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What are you doing about alcohol problems?

In 2007, more then half of the 4 million persons who received treatment for a substance use disorder received treatment for an alcohol related problem according to SAMHSA. 1.2 million received treatment for marijuana, and 928,000 for cocaine. 547,000 received treatment for use of pain relievers, 466,000 for the use of heroin, and 442,000 for the use of hallucinogens. So, those of you who like math have already figured out that people could require treatment for a problem with more than one substance.

What You Need to Know encourages everyone to learn the facts about our most common drug of abuse, that of alcohol. We know that many people find that alcohol is so intertwined with their daily life, social events, celebrating joys and sorrows, that it is hard to imagine a life without alcohol. Abstinence scares many people into denial and doing nothing. Abstinence is indeed the only healthy choice for a great many people. Others, however, can at least learn about their own relationship with alcohol by setting some goals and perhaps running an experiment. For starters, if you’ve been drinking daily to the point of intoxication and black out, or have other serious medical problems, you will need medical involvement to do any changes to your drinking patterns. However, for everyone else, a way to start is to get a baseline. A baseline is the reality of what is going on regularly before doing any change. A good next step would be to watch the WYNK flash videos pertaining to alcohol, to look at some articles on the NIDA and NIAAA websites, and perhaps SAMHSA as well. Then you could set a goal for yourself, say of drinking maybe half of the number of drinks (and learn how to truly count those) in a day or week that you usually do. A chart of some sort will help this, so you can be honest and keep track. Is this hard? Is this impossible? Some sleep disturbance and some anxiety means that your brain is adjusting to the elevated glutamate levels now that you are decreasing your alcohol use. If you have serious effects from cutting down, you should see your alcohol and drug counselor, physician, or psychologist with special certification. If the effects are really dramatic however, you need to go to the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital. A good goal for many people suffering from alcohol abuse is to return to normal social drinking. The goal for those with alcohol dependence is abstinence, whether medication assisted recovery, with psychosocial treatment programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, or a combination of these approaches. Don’t get hung up on the perfect way to get healthy, just get moving in that direction. Not every path works for each individual. We emphasize education and support, so consider psychotherapy with a professional who possesses certifications with alcohol and drug problems in addition to other types of therapy including mental health and relationship issues.

Order your WYNK flash videos for education and support.

by: Lois Cochrane Schlutter, Ph.D. L.P.

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