Those who are concerned about binge drinking have well-founded reasons given the serious consequences such as alcohol poisoning, injuries or death, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, violence, health problems, academic underachievement, mental health problems and more.

Wet Brain Wernicke-Korsakoff SyndromeWet brain is the informal name for a neurological disorder known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.  It is the combined presence of Wernicke's encephalopathy and Korsakoff's syndrome.

Symptoms of Wet Brain

People suffering from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome typically exhibit the following symptoms:

Loss of muscle coordination

- staggering, irregular gait

- poor coordination

- leg tremors

Memory issues      

- “Remembering” events that never happened

- Inability to form new memories

- Loss of memory, which can be severe

- Disorientation related to time and place

- General confusion

Visual problems

- Seeing (and hearing) hallucinations

- double vision

- drooping eyelids

- abnormal eye movements

Cause of Wet Brain

Many mistakenly think that wet brain, or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, is due to alcohol destroying brain cells.  However, it is actually caused by a deficiency in thiamine (Vitamin B1).

Connection Between Wet Brain and Alcoholism

Chronic alcoholism can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome for several reasons:

  • Many heavy drinkers have poor eating habits and their diets often do not contain essential vitamins.  This leads to malnutrition and lack of thiamine.
  • Alcohol can damage stomach and intestine lining and make it difficult for the body to absorb the key vitamins it receives.
  • Alcohol adversely impacts the ability of the liver to store vitamins.

Treatment for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

If Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is identified at early onset, doses of thiamine (vitamin B1) may have some preventive effect.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to recover from any irreversible damage to the brain caused by Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.  So early detection is critical.

Without treatment, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome gets progressively worse, eventually leading to coma and death.

If you suspect that alcohol is affecting your health or your loved one’s health, call 888-707-4673.

teen binge drinkingIs it possible to tell if someone is at risk for future binge drinking?  A recently published study suggests it is.

The study was published in the journal Nature.  It conducted 10 hour comprehensive assessments on 2400 14-year olds in eight different European countries.  Five years later a follow up was done to see which teens went on to drink heavily at age 16.

Although there are many factors which influence teenage binge drinking, some of the best predictors of future binge drinking were:

  • sensation-seeking traits,
  • lack of conscientiousness,
  • having a single drink by age 14, and
  • family history of drug use.

Also at risk were teens who experienced several stressful life events.

 

A summary of the findings can be found on Science Daily.

 

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

The risks and detrimental effects of alcohol abuse by young adults under the age of 25 can have life-long consequences.  In a recent survey, nearly 80% of 17-18 year olds had consumed alcohol, with over 47% of these 17-18 year olds using alcohol regularly.

To help your young adult/teenager get the fullest from life, it is important to have an honest discussion about alcohol and its effects.  But what do you say and how do you do it? Here is a helpful guide on how to talk to your teenager about drinking.

First, don’t expect to only have one big discussion on alcohol, the subject should come up many times as your child grows.  Start young by creating regular, open, honest communications with your child.  Be casual and relaxed.  Be open to what your teen says, truly listen.  Keep your emotions in check (remember deep breaths if you hear something upsetting or irritating).  If your child feels comfortable talking with you, your discussions will be more effective.

Once you have good regular communications, you can begin to discuss alcohol.

  • Start with asking what your teen thinks about alcohol?  What does s/he know about it?  If your teen has used alcohol, calmly asked what they thought? Why they used it?  What was the result?
  • Share facts about alcohol.  It is a powerful drug.  Regular drinking by teenagers can create many problems:  teens have the highest rate of traffic accidents and alcohol use increases these risks; drinking affects coordination, the ability to think and make decisions; teens who drink are more likely to be the victim of violence; as well as experience longer term injury or damage to their brain. Point out the teen brain is still developing and alcohol affects normal development.
  • Talk about any perceived attractions or myths about drinking:  Does your teen feel peer pressure to drink?  Do they think drinking will let them be more social or fit in better?  Discuss alcohol commercials on TV and ads in magazines, where everyone is fit, beautiful, having fun.  What do they think alcohol will do or does do for them?
  • Point out that alcohol is a depressant and although it may seem to provide happy or pleasant feelings, these feelings don’t last and often people feel down, sad or even depressed after drinking.
  • Drinking is illegal, and there are serious consequences for teens arrested for drinking alcohol.
  • Be prepared to discuss your own drinking and history.  Your teen will likely ask.  Even if they don’t, it is best if you volunteer things you learned about drinking.  Share consequences you have experienced from drinking.
  • Also discuss any family history with drinking. If you have a family history of alcoholism, let your teen know that this means s/he is much more likely to become addicted, its in the family genes.
  • Ask about your teen’s friends.  What do they think about drinking or drugs?  Do they drink? Has your teen had any experience with people drinking?

