What Is Binge Drinking?

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What is binge drinking?
Binge drinking is the consumption of alcohol that raises a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.8 or above, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. For men, this usually takes five or more drinks in two hours, and for women, it usually takes four or more drinks. In contrast, the recommended amount of alcohol consumption for women is no more than one drink a day and no more than two for men.

Why is binge drinking dangerous?
Most people who binge drink do not have a substance use disorder. However, the consequences of binge drinking are still severe, and extended periods of binge drinking can lead to alcohol dependence.

There are a lot of health risks associated with alcohol consumption, such as an increased likelihood of contracting certain cancers and difficulty with memory and learning. With excessive alcohol consumption, additional risks such as unintentional injury like blackouts, alcoholic coma, and alcohol poisoning are higher than with moderate use.

Rates of violence, including domestic and sexual abuse, also increase when drinking is involved. An estimated 50 percent of sexual assaults involve alcohol.

For women, binge drinking additionally increases the likelihood of an unplanned or a difficult pregnancy.

How common is it?
Binge drinking typically evokes images of college students in fraternity houses and, in fact, young drinkers consume more than 90 percent of their alcohol by binge drinking.
However, they are not the only ones. One in six adults in the United States engages in binge drinking four times a month. Over 50 percent of those who binge drink are between the ages of 18 to 34. It is also most prevalent among men, as men are twice as likely as women to binge. However, in the past couple of years, studies show women have begun to close the gap in alcohol consumption.

What should I do if I am or someone I know is struggling with binge drinking?
Attempts to quit without professional help are mostly unsuccessful, and they can also be fatal. Seeking professional help is the safest and most reliable way to stop drinking

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.

Gateway Treatment Centers Offers Two Free CEU Webinars: “Understanding Addiction: Why Can’t Those Affected Just Say No”

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Addiction has a stigma attached to it, causing many to blame the struggling individual for their problems and assume that they should just be able to stop using if they want to. But the effects of substance use can change the chemistry of the brain, making the task of “Just Saying No” seem inaccessible.

This February, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers will offer two free webinars “Understanding Addiction: Why Can’t Those Affected Just Say No?” giving participants the opportunity to earn one continuing education unit (CEU) and learn about the brain processes that develop under the grips of addiction.

The webinar presenter is A’nna Jurich, LCPC, a Program Director at Gateway Treatment Centers. A’nna has worked with Gateway since 1994 and has worked as a clinician in addictions and mental health for the past 24 years. She is trained in Motivational Interviewing and EMDR.

Because of the way drugs work in the brain, addiction can form, causing compulsive behavior and a lack of control over seeking and taking the drug. “Addiction is a lifelong, chronic disease that affects millions of individuals. The more understanding and acceptance we are able to gain, the better prepared we are to treat and support those who suffer,” Jurich said.

The webinar will be offered on two occasions: Wednesday February 15th, 2017 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and Thursday February 23rd, 2017 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Participants can receive one CEU – NAADAC, Illinois: LCSW, LSW, LCPC, LPC, Nursing, Psychologist, IAODAPCA (Counselor I, Preventionist I, CARS I, MISA I, PCGC II, CCJP II, CAAP I, CRSS II, MAATP I, NCRS II, CFPP II)

For more details regarding the webinar, please visit Recovergatway.org/Training.

Registration in advance is required and space is limited.

 

New Year’s Resolutions to Achieve Sobriety

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New Year’s resolutions often stem from self-evaluation, enabling us to learn more about ourselves and push us to make better choices. Those who make New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who don’t, according to researchers at the University of Scranton.

The severity of resolutions can vary from person to person whether they revolve around finances or health. With a new year representing change and optimism, a person struggling with substance abuse disorder often sees a new year as an opportunity for a fresh start. Those looking to break free of addiction can increase their chance of success by resolving to enter a drug rehab program in January of the New Year.

Because New Year’s resolutions often fail to launch, it’s a running joke how many commitments disintegrate on January 2nd. A resolution to enter a rehab program can flop just as easily, especially because getting clean and sober is so multifaceted. Drugs and alcohol affect and control every aspect of live, so resolving to quit is not just a matter of lack of will power or follow-through. With that said, it is important to stay focused and committed on this journey, while enlisting the support of friends and family members to help make the resolution succeed.

