conferences and law firms such as Byrd’s about the hazards of lawyers’ high-stress days and booze-fueled dinners with clients. But she’s fighting forces far larger than her profession.
“It is poison, and we’re treating it like it’s something other than that because there‘s big corporate money behind it,” she says. “A lot of people are getting really rich on something that is toxic to us.”
Deaths of despair
In its Pain in the Nation report this year, the Well Being Trust called losses from drugs, alcohol and suicide “despair deaths.”
The three are closely related. Suicide is the third leading cause of death from alcohol, after cancers anddigestive diseases. One in five individuals who die from opioid overdoses have alcohol in their system at the time of their death.
Drinking can lead to cancers all along the digestive tract, from the mouth to the colon. About 15 percent of U.S. breast cancer cases are considered to be caused by alcohol. A third of those cases affected women who drank 1.5 drinks or less a week, according to a 2013 report in the American Journal of Public Health.
The “direct toxicity” of alcohol damages the nervous system from the brain down to the spinal cord and to peripheral nerves, says Marchetti, the Georgia emergency physician. It’s common for people in the late stages of alcoholism to have numbness in their feet and legs, which makes walking difficult even when they aren’t impaired.
Emergency rooms are the most expensive place to treat problems. Between 2008 and 2014, the rate of ER visits involving acute alcohol consumption rose nearly 40 percent, according to the study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. For chronic alcohol use, the rate rose nearly 60 percent.
The increases for acute and chronic alcohol use were larger for women.
People who drink throughout their lifetime develop a tolerance for alcohol. But as they age, they lose muscle and gain fat and become less tolerant.
That leads to increased injuries and illnesses, says Rick Grucza, an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis and lead author of the Alcoholism study.
But why are so many people drowning so many sorrows?
Brenda Padgett believes it was postpartum depression that led her daughter to take up the heavy drinking that ultimately killed her last year.
Ashley Hartshorn, who lived in Hendersonville, North Carolina, had already suffered the trauma of hearingher stepfather kill his girlfriend while she was on the phone.
Then Hartshorn testified against him in court, which helped send him to prison for life.
The depression came after the birth of her third child in February 2012.
“She wanted so badly to quit drinking, but the shame and the fear kept her from being able to allow herself to reach out for help,” Padgett says. “Like many, we were ignorant to the effects that alcohol has on the body. I thought she had time, time to hit rock bottom and time to seek help.
“I never knew that only five years of alcohol abuse could take the life of someone so young.”
Neither did Nancy Juracka. Her son Lance died in 2006 after just three years of heavy drinking. He was 36.
A new WHO report found that alcohol-related deaths continue to be a major issue, particularly among men.
More than 5% of worldwide deaths can be attributed to alcohol, according to a new report.
The data was part of a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) that is released every four years, according to the Guardian.
The report found that of the approximately 3 million alcohol-related deaths per year, about 2.3 million in 2016 were men. It also noted that nearly 29% of deaths caused by alcohol were the result of injuries, including driving incidents and suicides.
A standout finding of the report was the toll that alcohol takes on younger generations. For example, the report found that 13.5% of deaths in those in their 20s were linked to alcohol somehow, while alcohol was held responsible for 7.2% of premature deaths in all.
Despite the fact that worldwide alcohol-related deaths have decreased from 5.9% to 5.3% since 2012, Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a WHO alcohol-control expert who was involved in the report, tells the Guardian that the results are not something to take lightly.
If you are an alcoholic who consciously wants to stop drinking but can’t; a heavy drinker who never gives any thought to whether or not you are drinking too much, or a social drinker who believes that drinking is important, compelling you to continue with the addiction – these 8 reasons will convince you to …
If you are an alcoholic who consciously wants to stop drinking but can’t; a heavy drinker who never gives any thought to whether or not you are drinking too much, or a social drinker who believes that drinking is important, compelling you to continue with the addiction – these 8 reasons will convince you to quit drinking the poison right away, come what may.