All this may not happen in one conversation.  Always thank your child for the talk and for sharing. Appreciate their insights and their honesty. It is important to let them speak and feel open with you, but do not blur the lines on the parent/child relationship. Never allow your teenager to drinking at your house. It is illegal and it portrays the wrong message. Never drink with your teenager, even at family gatherings, its illegal, inappropriate, and damaging to their health.

Finally, be a role model.  Your actions speak much louder to your teen than words. If you drink, do so in moderation.  When discussing alcohol, don’t state it is good or helpful.  Also emphasize that for those older than 21 and particularly over 25 experience less brain impairment from alcohol.  Discuss the rules you have for yourself: never drinking and driving, setting limits on your own drinking either by quantity or days or amount of time, only drinking with friends or family, etc.

If you know or suspect your teen has a problem with alcohol, there are resources available that can help you and your teen. Early interventions are proven to be a helpful resource for many teenagers. If your teenager is over 18 years old, you may schedule an appointment with New Hope Recovery Center for a confidential assessment.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about young adults and addiction? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

Warning Signs Your Teen is Drinking Alcohol Although drinking in moderation can be safe for adults, drinking by anyone under 21 can be a serious issue and should not be ignored, dismissed or minimized.  There are, of course, the immediate risks and harms a young adult may experience from drinking alcohol: they are more likely to have driving accidents, experience death from alcohol poisoning (excessive drinking), have violent behavior, be the victim of violent crime, to have unprotected sex, and to have depression and anxiety.

Long Term Impact of Alcohol and Drug Use on Emerging Adults Emerging Adulthood, the period of life from approximately age 18 to the late 20's, is not only a critical time for psychological and social development, but also for physical brain development. Contrary to a popular assumption that the brain is mature by the age of 18, recent studies have shown that profound brain growth and change still occur during Emerging Adulthood. [Studies]  The heavy use of drugs and alcohol during this time frame can inhibit a person’s brain development and have long term consequences.

Emerging Adults – Time of Stress, Change, and Possibly Addiction The period after high school through the late 20's is now considered a unique developmental phase, Emerging Adulthood.  For Emerging Adults life is typically filled with an unprecedented amount of change and a time for asking many deeply-personal life questions. Robin Marantz Henig discusses some of these changes in her New York Times Magazine article. Emerging Adults frequently change residences (slightly more than 30% move every year); change jobs (averaging seven jobs during their 20's these changes can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety.)

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Prescription Drug Abuse Parents of Emerging Adults (ages 18-late 20′s) are important partners in the prevention of drug abuse. In New Hope Recovery Center’s continuing efforts to assist parents, we want to pay special attention to a serious problem impacting Emerging Adults: prescription drug abuse which is the intentional use of medication without a prescription.  Parents may not be unaware of how serious this problem has become, so we want to share 5 must-know facts for parents of Emerging Adults.

Student Drug Abuse Warning Signs Young adults face many temptations and opportunities to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.  As a parent, it is important to allow for appropriate independence and growth for your student or young adult, but also to keep a watchful eye looking for warning signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use/addiction. Part of growing up involves making mistakes and hopefully learning from them.  These teachable moments allow students and emerging adults to learn how to respond better in the future.  Students and emerging adults may not always be able to quickly identify and correct mistakes or difficulties they face. They also are more susceptible to peer pressure or having their viewpoints shaped by outside influences. For this reason, parents need to be closely aware of what is happening in their young adult’s life.

Fighting Peer Pressure: 3 Ways To Limit Addiction Risk in Young Adults Do you remember growing up and wanting to be liked and included in your peer group?  One of the hardest parts of growing up is feeling excluded from peer groups and while this can be challenging, it is also a normal part of the development of an Emerging Adult.  If it did not come naturally, you might remember changing your attitudes, values or behaviors to belong a certain peer group, which is exactly where your Emerging Adult may be developmentally.