If you are new to goal setting or new to taking resolutions seriously, it’s OK to start slow. Read more about the full continuum of substance abuse treatment  options that Gateway can offer, including Fispecialized programs and schedules.

A resolution to enter drug rehab can be an important first step towards a better future. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drugs, visit RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-4673 to learn more about treatment optionsinsurance coverage, and Gateway’s confidential consultation.

Tips for Avoiding Temptation at Holiday Parties

Golden streamers with sparkling glitterThe holiday season is filled with social activities, from family dinners to parties with friends and coworkers. These celebrations often center around over-indulgence, be it in food or alcohol. In fact, in a 2012 American Alcohol Consumption Study conducted by Gateway Treatment Centers, it was found that 51% of adults drink alcohol due to “celebrations, special events, and holidays.” For someone in recovery, this over-indulgent atmosphere can make holiday parties difficult to navigate.

There can be anxiety over the temptation of easily accessible alcohol, as well as over the perceived judgment of others if you don’t partake in drinking. Depending on your support system and where you are in your recovery, it may be easier to skip the parties. But if you want to attend a party, there are a few things you can do to help you avoid temptation and lessen your nerves.

Bring a sober friend. It can be easier to avoid alcohol if you are not the only one abstaining at the party. Bring someone else with you who will stay by your side and ensure you have a good time without using drugs or alcohol.

Prepare your response for turning down offered drinks. Do not fear that attending a holiday party means that you will be offered drink after drink. But if the fear of that happening is keeping you from attending, prepare your response ahead of time. If you are comfortable mentioning that you are in recovery, you can use that to turn down offered alcoholic drinks. But if you are not, don’t stress. There can be many reasons someone may turn down a drink, such as not liking the taste or having to drive, and you can use any of these excuses. Having your excuse in mind before you go can help relieve any anxiety and prepare you to remain alcohol free throughout the party.

Only stay as long as you are comfortable. Often we are invited to holiday parties that we may feel obligated to go to. But just because you show up doesn’t mean you need to stay very long. If the party is too overwhelming, leave early.

Remember that everyone is preoccupied with themselves, not you. You may feel like you are the only one not drinking, and therefore that everyone is watching and judging you. But know that most people are so busy with their own drinking that they aren’t keeping track of what you are, or are not, consuming.

Serve yourself. If you are worried about others asking you to consume alcohol, an easy way around it is to serve yourself a nonalcoholic drink. When you get to the party, grab water or pop, or bring your own, and keep it in your hand. It will curb drink offers from other people since you already have something to drink. Also, you don’t have to worry about someone adding alcohol to your drink if you get it yourself.

Remember that if temptation becomes too much, you can always rely on your support network or aftercare program. By making plans before a party or following some of the above tips, you can mitigate anxiety and navigate holiday parties without using drugs or alcohol.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol, visit RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673) for information about drug and alcohol abuse and treatment options.

Comprehensive Addiction Bill Passes Senate

Addictions to painkillers, heroin and alcohol are chronic diseases just like diabetes or heart disease. Up until a few weeks ago, there was no legislation authorizing much-needed funding for this health crisis.

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On March 10 2016, the Senate approved the first standalone bill to pass the Senate in years. The Comprehensive Addictions and Recovery Act, also known as CARA, authorizes funding for evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery programs to help Americans struggling with addiction. With a near-unanimous vote, the bill moves to the House for consideration.

CARA authorizes $600 million for grants to address the national prescription, opioid and heroin addiction epidemic. Authorized funds could be used for treatment and recovery services, alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders, law enforcement initiatives and programs to prevent overdose deaths and improper prescriptions.

The National Council for Behavioral Health applauds the Senates approval of CARA. “It’s physically and emotionally crippling, wrecks families, jobs and local economies, and it takes millions of lives,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council. “The only way to attack a crisis of this magnitude is for the government, health care and law enforcement communities to attack the problem with adequate prevention, treatment and recovery services. Such an effort takes time, commitment, patience and yes, money. We are so gratified that the Senate has come to their aid.”

