Alcohol Myths

By David Joel Miller.

How many alcohol myths do you believe?

Alcohol is a stimulant.

Bottles of alcohol.

Alcoholic Beverages.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Many people think and alcohol stimulates them and gives them more energy.  This belief was so common in the past among newspaper reporters and writers that these professions developed high rates of alcoholism.  The truth is alcohol is not a stimulant.  Alcohol is a depressant and while it may initially disinhibit you, the more you drink, the less energy you will have.  Over the long run drinking alcohol results in depression.

Alcohol makes you sexy or more sexual.

Alcohol shuts off the part of the brain that tells you “hey stupid don’t do that.”  As a result, when drinking people are more likely to engage in sexual behavior.  The truth is drunk people do not look sexy to sober people.  While having high levels of alcohol in your bloodstream makes you more likely to act on your sexual thoughts it also reduces the ability to engage in sex.  In men, regular alcohol consumption may result in impotence.

Alcohol makes you more of a man or woman.

The ability to drink, and to drink large quantities, increases the likelihood you will do things you would not do when sober.  This increased alcohol consumption results in tolerance to alcohol and requiring ever-increasing quantities to create the same effect.  Taking action after having a few drinks is sometimes described as “liquid courage.” Being intoxicated or frequently drunk does not produce the qualities that we think of as being either masculine or feminine.

Alcohol will cure your ills.

It’s common to think that having a few drinks will solve all your physical or emotional problems.  The truth is that using alcohol to regulate emotions leaves you depended on alcohol and less able to handle life without it.  Alcohols has some germ killing properties when used externally.  But when used internally, alcohol can cause damage in every cell in touches.

Alcohol will make you less anxious or scared.

Temporarily alcohol can make you feel less anxious.  In the long run, however, using alcohol to treat anxiety makes it worse, not better.  When you drink to cope with anxiety, the alcohol quickly wears off.  This leaves you more anxious than before.  The result is that you will need ever-increasing amounts of alcohol to cope with your anxiety.

Alcohol will make you function better.

Drinking alcohol, especially drinking it heavily, only makes people think they are performing better.  Having alcohol in the bloodstream interferes with coordination, memory, and judgment.

Alcohol makes you warmer.

Alcohol dilates the blood vessels close to the skin.  This results in a temporary feeling of warmth.  It also results in a rapid loss of heat from the core of the body.  Drinking alcohol when you are cold actually, causes the body to lose heat more rapidly.

Most people drink alcohol on a regular basis.

The truth is that more than half of the adults in America have not had a drink of alcohol in the last month.  Many Americans only have a drink of alcohol once or twice in any one year.  A handful of alcohol drinkers, the 20% heaviest drinkers, consumed 80% of all the alcohol that is drunk.

How many of these alcohol myths do you believe?  Have you discovered any other alcohol myths?

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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What is a Standard Drink?

By David Joel Miller.

The taste may change but the alcohol stays the same.

Alcohol

What is a standard drink?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Only one kind of alcohol, ethanol, is drinkable. Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is made from fermenting a liquid made from fruit, grains or similar vegetative products. Sometimes this chemical is called grain alcohol. While chemically similar, all the types of alcohol other than Ethanol can do significant harm, including cause blindness or death, when consumed. From here on, when I say alcohol, I am talking exclusively about the ethanol type.

The folk-lore of drinking contains lots of myths about what to drink and how to drink it. People may think that if they only drink beer or wine then they can’t become alcoholics. Some people give up “the hard stuff” thinking this will prevent them having a problem with alcohol. Most of this belief that one alcoholic drink is better or worse than another is based on misconceptions about the content of alcoholic drinks.

No matter what we call an alcoholic beverage, what it is made from or what flavorings and additives are included, the pure alcohol part of alcoholic beverages is the same. All drinkable alcoholic beverages contain ethanol. Ethanol is the component that gets you drunk and withdrawal from ethanol, no matter the source, is what causes a hangover.

In order to compare the amount of pure alcohol contained in various beverages we use a concept called a “standard drink.” That standard drink is the amount of a beverage that contains one-half an ounce of pure ethanol.

In some places, alcohol content is calculated by weight and in other places, it is calculated by volume. Depending on whether the alcohol is measured by weight or by volume and depending on who does the measuring we can get slightly different numbers here. Either way, the results of alcohol are pretty much the same.

