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Alcohol and Women's Bones

by James Heller 23. April 2009 09:21
April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.

Women need to pay attention to bone health in order to avoid osteoporosis and other bone diseases that are more prevalent with them than with men.  Doctors regularly suggest supplements and dietary plans that enhance women’s bone health.  But alcohol abuse and dependence can negate any benefits from these.

Naturally, one would think that women should be cautious about drinking heavily after menopause when their bones begin to deteriorate.  However, study results show that the stage for bone loss is set as early as adolescence.  Although alcohol abuse among older women has a negative effect on bone health, it is not as bad as with adolescent alcohol abuse.

The jury is still out on studies concluding that moderate alcohol consumption benefits bone health in women.  While Tarzana Treatment Centers focuses on those in need of alcohol detox and treatment, information is provided for moderate drinkers below because it may benefit other women concerned about bone health.

The excerpts below from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism are part of a study that includes detailed statistics.  

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MODERATE DRINKING
The effect of moderate alcohol use on bone health and osteoporosis risk is unclear. (Editor’s Note: Definitions of moderate drinking vary. Federal guidelines consider moderate drinking to be no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men [U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1995].) A few epidemiological studies in humans have indicated that moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with decreased fracture risk in postmenopausal women (Hansen et al. 1991; Felson et al. 1995). One large study (Diaz et al. 1997) found that women age 65 and over who consumed alcohol on more than 5 days per week had a significantly reduced risk of vertebral deformity compared with those who consumed alcohol less than once per week. (Crush fractures of the anterior vertebral body cause most women’s bone–related visits to the doctor.)

This apparent beneficial effect of moderate drinking on bone health has not been found in animal studies, which can control for the amount of alcohol consumed as well as for other lifestyle factors.

CHRONIC HEAVY DRINKING
Effects of Alcohol on Growing Bone
Almost all epidemiological studies of alcohol use and human bone health indicate that chronic heavy alcohol consumption, particularly during adolescence and young adulthood, can dramatically affect bone health and may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis later. Although alcohol appears to have an effect on bone–forming cells (i.e., osteoblasts), slowing bone turnover, the specific mechanisms by which alcohol affects bone are poorly understood.

-- Source: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-4/292-298.htm --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.

Adolescent Alcohol Tolerance

by James Heller 23. April 2009 08:32
April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  
Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.

One side effect to adolescent alcohol abuse and binge drinking is tolerance.  To put it simply, tolerance occurs when regular drinking results in a person needing more alcohol to get the effect they are seeking.  This effect ensures that when teens abuse alcohol on a regular basis, they will drink more on each occasion as time goes on.

Whether or not genetics is responsible is an interesting question.  Studies like the one sited below get mixed results.  Knowing if alcohol tolerance during adolescence is sign of genetic alcoholism could save a lot of lives.  Until we find a way to preempt the pain of alcoholism, though, awareness of adolescent alcohol abuse will help.

Both parents and teens should learn alcohol’s effect on the adolescent brain and body.  Teens that are made aware of the pattern of tolerance may be more likely to agree to adolescent alcohol treatment.  And parents armed with this knowledge can be more persuasive.

The excerpt below was found at the Addiction Technology Transfer Center website.

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Despite numerous studies in recent years, "still very little is known about the long-term effects of alcohol consumption on adolescents," said Linda Patia Spear, Distinguished Professor in the department of psychology and the Center for Developmental Psychobiology at Binghamton University. "In humans, a substantial number of studies have shown that the earlier individuals start using alcohol, the more likely they are to have alcohol-related problems in adulthood, although it is not known whether this early exposure is causal or is just a marker for problematic alcohol involvement. In studies using laboratory animals, there are likewise some initial hints that adolescent alcohol exposure influences later sensitivity to alcohol, although the available data to date are mixed, and studies often do not include adult-exposure comparison groups so it is not clear as to whether these effects are more or less pronounced than would be seen after equivalent exposure in adulthood."

Despite the lack of consistent data, Matthews said two factors – the developmental nature of adolescence, and recent national reports of growing use and abuse of alcohol by adolescents – underscore the need for additional information. He and his colleagues will next investigate the effects of CIE exposure during adolescence on genetic expression in the brain, the activity of single neurons in the brain, and the biochemical mechanisms producing these effects.

-- Source: http://www.nattc.org/explore/priorityareas/science/tools/asmeDetails.asp?ID=164

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.

