CDC Reports: Binge drinking is a bigger problem than previously thought

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a whopping one in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, and on average the largest number of drinks consumed is eight. Find out what your community can do to prevent binge drinking.

New estimates show that binge drinking is a bigger problem than previously thought. More than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink, about 4 times a month, and on average the largest number of drinks consumed is eight. Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over a short period of time.

As reported in this month’s Vital Signs, the CDC found that those who were thought less likely to binge drink actually engage in this behavior more often and consume more drinks when they do. While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month. Similarly, while binge drinking is more common among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more, the largest number of drinks consumed on an occasion is significantly higher among binge drinkers with household incomes less than $25,000—an average of eight to nine drinks per occasion, far beyond the amount thought to induce intoxication.

Adult binge drinking is most common in the Midwest, New England, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Hawaii. On average, however, the number of drinks consumed when binge drinking is highest in the Midwest and southern Mountain states (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah), and in some states— such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina—where binge drinking was less common.

Binge drinking is a dangerous and costly public health problem.

  • It is important to consider the amount people drink when they binge and how often they do so.
  • Most alcohol-impaired drivers binge drink.
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics.
  • More than half of the alcohol adults drink is while binge drinking.
  • More than 90% of the alcohol youth drink is while binge drinking.

Binge drinking costs everyone.

  • Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes more than 80,000 deaths in the United States each year.
  • Drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006, or $1.90 a drink, from losses in productivity, health care, crime, and other expenses.
  • Binge drinking cost federal, state, and local governments about 62 cents per drink in 2006, while federal and state income from taxes on alcohol totaled only about 12 cents per drink.
  • Drinking too much contributes to more than 54 different injuries and diseases, including car crashes, violence, and sexually transmitted diseases. Over time, binge drinking also can lead to liver disease, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and many other chronic health problems.
  • The chance of getting sick and dying from alcohol problems increases significantly for those who binge drink more often and drink more when they do.

What you can do.

  • Choose not to binge drink and help others not do it.
  • Follow the U.S. Dietary Guidelines on alcohol consumption; if you choose to drink, do so in moderation— no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Pregnant women and underage youth should not drink alcohol.
  • Support effective community strategies to prevent binge drinking, such as those recommended by the CDC Community GuideExternal Web Site Icon.
  • Support local control over the marketing and sale of alcoholic beverages.
  • Support the minimum legal drinking age of 21 years.

The Addiction Solution

By:  Michael Plahn

This may be the most important article on alcohol or substance abuse (or addiction) you will ever read.  This may finally be the formula for solving the addiction issue in your family?  Strangely enough, the answer is straightforward and simple in theory.  However, why does it seem that many afflicted with addiction and/or mental illness, who want to recover, continue to suffer, even after professional treatment?  Are you aware that some success rates are less than 10%?  Don’t those low efficacy rates seem absurd?

If you want to solve the addiction issue in your family, once and for all, here is the formula I’d recommend:

  • Hire a qualified objective professional to be your family’s personal advocate throughout the entire process and to help you select the appropriate level of treatment to offer to your addicted loved-one
  • Have this same qualified objective professional recommend potential solutions for you and other family members such as Family Intensives (treating the entire family system is often overlooked)
  • Have the hired professional liaise with potential treatment facilities that can execute appropriate treatment programs to meet the needs of your addicted loved-one (have your advocate help you narrow the options to 2-3 qualified facilities)
  • Have a professional execute a compassionate and dignified form of Intervention/Family Meeting to present the treatment options in a loving manner
  • Contract with the same professional to accompany your addicted loved-one to the selected facility and prepare him or her for an optimal beginning to treatment (this is much more than just getting them there safely…Contact LSA to learn how we do this and why it is so essential)
  • Follow a continuum of care recommended by the professionals and needed by your afflicted family member (Primary treatment, Extended Care, Outpatient, or Customized Aftercare specific to the individual’s needs) as recommended by the treatment facility and professional advocate initially hired by the family
  • Have the family commit to Family Intensives, individual, group, and/or 12-Step help for a minimum of six-months
  • Engage with a customized multi-disciplinary program (that incorporates a 12-Step program) such as LSA’s Recovery Coaching to help your afflicted loved-one to re-acclimate to the ‘Real World’ and continue to grow, change, and stay supported throughout his or her first year of Recovery

If you, and your family take all of these suggestions, then your family and afflicted loved-one will change more than you will ever believe right now.  I’m serious!  I hear a ton of excuses as to why an individual or family cannot commit to certain actions.  And, guess what?  Those people continue to suffer.  True, it is their choice, but it does not have to be their destiny.