Beer has the smallest percentage of alcohol.

Beers can vary between three and seven percent alcohol. Most of the major commercial beers in the U. S. are at the low end, close to 3 % and a twelve once beer is considered a standard drink. Many people believe that because beer has a lower alcohol content it is safer and less likely to lead to problems. Unfortunately, that turns out to not be true. Because beer has a lower alcohol content per standard drink most people just drink more volume of beer than they would if drinking another alcoholic beverage. More than half the pure alcohol consumed every year here in the U. S. comes from beer.

Wine is a little stronger and can vary more.

Typical wines come in at eight to fourteen percent alcohol. The various textbooks I consulted gave between four and five oz. of wine as a standard drink. A wine can be fortified by adding alcohol distilled from some other alcoholic beverage. By fortifying a wine it can be pushed up to as much as twenty-two percent ethyl alcohol.

Spirits or Hard Liquor are the result of distillation.

As the fermentation progresses the alcohol begins to prevent the yeast from working so the process of fermentation stops. To get stronger alcoholic beverages some manipulation is required. If the liquid is heated, the alcohol evaporates faster than the water and other components. Catch this steam which is largely alcohol, condense it, and you get a beverage with a higher concentration of alcohol. We call this product with the concentrated levels of alcohol, spirits or hard liquor.

A standard drink containing spirits is about one “shot” of an 86 proof liquor. Proof numbers are twice the percentage numbers so this shot contains about half an ounce of pure alcohol.

Glass size and proof matter.

In trying to compare the amount of alcohol in one drink with another it is important to keep in mind that a glass of wine is defined as a 4 to 5-ounce glass size.  Pouring the wine into a 32-ounce tumbler does not mean a tumbler full is still one standard drink.

When the “proof” changes so should the size of the drink. Stronger spirits should be served in smaller glasses. In practice, people still pour more than one standard drink into their glass resulting in some drinks that contain way more than “one standard drink.” Even beer can become deceptively intoxicating if served in a mug that holds more than 12 ounces.

The problem with counting standard drinks.

The whole idea of standard drinks was to predict the effects of drinking a glass of a particular alcoholic beverage. In practice, most people are taking in more alcohol than they realize and the heavy or binge drinkers are drinking way more drinks than they planned.

If you are having a problem with controlling your drinking the answer is not in measuring standard drinks. If when you drink you consume more than intended or bad things happen to you, there is a good chance that you have an Alcohol Use Disorder. Stop trying to find a way to beat the game and drink more but not get drunk and get some help from a support group like A. A. or a professional counselor.

For more on this topic see:  Alcoholism       Drug Use, Abuse, and Addiction

Terms and their meaning can differ with the profession using them. The literature from the Rehab or AOD (Alcohol and Other Drug) field may be very different from that in the mental health field. There is still a large gap between recovery programs and AOD professionals and the terms and descriptions used in the DSM.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

What is Binge Drinking?

By David Joel Miller.

Binge drinking is a huge problem.

Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking
Photo courtesy of Flickr (stopalcoholdeaths)

Some people have one drink after dinner each night. Other people save them up and have all seven on Friday night. Drinking seven drinks on Friday night is not the equivalent of one drink a day. The negative consequences, psychically, mentally and legally, increase rapidly as the blood alcohol content rises on any one drinking occasion, a practice called binge drinking.

Bing drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on one drinking occasion for a man. For a woman, because of her reduced metabolism of alcohol in the stomach, four drinks on one occasion is considered binge drinking. That one “drinking occasion” could be over a short period of time, like drinking shots, or it might entail a more measure drinking like doing in most of a six-pack over the course of the afternoon.

Lots of people resisted the idea that they could be an “alcoholic” because they did not drink every day. The newer way of thinking about this is that it is not what you drink or how often you drink but what happens when you drink that defines an alcohol use disorder. If when you drink you end up drunk or you drink excessively, then you have an alcohol use disorder.

If you only drink occasionally, but when you do drink you consume a lot, you are a binge drinker and at risk for a great many alcohol related problems.

Bing drinking alcohol is associated with increased drug use.

