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Alcohol & Harm Reduction

Alcohol has caused extreme heartache and millions of death since prohibition was lifted in 1932. Yet it’s still glamorized and accepted as stress relief, coping skill, even displayed in fancy bottles out in the open in almost every movie. Fancy houses, offices are not complete without the conversation at the bar. Can you imagine if Marijuana or heroin were displayed that way? I’m not advocating that we do this- I’m simply stating the hypocrisy of how we treat different addicts.

I’ve explored this a few times in my blog, but don’t get me wrong. Other people in pain or who have ANY addiction are not the enemy, neither is the reversing of prohibition. I am an advocate for decriminalization of some drug offenses because I see it as a major setback in the progression of addiction recovery.

All I’m saying is how society and media and funny memes can guide our opinions just the the Netflix show “The Social Dilemma” clearly proved.

We all have stress relievers, but I think we forget that that’s how an addict STARTED, the same as us. They just couldn’t stop at one or two.

The following info is from Shatterproof which has great resources and info on addiction:

Substance Types and Effects: Alcohol

Though alcohol is legal and normalized in our daily lives, it’s important to remember that it’s a drug like any other. It impacts the body in specific ways, can harm your health, and people can develop an addiction to it.

How does alcohol affect the body?

Ethyl alcohol, which is created during the fermentation process, is what causes the intoxicating effects of beverages like beer, wine, and liquor.

Alcohol, like other depressants, slows down the central nervous system. This can lead to feelings of relaxation, confidence, and lowered inhibitions. It can also cause physical reactions like loss of coordination, memory, and the ability to make good decisions.

Excessive drinking is harmful.

The CDC defines excessive drinking as either binge drinking (4-5+ drinks during a single occasion) or heavy drinking (8-15+ drinks per week), and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21. However, excessive drinking alone does not mean that a person has an alcohol use disorder.

How can risks be reduced when drinking alcohol?

  • Never use opioids or benzodiazepines while drinking alcohol—this mixing can increase the risk of fatal overdose
  • Practice moderation, either by choosing drinks with lower levels of alcohol by volume (ABV) or by reducing the number of total drinks you consume
  • Take breaks from alcohol, like Dry January, and use them as an opportunity to evaluate alcohol’s role in your life
  • Stay out of the driver’s seat when you’ve been drinking

What are the signs of an alcohol use disorder?

When someone is misusing alcohol, they might feel like they need to drink, rather than want to drink.

A person with an alcohol use disorder may find themselves drinking far more than their peers in social situations, or drinking heavily alone. Many people who’ve recovered say that they used to frequently blackout from alcohol use, finding themselves unable to remember what they said or did during the time that they were drunk. The situations can be wide-ranging, but the bottom line is this: Once alcohol is interfering with someone’s daily life, it’s time to seek treatment.

How can an alcohol use disorder be treated?

There are effective treatments for alcohol use disorder—and treatment is not limited to luxury rehabs or 28-day residential programs. In fact, effective treatment for alcohol use disorder can start in a primary care doctor’s office, where needs can be assessed and referrals can be made.

It’s important to remember that alcohol withdrawal is a serious medical condition that can be fatal. Patients with severe alcohol use disorders should always talk to a doctor before attempting to quit cold turkey.

Treatments should always be individualized and based on each patient’s needs and goals. Effective treatments include behavioral therapy, support groups, and medications like naltrexone and disulfiram.

So then why isn’t there more support for harm reduction from recovery advocates?

I wasn’t always on favor of it until “suddenly” my son “became” a heroin user. Hetoin is horrible to break free from and now I know that a user isn’t just going to quit when out of clean needles. Harm reduction buys precious time – until they can and will get help.

A great video on Harm reduction

How to suggest harm reduction to loved ones

Home Base

Alcohol is NOT Exempt

I know I usually write about addiction in the form of opiods, but I actually have some intense interest in the fallacy (?- is that the right word?) of alcohol dependance.

