Chronic Alcohol Consumption Linked to Circadian Rhythm Defects

Results shall soon be published in the Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research journal indicating that the expression of our circadian clock genes can be altered by chronic alcohol consumption.

In particular, lower levels of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) can be found in the circadian clock genes of individuals with alcohol dependence causing sleep problems and mood changes.

The term circadian comes from two Latin terms, circa meaning around and diem or dies meaning day. Circadian rhythmicity is present in the sleeping and feeding patterns of animals and it regulates our core body temperature, brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities.

“The appropriate expression or regulation of these genes is necessary for any organism to efficiently "program" physiological and behavioral activities in order to ensure survival” says Sy-Jye Leu, a researcher with the Taipei Medical University and corresponding author for the study.

By examining the blood samples of 22 alcohol dependent males and 12 healthy subjects, Leu and her colleagues were able to discover lower levels of mRNA in the circadian clock genes of the alcohol dependent males.
"In other words, chronic alcohol consumption was associated with a destruction of normal circadian clock gene expression," said Leu. "This altered expression is closely related to circadian rhythm dysfunction and might link to a variety of physiological problems such as sleep/wake cycle dysregulation, depression, and even cancer."
Consequently, chronic alcoholism could lead to permanent damage to the circadian clock genes as patients did not show any improvement when exposed to early alcohol withdrawal treatment.

How is your biological clock functioning? The following depicts a typical circadian rhythm for an individual that rises early, eats lunch around noon and sleeps through the night:



Chronic Drinking Can Disrupt Circadian Rhythms
Circadian rhythm

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Addicts in the UK May Soon Be Cut Off Welfare

As part of their efforts aimed at reducing the whopping £20billion benefits bills, the UK Government is examining the idea of a “financial benefit sanction” for applicants that fail to pursue treatment for their addiction.

The strategy is intended to push addicts into recovery and back into the workforce and off welfare. However, besides the fact that this violates human rights, Simon Antrobus, from the drug treatment charity Addaction, cautions against such actions:
“Remove financial stability during that time and you can severely damage someone’s chances of beating an addiction. More likely, you could increase their chances of turning to crime to find an alternative income.”
Indeed society will find the idea attractive because it supports recovery and getting lives back in order. Who wouldn’t find that appealing when addiction destroys lives, families and societies all over the world? And, of course, in many cases it costs taxpayers a lot of money. In spite of this, society should be asking itself if this is really the best option for improving lives, the economy and society as a whole.

Undoubtedly many users are already funding their habit by committing crimes, but taking away the pittance they may receive from social assistance will probably lead to an increase in criminal activity.

Moreover, removing social benefits will likely increase homelessness, thereby raising the rate of unemployment. That being said, perhaps the UK government should take a closer look at employment programs geared toward welfare recipients. This might actually encourage them to seek recovery and aspire to get off the system on their own.

Of course, job readiness will not be instantaneous, but as part of the recovery process, employment might actually help addicts to feel included and less marginalized in society, which can be an important component in maintaining sobriety.

It seems the UK has not completely thought this through as many questions are left unanswered. For instance, one is left wondering what criteria will be used to label recipients as addicts and who will label them.

In my opinion, the cost savings will be short-lived. What is yours?

Should addicts be allowed to receive welfare?




Addicts refusing treatment may have benefits stopped
DRUG ADDICTS TO LOSE BENEFITS

© www.understandingaddictions.com

A State-Fostered Addiction to Online Gambling in the Cards for Ontario

The Ontario Government has decided that gambling at casinos and local corner stores is not creating a sufficient amount of revenue. Therefore, they plan to introduce Ontarians to online gambling in the comfort of their own homes.

Anyone that has set foot in a casino has seen the large number of regulars with their zombie-like expressions plugged into a slot machine. Not only will this make it almost effortless for faithful gamblers to feed their addiction, it will also attract many amateurs that have shied away from the noise and chaos of the casino.
“With no pressure to say when to stop and without real tangible money being paid out at the counter, the urge to say "just one more time" while sitting at the computer keyboard will be hard to resist for those who are tempted.”
Despite any efforts the government puts forth to control online gambling, there will still be a number of minors gambling with their parents’ credit cards.

At one time, McGuinty called video lottery terminals the 'crack cocaine' of gambling, where he reflected on the obvious: that money would be better spent on basic necessities of life. It seems he has since had a change of heart.
“It's a pastime in which, as New Democrat Peter Kormos charmingly put it Thursday, a player doesn't even have to shower or bathe to pursue the constantly alluring, but rarely conquerable, Lady Luck.”
Come 2012, Ontario can expect that people with problem gambling or a susceptibility to it will be more isolated and less engaged in their life, which will eventually lead to more poverty, more homelessness, more unemployment, more impact on healthcare, more broken homes…to name a few.

Definition:

Problem gambling, formally known as ludomania, is an urge to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. It is often defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler's behavior.

Severe problem gambling may be diagnosed as clinical pathological gambling if the gambler meets certain criteria. Although the term gambling addiction is common in the recovery movement pathological gambling is considered to be an impulse control disorder and is therefore not considered by the American Psychological Association to be an addiction.

Diagnosis:

Diagnostic Criteria (5 or more of the following symptoms):

1. Preoccupation. The subject has frequent thoughts about gambling experiences, whether past, future, or fantasy.

2. Tolerance. As with drug tolerance, the subject requires larger or more frequent wagers to experience the same "rush".

3. Withdrawal. Restlessness or irritability associated with attempts to cease or reduce gambling.

4. Escape. The subject gambles to improve mood or escape problems.

5. Chasing. The subject tries to win back gambling losses with more gambling.

6. Lying. The subject tries to hide the extent of his or her gambling by lying to family, friends, or therapists.

7. Loss of control. The person has unsuccessfully attempted to reduce gambling.

8. Illegal acts. The person has broken the law in order to obtain gambling money or recover gambling losses. This may include acts of theft, embezzlement, fraud, or forgery.

9. Risked significant relationship. The person gambles despite risking or losing a relationship, job, or other significant opportunity.

10. Bailout. The person turns to family, friends, or another third party for financial assistance as a result of gambling.

Treatment:

Most treatment for problem gambling involves counselling, step-based programs, self-help, peer-support, medication, or a combination of these. These can include:
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA): a 12-step model similar to AA and NA.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): therapy that focuses on the identifying gambling-related thought processes, mood and cognitive distortions and building skills for preventing relapse, becoming assertive, problem solving and reinforcing proper behavior.
  • Paroxetine: an SSRI that has proven to be efficient in treating pathological gambling.
Some U.S. Statistics:

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Addiction is a high risk with online gambling
Coyle: McGuinty's gamble lacks ‘moral purpose'
Problem Gambling
Gambling Facts and Statistics

© www.understandingaddictions.com

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