The Problem with Casual Drinking After Recovery

Casual Drinking After Recovery

If age makes us grow fond of the things we’ve had around for a long time, and certain traditions transfer from generation to generation, then it would make sense that we revere some of our oldest cultural aspects. Alcohol is an ingrained part of human culture, in almost every culture. It comes to no one’s surprise, then, that most cultures romanticize alcohol or associate it with a good time, from being integral to celebrations to being associated with indulgence.

Beer, wine, and liquor are equal parts revered and abhorred, found in every facet of society, from the ballroom of a corporate event to the firepit at a summer camp. Because it’s so universal, many addicts cite ubiquity as one of the reasons why staying sober is so hard. If some can responsibly enjoy alcohol, then wouldn’t it be possible to re-engage in social, casual, and modest drinking after recovery is over?

The short answer is no. The long answer is still no, but with a thorough explanation. The reason why some people can drink casually, and others will always succumb to their alcoholism is not fully understood, but it has to do with the nature of addiction, and the dangers of dependence.


Can You Drink After Recovery?

The reason this question requires an entire article to answer is that there are complications and exceptions, in a sense. It’s generally understood that a person with a physical dependence on alcohol can recover from said dependence through a careful recovery plan built on maintaining sobriety – but if they have even a single drink, they could quickly find themselves unable to stop drinking.

On the other hand, alcoholism – and addiction in general – exists on a spectrum, wherein a person is first at risk of developing an addiction when trying a drug out, and gradually slips into deeper and deeper levels of physical and psychological dependence. Some people stop drinking before they become addicted, but after they realize that they’re starting to use alcohol as a way to cope with their problems. By addressing this psychological dependence and overcoming it, some people have returned to drinking responsibly, indulging in a drink or two on occasion, but abstaining from binge drinking and maintaining a healthy distance from the idea of drinking to relax, or feel better.

On the other hand, someone with a physical dependence goes through an entirely different experience. Being genuinely addicted to alcohol changes the way the brain works, associating the drug with pleasure and reward. The mind without alcohol struggles to function, and withdrawal kicks in. Cravings, then, are memories of prior drinking, fueling the will to drink once again.

If that wish is satisfied, then it’s easy to slip right back into a mindset of needing alcohol to survive and function. You might try to convince yourself that you only need “one drink”, but unless someone is there to enforce that rule, your mind quickly finds ways to subvert it and convince you to go for another, and another, and another.

That’s the short version, for the most part. Recovering addicts cannot control how they relapse, and alcoholism – like any addiction – is inherently out-of-control. The only way to win, in a sense, is not to play at all.


Alcoholism is Out-of-Control

The first mistake everyone makes when their drug use starts to become a problem is think that they can control it. But the very point of addiction is that it erodes a person’s judgment, which is why it is treated as a disease rather than a character flaw. Everyone is biologically susceptible to substance dependence, with some individuals being more susceptible than others due to uncontrollable genetic differences. Addiction has nothing to do with a person’s morals, and any addictive substance – including alcohol, cigarettes, prescription medication, and medical marijuana – can cause havoc in a person’s life and lead to dependence.

No one explicitly chooses to be addicted, precisely because no one can choose at all under the circumstances of an addiction. Choice becomes irrelevant.

That can change significantly with time, but the risk is always greater after the first time. To put it in an analogy that can be more broadly understood, the pain of getting hit and breaking skin is quite severe, but the pain of getting hit on an open wound or a deep bruise is even worse. The mind can slowly recover from addiction, but it remembers how it feels, it remembers the changes brought about by continuous alcohol use, and it’s much, much easier to slip back into those changes once they’ve been established – like a memory foam mattress.

It’s important, then, to take a step back and ask yourself why you would want to drink again anyway. To people with no special connection to alcohol, alcohol is nothing more than another aspect of the party – it’s as much a part of celebrating something as dancing, music, and food. But you don’t need it. You can enjoy yourself and take part in celebrations, reunions, parties and events without even a single sip of booze. Learning to have fun while sober is more important than figuring out a way to continue drinking after recovery.


Finding Alternatives

Some people fear that alcohol is intrinsic to their social abilities. They feel inept without the aspect of drunkenness, and feel that without a drink or two, things like being able to dance or talk to strangers become impossible. However, that’s not true. Alcohol does not grant you powers, it simply takes away certain inhibitions. But you can learn to build up your confidence and feel secure around others without getting drunk. It just takes a little practice, and some time.


Avoiding Drinks

Another fear is the fear of not being able to say no to an offered drink. The first solution, the one most commonly given, is to always have a drink in your hand already. Ordering something non-alcoholic at a party where there’s sure to be a lot of alcohol is a good way to avoid having to say no and struggling with it.

Another good step is to be busy. Get busy. Drinks tend to be offered to those who hang around not doing much, so get hooked into a conversation or try out the food or have some fun and get yourself a refill before someone can offer you one. Just don’t take a chance and drink – it won’t end well.


Alcoholism in Southern California

Alcoholism in California

Alcoholism is nothing new. It’s sometimes easy to forget that there are many other forms of addiction out there and that they each pose a threat, especially with the country’s current opioid crisis. However, drugs like alcohol are among the most insidious because they’re so ubiquitous – alcohol is legal (over a certain age), it’s available almost everywhere, and in certain situations it’s even encouraged.

A lot of people drink – in fact, in California alone, over half of the population over the age of 12 consumed alcohol in the last month. One in twelve Californians has an alcohol dependence issue, and in a state with nearly 40 million residents, that makes for a significant number of teens and adults struggling with alcohol use in the Golden State. Casual drinking is not a problem in and of itself, but it is a good indicator of a potential problem. While binge drinkers are always fewer in number than those who drink modestly, the more people drink modestly, the more the potential for binge drinking rises.

No single factor is to blame for that. Yet while alcohol is a drug with addictive properties and overdose risks, it is abundantly and positively represented in popular media. Additionally, the fact that it’s a staple relaxant at every party, in every restaurant, and in almost every household across the state, greatly increases the risk of alcohol abuse for millions of Americans.

Another factor is the growth of the popular craft beer industry, which has led to greater casualization of alcohol use throughout the state. Alcohol misuse by underaged teens alone accounted for nearly $7 billion in problems and costs in the year 2013, from youth violence and traffic crashes ($3.5 and $1.02 respectively) to property crime, injury, poisonings, and fetal alcohol syndrome in mothers under the age of 21. As a whole, binge drinking is at a prevalence of about 16.7% in California, and it carries not just a huge financial burden, but leads to countless amounts of pain and suffering through injuries, property losses, and deaths.


