Learning About Alcohol Part 1 – Video

Find video on Substance use disordersAlcohol seems to be everywhere but how much do you really know about it? When does alcohol use become a problem?

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Learning about alcohol and drugs.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drugs.

Drugs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

How much do you really know about alcohol and drugs?

Despite the prevalence of drugs and alcohol in our society, many people have never had any formal education about drugs or alcohol. Most people get their education in this area the same way they learn about sex, on the street, and by experimentation.

As a society, we have a love-hate relationship with drugs and alcohol. The consensus seems to be that drinking and doing drugs can be enjoyable, but that “losing control” of that habit can be harmful maybe even deadly. Clearly simplistic solutions, just say no, or saying only bad people have problems is not working.

Ignoring the effects of addiction and alcoholism is easy.

Most people try to ignore the problem until it overwhelms them personally, or someone close to them. It’s reassuring to believe that addiction or alcoholism is something that happens to “those kinds of people,” the weak, or the lazy.

Not everyone who experiments with drugs or alcohol develops a problem. We know that young people are likely to try new and exciting experiences. Initially, it all sounds like fun. Most go on to have typical lives. But increasingly we are seeing people of all ages, including the older generation, whose lives are being damaged by substances.

Most people’s conception of an alcoholic is the homeless bum on the street, someone who can’t work and drinks all day every day. The unpleasant truth is that 95% of all alcoholics have full-time jobs. It’s entirely possible that you meet these hidden alcoholics every day. For every person with a drinking problem, estimates tell us that, 5 to 8 other people are harmed by that person’s drinking.

In some hospitals, half of the bed are taken up by people whose illness is primarily caused by or made worse by the direct results of alcoholism.

The problems with alcoholism and addiction are all around us.

In every city in America of any size, and I feel confident this happens everywhere else on planet Earth, we see the harm caused by the misuse of substances. A quick look at last night’s paper shows several people arrested for DUI. Several accidents in which one or both drivers were intoxicated. And an occasional story about someone dying of a drug overdose.

The war on drugs misled us.

American’s have noticed a staggering increase in the number of people who are dying from overdoses of prescribed opiate drugs. Despite a long-running war on drugs, the devastation is worse now than it was before. Several unpleasant facts emerge from studying substances and substance use disorders.

The majority of drug overdose deaths arise from prescribed medications, not street drugs.

Legal or tolerated drugs, nicotine, and alcohol each kill more people per year than all the illegal street drugs combined. Most of the deaths from drug overdoses involve people who have more than one drug in their bloodstream. Mixing alcohol with other drugs, prescription or street drugs, increases the risk of death.

Many professionals lack education about the effects of drugs and alcohol.

Most professionals working in the mental health field have minimal training in substance-related problems. Most counselors and therapists receive from one to three units in substance-related classes in an entire master’s program. Surveys indicate that the majority of people with substance use disorder, 60% or more, also have a co-occurring disorder. Furthermore, many people with diagnosed mental illness, approximately 50%, also have a substance use disorder.

In my own experience, it is extremely common to find someone with severe depression or high anxiety, who is also abusing substances. Use of alcohol or drugs may temporarily mask symptoms but in the long run, using substances as a crutch makes the problem worse.

Therapists who work with couples often find that one or both parties are using drugs or alcohol, and this is contributing to the marital discord. Unfortunately, many counselors who were not trained in substance use disorders ignore the problem rather than ask about it.

Since I started in the counseling field as a substance use disorder counselor, I’m acutely aware of how commonly mental health problems and alcoholism or addiction occur together. Substance abuse counselors, at least here in California, typically go through a 36-unit program with many of the classes specifically focused on alcohol, drugs, and the process of moving from use to addiction.

Very soon school will be back in session, and this semester I will be teaching several classes in the substance use disorder program. While I don’t want to shift the counselorsoapbox.com blog specifically towards drugs and addiction, I thought it might be useful to share with you some of the material I use in my substance abuse counseling classes. Also, in the near future, I am planning to release some of this material as videos on our very own counselorssoapbox YouTube channel. Stay tuned, and I will let you know how the videos are progressing.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and please remember to click like if you enjoyed this post and please leave comments. Talk to you again soon.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Alcohol Changes Your Blood.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Liquor

Alcoholic beverages.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Alcohol can affect your body in a great many ways.