 

Although drinking in moderation can be safe for adults, drinking by anyone under 21 can be a serious issue and should not be ignored, dismissed or minimized.  There are, of course, the immediate risks and harms a young adult may experience from drinking alcohol: they are more likely to have driving accidents, experience death from alcohol poisoning (excessive drinking), have violent behavior, be the victim of violent crime, to have unprotected sex, and to have depression and anxiety.

Equally concerning, a number of reports and studies indicate that drinking by young adults (anyone under 25 years of age) can have serious long-term consequences as well. It is now understood that the human brain is still developing and growing until the mid-20s.  Heavy drinking before the brain has completed its development can cause numerous long-lasting problems.  A recent study by neuroscientist Susan Tapert of the University of California, San Diego compared the brain scans of teens who drink heavily with the scans of teens who don't.  Tapert's team found damaged nerve tissue in the brains of the teens who drank. The researchers believe this damage negatively affects attention span in boys, and girls' ability to comprehend and interpret visual information.

According to a national survey of 43,093 adults, published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 47% of those who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 14 become alcohol dependent at some time in their lives, compared with 9% of those who do not drink until at least age 21.

In a study comparing the brains of youth ages 14 to 21 who did abuse alcohol with those who did not abuse alcohol, researchers found that the hippocampi of drinkers were about 10% smaller than in those who did not drink.  The hippocampus is the area of the brain critical for regulating emotions, for storing and recovering memory, in particular long-term memory and for spatial navigation.  Damage or stunting of the hippocampus can lead to loss of memory and difficulty in establishing new memories. For example with Alzheimer's disease the hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain to be affected, leading to the confusion and loss of memory.

Drinking by young adults is a serious issue and can have potentially life-long consequences. So, how can you tell if your teen is drinking or abusing alcohol?  Here are some of the warning signs to look for:

Physical Warning Signs Of Alcohol Use And Abuse

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Shaking, tremors or seizures without a history of epilepsy
  • Poor personal grooming, hygiene and physical appearance
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Injuries or bruises that your teen can’t remember how they happened
  • Smell of alcohol on breath, body, or clothing
  • Sudden use of breath mints or gum
  • Incoherent or slurred speech
  • Finding alcohol in your teen’s room or with belongings
  • Alcohol missing from house, discovering watered-down bottles of alcohol

Behavior Warning Signs Of Alcohol Use And Abuse

  • Missing school or classes
  • Drop in grades
  • Getting in trouble at school, or with the law
  • Increase in arguments, fights, accidents
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, hobbies or sports
  • Missing money or valuables or frequently asking for money
  • Increased isolation, silence, being withdrawn
  • Increase in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Refusing to discuss new friends, activities
  • Locking doors
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts
  • Using eye drops to hide bloodshot eyes
  • Unexplained change in personality and/or attitude
  • Sudden mood changes, irritability, outbursts

Many of the items listed are common in all teenagers.  Nearly all teens will be irritable and have abrupt mood changes due to the hormonal changes they are experiencing.  However, if several of these warning signs occur, be alert for more.  If you do find your teen is drinking or abusing alcohol, talk to them about it.  Explain to them the new findings on what alcohol does to teenage brains and its lasting impact.  See our article on “How to Talk to Your Teen About Alcohol” for more suggestions.

Finally, if you discover your teen is regularly drinking and the drinking is having consequences, look into treatment options for help.  New Hope Recovery Center can offer treatment suggestions for your teen/young adult. The early you intervene on teen drinking the better. Call 888-707-4673 to set up a confidential assessment.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about young adults and addiction? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

How to Talk to Your Teenager About Drinking To help your young adult/teenager get the fullest from life, it is important to have an honest discussion about alcohol and its effects.  But what do you say and how do you do it? Here is a helpful guide on how to talk to your teenager about drinking.

Long Term Impact of Alcohol and Drug Use on Emerging Adults Emerging Adulthood, the period of life from approximately age 18 to the late 20s, is not only a critical time for psychological and social development, but also for physical brain development. Contrary to a popular assumption that the brain is mature by the age of 18, recent studies have shown that profound brain growth and change still occur during Emerging Adulthood. [Studies]  The heavy use of drugs and alcohol during this time frame can inhibit a person’s brain development and have long term consequences.

Emerging Adults – Time of Stress, Change, and Possibly Addiction The period after high school through the late 20s is now considered a unique developmental phase, Emerging Adulthood.  For Emerging Adults life is typically filled with an unprecedented amount of change and a time for asking many deeply-personal life questions. Robin Marantz Henig discusses some of these changes in her New York Times Magazine article. Emerging Adults frequently change residences (slightly more than 30% move everyyear); change jobs (averaging seven jobs during their 20s); move back with parents (more than 40% move back in with their parents at least once during their 20s); and often spend time living with a romantic partner (66%).  These changes can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety.

