Family Help For Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People
The Department of Health and Human Services funds Aboriginal alcohol and drug workers in some Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations, Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and some mainstream alcohol and drug services across Victoria. The role of these specific Aboriginal alcohol and drug workers is to work in a culturally informed way with Aboriginal people and families to address problematic alcohol and drug use.
For information about accessing Aboriginal-specific services, call DirectLine on or speak with your local Aboriginal community-controlled organisation.
Addiction Recovery And Your Family
While distilling all of the knowledge about addiction and family into one post may be difficult, the major takeaway here is that recovery from addiction can be a very real possibility within your family. All that is required is a full understanding of what addiction consists of, what issues it presents to both yourself and your family, and the willingness to take the next steps
The above discussion of addiction and the family is based on clinical research and proven approaches to treating addiction, not to mention giving support to family members. If you have any questions about what we cover here, feel free to contact us or leave a comment in the section below. More than anything, we are here to help when addiction and family intersect.
What Can You Do About Addiction In Your Own Family
The good news is this: families dealing with disordered behavior can overcome the effects of addiction and alcoholism, and more than that they do not have to go through the detrimental effects and struggles of addiction completely on their own.
But what are the specific steps you can take and tools you can make use of when addiction is within your family? While there may be a host of different options available, the easiest way to understand what you can do is to break the steps and resources into three years: educate yourself about the science behind addiction, get the support that you need for dealing with addiction within your own family, and understand the reality that addiction is a complicated, long-term mental, psychological, and biological issue.
First of all, you should get a better understanding of addiction science. This includes everything from the various causes of addiction, how addiction grows, why addiction is considered a genetic disease, what mental health factors interplay with addiction, and why relapse is such a common occurrence for those who struggle with both alcoholism and addiction. Knowing these specifics about this form of mental health disorder will help you move forward in helping both yourself and your loved one.
- Al-Anon: For friends and families of problem drinkers
- ACOA: For adult children of alcoholics
- Alateen: For teenagers with parents or family members who struggle with alcoholism
- Nar-Anon: For family members of drug addicts
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Research Advance: A Gene Linked To Cannabis Use Disorder
It is estimated that 30% of marijuana users have a cannabis use disorder, representing problematic useand in some casesaddiction. The risk for cannabis use disorder has a strong genetic component, but the genetic architecture has been unclear. Scientists recently performed a genome-wide association study11 to try to identify genes that might put people at risk for problematic cannabis use. They studied 2,387 cases and 48,985 controls, and replicated their findings in another large group. They identified a genetic locus on chromosome 8 that controls the levels of the gene CHRNA2 expressed in the brain. Low levels of expression of the gene CHRNA2 in the cerebellum are found to be associated with cannabis use disorder, including diagnosis at an earlier age. In addition, genetic factors associated with educational attainment were found to be protective against the disorder. The findings suggest that under expression of CHRNA2 in the cerebellum is involved in cannabis use disorders, and provides a potential target for future prevention strategies, therapies and medications.
From Genes To Treatment
Finding the genes involved in addiction is a good first step in finding solutions. Understanding how genes cause biological differences can lead to improved treatments for substance use disorder.
Each new addiction-related gene discovered is a potential drug target. Researchers can focus on the gene product and develop a drug to modify its activity. The goal is to correct signals or pathways and restore proper brain function.
Gene therapies are also being developed to treat addiction. One gene therapy being tested in mice generates antibodies that trap methamphetamine, preventing it from reaching the brain. In another, mice transplanted with genetically modified skin cells make an enzyme that degrades cocaine.
As we understand more about how medication effects vary from person to person, genetic tests may inform treatment. Long-term, they may be used to predict which treatments are likely to be most effective based on an individuals genetic profile.
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Understanding Alcoholism Within Families
As alcoholism gets more and more attention from mental and public health professionals, the link between alcohol and family relationships also has begun to stand out and become accepted scientific fact. Researchers and medical care providers have recognized for some time that alcoholism can run in families.
Support For Families With Alcoholism
Alcoholisms effects on families are serious and far-reaching. Fortunately, its easy to get support once you realize that you need it. Family members of alcoholics can educate themselves about the nature of addiction, recovery, and available treatments. If an alcoholic is in denial, but friends and family agree that he or she needs help, they can work with a professional counselor to stage an intervention and encourage their loved one to seek treatment.
Its important for family members of an alcoholic to show their love and support as they encourage their loved one to get help. Judgment and blame are not helpful or healthy. Its also important for family members to cease any enabling behavior, which a counselor may also be able to help with. Family members must be sure to look after their own wellbeing during the time of recovery, including recognizing ways they may need mental or emotional counseling themselves. Family therapy sessions can be a huge step toward healing, not just for the alcoholic, but also for the entire family. Support groups such as Al-Anon and Adultchildren.org provide support and resources specifically for non-alcoholic family members of alcoholics.
