Substance Misuse

To be concerned or not to be concerned?

“I’m not THAT bad.”

“I don’t NEED it.”

“Everyone I know drinks like me.”

“I don’t have a drinking problem. I drink, I fall down, I get up, no problem.”

A lot of people say a lot of things about what an alcohol problem is, so how do I know if I have one?

Great question!

If you’ve come to this page, you’re likely concerned about your drinking or your loved one’s drinking. That alone suggests to me that drinking is a problem.

Roughly 20% of adults are non-drinkers, 50% are non-problematic drinkers, 25% are problem drinkers, and 5% are alcohol dependent.

It’s not what you drink, how much you drink, or how often you drink; rather, it’s what happens when you drink.

Here are some indicators of a drinking problem.

You’ve thought about trying to cut down or quit.

When other people suggest that you should cut down or quit, you get annoyed.

You have guilty feelings about things you said or did while under the influence.

Alcohol and/or drugs cause you sometimes to fail to fulfill your responsibilities.

Problem drinking has consequences.

Health consequences, including accidents

Mental health consequences

Legal consequences

Employment consequences

Academic consequences

Relationship consequences

Financial consequences

Part of you wants to change, part of you doesn’t…

When Andy called me, he said that he drinks several times a month with friends as a social thing. “Not a problem,” he said. Yet one out of maybe every 4 or 5 times, he drank so much that he blacked out.

When that happened, Andy felt physically ill the next day; guilty and upset with himself for the next few days. “That’s a problem,” he said.

Andy can’t figure out what the difference is between the times he drinks without problems and the times when he can’t stop drinking. Andy knows that he does not want to drink so much that he blacks out, but he’s not sure if he needs to stop drinking altogether.

Everyone he knows drinks.

Jasmine thinks she has to drink – to be part of the team.

Jasmine is a sales manager for a tech company whose job requires frequent travel for business meetings and client dinners. She told me that she and her husband split a bottle of wine at dinner three or four times a week.

Recently, there’s been some friction between her and her husband. The last two times she called him when she was out of town, he could tell Jasmine drank too much because her speech was slurred and there were things she said that made no sense.

Jasmine said that her job required her to take clients out for dinner and drinks and that this is what the entire sales team does.

She was referred to me by her doctor after her blood work results, as part of a recent routine physical exam, showed elevated liver enzymes likely caused by drinking.

The pleasant and the less pleasant, or short-term positive consequences with long-term negative consequences

Andy said that when he drinks, it’s easier for him to talk to women than when he’s not drinking. He also said that now and then, he likes to “forget about everything.” “Everything” includes the things he regrets having said and done when he drank heavily, including having been convicted of driving under the influence.

Now it’s gotten to the point where he cannot predict how much he’ll drink once he starts. The risk of drinking to the point of blacking out and subsequent feelings of physical illness and mental anguish has become unacceptable, not to mention the amount of money he spends when he drinks like that. He says he’s sick and tired of being sick and tired.

The lure of falsely feeling ‘in control…’

Jasmine said she likes the feeling of warmth and relaxation when she drinks with her husband and that she is more confident at business dinners after she has a few drinks.

Before getting the results of her blood work, she thought her husband was over-reacting to her drinking. The knowledge that alcohol could cause serious health problems is terrifying to her and has caused her to re-evaluate her husband’s concerns about her drinking. She is interested in exploring options for drinking.

Overcoming substance misuse is hard to do alone.

If you think or know that you have a drinking or drug problem, help is available.

It would be my pleasure to review your drinking and help you establish and achieve your ideal drinking behavior.

Call (908) 393-6300 to schedule your free 20-minute consultation now.