Among drinkers between 12 and 25, those whose typical pattern was to binge drink when they drank, they were also much more likely to use multiple other drugs. This pattern of drug use, called Poly-Substance use, is extra risky and correlates with a lot of complications physically, mentally and legally.

Patterns of drinking can obscure the magnitude of alcohol use problems.

In treatment programs, there has been a tendency to separate the drug users from the people who have legal consequences because they drove drunk. Rarely is a drunk driving case a driving problem despite all our efforts to treat DUI’s as if the problem was the driving after drinking.

There are a lot of misconceptions about who drinks, how often they drink and how much the average American drinks. Half of all Americans have not had a drink in the last month. Ten percent of our population consumes half of all the alcohol. Those who binge drink can hide the existence of an alcohol use disorder for a long time by concentrating that drinking in occasional drinking binges.

Medical problems from Binge drinking.

Binging as well as daily high levels of alcohol consumption are associated with a large number of physical health problems. While one drink a day has been touted as good for everyone but fetuses and potentially pregnant women. Unfortunately the more you drink the more the risks of illness.

Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of cancers, heart disease, problems of the digestive system, a variety of liver maladies, pancreatitis, and the list goes on and on.

Binge Drinking and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Current thinking is that any amount of drinking on the part of a pregnant woman can affect the fetus. Binge drinking is particularly risky for women who are or may become pregnant. One challenging aspect of this problem is that woman frequently do not know they are pregnant until after some period of time has passed. Women who binge drink are at increased risk to drink heavily, engage in risky sexual behaviors, and then find out that they became pregnant during that period of heavy drinking.

Mental Health overlooks a lot of alcohol and drug related problems.

Those who work in the substance use disorder field see a lot of connections between substance use and mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. Those who focus specifically on the physical or mental health issues are less likely to notice those substance use disorders, especially something like binge drinking.

In drug treatment, those who only use occasionally and even then rarely get into trouble, are at high risk of developing problems eventually if when they use they binge. A small amount of alcohol consumption increases the risk for having problems with depression. Binge drinking even one time a year can result in DUI’s or other legal issues. Even occasional polysubstance abuse can result in life-altering consequences.

If you binge drink there is help available.

If when you drink you binge, or you find you are drinking and using more than intended consider getting help, talking with a professional, before your partying becomes a life altering or ending event.

For more on these topics see:  Drug Use, Abuse and Addiction    Recovery   What is 

Terms and their meaning can differ with the profession using them. The literature from the Rehab or AOD (Alcohol and Other Drug) field may be very different from that in the mental health field. There is still a large gap between recovery programs and AOD professionals and the terms and descriptions used in the DSM.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

What is an Alcohol Use Disorder?

By David Joel Miller.

How is Alcohol Use Disorder different from Alcoholism?

Alcohol

What is an Alcohol Use disorder?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Used to be a time when doctors treated medical issues, Therapists treated mental illness, Social services treated poverty related issues and – well – no one exactly wanted to do anything with drug addicts and alcoholics. Times are changing.

Turns out that no matter where you are and who you work with there is a good chance that people around you are being affected by chemicals, alcohol in particular, long before they reach the “alcoholic” or “Chemically Dependent” stage.

In Drug and Alcohol counseling we used to spend a lot of time debating what made you an alcoholic or addict. Turns out the lines are fuzzy. One estimate is that 90% of alcoholics have full-time jobs. Some people do not drink that often. Half the adult U. S. population did not drink in the last thirty days.

Even if you only drink once a year, say for New Years, if you have gotten into fights while drinking, gotten DUI’s several times, then your only drink once a year is not of much import. If when you drink, bad things happen, then you have an Alcohol Use Disorder. The DSM uses the expression “Problematic Pattern of Alcohol Use.”

What we discovered was that it was not so much what you drink or when you drink that matters when it comes to Alcohol Use Disorders, it is what happens when you drink that is significant.

The Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder.

The new DSM-5 has switched to the use of the term “Alcohol Use Disorder” to indicate someone whose use of alcohol is causing them problems whether they are “Alcoholic” or not and lists 11 criteria for Alcohol Use being a problem. Here is my plain language version of those Criteria.

