Alcohol Misuse

by The Discovering Alcoholic on January 19, 2010

Thank you author and speaker Lisa Frederiksen of Breaking the Cycles for this regular series sharing her decades long experience of dealing with family alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Click here to see the rest of the series.
Breaking the Cycles at The Discovering Alcoholic

People who have a problem with their drinking often try to minimize how bad it is by claiming it’s not that much, or they will compare the quantity they drink to someone else’s and declare, “It’s not as bad as ____.” Family members often think the same thing because they are confused about what makes a person an alcoholic and don’t see their loved one as an alcoholic or are afraid what their being an alcoholic means. They perceive alcoholics as people who are homeless or without jobs or families – conditions that do not apply to their loved ones.

The fact is, however, that if a loved one’s alcohol misuse is a problem for you or other family members, it a problem. Period. No matter what you call it. It does not matter how much alcohol is consumed or when or how bad or how often or whether the label, alcoholic, fits or not. It’s the drinking behaviors — the behaviors caused by that person’s alcohol misuse — that count. Drinking behaviors include:

– Verbally, physically or emotionally abusing someone – often a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or child
– Doing poorly at work or school because of the drinking or recovering from the drinking
– Fighting with loved ones about the drinking
– Binge drinking (drinking 5 or more for men and 4 or more for women)
– Experiencing blackouts
– Getting a DUI; driving while under the influence of alcohol
– Having unplanned, unwanted or unprotected sex; date rape

The term, misuse, is used by the World Health Organization, by the way, and by other health and medical organizations that study, diagnose and help prevent alcohol misuse (whether that be alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence/addiction). The reason for the term is to move the focus away from a label and towards the behaviors that result when a person drinks more than their brains and bodies can process.

For family members, this can be hugely freeing. They no longer have to slice and dice and mince words when trying to reason with a loved one whose drinking is a problem for them (the family member).

So, stay tuned for the next blog post, “Conducting an Alcohol Misuse Impact Assessment,” followed by a third blog post on Sunday, “Next Step Suggestions for Family Members Whose Loved One Misuses Alcohol.”

And, by the way — about those labels: alcohol abuse/alcohol abuser or alcoholism/alcoholic — they matter when it comes to determining what effective treatment looks like for the person who wants to stop his or her drinking behaviors. But, that’s another blog post…
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©2010 Lisa Frederiksen – Breaking The Cycles – All Rights Reserved.

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