The Dangers Behind ‘Risky Drinking’

There is no doubt that alcoholism can do tremendous long term damage. But it’s important to remember that shot chugging and rowdy nights out can cause harm in the short term as well. In fact, a new study is pointing to just that. Recent research published on outlined the large of amount of young men who participate in “risky drinking” and very real dangers that go along with it.


For the record, the way risky drinking was described in the study pertained to fistfights, intoxicated driving and unprotected sexual behavior. Bar binging is certainly known to contribute to all of those things, as is the newfound “freedom” of turning 21. The research did show a strong connection of bad boozing behavior among men who are just reaching that age.


In conclusion, the study’s author felt that loose drinking laws and perhaps 21-year-old immaturity could merit a re-evaluation of each state’s legal drinking age.


“A growing body of evidence suggests large increases in criminal behavior and mortality coinciding with a young adult’s 21st birthday, when alcohol consumption becomes legal,” author and University of Wisconsin professor Jason M. Fletcher stated. “The policy implications from these findings have focused on the need to reduce drinking among young people, potentially by enforcing stricter alcohol controls.”


Upon further examination, Fletcher also stated that the statistics show an increase in alcohol-related deaths and violent crimes among males aged 21. Again, he emphasized that parental interventions are an important tool in keeping these young men grounded. But one of the more curious data points showed that this group is close to their families and often times living with them. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to have regular conversations with college-aged children about alcohol.


“It might be a reasonable intervention to remind parents of individuals about to turn 21, that especially their sons, about these negative consequences,” Fletcher emphasized to The Fix. “Maybe they could at least be part of these interventions, in terms of reducing these risky behaviors right around the legal age of drinking.”


We couldn’t agree more with that advice. Not only is this risky drinking behavior a gateway into violence and physical harm; once intoxicated driving enters the picture, it could easily lead to death. We encourage all parents to stay close to their sons and daughters as they approach their young 20’s. Open dialogues and regular check ins are crucial as they enter this exploratory (and potentially addictive) stage of life.


When ‘Weekend Drinking’ Becomes Alcoholism

One of the most difficult things a person can do is come to terms with their addiction. Denial is a big component in this equation, as is turning a blind eye to serious warning signs. In the case of alcoholism, many people classify their habits as “casual drinking” when in fact they are symptoms of a serious problem. The website actually did a pretty good job of covering this topic for millennials, with a list of warning signs when it comes to weekend boozing.


Warning Sign 1: Lying About Your Drinking

As harmless as “weekend drinking” may be, if you find yourself lying or covering up your behavior that may be sign of a serious problem. Key indicators here include making up stories to shield your loved ones or keeping Saturday night bottles hidden from the rest of the household.


Warning Sign 2: Repeated Blackouts

Blackouts are definitely a common behavior when it comes to binge drinking. If Sunday mornings consist of gathering clues about Saturday night, then something is amiss. This is actually a very serious sign, as it can greatly impact a person’s physical health and potentially do damage to their liver and brain.


Warning Sign 3: You Constantly Think About Your Next Party

You may be only a weekend drinker, but if you spend Monday through Thursday fantasizing about your next drunken party then consider yourself a potential alcoholic. As Bustle writer Carina Wolff explained in her piece, “As addiction takes over, the mind begins to develop an obsession with that particular substance or behavior. Even when an alcoholic isn’t drinking, their mind is telling them that they should be.”


Warning Sign 4: Changing Priorities

Is regular drinking making you lose interest in your healthier habits? That’s certainly another cause for concern. Though you may be a high-functioning alcoholic (going to work and making meetings), shifting away from hobbies, exercise and outside responsibilities means your priorities are in the wrong place.


Warning Sign 5: Underestimating Your Drinking

One exercise that Wolff encourages for any regular drinker is to keep tabs on their alcohol totals. As the weeks progress, are you noticing your consumption level is going up? Or perhaps it takes larger quantities of booze to catch a buzz? These too are warning signs that you’re becoming increasingly dependent on alcohol. And make sure to read your monthly credit card statements as well. Alcoholism can most certainly lead to larger and less manageable bar tabs at the end of a weekend.


More Young Alcoholics Diagnosed With Liver Disease

Typically when we think of an alcoholic succumbing to cirrhosis of the liver, it is after decades of abuse. But some newly released data is pointing to a change in that statistic. Apparently liver disease is becoming much more common for chronic drinkers in their 30’s, which is an alarming stat that we think is worth sharing. published a telling piece on this latest research and the trends that many doctors are seeing when it comes to cirrhosis. The stats were published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and covered a period from 1999 to 2016. Within that timeframe, chronic liver disease as a whole saw a drastic increase; but its the death tolls among young people that have been raising the most alarms.


In blunt terms, the number of 25- to 34-year-olds who have died each year from alcohol-related liver disease almost tripled between 1999 and 2016. The annual increase rate has now hit around 10 percent; with an initial total of 259 deaths in 1999 and a much higher total of 767 deaths in 2016.


University of Michigan assistant professor of medicine (and liver specialist), Dr. Elliot Tapper, spoke with NPR’s writers and shared his personal firsthand accounts of what he’s been seeing.


“What’s happening with young people is dismaying to say the least,” he told the site. “A young man I’ve been recently seeing, his whole body was yellow. He could hardly move. It was difficult for him to breathe, and he wasn’t eating anything. We had long, tearful conversations, but he continued to struggle with alcohol addiction.”