  1. Once you start drinking you drink more than you planned on and/ or keep drinking longer than planned.
  2. You keep trying to cut down on your drinking. In other Alcoholism texts, this is also described as efforts to control your drinking or to quit drinking. See, people do not try to cut down, control or quit drinking unless it is a problem.
  3. Drinking eats up a lot of your time.
  4. You have cravings for alcohol when you are not drinking.
  5. Drinking gets in the way of work, school, home life or recreation. A real Alcoholic cuts out this other stuff so they can concentrate on their drinking.
  6. You know that when you drink bad stuff happens but you keep drinking anyway.
  7. You start cutting out other parts of your life to spend more time drinking.
  8. You try to get away with drinking even when you know it makes the situation dangerous.
  9. You keep drinking even though you now realize it is causing you problems.
  10. Your body starts building up tolerance. (See post “What is Tolerance” in the “What is” section.)
  11. You experience “withdrawal” when you stop drinking and the blood alcohol level starts dropping. (See post “What is Withdrawal” in the “What is” section.)

These problems with Alcohol can come in mild, moderate or severe. Mild Alcohol Use Disorder would have 2-3 of these symptoms, Moderate has 4-5 symptoms and severe has 6 or more.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting these symptoms think about treatment and or self-help groups. The sooner Alcohol Use Disorder gets treated the better the life prognosis. While sooner is better it is never too late to get treatment for an alcohol use disorder as long as you are alive.

Terms and their meaning can differ with the profession using them. The literature from the Rehab or AOD (Alcohol and Other Drug) field may be very different from that in the mental health field. There is still a large gap between recovery programs, AOD professionals and the terms and descriptions used in the DSM.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

What are Alcohol-Related Disorders?

By David Joel Miller.

Alcoholism is not the only problem alcohol causes.

Alcohol

What are Alcohol-Related Disorders?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Most of the time when people think of the problems that could be caused by alcohol they think of the “chronic” alcoholic. A lot of what people “know” about alcohol related issues turns out to be untrue.

Most people who have the problem we used to call Alcoholism, and are now calling a moderate to severe alcohol use disorder, have full-time jobs. About 90% of those who are dependent on alcohol physically or mentally work full-time. They may have trouble keeping those jobs but they can go on getting and changing jobs for a long time.

Someone does not have to be an alcoholic or even have an Alcohol Use Disorder to experience an alcohol-related problem. If a surgeon shows up drunk to do your heart surgery, do you really care if this is the only time it happened? A pilot flying drunk even once is one time too many.

Because alcohol disinhibits and impairs coordination people do things when drunk they might not do when sober. They also fail to do things they should, like stop for an oncoming car. You will find a number of other posts at counselorssoapbox.com on the problems drugs, alcohol and mental illness cause. The “What is.” Series of posts includes a number of post on this topic and more will be publishing soon. If you want to see those other posts the best way is to subscribe or follow counselorssoapbox.com

Here is the short list of 5 problems that together make up the Alcohol-Related Disorders. This is based on the new DSM-5 but it parallels other classification systems and ways of thinking about Alcohol-Related problems.

Alcohol Use Disorder (F10.10 or 10.20.)

This used to get divided into Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependence, then we started looking at the difference between physical dependence, psychological dependence, alcoholism and Chemical Dependency and the lines got blurry depending on who was describing the problem. Now we think if when you drink you have a problem, you have an alcohol use disorder, which can come in mild, moderate or severe. More on Alcohol Use Disorder in an upcoming post.

Alcohol Intoxication (F10.129, 10.229, or 10.929.)

This is not funny the way some entertainers portray it. When drunk, people can get distorted thinking. Being intoxicated increases the risk you will do something you would not do sober. Drunk people hurt themselves and others, both directly on purpose and in unintended ways. You only need to drive drunk once if you kill someone, and you have destroyed their life and yours. This, when you drink it is a problem, qualifies as an Alcohol Use Disorder.

It is also possible to drink enough to die if you run that blood alcohol level up high enough and fast enough.

Alcohol Withdrawal (F10.239 or F10.232.)

A well-kept secret is that you can die detoxing off alcohol, especially in combination with other drugs in your blood stream. The experience of a hangover is so common that you will find lots of online hangover remedies. (Hint here, only not drinking and lots of time after drinking have been proven to treat hangovers.)

Alcohol withdrawal gets treated medically sometimes and in detox facilities a lot. Facilities that treat alcohol withdrawal are the busiest substance abuse treatment facilities there are.

