by Erin Goodhart
A glass of wine after a long day at work, champagne to celebrate an anniversary, cocktails with the girls – the occasional alcoholic beverage or two is a part of many modern women’s lifestyles. But when does an occasional indulgence turn into a problem? A recent report by the CDC found that 1 in 8 U.S. women engage in binge drinking (defined as four or more drinks at a time), on average three times a month.
Addiction is a disease of the brain and often requires clinical treatment. However, many women (especially moms) who have a drug or alcohol abuse problem hesitate to seek help for a variety of reasons, including shame and denial.
These five signs and symptoms may indicate alcohol abuse.
A consistent inability to remember significant details or past activities and conversations.
Changes In Mood
Unordinary, yet ongoing change in disposition including irregular irritability, anger and depression, with a lack of interest in important relationships.
Change in Physical Appearance
A noticeable lack of interest in personal hygiene and appearance.
Loss of Time
A disappearance for several hours or days without notifying family and friends.
Inability to Control Drinking in Social Situations
Attending social events leads to excessive drinking or daily activities are planned around drinking.
What We Say When We Rationalize Drinking
With alcohol abuse comes the risk of serious problems with negative long-term health consequences, including alcohol addiction. As such, women struggling with addiction may make “rationalizations” to themselves that become barriers to getting help. Here are some examples:
- "My drinking is just a social thing. It’s not a big deal – everyone is doing it.”
- "I am way too functional to have a substance abuse problem."
- “I don’t have a problem, I just need a little alcohol to take the edge off the stress of life.”
- “Asking for help is a sign of weakness.”
- "My family will not be able to function without me if I go into treatment away from home.”
- “My family and other priorities are more important than my personal well-being.”
It’s important to keep in mind that someone who makes resolutions like these regarding her drinking may not realize she has a problem. She may just be coping the best she can, needing support and encouragement to evaluate her situation and determine the need to ask for help. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the best thing to do is seek help from a professional, such as a doctor or licensed addiction specialist.
For more information on addiction, treatment and recovery, visit www.caron.org.
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Erin Goodhart, MA, LPC, CAADC, ACRPS is the clinical supervisor of the Primary Care Women’s Unit at Caron Treatment Centers Pennsylvania. Erin is also an adjunct professor in an undergraduate Behavioral Health program at Alvernia University in Reading, PA. Erin has a special interest in women’s issues as they relate to addiction, recovery and family dynamics.