Thursday, March 28, 2013

That's Kosher

Passover started at dusk on Monday and will end this Tuesday evening at the same time. During the holiday, food made from grains isn't supposed to be consumed by Jewish people. Meaning - no grain alcohols.

However, the kosher options for alcohol at Passover are growing. From super-chic kosher tequilas to upscale vintages from California's To Kalon Vineyard, observant Jews have much more pairing choices  for Passover Seder than they've had in the past. Even kosher meal options are growing, with osso bucco and lamb shanks joining traditional brisket, as reported in the L.A. Times.

By the way, for the religiously-challenged - moi included - Passover celebrates the freeing of the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery 3,300 years ago. That part I knew. (If you're a religious scholar or don't need a refresher, you can 'pass over' ;) this post and skip straight down to Topol singing If I Were A Rich Man if you want.)

I was in Whole Foods the other day when I saw a children's toy by the cash register called the Passover Bag of Plagues. Waiting for the tree-hugger ahead of me to pack up his wheat grass, I took a look at the colorful little bag. It contained toy bugs and dark sunglasses and a red drop of blood, among other things. I know Christian imagery isn't much more kid-friendly this time of year (hence the Bunny), but plastic lice and locusts? Yikes. Was this some trick to get kids to finish their cabbage?

So Ms. Functional endeavored to learn more. According to the Book of Exodus, God actually brought these 10 Plagues against the Egyptians - not the Israelites - and it's what eventually convinced them to end Jewish slavery.

The worst of the Plagues - the death of the first-born male - was avoided by Jewish people when they put lamb's blood on their doorposts. That way God would know to pass over that house and preserve the first born in Jewish families. So a toy bag of Plagues makes perfect sense as a learning tool for kids. Cute!

Sort of, anyway. ;)

And now... here's Topol from the hit musical Fiddler On The Roof.  My Uncle Mike used to bring down the house (almost literally) dancing to this one. With over 4.5 million YouTube hits, it's a perennial crowd pleaser. But it's also been known to cause more than a few cases of frozen shoulder, so if you plan to play along, keep your chiropractor's number handy!

And take off your shoes!




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Countdown!

I'm two weeks away from my next 28-day cleanse. I take two of them a year, about five months apart, and that's what I believe is the cornerstone of this plan. The two days off a week are also very important - but it's the longer cleanses that really help to keep your system healthy.

And - most importantly - these long breaks from the addictive qualities of alcohol help your brain keep producing dopamine at a normal level. And the healthy production of dopamine is what keeps you happy. Drinking too much alcohol will eventually stop your brain from producing dopamine - and that's what makes problem drinkers depressed. Whether they're drinking or not.

I know I've talked about all of this before, but it's really at the heart of why cleansing works and - if you think you have a problem - it's great information to completely ingrain into your life.

Of course, Ms. Functional is always trying to keep things light and fun, so the awesome thing about just before a cleanse is that for those 2-3 weeks (depending on how your schedule works out: this isn't about counting minutes!) you don't have to take the two days off a week. I mean, you can if you want to! But you don't have to. It's sort of like a reward to yourself, a mini-celebration, an honoring of the new time in your life coming up, the change of it, and a tribute to lots of good things that come into your life as a result of cleansing. Like freedom, fun, happiness, relaxation, joy, spontaneity - and, yes, celebration.

Of course ... this doesn't mean you should be getting plastered/wasted/legless/f*cked up/ and/or dangerously drunk. Cleansing means those days are (basically!) over for you. It just means that you don't have to mind your schedule so much. That freedom is a real plus just before you begin a cleanse.

All that being said ... here's a good way to end a drinking cycle: Vegas!!

Yes, the annual pilgrimage to LVNV is in the preparation stages. The hubs and I are heading off soon.

You sure don't want to begin a cleansing cycle by going to Vegas (or probably just about anywhere) in the first couple weeks of starting to drink again. It'll just put too much pressure on your whole system. Your liver, your brain, your psyche. After a cleanse you have to gradually bring drinking back into your life.

