Harry Potter Gains Alcohol Awareness

With the final installment of the outstanding Harry Potter series set to be released in Hollywood this week, actor Daniel Radcliffe is making the rounds at press junkets. As a counselor for alcoholism and for both in classroom and online alcohol awareness classes, Harry Potter is big news.

Harry Potter Gives Up Booze

No the mead at Hogwarts has not been spiked, and no Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley are not playing quarters in the dining hall. It is Radcliffe, the actor who plays the flamboyant wizard, Harry Potter, making alcohol awareness news.

Radcliffe has come out as saying he has given up alcohol. Radcliffe admits that he had a serious dependency on alcohol and was a hard partyer.

Radcliffe said he has been sober since last August. In an interview with GQ magazine he admitted, “I became so reliant on alcohol to enjoy stuff,’ .

“There were a few years there when I was just so enamored with the idea of living some sort of famous person’s lifestyle that really isn’t suited to me.

“I’m actually enjoying the fact I can have a relationship with my girlfriend where I’m really pleasant, and I’m not ****ing up totally all the time.

“As much as I would love to be a person that goes to parties and has a couple of drinks and has a nice time, that doesn’t work for me.’

It is fair to say his confession has raised eyebrows with some of his friends back home in London.

It is certainly true that he did develop a taste for whisky sours, tequila and bourbon on nights out with his tight-knit group of chums. Well if Harry

NFL Receiver Hines Ward Needs Alcohol Awareness Class

There are a lot of “bad boy” professional athletes. Perhaps no position ion the National Football League garners more negative attention than wide receiver. Yesterday, Pittsburgh Steelers All-Star wideout Hines Ward was arrested for driving under the influence. Of course he was stopped in the middle of the night, 2:30AM, in Dekalb, Georgia.

Officers noticed his Aston Martin moving in and out of the lane and striking a curb. One of the NFL’s most agile receivers, Ward refused to take a breathalyzer test instead relying on his athleticism. Unfortunately for Ward, he is human and even he cannot pass a field sobriety test when intoxicated.

He told officers he been at a downtown club, and had had two drinks.

According to police, a passenger in Ward’s car had not been drinking, and he was allowed to drive the car instead of it being impounded.

Ward was released from Dekalb County Jail on $1,000 bond following his arrest overnight for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.

Ward is not only a two-time Super Bowl champion, but his charisma and dancing skills won him the “Dancing With the Stars” trophy, in the spring. He has nearly 1 million Facebook friends and just yesterday posted comments on his bad habit of texting and driving.

While innocent until proven guilty, it would appear that we can add Hines Ward top that list of NFL “bad boys.”

Farewell to Betty Ford, Pioneer in Alcohol Awareness

America and the planet lost one of the really good people on this planet yesterday with the passing of Betty Ford. No doubt up somewhere floating with the Angels, Ford was a tireless woman of great conviction. She used her tremendous personal and compassionate energy to better the lives of the people living on Earth.

You may think I am too flowery in my praise for Betty Ford. You may be like I once was, a person battling internal demons that manifested themselves in addicted behavior. Drugs, alcohol, shoplifting, no doubt, I was addicted to many vices. During this time “Betty Ford” represented the name of the place I did not want to end up. I had to quit my addictions before I had to seek professional help and stop forever!

Betty Ford Center

Along with being the wife of President Gerald Ford, Ford is best known for the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage California. This has always been one of the most well-respected live-in treatment centers for alcohol and drug addictions.

Betty Ford was an addict! She admitted in 1978 that she was an alcoholic and had a strong dependency for prescription medication, primarily mood-enhancing drugs. For her, the path to sobriety started with a family intervention. From there she attended an alcohol rehab program at Long Beach Naval Hospital.

Champion of Many Causes

Betty Ford not like most other First Ladies. Betty Ford had passionate views and spoke out and worked on behalf of the causes she cared so deeply about. Did you know she was a main proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment? She also favored abortion laws and used her influence as First Lady to have more women hired by her husband’s administration.

Throughout her life Ford championed the cause of women’s rights. Betty Ford was a great woman, and we all are better for having had her gracious soul around us.

Alcohol Awareness Classes Coming to Thailand

If you have ever been to Thailand, you know what addiction means. While the entire country is not addicted to something there are more than enough vices present to cause dangerous addiction.

Believe it or not, Thailand will soon be getting its first clinic to treat addiction. Yep, you read that right – its first! The location is lovely Phuket.

For the first time in Southeast Asia, a residential treatment clinic will be able to provide evidence-based, clinically comprehensive treatment for gambling, sex addiction and other compulsive behaviors along with alcohol addiction and addiction to heroin, prescription drugs, club drugs and narcotics.

“Addiction is a fast-growing problem in Asia and Australia, and there’s a need for a residential drug and alcohol rehab centre that can also treat compulsive behaviors like gambling and sex addiction, and mental health disorders like depression that often accompany addiction,” says Dr. Kai Goh, Bhavana’s founder.