Not surprisingly, these new findings have led to a lot of speculations as to the causes of the spike. Another medical professional interviewed for the article, Dr. Vijay Shah who works at the Mayo Clinic, felt that outside global factors may be contributing to the rise in 30-something chronic alcoholism.


“It correlates with the global financial crisis,” he explained. “We hypothesize that there may be a loss of opportunity, and the psychological burden that comes with that may have driven some of those patients to abusive drinking.”


Regardless, these issues are raising much concern. Particularly because of how fast-acting these liver disease cases have become. Typically, cirrhosis occurs after 30-plus years of heavy drinking. The fact that it’s happening to people in their 20’s and 30’s certainly merits further investigations.


The only possible good news, is that modern medicine is helping to reduce the amount of deaths related to this problem. Thankfully, this condition can be treated and overall, liver disease only accounts for 1.4 percent of total deaths for people aged 25-34.


Alcoholism Becoming More Prominent Among Seniors

This past week, we ran across an alarming headline in The Wall Street Journal. The famed financial paper took some time out to address a growing problem happening in this country. Though many are not aware of it, U.S. senior citizens have been seeing a sharp increase in alcohol abuse.


According to WSJ, over 3 million U.S. adults aged 65 and older are currently alcoholics. And worse yet, that stat is expected to nearly double by the year 2020.


Studies have uncovered a myriad of reasons as to why older Americans are falling prey to this addiction. Excuses often used are the “empty nest” syndrome, where parents feel lonely after their children leave home. It is also true that seniors have to deal with chronic pain more frequently and turn to drinking as a way to cope.


Worse yet, are the reactions this population receives when confronted with this problem. For starters, many family members may not even notice the symptoms. Issues like shaky hands, forgetfulness or stumbling may get associated with aging, when they are in fact signs of inebriation.


Additionally, it is said that family members are often uncomfortable bringing up the issue. Per the WSJ data, 22 percent of adult children fear angering their parents. One in five say they don’t even know how to address alcoholism with a parent.


Several examples were provided within the article, outlining high-functioning seniors who secretly consumed beer and wine away from family members. One 64-year-old neglected her babysitting duties because of her addiction, which led to a very close call with a young granddaughter.


One positive thing to come out the article was a breakout of discussion tips related to addicted older parents. Ideas listed included…


Stick to things you know can be verified, versus taking an accusatory approach or making an assumption. Avoid words like ‘alcoholic.’


Focus on the impact of substances on a loved one’s behavior and ability to function, as well as the relationships they care most about, including their grandchildren.


Write down talking points, including responses to parents’ objections. If a parent says drinking helps them relax, say there are healthier ways to relax, like taking a walk or reading. If they suggest it makes them feel better, note that alcohol is a depressant.


Be patient. If a parent gets angry or defensive, step back and bring up the conversation later.


Be respectful. Treat a parent as an adult.


Seek out help. If you do suspect a substance-abuse problem, contact the parent’s health-care provider and discuss the best approach to getting appropriate treatment. 


How Much Does Drinking Shorten Your Life?

There is no denying that continuously consuming alcohol can have long-lasting effects on the body. Studies have shown its negative impact on the heart, the brain and, most commonly, the liver. But could “casual drinking” also be doing damage? European researchers are saying yes and have issued stern warnings to anyone who regularly raises a glass.


The study started off outwardly dismissing the age old saying of “a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away.” Their researchers (who were quoted in The Washington Postmade a point to criticize that notion and highlight the fact that serious health risks can begin for people who drink as little as five glasses a week.


Currently, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department says that women should consume no more than one drink per day and men shouldn’t touch more than two. This study contradicts that and has gotten some increased support within the American scientific community.


“Guidelines are very debatable things,” U.S. Public Health Institute rep William C. Kerr told The Post. “In addition to genetic variants among the population, there’s the issue that some people might take them not as guidelines, but as permission or recommendations to drink a certain amount, even if they shouldn’t drink at all. For those reasons, guidelines have to be conservative.”


The study then delved into just how much damage alcohol is causing to U.S. citizens. Though the opioid crisis is receiving a lot of attention at the moment (as it rightly should), it’s a little known fact that drinking still kills more Americans than painkiller overdoses. Roughly 88,000 people die each year in this country due to problems with alcohol abuse. And let’s not forget about the driving fatalities.


But what this study focused on was the long term effects, emphasizing that casual drinkers are still putting themselves at risk. Cirrhosis of the liver has become much more common in the last decade and can certainly impact people who claim to not be alcoholics. Long term light drinkers also were singled out as candidates for aortic aneurysms and even strokes. The truth is certain people, simply because of body type, may be more prone to developing these conditions.


And did you know that drinking has been linked to cancer diagnoses as well? The carcinogenic agents in alcoholic beverages include ethanol and acetaldehyde, which have been associated with cancers of the intestines, oral cavity and breasts.


As we’ve said many times in our blogs: Knowledge is power. Before you brush off any weekly casual drinking habits, do your research and get help if needed.


Stem Cell Therapy Sought Out As Potential Alcoholism ‘Cure’

It’s easy to get skeptical when you see the words “alcoholism” and “cure” in the same sentence. But scientists are continuing to pursue new ways to curb people’s drinking habits and are now putting a lot of faith in stem cell therapy research. According to new data coming out of Chile, these types of treatments have shown some very positive effects in laboratory rats and may soon be applied to humans.


