treatment

How to Help an Addict Without Enabling Them

Effective Way of Helping an Addict

Friends and family members have to walk a fine line when trying to offer assistance to an addict. Of course, it’s natural to want to help someone you love when you see them suffering. However, recovery efforts are only as successful as the addict’s commitment to them. Because of this truth about recovery, there are good and bad ways that others can lend support to addicts. Be careful not to cross the line over into enabling their addiction. While recovery efforts can be costly, it is important to make sure that any money you give an addict is not just a way for him or her to buy more drugs or alcohol.

AddictIf the addict was only tapering down consumption because he or she could not afford any more of the substance, then your charity might be used to rekindle the addiction rather than seek a long-term treatment option. If an addict tells you that he or she needs money for treatment, you should ask to pay the treatment center directly.

Many addicts alienate their friends and family by being emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive. One of the ways that emotionally toxic relationships develop is that the addict keeps promising over and over to clean up his or her life. In order to avoid this cycle, the friend or family member needs to set clear boundaries and stick to them. Let the addict knows that you won’t tolerate if he/she keeps using.

Tough Love:  The Best Way to Help an Addict

The addict needs to know that there are consequences for his or her behavior. They also need to feel like they have a purpose in life. Let them do the things that they need to do to survive. Otherwise, he/she will not realize how badly the substance is that keeps them from living a normal life. For example, don’t pick up added responsibilities around the house or make excuses for the addict at his/her work place. Sometimes the only road to recovery is to hit rock bottom. If you keep giving the addict a safe cushion to fall on, he or she will never wake up to the realization that drugs or alcohol have ruined their relationships and their lives.  You can’t sugar coat the situation—sometimes the best way to teach someone is to let them fail. Failure is often a better teacher than success.

You have to faced numerous realities about loving an addict. First, you have to give up trying to control the outcome of the situation. It doesn’t matter how much you want your loved one to get help, he or she has to want it. Second, you have to understand that you cannot change the addict. Only he or she has the power to beat addiction. By doing some work on yourself and learning to love while at the same time letting go, you will have a better relationship with an addict.

Friends and family members want to help and they want to show how much they care. But the best way to help an addict is with tough love.

Why You Don’t Really Hate AA

I’ve seen too many people attack the program that saved my life. But their problem isn’t AA itself; it’s some of AA’s members.

I got sober because of Alcoholics Anonymous. I believe with every pore in my body that had it not been for the program, I wouldn’t have been able to put down drugs and alcohol over 12 years ago and wouldn’t be able to live the life I do today.

For a long time, out of what I then considered respect for the 11th tradition, I didn’t publicly identify as a member. In my first novel, Party Girl (which was so autobiographical, I didn’t even bother to act coy about it), I actually switched various AA-related words to protect the program: I used “guidelines” for “steps,” and “apologies” for “amends.” And when I went on TV to promote that book or to talk about the addictions of various celebrities, I always explained ahead of time that if the story they wanted to focus on involved AA, I couldn’t go on, because AA was an anonymous program.

I said the same thing in late 2010.

And then, slowly, my perspective changed. As my years of sobriety—and talking and writing about addiction—continued, I began to realize that my desire to not mention AA had less to do with respecting the 11th tradition than with protecting AA from any more of the judgment was being heaped upon it.

From what I hear, AA is a harsh, religious, recriminating cult.

Before I came to AA, I considered it a cult for Jesus-worshipping freaks, who had nothing better to do with their time and needed something—anything—to cling to. Whatever I heard about the program (they hold hands! They pray! In unison!) I used to fuel that preconception. And that preconception kept me buying books about how AA didn’t work, while I slowly annihilated myself with years of drinking and cocaine.

There seem to be as many ways to interpret the 11th tradition as there are people in AA. Some swear that it means we should never give our last names when we talk about being sober; others say it means we’re allowed to say we’re in AA, so long as we’re not doing it in the press, or on the radio or in films. Still others preach that it means not outing someone else as a member. And there are those who insist that it means never telling anyone anywhere that we’re sober. AA-history obsessives will often tell us how necessary the 11th tradition was, back when alcoholism and addiction were considered horribly shameful; some insist that we still need to honor this tradition, while others say we should scream about our disease from the rooftops, to eradicate any left-over shame.

