Friday, September 22, 2017

Alcohol Use Disorder On The Rise With Older Adults

alcohol use disorder
Opioid use disorder among older adults continues to be a great cause of concern in the United States. We recently covered new findings showing that while opioid misuse among young people has been declining, it’s been increasing among older Americans. The study dictates that greater emphasis needs to be placed on prevention and treatment efforts among this demographic. Although, opioids are not the only addictive substance impacting older adults. In fact, problematic alcohol use is on the rise, according to epidemiologists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Research published in JAMA Psychiatry, compared data from a national survey taken in 2001 and 2002 and again in 2012 and 2013, The New York Times reports. The data indicates that older adults engaging in “high-risk drinking” rose 65 percent, to 3.8 percent. What’s more, alcohol use disorders (AUD) more than doubled during the same time period among this demographic. With AUD affecting 3 percent of older Americans.


What is “High Risk Drinking”

Most experts define “binge drinking” as when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. The practice has been associated with a number of negative health effects, including dependence and alcohol use disorder. High risk drinking, on the other hand, is when men have five or more standard alcoholic beverages, and when women have four or more in a day — at least once a week.

“The trajectory over time is remarkable,” said Dr. Marc Schuckit, a psychiatrist and addiction specialist at the University of California, San Diego. “You have to say there’s something going on.” 

The causes of the upward swing are varied. Bridget Grant, an epidemiologist at N.I.A.A.A. and study lead author, says that anxiety and the recession likely had a role, according to the article. Aside from heavier drinking leading to alcohol use disorder, the substance can exacerbate chronic health conditions associated with older adults, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Alcohol misuse has also been associated with several forms of cancer and is a known cause of stroke and heart attack. Many of the medications older Americans take daily, warn against mixing with alcohol. The possibility of deadly synergistic effects, is great.

“Read your drug labels,” said Dr. David Oslin, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction at the University of Pennsylvania. “Alcohol interferes or interacts with literally hundreds of prescription medications.”


Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Addiction isn’t a good thing under any circumstances. Fortunately, achieving long-term recovery is entirely possible. Dr. David Oslin says that older adults in addiction treatment have the same or better success rates as younger adults. Dr. Oslin conducted a study which found that older adults were much more likely to stick to treatment plans. Alcohol use disorder treatment works.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat we offer an Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program. One that is specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of seniors. Please contact us today to begin the lifesaving process of addiction recovery.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Alcohol Use Alters Brain Functioning

alcohol use disorder
Addiction treatment is in many cases a one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one client is likely to be beneficial for another. Everyone who is actively working a program of recovery using the 12 Step model is expected to follow the same suggestions. That is, work the same steps, following a model that has been passed down for generations. There are no exceptions, there are no differences between what is required from both men and women.

Males and females, to be sure, have different needs which are typically observed in treatment. They both have had experiences that may be unique to one particular sex, but at the end of the day the mechanisms of addiction and subsequent approaches to achieve recovery are similar. However, in recent years scientists have been narrowing in on variations between men and women regarding addiction. We know that both sexes are eligible for addiction. We know that continued use over long periods of time, more times than not, will lead to dependence and use disorders. In both men and women, the havoc that substances, like alcohol, will wreak on the human body is extensive. Both physically and mentally.

It is widely agreed upon that men consume more alcohol than women. When men drink, they tend to imbibe, in what could only be described as, more aggressively. Males binge drink more often and in greater amounts than females, but research has shown that women have stepped up their alcohol use. Especially middle-aged and older women. What is relatively unknown about heavy drinking is how it affects the brains of men and women differently.


How Alcohol Use Alters Brain Functioning

Long-term alcohol use has the propensity to do serious harm, potentially having lasting consequences. Those who engage in heavy alcohol use for long periods of time are at great risk, regardless of sex. Yet, some researchers have wondered if drinking alcohol alters the brains of men differently than women. And, if so, could it mean that methods of treatment (especially treatments involving medication) will be more effective for one sex compared to the other. A group of Finnish researchers found that, in fact, the brains of young men undergo changes which are not the same as young women who engage in heavy alcohol use, Science Daily reports. The researchers used Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) on young heavy drinkers, a method which activates brain neurons; the subjects' brains were then observed using an EEG (electroencephalogram).

"We found more changes in brain electrical activity in male subjects, than in females, which was a surprise, as we expected it would be the other way around,” said Dr Outi Kaarre, a researcher at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, Finland. “This means that male brain electrical functioning is changed more than female brains by long-term alcohol use" 

Dr. Kaarre points out that alcohol use has a more pronounced effect on both electrical and chemical neurotransmission in the brains of men, according to the article. The receptors under the spotlight are the GABA A and B. Men who engage in long-term alcohol use had alterations to both A and B, but in females it was the GABA-A receptors that were affected. Which could explain why the efficacy of a new drug for treating alcohol dependence, Baclofen (a GABA-B agonist), has had varying results.

The findings, presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, could have serious implications for treating male and female patients with an alcohol use disorder (AUD).


Young Adult Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If you are binge drinking on a regular basis, multiple days per week, then you are on dangerous path to alcohol use disorder. You may already meet the criteria for a use disorder and without treatment things will only get worse. If you are a young adult whose life has become unmanageable due to alcohol use, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. We can help.