Led by Dr. Yedy Israel, the Chilean team of researchers started their experiments by feeding rodents the equivalent of one bottle of vodka a day. Naturally, addictive tendencies began to weigh in on the animals and eventually they began preferring alcohol to water. The liquor diet continued for a total of 17 weeks, then dropped off entirely; forcing the rats to go cold turkey.


At this point, things began to get interesting. Dr. Israel’s team removed all alcohol from the rats for a total of two weeks. Then they were injected with mesenchymal stem cells and re-introduced to the vodka samples, now for just 60 minutes a day. It was at this point, as the researchers put it, that “miraculous behaviors” began occurring.


‘Typically, the animals would engage in binge-like drinking during this short period, consuming the human equivalent of about eight standard drinks,” Dr. Israel told The Daily Mail.  “Animals that had received the small-sized mesenchymal stem cells treatment consumed much less, levels comparable to that of a social drinker.”


Their research showed that the injected rats always preferred water to vodka and dropped their alcoholic urges by up to 90 percent. Further studies showed that each treatment was effective for up to four weeks without any visible sign of a relapse.


Dr. Israel believed there was a scientific explanation for this that had to do with neurons in the brain. In binge drinkers, they argued, molecules called reactive oxygen species emerge and directly damage certain cranial functions (also causing inflammation). They believe that the brain adapts to this behavior by building proteins, which leads one to seek out alcohol to maintain the “toxic environment.”


“Brain inflammation and oxidative stress are known to self-perpetuate each other,” Dr. Israel concluded. “Creating conditions which promote alcoholism and a long-lasting relapse risk.”


All signs point to stem cells as a way to alleviate that risk. But, this report was quick to point out that no human testing has been performed yet. Let’s hope that’s on the horizon and, if this is an effective treatment, it gets implemented sooner than later.


Alcoholism Linked To Early Onset Dementia

Like all of us, you’ve probably heard that alcohol can destroy brain cells and do long-term permanent damage to the body. But now, there is scientific evidence that takes those findings even further. According to new research, people who drink heavily throughout their lifetime have a much higher risk of contracting Early Onset Dementia.


These latest stats were published in The Guardian and are based on a study that included over million dementia sufferers. Within that grouping, 38 percent of the diagnoses were directly related to alcohol. When the researchers finished their tally, they concluded that heavy drinkers were three times as likely to develop dementia or memory loss than those who abstain.


Previously researchers did have evidence of alcohol’s impact on brain functioning, but they believe this latest study solidifies that fact even more.


“We have long known that alcohol is directly neurotoxic, thiamine deficiency in alcoholics devastates memory, alcohol-related conditions such as cirrhosis and epilepsy can damage the brain and that vascular brain damage is accelerated by alcohol,” University College of London researcher Robert Howard told The Guardian. “Surprisingly, we’ve not traditionally considered alcohol and its misuse as an important risk factor for dementia and we were clearly wrong not to have done so.”


Many of those involved in the study were quick to point out that even moderate drinking can carry severe risks on the brain. Though there wasn’t definitive evidence that “weekend alcoholics” are at risk for dementia, several signals appeared to point in that direction (based on the research).


“Previous research has indicated that even moderate drinking may have a negative impact on brain health and people shouldn’t be under the impression that only drinking to the point of hospitalization carries a risk,” researcher Dr. Sara Imarisio added.


And regardless of the brain damage, Imarisio warned of the numerous other health dangers associated with alcohol.


“Alcohol is a devastating problem, whatever the organ,” she concluded. “Now we can add the brain to the list of liver, kidney and heart… A variety of measures are needed, such as reducing availability, increasing taxation, and banning advertising and marketing of alcohol, alongside early detection and treatment of alcohol use disorders.”


In summary, the researchers felt that education and more available treatment programs were essential to curb future alcohol-related dementia cases. It’s a sad fact, but issues like memory loss and Alzheimer’s Disease do seem to be much more prominent today than in previous generations. And if proper recovery tools can help lessen that number, why not spread the word and give people the long-term health that they deserve?


Alcoholism Becomes Hot Topic Among ‘Mom Bloggers’

Just because Valley Recovery Center is a men’s-only facility, doesn’t mean that we aren’t acutely aware of the dependency issues facing women in this country. Sadly addiction holds no prejudices; impacting people of all races, religions and genders. And though we might not realize it, seemingly stable housewives and moms can just as easily fall victim to its clutches; particularly when it comes to drinking. Famed Babble blogger Sarah Cottrell bravely addressed that fact with an article that outlined her personal struggles overcoming alcohol abuse.


Cottrell’s piece outlined the dirty little secret of the Mommy Drinking Culture throughout the suburbs of America and how overindulging in wine is commonplace and even celebrated among her fellow parent bloggers. As Cottrell puts it, there is even humor associated with chugging down a bottle of red after a long day of dealing with kids. In fact, it is often jokingly called “Mommy Juice,” with hours of the day designated at “Wine O’Clock.”


Cottrell boldly shares her own alcoholism story, which paints her as a very functional mom and career woman. Like many women facing alcohol dependencies, she was not a fall down drunk or even neglecting her professional responsibilities. She was, however, doing clear damage to her health with a continued habit that went on for years.


