FASlink submission to
WHO survey on health problems related to alcohol consumption. Bruce
Ritchie - September 5, 2006
enter your organization's views on the magnitude of health problems
related to alcohol consumption: (max 300 words)
exposure has been linked to more than 60 disease conditions, birth
defects and disabilities (FASD - Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders).
Damage is a continuum from mild intellectual and behavioural issues
to profound disabilities or premature death. This major health issue
creates enormous personal, family, social, educational, social service
and justice consequences, including a high rate of family breakdown
and single parenting in poverty.
place, and success, is almost entirely determined by neurological
functioning. The largest cause of brain injury in children is prenatal
alcohol exposure. Often the neurological damage goes undiagnosed,
but not unpunished.
we estimate that more than 20% of babies have been multiply exposed
to high levels of alcohol in the first trimester, before the girl
knew she was pregnant. All will be affected to some degree. Continued
drinking during pregnancy exacerbates the damage.
FASD is grossly
under-reported. Very few doctors have been trained to diagnose it.
Most prefer to use "non-judgmental" diagnoses such as
ADHD, LD, MR, RAD, ODD, Bi-Polar, etc. These "symptoms"
do not come with the social baggage of an alcohol associated disability.
However, failure to properly diagnose and treat FASD leads to development
of secondary disabilities, such as mental health problems; disrupted
school experience; trouble with the law; confinement in prison,
drug or alcohol treatment center or mental institution; inappropriate
sexual behaviour; alcohol and drug problems; inability to live independently;
and employment problems.
poor judgment, inability to predict consequences, little capacity
for moral judgment or empathy, and hormones can lead to children
with FASD drinking and giving birth to babies with FASD. It becomes
a multi-generational problem.
alcohol exposure is the leading cause of mental retardation, many
individuals with FASD have normal to high IQ's. They can become
sociopaths leading corporations, governments and military operations.
enter your organization's opinions on effective interventions to
reduce health problems related to alcohol consumption: (max 300
FASD is 100%
preventable, but not curable. Early diagnosis and intensive intervention
can help substantially, but the need for a supportive structure
is permanent. Massive Denial surrounds alcohol issues at all levels
of society and government.
* Teach physicians
and other health professionals to screen, diagnose and treat FASD.
* Recognize and deal with the continuum, not just the extremes of
* Actively screen for alcohol use in all patients and give advice.
* Recognize medical issues of alcohol and all personal, family and
* Folic acid
should be added to all beverage alcohol.
* Break the cycle. Properly fund addiction intervention and rehabilitation
* Identify women at risk of having children with FASD and intervene.
* Meconium testing for Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters should be mandatory
for every birth.
* Intensive family and social service supports for FASD and recovering
* Poverty breeds, and is a result of, substance abuse. Deal with
* The beverage
alcohol industry pays less than 1% of the total damages caused by
their products. Increase taxes on beverage alcohol.
* All tax revenue to be returned to support rehabilitation programs
and victims of alcohol.
* Remove all incentives for governments to promote alcohol.
* End all government supports for beverage alcohol industry, including
*wine and beer tourism*.
* End all alcohol advertising
* Alcohol must be served with food.
* Breathalyzers in all alcohol establishments
* Ban alcohol sales incentives, contests, games.
* Ban *Happy Hour* discounted promotions. They encourage binge drinking.
* Educate the
public that addiction is a medical issue not a moral failure.
* Educate children from a very young age about dangers of alcohol.
* Have youth design anti-alcohol programs targeting youth.
* Better diagnostic
* True incidence and scaling of FASD damage.
* Chemically turn-off addiction center in brain.
comments: (max 300 words)
Alcohol Disabilities Society serves some 400,000 people annually.
The FASlink Archives online contain more than 110,000 FASD related
documents. Our membership is worldwide but most are in Canada and
the USA, from the most remote locations to urban centers. FASlink
partners with St. Michael's Hospital FASD Diagnostic Clinic. St.
Michael's is a teaching hospital affiliated with the University
The cost of
FASD to affected individuals is incalculable and tragic. FASD exacts
a tremendous price from families in quality of living, physical
and mental health, and financially. In Canada's federal, provincial
and municipal budgets, alcohol damage may represent more than 50%
of the Justice budgets, 20%+ of the Education budgets, 10% of the
Health budgets, 80% of the Child Protection budgets and 50%+ of
the Social Welfare budgets.
Break a raw egg (without breaking the yolk) into a bowl. Add 1 ounce
of alcohol. Gently stir some of the alcohol into the egg white.
Watch the effects on the egg white. White streaks will form in the
clear portion. Alcohol literally cooks the egg. "Here is your
baby's brain on alcohol".
the largest environmental cause of behavioral teratogenesis yet
discovered and, perhaps, the largest single environmental cause
that will ever be discovered." -Riley, E. P., and Vorhees,
"Of all the substances of abuse, including heroin, cocaine,
and marijuana, alcohol produces by far the most serious neurobehavioral
effects in the fetus." -Institute of Medicine 1996 Report to
Any attempt to control the beverage alcohol industry is met with
well financed attacks. They finance tainted research, organizations
purporting to deal with the results of alcohol, and some politicians.
Individuals and organizations become addicted to the money if not
the product. Society's Massive Denial is the hallmark of 3000 years
of beverage alcohol.