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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Surgeons With Alcohol Problems

Working in the field of medicine can be a high stress job especially if one is a doctor performing surgery. A number of surgeons choose to use alcohol as a coping mechanism, which in a number of cases has led to addiction according to a new study. Researchers found that about 15 percent have alcohol abuse or dependency problems, a rate above the general population’s nine percent.

What’s frightening about these statistics is that surgeons who showed signs of alcoholism were 45 percent more likely to admit that they had a major medical error in the past three months, according to Reuters.

Michael Oreskovich at the University of Washington headed up the new study. A survey was sent to more than 25,000 surgeons and 7,200 of them reported alcohol abuse or dependency.

Oreskovich said, “The nature of the beast is that the percent of emergencies, the percent of after-hours work and actual scheduled work itself all require an energy and concentration that is really different than a lot of other specialties.”

The study was published in the Archives of Surgery

Friday, February 17, 2012

National Guard At Risk Of Alcohol Abuse

Serving in the military can be extremely hard on people, mentally and physically, due to nature of the job. Post traumatic stress affects countless soldiers in every branch of the military and it is often the case that drugs and alcohol become veterans’ coping mechanism. A new study has found that National Guard soldiers who do not have a history of alcohol abuse have a huge potential of developing alcohol-related problems while they are deployed and afterwards.

963 soldiers in the Ohio Army National Guard who said they had not abused alcohol prior to their active duty took part in the study conducted by researchers at Columbia University. The study found 113 soldiers, or 11.7 percent, reported an alcohol abuse disorder first occurring while they were deployed or afterwards. Among these soldiers, 31 percent also reported depression, 20 percent reported PTSD, and 13 percent reported both, the researchers write in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Among soldiers who developed alcohol abuse problems:
  • 97 percent were male
  • 74 percent were younger than 35 years old
  • 45 percent were single

“A novel finding of our study is that developing depression or PTSD during or after deployment were strong risk factors for having alcohol problems during the same time period,” researcher Brandon Marshall, PhD said in a news release. He noted that because new cases of alcohol abuse were most common among soldiers who experienced depression and PTSD, it is possible that these soldiers self-medicate with alcohol to cope with negative feelings and the stress of deployment.

“The high prevalence of alcohol abuse during and after deployment observed here suggests that policies that promote improved access to care and confidentiality merit strong consideration,” he added.


Friday, February 10, 2012

The Life of Mark David Allen

Many of us in the addiction and recovery community of Southern California and across the country are familiar with the sad story of the life of Mark David Allen. Mark was a diehard alcoholic who resided in Newport Beach for years and left a mind boggling trail of arrests in his wake before passing away face down in the street at age 50 on Wednesday, February 1, 2012. 520 arrests in Newport Beach, at least 277 cases filed against him by prosecutors in Orange County, and an unknown number in Hawaii or any other place he may have lived over his life time.

Over the years alcohol dramatically affected Allen’s life and the transformation he endured was documented by Newport Beach Police Custody Officer David J. Sperling. For more than a decade, Sperling recorded Allen's frequent visits into the city jail, recording Allen's 500th arrest last summer. No matter how hard people tried to help Allen find his way into a life of recovery, it never worked as he would always find his way back into a bottle.

While Allen’s story may be a sad one, to many outsiders it might sound like the same old story, alcoholic can’t stop drinking - alcoholic dies. However, when Allen allowed Officer Sperling to create a documentary with the footage he had collected over the years he did a great service. The documentary titled “Drunk in Public” shows firsthand what alcohol can do to someone, where it can take you, and how it can kill you if something doesn’t change.

Sperling said Allen's life is a cautionary tale.

"Mark brought it all to life, the whole concept of: 'If you do this, this is what's going to happen,'" he said. "With Mark you got to see the despair acted out. He's living the rock bottom and showing people it's not all it's cracked up to be."

"Drunk in Public" has won awards at film festivals across the country and it is nothing short of a masterpiece. If you haven’t had an opportunity to watch the film we strongly suggest that you take the time.

We pray for Mark and invite you to watch a trailer from “Drunk in Public”.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Hidden Crisis On The Roads

Schumer Called Drugged-Driving “a hidden crisis on the roads”

As more and more people receive prescriptions for powerful pain narcotics like oxycodone, there are more drugged-drivers than ever which has become a major health concern. This is why a New York Senator is pushing for $140 million dollars for research into drugged-driving tests.

People arrested for driving on drugs has surged 35% statewide in the past decade, but the tests required to catch more of them are essential, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.

“If people next year knew that they’d be tested for drugged driving just like they are tested for drunk driving, it might deter them from doing it to begin with and save lives,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters in midtown.

Schumer is sponsoring legislation that would bring $140 million in National Highway Transportation Safety Administration funding for research to create tests that police can use when conducting traffic stops where they suspect the driver of being high. Schumer believes that there should be a push to create saliva swab tests and even a breath test.

Unfortunately, there is currently no way for a police officer to test for drugs on the scene, suspected offenders need to be brought downtown and tested either at the station or a medical facility which can be taxing for everyone.

Some of the money would go towards training the police in recognizing signs of drivers’ drug use.

Again, prescription drug abuse has been on the rise across the country in the past decade, statewide arrests in New York for drugged-driving have increased 35%.
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