Affects of Alcohol on Women

There have been numerous recent studies revealing an increase in alcohol abuse amongst women, and an especially high increase in the number of college girls drinking to excess.  Studies also are showing alarming evidence that women are more vulnerable to alcohol-related liver, brain and heart damage. These findings regarding alcohol and women’s health, along with the fact that women are drinking more alcohol at younger ages, reinforces the importance of effective and comprehensive treatment centers for women with drinking problems.

In a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, women were shown to suffer more severe health consequences after abusing alcohol for shorter amounts of time than men.  The studies also revealed that women are more prone to liver damage, brain damage, heart muscle disease
(cardiomyopathy), and disorders of other muscles as a result of alcohol abuse.

Additionally, a study in Sweden found that alcohol abuse boosted the risk of death by five times in women compared with three times in men.  Although experts are not completely positive as to why alcoholic women are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of their addictions than men, there are several theories that a large number of metabolic and physiologic differences most likely play a role. Women have a higher percentage of fatty tissue in their bodies and less total body water content compared with men (alcohol dissolves more readily in water than in fat). As a result, compared to a man, a woman has less water in her body to absorb and dilute the alcohol.

Another thing that researchers and physicians point to is the fact that women have lower levels of an enzyme that helps break down alcohol in their system. If you know a woman who is suffering from alcohol addiction, call Passages today.


Addiction and Family Systems

Addiction not only negatively impacts the drug or alcohol dependent individual, but it also can have detrimental consequences for the entire family. As long as an addicted person is suffering, their entire family is suffering. Nearly one third of
American families have a member with a substance abuse problem, with over one fourth of that population being within the immediate family (such as parent or sibling).

Many addiction professionals consider treatment of the entire family to be a critical and beneficial part of the overall healing process.  At Passages, we understand the damage that addiction can have on family systems, which is why we incorporate marriage and family therapy as a primary part of our treatment program.

In households with either one or more addicted family member, there are more instances of medical problems, depression, anxiety, divorce, domestic violence, and child abuse.  Individuals who are married to an addict are more likely to suffer from stress, depression, anxiety, and more frequently engage in adultery. Children with addicted parents more frequently have behavioral as well as academic problems, and suffer from low self esteem.  These behavioral patterns
continue into adulthood, as grown children of addicts often suffer from
depression and more frequently have relationship problems and problems with the law.

Once an addicted individual gets into treatment, active participation in family therapy can help the entire family heal and slowly begin to reverse these negative effects.  At Passages Malibu, our marriage and family therapists help individuals rebuild their family systems, as well as provide preventative education,  counseling and support to help avoid any more patterns of family substance abuse in the future.

Maintaining Your Sobriety While Dating

For many people, the transition back into the world of dating after achieving sobriety can be exciting yet slightly stressful or daunting.  Many newly sober individuals feel that romance and relationships are indeed wonderful, but that they can be triggers for relapse if they do not work out.

Dating does not have to be stressful or a trigger for relapse for a sober person.  Although many people associate dating with parties, meeting for drinks, or going to bars and nightclubs, there are numerous other fun activities to do while dating and remaining sober, and many people end up greatly enjoying how to learn to have fun, meet others, and date without the drugs or alcohol.

Dating sober is most effective when meeting people who are like-minded.  Whether it is meeting people through a sober community, meeting for coffee dates or other activities such as running, art, the movies, sports or yoga, sober dating can be a fun and healthy way to remain social and meet other sober people.

Most importantly, when looking for someone to date newly in sobriety, make sure to find someone who is supportive and mature and commends you for your sobriety.  They should not see it as a negative thing, but should recognize that your decision to get sober and stay sober shows that you are a responsible, dedicated and proactive person.

Fetal Alcohol Effects and Syndrome

It is well known that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is a dangerous and detrimental activity to your baby’s health. Unfortunately, many women still do choose to drink when they are pregnant.  If you are pregnant and take a
drink, whether it is a glass of wine, a beer or a cocktail, your baby is
experiencing the same health effects of the same drink.