Family Alcoholism and Adolescents

by James Heller 17. April 2009 09:24
April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.

When children grow up in a household with alcoholism or addiction, they are at higher risk of abusing alcohol or drugs in adolescence.  This can be due to genetic or environmental factors.

The abuse suffered by children of alcoholics is at least emotional, and at worst can include physical or sexual abuse.  Growing up in this environment, by the time the child reaches adolescence alcohol or drugs can be seen as a “normal” escape from reality.  Alcohol or drug abuse may become a habit used to temporarily forget the pain of child abuse, or even as a tool of revenge.

A family history of alcoholism or addiction may be passed on to a child through genes.  If that child drinks or uses drugs, just one experience could trigger the disease.  Any parent that engages in heavy drinking or drug use, or is aware of a family history, needs to seriously consider this fact.  These parents should attend alcohol and drug education for the family to prevent teen alcohol and drug abuse.

The following is from a brochure by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  It offers important information for families with alcoholism or drug addiction.

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Alcohol and Drug Abuse Hurts Everyone in the Family

Dependence on alcohol and drugs is our most serious national public health problem. It is prevalent among rich and poor, in all regions of the country, and all ethnic and social groups.

Millions of Americans misuse or are dependent on alcohol or drugs.  Most of them have families who suffer the consequences, often serious, of living with this illness. If there is alcohol or drug dependence in your family, remember you are not alone.

Most individuals who abuse alcohol or drugs have jobs and are productive members of society creating a false hope in the family that “it’s not that bad.”

The problem is that addiction tends to worsen over time, hurting both the addicted person and all the family members. It is especially damaging to young children and adolescents.

People with this illness really may believe that they drink normally or that “everyone” takes drugs. These false beliefs are called denial; this denial is a part of the illness.

It Doesn’t Have to be That Way

Drug or alcohol dependence disorders are medical conditions that can be effectively treated. Millions of Americans and their families are in healthy recovery from this disease.

If someone close to you misuses alcohol or drugs, the first step is to be honest about the problem and to seek help for yourself, your family, and your loved one.

Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, in many different forms, and for different lengths of time. Stopping the alcohol or drug use is the first step to recovery, and most people need help to stop. Often a person with alcohol or drug dependence will need treatment provided by professionals just as with other diseases. Your doctor may be able to guide you.

-- Source: http://www.csat.samhsa.gov/NACOA/families.pdf --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.

Adolescent Alcohol and Marijuana Abuse

by James Heller 16. April 2009 13:49
April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.

A lot can be learned using sets of data.  The data below is from a 2007 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  

Trends in adolescent alcohol and marijuana abuse have remained steady for about a decade, and alcohol use rates have always been higher than marijuana.  However, looking at the data below, significantly more teens enter adolescent alcohol and drug treatment claiming marijuana as the problem substance.  

Although a moderate amount of marijuana treatment admissions are imposed by law enforcement for illegal possession, they don’t account for the entire difference.  From this, one might conclude that alcohol is being overlooked as a factor in adolescent substance abuse.  

With all that is known about alcohol’s effects on adolescent brain development, there needs to be more attention paid to teen alcohol abuse.  Parents should research adolescent alcohol treatment even if their child engages in occasional binge drinking.

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According to the 2006 NSDUH, more than 8 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank alcohol in the past year, nearly 5 million used an illicit drug, and more than 4 million smoked cigarettes. In addition, on an average day during the past year, adolescents aged 12 to 17 used the following substances:

  • 1,245,240 smoked cigarettes;
  • 630,539 drank alcohol;
  • 586,454 used marijuana;
  • 49,263 used inhalants;
  • 26,645 used hallucinogens;
  • 13,125 used cocaine; and
  • 3,753 used heroin.

The 2006 NSDUH also indicates that:

  •  adolescents who used alcohol in the past month drank an average of 4.7 drinks per day on the days they drank; and
  •  adolescents who smoked cigarettes in the past month smoked an average of 4.6 cigarettes per day on the days they smoked.


TEDS reported that in 2005 there were 142,646 admissions for adolescents aged 12 to 17 to substance abuse treatment programs (TEDS data come primarily from facilities that receive some public funding). TEDS also indicates that on an average day in 2005, adolescent admissions to treatment presented with the following substances as the primary substance of abuse:

  • 255 with marijuana;
  • 72 with alcohol;
  • 24 with stimulants;
  • 10 with cocaine;
  • 7 with opiates; and
  • 7 with other drugs.

