College drinking and frats – A match made in alcohol heaven?

contributing author: Gacia Tachejian

animal-houseIf you asked college students in America what goes on at a Fraternity or Sorority party they would tell you that drinking alcohol is a major component. The movie Animal House made heavy college drinking a well known fact decades ago, and research backs it up.

Studies have consistently shown that the highest rates of heavy alcohol use and alcohol disorders occur in the college-age population. But who’s to blame? Although heavy alcohol use has been documented within Greek organizations, the question of whether the Greek environment fosters substance use or whether heavy substance users chose to be in Greek environments has not been researched until now.

In order to find out whether the Frats/Sororities were the main influence for heavy alcohol use or if individuals joining the Greek organizations were simply heavier alcohol abusers researchers recently collected data from 3,720 pre-college students who were then followed for the 4 years of college they enrolled in (talk about a lot of work).

Of the almost 4000 participants there were students who joined the Greek environment and those who didn’t. Also, there were students who were late joiners and students who joined but withdrew before they graduated. After looking at all the different categories, one thing was apparent:

Students, who at any given period were part of a fraternity or a sorority, drank more alcohol and had more negative, alcohol-related consequences while being a member of a Greek organization. Also, once they deactivated, those participants drank less and had less drinking-related consequences.

The real issue as to why this is so important has to do with the consequences of alcohol use. Problems like drinking and driving (and possible DUI arrests), alcohol abuse, alcohol poisoning, and violence are a serious problem among college students. Apparently, Greek Environments make these consequences more likely.

It’s important to note: If the only finding her was that participants in the Greek system drank more alcohol or were more likely to drink alcohol at all that would be one thing (this findings was also true here by the way), but the fact that they were also more likely to have negative consequences associated with their drinking suggests that interventions might be useful within this college-environment.

Something to think about next time you’re bored on a Thursday night…

Citation:

Park, Aesoon, Sher, J., Kenneth, S., & Krull, L., Jennifer (2008) Risky Drinking in College Changes as Fraternity/Sorority Affiliation Changes: A Person – Environment Perspective. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Vol. 22, No. 2, 219-229.

About Addiction: Bath Salts, DUI’s and Anxiety Addiction

Do you care about addiction? Of course you do, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now. Well, you’ve come to the right place A3 will try to address all your questions, but for now, you’ve stumbled onto our weekly links post full of information about addiction from around the world wide web. So enjoy!

Drugs: Bath salts, menthol cigarettes, and Charlie Sheen

PhoenixHouseOC-Geoff Henderson, the senior director for Phoenix House, the country’s largest nonprofit provider of substance use disorder and behavioral health treatment services recently attended the hearing in Los Angeles to ban bath salts. He gave his interpretation on the bath salts issue, emphasizing that in our world today we have an increasing amount of access to a variety of substances and that new things are continuously emerging that individuals might try. For more of Henderson’s thoughts check out his blog.

Star-Telegram– A study has been conducted which found that adding menthol to cigarettes may increase the likelihood of addiction. Menthol cigarettes are considered to be so dangerous because they have a cooling and anesthetic effect which may get more adolescents to smoke. There is a debate to see if menthol cigarettes should be banned. Right now they make up 30 percent of the cigarette market and are favored by 80 percent of African American smokers.

Psychology Today– Charlie Sheen is the latest celebrity that is dealing with drug addiction. He has previously mentioned that he did not want to go to rehab because he thought that he could clean himself up and expressed his disdain for everything 12-steps. A lot of people thought that this was ridiculous but here is an article in which Dr. Stanton Peele agrees with Charlie. Dr. Peele believes that a person can be fixed if they are being forced to do so and that I why he agrees with Charlie Sheen that only he can overcome his addiction on his own. Read this article to get a different opinion on addiction treatment.  You can check out this article for Dr. Jaffe’s take on the same issue.

Alcohol-The youth and DUI’s

Medical News Today– A new study by (SAMHSA) found that 5.9 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 14 drank alcohol and about 317,000 of them received this alcohol from their parents or got it at home. This can dangerous because being exposed to alcohol at an early age can expose at-risk children to an increased risk of alcohol abuse and addiction later on in their lives. Parents should be educated about such risk factors and about limiting access and increasing education for at risk youth.

Contra Coast Times– A man who was arrested for driving under the influence was found guilty of a DUI after showing up to his pretrial hearing drunk. The man ran his vehicle off the road into a barbed wire fence back in 2010. At the time of the arrest his blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit.

The Daily Beast– Can there be such a thing as anxiety addiction? Some individuals think so. A study was conducted that found that during demanding and stressful circumstances our bodies cultivate and thrive on anxiety. The study found that during a stressful circumstance is was possible that some individuals use anxiety to boost cognitive performance while others are comforted by anxiety.  Whether this should be called addiction, I’m not sure, but the idea of anxiety as rewarding is interesting.

