Many people are aware that excessive drinking can be harmful to the liver and other vital organs; however, there is another, less obvious, body system that is vulnerable to the negative effects of alcohol: the immune system.
Because of alcohol’s effects on the immune system, people who drink to excess are at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases, may have more complications after surgery, and often take longer to recover from illness, compared with those who drink at lower levels. Disruptions in immune system function also contribute to organ damage associated with alcohol consumption.
An Alcohol Alert issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reviews the normal workings of the immune system and explores how alcohol interferes with these functions.
Alcohol’s Effects on the Immune SystemAlcohol consumption can alter the number, survival, and function of most immune cells.
Although these alterations alone may not be sufficient to adversely affect one’s...
Fewer Americans said they drove under the influence of alcohol In 2014 compared with 2002, according to a new government report.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found 11 percent of those surveyed said they drove under the influence of alcohol in 2014, down from 15 percent in 2002, HealthDay reports.
An estimated 28 million Americans admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol in 2014.
“Although it is heartening to see a downward trend in levels of driving under the influence of alcohol, it still kills thousands of people each year and shatters the lives of friends and loved ones left behind,” Frances Harding, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, said in a news release. “We must strive to save lives by reducing this public health threat through education, prevention, and all other possible measures.”
Many teens who smoke also use alcohol, marijuana and other tobacco products, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego studied 176 teen smokers and found 96 percent said they used at least two other substances besides cigarettes, HealthDay reports.
The study found 16 percent of teen smokers said they used harder drugs, such as Ecstasy, cocaine or hallucinogens, or they misused prescription drugs.
Most of the teens in the study smoked five or fewer cigarettes a day. “This tells us that multidrug use among adolescents may be more prevalent than we think, and that even kids who smoke only occasionally are likely to be doing other drugs,” said lead researcher Karma McKelvey.
The findings appear in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
In recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine, President Obama said that marijuana use should be treated as a public-health issue similar to tobacco or alcohol and called the current patchwork of state and federal laws regarding the drug “untenable.”
In the Rolling Stone interview published this week, Obama also reiterated his long-standing position that changing federal marijuana laws is not something the president can do unilaterally. “Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict,” he said, “but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration recently turned down a petition to lessen federal restrictions on marijuana, citing the drug's lack of “accepted medical use” and its “high potential for abuse.” Congress could resolve the conflict...
The National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence—Orange County in Lake Forest, CA has, among its major goals, to provide information, education, prevention, and referral in eliminating alcohol, tobacco and other drug-related problems in its community.
Studies have shown that teens who consistently learn about the risks of alcohol, marijuana and drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use those substances.
To help carry out this goal, the Council has developed a “Parent Toolkit” which is a resource guide to help raise kids free of alcohol/other drug use. It includes a variety of items drawn from several sources.
One section is a list of Skill Sets that children need to guard against addiction which includes:
• Coping Skills• Social Skills• Life Skills• Emotional Regulation Skills• Critical Thinking Skills• Distress Tolerance Skills
Another is a chart of The Resiliency Wheel with elements for Building Resiliency in the Environment and others...
A new study shows that 11 of the 15 cancers responsible for premature death and loss of healthy life years in US residents are closely linked to smoking and alcohol.
The report was published online October 18 in the Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The loss of healthy years of life is measured as disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). One DALY is the equivalent to loss of 1 year of healthy life and is a combined measure of mortality, incidence, survival, and quality of life.
In a story that appeared in Medscape Medical News, the report shows that men and women shared the cancer burden equally, with each group losing 4.9 DALYs of healthy life years. However, the cancer burden was 20% to 30% higher in African Americans than in all races/ethnicities combined.
Populations with the next highest DALYs, in descending order, were non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic Asians.
The story goes on...
The rate of smoking and drinking is declining among American teens, a survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) finds.
Last year 9.6 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 said they used alcohol in 2015, compared with 17.6 percent in 2002, The New York Times reports.
About 20 percent of teens said they smoked last year, compared with 32 percent in 2002.
The survey also found that last year, one out of five adults in American met criteria for a mental illness or substance use disorder, but only 3 percent of them received services.
“These are potentially life-threatening, disabling conditions,” SAMHSA Principal Deputy Administrator Kana Enomoto said in a news release. “Our country must redouble its efforts to provide evidence-based prevention and treatment services in every community to ensure all Americans get the help and hope they need to lead healthy and productive lives.”
Stanford University recently announced a new school policy banning large containers of hard alcohol from undergraduate housing and events.
Specifically, the new policy bans containers 750 mL and larger of distilled liquor, spirits and hard alcohol -- a standard-size bottle of vodka or whiskey -- for all undergraduates on campus, including students who are over 21.
The new policy was announced in Inside Higher Ed .
In a statement, Stanford noted that “policy is aimed at reducing the availability and accessibility of hard alcohol and the high-risk behaviors that can accompany heavy drinking, including those that might lead to sexual assault.”
According to reports, victims’ advocates argue that the policy -- which comes after the university was the site of a high-profile rape case in which alcohol was consumed -- puts the onus on victims to avoid drinking rather than on would-be attackers to not assault.
According to a 2001 survey...
Alcohol is now recognized as the leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disorders in the United States.
Each year thousands of children are born with life-long disabilities because they were exposed to alcohol prenatally.
On September 9th, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recognizes International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day as a reminder that there is no “safe” level of drinking while pregnant.
First recognized in 1999, International FASD Awareness Day helps raise awareness about the range of conditions that can result from alcohol use during pregnancy.Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 in 8 women drinks during her pregnancy, putting her child at risk for a variety of issues including low IQ, learning disabilities, speech and language delays, behavioral problems, vision and hearing problems, and problems with vital organs, among others.
Alcohol can damage the developing fetal...
Teens who have easy access to drugs or alcohol may be at increased risk of substance use in adulthood, a new study suggests.
The effects are stronger for white people and males, UPI reports.
Researchers from Michigan State University analyzed data from 15,000 teens and young adults.
The study found teens with easy access began using drugs and alcohol at a younger age, and were more likely to be using one or both substances later in life. The findings appear in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse.
“These findings provide evidence that the availability of illegal drugs and alcohol in the home while growing up is a critical factor in the later use of substances,” lead researcher Cliff Broman said in a news release.