By Shannon McQuaid, LMFT, LISAC, CDWF, CSAT-C
The statistics are startling: 2.5 million older adults suffer from an alcohol or drug problem. Widowers age 75 and older have the highest rate of alcoholism in the U.S., while nearly half of nursing home residents have alcohol-related problems. Four out of five seniors who seek treatment for substance abuse have a problem with alcohol versus other types of drugs.
And the problem only looks to get worse. Data presented this year at the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry’s annual meeting showed that by 2020, 4.4 million older Americans adults will need treatment for alcoholism, up 60% from the year 2000.
The good news is that it is never too late to stop drinking, even for people with severe alcohol-related liver disease, researchers have found. For example, a study out of the U.K.’s University of Southampton found that abstinence from alcohol at one month after receiving a diagnosis of cirrhosis resulted in a seven-year survival rate of 72% versus 44% for the people who continued to drink.
By Stacey Colino
At one time or another, we’ve all been there: At a party where everyone is having a little too much to drink, you see your S.O. talking animatedly, maybe even flirtatiously, with someone attractive and before you can blink twice, you’re raging with jealousy.
When the weekend rolls around and all you can think about is kicking back, having a few beers or cocktails with your friends or family members, there can’t be anything wrong with that, right? After all, you’ve worked hard all week and deserve some time for fun and socializing.
Summertime is fun time, right? For most of us this is true, but if you’re newly sober you may actually be dreading the lazy days of summer. When you’re in recovery, much of your focus is on avoiding a relapse, but you need to make time for fun, too. You can have your summer fun while sober, and making time for activities that are enjoyable will actually support your sobriety and help prevent you from relapsing. If the old you spent warm summer nights partying and drinking, the new you will have to find better ways to enjoy the summer. Here are some ideas to get you started:
New findings from an American research group indicate that frequent drinking is motivated to a significant extent by positive expectations of the effects of alcohol use rather than negative expectations.
Alcohol consumption is heavily motivated by conscious or unconscious expectations of alcohol’s physical and mental effects. Some alcohol-related expectations are “positive” in nature, while others have a “negative” quality. In a study published in May 2015 in the journal Addiction, researchers from four U.S. institutions compared the influence of positive expectations on the behaviors of frequent drinkers to the influence of negative expectations. These researchers found that positive expectations play a critical role in the behaviors of frequent alcohol consumers, especially prior to drinking sessions and in the early stages of drinking sessions.
James Swanwick is an Australian-American investor, TV and podcast host, former SportsCenter anchor on ESPN, and Hollywood correspondent. He is the creator of the “30 Day No Alcohol Challenge” that teaches people how to quit alcohol for 30 days. James started a 30-day challenge in March 2010 and kept going. He hasn’t had a drink since. He has interviewed celebrities including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and world leaders including U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
When you’re in a romantic relationship, it’s easy to get swept up in powerful emotions. The feeling of being in love is heady, even a bit intoxicating.
Most of us know “DUI” stands for “driving under the influence.” But the acronym has another meaning, one with consequences that rival the damage done when one gets behind the wheel impaired. Although dating under the influence doesn’t cause motor vehicle accidents, it certainly can run your personal life off the road.
Everyone wants to be sociable, to be seen as easy to get along with and be around, and to fit in. Unfortunately, in today’s society, that all too often means drinking alcoholic beverages — and drinking as much as peers do. Though it has become the norm and not the exception, social drinking has hidden costs, not the least of which is that it can lead to addiction.
If you are questioning your drinking, wondering if you’re an alcoholic and thinking of cutting back or getting help, let your children be your inspiration. The children of alcoholics grow up to face a number of emotional, social and psychological issues. Don’t think that the damage is done and that you may as well keep drinking. If you can stop now and get the professional help you need, you will be giving your children back a healthy and involved parent. And you will be teaching them an important lesson about strength and perseverance.
New findings from a team of American researchers indicate that some young adults abandon heavy drinking when they grow older and have to make the role adjustments associated with getting married.
More and more people are getting drunk on hand sanitizer, using the cleaning product as a cheap source of alcohol. The tactic is especially popular among prison inmates, alcoholics and teens. While the trend might seem absurd at first, the alcohol content of hand sanitizer is pretty high, and, of course, drinking it carries all the same risks as the consumption of any other form of alcohol.