 

About Addiction: Addiction Recovery, Alcohol, and Drug Legalization

Yes, you’ve got it, it’s your 30 seconds of news about addiction from around the world (wide web). Enjoy the reading – you can claim you learned your “new thing of the day.”

Addiction recovery- Inpatient and Outpatient treatment plans

Addiction Recovery-Recovering from addiction is hard, no matter what type of addiction it is. In order to complete a successful recovery from addiction, a positive attitude helps. Holding a positive attitude increases the chances that the recovery attempt will be a successful one. We’ve written often about addiction treatment and tips to increase sucess.

Recovery Now– What are the stages to inpatient addiction treatment? According to Recovery Now, the stages of inpatient treatment include:  intake, detox, stabilization, and long term recovery. Though I don’t necessarily agree with every aspect of this article, it contains some good information about addiction treatment that every reader should know. This additional piece from Recovery Now discusses the appropriateness of inpatient versus outpatient addiction treatment for specific patients.

Alcohol use

Science Daily– We’ve talked about the link that has been found between family history of alcoholism and an individual’s obesity risk.  In this study a family history of alcoholism produced an increased risk for obesity, though the environment also played a large role in this link. Environmental factors include the types of foods that are eaten- foods that are typically high in calories from sugars, salt and fat.

Desert News– Everyone knows at least one person whose life has been affected by alcohol abuse in some form or another. Here is a story of how alcohol negatively affected a woman’s life and how it overtook her life ultimately leading to her death.

The Sydney Morning Herald– Drunk Driving is not just a problem in the United States, driving under the influence of alcohol appears to be a problem in other countries as well.  In Australia almost 1,400 people were arrested for alcohol-related offenses.

AOL Health-There is a multitude of information found on billboards and in TV commercials which explains the risks of drunk and drugged driving. Despite this information 30 million Americans are driving drunk each year and 10 million are driving while they are under the influence of drugs. This problem is very serious and is most problematic among drivers who are aged 16-25. Although there has been a drop in the overall number of individuals who are driving while they are under the influence, one in three car accidents still occur from drunk driving.

Drugs- The dangers of legal drugs, Marijuana, Adderall, and Methadone

Belfast TelegraphAlcohol and legal drugs are okay in small doses and can even be helpful in medical settings and for overall health. However it is important to note that there have been many more alcohol related deaths than deaths from illegal substances such as heroin and crystal meth. By far alcohol is the greatest perpetrator followed by prescription drugs including amphetamines, benzodiazepines and antidepressants. In Ireland in 2009 alone there were 283 alcohol-related deaths were registered in the north and 276 the previous year.

NIH News- There has been a recent increase in marijuana use among 8th graders according to NIDA’s monitoring the future survey. It was reported that the rate of eighth-graders who are using illicit drugs is 16 percent, a 2.5 increase from the previous year’s use of 14.5 percent. Among high school seniors cigarette use has declined but marijuana, ecstasy and prescription drug use has increased. Marijuana use among adolescents is so problematic because it affects the brains development as well as a person’s learning, judgment, and motor skills. Additionally 1 in 6 people who start using it as adolescents become addicted. The spike in the drug use may be attributed to the debate on legalization which may give a false impression that the drug has no negative effects or consequences.

‘WisconsinWatch.org– Use of Adderall, a medication for ADHD, is on the rise and in demand on many college campuses. Adderall is increasing in popularity and is easily accessible on college campuses because it helps individuals study.  The drug is particularly popular in the University of Wisconsin and many students are taking it despite the negative side effects it may bring. School officials are not educating the university population of the ill effects of Adderall so it continues to be used as a study aid. At least part of the worry has to do with the potential for such students to move on to even stronger versions of amphetamines such as crystal meth, so maybe the efforts should focus on teaching students about addiction to amphetamines and the associated risks.

Scotsman NewsMethadone a drug which is used to prevent withdrawal symptoms in individuals who were addicted to opiate drugs (and as a replacement medication in heroin addiction treatment) is going to be in high demand after nearly £2 million worth of the heroin was discovered on a raid in Scotland.  Police hope that by working with healthcare professionals they can help these drug users seek addiction treatment. Anyone who was effected by the drug raid are offered the support and care they need

Victimization and Drug Legalization

Physorg.com– A potential link has been found between victimization (and hence trauma) and the prevalence of substance use disorders. This was most evident for homosexual and bisexual men and women than it was for heterosexual men and women. Both gay men and women reported high prevalence rates of victimization some point in their lifetime with lesbian women twice as likely to report victimization experiences. Men and women who reported two or more victimization experiences were found to have higher odds of alcohol and other drug dependence.

