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The term is also used by outlets like Salon and New York Magazine, which suggest that the time has come for Alcoholics Anonymous to be decoupled from mainstream alcoholism recovery. The point is made by Mia Szalavitz, a recovering addict and now an addiction researcher and author, who wrote a book about how developments in neuroscience and psychology might render AA obsolete. Szalavitz takes issue with the AA concept of “hitting rock bottom,” the moment when a person experiences a personal loss (e.g., a DUI, eviction, divorce, firing, etc.) as a sign that the addiction has become too damaging to ignore. This expectation, writes Szalavitz, is “harsh and humiliating,” in the sense that help is withheld until the person crosses a tragic Rubicon. But so deeply does it run in the DNA of Alcoholics Anonymous that it has influenced how any 12-Step methodology treats addiction therapy. This, says Szalavitz, has made the treatment community on the whole “embrace a totally false, harmful view of what addiction is.”


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Women tend to be more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and may develop alcohol-related health problems sooner and after consuming less alcohol than men do. Alcohol use in pregnant women can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and other problems in the baby, such as abnormal facial features, malformation of organs (such as the brain and heart), growth deficits, and hearing and vision problems. Brain damage due to a mother's alcohol use may result in behavioral problems, speech and language delays, and learning disabilities, according to the March of Dimes.
Moderate alcohol consumption appears to increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Total mortality is reduced with moderate alcohol consumption but not with heavy alcohol consumption; the cardiovascular benefit is offset by cirrhosis, cancer, and injuries. The amount of alcohol associated with the lowest mortality appears to be 2 drinks per day in men and 1 drink or fewer per day in women. Moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of developing diabetes, but heavy alcohol consumption may increase the risk. The cardiovascular benefit becomes important in men older than 40 years and in women older than 50 years. The risk of hypertension is increased with 3 or more drinks daily.
Michael, while one of the above posters felt that the anti-medication bias of many AA members (as well as its entire leadership) is receding, I have not seen that at all. Patients on methadone, buprenorphine and even (very recently) Vivitrol, are told that they are not "clean," cannot speak at the meeting, cannot receive sobriety tokens, cannot join in on committments and in fact are still using.  They are urged routinely to stop their medications.  While it has perhaps receded with some psychiatric medications, it has NOT with many other medications, including Disulfiram, Campral and Naltrexone.
Parents may also inadvertently contribute to children’s alcohol problems, especially if they model bad drinking behaviors. Kids who grow up in homes with a great deal of drinking may come to see the behavior as normal. If their parents drink as a coping mechanism for stress or anxiety, kids may come to do the same. In this case, the genes aren’t at the root of the problem; it’s the behaviors parents model that causes concern.

"Thirteenth-stepping" is a pejorative term for AA members approaching new members for dates. A study in the Journal of Addiction Nursing sampled 55 women in AA and found that 35% of these women had experienced a "pass" and 29% had felt seduced at least once in AA settings. This has also happened with new male members who received guidance from older female AA members, in pursuit of sexual company. The authors suggest that both men and women need to be prepared for this behavior or find Male only or female-only groups.[88] However, this is a small survey compared to the estimated 2 million members (2016) and many women have reported feeling safe in AA. AA's pamphlet on sponsorship suggests that men be sponsored by men and women be sponsored by women.[89]

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Stereotypes of alcoholics are often found in fiction and popular culture. The "town drunk" is a stock character in Western popular culture. Stereotypes of drunkenness may be based on racism or xenophobia, as in the fictional depiction of the Irish as heavy drinkers.[171] Studies by social psychologists Stivers and Greeley attempt to document the perceived prevalence of high alcohol consumption amongst the Irish in America.[172] Alcohol consumption is relatively similar between many European cultures, the United States, and Australia. In Asian countries that have a high gross domestic product, there is heightened drinking compared to other Asian countries, but it is nowhere near as high as it is in other countries like the United States. It is also inversely seen, with countries that have very low gross domestic product showing high alcohol consumption.[173] In a study done on Korean immigrants in Canada, they reported alcohol was even an integral part of their meal, and is the only time solo drinking should occur. They also believe alcohol is necessary at any social event as it helps conversations start.[174]
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Successful long-term recovery is more likely with longer involvement in the treatment process. Wyoming Recovery offers weekly continuing care sessions for the months after completion of residential or Intensive Outpatient levels of care. In these groups, graduates address various issues of sober living in the real world setting, helping to reduce the risk of relapse.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), founded in 1935, was the first twelve-step program ever created. The steps, which are very similar to ones already mentioned, were put in place at that time. In 1946, twelve traditions were created that governed how groups functioned and related to each other as membership was quickly growing. Traditions included the practice of anonymity by only using one’s first name and the tradition of “singleness of purpose.” The latter tradition meant that AA would have “but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.” As such, this precluded attendance by anyone who did not suffer from alcohol misuse and resulted in the formation of other 12 step programs.
Blood. Alcohol may cause changes to all the types of blood cells. Red blood cells become abnormally large. White blood cells (important for fighting infections) decrease in number, resulting in a weakened immune system. This places alcohol-dependent individuals at increased risk for infections and may account in part for the increased risk of cancer faced by people with alcoholism. Platelets and blood clotting factors are affected, causing an increased risk of bleeding.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Alcohol misuse and dependence are primarily diagnosed through the use of clinical screening surveys. Several hundred such surveys exist, and they vary in the number and nature of questions they ask. Some of the more common scientifically-validated questionnaires include the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST), a shorter version called the Brief MAST, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), and a commonly employed, quick survey called the CAGE questionnaire. These surveys ask a range of questions about frequency of drinking, problems that result, and ability to stop.
There are no dues or fees for members of AA. Prohibitive cost can be a major hurdle when it comes to sticking with a treatment program. Even if it’s working, someone might drop out if it becomes too expensive for them to stay with it. While a group might do a collection to cover expenses like rent or refreshments, there is no mandatory cost required to join AA.

