What is Binge Drinking?

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

Drinking

Binge drinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Binge drinking is a huge problem.

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.

Binge 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 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 of 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.

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, 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.

Advertisements

What is binge drinking?

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

Drinking

Binge drinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Why binge drinking matters.

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that has been linked to a host of physical, mental and behavioral problems.

In the binge drinking pattern, the drinker consumes a large quantity of alcohol on one drinking occasion. Anyone might experience an occasional episode of heavy drinking but with consistently heavy drinkers or binge drinkers, their typical pattern of consumption is that when they drink the get drunk.

The concept of binge drinking relates more to how high the level of alcohol in the bloodstream goes rather than when or how much the drinker consumed over a unit of time.

So if someone chooses to drink a lot one night why is this of any concern to others? Why should it matter to the drinker if their pattern of drinking is a binge drinking pattern? First the concerns and then some more precise definitions of what qualifies as binge drinking.

There are two principle concerns with binge drinking.

1. Alcohol damages the drinker’s brain and body.

The higher the blood alcohol content (BAC) the more damage to the body. Alcohol and its primary breakdown product, Acetaldehyde, are highly toxic to the body. In small amounts, the body can cope with this foreign substance. Above a certain point, there is damage to the body. A single episode of binge drinking is likely to leave minimal long-term damage. Repeated binge drinking will leave more long-term damage.

At high enough levels many substances can cause death. For alcohol, that point is a blood alcohol content around .60 (point six zero.)

Have one drink per day and it may be healthy, or non-harmful anyway. Save those drinks up and consume them all on one night and the damage may be permanent.

Blood alcohol level is also related to repeated head trauma (Winquist et al., 2008.) Long-term high levels of alcohol damages brain cells in the prefrontal cortex which may decrease by 10% or more. Binge drinking also causes cells surrounding the lateral vertices to shrink resulting in an expansion of this fluid-filled cavity in your brain by about 42%. Alcohol and especially heavy or binge drinking cause these cells in your brain to shrink resulting in more empty, blood-filled spaces in the brain (Wolerock, 2009.)

High blood alcohol levels also result in memory loss and the creation of false memories, a process called confabulation.

2. Intoxicated people hurt themselves and others.

At high blood alcohol levels, there is an increased risk of harming self and others. Most places set strict limits on the legal level of alcohol in the bloodstream you may have and still drive. Those limits are admittedly imprecise. Two people with the same blood alcohol content may not be equally impaired, but the higher the level goes for any given individual the more impaired they become.

Increasing blood alcohol levels reduce coordination, lower inhibitions and impair judgment and memory. Intoxicated people, those who have binge drank on this occasion are 55 times more likely to attempt suicide. They are the major source of serious and fatal car accidents. They are more likely to commit crimes and harm others.

There are exceptions, sober people can do bad things, many intoxicated people do not commit crimes, but the higher the blood alcohol content the more the risks.

There is also a severe risk if the person binge drinking is or becomes pregnant. The unborn fetus does not have a developed liver. So mom-to-be needs to have her liver do the alcohol detox for this unborn child. We used to think a drink or two each day was OK. Now we are convinced that any alcohol during pregnancy is a bad idea and binge drinking is especially risky for mom and unborn child.

What is the definition of binge drinking?

Most definitions of Binge drinking are common sense approximations. Using blood alcohol content would be more precise but all that blood drawing is inconvenient.

The definition of binge drinking we use here in the United States is five or more standard drinks for a man, 4 or more for a woman on any particular drinking occasion. This is roughly the amount of alcohol that will make you legally too drunk to drive.

Standard drinks are calculated so that regardless of what you are drinking you can estimate how much alcohol is in your drink.

Despite what many people think, the alcohol in any alcoholic beverage is the same substance, ethanol. So this “I only drink Beer” I can’t have a drinking problem is nonsense. All those other statements about why one beverage is better than others, nothing to do with the alcohol.

When it comes to blood alcohol content, alcohol is alcohol.

In the U. S. a twelve-ounce beer is one standard drink. A four or five-ounce glass of wine is also a standard drink. If you are drinking whiskey, scotch, vodka, etc., then one ounce of a 90 to 100 proof beverage is a standard drink.

No cheating here

People will try to fool themselves. You know that drinking a tall can or 40-ounce beer is not one standard drink. Right? Neither is drinking 151 (a beverage with 75 ½ % alcohol.)

Alcohol content can vary from state to state or country to country. Outside the U. S., tell me the alcohol content of beers is higher. Pouring more beverage in a glass does not let you count it as one standard drink either.

