Wine Wednesday, Thursday, Friday ...
When stress piles on, we sometimes find ourselves reaching for a glass of wine or a craft brew to unwind. Social drinking is mostly considered harmless, but there’s a fine line we walk when ‘Wine Wednesday’ starts showing up most days of the week.
By KD Reep
You’re a mom, and probably work full-time and volunteer what free time you have to the community. You deserve some time to unwind, and a drink or two with friends or coworkers helps. It’s when those few nights out become every night, and the drink or two becomes an entire bottle, and even that is not enough to quiet the storm in your head, heart and soul.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. However, people can and do recover; in fact, it is estimated that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery.
“Alcoholism is not something you ‘catch’ from drinking too much,” said a former patient of The BridgeWay in Central Arkansas. “Alcoholism is a disease, and it’s commonly hereditary. You either have it in your genes or you don’t. If alcoholism is in your family just be aware of that and cautious of your drinking. But, just because it’s in your family is not a guarantee any family members will have it.”
According to Dr. George Konis, a certified addictionologist and medical director of substance abuse of The BridgeWay, the suspected risks for alcoholism include genetics, underage drinking, traumatic life events, depression or bipolar disorder, a history of physical or sexual abuse and, if married, problems within that relationship.
“Social or low-risk drinking for women is one drink per day per week, and no more than three drinks on any given day,” Dr. Konis said. “Anything more than this is high-risk drinking.”
He explains that if you spend a lot of time thinking about drinking and drinking more than you intended, you could be in danger of becoming an alcoholic.
“Signs you should look for if you think you or someone you love is becoming an alcoholic also include trying to quit drinking on your own but can’t, drinking to achieve a sense of peace or other desired affect you want, continuing to drink even though it makes you depressed or complicates a health problem, or cutting back on something you loved to do so you can drink,” he said.
The former patient of The BridgeWay, who is a 45-year-old, college-educated woman from a middle-class family, explains that for an alcoholic, one drink is too many, and 100 are never enough.
“It’s a craving that will never be satisfied, but chased as long as the alcoholic continues to drink,” she said. “Women alcoholics seem to go downhill faster than men mentally and physically, and alcohol seems to take a toll on the female physical appearance faster than a man. The functioning alcoholic is one who continues to hold a job, go to work hungover or not. The female who attends functions, family gatherings, parties and carries on conversations and doesn’t seem out of control.”
If any of this sounds familiar, there is help available. The BridgeWay is a mental health facility and private psychiatric hospital that treats people with mental health and substance abuse disorder, adults with serious mental illness, people with post-traumatic stress disorder and veterans.
“The decision to seek help for drinking is a very personal one based on a struggle to control or quit on your own,” said the former patient at The BridgeWay. “It felt like I was missing something in life—a hole in my soul, if you will. In reality there was nothing wrong or missing from my life. If you are honest with a professional about your drinking, they can help you determine if you are an alcoholic. I couldn’t have done it on my own. Most people know deep down in their gut if they have a problem with alcohol or not. It’s the wanting to admit it and do something about it that is the hard the part.”
For more information on The BridgeWay, call 1-800-245-0011 or log on to thebridgeway.com.
WARNING SIGNS OF ALCOHOLISM
Wolfe Street Foundation is Arkansas’s largest nonprofit resource dedicated to recovery from alcoholism and addiction, which offers education and outreach services to the community. Dr. Caroline M. Ford, executive director of Wolfe Street Foundation, provided these ways to identify if you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol. For more information on Wolfe Street Foundation, call 501-372-5662, or log on to wolfestreet.org.
- Consistently uses alcohol to “relax” or to “cheer up,” to “get to sleep” or to deal with problems.
- Experiences blackouts when drinking. Problem drinkers believe everyone experiences blackouts, although normal drinkers do not typically.
- Has a habit of drinking alcohol in secret. Uses non-suspicious glasses or mixes with other drinks to mask the smell.
- Lies about the quantity, frequency or time of day they drink.
- Drinks alcohol by themselves, or in the morning to feel better from drinking the night before.
- Flushed skin and broken capillaries on the face, or a husky voice and trembling hands, especially on mornings after drinking.
- An inability to control drinking—swearing it off one day but eventually returning to the cycle.
- Neglects normal activities, or is unable over time to keep commitments or finish tasks.
- A family history of drinking, which makes one predisposed to develop a problem with alcohol.
- A struggle in their closest personal relationships.
- Blatant changes in their personal appearance or hygiene habits.
- Repetitive drinking to the point of intoxication despite serious consequences such as a DWI or health risk.
- Blaming things other than drinking for their plight in life.