But just before a cleanse? That's what Vegas is for! :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hero Joe

I'm sitting here drinking my ginger and milk thistle tea (I use two tea bags: ginger for inflammation and milk thistle for liver protection, for a light herbal tea every morning) -- but maybe what I should be having is a strong cup of joe.

A new study out of Finland suggests that heavy coffee consumption could protect against liver damage in hard-drinking men.  

Researchers from the University of Tampere polled 19,000 men and women about their alcohol intake and also measured levels of gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) in their blood. As a rule, heavy drinkers (people who consume more than 24 drinks a week) have a higher level of GGT in their blood. High GGT levels can also be a sign of liver disease. 

However, of those heavy drinkers, men who consumed at least 5 cups of coffee a day showed a significantly lower level of GGT in their blood than drinkers who steered away from joe. This could mean that coffee helps protect the livers of hard-drinking men. Though there didn't seem to be the same connection for women. (Boohoo!)

I wonder how they found 19,000 heavy drinkers in Finland?

Actually, as reported in Drinking Opportunity last week, Finland is the heaviest drinking nation on the planet (at least according to AskMen.com). You can't swing a Nokia over there without hitting a hard drinker, so they probably had more than enough volunteers. (Nokia being a great Finnish company where lots of Finns show they get much more done during the day than drinking and having saunas).

I think I'm gonna make myself a cup of coffee ... Better safe than sober. I mean, sorry. ;)

Here's the full article from LiveScience.com.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Among Friends

I read a great story on DrinkingDiaries.com this week about a woman whose old friend from school - "T" - was an alcoholic. How the hard drinking started in high school - and worried the friend, but she didn't do anything about it.

Things escalated during college until, finally, the friend said she could no longer have T in her life. Not until she got control of her drinking. It was just too hard on her.

(Spoiler alert) Cut to about thirty years later and the two started linking up on Facebook et al. But T always seemed a bit out-of-it. It was clear she was still drinking.

Well, a Facebook update let the old friend know that T had died at age 53. There was no indication of what might've happened, but the friend is pretty sure it had something to do with her alcoholism.

It's hard to know what to do when your friend is an alcoholic. Especially if you're a young person and drinking is so prevalent.

I know I was drinking very dangerously in university. I had two friends at the time - a young woman "K" and a gay guy "C" - who seemed to be able to keep up with me (at least through first semester). But a visit to the emergency ward (K had borderline alcohol poisoning) and a number of other falls, blackouts and bad decisions (on my part) later, K & C decided to have an intervention with me one Sunday morning.

I had no idea what was happening. The word 'intervention' wasn't even in the lexicon yet. Not really. I thought we were all getting together for a little brunch at my place. So I taped a little sign to the door that read The Breakfast Club (we loved that movie, saw it together) and welcomed them when they got there.

I don't think there was drinking involved - it was too early, even for me. But I imagine there was some coffee (my caffeine habit back then was almost as bad as my drinking). I remember looking at them and knowing that something was up. K had the strangest look on her face. Sort of serious - and superior.

She led the whole thing. C just sort of seemed sad and along for the ride. K said I was drinking too much and they were worried about me. They couldn't stand seeing me do this to myself. It was too hard on them. K said that if I didn't quit the partying, they couldn't be my friends anymore.

I remember the conversation so clearly. I remember how much it hurt. Just an arrow slowly pressing into my heart. I was so shocked. This wasn't a Breakfast Club get together at all! I didn't cry or anything. I sort of felt myself seal off a bit. Then I said, "Really? Okay. Maybe we can get together when we're thirty or something. For a drink."

Gulp. (That's because I swallowed hard after saying that, trying to hide my true feelings and how hurt I was.)

K sort of gave a sarcastic little laugh. I deserved it for such a cold crack. They left my apartment shortly after that and ... well, we never hung out again. She 'pulled up her socks' and became a serious student.

I found a new friend who liked to party.

K got married during our second year of university. A small wedding to another student - a born again Christian, no less.

I wasn't invited.

The whole thing hurt pretty bad. Still does, really.