-- Source: http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k7/youthFacts/youth.htm --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.

Why Some Adolescents Drink

by James Heller 15. April 2009 14:59
April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.

Any parent should find the information below useful.  It is from a 2006 report released by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  This section can help parents of teens identify possible signs of adolescent alcohol abuse, and to discuss alcohol education or treatment if necessary.  Parents of younger children may find ways to prevent future problems.

There is also information for those with alcoholism in the family already.  While genetics play a part in alcoholism, there are other factors to consider in preventing teen alcohol abuse.

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WHY DO SOME ADOLESCENTS DRINK?
As children move from adolescence to young adulthood, they encounter dramatic physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes. Developmental transitions, such as puberty and increasing independence, have been associated with alcohol use. So in a sense, just being an adolescent may be a key risk factor not only for starting to drink but also for drinking dangerously.

Risk-Taking—Research shows the brain keeps developing well into the twenties, during which time it continues to establish important communication connections and further refines its function. Scientists believe that this lengthy developmental period may help explain some of the behavior which is characteristic of adolescence—such as their propensity to seek out new and potentially dangerous situations. For some teens, thrill-seeking might include experimenting with alcohol. Developmental changes also offer a possible physiological explanation for why teens act so impulsively, often not recognizing that their actions—such as drinking—have consequences.

Expectancies—How people view alcohol and its effects also influences their drinking behavior, including whether they begin to drink and how much. An adolescent who expects drinking to be a pleasurable experience is more likely to drink than one who does not. An important area of alcohol research is focusing on how expectancy influences drinking patterns from childhood through adolescence and into young adulthood. Beliefs about alcohol are established very early in life, even before the child begins elementary school. Before age 9, children generally view alcohol negatively and see drinking as bad, with adverse effects. By about age 13, however, their expectancies shift, becoming more positive. As would be expected, adolescents who drink the most also place the greatest emphasis on the positive and arousing effects of alcohol.

Sensitivity and Tolerance to Alcohol—Differences between the adult brain and the brain of the maturing adolescent also may help to explain why many young drinkers are able to consume much larger amounts of alcohol than adults before experiencing the negative consequences of drinking, such as drowsiness, lack of coordination, and withdrawal/hangover effects. This unusual tolerance may help to explain the high rates of binge drinking among young adults. At the same time, adolescents appear to be particularly sensitive to the positive effects of drinking, such as feeling more at ease in social situations, and young people may drink more than adults because of these positive social experiences.

Personality Characteristics and Psychiatric Comorbidity—Children who begin to drink at a very early age (before age 12) often share similar personality characteristics that may make them more likely to start drinking. Young people who are disruptive, hyperactive, and aggressive—often referred to as having conduct problems or being antisocial—as well as those who are depressed, withdrawn, or anxious, may be at greatest risk for alcohol problems. Other behavior problems associated with alcohol use include rebelliousness, difficulty avoiding harm or harmful situations, and a host of other traits seen in young people who act out without regard for rules or the feelings of others (i.e., disinhibition).

Hereditary Factors—Some of the behavioral and physiological factors that converge to increase or decrease a person’s risk for alcohol problems, including tolerance to alcohol’s effects, may be directly linked to genetics. For example, being a child of an alcoholic or having several alcoholic family members places a person at greater risk for alcohol problems. Children of alcoholics (COAs) are between 4 and 10 times more likely to become alcoholics themselves than are children who have no close relatives with alcoholism. COAs also are more likely to begin drinking at a young age and to progress to drinking problems more quickly.

Research shows that COAs may have subtle brain differences which could be markers for developing later alcohol problems. For example, using high-tech brain-imaging techniques, scientists have found that COAs have a distinctive feature in one brainwave pattern (called a P300 response) that could be a marker for later alcoholism risk. Researchers also are investigating other brainwave differences in COAs that may be present long before they begin to drink, including brainwave activity recorded during sleep as well as changes in brain structure and function.

Some studies suggest that these brain differences may be particularly evident in people who also have certain behavioral traits, such as signs of conduct disorder, antisocial personality disorder, sensation-seeking, or poor impulse control. Studying how the brain’s structure and function translates to behavior will help researchers to better understand how predrinking risk factors shape later alcohol use. For example, does a person who is depressed drink to alleviate his or her depression, or does drinking lead to changes in his brain that result in feelings of depression?

