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Alcohol Abuse | Causes Major Life Problems
  • Even moderate drinking can damage the brain.  Researchers define moderate drinking as up to 10 beers/week, or about 2 bottles of wine, or 21 shots of liquor.  It can increase the risk of hippocampal atrophy, a form of brain damage that affects memory and spacial navigation, causing a steeper decline in cognitive (mental) skills.  Those drinking moderately were 3 times more likely to have hippocampal atrophy compared with abstainers.  The researched was conducted over 30 years among 10,000 British adults.  (Source:  Researchers at the University of Oxford and University College London, British Medical Journal, about June 2017)

  • Alcohol is a Carcinogen.  Alcohol consumption, even in moderation, has been shown to be a causative factor in a wide range of cancers, including cancer of the head and neck, esophagus, breast, colon and liver.  Even light drinking increases for risk of cancer.  Drinking alcohol can also have an adverse effect on treatment and outcomes for patients with cancer.

    ASCO (American Society of Clinical OIncology) says that 7 out of 10 Americans are unaware of the link between alcohol and cancer. 

    To reduce the risks, the statement includes several recommendations. They include
    • tighter restrictions on the days and hours of alcohol sales;
    • higher taxes on alcohol;
    • limiting alcohol advertising to youth;
    • providing alcohol screening and treatment at medical visits.
    • if you don't drink, don't start. 
    • if you drink, reduce your consumption; but remember, even light drinking increases your risk of cancer.
    • stop drinking alcohol for 20 years or more, to equal a person who never drank. 
      (Source:  "Even light drinking may raise cancer risks, doctors warn," by Robert Preidt, Healthday, CBS News, Nov. 8, 2017; and "Even moderate alcohol consumption may increase risk of certain cancers, experts warn," by Catherine Thorbecke, ABC News, Nov. 7, 2017; and research from the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

  • Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in one or more of the following situations within a 12 month period:
  1. Failure to fulfill major work, school or home responsibilities
  2. Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, such as while driving
  3. Having recurring alcohol-related legal problems (driving under the influence, or physically hurting another while drunk)
  4. Continued drinking despite having ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by the drinking.
  • Alcohol abuse is a chronic disease characterized by the consumption of alcohol at a level that interferes with physical and mental health, and with family and social responsibilities.  It is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, and usually follows a predictable course with recognizable symptoms.
  • Alcohol Use and Abuse is Increasing Dramatically.  Alcohol use, high-risk drinking and alcohol dependence all increased dramatically in the United States from 2002 to 2013, researchers reported, with spikes in overall drinking and problem drinking highest among women, the elderly, and minorities.

    ”These are the largest alcohol increases we have seen in three decades,” said lead author Bridget F. Grant, PhD, of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  “The focus has been on opioids, heroin, and marijuana use, but these are low prevalent disorders. Thirty million Americans now abuse alcohol.”

    High-risk drinking was defined as four or more standard drinks on any day for women, and five or more on any day for men, and exceeding these daily drinking limits at least weekly during the past 12 months.

    The increases were described as "alarming" and "unprecedented" by the authors of the study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, and warned that they constitute a public health crisis currently overshadowed by the focus on other abused substances.

    "Most people do not seek treatment for alcohol abuse, and for those who do, it is very hard to get," said study co-author Deborah Hasin, PhD, of Columbia University in New York City.  She said, "There is also a common misperception that treatment is not very effective for alcohol disorders, but, in fact, it can be very effective." 

    The study findings highlight the urgent need for increasing access to alcohol treatment in the U.S.   (Source:  JAMA Psychiatry, Schuckit MA "Remarkable increases in alcohol use disorders" JAMA Psych, August 2017)

  • Millions of Americans drink alcohol.  Research indicates that alcohol has some benefits; however, the negative consequences of alcohol use far outweigh the positive. 

    Alcohol is a powerful, addictive drug.  When consumed, inhibitions are reduced.  In other words, under the influence of alcohol people do things they would not normally do.  They cannot drink and have full control of their thoughts and actions.  Consequently, alcohol use is strongly linked to higher rates of suicide, spouse and child abuse, fatal car accidents, rape, job loss and crime such as robbery and assaults.  Alcohol use may have some benefits, but the costs are too great. 