Alcohol Causes Cancer
American Cancer Society says the amount of alcohol consumed over time, not the type of alcoholic beverage, is the most important factor in raising cancer risk. Alcohol is a known cause of cancers of the Mouth, Throat (pharynx), Voice box (larynx), Esophagus, Liver, Colon and Rectum, Breast, and Pancreas. For each of these cancers, the risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, alcoholism can lead to malnutrition [because alcohol suppresses the appetite], which leads to inadequate intake and absorption of food and nutrients. For this reason, even heavy drinkers who consume high levels of nutrient-rich food, fail to get the full benefit of those nutrients.
Alcohol Affects B-12 Absorption
Drinking alcohol, even in moderation, can have profound effects on the way your body absorbs vitamin B-12, the deficiency of which leads to heart attack and stroke, megaloblastic anemia, fatigue, shortness of breath, tingling and numbness in the extremities, headache, dementia, disorientation, loss of concentration and memory, and even death.
Alcohol Destroys Liver – Forever
Between 10 and 20% of heavy drinkers develop liver cirrhosis – severe scarring and disruption of the normal structure of the liver not reversible with abstinence. Alcohol abuse is one of the three most common causes of cirrhosis of the liver in the US; according to the National Institutes of Health, liver cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death by disease.
Alcohol Is A Depressant
Some people use alcohol to calm their nerves, to soothe their anxiety and to relieve stress. But alcohol is not a medication. Alcohol is a depressant, which actually worsens anxiety by changing the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain; that’s why some people feel more anxious after the alcohol wears off.
Alcohol can damage the inner lining of the stomach, the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder; alter the structure and function of the gastrointestinal tract; and lead to abdominal discomfort, stomachaches, heartburn, and acid reflux.
Alcohol Affects Sleep Quality
While many drinkers would argue that alcohol helps them fall asleep a little faster, researchers at the University of Melbourne have found that alcohol just before sleep can lead to poorer quality slumber. You’re more likely to wake up during the night, and may not feel as rested following your sleep.
“People tend to feel that alcohol helps them fall asleep a little quicker, and therefore people associated that with helping them sleep. But when you actually go and look at what is happening while they sleep, the quality of that sleep isn’t good.”
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking is up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. But with alcohol, the line between “moderate use” and “dangerous use” can be a thin one.
We don’t trust nutrition studies funded by soda companies. Why would we trust alcohol studies funded by the booze industry?
Officials at the government agency tasked with studying the health effects of alcohol aggressively courted alcohol executives to fund a $100 million clinical trial on “moderate drinking,” according to recently published investigations by The New York Times, Wired and Stat.
The executives complied, according to the Times, with the understanding that this research would probably conclude alcohol is safe and lowers the risk of disease.
Together, these reports paint a disturbing picture about the way alcohol companies are trying to influence scientific understanding, and thus public perception, of alcohol as a health tonic.
If you’ve ever seen headlines about how red wine is good for your heart, or how moderate alcohol use is linked to longer life, you’ve seen the alcohol industry’s influence on health science at work. And Americans seem to be swallowing that message. A 2015 Gallup poll found that 1 in 5 Americans believe “moderate” drinking is good for health, and that this was especially true among those who drink alcohol.
This belief is a boon for the alcohol industry for at least two reasons: It links alcohol consumption to a healthy lifestyle that can improve heart health, and it relies on the concept of “moderation,” a squishy term that in practice ends up meaning whatever drinkers want it to mean.
Alcohol executives were allowed to help pick the scientists and preview the trial’s design, reports the Times, while Wired reported on how dependent the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is on industry funding to complete the expensive, long-term study. Finally, Stat has a story about how scientists who published unflattering research about the alcohol industry were verbally abused by NIAAA officials and cut off from funding.
It’s kind of the whole reason we have an independent science sector ― to wall it off from conflicts of interest like this. David Jernigan, Boston University School of Public Health.
