Alcohol + Energy Drinks = Increased Urge to Drink


Energy drinks don’t just help the drinker stay up later, say researchers; they also increase the urge to drink when combined with alcohol. A new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that when drinkers combined energy drinks with alcohol, they ended up drinking more than they set out to.

Rebecca McKetin was lead author of the study. She told Reuters: “Obviously, these findings are not going to deter young people from drinking if they want to get drunk, but they need to be mindful that they may be unwittingly putting themselves at a greater risk of accidents and injuries because they end up drinking more than they had intended.”

Increased Risk of Harm

These findings follow on the heels of a 2013 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health that found that alcohol and energy drinks combined were far more dangerous for those drinking than drinking alcohol alone. Based on this and other evidence, US manufacturers were no longer permitted to market and distribute alcoholic beverages that included high amounts of caffeine.

But this regulation hasn’t stopped people from creating their own mixed cocktails, usually combining vodka or Jagermeister with an energy drink mixer. The result is often that the person feels less intoxicated than they are and continues to drink heavily, well beyond the point of safety. They can quickly reach dangerous blood alcohol content levels and/or end up in the emergency room due to a medical emergency or accident.

A Spectrum Disorder

“Alcohol use disorder” is the clinical term used to describe anyone who has a drinking problem. This includes binge drinkers, chronic heavy drinkers, alcoholics, and those who routinely mix alcohol with other substances that amplify the effects of the alcohol.

It’s not always easy to recognize when your own drinking has crossed a dangerous line. You may feel that you drink as much as the next person – or not nearly as much as most people you know. Or you may think that you occasionally overindulge but that you’ve got it together for the most part – or that you’re just having a good time.

Whatever your characterization of your use of alcohol, if it’s routinely putting your health at risk or if you make choices while under the influence that endanger yourself and others, it’s time to look at the opportunities available to you to create positive change in your life. At Alta Mira, we offer a number of different therapeutic options to help you get back on track if your drinking has gotten out of control. Contact us today for more information.

Managing Weight, Managing Addiction: The Connection

Jogging woman

Many compare food addiction to drug addiction, citing the many similarities between cravings and the inability to stop oneself from compulsively indulging when trying to get the problem under control without help. These issues often occur for patients in treatment for either disorder.

One doctor has suggested that there are also similarities between what one has to do to overcome either disorder successfully, and that people in recovery can learn a thing or two from people who are trying to moderate their eating habits. These lessons include:

  • Support is key. Finding other people who are in the same boat or, at the very least, supportive of your endeavor to stay clean and sober is helpful. Hanging out with people who are constantly trying to put a cookie in your hand is no good for those who are trying to lose weight, and hanging out with people who are constantly trying to put a drink in your hand when you’re trying to stay sober is no good either.
  • Understand what you need to heal. Those who are strong in managing their food intake take the time to learn about the science of food, what they need to survive, and how to get the nutrients they need while burning the calories they don’t. In the same way, those who fare best in recovery are those who take the time to ascertain what triggers their cravings and to come up with an actionable plan to manage those situations when they occur.
  • Accept your limitations. Those who attempt weight loss are often disappointed in their inability to reach a certain weight or to look a certain way. Learning how to accept their physical limitations is essential to finding happiness and to managing their relationship with food. In the same way, people often sabotage themselves in recovery by taking on too much. They feel pressured to make amends for all that they did during addiction while trying to make up for the time they lost to drinking and drugs as they work double time to achieve their dreams. It’s too much to expect of anyone, oftentimes impossible, and usually ends in relapse. Learning how to accept one’s limitations is a big part of making a strong stand in recovery.

Sustainability is the primary characteristic of positive recovery techniques, whether the goal is weight management or long-term sobriety. Getting started with the right treatment program sets the stage for success, helping patients to establish themselves in recovery before they set out on their own.

Contact us at Alta Mira now and learn more about how we can help your loved one build a firm foundation in their new life without drugs and alcohol. Call today

Problem Drinking Linked With Increased Risk of Memory Problems in Senior Years

man drinkingA new finding has been added to the long list of adverse consequences caused by overuse of alcohol: those with a history of heavy drinking are twice as likely as their peers to experience memory problems as they grow older.