Other Alcohol-Induced Disorders (lots of codes depending on what the alcohol induces.)

Sometimes things that look like a mental illness are caused by prolonged drinking. This can be lifetime prolonged or just a single run. Contrary to popular opinion it is not necessary to make people sober up and get thirty days or any other period of time sober before assessing or treating them for other problems. It just takes a lot more effort and skill on staff’s part.

Unspecified Alcohol-Related Disorder F10.99.)

This gets used when a clinician thinks that Alcohol may be the cause of or may have contributed to your problem but you do not have symptoms that match any of the other diagnoses close enough to get that other label. Yes, I know that these labels can be somewhat subjective. Despite the best efforts to create very precise categories for issues, there are some problems that just do not fit the existing categories. Still, Professionals need some sort of label for what they are treating and not every client fits these labels exactly.

Those are the five Alcohol-Related disorders. More on this and related topics coming up in the “What is” series of counselorssoapbox.com blog posts.

FYI. These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

What is Acetaldehyde?

By David Joel Miller.

The more Acetaldehyde the sicker you get.

Alcohol

What is Acetaldehyde?

If you have ever had a really good time, drank a lot of alcohol to celebrate and then experienced a hangover afterward you can in large measure thank Acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde is the first breakdown product as your liver starts to go to work on that alcohol. You and your liver are not in agreement on the consumption of alcoholic beverages by the way. For the liver, not much is worse than alcohol. So no matter what noxious, poisonous or even used and expendable chemicals you liver detects it generally goes to work on the really bad stuff, meaning alcohol, first.

The first time your liver experiences alcohol it may be mystified by how this poisonous substance got into the blood stream. But it will quickly gear up and produce ever-increasing amounts of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) the enzyme that breaks down the alcohol.

This first step in the processing and elimination is why disulfiram, trade name Antabuse, by interfering with that first step in the breakdown, makes people who take disulfiram become very sick when they drink. The theory was that this would be an adverse experience that stopped the person with the alcohol use disorder from drinking. In practice, those with an alcohol use disorder will avoid taking the med or they will endure the adverse effects so that they can still drink. Disulfiram has helped some people but it does not seem to be the magic cure we had hoped for.

Men’s stomachs produce some ADH, you ladies should know that your stomachs produce little or no ADH. The result of this gender difference is women get higher doses of alcohol entering the intestine than men do even if you drink the same amount.

Once the alcohol is broken down to produce acetaldehyde the liver kind of kicks back and takes its time working on that acetaldehyde. Turns out that the acetaldehyde is more poisonous to the body than the alcohol was, but it takes more time for your liver to gear up and get that stuff broken down.

So despite all those hangover remedies, you will need to wait while your liver prioritizes the processing of the alcohol before it gets going full steam on the Acetaldehyde.

Eventually, your body will produce other enzymes related to ADH to break down the acetaldehyde into acetic acid and then ultimately that will be processed into water and carbon dioxide. The liver has only one speed when it comes to using ADH to break down Alcohol. No matter how much alcohol you put in the blood stream your liver just works at its one speed. This whole chemical manufacturing process going on inside your body just takes time.

Putting up with the hangover is just a small price to pay for having a liver that works so hard getting all those toxins out of your body.

Please treat that liver well because if it ever gets damaged and goes on strike your whole interior neighborhood will become polluted and eventually your body may become uninhabitable.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references. See Recommended Books.           More “What is” posts will be found at What is.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

 

Is your problem drugs or people?

By David Joel Miller.

Are people in your life making too much out of your recreational drug use?

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol and Drugs
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

A number of people recently have been describing how they do not feel they have a problem with drugs. They are not addicted. They have or have had a job. There have been no awful withdrawal symptoms. These people report that they are not addicted and that they just use drugs for fun. These conversations have been both in person and via mail or chat.

The common complaint is that others in this person’s life are being unreasonable and are upset because this person wants to have fun. The common thread in these conversations is that these others are off base because they object to the person I am talking with have fun, enjoying themselves and doing drugs recreationally.

This blog post is of course written in generalities. I do not know each reader’s situation. Your situation may be very different from the ones I will describe. Let’s take a look at some of these interpersonal conflicts that occur around drug use and how both the user and others in their life are perceiving this recreational drug use. Below are some of the people who have objected to someone’s drug use.