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Prescription Drug Abuse Parents of Emerging Adults (ages 18-late 20′s) are important partners in the prevention of drug abuse. In New Hope Recovery Center’s continuing efforts to assist parents, we want to pay special attention to a serious problem impacting Emerging Adults: prescription drug abuse which is the intentional use of medication without a prescription.  Parents may not be unaware of how serious this problem has become, so we want to share 5 must-know facts for parents of Emerging Adults.

Student Drug Abuse Warning Signs Young adults face many temptations and opportunities to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.  As a parent, it is important to allow for appropriate independence and growth for your student or young adult, but also to keep a watchful eye looking for warning signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use/addiction. Part of growing up involves making mistakes and hopefully learning from them.  These teachable moments allow students and emerging adults to learn how to respond better in the future.  Students and emerging adults may not always be able to quickly identify and correct mistakes or difficulties they face. They also are more susceptible to peer pressure or having their viewpoints shaped by outside influences. For this reason, parents need to be closely aware of what is happening in their young adult’s life.

Fighting Peer Pressure: 3 Ways To Limit Addiction Risk in Young Adults Do you remember growing up and wanting to be liked and included in your peer group?  One of the hardest parts of growing up is feeling excluded from peer groups and while this can be challenging, it is also a normal part of the development of an Emerging Adult.  If it did not come naturally, you might remember changing your attitudes, values or behaviors to belong a certain peer group, which is exactly where your Emerging Adult may be developmentally.

 

Some holidays are more difficult than others for recovering alcoholics; St.Patrick’s day is often one of those holidays. It was once celebrated as a day to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland, it has evolved into an “all you can drink” party that has little to do with Ireland or St.Patrick at all.

In most American cities the holiday takes over and the parties spill out of the bars and into the streets. Chicago Taxi drivers now charge a hefty fee for anyone that  throws up in the cab, this is not an unlikely occurrence on St. Patrick's Day. There are green shamrocks as far as the eye can see and the sounds of bagpipes blow long into the night. Starting early in the morning and going strong into night, St.Patrick's Day is a holiday centered and focused on one thing; the consumption of alcohol.

Where are the recovering alcoholics during this time? Many recovering alcoholics despise this day for the obvious reasons. It is one of the few days out of the year they can have a hard time trying to avoid this type of behavior. While it can be difficult to maintain a positive outlook on this day, impossible it is not. There is no reason a recovering alcoholic should feel worried, scared or intimidated on this day. Here are some helpful tips to stay sober and enjoy your St. Patrick's Day:

  • First and foremost, you don’t have to surround yourself with the mayhem. Plan accordingly ahead of time to leave the hotspots during this time. If you live in an area of your city that is a hotbed for bars, plan a day trip outside of that area and return once the festivities die down. In most cities spring is just starting to blossom. Celebrate by going to a forest preserve or nature sanctuary far secluded from any bars or parties.
  • If leaving isn't an option for you, try to avoid the crowds as much as possible. This means staying in and enjoying time at home. Plan ahead by getting all your grocery shopping done and making sure you have no reason to travel through the seas of people.  You can celebrate by making a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner and watching The Commitments.
  • Find a sober St.Patricks day party. Keep an eye peeled for sober activities at meetings and clubs in the weeks leading up to the holiday. If you’re willing to venture through your city this is a great option for any recovering alcoholics. Most Alano clubs or AA groups have sober gatherings on holidays, and there is no better way to keep from drinking or being triggered than surrounding yourself with other sober friends.
  • Stay busy. Make a list of things you need to do and knock it out while everyone else is wasting time. By staying busy and proactive you will not only be taking your mind off of the drinking. You will be congratulating yourself and patting yourself on the back over what you’re getting done on a day most people don't remember. Make a list of ten things you want to accomplish and stay busy.
  • Keep on living your life like it’s any other day. Not all recovering alcoholics are triggered or feel uncomfortable around drinking or partying, and not all of us feel the need to change our way of living over other people just because we are sober. If this is the case, do what you would do any other day to stay sober and be grateful you no longer need to live that way.

New Hope Recovery Center is a substance abuse and addiction treatment facility located in Chicago, IL. If you know someone who needs professional help with addiction, please call for more information 1-888-707-4673.

