Degrees of “Alcohol Disorder”
When we reprinted portions of Gabrielle Glaser’s Sunday New York Times essay, “America, Can We Talk About Your Drinking?” last week I noted that I would follow up on some of the topics in subsequent Newsletters. So here goes.
As Ms. Glaser noted, rather than adhering to the old AA dichotomy of one being either an “alcoholic” or and “alcoholic in denial,” the DSM-V, which lists criteria for various conditions, uses the “clunky” “Alcohol Use Disorder” which cover a spectrum from minor through severe.
Why is that important?
Mainly because it eliminates the old “hit bottom” mythology which had people postponing getting help until they found themselves in a disaster zone.
Recognizing that you can get a little help when you perceive that your use is beginning to be problematic can be a big relief. No, you don’t have to label yourself, or allow yourself to be labeled. As with most conditions, addressing it early not only makes it easier to address but also broadens the possible outcomes.
Most of us have feared that the only “cure” was to sink into a quagmire of powerlessness, endless meetings, nonsensical Steps, and victimhood. Happily that is not the case but that mythology is so pervasive that most of us need to be freed from it as much as we do our misuse of alcohol.
So, please, you don’t have to label yourself, nor add the stigma, nor avoid normal people and activities and functions, nor never drink a toast at your child’s wedding.
You can get short term help which teaches you how to deal with whatever conditions you are self-medicating. Alcohol abuse is, after all, a symptom – not a disease. Correct the underlying conditions and the need to drug yourself will go away.
There is one big problem with this however. The help most of you want needs to be confidential and confidential programs mostly don’t exist. Which brings us to another of Ms. Glaser’s points.
Another notation in Ms. Glaser’s article concerned your worries about being exposed. That worry isn’t unfounded.
In examining this issue once again, I googled “confidential alcohol treatment” then called several programs all of which promised confidential services. I then asked a number of questions:
- Do you accept insurance?
- Do you do groups?
- Do you have hourly staff?
- Do you use AA/12 Step in any way?
- Do I have to be “gone” for more than a week?
Does your program physician – if you have one – use an electronic prescription service?
- Are medications obtained through a national chain pharmacy?
Almost needless to say, none of the programs met even these rudimentary requirements for confidentiality. To note:
- Insurance records aren’t confidential;
- Groups aren’t confidential;
- Hourly staff, as well as group members, gossip;
- AA is not “anonymous” and hasn’t been for 70 years, at least;
- Electronic prescription services and chain pharmacies do not hold your medication information in confidence, especially if you use insurance.
Once again, we remained the only program that complied with these and other considerations which insure that you will not be permanently labeled, nor will your license, security clearance, professional and community standing be jeopardized.
Whatever level your alcohol consumption has reached, don’t you deserve to correct it privately, permanently, affordably, effectively, and without labels and conditions which prevent you from returning to a normal and healthy life?
We think you do even though “they” don’t.
As with your drinking, it’s your choice. Make the one that’s going to free you, not handicap you even more than alcohol already has.
Oh, and anyone can take a week’s vacation to southern California without arousing the least suspicion. And the remaining 3 months or more can be done by phone, Skype, or in person as you prefer and your circumstances dictate. All of which explains why people come to us from as far away as India and as near as 4 blocks up the street.