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Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at
(847) 498-5611.

Learn how to prevent and recover from chemical dependency as well as the aftereffects of chemical dependency on you and your family. Read Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. series of Recovery books.


What is Alcohol and Other Drugs Abuse?


D
ear Dr. Steve:
I was recently referred to my Employee Assistance Counselor by my supervisor at work. My supervisor believes that my work performance is falling off sharply. In my written referral to the Employee Assistance Counselor she wrote that there has been “a sharp increase in absenteeism, a pattern of returning from lunch late at least once a week, a noticeable pattern of leaving work early on paydays, a decline in production output, an increase in production of waste materials, and a noticeable decline in how well I get along with my co-workers.” I told my counselor that my supervisor has it in for me, she watches me like a hawk, and pounces on every mistake I make. I have an explanation for every time that I’ve missed work—explanations I might add that my wife can verify. I think my supervisor is trying to get one of her “friends” transferred to our team, but to do so, she would first have to get rid of me. It’s clear to me that my supervisor and my Employee Assistance Counselor are trying to make me out to be some kind of an “alkie” which I know I’m not. I know I’m not an alcoholic because I can function just fine. I have one full-time and one part-time job. I pay my bills on time. I raise my children. In fact, when it comes to alcohol, I can take it or leave it. There’s no way that I’m an alcoholic. How can I get this witch of a supervisor off of my case?

You can have a problem with alcohol and other drugs without being diagnosed as an alcoholic. It is possible that you abuse alcohol and other drugs without being physically and/or psychologically dependent on alcohol and other drugs. Alcohol abuse is the continued use of alcohol and other drugs despite experiencing adverse interpersonal, emotional, behavioral, occupational, legal, and/or spiritual consequences as a result of your drinking and drugging. So let me answer your question with a question of my own. Do you continue to drink and drug despite:

1.) Experiencing adverse consequences to your financial, legal, occupational, familial, interpersonal, emotional, psychological, physical, and/or spiritual well-being as a result of his drinking and drugging?

2.) Your friends, workmates, and/or family members experiencing adverse consequences to their financial, legal, occupational, familial, interpersonal, emotional, psychological, physical, and/or spiritual well-being as a result of your drinking and drugging?

If you answered yes to either one or both of the above questions then it’s safe to say at the very least that you abuse alcohol and other drugs.

There are two important points for you to consider about what I have just asked you. First, I asked you whether or not alcohol and other drugs are a problem for you based solely on whether or not you continue to drink and drug despite experiencing adverse consequences as a result of your drinking and drugging. For instance, do you continue to drink despite getting a DUI, being written up at work for drinking, being warned about losing your job if certain behaviors continued, suffering health problems that are caused by or inflamed by repeated use of alcohol and other drugs, being told not to mix certain prescriptive drugs with alcohol and/or other prescriptive drugs, the realization that your drinking and drugging is inflaming an interpersonal situation with family, friends, and/or work place relationships.     

Simply put, alcohol abuse can be determined by evaluating specific, concrete, empirical data that is measurable—namely, the adverse consequences of your drinking and drugging and the continued use of alcohol and other drugs despite those adverse consequences to your legal, financial, occupational, interpersonal, physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being.

The second point I want to make is to be inferred from what I did not ask you to answer in my question above. I didn’t ask you how much and how often do you drink and drug. The point that I want to make about not asking you how much or how frequently you drink and drug is that alcohol and other drug abuse is not measured solely by how often and how much one drinks but by what happens to an individual as a result of their drinking and drugging.

For the sake of emphasis, at the risk of being redundant, you are abusing alcohol and other drugs if you continue to drink and drug despite experiencing adverse consequences that occur as a result of your drinking and drugging. Adverse consequences can occur whether or not you infrequently drink and drug small quantities of alcohol and other drugs or frequently drink and drug large quantities of alcohol and other drugs. 

Please remember that it is best that a qualified healthcare provider make the appropriate evaluation of your drinking and drugging!


Learn how to prevent and recover from chemical dependency as well as the aftereffects of chemical dependency on you and your family. Read Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. series of Recovery books—From Insanity to Serenity.
Pathfinder’s Checklist

1.) Learn as much as you can about the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction.
2.) If you do have a problem with alcohol and other drugs, contact a qualified healthcare provider to help you develop a plan for how to best treat your problem with alcohol and other drugs.

G.B.U.

Steve



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