Sadly, but understandably, most families affected by a family member’s addiction and behavior don’t believe their loved-one will really ever embrace help and change.  However, if you follow the aforementioned actions leading up to and through the entrance into an appropriate treatment facility, you will be absolutely amazed.  If you follow all of the aforementioned recommendations, it is very possible that I will be reading an inspirational book you write about the process because of the dramatic change you and your family gratefully experience.

But, that means, no short cuts! If anyone deviates from the plan (especially the addicted family member), don’t be surprised if there is a relapse, your family goes back to status quo, falls apart, or worse.  I know this sounds rigid and dramatic, but this is a terminal disease that will also rip apart the fabric of the family.  This is one of the many reasons that qualified professional help is so essential.

I am hired to provide solutions for individuals, families, and businesses…many times for individuals who are especially defiant and difficult.   Contact LSA to allow me to stop the pattern of misery and destruction addiction has caused in your life or in the life of someone you know through The LSA Pre-Treatment Solution and LSA Recovery Coaching.







How to Select an Appropriate Level of Addiction Treatment (Part 2 of 2)

By:  Michael Plahn

In Part I of this article, I wrote about 12-Step programs, individual and group counseling, and different levels of Outpatient Treatment.  The highest level of care and support is available at an in-patient ‘Residential’ program.  These programs are designed to encompass 30-90 days of primary treatment (but length of stay depends on the patient’s condition and progress as well as family resources).  There are some amazing residential treatment facilities that can help your loved one.

I am a big proponent of facilities that offer comprehensive multi-disciplinary assessments (e.g. Caron Treatment Centers) to determine the correct diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan.   It just makes sense, doesn’t it?  Facilities that I personally like offer an entire continuum of care, as is the case at Promises, which allows the patient to continue to progress while maintaining the continuity of the same surroundings and treatment team.  Facilities such as The Canyon and Casa Palmera treat addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders (also called ‘Dual-Diagnosis’) for individuals struggling with mental illness along with addiction.  Some residential facilities, such as The Meadows, specialize in treating addiction and trauma.  For licensed professionals, there are facilities that offer specialized tracks catering to their specific concerns and needs (available at Hazelden’s Center City location).  I have also found companies such as Treatment Solutions Network to be very helpful as they represent a variety of facilities.

Although programs may share a similar classification (IOP, PHP, or Residential) there are tremendous differences in one facility’s program versus another.  This is one of the big reasons why a knowledgeable objective professional can help with this decision (you may be comparing apples and bowling balls without realizing it).  To further complicate the situation, if you are counting on your health insurance plan to cover the treatment, think again.  It is essential to ascertain the level of coverage you have in your particular plan.  Many residential programs do not accept any insurance coverage (it can be a self-pay facility), but some do and I hate to keep making you read this, but without an objective professional, you may never find the facilities that may be appropriate for your loved-one AND accept your loved-one’s insurance.

The goal, as I see it, is simple, you want to make sure that if your loved one is going (that is a big if without a professional to facilitate an objective and compassionate Intervention) to an addiction and/or mental health treatment facility, that they get APPROPRIATE TREATMENT to meet their needs.  If not, it is very likely they are going to get discouraged, struggle, possibly drop-out of the program, and or relapse (or worse).

