Apr 08

Female Heavy Drinkers have Smaller Brains

Female drinkers lose brain volume more quickly than men, according to researchers at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

The BBC reported May 15 that researchers took brain scans of 150 women – about half of them alcoholics – and found that the heavy drinkers have smaller brains.

Female alcoholics were found to lose the same brain volume as male alcoholics, but suffered atrophy much more quickly.

"Women typically start drinking later in life and consume less" said lead study author Karl Mann. "But there is evidence for a faster progress of the events leading to dependence among female alcoholics and an earlier onset of adverse consequences of alcoholism. This suggests that women may be more vulnerable to chronic alcohol consumption."

From Join Together Online

Mann, K., Ackermann, K., Croissant, B., Mundle, G., Nakovics, H., & Diehl, A. (2005) Neuroimaging of Gender Differences in Alcohol Dependence: Are Women More Vulnerable? Alcoholism: Clinical and Epidemiological Research, 29(5): 896-901.

See also

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Apr 07

Deadly Perils of the Booze Diet

Korean lady A woman in her 30s in Gwangju (Korea) recently died while on a so-called booze diet. She was under extreme pressure to lose weight, and after 10 days of only drinking alcohol for dinner while skipping breakfast and lunch, her system packed up.

Those on a liquor diet drink alcohol to lose weight, skipping breakfast and lunch and eating only side dishes with a drink for dinner. Some then throw up to ruin their appetite for the next morning. The method may appeal to those who want to lose weight fast, but it is perilous. "It’s such a dreadful way to lose weight," says Prof. Cho Kyung-hwan of the Department of Family Medicine at Korea University’s Anam Hospital. "It should never be recommended, and no one should listen when it is."

Two out of every 10 Koreans have less than the normal amount of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol, which is why their face reddens or they keel over after just one glass. If such people go on a booze diet, they can die. But even those who have enough enzymes are in danger as the booze diet badly hurts their stomach and esophagus.

Full story at; Deadly Perils of the Booze Diet

Korean Spirituality (Dimensions of Asian Spirituality) by Don Baker
Essential Spirituality: The 7 Central Practices to Awaken Heart and Mind by Roger Walsh

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Apr 06

13 Characteristics of Good Counsellors

Qualities to Look for in an Effective Counsellor

Many heavy drinkers, alcoholics, addicts, co-dependents and adult children of alcoholics have experienced good and bad counsellors. These guidelines may help next time you seek professional help.

Seeking a therapist? Here’s what the experts advise

To be effective, counselling needs to be provided in a way that meets a set of well-defined criteria. Condensing many hundreds of studies, psychologist Bruce Wampold, in a recent American Psychological Association symposium, boiled these ingredients down to this baker’s dozen.

1. Possession of a sophisticated set of interpersonal skills.  Can your therapist communicate to you in language that you understand? Does your therapist talk about you, rather than him or herself?

2. Ability to help you feel you can trust the therapist. Clients of effective therapists believe that their therapists will be helpful because the therapist communicates both verbally and non-verbally that he or she is someone the client can trust.

3. Willingness to establish an alliance with you. Though the therapist is obviously the expert, do you feel that the therapist cares about your goals in therapy and is willing to work with you to set goals that both of you agree on?

4. Ability to provides an explanation of your symptoms and can adapt this explanation as circumstances change. Clients want to know why they’re experiencing their symptoms. Effective therapists provide explanations that clients can understand.

5. Commitment to developing a consistent and acceptable treatment plan. Effective therapists conduct an assessment very early in treatment and share the treatment plan with you.

6. Communication of confidence about the course of therapy. An effective therapist keeps clients in therapy by communicating to clients the feeling that therapy will be worthwhile.

7. Attention to the progress of therapy and communication of this interest to the client. Good therapists are interested in finding out how their clients are responding to treatment. They show that they want their clients to improve.

8. Flexibility in adapting treatment to the particular client’s characteristics. A good therapist doesn’t follow a rigid schedule of treatment- a “one size fits all” approach.

9. Inspiration of hope and optimism about your chances of improvement. Hope is a terrific motivator. Feeling that something is going to work is often a large part of the equation in successful treatment. 

10. Sensitivity toward your cultural background. Therapists adapt treatment to their client’s cultural values. This includes showing respect for your background and being aware of attitudes within your culture or community.

11. Possession of self-insight. An effective therapist is self-aware and is able to separate his or her own issues from those of clients.

12. Reliance on the best research evidence. Therapists should stay abreast of the latest developments in clinical psychology, particularly in their areas of expertise.

13. Involvement in continued training and education. Licensed mental health professionals must participate in continuing education to maintain their credentials.  