I saw C at a little get together a few years ago. He looked good. Had become a talented artist and was enjoying the great freedom and lifestyle Toronto can offer to gay men. We actually met in the Church/Wellesley Gay Village (my old neighborhood). He had a fab Facebook page full of buff shots of himself and his gay friends (no women were allowed to friend him, if I remember).

C seemed to have gotten over whatever anger he had toward me. Even though he never seemed to be behind the intervention in the first place. We had a great time. He still saw K sometimes and I found out she had two children - and that she'd gotten divorced. Life happens, I guess.

I sometimes wonder about reaching out to her again. We were such good friends back then.

Or ... were we?

If you love someone, if you care about them, if you're worried about them - how do you leave them? When they probably need your support most? I know dealing with alcoholics is difficult. And nobody wants to go down with a sinking ship. So I'm not judging. But abandoning somebody when they need help ... well, it doesn't feel very good to the one getting dumped. Like I said, thinking about that ultimatum still hurts me to this day.

Who knows? If I'd known about alcoholism, depression, dopamine and addiction back then - and if I knew how to handle it better (through cleansing) - that intervention might never had to have happened.

Here's some advice on how to handle the alcoholic in your life from Psychology Today. And some information from the Mayo Clinic about how to hold an intervention.

Also know that Ms. Functional would be happy to write anonymously to any friend or family member that you're worried about. Just contact me at msfunctional@gmail.com. I could send them the link to the blog. I could tell them it's from someone who loves them.

Maybe we could even help save a friendship.

I only wish I could've saved mine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring!

It ended up being a cleanse night last night. It's the second week in a row I've been up-in-the-air on Tuesday and it was a titch trying last night.

Because you start getting into the mood to party (and by 'party' I don't mean ... y'know ... par-taaaay; just a normal mid-week vino thing) and you start looking forward to it - and then, well, by the time you settle in, it's after 8 o'clock and you're thinking "Hey, I made it this far. Why not just call it a night?" and suddenly you're sitting there drinking water and watching Zero Dark Thirty for the second time and you're so freaking stressed out because how many times can you watch people get tortured (even fake terrorists) without a drink? I sincerely got wound up and could've used a little something to take the edge off. Tense flick.

(The hubs, on the other hand, was laughing at it. Thought it was a bit overdone. We're a real Siskel and Ebert team here.)

Anyway, yesterday makes today all the sweeter. Because it is a drinking day. :) So I feel really happy, relaxed and full of anticipation.

And there could be scientific reason why I feel this way.

In their book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, professors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton proved that test subjects who had to delay eating chocolate by a week enjoyed it a lot more than those subjects who were allowed to chow down on the sweet treat all week long.

Meaning, when it comes to pleasure, absence really can make the heart grow fonder.

By the way, Happy Vernal Equinox! It's the first day of spring! 'Equinox' being a Latin-derived term meaning 'equal night.' Both night and day are of equal length today. So this God-forsakenly-long-stormy-snowy-pre-global-warming-type winter is over!

At least on paper.

Good reason to celebrate! :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Drinking Opportunity

I wrote about the Top 10 Drinking Countries yesterday - in light of St. Paddy's Day and Ireland's top ranking on the list. I meant to mention that my ancestors made the list too - they're runners up at #2. Finland is the next hard-drinking nation besides Ireland ... and that's where most of my family hailed from years ago. So, as you can see, I come by my drinking problem honestly - ahem, drinking opportunity, I mean. ;)

btw it's Tuesday - normally a cleanse day for me. But plans are up in the air this week so there's a chance it's a party night.

Sometimes I enjoy not knowing which days are drinking days and which aren't. Other days, if I'm going out for lunch or heading to a matinee, I like to be prepared so I can have a tipple during the day.

If I'm on the bubble like this, I really don't mind skipping out on drinks during the day - and saving them for the evening. God knows my system could use as many non-drinking hours as possible, especially after the weekend. ;) And I love the sense of - well, 'adventure' is a little strong a word. But at the very least, there's a sense of spontaneity. 