My own feeling is this: AA’s founders couldn’t have predicted the Internet or the world we live in now, where everything is everyone’s business. Bill and Bob didn’t know that one day anonymous online commenters would attack their program. When the traditions were written, AA was small, young and fragile. Today, it isn’t. And while many have tried to ignore, defame and destroy it since then, the fact is, they haven’t had much success.

But still, because AA doesn’t have a spokesperson, it can’t fight back or respond to the criticisms that are constantly hurled at it. So at a certain point, it seemed like it was okay—in fact, better than okay—to start being open about the program on this site, and allowing those who felt their lives improved by it to share that.

In short, I didn’t want to give people out there who were like me—that is, judgmental and alcoholic—any more reason to judge AA than they already had. Maybe, I thought, if we publicly shared how the program had saved us, we’d help open people’s minds. Whether that mission has been successful, I have absolutely no idea.

Trust me—my positive reaction to AA shocked the hell out of me at first. I honestly couldn’t believe that I didn’t encounter a bunch of glassy-eyed cultists, or tie-dyed followers of some New Age guru forcing newcomers to hand out flowers at the airport.

Well, let me clarify. I did encounter some people who lived up to my preconceptions—or were even worse—but they were not the majority. No, the overwhelming majority were the sort of people I’d been seeking my whole life: funny people, smart people, self-aware people—people who suffered from the same problems I did, but who knew how to talk about and deal with them in ways I hadn’t yet learned.

The last person I ever thought I’d be was Susie AA—the girl sitting in the front row of the meeting, or at a coffee shop highlighting her favorite passages in the Big Book. But that’s who I became. Turns out, I’d always been waiting for someone to give me rules for living beyond those my family had presented—which were mainly about going to an Ivy League school, making six figures at your first job and suing people before they sued you. Though I didn’t know it consciously at the time, I’d been seeking out information about how it was my self-obsession—well, self-obsession plus stimulants and depressants—that was making me so miserable.

I’m well aware that this is apparently not most people’s experience when they come to AA. From what I hear—mostly from anonymous commenters on The Fix—AA is not the welcoming, loving, non-judgmental solution to a miserable life that I discovered. Instead, it’s a harsh, religious, recriminating cult, filled with controlling assholes who are determined to believe that their way is the only way.

In some ways, I understand. After all, I have met, in AA, horrible, judgmental people, who are determined to believe that their way is the only way. And I’ve met, as you’d expect, people who are mentally ill.

I have been told, by a woman who was sponsoring me, that I wasn’t “really sober” because I was on anti-depressants, and asked to immediately get out of her car.

I have been ruthlessly shamed by another sponsor, because she put me on “dating restriction” for a year (not my first year of sobriety, by the way) and, nine months into it, I kissed a guy. She told me I hadn’t surrendered and “fired” me outside a meeting as I sobbed.

I have listened to women preach from podiums about how determined they are to help everyone they can—then had them not return my calls after they’ve agreed to sponsor me.

I have shared deeply personal things in meetings and had people approach me days or weeks later to give me unsolicited, offensive feedback about what I was doing that had caused me to feel the way I did.

The program is what you find in the Big Book—not the people who make up the fellowship.

I have been pulled aside by old ladies after I’ve shared and told that I was sharing “wrong.” And I’ve heard about even worse things: AA icons sleeping with newcomers, sponsors giving sponsees drugs—you name it.

But not one of these things has caused me to hate AA.

Maybe that’s because I was lucky enough to meet some genuinely, ridiculously amazing people when I first came in. Maybe it’s because I got sober in LA, where there is, arguably, less shame and more cheer about sobriety than anywhere else, so that the overall joy made it easier to overlook the sicker folk. Maybe it’s because I was so desperate when I got to AA that I couldn’t afford to think any differently.

Yes, there are assholes in AA. But you find them everywhere. And while AA, by the very nature of what brings people to the rooms, may have a higher percentage than some other places, that doesn’t make AA the asshole. If those people weren’t in AA, they would just be somewhere else, doing their best to give that somewhere else a bad name. The program is what you find in the Big Book—not the people who make up the fellowship.

Hey, you can still hate AA. But if you go there, and encounter someone who tells you that you have to get sober his way, or shames you for not doing exactly what she says, I just ask that you consider going to another meeting or reaching out to another person—to consider that this individual might be the problem. The people in AA whose lives seem to be working are, from what I can tell, those who remember that good AA’s don’t tell anyone how to do anything; who reinforce the fact that the steps are merely suggestions; who don’t say you must believe in some almighty God, but just ask you to consider that perhaps you’re not the one in charge of everything.