The outcome of therapy depends on many factors, but researchers have evidence to show that these 13 qualities in a therapist play a key role in increasing the odds of a successful outcome.  Therapy can occur in many types of situations, ranging from marital counselling to employee assistance. Each therapist may not meet each of these 13 criteria, but as long as you are aware of them all, you can decide whether you or a loved one are getting the best possible treatment.

All these points are fully explained at; Qualities of Good Counsellors


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Apr 05

How Many Drinkers?

New Report Highlights Alcohol Abstainers, Quitters as Well as Current Drinkers

A new US federal report may not show how many people are in recovery from alcoholism, but it does provide interesting insights into the number of adults who have quit drinking or abstain for health and other reasons.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics estimated in its Health Behaviors of Adults: United States, 2005-2007 report that

  • 61.2 percent of American adults currently drink alcohol, but that
  • 24.6 percent are lifetime abstainers and
  • 14.3 percent of Americans call themselves former drinkers.

Of the latter,

  • 8.1 percent said they are former infrequent drinkers, while
  • 6.2 percent classified themselves as former regular drinkers.

Men (67.6 percent) were more likely than women (55.3 percent) to be current drinkers. More white adults were current drinkers (64.2 percent) than members of any other ethnic group; Asians were the least likely to drink (43.1 percent).

Most of the current alcohol users surveyed were considered to be

  • light drinkers (29.3 percent), while
  • 14.4 percent were classified as moderate drinkers,
  • 12.3 percent were considered infrequent drinkers, and
  • 5 percent were labelled heavy drinkers (having more than 7 drinks per week for women, or more than 14 drinks per week for men, on average, during the past year).
  1. See also
  2. 5 Alcoholism Myths
  3. 5 Alcoholism Subtypes
  4. Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul
  5. Of Course You’re Angry, Second Edition
  6. Am I an Alcoholic?

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Apr 04

Alcohol Abuse and the Liver

Woman drinking glass of white wine Alcohol abuse affects our health and our body in a variety of ways.

Several key organs and internal functions can be irreparably damaged because of heavy drinking over an extended period of time. Chief among those areas at risk is the liver – one of our body’s most crucial organs. Once the liver is damaged by alcohol, a number of serious health problems can ensue – many of which eventually lead to death.

The liver is “in charge” of processing the alcohol that enters your body. A healthy liver is able to properly process about one drink (one ounce of alcohol) per hour. If you drink more than this, the liver is unable to do its job and body starts to become saturated with alcohol.

What happens when your body becomes saturated with alcohol? The unprocessed alcohol goes straight to your brain and causes the kind of behavior commonly associated with drunkenness (impaired judgment, loss of inhibitions, etc.).

But over time, a much bigger problem begins to occur.

When someone engages in heavy drinking over a long period of time, the liver becomes swelled and fatty. A fatty liver causes several key internal problems:

  • It chokes off the supply of blood coming into the liver – which keeps oxygen and crucial nutrients from being delivered.
  • The lack of oxygen and nutrients causes liver cells to sicken and die
  • The live liver cells are replaced with scar tissue (this process is known as cirrhosis of the liver).

Once cirrhosis of the liver occurs, the individual is no longer able to properly tolerate alcohol because the liver lacks the proper cells to process and metabolize it.

How likely is a person to get cirrhosis of the liver?

Genetics play a big role in whether or not someone is stricken with cirrhosis of the liver. If the drinker has a history of the problem in his family, then he might show symptoms relatively quickly (in as little as a year of consuming 3-4 drinks per day).

On the other hand, there are some people who drink heavily on a regular basis for their entire lives and never get cirrhosis.

What happens if the liver fails because of excessive alcohol consumption?

The results can be fatal. The liver is a crucial part of our how our body functions. It is responsible for so many vital operations that we cannot live without it. The liver is:

  • The largest organ in the human body
  • Responsible for most of the blood flow between the intestinal tract to the heart
  • The storage area for glycogen – the body’s breakdown of sugar which is used to generate energy
  • Responsible for breaking down toxins that occur with the body’s metabolism.

One of the most prominent warning signs of cirrhosis of the liver is jaundice. Jaundice is characterized by a yellowing of the skin and the eyes.

Not only older people are candidates for cirrhosis of the liver. Young people just out of their teens (who have already been drinking for years) have experienced liver failure brought on by cirrhosis of the liver.

Article Source: Author: Scott Briggs

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Apr 03

Self-talk May Help Impulsive Actions

Self-talk inner voice

Image via Wikipedia

The Inner voice plays role in self-control

Talking to yourself might not be a bad thing, especially when it comes to exercising self-control.

