Thursday, January 14, 2010

British consider alcohol price increase

In this week's edition of The Economist, one of the standout articles was about a parliamentary health committee convening to discuss raising the prices on low-end alcohol. According to the article, many of the low-end alcoholic beverages are sold at incredibly low prices, as well as significantly discounted when purchased in bulk. From the article: "Using research from Sheffield University, the committee argued that a floor of 40p for a 10ml unit of alcohol—enough to push the Sainsbury’s cider up to £3.36—would save 1,100 lives per year. A floor of 50p would save 3,000, it said. Medical associations and the police all want to see drink get more expensive too."

As we've touched on before, the British have a long history of binge drinking, especially among the younger adults. British cases of cirrhosis are on the rise, while all over the rest of Western Europe cases of cirrhosis are on the decline. What's interesting to see is the fact that, per-capita, their consumption is the eighth-highest in Europe; however, according to the World Health Organization, a whopping 12% of the British population are non-drinkers.

Now normally, a bill like this would get a lot of negative feedback from the already-struggling pub industry; however, a raise in the low-end liquor industry wouldn't directly affect them as most drinks served in bars aren't THAT low end. So hopefully we'll see a stabilzation in the low-end market, helping slow alcohol consumption in the lower-end markets. Scotland, on the other hand, is working to introduce a "social responsibility" fee for bars and other liquor sales places, presumably to put those funds toward treatment and education programs. I hope that we see an uptick in this area; alcohol sales tax SHOULD go towards rehabilitation services for those in need- after all, their legal drug causes all sorts of damage to individuals and families. Perhaps a price increase will slow consumption of liquor in the UK; at any rate, it's a start, and one can hope that treatment options are made more readily available to those in need.

In other news, TLC announced today that they would be premiering a new series called "Addicted" this March, featuring interventionist Kristina Wandzilak of Full Circle Intervention and author of the book, "The Lost Years." I'm excited for this show- I know that the journey through addiction will be presented well, and can only increase awareness to the help available out there. I'm happy that this seems not only to focus on intervention, but also on the "life stuff" that follows the exit from a treatment center. Once again, the more awareness of resources available, the better- if this show helps one person seek treatment, then I qualify it as a success.

Here's a video of Ms. Wandzilak from ABC:

Here's something funny.

As per usual, follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. Become a fan of the blog on Facebook. And see you this week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back for 2010

After a much-needed two-month writing sabbatical (due to work reasons, writers block, etc.), it's good to be back in 2010. Lots of stories to cover this year. First and foremost, thanks so much to for naming my blog one of the best of 2009! (Congrats as well to my friend Adi Jaffe at All About Addiction who also had his blog listed as one of the best). Had a great end to 2009, helping a number of people find their way to treatment and start the journey of getting well, and spent much needed time with family and friends over the holidays. One can only hope the holiday experience was as relaxing for everyone else. As we know, the holidays can be a difficult time for families that have been ravaged by addiction; for those of you who need help, please ask for it! Asking for helping is the only way to get it.

One of my new favorite reads during the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 is Joe Schrank's Core Company blog, covering lots of different topics around addiction. Schrank isn't afraid to share his opinion, which can seem grating to some but we at Addiction Tomorrow find it fairly refreshing to see someone speak their mind. His 2009 recap column brought up a number of different issues, mostly documenting the numerous "celebrity" drug and alcohol deaths, which seemed to be higher this year than in years past. Although, it may just be that the 24/7 news/gossip channels and blogs have been paying more attention this year. Obviously, Michael Jackson's death in June sparked the greatest awareness (We blogged about it numerous times, starting here.) Jackson's overdose brought to light the abusive natures of overprescribing doctors, enabling family members, and what fame can do when left unchecked. A tragic end for one of the most interesting figures of my lifetime.

For current events, the healthcare debate has been raging all year and preliminary voting looks like things are in for a change. But we will see; as with all things government, time will tell how much reform is actually put in play.

A very interesting article on the Americanization of mental illness was in the New York Times this weekend. Check it out; some interesting perspectives on how mental illness is diagnosed around the world. One of the most interesting segments of the article spoke about a specific form of anorexia that occurred in Hong Kong; Dr. Sing Lee, a psychiatrist in Hong Kong saw a few patients who simply expressed that their stomachs always felt bloated, instead of the usual Western diagnosis of fat phobia. What Lee saw after the death of one of his patients was what made it very interesting- it seemed that his patients who suffered from disordered eating patterns turned their OWN SYMPTOMS into the more widely-accepted Western views. “Culture shapes the way general psychopathology is going to be translated partially or completely into specific psychopathology,” Lee says. “When there is a cultural atmosphere in which professionals, the media, schools, doctors, psychologists all recognize and endorse and talk about and publicize eating disorders, then people can be triggered to consciously or unconsciously pick eating-disorder pathology as a way to express that conflict.” This is definitely worth a read.

Here's one of my favorite videos, from Dr. Kevin McCauley:

Here's a great video on healthcare reform from Robert Reich, professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and former Labor Secretary under the Clinton administration:

Here's something funny.

As always, connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter. Become a fan of the blog on Facebook. And see you later this week (I promise!)