Monday, March 20, 2017

Anxiety Is a Stronger Harbinger of Alcohol Problems Than Stress

Anxiety Harbinger of Alcohol Problems
Newswise, March 20, 2017 — Stress and anxiety are widely believed to contribute to drinking. Alcohol is thought to reduce tension caused by stress (the “flight or fight” response) as well as alleviate the unpleasant symptoms of anxiety (anticipation of the unpredictable, impending threats).

Prior research, however, has yielded inconsistent findings as to the unique relations between stress and anxiety, on the one hand, and alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorders, on the other hand.

This study was designed to examine how differences in self-reported levels of anxiety, anxiety sensitivity, and perceived stress impact the frequency and intensity of drinking, alcohol craving during early withdrawal, and alcohol craving and stress reactivity.

Recent drinking was assessed in 87 individuals (70 men, 17 women) with alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Three distinct measures were used to evaluate anxiety, anxiety sensitivity, and perceived stress.

A subset of 30 subjects was admitted to a medical center to ensure alcohol abstinence for one week: measures of alcohol craving were collected twice daily. On day 4, subjects participated in a public speaking/math challenge, before and after which measures of cortisol and alcohol craving were collected.

In these heavy drinkers, measures of anxiety as compared with perceived stress were more strongly associated with a variety of alcohol-related measures.

While alcohol studies often use the terms anxiety, anxiety sensitivity, and stress interchangeably, this study showed the importance of differentiating among the three terms given their unique relationships with drinking, craving, and stress reactivity among individuals with AUDs.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Alcohol’s Effect Can Be More Damaging to Women

Alcohol effect can be more damaging to Women
Newswise, March 9, 2017— Listen up ladies.Women simply don’t metabolize alcohol in the same way as men. It’s called the telescoping effect.

Several research studies have shown that some women who drink heavily can do as much damage to their bodies in four to five years as a man who has been drinking for 20 to 25 years, according to Laura Veach, Ph.D., director of screening and counseling intervention services at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“It has something to do with the concentration of water and fat, but we’re really not sure that we understand the whole picture because there is much less research on how women process alcohol,” Veach said.

“We do know that alcohol stays in the liver longer in women than in men, which may explain why women can experience more impairment and liver damage.”

Knowing what constitutes a standard drink size and learning to count and visually measure drinks can help women stay healthy, just as getting an annual physical or skin cancer check does, Veach said.

Here are some things to remember:
• According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s website Rethinking Drinking, a standard drink is five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or one-and-a-half ounces of liquor.
• A regular bottle of wine contains five standard drinks.
• For women, no more than seven standard drinks a week are recommended.
• Risky drinking is considered to be four standard drinks in any one day or drinking episode.
• It takes about an hour per drink for the liver to metabolize alcohol.

“Get a measuring cup and pour out five ounces of wine to see what that really looks like,” Veach said. “It might surprise you to see how it looks in a wine glass, especially because the size and shape of glasses can vary so much. 

“That one simple thing can really help you keep track of how much you are drinking the next time you’re out with friends and help you avoid risky drinking.”