ALCOHOLISM IN THE MODERN AGE

Statistics show alcohol addiction continues to kill

Every day, more than 270 Americans die from excessive alcohol consumption. According to the site Alcohol Addiction, 100,000 people die annually due to alcohol abuse and events that stem from excessive drinking.

Most children and adults who become problem drinkers begin drinking socially and sparingly until it becomes more and more integral in their everyday lives.

Consider the following facts about modern alcoholism:

  • 3 million teens between ages 14 and 17 are problem drinkers.
  • 1 in 13 adults abuse alcohol or are alcoholic.
  • 43% of adults claim to have an alcoholic in their family.
  • Alcohol abuse in the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

As a society, Americans have become comfortable with alcohol use. A survey conducted by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that slightly more than half of the adults asked are considered to be regular drinkers, meaning they consume more than 12 alcoholic drinks a year.

Ted Harrison, a counselor with Wauona Consulting and Training in Chaska, Minn., says that it’s the inert trust and comfort members of society feel toward alcohol that makes it such an easy drug to overuse.

“There are politically correct and politically incorrect addictions,” Harrison said. “Alcohol is a politically correct addiction. There’s almost a pride in it for some. One by one, priorities get set aside until all that’s left is the focus of the addiction.”

Harrison likens it to a switch that goes off in people who abuse alcohol that turns them into full-fledged alcoholics. Once that happens, the only option is complete abstinence from any intoxicant.

“There are two types of people who say alcohol is not a problem,” Harrison said. “Alcoholics and people who don’t have a problem with alcohol.”

The website Alcoholism Facts gives a succinct definition of alcoholism:

Dependence on alcohol where there is always a strong need or craving to drink is known as alcoholism. When this craving for alcohol is indulged, it leads to loss of control where the person lacks the ability to limit his drinking. He becomes physically dependent such that if he doesn’t consume alcohol, he goes into withdrawal symptoms like sweating, shaking, nausea, and even anxiety. Without help, a person addicted to alcohol will build a tolerance for the substance wherein he needs to drink greater amounts in order to get high.

Paul Kurr is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for more than four years. The following video tells his story:

For people who have legitimate concern as to whether or not they are alcoholic, Harrison says the easiest way to tell is how they react to a month of sobriety.

“If you stop drinking for 30 to 45 days, an alcohol abuser will feel better,” Harrison said, “but an addict will feel worse, because this will be the lowest point of their detox.”

Harrison also believes society has come a long way in providing assistance and resources for addicts who recognize their disease.

“There was a time when, if you were diagnosed as an alcoholic, it was a curse of death,” Harrison said. “Now there are AA and 12 step programs all over and, though they’re not treatment, they can help in getting people sober.”

The website AlcoholScreening.org has put together a test that people can take to help determine whether their drinking has reached a point where they need assistance.

Ultimately, Harrison says that it is up to society to address the growing problem of alcohol addiction.

“We are raised in a culture of addiction,” Harrison said, “whether it’s alcohol, drugs or money. People buy t-shirts will beer advertisements and then give them to their kids.”

THE AUDACITY OF AUDACITY

Learning how to use Audacity was incredibly simple for me, because I have a wealth of experience with more sophisticated audio editing programs, like Adobe Audition. Still, considering it’s a free program, Audacity is an incredibly useful tool for anyone looking to utilize audio sound bites in a multimedia presentation.

Getting Started in Audio Editing
is a tutorial by Mindy McAdams that covers all of the necessary basics for novices of audio editing. I didn’t have the luxury of a tutorial when I began editing my band’s music, so I had to teach myself all the ins and outs of editing sound, which resulted in a lot of trial-and-error (as well as crappy sounding finished products).

Here is some advice for those new to audio editing:

  • Learn the basics — Knowing how to cut, paste and trim within an audio file are a prerequisite to everything else.
  • Take your time — There are infinite edits you can make, and you’ll never find what you’re looking for if you don’t try different ideas.
  • Feel free to experiment — Some of the best things I’ve produced have happened completely by accident.
  • Don’t get frustrated — It can be very tedious, but there is no better feeling than listening to a finished product that sounds great.

Learning about how to recover from mistakes and how to zoom in on a small sample of your audio file are critical for establishing a comfort level with audio editing. Once you have the basics down, then the fun can really begin; using effects and filters in creative ways can truly enhance your sound files.

OBAMA TO EXAMINE VALUE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Student loans, federal spending to be part of the discussion

The Obama administration is asking what people are getting for their money since college drop-outs cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Unemployment remains high, yet high-tech companies are projecting shortages due to a lack of prospects entering the workforce.

Consider the following facts regarding modern higher education and its economic impact:

  • Students with loans are graduating with more than $25,000 in debt.
  • The federal government pours $140 billion annually into federal grants and loans.
  • About 40% of college students at 4 year schools do not graduate.
  • About 20% of full-time students at a community college do not return for a sophomore year.

A commission convened during the George W. Bush administration found literacy rates among college students have declined and higher education has become “increasingly risk-averse, at times self-satisfied, and unduly expensive.”

The president is on record with his belief that post-secondary schools need to be more transparent regarding tuition costs and the success of their graduates.