It can play out like this: the afflicted person who was pushed into treatment by their significant other and without professional guidance required a different or higher level of care, they were approached with this by the treatment clinicians and staff, the patient became agitated and refused to change levels of the program, let alone facilities, and leaves the program.  Another sad, but common situation is:  the afflicted person agrees to enter treatment but only if they can go to a program that they approve.  Being an over-achieving people pleaser, who is certainly not telling the staff how they feel or divulging all of the secrets they are ‘taking to their grave,’ does everything necessary to quietly and successfully complete an outpatient treatment program.  They say they plan on attending AA as a maintenance program, but are hiding bottles and pills in a matter of weeks.  Many times, in either of those cases, those same individuals are even branded with “they just weren’t ready to change or stop using,” by family or friends.

Addiction (let alone adding mental illness if present) is a progressive and potentially fatal disease that rips apart families and takes lives prematurely.  A comparison to another potentially terminal disease, Stage IV Lung Cancer, is on point.  So, if a professional recommends professional treatment, I would not suggest that you navigate the different levels and facilities on your own (no matter how adept you are at Google searches), look for a convenient program that is “In-Network” for the insurance plan, or ignore it because “your loved-one would never agree to it” (you might be surprised if you have a professional facilitate an Intervention/Family Meeting).  Get the best and most appropriate help! In my experience (clinically and experientially), to do so will likely require an objective professional.  Contact LSA to work with an objective professional who will help with every aspect of this process in the LSA Pre-Treatment Solution.


How to Select an Appropriate Level of Addiction Treatment (Part 1 of 2)

By:  Michael Plahn

This can be a simple question to answer in some cases.  But, in others it can be a bit more complex.  One thing is certain, I do not recommend that you tackle this issue without the guidance of an objective addictions professional.  That means, I do not recommend that you seek counsel on this decision from: your family doctor, a physician friend (who is a well-known surgeon and you’ve know since high school), your Psychologist (who you have seen for ‘years’) who does not specialize in addictions and Co-Occurring Disorders, or your brother who has been in AA for twenty-five years (God Bless him).  SEEK OBJECTIVE GUIDANCE FROM AN ADDICTIONS PROFESSIONAL to help you make the decision (and not necessarily the nice person from the insurance company; remember that your insurance company is trying to keep their costs down).

This is such a large topic, that I will have to break it into two entries.  My hope is that you will get a cursory understanding of some of the primary treatment available and the jargon used to describe it.  I will write soon about Aftercare, Extended Care, Recovery Coaching, and other subsequent solutions that are extremely important to a long-term solution.

There are a variety of options that could be considered a positive action for an addicted person to take to address their addiction (and possibly related issues).  However, there are some important things to consider.  First, if your loved-one is addicted to alcohol, then they are at risk for a serious and potentially deadly side effect during detoxification (called delirium tremens) that must be monitored by medical professionals.  Similarly, if they have been taking a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, they are also at risk for seizures.  Additionally, your loved-one may have other issues (trauma, Depressive Disorders, or other mental illness) that must be taken seriously, need to be screened for or addressed, and as a result, this makes professional treatment the prudent choice.

A 12-Step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous could be a first-entry point to help the addicted person, but only after the aforementioned issues have been screened for and addressed.  AA is a non-professional spiritual solution that has saved and changed millions of lives (it is not group therapy).  12-Step programs are a crucial component of a proven path of long-term recovery (that are usually introduced during primary treatment) and will likely be recommended by professionals for your loved-one after they successfully complete a professional treatment program.

Now to tackle the different types of professional treatment.  First, there is individual or group counseling—it is a minimal amount of care (roughly one hour per week) and usually better served as a means of support and help after an individual has been to a professional treatment facility.  However, if you were seeking such a solution, I would recommend looking for a professional with a minimum of a Masters Degree (Social Work, Counseling, or Clinical Psychology) along with a certification called a CADC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor).

Typically, most professionals consider ‘treatment’ to begin with outpatient programs at a professional addiction treatment facility.  The lower level of this type of treatment is called an Intensive Outpatient Program or “IOP,” which typically may meet for three (3) hours (usually in the evenings) for four days a week for roughly six weeks.  The next level of care is called a Partial Hospitalization Program or “PHP”.  This is usually 6-9 hours/day Monday-Friday and a few hours on Saturday for about 25+ days (many times determined by insurance coverage and the progress of the patient).  In most cases, unless otherwise noted, there is not housing for the patients; they typically stay at home and commute to these programs.  The advantage with semi-supervised housing (available at a program like The Professionals Program at Resurrection Hospital in Chicago, IL) is in developing peer support and keeping the focus on treatment (it also allows the family a break and time to begin healing).

