There is No Soft and Easy Way Through Recovery
anonymous Asks ...
I am not an alcoholic but I can't stop drinking. I don't know why I always forget the regret of the morning by the evening when I hit the bar. When I can't drink it is not a problem at all, I don't get the shakes or anything like that but it is not often that I am in a situation where I can't drink for any length of time. Would Antabuse be a good idea for me? I want to stop but I never do when it comes down to it. I think if I knew I was going to get sick f I drank then that would be reason enough to stay sober.
Florence Cameron Says ...
Your first sentence is quite insightful, which leads me to address the criteria of substance dependence set forth by the DSM-IV-TR, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders. This manual is governed by WHO, the World Health Organization and all healthcare providers use this criteria in determining diagnoses around the world. Substance dependence, as used here is referring to drugs or alcohol and any chemicals that has mind or mood altering affects.
I would like for you to review the criteria below and give yourself a self-test and determine for yourself whether you are alcohol dependent. If you answer yes to any three or more of the following symptoms about your current drinking within the last 12 months, then any treatment provider would diagnose your drinking as "substance dependence", which also means alcoholism or addiction:
1. Continued use of alcohol even when significant problems related to it's use have developed.
2. Increased tolerance or need for increased amounts of substance to attain the desired affect.
3. Withdrawal symptoms with decreased use.
4. Unsuccessful efforts to decrease use.
5. Increase in time spent in activities to obtain substances.
6. Withdrawal from social and recreational activities because of using, being intoxicated, or withdrawing.
7. Continued use of substance even with awareness of physical or psychological problems encountered by the extent of substance use.
You stated that you found it difficult to control your drinking when you started. This is a sign of losing control of your drinking (criteria #2)increased tolerance level. Once the body becomes dependent on the chemical, the drug, or the alcohol, major changes happen in the brain. Basically the landscape of the brain changes and systems that were working seamlessly are now malfunctioning. The prefrontal cortex, which is the executive functioning of the brain that houses our reasoning abilities, and promotes good judgment, decisions and planning is now interrupted. This system is no longer talking to the portion of the brain that seeks out pleasure. This pleasure seeking response system is now running amok and over-rides the rational functioning of the frontal cortex, sometimes at the expense of one's own life. This is why you forget about the painful withdrawal symptoms(criteria #3)from the previous binges.
You stated you want to stop "but never do (criteria #4). Your concerted efforts to stop on your own or decrease intake are unsuccessful. You also stated that you continue this behavior, going to bars knowing the outcome; that you will drink and will not be able to stop (criteria #7).
You did not mention whether or not there have/had been any problems due to your drinking, i.e.,legal problems (DUI) loved ones worried or angry due to continued broken promises, falls resulting in wounds, broken bones or bruises, damaged property, arguments/disagreements with friends, missing work or not being able to fulfill certain role responsibilities, i.e., showing up for planned events with family or friends because of intoxication or symptoms of withdrawing. However, I cannot imagine a lifestyle such as this where these behaviors would not exist, as they are synonymous with substance dependence. No where in the list does it state that you must drink every day to meet the criteria of substance dependence.
Antabuse, disulfiram a by-product of tire manufacturing industry, used to treat alcohol dependence, should never be used or without being under a doctor's care. Yes there has been great scientific advances producing drugs that can curb cravings and urges that can give one a leg up on recovery, however drugs should always be used in combination with treatment. The drug Antabuse itself is very dangerous and has many negative side effects, reports of heart attacks and deaths have been among them.
Unfortunately there is no soft and easy way through recovery. There are many resources available to help one through recovery. I suggest you find an AA program near your home and start with the basics in a 12 step program. There you will find willing people who have been where you are and can help you along your road to recovery. Good Luck.
Jeannie Cameron, LMHC