Kimberly Callen, LCSW,  NBCCH
St George, Utah

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that makes your body dependent on alcohol. You may be obsessed with alcohol and unable to control how much you drink, even though your drinking is causing serious problems with your relationships, health, work, and finances.

It's possible to have a problem with alcohol, but not display all the characteristics of alcoholism. This is known as "alcohol abuse," which means you engage in excessive drinking that causes health or social problems, but you aren't dependent on alcohol and haven't fully lost control over the use of alcohol.

Although many people assume otherwise, alcoholism is a treatable disease. Medications, counseling and self-help groups are among the therapies that can provide ongoing support to help you recover from alcoholism.

Before treatment or recovery, most people with alcoholism deny that they have a drinking problem. Signs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse include: 

    · Drinking alone or in secret
  · Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink 
    · Not remembering conversations or commitments, sometimes referred to as "blacking out" 
    · Losing interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring pleasure 
    · Feeling a need or compulsion to drink
    · Irritability when your usual drinking time nears, especially if alcohol isn't available  
    · Keeping alcohol in unlikely places at home, at work or in the car
    · Gulping drinks, ordering doubles, becoming intoxicated intentionally to feel good or drinking to feel "normal"
    · Having legal problems or problems with relationships, employment or finances
    · Building a tolerance to alcohol so that you need an increasing number of drinks to feel alcohol's effects
    · Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating and shaking — if you don't drink 
    · Making a ritual of having drinks before, with or after dinner and becoming annoyed when this ritual is disturbed or questioned 

People who abuse alcohol may experience many of the same signs and symptoms as people who are dependent on alcohol. However, alcohol abusers don't feel the same compulsion to drink and usually don't experience physical withdrawal symptoms when they don't drink. A dependence on alcohol also creates a tolerance to alcohol and the inability to control your drinking.

If you've ever wondered if your own alcohol consumption crosses the line of abuse or dependence, ask yourself these questions:
   · Do you need a drink as soon as you get up?
   · Do you feel guilty about your drinking?
   · Do you think you need to cut back on your alcohol consumption?
   · Are you annoyed when other people comment on or criticize your drinking habits?

If you answered yes to two or more questions, it's likely that you have a problem with alcohol. Even one yes answer may indicate a problem.

Because denial is frequently a characteristic of alcoholism, it's unlikely that people who are dependent on or who abuse alcohol will seek medical treatment on their own. Often it takes family members, friends or co-workers to persuade them to undergo screening for alcoholism or to seek treatment.

If you feel that your drinking is a problem — you feel guilty about your drinking and just can't control it — talk with your doctor about treatment options. Also talk with your doctor if you find that you need a drink first thing in the morning and that you need an increasing amount of alcohol before you start feeling its effects.

Criteria for alcoholism to be diagnosed include a pattern of alcohol abuse leading to significant impairment or distress, as indicated by three or more of the following at any time during one 12-month period: 

    - Tolerance, indicated by an increase in the amount of alcohol you need to feel intoxicated. As alcoholism
       progresses,the amount leading to intoxication can also decrease as a result of damage to your liver or central
       nervous system.

    - Withdrawal symptoms when you cut down or stop using alcohol. These signs and symptons include tremors,
       insomnia, nausea, and anxiety. You may drink more alcohol in order to avoid those symptoms.
    - Drinking more alcohol or drinking over a longer period of time than you intended.

    - Persistently having a desire to cut down your alcohol intake or making unsuccessful attempts to do so. - Spending
       great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from alcohol use.

   - Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities. - Continuing to use alcohol even though you know
      it's causing physical and psychological problems.

Treatment may include medications, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, EMDR, and recovery programs. It is likely the treatment plan will include a combination of one or more of these.

Click for more on the following topics and how I can help you with:

Treatment Techniques:                                                Disorders:
  EMDR                                                                                    Trauma
  Dyadic Resourcing for EMDR                                              Mood Disorders
  Attachment-Focused EMDR                                                Addictions
  Hypnotherapy                                                                       Chronic Illnesses
  Mind-Body Medicine
  Internal Family Systems 
  Feeling-State Addiction Protocol


Kimberly Callen, LCSW, NBCCH
107 S 1470 East   St George, UT  84790 

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