I think some of the biggest problems with most abstinence programs like A.A. - or even plans that allow you the occasional drink - is that they're so predictable. Boring. Mundane.

But my cleansing program allows life to be unstructured every now and again. You can do things on a spur-of-the-moment basis. It feels more like natural life ... like living ... rather than being chained to a regimented system that calculates every move you make every day. With this plan, it's up to you when you take your 2 cleanse days during the week. The freedom is there if you choose it.

Of course, if you'd rather have the structure of knowing when your cleanse days are, that's an option too. And most weeks, that's the way my life works. Tuesdays and Thursdays off.

But when things are up in the air - like today - I'm also happy just to wait and see how the night unfolds. I feel I've found the right balance between structure and freedom with this plan to keep even the most stubborn problem drinkers happy, healthy - and having fun.

At least most of the time.  :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Paddy Whacked!

How's yer nut? Was St. Paddy's a lamb or a lion? Check out the Hangover Cure tab at the top of the page if you need it! ;)

Everything from Niagara Falls to the Pyramids of Egypt to the Leaning Tower of Pisa were green yesterday in honor of St. Patrick.

St. Paddy was actually kidnapped by pirates when he was a boy (around the 4th century).  He escaped and eventually found religion - like in a big way. He's credited with combining Irish Paganism with Christianity - and creating the lovely Celtic Cross. Here's more on what must be one of the coolest saints evurrrr from Biography.com.

Thousands turned up for the parade in Dublin - check out the pics from The Independent. Looks like these people know how to throw a party.

Not to be outdone, two million shamrock heads attended the festivities in NYC, the biggest St. Paddy's Day parade in the world. Here's a peek:



By the way, Ireland is the hardest drinking nation on the planet, consuming 14.2 liters of alcohol and 131 liters of beer per capita each year.

To see where you and your ancestors turn up, here's a list of the Top Ten Drinking Countries from AskMen.com.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Green Day

So St. Paddy's is this weekend!

I feel lucky to be able to celebrate Ireland's unofficial patron saint of partying this year because I've often been on a cleanse in March in the past. But because of some travel plans, my cleanse isn't until April this year. So I can partake in the festivities.

Which means what?

Green beer, right?

Well, at least everywhere ... but in Ireland. Because according to the National Post and Guinness, a real authentic Irish St. Patrick's Day party doesn't include green food coloring. That's just a gimmick the rest of the drinking world has adopted to make March 17 seem special compared to, well, all the other nights you drink beer that's just boring beige.

Problem: I don't drink beer anymore. So I was wondering what other festive cocktails I might enjoy to mark a day devoted to parades, shamrocks, hard drinking and general global partying.

Here's a sophisticated looking libation. It's made with champagne and Midori Melon Liqueur - which is green. According to our YouTube chef here, Midori isn't a super sweet liqueur so it won't overpower the champagne (or sparkling wine for the budget-minded). Plus it looks really pretty. It's probably healthier for you than green food coloring. It's super-duper easy. And, best of all -- it's booze! :)



However, not everyone is going to appreciate what a brunette in a pretty green sweater standing in front of her Sub-Zero fridge is making to mark the occasion.  Liqueur and bubbly may be very chic for a cocktail soiree, but I don't think it would be practical at, say, a frat house. (At least none of the ones I ever frequented in my youth.)

So for the less 'polished' palette, here's overgrown frat-boy Derrick Schommer, a YouTuber who seems to spend an awful lot of time collecting, mixing and drinking booze. I think these two will always belong to Phi Epsilon Delta - at least in their hearts.

Top of the marnin'/evenin'/marnin' to you! Enjoy!



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Flight" Fright

Soooo ... finally got a chance to see Denzel Washington in "Flight."

Tense freaking movie. All about an alcoholic airline pilot who can control anything - even a 30,000 foot nosedive - except his drinking and drugs.