  • Drinking alcohol is detrimental to your health," according to Dr. Holly Phillips.  Health risks of excessive drinking include binge drinking (4 or more drinks in one sitting for women, or 5 or more for men).  It also includes heavy daily drinking, which is 8 or more drinks per week for women, or 15 for men.  Short term, it causes alcohol poisoning, car crashes, and violence.  Long term, it causes breast cancer, liver and heart disease.  Women who drink alcohol are far more likely to get breast cancer than women who drink no alcohol at all.    (Dr. Holly Phillips, CBS Morning News, Nov. 21, 2014)

  • Substance abuse has been found to co-occur in 40-60% of IPV (intimate partner violence) incidents across various studies. Several lines of evidence suggest that substance use/abuse plays a facilitative role in IPV by precipitating or exacerbating violence

    Spousal abuse has been identified as a predictor of developing a substance abuse problem and/or addiction. Additionally, women in abusive relationships have often reported being coerced into using alcohol and/or drugs by their partners. Substance abuse and high-risk alcohol use/abuse are more prevalent among women who experience IPV compared to a cohort with no IPV experience. In a study of prenatal patients in North Carolina, victims of violence were significantly more likely to use multiple substances before and during pregnancy than those who had no experience of IPV (American Journal of Public Health). It is known that many episodes of IPV involve alcohol and/or illicit drug consumption. Research has found that on days of heavy drug and/or alcohol use, physical violence was 11 times more likely among IPV batterers and victims.
    (Source:  Intimate Partner Violence and Co-Occurring Substance Abuse/Addiction, by Richard G. Soper, MD, JD, MS, FASAM, DABAM, Editor-in-Chief | October 6, 2014, ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine)

  • Think drinking a little alcohol doesn't hurt anyone?   Tell that to: 
    • Families who have lost family members or have been seriously injured due to alcohol-related auto accidents.  
    • Women who are frequently abused and raped by by men who try to excuse physical and sexual assaults, because of alcohol impairment.  
    • Children who are abused and afraid of their alcoholic parents. 

    • Children born as fetal alcohol babies, who will live a lifetime with irreversible birth defects.
    • Children/youth who drank before their brains were fully developed, leaving them with diminished mental capacity and an increased likelihood of becoming an alcoholic.  
    • People who can't keep a job because of chronic alcoholism.  
    • 700,000 people in the U.S. who receive treatment for alcohol-related health problems every day.
    • Countless people who will die prematurely due to alcohol-related diseases. 

  • Drunk drivers disable and kill countless people very year. 

    Former Congressman Michael D. Barnes stated, "Drunk driving is a national epidemic that threatens every American across the nation.  Drunk driving is the most frequently committed violent crime in the U.S. today."

    President Ronald Reagan,
    speaking to the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving said, “Drunk driving is a national menace, a national tragedy, and a national disgrace.  It is my fervent hope that this report will receive the attention it deserves, and that it will speed the adoption of whatever measures are appropriate to remove this hazard from our national life.”   (from the book "Drinking and Driving War in America," p. 2, by Chris Overbey)

  • DUI's in Washington State.  Washington State law requires anyone arrested for a second DUI charge be taken to jail.  Prosecution will result in an interlock system to be installed on the suspect's car within 5 days of release.  The suspect will be required to submit to daily testing for alcohol and drugs, plus electronic monitoring of people convicted of multiple drunken-driving offenses as an alternative to incarceration.  (This bill was sponsored by Senator Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley.  Gov. Jay Inslee called these tougher DUI standards "an important step in saving more lives."  Olympia, June 2013)

  • Alcohol abuse touches one-third of families and is involved in one-fourth of hospital admissions. It plays a major role in death, bad health, and diminished accomplishment.   (source:  George E. Vaillant, Triumphs of Experience, The Men of the Harvard Grant Study, 292. By comparison, a separate long-term study of active Church members was very positive (see L. Breslow and James Estrom, “Lifestyle and Reduced Mortality Among Active California Mormons, 1980–2004,” Preventive Medicine [2008])

  • A research project was commenced in the 1940s.  Initially there were 268 men who were attending Harvard University and were periodically studied over their entire lives. Later others, including women, became part of the study. The goal of the original study was to find out about success and happiness. The study showed that college entrance scores and grade averages did not predict either success or happiness in later life.

    This study contains three significant insights for us today.  First, adult happiness had a high correlation with childhood family happiness, especially love and affection from their parents.  Second is the importance of a healthy, stable marriage to lifelong happiness. 