“I’ve rationalized my drinking over the years in a million different ways. I’m not a fall down drunk living under a bridge,” Cottrell writes. “CPS isn’t dragging my kids away, and my marriage is not on the brink of a booze-tinged meltdown. How can a put-together, happily married, mom of three with a master’s degree, career, and the ability to meet every writing deadline with a sharp smile have a drinking problem?”


Indeed, she admittedly did have a problem and Cottrell highlighted many other high-profile social media moms who have been saying the same thing. Even worse is how mainstream American almost celebrates these types of habits. Many Target stores, she points out, now have wine bars and comedic alcohol merchandise (like “happy drunk” wife birthday cards and Chardonnay-themed purses and clothes). Memes showing happily boozed Sex and the City characters abound across the web as well.


Thankfully now, Cottrell has become a vocal recovery advocate and regularly uses her large social following to warn other mothers about the dangers of drinking. She also makes a point to call out the red flags and warning signs. We certainly encourage spreading that word and taking a stand against the “humor” and desensitization the mainstream is putting on female wine drinking and alcohol abuse.


Avoiding Temptations On Super Bowl Sunday

It’s hard to believe we’re getting ready enter the second month of 2018. And that first weekend of February will undoubtedly be packed with activities. The biggest one, of course, is Super Bowl LII, with the New England Patriots taking on the Philadelphia Eagles. Football game get togethers are always meant to be celebratory and fun, but it’s important to remember the potential temptations that can arise during an occasion like this.


One of the most obvious is the gambling component. There is no disputing that this is the biggest sports event of the year and with that, comes tons of opportunities for placing bets. This may sound hard to believe, but this year Americans are expected to lay a total of $4.7 billion on the big game.  A good portion will be spent illegally, through bookies and online websites. That alone can lead to dangerous consequences. But the bigger problem is, the temptation to follow the crowd and give in to the urge to spend. The excitement, the hype, the peer pressure…these are all elements that can fuel the habits of addicted gamblers.


People who have strong feelings about either team have the potential to lose a fortune if things don’t go as planned. Interestingly enough, even a victory could spell trouble for someone facing an addiction. Having success at the Super Bowl can bring feelings of invincibility and lead to further, larger bets on other sporting activities. Games like this can be slippery slope, win or lose. And for serious gamblers, game betting can include everything from the coin toss outcome to the rotation of those famous commercials.


Of course, gambling isn’t the only temptation that rears its ugly head during Super Bowl Sunday. Alcohol and drugs have become commonplace during this pastime as well. Beer, not surprisingly, is the most common, with parties sporting large kegs, six packs and Happy Hour specials. This game often runs several hours, so it can lead to long slew of drinking and alcohol fueled mishaps. Super Bowl Sunday also happens to be a prime occasion for drunk driving accidents and binge-related ER visits.


And yes, drugs play a role in this too. Among the younger crowd, Super Bowl fiestas have become wild events. Large house parties can bring about tables of cocaine, weed smoking and pill popping (just to name a few). Even drinking can be a gateway into the urge to “party harder,” particularly among people who are prone to addiction.


Now while we certainly don’t want anyone to turn their back on a fun sports game, we do want everyone to understand the dangers that come along with an occasion like this. If you plan to let loose on Super Bowl Sunday, please do it responsibly and if you feel any sort of temptations coming on, reach out for a lifeline. 866-986-2486


UCLA Frats Ban All Parties With Alcohol

If you follow our blogs, then you probably see us sharing addiction-related news from countries throughout the world. But it’s those stories from our own California backyard that always capture our attention most. And this week, the UCLA campus made major headlines by taking an aggressive step to combat alcoholism and binge drinking among their students. Effective immediately, the school has banned all booze from its fraternity events.


The decision was made and agreed upon by the UCLA Interfraternity Council (or IFC), which includes 22 frats across the university. As the IFC put it, this movement is meant to “better follow the school’s ethical standards” and set a good example for other California colleges.


“This ban is a collective effort on behalf of IFC leadership to provide an environment where UCLA’s True Bruin Values are upheld.” the official statement read. “True Bruin Values are ethical standards including respect, accountability, integrity, service and excellence. We are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of those present at IFC chapter activities.”


Nationally, UCLA had not been one of the big schools singled out for excessive frat binge drinking.  Universities like Penn State, LSU, Florida State and Texas State have been put under the microscope in recent months following the alcohol-related “hazing” deaths of several freshmen.


Their local Daily Bruin paper, however, did single out a recent incident that may have prompted the move. Though not confirmed, the outlet alleges that a drunken January frat party led to a possible sexual assault. As you may recall, we reported heavily on the similar Stanford incident that created viral outrage.


The Bruin went on to say that the UCLA IFC had made efforts to fight against binge drinking and hazing, instituting mandatory sensitivity training and three strikes initiatives against problematic frats.


Now it appears as though they are taking a much harsher stance, which happens to have the full support of the university.  UCLA, itself, released a statement following the IFC’s declaration, calling the move “a step in the right direction to strengthen the safety within the community.”


We are certainly supportive of the move and are completely sympathetic to the extreme dangers of college drinking. Not only is it harmful (and potentially deadly) for the young students who overindulge, it has also clearly led to violence and serious sexual misconduct on campuses throughout the country. Let’s hope more schools across the U.S. follow suit, by aggressively taking underage alcohol abuse out of their fraternity systems.


