Posts tagged with "alcoholism"

Doctor, Coronavirus, Health, Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine,

Klaus Jakelski on Doctors and the Unimaginable

By Klaus Jakelski

Frank Lambert’s soul had hemorrhaged dry long before he volunteered for his present deployment. He just didn’t know it yet.

The battle-hardened surgeon had seen action in Rwanda, Burundi and Chechnya. Some of the bad memories he had suppressed. Others came to him only in nightmares, which he could never quite remember. His service had been one known for faultless, hard work in the operating room and afterwards, hard drinking to keep the demons out. Most recently he had substantially turned himself around — made himself better — at least that’s what he thought.

But life in the civilized world of Boston operating rooms had not been enough for him. He soon needed to feel the rush of adrenalin which propped up his self-identity.

Volunteering with an NGO that operated a forward relief station under NATO protection, he found himself in the middle of the Yugoslavian Civil war of the 90’s. He thought it was a simple mis-understood conflict in Europe — the civilized world after all — what could be horrible about that?

But as the conflict raged around Sarajevo, Frank and his nurse ally, Gwen Pakin, felt isolated from the main conflict. Until the inevitable arrived. The girls and young women who had been raped. Naturally, the two elected to do the procedures to free the girls from the captivity of unwanted pregnancy.

With each of his five daily cases, Frank became mesmerized by the splashing of the red evacuation bottle. Torn between gladness for the life he had restored and sadness for the life he had taken. Each one eating away at another part of his soul.

A cousin of mine, a battlefield trained ex US Navy anesthetist, recently volunteered to work in the ICU at Columbia Presbyterian hospital in Queens NY. Nothing in her training had prepared her for the month she spent there, looking after COVID-19 patients. Loosing an average of six patients per day is not a normal experience in anybody’s books. She told me she managed to suppress the bad parts of her experience.

Which is exactly what Frank had done all his working life. Especially in combat areas where each reparation of a torn human body whether it was by suturing, exploring a bodily cavity, amputation or some other surgical alchemy, was exactly the sort of thing that would result in a non-surgeon being recommended for a long stay in a psychiatric prison. But Frank, entrusted by regulatory authorities and accustomed to the controlled carnage of surgery as he was, had learned how to cope. At first suppressing the memories in a dark corner of his soul. And when the burden became too great, unlike my cousin, he began to self-medicate. At first with a little, but as the painful psychological provocation became too great, with more and more alcohol.

Such is the plight of many first responders, whether civilian, or in the military. If not alcohol, then another substance.

Even though nurse Pakin recognized that Frank was better than on his last deployment, she quickly saw through him, because she had issues herself. A life rocked by personal loss and service in conflict zones, no matter how altruistic, had left her with emotional scars too.

So Frank wasn’t quite able to compartmentalize his new reality. He wasn’t able to separate the liberation of a woman from her rape, from taking the life of her unborn. He knew just as well that the simple procedure would never return the woman’s soul to its rightful place after the tortuous transgression.

Frank found his trigger in the swirling red evacuation bottle on the wall of his makeshift operating room. The bottle that drew him in at the end of every case, one at a time, and separated him one more degree from his freedom, as he developed a new found affinity for a different bottle of liquor.

This type of scenario plays itself out repeatedly in our every day society. There’s no need to go to a war-torn area to meet an antagonist like the dark genocidal Kamenko Hradich, who has all the surface veneers of a gentle family man, until he reaches his breaking point. We know this all too well.

The people who deal with this type of suffering are right here. These first responders are all around us. Many of them as yet unaware of their trouble. We only need to recognize them.

As for the issue of war rape – It is so easy for us to sit in our comfortable space when bad things happen elsewhere.

Two hundred or so girls are kidnapped in Africa to the service of some African war lord. We see it on the evening news. We turn it off and say to each other, well I’m glad that is over there, as we roll over onto our pillows and go to sleep.

And still we don’t make the connection. The one that #Me Too is making. The one that is circulating in the most genteel corridors of our society, as well as our schools. The notion that a certain treatment of women is alright, as long as it never gets called out.

Really?

The systematic rape of thousands of women occurred in a civilized area of Europe, alongside the most monstrous genocide since the holocaust. What does it take for that sort of thing to boil over in another advanced society?

My guess is, as Frank followed his adrenalin rush from case to case, he didn’t have a chance.

