Issues Related to Addiction

Cerebellar Ataxia vs. Sensory Ataxia

Posted on February 26th, 2017

What is ataxia? Doctors use the term to describe a group of disorders that cause you to lose the normal ability to coordinate your body movements. One of these conditions, cerebellar ataxia, occurs in large numbers of people affected by alcoholism. However, a second form of the condition, called sensory ataxia, has other common causes. Let’s look at the key differences between the two disorders.

Cerebellar Ataxia Essentials

Cerebellar ataxia gets its name because it stems from damage located in the part of your brain called the cerebellum. Well-known symptoms of the condition include:

  • Nystagmus (rapid and uncontrollable vertical, horizontal or rotary eye movements)
  • Dysarthria (loss of control over the muscles that control speech), and
  • An inability to walk with a steady step or gait

This form of ataxia has a range of potential causes, including:

  • Cerebellar strokes
  • Cerebellar abscesses
  • Cerebellar bleeding, and
  • Complications of multiple sclerosis

However, the single most likely cause of all cerebellar problems is alcoholism. In fact, the authors of a 2012 study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that up to 66% of all people affected by chronic alcoholism have an ataxia-causing condition called alcoholic cerebellar degeneration, or ACD. Chances for developing this condition increase along with the level and duration of excessive, long-term drinking.

Sensory Ataxia Essentials

Sensory ataxia occurs when you lose a natural sensory ability called proprioception. Normally, you rely on this ability to keep track of your body’s physical orientation in space. When you lose proprioception, you can’t fully make up for the information deficit with input from vision or your other senses. As a result, you develop symptoms of ataxia that can include:

  • A “stomping” gait caused by inaccurate foot placement, and
  • A loss of body balance that grows worse in poor light conditions

Most people develop sensory ataxia when they experience spinal cord damage or damage in the peripheral nerves that run from the spinal cord to the arms and legs. Potential underlying causes of these problems include:

  • Multiple sclerosis complications
  • Complications of type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Toxin exposure, and
  • Physical compression of the spinal cord

Alcoholism does not generally play a role in the development of this form of ataxia.

Because there is more than one form of ataxia, the specific definition of the condition depends on which form is under consideration.



U.S. National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus: Acute Cerebellar Ataxia

The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital: Sensory Ataxia

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research: Characterization of Cerebellar Ataxia in Chronic Alcoholics Using the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale (ICARS);jsessionid=17FB19BE4DE7D8FCDD542F03EF0AFEB5.f03t01

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Abuse in Childhood, Domestic Violence in Adulthood Prime Victims for Substance Abuse

Posted on May 6th, 2015

The combination of childhood maltreatment and intimate partner violence exposure during adulthood substantially increase risks for the onset of substance use disorder (diagnosable substance abuse/addiction), new findings from a group of U.S. researchers indicate.

Child maltreatment and intimate partner violence (IPV) are two relatively common sources of emotional trauma exposure in the U.S. and many other countries. In a study published in January 2015 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers from Columbia University examined the effect that the combined experience of child maltreatment and IPV exposure has on the chances that an adult man or woman will develop an alcohol- or drug-related case of substance use disorder. The researchers concluded that the two forms of trauma have an additive impact on the risks for diagnosable substance problems.

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DSM 5 Loosens Rules for Adult ADHD Diagnosis

Posted on July 11th, 2013

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that begins in childhood and produces varying combinations of classic symptoms such as a reduced ability to maintain attention, diminished behavior control, and unusual bouts of overactivity. Prior to May 2013, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) contained a definition for ADHD that was highly geared toward children. However, as a result of a new understanding regarding the effects of ADHD in adults, the newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM 5) also contains a modified ADHD definition for adult cases of the disorder. 

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The Toll of Caregiving – When the Strain of Caring for Others Leads to Substance Abuse

Posted on June 17th, 2013

The Toll of Caregiving - When the Strain of Caring for Others Leads to Substance Abuse For some, the burden of caregiving can seem unbearable – whether you’re caring for an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s or parenting a child with cerebral palsy. It is, without question, a challenging way to live: attending to your loved one’s personal hygiene, going back and forth to doctor’s appointments, preparing meals and ensuring he or she eats, and so on. The stress is serious enough that it causes some caregivers to turn to alcohol or drugs in a desperate attempt to cope.  This can turn the tables on a caregiver – putting them in the position to need care in the form of alcohol or drug rehab.

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The Effects of Substance Abuse on Employment

Posted on April 7th, 2013

In a tight economy, it is worth examining what makes a person more, or less, employable. The question of how alcohol and drug use impact a person’s job has been looked at from several directions. But each study comes up with the same conclusion – that there is a definite link between a person’s use of alcohol or drugs and their likelihood of being gainfully employed. Those who abuse drugs or alcohol, or use them even casually, tend to be less employed compared to those who do not use/abuse those substances.

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Overcoming the Vicious Cycle of Substance Abuse and Insomnia

Posted on February 17th, 2013

Overcoming the Vicious Cycle of Substance Abuse and Insomnia The tossing and turning of insomnia is hard for any person to handle long term. But when insomnia is accompanied by alcohol or drug addiction, it can create a vicious, life-altering cycle that makes it very difficult to function normally. In fact, not only does one almost always exacerbate the other, it’s very common for one to cause the other.

So what is normal sleep? In a person without a sleep disorder, a typical period of sleep may last anywhere from four to nine hours, with two general phases: REM and non-REM sleep. It follows a predictable pattern, one that is essential in order for your body and brain to rest properly. The entire process is dictated by a complex interaction of brain chemicals, including norepinephrine and serotonin.

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Substance-Induced Sleep Disorder

Posted on February 7th, 2013

Substance-Induced Sleep DisorderSubstance-induced sleep disorder is a mental health condition characterized by any one of a variety of sleep disturbances brought on by the use/abuse of alcohol or a number of legal and illegal drugs. Depending on individual circumstances, the condition can produce insomnia (excessive sleeplessness), hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness), any one of several different sleep-related conditions known as parasomnias, or a mix of symptoms that feature aspects of insomnia, hypersomnia and/or parasomnia. Some people develop substance-induced sleep disorder while intoxicated with a given causative substance, while others develop the condition during withdrawal when the body is trying to recover from the effects of substance use.

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The High Cost of Delaying Addiction Treatment

Posted on December 12th, 2012

“Addiction treatment is too expensive.”

“It takes too much time.”

“Rehab doesn’t work.”

Perhaps you’ve heard those excuses from a loved one – or made them yourself – when it comes to finally getting help for an addiction. Sadly, there are so many myths that enable addicts to put off recovery again…and again…again. But the truth is, the cost of avoiding treatment for a serious alcohol or drug addiction is extremely high. In fact, some people who don’t get help end up paying the ultimate price: their own life.

So what do you give up when you say “not today” to addiction treatment? What are the potential costs of each delay?

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Repairing Relationships after Addiction

Posted on November 28th, 2012

couple has relationship issues because of addictionAddiction can be devastating to every aspect of your life. Your addiction may have damaged your career, your education, or even your physical health. More importantly though, your addiction may have broken many of your relationships, interaction you may be depending on now to help you in your sobriety. Depending on how long you were addicted, you can be in a situation that as you work through recovery towards sobriety you will need to repair those relationships that may have become broken along the way. While you were battling your addiction, you probably engaged in a variety of behaviors that were negative. Lying, being unfaithful, stealing, manipulating, creating financial problems, or even becoming violent and possibly causing physical injury. No matter the damage, a part of your recovery will depend on repairing these relationships. It will be difficult, but not impossible to accomplish.

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