Alcohol is so much a part of our society that we tend to take it for granted. That can be a costly mistake. The World Health Organization recently reported that one in every 20 deaths each year was attributable to problems caused or made worse by alcohol consumption. VA hospitals said that more than half of their hospital beds were occupied by people with issues connected to alcohol use.

Many people are poorly informed about alcohol and the problems it can cause. It’s easy to believe that alcohol-related issues only happen to alcoholics or people who frequently get drunk. Even small amounts of alcohol can make medical issues worse.

Alcohol affects your blood in several ways.

Alcohol is highly water-soluble, meaning it mixes readily with your blood. Blood flows throughout your body reaching every cell. Consumption of alcohol may interfere with some of the vital functions of your hematological or blood system.

Alcohol can contribute to anemia in several ways.

Alcohol contributes to anemia by interfering with the production of red blood cells. Alcohol in the bloodstream interferes with the healthy nutrition needed to produce red blood cells. One of the breakdown products of alcohol metabolism, acetaldehyde, is believed to interfere with the ability to utilize iron, an essential part of red blood cells ability to distribute oxygen throughout the body.

Alcohol can result in defective red blood cells.

Many people are familiar with the way doses of alcohol can result in infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Alcohol, and its breakdown products, poison and deform growing cells. Deformed red blood cells can’t do their job. Some alcoholic beverages contain lead or other heavy metals further damaging blood cells.

Alcohol damages white blood cells.

White blood cells are an essential part of your immune system, your body’s defense against infection. Chronic alcohol use affects white cells. Just how much alcohol, spread out over how what amount of time, it takes to damage white blood cells is hard to estimate.

Once white cells are damaged or destroyed, they can no longer fight infections. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of severe infections, especially in the respiratory tract. Alcohol reduces the effectiveness of white cells both by reducing their number and interfering with their ability to adhere to bacteria. When you drink, your white cells get intoxicated and can’t do their job.

Alcohol damages platelets and increases bleeding.

Platelets are an important part of your blood clotting system. As alcohol consumption increases, the likelihood of developing bleeding problem increases. People with severe alcohol use disorders are likely to bleed in the intestinal tract, these gums, the nose, and many other places. Heavy drinkers are likely to bruise easily. Alcohol interferes with the production of platelets.

Alcohol interferes with the livers metabolism disrupting blood clotting factors.

Alcohol the bloodstream interferes with the production of blood clotting factors. Not only can it reduce the ability for the blood to clot where needed, but it can also result in clots forming where they shouldn’t be created.

Alcohol damages the immune system in several ways.

The body has two separate immune systems alcohol interferes with the functioning of both. Excessive alcohol consumption has been found to increase both the severity and the progression of HIV/AIDS.

Much of the damage alcohol does to the hematological system is reversible with abstinence. The primary connection between alcohol and its effect on the hematological system is because of alcohol’s impact on the liver. Heavy Alcohol consumption is well-known to cause cirrhosis of the liver. But alcohol consumption is connected to four separate liver ailments. Some of these liver impairments can be by as little as one or two binge drinking episodes.

Once alcohol consumption has damaged the liver damage to other systems in the body may not be reversible.

Who’s most likely to have alcohol caused hematological problems?

Not everyone who consumes alcohol will develop permanent damage to the body. Two groups are at exceptionally high risk. 20% of the US population consumes 80% of all the alcohol drunk in America, these heavy drinkers are highly likely to develop alcohol-related issues as they age and the liver function declines.

The second high-risk group for alcohol-related problems is those people who may not drink on a regular basis but when they do drink and up intoxicated. The damage alcohol does to the body on anyone drinking occasion is related to how high the blood alcohol content goes on that occasion. In addition to the well-known problems connected to getting drunk, like DUI’s and violence, binge drinking can also result in damage to the body and an increased risk of being infected if you are exposed to bacteria or virus.

Want to know more?

Many of the students in my substance abuse counseling classes are surprised at the many ways alcohol can affect the body, emotions, relationships, and society. If you’re interested in more information on this topic you might want to take a look at the book we use for that class; Loosening the Grip. A Handbook of Alcohol Information, 11th edition, Jean Kinney, MSW.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The wounds of war last long after the soldiers return.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Veterans.

Memorial Day.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Military parades don’t tell the whole story.