Want more information about how to handle holidays when you are sober? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 
Family Matters and the Holiday Season The holiday season is stressful time for everyone. In this audio interview from Big Oldies 93.7 Dial-a-Doc, Charles Brookover MS, LCPC, CADC speaks about how to best handle holiday gatherings and properly set your expectations for holiday celebrations. Charlie Brookover works at FHN Family Counseling Center – Jo Daviess County at 300 Summit Street Galena, IL 61036.
Alcoholism and Addiction: How to Stay Sober While Traveling Travel season is here in full force and unless you’re going on an expedition through the Alaskan tundra, there is a good chance you will be around alcohol. Vacations are a time to relax, regenerate and enjoy yourself. Unfortunately, for many recovering alcoholics and addicts, travel can cause a lot of anxiety. Many people associate vacations with alcohol and many popular vacation spots around the world use this as a main attraction.
Addiction, Recovery and Summer in Chicago With Chicago’s summer right around the corner, everyone is gearing up for baseball games, barbecues, street festivals and long days at the beach or on the water. For those who are sober, this can sound like a nightmare instead of a holiday. The majority of summertime activities often include alcohol, but most recovering from alcohol or drug addiction seem to think they revolve around alcohol. Just because you don’t drink anymore, doesn't mean you can’t enjoy the many summer activities you’re accustomed to.
Life After Rehab: 5 Tips for the Newly Sober So you've finished treatment…now what? This is a common question people ask themselves after finishing drug and alcohol rehab. Statistics show that the days, and even hours, after leaving treatment are incredibly crucial to long term sobriety.  Addiction treatment centers provide a safe, structured environment where someone is removed from their triggers and the pressures of everyday life.  Leaving the safety net of rehab can be intimidating and even frightening to some individuals although it doesn't have to be.  There are many things newly sober people can do following treatment to ensure they maintain the sobriety achieved in treatment.

Women are the fastest growing segment of the population who abuse substances, according to several research studies that have been done recently. Although more women than ever are suffering from substance abuse disorders, there still is a small number of women who actually are receiving treatment for their addiction.

Substance abuse in women is often harder to detect than in men, and can easily be overlooked by friends, family members and health care providers.  For women, a fair amount of drinking is often done at home, during hours of the day when significant others and/or children are not at home. They are also less likely to have consequences such as a DUI because they are drinking at home. Three-martini playdates are often thought of as a fun way for stay-at-home mothers to blow off the steam of being with the kids all day and as a way to bond with other moms.

Further, many women turn to alcohol and drugs in order to be able to "do it all".  Use of stimulants can help a woman raise 3 kids, do well at a high powered job, keep up the household and still have energy for the gym on a regular basis.  On top of all of this, according to the research, women are more likely than men to see health care providers on a regular basis, thus increasing their access to prescription drugs with abuse potential.  Similarly, women are just as likely as men to drink or use drugs to medicate depression and anxiety, but are more likely than men to present to a mental health provider for help, resulting in more prescriptions for benzodiazepines and sleeping aids.

Substance abuse in women is often overlooked because the abuse itself is often normalized, seen as a response to today's pressures on women.  Often women recognize the fact that they are depressed or anxious and will go to treatment for the mood condition, unaware that substance abuse needs to be addressed as well.  If and when the need for substance abuse treatment is recognized, there are often gender specific barriers to women accessing and staying in treatment.  Some of the more common and problematic barriers are:

Fear- Women with children face the very real fear of being separated from or losing primary custody of their children.  In addition, image management, while also a factor for men, can deter a woman from entering treatment due to fears about what it will look like and what others will think about her.  Women also tend to have more fears about paying for treatment as compared to men, as many women do not earn as much as men, are underemployed or unemployed.

Childcare- It is well documented in the literature that women have a harder time accessing treatment if they are the primary caregivers of young children.  Treatment initiation and retention rates are much higher for women when there is some assistance with childcare and/or when the children are allowed to stay with the mother while she is in treatment.  For many women, paying for treatment along with childcare is too much of a financial burden.

History of Trauma-  For women with a history of physical and sexual trauma, entering mixed gender treatment is often a deterrent.  Programs that offer gender specific therapy groups and therapists equipped to handle trauma increase the success of a woman entering, staying in, and ultimately being successful in addiction treatment.