Why Alcohol is a Dangerous Drug

Overuse of alcohol is largely known to exacerbate or even partially cause a number of life-threatening and life-altering diseases, including:

  • Various forms of cancer
  • Infectious disease
  • Diabetes
  • Neuropsychiatric disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Liver and pancreas disease

That is a scary list, and it’s as scary as it is because while drugs like cocaine and amphetamines are far more addictive, alcohol is a long-term killer.  Alcohol has a much more pervasive presence in society, and a long list of slow and degenerative effects throughout the body.

More than being responsible for many losses and diseases, the greatest risk surrounding alcohol is its availability. Despite underage drinking being illegal, it is quite widespread and socially acceptable. Research has shown that teens process alcohol very differently from adults, however, and there are important reasons they are not allowed to drink. The risk factor for addiction is much higher with teenage brains than it is with fully-developed ones.


California and Underage Drinking

Getting involved with alcohol at an early age carries more than 6 times the risk of developing an alcohol addiction versus those who first started drinking after they turned 21. On average, the first time underage youths try alcoholic beverages in the US is at age 13 for girls and age 11 for boys.

Behavior that is often linked to underage drinking includes violence, traffic accidents, attempted suicide and risky sexual activity (including unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners). A greater risk of developing physical diseases can also be connected to a head start on drinking and binge drinking.


How Social Drinking Brings Risks to the Table

Alcohol is not just a drug with addictive side effects. It’s a substance that carries much larger risks, including counterindications with several common subscription medications. Alcohol use also increases the risk of several health conditions, as well as being a necessary cause for more than 30 conditions.

Diseases like alcohol use disorder, alcohol withdrawal, alcoholic myopathy, alcoholic gastritis, alcohol hepatitis and more, indicate that as far as drugs go, alcohol is among the more poisonous addictive substances humans are known to consume, even if it isn’t one of the most addictive ones.

While social drinking is not a clear indication of developing alcoholism, most alcoholics start with casual use. No one is born an alcoholic, but some are more susceptible to alcohol-related diseases than others, including dependence. If alcoholism is common in your family, avoid binge drinking.


The Rise of Craft Beer

Over the past six years alone, the number of craft brewers in the state of California has tripled, from roughly 300 to over 900. The craft beer industry accounts for tens of thousands of full-time jobs. It has grown tremendously as a new artisan industry throughout the region, despite California’s reputation as wine country.

While this shouldn’t be tied to the rise of alcoholism, it does increase the urgent need for families to help their loved ones in recovery stay clean. It is also just a good idea to educate younger generations about alcohol at an earlier age. For example, discussions regarding sex held while children are still young have shown to decrease the chances of early sexual intercourse and to help teens better deal with issues surrounding teen pregnancy. Similarly, speaking to kids and adolescents about alcohol use and educating them on drugs in a way that foregoes fearmongering and promotes facts will drastically decrease the chances that they imbibe early on.

Conversation around alcohol needs to begin at an early age, with the understanding that despite its social prevalence, there must be strict rules surrounding the use of alcohol, and for good reasons. Excessive alcohol use can lead to nausea, memory blackouts, alcohol poisoning, traffic accidents, violence, unprotected sexual intercourse (expanding the spread of infectious diseases), and even death.

On a social level, a drink can be a nice thing – especially during celebrations, where a festive toast (for example) can raise the mood of a room. But it’s important to draw clear boundaries and help kids understand the risks of alcohol use and abuse, especially during their formative teen years. Creating a mysterious taboo for children only makes it more alluring. Being honest and frank about the topic, and explaining the potential dangers, is much more helpful.


Staying Sober With Alcohol Around You

Avoiding alcohol At A Party

Maintaining sobriety is hard enough as it is, even with support and treatment. Despite all the advice, tips, and practice put into redefining your thoughts and shaping your perspective through therapy, you may still struggle with cravings. This is normal for the first few months of recovery – it can several weeks for some drugs to completely leave the bloodstream (others only take a few hours), and after that, it can take up to a year to reverse the damage drugs deal to the brain as much as possible.

For many, that first year is grueling, and the first three months can seem impossible. But when you are struggling with all that on top of the temptation of having alcohol all around you, the challenge goes up a notch. That does not mean there is no hope for recovery, or that relapses are bound to happen. You can stay sober, if you take the right approach to your situation.


Stay Sober by Making Sobriety Fun

The first thing you need to address is whether you enjoy being sober. In the beginning, this is entirely a matter of perspective. Some see addiction as a chain around their ankle, and that boost into sobriety is the new lease on life they needed. Others see their addiction to cope with living and consider the need to stay sober for others a curse rather than a boon.

It is important to have fun while sober and approach the situation with a positive mindset. If sobriety is nothing more than an endless grind to you, then you will never stay sober. You can tolerate a little bit of misery, but if your life becomes a mental prison to you, then eventually you will think of nothing but escape.

Some people need exercise to find their groove in sobriety. Others need art, or a similar passion. Whatever it is that drives you to live your life to the fullest, it’s out there and you need to find it and embrace it. Try things out, make new friends, and create new memories. This is the first step towards convincing yourself that sobriety is not all that bad – and may in fact be your chance at a better life.


Stay Sober by Getting Away from It All

The simplest way to stay sober when surrounded by alcohol is to leave the room. If you are still going to parties where people serve alcohol, consider not going, or consider asking the organizers to go non-alcoholic. Walking around with a non-alcoholic drink to avoid being offered alcohol can be a good tip, but if you are deeply struggling to stay clean and find yourself regularly challenged through casual social alcohol consumption, the safest thing to do is move away from it all.

If your family or friends continue to drink without much regard for your sobriety, then consider moving away, and finding new friends. In fact, you may find that some of the friends you used to have while still hooked are not such great company now that you are clean.


Stay Sober by Sticking to The Plan

Ever heard “consistency is key?” Most treatment plans emphasize the importance of schedules, structure, and consistency. The mind loves consistency, especially when you try to learn something. Speeches are delivered in such a way that they keep listeners engaged, while consistently repeating the same key points over and over again. Most forms of sport involve repeating basic drills to improve motor neuron function and boost the body’s efficiency. Teachers build their subject curriculum around several key lessons, and help their students consistently work through the material to gain (and hopefully maintain) knowledge.

