Monthly Archives: May 2015

Commentary | Why does booze get a pass?

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Written by: Richard Dawahare

Why does booze get a pass? Alcohol is a deceiver at best, a life-destroyer at worst and a depressant at all times in between. It is the third leading preventable cause of death and contributes to 200 diseases and injury-related health condB9317500575Z.1_20150527114931_000_GSQATIT0R.1-0itions.

And, unlike tobacco, alcohol consumption can cause direct, immediate and often irreversible harm to others. Booze-related injuries and death from drunk driving, domestic violence, assault, and child abuse and neglect — including fetal alcohol syndrome — happen daily. It wrecks families, destroys relationships, and dampens job performance.

For far too many of us, alcohol is a soul-sapping drain on our physical, psychological and spiritual welfare. It is every bit as harmful as tobacco and in many ways worse.

But instead of treating it as the viper it truly is we coddle it, even idolize it. This is especially true in Kentucky, where the wedding of bourbon with our collective welfare has left a trail befitting the French monarchy that shares its name.

So esteemed is alcohol that this very paper has fallen under its intoxicating spell. Why was the Pappy Van Winkle heist ever a news story to begin with? Some hooch was stolen, big deal. The amount stolen was a thimble compared to the amount lost to shoplifting by a typical multi-store retailer.

What needs to change, what must change is the culture. Instead of putting the world’s most abused drug on a pedestal we should be doing the opposite. Booze is bad. Period. And I say this as a consumer of spirits myself; I am far from being a saint. But the message is true and cannot wait for a person of purity to deliver it.

Nationally, alcohol needs to be regulated just like tobacco. All television and radio advertising for alcoholic products should be prohibited. Studies prove that young people exposed to such marketing are more likely to start drinking, or if already drinking to drink more. For others, while the link between advertising and excessive drinking is harder to prove, there is absolutely no doubt that such slick promotion creates a pro-booze culture.

Billions in Madison Avenue marketing has given alcohol the Good Housekeeping seal of approval that it should never have had. The Food and Drug Administration must untether itself from the alcohol lobby and regulate it as the drug it most certainly is.

The World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014 lists several excellent suggestions for combating the ravages of alcohol, including the promotion of alcohol-free venues, lowering the number of outlets, reducing serving hours, and municipal policies discouraging alcohol use.

alcohol2Good luck with this in towns like Louisville, who trumpet every opportunity to tipple. Unwittingly or not, local leaders promote the booze culture on the promise of economic development.

But this is very flawed. First, over-consumption leads to lower productivity and higher costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention excessive alcohol use results in more than $224 billion in economic costs each year.

Most important, promoting a wholesome, alcohol-free, community-building, soul-lifting culture will create more short- and long-term economic and human benefit than any amount of supposed booze-related commerce.

Richard Dawahare is an attorney in Lexington, Ky.

What are your thoughts on criminalizing women who consume alcohol and drugs while pregnant?

What are your thoughts on criminalizing women who consume alcohol and drugs while pregnant? Do you think shaming and blaming these women will lead to a change in future pregnancy and substance use behaviours?

Officers: Newport woman admits to taking drugs, drinking alcohol while pregnant
Result: Woman arrested


COCKE COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) — The Cocke County Sheriff’s Department said a Newport woman is charged with assault after she admitted to regularly doing drugs while pregnant.

Michelle Dawn Finchum is now in jail. A sheriff’s report said she told the Department of Children’s Services she used illegal drugs and drank whisky and vodka every day during her pregnancy.

Finchum is one of at least three other East Tennessee women charged under a new law that punishes pregnant women who abuse narcotics and give birth to a drug dependent child or that child is harmed as a result of drug abuse.

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2nd Floor Women’s Recovery Centre information

Edmonton and area Fetal Alcohol Network Society


2nd Floor Women’s Recovery Centre in Cold Lake Alberta.  This is a relatively new centre that accepts women as young as 15 years old and from anywhere in Canada.

Their target group is women who are pregnant or at risk of getting pregnant and have alcohol or substance use issues.  Women who are interested in attending the 2nd Floor Women’s Recovery Centre for treatment do not need to have a FASD diagnosis.

Click here to download letter of information 

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KnowFASD is Back! Learn about FASD and Get Help!

FASD Interventions Across the Lifespan


After what seems like far too long, KnowFASD is back in operation! To those of you who use the site regularly and have been waiting for its return, thank you for your patience.

If you have never visited the site, please feel free to drop by and check it out! Take a browse through the interactive home page and learn more/find help on the site’s wiki.

Our goal with KnowFASD is to provide a comprehensive site where viewers can learn about the neurobehavioural deficits associated with FASD throughout the lifespan and link to intervention options.

The main homepage of the website is an interactive interface where viewers can scroll through the lifespan of individuals with FASD, with neurobehavioural issues at each developmental stage presented as they may appear in day-to-day life. By clicking on a neurobehavioural issue, viewers are directed to a “wiki” (which works in a…

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“Serge and Denis present pregnancy and drinking”: video from Éduc’alcool

Girls, Women, Alcohol, and Pregnancy

This video from Éduc’alcool, an independent, not-for-profit organization in Quebec, has two key messages:

  • Éduc’alcool recommends that women refrain from drinking from the moment they decide to become pregnant.
  • Éduc’alcool recommends that women refrain from drinking during pregnancy.

The Éduc’alcool website also includes a “Pregnancy and drinking: your questions answered” section.

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Three Key Points About Alcohol And Pregnancy


1. Alcohol is a neurotoxin.  Forty years of research has shown alcohol to be a neurotoxin in utero.  That means alcohol is a toxic substance to the developing baby; just like carbon monoxide and lead are toxic substances to adults. Alcohol kills fetal brain cells.  

2. Developing babies can’t process any amount of alcohol.  Growing babies lack the ability to process or metabolize alcohol through the liver or other organs.  Alcohol crosses the placenta, and research has shown that, “One to 2 [hours] after maternal ingestion, fetal blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) reach levels nearly equivalent to maternal levels.”

3. Alcohol is more harmful to a developing baby than heroin or cocaine. According to The Institute of Medicine, “Of all the substances of abuse (including cocaine, heroin, and marijuana), alcohol produces by far the most serious neurobehavioral effects in the fetus.”

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FASD prevention needs to begin before pregnancy: findings from the US National Survey of Family Growth

Girls, Women, Alcohol, and Pregnancy


Most interventions and programs to prevent alcohol use during pregnancy focus on encouraging pregnant women to abstain from alcohol use. However, one of the most consistent predictors of alcohol use during pregnancy is women’s drinking patterns before pregnancy. As well, a large majority of women have been drinking alcohol for many years prior to getting pregnant.

A recent journal article published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal (April 2015) looks at data from the National Survey of Family Growth in the United States to estimate the number of women during a one month period who are at risk of having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. (An “alcohol-exposed pregnancy” means that a woman is drinking alcohol, sexually active and not using contraception).

The study found that during a one-month period, nearly 2 million women in the United States were at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy, including 600,000 who were binge drinking…

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