Binge drinking, memory loss, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drinking

Binge drinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Binge drinking your way to Memory loss, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s.

Once you get past age sixty-five, it doesn’t take much in the way of binge drinking to impair your cognitive abilities. A recent study by Dr. Lang of the University of Exeter reports that the threshold for memory loss as a result of binge drinking is a lot lower in senior citizens than previously thought.

Seniors who binge drank TWO times per MONTH were 250% more likely to have memory loss and cognitive decline than those who did not binge drink.

The study defined binge drinking in seniors as four or more drinks on one drinking occasion. Given what other studies have found about the declining tolerance of seniors for alcohol, that four drink figure sounds awfully high. See a previous post on binge drinking for more on the effects of substances on the elderly.

This study does not draw a conclusion about any connection between binge drinking and either dementia or Alzheimer’s. But the conclusion that even occasional episodes of four drinks by seniors can impair the memory makes me question the safety of these promotions trying to get seniors to drink a little for their heart.

This study was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. A second study presented at the same conference examined the effects of “moderate” drinking on older women. In this one over 1,300 women age 65 and up were studied for twenty years. The result?

Moderate alcohol consumption did not protect memory in older women.

We also suspect that binge drinking coupled with prescription medications increases the risk of blackouts in Seniors.

The drinking by seniors conclusion?

Alcohol consumption by seniors does not protect the memory and even occasional binge drinking, as few as four drinks in one day, maybe less, can result in memory loss for those in the senior community.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Dangers of Binge Drinking

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drinking

Binge drinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Binge drinking may be more dangerous than we thought.

One drink per day for thirty days, for many people this is no big problem. No drinks for thirty days and then binge drink thirty drinks in one day, that would be a huge, maybe fatal, problem.

Thirty drinks, if consumed rapidly enough and kept down would result in a “theoretical” blood alcohol level of .60 which is enough alcohol in one person to have made seven and a half people legally drunk. At that blood alcohol level, the person would probably not need treatment. They would already be dead.

Blood alcohol levels of .50 to .60 are likely to be fatal. But even lower levels can kill or permanently injure a person. Alcohol kills more people in the United States every year than ALL DRUGS, legal or illegal combined (not counting nicotine.) Even when people die from other drugs, they typically have alcohol in their bloodstream.

To be fair, not everyone who drinks, binge drinks, and gets drunk. About half of all Americans old enough to drink have not had a drink in the last thirty days. Those who drink a lot, damage themselves and others a lot.

The twenty percent of Americans who consume the most alcohol, the frequent binge drinkers, consume 80% of all the alcohol sold. The majority of all the people in prison around here were drunk or high in the 24 hours before they committed the crime that sent them to prison.

People who drink rapidly and reach high blood alcohol levels are likely to have blackouts.

Even at much lower levels, we find that “binge drinkers,” those who consume larger than typical amounts of alcohol on one occasion, are 55 times more likely to attempt suicide.

The damage alcohol does to the body depends on the level of alcohol in the bloodstream. Our way of assessing risk, based on the number of drinks during a single “drinking episode” is biased towards underestimating the extent of binge drinking. Not everyone who drinks gets the same result.

The blood alcohol level is dependent on a number of factors and the number of drinks is only one of those factors.

Body weight influences blood alcohol levels. If a one hundred pound person and a two hundred pound person have the same number of “standard drinks” the one hundred pound person will have a significantly higher blood alcohol level.

Alcohol is soluble in water, the more water in the system the lower the blood alcohol level. Men have more water per pound of weight than women. This means that if a man and a woman of the same weight drink the same amount of alcohol the woman ends up with a higher blood alcohol level.

Liver function also affects the body’s ability to process alcohol. A damaged liver and the drink will stay in your system longer.

Age is a factor. You can put color on your hair but you can’t pretty up your liver. As you age the liver gets old and tired. It won’t process as much alcohol per hour. An old liver will result in higher blood alcohol levels. Studies tell us that the “safe” level of alcohol consumption for an “older person” is maybe half what it was for a younger person.

If one glass of wine a day is good for you at age 30, three glasses a week will be your max at age 80 or so. I know there are exceptions, don’t email about your grandparent who still drinks a tall one every day and is in good health. Studies say that for the elderly, most of them, 3 drinks a week would be all that is safe.