By being consistent day in and day out, you retrain the brain. This is important, because addiction changes the way the brain prioritizes things, making it difficult to be consistent about anything other than a regular high. By antagonizing an addiction with a disciplined approach toward treatment, you increase your chances of replacing one form of commitment with another. To be committed to your sobriety, you need to do more than swear you won’t ever use again – you have to put in the work, day in and day out, to steer clear from triggers, ignore cravings, and maintain a schedule that balances your work life and your responsibilities with your hobbies and favorite stress management techniques.

However, this is a massive task, one that most people do not have the willpower to achieve alone. Never think that this is a completely one-person job – understand that while you need to walk your way, you can have others help keep you on your feet when you trip or stumble. Having friends and family around to help you stay consistent is a tremendously important part of maintaining sobriety, especially when you’re tempted all around.


Stay Sober by Enrolling in a Sober Living Home

There is quite a lot you can do to alleviate the stress of being faced with constant temptation. By adding onto the quality of your recovery and creating a whole new relationship between yourself and your sobriety, you can help distract yourself from cravings and fortify your commitment towards staying clean. Furthermore, by making new friends and reconnecting with old ones you can help create a safety net that keeps you clean even on the hard days.

But if you need another option, then the safest thing to do is head into a sober living home. Unlike other addiction treatment clinics that typically focus on helping people through early recovery or during a relapse, a sober living home exists just to create a normal living space for people who want to spend time in a drug-free environment, while still leading normal lives. Some sober living homes are stricter than others, but most follow a set of rules:

  • No drug use.
  • Strict curfews.
  • Chores and responsibilities for every tenant.
  • It is required that tenants have work or are currently looking for work, unless they are still in school.

Beyond that, sober living homes can vary wildly. Some are extremely strict with what they allow and do not allow within the premises of the community, including alcoholic mouthwash. Others put more of a focus on regular community events and group meetings, making these mandatory, so individuals get used to being part of a supportive group of people.

Whatever you choose, a sober living home is a perfect place to go when you desperately need help staying clean and want every assurance that there will be no temptation around you. However, if you have been clean for several months and are through with your recovery programs, make sure you have considered the other options before going back to a clinic or a sober home. While sober living communities often have no limit on how long someone can stay, learning to live with temptation rather than completely avoid the issue is a big part of overcoming the addiction. Do not tempt yourself too much – find your red line, and get professional help before you cross it.


Physical Symptoms of Addiction

Physical Symptoms of Addiction

The human body can take a lot of abuse. We can survive severe physical trauma, from falling several meters to taking a bullet. We can overcome terrifying diseases, force cancers into remission, and heal snapped bones. A healthy body is always on the defensive, tackling environmental dangers, weaker viruses, and bacteria.

But when we willingly feed our bodies poison, we make them inherently weaker. At first, our appearance will start to go – and with time, our organs give up on us. While a single hit won’t kill you, entering the realm of addiction will break your body down. Knowing how drugs affect the body can help you identify physical symptoms and the signs of addiction in yourself or loved ones.

Let’s start with the core organ in addiction: the human brain.


What Drugs Do to The Brain

When drugs enter the bloodstream, their intended destination is the brain. Once there, a drug binds itself to your brain’s cells, manipulating the way you feel. To be more specific, all addictive drugs affect the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter integral to the brain’s “reward system”. The brain naturally releases dopamine when you do certain things, like eat, exercise, or have sex. Part of the physical symptoms of addiction revolve around the extensive and “unnatural” release of dopamine in the brain through drugs, or the amplification of existing dopamine and serotonin.

Continuously taking drugs leads to physical dependence – when your body begins to develop withdrawal and physical symptoms whenever you try and stop and staying sober for lengths of time presents you with growing cravings.


Physical Symptoms of Your Body on Drugs

Drugs affect the human body in different ways, causing different types of organ damage through overuse. Due to the way drugs are metabolized, kidney and liver damage is common, as is malnutrition due to a poor lifestyle and diet while addicted. There are a few other similarities in physical symptoms across different kinds of substance abuse, including:

  • Headaches, nausea, and flu-like symptoms during abstinence/sobriety.
  • Fidgeting.
  • Flushed skin and broken capillaries, indigestion, sores and wounds, throat pain.
  • Lack of appetite and trouble with hygiene and orderliness.

Other non physical symptoms that commonly manifest socially include trouble keeping a conversation, mood swings, rash decision making and anxiety. Drug usage affects a person’s behavior and thinking not only by causing damage, but by shifting focus from other sources of motivation towards the irresistible lure of another high.

Because of this, addiction also causes severe cravings. Once the body gets used to the effects of a drug, it begins to normalize that state – and push you to get more. These cravings can be as powerful as hunger or thirst, although they are fundamentally different from the urge to fulfill basic needs.


How Addiction is Defined Physically

Aside from making you happy, drugs typically have other side effects. Alcohol, for example, mimics several different neurotransmitters and affects your cognition, memory, and motor control. Opioids, on the other hand, are pain-numbing. Spun into a positive light, alcohol can potentially reduce anxiety while opioids can lessen physical hurt.

Yet central to addiction is the addictiveness of a drug – and to understand that, we need to look at how addiction is defined. Without a strict definition, an addiction to alcohol or cigarettes might be considered similar to an internet or sugar addiction. While some people do show signs of being compulsively and truly addicted to consuming sugar, or surfing online, despite serious negative consequences including deteriorating health, these are wholly different from a physical dependence on an addictive drug.

The main factor here is the speed at which drugs can turn someone from a casual user into an addicted user. Addiction is the inability to stop taking a drug, despite negative consequences, marked by powerful cravings, physical symptoms and, often, a rising tolerance leading to larger and larger doses. Physical symptoms and mental symptoms – such as diminished cognitive ability, psychosis, changes in behavior and fidgeting – indicate an addiction, but to be diagnosed as addicted, a person must be demonstratively incapable of simply stopping themselves from using.

If you use a drug often but can stop at any time and control your intake completely, then you are not addicted. You could still be putting yourself and your mind in harms way due to a potentially excessive consumption of harmful substances, but addiction is defined not by the damage done by the drug, but by the inability to stop using it.

It is never recommended to take addictive drugs, unless specifically necessitated by a medical professional. Taking drugs recreationally or for the sake of physical or academic performance is dangerous and can ruin your future. No prize or achievement is worth a lifelong fight against an enemy as insidious and powerful as addiction.