Seeking Help

Nearly 1 in 10 American adults and teens have a drug or alcohol dependence problem. That one person could be your neighbor, cousin, best friend or even your boss. The truth is – odds favor that someone you know is struggling with drug abuse or alcoholism.

If you know someone who is experiencing substance abuse, learn more at RecoverGateway.org or call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a free consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Source: http://www.thenationalcouncil.org/

 

Super Bowl Parties May Hide the Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic

Whether it’s an over-sized plate or an overfilled glass, overindulgence is not unusual on Super Bowl Sunday. For a functioning alcoholic, this can be an excuse to overdo it on the drinks while blaming it on the game.

About half of those with a drinking problem are functioning alcoholics. A functioning alcoholic is someone who can hold down a job, pursue a career or care for children while continuing with his or her alcoholism. Some can do these things successfully, but the question becomes, how well are they handling their role of spouse, parent, driver, financial manager or community volunteer while under the influence?

In identifying a functioning alcoholic, it’s not one single event that people need to watch for, but whether there’s a pattern of behavior, according to Lori Dammermann, Executive Director, Gateway Carbondale.

“One night of over-drinking at a Super Bowl party doesn’t necessarily mean someone is a functioning alcoholic, although if this happens on a regular basis that’s a cause for concern,” Dammermann said.superbowl_alcohol

One misperception about functioning alcoholics is that they drink every day. For some of them binge drinking is more common, especially among women.

Some key signs that someone could be a functioning alcoholic:

  • Hides alcohol use from others
  • Drinks more than they say or admit
  • Drinks to reduce stress or boost self-confidence
  • Drinks far more than others during social drinking
  • Becomes irritable or anxious when refraining from alcohol
  • Becomes defensive or angry if someone comments on their drinking
  • Behavioral changes when drinking: from shy to social, from amiable to aggressive

It’s important for someone who is a functioning alcoholic to understand the health risks for them may be just as serious as they are for someone who has a more obvious addiction to alcohol. Many people do not know what are considered moderate drinking amounts. Learn about USDA moderate guidelines for drinking alcohol.

Are you concerned a loved one may be a functioning alcoholic? Learn more about functioning alcoholics online or call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a free consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Expert Insights: Alcohol Consumption and its Effects on the Brain

By: Dr. John Larson
Corporate Medical Director
Gateway Treatment Centers

People enjoy drinking alcohol for many reasons, but no matter what the reason, its effects on a person’s brain, both short- and long-term, are profound. As a solvent, alcohol passes to the brain very quickly and can cause acute damage to living cells. Once a long-time drinker becomes sober, it may be years before those changes reverse themselves, if at all.

video-screen-larsonThe chemical and physical changes alcohol makes to the brain make it especially difficult to quit drinking alcohol, from a single drink or continued abuse of alcohol.
Reversing the Damage?

There is some evidence that continued abstinence from alcohol may bring some improvement in brain function. The brain is pretty resilient and is able to form new cells through neurogenesis. We don’t know to what extent the effects of alcohol on the brain can be reversed but what we do know, is that neurogenesis is stimulated by alcohol avoidance, exercise, good dietary habits and by simply using the brain…

Read Full Article or Watch Video

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

Holiday Reminder: Alcohol Weakens Willpower, Lowers Metabolism

alcohol nutrition, holiday drinking, gateway alcohol and drug treatment centersIn honor of National Nutrition Month in November, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment points out to dieters and weight-conscious warriors that alcohol consumption not only significantly increases caloric intake and diminishes will power, it also grinds your metabolism to a screeching halt.

Most people don’t realize drinking alcohol temporarily prevents the body from burning fat. Since the human body is unable to store calories consumed from alcohol the way it does calories taken in from food, drinking causes the metabolic system to stop whatever it’s doing in order to eliminate alcohol-laden libations from the body.

“Imagine there’s a pause button that’s linked to your metabolism, which is pushed whenever alcohol is consumed. Calories consumed earlier in the day are set aside or stored. Since alcohol requires undivided attention, it slows metabolism and limits the body’s ability to burn fat,” explains Dr. John Larson, Medical Director, Gateway Treatment Centers.

