Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Manifesto for Children of Alcoholics

Parental heavy drinking affects everyone.

The British House of Commons recently issued a manifesto timed to coincide with International Children of Alcoholics Week. The manifesto was co-written by children of alcoholics, policy analysts, and representatives from charities, medical groups, and other interest groups. The ten-point plan makes the following demands:

        —Take responsibility for children of alcoholics.               
        —Create a national strategy for COAs
        —Properly fund local support for COAs
        —Increase availability of support for families battling addiction to alcohol
        —Boost education and awareness for children
        —Boost education and training for those with a responsibility for children
        —Develop a plan to change public attitudes
        —Revise the national strategy to tackle alcoholism to focus on price and availability
        —Curtail the promotion of alcohol – especially to children
        —Take responsibility for reducing rates of alcoholism

The complete manifesto can be downloaded here. You can visit the group's site, the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, by clicking here.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Don't Be a Holiday Fool

Sobering Up––Myths and Facts

Myth: You can drive as long as you are not slurring your words or acting erratically.

Fact: The coordination needed for driving is compromised long before the signs of intoxication are visible and one’s reaction time is slowed. Plus, the sedative effects of alcohol increase the risk of nodding off or losing attention behind the wheel.

Myth: Drink coffee. Caffeine will sober you up.

Fact: Caffeine may help with drowsiness, but not with the effects of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and then to return to normal. Also, when caffeine wears off, there are the additive effects of the increased sedative effects of alcohol and post-caffeine sleepiness. There are no quick cures—only time will help.

Myth: The warm feeling you get from drinking alcohol insulates you from the cold of winter. When you’re drinking, there’s no need to wear a coat when it’s cold outside.

Fact: Alcohol widens the tiny blood vessels right under the skin, so they quickly fill with warm blood. This makes you feel warm or hot, and can cause your skin to flush and perspire. But your body temperature is actually dropping, because while alcohol is pulling warmth from your core to the skin surface, it is also depressing the area of your brain that controls temperature regulation. In cold environments, this can lead to hypothermia. So, wear a coat when it’s cold outside, particularly if you are drinking alcohol.

Have a safe holiday season!

For more information on celebrating your holidays safely and tips for cutting back, visit:

NIH Publication No.16-5639 December 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

It's That Time of Year Again

Our annual look at Christmas 
Decoration Addiction. 

"Five years ago, I covered something called Christmas lighting addiction in our then-fledgling newsletter. It was a bit tongue-in-cheek, because I’m not a big believer in most addictive behaviors. Christmas lights? I mean, c’mon…

But as I guess with anything in life, you can go overboard with decorating your house in Christmas lights...."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cancer: Alcohol’s Dirty Little Secret?

What Doctors Don’t Tell You

It is, in fact, no secret at all that alcohol causes cancer.  Rather than conferring any demonstrable metabolic benefit, alcohol is more likely to damage your health in a variety of ways. The body converts alcohol (ethanol) into acetaldehyde as part of the metabolic process, and acetaldehyde is carcinogenic in sufficient quantities. Drinkers are particularly susceptible to cancers of the head and neck, as well as the liver, breast, and bowel.

However, you wouldn’t know this if you only talked to doctors. In a commentary written for the journal Addiction, Terry Slevin and Tanya Chikritzhs of Curtin University in Perth, Australia, suggest that health professionals may be consciously or unconsciously in denial.

A 2015 survey taken in the UK demonstrated that only about 13% of the population was aware of a link between alcohol and cancer. Moreover, surveys of physicians show that “significant proportions are not aware of or resist the notion that alcohol causes cancer and do not advise their patients of the relationship. This is compounded by the fact that many physicians are reluctant to ask about patient alcohol use, particularly when drinking does not appear to have a direct impact upon their health.” (98% of medical students in a survey from Saudi Arabia, where drinking is rare, said that alcohol causes cancer.)

The authors raise the following question: Could individual alcohol use among doctors be part of the problem? Some studies have shown that physicians drink more than average, other studies conclude that they drink about the same as everybody else. As for attitudes about drinking, the authors reference a U.S. study showing that 24% of doctors admitted to having imbibed alcohol while on call. 64% reported witnessing colleagues who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol while on call.

Given that most doctors probably drink socially at about the levels one would expect of the general population, the authors point up the possibility that a form of cognitive dissonance might be behind an apparent, perhaps unconscious reluctance to discuss the alcohol/cancer link. If true, “an important source of health information for members of the public may not be communicating the alcohol-causes-cancer message consistently or effectively.”

The alcohol industry itself has always viewed the alcohol/cancer question primarily as a threat to sales. These powerful companies exhibit “a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of relative ignorance, uncertainty and denial among the general population and their trusted health advisors. In the face of this, it is time that health professionals set aside any leanings that might stem from their own drinking—good or bad—and convey unreservedly to their patients and the communities they serve that alcohol causes cancer.”

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