Archive for: Alcohol

The Power of Recovery

For the past several weeks and months we have been hearing a lot about the problems caused by substance abuse and addiction. The people that have died, the bizarre and sometimes offensive behavior, and those having legal and professional issues seem to be in the news. We hear and talk about them but rarely hear and talk about those that have had success in recovery from substance abuse.  Substance abuse treatment works.

Here is one person’s story:
He was 17 and had a good life.  He loved school, sports, church, fishing, hunting, and most of all his family.  He loved life and all it brought to him.  Then shortly before high school graduation his world changed.  His mother died in an auto accident, he was driving.  The trauma, grief and guilt were so overwhelming.  Within a month he drank alcohol for the first time and it brought the relief he was seeking.  Finally he could cope with life again, just have a drink.

College started in the fall and his drinking increased.  Alcohol helped him cope with the change and it took away the pain he was feeling. When he went home for winter break he again experienced the unexpected.  His father died of a heart attack as he was giving him CPR in the family home. The emotions were extreme and confusing.  Alcohol was there to help.

He moved back to the family home to live with his sisters so they would be able to live as a family.  The effects of emotional pain, grief, trauma, and guilt led to the experimentation with marijuana. It was great!  The pain would go away, for while.

For the next decades this is how he dealt with life’s complications, with alcohol and drugs.  Even though he was able to complete college, hold down jobs, get married, have children the emotions that come with trauma and loss were never addressed.  He was living an unhealthy life filled with lies, deceptions, alcohol, drugs, shame and guilt.

After 27 years of using unhealthy coping skills, drugs and alcohol, and denial that he needed help he accepted the family support and encouragement (ultimatum) to get that help. Dealing with the issues in his life was now to take a different course.

Changing course in his life included going to an outpatient treatment program for his substance abuse. He accepted that he did not want alcohol and drugs to dictate his feelings and behavior.  For the 6 months in outpatient treatment he received the understanding, guidance and support that he needed. He started to network with others and participated in support groups. He changed his course in life.

 

He will be the first to tell you that change is not easy and not everything gets better quickly.  He will tell you that if you can be honest, open-minded, and willing, life does get much better. Recovery is a process not an event, some things change quickly and others need more work.  His life continues to evolve by doing so. It has been seventeen years since entering that treatment program and by getting the counseling and using the recovery tools, he has not used alcohol or drugs since. He feels life is great again. Treatment works! Recovery saved his life.

This is my story, a true story of life and the story of changing course. I am Gary Nelson a person in long term recovery since 1997. I accepted help in dealing with the unexpected events in life, facing the addiction and co-occurring issues.  I now again love life and all it brings to me, the outdoors, golf, church, time with friends, and helping others seeking recovery. I am a sober husband, dad and Papa. There’s nothing better than that! There are approximately 23 million other people with long term recovery in the United States today.  We are the anonymous people, your neighbors, employers, your healthcare workers, and your friends.

Substance abuse treatment today includes addressing co-occurring issues in life.  These may include mental health issues of depression or anxiety, relationship issues, or additional behavioral addictions.  Research has provided an understanding of why the disease is so destructive to our brain and how miraculous the healing process is.  For more information on the disease of addiction go to:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/  http://www.samhsa.gov/

Gary Nelson, CCDP

Cost-Benefit Analysis: Alcohol Use

Most people use alcohol in ways that do not bring negative consequences into their lives. For many, Alcohol is an accepted, often expected, component of social occasions: weddings, special dinners, athletic events, BBQs, family gatherings. But alcohol is not a benign social lubricant for everyone. For some (10-20%), alcohol brings catastrophe, disorder, chaos, personal destruction, and eventually death. For most people alcohol is nothing to worry about. For others, whether to drink or not is a life or death decision.

So we are left with two broad categories of people:

  • Those who can drink with little or no negative consequences
  • Those who should not drink

Determining in which category you belong may be one of the most important decisions of your life.

A cost-benefit analysis is a great way to start thinking about your relationship with alcohol. Here is one way to think about it: what does alcohol do for you versus what has alcohol taken from you? Things it has done for you, benefits. Things it has taken from you, costs. If you find your analysis tipping heavily in the direction of costs, it may be time to rethink your relationship with alcohol. Here are some different types of benefits and costs you may have experienced in your life:

Benefits:

  • stress reduction
  • social lubrication
  • taste enjoyment
  • hobby

Costs:

  • relationship stress
  • legal problems
  • work problems
  • hangovers

You don’t always have to understand the problem to find the solution.

Individuals suffering from alcohol dependence frequently cycle through the same litany of questions. Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I stop? Why can’t I just drink like other people? They feel certain that if they can understand the problem in the right way, the solution will present itself. And so, the cycle continues. Sometimes for years.

Tremendous personal energy is allocated to developing a theory that explains the behavior. Some of these theories may be valuable, some of them might even be close to the truth. But the real truth is that the reason why is not the problem. The problem is the drinking. And the solution is stopping.

 

 

CDC Study Reveals High Prevalance of Binge Drinking

A new study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported a significant increase in the number of U.S. adults who regularly binge drink. Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of five or more drinks on a single occasion for men or four or more drinks on a single occasion for women.

