So am I an alcoholic or do I have an alcohol use disorder?
If you think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, there are a few questions you can answer and find out what medical experts know regarding substance use disorder, formally known as alcoholism and drug addiction.
New research has found that alcohol use disorder (AUD) is an often untreated epidemic in the United States. Do you have an alcohol use disorder? There are 11 symptoms you should understand.
Globally, alcohol use disorder is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders and leading causes of sickness and death. In the United States, alcohol use disorders and binge drinking have increased in recent years. Unfortunately, only 19.8 percent of adults with a lifetime alcohol use disorder ever seek treatment or ask for help.
The skyrocketing increase in alcohol consumption by American women is considered to be the driving force behind the nationwide escalation of binge drinking. Across the nation, binge drinking among women increased more than seven times the rate among men.
So how is alcohol use disorder diagnosed?
There is a book used in the medical community called the “DSM-5”, (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition) for diagnosing alcohol use disorder. Read the following symptoms and note any you have experienced over the past 12 months. You might be surprised what you learn.
The Eleven Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
Craving or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: a) A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect b) A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol or b) Alcohol is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
The presence of at least 2 of these symptoms indicates an alcohol use disorder (AUD). The severity of an AUD is graded mild, moderate, or severe:
Mild: The presence of 2 to 3 symptoms.
Moderate: The presence of 4 to 5 symptoms.
Severe: The presence of 6 or more symptoms.
Conclusion: If You Meet 2 of the 11 Criteria for AUD, Reach Out and Ask for Help
Alcohol abuse has the potential to destroy people’s lives. Hopefully, raising awareness of the eleven symptoms for diagnosing alcohol use disorders will lead more individuals to seek help if they have two or more of the eleven symptoms listed above. Please remember alcohol and substance use disorders are not a sin or a nasty habit or a moral issue… substance use disorder is a disease. Help is as close as your computer… www.recovery.org is the perfect place to start… it’s free and filled with useful information.
This is my journey… this is my life.
Tonight, MJ & I went to the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, actually we went to the front of the line with other people trying to get a ticket for the show or, at least, see a celebrity. The glamour and glitz of living in Tinsel Town can’t be described in a few short paragraphs… it’s like no other city in the world. Even for those on the outside looking in, there is no place I’d rather be. Everything about the night and our lives for that matter reflect the choices we’ve made together. Our worlds could not be more different, but together life is an incredible adventure, a type many people only see on TV.
After dinner downtown, we took the subway back to our Hollywood apartment and saw the other side of life. For 20 minutes a man screamed on the subway train about someone he loved, people moved, and people gasped and people fidgeted with iPhones to look occupied and unconcerned. They succeeded.
As we approached our street just off Hollywood Boulevard, we watched a man light a meth pipe. Within seconds, the man flew into a violent rage and violently beat storefront windows until he collapsed on the sidewalk. Exhausted and psychotic, the man once again began smoking the pipe slumped against the wall next to a famous person’s star. No one stopped or attempted to help him because there was nothing we could do. He was violent, psychotic and under the influence of crystal meth. The police and paramedics in Hollywood have no interest in a drug-addled crazy man on the boulevard… there are hundreds of them. What makes him special? Take a number …. no one cares!
The reality of addiction is only a small percentage of addicts will end up homeless and psychotic like the man I’ve mentioned. Most have jobs, families, friends and may even live in your home. To tell someone abusing drugs and alcohol that they will end up in the gutter or worse in the gutter under some guy selling themselves for drugs is useless. No one wants to listen, and they won’t believe it if you tell them. Let it go… that isn’t your job to preach to them. Realize they are battling a disease, not a nasty habit. Their lives are just as shattered and empty as the man beating storefront windows in Hollywood.
Imagine addiction, be it drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling or smoking as an elevator in a tall building. You can get off on any floor you wish. There is no reason to take it to the basement, even the basement at Macy’s is full of stuff no one wants… so why go there?
Chances are you’ve heard of the phrase “rock bottom” a time or two in life. Maybe you’ve had a friend who hit rock bottom, or you’ve been there yourself. To hit rock bottom means that someone has ended up in a very sad place in life; perhaps the lowest point that person could go. When it comes to alcoholism or drug addiction, rock bottom could be a near-death experience, legal trouble, or the loss of a partner or children. It could also mean experiencing a mental or emotional breakdown. Either way, rock bottom is a terrible place to be.