All of which is to say that maybe, just maybe, your hatred is misdirected. At the very least, now you can direct it toward me instead of the program. After all, I’m the one telling you that you don’t feel the way you say you do.

Can You Get Sober with the Help of God?

Getting Sober: Religious and Spiritual Approach

Addicts need all the help they can get in order to successfully get sober. Many may find the support they need by turning to faith-based groups. These groups often view recovery not as a matter of chemical dependency but as a matter of moral sinfulness. They see substance abuse as a ”vice,” whereas the medical community views it as a matter of brain chemistry and chemical dependency. Recommended treatments from faith-based groups will involve bettering your relationship with Jesus. Not all Christian groups have the same relationship to alcohol, however. Catholics, for instance, often drink wine as part of their celebration of mass. Some branches of Protestant faith, however, often avoid any drink in their celebration the Eucharist or they substitute grape juice.

Most time-tested 12-step recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, reference God frequently in their meetings and philosophy. It’s possible for an atheist or non-Christian to participate in these programs, but it will require some creative thinking. These approaches has been successful in large part because of the way they tackle addiction from a multi-pronged standpoint, as a disorder of mind, body, and soul.

Determine the Cause of Addiction

Getting SoberThere are also special faith-based treatment centers that help addicts getting sober and rebuild their relationship with God and with their Christian community. They seek to replace the addictive behaviors with prayer and meditation. Many people who choose this particular recovery approach became addicts because they experiences a loss of faith. If you turn to substance abuse because you have begun to question God’s benevolence in the face of losses you have suffered, then to undo your addiction, you might seek a faith-based approach. However, if your addiction has nothing to do with a loss of faith in God, then this approach may not work for you. Addicts need to be honest with themselves in many ways. Perhaps, the most important element of truth needed for recovery is seeing the underlying issues that led to addiction.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that God will just magically make your addiction go away. As Christians like to say, “God helps those who help themselves”. Or, as Lao Russell wrote, “God will work with you but not for you”. The reality is that if prayer alone could cure someone from addiction, then there would probably be no more addicts.  Replacing drugs/alcohol with God may have short-term positive benefits, but it doesn’t address the underlying issues of addictive personality. It just redirects the obsession to a more acceptable subject.

Making Amends Was Everything I Least Expected

I thought I knew exactly how my Ninth Step in AA would unfold. Instead, over a decade later, I’m still trying to make sense of people’s unpredictable reactions.

I heard about how sober people made amends long before I got sober. Somehow, the idea that alcoholics and addicts went around apologizing for their past misdeeds lodged itself in my psyche at a time when I had yet to say the Serenity Prayer.

Road to RecoveryThat doesn’t mean I understood the concept. For instance, if you’d asked me then if apologizing and making amends were the same thing, I’d have sworn that they were. I had no experience, yet, of making things right with someone I’d wronged—let alone making things right in a way that might stop me repeating whatever it was I’d done in the first place.

By the time I got to my Ninth Step, I’d picked up a few things. Probably the most important one was that I didn’t have to play the victim anymore. My Fourth and Fifth steps had showed me that I had played a major part in all my resentments—a realization that I found liberating. Steps Six, Seven and Eight had gotten me ready to make my amends. And while I was certainly nervous about getting started on what I then thought of as my apology tour, I was also excited.

I was promised miracles and they came—but never how or when I expected them.

I figured I’d knock out the “easy” ones first: one to Lauren and another to Peter, both former party pals. In each case I’d done something gossipy and mean-spirited but not atrocious, so I figured these amends would be simple. These people weren’t, after all, family members who were likely to make the experience traumatizing, or exes whom I dreaded to contact at all. They were just people I’d once spent a lot of time around but didn’t really have anything in common with anymore. Easy, right?

I called Lauren first (this was in the days before Caller ID or the demise of landlines):

“Lauren? Hey, it’s Anna.”

Long pause.

“Hey, Anna.”

“So listen. I’m calling because—“

“Oh, God, don’t tell me this is one of those ‘amends’ type of calls. I just—”

“Please let me—”

“Look, I heard you’re sober and that’s great. But this just isn’t something I’m up for.”

Click.