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What To Know About Addiction And The Family
First and foremost, there is no denying that addiction can run in families. In other words, if your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins have struggled with addiction or alcoholism, you as an individual are much more likely to have to face the same dependency issues. This is not meant to be discouraging instead, the knowledge that addiction can often run in the family should only prove helpful in avoiding the same issues in your own life.
Many of us seeour family member struggling with addiction and make the decision to run away as far as we can from that. Others of us, often unconsciously, go down the same path as our loved one by falling into the cycle of addiction. Its hard to say why people choose the path they do. However, research has shown us genetic and environmental reasons why some may go down one path rather than the other.
~ Rubin Khoddam, The Addiction Connection
As the quote above highlights, there are psychological, genetic, and environmental factors that play into the cycle of addiction within the family. Addiction is considered a family disease for two majorly different reasons.
Addiction and Family Genetics
Addiction and the Family Environment
~ National Institute on Drug Abuse
The Promise Of Big Data In Genetics Research
Scientists doing genetics research have collected millions of data points that could be of use to other scientists. However, different software systems and measurement formats have made sharing data sets difficult. NIH has created the Big Data to Knowledge program to support the research and development of innovative and transformative approaches and tools to help scientists use big data and data science in their research . When the data can be combined and harmonized, a process called data integration, the chances of identifying new genetic information that could give rise to new disease insights is amplified.
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What Is Alcohol Dependence
Alcohol dependence, sometimes known as alcoholism, is the most serious form of drinking problem and describes a strong, often uncontrollable, desire to drink.
Drinking plays an important part in the day to day life of alcohol dependent people, which could lead to building up a physical tolerance or experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they stop.
There are varying degrees of alcohol dependence and they dont always involve excessive levels of drinking. If you find that you need to share a bottle of wine with your partner most nights of the week, or always go for a few pints after work, just to unwind, youre likely to be drinking at a level that could affect your long-term health.
You could also be becoming dependent on alcohol. If you find it very difficult to enjoy yourself or relax without having a drink, you could have become psychologically dependent on alcohol. Physical dependence can follow too, that is your body shows withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, when your blood alcohol level falls.
Mental Health Disorders And Alcoholism
Mood and anxiety disorders are not only commonly tied to alcohol use disorder but are also commonly passed down through families as well. When left untreated, symptoms of mental illness may often lead an individual to turn to alcohol or other substances to self medicate. While any mental illness could expose an individual to alcoholism, the following mental illnesses have been known to have genetic links, as well as an, increased for alcoholism:
- Bipolar disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
When an individual has a mental health disorder and co-occurring alcohol use disorder, their treatment needs to be more comprehensive. Furthermore, a dual diagnosis treatment center is most appropriate for these individuals. Though treatment may be more intensive, recovery from a co-occurring disorder is possible.
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What Causes Alcohol Use Disorder
- Mental health condition
Stress at home, work, or school is also a major contributing factor to substance use disorder. For example, when an individual is feeling stressed they may consume a few alcoholic beverages and instantly feel relaxed and relieved. This calming effect often reinforces the desire to consume alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress. More specifically, individuals suffering from mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are likely to struggle with co-occurring alcohol use disorder.
Genetics And Precision Medicine
Clinicians often find substantial variability in how individual patients respond to treatment. Part of that variability is due to genetics. Genes influence the numbers and types of receptors in peoples brains, how quickly their bodies metabolize drugs, and how well they respond to different medications. Learning more about the genetic, epigenetic, and neurobiological bases of addiction will eventually advance the science of addiction.
Scientists will be able to translate this knowledge into new treatments directed at specific targets in the brain or to treatment approachescalled pharmacogenomics. This emerging science promises to harness the power of genomic information to improve treatments for addiction by tailoring the treatment to the person’s specific genetic makeup. This is called precision medicine. By knowing a person’s genomic information, health care providers will be better equipped to match patients with the most suitable treatments and medication dosages, and to avoid or minimize adverse reactions.
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When Does Drinking Become A Problem
For most adults, moderate alcohol use no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women and older people is relatively harmless. (A “drink” means 1.5 ounces of spirits, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer, all of which contain 0.5 ounces of alcohol.
Moderate use, however, lies at one end of a range that moves through alcohol abuse to alcohol dependence:
Alcohol abuse is a drinking pattern that results in significant and recurrent adverse consequences. Alcohol abusers may fail to fulfill major school, work, or family obligations. They may have drinking-related legal problems, such as repeated arrests for driving while intoxicated. They may have relationship problems related to their drinking.
People with alcoholism technically known as alcohol dependence have lost reliable control of their alcohol use. It doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol someone drinks or even how much: Alcohol-dependent people are often unable to stop drinking once they start. Alcohol dependence is characterized by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms if drinking is suddenly stopped. Withdrawal symptoms may include nausea, sweating, restlessness, irritability, tremors, hallucinations and convulsions.