The amount of alcohol it takes to make one person’s blood alcohol content reach .08 or .10 may vary. Some tell me it’s not fair that others can drink a lot and not get arrested for driving drunk and they ended up in jail after only a few. Why this happens is a subject for another blog post.

Binge drinking is not a moral thing.

Some people have argued that telling people to not binge drink is making a moral judgment. They should be able to tie one on if they choose. Choosing to binge drink, drink till you get legally drunk (or illegally drunk if you prefer that term) does not necessarily make you a bad person.

If you drive 60 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour school zone and a child runs out, your braking distance is a lot longer than if you were driving the prescribed 25.  There is more likelihood that you will harm a person’s crossing the street and if you hit them you could mess up the rest of your life also.

Similar case with binge drinking. If you binge drink this can increase the risk that you will damage yourself health-wise or harm others if you drive or are around them. We are just saying there is a warning out on this behavior.

Now if this is your typical pattern of behavior, when you drink you always binge and end up drunk this is a worry. If having developed some problems due to your excessive drinking in the past you continue to binge drink then this is a bigger problem.

If your drinking, binge or otherwise is interfering with your life, consider changing your drinking pattern. If when you try to control your drinking you find you keep losing control, it is time for some professional help.

This blog is largely devoted to the topics of mental health and substance use disorders. Especially those times when people have both issues, which is called co-occurring disorders. Alcohol is one of the top problems in this area. Stay tuned for more on alcohols effect on your body, brain, and your mental health.

Past posts on this topic you may want to look at include:

Dangers of Binge Drinking

Alcohol prevents healing

6 Myths about alcoholism

Blackouts – common or rare?

What is confabulation? Relationship to false memories and Wernicke-Korsakoff’s syndrome 

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.

Alcohol, Drugs and Mental Illnesses

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

Drugs.

Drugs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

How are alcohol and other drugs connected to mental and emotional problems?

Alcohol

Alcohol

There are clearly a large number of connections between drug and alcohol use and abuse and mental, emotional and behavioral illness. The recognition of these connections has resulted in a growing emphasis on the relationships between drugs and alcohol and those conditions that we call Mental Illnesses.

This overlap, those times when someone has both a substance use disorder and a mental illness, was called first dual-diagnosis and more recently co-occurring disorders. The overlap is common but not total.

There are people with a mental illness that do not have a substance use disorder. There are also those with a substance use disorder that do not have a mental illness. Over time we have come to see that the overlap is so large that it is more common to see someone with both of these problems than not. The professionals in the field have come to think of co-occurring disorders as an expectation and not an exception.

This understanding that there are reasons for the overlap, or co-occurrence, of these two different disorders has spawned a lot of efforts to find effective treatments for people with multiple disorders. The advances in brain studies have resulted in a lot of research studies on the effects of various drugs and the brain. We now know more than ever before about how drugs and alcohol are affecting people’s thinking, feeling, and behavior.

Alcohol, the drinkable kind, has been around and in use longer than any other drug. We know more about this particular substance and its effect on the brain than probably any other chemical. I recently did a literature search for current scientific articles on the effects of Alcohol on the brain and the search returned 28,834 articles. Other searches would, of course, have returned even more.

Given this huge and growing body of research, I thought I should spend some time and some blog posts reviewing some of this new knowledge. While I can’t read every study and surely will only be able to report on a few highlights, I want to tell you about some of the things we know and some of the things I think about the effects of drugs on the brain and on those things we call mental illness.

There are several sources of this new knowledge. These studies, beginning with the ones focused on alcohol come from the following areas.

1. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Studies of children who have been exposed to Alcohol before birth show changes in the body, brain, learning, and behavior of those children. We used to think that only those children who were exposed to large amounts of alcohol developed problems. The more the research progressed the more we have concluded that any amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy increased the risks to the child.

Just because a woman drank during pregnancy does not automatically mean that any problems her child has are the result of her drinking. Still, the link is so strong that most authorities now believe that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption for a woman who is or may become pregnant.

One result of the large overlap between substance use disorders and other mental illness is that a lot of people with a diagnosed disorder are at extra risk for risky sexual behavior and unplanned pregnancy. Parents with a disorder or two are more likely than others to produce an unplanned child.

2. Binge drinking.

The amount of damage drinking does to the body is correlated with the blood alcohol level. As a society, we have been looking at how much alcohol in the bloodstream is a safe level for someone to have and still drive.

Studies of the effects of various levels of alcohol on brain function have taught us a lot about the way in which increasing the level affects the person.

It looks certain that the higher the blood alcohol content the more the damage to the body and the brain. One drink a day all month may be theoretically safe but 30 drinks on one day is a very hazardous way to drink.