Most Americans want a ban on powdered alcohol. That’s the finding of the first formal, nationally representative poll by an entity other than the manufacturer of Palcohol, a brand of powdered alcohol.
The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health surveyed almost 2,000 adults nationwide in May 2015, two months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of powdered alcohol. The findings were published June 15 in Science Daily. Of the respondents:
- 60 percent support a total ban of powdered alcohol in their state.
- 84 percent want online sales of powdered alcohol prohibited.
- 90 percent fear underage people, or those younger than 21, will misuse the product.
- 85 percent are concerned that the legalization of powdered alcohol will increase underage use of alcohol.
- 81 percent worry that powdered alcohol will prove easy for underage people to acquire.
These high levels of public concern about the health risks of powdered alcohol for children square with the results of an ongoing poll by Addiction.com: So far approximately 73 percent of respondents have said Palcohol shouldn’t be allowed to be sold.
Manufacturer Touts Palcohol’s Benefits, Addresses Safety Concerns
Palcohol’s creator dismisses such worries, saying powdered alcohol should be taxed and regulated just like its liquid counterpart and that it’s actually safer than liquid alcohol. Mark Phillips, who founded Lipsmark, the Arizona-based manufacturer of Palcohol, says he developed powdered alcohol for those who need to pack light, such as backpackers and recreationally active people like himself. The Lipsmark CEO claims that even medical personnel traveling to the developing world have expressed interest in Palcohol.
“Medical personnel have inquired about using Palcohol as an antiseptic, which would be lighter than a liquid antiseptic — which would make it beneficial to use when going to remote locations where medical supplies need to be lugged in,” Phillips told Elements Behavioral Health (EBH).
In an official statement on the Palcohol website, Phillips expresses concern about proposed bans of powdered alcohol at the state and federal levels. (Already at least six states have banned Palcohol, and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York is leading a legislative charge to ban Palcohol nationwide.)
…it concerns me that there is a proposed ban of powdered alcohol in other states and on the federal level denying millions of responsible adults and hundreds of businesses a chance to use this legal, safe and revolutionary new product that has applications in medicine, energy, hospitality, the military, manufacturing, etc. as well as reducing the carbon footprint by being so much lighter to ship than liquid alcohol.
Phillips chalks up the latest findings by the University of Michigan poll to a lack of education about powdered alcohol. Citing the results of a poll that his company conducted, which reportedly shows 80 percent of drinkers want to buy Palcohol, Phillips told EBH that “when people don’t know about Palcohol and the many benefits or solutions it offers, they have a negative feeling toward it.”
“Once they understand the product,” he continued, “most change their mind … I would suspect that very, very few of the people polled in the Michigan study have been to Palcohol.com, the only place where one can find the truth about Palcohol. So the fact that 40 percent of the people polled don’t want it banned knowing nothing about it is very encouraging to us.”
Putting Poll Findings in Context
On the heels of the release of the University of Michigan’s findings, EBH contacted the director of the poll, Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, for his comments on the results. Dr. Davis, who is also the deputy director of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, issued the following disclaimer:
The important part of our National Poll on Children’s Health is that our work provides a way to bring the public’s views into the national policy dialogue through a nationally representative sample of adults. In other words: our findings are not the opinions of our team; instead, our results indicate that it is the public that favors a ban on powdered alcohol and restrictions on advertising and online sales.
Meanwhile, the problem of underage alcohol abuse continues to pose significant health risks. Alcohol remains the most widely abused substance among people between the ages of 12 and 21. Every year, roughly 5,000 young people under the age of 21 will die as a result of underage drinking. These deaths occur as the result of vehicular accidents, homicides, suicides, and other drinking-related injuries, such as falls, burns, and drowning. And other reports show that alcohol abuse remains one of the top 10 health concerns for kids. The problem remains despite a sharp downward decline in underage drinking, according to the latest report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
By Kristina Robb-Dover
Follow Kristina on Twitter at @saintplussinner
If you’re concerned that you have a substance abuse problem, consider taking two short questionnaires included in Substance Abuse and Older People, a comprehensive 2015 book covering the age-related issues of substance abuse, from diagnosis to treatment.
You’ve probably tried to quit drinking or using other substances at some point in the past. You may have been able to stop drinking or to give up using drugs for short periods of time, but for some reason you always end up going back to your old ways. You may even try to tell yourself that you can quit any time you want to but that you just don’t really want to.