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Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day Sobriety Checkpoints

The map of Category:Maps of Orange County with...
Maps of Orange County with its city's boundaries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today marks the beginning of our 2012 Labor Day Holiday Weekend. For many it will be time to celebrate with family and friends, perhaps enjoy a three day weekend free from work and to commemorate all that American workers have contributed to the social and economic development of our country. There will be picnics, barbecues, parades, special back-to-school sales, but for many it may very well be a turning-point in their life as they happen upon a "sobriety checkpoint" and are subsequently ticketed for driving under the influence (DUI).

Being stopped and ultimately ticketed for DUI is a red-flag alert that the person stopped is more than likely an alcoholic, suffering from the disease of addiction. Most people who receive their first DUI will eventually admit that it was not their first time driving drunk, but in fact only the first time they got caught. For many it will make them face their demons and they will either get help on their own or be forced by the court system to seek treatment. We can all agree this would be a good outcome, as opposed to eventually harming or killing an innocent victim or themselves as a result of driving drunk.

So as the Labor Day Weekend gets underway many communities across the nation are planning for sobriety checkpoints, maybe even marking this weekend's sobriety checkpoint as a way to mark the end of the season's special enforcement period.  Orange County, California, is no exception. In fact, Orange County has a DUI campaign called "AVOID the 38." The number 38 represents the number of participating Orange County law enforcement agencies. This campaign is provided funding by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "AVOID the 38" is part of California's AVOID Anti-DUI Program. According to the California AVOID website:

"The AVOID Anti-DUI Program was launched in the winter of 1973 to bring law enforcement agencies together in countywide clusters to crack down on the drinking driver and reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by alcohol related crashes. Funding, provided by grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, allows counties to add overtime hours, reassign officers, and conduct public awareness campaigns during the increased enforcement periods. The overall goal of the awareness campaign is to let drivers know about the countywide increased enforcement periods and warn drivers that the only way to "AVOID" the county's law enforcement officers is to drive sober."

The Orange County community of Mission Viejo offers the following tips for holiday driving:

  • Arrange rides home for your friends, family, co-workers and yourself before the drinking begins. 
  • Those hosting celebrations and servers must limit drinks to your guests or patrons. Don’t serve more than one or two over several hours. 
  • Cut back on the amount of drinks you plan to bring to the party – and provide plenty of food. 
  • If you see dangerous driving, Report Drunk Drivers – Call 9-1-1! 
If you have never been through a Sobriety Checkpoint, it can be a little disconcerting even if you have not been drinking. Remember that any Sobriety Checkpoint has one goal: to save lives!  For example, in 2010 California had 791 alcohol impaired driving fatalities, of which 94 were under the age of 21.

Wishing you safe and sober Labor Day Weekend. If you realize you are suffering from the disease of addiction consider treatment.  It may save your life or the life of an innocent victim.
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Do Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels Work? Appeals Court Is Not Convinced

English: from www.burningwell.org http://www.b...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do graphic cigarette warning labels work?  Some countries believe they do and these countries have passed laws to make cigarette manufacturers place such labels on cigarette packages to encourage smokers to quit and discourage others from starting. We have known for a long time that that the nicotine found in cigarettes is addictive. It is an unhealthy habit both for the smoker and those exposed to second hand smoke. In fact cigarette smoking is a deadly habit. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)website: "Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking."

In 2009 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was granted the authority, under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, to regulate tobacco products and to force cigarette makers to cover half of all cigarette packs (as well as 20% of other advertisements) with one of nine graphic warning labels, which would be selected the FDA.  You can see FDA proposed labels here (warning: these are graphic).

Five cigarette companies decided to challenge the proposed rules set forth by the FDA. Today a U.S. appeals court ruled (2-1 decision) in favor of the cigarette companies saying:

'"This case raises novel questions about the scope of the government's authority to force the manufacturer of a product to go beyond making purely factual and accurate commercial disclosures and undermine its own economic interest -- in this case, by making 'every single pack of cigarettes in the country mini billboard' for the government's anti-smoking message," wrote Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The FDA "has not provided a shred of evidence" showing that the graphic labels would reduce smoking.'
The next stop will undoubtedly be the Supreme Court. In the meantime, other countries have passed laws to require cigarette manufacturers to use graphic warning labels. These countries include Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Chile, Uruguay, and most recently Australia.

When considering addiction, many take the stance that smoking is not as dangerous or deadly as other substances. Seeking treatment for any addiction can be the first step, working a program of recovery is the next step towards health and long term recovery.

We will continue to follow this court battle...and perhaps the FDA will produce the so-called missing shred of evidence.
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Unemployment And Binge Drinking: Is There A Connection?

Karolinska Institutet, infart från Solnavägen
Karolinska Institutet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Medical research, like most research, is always open to interpretation; however, the one constant is that research results make us think, ask questions and evaluate how we view affected situations. In the field of addiction, and particularly alcoholism, research is ongoing, because the truth is we are always learning and observing what we think might be causes of the baffling disease of addiction. The emotional, physical, psychological and financial toll on the individual addict and society, as a whole, is almost incomprehensible.