3. Alcohol affects structure and functioning of the brain.

We have known for a long time that chronic alcoholics have a reduced brain volume. We are now seeing studies of the effects of alcohol on brain regions and on the production of neurotransmitters. One treatment for depression is to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. This is done by slowing the natural breakdown of serotonin which is one way many antidepressants work.

We know that alcohol is altering these neurochemicals and so may be increasing the risk of developing a mental illness, may make one worse or may mimic a disorder.

4. Chronic Alcoholics.

Studies of chronic alcoholics, how their brain works and the changes that brain undergoes have added to our understandings of what the alcohol may be doing to the other parts of the body and brain. Because alcohol totally mixes with water, and blood contains a lot of water, no part of the body avoids being damaged by drinking.

5. Developmental studies.

Studies of teens have suggested ways in which alcohol consumption may be affecting the development of the brain. The correlations between the amount that a teen drinks and the results of the rest of their lives, while not a proof of cause and effect, makes us think there are more connections than we previously realized.

We know that “F” students typically drink at least twice as much per week as the “A” students.

We also know that heavy drinkers take longer to heal from injuries than nondrinkers.

6. Brain scans and mice studies of the effects of alcohol.

Brain scans typically capture only a moment in time. Mice studies are not proof that what we see in mice is what is happening in humans. But when the two agree it lends credence to the concept that alcohol is fundamentally altering the way in which brains and the nervous systems function.

7. Learning studies and functional studies.

There have been a lot of studies on how alcohol and other drugs have been affecting people’s memory, behavior, visual and special recognition, learning and other specific brain functions.

Now that you know where the information is coming from let’s begin in future posts to look at why we think mental illness and substance use disorders so often occur together and then what are some of the specific effects of alcohol and other drugs on the body and the brain.

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.

How are children’s substance abuse problems different from adult addiction?

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

sign

No Drugs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

There are some differences between the substance abuse issues in children from those in adults, but they may be less than we used to think.

There are a lot of people who continue to think of substance abuse, addiction in particular, as an adult disease. That would be way wrong.

Most adults with a substance use disorder began their use at a young age. Seventy-five percent of all disorders, mental health, and substance use, begin before age 24. Half start before age 14.

Kids are getting into drugs and alcohol abuse earlier than most adults realize.

Larger treatment facilities will tell you about children as young as 5 that already are developing signs of alcoholism. Children frequently report that their drug use began as early as age 8.

That’s right folks, as soon as the end of the third grade we are already able to identify children at risk to develop an addiction, going to prison or both.

Are there “Gateway drugs?”

There used to be much discussion of so-called “gateway drugs.” The idea was that up till you tried the gateway drug you were not at risk of becoming addicted. Once you take the gateway drug you are on the path to addiction. The drug that got blamed the most as a “gateway drug” was marijuana. While I think letting your third or fourth grader smoke some of your “”medical marijuana” is a way bad idea, it has turned out that for most adult addicts that was not the gateway drug.

One reason that marijuana was implicated was that it was illegal. That meant that to procure marijuana in the first place you had to be breaking the law. Someone who was selling marijuana illegally and risking jail might also be selling other “harder” drugs. Breaking society’s rules on substance use is a bad direction to start out on, but there is more to the story than that.

For most children, the gateway drugs have been cigarettes and alcohol. Consider the cost to society of a child who starts smoking at an early age. There is good evidence to show that after trying that first cigarette if the child lights up a second one they are going to be smokers for life.

Look around any homeless encampment, any old-time A.A. or N.A. meeting or the public hospital emergency room and you will find a lot of smokers. Nicotine has been reported as more addicting than heroin. I have heard people in recovery from drug addiction say that it was harder for many of them to kick cigarettes than to kick the heroin.

Alcohol is also a severe problem for children.

The younger they start drinking the larger the risk. Some people have argued that there are places in Europe where children begin drinking at a young age and do not develop any higher rate of alcoholism than we do with a legal drinking age of 21. The biggest difference is that in those cultures children learn to drink a small amount with meals and as part of a social occasion.

Here in America, the tradition is that when you drink – drink all you can. These drinking occasions are times when a bunch of people are out to “party” and alcohol is a large part of that. The result is that children, teens, in particular, learn to drink heavily and to drink to get drunk. You do not take your grandparents to the party with you.

Drinking to get drunk, binge drinking is, of course, the riskiest way to drink.

Younger substance abusers go for cheap or easy to get substances. They are more likely to sniff paint or glue. They are also less likely to understand how risky a substance is; hence they go for synthetic drugs because they can get them without breaking a law. What they miss is that these drugs are “not for human consumption” for good reason. Some of these synthetic drugs can cause permanent brain damage.