The study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, focused on participants who were in their 50s and 60s at the beginning of the study and who positively answered assessment questions indicating a history of alcohol abuse. About 16 percent of those who reported that they had ever felt that they should drink less, been annoyed by others criticizing their drinking habits, felt guilty about drinking, and/or drank first thing in the morning reported growing memory problems over the five-year study.

Dr. Iain Lang of the University of Exeter Medical School was lead researcher on the study. In a news release he said: “We already know there is an association between dementia risk and levels of current alcohol consumption – that understanding is based on asking older people how much they drink and then observing whether they develop problems. But this is only one part of the puzzle and we know little about the consequences of alcohol consumption earlier in life. What we did here is investigate the relatively unknown association between having a drinking problem at any point in life and experiencing problems with memory later in life.”

The Risks of Alcohol Abuse

Dementia and memory problems are just one area where alcohol seems to negatively impact heavy drinkers. The inflammation caused by regular heavy drinking has been shown to also increase the risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease and liver failure
  • Certain cancers

Additionally, social issues can become increasingly problematic as the rate of drinking increases. Many who struggle with alcohol abuse or alcoholism end up divorced, lose their jobs, struggle financially, and have few, if any, positive and healthy relationships.

Is It Time to Quit?

The questions posed to participants to determine whether or not they had previously struggled with alcohol were taken from a questionnaire designed to identify alcoholic behaviors. If you are uncertain whether or not the amount that you drink could increase your chances of developing dementia later in life, taking a long hard look at the ways that your drinking has already impacted your quality of life is a good place to start. Simple things like others expressing concern about your drinking or missing days at work due to hangovers can indicate that it’s time for you to enroll in treatment if you’re unable to moderate or stop drinking on your own.

For more information on the signs of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, contact us at Alta Mira. We can help you determine which style of treatment will best suit your needs. Call now.

Fingernail Drug Test Helps Law Enforcement ID Continued Drug Use

One of the stipulations of probation for almost everyone convicted of a drunk or drugged driving offense is that they remain clean and sober for the duration of their probationary period. Even those who avoid getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, however, often do still drink or take drugs, but they may manage to avoid getting caught, increasing the risk that they will return to chronic drug and alcohol abuse when their probation is up and again get behind the wheel while under the influence.

A new fingernail drug test may be the key to identifying those who are still struggling with drug and alcohol abuse despite the court’s warning to avoid all illicit substances. Because urine and even blood tests are only effective within a few hours to a few days of a person’s drug use, fingernails may be a better way to identify drug use and abuse that occurred outside the window of functionality for other types of tests. Fingernail tests should be able to detect drug use that occurred in the past three to six months.

Benefits of Improved Drug Testing

For the majority of people, getting behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs is not something they do. Because they are not frequently in a position to need a ride after overindulging, they have no problem being “put out” by the inconvenience of calling a cab or having someone drive them home.

But for those who have substance abuse problem, putting convenience ahead of safety is standard practice. And because they struggle with compulsive behavior as per their substance abuse disorder, they are unable to stop themselves from getting high or drinking – even when it directly defies a court order.

Rather than legal consequences, treatment is the best course of action in these situations but sometimes those who are most in need manage to avoid getting caught. When their drug use slips through the cracks, they may not realize that they have a serious problem – one that endangers themselves and everyone around them – and that treatment is the only choice.

Proof of Addiction

Proving to someone that they have a substance abuse problem is very often one of the biggest obstacles to connecting them with treatment. Families often struggle with the task of demonstrating to their addicted loved one that alcohol and drugs are taking such a significant toll on their lives that treatment is necessary. Drug tests like the one described above are one way show someone who routinely lies about their drug use that, if they feel like they have to lie, even they know that there’s a problem.

If you’re ready to help your loved one face the truth about their addiction and get the medical and psychotherapeutic care they need to overcome the disorder, contact us at Alta M

Bipartisan Bill Aimed at Fighting Prescription Drug Abuse Passes in House

energy Therapy

A bill that would alter the Controlled Substances Act to include any substance that poses a health risk now or in the foreseeable future has passed in the house with bipartisan support, reports The Hill. This would serve to change the current wording that says the law applies to substances that pose “imminent danger to the public health or safety.”