London Evening Standard– Should drugs be legalized? That is the question that is popping up in many states across the United States.  Is marijuana safer if it is regulated by the state?  The argument for legalizing drugs goes a little something like this: Despite drugs being illegal there will always be a demand for them so if drugs are legalized then governments will be able to control drug quality before they are sold on the streets. Tax income from drug sales can then to educate individuals about drugs and to aid individuals who need addiction treatment

North West Evening Mail– Paul Brown, the director of Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service spoke out after former drugs policy minister Bob Ainsworth and he called for the decriminalization of all banned substances. Brown informed attendees that only Portugal has decriminalized drugs and since that occurred crime rates have fallen and more individuals are willing to seek treatment for drug problems. Many substances that are legal such as alcohol and tobacco are bigger killers than drugs that are criminalized. Alcohol and tobacco kill an average 40,000 people a year this is 10 times more than any illegal drug.

About addiction: DUI, Alcohol Taxes, Underage Drinking, and Addiction treatment

Back again, like so many Mondays before, to tell you all about addiction research, news, and more from around the world wide web.

New York and Texas tough on DUI offenders

Everything Addiction– If you find yourself convicted of a DUI in New York State, you’ll have to install one of those ignition interlocks that verify you’re sober (by showing a BAC of zero) every time you get behind the wheel. So says a new law passed in that state trying to combat the problem of driving under the influence of alcohol. The law will take effect on August 15th and is known as Leandra’s Law. Another part of the law makes it a automatic felony if a person is driving under the influence and has a child under the age of 16 in the car.

ABC News– A man in Texas has been sentenced to life in prison after being caught driving with blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .32. But it wasn’t the high BAC that got him in that endless trouble, it was the fact that is was his NINTH DUI offense. I think there’s little doubt that getting that guy off the road is a good idea, but I’m pretty sure he’s an alcoholic, so hopefully they’ve tried treatment a few times before throwing him in prison forever.

Alcohol Taxes as a mild form of addiction treatment

Los Angeles Times– A study by the National Center for Health Statistics looked at the relationship between taxes on alcohol and the number of deaths that were associated with drinking. It was found that as the taxes increased on alcohol products the number of deaths decreased. As the taxes got lowered the number of alcohol related deaths rose. This study indicates that taxes may not be such a bad thing when it comes to alcohol as alcohol taxes may end up saving lives in the long run.

Underage Drinking can be scary

Drugs Information Online– Read some alarming statistics about underage drinking in the U.S. The article takes the viewpoint that Alcohol is thought to be a symbol of adulthood by teens who want to take on adult role. This seems to jive well with the Moffitt article we’ve cited here before.

Addiction Treatment Hell around the globe

Addiction Inbox– When an individual thinks about addiction treatment they think of people at addiction facilities who are engaging and willing to give their all to help the “addicts” that are in need. While this notion might be true in the U.S. and some other western countries, In China, Cambodia, and Vietnam addiction treatment looks very different. From Chinese labor camps to Cambodian detentions, read Dirk Hanson’s great account of treatment horrors in the rest of the world.

Actor Chris Klein in rehab – Facing jail time after second DUI

Actor Chris Klein has checked himself into rehab following his second DUI arrest that occurred on June 16. A police officer pulled him over after he was spotted swerving across the westbound 101 Freeway in Los Angeles. His blood alcohol content was nearly three times the limit of .08.

Chris Klein was previously arrested on DUI charges in 2005 and his PR rep issued the following statement:

“After recent events, Chris was forced to take a clear look at a problem he has been trying to deal with himself for years. He understands now that he can not beat this disease alone. He thanks everyone for their support as he takes all the necessary steps to deal with his addiction and asks for privacy while doing so.”

Klein is receiving treatment at the Cirque Lodge in Utah. The Cirque Lodge may sound familiar to you as Mary Kate Olson, Eva Mendes, and yes, Lindsay Lohan have received treatment there as well. Klein is enrolled in a 30-day alcohol addiction program and plans to stay longer if needed.

The L.A. City Attorney’s office says Chris Klein faces four days in jail (a slap on the wrist?) if he is convicted of his second DUI offense. In accordance with a California law for repeat DUI offenders, Klein will also have to install an interlock device in his car if he wishes to drive again. This device will require him to perform a breathalyzer test in order to start the engine.