Psychological/Cultural- As stated above, women often view their own substance abuse as temporary, a crutch to help deal with the pressures of working, caring for children, caring for aging parents, running a household.  Though women are more likely than men to admit to needing help, they are less likely to actually go to treatment to get the help they need. Women also suffer from shame factors that are different from men's, and admit to higher levels of suicidal ideation and low self worth directly related to substance abuse and dependence.

The more that women's issues are well understood and addressed in treatment settings, the more successful a woman can be at obtaining help and achieving long term sobriety.  Addressing each woman's specific history thoroughly in an intake procedure can ensure that the right setting is available (i.e gender specific group for a woman with a lot of male perpetrated trauma vs. a mixed gender group for a woman needing to strengthen her platonic relationships with men).  It is also important for treatment providers to continue to address these needs along the course of treatment, as they may change, and for providers and treatment centers be sensitive to the needs of each woman individually, rather than generally as women.

New Hope Recovery Center offers gender specific programming. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment. Recovery is possible, let us help. Call us at 888-707-4673 or Email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about treatment for specific populations? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below:

Lesbians Seeking Drug and Alcohol Treatment Alcohol and drug abuse is a major concern for individuals who identify as lesbian. A reportpublished by SAMHSA in 2011 found people who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) are significantly more likely than the general population to use and abuse drugs or alcohol. This same study found lesbians are significantly more likely than heterosexual women to drink alcohol heavily.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment for Latino and Hispanic People There are several things to be aware of when working with the Spanish communities for drug or alcohol addiction.  Cultural identity is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when working with the Spanish community.  For example: Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans identify themselves as Hispanics; while Central Americans and South Americans identify themselves as Latinos for the most part.

Senior Citizens: Alcohol Abuse and Misuse Seniors citizens and alcohol abuse and misuse is a serious problem. With the rapidly growing senior population, it is more important than ever to stay informed about the potential mental/behavioral health threats seniors are experiencing. People seldom think of alcohol abuse or misuse to be a problem in the senior population and rarely see that they are at risk of this behavior. There are major life changes affecting this population, which leads many seniors to begin abusing or misusing alcohol (and medications), even if they never showed signs of this behavior earlier in life.

Student Drug Abuse Warning Signs Young adults face many temptations and opportunities to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.  As a parent, it is important to allow for appropriate independence and growth for your student or young adult, but also to keep a watchful eye looking for warning signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use/addiction. Part of growing up involves making mistakes and hopefully learning from them.  These teachable moments allow students and emerging adults to learn how to respond better in the future.

Do you worry that you or a loved one is an alcoholic or is abusing alcohol? What factors distinguish the difference between a “social drinker” and someone that has a problem?

A huge factor in what people consider to be “normal” drinking is how they grew up and the habits of those around them. Just like many things in life, people choose to compare themselves to those around them. Although you or your loved one may feel your/their drinking is normal, it could be you have set your standard of “normal” based on who you/they surround themselves with. For example: If you grew up in a home where every family gathering involved large amounts of alcohol, family members falling asleep or blacking out, this may be considered normal to you. If your friends drink daily, it is more likely that you will feel that your drinking is normal since you only go out a few times a week.

The main focus in determining alcoholism is on how drinking affects your life, your activities and your body.

Behavior Symptoms of Alcoholism

  • Hiding your drinking, drinking alone or feeling guilty about your drinking
  • Drinking alcohol at times that are not considered “normal” (morning, during the day, before you go to work, etc)
  • Regularly feeling hungover in the mornings
  • Canceling plans or other responsibilities in order to hide your drinking
  • Failing to meet obligations, commitments and responsibilities due to drinking
  • Once you start drinking you cannot stop or control your drinking until you black out or people “cut you off”
  • Worry that your drinking affects others, such as your relationships with your family and/or friends
  • Drinking has impaired your ability to function in regular activities such as working, paying bills, keeping up with personal hygiene
  • Loss of interest in things that at one time brought you pleasure (reading, working out, traveling, volunteering)
  • Drink to “escape” issues, stress, problems, or feelings (such as sadness, loneliness, anxiety)
  • Keep or store alcohol in unusual places
  • Spend a lot of time and energy on drinking and recovering after drinking

Physical Symptoms:

  • Feel physically sick when you don’t drink (sweating, shaking, nausea)
  • Develop a tolerance, a need to drink more to feel drunk
  • Redness of the nose and cheeks
  • Swollen or bloated face
  • Retain water in your abdomen
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Poor complexion, large pores

New Hope Recovery Center  treats clients who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction problems. The lists above identify a partial list of symptoms of alcoholism or alcohol abuse and should only be used as a preliminary screening. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment.