Today is Veterans Day in the United States. Various countries will celebrate their military veterans on other days.

On each of those veteran’s day’s, there will be parades and speeches and sometimes a lot of saber-rattling on the part of politicians.

It’s appropriate for people who served in the military to be honored today. Some will march in parades, and some will be honored with flags placed on their graves.

What we shouldn’t do is forget about these veterans the other 364 days of the year.

The physical wounds of war have become more pervasive.

The list of wars America has fought continues to grow. They used to be periods of peace between our wars, and we tried to believe that future generations wouldn’t have to fight. Unfortunately, across my lifespan, the periods of peace have grown shorter. We have reached the point where Americans have been fighting somewhere in the world continuously for the longest time in American history.

Many of the physical wounds of war today’s soldiers endure, traumatic brain injury, for example, are much more common today than they were in the past. It’s fashionable to spend money and manpower to win a war. It is a much lower priority to spend money and effort caring for the wounded warriors of America’s many conflicts across the remainder of these veteran’s lifespan.

The invisible wounds of war appear more common now than before.

PTSD and other psychological injuries are more common among today’s veterans than they were in past generations. At least that’s what the statistics tell us. It’s very likely that many cases of PTSD went unrecognized or underrecognized among veterans of World War II and Vietnam. It’s also probable that the more protracted wars, more frequent deployments, and the changing nature of warfare has made PTSD more common than it was before.

Homelessness among veterans remains much higher than it should be.

Politicians are far too willing to appropriate funds for new weapon systems to fight wars then they are to provide adequate resources for treatment and housing of those who have made the sacrifices to fight those wars.

Alcoholism and addiction are an occupational hazard among military veterans.

Medical facilities, particularly the VA, see many patients who are former military and whose medical issues have been caused by or made worse by, untreated alcoholism or drug abuse.

Substance abuse treatment facilities encounter a significant number of former military personnel who has struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction during and after the military service. For some former military personnel, drugs and alcohol have been their way of coping with the traumatic experiences they encounter during their military career.

However you celebrate Veterans Day, I hope during the day of parades, speeches, and ceremonies you don’t lose sight of the long-term personal costs borne by those who served their country, their families and friends, and the rest of our society.

Next week’s post will pick up where we left off in the series of posts about what drug counselors do on the job and the core functions of substance use disorder counselor.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Pseudohallucinations – OK to see things?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Hallucination

Hallucinations.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Pseudohallucinations – sometimes we expect people to “see things.”

Sometimes it’s okay to see things that are not really there. When someone is under

the influence of drugs, particularly hallucinogens or powerful stimulants, it is common for them to see things that others don’t.

When crack cocaine first became common, the emergency rooms in large cities experienced a rash of people who were “seeing things.” Many of these people received a diagnosis of schizophrenia or a related psychosis.

The same phenomenon occurred again when methamphetamine became cheap and readily available. More recently we are seeing people under the influence of “bath salts,” who are hallucinating.

None of these drug-induced hallucinations should be used as symptoms for making the diagnosis of schizophrenia or related psychosis.

True hallucinations can be a feature of several mental illnesses. In addition to schizophrenia, people with severe major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses may experience hallucinations. Sometimes people with severe mental illness also use drugs which can create Pseudohallucinations. Sorting out the meaning of hallucinations is a job for a professional.

Some authorities differentiate between Hallucinations, Pseudohallucinations, and Parahallucinations.

If someone is experiencing hallucinations and they know it is the result of “good drugs,” this is a Pseudohallucination and likely will be diagnosed as a drug intoxication disorder, Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder F16.983 or stimulant-induced psychotic disorder if the hallucinations continue after withdrawal from a stimulant.

Alcohol can also cause hallucinations.

When chronic alcoholics are withdrawing from alcohol that can experience a condition called delirium tremens or the DT’s for short. DT’s consists of shakes and hallucinations when the level of alcohol in the bloodstream declines. This is a very serious condition and can lead to death. If someone has ever had the shakes or hallucinated while withdrawing from alcohol they should be sent to a hospital to detox. Friends don’t let friends die from DT, s.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Alcohol Myths

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Liquor

Alcoholic beverages.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How many alcohol myths do you believe?

Alcohol is a stimulant.

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.  Alcohol has some germ killing properties when used externally.  But when used internally, alcohol can cause damage to every cell it 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?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.