Third is the negative effects of alcohol on marital and lifetime success and happiness.  Alcohol abuse touches one-third of families and is involved in one-fourth of hospital admissions. It plays a major role in death, bad health, and diminished accomplishment.  (source:  Decoding Keys to a Healthy Life, http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/20212/02/decoding-keys-to-a-healthy-life/; and George E. Vaillant, Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study (2012), 108–9.)

  • There are 10,000 alcohol-impaired driving deaths that are entirely preventable in the U.S. each year.  Alcohol-impaired driving remains the deadliest and costliest danger on U.S. roads, accounting for 28% of traffic deaths.  Each day, 29 people in the U.S. die in alcohol-related crashes and many more are injured; and 40% of those killed are people other than the drunken driver.  (source:  Science panel backs lower drunken driving threshold," by Joan Lowy, AP, Jan. 18, 2018; and the U.S. government-commissioned report by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine) 

  • Excessive drinking is taking a toll on the American economy.  The CDC reports that the cost of 2010 alone was $249 billion, including $179 billion in lost worker productivity, and another $28 billion spent on treating people with alcohol related problems.  Other costs include crimes and property damage.   (Source:  Heather Daniels, CBS Money Watch Report, CBS News, KREM 2 Evening News, October 16, 2015)

  • In 2013, 17% of Spokane County adults reported binge drinking.  Binge drinking decreased as age increased, and was more likely among whites than non-whites.  (Spokane Counts 2015, Spokane Regional Health District) 

  • Driving while intoxicated is the leading cause of traffic fatalities in Washington.
  • Mixing alcohol and drugs.  More than 150 prescription and legal medications interact harmfully with alcohol.
  • Alcohol kills more kids than any other drug.  (U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2011) 

  • Greater than 20% of male perpetrators report using alcohol and/or illicit drugs prior to the most recent and severe acts of intimate partner violence. (Intimate Partner Violence and Co-Occurring Substance Abuse/Addiction, by Richard G. Soper, MD, JD, MS, FASAM, DABAM, Editor-in-Chief | October 6, 2014, ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine)
  • Alcohol kills more Americans each year than either the Iraq War or the Vietnam War killed each year.  The U.S. has no memorial wall to remember those whose lives were ended by alcohol, whether in a traffic fatality, domestic violence, alcohol/drug abuse, or other physical trauma.    

Iraq War - U.S. Troops    
(War lasted 8 years, 9 months)
  4,484   Killed
32,200   Injured

Vietnam War - U.S. Troops 
(War lasted 8 years, 5 months)
  58,272   Killed or MIA
153,452   Wounded

2009 Alcohol-related Traffic Fatalities
 12,744    Killed in one year
http://www.Icasualties.org, http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/, http://duifoundation.org, http://cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/statecosts/index.html,

  • DUI's - 15% of adult drivers nationwide reported driving under the influence of alcohol in 2007.   (National Survey on Drug Use and Health data)
  • DUI Arrests.  DUI offenders with 4 prior DUI misdemeanors may be sentenced 22-29 months in jail.     

  • Addiction is a serious and growing problem.  Almost 22 million people in the U.S. are addicted to alcohol or other drugs.  If you add smoking cigarettes in there, it pushes the number up to 60 million people - that’s like saying everybody in California and Texas is addicted.  That is just the individuals.  It is not just a profound effect on the individual, but it affects families and the workplace and the community and society overall.  (Source:  “Addictions:  Bad Habits, or Bad Genes?”, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Pfizer, Dr. Phil show, April 15, 2016)
What You Can Do
  • There are 4 ways a man's health affects his offspring.  A fathers lifestyle may have far more effect on a child's health than doctors originally believed. Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center found, that there are 4 ways a man's health affects his offspring:
1) Kids of older fathers (40 and older) have higher rates of schizophrenia, autism, and birth defects.
2)  Your dad's diet impacts how you react to food.
3)  A dad who smokes may cause DNA damage.
4)  An alcoholic father raises the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome and developmental difficulties, as three quarters of babies with fetal alcohol problems had fathers who were alcoholics. 

