Archive for the ‘Alcoholism’ Category

Interior Peace

Everyone has a story, made of of everyday moments. Some stories are more dramatic than others. Each person’s story is unique and equally important to that person. We all live in a world of stress and strife. Interior peace consists in learning, without becoming too discouraged and to accept our shortfalls without feeling too discouraged. We do not need to feel regret and become sad regarding our defeats, but we should know how to rebound from our falls to an even higher ground.

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Happiness

JOY AND HAPPINESS; HAPPINESS AND JOY!! What is joy and happiness and do you have it in your life? If the answer is no, welcome to the real world because most people spend their whole life searching for happiness and never find it. My experience is, many people are sad more than half of the time, but cannot identify what the common thread is in their life that is causing their sadness. Not only do people not know the cause of the discord in their lives, they do not know how to remedy it once they identify it. In my work, I see many people that are hurting and are emotionally, psychologically and emotionally in pain. There is a lot of pain and sadness in our world today. People will seek out ‘quick fixes’ in their quest to find happiness and many will never find it. Merriam-Webster tells us that happiness is “good fortune, prosperity”. It also states happiness is a state of well-being and contentment, ‘joy’.

I say that true happiness is joy and it is what we are in search of. We are all looking for inner peace which transcends our lives to joy. “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions” – Dalai Lama. I would take that quote a step further and say, happiness is joy that is not only achieved by action, but also acquired from how we think. Our perspective and outlook on life, as well as our action, defines us. In our search for peace and happiness, often we are told to take a chance, quit what you are doing and then go out to do what you really would love to do. Well, if you can do that, go for it. Myself? I am a planner for the future and I am not a risk taker. I would love to quit my job but realistically it isn’t going to happen. I am into job security. Having said that, I have to look within myself and find what I can change that will give me inner peace and joy. Every morning when I get up and prepare for work, I have that ‘heroic hour’ where I have to rethink what I will choose my attitude will be that day before I go to work. I am tired of work and I often do not enjoy my job. I have to direct my mind into a positive direction. We all have make choices. In the forefront of my mind, I display my gratitude list. I appreciate all those things or people in my life that am blessed to have. I am very fortunate to have a good job; there are many people out that are out of work and would give anything for a job. I think of those people that I work with who have significant physical and mental issues. I realize how fortunate I am that I do not have the difficulties that many of these individuals have. I think of those individuals who grew up in a household that was abusive and without love. I am very fortunate that I grew up with wonderful parents. I have a loving spouse and my children are the epitome of love, charity and they give hope to many in the work they do. I could not be more proud. I have a support system that many people do not have. I challenge you to count your blessings, whatever they may be , as you can always look around and see someone worse off than you. If you life is missing something, then I challenge you to take action. “We must become the change we want to see” -Mahatma Gandhi.

One final comment that I have is, I would tell any of you that a belief in God will help you find the answers that you may not have been able to find elsewhere. If nothing else in your life has worked, then you have nothing to loose. People will search their whole life, often searching in the wrong places and will never find what they are looking for. If you have tried everything, without success, try looking upwards. Find faith and a belief in God. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened” (Matthew 7: 7-12).

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How Do You Know if Your Are Depressed?

Depression is a constellation of symptoms, which involves feelings that persist and interfere with everyday life.

The World Health Organization ranks major depression among the most burdensome diseases in the world. Everyone experiences short periods of minor depression. What separates major depression from typical situational or mild depression? Major depression is a relapsing, remitting illness. Following a first episode, there is a greater than 40 percent rate of recurrence over a two-year period. Major depression is also characterized by progressive increases with each successive episode of the depression.  The risk of recurrence within five years after two episodes is estimated at 75% and 10 to 30 % of individuals that are treated for a major depressive episode will have an incomplete recovery.

How do you know if you are depressed? — Depressed people feel down most of the time for at least 2 weeks, do you?  Do you have at least 1 of these 2 symptoms:

  • You no longer enjoy or care about doing the things you used to like to do.
  • You feel sad, down, hopeless, or cranky most of the day, almost every day.

Depression can make you:

  • Lose or gain weight
  • Sleep too much or too little
  • Feel tired or like you have no energy
  • Feel guilty or like you are worth nothing
  • Forget things or feel confused
  • Think about death or suicide

If you think you might be depressed, see someone to help you sort it out and get you the help you need. If you ever feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else, do one of these things:

  • Call your doctor or nurse and tell them it is urgent
  • Call 9-1-1
  • Go to the emergency room at your local hospital
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
  • 1-800-273-8255
  • www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

REFERENCES:

World Health Organization. The World Health Report 22: Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002.