In cases of physical dependence, the body becomes used to a regular intake of drugs. Stopping in turn causes the body to react violently, with mild to severe physical symptoms. Some drugs, like alcohol and benzodiazepine, can even cause fatal withdrawal symptoms.


Healing After Recovery

In a way, addiction is no different from many other diseases, affecting us mentally and physically – and like other diseases, it takes time, patience, and personalized medical advice to properly and fully recover.

While some damage is arguably more difficult to heal – like brain damage caused by excessive drinking – a healthier lifestyle during sobriety can help you reverse a lot of damage to the brain in the first year and reach peak improvement at about 5-7 years of complete abstinence.

Damage to other organs – especially the liver – can heal much faster. The liver is one of the fastest regenerating organs in the body, due to its crucial role in digestion and detoxification. The heart is also severely affected by alcohol overuse, as people struggling with alcoholism tend to develop problems including hypertension and heart disease.

Different drugs mean different challenges. A heroin overdose can cause permanent damage (and even paralysis) due to oxygen deprivation. Cocaine can leave lasting damage in the heart, due to overstimulation. Methamphetamine, aside from wrecking your appetite, will severely damage your teeth and can cause skin sores.

Physical issues are one part of the problem. As a brain disease, addiction manifests itself not just in the body, but in a person’s behavior and thoughts. Deteriorating physically is one thing, but the battle in the mind of an addict can be even more devastating.

The Impact Of Drugs And Alcohol On Your Family

Impact of Drugs and Alcohol on Family

It’s no secret that addiction tears into people’s lives, leaving them physically and mentally ill, and at times fighting for their lives in an emergency room. Yet beyond the impact of drugs  on the individual struggling with the addiction, every case of addiction is bound to affect other people, including friends, strangers, and most significantly: family.

Anyone who knows an addict or has personally battled with addiction understands that a chemical or emotional dependency on a drug changes a person and brings them into a state of mind they would normally never reach. They begin to think and do things most people would never do due to the impact of drugs – including hurt those they love, lie to those they care about, and break the trust and friendship of those whom they have given years of their life to.

Beyond the household and the inner circle, impact of drugs affects society in general. Addiction and drug use plays a role in a great number of tragedies, from traffic accidents to domestic violence. While impact of drugs itself does not cause someone to get violent, they may take greater risks and cross certain legal boundaries to get to the next high. In other cases, addiction may amplify other mental health problems, or make an already violent person more prone to lashing out against others. Regardless of how addiction manifests itself, it causes problems not only for the addict, but for everyone around them.

Yet those who bear the greatest brunt of the trouble from the impact of drugs are those closest to the person:  their family. If you’re in a family struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone. Help is out there, and there are better days ahead.


How A Child With Addiction Affects The Family

Acknowledging your own child’s addiction can be a difficult thing – as can be convincing them that their problem is one that needs to be addressed, for their own good. In families with multiple children, it can create an upset in the balance of things. A previously neglected child might turn to drugs due to outside factors, including perhaps peer pressure or emotional pain, and the family’s attention is focused on supporting them through recovery, or convincing them to get help.

Parents must divide their attention between all their children in such a way that each child grows up healthy and emotionally stable. With addiction in the picture, this becomes a near-impossible challenge. Aside from feelings of worry and blame – such as one child blaming the family for their sibling’s problems, or blaming their sibling for their bad choices, out of frustration – parents will often feel like failures, either placing blame upon themselves or looking desperately for other factors.

Negatively focused thinking from the impact of drugs will tear a family apart. When a teen reveals an addiction, it’s important to pull together and think as a family unit – not as individuals undermining one another.

If you recognize that the impact of drugs is clouding your loved one’s ability to think straight – regardless of whether you’re a parent, sibling, uncle or aunt – consider seeking a councilor or therapist.


How The Impact Of Drugs On A Parent Affects The Family

When the impact of drugs affects a parent, children are often left to fend for themselves, or have to rely upon a single parent, who may be overwhelmed with supporting their partner on top of supporting a family. Sometimes, children will seek to distance themselves from their family unit and “grow up faster”, quickly taking on certain characteristics to isolate themselves from others or create as many bonds as possible to avoid a feeling of loneliness and run away from inner insecurities and anxieties.

It is important, again, to pull together as a family. The impact of drugs will force each member to go their individual path – only by pulling together and supporting one another can the family stay whole and provide support in their parent’s recovery.


The Impact Of Drugs Across Generations

Addiction in the family is a risk factor for more addiction, but the exact reason why is debatable. In some cases, it might be the fact that being exposed to addiction at a young age can leave some people susceptible to it later in life. For others, the emotional trauma of an addicted family member might contribute to their troubled coping mechanism.

For others, it might be a little bit of column A, and a little bit of column B. In any case, solving the impact of drugs is more than just helping one loved one – it’s about helping an entire family, and generations to come.


Getting Help

When families think of getting their loved one some help, the first thing that springs to mind is an intervention. While these can be useful to help someone in denial understand the extent of their disease and have them sign into rehab, it’s best to first just talk things out, and present rehab as an option (or a necessity, if the situation is dire).

If your loved one has become completely unresponsive and irrational, there are legal tools to help you get them some help for the safety of the family. But ultimately, recovery only works if the addict wants to get clean – and acknowledges that they have a problem. Sober living after recovery is a great option in those cases.

When talking alone doesn’t do the trick, interventions can help.


Support Systems And Family Therapy

Regardless of what treatment plan you or your loved one chooses, addiction is a long-term fight. Temptations exist in every recovering addict’s head, triggered by memories, sounds, smells, sights. Over time, they fade – but for a while, they can be powerful, and difficult to resist in times of stress and negativity.

It’s important to come together and form a strong support system. Families make for ideal support systems, because that is their natural function. Parents support one another, they support their children, and their children help them live on. Through trust, love and commitment, a family can stay together and continue to beat addiction together.

But if secrecy, anger, and pettiness seep into the cracks between families and destroy their relationships, then the support disappears, and loneliness grows – even in cohabitation. Keep your bonds strong, nourish the family, and resolve conflict with rational conversation and compromise – not through anger, fear, and fighting.

Family therapy may be the ideal way to rebuild trust and relearn crucial communication skills while in recovery. If you find that your family cannot stop fighting, and that the negative atmosphere is tearing you all apart, then it’s important to consult a professional and see if there’s any way to come together.