Alcoholism in the Family

Alcoholism in the family affects how your brain switches between active and resting states.

A family history of alcoholism affects a process that the brain uses when transitioning from a mentally demanding state to a resting state, researchers have found.

You don’t have to be a drinker for your brain to be affected by alcoholism. A new study shows that just having a parent with an alcohol use disorder affects how your brain transitions between active and resting states – regardless of your own drinking habits.

The study, performed by researchers at Purdue University and the Indiana University School of Medicine, discovered that the brain reconfigures itself between completing a mentally demanding task and resting.

But for the brain of someone with a family history of an alcohol use disorder, this reconfiguration doesn’t happen.

While the missing transition doesn’t seem to affect how well a person performs the mentally demanding task itself, it might be related to larger scale brain functions that give rise to behaviors associated with addiction. In particular, study subjects without this brain process demonstrated greater impatience in waiting for rewards, a behavior associated with addiction.

Brain-Reconfiguration
Multiple regions of the brain are involved in a “reconfiguration” that happens between completing a difficult task and resting. But for people with a family history of alcoholism, this reconfiguration is diminished.

Findings are published in the journal NeuroImage. The work was led by Enrico Amico, a former Purdue postdoctoral researcher who is now a researcher at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.

How the brain reconfigures between active and resting states is like how a computer closes down a program after you’re finished with it. “The moment you close a program, a computer has to remove it from memory, reorganize the cache and maybe clear out some temporary files. This helps the computer to prepare for the next task,” said Joaquín Goñi, a Purdue assistant professor in the School of Industrial Engineering and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

“In a similar way, we’ve found that this reconfiguration process in the human brain is associated with finishing a task and getting ready for what’s next.” Goñi’s research group, the CONNplexity Lab, takes a computational approach to neuroscience and cognitive science.

Past research has shown that a family history of alcoholism affects a person’s brain anatomy and physiology, but most studies have looked at this effect only in separate active and quiet resting states rather than the transition between them.

“A lot of what brains do is switch between different tasks and states. We suspected that this task switching might be somewhat lower in people with a family history of alcoholism,” said David Kareken, a professor of neurology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the Indiana Alcohol Research Center.

The study defined a “family history of alcoholism” as someone with a parent who had enough symptoms to constitute an alcohol use disorder. About half of the 54 study participants had this history.

Researchers at Indiana University measured the brain activity of subjects with an MRI scanner as they completed a mentally demanding task on a computer. The task required them to unpredictably hold back from pressing a left or right key. After completing the task, the subjects rested while watching a fixed point on the screen.

A separate task outside of the MRI scanner gauged how participants responded to rewards, asking questions such as if they would like $20 now or $200 in one year.

Amico and Goñi processed the data and developed a computational framework for extracting different patterns of brain connectivity between completing the mentally demanding task and entering the resting state, such as when brain areas rose and fell together in activity, or one brain area rose while another fell at the same time.

The data revealed that these brain connectivity patterns reconfigured within the first three minutes after finishing the task. By the fourth minute of rest, the effect had completely disappeared.

And it’s not a quiet process: Reconfiguration involves multiple parts
of the brain at once.

“These brain regions talk to each other and are very strongly implicated in the task even though by this point, the task is already completed. It almost seems like an echo in time of what had been going on,” Kareken said.

Subjects lacking the transition also had the risk factors that researchers have seen to be consistent with developing alcoholism. These include being male, a greater number of symptoms of depression,
and reward-impatience.

A family history of alcoholism, however, stood out as the most statistically significant difference in this brain reconfiguration.

The finding affects research going forward.

“In the past, we’ve assumed that a person who doesn’t drink excessively is a ‘healthy’ control for a study. But this work shows that a person with just a family history of alcoholism may also have some subtle differences in how their brains operate,” Goñi said.

This research was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grant P60AA07611) and the Purdue Discovery Park Data Science Award “Fingerprints of the Human Brain: A Data Science Perspective.” The work was also partially supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants R01EB022574, R01MH108467, and R00AA023296).

About Discovery Park
Discovery Park is a place where Purdue researchers move beyond traditional boundaries, collaborating across disciplines and with policymakers and business leaders to create solutions for a better world. Grand challenges of global health, global conflict and security, and those that lie at the nexus of sustainable energy, world food supply, water and the environment are the focus of researchers in Discovery Park. The translation of discovery to impact is integrated into the fabric of Discovery Park through entrepreneurship programs and partnerships.