As this article is getting lengthy, I will stop here and continue in Part II.  In the second part of this piece, I will continue to write about the types of treatment, beginning with Residential Treatment, and what to look for in a program if your loved-one needs help.  Please remember that my succinct solution for this topic is to engage an objective addictions professional (available through LSA’s Pre-Treatment Solution) to guide you through this process as your advocate.


Hitting Bottom: A Deadly Myth About Addiction

By: Michael Plahn

Following is a flat-out myth that I have encountered with multiple clients and prospective clients in the past few weeks; it is a commonly accepted view held by many (even some in recovery, who are unaware of proven clinical methods) about the addicted or persons suffering from certain mental illness.

“I know they (addicted person) must “hit bottom” before they can get help. I know there is really nothing anyone can do until this happens and they become willing to change.”

Yes, an addicted person is likely unable to change without help.  One of the main reasons is that addiction affects the mind and prevents some of the brightest and even high-functioning individuals from seeing the same reality as seen by an outsider.  Addiction and/or untreated mental illness can create extreme levels of denial and self-deception.  For this reason, as you may have read in my previous postings, I attempt to keep logic out of the process when helping and afflicted person.  Why?  Because when it comes to discussing his or her own addiction or illness, I am not dealing with a rational or logical person.  So, I have found keeping logic out of the process to be very effective.

LSA’s Pre-Treatment Solution includes what is essentially an Intervention.  Yet, it is actually only about 20% of the entire LSA solution.  There are many other essential components to help a person embrace help willingly, as well as help the family as a whole.  LSA’s Family Meeting/Intervention is not the entire process; it is a piece of the solution.

The reason I refer to intervening on an individual, as a Family Meeting is to dispel fear caused by some coercive “sneak-attack” versions that may have been seen on TV.  At LSA, we use a transparent model with a compassionate loving approach for facilitating our Family Meetings / Interventions. Yes, we tell the addicted or afflicted person that we are going to have a meeting on a certain date…it actually establishes respect and eliminates secrets.  And, guess what?  The process is extraordinarily effective and the addicted person tends to be present at that first meeting.

Let’s get back to this question about “hitting bottom” as it is an important myth that must be dispelled (and, truthfully, its also the title of my post).  If you wait for your loved-one’s bottom, there is a high likelihood that this person will encounter tragedy and possibly die waiting for this bottom.  Addiction is a disease with endless bottoms.   If a highly trained, objective professional coordinates a compassionate approach (without negative emotion, or logic) there is a good chance the result can be different.  With this loving and compassionate approach, along with extremely detailed planning, it is absolutely possible to “Raise the afflicted person’s bottom so they can reach out and accept help.”

So, if someone you care about is in the throws of addiction and/or untreated mental illness, you can alter their path of destruction and misery.  However, I caution you as I have written before, that I still have not met anyone who has successfully facilitated this process (without objective professional help) for someone they love.  I strongly encourage you to hire a competent professional trained in a variety of Intervention formats (I recommend a compassionate and transparent format).  Contact LSA now to learn how we can help you and someone who may be in trouble.


My Family Member is Addicted…What Should I Do?

Post by: Michael Plahn

This is such a difficult, gut-wrenching, and almost impossible situation for family members to handle without objective professional guidance.  I encounter individuals and families in crisis almost daily.  Sadly, even the brightest and most psychologically minded of these people (whether the addicted themselves or someone who cares for the afflicted person) can sometimes deny that a crisis even exists.  Especially in wealthy families or with the accomplished high functioning member suffering from addiction, the word crisis may sound extreme.