Since it’s so widely shown, glamorized and basically accepted, on the movie and media scene; and since it’s even politically correct (does that even mean the same thing anymore?) to laugh at an alcohol meme; it sometimes gets overlooked as the horrible, slow killing addiction, it is, or can be.

So I was happy to see Matthew Ward’s An Open Letter to Myself About Sobriety post on Medium.

“We live in an opioid epidemic. The articles about it come out every week. People are addicted and dying and it’s horrible. According to the CDC, there were about 47,000 deaths related to opioid use in 2017.

So, it might surprise you that according to the same CDC data, there were about 88,000 deaths related to alcohol use”.

Originally published in The Ascent

If someone you know insists that they have it under control, there’s a great questionnaire on The government’s website SAMSHA
This is the very same website that the social media influencers will give you when they say they “have access to rehabs all over the country” including the ones they ‘broker’ for, if you have good insurance.

But all that aside, if you need help please  CLICK or CALL. I’ve called it and they’re very informative. There’s also tons of articles on this site for moms of teens and everyone. This site is our tax dollars at work, so use it.

Meanwhile, if you have managed to quit, or moderate your usage, or even thinking about it; I’m sure the thought has crossed your mind of what would you do instead of drinkng?

It’s sounds like an easy enough question, but those who spend hours and hours with their ḂḕṠṮ ḞṙḭḕṆḊ will understand this fear.

No worries,  Benya Clark (from Medium again) has the answer. He listed cooking, drawing, and running as his top three.

Now to those who are used to massive amounts of dopamine that substances provide; these are going to sound boring. And they probably will be at first. Until the natural Dopamine sources get built back up, you’re going to have force yourself, with some good accountability partners maybe, to start small and build up the habit—
Ya know-

ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴅɪᴅ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴀʟᴄᴏʜᴏʟ ᴏʀ ᴅʀᴜɢꜱ

Boredom, ingrained habits in the brain, and the lifestyle of connection  that all and drugs bring; along with this lack of Dopamine; is the reason for allot of relapses. People feel alone, lost, and bored, without their old coping mechanisms.

The good news is, new friends, new coping skills, new job opportunities can and WILL happen when you don’t have the consequences that addiction brings. You will mostly have your FREEDOM back. You won’t be enslaved to the time and MONEY.

THIS Article quotes the average American spends $22,600 over 40 years drinking 1 – yes 1- cocktail a week. ($11). There’s a Spending calculator you can use HERE. I guess it’s variable what constitutes “too much” spending on alcohol. I certainly would not use that to predict if someone is addicted.

It’s surprising how much addiction actually cost – just for the point of sale. Not even touching on the money from jobs lost, fines, insurance, and the many  other fees that go along with alcohol & drug use.

Drugs are a completly different story when it comes to money.I would say you can quadruple those numbers, easy, if a movie star or wealthy person.

It’s all very sad.

Not sad for the business end, but sad for families and children.  

It’s not a fact that escapes people with a substance use disorder (SUD- not addict). It’s one thing that contributes to their shame and blame of their condition. So much so, that I think it keeps alot of them IN that very cycle, because they think they can never pull out successfully or make up all that money or fix all that they’ve broken.

Our healthy brains KNOW it can be done, but remember,  their brains are technically damaged or at least temporarily hijacked in the areas of emotion, self control & that darn jacked up reward center.

My favorite person with a SUD-turned Doctor, says it best in this video. If that link doesn’t work- here’s next best one. Nicole Labor. Also buy her book and stuff… She humanizes addiction because she’s been there. Even while in Med school!

Regardless of where you or someone you love is at in their consumption journey, there is no reason to not at least have the conversation about how they’re doing and where they feel they want to be in 5 years.

Study after study, and -headline after obituary-  show that all addictions are progressive, leading to jail, death or recovery. So early intervention is paramount. It is a treatment condition. Despite the statistics shown, you can be part of the 21 million Americans who are in some form of recovery rather than the 88k who die every year due to alcohol related deaths.