One good thing about hitting rock bottom is that it frequently serves as a huge wake-up call to get some professional help. I remember a couple of “rock bottoms” in my life where I finally admitted I could not live without drugs and alcohol, and that I needed some serious help. Good news is that I did finally reach out for help and began a journey of healing and recovery from several things. It had taken many, many tries before I was able to get off the addiction elevator but I finally walked out and thank God… haven’t looked back in 3 years. It was nothing I did on my own… I sought help… I listened and I accepted a life that is working for me.
If you feel as if you are at rock bottom, or close, seriously consider reaching out for help. You can do so in a variety of ways, including calling around to get yourself into some counseling, attending a 12 Step recovery group, getting into a rehab, and more. There are some online support forums… just google “addiction help” and you’ll find several which are fantastic for learning and engaging with others, but you may also need some face to face help. Keep that in mind.
Being at such a low spot in life’s hard. You may feel hopeless, useless, and think that you’re just a failure with no future. I assure you these feelings are temporary, as you can begin a journey to get through your current situation and feel better down the road. I will tell you it will require you to do some things differently, and it will require effort on your part, but the result will be so worth it! Take it from someone who has been there.
Your rock bottom is simply the beginning of a new and beautiful life that you can create one day at a time.
This is my journey… this is my life.
I hate funerals… not because of the passing of a person from this life to the next, that’s simply part of the package deal when you’re born. There has to be an exit strategy, or we’d all be stuck carrying on the same conversations at the same miserable jobs with people we honestly would never associate with outside of work.
What I hate most about funerals is people pour their hearts out about how much someone meant to them or provided for them or changed their life. Seems a little late when the host of honor has left the building. They didn’t hear it, and no one in the audience wants to hear it… say what you need to say while the person is around to hear the message.
Here’s my message to my dad…
My dad is the kind of guy that has gone through life unnoticed. I’ve never heard anyone say a bad thing about him… anyone. I’ve never seen him smoke or drink or act inappropriately. Wait… I take that back; I remember as a kid, a guy at a Volkswagon dealership overcharged him for a repair and when my dad complained the man made some smart ass remark and dad punched him in the face… bam! Right in the face… at Tom Bush Volkswagen in front of God and everyone! At 6 years old … that was cool!
My dad comes from a long line of nice people. They work hard… they stay on the same job for 30 years… they buy homes, have children, vote, and enjoy quiet lives. These are the types of people that don’t look for problems, so problems don’t look for them. It’s a real life with good results for those who finish the race. For those people, nice things are told about them at their funerals.
My dad was a high school dropout who lied about his age and entered the army as a teenager. At 21, he was out of the military and back in high school getting his diploma. Upon graduation, his father offered to buy him a gas station or help him through college. My dad knew life would be better with an education, so with a wife and two kids, he entered MTSU and started building a life… that’s when I came into the picture.
My dad always provided for his family. He never made a lot of money, in America, school teachers are financially punished for educating the next generation of success stories. I won’t get started on the disparities in fair and just wages, especially when it comes to teachers other than to say it sucks!
Dad always worked two jobs; he taught high school during the day and the GED program for adults at the community college at night. Every summer he would leave Florida to work on his master’s degree at Western Carolina. That took years to finish, but he did.
In my lifetime, my dad has been a teacher, a janitor, a pest control man, a security guard at a grocery store, a Gideon, a sports announcer, a Sunday school teacher and a decent guy.
Each morning, he would get up early make breakfast for me, kiss me on the forehead and tell me I was his “little buddy.” He washed every item of clothing I ever owned, hung it on hangers or put it away. On Tuesday nights, he would bring me a donut he picked up at a little place on 103rd Street on the way to teach night school. In a world of uncertainties and variables, he was my constant.
In high school, we were always together. He was a history teacher and football announcer. He was at the dances, fundraisers, swim meets ( yes, I was a swimmer), senior prom, senior trip, field trips… he was always there. It was during my teenage years I realized people genuinely liked him. I understood why… he was a decent man.
For years, I was no one’s idea of a dream son. I have crashed and self-destructed so often and so severely there is no reason I’m still alive. During those days, the stability that I grew up with remained with me and waited for my return to life. My dad calmly and patiently stood near and picked me up, brushed me off and waited to see if I would make it. Finally, it happened. I got clean and sober, and he was there.