Regaining consciousness after the accident, he decides to quit drinking. He doesn't realize they've already clocked him at three times the legal drunk driving limit. Which is about 6 times the legal 'flying limit' if you're a pilot - which is 0.04 or 'eight hours from bottle to throttle' as they say in the biz - and at AirlinePilotForums.com.  (Incidentally, that rule may be extended to twelve hours from drinking to flying.)

Since Denzel had just been partying all night in a hotel room with one of his flight attendants - which included much nudity, drinking and some cocaine to take the cobwebs off - he wasn't exactly going by the book. Because officially it takes more than a couple lines of coke and a close shave to get behind the throttle after a bender. Thank goodness.

Despite the fact there's never been a commercial airline crash due to drunk-flying (according to the National Transportation Safety Board), a tipsy Japanese pilot did kill a handful of crew members and 65 beef cattle after he crashed a Japan Air cargo flight in Alaska in 1977 (a place now known as Hamburger Hill 2 ;)).  His blood alcohol level was three times the legal driving limit. Again in the 1970s (go figure!), another small engine pilot nicked the New Jersey bar he'd just been drinking in and then crashed into a radio tower, killing two.

But Hollywood and the 1970s notwithstanding, these are rare exceptions. The NTSB conducts about 10,000 alcohol tests on commercial pilots every year and only about twelve fail. Co-pilots and other crew members are trained to be on guard for the signs of inebriation. You know, things like going "Weeee!" during takeoff or "Hey, what's this (hic) button for?" Not that Denzel displayed many signs of being drunk. In fact, he was cool as cucumber during the daring crash landing.

Washington received an Oscar nod for his portrayal of on-and-of-the-wagon flyboy Whip Whitaker (his best role by far, imho). He said he used a really nasty bout of turbulence he'd been through to access the calmness of the character in a similar situation.

Um ... all the thoughts of drunk pilots made waiting on the line for an Air Canada rep today even more unpleasant. (It was a flight change and you have to do that on the phone). So seriously ... by the time my wait was over and I had been put on ho-o-o-old and then on ho-o-o-old again (this after being on ho-o-o-old yesterday!), I was pretty close to tears and could've used a visit from the Air Canada drink cart!! Damnit!

If you haven't seen it, here's nine tense freaking minutes from the crash scene in superb Flight. 




Monday, March 11, 2013

Pelican Briefly

 My brother was coming through town this weekend on his way back from a week in Florida. So Saturday included a late-night excursion of transferring him from the airport to the bus stop for the last leg of the journey home. As we set out around 11:30p to pick him up from my cousin's, the prospect of a drink somewhere came up. Sounded good to me.

We ended up at an upscale roadhouse-type place (I think I've talked about how much I love the roadhouse "mystique?" Especially their habit of usually having tub-sized glasses of wine). 

It was after 12:30 when the swell bartender sauntered up and asked what we wanted to drink. The boys had beers and I asked for a pinot grigio. "Six or nine ounce?" 

Are you kidding? I'm freaking Ms. Functional, f'crissakes. "Nine!" I said with a grin. 

Keep in mind, that generally I don't "pour myself" a glass of wine after 11p at night. Not unless I want to get drunk or have a hankering for a hangover in the morning. Which - occasionally - is the case. 

The wine came in a HUGE polished glass, big enough for a koi pond. Yum. The bro hauled out the camera and we checked out his pics and listened to his stories from the Sunshine State. (Like rescuing a pelican that had chowed down on a fisherman's hook. The bird landed right in front of my brother, a big tackle hanging out of its beak. As coincidence would have it, he'd visited the Sun Coast Seabird Sanctuary on the vacay and he'd heard about how deadly fishing hooks can be for birds, pelicans especially. He sprung into action. Grabbing the fishing line - still attached to the fisherman, mind you, who didn't seem to care about the well-being of the pelican nearly as much as my bro - he had the pelican on the other end. The bird had a wingspan of almost six feet! It flew off with my bro still holding the line and started circling overhead like a live kite. My bro jiggled the fishing line, broke it, and the hook and bait fell out. Mr. Pelican sailed off safely into the sunset. That's my bro - saving the world, one pelican at a time!) 

