Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Family History Alcoholism and Hangovers

It is widely accepted that people, with a family history of alcoholism, are themselves at a greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder than their peers, who do not have a similar background. People who have a family history of alcoholism are four times more likely to experience a problem with the substance, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). There are several reasons for the aforementioned case, including genetic factors and exposure to people who are responsible for one’s well-being having unhealthy relationships with the potentially deadly substance. It is easy to normalize things, even when one knows such behaviors are likely to be harmful.

So much of the person we grow up to be is rooted in how we are raised. In many cases, we learn how to process things that are difficult from our parents, especially regarding coping with the trials and tribulations of life. If a child sees a parent drink alcohol when they are upset about something, it can leave a lasting impression that can have serious repercussions down the road. One can equate alcohol with relief. Which, in some respect, that is a true statement; alcohol can ease one's tension about a given situation. However, the use of alcohol to cope with challenges is a slippery slope leading to addiction.

Alcohol use prevention efforts have long focused on instilling young people with the facts about alcohol. Facts that may be the opposite of what they see at home. It is reality that can be very confusing. There is no guarantee that someone who comes from an alcoholic family will develop the same relationship with alcohol that their parents have established. But for those who do drink, it is vital that efforts be made to mitigate the risk of following in the footsteps of their mother and/or father. And, it turns out that hangovers could provide some insight.

What is hangover?

Rather than run through the myriad of theories and highly scientific markers that are likely to be what is behind a hangover resulting, it would be more useful to discuss the symptoms that can accompany the condition that most people who have drank too much are acutely familiar. The morning after somebody engages in heavy alcohol use, the alcohol has pretty much worked its way through one’s system. At which point, a number of uncomfortable symptoms occur—both physiological and psychological in nature.

Symptoms typically include:
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Concentration Problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
Simply put, there is nothing fun about a hangover. Even after the physical symptoms dissipate, emotional distress can linger for some time. A long night of drinking, followed by serious regret. Alcoholics will usually push through a hangover by drinking more, commonly referred to as “hair of the dog.” Such behavior can be sign that you have a problem with alcohol, and potentially an alcohol use disorder.

Countless people in the grips of a hangover have vowed to never drink again, only to renege on what they believed to be a solemn oath to abstain. It turns out that reinforcing the memories of a hangover in people, who have alcoholism in the family tree, may impact the course they themselves eventually take with the substance.


Remembering a Hangover

New research has found that people from families where alcohol has been a problem are more likely to retain lucid and painful memories of hangovers, according to a press release from Keele University. The study, "Does familial risk for alcohol use disorder predict alcohol hangover?", was published in the journal Psychopharmacology. Psychologist Dr Richard Stephens at Keele University said:

“Taken together with findings from prior research it appears that people who are predisposed to develop problem drinking are no more susceptible to developing a hangover after a night of alcohol than people who are not predisposed. However, we found that such people appear to remember their hangovers more lucidly. He adds, “It may be possible to exploit this lucid memory for hangovers to curb excessive drinking. Reminding problem drinkers of the negative consequences of incapacitating hangover, for example, letting down family members due to abandoned plans, may help them to manage their alcohol consumption.”

Getting more answers...

If you have more questions alcohol use disorder, we can help. The therapeutic drug and alcohol treatment process at the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat is designed within a holistic, cognitively-oriented framework. It is facilitated through educational, task oriented and process groups. Introduction to the twelve-step program and philosophy is a component of treatment. Please contact us.



Thursday, March 9, 2017

Opioid Addiction Among Older Adults

overdose death
Anyone is susceptible to a drug overdose. Anyone! Attempting to wrap one’s head around the opioid addiction epidemic in America can cause one to become apoplectic with rage at the staggering death toll associated with this class of narcotics. After nearly two decades of heightened abuse rates and roughly one hundred people dying each day from a fatal overdose in this country, there are few Americans who don’t know someone who has been touched by an opioid use disorder.

So, how did we find ourselves in this situation. Well, for starters opioid painkiller prescribing practices across the country has been nothing, if not negligent. Americans make up around 5 percent of the global population, but we ingest the vast majority of the prescription opioids global supply. It was not that long ago that you could acquire a prescription opioid for a hangnail. That may seem like a gross exaggeration, but it is not that far off the mark.

Naturally, pain and one’s response to it, is subjective. How you tolerate an injury or chronic ailment is likely to be different from your peers. Since pain is often internal, not even a doctor with high-tech gadgets can quantify the severity of your pain. If you report that your pain, on a scale from one to ten, is a ten—physicians have an obligation to not only take your word on it, but to respond with an effective treatment. Mitigation which usually comes in the form of a prescription opioid. Of course, blind faith in a patient's honesty is not always the best course of action, as is evident by the crisis we face today.

An Obligation to Help With Addiction

In many cases, patients will exaggerate their pain levels in order to continue receiving prescriptions for a drug that they may not even realize they have become dependent upon. With that in mind, doctors today have had to begin utilizing resources to determine “at risk” patients. Such as, using prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) to curb “doctor shopping,” that is visiting multiple doctors to get more of the same drug; performing random drug screens on patients to ensure that other mind-altering substances are not part of the picture; mixing one narcotic with another, or taking too much of a drug, is a sure recipe for an overdose.

One could even argue that doctors have an obligation to ensure that patients who are showing problematic signs, or have become dependent upon opioids have access to necessary resources. While opioid use disorder has affected millions of Americans across the age spectrum, it is middle-aged and older Americans that have chronic pain and require long-term pain management. Keeping in mind that even if you take a drug as prescribed it can lead to dependence and addiction. Over time, more of the drug is required to achieve a desired feeling, thus beginning a journey toward overdose. Doctors who identify problem patients will often cut back or stop prescribing opioids to them all together, hopefully in conjunction with a referral to addiction treatment. If it does not play out like that, such patients will turn to the streets to acquire opioids. Many will not be above using heroin as an alternative.

Older Americans, Opioid Overdose and Treatment

People over the age of forty, are dying from opioid overdoses at an alarming rate. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that adults aged 45 to 54 had the highest overdose related death rate at 30 deaths per 100,000 in 2015. Between 1999 and 2015, drug overdose deaths increased the most for adults aged 55 to 64, from 4.2 per 100,000 to 21.8 in 2015.

"Generation X" and “Baby Boomers” are two age groups that doctors must focus on when it comes to opioid use disorder. Physicians are in a unique position to intervene and provide options that can help patients utilize alternative forms of pain management, break the cycle of addiction and recover before a fatal overdose occurs. What’s more, patients should be made to feel that they can talk to their provider about their dependence on pain medication. Help is often a two-way street.

If you are an older adult struggling with opioid use disorder, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. We can help.