I owe him an enormous amount of love and respect because he deserves it.
Thank you, Dad!
I love you,
Your Little Buddy…
I love the feeling of being in love or falling in love or thinking about love. I’m normally not happy when the “love buzz” ends and I’m stuck with yet another mistake or as Madonna calls it a “substitute for love.” My first Valentine’s Day in L.A. was spent with a friend at some swanky little bistro that held about 20 people. It was cramped and overpriced with candles and that stupid red glittery confetti people put on tables at parties. I hate that stuff… it’s like “oh, look! There’s festive shit slung everywhere… this is going to be a great night!”
What I remember about that night is paying too much for a “lovers meal” created by Chef Blah-Blah and looking at all of the Malibu Barbie & Ken looking couples wearing too much cologne and laughing too much and too loudly. No one in the room seemed at ease in the environment… and I was feeding off their anxiety. I’d given up on love so long before that meal that someone should have picked up my tap as an act of loser charity.
My friend is one of those guys who is lucky in life… he’s a wealthy doctor, drives a BMW, owns a loft in downtown LA with an amazing view and looks like an underwear model. We both have enjoyed pampered lives… he worked on his and I got lucky and fell out of the right woman at birth. It doesn’t matter how you get to a place as long as you get there …
My friend was freshly out of a relationship and about to dive back into it with the same person. That never works for me… I tend to throw a match on things and watch them burn. No one has ever asked me back for a repeat performance. What does that say about them? Hmm?
On the subway home that night I wondered what other “single” horny people could do on Valentine’s Day alone…. This is what I came up with….
Valentine’s Day is usually a day to spend an exorbitant amount of money on gifts that typically cost half the price the other 364 days of the year: flowers, candy and even dinner prices get tripled because of all the suckers going all out on every Valentine’s Day purchase. Since you don’t have to worry about spending half your mortgage on gifts that don’t make it to the end of the week, take half of that money and spend it on yourself. Buy that guy gear you’ve been eyeing since before Christmas, splurge on a new wardrobe or just drop it all on a guilty pleasure like a massage. Be your own Valentine. Do whatever the hell you want. Declare it a “Me Day” and go out and have fun. No one will even notice. They are all too busy crying and whining because they are not in — or sometimes because they are in — a relationship.
Have A Party
You were invited to a couple of parties but respectfully declined because all the festivities would include couples. Why not go for a little while anyway? Drink and eat on another guy’s dime and still leave with time to go out and hit a couple of bars after the party hits the wall. You never know — a few single women could also be in attendance, upping your chances of getting a little box of chocolates of your own on V-Day (yes, that was supposed to sound perverted). You could also hit a bar, go to a show or anywhere else where other single people are hanging out.
Do nothing at all. Being single on Valentine’s Day is the one time you’re allowed a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card to spending money on sports tickets or a headbanger band in a crappy part of town and extracurricular activities your imaginary girlfriend would probably disapprove of. Just stay home, veg out on the couch, fart, and be glad you’re not dropping a couple of bills on overcooked steak and watered-down drinks. You can go out next weekend and rub all the money you saved in your hitched friends’ faces.
Tear it up with your buds
Men always have at least one or two single friends. It’s just the law. They’ll be spending Valentine’s Day alone as well. Spend the night with the other guys who don’t have a significant other. Don’t settle for the typical night; make it a colossal night. Go for dinner, drinks, to a bar or even for just a night of gambling at someone’s house. Blow off some steam and forget all about the love-and-hearts crap. You also don’t have to worry about any of the holiday talk creeping into the conversation unless it’s: “Man, am I glad I don’t have to waste time on that Valentine’s junk.”
Do the usual
It’s Valentine’s Day. Alone. Big. Farking. Deal. Just because it’s a day that everyone else is celebrating doesn’t mean you’ve got to observe and celebrate. Just pretend it’s an average day: go to work, go to lunch, go for after-work drinks, flip on a Netflix movie and do all the things you’d do on a normal, boring day. It only lasts 24 hours, and you spend the majority of that time in bed or at work. It will all be over soon.
There’re lots more you can do if you’re going to spend Valentine’s Day alone…
This is my journey… this is my life!