Tag Archives: alcohol consumption

Biomedical Engineering Targets Drunk Driving with new Technology

alcohol detection system

The leading causes of accidental deaths in the United States is drunk driving. This reckless behavior not only takes the lives of those that are behind the wheel, but also of innocent passengers or drivers of other cars on the roads totaling nearly 10,000 people each year. Preventing drunk driving has been the goal of may national organizations. The act of stopping someone who has had too much to drink can save much more than just one life.

Monitoring devices have been used to gauge and alert officials of alcohol use for years. However, a new device measures alcohol levels in sweat. It looks like a small, wearable tattoo that has embedded wireless nanotechnology that monitors the alcohol content. The device then talks to the drinker’s phone and alerts them if they have too much alcohol in their system. It was developed by a group of engineers at the University of California San Diego in La Jolla in conjunction with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).

“It resembles a temporary tattoo, but is actually a biosensor patch that is embedded with several flexible wireless components. One component releases a chemical that stimulates perspiration on the skin below the patch. Another component senses changes in the electrical current flowing through the generated sweat, which measures alcohol levels and sends them to the user’s cell phone,” explained Seila Selimovic, Ph.D. and director of the NIBIB Program in Tissue Chips.

The benefits of this device and similar derivatives of this technology can have many uses. In terms of the speed of detection, there has been nothing like it. According to Patrick Mercier, Ph.D. at UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering and co-senior author, “measuring alcohol in sweat has been attempted before, but those technologies took 2-3 hours to measure alcohol levels. Our patch sends alcohol levels to your smartphone in just 8 minutes, making real-time alcohol monitoring possible, practical, and personal.”

The question now is if people will use the app to prevent alcohol-related mistakes. Preventing drunk driving is just one benefit of this device. Because the device can be worn on the arm, underneath clothing and out of view from others this attractive feature may be appealing to users and can help them avoid over drinking, getting behind the wheel with someone else who has been drinking or getting involved in risky decisions because of alcohol. This sort of monitoring may even be able to be adapted for longer-range use for people on probation, or test for other substances in the future as well.

Incorporating technology into alcohol education certainly speaks to a younger generation and may help save thousands of lives. It can act as an intervention of sorts and a tool to mitigate the problems associated with alcohol consumption.

Study Shows Married Couples Tend to Drink Less

Journal of Family PsychologyLowered alcohol intake can be added to the list of the benefits that come from being married. According to a new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, married couples tend to drink less than people who are not in a committed relationship. In fact, the correlation is so strong that if a couple splits up, the protective factors of the relationship go away and alcohol consumption increases.

“Our data revealed an interesting pattern where, once you’re in a committed relationship, your drinking frequency declines permanently, whereas quantity goes back up if you exit that relationship. It seems that intimate relationships may provide a real benefit in terms of drinking behavior, maybe through mechanisms such as a monitoring effect that partners have on each other,” explained Diana Dinescu, lead author of the study.

In order to eliminate questions of genetic predispositions and upbringing, the researchers decided to use only twins as their study subjects. Once the 1,618 female pairs and 807 male pairs were gathered, they were asked to fill out a survey. The survey consisted of questions regarding their relationship status and their alcohol consumption. The researchers were especially interested in twins because previous studies have already shown that married couples tend to drink less, but Dinescu’s research team was interested in finding out of people sharing the same genetic and familial backgrounds were effected differently.

Further research would have to be completed to determine exactly why marriage decreases the amount of alcohol consumed, but speculations abound. For example, the need they are seeking to fulfill, such as companionship and reassurance, are then found with their spouse rather than seeking it in the form of a synthetic feeling from alcohol. There is also the matter of nightlife being involved in the dating scene, which generally includes more alcohol consumption, so there would be less of that when someone is already married.

Unfortunately many young adults are still very impressionable and the messages they receive through pop culture condone heavy drinking and partying. For adult alcohol abuse prevention, programs and activities that change social norms can go a long way to reduce alcohol consumption levels such as binge drinking.

Alcohol Found to Increase Risk For Stroke or Heart Attack

heavy drinkerThe effects of long-term alcohol abuse has been studied for quite some time. Researchers and medical professionals are quick to warn people that they may suffer from liver disease, brain damage and other health problems brought on by a heavy drinker’s lifestyle. However, there is not much in the way of research when it comes to medical risks present right after alcohol is consumed. A new study released by researchers at Harvard show that people are at a greater risk for a heart attack or a stroke in the hour after they consume their last drink.

“We found that even moderate alcohol consumption – one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men – may raise a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke approximately two-fold within the hour following consumption compared to other times,” explained Elizabeth Mostofsky, a researcher from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in the U.S.

In order to arrive at this conclusion, researchers poured over information gathered from 23 different studies, involving a total of 30,000 subjects. From the data, they were able to determine that alcohol greatly effects a person’s chance of experiencing a stroke or a heart attack soon after alcohol consumption, and people who are considered to be heavy drinkers expand this health risk much longer than one hour after drinking. This is because alcohol causes a person’s heart rate to increase, blood pressure to rise and blood platelets to become stickier, which combine to be a risky health situation.

People who drink six to nine drinks in a dingle day are almost twice as likely to have a stroke or a heart attack, while People who drink 19 to 30 drinks a week can increase their chances by six times. These powerful results help illustrate that more than just the liver is affected by alcohol use. The brain and the heart are in danger as soon as someone starts consuming alcohol, and even more so for people who routinely drink larger amounts.

If you have a loved one struggling with alcohol abuse, contact Genesis House today to learn more about our successful treatment and recovery program.

What Type of Teenager is Most Likely to Abuse Alcohol?

Teen alcohol abuseAccording to a London study published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, upper and middle-class teenagers are more likely to abuse alcohol than those from families of lesser means. This may come as a surprise to some parents, as many believe that wealth, education and family structure can shield teenagers from the temptation of alcohol. However, researchers have found that this is not true, and that parents who believe they are taking the mystery out of alcohol by allowing their kids to drink alcohol at home aren’t helping the situation.

Researchers explain that the best way to prevent alcohol abuse among teenagers is to have honest discussions with them about responsible drinking habits and the dangers that ensues when too much alcohol is consumed. These conversations will allow young people to hear the information from their parents rather than other children, who are likely not passing along accurate data. Sitting down to talk to children and teenagers about alcohol also allows them to ask questions about drinking and possibly open to conversation up to other concerns like peer pressure or ways to abstain from drugs.

Researchers caution that another danger presented to young people who abuse alcohol is brain development. “Young people’s brains are still developing, and they may be more vulnerable to long-term effects on brain and educational achievement than adults even if they drink within government-recommended upper limits for adults,” explained Dr. Sarah Jarvis, medical adviser for an alcohol awareness charity called Drinkaware.

It is unclear why middle to upper class teenagers are more likely to abuse alcohol, but some suspect it is because they witness parents and older family members drinking on a more frequent basis. The information gathered by Drinkaware also shows that white teenagers are more likely to abuse alcohol than black teenagers. More than 70% of white middle to upper class teenagers had consumed alcohol, while only 30% of black middle to upper class teenagers have consumed alcohol.

Despite this research being gathered in the UK, experts have noticed the same patterns here in the United States as well. It shows that prevention programs must design curriculum that targets various gender, racial ad socio-economic categories to have the greatest impact across the full spectrum of teens.