Drug And Alcohol Deaths Could Rise 60% In The Next Decade

1.6 million people. That’s the amount of lives that could be lost to drug and alcohol abuse between now and 2025. U.S News and World Report published these startling facts last month, projecting the amount of addiction-related deaths to rise by 60 percent in the next decade.


Suicide was another factor in the equation, raising alarms for anyone facing that particular issue. Researchers also admitted that they didn’t fully factor in the opioid crisis when calculating their figures. Though they did recognize how it has already lowered the American life expectancy.


“The United States is facing a new set of epidemics,” the report read. “More than 1 million Americans have died in the past decade from drug overdoses, alcohol and suicides. Life expectancy in the country decreased last year for the first time in two decades—and these three public health crises have been major contributing factors to this shift.”


Put into hard stats, the report identified 127,500 deaths attributed to drugs, alcohol and suicide in 2015. Taking into account addiction rates, emergency room visits and overdose totals, it projected that number to reach 192,000 by 2025. The saddest part of all is that the 2015 numbers are significantly higher than the decade prior; having tripled between 2000 and that time.


Suicides were concerning too but, as illustrated in the U.S. News chart below, they still pale in comparison to the amount of projected drug deaths.


Then there’s the economic impact these issues will have on the country by the mid-2020’s. Currently, the report revealed that $249 billion a year is spent on health care costs relating to alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide attempts. In total, that amounts to about 9.5 percent of all U.S. health expenditures.


Researcher John Auerbach spoke out about the results, discussing some of the “big picture problems” (which we happen to agree with). Yes things like the opioid epidemic are crippling our nation, but as we teach in recovery, these type of addictions need to be attacked at their core.


“These numbers are staggering, tragic – and preventable,” Auerbach told U.S News. “There is a serious crisis across the nation and solutions must go way beyond reducing the supply of opioids, other drugs and alcohol.”


And, of course, we are extremely sympathetic to the suicide issues. These types of behaviors are closely associated with addiction and should definitely be put center stage as well. The big final takeaway of the report focused on building a “National Resilience Strategy,” meant to tackle all of these issues and reduce deaths by expanding prevention and treatment initiatives.



Alcohol-Related ER Visits Are On The Rise

For most of last year, we reported on the enormous amount of emergency room visits linked to opioid overdoses. And while those stories rightfully dominated the headlines, there was another startling fact that seemed to slip under the radar. 2017 also saw an incredible surge in alcohol-related ER cases, particularly among U.S. females.


NPR published a telling piece on the topic this week, highlighting a 61 percent increase in ER alcohol visits throughout the past decade. Citing a study titled Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the data showed that the rise in chronic American alcoholism grew at a much slower rate. That led study author Aaron White to conclude that a large portion of these cases have to do with binge drinking.


“The lowest hanging fruit in terms of hypotheses is that there must be an increase in risky drinking in some people,” White told the site. “Even though that is not showing up in increases in overall per capita consumption, it’s enough to drive the increase in alcohol-related emergency department visits.”


To put things in perspective, U.S. hospitals are purported to have 30 million ER cases each year. The booze related incidents included everything from chronic liver cirrhosis, to alcohol poisoning, to drunk driving injuries. When compiled, though, they account for serious health issues and, often times, fatalities among the patients.


The female factor puzzled researchers, according to the article. Though still not at the same level as men, alcohol-related ER admittances for women saw a steady increase. White’s figures illustrated that though some cases of binge drinking were reported among this group, pancreatitis and cirrhosis of the liver made up the lion’s share of their visits.


White went on to say that a lack of education may be responsible for the hospitalization of so many. His findings showed that a large portion of patients were simply unaware of the serious health risks associated with drinking. Perhaps because is not considered an illegal narcotic.


“Most people forget that alcohol is a drug that can lead to medical emergencies by itself or provoke other conditions,” White explained. “Even people who drink in moderation should talk about their alcohol use with physicians and other health care workers to avoid any dangerous interactions with medications.”


Indeed, the latest stats showed drinking as the culprit for nearly 90,000 U.S. deaths last year. It has also been linked to several types of cancer and a general shortage of one’s life span. White hoped that, at the very least, repeat ER alcohol visits should not be occurring. Pairing these patients up with case workers or hospital recovery specialists can certainly be a step in the right direction.


Can Raising Prices Help Curb Alcoholism?

In the past few decades, we’ve seen a significant drop in cigarette use thanks (in part) to a change in public opinion and higher carton prices. Now that same logic may be applied to alcohol, with government officials discussing raising the price of booze nationwide.


Interestingly enough, it was President Donald Trump’s recent tax plan that stirred up the conversation. The new laws actually cut the federal excise tax on alcohol by around 16 percent. In the wake of that, economists are proposing a second policy that could be used to raise the price of beer, wine and liquor. Taking a cue from Canada and the UK (who already have initiatives like this in place), this would actually become more targeted than a tax and create a minimum price point for all booze.


In a lengthy article published by Voxthe concept was explored in further detail. Their reporting showed that 88,000 U.S. fatalities are linked to alcohol each year, making it the third leading cause of preventable death. It also showed that the number is increasing and blamed “cheap booze” as the culprit.


Indeed, alcohol is one of America’s more affordable vices. Inexpensive beer and liquor bottles are readily available and (according to Vox) are the products most closely tied to U.S. deaths. It’s not the fine wine connoisseurs who are drinking themselves to death, it’s often low income alcoholics with little or no medical coverage.