Contributing co-author: Andrew Chen

Understanding Blood Alcohol Content (BAC levels)

Contributing co-author: Andrew Chen

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is a measure of alcohol concentration in a person’s bloodstream. The more a person drinks, the higher their BAC and the more they experience alcohol-related impairments. The following table shows the behavioral, physical, and mental changes brought on by alcohol at various BAC levels:

Progressive Effects of Alcohol with rising BAC levels

Blood Alcohol
Concentration
Changes in Feelings
and Personality
Physical and Mental
Impairments
0.01 — 0.06 Relaxation
Sense of Well-being
Loss of Inhibition
Lowered Alertness
Joyous
Thought
Judgment
Coordination
Concentration
0.06 — 0.10 Blunted Feelings
Disinhibition
Extroversion
Impaired Sexual Pleasure
Reflexes Impaired
Reasoning
Depth Perception
Distance Acuity
Peripheral Vision
Glare Recovery
0.11 — 0.20 Over-Expression
Emotional Swings
Angry or Sad
Boisterous
Reaction Time
Gross Motor Control
Staggering
Slurred Speech
0.21 — 0.29 Stupor
Lose Understanding
Impaired Sensations
Severe Motor Impairment
Loss of Consciousness
Memory Blackout
0.30 — 0.39 Severe Depression
Unconsciousness
Death Possible
Bladder Function
Breathing
Heart Rate
=> 0.40 Unconsciousness
Death
Breathing
Heart Rate

BAC levels can be accurately measured through blood, breath, or urine tests. Currently, the legal limit to drive in the U.S. is .08 for individuals over the age of 21. That limit is similar to those used in other states, but there is some variation.

How many drinks for a BAC of .08?

The answer to this question is a little more complicated than it seems. Alcohol affects everyone differently. In general, smaller individuals reach higher BAC levels more quickly than larger individuals, fatter individuals reach higher levels more quickly than muscular individuals, and women reach higher levels more quickly than men. These factors are all related to the amount of water present in the body. The more water a person has in their body, the more diluted the alcohol will be in their blood. (smaller individuals have less water than bigger people, fatty tissue has less water than muscle, and women typically have a higher % of body fat than men).

Chronic drinkers can develop a tolerance to alcohol, allowing them to metabolize alcohol more quickly and giving them added resistance to the functional impairments of alcohol.

Furthermore, alcohol can affect the same person differently under different circumstances. Eating before drinking can delay alcohol absorption and reduce a person’s peak BAC levels by as much as 40%. Exhaustion, illness, and dehydration impair a person’s ability to metabolize alcohol, promoting higher BAC. Depressed mood and stress can also magnify the effects of alcohol. Finally, medications can react with alcohol, potentially causing serious health complications.

You’ve had too many – can you lower BAC?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no magic food or drink that can lower your BAC levels. Exercising and taking a cold shower will also do nothing to lower BAC. BAC levels will only decrease with time. On average, a person metabolizes alcohol at a rate of one drink (0.5 oz alcohol) per hour. Spacing out drinks is a good way to manage BAC levels as it gives your body time to metabolize alcohol while delaying further increases in BAC.

Understanding your body is the first step towards preventing dangerous BAC levels. Plan ahead make sure you don’t ruin your night or someone else’s by drinking more than you can handle.

Additional Resources:

BAC table for men

BAC table for women

Check out the Virtual Bar at www.b4udrink.org for a really fun way to learn about your own limits!

The ebb and flow of concern about addiction

One of the things about keeping a blog that is focused on a specific topic, is that you get to see how people’s interest in that topic changes.

This blog gets a flood of hits when a celebrity like Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan gets arrested for possession of drugs or a DUI. When someone dies, be it Heath Ledger, Brittany Murphy, or Michael Jackson, we get an even bigger spike. Sadly, when a new law passes, or if a drug-story makes the front cover of the New York Times or some other large publication, we get a spike too, but not quite as large.

Worrying about addiction when it’s right

All of these things are too be expected; they’re a byproduct of the media frenzied culture we’re all a part of (if you’re reading this right now, you’re part of it too). We love celebrities as a reflection of everything we aren’t, everything we want to be, and everything we’re glad we’re not. Sure, life is great when you have lots of money, fame, and fans, but when you fall flat on your face and the moment is captured by dozens of readied cameras, we’re more than happy to watch, make fun, and secretly revel in the fact that at least our missteps aren’t broadcast worldwide.

But one of the things I didn’t expect as much was the spike in readership towards the end of every weekend.

It should be obvious, right? People get royally destroyed on Fridays and Saturdays, and by Sunday, my biggest readership day, they’re worried about the consequences on their well-being. While drunk, high, or in the middle of a full-blown internet-porn masturbation party, few care about implications, education, or reality. It’s when the effects of all those wear off and that first post-party look in the mirror takes place that we all find our humility, shame, and motivation to change.

I’m not writing this as a criticism, merely an observation. It’s as if even those in the throws of the disease, or those who care most about it, become most concerned when the dust settles a little. Maybe one day I’ll get around to doing some research on the way this translates to treatment. As some of you already know, All About Addiction is about to introduce a new rehab-finder tool that will allow everyone to go online, fill out an assessment form, and get customized placement in one of almost 12000 addiction providers in the United States. I wonder if we’ll see the same pattern – people looking more on Sunday than any other day; trying to right their wrongs with a final plea to god, through their computers, that maybe today is their last day screwing up their lives.

I’ll make sure to get more help on thoe days if that turns out to be true.