Six Ways to Cut Down on Alcohol

by Tara Yombor, LMHC and clinical director at Pathway to Hope, a Delphi Behavioral Health Group facility.

Social (moderate) drinking, binge drinking, alcoholism, tolerance, and dependence. This is the typical pattern of progression for drinking that leads someone to think of him or herself as needing to cut down on alcohol. Some might think they are prone to alcoholism. Within that progression, the time for someone to cut down on drinking is based on the individual’s idea of what is causing dysfunction and unmanageability in their life.

Why is it so easy for someone to become addicted to alcohol, and what does it mean to have
an alcohol use disorder?

First of all, alcohol does not have an adverse social stigma, which makes the dependence for it more likely, and the consumption of it more acceptable. Alcohol is typically used to celebrate happy events and sooth the sad events in life. Think about a celebration. What do most people imagine? Alcohol, champagne, and a “toast to the New Year!”

During times of mourning or stress, alcohol can be used to ease the emotional pain of a loss or as a stress reliever. Social (or moderate) drinking is seen as a normal and perfectly harmless way of socializing, relaxing, or a form of celebration.

A binge drinker is defined as a man who drinks more than four to six drinks in a two-hour period, and a woman who drinks more than four to five drinks in a two-hour period. Someone with alcohol use disorder is typically a person with a long-term addiction to alcohol. This person is typically unable to control how much they consume or when to stop drinking and spends a lot of time thinking about the next drink.

It can be easy for someone to transition from a social drinker to a binge drinker to having an
alcohol use disorder. A binge drinker is someone who has more than the above allotted
acceptable drinks in a short amount of time.

Someone who is a binge drinker or struggling with heavy alcohol use may find that people close to them begin to notice negative patterns of behavior during times of drinking. Friends and family may start to become worried about the person’s drinking patterns and negative outcomes that have begun to arise from their drinking. A person who begins to engage in
binge drinking may find themselves calling out of work the day after drinking due to a hangover; they may miss important deadlines, get into arguments with their loved ones, or lose track of daily responsibilities.

Tolerance for alcohol means that a person needs more and more alcohol to feel the desired effect than they previously would not have needed. Someone who has a pattern of binge drinking may find themselves drinking even more alcohol in a short time to feel drunk.

Once tolerance increases, the possibility of dependence increases. Dependence can be defined as relying on alcohol to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Essentially, a person is controlled by their need to ingest alcohol to feel “normal.”

During any of these stages of alcohol use, someone may feel the need to seek treatment. The need for treatment varies for each person based on how dysfunctional or unmanageable their life has become due to their drinking.

Here are six things you (or anyone) can do to cut down on alcohol. Most of these mean a change in behavior.

1. Acknowledge the problem – in order to stop the behavior, you must first acknowledge what the negative behavior is and make a conscious effort to commit to changing that behavior. Also, put the goal in writing and make a list of reasons why you want to cut back on drinking. For example, if the behavior is drinking too much during celebrations, you have to determine what “too much” means to you and, next, set a goal to decrease the amount you are drinking during celebrations.

2. Set a realistic goal for drinking alcohol – if you struggle with binge drinking, set a realistic, and achievable goal. The next time you’re out during a social event, make it a goal to cut back to three to four drinks in two hours instead of five to six. Or perhaps instead of going to a happy hour on Friday or Saturday night, pick one night to go out and stay in the other night. Cutting back by making realistic and achievable goals will keep you on track and make you feel better about the fact that you are keeping your goals.

3. Write it down – make sure to keep a journal of the times you drink, how much you drink, and any negative outcomes related to the times you drink (for example, drinking and falling down or making an inappropriate comment to a friend). By keeping a journal, you will hopefully be able to see patterns of behavior. You can also share this journal with someone you trust and ask them to look out for any patterns you may have missed.

4. Don’t keep alcohol in your house – it is easier to come home after a long day of work and pour a glass of wine rather than going out to the bar on a Wednesday when you may have other obligations at home such as taking care of a child. When you don’t have alcohol in the house, it eliminates the desire or temptation to drink.