So how would a minimum price raise work? Based on the models other countries use, it would be based on a percentage. Canada, for example, added a 10% increase to its alcoholic beverages and has since seen a 8% reduction in consumption, a 9% reduction in hospital admissions and a 32% reduction in wholly alcohol caused deaths. Impressive stats, if you ask us.


Vox’s German Lopez explained the concept in further detail in his article, which made a point in differentiating it from a broader national tax.


“An alcohol tax affects all alcoholic beverages,” he wrote. “But a minimum price hits a smaller pool of cheaper products. In doing this, the minimum price targets excessive drinkers, because they tend to be, according to the research, bargain shoppers, while moderate drinkers are less likely to hunt down the lowest prices.”


The piece went on to illustrate some compelling data on how something as simple as a 50 cent hike on Bud Light six packs could save thousands of lives a year. We encourage all of our readers to look deeper into the research and support new measures that will not only lower addiction rates, but also save lives.


Addressing Alcohol At Holiday Work Parties

‘Tis the season as the say. The season for giving gifts, enjoying ugly sweaters and (unfortunately) gaining exposure to free flowing booze cups at corporate holiday parties. To their credit though, many major companies this year are looking to ban alcohol from their festive workplace events.


Interestingly enough, the recent harassment claims against celebs like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer may actually be the catalyst for this. “Workplace sexual misconduct” (as it is officially labeled) appears to be on the rise, or better said, the reporting of workplace sexual misconduct appears to be on the rise. And we, for one, are happy it is getting exposed. Of course employees should behave themselves in a respectable manor and not put co-workers in uncomfortable situations. So banning alcohol has become a popular first step to alleviate these liabilities.


Vox Media is one of the first major businesses to usher the “no booze” mandate. Their chief editorial director was fired this past October for sexual misconduct and, as a result, holiday party open bars are no more there. As their company memo told the staff, “we plan to ramp up the food and cut off the drinks.”


The research firm Challenger & Gray conducted a survey for The Boston Globe this month and discovered that 50 percent of all major Fortune 500 companies are no longer serving alcohol at their holiday parties this year. And of those who are, 62 percent are cutting back on the amount of booze that they buy.


Many companies are also switching their party times to the afternoon or mid-day. And of the ones who are still including alcohol, the cocktail open bar rule is no more. Now it is strictly beer and wine, which employees are expected to pay for with cash (in the hopes of discouraging overindulgences).


For many businesses, as The Globe reports, these new policies are helpful on many levels. Not only are the executives able to avoid excess drunkenness, they are saving a substantial amount of money by removing expensive wine and liquor bottles from the equation.


While we are all for the concept of removing booze due to harassment concerns, we also support it for an entirely different reason. Having alcohol readily available in front of employees can also be extremely insensitive, particularly for people in recovery. These types of temptations make it very difficult for those hoping to avoid addictive situations. And having drunken coworkers in your face makes the resistance that much harder.


So yes, of course removing alcohol from workplace events is a fantastic idea. Our hope is that the remainder of the “open bar” corporations take the hint and soon follow suit.


Photo Chronicling ‘600 Days of Sobriety’ Goes Viral

Sometimes inspiring moments happen in our own backyard. And sometimes they happen halfway around the world. Australia native John DeCaux got the recovery world buzzing this week with an impressive viral photo that chronicled his “600 Days of Sobriety.” Highlighting a dramatic before-and-after pic, John’s inspirational message has now reached millions of people across the globe.


In John’s case, the demon he successfully slayed was alcoholism. After a tumultuous drinking battle which consumed his teens and 20’s, John made a point to go cold turkey; a choice he said was inspired by his new wife.


“My final-straw moment for me was when my wife approached me and showed me how much alcohol I was consuming and said enough was enough,” the 27-year-old told Yahoo News.


John initially took his message to the social media network Reddit (which we have profiled numerous times in our blogs). Creating a subreddit folder titled “600 days ago I quit drinking and life has never been better!,” John detailed the positive changes that have happened since he drank his last drop back on April 16, 2016.


His dramatic “selfie” gallery (pictured above) shows the former John as an overweight, unkempt and unhealthy young man. In contrast, his December 2017 pic shows a clean shaven, lean and beaming recovery advocate who literally looks like he’s shaved years off his life.


John credits his wife Lydia as the catalyst for the change. Her devotion to his sobriety included removing all alcoholic beverages from their home and becoming a true support system during his hours of doubt. As John emotionally explained on his Reddit page, it was the loss of his brother that initially led him to turn to the bottle.


His motivating words have driven thousands of comments and led to heartfelt Reddit dialogues about overcoming addiction. As he proudly put on his page, John is now channeling his downtime into other interests and has found several positive outlets.


“Since I have stopped drinking I have regained time and energy that I have put toward working on a passion project, an online cooking show [and a] documentary series with my dad,” he wrote. “My wife and I have also bought a house. I have lost about over 38 pounds so far, and I’m now going to the gym at least 3 days a week.”


In regards to his newfound viral fame, John is incredibly proud of his ability to inspire others.


“This experience highlighted that alcohol was no longer controlling my life; I am now back in charge of my own decisions,” he added. “I’m really enjoying where I am in life at the moment and have no desire to ever return to drinking.”


The Emotions Behind Alcoholic Beverages

Leave it to Forbes to produce yet another in-depth addiction study. You might not think of the money mag as a destination for informative drug and alcohol articles, but they continue to put out thoughtful content that explores areas of dependency others have yet to touch. This week, their researchers looked into alcoholism and the effect that different drinks can have on someone’s emotional state. We found it to be incredibly insightful and definitely worth sharing.


For their piece, the Forbes writers singled out wine, beer and hard liquor and their unique influences on the psyche. The study in question focused on 30,000 people aged 18 to 34. Some claimed to be dependent on alcohol, while others did not. They all, interestingly enough, saw tangible changes to their personalities after consuming particular drinks.


Starting with red wine, the researchers noted more depressant chemicals coming into play. People who regularly consume this beverage tended to show signs of lethargy or tiredness. It slows the body down and can make a person become more withdrawn.


Beer was next on the list and showed similar characteristics to those of red wine. Again sleepiness and even laziness were associated with various brews, with leanings toward a lack in confidence. Depression (or “tearfulness” as they described it) was also more common among beer drinkers.


The most dangerous of the bunch was clearly hard liquor. People who regularly drink shots of tequila, vodka and what have you showed clear-cut signs of aggression. In fact, 30 percent of those surveyed said they felt “angrier” and more hostile after drinking heavy cocktails. “Confidence”(aka liquid courage) was another term associated with HL, but as we all know that is a very fleeting emotion among alcoholics.


Those who chose hard liquor as their preferred beverage were also five times more likely to develop serious alcoholism issues. Mark Bellis, a researcher who contributed to the article, shared his thoughts on the dangers of heavy booze.


“For centuries, the history of rum, gin, vodka and other spirits has been laced with violence,” he explained to Forbes. “This global study suggests even today consuming spirits is more likely to result in feelings of aggression than other drinks.”


Interestingly, one big takeaway from the study kind of fed into the chicken vs. the egg scenario. Bellis went on to say that hard liquor isn’t necessarily the cause of aggressive behavior and, perhaps, aggressive personalities may be more drawn to it in the first place.


Either way, he described it as a vicious cycle and one that can be just as prominent among wine and beer drinkers.


“Our results suggest that especially people who are heavier drinkers may be expecting or perhaps even relying on certain drinks for energy and confidence, but heavier drinkers are much more likely to report negative emotions as well,” Bellis added. “This risks a dangerous spiral where drinking can be seen as solution to emotional problems it is actually aggravating.”



Alcoholism Issues Increasing For Retirees

On the surface, it seems like the concept of retirement would be extremely uplifting. And, for the most part it is. The idea of not having a 9 to 5 job, being able to travel and, most importantly, opening your schedule to endless free time. But for many that comes with a cost and, as recent studies have shown, a possible tendency to drink more and abuse alcohol.


The Sun Sentinel news outlet recently ran an interesting story on the topic, highlighting the addiction problems facing recent retirees. The emphasis specifically focused on seniors and those who have altered their regular lifestyle after giving up work.


What the Sun did, was break apart addicted American seniors into three categories.  The first consisted of individuals who begin drinking too much to cope with the stresses of aging. This is not an uncommon reaction, as depression is also a signature sign in older Americans. Having to deal with more medical issues, losses of peers or parents and the financial hardships of no steady paycheck can be daunting. The Sun highlighted it as a red flag for the spiral into alcoholism.


The final category is the one that certainly set off an alarm for us. These are the “new alcoholics” or retirees who turn to drinking sometimes out of sheer boredom. Without the structure of a workplace, many seniors no longer feel the need to hold back on pouring wine and beer in the afternoon. Loneliness can play into this too, as these people no longer have the camaraderie of their co-workers and are looking for a way to “escape” their new lives, which may (surprisingly) turn out to be more depressing.


Truth be told, Drinking among seniors has increased at a faster rate than that of any other age group. Currently,  55 percent of Americans aged 55 and above reported overindulging in alcohol within the past year. And there is another danger to note as well. Many older Americans also have regular pill and medication regimens. Adding alcohol into that equation can create serious health issues and, in some cases, be fatal.


If you or someone you love fits this scenario, we urge you to reach out to us immediately. Life only becomes more fragile as we get older and no one should be spending their golden years with a bottle in their hand. (866) 986-2486


Silicon Valley Companies Work To Curb Office Drinking

Northern California’s Silicon Valley has built a reputation for creating amazingly innovative businesses and adhering to a somewhat unconventional workplace lifestyle. That has come to include everything from casual dress, to pets in the cubicle, to free flowing beer in kitchen areas. Well more recently tech company leaders are changing their stance on that, starting with Salesforce’s Marc Benioff who is pushing a movement to curb office drinking.


Issuing a stern memo to his 25,000 employees this week, Benioff mandated an order to remove all kegs and alcoholic drinks from the Salesforce campus.


“I want to remind everyone that we have a no alcohol policy at Salesforce,” he wrote in an office blog post that was later shared on CNBC. “Alcohol is a drug and having alcohol on a Salesforce premise is simply unfair to the Ohana who either do not want it or are intolerant of it.”


Benioff used the word Ohana an affectionate term for his “family” of workers (it literally translates to family in Hawaiian). He also shared a picture of a full keg placed on the floor of the office lounge.