Back to that gateway argument. It appears that it is not the fact that a drug is illegal, as in the status of marijuana in the past, but the fact that it is “illicit” that the child is sneaking to do something they are not supposed to do, that predisposes them to greater risks down the road.

One thing we miss is the relationship between substance abuse and crime. This is not solely the rule for adults. Children of any age who drink or do other drugs are more likely to do other crimes, behave in anti-social ways and get into trouble.

One report said that on the order of 80% of all those in prison here in California were drunk or high in the 24 hours before they did their crime.

There is no doubt that being under the influence disinhibits you. Drug use also means you need money and that may lead children to do crimes to pay for their drug and alcohol activities. It is hard to keep asking mom for drug money unless she is also in the drug game.

Drinking and drug use may look different in youngsters than in their older compatriots but addiction and alcoholism start in the young and just keep getting worse.

As a colleague of mine keeps reminding us – any drug use by an eight-year-old is a problem.

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.

Alcohol prevents healing.

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

Liquor

Alcoholic beverages.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is a little alcohol medicinal?

We have long known that chronic alcoholics had a whole lot more health problems than non-alcoholics. Heavy drinkers get hurt a lot. They fall down and break things. We blamed it on their being drunk and uncoordinated.

Now, there is word, that drinking may also inhibit the ability of the body to repair cells. This inhibition seems to be at the molecular and cellular level.

This reduced ability to heal is not simply the result of problem drinkers having a poorer diet and other unsatisfactory health practices, although those are large issues also. It would appear that alcohol fundamentally impairs the ability of the body to repair cells that are damaged.

To test this theory out, that too much alcohol may inhibit healing, a study was done in mice. By raising the alcohol level to .20 over twice the legal DUI level researchers were able to see the effects of acute alcohol levels on healing rather than only looking at the long-term effects of excessive drinking.

These “binge drinking” mice, who had broken bones, were unable to heal at the same rate as their un-inebriated fellow mice.

Drinkers that break bones may have a reduced ability to heal, may heal more slowly and there are more complications during the recuperation process.

Those binge-drinking mice appear to have explained the problem. The presence of alcohol in the bloodstream and therefore in every cell in the body reduces the ability for bones to heal when damaged. We now suspect that binge drinking can result in poor healing in many other areas.

Drinking alcohol may be an old home remedy for pain, suffering, and sleeplessness but new research tells us it is a hindrance not a help for those applications.

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.

How to control your drinking

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

How to control your drinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some easy ways to keep your problem drinking under control.

It is not uncommon for a drinker, especially someone new to consuming alcoholic beverages to overdo and experience negative consequences. If you have had a hangover, been stopped for drunk or impaired driving, or ended up in a conflict as a result of your excessive drinking, you may want to try some of these methods to keep your drinking under control.

If after trying these techniques you still are having problems with your alcohol consumption there are some more advanced suggestions at the end of this list.

Set limits and stick to them.

Drinking five or more drinks for a man or four or more for a woman is considered binge drinking. This is the riskiest way of drinking. The damage to the body from excess alcohol consumption is proportionate to the level of alcohol in your bloodstream.

Evan at half these levels, in most places; you can be too compromised to drive and risk an arrest for some form of impaired driving.

The best policy is to limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks on any drinking occasion.

Women if you are pregnant or may become pregnant, that limit should be zero. We know of no safe level of alcohol for a pregnant woman. Sorry ladies.

Do not drink because of negative emotions.

Depressed people who drink alcohol to cheer themselves up, become more depressed. Drinking because you are angry increases the risk you will lose control and act on that anger. Drinking to control anxiety results in more anxiety. Drinking away any problem results in more of that problem.

Do not drink to increase happiness.

If one drink makes you happy two should be better and thirty more so.

The trap here is that if you need the alcohol to make you happy you are already in a risky neighborhood.

Do not drink alcohol when you are thirsty.

Alcoholic beverages do not quench your thirst. Alcohol dehydrates you. Drinking alcohol when thirsty will make your dehydration and thirst worse and result in you craving and drinking more alcohol than you intended.

Do not drink when you are very hungry.

Some people believe that a little wine makes for a better dinner. The risk for many of us who lead busy lives is that we wait too long to eat. The result is that we fill up on alcohol and do not eat the food.

Drinking on an empty stomach increases the risk of overdoing the drinking and losing track of how many you have had.

Avoid drinking in situations where the primary activity is drinking alcohol.