Some families communicate uniquely – if that involves friendly banter and teasing, then a little “fighting” or “bad language” is nothing to worry about. What truly matters is what’s between the lines – the feelings, worries and bonds between parents and their children, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands.

A family is a complicated thing, and addiction can be like an acid-coated wrench thrown indelicately into the mechanism. Working out the kinks afterwards can take months and years, but it’s critical to do so for both the survival of the family, and the continued sobriety of your loved one.

Mental Health Month: Why Drinking While Depressed Leads Downhill

Depression & Drinking - Transcend Recovery Community

The great English poet G. K. Chesterton wrote: “drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.” More than just a saying, there is a profound and applicable truth to this, even in the modern day. Depression and drinking go hand in hand, and one makes the other worse. It’s a terrible relationship, one you would never want to entertain – and just as abusing alcohol can make you miserable, abusing alcohol because you’re miserable will only make both worse.

Alcohol is a common coping mechanism for the simple reason that it does, to a degree, make us happier. To be more precise, it makes people worry less. As an anti-anxiety drug of sorts, alcohol soothes the mind and calms the spirit – but at a cost. Not only is alcohol addictive, but it is poisonous. Too much at once, or over one’s life, will kill you.

And despite alcohol’s ability to make you forget for just a moment, nothing will have changed once you wake up. The way out of misery – the way out of depression – is by fighting through the pain and pushing against the problems. Therapy and treatment are in preparation of these two things – and drugs like alcohol will present you with setbacks in your depression, and other problems. Here’s why.


Alcohol And The Brain

Anyone who’s had more than a few drinks knows that alcohol clearly has a perceivable effect on the brain – one that does not take long at all to kick in. From slurred speech to difficulty thinking and slower reaction, the consensus between all drinkers is that it makes you slow – regardless of whether you are a happy drunk, a sad drunk, or an angry drunk. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and reduces anxiety, with the specifics differing from person to person based on their history with alcohol, and their genetics.

Outside of the effects of a single binge drinking session, alcohol also leaves lasting effects on the brain – negative ones. Alcohol slowly eats away at the brain and at several of your organs, primarily your heart, liver, and kidneys. But in the brain, rapid and severe drinking will lead to memory loss, slowed cognition, and increased risk-taking – followed by problems with decision making, caused by a combination of nerve damage and grey matter damage.


Why Does Alcohol Worsen Depression?

This all goes hand in hand with mental health issues, as alcohol not only induces brain damage, but worsens the effects of depression by increasing feelings of guild and helplessness and presenting a risk of addiction.

The damage is long-lasting, but not permanent. Abstinence can give your body enough time to heal, but the process takes years. Just like the battle against alcoholism, improving your brain and organ health after excessive drinking takes time.


Finding The Motivation To Do Anything

Depression is more than occasional sadness. Sometimes, it is defined as the inability to feel joy or pleasure. To paint a picture, people struggling with depression are fighting an existential battle that, from an outsider’s perspective, is completely invisible. They struggle with thoughts of suicide, and some days, getting out of the bed can seem like an impossible task – let alone getting a change of clothes, taking a shower, or cleaning up.

There are ups and downs for everyone, but for people with clinical depression, the downs slip far below the limits of the chart, off the board, into unseen realms.

Telling someone with depression to simply feel better is asinine, but the ultimate goal of treatment and therapy is to make this very task possible. Fortunately there are treatments for depression available, including new depression treatment methods like TMS, that can help without feeling the need to drink due to depression. People with depression sometimes lack the motivation to do what most would consider the most basic things – and they feel all the worse for it. Friends or family may tell someone with depression to just do it – regardless of whether it means getting dressed, walking the dog, doing the dishes, or making coffee – and finding themselves unable to, the feeling of worthlessness grows, and the disease becomes crushingly difficult to shake off.

There are days when things are better, and the depression is not as dominating. Days when a person might wake up and have just enough energy to start the day.

These are the most important days, especially if your depression is coupled with a dangerous habit like drinking. When you wake up, make it a goal to immediately jump up and out of bed. Summon as much visceral vigor as possible to complete the most basic and fundamental task of the day – before your mind can find a way to talk you out of it. In most cases, depression manifests as a long list of self-defeating thoughts and voices – by starting the day quickly before the voices can take hold, you can get dressed as hurriedly as possible and get to the first task of the day.

That task should always be something therapeutic. Exercising, walking in sunshine, listening to music, or starting your day with a comedy podcast are all quick and easy ways to achieve an initial mental boost, right out of the gate. Choose something depending on how you feel that day and make it a morning ritual to infuse your day with a spark of joy.

With time, you can set up a more complex schedule, and draft some goals. It can start with something like completing two chores in one day, or folding laundry faster. It may be something like increasing the time you spend walking, finishing a project for one of your hobbies, completely reading a book, or progressing to a harder exercise. Accomplishing things – no matter how small they might seem – can feel like adding notches to your belt, as well as improving both your physical and mental health. There may be times when motivation is harder to come by – but in the long-term things will get better if you work at it, and get help for addition and mental help.


Dealing With The Mental Effects Of Prolonged Addiction

Mental Effects Of Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

It’s much more than a choice. Addiction can best be described as a mental illness or a brain disease, a powerful compulsion that pushes patients to seek out drugs even if they know it’s detrimental and carries heavy mental effects and consequences. Drug users will go out of their way for the next high, to the point of risking something like prison again – repeat offenders prove that even a correctional system as harsh as America’s isn’t an effective deterrent for many.

What does help, however, is treatment. But to understand why treatment helps, it’s important to understand what addiction does to you – and how mental illness and the mental effects of long-term addiction play into why it’s so hard to stay clean for many.

There’s more to addiction than the fact that you feel the urge to get high. Prolonged drug use can physically harm you and cause mental damage, and the financial consequences of addiction can be ruinous.


What Mental Effects Drugs Have On The Brain

Drugs interact with the brain in many ways, but most of them work on the same basic principle. The best way to simplify how drugs work is to think of them as impostors of existing crucial neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals. They hijack the receptors in your brain’s cells and act as certain neurotransmitters, transmitting specific signals throughout the brain to elicit feelings of joy and happiness, but also other reactions, such as weakened coordination and slowed movement, as with alcohol, or a numbing effect that reduces the body’s ability to feel pain, like opioids. Whichever one is used, the mental effects are always negative.