Benioff (who has never publicly dealt with alcoholism or any type of addiction) began coming down hard on drinking about a year ago. At Salesforce’s annual meeting, he discussed the new policy openly saying “there is no room for alcohol or drugs in a start up of tech culture.”


Not long after, several other emerging Silicon Valley companies began following suit. The start-up Zenefits put their ban in place at the end of last year; stating it contributed to a “party-like work culture.” also got on the no booze bandwagon, enforcing a zero tolerance policy in 2017. CNBC claims Uber may be next in line; as they are pulling back on office parties and working to clean up their image after some recent bad press.


And as much as we would like to think that these moves are happening because Silicon Valley cares about sobriety, there are many legal benefits as well. Liability is a big concern for growing companies and there have been proven cases where companies were held responsible for alcohol-related accidents and harassment charges.


“Employers are rightly concerned about legal liability for actions that their employees take either at work or after hours when they have been drinking alcohol provided by the employer,” Wharton Business School professor Peter Cappelli told CNBC. “If I’m injured by a drunk employee, I’m likely to sue their employer because the employer has more money.”


Whether that’s the real reason or not, we applaud all businesses that take a hard stance against enabling employees with substances that may prove addictive.


Divorce Raises Alcoholism Risk, Study Finds

Watching a marriage come apart can be absolutely devastating. And according to some recent research from Forbes Magazine, it can also drive people to abuse alcohol. Their lengthy article highlights compelling stats from The American Journal of Psychiatry, which show recent divorcees tend to binge drink and have a much higher risk for alcohol-related mortality.


Previous research had already shown a link between alcoholism and divorce, but this latest material hammers the point home even harder. The study looked at 950,000 people born between the years of 1960 and 1990. Those participants who did not have any drinking issues prior to marriage saw a sixfold increase in alcohol abuse following a divorce.  And for those who did demonstrate alcoholism symptoms prior to marriage, the relapse risks skyrocketed after their break ups.


Other telling stats were highlighted too, including increased risks for divorcees who have a family history of alcoholism and a spike in drinking-related deaths (be it liver disease, car accidents, or what have you) for the same set of people. “Hazardous drinking” was also pointed out with this group, defined as binge boozing and driving under the influence.


One other interesting takeaway from this set was that there was an alcoholism decrease for those who remained married. That’s not to say that wedded bliss can halt any type of drinking urges (we’ve certainly seen husbands and patriarchs deal with their fair share of dependencies), but as general stats go, married couples illustrated less addictive behaviors than divorcees.


Forbes did a nice job breaking down the methods and key learnings from the Journal’s study. For one thing, this group of people was not interviewed one-by-one. That, of course, could lead to deception or inaccuracies. Instead the Journal gathered their data from nationwide criminal, medial and pharmacy registries, with 10-digit identification numbers provided by the participants. That way, the facts spoke for themselves without any personal biases.


What the mag did next was add a little context into the reasoning behind these behaviors. Most interesting was the fact that alcoholism spikes were not coming from where you might think. Forbes concluded that the rise in drinking was not caused from the stresses of divorce or even depression. Rather, it was the loss of a “protector” figure in the marriage. Their research found that spouses were often able to regulate each other and add a sense of stability. With a break up and the loss of that support, buried alcoholism urges began to emerge.


We always find this type of data to be extremely fascinating and encourage all of our readers to delve deeper into the trends, facts and behaviors surrounding this topic. It is also always important to remember that a divorce DOES NOT have to lead into alcoholism. If you or someone you know has hit a rough patch in their marriage, there are always recovery solutions to help them along the way.



10 Signs A ‘Casual Drinker’ Has Gone Too Far

Could there be an exact formula that defines an alcoholic? Perhaps a blend of symptoms that definitively state whether someone who “casually drinks” has taken their habit too far? Well Popular Science has decided to weigh in on that equation, building a 10 point checklist that can supposedly determine if someone is addicted to alcohol.


In a recent article on their site, the esteemed tech mag broke down just how prominent this issue is in America. Utilizing facts and figures, they were able to determine that people are drinking more than ever before. In the last 10 years, for example, U.S. alcoholism has seen an increase of 30 percent. In total, 11.2 percent of the entire country is now classified as alcoholics. A scary stat that deserves attention.


So that’s exactly what Popular Science decided to do; shining a light on this growing problem and giving people an identifiable list which can offer a self diagnosis. Marc Schuckit, a professor specializing in drug and alcohol abuse at UC San Diego helped contribute to the signal points and believes they are an essential first step in coming to terms with this issue.


“Just like people with risk for diabetes should know they may face trouble, people with potential alcohol problems should realize their problems,” he told the site. “It’s just that people don’t always do self evaluation like they should.”


So how is the list broken out? Take a look below and see if these points align with your drinking habits…


1) Have there been occasions when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?

2) More than once have you wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?

3) Have you spent a lot of time drinking, or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?

4) Have you wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?

5) Have you found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family, or caused job troubles, or school problems?

6) Have you continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?

7)  Have you given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?

8) More than once, have you  gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt? 

9) Have you continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious?

10) Have you found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure?


We recommend thinking long and hard about these questions. Even if one or two apply, it may be time to check in with a recovery specialist or, at the very least, a friend or family member.


Valley Recovery Center is always available to help if you sense a problem emerging and we can assure you that you will get the help you need. If you’re having doubts after reading this list, please reach out. (866) 986-2486