Pay attention to the warning signs.
Alcohol addiction is a serious issue.
But researchers aren't closing the door on it yet.
"Alcoholism is a continuum."
For my entire life, I've been on the run -- at first it was as a child, "running away" from the violent and daily physical abuse that took place behind closed doors in my home. From that moment onward, I kept everything inside of me, and around me, off in the distance. And thus began many years of escape that came in the form of a destructive alcohol and drug addiction.
In my work as a neonatologist, I've looked after many, many babies. I've seen families of all ages, cultures and circumstances. But I've never seen a mother who wanted to harm her growing baby. Yet too often I still see mothers who use alcohol during pregnancy despite extensive educational campaigns about its harmful effects on the growing fetus.
I claw at the head of the stinky, stained mattress, hanging on to life and wishing for death. The room is dark and claustrophobic. But not dark enough. My eyes refuse to stay closed. They burn and sting. My jaw aches continuously from anxious teeth-grinding. Normally, this far along in withdrawal, I'm through feeling hyper-anxious and hyper-vigilant. This time is different and frightening. I cannot sleep. If I do, I'll suffocate.
Last week's controversy over Health Canada's funding of a program to give heroin to select addicts is like déjà vu. It's an awful lot like the conflicts the federal government has had with similar drug programs over the years. The Insite supervised injection clinic in Vancouver's renowned Downtown Eastside is the most famous example, where addicts can go to inject heroin under the supervision of nurses. Centres likes these are sometimes called "safe injection" sites, which is truly an oxymoron considering that these harmful drugs are anything but safe.
I was crashed on the couch, looking at the bottle of wine sitting on the sideboard. Thinking. It had been a rough day. I had felt the darkness coming on earlier and the thought of going into the abyss, again, was just too much. I couldn't face it again. I anticipated the oncoming exhaustion, the downward spiral and did not want to go there. The wine was looking good. And so was the thought of morphine. One hit and I would be in another place. It was a brief moment, but I knew as the thought of medicating myself flew through my head, that I was in trouble.
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