Spot Symptoms of the Other, High Functioning National Crisis

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The opioid crisis has been staking headlines across national and local media, but another substance has been quietly taking lives by the thousands for years: alcohol.

In 2016, more than an estimated 64,000 people died from drug overdose; meanwhile, an average of 88,000 have died from alcohol-related causes every year.

Alcohol use has been more normalized compared to other substance use. Because alcohol has become ingrained in mainstream American culture, it has become harder for people to distinguish between someone who enjoys having drinks in moderation and a person who is suffering from alcohol addiction. Further, the stereotype of an “alcoholic” at rock bottom who drinks all day and can’t hold a job does not reflect the vast majority of people living with alcohol use disorders.

One of those people could be your boss, who comes to work on time every morning, cleanly shaven and impeccably dressed, and finishes every task—then goes home and drinks bottles and bottles of beer. Or your neighbor down the street, who juggles raising kids and working a full-time job while never missing a single one of their games, but drinks an entire bottle of wine after putting them to bed.

The reality is that we all most likely know someone struggling with or affected by alcohol addiction. About 16 million people in the United States have alcohol use disorder, ranging from mild to severe. However, less than 15 percent of people receive any treatment.

Alcohol does not affect everyone the same way and every addiction story is different, but these 11 questions can help you distinguish whether enjoying drinks in moderation has turned into a problem:

1.) Are you drinking more alcohol, or for longer, than you originally intended?

2.) Are you having unsuccessful efforts to cut back or quit?

3.) Are you spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from the effects of drinking?

4.) Are you experiencing cravings for alcohol?

5.) Are you having issues with carrying our roles at home or at school or at work because of alcohol?

6.) Have you continued drinking even though it was causing problems with loved ones?

7.) Are you getting into dangerous situations (like driving intoxicated or having unsafe sex) while or after drinking?

8.) Have you continued to drink even after experience negative side effects, such as depression, anxiety, and memory blackouts?

9.) Have you stopped participating in activities that were once enjoyable and drink instead?

10.) Do you have to increase the amount of alcohol consumed to feel the same effects as before?

11.) Do you have withdrawal symptoms after the effects of alcohol wear off, including shaking, trouble sleeping, anxiety, depression, nausea, or restlessness?

There are three categories for severity of alcohol use disorder: mild, moderate, and severe. Even if you or someone you care about is experiencing a mild case—the presence of two to three symptoms—seek out professional help.

And this April, Alcohol Awareness Month, let’s all reconsider the use of alcohol in our lives.

Binge Drinking and the Many Degrees of Alcoholism

In recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month, founded by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in 1987, Gateway aims to increase public awareness and understanding of alcoholism and the alcohol treatment options available for individuals and families who may need help.

Gateway’s substance abuse treatment Experts Patricia Ryding, Psy.D., and Paul Getzendanner explain binge drinking and the varying degrees of alcoholism: 

People tend to think of alcoholism as an all or nothing proposition. The perception is, if you can handle your liquor you are fine, as opposed to the drinker whose life is falling apart. The reality is, alcoholism is a progressive disease with many different degrees.

binge drinking

Substance abuse expert, Gilbert Lichstein explains binge drinking and the degrees of alcoholism.

Any level of alcohol abuse presents serious dangers. Consider: 60 percent of fatal burns, drownings and homicides involve alcohol; 50 percent of sexual assaults and 40 percent of fatal car crashes involve alcohol.

A prevalent and very deceptive form of alcohol abuse disorder is the functioning alcoholic. A functioning alcoholic can hold a job, take care of the children, and otherwise fulfill his or her roles in life. This ability to manage creates a false sense of security.

The question becomes first, “How well are they really doing these things?” and second, “How long can they keep it up?” It’s safe to say, any form of alcoholism eventually catches up, taking a toll on a person’s body that includes making changes to the brain.

Binge drinking presents another serious aspect of alcohol abuse…Read Full Article> 

To learn more about treatment options for alcoholism , or our free consultation, call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers today at 877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit RecoverGateway.org

Gateway Rehab Applauds FDA for Breakthrough Thinking in Alcoholism Treatment

alcoholism, drinking alcoholThis February, the FDA suggested new guidelines for drug makers interested in developing treatments for alcoholism. In a groundbreaking departure from conventional thinking, the guidelines would give drug companies the green light to develop treatments that help patients stay within “low-risk” daily alcohol limits.

