At least one in five men in developed countries are at risk of abusing or becoming dependent on alcohol during their lifetimes, researchers in the United States said on Sunday.
The risk is about half that for women, who have an 8% to 10% chance of becoming dependent on alcohol. And despite the popular belief that nothing works, there is help in the form of several effective treatments, they said.
"This is a serious problem," Dr. Marc Schuckit of the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and the University of California said in a telephone interview.
He said men have roughly a 15% lifetime risk for alcohol abuse, and a 10% risk for alcohol dependence.
"Once you carry one of these diagnoses regularly, you tend to cut your life short by 10 to 15 years," he said.
His findings, published in the journal Lancet, are meant to guide doctors on how to spot and treat their patients for alcohol dependence disorder.
This includes a range of problem drinking behaviours such as spending too much time drinking, having trouble stopping once started, skipping important life events to drink or recover from a binge, and setting and exceeding a self-imposed limit on the number of drinks a person plans to consume.
The definition also includes more classic signs of alcohol addiction such as withdrawal.
They said repeated heavy drinking increases the risk of a temporary bout of depression by 40%. And 80% of people who are dependent on alcohol are regular smokers. Some 40% to 60% of the risk of problem drinking can be explained by genes, and the rest by environmental factors, Schuckit said. That may explain why women have a lower lifetime risk.
"This is a cultural issue. More women than men are lifelong abstainers. A higher proportion of women than men never open themselves to the possibility of alcoholism be-cause they never or very rarely drink," Schuckit said.
He said heavy drinking raises the risk of heart disease and cancer, even in those who do not smoke. And despite perceptions that treatments do not work, he said most patients with alcohol-use disorders do well after treatment.
About 50% to 60% of men and women with alcohol dependence abstain or show substantial improvement in a year after treatment, which can include drugs such as Forest Laboratories Inc's Campral or acamprosate, naltrexone, also known as Revia and Depade, and disulfiramacamprosate or Antabuse. Schuckit said these should be used in combination with therapy aimed at helping people change their behaviours.
source: The National Post
Adults who supply booze to other people's children without parental consent will soon be liable for a hefty fine.
Police Minister Jim Cox yesterday announced the crackdown to prevent the "horrific, unpleasant and sad" effects of underage binge drinking at private parties.
The law changes were prompted, in part, by the case of Penguin boy Taylor Forward who was supplied with vodka and fell into a campfire at a friend's party in 2005.
"Too often we hear and see the effects of young people being supplied with alcohol and left unsupervised," Mr Cox said.
"Not only can this result in direct harm from excessive alcohol consumption, it also means young people are at risk of forming binge-drinking behaviours and not learning responsible drinking."
The change means the adult supervisor at the party would take full legal responsibility for the actions of underage drinkers at the event.
That could create a scenario where invitations to underage parties could go out with parental consent forms granting children permission to drink.
"I think if invitations went out and parents were prepared to take responsibility for other under 18s, and a permission slip was put in there, that would be a great idea."
Mr Cox rejected suggestions the laws would have the effect of normalising underage drinking, but would allow parents to introduce their children to alcohol in a controlled way.
Assistant Commissioner Phil Wilkinson was confident the new legislation could be policed.
"As it stands at the moment, on private premises it is legal for underage people to drink, so this extends it and gives parents an additional level of control over what their children do," Assistant Commissioner Wilkinson said.
Taylor Forward's mother Vicki welcomed the move, which follows a 3 1/2-year fight for legislative change.
"This is not to stop everyone drinking when they are under 18 but it is about having more control and accountability to protect kids," Mrs Forward said.
State Schools Parents and Friends Associations president Jenny Branch said underage parties were still a big problem.
In 2007 the National Drug Strategy household survey found 22 per cent of teenagers over the age of 14 drank alcohol on a weekly basis.
"I have heard of cases where kids go out every weekend -- parents feel like they are losing kids to places they don't want them to be and a life they don't want their children to be in," Ms Branch said.
"Hopefully these new laws will give children and parents the opportunity to negotiate what is responsible and what is not."
Australian Hotels Association state manager Steve Old lauded the proposed crackdown.
source: The Mercury
Teenagers die from alcohol related illness or injury more than anything else.
With that in mind the Sydney Western Area Health Service is desperatley pleading with parents to educate their teens about the risks of excessive drinking.
Sydney West Area Health Service Drug and Alcohol Network Acting Nurse Manager Cathleen Addison-Wilson said it was estimated more than 40 per cent of 16-17 year olds occasionally binge drink.
Furthermore, up to 22 per cent of boys and 18 per cent of girls aged between 12-16 years old reported drinking on a weekly basis. .
"Alcohol impacts upon an individual’s capacity to make rational choices and evidence is clear this is even more so for adolescents, placing them at further risk of harm and injury from misadventure," said Ms Addison-Wilson.
"Over recent years, we’ve seen an increase in `alcohol-pops’ – pre-mixed alcohol and soft drinks. When young people consume these drinks, which are in effect a stimulant and depressant mix, they are more likely to black out and take part in anti-social behaviour."
Ms Addison-Wilson said parents should know where their teenage children were when they out for the evening and who they were with.
"Most alcohol related issues occur when young people are returning home," she said.
Ms Addison-Wilson suggests parents make a 'contract' with their adolescent to pick them up, regardless of their level of intoxication.
"This has been shown to reduce the chance of injury, assault and anti-social behaviour," she said.
Ms Addison-Wilson said it was vital for parents to communicate with their teenager as they became more exposed to alcohol – through their mates, peers and the media.
"The attitudes and actions of teenagers are often heavily influenced by what they see and hear at home. If you choose to discuss your own alcohol use with your teenager, it is important not to glorify your own behaviour," she said.
"Be careful not to sound hypocritical. If you drink, try to avoid getting drunk in front of them."
source: Street Corner