AA meetings are "quasi-ritualized therapeutic sessions run by and for, alcoholics".[41] They are usually informal and often feature discussions. Local AA directories list a variety of weekly meetings. Those listed as "closed" are available to those with a self professed "desire to stop drinking," which cannot be challenged by another member on any grounds.[4] "Open" meetings are available to anyone (nonalcoholics can attend as observers).[42] At speaker meetings, one or two members tell their stories, while discussion meetings allocate the most time for general discussion. Some meetings are devoted to studying and discussing the AA literature.[43]

With regard to pregnancy, fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading known cause of mental retardation (1 in 1000 births). More than 2000 infants annually are born with this condition in the United States. Alcohol-related birth defects and neurodevelopmental problems are estimated to be 3 times higher. Even small amounts of alcohol consumption may be risky in pregnancy. A 2001 study by Sood et al reported that children aged 6–7 years whose mothers consumed alcohol even in small amounts had more behavioral problems. [18] In a study from 2003, Baer et al showed that moderate alcohol consumption while pregnant resulted in a higher incidence of offspring problem drinking at age 21 years, even after controlling for family history and other environmental factors. [19] All women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should avoid alcohol.


AA meetings do not exclude other alcoholics, though some meetings cater to specific demographics such as gender, profession, age, sexual orientation,[44][45] or culture.[46][47] Meetings in the United States are held in a variety of languages including Armenian, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.[48][45] While AA has pamphlets that suggest meeting formats,[49][50] groups have the autonomy to hold and conduct meetings as they wish "except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole".[4] Different cultures affect ritual aspects of meetings, but around the world "many particularities of the AA meeting format can be observed at almost any AA gathering".[51]

We AAs have never called alcoholism a disease because, technically speaking, it is not a disease entity. For example, there is no such thing as heart disease. Instead there are many separate heart ailments or combinations of them. It is something like that with alcoholism. Therefore, we did not wish to get in wrong with the medical profession by pronouncing alcoholism a disease entity. Hence, we have always called it an illness or a malady—a far safer term for us to use.[63]
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The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) study suggests the transition from use to dependence was highest for nicotine users, followed by cocaine, alcohol, and cannabis users. [10] An increased risk of transition to dependence among minorities and those with psychiatric or dependence comorbidity highlights the importance of promoting outreach and treatment of these populations.

We are excited by the launch of our new Alcoholics Resource Center web site and hope that each of you will share in that excitement. The purpose of this site is to provide information and social networking to support our fellow AA members. We believe that this site will meet a need for those interested in all matters related to AA within the scope of the Traditions.

The endpoint of “recovery” from addiction, if there is an endpoint, is to change one’s life for the better, to gain stability in one’s life, and to become more functional in one’s family and in one’s community. Being responsible, being reliable, being interested in others and not just in oneself, and being a loving being who cares about and is helpful to others, are all part of recovery.


People who abuse alcohol may experience acute problems associated with problem drinking, but continuing to drink in spite of the negative effects puts them at risk of developing chronic health problems. Alcohol abuse damages most organs in the body, especially the liver, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, and brain. Chemical changes to the brain that lead to addiction may also cause harm to memory and cognition.
Monitor your teen’s activity: Know where your teen goes and who they hang out with. Remove or lock away alcohol from your home and routinely check potential hiding places for alcohol—in backpacks, under the bed, between clothes in a drawer, for example. Explain to your teen that this lack of privacy is a consequence of having been caught using alcohol.
Are you ready for some alarming information? A study published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in 2006 included the analysis of 43,000 people. The researchers determined that waiting until age 21 to drink places the average person at a 9% chance of developing alcoholism. However, start drinking at age 14 or sooner, (which plenty of kids do), and that shoots up to a 47% chance. “In general, each additional year earlier than 21 that a respondent began to drink, the greater the odds that he or she would develop alcohol dependence at some point in life,” says the study.
The twelve Step programs are well known for their use in recovering from addictive and dysfunctional behaviors. The first 12 step program began with Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) in the 1930s and has since grown to be the most widely used approach in dealing not only with recovery from alcoholism, but also from drug abuse and various other addictive and dysfunctional behaviors.
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