WHAT IS AN ALCOHOLIC?
An alcoholic is a man or a woman who suffers from alcoholism - they have a distinct physical desire to consume alcohol beyond their capacity to control it, regardless of all rules of common sense.
In the USA:
15% of Americans are problem drinkers, while between 5% to 10% of male and 3% to 5% of female drinkers could be diagnosed as alcohol dependent, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In a recent study, it is estimated that about
30% of Americans report having an alcohol disorder at some time in their lives.
The problems linked to alcohol dependence are extensive, and affect the person physically, psychologically and socially. Drinking becomes a compulsion for a person with a drink problem - it takes precedence over all other activities. It can remain undetected for several years.
Alcohol dependence is a gradual process which can take from a few years to several decades to become a problem - with some very vulnerable people addiction can come in a question of months.
Eventually, over time, regular alcohol consumption can disrupt the balance of the brain chemical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which controls impulsiveness, as well as glutamate, which stimulates the nervous system. Brain levels of dopamine are raised when we consume alcohol - dopamine levels may make the drinking experience more gratifying.
Over the long- or medium-term, excessive drinking can significantly alter the levels of these brain chemicals, making the person's body crave alcohol in order to feel good and avoid feeling bad.
WHAT IS SUBSTANCE ABUSE?
Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Psychoactive substance use can lead to dependence syndrome - a cluster of behavioural, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use and that typically include a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state.
There are many things that can lead to substance abuse, some of which we have no control over. Research shows that having a family history of substance abuse makes a person more at risk for alcohol and drub abuse. Also, individuals who have been victims of child abuse or who have been raised in poverty are more at risk.
Depression and low self-esteem also can lead to substance abuse. When people, children and teens especially, begin to have friends who use drugs or accept drug use as the “norm”, they are more likely to develop substance abuse issues themselves.
many different misconceptions pertaining to problem drinking, drug addiction
and substance abuse treatment and hopefully many mistaken beliefs and myths can
be put to rest for people with questions regarding addiction and recovery.
Below are a list
of mistaken beliefs and myths about substance abuse, treatment and help that
needs to be addressed.
People who are
dependent on drugs are just lazy and don't have the 'willpower' needed to quit - Not true, the reward system in the brain becomes
altered due to continued drug exposure and the user experiences an
uncontrollable compulsive need to reuse along with powerful cravings. Recovery
can be achieved but it takes a lot more than just 'willpower' to overcome drug or alcohol addiction.
from substance abuse and
addiction only requires detox - Not
true, detoxification isn't treatment; it's the process in which the body rids
itself of the drug(s) that has been abused for a prolonged period of time.
Follow up treatment is necessary after the detoxification process is completed
such as behavioral based therapy and medication if needed, in order to maintain
sobriety for the long term.
addictive - Not true. According to the
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) using marijuana for a long period of
time can lead to addiction. Many people have reported that symptoms of
withdrawal included irritability, loss of weight and problems sleeping when
they stopped using marijuana. During this time period, people may tend to
relapse due to cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.
A person has to
drink every day in order to have a drinking problem - Not true,, whether a person drinks every day, once a
week or even once a year, if they're drinking has a negative impact on their
life, it's a problem. You don't have to be an alcoholic to have a drinking
A person has to
hit 'rock bottom' before they can truly recover from substance abuse - Not true, the longer a person goes without seeking
help when they're addicted the harder their treatment will be on them. This
isn't to say their recovery won't be achievable but treating long term addiction is
nothing anyone can do for the addict until they're ready to seek help on their
own - Not true, a Family Intervention
overseen by a professional Substance Abuse Interventionist
can be very successful in helping the addict see their need for treatment. They
also assist the addict in receiving the best form of treatment available that
will be the most effective for their own personal needs.
treatment is a waste of time if the addict isn't ready - Not true, plenty of people have gone into a
treatment program due to the legal system, in order to save a relationship or
to keep their job and have overcome their addiction and are successfully
managing their recovery every day. Many people are able to break through their
denial once they understand how their substance use is negatively affecting
their lives. Effective substance abuse programs, education and
support has helped thousands of people see their need for help and learn how to
manage their daily recovery after they reluctantly entered a treatment program.
and loved ones can't begin to heal until the addict in their life receives help - Not true, we can't control what others do we can
only control how we feel and react and making our own personal changes helps us
to heal and recover. Attending support groups like Alanon, or Nar Anon, or
receiving counseling or therapy is a positive step for loved ones to take
toward their own healing process whether or not the addict is receiving help.
In 2013, among persons with substance dependence or abuse, the proportion with dependence on or abuse of illicit drugs also was associated with age: 60.6 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 were dependent on or abused drugs compared with 37.4 percent of young adults aged 18 to 25 and 24.3 percent of adults aged 26 or older.
Among youths aged 12 to 17, the types of drugs used in the past month varied by age group. Among 12 or 13 year olds, 1.5 percent used prescription-type drugs (xanax, Percocet, oxycontin, etc) nonmedically, 1.2 percent used inhalants (huffing aerosols), and 1.0 percent used marijuana.
