Category Archives: Alcohol

Sober Curious, what is it and how does it benefit us?

Being sober curious is when a person decides to stop drinking, either permanently or temporarily. They may even engage in something called “mindful drinking”, where they drink occasionally and only moderately, instead of getting drunk. This movement has taken on waves, especially in January with “dry January”.

Sober curious allows for people to see how their body reacts without alcohol and how their lives differ from when there is alcohol involved. These people generally call themselves sober curious because they do not attend meetings and do not presume that they will abstain from alcohol for their entire lives. In fact, these people often identify as not being addicted to alcohol, but rather choosing to stop for various reasons such as anxiety, cost, or being health conscious.

Numerous people reported really good outcomes from abstaining from alcohol, some of which included:

  • Better sleep. Many research studies show that alcohol negatively effects sleep patterns. It makes it so that we never fully enter deep sleep. Further, with drinking generally comes late nights and getting to sleep much later, resulting in much fewer hours of the needed sleep.
  • Better skin. Without consuming alcohol, we tend to cut out a lot of the sugars that we drink, whether it be from the wine or the mixer we use with hard alcohol. Sugars negatively affect our skin. Alcohol also dehydrates us, which includes drying out of the skin and not getting the important vitamins that we need that keep our skin looking healthy.
  • Better overall health. Often people go out for a night of drinking and not only end up consuming empty carbs through their alcohol, but they end up getting food after the night, usually something greasy and high in fat. By consuming more calories, especially empty calories, we are jeopardizing our health and wellness. If hangover takes place the next day, usually a breakfast sandwich or ‘hair of the dog’ is the “cure”, which further leads to the consumption of empty calories, likely increasing weight if done on a continuous basis.

A common realization is that it is possible to have fun without drinking. It is possible to let go and enjoy a night out, whether it is dancing, or at a wedding, while not having to be consuming alcohol. And the best part about it all – you remember everything that happened.

Ultimately, being sober curious just means that you want to see how alcohol influences you and how it impacts your body. For some people, this turns into abstaining from alcohol indefinitely, but for others this results in mindfulness drinking or drinking only on special occasions. This new movement is great for our overall health and wellness, both physically and mentally, and really changes the conversation from being either a drinker or a non-drinker, to allowing for multiple pathways that best suite each individual.

Drinking Alone: the Predictor to Something Worse

Recent research has found that teens who drink alone are at a higher risk for adverse effects compared to those who drink socially. This research found those teens who drink alone tend to drink higher quantities of alcohol. It seems as though alcohol becomes a negative coping mechanism for these teens. Comparatively, teens who only drink in a social setting tend to have the reasoning of socializing versus coping.

Teens who are drinking as a coping mechanism are in a vulnerable state and will often drink more to cope with these feelings, feelings such as rejection, being lonely, anxiety, or depression. Being in a vulnerable state leads to a decrease in cognitive functioning and ultimately can lead to the increase in drinking.

The study done by  Pittsburgh Adolescent Alcohol Research Center found that students who reported drinking alone between the ages of 12-18 were more likely to be dependent on alcohol when resurveyed at the age of 25. This is indicative that early solitary drinking is a huge link to alcohol dependency.

So, what does this show? Given that the solitary drinking tends to come through as a maladaptive coping skill, it shows that there are most likely co-occurring disorders. By opening up conversation and destigmatizing mental health, it would likely help to decrease this solitary drinking, ultimately decreasing dependence.

Having an open line of communication can help create positive coping skills. Further, by opening the line of communication, it helps teens feel less lonely, as they will have other people to turn to in a time of need. Encouraging positive coping skills such as reading, writing, drawing, talk therapy, and exercise can significantly help the mental health of a teen.

Ultimately, drinking alone from an early age is linked to a dependence on alcohol late in life. Whether this link is due to earlier onset of drinking, higher frequency of drinking, or utilizing alcohol as a coping skill is relatively unknown but providing teens with a way to communicate their underlying reasoning for drinking can reduce the negative effects this drug has on the young brain, by decreasing the amount that a teen drinks.

Tackling Opioids Through Prevention 2 by Sarah Keir

Drinking too soon: What are the Consequences?

Drinking alcohol is something that is often seen as a rite of passage. The older children get, the more they are likely to try drinking. Buying and consuming alcohol is legal for those age 21 and up, federally. Individually, states have laws regarding underage persons being able to consume alcohol in the presence of strictly their parents, with their parent’s permission.
Though other countries have younger drinking ages, from as low as 16 in Germany for wine and beer, there is a good reason to wait until the age of 21 to start drinking. Drinking before the brain is fully developed can impact the growth and connections that the brain makes. The last part of the brain to fully develop is the frontal lobe. This part of the brain is in charge of decision making, understanding consequences, and emotional regulation.

Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it slows down physical and psychological activity. It also activates a neurotransmitter called GABA which slows everything down and relaxes us. But, alcohol is known to activate the entire rewards system, making it extremely addictive. With the rewards system being fully activated, it only encourages drinking more.

But what does all of this mean?

The combination of alcohols effect on the brain and the lack of development of the brain can make it hard for someone young to stop drinking, and can encourage bad decisions while drinking. Inhibiting the brain processes of an already underdeveloped brain makes decision making skills few and far between. Further, due to not being fully aware of or concerned with consequences can result in extreme risky behavior while drinking. This is commonly seen in the news, as seen with the Penn State hazing of Timothy Piazza. With all underage students drinking, the risky behavior was elevated and the decision making skills were decreased, as a result, no one called 911 and a life was lost.

Aside from just the effects on the brain, the earlier and more frequently a person is introduced to alcohol, the more likely they are to build up a tolerance. Tolerance means needing more alcohol to get a buzz or to feel tipsy or drunk, resulting in significant over drinking.

Drinking is not something that should be viewed as a rite of passage. The negative effects on the undeveloped brain can result in permanent damage and delays. The decisions made while drinking are irreversible, though these decisions are not always life or death, they can be. Before picking up that first drink as someone under 21, it is important to ask yourself if it is worth the experiment. The drinking age is 21 for a reason, and a good one at that.

Stop the Pain

 

The Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris, in collaboration with Life Center Stage, created an awareness campaign Share Your Story #Stop The Pain, focused on bringing light — through stories, photography and videos –on how the opioid epidemic affects real people! This initiative, which started with three 30-second Opioid Awareness spots featuring people sharing how the opioid crisis has personally affected them, also impacted those telling their stories. After filming the 30 second spot, Loren O’Donnell expressed, “I unleashed repressed feelings, I needed that. Thank you. I am forever grateful” Learning how sharing had made a difference, CCSHM invited the community to share their stories and experiences with opioids, addiction, stigma- as well as their stories of hope and recovery- on our website  stopthepainnj.org  The website will showcase the stories, videos and photographs from the Stop The Pain Opioid Awareness Spots, #StopThePain social media feed of publicly posted stories along with up to date resources for those struggling with this opioid crisis. We invite you to visit the link below and submit your own story.