Alcohol drug addiction treatment chicago

Summer in Chicago

With Chicago’s summer right around the corner, everyone is gearing up for baseball games, barbecues, street festivals and long days at the beach or on the water. For those who are sober, this can sound like a nightmare instead of a holiday. The majority of summertime activities often include alcohol, but most recovering from alcohol or drug addiction seem to think they revolve around alcohol. Just because you don’t drink anymore, doesn't mean you can’t enjoy the many summer activities you’re accustomed to.

In early sobriety, it’s easy to be intimidated by the atmosphere of some of these events. Many of those in early recovery from addiction to alcohol or drugs wait some time before going into this type of atmosphere, which is wise.  For those who are ready, these events and activities can sometimes feel overwhelming and intimidating. Achieving sobriety is not about not having fun; it’s about having fun and staying sober doing it. By putting a few plans in place, any recovering alcoholic or drug addicted person can go out and enjoy summer without having to avoid the best that summer has to offer.

Here are 4 healthy suggestions for staying sober and having fun this summer:

1.  Go out with others in recovery:  Find other recovering alcoholics to spend your time with; it’ll remind you that you’re not alone and will keep you from obsessing about drinking. Practice strength in numbers at these events and you will be sure to have a good time and stay sober.

2.  Always communicate with others: We can’t always bring others with us; that’s when it’s important to reach out and let others in recovery know our plans. Going to an event alone and not feeling completely comfortable? Call someone beforehand and during. This brings a level of accountability we can’t always achieve on our own. Set up a schedule of different people you plan on calling throughout the event, just to “check in”.  Stay in contact with others in recovery.

3.  Prepare yourself: If you’re heading out of town, find meetings in the area beforehand. Make a list of meetings and commit to going to them when you have downtime. By having a list of meeting times and locations together before you leave, you won’t have to scramble at the last minute to find a meeting and it’ll keep you from not going to a meeting.  It will also help you schedule your vacation so your sobriety has priority.  Recently a New Hope alumni shared with us that the highlight of his trip last month was attending meetings.  He realized there were caring sober people wherever he went.

4.  Always have a backup plan: Before you go to an event or gathering, have a plan ready in case you begin to feel triggered and need to leave. Know ahead of time a safe place to go to and what you will tell others if you do leave. Never feel embarrassed or ashamed for leaving early, your sobriety always come first.

Whether you have 10 days or 10 years, sobriety in the summer can be a weird time for anyone in recovery. It’s important to take precautions, but it’s even more important to have fun. This time of year is a wonderful time to be clean, sober and recovering. There is no reason to spend these months hiding from the fun.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, please contact New Hope Recovery Center or call 888-707-4573.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

emerging adult binge drinkingEmerging Adulthood, the period of life from approximately age 18 to the late 20s, is not only a critical time for psychological and social development, but also for physical brain development. Contrary to a popular assumption that the brain is mature by the age of 18, recent studies have shown that profound brain growth and change still occur during Emerging Adulthood. [Studies]  The heavy use of drugs and alcohol during this time frame can inhibit a person’s brain development and have long term consequences.

Brain Development during Late Teens and 20s

To better understand the consequences of binge drinking or drug use on the brain’s development; let’s examine how the brain is growing during this period. During these ages, the prefrontal cortex, one of the last areas of the brain to develop, rapidly grows and expands by creating new synapses between neurons. This allows for thinking and responding on new levels while at the same time undergoing a pruning process to discard rarely used neurons increasing overall brain efficiency. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning and thinking ahead, prioritizing, problem solving, decision-making, regulating emotions and balancing risk and reward. Although these tasks can be done at earlier ages, after the full development of the prefrontal cortex, these functions take less effort and can be performed much better. Ask any parent of a teenager how well their teen can handle the functions described below:

Positive Impact of These Brain Changes

More Complex Thinking - The Emerging Adult experiences an increased ability to understand abstract ideas, values, perspectives and thoughts, such as mathematics, sciences, and philosophy.

Appreciation for Diverse Views - Where adolescents tend to use a right/wrong framework, Emerging Adults can increasingly see and understand many points of view at the same time. They more fully value the diversity of people and perspectives and learn to appreciate that there can be many right answers to a problem.

Less Self-Centered - By being able to see multiple perspectives, Emerging Adults begin to form and experience relationships that are less self-centered.