Among 14 or 15 year olds, marijuana was the most commonly used drug (5.7 percent), followed by prescription-type drugs used nonmedically (3.0 percent), inhalants (1.3 percent), and hallucinogens (1.0 percent).
Marijuana also was the most commonly used drug among 16 or 17 year olds (12.7 percent); it was followed by prescription-type drugs used nonmedically (4.0 percent), hallucinogens (1.6 percent), cocaine (0.7 percent), and inhalants (0.7 percent).
Marijuana was the illicit drug with the highest rate of past year dependence or abuse in 2008, followed by pain relievers and cocaine. Of the 7.0 million persons aged 12 or older classified with dependence on or abuse of illicit drugs in 2008, 4.2 million were dependent on or abused marijuana or hashish (representing 1.7 percent of the total population aged 12 or older, and 60.1 percent of all those classified with illicit drug dependence or abuse), 1.7 million persons were classified with dependence on or abuse of pain relievers, and 1.4 million persons were classified with dependence on or abuse of cocaine.
COLLEGE STUDENT ADDICTIONS
College drinking problems
College drinking is extremely widespread:
- About four out of five college students drink alcohol.
- About half of college students who drink, also consume alcohol through binge drinking.
Each year, drinking affects college students, as well as college communities, and families. The consequences of drinking include:
- Death: 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.
- Assault: More than 690,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
- Sexual Abuse: More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
- Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.
- Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
- Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.
College substance abuse problems
Substance abuse by college students is a major issue at U.S. colleges and universities. The student culture of abuse of addictive substances and the availability of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs on campuses across America has resulted in a range of harmful academic, health and social consequences that extend into the surrounding communities.
- Between 1993 and 2013, the proportion of students who abused prescription drugs increased
- 343% for opioids like Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin
- 93% for stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall
- 450% for tranquilizers like Xanax and Valium
- 225% for sedatives like Nembutal and Seconal
- Between 1993 and 2013, the proportion of students who
- Used marijuana daily more than doubled
- Used cocaine, heroin, and other illegal drugs (except marijuana) rose by 52%
- Fraternity and sorority members were likelier than nonmembers to drink (89% vs. 67%), binge drink (64% vs. 37%), drink and drive (33% vs. 21%), use marijuana (21% vs. 16%) or cocaine (3% vs. 2%), and smoke (26% vs. 21%)
- 37% of college students feared social stigma attached to substance abuse, which kept them from seeking help; only 6% of students who met clinical criteria for alcohol or drug abuse or dependence sought help
America’s 78 million aging baby boomers are heading into retirement with more than their considerable wealth, health and education.
The notion that the elderly might be abusing or addicted to alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription medications may strike some as improbable. After all, the common notion is that alcohol and substance abuse are for young people.
Dead wrong. Baby boomers, who came of age in the ’60s and ’70s when experimenting with drugs was pervasive, are far more likely to use illicit drugs than previous generations. For example, a 2011 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that among adults aged 50 to 59, the rate of current illicit drug use increased to 6.3 percent in 2011 from 2.7 percent in 2002. Aside from alcohol, the most commonly abused drugs were opiates, cocaine and marijuana.
To get a sense of the magnitude of this looming mental health crisis, consider that in 2010 the best estimates are that six to eight million older Americans — about 14 percent to 20 percent of the overall elderly population — had one or more substance abuse or mental disorders.
The number of adults aged 65 and older is projected to increase to 73 million from 40 million between 2010 and 2030, and the numbers of those needing treatment stands to overwhelm the country’s mental health care system.
Detecting drug or alcohol problems in the elderly is difficult in part because family members and clinicians alike are reluctant to ask about it. Perhaps it’s just a form of ageism, but drug abuse is not the first thing that pops into the mind of physicians when they encounter an older patient.
Even when they make the connection, doctors may fail to realize that even modest amounts of alcohol or drugs can be problematic. Older patients have a significantly reduced ability to metabolize these substances, as well as increased brain sensitivity to them. And the cognitive impairments common with advancing age make self-reporting — as well as self-monitoring — unreliable.
Although alcohol is clearly the most commonly abused drug in the elderly, nonmedical use of prescription drugs is a rapidly growing threat. Some studies estimate that up to 10 percent of the elderly misuse prescription drugs with serious abuse potential, most often anti-anxiety benzodiazepines like Klonopin, sleeping pills like Ambien and opiate painkillers like Oxycodone. Women far outnumber men when it comes to nonmedical use of prescription medication: 44 percent of women versus 23 percent of men.
The elderly rarely use alcohol or drugs to “get high”; drug or alcohol use that begins after age 60 appears fundamentally different. Typically, those who start use as teenagers or young adults tend to be sensation-seekers with significant rates of psychiatric disorders and antisocial traits.
In contrast, the elderly turn to alcohol and drugs to alleviate the physical and psychological pain from the onslaught of medical and psychiatric illness, the loss of loved ones or social isolation.
The problem is that these psychoactive drugs are all addicting and can impair cognitive functioning, cause depression, increase the risk of falling and interact dangerously with other medications.
Moreover, drug and alcohol abuse in older patients occurs alongside other medical and psychiatric illnesses. You cannot treat either problem in isolation.
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS