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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 Are the Negative Consequences From Using and Abusing Alcohol and Other Drugs?

ear Dr. Steve:

My daughter is twenty-seven years old. She’s been wild her whole life. She started drinking when she was thirteen. She started smoking marijuana at the age of fifteen. Promiscuous sex has led to three abortions. She got married when she was nineteen and pregnant. She was divorced by the time she was twenty-five. Her ex-husband divorced her because she wouldn’t quit running the streets and settle down. They have a six year-old daughter that her husband has sole custody of. She lost custody because her ex-husband was able to so thoroughly demonstrate how irresponsible and dangerous she was because of her alcohol and drug use. Her drunken binges coupled with extra marital affairs transformed her marriage from love and genuine affection into one of deceit, deception, and betrayal. She recently turned up positive for marijuana and cocaine on a random drug test performed at her workplace. As it turns out this was the third time she had a positive test result and so she was terminated after having been suspended six months earlier for her second positive test result. If it wasn’t for me, she would be homeless by now. I have given her more money than I care to think about. She tells me she needs it to pay the rent but I know where the money is going. She has a legal case hanging over her head—the charge being possession with the intent of distributing. I don’t see how she’s going to avoid doing some kind of time for this offense. Despite all of this, my daughter refuses to seek treatment, insists that she can take it or leave it when it comes to her use of drugs and alcohol, and that she flat out doesn’t have a problem with alcohol and other drugs.

Based solely on the facts that you recited in your letter, your daughter clearly has a problem with alcohol and other drugs. Your letter lists negative consequence after negative consequence that your daughter has experienced as a result of her alcohol and other drug use. An alcohol and other drug problem by definition is continued consumption of alcohol and other drugs despite experiencing negative consequences to one’s financial, legal, occupational, familial, interpersonal, emotional, psychological, physical, and/or spiritual well-being as a result of one’s consumption of alcohol and other drugs. Examples of this would be:

1.) Physical health e.g., withdrawal syndromes, liver disease, TB, neurological disorders, immune system problems, gastrointestinal problems, anemia
2.) Psychological functioning e.g., impairments in cognition, changes in mood and behavior
3.) Interpersonal functioning e.g., impaired social relationships, relationship problems, family problems, inability to get along with people at work, child abuse
4.) Occupational functioning e.g., problems at work or school, unemployment
5.) Legal e.g., DWI, arrested for criminal behavior related to sustaining alcohol and other drug use
6.) Financial e.g., overextended credit, inconsistent job history leading to insufficient income, bankruptcy
7.) Spiritual e.g. alienation from Self, others and divine creator

It is incredibly difficult to watch someone you love as much as you love your daughter self-destruct before your very eyes. The feelings of powerlessness that your situation is evoking can be overwhelming. There’s an old saying, when the student is ready, the teacher shall appear. Although that saying offers little comfort to your current situation, there’s little that you can do until your daughter surrenders. Until then, the best thing that you can do for you and for your daughter is take care of yourself. Learn as much as you can about the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. Learn as much as you can about Recovery for the friends and family members of  people who have a problem with alcohol and other drugs. Attend Al-Anon meetings. You can contact Al-Anon at:

Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
1600 Corporate Landing Parkway
Virginia Beach, Va. 23454
Tel # 757-563-1600
Fax # 757-563-1655
1-888-425-2666 for meeting information
Monday-Friday, 8am to 6 pm ET except holidays

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.) Consult with a qualified healthcare provider in order to assess and evaluate the extent to which you’ve been affected by your daughter’s alcoholism and drug addiction.
2.) Contact your local chapter of Al-Anon.
3.) Read as much as you can about the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction.
4.) Read as much as you can about Recovery.
5.) Meet as many people as you can at Al-Anon meetings.
6.) Integrate the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon into your life.



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