I sat there listening to the dial tone. In all the amends scenarios I’d mentally concocted, having someone—let alone the first person I reached out to—not be willing to hear what I had to say had never occurred to me. I’d read in the Big Book that we had to be willing to go to people we feared might throw us out of their offices, but I’d never read anything about how to handle the people who wouldn’t even take the call to set up the meeting. Still, what could I do—call her back, tell her it was about something else and sneak an amends in? My sponsor told me to move on, so I did.

To Peter. Who, well, never called me back. I didn’t realize he wasn’t ever planning to call me back until a week or so after I’d left a voicemail, when our mutual friend told me. “He doesn’t like to revisit the past,” the friend explained. “He said you don’t need to apologize for anything.”

This wasn’t how I’d imagined it going. I’d heard other people share about how they’d suddenly find themselves running into the very person they’d been planning to make amends to that day. Why was the opposite happening to me?

But I moved on. I had to. And I continued to find the process nothing like I expected it to be.

In general, it seemed like the people I thought weren’t going to be amenable to even meeting up welcomed me warmly. Those I thought would forgive me right away, meanwhile, were dismissive or indifferent. But one thing remained predictable: The amends that I was so terrified to make that I shook with terror or sobs at the thought were always the most rewarding of all.

Take, for instance, the ex I’d never gotten over. I called him up one evening when I was about five years sober and told him how sorry I was for destroying our relationship, for every cruel thing I’d uttered and each horrible mistake I’d made when we were together. But rather than lay into me as I expected, he said he was glad to hear from me, that it helped him make sense of his past, that he was happy I was sober and doing well. But, he added, I was blaming myself too much; he’d played just as big a part in what had gone wrong between us as I had. The conversation was more honest, painful and beautiful than any we’d had the entire time we lived together. I hung up feeling about 20 pounds lighter. I was finally free of an idea I hadn’t even realized I’d been clinging to—that I’d been a monster, and he my innocent victim.

Then there was the time I met up with a friend I’d known since I was 12 but had fallen out with in my twenties. We went on a hike and I told her how sorry I was for the way I’d behaved the last time we’d spoken, five or so years earlier. It turned out she was in a 12-step program too—so she actually made amends to me right after I made them to her. By the time we got to the bottom of the canyon, we’d re-launched our friendship—on new, healthier terms. Over a decade later, we talk nearly every day.

I was promised miracles and they came—but never how or when I expected them.

Take my financial amends. The first debt that I owed was to my college roommate, for the time I’d borrowed her car in sophomore year and then acted surprised when I saw the dent. I explained to her that I’d actually crashed into something when drunk and lied to her, and that I wanted to reimburse her for the damages. But she wouldn’t hear of it.

For my next financial amends, I decided to just go ahead and send a check. It was to a girl I’d lived with when I first moved to New York after college, a girl who’d moved out of our crappy, railroad-style place without notice one Thanksgiving weekend when I was out of town. It was a shitty thing to do, of course. But it didn’t make it right for me to charge up the phone bill in her name as high as I could, and then not respond when she asked me to reimburse her. So I tracked down her address and mailed a check and a card, apologizing for the phone bill as well as for being—well, the kind of roommate who would inspire someone to move out over Thanksgiving weekend without notice.

She sent the check back, along with a note that said, essentially, that she was doing very well, that she had a husband, five kids and a thriving career as a chiropractor, and that if I felt so bad about my behavior, then I should donate the money to a good cause since she didn’t need my charity.

Glenn was a guy who’d lock my cats away when I was out and call the landlord when I had friends from AA over, saying that he was “scared for his life” because there were “homeless alcoholics” around.

Like I said, not what I expected. But even that one allowed me to live with a little more freedom.

Some amends haven’t involved contacting people at all. Glenn, a gay guy I’d lived with the second time I’d moved to New York, when I was about seven years sober, had started off cool as could be but slowly revealed himself to be crazy—a guy who’d lock my cats away when I was out and call the landlord when I had friends from AA over, saying that he was “scared for his life” because there were “homeless alcoholics” around. (To say I’ve had bad luck with New York roommates would be an understatement.)

