I am, as most people who know me will be able to attest to, not an alarmist. Heck, I still believe that a large number of studies about the dangers of product X or substance Y are heavily exaggerated. However, this study (MSNBC link) rings all too true:
WASHINGTON - Heavy social drinkers show the same pattern of brain damage as hospitalized alcoholics --enough to impair day-to-day functioning, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. Brain scans show clear damage, and tests of reading, balance and other function show people who drink more than 100 drinks a month have some problems, the researchers said.
Reading the piece I wondered.... Who is drinking 100 drinks a month? And then, I thought back. To my college days. One hundred drinks a month, that's on average three a day. Five or more on the weekends, and you're all set for a sober day or two, and still remain in this category. Yepp, that'd be me. For about three years, this would adequately describe my drinking habits. Yes, I had my sober days, and even a sober week or two, when I was broke, but amended by all those night-long drinking sprees and party indulgences, I might have broken the 100 drinks a month easily in most months.
And then I asked around. Few of my friends actually hit the 100 drinks a month, but some a rather scarily close. Let's say you're half there. That's half the dose you need for brain damage. There's little out there, I'd get as close as this to, if I know it'll turn my cranium into mush.
As I said, just another thing to consider if you're thinking about quitting or starting it up, again.
To make the discussion process a bit more open, I've created a bulletin board for those interested in posting their own experiences and discussing them. The webboard is a beta, that means it might move somewhere else if we get enough response, and intended as a companion product, not a replacement to this weblog.
If you are interested in creating your own forum, send me an email, and I'll add it for you, as long as it's even slightly related to the topic :)
The DNS might be not fully propagated at this point, so if you get a "host not found" message, try it a few times more, some of the DNS servers already carry the assignment.
You know, you are drinking too much, maybe you even fear or know you are addicted to alcohol? This is a weblog, a personal journal kept by a few individuals who are in the process of quitting alcohol, or have in the past. While we are always willing to help, there are local organizations right around the corner from you, who might be a better first step.
If you know someone, who is addicted, and would like to know what you can do, to help, read on down, I have some resources for you, too.
If you want to quit - do yourself, and your body a favor: See your doctor. Your primary physician is a great resource. And here's why:
- Your doctor is obligated to keep quiet. No gossip, no rumors. Just you, and him/her.
- Your doctor knows you. He can help you right now, right there. He can also help you, once you kicked the habit, to rebuild what is lost.
- Believe it, or not :), but you're not the only one who has this problem. Your doctor knows the resources that are available in the area, has heard good and bad stories about them, and will help you find the best, fastest, least resistance, way out.
If you don't have a primary care physician, you should get one. Who else will tell you, how much healthier you are, in a few weeks? :) If you've seen a doctor, find a group of people. The biggest, and best known, self-help organization is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I've assembled a few links below. AA is a faith-based organization, which might not be your cup of tea. If that is the case, ask your doctor for a local secular self-help group or recovery program.
Please understand, that we assembled this list as an initial step for you. Things on the Internet may change, or organizations may close or move. We're not experts in alcohol recovery, we're just someone like you, ready to kick the habit or hoping a loved one, will.
Alcoholics Anonymous is the best known Alcohol Rehabilitation and Recovery organization. There is an AA in virtually every town, so it's a very easily accessible program. AA is usually free (donations accepted), protects your privacy and openly welcomes new members. AA is a faith based recovery program, which does not (and can not) prescribe medications. It is also run by volunteer laymen, not professional counselors.
Friends and families of Alcoholics may find help and resources at the local Al-Anon/Alateen chapter. Like AA, both are free of charge (donations accepted), and use the AA twelve-step program. Alateen is also helping teenage alcoholics with tools and sessions designed for younger addicts. Al-Anon meetings are held in 115 countries. There are over 24,000 Al-Anon and over 2,300 Alateen groups worldwide.
Alcoholics Victorious is a Christian faith-based organization. AV uses the twelve steps like AA, but in a Christian, not spiritual, context.
A.R.T.S is a twelve-step (faith-based) program for artists.
JACS is the Jewish equivalent to AV.
DRA is a twelve-step program, but it also offers psychological disorder treatments. Psychological or psychiatric disorders are not seldom causes or supporting causes of alcohol addiction.
When you decide to go from drinker to ex-drinker, and stay one, you will undoubtedly meet others, who made this decision before you. And just like any other habit, from smoking to compulsive shopping, or excessive physical exercise, every one has a different success or failure story to tell.
Friend A will tell you, how a certain program helped him to remain committed to his decision. Friend B, however, will tell you, how she gained no benefit from it, and how another approach supported her strides. And, later, out of the woodworks, comes Person C, who will try to sell you some guaranteed remedy, no personal commitment and work required.
The American Psychiatric Association, APA, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), have studied numerous programs, and have yet to point the finger at any one of them, declaring it a clear winner. A recent study on A.A., Alcoholics Anonymous, a faith-based program, however, seems to have opened the way for a deeper analysis of such programs, re-kindling interest in non-psychiatric programs as alternatives to one-on-one sessions and medically aided recovery.
In the long run, it will be you, who decides. And it will be you, and only you, who will be able to find the right way to do it. If it doesn't work the first time (in most cases, the more committed you are, the more likely it will work right away), don't despair. There's a second attempt coming right up.
And, as always, let me know, if I can help.
Thu, 01 Jan 2004, 18:26
Here are links to some of the blog entries that lead up to the creation of this blog. (Most of the dialog was in email and chat.)
- Quit Drinking, Joi Ito - December 15, 2003
- Halley quits drinking - December 15, 2003
- Joi's drinking update - December 18, 2003
- Cure Addiction by Jonas - December 24, 2003
- What are the "12 steps" by Jonas - December 25, 2003
- I REFUSE, Sean Bonner - January 1, 2004
- a blog about addiction, Joi Ito - January 1, 2004
Please post more.