Even though the scientists involved in these studies, all from prestigious universities, may insist that they have independence in their work, studies show that research funded by the food industry is four to eight times more likely to conclude something that financially benefits the sponsor. Industry-funded research also tends to suppress negative data. When pharmaceutical companies fund studies, the findings are less likely to be published than research funded by other sources.
“The obvious conflict of interest is that the funder of this research stands to benefit when the research comes out with findings that encourage more people to use its products,” said David Jernigan, a professor at the Department of Health Law, Policy and Management at the Boston University School of Public Health. “It’s kind of the whole reason we have an independent science sector ― to wall it off from conflicts of interest like this.”
Why food and drink companies love the word ‘moderation’
Research on the concept of “moderation” reveals that the more a person likes a food or drink, the bigger their definition of what a “moderate” serving is. And food and beverage companies may be using that to their advantage, said Michelle vanDellen, an expert in self-control and eating behaviors at the University of Georgia.
“I don’t know if food and beverage companies have done research on moderation,” she said. “I have, and I know that moderation messages are poorly defined, they increase the scope of what is considered healthy and they lead to increased intended consumption.”
When it comes to alcohol, at least, there is a seemingly objective unit of measurement for moderation: up to one drink a day for women, and up to two drinks a day for men, as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These amounts form the basis of claims that alcohol may have a positive effect on health.
But careful analyses have debunked the association between moderate alcohol consumption and health by taking the “abstainer bias” into account. People who currently abstain from alcohol include those who have never consumed it and former drinkers. But many former drinkers have quit alcohol for health reasons, so the “abstainer” group is already biased toward worse health overall than a group of people who are still moderate drinkers and haven’t had to quit because of their health.
“They found that binge drinking was most common among adults aged 18 to 34, but more than half of all binge drinks consumed were from adults ages 35 years and older. In other words, older drinkers don’t binge drink as often, but they tend to really hit the bottle when they do.”
Americans are no strangers to boozing it up, according to a new study that found that one in six US adults are binge drinkers. Alcohol enthusiasts in the US are chugging a collective 17.5 billion “binge drinks” per year.
The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, found that 37.4 million Americans, or one out of every six adults, binge drink about once a week. They drink an average of about seven drinks per binge, meaning they chug a collective 17.5 billion drinks each year. That boils down to about 470 binge drinks, per binge drinker, annually.
“This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others,” study co-author Robert Brewer, lead researcher in the CDC’s alcohol program, said in a statement.
The results came after Brewer and his team examined CDC data from the center’s 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The team used the data to calculate annual estimates of binge drinking, which is defined as men drinking five or more drinks over the course of two hours, or women drinking four or more drinks over the same period. A single drink is defined as a shot of hard liquor, a five-ounce glass of wine, or a 12-ounce glass of beer at five percent alcohol.
Once the team examined the data, they divided the findings by age, sex, education, race/ethnicity, household income, and state. They found that binge drinking was most common among adults aged 18 to 34, but more than half of all binge drinks consumed were from adults ages 35 years and older. In other words, older drinkers don’t binge drink as often, but they tend to really hit the bottle when they do.
When males and females were compared side-by-side, it was revealed that men are much more likely to be binge drinkers. In fact, four out of five binge drinks were found to be consumed by males. Income also played a role, as the researchers found that people with lower household incomes (less than $25,000 annually) and lower educational levels (less than high school) “consumed substantially more” than those with higher salaries and education levels.
Comparing the race of binge drinkers, the researchers found the biggest drinkers were non-Hispanic whites (19.2 percent) and American Indians/Alaska Natives (17.9 percent). Most binge drinkers were located in Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Hawaii. Meanwhile, Washington DC, New Jersey, New York, and Washington had the fewest numbers of binge drinkers.
The results demonstrate there is a need to focus on the prevention of excessive drinking, according to Brewer. “The findings also show the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to prevent binge drinking, focusing on reducing both the number of times people binge drink and the amount they drink when they binge,” he said.
