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Myth busted, a small amount of alcohol isn’t good for you

September 3rd, 2018

Drinking any amount of alcohol is harmful

Alcohol is the leading attributable cause of death amongst the adult population ( between the ages of 15-49 ) and yet the message people have heard from doctors and the media has been that drinking a small amount of red wine may be good for your health. This was never true but it led to a lot of vulnerable people being given a validation for their drinking by the medical profession. This week, the medical research journal “The Lancet” has finally exposed this myth and made clear it’s advice that drinking anything at all is harmful.

There is nothing wrong with doing harmful things of course. Riding horses is harmful, and yet, people make an educated decision that riding their horse is fun and it is what they choose to do. You could say the same about riding a motorbike or many other activities that people do to enjoy themselves. They are prepared to take the risks that they know go along with it.

The same might be said for alcohol. People drink and enjoy it and can do so knowing the risks involved. So what is the big fuss with this new report in the Lancet?

Well, there is a massive difference when half of the alcohol is consumed by people with a mental health problem which gives them a pathological dependence on alcohol. In this case, every bit of information needs to be as clear as possible.

If you do a quick Google for ‘red wine is good for your heart’ you will find a long list of articles that have come out over the years where people tried to make the case that drinking ‘one glass a day of red wine’ was good for your health, specifically, it was supposed to be good for your heart. Unfortunately, these studies were flawed because they compared moderate drinkers against abstainers without taking into account the health reasons that may have led people to abstain. When you take this factor out, there were never any health benefits to drinking even just one glass of wine per day ( https://www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsad.2016.77.185 ) Every drink did some damage.

So, no health benefits, but on the other hand, among the population from 15-49, alcohol was the leading attributable risk factor in deaths! So there is a massive risk that needs to be communicated about heavy alcohol consumption even though, for some strange reason, it seems to be hard to have that message communicated clearly.

Of course, the average person who drinks just one glass of wine per day probably doesn’t care if they take it or leave it and probably doesn’t care about the minimal impact it might have on their health, positive or negative. Unfortunately, the group who paid most attention to the ‘supposed’ health benefits of alcohol were the group I mentioned earlier who were drinking substantially more than one glass of wine per day and who are experiencing devastating consequences from drinking on all fronts, not least health. Having information which was misleading had the terrible effect of reinforcing denial about the need to stop drinking.

Finally, the truth is made clear. Any drinking is harmful and excessive drinking is excessively harmful.
( https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31310-2/fulltext ) These are the facts. If you choose to drink moderately and accept those risks then that is great and absolutely your right, but please help us communicate more clearly with the 10% who are hurting themselves and others terribly.

TMS Depression Treatment

March 27th, 2018

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an exciting treatment for depression using magnets to stimulate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain which is associated with mood.

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BBC Radio 4 report on bad practice in rehabs

March 19th, 2018

BBC World at One news programme has reported on poor and unsafe practice in the private rehab sector.
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World Sleep Day

March 16th, 2018

Today is world sleep day and poor sleep is one of the most common difficulties people face when recovering from mental health problems.
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PROMIS’s Philippe Cavaroz gives a talk at iCAAD addiction conference in Paris

March 13th, 2018

Philippe Cavaroz presented on behalf of the PROMIS French team at the prestigious iCAAD conference in Paris today. There were speakers representing all aspects of care for people with addiction problems.
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Lets be more careful with the language we use to describe addiction problems

March 1st, 2018

In this last couple of years, I have seen Dr John Kelly speak a few times and I am always impressed with what he has to say. I want to share a few ideas he has brought up and to begin with, I’d like to share his ideas about the language we use to describe addiction problems, both as lay people and professionals.

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Antidepressant effectiveness rated

February 26th, 2018


This week a research study was published in the medical journal “The Lancet” which aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of many different antidepressants. This wasn’t new research per say, but a huge study of lots of published and unpublished papers.
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Interesting perspective on depression

January 12th, 2018



We read an interesting article in the Guardian last weekend in which Johann Hari explains how his understanding of depression has evolved. He makes a good point that depression isn’t simply a biological problem to be treated purely by medication.
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The Fundamental Attribution Error

September 13th, 2017

What can Psychology teach us? 

A series of short articles about useful ideas from psychology.




The Fundamental Attribution Error

This is a psychological phenomenon coined by the Stanford Psychology professor Lee Ross based on a psychology experiment by Psychologists Jones and Harris (1967).
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Therapeutic Collage

September 9th, 2017

Therapeutic Collage

 

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