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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Alleged Drunk Driver Kills Bicyclist

Courtesy Orange County Sheriff's Department

Time and time again we all witness the horror of drugs and alcohol when mixed with driving. There is no amount of television advertisements that can prove to people the dangers of getting behind the wheel intoxicated, in an instant the lives of multiple people are changed forever. Everyday people make the conscious decision to put their life and the lives of others at risk because they think that driving under the influence is not that big of a deal. Well, it is a big deal as can be seen by police reports that a Newport Beach motorist who was just 22 years of age and had received more than a dozen traffic tickets in the last five years allegedly hit a bicyclist while driving drunk in Newport Coast on Monday night.

Apparently the DMV did not recognize the warning signs that Danae Marie Miller was not capable of being responsible behind the wheel and a life was lost as a result. Obviously, the DMV is not responsible for the man who lost his life riding along San Joaquin Road on Spyglass hill, but, it is hard not to feel like this could have been avoided if Miller's license had been revoked already. According to court records, Miller had been cited a total of 16 times for alleged traffic violations, clearly identifying her as a problem driver one who was unsafe on the road. The Daily Pilot reports that Miller received six tickets for speeding or driving too fast for conditions each year between 2005 and 2009, a ticket in 2006 for driving the wrong way on a street, a failure to stop at a stop sign in 2007, and tickets in 2009 and 2010 for talking on her cell phone while speeding.

Newport Beach Police Officer Rachel Johnson told reporters that Miller failed a field sobriety test, a standard test given to drivers who are suspected of being involved in a fatal crash. The man who lost his life that horrible day was Amine Britel, 41. We will be following this story as more develops and our heart goes out to Mr. Britel's family.

Anyone with information regarding the crash is asked to call investigator Todd Bush at (949) 644-3746

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, don't wait for a death to seek help.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Caffeine Doesn't Reduce Alcohol Impairment

In the past few years mixing caffeine and alcohol together has become quite popular despite the horror stories that we have heard on the news of alcohol products infused with energy enhancing ingredients. It has long been thought by teenagers and college students that by drinking products high in caffeine while you are drunk makes you less impaired or at least feel that way. The fact of the matter is that when one consumes alcohol heavily there isn't any magical property to caffeine that will sober a person up so that they can function better, or worse drive home. "High-caffeinated beverages have little or no effect on the neuromotor impairment caused by alcohol", BU Today reported Jan. 19.

Researchers at Boston University and Brown University conducted a study to determine if the claim that caffeine improved one's motor skills when drunk. Investigators from the Boston University (BU) School of Public Health and Brown University's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies randomized 127 young adults who were not alcoholics but did partake in binge drinking to one of four treatment conditions to gauge the impact of caffeine and alcohol on motor skills: beer with or without caffeine, or nonalcoholic beer with or without caffeine. After having the candidates drink till their blood alcohol content was above the legal limit to drive, they were put in a driving simulator. Their research determined that caffeine did nothing to improve one's driving ability and caffeine had barely any effect on reaction time.

Nonetheless companies market products suggesting that CAB's (caffeinated alcoholic beverages) will "enhance attention, endurance, performance, weight loss, and fun, while reducing performance decrements from fatigue from alcohol," said the study authors, who were led by BU Professor of Community Health Jonathan Howland, Ph.D.

"Regulators should scrutinize energy drink and CAB [caffeinated alcoholic beverage] advertising as it relates to promoting safety-related expectancies."

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Facts of Alcohol

Alcohol remains as one of the largest killers worldwide and the statistics are staggering. The World Health Organization (WHO) today released new figures regarding the deadliness of alcohol, claiming that alcohol was the cause for just about 4% of, or 2.5 million deaths worldwide annually. People who drink heavily, generally do not lose their lives by drinking themselves to death, but, rather alcohol-related injuries like: road traffic accidents, burns, poisonings, falls and drownings make up more than a third of the disease burden linked to alcohol consumption. A close second to alcohol was AIDS with 2.1 million deaths in 2009. Alcohol policies worldwide are too lackadaisical, leaving room for people to consume about as much alcohol as they desire placing a heavy burden on society medically, socially, and financially.

It is not just alcohol companies and government lobbyist who are to blame, thirty percent of alcohol produced worldwide is made illegally and usually the ingredients are low quality and often extremely toxic. Our world has learned to revolve around alcohol production and consumption bringing billions of dollars annually from sales and advertising. The warning labels do not get the point across to younger generations and alcohol ads at sporting events send mixed messages to fans who want to be accepted by their peers. "The harmful use of alcohol is especially fatal for younger age groups and alcohol is the world's leading risk factor for death among males aged 15-59. Worldwide, about 11% of drinkers have weekly heavy episodic drinking occasions, with men outnumbering women by four to one. Men consistently engage in hazardous drinking at much higher levels than women in all regions."

According to WHO, alcohol can be linked to 60 types of diseases and injuries, consumption has been tied to: cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, poisonings, road traffic accidents, violence, and several types of cancer, including cancers of the colorectum, breast, larynx and liver. The study suggests that a solution to helping curb alcohol consumption would be to raise the price of all alcohol, much like American tobacco companies have done. In the United States, a 10% price increase reduced cigarette consumption about 4%, then to combat the tax increase, companies began raising prices. Philip Morris raised prices by at least 71 cents a pack and R.J. Reynolds did so by at least 42 cents; a subtle price increase may deter some consumers because they have become unaffordable.

Alcohol is extremely dangerous and highly addictive, dependence is more common than total abstinence it seems. Governments need to step up their game and work harder to combat lobbyists who pad the pockets of officials who rule against new taxes and price increases. At the end of the day the reason there is so much alcohol available is because it is so lucrative...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Helping Others, Helps Yourself

Recovery is about helping oneself towards a better life, one free of drugs and alcohol. There are several roads that addicts can take to free themselves from addiction, but, there is one common theme to a successful recovery - helping others. Helping other addicts stay sober is crucial to one's own sobriety; it's called giving back to the community that helped you stay sober. The old saying, "If you want to keep it, you have to give it away" - pay it forward. A sober community works together to help keep addicts grounded and keeps them moving in the right direction. The more connected to that community you are, the better your chances for living a healthy sober life for many years to come.

An associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Maria E. Pagano, believes that addicts who help other addicts by providing structured support through participation in community service programs helps keep one's ego at bay and reduces selfishness; egocentricity and selfish behavior are one of the root causes of relapse, by working to curb those elements of one's life you can increases your chance of a healthy recovery. "The research indicates that getting active in service helps alcoholics and other addicts become sober and stay sober, and suggests this approach is applicable to all treatment-seeking individuals with a desire to not drink or use drugs," Pagano said in a university news release. "Helping others in the program of AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] has forged a therapy based on the kinship of common suffering and has vast potential."

Pagano calls this activity the "Helper Therapy Principle" (HTP), where one addict helps them self stay sober by helping another addict stay sober. This principle can be found every day in 12-Step rooms, the goal of helping members "stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety."
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