 

Am J Psychiatry. 2000;157(2)

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What is Alcholism? More of a statistical view

Getting married when you are 18 years old is young, right? Now a days, I would have to agree and say yes.  Back when I got married in the mid 1970s, age 18 would have been a typical age most young women married. Time has passed. Through the years, I have amassed many stories I can tell.   The perfect medium is the Internet via my blog.  I have a lot of life lessons to share.  Alcoholism is but one topic I have gleaned personal experience on.

What is alcoholism?  If you search out medical literature in a quest to find the answer to that question, you would find alcoholism categorized as a chronic disease? Inner turmoil digs in and takes up residence when an individual has little or no information to understand alcoholism. It is that elephant in you life; so big it first overwhelms, then takes over. Alcoholism the ‘elephant’ that takes over your life.  From my perspective, I had the belief that a person could stop drinking anytime they wanted, that is, if they really wanted to, right?  Well, I have learned a lot through the years, rearranged my thinking a bit and educated myself regarding alcoholism and other addictions.

I have been a family participant on more than one occasion when inpatient and/or outpatient therapy was the ultimate resort to address/treat drinking behavior of a family member.  My husband went through inpatient treatment, not once, but twice (you would think he would’ve got it the first time around:).  I have participated as a family member for one of my daughters, who went through an intensive inpatient treatment for alcoholism in additional to an eating disorder. I have been the staunch ‘safe’ person and advocate for my oldest daughter, who sought outpatient therapy after 10 years of self-medicating with alcohol following the tragic accident/death of her 4-year-old son.  My list goes on.  Is there more drama yet to come within my family?  Maybe, but together we can face it.

Alcohol use is divided into two disorders: alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Alcoholism, the term typically used by the general public, has a definition that largely overlaps alcohol dependence.  Alcoholism is defined as a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors that influence its development and manifestations (The Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence).  This would appear to be a lot of verbage utilized to describe a debilitating disease that affects a person, their family and friends.  More simply put, an alcoholic is someone who has the following: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.  And, if the ‘stars are aligned right’ with a first degree relative who is an alcoholic (such as your mom or dad), if you have other psychosocial conditions (i.e., depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-isolating) and/or certain environmental factors (loss of a loved one, divorce, no family support, no friends, no job etc), the stage is set for EL the elephant (AKA, alcoholism) to move in.  That huge animal that can overtake your home and space.  He is huge and once he takes up residence in your home, it will take a lot of work to get him out.

Interrelated medical conditions associated with alcoholism are depression and suicide attempts. Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading preventable cause of death in the US. 70% of attempted suicides by college student involved frequent alcohol use in 1992. The lifetime rate of suicide attempts among frequent alcohol users in the US is 7%, well above the US adult population rate, which is 1%

Interesting and very pertinent to my family is the fact that alcohol abuse and dependence run in families. It is cyclic and unless the cycle is broken, it continues on from generation to generation.   First-degree relatives of individuals with alcohol use disorders have a three to four times higher prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence than the general population

The literature reports a genetic influence on alcohol metabolism. The exact phenomenon is not known, but the alcohol metabolism may be mediated through the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which is altered within the brain of an alcoholic making the metabolism, absorption and interactions of ethanol in the brain.  The greatest weapon against this disease is education.

 

If you think you (or a family member) have an alcohol problem, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you have failure to fulfill role obligations (eg, at work, school or home)
  • Do you have recurrent substance use in physically hazardous situations
  • Do you have recurrent legal problems related to substance use
  • Do you continue use despite alcohol-related social or interpersonal problems

If you have one (or more) of the above, occurring within a 12 month

period, you have a problem.

 

Do you have an elephant in your living room or in your life?

 

REFERENCES:

Acute withdrawal, protracted abstinence and negative affect in alcoholism: are they linked?  Heilig M, Egli M, Crabbe JC, Becker HC Addict Biol. 2010;15(2):169.

 

The definition of alcoholism. The Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the American Society of Addiction Medicine to Study the Definition and Criteria for the Diagnosis of Alcoholism. Morse RM, Flavin DK JAMA. 1992;268(8):1012.

 

Genetics and the risk for alcoholism. Schuckit MA JAMA. 1985;254(18):2614.

 

DSM-IV criteria for substance abuse/American Psychiatric Association

 

 

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There is an Elephant in my Living Room

Introduction

A little over 36 years ago, I would have never dreamt I would have married an alcoholic. Back then, I was in my ‘late teens’ and I had no idea of what an alcoholic was.   Alcoholism, for me, was not the picture of my blonde hair, blue eyed athletic looking ‘soon to be’ husband. Today, I remain married to this amazing man who has weathered his disease through years, alternating between active practice and stages of recovery. I have several remarkable children who have , and continue to, weather their own personal storms that range from alcoholism,  ADHD, eating disorders, depression/anxiety and the repercussions of PTSD.   Life has not been easy for them.  For myself, I have been on an endless quest to figure out this enigma.  I am the co-dependent in my family and as my husband often says, “I just don’t get it”!

