Parents, Stop Feeling So Guilty – Maybe We Just Like Being Drunk or High

Addiction and alcoholism are some pretty misunderstood phenomena. Doctors don’t really know what’s going on, addicts themselves are hard pressed to explain just why they act as they do, and loved ones can’t fathom how we could let ourselves get and stay this way. And because the whole mess is just so bewildering, a lot of myths and half-truths supplant reality – myths that make a lot of sense, but that just aren’t true.

For example

It’s a myth that people need to hit bottom before they can benefit from treatment. A whole lot of people do finally get help after experiencing the worst, but they could have probably avoided all that pain by getting help sooner.

Treatment works better when it comes earlier. But most people believe the whole rock bottom thingy – and it’s not helpful. Now, I have to be careful here, because a lot of what’s backing my arguments to come are personal experiences, but I don’t think my path to addiction was so unique, in fact I think it’s a pretty common route.

So here goes…

I think that a popularly held conception has it that alcoholics and drug addicts use or drink as a way to escape from life’s problems or from past trauma or abuse. When someone we love becomes an alcoholic or drug addict, we tend to spend a lot of time searching for the reason why. We wonder what in their life was so traumatic as to cause this; and it can make us crazy, and in a lot cases, for parents especially, it can cause unnecessary and undeserved guilt.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

I know that a lot of people do drink or drug to escape past trauma or to self medicate mental health issues – I just think there are also a whole lot of drunks that drink just because they like to drink. I was one of them. Raised by involved, loving and kind parents, given every middle class advantage, reasonably smart, best friends, little league; no unusual and tease-worthy physical defects – I had a fine childhood. And still I spent a decade drinking hard.

I discovered booze in my mid teens, and I loved it, couldn’t believe how much I loved it – loved just about everything about it; and I spent the next many years of my life enjoying it to great excess. I drank because I liked getting drunk too much. It fit just right inside my mind.

Eventually, of course, the drinking got less fun, certainly less exciting, and the negatives of drinking started to weigh heavily on my life and happiness. I knew I had to quit for a long time before I did anything about it. By then of course I was an alcoholic, and by then, quitting wasn’t so easy.

Now, I don’t tell you all this because my story is just so darned interesting – it’s not; but I’ve spent a lot of my life talking with drunks, some still drinking, some not – and as far as I can tell, my story is a pretty common one. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you got yourself addicted, once you are you have a struggle ahead of you, and I don’t think that falling into addiction this way is any "worse" than falling into addiction and abuse for any other reason. Nobody plans to become a desperate drunk, but we are all hardwired to seek out pleasure – and for those of us that seem to get more pleasure out of a drink than others, it’s understandable why we might get ourselves into trouble.

So if you’re tormenting yourself, trying to understand a loved one’s drinking, and just can’t think of any traumatic reason compelling such abuse – maybe there isn’t one – maybe they too just love getting drunk or high. And so maybe you’re being too hard on yourself. If you did something terrible, then you’d know it, probably – and if you can’t think of anything you could have done to cause them to drink or drug in this way – then there probably isn’t anything.

Addiction and alcoholism are some pretty misunderstood phenomena. Doctors don’t really know what’s going on, addicts themselves are hard pressed to explain just why they act as they do, and loved ones can’t fathom how we could let ourselves get and stay this way. And because the whole mess is just so bewildering, a lot of myths and half-truths supplant reality – myths that make a lot of sense, but that just aren’t true.

For example

It’s a myth that people need to hit bottom before they can benefit from treatment. A whole lot of people do finally get help after experiencing the worst, but they could have probably avoided all that pain by getting help sooner.

Treatment works better when it comes earlier. But most people believe the whole rock bottom thingy – and it’s not helpful. Now, I have to be careful here, because a lot of what’s backing my arguments to come are personal experiences, but I don’t think my path to addiction was so unique, in fact I think it’s a pretty common route.