A single glass of champagne at a wedding is not likely to cause most people any problem. One drink at a social party where everyone is planning to get drunk is likely to lead to social pressure to consume more than you had planned on.

Many people can safely have a single drink at an event with a non-drinking purpose. Those very same people who go out with others after work to have a drink are at risk of overdoing. Don’t go to a drinking event and expect to be the one person who drinks in moderation. You may be one of those people who can be at a drinking occasion and not drink. The chances are you are not one of those people if you have read this far into a post on controlling your drinking.

If you have tried all the simple methods of controlling your drinking but still find yourself consuming more than you should, you may be one of those people who has crossed the line between a normal drinker and a person with an alcohol use disorder. You may be a problem drinker.

Characteristic features of Alcohol use disorders include things like, loss of control or drinking more than you intended, increased tolerance, needing more alcohol than before to feel the effects and the development of negative consequences when you drink. Cravings are another warning sign.

If you have an alcohol use disorder of any kind seek help. Counseling and therapy with a professional that understands substance use issues or self-help groups may be able to teach you to live life without the alcohol and avoid the problem of repeatedly trying to control your drinking and not being able to stay sober.

Alcohol use disorders are a group of real illnesses and like many other medical diseases once you have these disorders you are not likely to ever return to being a person without this disease. If you have a drinking problem of any kind please seek help.

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.

6 Myths about alcoholism

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

Bottles of alcohol.

Alcoholic Beverages.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How many of these Alcohol myths have you heard?

If you don’t know the signs of a disease you can pretend you don’t have it. As a society, we do a lot of pretending about drugs and alcohol. Regardless of anything you may have learned alcohol is just as much a drug as any other chemical.

How it affects you depends on the relationship you develop with this powerful drug we call alcohol. Millions of people are on the road to alcoholism and don’t even know it. Some are already there despite their best efforts to pretend otherwise.

Here are some common myths about alcoholism.

1. Alcoholics are homeless bums.

The majority of all alcoholics, by some estimates up to 90%, have full-time jobs. It is only the most debilitated that end up homeless. Most have suffered for years before they reach the homeless point.

Alcoholics come from every economic strata, race, and religion. Even groups that forbid their members to drink still have alcoholics among their ranks.

2. Alcoholics drink every day.

If you only drink once a year on New Year’s but you have gotten DUI’s several times or arrested for bar fights, then you are drinking alcoholically.

It is not how often you drink, but what happens when you drink that determines alcoholic drinking. Alcoholics do not drink one or two drinks; they drink with the intention to get drunk.

Periodic episodic binge drinking is more likely to lead to alcoholism than the person who has one every day.

3. You will not become an alcoholic if you only drink beer.

The majority (54% by one estimate) of the alcohol consumed in America comes from beer. Beer drinkers get just as many DUI’s and are involved in lots of fights and domestic violence. If when you drink, you get in trouble, that is drinking alcoholically regardless of what you are drinking.

4. You need to drink for years to develop alcoholism.

Many chronic alcoholics will tell you that the first or second time they drank they became drunk and many blacked out. If you like the effects of the alcohol you can begin to drink alcoholically from the very first time.

The amount of damage done to the body is largely dependent on how high the level of alcohol in the bloodstream goes. You can die from an overdose of alcohol the first time you drink if you consume too much too quickly.

5. One drink a day won’t hurt you.

That may be true for some people, but the very young and the elderly are at risk from even that much. More than 4 drinks a week can impair health in older adults and alcoholism in the elderly is growing at a rapid rate.

More than half of all the emergency room admissions among senior citizens are the direct result of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Alcohol does not mix well with many prescription drugs that are routinely prescribed for the elderly.

6. Alcohol is a stimulant and gives you more energy.

Alcohol is a depressant. Use of alcohol has been linked to depression and other mental illnesses. Binge drinkers are 55 times more likely to attempt suicide.

While alcohol does not give you energy, make you look better or improve your sex performance, what it does do is lower your inhibitions and get you to do things that you would never do sober. For every one thing positive that someone reports having done as a result of drinking we hear countless stories of people who committed crimes or were the victim of a crime as a direct result of forgetting to pay attention to what they were doing while they were intoxicated.

The majority of people in prison were drunk or high in the 24 hours before they committed the crime that sent them to prison.

Many who are arrested for being under the influence of drugs have alcohol in the bloodstream at the time of arrest. It is very common for those dying of drug overdoses to also have alcohol in their bloodstream. Being intoxicated can impair judgment and lead to a drug overdose.

As much as alcohol consumption is glamorized in our society there are surely many more myths about the risks and benefits of drinking alcohol. What other myths have you found about alcohol?

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, 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.