5. Stay busy – by having non-alcohol related activities to engage in, you are more likely to say no to drinking, as you’ll want to be present for the activity. Do things that keep you active, such as riding a bike, hiking, going for a walk as the endorphins from engaging in exercise may eliminate the desire for alcohol.

6. Ask for support/Talk to someone – tell people you trust about your goals and ask them to help keep you accountable during times when you may be struggling or find yourself surrounded by temptation. Also, there are therapists who specialize in alcohol/substance use who you can talk to that can assist you with your goals and process through any underlying emotions that may be related to drinking.

Remember that the above tips may not work for everyone. Some people may be into the stage of alcohol tolerance and dependence. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol dependence, reach out for help from a professional or call a treatment center in your area. Alcoholism and dependence look different for everyone.

Sober Houses and the Path to Recovery

The Truth About Sober Houses and the Path to Recovery

by Mallory Neuberger

Wendy Williams made headlines last week when she revealed that she’s living in a sober house; but less than one week later she left work, checked out of the facility, and went on to drink alcohol until she was hospitalized. So, what went wrong?

Sobriety is not something that we can pay for. As a recovering cocaine addict, I had to admit that I was an addict and that I was ready for a drug free life. In essence, I had to hit my bottom. Some people die before they find the willingness to get sober. Others need to end up in prison, homeless, or selling their bodies and souls to feed their disease. And many, like myself, don’t lost their homes, cars, jobs or families, but find themselves spiritually void and miserable, with their drug of choice no longer providing the relief that it once had.

Wendy Williams is going through difficulties in her marriage. Her husband is rumored to be cheating on her, and his mistress is pregnant. Despite appearing on television daily, living in a sober house, and paying a sober coach to keep tabs on her 24/7, she still couldn’t handle her heartbreak and to alcohol to numb her pain. The next day she was back on TV. In my opinion, she isn’t ready.

Ethical sober houses keep residents safe by breathalyzing and drug testing them. They have guidelines to provide structure, including curfews, chore checks, and mandatory attendance at 12-step meetings like A.A. or N.A. There are organizations that certify sober houses as good operators, so it’s important to be sure that you are choosing a place that truly has the residents’ best interests at heart.

Sober houses offer a sense of community. They are filled with residents and staff who are all trying to stay sober and meet life head on. There is always someone to talk to, so we are never alone. In my sober houses we emphasize healthy living, encouraging good eating habits and exercise. We practice yoga and we meditate together. We offer fellowship where we eat, laugh, play games, make crafts, listen to music, and sit by the pool. We celebrate together, helping one another get through birthdays, holidays and anniversaries without picking up. We are houses filled with sober women and we are like a big family filled with surrogate mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. We cry together, and more importantly, we laugh.

Putting down drugs and alcohol seemed like the only way I could live, but what kind of a life was it going to be? I feared that I would be socially awkward without my expensive wines or a frozen margarita with salt. I didn’t think I would be able to stay awake without my beloved cocaine. I was losing my best friends – drugs and alcohol – how would I ever have fun again?

The sheer happiness that I have found as a sober woman is greater than any high that I ever experienced. I wake up every morning without a hangover or user’s remorse. I dance whenever and wherever I can, even while trying on clothes in stores, or at parties where nobody else has hit the dance floor. I run by the beach, singing out loud, without worrying that I may die of a stroke due to last night’s excesses. I practice yoga and can actually “be” on the mat for ninety minutes, breathing freely through my once stuffed nostrils.

I have a disease, and that disease is called addiction. I am no longer ashamed and hiding behind it. Addiction is not a weakness or a character defect. It is a debilitating disease without a medicine to cure it. Money cannot buy my recovery, but working a daily program can keep me sober, one day at a time. Every day I go to a 12-step meeting. I remind myself that I’m an addict in recovery and I reset my brain and ask for the strength to remain sober just for today. I am of service to others in recovery, showing them that this simple program works. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. My worst day sober is always better than my best day high, because I am authentic and free and living the very best version of myself. I hope that Wendy Williams hits her bottom soon, and without any terrible consequences. I would love her to live in one of my sober houses.

About Mallory Neuberger

Mallory Neuberger, MS, CRRA, author of Sober.House (My Story), is the executive director of The Frog Pad, a safe and structured holistic healing house for women in recovery from drugs and alcohol. After struggling with her own addiction, Neuberger has dedicated her life to helping others find sobriety, volunteering at drug recovery centers including Hazelden IOP, The Addiction Institute in NYC, Gods Love We Deliver, and soup kitchens. She was also employed at Behavior Health of the Palm Beaches before opening her first sober house.