Binge drinking is defined as 4 drinks on one drinking occasion for a woman and five drinks for a man. We have already underscored that for people of low body weight or the elderly or woman these numbers are way too high.

Who is at the highest risk for medical problems from binge drinking? Four groups are at highest risk, the young, the old, the pregnant, and the alcoholic.

The young have more drinking problems.

They don’t know the risks and the results. They can get drunk, hurt someone, be in trouble and there goes the life. Almost all people with a substance use disorder become alcoholics or addicts before the end of their twenties.

The elderly have lots of substance use problems.

These folks are not exempt. In more than half of all hospital emergency room admissions of senior citizens, the elderly person is drunk or high when the accident occurs. One reason seniors are falling down and breaking hips is they are stoned.

Seniors may become depressed when they retire or end up living alone. They may drink; take prescription drugs and even illicit drugs. Put that all together and it is easy to have substance abuse get out of control in the elderly.

The pregnant should not drink.

Any alcohol is bad for the developing fetus, the more alcohol the worse the damage. We can’t always see the damage as it can hide in lower IQs, retardation, and learning disabilities. Alcohol induces “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder” which is the largest source of preventable birth defects.

The alcoholic will not be able to safely drink.

As many an alcoholic will tell you “one is too many and a thousand is never enough.” The hallmark of alcoholism is the loss of control. An alcoholic has lost control of how much they will drink once they get started. The only “safe amount” for someone with a history of alcoholism to drink is – none.

Many drug addicts get into recovery and then fool themselves by thinking “I never had a problem with alcohol so I can drink safely.” Scratch a drug addict and you will find an alcoholic. The same seems to hold true for anyone who has had any other form of impulse control problem.

Consider for a moment. If you drink multiple drinks, most days or end up drunk when you drink you may have a drinking problem. If you binge drink, drink with the intent to get drunk or buzzed, you are in the highest risk group.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Love Hate relationship with food – Bulimia Nervosa.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Unhealthy relationship with food.
Photo courtesy of pixabay

Bulimia Nervosa a relapsing eating disease.

Bulimia Nervosa is included in the eating disorder category along with Anorexia Nervosa but it is very different from the other eating disorders. Anorexia progresses like a vice, starving the sufferer until their weight reaches a critical potentially fatal low. Bulimia runs its course in episodes of extreme eating and efforts to undo the overeating and lose the weight until it finally does its damage.

If you didn’t hear the person with Bulimia talking about food, should you only hear the emotional component, it would be hard to distinguish Bulimia from the binge drinking form of alcoholism.

Episodes of binging and the resulting guilt can be triggered by many of the same things that trigger addictive binges. Poor relationships and conflicts with others, the feeling of deprivation from excessively strict diets, or feeling out of control all can trigger the binges.

Binge eaters describe these overwhelming obsessive-compulsive urges as emotional eating. Emotional eaters who do not purge develop Binge Eating Disorder. Those who start compensating develop Bulimia.

Most people who develop Bulimia start off at normal or even a little overweight. They are likely to be a little older than the beginning person with Anorexia, perhaps late teens or even early twenties. There may be a period of moderate to strict dieting before the Bulimia strikes.

When they diet they have increasingly intense urges to eat. The tension continues to grow until the individual can’t stand it any longer, then like the alcoholic, the binge is on. At this point, the “just don’t think about it” approach does not work and may make things worse. In a previous post “Don’t think about Elephants.”   I described why the “just not thinking about things” approach does not work and what else can be done in this circumstance.

Binge drinking is defined as 4-5 drinks on a single drinking occasion, enough to get intoxicated. Binge eating is described as eating far more than a normal person during a single food intake episode lasting two hours or less. Bulimics crave food and then when they give in and eat it is not a little, but a lot of food consumed in a short amount of time. This overconsumption results in guilt and regret.

These episodes increase in frequency. Typically the person with Bulimia will have two or more episodes of loss of control, binge eating, and then efforts to purge the food every week for at least three months. The guilt over the episode increases the risk they will binge again.

Often the food of choice is ice cream or cake though no one food type is the choice of all people with Bulimia. They will eat until they reach the over-full point, become uncomfortable, or even painfully full.