Families get used to dysfunction as a perceived necessary means of keeping the family alive.  Moms, dads, children, siblings, and grandparents cover for loved-ones who are in the throws of addiction.  Its simple really, the fear of saying “no” to someone you love and risking hurting them can be too difficult.  Worse yet, with addiction, there may come a time when the addicted person may vocalize the worst fear, “if you don’t give me money or a place to stay, I may be forced to take actions that will lead to my death.”  Without professional guidance, it’s pretty difficult to deal with that type of manipulation.

So, back to the initial question.  What do you do to help your addicted loved one?  Ask them in a loving manner, and ONLY a loving manner, “to please accept help today.”  Throw out the logic, yes that’s correct.  And, PAY ATTENTION, if you engage in anything that could even be construed as a negative comment or non-verbal communication, you’re in store for a pretty brutal unsuccessful effort.  I’m serious, no matter what the addicted/afflicted person says, its imperative not to engage.  That is why I rarely, if ever, hear of a family that succeeds in having their addicted loved one accept help for their addiction unless they have a pretty savvy objective professional, guide the process.

The other key piece to helping an addicted person get appropriate help is the successful execution of the details.  You better have every arrangement already made, and double-checked.  I’m talking about knowing ahead of time what is an appropriate level of treatment and where to find that treatment (not all addiction treatment is the same, believe me!), financial arrangements made with two appropriate treatment facilities (no more than two—keep it simple), pre-admission at both treatment facilities, ground transportation, plane flights, and then who is going to accompany this terrified addicted loved one to treatment?  Honestly, the logistics are just as important as the process of asking with love (and ONLY love) to “please accept help today.”

Contact LifeSkills Authorities and learn about The LSA Pre-treatment Solution that allows us to guide you and your family through the entire process.


Support Children of Alcoholics Week: Feb 13-19, 2011

Post by Sarah Wilde

Estimates show that one in four children in the United States (about 27.8 million) are affected by or exposed to a family alcohol problem.  The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) founded the upcoming Children of Alcoholics (COA) Week to celebrate the strength, resilience and recovery of the several thousands of children (young and old) who have been close to the disease of alcoholism and addiction.   Children of Alcoholics week provides hope to those who are still suffering from the adverse impact of parental alcohol and drug addiction.

This annual celebration of hope and healing, is meant to raise awareness and spread the word on how frequently innocent children are victims of a parent’s alcohol and drug addictions.  Thousands have received help necessary to recover from the pain and losses they suffered in their childhood due to their parent’s affliction.  You can help make a difference during COA Week 2011 too.

Get the conversation started in your homes and communities; remind people that alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease and the children imacted by their parent’s disease is not their fault.   These children are suffering enough already with the loss of a parent to their alcohol or drugs; to add the shame, loneliness and embarrassment of their parent’s behavior on top of it puts immense pressure on already vulnerable individuals.  If you know a child of an alcoholic, help them.  Remind them that it’s not their fault, that they can take steps to make things better for themselves, and that there are people and programs to help.

Helping the parent get the treatment they need so that they can become a better parent is a key solution to helping these children too.   If you know someone that needs help, encourage them to seek treatment, or if necessary, work with a professional to stage an intervention.  LifeSkills Authorities can help you with one step or the whole process.  Remember, you are not only helping the parent, but you are helping their children and future generations as well.

You can also make a pledge or donation to National Children of Alcoholics by calling toll free at 1-888-55-4COAS


62% of new college kids teetotalers – Chicago Sun-Times

Given the increasing trends of adolescents and drug use, it is not often we hear positive news about kids and drug use these days, so this story caught our eye.  It appears there may be a positive effect of the down economy on students taking their lives more seriously and foregoing the booze.

Read the full story  here:  according to the Chicago Sun-Times, 62% of new college kids are teetotalers.


So Grateful for My Depression, I Could Cry

Post by Michael Plahn

Recently, I was asked by the founder of a phenomenal website, developed specifically to benefit attorneys, to briefly explain my personal experience with overcoming mental illness and addiction.  I explained how my seemingly hopeless battle led to the birth of LifeSkills Authorities and the approach I believe is necessary to find long-term relief from addiction and Depressive Disorders.  As a result, my story and the LSA philosophy of change is a featured resource on the Lawyers With Depression homepage for the month of January.