Although severe alcohol problems get the most public attention, even mild to moderate problems cause substantial damage to individuals, their families and the community.
Family Help And Homelessness
If a family member needs alcohol and drug help and they are homeless, this can be taken into account when they are undergoing assessment for alcohol or drug treatment. Supported accommodation can be provided for people who have been through a withdrawal or rehabilitation program but need ongoing support to re-balance their life.
You can find out about supported accommodation programs by calling DirectLine
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Domestic Abuse Caused By Alcohol Misuse
Alcoholism can inflame relationship stressors, such as financial difficulties and child care issues. All of these factors can lead to emotionally abusive communication.
Types of emotional abuse that may be caused by alcoholism include:
- Insulting or demeaning comments
- Intimidating comments or acts
- Blackmailing or manipulating
In addition to emotional abuse, drinking problems are associated with intimate partner violence. Some studies suggest that alcohol makes the frequency and severity of domestic violence worse, according to the World Health Organization. Its unclear if alcohol abuse is a cause of domestic violence or a risk factor.
However, its clear that alcohol disrupts critical thinking skills and reduces self-control. These side effects inhibit healthy and constructive communication that can be used to resolve conflict.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-7233
Alcohol Metabolism And The Risk For Aud
The genes with the clearest contribution to the risk for alcoholism andalcohol consumption are alcohol dehydrogenase 1B andaldehyde dehydrogenase 2 , two genes central to the metabolism of alcohol . Alcohol is metabolized primarily in the liver, although thereis some metabolism in the upper GI tract and stomach. The first step in ethanolmetabolism is oxidation to acetaldehyde, catalyzed primarily by ADHs there are 7closely related ADHs clustered on chromosome 4 . The second step is metabolism of theacetaldehyde to acetate by ALDHs again, there are many aldehyde dehydrogenases,among which ALDH2 has the largest impact on alcohol consumption.
Major pathway of alcohol metabolism.
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Genetically Sensitivities To Alcohol
In another study, scientists selectively bred two strains of mice: those that are not genetically sensitive to alcohol, and those that are acutely genetically sensitive to it. The two strains show markedly different behavior when exposed to identical amounts of alcohol.
The sensitive mice tend to lose their inhibitions and pass out rather quickly, earning them the nickname “long sleepers.””Short sleepers” are mice that are genetically less sensitive to alcohol. They seem to lose fewer inhibitions and tolerate alcohol for longer before they pass out.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alcohol Dependence
If you’re worried that you may be becoming alcohol dependent or are concerned about someone else’s drinking, look out for these four warning signs and symptoms:
If youre worried that you have any of these symptoms of alcohol dependence, talk to your GP or seek further information from one of the organisations at the bottom of this page.
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How To Know If A Person Is Genetically Predisposed To Alcoholism
Alcoholism is usually the result of various environmental factors like stress and anxiety. The numerous disorders associated with this pair of elements influence epigenetic changes that promote alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism. Therefore, people who are always stressed are predisposed to addiction.
An alcohol addiction gene test will mainly have to seek out the polymorphism in the genes that affect alcoholism. A potential test also has to detect the epigenetic changes that can lead to the disorder.
One such test was developed by a team comprising US and German researchers. It searches for 11 genes that can determine alcoholics within a population. The same genes are also implicated in some other disorders and conditions like anxiety, schizophrenia, and Parkinsons disease. This test is further proof of the correlation between alcohol and genetics.
There is also a test that measures the levels of dopamine the pleasure neurotransmitter. When dopamine levels are low, there is a high chance that the person will likely abuse alcohol or already does.
Genetic testing can also reveal the presence of the A1 allele of the dopamine receptor gene . The presence of this gene is particularly common in individuals with alcohol and cocaine addiction. This provides a connection between genetics and addiction.
Resources For Dealing With An Alcoholic Parent
How to help an alcoholic parent? There are many support groups and resources like the Adult Children of Alcoholics organization that specialize in helping children of people who drink excessively. They offer tips on dealing with an alcoholic parent and providing emotional, and sometimes even financial, support.
Some of the Resources Available Include:
- Al-Anon: This active support group for families of people with alcohol abuse issues has a nationwide presence and is modeled on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program.
- SMART Recovery: This evidence-based addiction recovery program focuses on teaching skills to manage alcohol cravings through control of thoughts and feelings.
- National Association for Children of Alcoholics: This association for children impacted by parental addiction provides family interventions and runs awareness campaigns.
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Some online forums and blogs give advice on an alcoholic father-daughter relationship. They also offer other tools for long-term recovery from parental addiction. Reading about other peoples experiences on these blogs can help generate ideas about how to talk to an alcoholic parent. If nothing else, these stories can somewhat reduce the isolating effect of having a mother or father who drinks.
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