How do I start dating again?

You probably had high expectations for marriage but things happened,and you called it quits. It has been five years since you went on a date and are wondering can I date again. This is a question that many people who have gone through breakups, divorce or their partners have died often ask.

Certain aspects of dating have changed since over the years. Gone are the days when dating included coffee dates or meeting at the movies. We now have many online dating sites,and the probability of meeting someone online through various social media platforms is high.

If you plan on getting out there and dating there are several things that you need to consider.

List what you want from a partner

It is essential that you make a list of what you would like from a potential partner. While finding the perfect partner is a cliché there are qualities that you are not willing to compromise on. Your past relationships should guide you on what you do not want or what you liked. It is also vital that you stop comparing your future partner with your past. It is essential that you avoid people who are on drugs like tramadol addiction or alcoholism. This is because you do not want to deal with all the drama that comes with addictions too soon.

Have fun

Don’t be so engrossed in finding the right partner that you forget to have fun. Dating is supposed to be fun; look for activities that interest you and your partner. It is easier to fall in love when you are not so tense. Instead of this person being the perfect match try having fun without being judgmental. Avoid going to places that remind you of your ex; be creative and discover new places. The date does not have to be romantic and does not mind finding a new friend. You can choose to download one of the several dating apps available online. Look for one that is genuine and begin by creating friendships.

Work on yourself

Relationships can drain you and leave you with notime for yourself. This single period is the ideal time to finding and doing things that you are passionate about. You can decide to hit the gym and work out on your image. Do this for yourself and besides you might find someone new. As you invest more time inyourself, you find qualities about yourself that you have never discovered. Travel and expand your horizons, learn a new skill or language, take cooking lessons or simply change your wardrobe.

Change your attitude

A break up can change how you view relationships. You probably have negative preconceived ideas on different genders,or you probably have the attitude that all relationships hurt and lead to break up. It is good to take some time and grief your previous relationship. Find and focus on the positive. Avoid generalizations – what happened in the past is in the past. You have a high chance of finding love if you maintain the right attitude.

Do not be too “picky.”

There are those who approach a new relationship with a list of qualities that they are looking for; when you look at the list, you realize that it is impossible for one person to be that perfect. While we are not telling you’re to lower your expectations; we are encouraging you to be realistic about your expectations. Give people a chance and do not focus so much on their weakness. Not every person you come across will have the same qualities as your previous partner.

Take your time

Do not rush to get into a relationship. There can be pressure due to age to get married,but you need to go in your pace. Go for more dates and try different types of people. This will give you a wide variety of choices. Dating should be fun so relax and try out new things. While on a date take your time to ask meaningful questions. Where does your date expectations? Where do they see themselves in the next five or ten years? Questions also keep the conversation going.

First date

Avoid shifting the conversation to your ex or past hurtful relationships. People, like being valued and cared for and talking about your ex continuously,makes the other party feel unappreciated. First impressions matter; wear something that makes you feel comfortable. Take care of your grooming, apply some perfume and make every effort to be gorgeous. A shower is a must. For the first date select a place that you are familiar with. Always carry some extra cash in case your date cannot drop you. When choosing a place for the date, avoid a place you will constantly be bumping into your friends. This will create distractions; the date is about the two of you.

Guys your confidence matters; while it is normal for you to be a bit tense take short breathes and avoid overthinking. Do not take alcohol to cure your nerves; this can make your conversations odd and besides your date may not be into alcohol. Keep the conversation fun and maintain eye contact. One party should not do all the talking,but you should give your partner the opportunity to ask you questions and interact. Listening is an important skill that will earn you points. Nothing is annoying as someone who is constantly on their phone. It passes the message that you do not matter. When on a date be polite by turning off your phone. If you are a guy offer to pay on the first date. Make a follow up on your date to find out whether they got home well and how they are progressing after the date. You can then request for another date.

Conclusion

Dating can be a nervous time for some people. But, it is also an exciting time to meet new people. Focus on the conversation and having fun and do not make it too serious. It might take going for several dates before meeting the right person buteventually you will meet someone you like.