It is worth noting that America’s binge drinking is likely worse than the study implies, as the BRFSS relies on self-reported data from a phone survey, and study respondents are thought to underreport their drinking habits. The CDC study, which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Friday,was based on a survey from 2015 that asked around 400,00 Americans over the age of 18 about their alcohol consumption “in the past 30 days.”
Binge drinking is responsible for more than half of the 88,000 alcohol-attributable deaths in the US each year, according to the CDC. It is also the cause of 75 percent of the $249 billion in economic costs associated with excessive drinking in the US.
A major Canadian observational study identified alcohol use disorders as the biggest risk factor for the onset of dementia. It’s also the most preventable factor, so people wary of early-onset dementia can avoid it by controlling their alcohol intake, reported a ScienceDaily article.
Implemented by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and published in The Lancet Public Health journal, the study took a very close look at the effect of alcohol use disorders. To this end, it canvassed the health records of more than a million French citizens.
The study included patients with mental and behavioral disorders or chronic diseases caused by chronic heavy drinking.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “chronic heavy drinking” is defined as the daily consumption of more than 60 grams of pure alcohol for men and 40 grams for women. WHO identifies alcohol consumption as the root cause of more than 200 diseases and injuries, including mental and behavioral disorders.
For their study, CAMH researchers viewed 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia, where the patient developed dementia before turning 65. They found that 57 percent of these cases were linked to chronic heavy drinking.
The significant association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia led the authors to suggest several actions that would reduce the burden of dementia attributed to alcohol. They believed screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders would be highly effective in curbing the onset of dementia.
“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths,” remarked Dr. Jürgen Rehm, the co-author of the massive study and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research.
He warned that alcohol use disorders have been proven to reduce life expectancy by more than 20 years. He identified dementia as a major cause of death for people who suffered from alcohol-related disorders.
More women suffer from dementia, but more men get early-onset dementia
Dr. Rehm and his team identified a major gender split for early-onset dementia patients. Women comprised the majority of dementia patients, but two out of every three early-onset dementia patients turned out to be men.
Other independent risk factors for the onset of dementia included smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and hearing loss. These factors are also linked to alcohol use disorders.
The data from the study imply that alcohol use disorders can increase the risk of dementia in more ways than one.
“As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition,” said Dr. Bruce Pollock, co-author and Vice-President of Research for CAMH.
Much like his colleague, Dr. Pollock advised treating the alcohol use disorder ahead of time before dementia takes over.
“Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care,” he said.
One limitation of the study was that it only covered the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder. The authors explained that they focused on cases that required hospitalization.
Patients are often reluctant to report alcohol-related problems due to social stigma regarding alcoholics. The correlation between alcoholism and dementia could be even higher than the study has shown.
A person prepares a needle at a supervised injection site in Toronto. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
There is a reason the Alberta NDP announced it was opening up “supervised consumption sites” in Calgary late last year.
There’s also a reason they avoided the more commonly known term: safe injection sites.
It’s because while there may, indeed, be a plethora of evidence to suggest that these sites save lives and reduce the spread of disease for people suffering from addiction, they also raise concerns among people who feel we’re moving more toward enabling addicts, than helping them live free of their demons.
While many of us have come around to the idea of drug addiction as a disease — it’s a disease where some element of personal responsibility must still play some role.
Medical research supports the use of safe injection sites. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Some never try drugs.
Some try, but never get addicted.
Some addicts try to get off drugs, and fail.
Some addicts try and succeed.
There is some combination of genetics, upbringing, trauma and, yes, choice, that we’ve yet to fully unravel in all of this.
But we are more than rats pulling a lever.
‘Helping addicts inject poison’
Safe injection sites don’t appear to raise the public ire as they once did — particularly now that the opioid epidemic sweeping Alberta is collecting exponentially more lives every year.
