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Frequently Asked Questions

​How would I know if I were an alcoholic or addicted to a drug?       

Addiction counselors and other mental health professionals generally look for a pattern of the following:

  • Negative consequences of alcohol/drug use.
  • An inability to quit or control alcohol/drug use.
  • A pattern of increased amounts and/or frequency of use

There is no single item that makes a person an alcoholic or drug-addicted. It is a combination of factors that helps a counselor determine if someone meets the diagnostic criteria for alcohol or drug dependence. (Alcohol dependence and drug dependence are different ways of saying someone is an alcoholic or addicted.)

What is the best way to approach a loved one about their alcohol or drug use?       

It is important to approach someone whom you think may have a problem in a way that is non-confrontational. When you are upset with the person as a result of their drinking or use, it is usually not the best time to discuss it with them. Wait until the next day, then calmly express your concern without name calling, blaming or accusing. Simply say that you care about them and you’ve noticed how their use is affecting their life. Say that you would like them to see if they can stop their use, and if they can’t, ask them to get professional help to stop. It is normal for those who abuse alcohol or drugs to react angrily when they are approached even in a gentle, caring manner. If you argue with them or become angry and lash out at them, you only help them to focus on something besides their own use. If your initial approach to them does not seem to do any good, then seek out the assistance of close friends and family to help you speak to the person about their use. After your initial approach, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a qualified professional counselor.

Why is alcohol considered to be a drug?

Alcohol has strong depressive effects on the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and on other body processes. Not only is it a drug; it is a particularly potent drug that has toxic effects. It is considered a tranquilizer in the sedative-hypnotic family of drugs. Unfortunately, it's easy to avoid thinking of alcohol as a drug because it has a long history as a social and recreational drink.

What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a self-help organization of men and women dedicated to pursuing recovery from alcoholism. It was founded in 1935 by Dr. Robert Smith and William Wilson. The organization follows the 12-step model that emphasizes reliance on mutual support among alcoholics. A.A. is a worldwide community with many thousands of members comprised mainly of local groups who meet at established places and times.

Is marijuana addictive?

This question has been hotly debated for many years. Research suggests that there is evidence of physical dependence and a withdrawal syndrome. Marijuana is certainly associated with psychological addiction. The bottom line is, marijuana has caused physical, interpersonal, and psychological damage to many people who nevertheless find it difficult or impossible to quit.

Common Concerns

Depression: Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being. People with depressed mood can feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, ashamed or restless. They may lose interest in activities that were once pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details or making decisions, and may contemplate, attempt or commit suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, aches, pains, digestive problems or reduced energy may also be present.

Stress: Stress can be defined as the brain's response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived. They may be recurring, short-term, or long-term and may include things like commuting to and from school or work every day, traveling for a yearly vacation, or moving to another home. Changes can be mild and relatively harmless, such as winning a race, watching a scary movie, or riding a roller coaster. Some changes are major, such as marriage or divorce, serious illness, or a car accident. Other changes are extreme, such as exposure to violence, and can lead to traumatic stress reactions.

Anxiety: Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. These feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.

Anger: Anger is a basic human emotion that is experienced by all people. Typically triggered by an emotional hurt, anger is usually experienced as an unpleasant feeling that occurs when we think we have been injured, mistreated, opposed in our long-held views, or when we are faced with obstacles that keep us from attaining personal goals. Anger can be constructive or destructive. When well managed, anger or annoyance has very few detrimental health or interpersonal consequences. At its roots, anger is a signal to you that something in your environment isn't right. It captures your attention and motivates you to take action to correct that wrong thing. How you end up handling the anger signal has very important consequences for your overall health and welfare, however.

Addiction: a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.

Domestic Abuse: a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. Intimate partner violence is violence by a spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner. Domestic violence can take place in heterosexual, same-sex and transgender relationships, and can also involve violence against the children in the family. Domestic violence can take a number of forms including physical, verbalemotional, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse that results in disfigurement or death.

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