By Dr. Ed Wilson and Dr. Mary Ellen Barnes

Most Of Us, Understandably, Deny Our Alcohol Problems

People generally avoid looking too closely at their alcohol use. Over the long haul this can lead to problems, both real and mythical, that early and productive awareness might have helped avoid. The problem here is the mythology – not alcohol itself.

Most of us have been mislead into believing that the misuse, or over use, of alcohol is a progressive and irreversible condition – a terminal “disease” for which there is only demeaning and unending recovery, a condition many understandably consider worse than being a drunk. Before consigning yourself to hopelessness, or powerlessness, see where your alcohol use falls.

Healthy Alcohol Consumption

Yes, people who follow the recommendations, on average, live longer than either abstainers or heavy drinkers. The ideal is approximately two drinks of distilled spirits, two bottles of beer, or one half bottle of wine per day for an adult man, and half that for an adult women.

Alcohol Abuse

Abuse is defined as consumption which consistently exceeds the recommended levels and/or is done in isolation rather than socially. At this stage, remediation is common enough to be the norm, with a return to healthy use the usual outcome. Counseling may expedite the process and help with the underlying causes.

Alcohol Dependence

Dependence occurs after long periods of excessive use leading to social, physical, and emotional dependence. Drinking becomes a primary coping mechanism across multiple categories; for example, socially, recreationally, vocationally, and spiritually. Symptoms may include physical withdrawal following cessation, depression, increased isolation, significant weight gain, decreased liver function, and possible legal, financial, and/or employment problems.

While a return to moderate or healthy use is normal, a period of abstinence, possibly one to two years, is recommended. Many people who do this never return to drinking at all, having successfully modified their lives in other and more satisfactory ways.

Alcohol Addiction, or Alcoholism

Alcoholism results when a person’s physical, emotional, and psychological being is permeated by alcohol and its consumption. Distinct withdrawal symptoms – physical (i.e. tremors, seizures) and psychological ones (i.e. blackouts) – are present and alcohol related disintegration in several areas of life (i.e. financial, legal, vocational, marital, recreational, social, medical) is present.

At this stage both medical and counseling help is usually necessary given the physical, social, emotional, and psychological aspects. Recovery prospects are uncertain at best and outcomes vary. As always, motivation and a belief in personal efficacy, as opposed to “powerlessness,” are the primary factors in success.

Need Real Help?

We offer help tailored to you as an individual, and for varying degrees of alcohol involvement, not a “program” inflicted on everyone regardless of their condition. You wouldn’t expect, or accept, a single treatment for every stage and type of a real disease like cancer, don’t be fooled into accepting one for a non-disease like alcohol abuse.

We’re here to discuss the options available to you – confidentially and free of charge. Call and talk to us, Mary Ellen and Ed, at 888-541-6350. We’re real people with real solutions designed specifically for you.