Or, rather, they didn’t seem to be terribly controversial until United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney decided to make them so.
In a lengthy Facebook post last week, he wrote, “We absolutely need to show compassion for those suffering with addiction, and we need to help them get off drugs.
“But helping addicts inject poison into their bodies is not a long-term solution to the problem.” And there’s the dilemma.
Jason Kenney drew fire for saying he doesn’t believe safe consumption and injection sites work. (Zoe Todd/CBC)
Kenney was roundly lambasted for his comments.
But while the public outcry was apparent, the inner gut wrench was not.
An NDP MLA with more moral authority on the subject than Kenney responded: “He depersonalized anybody with an addiction and labelled them as this horrible person who was bent on doing this awful behaviour,” Debbie Jabbour told Postmedia.
Her daughter died of an overdose in 2017.
Then, Kenney seemed to walk back his comments a few days later, acknowledging a Supreme Court case against the Harper government, which ensures consumption sites can’t be denied a license by the government.
If this back-and-forth is indicative of all the deftness Kenney can muster to outmaneuver the NDP on social issues — well, bub’s still got some work to do.
“I’m not saying I’m opposed to reasonable harm reduction efforts, but I am saying that we need to be realistic about this,” Kenney told Global News.
But he did raise some fair questions about where the logic of such an approach will inevitably takes us.
A moral divide
If we are going to treat drug addiction as a chronic disease — no different in its moral dimension to other lifestyle-impacted illnesses like diabetes or hypertension — then the path becomes clear.
We should offer prevention and abstinence where possible, and ongoing treatment where it is not.
And this will mean providing some chronic addicts lifelong access to clean, regulated drugs so they can manage their addiction.
This, just as someone with a faulty pancreas injects insulin.
Lest anyone accuse me of slippery-slope fear mongering — it’s currently happening.
There are already pilot programs in place to provide taxpayer-funded opiates for severe and chronic addicts.
And there’s a reason.
We can’t just tell drug addicts to buck up and get their lives together.
Tim Stockwell says managed-alcohol programs have largely operated “under the radar.”
Photograph By Adrian Lam, Times Colonist
Just because alcohol is legal doesn’t mean it should be disqualified from harm-reduction programs, says a University of Victoria psychologist.
“Alcohol can kill you in more ways than heroin can,” said Tim Stockwell, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.
“But somehow it doesn’t deserve the same level of respect in harm-reduction treatments as other substances.”
Stockwell, a psychology professor, and Bernie Pauly, associate professor in the UVic department of nursing, edited a special issue of the international, peer-reviewed Drug and Alcohol Review that includes four papers from the Canadian Managed Alcohol Program Study.
The study examined programs in which participants are provided daily, regular and measured doses of alcohol to cope with their addictions. The doses, usually equivalent to one standard drink, are usually offered at intervals, such as every hour or 90 minutes. Housing, food and other supports are typically provided, as well.
Stockwell said managed-alcohol programs are a radical idea being pursued seriously only in Canada. One of the first arose 25 years ago after three people froze to death in Toronto. They had been denied shelter spaces because they were drunk.
Data for the papers were collected from about 380 people in 13 programs across Canada, including two in the Lower Mainland.
Susan Alexman, director of programs for PHS Community Services Society in Vancouver, said her agency is offering two managed-alcohol programs, one as part of a subsidized-housing project.
The other PHS service is community-based. Clients are expected to show up at the PHS centre for drinks, in some cases getting them in exchange for things such as non-beverage alcohol, which includes mouthwash and rubbing alcohol.
Don Evans, executive director of Our Place in Victoria, said his group has considered managed alcohol in the past but gave up because it didn’t have the space or resources.
Hitting Rock Bottom Frees Us From Negative Emotions
We’ve all heard it said, “When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.” This can prove especially true in business, where bottoming out as a result of job loss can be necessary before finding the radical solution that will lead to a new work identity, according to new research from the University of Notre Dame.
