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).

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).

 

 

How Does Alcohol Abuse Effect Your Body?

Alcohol Doesn’t Mix Well With Your Body

alcohol-abuse-effectsDo you know alcohol can be toxic to your heart? Over the longer term, heavy drinking can lead to high blood pressure, enlarged and weakened heart, congestive heart failure and stroke. Binge drinking can be associated with a trial fibrillation, a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. If the heart’s components don’t work together properly it can even lead to a stroke, advises the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The scary thing is that you may not even feel the symptoms.

All of these are reasons why your doctor encourages you not to drink alcohol. You can take care of your heart through good nutrition, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Other health issues associated with alcohol abuse include:

  • Alcohol abuse increases the risks of cancer. For women, even moderate drinking can increase chances of developing breast cancer by 10%.
  • Although alcohol can make you feel energetic or uninhibited, it is actually a depressant. Alcohol shuts down parts of your brain. When the amount of alcohol in your blood exceeds a certain level, your respiratory system slows down markedly, and can cause a coma or death because oxygen no longer reaches the brain. This is referred to as alcohol poisoning.
  • Daily alcohol intake may impact the ability of adults to produce and retain new cells, reducing new brain cell production by nearly 40%.
  • Alcohol abuse is related to cirrhosis, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FAS), malnutrition, ulcers, hepatitis, among other things
  • Poorer outcomes from surgical procedures due to alcohol’s effects on the person’s health, malnutrition, and the depressive effects of alcohol on the body
  • Heavy drinking affects the body’s ability to stop bleeding because the liver has difficulty producing the proteins that cause clotting
  • Alcohol abuse can result in brain damage, slower thinking, unsteadiness and slurred speech
  • Alcohol doesn’t mix well with many prescription drugs

Your Brain

Drinking alcohol leads to a loss of coordination, poor judgment, slowed reflexes, distorted vision, memory lapses and even blackouts.

Your Body

Alcohol can damage every organ in your body. It is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and can increase your risk for a variety of life-threatening diseases, including cancer.

Self-Control

Alcohol depresses your central nervous system, lowers your inhibitions and impairs your judgment. Drinking can lead to risky behaviors, such as driving when you shouldn’t, or having unprotected sex.

It Can Kill You

Drinking large amounts of alcohol at one time or very rapidly can cause alcohol poisoning, which can lead to coma or even death. Driving and drinking also can be deadly. In 2003, 31% of drivers age 15 to 20 who died in traffic accidents had been drinking alcohol.

Know the Law

It is illegal to buy or possess alcohol if you are under age 21.

Can the body recover from excessive drinking?

Research even suggests that brains too can recover from damage caused by alcohol abuse.

Studies have found that after a month of sobriety, an alcoholic’s brain begins to repair itself, and brain volume, which tends to shrink from excess alcohol, is increased by a few percentage points. Patients’ ability to concentrate is also improved.

Is Drinking In Your DNA?

Drinking habits are often ingrained well before one reaches the legal drinking age. Heredity, culture, economic standing, family and lifestyle all play a role in shaping how much an individual drinks. If alcohol dependence runs in your family, it is particularly important to be vigilant about sticking to moderate drinking guidelines because you are more susceptible to developing alcohol dependency than someone without a family history of alcohol abuse.

Research suggests the body can bounce back once a person stops drinking. The liver, one of the few organs that can compensate by growing new cells, has remarkable regenerative powers. A liver mildly inflamed by alcohol can recover fairly rapidly once the drinking stops. Even a scarred liver can halt the process of cirrhosis if alcohol abuse is stopped in time.

Print the “Get the Facts on Alcohol” PDF (Requires Adobe Reader)

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependency, please call Gateway Foundation‘s 24-Hour Helpline to arrange a free and confidential consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Concerned Your Spouse is a Functioning Alcoholic?

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?

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.

Take the Alcoholism Test created by Dr. Neill Neill, Ph.D., R.Psych., Author of Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman’s Survival Guide. Dr. Neill’s Alcoholism Test is designed for anyone who suspects their partner may be a functioning alcoholic.

Alcoholism Test

1. Your spouse sometimes admits to a drinking problem; quipped about being a functioning alcoholic.

Key Insight: Intuition is usually right.

2. Your spouse has lost days at work or school because of drinking. He/she has gotten into fights when drinking and lost friends due to drinking. There has been a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Key Insight: These and many other negative things begin to happen when the alcohol consumption has become a compulsion. What counts is not an isolated incident, but whether there is a pattern of such events.

3. Your spouse says he/she needs alcohol to reduce tension or stress, and a drink helps in building self-confidence.

Key Insight: Many high-functioning alcoholics have low self-esteem. The real issue is whether or not your partner has become dependent on the alcohol to overcome another mental health problem, low self-esteem.

4. Your partner often has a drink in the morning. Sometimes you find your spouse drinking alone or he/she gets drunk without meaning to. Your partner forgets what he/she did or said during the previous evening of drinking.

Key Insight: The first three statements suggest that drinking has become a compulsion and is suggestive of addictive drinking. The last item describes alcoholic blackout, again characteristic of longer-term alcohol abuse.

5. Your partner has sometimes denied drinking when he/she obviously was drinking. You know that he/she hides alcohol so others won’t see it. Your partner gets resentful, defensive and angry if anyone comments on his/her drinking.

Key Insight: Denial is the major line of defense for most problem drinkers.

6. You often worry about your partner’s drinking and lose sleep over it. You make threats that you don’t follow through on. You sometimes make excuses or cover for your spouse when he/she has been drinking.

Key Insight: Your partner may well be a functioning alcoholic, but you have become codependent. All of these behaviors do more to support his alcoholism than to remedy it.

Understanding whether or not your partner is an alcoholic is not simply a matter of counting drinks or counting answers to a questionnaire. The issue is quite complex. The Alcohol Test exercise may help you see more clearly what your unique situation really is. If you have questions about your spouse’s drinking, Gateway Foundation has the answers you need. For a free and confidential consultation, contact Gateway Foundation at (877) 505-HOPE (4673).

Alcohol Doesn’t Mix Well with Your Body

Do you know alcohol can be toxic to your heart? Over the longer term, alcohol abuse can lead to high blood pressure, enlarged and weakened heart, congestive heart failure and stroke. Binge drinking can be associated with atrial fibrillation, a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. If the heart’s components don’t work together properly it can even lead to a stroke, advises the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The scary thing is that you may not even feel the symptoms.

All of these are reasons why your doctor encourages you not to drink alcohol. You can take care of your heart through good nutrition, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.

Other health issues associated with alcohol abuse include:

  • Alcohol abuse is related to cirrhosis, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FAS), malnutrition, ulcers, hepatitis, among other things.
  • Poorer outcomes from surgical procedures due to alcohol’s effects on the person’s health, malnutrition, and the depressive effects of alcohol on the body.
  • Heavy drinking affects the body’s ability to stop bleeding because the liver has difficulty producing the proteins that cause clotting.
  • Alcohol doesn’t mix well with many prescription drugs.
  • Alcohol abuse increases the risks of cancer.
  • Alcohol abuse can result in brain damage, slower thinking, unsteadiness and slurred speech.

If you are concerned about someone who may be abusing alcohol, Gateway Foundation can help. Contact Gateway to arrange a free and confidential consultation at 877-505- HOPE (4673) or learn more about Gateway Foundation at RecoverGateway.org. Renew hope today.

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