When a woman is pregnant, whatever she eats or drinks goes directly through the bloodstream into the placenta.  For an unborn child, alcohol interferes with their ability to get enough oxygen and nourishment for normal cell development in the brain and organs. A developing fetus has very little tolerance for alcohol, and infants born to mothers who drank during pregnancy can have numerous serious side effects.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a condition of mental and physical defects which develops in unborn babies when the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome results in serious handicaps and can require a lifetime of special care for the child. Some effects of drinking during pregnancy are small body size and weight, slower than normal development and failure to “catch up,” deformed ribs and sternum, curved spine and hip, bent, fused, webbed, or missing fingers or toes, limited movement of joints, small head, facial abnormalities, nearsightedness, organ deformities, heart defects or heart murmurs, mental retardation, or severe learning disabilities If you are pregnant and have an addiction to alcohol, Passages can help.

STDs and Substance Abuse

Many studies have shown a strong correlation between heavy drinking and higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases.  Among people who drink alcohol and use drugs, the risk and occurrence of STD’s is even higher, especially amongst females. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, young adults who drink heavily are twice as likely to have sexually transmitted diseases as those who do not drink or use drugs.  This can be attributed to a number of factors.  When an individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, which have many serious and potentially lifetime consequences.  As we all know, heavy drinking and drug use can lead to serious addictions and dependence-related problems, including loss of friends, family, housing, job, health, and even
life.  According to another study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each time beer taxes go up or the legal drinking age is raised, gonorrhea rates usually dropped among young people.  This shows a direct correlation between underage drinking and sexually transmitted diseases.  In addition to sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol consumption by people below the minimum legal drinking is also associated with higher incidences of adverse alcohol-related health outcomes (motor-vehicle crash-related deaths, liver cirrhosis, suicide, and violent crime, including domestic violence). Providing education, awareness and improved enforcement of minimum legal
drinking age requirements have been highlighted as some potential strategies to
reduce alcohol consumption by minors.

How the Brain Rebounds After Alcohol Abstinence

When an individual decides to give up drinking, there are numerous positive emotional and personal outcomes they can expect. Many people do not realize the psychological and physiological improvements they will experience as well.

In a recent study, scientists have discovered new brain cell development  during abstinence from perpetual alcohol consumption. When alcohol is consumed, it results in detrimental effects on the production and formation of new neurons in the brain. Alcohol particularly affects the region of the brain that controls learning and memory, and the region that is also linked to psychiatric disorders, especially depression. When abused and consumed in excess, alcohol damages the actual brain structure and limits is functions.  This is very apparent in the brains of chronic, long-term alcoholics.

Perpetual alcohol abusers display impairments in the ability to reason, plan ahead or remember.  In the new study, researchers found an inhibition of brain cell development in several alcohol-dependent individuals, and then observed a definite increase in new neuron formation and function after four-to-five weeks of abstinence. These findings are significant in regards to treatment of alcoholism and mental recovery.  Alcohol wreaks havoc on the brain and body, and many times a person does not realize how much it has caused them to mentally deteriorate or how their mental function has been impaired until they actually stop drinking.  At Passages Malibu, we see clients every day begin to experience the countless positive results of alcohol abstinence.

Passages Malibu and Pot

Cannabis (or more commonly known as marijuana, weed, or pot) is a very popular and prevalent drug in the United States.  It is even legal for medicinal purposes in some states; however, marijuana is highly abused.  When an individual smokes or ingests marijuana, the individual will experience distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory.

Several research studies have shown that chronic marijuana users have difficulty learning and decreased memory function, which can last for days or weeks after the actual physical “high” or effects of the drug wear off.  Therefore, chronic marijuana abuser are functioning at a suboptimal intellectual and physical level of capability all of the time.  Many studies also show a direct correlation between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and various mental illnesses.

There are numerous misconceptions about cannabis addiction and treatment and about the actual addictive qualities of marijuana.  Many pro-marijuana users ridicule the idea that marijuana is addictive.  At Passages, we see people addicted to marijuana every day.  Marijuana is a gateway drug, meaning that individuals who abuse it typically drink alcohol more and abuse other drugs, drastically increasing their chances for becoming addicted to numerous substances.  Cannabis has definite withdrawal symptoms when an abuser stops using, which include vivid dreams (caused by the chemical THC), anxiety, irritability, decreased appetite, paranoia, tension and insomnia.

At Passages Malibu, we treat marijuana addiction and provide a medically supervised detox.