Although often separated in literature or values in our society, alcohol, like all mood-altering substances is a chemical, a drug, that changes mood, feelings, and actions. People drink to relax, to improve their moods, to feel comfortable socially, to help with anxiety, to celebrate, to “drown” their sorrows, to deal with boredom, to numb their pain (physical and emotional), to distract themselves from unwanted thoughts, and for other reasons unique to different individuals. The same is true for drugs, whether recreational or medically prescribed.
The primary difference is that alcohol is legal for adults, while other drug use requires a medical prescription to be legal.
Treatment plans vary depending on the nature of the substance, the age of the individiual, and the particular situation of each person and family. Many people are surprised to learn that a common, legal mood-altering substance, alcohol, can be the most dangerous in terms of withdrawal. Detoxing from alcohol, if one is dependent, can cause seizures. Withdrawal from any substance on which the body has become dependent is unpleasant and often painful and dangerous to do without medical supervision. It isn’t recommended to go “cold turkey” without checking with a primary care or addiction specialist physician.
The following is one of a number of self assessments to evaluate whether you are an alcoholic:
Alcoholism (Short Form) (SMAST)
Read each question carefully and completely. Take as much time as you need to reflect on each question. This tool is of no help to you if you refuse to answer each question honestly. Remember, if you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself.
|Yes||No||1.||Do you feel you drink more than most other people?|
|Yes||No||2.||Does your partner or parents worry or complain about your drinking?|
|Yes||No||3.||Do you ever feel bad or guilty about your drinking?|
|Yes||No||4.||Do friends and relatives feel you drink more than most other people?|
|Yes||No||5.||Have you ever tried to stop drinking but were not able to do so?|
|Yes||No||6.||Have you ever attended an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting for your own drinking?|
|Yes||No||7.||Has drinking ever created problems between you and your partner or parents?|
|Yes||No||8.||Have you ever gotten in trouble at work because of drinking?|
|Yes||No||9.||Have you ever neglected obligations, family, or work for 2 or more days in a row because of drinking?|
|Yes||No||10.||Have you ever sought help for your drinking?|
|Yes||No||11.||Have you ever been hospitalized because of drinking?|
|Yes||No||12.||Have you ever been arrested or ticketed for drunk driving (DUI or DWI) or driving after drinking?|
|Yes||No||13.||Have you ever been arrested, even for a brief time, for other drunken behavior?|
|Total ‘Yes’||(out of 13 possible)|
SMAST scores of 3 or higher indicate alcohol abuse/dependence.
If you, a partner, or a family member is struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, please contact me to discuss an appropriate path to recovery.
To see books I recommend on alcoholism please go here.