Though I ended up moving out and getting away from him entirely, I found myself still resenting him months later. I had done plenty wrong in our relationship, but trying to make amends to him was something I couldn’t imagine—not when he’d done things to me that I couldn’t imagine getting over. I decided to make a “living amends” by trying to be kind and gracious in my life—the opposite of how I’d been toward him at the end. But that didn’t stop me from resenting him. So, at my sponsor’s suggestion, I committed to praying for him for 90 days—specifically for him to get everything he wanted and for me to have empathy for the fact that he’d been doing the best he could. I did it for those three months, never feeling any differently about him but staying committed to the process because my sponsor kept asking me about it. I thought it was silly: I never felt any differently about Glenn.

Until the day, months after I’d stopped praying for him, that I met a guy who asked me if I knew anyone great to set him up with and I found myself answering, without thinking, “Yes! I know this amazing guy named Glenn.”

Glenn! As in: the guy I hated. Had hated, apparently.

Those days and weeks and months of asking an entity I didn’t even understand to give Glenn what he wanted had apparently granted me the empathy to see that he only hurt like that because of the pain he was in himself. And this had relieved me of my resentment, without me even realizing. It was surreal. (And no, I didn’t set the two guys up—I had no interest in ever talking to Glenn again—but the space he’d been taking up my head was cleared.)

I still do things I need to make amends for. Sometimes I make them right away and sometimes not for a long time. But I’ve found that time works in surprising ways when it comes to these things. Consider, for instance, what happened with Peter—the guy who wouldn’t call me back when I first started making my amends. Years had passed—so many years that he’d forgotten I’d ever said or done anything hurtful to him—when I ran into him one evening outside the gym. He told me that he’d just gotten an offer to sell a book of poetry, then asked if I’d be willing to look over the contract the publisher was asking him to sign.

I said I’d be happy to, and we met up a few days later, when I looked over his contract and gave him the best advice I could. Then I told him how sorry I was about the hurtful thing I’d done so many years before. I still remember how shocked his bright blue eyes looked when they jumped from the contract pages to meet mine. Then they filled with tears. Turns out, this thing I’d done that was “just” gossipy and mean-spirited had actually been something I needed to make right. And the guy who didn’t like to “revisit the past,” who’d told a friend I didn’t have to apologize for anything, ended up accepting my apology lovingly, giving me one more opportunity to chip away at the guilt and shame I didn’t want to walk around with anymore. He just hadn’t been able to do it on my time schedule.

Lauren has never surfaced. But that’s not to say that she won’t.

What are the Health Problems Caused by Alcoholism?

Health Problems Caused by Alcoholism

Given the increasing opioid epidemic that’s currently plaguing the millennial generation, it’s important to remember the negative consequences of alcoholism. While opioid use often manifests with visible physical symptoms even in its early stages, alcoholism is called the “silent killer” because its effects are less obvious right away. However, the health problems associated with excess alcohol consumption are nonetheless just as deadly as any other addiction.

One of the most widespread consequences of even moderate alcohol consumption is related to the body’s cardiovascular system. Even people who limit drinking to periods of celebration with friend and family suffer from something doctors call “holiday heart,” where increased alcohol intake triggers heart palpitations and tightness of breath, mimicking the signs of a heart attack. These episodes of holiday heart are not without risk: some types of abnormal heart rhythms can lead to stroke or heart failure, if not treated. In alcoholics who drink to excess regularly, the stress on the body’s cardiovascular system is even more damaging and can lead to early heart disease and other health problems related to a weakened cardiovascular system.

Health Consequences

Health ProblemsOf course, the health consequence most closely associated with alcoholism is cirrhosis of the liver. It is responsible with processing toxins in the blood stream. Any amount of alcohol consumed makes the liver work harder than normal. It creates conditions that often leave fatty deposits, cause liver inflammation, and create a build-up of scar tissue. So, liver becomes less capable of filtering out toxins in the blood, this failure can create stress on other organs.

The body breaks alcohol down into various components during the process of digestion. Some of those components, such as acetaldehyde, have been known to increase risks of cancer. Excessive drinking also leads an addict to use more tobacco products. The risks of cancer double to include those types of cancers inked to smoking, such as mouth and lung cancers.

The process of digesting alcohol can also cause issues in the stomach and intestinal tract. Alcoholics often avoid eating so that the high from drinking is more intense. But, drinking on an empty stomach can result in malnutrition and its many related health problems. Since alcohol dehydrates, drinkers often suffer from ulcers/hemorrhoids, which can be the source of internal bleeding, if left untreated.