New research out of the University of Toronto Scarborough – published in this month’s edition of Acta Psychologica – shows that using your inner voice plays an important role in controlling impulsive behaviour.

“We give ourselves messages all the time with the intent of controlling ourselves – whether that’s telling ourselves to keep running when we’re tired, to stop eating even though we want one more slice of cake, or to refrain from blowing up on someone in an argument,” says Alexa Tullett, PhD Candidate and lead author on the study. “We wanted to find out whether talking to ourselves in this ‘inner voice’ actually helps.”

Tullett and Associate Psychology Professor Michael Inzlicht, both at UTSC, performed a series of self control tests on participants. In one example, participants performed a test on a computer. If they saw a particular symbol appear on the screen, they were told to press a button. If they saw a different symbol, they were told to refrain from pushing the button. The test measures self control because there are more “press” than “don’t press” trials, making pressing the button an impulsive response.

The team then included measures to block participants from using their “inner voice” while performing the test, to see if it had an impact on their ability to perform. In order to block their “inner voice,” participants were told to repeat one word over and over as they performed the test. This prevented them from talking to themselves while doing the test.

“Through a series of tests, we found that people acted more impulsively when they couldn’t use their inner voice or talk themselves through the tasks,” says Inzlicht. “Without being able to verbalize messages to themselves, they were not able to exercise the same amount of self control as when they could talk themselves through the process.”

“It’s always been known that people have internal dialogues with themselves, but until now, we’ve never known what an important function they serve,” says Tullett. “This study shows that talking to ourselves in this ‘inner voice’ actually helps us exercise self control and prevents us from making impulsive decisions.”

Press release from EurekaAlert!

NB; The inner voice may be helpful to some people in reducing drinking. If one repeats to oneself a limited number of drinks throughout the day one may exercise the self control necessary.


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Apr 02

Alcohol and Hangover Video

St. Patrick’s Day Science: New American Chemical Society video on the chemistry of alcohol and hangovers

Anyone who needs a reason not to overindulge on St. Patrick’s Day — or on any other day of the year — can view a new American Chemical Society (ACS) video on alcohol’s effects on the body at www.BytesizeScience.com.

St. Patrick’s Day is this Sunday (2013), and there are many ways to celebrate, like Irish soda bread at breakfast or corned beef and cabbage for dinner. For those celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with green beer, moderation is the key. Alcohol has several negative effects on your body — many of which usually amount to a miserable morning-after.

Produced by the ACS Office of Public Affairs, The Chemistry of Alcohol and Hangovers explains the science behind these unpleasant after-effects that excessive drinking can have on the body, including:

• Headaches, caused by low blood sugar and allergic reactions to certain ingredients in liquor.

• Nausea and upset stomach, resulting from alcohol’s irritant effect, which stimulates the secretion of acid in the stomach.

• Thirst, the result of alcohol’s dehydrating effects on the body.


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Apr 01

Alcohol Abuse Warning Signs

  • Drinking more heavily when under pressure, or after an argument or disappointment

  • Waking up, and not being able to remember part of the evening before (blackouts)

  • Sneaking extra drinks when at a social gathering

  • Feeling uneasy when in a situation that alcohol is not available

  • Feeling guilty or worried about your drinking

  • Continuing to drink after others have stopped

  • Trying to control your drinking by switching brands

  • Avoiding other people in favor of spending time drinking

  • Problems at work arising from drinking or hangovers

  • Having a drink in the morning in order to get over a hangover

  • Feeling chronically irritable or depressed

In general, as the saying goes, “You know you have a drinking problem when your drinking causes problems”. These problems may be on the job, in interpersonal relationships, or emotional.

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Mar 31

Am I an Alcoholic?

Alcohol Self Test


Are you wondering if you have an addiction to alcohol?

Are you concerned about the role alcohol plays in your life?  With 26 questions, this simple self-test is intended to help you determine if you or someone you know needs to find out more about alcoholism.

Directions: The following questions are a self-test to help your review the role that alcohol plays in your life.

Carefully read each statement. When preparing each response, take into consideration your actions over the course of the past 12 months.

Yes or No: Decide whether your answer is YES or NO and then check the appropriate space. Please be sure to answer every question.

Self-Test:  What are the Signs of Alcoholism?

Go to; Alcohol Abuse Self Test.


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Mar 30

Religiosity in Adolescence may Deter Alcohol Use

Image via Wikipedia

During the teen years, adolescents have ample opportunity to experience initiation into alcohol consumption. While research has shown that many environmental factors such as the number of drinking friends, family income level and parental involvement all contribute to how adolescents decide whether to drink, there are also biological factors at play.

More at Religiosity in Adolescence may Deter Alcohol Use | Addiction Treatment.

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