Presently, the goal of pharmaceutical treatments for alcoholism is total abstinence from drinking alcohol.

In a February 11 bloomberg.com post, FDA spokesman Eric Pahon explained that abstinence-based endpoints are often unattainable in a clinical trial, which can hinder the development of drugs to treat alcoholism. “Reducing heavy drinking to within ‘low-risk’ daily limits presents an alternative goal in drug development so more treatments may be developed,” Pahon said.

John Larson, M.D., Corporate Medical Director of Gateway Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centers, agrees. “While complete avoidance of alcohol is necessary for some to achieve meaningful recovery, there are others whose lives could greatly benefit from treatment that successfully reduces the amount and frequency of alcohol use without requiring total abstinence. These new FDA guidelines could aid in the discovery of whole new categories of medications that could do just that,” said Dr. Larson.

The Need for New Medications

There are currently three categories of drugs sold to treat alcoholism. In addition to having limitations, these medications are only effective for some.

Despite this, no new medications have been introduced into the alcohol treatment market in nearly ten years. Reaching the high bar of total sobriety in a clinical trial consistently proves elusive.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) acknowledges more medications are needed to serve the broader population. Dr. Raye Litten, associate director of the agency’s Division of Treatment and Recovery Research, believes more treatments will enable more patients to find one that works for them.

The FDA proposal identifies alcoholism as continued drinking despite physical and psychosocial consequences. The agency said an alcoholism drug should ultimately improve those consequences, which can be done via total sobriety or a reduction in alcohol use.

Michael Darcy, Gateway’s CEO & President, backs this thinking. He said, “It seems the substance abuse disorder field is the only profession that claims a 100% rate of no relapses as the criteria for success. I hope this (new) notion will lead to a more realistic view of success.”

To learn more about treatment options for alcohol abuse issues, or our free, confidential consultation, call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers today at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Helping Older Adults with Substance Abuse Issues

substance abuse older adults1The professional staff at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment design innovative, effective and affordable drug rehab and alcohol treatment to serve the special needs of older adults, 55 and older and their families.

The signs of alcohol abuse and medication dependence in adults 55 and older are different from a younger person. They often drink at home alone so no one notices the severity of the substance abuse.

Many older adults or seniors are retired, so they don’t have work-related problems due to alcohol or drug abuse. They drive less, so there’s less opportunity for them to get arrested for driving under the influence

Aging, Disease and Substance Abuse

Many of the symptoms listed below are attributed to other diseases or are considered part of the aging process. However, many older adults find that once they achieve sobriety, these symptoms disappear.

Older Adult Substance Abuse Test

The following signs and symptoms are typical of older adults or seniors requiring drug rehab or alcohol treatment:

Please answer every question. If a question is not applicable, select No.

Yes No
Drinks alone, hidden from others.
Drinks alone, hidden from others. Makes a ritual of having drinks before, with or after dinner. Becomes annoyed when this ritual is disturbed.
Has lost interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring pleasure.
Drinks in spite of warning labels on prescription drugs.
Suffers from alcohol-related health problems.
Has bottles of tranquilizers on hand and takes them at the slightest sign of disturbance.
Is often intoxicated or slightly tipsy, and sometimes has slurred speech.
Suffers from tremors and shakes.
Drinks despite health problems.
Frequently expresses a wish to die
Often has the smell of liquor on his or her breath or uses mouthwash to disguise it.
Is neglecting personal appearance and gaining or losing weight.
Complains of constant sleeplessness, loss of appetite or chronic health problems that seem to have no physical cause.
Has unexplained burns or bruises and tries to hide them.
Neglects home, bills, pets, etc.
Can’t handle routine chores and paperwork without making mistakes.
Has irrational or undefined fears and delusions, or seems under unusual stress.
Seems to be losing his or her memory.
Appears to be depressed.
Has problems with urinary incontinence.
Suffers from heart arrhythmia.

Answering “yes” to 2 or more questions above may indicate a problem with alcohol or drugs.

For help or to schedule a free confidential screening, call 877-505-HOPE (877-505-4673).

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