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Bruni Brewin JP

Australian Hypnotherapists Association -

President Emeritus – AHA (Life)



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In a study of more than 125,000 people, one cup of coffee per day cut the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 percent. Four cups per day reduced the risk by 80 percent. The coffee effect held true for women and men of various ethnic backgrounds.  It is unclear whether it is the caffeine or some other ingredient in coffee that provides the protection, said study co-author Dr. Arthur Klatsky of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.


Of course, there is a better way to avoid alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, Klatsky said.  “The way to avoid getting ill is not to drink a lot of coffee, but to cut down on the drinking” of alcohol, he said.


Heavy episodic drinking is a major health issue for Australia, as it is for most developed countries.  It has been estimated that, from 1993-2002, over 2500 young people aged 15-24 have died from alcohol-attributable injury and disease, with another 100,000 hospitalised.


This is despite a new study showing that young people in Australia have a very high awareness of standard drink labeling.  Unfortunately this awareness is used to choose drinks that will get them drunk in the quickest time possible.  So whilst early studies showed that standard drink labeling enables you to drink safely and responsibly, this motivation is not evident in the consumption choices with young drinkers.


The risk of being hospitalized from being violently assaulted increases when there is increased alcohol sales near the victim's residence, finds a study in Toronto, Canada.  The researchers identified 3,212 people aged over 13 years who had been hospitalized over a 32-month period because of a serious assault.  For every extra 1,000 l of alcohol sold per store per day (a doubling of alcohol sales), the overall risk of being hospitalized for assault increased by 13%. At peak times of alcohol sales, the risk of assault was 41% higher than at times when alcohol sales were lowest.


If you choose to drink, remember:  Eat before you drink, space your drinks with water and other non-alcohol drinks, organise safe transport (e.g. utilise the bus service), say no when you know you've had enough, don't leave your drink unattended, don't mix alcohol with other drugs, don't drink at all before undertaking any risky activities (e.g. swimming, driving or boating), and support your friend's decision if they choose not to drink.


Stubbies, cans and bottles of alcohol drinks are labelled to show how many standard drinks are in that one container.  The recommended low-risk drinking levels for the general population are:

Males: No more than 6 standard drinks on any one day.  No more than 28 standard drinks in a week.

Females: No more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.  No more than 14 standard drinks in a week.

Everyone should have 1 or 2 alcohol-free days a week.  Try not to drink beyond these levels and keep any drinking to a minimum. Most importantly, you should not drink to become drunk. This increases your chances of being involved in accidents, engaging in unsafe sex and being more vulnerable to violence and sexual coercion.


Given the complexity of alcohol's effects on the body and the complexity of the people who drink it, blanket recommendations about alcohol are out of the question. Because each of us has unique personal and family histories, alcohol offers each person a different spectrum of benefits and risks. Whether or not to drink alcohol, especially for "medicinal purposes," requires careful balancing of these benefits and risks. Your health-care provider should be able to help you do this.


Young people can have less tolerance to alcohol because of a smaller body size and lack of experience with alcohol. There is evidence that the earlier a person starts to drink the greater the risk of alcohol-related problems later in life.

Female Alcoholics Can Develop Cognitive Problems More Rapidly Than Male Alcoholics.   Researchers and clinicians already know that alcohol abuse and/or dependence can lead to severe and potentially irreversible brain damage. It is also known that women, when compared to men, seem to become more "damaged" by chronic alcohol abuse within a shorter period of drinking and with less overall consumption. A new study shows that female alcoholics may also sustain greater cognitive damage than male alcoholics.


References:

JAMA and Archives Journals, Almost one-third of Adults Report having some form of alcohol use problem during their lifetime. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070423185706.htm  

Ray JG, Moineddin R, Bell CM, Thiruchelvam D, Creatore MI, et al. (2008) Alcohol sales and risk of serious assault. PLoS Med 5(5): e104. [link]

Drug and Alcohol Services of South Australia website – New Australian Alcohol Guidelines released 6th March 2009 http://www.dassa.sa.gov.au/

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, April 24, 2007 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070423185702.htm




- Alcohol -

Throughout the 10,000 or so years that humans have been drinking fermented beverages, they've also been arguing about their merits and demerits. The debate still simmers today, with a lively back-and-forth over whether alcohol is good for you or bad for you.


It's safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison. The difference lies mostly in the dose. Moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Heavy drinking is a major cause of preventable death in most countries.


Alcohol is the most widely used mind-altering drug.  It is legal, it is socially acceptable and easily able to be purchased just about anywhere.  A lot of adults would acknowledge having some form of Alcohol use problem in their lifetime.

Alcohol has stimulating, depressing and mood-altering functions that leave practically no circuit or system of the brain untouched. This range of effects is what sets alcohol apart from many other drugs.  It acts as a stimulant when it directly stimulates those brain cells, which lead to feelings of pleasure and euphoria. It is a depressant when it slows the brain down and reduces tensions and worries. It can affect our judgement and make us do things we would not usually do when sober. Alcohol acts as an anaesthetic when it slows down our reflexes and our coordination. It can put us to sleep, it can induce a coma and it can kill.