The new facility offers addiction treatment and rehabilitation at a standard that compares to that of the Priory Clinic in the U.K., Cottonwood in the U.S., and other leading treatment clinics.

Highly experienced, qualified addiction specialists including psychiatrists and licensed therapists who worked and trained at Hazelden drug and alcohol addiction treatment center and the Mayo Clinic, provide treatment that helps people find and sustain lifelong recovery from substance abuse.

Bhavana in Thailand is located in a former resort hotel that has been completely renovated to provide safety and security for residents, on the secluded eastern shore of Phuket Island.

It’s great to see a Southeast Asian country moving to help those who are plagued by addiction.

Boating Tragedy Due to Lack of Alcohol Awareness

With the hot weather and the summer season in high gear I can’t espouse enough the dangers of drinking while boating.  A perfect example is MaryJo Heitkamp.  This 26-year-old was killed in the prime of her life by a drunken boater.

Her parents are devastated by the loss of their only child. Heitkamp was riding in a speed boat when it flew out of the water, soaring over the shoreline, crashing through trees, before coming to a stop 150 feet away from the water! That’s half a football field.

The pilot, 24-year-old Keir Weimer admitted responsibility and pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter.  He was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison.

Not surprising, Weimer, though only 24, had two drunken driving conviction by the time of the boating accident.  A serious alcoholic that gets drunk enough to have three major DUI offenses in the first 8 years he has a license, Weimer should have been set straight much sooner.

New York is trying to change its laws so that the second DUI offense becomes a felony.  States have to enact tougher laws.  There is no doubt a second DUI should be a felony. If prison is a deterrent, perhaps it should be utilized sooner.

Boaters Should be Required to Take An Alcohol Awareness Class

Drinking and operating a motor vehicle is almost always thought of in terms of an automobile. The fact is, as a percentage, people piloting watercraft are driving under the influence of alcohol and or other drugs, is much higher.

Alcohol + Boating = Accident!

Back in my drinking days, there was little I enjoyed more than getting out on the water and having a few drinks. There were many times that I and my comrades operated the boat totally intoxicated. It is so common that now that I do not drink, I am fearful of getting behind a ski boat. Now my friends love having me because I just sip a soda and they know there is a sober captain!

It should come as no surprise that alcohol is the leading contributor in fatal boating accidents. Despite all the drinking and boating, it is somewhat surprising that in 2010 the United States Guard said that there were 126 deaths on the waters where alcohol played a strong contributing factor. There were almost 400 alcohol-related boating accidents last year.

Other factor Make Drinking on the Water Especially Treacherous

Drinking and operating a boat is definitely a bad idea. There are contributing factors which make it even more dangerous. The heat, combined with direct sunlight intensifies the effect of alcohol, often causing dehydration as well.

Other effects that can intensify the effects of booze are the vibrations from the boat, as well as wind and noise. These environmental factors can make a person feel disoriented and cause their judgment to become increasingly questionable.

States Trying to Stop Drinking and Boating

Both Iowa and Oklahoma have lowered the legal limit for blood-alcohol concentration from .10 to .08 when it comes to drinking and piloting a water craft. North Carolina has a program called “On the Road or On the Water,” which is a state-wide effort by police to combat operating any vehicle on the influence.

Texas has a “no refusal” program where judges are on-site to help police perform blood tests on boaters suspected of being intoxicated and refusing to take a breathalyzer.

As with everything involving alcohol be careful. I am not telling you not to enjoy a beer while water skiing – just show restraint. An accident always will ruin a good boating experience. Happy boating!

Virginia and Maryland Enact Alcohol Laws

Lawmakers are sure keeping busy in Maryland and Virginia these days. Many of these new laws deal with alcohol. Alcohol-related laws in Maryland and Virginia are among hundreds in both states that were signed this year.

Underage drivers in Virginia face tougher penalties for drunken driving, Virginia restaurants can let diners bring their own wine, and drinkers in Maryland will pay an additional 3 cents on the dollar in sales tax.

Virginia Welcomes Tougher Alcohol Laws

Under new Virginia alcohol laws, teens convicted of driving after drinking alcohol will lose their licenses for a year, twice as long as before, and face a $500 minimum fine or 50 hours of community service. The new rule also elevates the offense to a Class 1 misdemeanor, the same severity as possession of alcohol by a minor.

“It just didn’t make any sense that actually drinking a beer and then getting in a car and driving carried less of a penalty than just possessing the beer,” said state Sen. David W. Marsden (D-Fairfax), who sponsored the legislation. “We’ve closed a real loophole here and can get the word out to young people that drinking at all is going to put them at risk of being convicted of a crime.”

Want to Lose Your License?