Regulating Emotions - An Emerging Adult can better regulate emotions and make decisions based on more than just immediate sensations.

Risk-taking and Decision-making - With the increased ability to consider both the present and the future at the same time, Emerging Adults are better able to weigh immediate rewards against future consequences. Emerging Adults have an easier time balancing risk and reward and making decisions about their future. They can also more effectively weigh the impact their choices have on others.

As anyone who has worked in the Alcohol and Drug Addiction field knows, these cognitive functions are often limited or impaired when someone is in the middle of their addiction. Emerging Adults can be at greater risk if their brain development is inhibited during this critical time.

Vulnerability During Emerging Adulthood

The rapid growth and changes in the brain during Emerging Adulthood are exciting. However, because this is a time of rapid growth, it also means the brain is more vulnerable if the growth is stunted during this time. [Studies] have shown that Emerging Adult brains are particularly vulnerable to trauma and abuse, as well as heavy use of alcohol and drugs. Brain scans have shown that heavy drinking, defined as 20 or more drinks a month, by young people can lead to decreased cognitive function, memory and attention. Sadly, the key functions of the prefrontal cortex are also the ones most needed by anyone suffering from an addiction.

Getting Help

It is important for Emerging Adults to understand the potential lifelong effects heavy drug and alcohol use can have on their physical development during this time and to learn how an addiction can impair their decision-making even further. New Hope Recovery Center’s Emerging Adult Program provides education and important life skills training to help Emerging Adults flourish and grow during this critical period of their life.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

binge drinking chicago rehab Binge drinking among emerging adults remains a major concern for parents, mental health professionals and college administrators since it is more common among those ages 18-34. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is considered 5 or more drinks for men and 4 or more drinks for women, in about 2 hours.  Those who are concerned about binge drinking have well-founded reasons given the serious consequences such as alcohol poisoning, injuries or death, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, violence, health problems, academic underachievement, mental health problems and more.

The good news is that we can use evidence-based approaches to combat this problem. Research has shown that there are interventions that help emerging adults to reduce or to modify problematic drinking.  The three interventions below are highly recommended.

1. Promote Online and In-Person Alcohol Screenings

Emerging adults who are non-dependent, high-risk drinkers account for the majority of alcohol-related problems.  Fortunately, screenings can help to identify problematic drinkers and get them connected with help. Emerging adults typically do not identify themselves as problematic drinkers.  Therefore, easy-to-use alcohol screenings, especially for those with alcohol-related violations, are crucial for early detection and intervention. Here are two great resources:

  • ULifeline Online Self-Evaluator: The anonymous Self Evaluator allows students to learn if a treatable mental health problem could be affecting them or a friend.
  • National Alcohol Screening Day:  This brief screening about alcohol use will help students get help if needed and referrals are tailored for their campus counseling center or health center. This event is held in April of every year.

2. Encourage Brief Intervention Counseling Lasting One to Four Sessions

Emerging adults who drink in ways that are harmful or risky may respond better to brief interventions consisting of one to four sessions with a trained professional. This approach is helpful to those who have experienced, or are at risk for, alcohol-related problems such as poor class or job attendance, missed assignments, accidents, sexual assault, and violence. It is designed to help emerging adults to make better decisions around their use of alcohol by providing feedback on drinking behavior with an opportunity to discuss a plan for change.  A popular evidence-based model that is used for college students is the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS). Parents may inquire about this screening at their child’s college counseling center.

3. Educate Emerging Adults to Dispel Myths about Alcohol

Emerging adults often have skewed perceptions about alcohol.  The lack of knowledge about how much others use, risks involved with using, ability to function under the influence, effects of alcohol and other misinformation places them at greater risk.  A trained professional can use data to refute misconceptions and to guide emerging adults in alcohol-use decision-making based upon real facts. When emerging adults respond to situations from an informed place, they are empowered to more effectively handle decisions and situations involving alcohol.

These recommendations offer an opportunity to identify problematic drinkers and to offer help.  Through screenings, brief interventions and education, emerging adults can receive the support needed to reduce or to modify problematic drinking. In the event a higher level of care is needed to address alcohol usage or chemical dependency, please contact New Hope Recovery Center at 773.883.3916 for an assessment.  We offer Intensive Outpatient treatment (IOP) services as well as Residential Day Treatment (RDT) for emerging adults in Chicago dealing with complications from drug and alcohol usage.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center