If you have been employed, either for large or small company (or even self employed managing your own employees), then no doubt you have witnessed firsthand the impact that the disease of addiction can have on you, other employees, work product, and the addict. Often other people need to pick up the slack, attempt to intervene with the addict, or simply fire the one who shows up late for work, calls in absent, suffers a work injury and even drives up the cost of everyone's health insurance coverage. But now with the ongoing world-wide recession and resulting long-term unemployment researchers are trying to determine if there is any connection between binge drinking and long-term unemployment.

In the November 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research the results of a new study analyzes binge drinking as either a predictor or outcome of unemployment. Early review indicates that binge drinking among women seems to have a significant association with long-term unemployment.

This study looked at data from 13,031 Swedish residents (males accounted for 45% of those studied). Residents in the studied ranged in age of 20 to 59. Some were currently employed or on leave. Researchers collected data in 2002 and again in 2007. One question dealt with binge drinking. The corresponding author for the study was Mona C. Backhans, a postdoctoral researcher at the Karolinska Institutet. A good review of this research can be seen at Medical Xpress.
"For women, binge drinking once a week or more as a predictor was associated with long-term unemployment," said Backhans. "For both men and women, initial associations between frequent binges and any unemployment were explained by the characteristics of the binge drinkers – younger, lower educational qualifications – and in addition for men, more previous unemployment."
Research will continue and it needs to continue, most particularly because often women have not been part these types of studies. What the researchers noted is that for women binge drinking clearly preceded unemployment, as opposed to unemployment preceding binge drinking. Lesson: Make an effort to seek treatment for your problem drinking before you find yourself unemployed. Many companies have Employee Assistance Programs which will help struggling employees to get treatment and therapy.  

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Smoking, Tobacco Use and U.S. Youths

Hans Rudi Erdt: Problem Cigarettes, 1912 . Adv...
Hans Rudi Erdt: Problem Cigarettes, 1912 . Advertising poster. Color Lithograph, 26,6 x 36,9 in. / 67,6 x 93,7 cm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sometimes people wonder why we discuss cigarette smoking or tobacco use on a blog about alcoholism/drug treatment and rehab. It is a valid question. The easy answer is that tobacco and nicotine are addictive and often studies that help us understand one addiction can clarify other addictive behaviors.

Just this week the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that indicates that while there has been a slow decline in tobacco use among middle and high school students over the past decade, this decline is not as great as the decline witnessed from 1997 to 2003.   Here is what the report showed as of 2011, as reported in the Los Angeles Times:
  • 7.1% of middle school students and 23.2% of high school students used tobacco, with the rates at 4.3% and 15.8% for cigarettes.
  • More than 8% of middle school boys and nearly 6% of middle school girls used some form of tobacco.
  • Among black high school students, cigar use went from 7.1% in 2009 to 11.7% in 2011. (That includes cigarette-like cigars that can be packaged and smoked like cigarettes, but are taxed at a lower rate.) 
  • Smokeless tobacco use among high school males (12.9%) was eight times higher than among high school females (1.6%).
  • Cigarette use declined from 19.2% in 2009 to 15.8% among Hispanic high school students.
18,866 students took part in this self-reported study in 178 schools.  If you are the parent of middle or high school children, you might take the time to ask yourself how do all of these adolescents get their hands on the tobacco products. First and foremost, adolescents will get their first cigarette from a friend, or "borrow" one from their parent's pack, and from there they are off and running. They might convince older siblings or older friends to buy them a pack. Most very young children will implore their parents to stop smoking. Most parents will try to stop, but if they don't, then one day the parent turns around and discovers that they are "enjoying" a smoke with their teenager! It happens...
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Friday, August 3, 2012

Parents: Are You In Denial?

Sometimes late at night the television networks air public service announcements (PSA). Typically the goal of a PSA is to raise awareness about a social issue or health issue. The media networks air these announcements free of charge. Over the past few months The PARTNERSHIP AT DRUGFREE.ORG has been running a PSA called "Denial." Perhaps you have seen it. 

Unlike many PSAs that deal with drug addiction and alcoholism, this PSA was produced to grab the attention of parents. According to DrugFree.org's website:
'The campaign title "Emotional Drugs": the PSAs demonstrate how parents’ emotions – avoidance, fear, enabling, shame – are just as powerful and dangerous as drugs themselves.'
Many parents are so busy trying to work and keep their family going, they just don't have time to notice the little signs. It is easier to keep thinking that "what I don't know or what I don't notice won't hurt me!" Simple signs like: burn holes in your teenager's clothes, a teenager that is hard to wake up in the morning, truancy calls from the high school guidance office, a once active teenager suddenly giving up their favorite sport, a teenager not adhering to curfew, medications missing from your medicine cabinet, half-used bottles of eye drops...the red flag alerts go on and on.

In many counties across the United States the new school year is about to get underway .  As you help your teenager pick out school supplies, take some time to talk to your child. Take a good look at your child. Don't enable your child's drug or alcohol abuse by looking the other way.


If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Are you in denial?  Do you have a friend who is in denial? 
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