Back to the wine. I mentioned at the beginning of this 'drinking cycle' (the five-month drinking part of the year between 28-day cleanses) that right after a cleanse, I almost never 'super-size' my wine. I can't even think of getting nine or ten ounces of wine into me in one sitting. But at the end of a drinking cycle - because I'm about a month away from my next cleanse - big glasses of wine are par for the course. 

However, we didn't have a long stay at the roadhouse. And by the time we had to leave, my wine wasn't finished. There were at least three gleaming ounces left in the bottom of the pond.

You know what? 

I didn't finish it. I walked away and left it sitting there sulking. I knew that extra wine wasn't going to make a real difference in my mood - which was already great. The only thing it guaranteed was a headache in the morning. So I passed.

Nor did I take advantage of 'last call' when the bartender reminded us we could top up again. There was a day when a bartender couldn't mouth the sound "la-" without me jumping behind the bar and serving myself. Let alone leaving behind good vino. 

But not anymore.  

Meaning ... I'll never have to have that scariest of last calls. The one that means I can never drink again.   
:)

And on that happy note, I thought I'd find some really nice relaxing viz of pelicans flying gracefully through a blue Florida sky. Just for a fun peaceful touch.

But you know what? All the YouTube videos I saw just featured pelicans eating things! Cats, pigeons, puppies, ducks. Normally pelicans stick to fish, but obviously they're diversifying. Or maybe they just love the YouTube fame. 

Whatever the case, here it is ... 'Pelican Eats Bird' by stuartnow9. With almost two million hits, we must really love watching pelicans eat things.





Thursday, March 7, 2013

DUI For Dummies

Bad boy Bobby Brown is about ready to start his 55 day sentence for a 3rd DUI conviction. Knowing Bobby's history, nuff said about that.

Of course, Bobby's not alone on the list of big shots who've gotten behind the wheel after too many shots.

Recently, a very nasty DWI turned into Vehicular Homicide when former Melrose Place star, Amy Locane, crashed her SUV into the back of another car, killing the 60-year-old woman inside. She's been sentenced to a relatively lenient three years in prison because the judge felt there were extenuating circumstances - she's the mother of two children, one of whom has special needs. However, that sentence is being appealed by prosecutors because it sends out a bad message about drunk driving.

Other tipsy celebs who took the wheels out for a spin include Canadian maverick Kiefer Sutherland, former besties Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton, Heather Locklear, Lindsey Lohan, Khloe Kardashian (charged in '03, was she even old enough to drive, let alone drink?) and of course, who could forget (though we all want to) Mel Gibson's cringe-worthy tirade - which also resulted in a drunk driving charge in 2006.

btw, I've always been a bit confused about the difference between DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). Turns out, the two terms are basically interchangeable. Some states use one, some another. However, in some areas DUI can be a lesser offense, determined by a lower blood alcohol level or whether it's a first-time charge.  There can also be a difference between the two terms when it comes to substances. DWI always means the driver was drunk on alcohol. And DUI could mean drugs or alcohol were involved.

For a full list of drunk driving celebs - and the sometimes cute, sometimes crazy mug shots, check out TheFrisky.com.

And more about DUI/DWI from WiseGeek.com.

Second cleanse day in a row ...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Double Days

Last night became an impromptu drinking night for me when I decided the way the week was working out, it made more sense for Tuesday to be a drinking night (normally a cleanse night) and Wednesday and Thursday to be dry. Meaning two consecutive cleanse days.

I've talked about taking two days off in a row before. It really seems to expand the benefits of cleansing - both physically and psychologically. It's especially helpful if you have a big project you're working on and you don't need extra distractions.

Plus, if you've been drinking five days straight, you probably do need two days off in a row (providing you're not coming up to your 28-day cleanse, of course. Because no off-days then!). There are even some national health agencies that recommend taking two non-drinking days a week.

For instance, Poland's State Agency for the Prevention of Alcohol Problems recommends two alcohol-free days every week and no more than five drinks a week for women and ten for men. Poland's had a long history of tackling the issue of alcohol-related health problems. For more information, click here.