I do believe this, addiction, like most things in life, is ever changing.  We all have good days and we all have bad days.  Some days, what is little becomes big like an elephant, and what is big can be little.  It is all in how we look at it. Perspective! Humor! Knowledge! Understanding! Love! Hope!  Just a few words that, when put into practice, give peace.

 

 

El  the Elephant

I do not understand addictions. I have been around addictions on the outside, sideways, around the side,  any way you can think of,  but not inside the head of the one who is addicted.  I cannot know or comprehend the inner turmoil, self-loathing, pain and suffering of those who are dependent on a substance or behavior.   The more I think I know, the more I don’t know.  My knowledge and understanding of this myriad of vast dependencies, called ‘addiction’, comes from what I have learned by personal experience (on the job training, otherwise known as flying by the seat of your pants), as well as within my profession that I continue to work in.  I am the outsider looking in.  Within my family I am called a ‘co-dependent’. At my job, I am a listener.

There is a vast spectrum of addictions.  The definition of various addictions seems to evolve as time passes.  For me, what was valid 35+ years ago, is no longer applicable.  Maybe it is my conceptualization of what an addiction is that has modified over time.   No longer do we think of those individuals as a pitiful, homeless person, whose body habitus is emaciated, the physical presentation disheveled and dirty (in the mind of the ignorant, such as me). By all appearances, many individuals who harbor an addictive lifestyle, range in age and represent an array of professions.  Today, there  is not the stigma placed on people who openly take ownership of their addiction.  More people with addictions are stepping forward, acknowledging their disease, along with the effect it has had on them, their family/friends and jobs.  How many high profile people have opening stepped forward, sharing their disease and have sought treatment.   In the past, addictions were hidden, shameful and not talked about.  What is ‘newsworthy’ today?   Dysfunction!  After all, pain and suffering sells. We see this in the reality shows, a funny sitcom, the ‘self-help’ talk shows and in the news.

Have you ever heard the story of the elephant?  Addictions are the elephant.  The story is of a group of blind men and an elephant. Through the years, it has been interpreted in diverse ways. Regardless, it provides a metaphor.  With the story telling, insight to an individual’s perception of truths and the impact of perception are gained.

The synopsis of the story is the tale of a group of blind men who touch an elephant to learn what it is like.  Each one feels a different part, but only part, such as the side or the tusk. They compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement. They all differ in their story. As result, conflict evolves.

How does this relate to an addiction?  Where a person is at in their addictive behavior and/or recovery, impacts an individual and his/her happiness and of their family.  Like the elephant story, addiction is ever changing.  Addictive behavior can be a downward spiral or an upward continuum towards recovery, which is constant process, never complete, and ever changing.

Addiction in my family and the effect on all of us, is like the elephant.  Together, we have gone through more than one treatment program, not all for the same person.  The elephant, El (for lack of a better name), lives in our home and at one time, took up the entire house.  We all stepped around this huge, obnoxious ‘animal’ and acted like it was not there.  Today, El remains in our home, but has become an open source of dialogue.

How big is the elephant in your home?

 

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One Day at a Time!

We’ve all heard that familiar comment, “One Day at a Time”.  What I find is, this applies to most things in life and one does not need to have an addiction to apply these seasoned words of wisdom.  What I believe to be true is, most people have some type of addiction, or are close to someone who has an addiction. It may be as visual and common as cigarette smoking, or it may be hidden, shameful and controlling, such as alcoholism  The type of addition may vary, but it is there, never-the-less.  After initially submitting my opening comments, I found myself in a position of major support for my daughter, who has been battling her own demons as the result of the traumatic loss her young child.  After several years, she took that elusive step called, acknowledgement and ownership of her problem.   As result of witnessing the traumatic death of her 4 year old son, alcohol became the main vehicle of escape.  Through the course of 9 years, she has finally taken the steps to cope with her loss and grief.

I believe that we all will experience a traumatic event in our lives, some of us sooner than others.  It is how we choose and respond in these times that is important.

Here are a few comments to ponder: why do some people, who would experience a similar event, respond in different ways.  Some in a healthy way and other people would stray to an addictive escape?  What plays into ‘mental heartiness’?  Is a person’s ‘mental heartiness’ something they are born with?  Why do some people face their demons/addictions and come out stronger and other continue in an unstoppable spiral downward.  And lastly, at what point is the line crossed from alcohol abuse or overuse to alcholism?

I look forward to the comments.

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