All drugs have something in common, and that is their addictiveness. From nicotine to heroin, drugs elicit a response in the brain that is unnatural – this effect causes the brain to adjust. Most drugs invoke mental effects that condition the brain towards further usage, to the point where you begin to crave a drug. But as you take it more often, its effects are also severely diminished, causing you to need to take more. The two effects go hand in hand, making addiction particularly dangerous as the risk of overdosing is built into the nature of the disease.

Over time, it becomes harder to quit. Not only do most drugs cause physical damage to the brain and other organs, making it harder to think rationally and fight against the addiction, but as the brain normalizes drug use, it becomes reliant on it. Suddenly quitting can elicit painful withdrawal symptoms – sometimes, these mental effects can be fatal.

Aside from these complications, perhaps the biggest deterrent to recovery is the fact that drug use actively diminishes a person’s ability to think clearly, make informed decisions, and be critical. Drug use is also seen as a very effective short-term coping mechanism, drawing in people with high levels of stress caused by work or mental illness. At other times, due to its very poor performance as a long-term coping mechanism, and the fact that it can be mentally and socially ruinous to get addicted, addiction also leads to mental health problems including depression due to the consequences of getting addicted. A person who experienced years of loss due to their alcoholism may find it harder to quit because of the emotional (and physical) pain they endure while sober because of their drinking.

The only way out is through. One of the harder truths about recovery is that the mental effects and emotional pain are something everyone must process and overcome if they want to stay sober and successfully abstain for the rest of their lives.


Addiction, Anxiety, And Depression

Research shows that people with mental health issues – particularly forms of anxiety and mood disorders like depression – struggle with addiction more often than the general population. This is because people with mental health issues often try to self-medicate to deal with their issues without seeking out help or treatment, either to avoid stigma or for other reasons.

In other cases, excessive drug use may lead to the development of depressive symptoms and a diagnosis of major depression, because of the mental effects of addiction and the events that followed.


Seeking Comprehensive Treatment

Addiction treatment and mental healthcare have come a long way. Even though we’re not the best in the world at tending to our mental health, we do have a great understanding of the detrimental effects of stress and emotional pain, and the correlation between addiction and mental illness.

That is why many addiction treatment facilities utilize the knowledge of in-house experts to recognize the mental effects of addiction and formulate a comprehensive treatment. There is no one-size-fits-all in addiction treatment or in mental healthcare. But a treatment plan that addresses both issues as one – and even tackles physical issues through proper diet and exercise – can achieve wonders.


The Importance Of Strong Support

Ultimately, a person’s sobriety is as strong as they are – but when your strength falters, it’s important to have people in your corner backing you up, ready to help you get back on your feet and back into the ring. Some wrestle with addiction much longer and much harder than others, but regardless of your story or your circumstances, having people who love you and want you to stay clean and healthy can make a world of difference. A solid support system will give you a shoulder to lean on, an ear to speak to, and a fresh perspective whenever you feel the negativity catching up with you.

It’s one thing to have people around you ready to help you stay clean, but it’s another to be willing to ask them for help at the right moment. It’s important to recognize when you’re slipping and get the help you need to stay on the straight and narrow.

Beyond your support system and immediate circle of friends and family, consider sanitizing your relationships and removing yourself from relationships that you feel hurt you, or pull you down. Sometimes we retain friendships from the old days before the treatment, hoping to help them as well, but some people won’t accept help and have to find their own way to recovery. Knowing when it’s time to move on is important both for staying sane, and for staying clean.

In the end, it is possible that you will be struggling with the aftermath of addiction for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t have to impede on your ability to lead a colorful, exciting, and awe-inspiring life. Once you’re clean and the reigns are in your hands, it’s all up to you.


10 Signs of Alcoholism

signs of alcoholism | Transcend Recovery Community

Recognizing alcoholism isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Alcohol, unlike a lot of harder and illegal drugs, is a pervasive part of Western culture. Whether it’s enjoying a glass of wine, having a pint at the local bar with some friends, or enjoying some champagne for New Years and eggnog for Christmas, a little bit of booze here and there isn’t an uncommon sight at nearly any adult social gathering. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any obvious signs of alcoholism – and recognizing these signs can be the difference between helping a friend in need and finding your friend in the ER.

Please note that these are simply common signs of alcoholism, and they do not denote a definitive diagnosis of an addiction. It’s best to let an expert gather all the information before making an informed call, and even then, an addiction can’t be treated or even properly addressed until the person struggling with the problem acknowledges it to begin with.

However, knowing these 10 signs of alcoholism can help you not only identify if your friend needs help but if you might have a problem with your drinking habits. Alcoholism does not just target people with anxiety or depression issues, and neither is it a sign that things are going badly in your life. Some people just happen to slip down the slippery slope of addiction through a cascade of decisions, and getting back out of it before realizing how far you’ve fallen can be exceptionally tricky without some perspective.

Without further ado:


Signs Of Alcoholism: Hiding The Habit

The absolute biggest tell regarding alcoholism – or any addiction, for that matter – is when someone is hiding their behavior. This doesn’t strictly mean that they think they have a problem, though. It simply means they know that what they’re doing looks like an addiction – and they rationalize their behavior by telling themselves that they’re still in control of their actions and that they’re simply taking precautions to protect their reputation, rather than expose themselves as actual addicts.

This is because struggling with addiction is a serious stigma. That’s not exactly ground-breaking news, but it does make it harder for people to admit to themselves that something is wrong – because no one wants to acknowledge something’s gone wrong if they can’t help it.

If you’re finding yourself going through extreme measures to hide your drinking, or if you find someone sneaking alcohol into places they shouldn’t, and drinking at times they shouldn’t, then it’s the first major signs of alcoholism.


Unexplainable Mood Shifts

Addiction can quite dramatically mess with a person’s brain, and the constant influx of drugs – including alcohol – can change the way a person feels drastically, and affect their mood in both the short-term and long-term.

Alcohol is a drug that lowers a person’s inhibitions, cognition and anxiety. It quite literally makes you a little braver, by diminishing your risk management skills, decision making abilities and fears. This, however, can result in erratic, thoughtless behavior, including sudden aggression, sadness, inexplicable bursts of joy and anger. Excessive alcohol can increase depression and anxiety, too.

There are underlying triggers for most of these emotions, although sometimes, alcohol just simply causes mood swings that don’t have anything to do with being an exaggerated emotion of your own. Experiencing these mood shifts may be one of the signs of alcoholism.


You Feel Guilty

If you feel guilty about your drinking habits, then you’re likely well on your way to an alcoholic status, or have already reached that point. Guilt isn’t just a negative emotion – it’s the denial starting to crack under the pressure of reality, and it can be very painful as one of the signs of alcoholism.