So here goes…

I think that a popularly held conception has it that alcoholics and drug addicts use or drink as a way to escape from life’s problems or from past trauma or abuse. When someone we love becomes an alcoholic or drug addict, we tend to spend a lot of time searching for the reason why. We wonder what in their life was so traumatic as to cause this; and it can make us crazy, and in a lot cases, for parents especially, it can cause unnecessary and undeserved guilt.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

I know that a lot of people do drink or drug to escape past trauma or to self medicate mental health issues – I just think there are also a whole lot of drunks that drink just because they like to drink. I was one of them. Raised by involved, loving and kind parents, given every middle class advantage, reasonably smart, best friends, little league; no unusual and tease-worthy physical defects – I had a fine childhood. And still I spent a decade drinking hard.

I discovered booze in my mid teens, and I loved it, couldn’t believe how much I loved it – loved just about everything about it; and I spent the next many years of my life enjoying it to great excess. I drank because I liked getting drunk too much. It fit just right inside my mind.

Eventually, of course, the drinking got less fun, certainly less exciting, and the negatives of drinking started to weigh heavily on my life and happiness. I knew I had to quit for a long time before I did anything about it. By then of course I was an alcoholic, and by then, quitting wasn’t so easy.

Now, I don’t tell you all this because my story is just so darned interesting – it’s not; but I’ve spent a lot of my life talking with drunks, some still drinking, some not – and as far as I can tell, my story is a pretty common one. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you got yourself addicted, once you are you have a struggle ahead of you, and I don’t think that falling into addiction this way is any "worse" than falling into addiction and abuse for any other reason. Nobody plans to become a desperate drunk, but we are all hardwired to seek out pleasure – and for those of us that seem to get more pleasure out of a drink than others, it’s understandable why we might get ourselves into trouble.

So if you’re tormenting yourself, trying to understand a loved one’s drinking, and just can’t think of any traumatic reason compelling such abuse – maybe there isn’t one – maybe they too just love getting drunk or high. And so maybe you’re being too hard on yourself. If you did something terrible, then you’d know it, probably – and if you can’t think of anything you could have done to cause them to drink or drug in this way – then there probably isn’t anything.

Eat Together as a Family. Save Your Kids From Drugs?

Photo: SuziJaneResearch by the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse compared the drug and alcohol consumption patterns of teens that ate family dinners 5 or more times per week, with those that ate them 2 or less times per week, and the difference revealed is dramatic. Families that don’t often eat together have teen children that are:

300% more likely to smoke marijuana 250% more likely to smoke cigarettes 150% more likely to drink alcohol

Wow! What an easy way to make a real difference, in your teen’s life, and for the family as a whole. The study authors state that although the simple act of eating together as a family seems most important, the experience can be enhanced with conversation and by ensuring the TV is turned off throughout the meal.

Research continually demonstrates the influence of family and parental involvement on the likelihood of teens avoiding the troubles of drugs and alcohol. And this recent study shows just how easily parents can ensure they exert that influence. Make it fun for all, order a pizza if that’s what it takes, and sit down as a family, at the table. It’s worth it.

Photo: SuziJaneResearch by the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse compared the drug and alcohol consumption patterns of teens that ate family dinners 5 or more times per week, with those that ate them 2 or less times per week, and the difference revealed is dramatic. Families that don’t often eat together have teen children that are:

300% more likely to smoke marijuana 250% more likely to smoke cigarettes 150% more likely to drink alcohol

Wow! What an easy way to make a real difference, in your teen’s life, and for the family as a whole. The study authors state that although the simple act of eating together as a family seems most important, the experience can be enhanced with conversation and by ensuring the TV is turned off throughout the meal.

Research continually demonstrates the influence of family and parental involvement on the likelihood of teens avoiding the troubles of drugs and alcohol. And this recent study shows just how easily parents can ensure they exert that influence. Make it fun for all, order a pizza if that’s what it takes, and sit down as a family, at the table. It’s worth it.

College Drinking…Researchers Say That Counting How Many Bars Sit Near Campus Tells Parents Enough!

A great many parents are nervously wondering how their away from home for the first time kids are getting on at college, and a lot of them will be justifiably concerned about the risks of college drinking, especially when kids are away from parental supervision for the first time in their lives.