The topic is drugs but as far as I am concerned alcohol should get lumped in as a drug. Alcohol alters consciousness and it impairs functioning at times. Our societal attitude to alcohol may be less rigid than the attitude towards other drugs but those attitudes are changing and penalties for doing things while intoxicated continue to increase.

Your Spouse or romantic partner objects to your drug use.

Often the first person to notice a problem with your drug use will be a close romantic partner.  So you need to ask yourself did this person have a problem with your behavior before you two moved in together or has their opinion changed and why?

If they said nothing before you became a couple but are now asking you to cut out or stop your drug use what has changed? If situations have changed, you have kids, need to make a house payment and so on that may be the reason they are talking differently now. They may just have thought that once you were in a committed relationship you would act more grown up.

Some people are ready to settle down for the kids and the future before others. Consider which is more important, your ability to do all the drugs you want because you do not see them as being a problem or making your partner happy and being a good parent?

It is also possible that the people in your house can see the signs of trouble in you before you can see them. If more than one person has complained about your partying, you need to look at this carefully.

Do your parents criticize your drug use?

One big reason that parents tell their kids that drugs or alcohol is a problem? Because they have done those things and gotten themselves in trouble. That or they grew up in an environment where people were acting irresponsibly as a result of substances.  It is rarely because your parents are trying to hog all the fun.

As people grow up there is a tendency to push parents away, separate yourself and become who you are as an individual. Some people pick a new career, change their religious preference or join another political party.

Other people dabble with drugs and alcohol. If your parents are noticing your drug use, then it is likely that you are already having problems. If when you use bad things have happened, you need to take another look at that use.

Are coworkers commenting on your drug use?

If your coworkers are expressing concern about your substance use then it is likely that your use has interfered with your job performance.

Frequently I hear that the person’s drug use is not causing any problems. They might say something like “The only one I am hurting is me.”

If you are missing work, coming in late on Mondays or calling in sick a lot, the truth is your drug use is making your coworker’s life harder when they have to cover for you.

You boss knows you are partying.

Bosses often notice an employee has a problem early on. Many people in drug treatment have to deal with the added issue of having been fired from several jobs. Bosses may ask you if there is something going on, problems at home? If your performance has gone downhill, is substandard, or you are late and absent a lot your partying is getting in the way of having a job.

Police contact suggests something is wrong.

If you are having issues with the police then ask yourself, would you have those same issues if you were not doing drugs or drinking? Yes, you can do what you want with your life, but if it is impairing your ability to drive, getting you into fights or attracting the notice of the police then there is something wrong.

Did the Judge say you needed treatment?

If the judge says you need a drug treatment program then you need one. Why? Not necessarily because your drug use is that bad. You may not be an addict. Yet. But the fact that you are in front of the judge and that this person knows about your drinking and drugging tells us that your use has become a problem. Maybe it is only a legal problem, but it is still a problem.

Are you on parole or probation?

If you are on Parole or Probation take another look at you. When you are trying to get your life straight any drug use, alcohol included, can impair your judgment and send you back.

You say “I should be able to do what I want?” Maybe, someday. But really is your right to drink or drug more important than staying out of jail?

Consider that one study concluded the vast majority of people in prison were drunk or high in the 24 hours before they committed the crime that put them away. Alcohol and drugs are not your friends. Not the kind of friends that want you to stay out anyway.

The person who was injured in the accident you had knows it’s a problem.

If you hurt someone either intentionally or accidentally while under the influence, that was like not cool. Everyone can have an accident, but if you were high when it happened we think this is not so much an accident as a case of your ability to function was impaired and your hurt someone else as a result.

Clearly, you were not just hurting yourself.

Did you know there are countries in Europe where the legal limit for a DUI is point-zero-two (.02)? That’s right- one drink and you can’t drive over there.

Will all these reasons keep people from drinking and using?

Not likely. Many people will still say that they should be able to do what they want because they are only hurting themselves. Every year a whole new crop of humans will experiment with drugs and alcohol. But if you find that any of the people on this list are complaining about your drinking and drugging then maybe you need to take a hard look at how much of your life you are giving up to do those things.

For more on this topic see:

Drug Use, Abuse, and Addiction

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books