Practically twice as calorie-laden as carbohydrates or proteins, alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram. While it may be tempting to conveniently ignore calories consumed from alcohol in daily goal trackers, being honest may help encourage more conscientious choices in the future.

Have you ever realized when you drink alcohol you are hungrier, and perhaps your insatiable appetite even stretches into the following day? Studies have shown in the short term, alcohol stimulates food intake and can increase feelings of hunger. Consider these statistics:

  • When alcohol is consumed before a meal a person generally consumes 20% more calories from food during the meal. Plus, when you add in the calories consumed from alcohol during a meal, average caloric increase jumps to 33%.
  • A study of more than 3,000 people showed consuming elevated amounts of alcohol is associated with abdominal obesity in men—aka the dreaded “beer belly.”

Clearly, having your judgment impaired with a stimulated appetite is a recipe for failure if you are trying to maintain weight or follow a weight-loss plan. Here are some tips to limit your calorie intake when consuming alcohol:

  • Drink as much water as possible.  Try to have two drinks of water for every one drink of alcohol.
  • Limit alcohol calories by choosing drinks containing less alcohol and a limited amount of sweetened beverages; try flavored seltzers or coconut water to save calories.
  • Select light versions whenever possible. “Light” means fewer calories, not calorie- or alcohol-free, so you will still need to limit your intake.
  • Always have food in your stomach before you have a drink so you don’t overindulge on salty snacks and other diet pitfalls.
  • Learn to sip your drink to make it last longer.
  • Use lots of ice because it makes your drink seem bigger without adding actual calories.
  • If you have to choose between fruit juice and soda in a mixer, choose fruit juice.
  • Avoid the salty snacks. They’ll make you want to drink more.

Keep in mind, to avoid health risks and weight gain, you should follow USDA moderate drinking guidelines—one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.  If someone you care about has a drinking problem, Gateway can help. Call  877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit RecoverGateway.org to learn about our free, confidential consultation.

Health Problems: Is Alcohol at the Heart of the Matter?

Alcohol health problems, gateway treatment centersAccording to the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 28 percent of American adults drink at levels that put them at risk for alcohol dependence and alcohol-related health problems. Yet the risks associated with heavy drinking, such as high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, are seemingly overlooked.

The scary thing is people may never feel the symptoms of menacing health issues related to alcohol use. That’s why an annual physical should never be considered complete without  a screening for substance abuse issues. And, when required, doctors need to initiate brief interventions to motivate positive change. Screening and brief intervention may be provided in an office, emergency department or inpatient visit for both new and established patients, and is a reimbursable service.

Medical professionals are in a unique position to play a key role in increasing awareness of risks associated with alcohol abuse, including:

  • Long-term alcohol consumption can lead to changes in the way the brain looks and cognitive functioning.
  • Alcohol abuse is a frequent contributor to elevated blood pressure.
    • Heavy consumption may weaken the immune system. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead not only to liver damage, but also to increased illness and death from infectious diseases, including pneumonia, tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and septicemia.
    • Alcohol consumption is associated with a range of mental health problems, including:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Personality disorders
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Schizophrenia
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions

Learn More About the Effects of Alcohol Abuse>

Moderate Drinking Defined

To remain within the low-risk range, medical professionals should advise adherence to accepted moderate drinking guidelines.

For women, moderate drinking is defined by USDA as up to 1 drink per day; low-risk limits set by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommend no more than 3 drinks per day and no moderate drinking, gateway alcohol and drug treatment centersmore than 7 drinks per week.

For men, moderate drinking is defined by USDA as up to 2 drinks per day; low-risk limits set by NIAAA recommend no more than 4 drinks per day and no more than 14 drinks per week.

For adult and adolescents who need help with alcohol and/or drug abuse issues, Gateway offers convenience as an in-network treatment provider with centers throughout Illinois and the St. Louis Metro East area. With substance abuse treatment programs offered before and after traditional work hours, getting help doesn’t require falling behind at work or school. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, please call Gateway at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

 

 

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