Introduction

The purpose of this article is to provide general information on issues relating to alcohol and drug abuse; it is not meant to replace consultation with a mental health professional. If you are concerned about alcohol or drug use in your own life, or that of another, please feel free to contact our office at 263-2987 to make an appointment.

Is Your Life Affected by Alcohol or Other Drugs?

Do you have a problem with drinking or drug abuse? Are you close to someone who does? It may be helpful to assess the impact alcohol or drugs have on your life.

Are You At Risk?

  • Has anyone around you complained about your drinking or drug use?
  • Do you hide your alcohol or drug use?
  • Do you think about drinking or drug use throughout the day? Do you have a hard time getting through the day without alcohol/drugs?
  • Have you been arrested for driving under the influence?
  • Are you less productive in your work than you used to be? Are you late or absent from work a great deal?
  • Are you withdrawing from relationships, except those who share your drinking/drug habits?
  • Do you have frequent problems after drinking or using drugs with depression, nausea and stomach disturbances, headaches, fogginess, difficulties with sleeping or breathing?
  • Have you been in financial difficulties because of your drinking/drug use?
  • Have you experienced blackouts, the shakes, mood swings, appetite loss or other physical symptoms related to alcohol/drug use?
  • Have you tried to cut down or quit using alcohol/drugs, and then resumed your former patterns?

Does Someone’s Drinking/Drug Use Affect You?

“If you didn’t nag so much, I wouldn’t need to drink.”

“Don’t tell me I have a problem! I overdid it last night, but that happens to everyone. I can handle it.”

“Sure I smoke pot, but it’s not a problem. It just helps me relax.”

  • Do you worry about how much someone else drinks or uses drugs?
  • Do you have money problems because of someone else’s drinking or drug use?
  • Do you tell lies to cover up for someone else’s drinking or drug use?
  • Do you feel that if the drinker/drug user loved you, he or she would stop to please you?
  • Do you make threats such as, “If you don’t stop, I’ll leave you”?
  • Are you afraid to upset someone for fear they will start drinking or using drugs again?
  • Do you find yourself searching for hidden liquor or drugs?
  • Do you sometimes feel like a failure when you think of the lengths you have gone to control the drinker/drug user?
  • Do you think that if the drinker/drug user stopped, your other problems would be solved?
  • Do you feel angry, confused and depressed most of the time?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are not alone. About one in ten American adults has a problem with alcohol or other drugs, and many more are affected by someone else’s substance abuse. Anyone who uses drugs or alcohol may develop an addiction.

Unfortunately, one of the major characteristics of addiction is denial. Denial is a very powerful and effective way of coping with pain. However, it allows problems to escalate tremendously before a person acknowledges the problem and seeks help.

Alcoholics/addicts deny the substance abuse, or blame it on other people or circumstances (my spouse, my job, my kids, the economy). Family members and co-workers get caught in patterns (ignoring the problem, covering up, calling in sick, picking up the pieces, colluding with the excuses) which are meant to help, but actually perpetuate or “enable” the problematic behaviors. Usually everyone involved feels the emotional turmoil of fear, resentment, suspicion, isolation, embarrassment and anger.

The most important step to take is to break the barrier of silence. Once you have acknowledged the problems and the feelings, there is usually relief from wondering, hiding denying and feeling guilty. We are fortunate to have a wide range of community resources available to help both the substance abuser and those affected by someone else’s addiction. If you decide to take that first step, there are people ready to help you.


 

The above information was adapted from the University of Massachusetts Faculty and Staff Assistance Program. We wish to thank them for permission to use this material.