Could Be…You or Yours!
By Clare Carr MA, LPC, CAC II

She’s a stay at home mother, with two children in grade school. Her husband is a lawyer, who recreationally uses cocaine on the weekends. They frequently party together on the weekends. She usually doesn’t start drinking until 4 p.m. each day, while she is preparing supper. Wine is her choice of beverage. It is just to take the edge off the day, she tells herself. She doesn’t notice, but she usually drinks about 5-6 glasses before the evening is over. Seems to go through that cheap gallon jug every third day!

He’s a senior in college. He has managed to complete his BS in Biology in 4 years. He never drinks during the week. That is a policy of his. But on the weekend, starting on Friday night, he out drinks all of his friends at the bar. He hates the hangovers in the morning and swears he is not going to drink so much but by 3 in the afternoon he has a beer, just to begin the evening and a new round of bingeing. It’s just a part of his ritual.

She is a high school teacher of Literature. She has been teaching for the past 20 years. Her husband died of cancer five years ago. They never had any children. The loneliness of the house has been stifling. She began with having a few martinis when she came home after work. But now she doesn’t just have two martinis’; she continues to drink until she is so numb that she falls into a restless sleep. She has been missing a lot of school lately and the principal has been suspicious.

On April 7th, the nation will be focused on an Alcohol Screening Day. (MDS will host a screening site). For many of us as consumers of wine, beers and liquor we would not flinch with concern. However for 1 out of 10 people, alcohol has the potential of stealing all that is precious to them, home, family, job and personal integrity. Chances are that you know someone close to you- your spouse, son, daughter, parent, or dear friend whose life is out of control. due to use. You feel helpless, angry, and fearful. What will happen to them and what will happen to you?

Alcoholism is devastating, not only to the individual, but also to the family. Spouses and children feel betrayed and abandoned by their loved one. They feel confused! “If you really loved me, you’d stop this insanity”, is what they say. Or they ask, “ it must be something about me, that is why they drink”. The whole family life seems to revolve around making the user comfortable, or rages around the user.

Alcohol the leading culprit in domestic violence. Half of all the hospital emergency dropin’s on the weekend are related to alcohol. The cost of impaired driving alone, to the American public is over 114.3 billion dollars each year. The leading cause of death for the 18-24 year old is drunk driving.

The media abounds with information, and yet we are still witnessing the death of our most promising prodigy. This past year on two of our state campuses we have mourned the deaths of two young people. Alcohol is deadly. Why? Because alcohol anthesizes the brain. The drug of alcohol tells the medulla in the brain stem to shutdown. The drinker appears to fall asleep and then slips into a drug induced coma and dies. It all starts with a night of bingeing.

What if you are concerned about someone who drinks too much or may be using drugs?
First: Talk about the “elephant in the room” let them know of your concern. Secondly,
ask them to seek an evaluation with a therapist or doctor. And third, seek support for yourself through Al Anon, and encourage them to look into a twelve step program such as, AA, NA, or CA (Alcoholics anonymous, Narcotics anonymous, or Cocaine Anonymous).

And what about you? Maybe you have a drink once in a while, just to take the edge off. Well, I’d like to suggest some other ways to relieve that edge. Instead:

1) Start a workout program at one of our local Recreational Centers. The fees are reasonable. For Denver residents the fee for one year is only $125.
2) Take a walk after work, or before work
3) Play some soothing music
4) Call a friend
5) Take a nap
6) Begin a practice of meditation
7) Talk to a therapist who is familiar with alcohol & drug issues

Alcoholism is a progressive disease, so don’t be fooled. It destroys the health of the user, the integrity of the family, and the fabric of the community. Seek help – it doesn’t have to be this way.

Clare is a psychotherapist at Maria Droste Counseling Center. For more information, please call her at 303-756-9052 ext. 115.