Other hereditary factors likely will become evident as scientists work to identify the actual genes involved in addiction. By analyzing the genetic makeup of people and families with alcohol dependence, researchers have found specific regions on chromosomes that correlate with a risk for alcoholism. Candidate genes for alcoholism risk also have been associated with those regions. The goal now is to further refine regions for which a specific gene has not yet been identified and then determine how those genes interact with other genes and gene products as well as with the environment to result in alcohol dependence. Further research also should shed light on the extent to which the same or different genes contribute to alcohol problems, both in adults and in adolescents.

Environmental Aspects—Pinpointing a genetic contribution will not tell the whole story, however, as drinking behavior reflects a complex interplay between inherited and environmental factors, the implications of which are only beginning to be explored in adolescents. And what influences drinking at one age may not have the same impact at another. As Rose and colleagues show, genetic factors appear to have more influence on adolescent drinking behavior in late adolescence than in mid-adolescence.

Environmental factors, such as the influence of parents and peers, also play a role in alcohol use. For example, parents who drink more and who view drinking favorably may have children who drink more, and an adolescent girl with an older or adult boyfriend is more likely to use alcohol and other drugs and to engage in delinquent behaviors.

Researchers are examining other environmental influences as well, such as the impact of the media. Today alcohol is widely available and aggressively promoted through television, radio, billboards, and the Internet. Researchers are studying how young people react to these advertisements. In a study of 3rd, 6th, and 9th graders, those who found alcohol ads desirable were more likely to view drinking positively and to want to purchase products with alcohol logos. Research is mixed, however, on whether these positive views of alcohol actually lead to underage drinking.

-- Source: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA67/AA67.htm --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.

Adolescent Alcohol Abuse and Brain Development

by James Heller 14. April 2009 13:57
April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.


Adolescents risk much more than a hangover from alcohol abuse.  In recent years evidence points to critical brain development during teen years and how alcohol abuse poses a threat to that development.

It is known from decades of research that alcohol abuse and dependence does irreversible damage to the adult brain.  The damage comes from the death of brain cells, causing long-term memory loss among various other possible problems.  In general, the damage has to do with lost abilities.

For adolescents, the problems have more to do with how the brain will operate later in life.  The excerpt below is from a report by Duke University Assistant Research Professor Aaron M. White, PhD.  The full report is a detailed look at how alcohol abuse effects adolescent brain development, and is linked after the excerpt.

The brain’s development appears to continue up to age 21 according to latest research.  Professor White suggests below that there is a child phase and an adolescent phase.  Simply put, brain cells grow and work together based in part on experiences with others in both phases.  The adolescent phase is separate from the child phase.  New experiences may cause new cell connections or eliminate them during adolescence, changing the way the brain operates.

Binge drinking not only kills some brain cells in adolescents, but also interferes with new connections between healthy cells.  Depending on which cells are altered, behavior patterns and learning abilities can suffer permanent negative effects.  Knowing this offers a new sense of urgency in seeking adolescent alcohol treatment at the first signs of teen alcohol abuse.

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Overproduction of neuronal tissue is a central theme in early brain development, from the womb to late childhood. Human infants are born with far more neurons than are present in the adult brain. The selection process that determines whether an individual cell lives or dies is based on several factors, including the transmission of neurotrophic factors from the post-synaptic cell to the pre-synaptic cell in response to excitatory synaptic activity. In this way, cells that fire together wire together, and those that do not make meaningful contacts with other cells do not survive. One key benefit of this process is that it allows a child’s brain to be sculpted by his/her interactions with the outside world (Chugani, 1998).

       In recent years, it has become clear that, during adolescence, as in childhood, the brain is highly plastic and shaped by experience. A substantial number of synapses are eliminated, or pruned, in the cortex during adolescence, and this process is presumably influenced, at least in part, by interactions with the outside world (Huttenlocher, 1979; Lidow et al., 1991; Seeman, 1999). It is tempting to conclude that adolescent brain development must simply be an extension of childhood brain development; that it represents a transition stage between childhood and adulthood in a manner similar to how adolescence itself has long been viewed. In actuality, it appears that many of the changes that take place during the second decade of life are novel and do not simply represent the trailing remnants of childhood plasticity.

-- Source: http://www.duke.edu/~amwhite/Adolescence/index.html --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.