Fertility specialists say men are not immune to reproductive aging.  A man's lifestyle, age, and genetics can play just as significant a role in the health of a baby as the mother's health.  ("Dads lifestyle linked to kids' health issues," and "Influence of paternal preconception exposures on their offspring: through epigenetics to phenotype," American Journal of Stem Cells, April 2016)
  • Promote "Operation Red Nose" in Spokane.   A New York City cab company tried a new experiment shortly before Christmas 2013 to keep people safer over the holidays.  Some 1800 people, including 500 on New Years Eve, who were too drunk to drive home, used a service that is changing the rules.  Cabbies took drunk drivers home in their own car.  Both the passenger and their car got a lift home, and lives were saved

    “The biggest fear that people have
    is leaving their car behind, because they don’t know if they are going to find it the next day.  That is why they get into their car and drive away, ” said Fernando Mateo, NY State Federation of Taxi Drivers.

    Passengers pay a fee to be transported home
    , and a larger fee if a second person has to drive their car home.  The fee is a small price to pay for safety, peace of mind, and the aggravation and money saved if you get stopped and go to jail.  Mateo said this program may be expanded throughout the year.    (Operation Red Nose, CBS This Morning, January 2, 2014) 

Local Organizations
Additional Resources

Abstemious Outpatient Clinic Inc.  

(509) 326-7721  

Adult Children of Alcoholics

Alcoholics Anonymous
AA Meetings
(509) 624-1442  

American Behavioral Health Systems Drug Addiction Treatment  
(509) 325-6800

Colonial Clinic Drug Addiction Treatment  
(509) 327-9831  

Daybreak of Spokane Alcohol Rehab Center
(509) 624-3227 

Drug Rehab
Addiction to drugs, alcohol and prescription drugs.  Their mission is to equip patients and families with the best information, resources and tools to overcome addition and lead a lifelong recovery. 

First Call for Help
(509) 838-4428

Excelsior Youth Centers Inc.
328-7041 ext.101  

Gateway Counseling Services Alcohol Treatment Center
(509) 532-8855

Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council
(509) 922-8383   

Healing Lodge of The Seven Nations Alcohol Rehab Center
(509) 533-6910   

Isabella House Drug Abuse Treatment
(509) 624-1244 ext. 23

Lakeside Recovery Centers Drug Rehab Center 
(a for-profit business)
(509) 328-5234

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Native Project
(509) 325-5502  

New Directions Outpatient Clinic Drug Abuse Treatment
(509) 838-0304

New Horizon Counseling Services Drug Treatment Program
(509) 838-6092 ext. 32

New Vision @ Holy Family Hospital
(509) 252-6488

Spokane Addiction Recovery Centers Alcohol Treatment Center
(509) 624-3251

Spokane Heights Detox
(for-profit business)
524 E. Francis
(509) 919-4150
Spokane Heights Detox seeks to bridge the gap between the need for physiological and psychological aspects of detoxification from addictive substances and alcohol. Their method encompasses an individualized approach to the beginning stages of the recovery process. Medical and therapeutic professionals work together with each individual in order to motivate lasting recovery opportunities and maximize treatment effectiveness.

Spokane Regional Health District Drug Treatment Program

Spokane Treatment and Recovery Services
(formerly Community Detox Services of Spokane)
312 W. 8th Avenue
Spokane, WA
(509) 477-4631

Stepps YFA Connections Drug Addiction Treatment

Sun Ray Court Drug Addiction Treatment, Adult Male Branch

Veterans Affairs Medical Center Substance Abuse Treatment Program
(509) 434-7000

Spokane Drug Rehab Treatment Centers

National Resources: 

Alcohol Answers
An informative guide containing a variety articles related to alcohol abuse and alcoholism (from causes to intervention to risk factors and more)

"Being Sober: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting To, Getting Through and Living in Recovery" by Dr. Harry L.  Haroutunian, Physician Director of the Betty Ford Center, who developed the "Recovery 101" lecture series on topics of Addiction Medicine, Recovery Issues, Communication Skills and Relapse Prevention. Dr. Haroutunian has also authored "Hijacking the Brain: How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Hijacks our Brains - The Science Behind Twelve-Step Recovery."  http://www.bettyfordcenter.org/recovery/author/Dr.%20Harry%20Haroutunian.php#sthash.JGBoohHk.dpuf

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  
A national clearing house for alcohol and drug information.  The world’s largest source for free information, programs, and projects on substance abuse and addiction treatments. 

National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides help to stop drinking.