Not long ago, my anger and cynicism would build over an article linking gratitude and depression, if I were not in too much pain and despair to actually care. I may even prepare a nasty response. Then I found what I believe is the solution to lasting change and relief from such issues as depressive disorders.

For well over a decade, chronic major depressive disorder, as I was labeled, eliminated my ability to experience joy in what appeared an idyllic life … on the outside.  On my darkest days I hoped a bus would veer off course to end my misery.  I suffered from severe bouts of depression that increased in frequency and duration.

Then, something happened that stopped the suffering. I experienced a profound change and insatiable quest for a solution to permanently prevent the pain.  I researched, explored, and implemented a variety of life improvement strategies.  My life has since focused on helping others, who share the same struggles that tormented me for decades, to find long-term relief, joy, peace, and a sense of purpose for their lives.

Click here to read the entire post.


MSNBC: Tough economy poses challenge for addicts

New article from MSNBC.com talks about how the loss of jobs and inability to find work can make it harder to stay sober. Author Eve Tahmincioglu states, “During tough economic times, it can be even harder to fight an addiction. It can also be more challenging for workers trying to clean themselves up to hold onto their jobs.”


“There are more financial stressors today,” said Dr. Barbara Krantz, CEO and medical director of research at Hanley Center, an addiction recovery center in West Palm Beach, Fla., adding that such stress can contribute to alcohol and drug use, both illegal and prescription. From 2007 through 2009, Hanley Center has seen more than a 60 percent increase in the number of patients citing work-related problems as one of the top reasons they are seeking substance addiction help.

In many cases, she added, workers lose their jobs because of substance abuse, but most employers don’t fire them outright over an addiction. “People tell us they lost their jobs because of absenteeism or poor job performance,” she said.

About the alcohol / drug distinction:

Protections for a worker with a substance abuse problem under the nation’s labor laws are not as clear as those for people with disabilities such as blindness or paraplegia.

“The ADA actually treats drug and alcohol abuse somewhat differently,” Chris Kuczynski, an attorney with the EEOC said. “An alcoholic who is currently drinking can be covered, although he or she can be held to the same standards as other workers concerning use of alcohol at the worksite, can be disciplined for violating rules that say employees cannot be working under the influence of alcohol, etc.

“The distinction between drug and alcohol use can be important in some situations, particularly where treatment is concerned. Because persons engaging in the illegal use of drugs aren’t covered and aren’t therefore entitled to reasonable accommodation, an employer doesn’t have to offer them the opportunity to take leave for treatment. On the other hand, because alcoholics who are currently drinking can be individuals with disabilities, reasonable accommodation in the form of time off for treatment may be required.”

If you were a former abuser, an employer can’t hold that against you in most cases.

About getting treatment:

In cases where the employer suspects a worker is high while on the job or that the employee has an abuse problem — and the employee has not owned up to it or asked for help — and the abuse is negatively impacting his or her work duties, the employer can terminate the employee, added Anthony Oncidi, partner and head of the Los Angeles labor and employment law group for Proskauer Rose.

Oncidi’s firm had a financial services client last year with a high-level employee who was repeatedly coming to work under the influence and even going to client meetings drunk. The female employee had been with the firm for five years, but the alcohol problem had surfaced only recently.

“She even went to a conference where she clearly had too much alcohol and embarrassed herself and the company,” he said. “They talked to her about it, but she denied she had a problem. She was fired.”

On the flip side, if an employee needs to take time off to go into a treatment program, the employer typically has to reasonably accommodate the worker, Oncidi said.

Read the entire article here on MSNBC.com.

Copyright © 2017 — LifeSkills Authorities Blog

Contents on LifeSkillsAuthorities.com including any images, text, external links, graphics or any other material posted on this website is intended solely for informational purposes. The information contained herein is written by non-medical professionals and not a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis of any disease or disability. Please seek advice from a qualified medical professional with any questions that you may have regarding your physical or mental health condition(s). If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or any other medical emergency, dial 911 or visit your local emergency room immediately. The thoughts and views expressed here are not necessarily those of LifeSkills Authorities, its owners, employees, or management.