“Hitting Rock Bottom After Job Loss: Bouncing Back to Create a New Positive Work Identity,” was published this month in Academy of Management Review by lead author Dean Shepherd, the Siegfried Professor of Entrepreneurship in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, and Trenton Williams of Indiana University.“On the way down, we frantically do all sorts of things to try and repair the situation, and suffer as they fail,” Shepherd says. “Bottoming out frees us from the misconception that the problems can be fixed, and in the process, frees us from other constraints and negative emotions and provides the conditions necessary to find a viable solution.”
Individuals who eventually hit rock bottom come to realize their identity has been lost, and that realization can lead to one of two paths: toward recovery or toward dysfunction.
“Using ‘identity play’ provides a safe environment to escape the situation and try new things, discarding bad ideas or finding and refining a new identity and returning stronger than before.”
Play provides an opportunity to both withdraw from the mental anguish and to be creative in generating alternative new work identities and then trying them out to see how they feel without having to commit to them, which can be fun.
Once the individual finds a potential identity that feels right, they then begin to refine the job to make sure it’s a good fit for both their needs and the reality of the situation. Without hitting rock bottom, the individual would not have been freed from the past to enable them to creatively explore different alternatives for the future.
“A failed corporate executive might consider a variety of other potential roles,” Shepherd says, “For example, sitting on the board of a nonprofit organization that is desperate for experienced managerial guidance, exploring government positions or running for office, working with startups, and so forth. Similarly, a failed entrepreneur might explore how skills learned in starting a business could be applied in a corporate setting, take standardized exams to be considered for law school or engage in other low risk exploration activities. In these cases, hitting rock bottom opens up myriad new opportunities.”
Former NFL players Jermichael Finley, Mike Utley and Tony Boselli all suffered career ending injuries and have refocused on other business ventures. Finley, in his 20s suffered a spinal cord injury while playing as a tight end for the Green Bay Packers. He is now coaching and invested in a gym. Utley played guard for the Detroit Lions when a game injury left him paralyzed. He started the Mike Utley Foundation. Boselli was a defensive tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars who retired early due to a nagging shoulder injury. He’s now 45 and admits he still suffers from an “identity crisis” but continues working with the Jaguars on their Sunday radio show as well as other radio shows including Westwood One. He also coaches high school football and started a small healthcare company.
The less desirable path involves using fantasy as a means of escape and can include alcohol and drug use.
Along this less desirable path, “people will oscillate between no emotion and severe negative emotion and make no progress toward building a new identity, which can eventually lead to even worse outcomes like suicide,” Shepherd says.
Recent studies have explored the impact of career-ending injuries for musicians and soldiers-injuries that generated intense negative emotions as they approached rock bottom. In both studies, some of these individuals were fixated on the loss of a former identity, paralyzed by the realization that they could no longer perform or continue in an established role. Some sought escape through cognitive deconstruction, including the use of drugs.
“A failed executive might resort to a numb state that involves abusing alcohol, engaging in menial tasks at home or becoming a couch potato,” Shepherd says. “However, when friends offer job suggestions or ask why the executive has yet to land a new position, it could launch the individual from the numb state into extreme negative emotions leading to destructive behavior.”
A deeper understanding of why some recover and others languish provides an opportunity to develop interventions that facilitate recovery from work identity loss.
Shepherd hopes the research helps people realize that hitting rock bottom can be an opportunity to let go of a broken and unrepairable life and begin anew to develop a new life, as well as avoid the negative path of fantasy that obstructs recovery.
A research leader in the field of entrepreneurship, Shepherd specializes in entrepreneurial cognitions, new venture strategy, opportunity recognition and learning from failure.
Summary: According to researchers, alcohol use disorder poses an increased risk for the early development of dementia.
Alcohol use disorders are the most important preventable risk factors for the onset of all types of dementia, especially early-onset dementia. This according to a nationwide observational study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, of over one million adults diagnosed with dementia in France.