College binge drinking and the eventual development of dependency is an enormous societal problem across college campuses in the United States, and the devastation of alcohol related deaths, assaults, and alcohol induced sexual violence transcends schools throughout the country. Some schools are worse than other though…

Researchers at Harvard University wanted to see what variables seemed to influence the levels of alcohol related problems at diverse schools across the nation, and one factor that earned an enormously strong correlation with rates of problem drinking was the number of alcohol outlets within two miles of the campus center.

185 bars within 2 miles of campus!!!

Out of the schools surveyed, the range of alcohol outlets within a 2 mile radius ranged from a substantial 32 to a mind boggling 185, and not surprisingly there was an almost direct correlation of increasing alcohol problems, alcohol abuse, and alcohol dependence with greater numbers of outlets serving alcohol. The school with the greatest number of alcohol outlets had 48% of students getting drunk more than three times a month.

There is no doubt that environmental variables influence the development of alcohol abuse problems and alcoholism, and while a real alcoholic would surely drink even if there existed only one outlet within a 2 mile radius, by providing an enormous and ever present environment of alcohol access and temptation, certain schools are undoubtedly contributing to their own alcohol abuse problems.

The solution to college binge drinking may be easier than we had thought

Parents wanting to evaluate the risks to their kids need only take a short drive around and count the number of bars in the neighborhood, and if schools and their communities want to enact serious changes to the culture of college drinking, the answer may well be easier than we had all thought; and with a bit of creative rezoning…we could save thousands of lives a year, and tens of thousands from alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency problems.

The responses of different schools to the problem of college drinking have varied from fundamental changes in policy to lip service and knee jerk reactions, not likely to bring any betterment of the problem. Harvard researchers were surprised at the incredibly strong correlation between alcohol access and alcohol abuse, and suggest that these very "wet" environment pose an incredible risk to people who have not yet developed alcohol abuse problems…but very well might.

A great many parents are nervously wondering how their away from home for the first time kids are getting on at college, and a lot of them will be justifiably concerned about the risks of college drinking, especially when kids are away from parental supervision for the first time in their lives.

College binge drinking and the eventual development of dependency is an enormous societal problem across college campuses in the United States, and the devastation of alcohol related deaths, assaults, and alcohol induced sexual violence transcends schools throughout the country. Some schools are worse than other though…

Researchers at Harvard University wanted to see what variables seemed to influence the levels of alcohol related problems at diverse schools across the nation, and one factor that earned an enormously strong correlation with rates of problem drinking was the number of alcohol outlets within two miles of the campus center.

185 bars within 2 miles of campus!!!

Out of the schools surveyed, the range of alcohol outlets within a 2 mile radius ranged from a substantial 32 to a mind boggling 185, and not surprisingly there was an almost direct correlation of increasing alcohol problems, alcohol abuse, and alcohol dependence with greater numbers of outlets serving alcohol. The school with the greatest number of alcohol outlets had 48% of students getting drunk more than three times a month.

There is no doubt that environmental variables influence the development of alcohol abuse problems and alcoholism, and while a real alcoholic would surely drink even if there existed only one outlet within a 2 mile radius, by providing an enormous and ever present environment of alcohol access and temptation, certain schools are undoubtedly contributing to their own alcohol abuse problems.

The solution to college binge drinking may be easier than we had thought

Parents wanting to evaluate the risks to their kids need only take a short drive around and count the number of bars in the neighborhood, and if schools and their communities want to enact serious changes to the culture of college drinking, the answer may well be easier than we had all thought; and with a bit of creative rezoning…we could save thousands of lives a year, and tens of thousands from alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency problems.

The responses of different schools to the problem of college drinking have varied from fundamental changes in policy to lip service and knee jerk reactions, not likely to bring any betterment of the problem. Harvard researchers were surprised at the incredibly strong correlation between alcohol access and alcohol abuse, and suggest that these very "wet" environment pose an incredible risk to people who have not yet developed alcohol abuse problems…but very well might.