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Family Guidance Blog

Alcohol-Dependent Women at Twice the Risk of Early Death as Men

Alcoholism 4Research shows that biological differences may make women more susceptible to the effects of alcohol. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines moderate drinking in women as one drink daily but can include up to two alcoholic beverages for men in a 24 hour cycle.

A Huffington Post article underscores women’s vulnerability to alcohol. Susan Foster, VP and Director of Policy Research and Analysis for CASAColumbia, states that when consuming similar amounts of alcohol as men, women experience higher instances of health problems and greater risk of addiction. Women also tend to be hospitalized more for alcohol use than men because of higher body fat compositions, which aid in alcohol retention in the bloodstream.

A German study sought to further explore the gender-based effects of alcohol’s toxicity. Researchers from the Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine at University Medicine Greifswald, Germany examined 149 men and women who met the criteria for alcoholism outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Health (DSM).

When compared to a control group, alcohol-dependent men had a death rate twice that of non-dependent peers, whereas women with dependency exhibited a death rate four times higher than the non-addicted group. In contrast to other members of the population, men and women with dependency were also shown to reduce their life expectancy by an average of 20 years.

During the follow-up research, dependent women were shown to be at a particularly greater risk for alcohol-related mortality. Fourteen years after the study elapsed, researchers discovered that 18 percent of men with alcoholism had died from the condition as opposed to 23 percent of women.

Oftentimes, there are underlying issues that contribute to dependency amongst women. Signs of problematic alcohol use include multiple failed attempts to stop drinking or cut back despite a desire to do so, and consuming in excess. With assistance from the Family Guidance Center, alcohol doesn’t have to dictate the course of one’s life. With a treatment strategy that’s customized and led by the inidividual’s goals,  those living with addiction can be free to experience long, healthy, and satisfying lives.

Food Shortages Related to Mental Health Problems in Teens

Children Mental Health 2Each day children in the U.S. go hungry, and it is compromising their well being. Having one’s basic needs met is not only important for the development of physical health, but also mental health, especially for those who are young.

A new study, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, sought to determine if fear of going hungry was related to the past-year presence of mental disorders in teens. Analysis of data for nearly 6,500 adolescents was gathered from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Teens in the survey ranged from age 13 to 17. For purposes of the study, food insecurity was determined as not being able to access enough food to prevent going hungry.

Even after investigators took into account factors such as poverty and other socio-economic issues, they uncovered that even slight increases in food insecurity significantly increased one’s chances of having a past-year mental health problem such as anxiety, depression, or addiction. For each single increase in standard deviation, there was a 14 percent rise in the chance of having a mental health disorder.

This is particularly concerning because over one in five families in the U.S. cope with some form of food insecurity as reported in a Psych Central article. Per the research, food insecurity was a better predictor of mental health disorders in teens than even the parents’ education level or income.

Study authors believe the results suggest that, in addition to poverty, not having enough food to satisfy hunger further elevates the risk of mental health problems in adolescents. The findings of the study emphasize the importance of creating more programs aimed at addressing food shortages amongst children and teens.

The struggle to meet basic needs can be tough for many families, but is even tougher when mental health problems like substance abuse, depression, or anxiety are present. The Family Guidance Center has resources that can guide you through the process of assessment, diagnosis and treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with these issues, contact the Family Guidance Center for ways we can help.

Elderly at Risk of Substance Abuse

Addiction 3For some, the golden years are anything but golden. In fact, they can be a time when many adults turn to substance abuse to deal with issues of anxiety and depression. Growing older and all the changes that come with it are not always pleasant, and without proper coping mechanisms, can lead to a higher risk for the abuse of alcohol or drugs.

The elderly deal with a range of issues that many of their younger counterparts have not yet had to experience. A number have lost their life partners and have struggled with intense loneliness. Others lack a sense of purpose upon retirement. Physical aches and pains and living on limited financial resources can also be a source of tremendous stress.

An article at Psych Central pointed out that in the five year period from 2002 to 2007, figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that the number of elderly adults engaging in illegal substance abuse has doubled. Experts are concerned about these increases as well as upsurges in the abuse of prescription drugs, which increased by nearly two percent from 2002 to 2009.

A survey originating from the Hanley Center, a rehab facility in Florida, revealed that close to 50 percent of respondents misused prescription medications and many others admitted to abusing drugs or alcohol. Dr. Barbara Krantz, the Hanley Center’s medical director, says that a number of factors come together at the same time, which pave the road for addiction.

According to the survey, 40 percent of participants said their dependency ensued as they approached the age of 50. Over 90 percent revealed that they had abused alcohol while nearly half reported misappropriation of prescription drugs.

The survey also showed that people often make the decision to get help based on the urgings of family. Because most substance abuse efforts target those who are young, many in the older generation tend to fall through the cracks. Family Guidance Center can help individuals and their families identify symptoms of underlying mental illness, such as depression or anxiety disorder, that may also coexist with substance abuse problems. For more information about services to help lead you out of dependency, including Addiction Treatment  services, contact the Family Guidance Center.

Prescription Drugs Highly Abused by American Adoclescents

Perscription Addiction 1Concern over youth getting drugs off the “street” is taking more of a back seat today in comparison to the numbers of teens who are using prescription medications found in their own homes.  Adolescents have been abusing prescription medications in place of illicit drugs at higher levels than ever before, many under the assumption that they are safer since most prescriptions are obtained legally through a physician. But legal certainly doesn’t equal safe – especially if the drugs are not used as prescribed.

Per a report detailed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 70 percent of high school seniors using prescription narcotics relayed that they had obtained them from friends or family members. After marijuana, the most commonly abused drugs by kids in this age group were prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Data points to widespread availability of such drugs as part of the problem – accessibility has dramatically increased over the past several years. In the near 10 year period spanning from 1991 to 2010, stimulant prescriptions rose from 5 to 45 million, and opioid scripts also increased during this period from about 76 million to nearly 210 million.

Statistics show that 1 out of every 12 students in their last year of senior high has misused Vicodin, while figures for OxyContin abuse were 1 in 20. This is particularly alarming given the highly addictive nature of opioids and risk for overdose – fatal opioid overdoses currently surpass that of cocaine and heroin combined. Abusing drugs in the stimulant category can also result in serious health outcomes, including seizures, heart problems, and psychosis. Not only is the abuse of prescriptions dangerous, it has also been tied to increased likelihood of other types of risky conduct including abusing alcohol and other drugs.

In many cases, a teen who is abusing prescription drugs may have undiagnosed and untreated depression, anxiety disorder or another type of mood disorder that can be masked by the prescription drug abuse problem. For more information about help for teens who may have symptoms of mental illness, contact the mental health professionals at Family Guidance Center.