This study looked specifically at the effect of alcohol use disorders, and included people who had been diagnosed with mental and behavioural disorders or chronic diseases that were attributable to chronic harmful use of alcohol.
Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia (before the age of 65), the majority (57%) were related to chronic heavy drinking.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines chronic heavy drinking as consuming more than 60 grams pure alcohol on average per day for men (4-5 Canadian standard drinks) and 40 grams (about 3 standard drinks) per day for women.
As a result of the strong association found in this study, the authors suggest that screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders should be implemented to reduce the alcohol-attributable burden of dementia.
“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths,” says study co-author and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research Dr. Jürgen Rehm. “Alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia are preventable, and known-effective preventive and policy measures can make a dent into premature dementia deaths.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines chronic heavy drinking as consuming more than 60 grams pure alcohol on average per day for men (4-5 Canadian standard drinks) and 40 grams (about 3 standard drinks) per day for women. NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the CAMH news release.
Dr. Rehm points out that on average, alcohol use disorders shorten life expectancy by more than 20 years, and dementia is one of the leading causes of death for these people.
For early-onset dementia, there was a significant gender split. While the overall majority of dementia patients were women, almost two-thirds of all early-onset dementia patients (64.9%) were men.
Alcohol use disorders were also associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset, such as tobacco smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, lower education, depression, and hearing loss, among modifiable risk factors. It suggests that alcohol use disorders may contribute in many ways to the risk of dementia.
“As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition,” says CAMH Vice-President of Research Dr. Bruce Pollock. “Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care.” The authors also noted that only the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder – ones involving hospitalization – were included in the study. This could mean that, because of ongoing stigma regarding the reporting of alcohol-use disorders, the association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia may be even stronger.
The number of people being admitted to hospital due to problems with alcohol has hit a record high in England, new figures show, following steep cuts to addiction support services in recent years.
Alcohol-related admissions have risen by more than two-thirds in a decade, with the figure now standing at more than 1.1 million in 2017, according to data released by Public Health England (PHE).
Politicians and campaigners warn government cuts to public health infrastructure have “failed” thousands of vulnerable people as well as increasing pressures on hard-pressed frontline A&E departments.
Spending on drug and alcohol support services across England fell by 16 per cent in the four years to 2017, as revealed by The Independent in August. The latest figures show there has been a 13 per cent rise in hospital admissions over the same period.
Separate data last year showed the number of people getting government-funded support to tackle their addictions had decreased by 10 per cent in three years, with the number of interventions falling from 308,118 in 2013-14 to 278,489 in 2016-17.
Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary, said: “These are deeply worrying figures and reveal yet again the impact alcohol abuse has on society. Tackling alcohol addiction and supporting those and their families impacted by alcohol is a major priority of mine.
“However, Government cuts to our public health infrastructure, including slashing £43m from alcohol and drug addiction services, not only fails thousands of vulnerable people but as we see here also increases pressures on frontline A&E departments.
“It’s why rebuilding our public health services is vital to the future of our NHS.”
The rise in alcohol admissions comes despite statistics last year which showed the proportion of adults drinking was at its lowest level since 2005 and that younger people were more likely to be abstaining from alcohol. Nonetheless, 7.8 million people admitted to binge drinking on their heaviest drinking day.
In 2016, a total of 7,327 people died from alcohol-specific causes in the UK, equating to 11.7 deaths per 100,000 population – a rate significantly higher than that observed in 2001, when there were 10.6 deaths per 100,000 population.
A report by a cross-party group of MPs on Sunday found that 37 per cent of child deaths and serious injuries through neglect were linked to parental drinking, with separate figures revealing that over half of councils still do not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics.