The law restores penalties that were adopted in 2008 but expired last year out of concerns, which turned out to be unfounded, that the provision could jeopardize federal funding. While the law was in effect, the number of 15- to 20-year-olds who died in alcohol-related crashes fell to 39 in 2009 and 28 in 2010, down from 43 in 2007 and 51 in 2008, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

“When the driver’s license is at stake, teens will think twice,” said Kurt Erickson, president of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program and a lobbyist who supported the legislation. “There’s not a 19-year-old on the planet that wants their mother to drive them on a date.”

There is no doubt that alcohol is one of the most regulated industries in America. Lawmakers continue to make it more costly to drink and drive. Hopefully, by targeting younger drivers, the new laws will allow for safer driving for years to come.

Do Gun Owners Need Alcohol Awareness?

What is the world coming to when bar employees are the sense of reason?  Barkeeps and waitresses are coming out against a law getting ready to be enacted that will allow concealed weapons to be carried into bars among other places.

Gov. John Kasich (Ohio) signed a bill which allows residents with concealed-carry permits to carry their weapon into approximately 17,000 businesses throughout the state that hold Class D liquor licenses including bars, restaurants, malls and sports venues.

Packing Heat Then You Cannot Drink!

It may sound like a terrible idea, but wait – there is a caveat – if you are packing heat – you cannot drink. Now the law seems perfect.  Because we all know gun owners and people who frequent bars and sports venues would never try to break the law, right?

Enforcement of the no-drinking condition is not specifically addressed by the new law, however, and it’s a condition that some bar patrons and employees throughout Butler County say will be ignored.

The idea of bringing a gun into a bar, however legal, is definitely a bad idea, Richards said, a sentiment also shared by Jill Morrissey, a bartender at Gina’s Italian Food and Spirits in Hamilton.

The idea is not only a bad idea, Morrissey said, but a frightening one.

“It scares the crap out of me because what if there is a bar fight?” Morrissey said. “It’s going to end badly.”

Not in Ohio – You’re Not Safe Either

Lawmakers in Ohio defend their new law by saying they are just doing what many other states already have done.  That is the truth as 40 states currently have laws on the books allowing concealed weapons in establishments where alcohol is consumed.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous and it confuses me,” said Elizabeth Allen, bar manager at Buck’s Sports Bar and Grille in Middletown. “They don’t allow smoking in bars for safety but they will allow guns? I would be worried about someone who was drinking taking someone else’s gun.”

The new law only brings new worries for employees who already deal with unruly customers and shootouts in the neighborhood surrounding the bar, Allen said.

“Liquor and firearms do not go hand in hand,” Allen said. “Who’s to say a drunk doesn’t get mad and takes it (a firearm) away from somebody else, jerks it out and shoots them?”

Guns in bars—what do you think? Maybe these people need to take an alcohol awareness class to learn about how to handle their alcohol along with their weapons.

Anton Apolo Ohno Supports Alcohol Awareness

It is always nice when athletes and other celebrities speak out to children against the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Recently, Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno spoke to middle school students in Stamford, Connecticut on the dangers of underage drinking and the importance of living a drug-free life style.

Ohno was joined by Congressman Jim Himes, who were the guest speakers for the "Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don't Mix" program put on by Diageo and The Century Council.

"You guys are at a point where you have fresh minds and can absorb and make a real impact," Ohno, the most decorated Olympian in the winter games' history, told students. "Follow what you love, be open and focus on what you love."

Ohno and Himes stressed the importance of being free from drugs and alcohol and resisting peer pressure. The two strongly encouraged the open conversation between adults and children about drug and alcohol awareness. Parents, teachers, older siblings or family members are all valuable resources, the congressman and the eight-time Olympic medalist told students.

Ohno encouraged students to find people who will help, not hurt, their goals and aspirations. Without the positive influences of his father and others around him, he said, his success as a speed skater would not have been possible.

"Everyone needs a positive influence," Ohno said.

Abbigail’s Law is a Lesson for Alcohol Awareness

When was the last time you saw our nation’s Congress or any State Congress for that matter, agree on anything? I can tell you I cannot remember the last time partisan interests did not come into play regarding a vote from anything from gay marriage to how long the average person should sit in an outhouse.

That is why the New York State Senate’s vote on Abbigail’s Law recently comes as such a surprise. Of course, to me, it seems like a no-brainer!

Abbigail’s Law

Abbagail's Law would make it clear that any individual acting as a supervising driver while under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. It also creates the crime of aggravated supervising a driver while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which shall be a Class E felony.

The New York State Senate approved legislation known as ''Abbagail's Law'' in a 56-1 vote.

The measure is named for Abbagail Buzard, an 8-year old girl from Orleans County who was killed in an automobile accident on the night of Sept. 4, 2009. After drinking at a family party, Abby's father convinced a 17-year old cousin who had a learner's permit to drive him to a store to buy more alcohol. Unfortunately, Abby was in the car, and she lost her life after the inexperienced driver crashed after speeding on a curvy rural road.

While the driver that night violated numerous laws, Abby's father could not be held criminally responsible even though he was supposed to be the supervising adult in the car.

Hopefully, laws like this will continue to promote and enforce alcohol awareness.