Do you wonder if you have an issue with alcohol? Here are 12 questions to help you find out if you may need some help, courtesy of Dr. Michelle Golland.
Answer Yes or No:
1) Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted a couple of days?
2) Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking and stop telling you what to do?
3) Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hopes that this would keep you from getting drunk?
4) Have you had to have an "eye-opener" upon awakening during the past year?
5) Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
6) Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
7) Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
8) Do you ever try to get "extra" drinks at a party because you do not get enough?
9) Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don't mean to?
10) Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?
11) Do you have blackouts?
12) Have you ever felt your life would be better if you did not drink?
If you answered "yes" four or more times, you probably have trouble with alcohol. To start on the road to recovery, go to aa.org.
According to addiction specialist Jennifer Ginsberg, there are many steps you can take if you need to get clean but aren't willing (or able) to enter treatment:
- Visit a medical professional to get a physical exam. Depending on the amount and type of substances you've been abusing, a medical detox may be required. If you skip this vital step, you may be risking serious medical complications, including seizure or stroke.
- Admit that you have a problem and accept the fact that you can't get sober on your own. Alcoholism and addiction are illnesses that are often characterized by isolation, and this is especially true for moms who struggle with the bottle. Most alcoholics are filled with intense shame over their behaviors, and have spent lots of energy trying to shield their drinking and using from society. I'm not suggesting that you stand on the preschool rooftop and shout, "I'm an alcoholic!" However, it's imperative that you find a trusted person (a friend, family member, therapist or clergy person) and let her know about your problem. In order to get and stay sober, you will have to work diligently to fight against your tendency to isolate.
- On that note, it's time to get to a meeting. Many alcoholics and addicts find tremendous support and recovery in 12-step meetings. When I work with a mom who is trying to get sober, I often tell her that her choices are either 30 meetings in 30 days or checking into an inpatient treatment center. There are no excuses for not going to meetings: These nonsectarian, apolitical groups are free and open to anyone who has a problem with drugs and alcohol. The only requirement for membership is a desire to quit using and drinking -- in fact, you don't even have to be sober to attend! Many women's meetings also offer childcare for a nominal fee, or even allow you to bring small children to the meetings with you. You can find out more about meetings in your community by clicking on Alcoholics Anonymous (for alcoholics) or Narcotics Anonymous (for drug addicts).
- Individual therapy can help you face and understand the issues that led to your substance abuse, and also offer you new tools for coping with life while sober. Many of these mental- health professionals (myself included) offer a sliding payment scale to those who qualify. Don't be afraid to ask. If the therapist isn't willing or able to help you for a price you can afford, find someone else.
- Most importantly, make a commitment to your sobriety. Recognizing that you have a problem and asking for help are acts of courage. Just like anything in life that's worth having, sobriety takes time, energy and commitment. I'm not suggesting that you abandon your family or quit your job to get sober, but you may need to scale back on your personal and professional responsibilities for the time being to get to some extra meetings. Reach out to other women who have gotten sober and ask them for help. If you can't get to a meeting one day, pick up the phone while your child naps and call another recovering person.
Hear more about moms who drink on "20/20" tonight on ABC.