Guilt is not something you’re meant to live with, but you are meant to overcome it – and if you feel guilty about how much or how often you’ve been drinking, then that is one of the good signs of alcoholism that show you should seriously consider getting help. You can try and quit on your own, but depending on how far your addiction has gone, getting help is the better option.


Drinking Despite The Consequences

Drinking alcohol, like most other mind-altering substances, has its consequences. Drinking a lot of alcohol is even worse, as the drug acts like a poison in the body, creating massive headaches and overwhelming feelings of nausea.

But beyond the physical consequences of alcohol consumption, the hardest consequences to deal with are the social, psychological and emotional ones. Excessive drinking can be expensive, can cost you entire relationships and friendships, and can even end your career.

If you’re starting to strain your relationships with those around you due to your excessive drinking and showing signs of alcoholism, you need help.


Escaping Any Situation Through Alcohol

Alcohol is not a constructive coping mechanism in the slightest. It does not effectively relieve stress, simply masking it, and it does not benefit your mind or body in the slightest way – the opposite, in fact.

On top of that, excessive drinking tends to make things worse when you need a little bit of an escape. If you absolutely need to unwind with some friends and have never had a problem with moderate drinking, that’s another matter – but if binge drinking is your answer to dealing with loss, grief, or frustration, then you’ll be doing no one any favors including yourself. The signs of alcoholism are there when you’re binge drinking away your feelings.


Requiring A Drink To Get Through The Day

If alcohol is your go-to brew in the morning, afternoon and before bedtime just to deal with your every day life, then you’ve got more than just signs of alcoholism to deal with.

Alcohol is not a problem solver, it only creates more problems. Relying on it to coast through a rough time in your life will make things worse – but by getting help, you won’t only find a way to deal with your new alcohol habit, but you can get the help you need to get your life back in order and address the major trigger of your addiction: stress.


Getting Aggressive And Defensive Over Your Drinking

Mood swings caused by drunkenness can often include aggression. When a person’s inhibition is lowered, this includes their natural inclination to avoid conflict. Getting blackout drunk means you probably won’t be able to think straight, and you can easily be provoked – or provoke others around you.

You might just wake up the next day with more than a little head throbbing. In the long-term, these signs of alcoholism and resulting altercations can cause more than just a few bruises.


Taking Unnecessary Risks All The Time

Risky behavior is a trademark of being drunk – but if you’re struggling with alcoholism, then the risky behavior will become a trademark of your life. And regardless of how lucky you get, repeatedly taking massive risks means it’ll just be a matter of time before you lose, and too often, the loss can be tragic.


Blacking Out Often

Excessive binge drinking of alcohol causes black outs, accompanied by a lack of memory regarding what happened just before the black out. This isn’t just a short-term drawback – not only are you going to be missing out on entire hours and days of your life if this becomes a regular occurrence, but the constant blacking out can affect your brain and your capacity to remember things in general.

All drugs carry long-term deleterious consequences, typically for the brain. Alcohol is no exception. If you find yourself losing your mental faculties quickly, then you need to seek help with one of the most dangerous signs of alcoholism.


You Can’t Stop (Physically or Emotionally)

The final straw for determining alcoholism is the ability to stop – or lack thereof. If you can’t stop, either due to severe withdrawal symptoms or an emotional need (or both), then addiction treatment becomes a necessity.

Alcoholism is a genuine issue in America, although things have been getting better. By continuing to support each other and our loved ones, and offering help to all those who need it, we can further reduce the deaths alcohol claims on a yearly basis, and help people find a better life in sobriety.

What Are Some Drinks That Are An Alcohol Alternative?

Alcohol Alternative | Transcend Recovery Community

Alcohol is known as a social lubricant, because of its rich history of being the liquid centerpiece in many a party and gathering. Funerals, weddings, birthdays and sporting events – with the sole exception of baby showers, it’s fair to say that most of the time, when adults meet, it’s normal for a little alcohol to take part in the affair.

That’s not necessarily a terrible thing. Alcohol, as a drug, is poisonous to the human body in massive quantities. But when consumed moderately and responsibly by adults with non-addictive personalities, it usually isn’t a problem. Perhaps the greatest argument for drinking alcohol from time to time is history – alcohol and humanity are par for the course, and have been since the dawn of agriculture and civilization.

But not all of us enjoy a good pint now and again. Some people can’t hold their alcohol – others can’t control their consumption. We’re all different, and for some of us, society’s relationship with alcohol is more of a curse than anything else. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to have a bit of fun, or fit in with the crowd. Thankfully, the idea of an alcohol alternative exists – both for those who need an alcohol alternative to curb their consumption of the real thing, and for those who just can’t stand alcohol but don’t want to be the odd one out any longer.


When to Cut Down on Alcohol

Alcoholism is the biggest issue with the drug – at the end of the day, alcohol is addictive, and some people are far more prone to its addictive effects than others. If you can’t stop despite wanting to, and can’t stay away from the booze without feeling sick, then you know you have a problem and it might be time to consider an alcohol alternative.

Outside of the realms of addiction, alcohol is also dangerous to a person’s health. An excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to liver damage, brain damage, and the general breakdown of the body (including cancer).

Finally, cut down on alcohol if you don’t like it or don’t want to drink it. Falling for peer pressure and having a glass or two because everyone else is doing it is no way to live your life. Of course, regardless of why you choose to stop drinking, the follow up is: what do you drink then? For some, the answer is nothing, or an alcohol alternative or water. For others, there are quite a few alcohol alternative options in the non-alcohol world while recovering on their own or in a Los Angeles sober living.


Non-Alcoholic Beers and Wines

Of course, choosing non-alcoholic beers or wines might not be a great idea if you’re trying to avoid the idea of alcohol altogether. However, there are a lot of options out there for beer and wine enthusiasts looking for the flavor and richness of a dark brew or a dry wine, without the alcohol.

Some people find that a non-alcoholic beverage that is traditionally alcoholic helps with the transition to a completely alcohol-free life. Others want to be more radical, cutting it out of their life completely and finding a full on alcohol alternative.


Pick Your Alcohol Alternative

We’ve all heard of club soda, tonic water and seltzers – but what’s the difference between the three, and are they completely alcohol-free? The answer to the latter question is yes. None of those drinks have alcohol him them. And the differences are subtle.

