The Global Pain of Alcoholism

By Carole Bennett

alcoholismThrough the blogs I write about addiction and recovery I am fortunate to find many clients from all walks of life, all over the world. I encourage my clients to keep an ongoing journal about how they are feeling, what they are experiencing and how they are coping. Like all of us dealing with life on life’s terms, some weeks are naturally better than others, but living and loving an alcoholic/addict is sometimes a roller-coaster ride by the hour or day.

I have been counseling a woman in Monte Carlo for a few months. She was born into royalty and continues to live that lifestyle. With her permission, I have shared her current journal of confusion, anger, pain and suffering regarding her husband’s alcoholic condition. I disclose this for two reasons — it is moving, candid and a heart-rendering interpretation of her life with her loved one, and because this disease knows no boundaries as the family struggles regardless of what their bank account looks like.

In her own words (English is not her first language, so please keep that in mind), I have altered nothing other than the layout for easier reading. Meet a bold, empowered woman living the life of luxury from the outside, but tormented on the inside.

Full story at Huffington Post

Parents need to consider the facts when allowing teens to drink alcohol at home

By Youth Resources

Teen Drinking at HomeWhile relaxing on the beach during a family vacation this past summer, I was reading through a magazine when an article caught my attention both as a youth worker and as a mother.

The article shared the two major differing opinions on the age-old debate of whether parents should let their teenagers drink alcohol at home.

One mother expressed her opinion that she knows her teenager is going to drink alcohol when he is out with his friends anyway so she would rather them drink at her house where she knows they are safe.

Another mother shared her belief that she would not allow her daughter and her friends to drink at their home, because she does not want to send the message that it is OK to drink alcohol while she is under the legal age.

Full story at Courier Press

Booze a Bad Mix With Poor Impulse Control

By Michael Smith


Alcohol and impulsivity can be a toxic mix, researchers reported.

In a long-running, prospective cohort study among people seeking help for alcohol-related problems, those with poor impulse control had an increased risk of dying, according to Daniel Blonigen, PhD, and colleagues at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif.

The effect was independent of the risk associated with alcohol use disorders, Blonigen and colleagues reported online in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Both impulsivity and alcohol use disorders are known to increase the risk of premature death, the researchers noted, and alcohol use increases impulsive behavior. But there has been no research on how poor impulse control affects mortality risk among people who also have problems with alcohol, they added.

Full story at Med Page Today

Why Alcoholic Energy Drinks Are Dangerous: It’s Not Just the Caffeine

By ALICE PARK


Mixing alcohol with other substances is never really a good idea, but pairing it with energy drinks may be especially hazardous.

That might seem obvious, but the results of a new study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research provide some interesting insights into why. Cecile Marczinski, a psychologist at Northern Kentucky University, found that combining energy drinks such as Red Bull with vodka or other liquors effectively removes any built-in checks your body has for overindulging.

When you drink alcohol by itself, it initially induces a feeling of happiness — a comfortable buzz. But when you overindulge, your body knows it, and it starts to shut down; you start feeling tired, sleepy and more sedated than stimulated. “That’s your cue to go home to bed,” says Marczinski.

Read the rest of the article here

Source TIME Healthland

Similarities Found in Brain Activity for Both Habits and Goals

ScienceDaily


A team of researchers has found that pursuing carefully planned goals and engaging in more automatic habits shows overlapping neurological mechanisms. Because the findings, which appear in the latest issue of the journal Neuron, show a neurological linkage between goal-directed and habitual, and perhaps damaging, behaviors, they may offer a pathway for beginning to address addiction and similar maladies.

The study was conducted by researchers at New York University’s Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology, Princeton University’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Institute, and University College London’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging and Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, University College London.

The brain is believed to engage in two types of decision-making processes — deliberative, in which the future consequences of potential actions are weighed in order to achieve a particular goal, and automatic or habitual, in which previously successful actions are repeated without further contemplation. While the mechanisms behind these behaviors are distinct — with goal-directed actions the result of planning and habitual ones, associated with addiction, produced more thoughtlessly — researchers have had difficulty separating them behaviorally as they both typically pursue common ends.

The researchers on the Neuron study sought to differentiate both types of decision making by studying how humans’ decisions and brain activity, measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), were influenced by previously received vs. potential future rewards in a gambling game.

In the experiments, subjects were asked to make two sets of choices, with a monetary reward given if they made certain selections. In the first set of choices, subjects were asked to make selections between different slot machines, represented by colored boxes. These choices led to the opportunity to choose between additional slot machines. If the subjects made certain choices in this second stage, they received a monetary reward. Each subject repeated this process 200 times, with the chance of winning a monetary reward varying in each round — in some rounds, certain selections were associated with a high chance of winning money; in other rounds, these same choices were much less likely to yield a monetary benefit.

By analyzing how subjects adjusted their choices based on winning, or failing to win, money, the researchers were able to distinguish goal-directed from habitual decisions. Since the chances of winning money for different choices were constantly changing, a habitual decision, which is based on repeating a previously rewarded choice, was distinct from a goal directed one, which is based on contemplating the future outcome expected for the action.

Having dissociated the two types of decisions, the researchers examined brain activity related to decision processes. Despite the distinctions between goal-directed and habitual behaviors, the subjects’ brain activity was similar for both types of action. Indeed, signals related to goal-directed plans were observed in an area of the brain known as the ventral striatum, which is normally associated with habits and drug abuse.

“This surprising result shows that the brain’s systems for different behaviors are more intertwined than previously thought,” explained Nathaniel Daw, an assistant professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology, one of the study’s co-authors.

The authors added that the finding paves the way for seeking to understand how the brain regulates between goal-directed and habitual behaviors. By comprehending the mechanisms by which the brain controls these behaviors, subsequent research can begin to address how to curb habitual behaviors such as drug addiction or alcoholism. More specifically, because these decisions have a common neural target, there is a possibility that therapeutic methods could be designed and tested, targeting this locus, to enhance goal-directed behaviors while diminishing habitual ones.

The study was funded, in part, by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Source ScienceDaily