The Department of Health in the United Kingdom also recommends taking two alcohol-free days - especially after heavy drinking to let the "body recover." I've talked quite a bit about alcohol-related problems in Britain.  It's considered one of the nation's biggest health concerns, with 1.2 million hospital admissions associated with alcohol abuse. The issue is so pressing that the Department of Health has even come up with a new Alcohol Policy. For more information, click here.

Of course, alcohol is not just a problem in Poland and Britain - not by a long shot. ;) Most countries around the globe have official guidelines about what constitutes healthy drinking - and some of them are even amusing.

For instance, Denmark has a pretty liberal drinking policy. The National Board of Health recommends no more than twenty-one drinks a week for men, fourteen for women. Plus they have an extra little warning that children under 15 shouldn't drink alcohol. Sixteen, sure. No problem. (This is the country where I remember they leave their children's carriages on the street by the way ... with the kids in them.)

Iceland has no official drinking guidelines, except that pregnant women shouldn't drink. The Directorate of Health in Norway also has no drinking limits, but suggests 'situational abstinence.' Like when you're driving and, oh, when you're at work. You know you've got a problem when you have to spell that one out. ;)

In all seriousness, though, Norway is trying to tackle the problem of pregnant women and drinking. Their new campaign includes YouTube videos, posters and cutesy cartoon moms-to-be - check it out.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Helping Hand

Alcoholics Anonymous has been helping people stay sober since 1935. (Not all people, of course. About 95% drop out before the first year.)

But of those who stay, a new study has found that their chances of remaining sober are helped by ... helping others. It's an official part of the program and it's called 'AA-related Helping.'

AAH includes public outreach programs, sharing personal stories with other addicts and acts of good citizenship.  Any A.A. member is free to become a helper, too. There are no restrictions regarding how long you have to serve or how long you've been sober. You just have to lend a helping hand - and it'll help you stay sober, too.

Dr. Maria Pagano of Case Western Reserve University was the researcher who found that adults in A.A. were more likely to abstain if they engaged in AAH activities. And recently, she conducted an experiment on 200 adolescent addicts and found that younger people are more likely to stay sober if they're helping others, too.

I've never been to an A.A. meeting, but I often think of going to one to tell people about cleansing. After all, if the vast majority of new members drop out before a year, there must be lots of people in those meetings teetering on the brink of a relapse. And I believe a more moderate approach to treatment - like cleansing - could help those individuals get their lives back ... without having to abstain forever. I could picture myself handing out Ms. Functional cards and saying: "Hey! If you're happy sober and it's easy for you, congrats! But if you're worried it ain't gonna work for you, try this!"

Of course, then I have these images of a room full of sober people throwing cookies, cigarette packs and empty styrofoam cups at me, hissing and booing until I slink out of the room. Because there's one thing A.A. people don't like ... and that's people who encourage drinking.

Of course, Ms. Functional encourages healthier drinking. Not alcohol abuse. I think everyone - even people without a problem - should be aware of the effects of alcohol and how to avoid uncontrollable addiction.

Speaking of which, I've got another 28-day cleanse coming up in about a month. (The exact start date is TBA because some travel plans that are up in the air.)

Knowing the cleanse is coming up doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I'm starting to feel 'ready' to cleanse. I'm actually looking forward to it. Because I know how great it makes me feel and that it keeps me happy and healthy. Once you've started cleansing, you realize it actually is 'fun' to be with yourself sober for four weeks. It becomes a really special time of year.

It seems crazy to me that I'm actually looking forward to not drinking for a month. Ten years ago - and for many years before that - I couldn't picture even one day without a drink. Let alone twenty-eight in a row. But that's how much cleansing has helped me. It's given me back control. And I think it could help others, too.

Speaking of a helping hand, here's someone else who likes to help out.  Eek! The Cat. Eek was a 90s cartoon I used to watch on Saturday mornings (hungover) while the hubs slept in bed beside me. Twenty years later, we still love quoting Eek.

Especially his most famous line ... "It never hurts to help." :) Here's a little peek at Eek!