The measure is called the Ensuring Patient Access to Effective Drug Enforcement Act, and it would also allow manufactures of prescription drugs to file a “corrective action plan” with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) before a medication that contains a banned substance is suspended.

Peter Welch is a Democrat from Vermont and a co-sponsor of the bill. In a news release, he said: “Prescription drug abuse is claiming lives all across this country. Painkillers are falling into the wrong hands while delivery of these same drugs is being stalled to the patients that need them, including seniors and those battling cancer. To fix this problem, drug suppliers and federal officials need to be able to work hand-in-hand to improve our drug delivery system and that’s exactly what this legislation does.”

Taking Action

This is one of many changes that have been made to regulations and requirements designed to address the problem of prescription drug abuse in the US. Other changes have included:

  • Increasing the education of family physicians who may not recognize the dangers of different painkillers
  • Increasing the number of in-person appointments required for prescription refills
  • Increasing the education of patients on the dangers of painkiller use and abuse
  • Implementing prescription drug databases for use by doctors and pharmacist.

This latest measure will hopefully increase the ability of the medical and legal communities to limit black market access to potent and potentially deadly drugs and ensure that patients who take them medicinally continue to have access to the medications they need to manage pain.

Taking Action at Home

Though the latest move by lawmakers will do little to immediately change the day-to-day experience of people at home, it certainly highlights a problem that is impacting hundreds of thousands of families across the country. If your loved one is struggling with a prescription drug dependence or if he has moved on to heroin addiction in an effort to continue an opiate addiction issue that started with prescription medications, treatment is the only way to manage the problem.

Here at Alta Mira, we can help. Contact us today to get started.

Heroin Addiction Treatment Should Include Inpatient and Outpatient Therapy, Says Study

woman in experiential therapyWhich treatment program is the best for your family member: inpatient or outpatient care? It’s one of the first questions that families must answer when beginning the process of isolating the best possible treatment program for their addicted loved one.

According to a new study, the answer is both. Published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that patients who utilized both inpatient and outpatient treatment options fared the best when it came to maintaining sobriety after treatment for the long-term.

The Study

The study focused on heroin addiction, arguably one of the most difficult drugs to free oneself from. Researchers studied the outcomes of 139 patients in treatment and found that those who began recovery with a prescription for buprenorphine (e.g., Suboxone and Subutex) during inpatient treatment and then entered outpatient treatment for ongoing support upon release were more likely than those who received a referral for community support services to remain relapse-free.

Specifically, about 37 percent of those who enrolled in an outpatient program were still in recovery a month later while only 9 percent of those who were given buprenorphine during inpatient treatment and then given the contact information for community support services were still actively trying to stay drug-free after 30 days, according to HealthDay.

Additionally, patients who attended outpatient treatment reported that they had fewer days where they used any illicit substance and used less overall over the six months following their time in inpatient care.

The Gold Standard

In recent years, inpatient addiction treatment has been considered the gold standard in addiction treatment no matter what the drug of choice is. Round-the-clock care means that the patient enjoys medical safety and stabilization as well as protection against relapse during the critical first days of recovery.

In the weeks that follow detox, having a schedule that is dedicated to nothing but focus on health, wellness, and the exploration of self-discovery can cement the patient’s understanding not only of addiction but also of his ability to overcome the urge to relapse in the future.

Unfortunately, even in the most comprehensive, high-end programs, this is often not enough to sustain someone through a lifetime of sobriety. Follow up at an outpatient program with a personalized treatment plan and multiple therapeutic options incorporated into a weekly schedule is far better at helping patients to continue what they started during residential rehab so they can build new lives for themselves out in the world without relapse.

Here at Alta Mira, we have the resources to offer patients everything they need to overcome addiction, and we provide ongoing support to our patients as they start over in recovery. Call now to learn more about how we can help your family member overcome substance abuse and addiction starting today.