Health Risks

One of the overlooked categories of health risks related to alcohol consumption are automobile accidents. Just one drink can dull a driver’s response time so that he or she is incapable of responding to changing traffic patterns in a timely fashion. Additional drinks can cause drivers to drive significantly over or under the speed limit and to swerve in his or her lane, increasing the chances for fatal accidents should they cross over into oncoming traffic. This is just one of the ways that drinking affects the brain negatively by interfering with motor coordination. Other ways is that it can cause sudden shifts in mood and behavior that damage interpersonal relationship, whether personally/professionally. Alcohol is a depressant and can exacerbate existing mental health issues.

Drinking temporarily affects motor coordination, but it can damage the alcoholic’s brain permanently. Heavy alcohol consumption causes memory loss and bring on other signs of dementia because it makes certain part brain atrophy.

While it’s true that the effects of alcohol on the body can vary due to a person’s weight, genetic makeup, gender, and level of fitness, the results of scientific findings are overwhelming in their consensus about the negative effects of alcohol on the body.

Is Alcoholism a Disability and Protected by Law?

The Disability Discrimination Act states that alcoholism is not included under its list of protected disabilities, however, courts in the U.S. and Canada have ruled on a case-by-case basis that alcoholism is a disability that is protected by law. This means that alcoholics maintain certain rights and privileges. For example, it would be legally questionable to fire an alcoholic employee for behavior related to their alcoholism. The government provides assistance to people suffering from alcoholism in the form of food stamps and subsidized housing. Certainly, there are generous interpretations to the law and even loopholes. For instance, even if a judge were to rule against protecting alcoholism as a disability, the conditions that result from this disease, such as depression or cirrhosis, may qualify for protection. But the bottom line is that major organizations, such as the ACLU and American Medical Association, view alcoholism as a disability.

There are two competing sets of recommendations at odds in laws regarding the workplace. At the same time that the Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates that employers are responsible for making sure that a professional environment is devoid of illegal substances and their use, this same law states that workers who are recovering from addiction are entitled to protection. However, the process of recovery is almost never a straight line, and is often fraught with relapse. At what point is someone “recovering” versus a “user”?

2 Things to Consider Before Firing an Employee

DisabilityEmployers who might be considering firing an employee because of his or her excessive drinking need to take a few things into consideration, given that courts have returned rulings that view it as a protected disability. First, equal treatment for all employees. If a number of employees have drinking problems, then one or two cannot be selected for termination. This is difficult grey area because employers should document the difference between moderate to heavy drinking and an actual addiction. It’s extremely challenging in certain employment sectors, such as the restaurant industry, where alcohol consumption tends to be quite widespread. Second, the excessive drinking has to interfere with the performance of employee’s job and lessen the quality of their work. This can also prove to be challenging to distinguish and document.

Drug use is a bit more problematic of a category than alcoholism because of the illegal nature of those substances. It is clearly stated in the law that illegal drug use is not considered a disability, however, it is legal in the U.S. for anyone over the age of 21 to consume alcohol, so alcoholism, in not involving with illegal substances, is more readily treated as a disability in the workplace than any other addiction. Testing for illegal drug use is not a violation of protection for disabilities.

Recovering alcoholics who are not currently drinking are the clearest category protected under the disability act. Employers must provide reasonable accommodation of alcoholism as a disability. This means to offer the employee a special schedule in order to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The official disability awards is based functional limitation caused by alcoholism.

The Disability Discrimination Act states that alcoholism is not included under its list of protected disabilities, however, courts in the U.S. and Canada have ruled on a case-by-case basis that alcoholism is a disability that is protected by law. This means that alcoholics maintain certain rights and privileges. For example, it would be legally questionable to fire an alcoholic employee for behavior related to their alcoholism. The government provides assistance to people suffering from alcoholism in the form of food stamps and subsidized housing. Certainly, there are generous interpretations to the law and even loopholes. For instance, even if a judge were to rule against protecting alcoholism as a disability, the conditions that result from this disease, such as depression or cirrhosis, may qualify for protection. But the bottom line is that major organizations, such as the ACLU and American Medical Association, view alcoholism as a disability.

There are two competing sets of recommendations at odds in laws regarding the workplace. At the same time that the Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates that employers are responsible for making sure that a professional environment is devoid of illegal substances and their use, this same law states that workers who are recovering from addiction are entitled to protection. However, the process of recovery is almost never a straight line, and is often fraught with relapse. At what point is someone “recovering” versus a “user”?