The most shocking revelation: one in six adults binge drink four on more times per month. The health consequences from this type of overindulgence can be significant. This type of drinking can also lead to dependency and addiction.

The complete study: CDC Vital Signs: Binge Drinking

Love yourself enough to seek help with addictions this Valentine’s Day

There is no doubt that substance abuse and addiction is difficult during every season of the year. Once the rush of the holiday season, balancing work and holiday time off, and a long few days of travel to see friends and family is over; all that is left is getting back to ‘normal’. January is a month full of change and resolutions, so making time to cope with personal hardships (like addiction and substance abuse) is put at the bottom of your to-do list. As February approaches, the usual hustle of preparing for a magical and romantic Valentine’s Day for you and a significant other, spouse, or partner takes priority. This reveals the real question: is there ever time to get help for myself?

Realizing that you are important enough to get help is the first step on your journey to navigate out of the dark path of addiction and substance abuse to a healthier life. The problems associated with addiction and substance abuse seem to start out slowly and pick up speed in what seems like no time at all. Using and abusing substances affects your life, the life of your friends, family members, children, co-workers, and everyone else you interact with on a daily basis. What began as a coping method for stress or an activity during your downtime quickly becomes a lifestyle and the center point of many more problems. To take charge of the cycle of use and abuse of drugs and alcohol is often the hardest part of the recovery and healing process; and takes courage and support. The process of recovery requires resources to get the help that you need in order to control the substances that have a strong grip on your personal life. Mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment are the vital next steps in the process of your recovery. Overall, wanting to live your life as the healthiest and most well person you can be is reason enough to seek help for addictions for the holiday of celebrating love. Loving yourself enough to get help is a magical and romantic thing that can give you back a healthy fresh start to your relationship with yourse

Erika McCaghren

Addiction Treatment: Where to Start

A new guide, published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, provides resources to individuals seeking information on drug or alcohol addiction treatment and recovery. Once an individual recognizes that he or she has a problem with drugs or alcohol, many are uncertain what to do next. Treatment is the often the best option.

Here are a couple of questions most people ask when seeking treatment:

  • How much does drug treatment cost?
  • Which drug treatment programs are the best?
  • Will alcohol treatment work?
  • Do I have to stop drinking completely?
  • Will I have to go out of state?
  • Will I need to take a leave of absence from work?
  • How will my co-workers react?
  • Will insurance cover my treatment?
  • Which is better: residential treatment or outpatient counseling?
  • How long does treatment take?
  • What happens after treatment?

The new publication, Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask, is an informative guide for those thinking about addiction treatment for the first time.

Not all treatment facilities are created equal. Some are better than others. This guide provides valuable knowledge that can be used to make an informed decision.

Long Term Physical Effects of Alcohol Addiction

The longer a person abuses alcohol over time, the chances for developing alcohol dependence and experiencing the effects of alcohol abuse increase dramatically. Physical alcohol dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms when alcohol consumption is interrupted, by tolerance to the effects of alcohol abuse and by the presence of alcohol related illnesses. The most severe form of alcoholism is alcohol dependency which can eventually lead to death. Years of alcohol consumption and abuse can affect many body organs. The liver does most of the work breaking down alcohol for the body. Alcohol destroys the liver’s ability to regenerate cells which leads to progressive inflammatory injury to the liver. Eventually cirrhosis of the liver occurs. Malnutrition can develop due to a reduction in appetite, consuming empty calories that are void of any nutritional value in alcohol and anadequate absorption of nutruents in the intestinal tract. Other long term effects of alcohol abuse include heart muscle damage, nerve damage, damage to the brain, heart problems, erectile dysfunction in men, insomnia, depression, pancreatitis-chronic inflammation of the stomach and digestive organs, high blood pressure, increased cancer risks and fetal alcohol syndrome in the offspring of alcoholic women. Getting treatment for alcohol addiction is the best way to stop these physical effects of alcohol addiction before they start or stop them from worsening if they have already begun.

Alcohol Use and Women

Addiction to alcohol occurs at a much faster rate in women than in men who abuse alcohol. Women metabolize alcohol different than men and hormone levels in females may also make them more susceptible to alcohol’s effects. As a result of excessive alcohol use, certain types of medical complications can result and include:

  • Heart disease and related heart complications
  • Poor nutrition
  • Menstruation complications such as early menopause
  • Fertility and childbirth complications
  • Breast cancer
  • Liver problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer
  • Brain damage such as shrinkage of the brain and dementia
  • High death rate from suicide and accidents

If you are concerned about your alcohol use or that of someone you care about, seeking the help of a professional who specializes in substance abuse treatment could be lifesaving.

You don't always have to understand the problem to find the solution.

Individuals suffering from alcohol dependence frequently cycle through the same litany of questions. Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I stop? Why can’t I just drink like other people? They feel certain that if they can understand the problem in the right way, the solution will present itself. And so, the cycle continues. Sometimes for years.

Tremendous personal energy is allocated to developing a theory that explains the behavior. Some of these theories may be valuable, some of them might even be close to the truth. But the real truth is that the reason why is not the problem. The problem is the drinking. And the solution is stopping.

 

 

 

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