Seltzer water is carbonated spring water from a specific area in Germany. Named after said area, the water has a certain combination of minerals, giving it a unique taste. Club soda is basically any carbonated water with similar minerals added on – while it can’t call itself Seltzer water, it’s often almost the same.

Tonic water is a bit different. Named after the fact that its main ingredient used to be a “tonic” against malaria, tonic water is basically a club soda infused with quinine. This gives it a bitter taste.

Quinine was first discovered as an isolated compound in waters contaminated by the cinchona tree, which gave those waters the special property of healing malaria. British officers at one point combined their tonic with sugar and gin to make it more palatable, creating the gin and tonic. Today’s tonic water is not nearly as concentrated as the medicinal drink, and is instead flavored for a mild bitter taste. While quinine is dangerous in high amounts, it’s almost impossible to overdose on tonic water. Chugging tonic water will not cure malaria, either.

Beyond these drinks, there are other alcohol alternative options to consider. Ginger ale, root beer and bitter lemon are all classic non-alcoholic carbonated drinks that are widely available, and can easily be made at home.

Some people opt to replace their habit of sipping on wine or beer at home, with teas, coffee and hot chocolate. Tea is common alcohol alternative due to the massive variety of different teas and different options. A homemade seeped infusion of ginger and lemon can emulate the bite of alcohol, without the alcohol.

From there, choosing the right drink is a matter of context. Do you want something to drink at the dinner table? At home? At the club? Wherever you go, non-alcoholic options are all around you. Some bars even offer mocktails – non-alcoholic cocktails. But always be sure to double-check with the bartender that you’re getting offered a drink with less than 0.5% alcohol.


Is Binge Drinking Alcoholism?

Is Binge Drinking Alcoholism? | Transcend Recovery Community

Research from the CDC states that more than a tenth of the country – close to a fifth of all adult Americans – binge drinks an average of four times a month. That’s basically once a week.

This is coupled with some sobering statistics regarding alcohol use in America, and alcohol-related deaths – from alcohol poisoning to car accidents caused by inebriation. Among students – where the issue is historically quite rampant, for reasons spanning from culture to peer pressure and hormones – alcohol use has several ramifications from poor academic performance to injury and much more dire circumstances.

Alcohol can be a good thing, in a way. It can also be an incredibly bad thing. It’s more addictive than cocaine, carries a history of lowering inhibitions and enabling violent behavior, and is available at practically any corner store to anyone with a driver’s license and a birthday in the early 90s. But as we’ve learned, prohibiting it doesn’t really help solve the issue. Instead, we’ll use the other method – education.

What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is defined as four or five drinks every two hours, for men, and about three to four drinks for women. A drink refers to about a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a single shot. More exactly, the United States has a standard definition for the “drink”: 14 grams of pure alcohol. That’s to be found in a dozen ounces of beer, five ounces of wine and less than two ounces of the stronger stuff; distilled spirits like vodka, gin, whiskey, and rum.

Binge drinking is separate from heavy drinking – but you can be a heavy drinker if you binge drink often. For women, that’s eight drinks a week. For men, that’s fourteen.

Alcohol & Gender

The stark difference between men and women is generalized, of course. While men do metabolize alcohol faster, that has more to do with body size, including having more blood (and more water, so the alcohol gets less concentrated and men run a lesser risk of dehydration while drinking the same), plus the lower bodyfat and higher muscle size allows men to quickly breakdown alcohol compared to their female counterparts.

That isn’t to say that a smaller man with a lanky build will have a better tolerance than an experienced female drinker with an athletic background – but the rule still applies that if you’re downing more than three beers worth of alcohol in the span of “Leaving Las Vegas” screen time, you’re binge drinking. Repeat that thrice a week, and you’re probably a heavy drinker.  But the clincher here is: at what point does any of this count as alcoholism? And that aside, is it even bad?

Is Binge Drinking Bad?

Binge drinking is bad for your health, but it’s not something that will kill you immediately. If you binge on alcohol every now and again and take the proper precautions, then the worst fate you’ll suffer is a hangover. However, binge drinking and then attempting anything remotely around heavy machinery afterwards can – and sadly often does – result in injury and death.

Binge drinking also runs the risk of turning from a little too much alcohol at once, to absolutely too much alcohol at once – competitive teens with immortality complexes and drinking games are particularly susceptible to late night trips to the hospital, or mental blackouts.

But the question is whether it leads to addiction – and the answer is that binge drinking and addiction aren’t explicitly tied together, especially when it comes to causing or determining a problem. Many people binge drink, but not all of them are addicts. It’s bad for your health, yes. Your liver won’t thank you for it, and if you’re a heavy drinker on top of it all, then you run the risk of not only harming yourself and others while drunk, but you can cause severe issues with your liver.

What Is Alcoholism?

As with any drug addiction, alcoholism is when you’ve reached a point in your consumption of alcohol wherein you can’t stop, regardless of the consequences. You begin to fail in school or encounter great difficulties at work. Relationships fall apart. Your life spirals out of control, and the emotional pain sends you further down into the proverbial bottle.

At some point, you might even realize that it’s the drink that’s been causing these issues – you have a role to play as well of course, but the alcohol hasn’t been a help. It’s been a negative coping mechanism for other emotional pains if anything.

But when you try to put it away, you realize that you can’t. Your body needs it, as the fever and pain indicate. And your mind needs it because being sober is painful. It’s these symptoms – the symptoms of withdrawal and deep regret – that make it clear that your alcohol consumption is a problem, part of a series of issues you need to deal with. Binge drinking may be a symptom of that, but it’s not a necessary indicator.

Too Much Alcohol Is Bad Regardless of Addiction

While the risk of addiction is an issue that comes up as a fear in the eyes of many avid drinkers, that does not mean that not being addicted counts as not having a “problem.” Even if you can choose to quit, and indeed do for long periods of time, abusing alcohol either as a means of drowning your sorrows or to “have fun” while consuming far too much of it counts as part of a problem.

Every time you drink to the point of forgetting what you’ve done that night, you run the risk of ruining your life. Every time you drink beyond the point of physical control, you run the risk of harming others. And if you’re a particularly violent drunk, then you’ve got too problems – deep-seated anger issues, and an indicator that you should probably stick to a sober life. And all of that doesn’t even touch on the long-term health issues with drinking too much.

There’s nothing wrong with indulging in alcohol, but be safe. Keep others safe. Don’t drive, and don’t drink more when you know you’ve had enough despite other people’s pressures.