2 Things to Consider Before Firing an Employee

Disability

Employers who might be considering firing an employee because of his or her excessive drinking need to take a few things into consideration, given that courts have returned rulings that view it as a protected disability. First, equal treatment for all employees. If a number of employees have drinking problems, then one or two cannot be selected for termination. This is difficult grey area because employers should document the difference between moderate to heavy drinking and an actual addiction. It’s extremely challenging in certain employment sectors, such as the restaurant industry, where alcohol consumption tends to be quite widespread. Second, the excessive drinking has to interfere with the performance of employee’s job and lessen the quality of their work. This can also prove to be challenging to distinguish and document.

Drug use is a bit more problematic of a category than alcoholism because of the illegal nature of those substances. It is clearly stated in the law that illegal drug use is not considered a disability, however, it is legal in the U.S. for anyone over the age of 21 to consume alcohol, so alcoholism, in not involving with illegal substances, is more readily treated as a disability in the workplace than any other addiction. Testing for illegal drug use is not a violation of protection for disabilities.

Recovering alcoholics who are not currently drinking are the clearest category protected under the disability act. Employers must provide reasonable accommodation of alcoholism as a disability. This means to offer the employee a special schedule in order to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The official disability awards is based functional limitation caused by alcoholism.

What Are Some Signs That You Might be an Alcoholic?

Many people, at some point or another, question how much alcohol they are consuming. Maybe a friend or loved one has suggested there might be a problem. A drunk person might do something wrong that he will regret eventually. Either way, it’s important to consider the distinction between healthy alcohol consumption and troubling, addictive behavior.

Culturally, you can drink to excess on important occasions to celebrate major life milestones. Most common occasions are graduation, getting married and work promotions. On these occasions, binge drinking is not really considered to be problematic in the same way that consuming that same amount of alcohol might be if done on a random Tuesday at lunch. Therefore, the context for drinking is important to consider when you are asking questions about whether you are becoming alcoholic.

An additional element of context involves what time of day you drink and whether you drink alone or with companions. Most happy hours begin in the late afternoon because drinking later in the day is considered more acceptable. If you’re drinking earlier in the day, especially drinking early in the morning, then you’re probably engaging in addictive behavior. Drinking alone could also indicate a level of dependence on alcohol that is not as easily suggested by drinking to facilitate social interactions with other people.

How to Assess Alcoholism

Alcoholic

The idea of being social with others is a key indicator in another way. If your personality changes greatly while drinking, for example, if you become more belligerent or antagonistic when you drink, this could definitely be a sign that you have a problem involving alcohol. In this scenario, your alcohol use is not helping you to have a good time with others

The issue of quantity is also a determining factor in assessments of alcoholism. Alcoholics often cannot stop drinking once they have started and will continue their consumption well beyond that of the other people who are joining them. “Blacking out” is a potential sign of serious addiction. It happens when you’re drinking too much to the point where you have trouble remembering what you said or did.

The alcohol’s effects on your body are also a good way to gauge whether you might have a drinking problem. Waking up with muscle tremors could indicate that your body is going through withdrawal. This means that you’ve been drinking so much and so regularly that your body has developed a dependency on alcohol. Whether you can “handle your liquor” can also point to a problem with drinking because an alcoholic whose body is developing a dependency will need to drink more alcohol in order to achieve a drunken state.

Think about all of the various activities that fill your time. If you build your schedule around activities that involve alcohol consumption, then seek help from a therapist dedicated to recovery.

Overcoming Addiction: Can Alcoholism Ever be Cured?

If someone is to recover from an addiction, the first step is admitting that there is a problem. A mental health professional, such as a therapist, should be consulted. They can offer a tailored treatment plan for an addict. They will address the underlying issues that led to the addictive behavior in the first place. There are treatment centers for almost every kind of addiction: alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex, work, gambling, Internet, and many others. You cannot really cure addiction and alcoholism. Addicts just learn to live with the understanding that they have an addiction. And that they learn various coping mechanisms to free themselves from its negative effects on their lives.