The Bulimic then tries to undo the excess calories by deliberate vomiting or other compensatory behaviors. This is not a disease of gradual overeating and excess weight gain. Bulimia may result in sudden swings in weight, both increases, and decreases. The damage comes not from the weight gain or loss but from the radical behaviors used to undo the binge episode.

The emphasis is on the person’s use of “inappropriate” methods to undo the overeating. Someone with Bulimia may vomit so often that the enamel in the teeth is destroyed. They may develop calluses on the knuckles from repeated efforts to force the vomiting.

There can be damage to the throat and esophagus. A great many medical problems develop over time but may go unnoticed as the person’s weight swings up and down rather than moving to an extreme.

Bulimia is more common than Anorexia with up to three percent of women developing Bulimia during their lifetime.

These episodes of binge eating and the resulting efforts to undo the overeating are generally done in secret. The sufferer tries to be inconspicuous and may withdraw from family and friends damaging their relationships.

Self-esteem for the person with Bulimia is dependent on body shape and weight. They often develop intense depression after a period of bingeing and purging. Some have undiagnosed depression before the Bulimia, but Bulimia can also cause depression and anxiety.

Bulimia Nervosa like Anorexia Nervosa is treatable but both require specialized treatment by someone knowledgeable and experienced in treating eating disorders.

Bulimia is not associated with a high risk of suicide or death from medical complications, though some who have suffered from Bulimia can become severely depressed and have thoughts of self-harm.

Bulimia Nervosa is an illness not a case of vain or selfish behavior. If you want to be helpful to someone with this disorder listen to what they have to say in an open and non-judgmental way.

If you have Bulimia, get help now. If you know someone who has this problem encourage them to seek professional help.

Other posts about eating disorders and the new DSM-V proposals will be found at:

Binge Eating Disorder – the other side of Anorexia and Bulimia 

Middle class and starving to death in America – An Eating Disorder called Anorexia

Love Hate relationship with food – Bulimia Nervosa

Eating Disorders and Substance abuse  

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Does drinking lite beer keep you from getting drunk?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Man drinking

Drinking beer.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Can you avoid alcohol problems by drinking lite and non-alcoholic beers?

The question of drinking lite beers and drinking so-called “non-alcoholic” beers comes up frequently. People who have had problems with alcohol in the past consider switching to these alternatives to reduce the risks. Does this work?

Personally and professionally I do not recommend an approach of limited alcohol consumption to anyone who has experienced a problem with their use of substances in the past. If you have had drunk driving arrests, been diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence, or have other psychiatric problems that are affected by alcohol consumption trying to solve the problem by changing to other alcoholic beverages is not likely to work. Why? There are two major problems with this approach.

Lite beers do not contain less alcohol.

The percentage of alcohol in a beer is usually set by state or local law. In California, for a long time, “beer” had to be under 4% alcohol. (I am not a lawyer and can’t tell you if this changed but the principle remains the same.) In other places, beer could have a higher alcohol content say 5% or 6%. Above that limit it can be sold, just the name changes and so does the tax rate.

I checked an online list of beers and their alcohol contents and they mostly ran in the 4% to 6% range. One popular beer Budweiser was listed as having 5% alcohol. Bud Light was listed as having 4.2%. So the difference is small and in places, with lower limits both would have the same amount of alcohol.

Lite beers have fewer calories not less alcohol. So you do not get as full and you can drink more. Whether you drink lite beers or regulars – after four or five you will be legally drunk.

Watch out for the dangers of binge drinking.

Drinking lite beers do not keep you sober! Only not drinking keeps the alcohol out of your system. Any alcohol consumption begins to change your thinking; the difference is how much it affects you not if it will affect you.

Even “nonalcoholic beers” can contain some alcohol.

The online chart I consulted lists “nonalcoholic” Beer as having four-tenths of a percent alcohol. So this should be safer. In my experience, it is not. After four or five “non-alcoholic” beers the minimal amounts begin to add up. The cumulative effect is a change in thinking.

For anyone with an alcohol use disorder, the danger here is that after drinking a number of “non-alcoholic” beers they will begin to reason that they can have one or two real ones without a problem.

As any real alcoholic will tell you “one is too many and a thousand is never enough.”

So if you have developed an alcohol problem or if you are taking a prescribed medication that tells you to avoid alcohol, my advice to you is – don’t fool yourself by trying to find ways to use alcohol safely.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel