Alcohol Addiction: How to Support a Loved One with a Drinking Problem

Alcohol Addiction: How to Support a Loved One with a Drinking Problem

By Jackie Molan

Alcohol addiction is a very difficult problem to deal with, not only for the person struggling with it, but also for their loved ones. Since addiction and the subsequent recovery process tend to occur over a period of many years, it is important to understand how to support those we care about who are struggling with alcohol addiction.

Preparing for the Conversation

If you are concerned that a loved one is misusing alcohol, the first step is to do your own research about alcohol use disorder. Once you understand the signs, symptoms, and types of treatments, it will be easier to have an informed discussion with the person struggling. Give plenty of thought to what you want to say, and aim to start the discussion when the person is sober and you are both in a private space with limited likelihood for interruptions. You should avoid using terms with stigma attached, like “alcoholic,” and try to use “I” statements as much as possible to avoid sounding accusatory. For example, instead of saying “You have a problem and need to get help,” say “I care about you and am concerned for your health.”

The Conversation

It is often difficult for people to admit that they have an alcohol problem. Therefore, their first instinct might be to defend themselves and become argumentative. It is important that you stay as calm as possible and remind them that you are coming from a place of genuine care and concern. Offer to help them make a plan and take steps toward recovery, like calling a therapist to schedule an appointment. Remember that you cannot force them to go to treatment if they are unwilling, but initiating a conversation can be a good first step which might help them become more open to the idea. Many people will try to achieve sobriety on their own first, but ultimately, professional mental health treatment is the most effective way to confront alcohol addiction. 

Personal Considerations

While supporting someone with alcohol addiction issues, it is essential to remember to care for yourself as well. Set boundaries to prevent codependence, or becoming more invested in your loved one’s health than your own life. Discuss their comfort level with having alcohol in the house or having others drink in front of them. Above all, remain interested and invested in their recovery process. Support them in situations where they are involuntarily exposed to alcohol, and ask them about their treatment. Your support can be an incredibly meaningful piece in their journey to recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/alcohol#supporting-someone-with-a-drinking-problem

https://www.healthline.com/health/most-important-things-you-can-do-help-alcoholic#takeaway

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/loving-an-addict

The Link between Alcoholism and Depression

By Jenna Chiavelli

Alcoholism and Depression

Alcohol Use Disorder is characterized by disordered drinking that leads to significant distress and changes in behavior. One of the strongest predictors of alcoholism is family history, as genetics can attribute to one’s predisposition to alcoholism. Underlying psychological disorders contribute to alcoholism as well as people turn to substances to numb pain. Socially speaking, one’s environment can lead to alcoholism if the environment favors a culture of drinking.

Addiction is a controlling disease and when mixed with depression, treatment can become even more complex. Depression is a common co-occurring disorder with at least 30%-40% of alcoholics experiencing a depressive disorder. Depression is a mood disorder which can generate persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and pessimism, disrupting everyday life. The combination of addiction and depression is especially harmful as the conditions fuel each other.

Depression Contributing to Alcoholism

Substances like alcohol can be appealing to those suffering from depression, as alcohol’s sedating effects offer an escape from overwhelming feelings of sadness. This form of self-medication can temporarily relieve depressive symptoms, but this is not a permanent solution. Over time, the feelings of sadness linger despite the sedating effects of alcohol, leading those struggling with depression to increase their alcohol intake to suppress the pain. This dangerous cycle contributes to a substance abuse disorder.

Alcoholism Contributing to Depression

Alcohol releases neurotransmitters in the brain, resulting in the euphoric feeling of being drunk. As alcohol users consistently chase this high, the copious amount of alcohol is simultaneously limiting the brain’s ability to sustain neurotransmitters at normal levels. This disruption in the nervous system impacts one’s mood; therefore, when there is a reduction of neurotransmitters a person may feel symptoms of depression. Additionally, alcohol increases the duration and severity of depressive episodes and increases the likelihood of suicidal thoughts. 

Drinking alcohol also alters behavior and fuels acts of impulse. The consequences of one’s drunken actions may be overwhelming leading to feelings of sadness and shame. Heavy drinking can disrupt relationships and interfere with work, damaging one’s social sphere. The constant ramifications from drinking can easily contribute to depression as well.

Treatment for Co-Disorders

In some cases, removing alcohol from the equation is enough to relieve symptoms of depression. In other cases, therapy, rehabilitation, and medications may be necessary. It is important to note that medication alone will not effectively treat co-occurring depression and addiction. Therapy is required in order to understand what originally contributed to one’s depression/addiction. Gaining a deeper understanding to one’s emotions and history could help prevent a relapse in the future. Additionally, confiding in others and sharing stories of similar nature reminds people that they are not alone in their struggles, fostering a sense of community. With a little bit of help, it is possible to break the dangerous cycle of alcohol and depression.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for depression and/or addiction, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources

https://www.addictioncenter.com/alcohol/alcohol-depression/#:~:text=At%20least%2030%25%2D40,of%20the%20symptoms%20of%20depression.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/addiction-recovery/202102/healing-depression-and-addiction

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/alcohol

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Anxiety: Drinking Large Quantities of Alcohol Can Increase Anxiety

By: Lauren Zoneraich

Binge-drinking dominates many young social scenes, especially those of high school students, college students, and young adults. Besides harming the liver, binge-drinking has negative effects on one’s mental state. What seems like a harmless night of fun can cause increased feelings of anxiety the next day, especially for individuals who already struggle with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is an emotional state defined by feelings of unease, stress, and nervousness. Anxiety is also characterized by worried thoughts and changes in physiological states, such as increased heart rate. People with anxiety disorders experience anxiety regularly for prolonged periods or short, intense periods. These periods are characterized by repetitive, obsessive, or intrusive thoughts; panic attacks; and physiological symptoms such as sweating and increased blood pressure. Heavy drinking can induce feelings of anxiety and heighten pre-existing anxiety, especially the next day when the effects of alcohol have worn off.

Alcohol is a depressant and a sedative. It alters the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin. When the body metabolizes alcohol, the brain’s neurotransmitter levels readjust, and this change may cause one to feel anxious. Also, the physical symptoms of a hangover, such as headache, dehydration, and dizziness, may increase anxiety. Mental and emotional states are linked to physical states, so if one is not feeling well physically, one’s mental state may also worsen. Additionally, people with social anxiety may feel anxious about their actions or words from the night before, as alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions. They may worry that they said something they would not have said in a sober state, which can cause anxiety.

If you find that heavy drinking causes you to feel anxious or increases your anxiety, it may be best to adjust your drinking behavior.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or alcohol abuse, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/mental-health/alcohol-and-anxiety

https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-and-anxiety#consequences

Image Source:

https://www.cnet.com/a/img/Jh55LlQZsT04K-qgcvoBsQes-ZU=/1200×675/2020/07/21/6094c226-5b00-49c8-a802-e0f36614255d/gettyimages-1193256860.jpg

Increased Drug and Alcohol Use during the Stay at Home Order

By Eleanor Kim

The Coronavirus pandemic has left the whole world isolated with very little to do aside from school or work. As the stay at home orders continue, individuals have been forced to find other means of coping or simply passing the time. Some individuals have found coping mechanisms that have ignited newfound purpose during such bleak times; however, others have embarked on less than beneficial pastimes, turning to drugs and alcohol as a means of “getting through” the pandemic. Cases of substance use disorder, or SUD, have skyrocketed since the official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic with cases of patients who have experienced overdoses and other complications related to substance abuse increasing as well. In a recent survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 13.3% of respondents stated that they have either started or increased substance use in order to cope with the stress and emotions caused by COVID-19 and the subsequent national emergency. With the world in such an unstable and worrisome state, it is not surprising to see individuals seek comfort in any way that they can, especially as those individuals face new and or preexisting stressors and anxieties through isolation.

As the pandemic continues, the surging mental health and substance abuse epidemics have shown to go hand in hand with one another. In fact, throughout the pandemic, there has been a 62% increase in worry, a 51% increase in sadness, a 51% increase in fear, and a 42% increase in loneliness. It was also revealed that within the past year, there has been a 32% increase for non-prescribed fentanyl, a 20% increase for methamphetamine, a 12.5% increase for heroine, a 10% increase for cocaine, as well as an 18% increase in suspected drug overdoses. These increases have not gone unnoticed. Those that already struggled with substance abuse or other mental health disorders have found stay at home orders increasingly difficult given the limited access to their usual treatment and support groups. Those who wish to begin receiving professional help with their substance use have had harder times finding adequate care given the decrease in in- and out-patient support and treatment over the past year. These limitations have fed into the increases in mental health struggles and SUD cases, leaving those who have been affected feeling desperate and out of control.

Substance abuse is not the answer to these difficult and isolating times. There is still hope for those who wish to seek other, more benevolent means of coping with the pandemic and for those who wish to begin treatment for their substance use disorder. Telehealth is one way that individuals with SUD, or other destructive coping mechanisms, can begin receiving professional help and therapy. Counselors and therapists are available to talk with you or anyone you know who may be dealing with substance use disorders during this time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Resources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/09/addressing-unique-challenges-covid-19-people-in-recovery

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7219362/

https://www.ehstoday.com/covid19/article/21139889/drug-abuse-on-the-rise-because-of-the-coronavirus

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm

Image Source:

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/covid-crisis-exacerbating-lgbtq-alcohol-abuse-studies-find-n1257008

Alcoholism: A Life Altering Disorder

By: Charleene Polanco

According to Mayo Clinic, alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is defined as an alcohol use pattern that involves the inability to control ones drinking. For many who are on track to become an alcoholic, it seems pretty easy to keep convincing themselves that they have the ability to quit whenever they want. However, when he or she realizes their alcohol tolerance has increased, and that he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, an alcohol use disorder has developed. The common symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • Uncontrolled alcohol consumption
  • Using alcohol in unsafe situations, such as driving
  • Failure to fulfill major school or work obligations because of repeated alcohol use
  • Craving/ urges to drink alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, and shaking
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down on the amount of alcohol consumed

Alcoholism is an important issue, because it affects a huge number of the American population. As many as 18 million Americans suffer from alcoholism, and about 100,000 die as a result. Alcoholism is also associated with other social and domestic problems, like job absenteeism and spousal/child abuse. With such a significant portion of the U.S. population suffering from this terrible disorder, and its effects on the individual and loved ones, it is imperative that a person seek help when afflicted with alcohol use disorder.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol use disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Sources:

Mayo Clinic. (2018, July 11). Alcohol use disorder. Retrieved October 9, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243

WebMD. (2018). Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder — the Basics. Retrieved October 9, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/understanding-alcohol-abuse-basics#1

 

Alcohol Use Disorder

By Samantha Glosser

Alcohol use disorder, more commonly known as alcoholism, is a pattern of alcohol use that results in impairment and distress in your daily life. Short term effects of alcohol use disorder include memory loss, hangovers, and blackouts. However, the long term effects are much more serious and include the following: stomach ailments, heart problems, brain damage, memory loss, liver cirrhosis, and cancer. Alcohol use disorder is also linked to increased chances of dying from automobile accidents, homicide and suicide, as well as increased rates of unemployment, domestic violence, and legal problems.

Cravings for alcohol, drinking in spite of it causing personal problems, an inability to stop drinking, and building up a tolerance to alcohol are common symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder can be diagnosed if two or more of the following are present in a twelve-month period (the severity of addiction is based on how many symptoms are present):

  • Drinking more or for a longer period than intended.
  • Feeling the need or trying to cut back on drinking.
  • Spending a lot of time drinking and recovering from the short-term effects of drinking.
  • Craving the use of alcohol.
  • Failing to perform responsibilities due to drinking.
  • Continuing to use alcohol even though it is creating relationship problems.
  • Ceasing participation in important activities to drink more.
  • Drinking before or during potentially dangerous activities (such as driving).
  • Continuing drinking despite its relation to physical and mental health conditions.
  • Developing a tolerance for alcohol.
  • Experiencing withdraw symptoms when reducing or stopping alcohol intake.

There are numerous treatment options available to individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder, such as detoxification, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), inpatient/outpatient treatment programs, and medication. There are also different methods to recovery, such as abstinence (completely quitting) or just cutting down on alcohol intake. Finding the right treatment options depends on the individual, which is why it is recommended to seek guidance from a trained professional.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from alcohol use disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Source: Alcohol Use Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/alcohol-use-disorder

How to Cope with a Loved one Affected by Alcoholism

 

alcoholism

Sonya Cheema

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a chronic relapsing brain disease and is characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using. If you suspect a loved one has alcoholism, look for these signs:

  • Unusually high tolerance for alcohol
  • Hiding alcohol
  • Isolation/absence from work
  • Irrational moodiness/emotional ups and downs
  • Dangerous behavior
  • Not being able to stop drinking once he/she starts
  • Lying/manipulation

Keep in mind that alcoholism affects 17 million adults in the US, and that it is a disease. Many people with loved ones suffering from alcoholism tend to think that the affected person is purposely ruining his/her life and trying to upset family members. You would not blame someone with cancer for hurting themselves, so treat alcoholism in a similar manner. The best things to do when dealing with someone with alcoholism are:

  • Having honest and open discussions with the person about love and the relationship
  • Getting help from others, including professionals
  • Committing to change. If you have to make boundaries or personal promises, be sure to stick with them.
  • Empowering yourself. Learn about alcoholism so you can have a better understanding of what your loved one is going through
  • Do not enable (ie: giving them money)
  • Offer to take him/her to therapy or Alcoholics Anonymous (12 step) meetings.
  • Lastly, DO NOT blame yourself. You are not responsible for anyone’s disease.

Alcoholism is never easy to deal with, especially when it is affecting someone close to you. The best you can do is follow the suggestions above and remember that it is not your responsibility to cure him/her.

If you or a person you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.     

 

Information in this blog post was received from:

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/spouse/

https://www.discoveryplace.info/2016/08/24/the-secrets-to-helping-an-alcoholic-family-member-or-friend/#1526263885900-8943f2ec-6b34