One of the first steps of recovering from addiction is to detox from the substance. Some people have had success by stopping “cold turkey” on their own. However, most addicts who need larger support from friends or an established medical facility found the method ineffective. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, seem to be the most effective long-term solution for recovery. Many of the successful treatments involve some form of therapy. In behavior therapy, addicts learn why they abuse substances and then learn more productive behaviors to cope with the feeling or events in life that trigger their addiction.

Treatment Options

There are many medicines in the market that claimed to cure addiction. One such product, Vivitrol, is a version of naltrexone, an opioid blocker, that takes away the “high” an addict feels by blocking the brain’s release of endorphins. Some alcoholics, including a group of Hollywood actors, claim that this method of curing alcoholism is extremely effective and are campaigning for its wider use in the United States. Few European countries have used it currently. Other similar medications are disulfiram and acamprosate.

AddictionAddiction or alcoholism has no real cure because a relapse into the addictive behavior can happen at any time. Even among the success stories of people who go through recovery programs for addiction, you often find stories about how the addiction just shifted to something less harmful, like an addiction to exercise or an obsession over “eating clean”. The 12-step programs can help someone stop their addiction to drugs or alcohol, but it can’t cure an addictive personality. It’s clear from the way these programs work that addiction doesn’t ever go away forever. Recovering alcoholics, for instance, can never have another drink of alcohol again. The same goes for those recovering from drug use. They have to be careful even to avoid overuse of prescription medications, which could impact their healthcare.

Even though there is no cure for drug addiction or alcoholism, it is worth seeking help if you think you might have a problem. It is helpful inorder to prevent the negative consequences you might be facing due to your dangerous behavior. Famous faces in recovery serve as reminders of how one can turn one’s life around through any of the various treatment options available. Even without a cure, it doesn’t mean addicts are ever without hope.

Bio

After nearly two decades of drinking and destroying just about every relationship in my life, I decided to get help. I didn’t know what to expect (and in some ways, I still don’t), but getting sober has been the most rewarding, fulfilling decision I’ve ever made. In the years since I entered treatment, secured an AA sponsor, and forged friendships in sobriety that rival all the others in my life, I feel like a completely different person. It’s as if I woke up in another person’s life. I’m a married father of three young children who lives in Columbus, Ohio, along with a bossy cat named Dr. No.

Most of my recovery has been spent writing about my experiences, and I’ve been fortunate to have my work picked up by The Fix, AfterParty Magazine, The Literary Review, and The Live Oak Review, among others. I want to help others find meaningful, lasting sobriety in any way that I can, which is part of the reason I’m so committed to Genius Recovery. More than that, though, I sincerely believe in the vision, aims and purpose of Genius Recovery. I’m as passionate about recovery as I am about discovering levels to my life that I didn’t know existed. After all, addiction recovery is about hope as much as it is about possibility. Through my writing, I hope to guide others to discover what’s possible for them, too. 

– Paul

What is Drug Rehabilitation? Does it Really Work?

Drug Rehabilitation

Drug rehabilitation is typically a 30-day program that requires clients to stay in either a home, hospital or rehab setting, attending group and individual therapy throughout the day. The types of drug rehabilitation vary greatly.

  • There are free programs and programs that cost over six figures for a month of treatment
  • Some programs are less than a week and those that last for over a year.
  • Programs that are extremely strict and don’t allow clients to have outside contact, technology, reading material, caffeine, sugar or cigarettes.
  • Lastly, programs that allow clients to come and go as they please with all the privileges of home.

Some rehabilitation’s provide regular individual therapy, which can mean meetings with psychiatrists, therapists, counselors or rehab techs. Because of the belief that many addicts suffer from dual diagnosis (i.e., a mental illness such as depression in addition to alcoholism or addiction), many rehabs will have clients meet with psychiatrists who can prescribe SSRIs, mood stabilizers or other medications. Psychiatrists often applied detox to heavily addicted clients. It lasts from a few days to a week. Detox stabilizes the patients through a combination of medication and medical care before the treatment begins.

Drug RehabilitationWhile the majority of rehabs used to subscribe to the AA philosophy—that treatment depends upon the belief in a Higher Power—this system of belief is considered controversial and an increasing number of rehabs now offer more evidence-based treatment. Another shift in thinking is around treatment time. Until recently, recovery experts believed that 30 days of inpatient treatment was enough to put clients on the road to recovery but a more recent school of thought supports the notion that 90 days is far more effective and that inpatient treatment should be followed by a stay in a sober living home along with outpatient treatment.