Public health chiefs revealed last month that 4 per cent of UK drinkers who had the most harmful alcohol consumption habits accounted for a third of all the alcohol drunk in the country – a figure described as “staggering”.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance and former president of the Royal College of Physicians, said that although less people in England are drinking large amounts of alcohol, those who do drink often do so in a more “damaging and destructive” way.
He added: “Alcohol treatment services are in crisis and there’s no doubt at all that less people are able to access them now. These are often the people who are drinking the most, and they’re ending up in acute hospitals.“
Professor Gilmore said the heaviest drinkers usually gravitate towards the cheapest drink, and called for a minimum unit pricing of alcohol.
“Scotland will be introducing minimum unit pricing on 1 May, and there should be no delay in the Westminster government following suit in England. There’s no room for complacency,” he said.
“Any delay will lead to more lives being lost, and more people being admitted to hospital unnecessarily.”
The new data shows the highest number of admissions for treatment directly related to alcohol were aged between 45 and 54, with this age group accounting for 58 per cent of all admissions. Under-24s meanwhile accounted for 8 per cent.
“Researchers now estimate that 1 in 8 Americans are alcoholics.”
“The researchers concluded:
Our study revealed that among alcohol users, individuals who additionally use cannabis (dependent and non-dependent cannabis use) showed significantly lower odds of developing AS, AH, AC and HCC. Further, dependent users had significantly lower odds than non-dependent users for developing liver disease.”
A new study showed that abusive alcohol users who also use cannabis are less likely to develop all types of liver disease.
A group of researchers set out to “determine the effects of cannabis use on the incidence of liver disease in individuals who abuse alcohol.” They wanted to see if the observed anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis also affect the development of liver disease. The research was headed up by Adeyinka Charles Adejumo of North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Massachusetts. Adejumo also works at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Research into Alcohol and Liver Disease
During their research, the team analyzed the discharge records from the 2014 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project – Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS). They focused on patients 18-years and older, who had a past or current history of abusive alcohol use. This amounted to a sample size of over 319,000 patients who abused alcohol.
Initially, the researchers divided the sample group into “cannabis exposure groups: non-cannabis-users (90.39%), non-dependent-cannabis-users (8.26%) and dependent cannabis users (1.36%).” Then, they studied four distinct phases of liver disease. These included: alcoholic steatosis (AS) or alcoholic fatty liver; steatohepatitis (AH) or non-alcoholic fatty liver; cirrhosis (AC); and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or essentially liver cancer.
The researchers concluded:
Our study revealed that among alcohol users, individuals who additionally use cannabis (dependent and non-dependent cannabis use) showed significantly lower odds of developing AS, AH, AC and HCC. Further, dependent users had significantly lower odds than non-dependent users for developing liver disease.
Although the goal of this article is not to advocate the use of cannabis while under the influence of alcohol, Adejumo’s research raises an important question. Do the plant’s healing properties actually protect the liver from some of the damaging health effects of alcohol?
The Prevalence of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol is the most destructive drug. It causes an estimated 88,000 deaths per year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also responsible for about one-third of all traffic fatalities. That’s equal to an additional 10,000 deaths per year. (source)
Regardless of these horrifying statistics, the alcohol industry is thriving. In the U.S., alcohol consumption is on the rise. As such, researchers now estimate that 1 in 8 Americans are alcoholics.
Two large surveys carried out in 2001-02 and 2012-13 have found that harmful levels of drinking are increasing among almost all demographics in the US.
The number of people who had consumed alcohol in the past 12 months went up 11.2% in the time between surveys. High-risk drinking went up by almost 30%. This means that at present about 29.6 million Americans are putting their health at risk due to their drinking habits.
Increases in alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and DSM-IV alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the US population and among subgroups, especially women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged, constitute a public health crisis. Taken together, these findings portend increases in many chronic comorbidities in which alcohol use has a substantial role.
The research thus concludes that the existing rate of alcohol use signifies that more of the public will suffer from multiple chronic conditions in the future. Alcoholic fatty liver disease is definitely one of these destructive chronic illnesses.
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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