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SELF-HELP NEWSLETTER

Many people are either unwilling or unable to suffer the pain of giving up the outgrown which needs to be forsaken. Consequently they cling, often forever, to their old patterns of thinking and behaving, thus failing to negotiate any crisis, to truly grow up and to experience the joyful sense of rebirth that accompanies the successful transition into greater maturity.
-M. Scott Peck 


Welcome! Just scroll down or click on the links below to read today's edition of Alive And Well Publications' daily Self-Help Newsletter. Enjoy!

Ask Dr. Steve... Column of the Day
Bridge Builder's Tip of the Day
Did You Know...
Parenting Tip of the Day
Pathfinder's Tip of the Day
Self-Help Column of the Day


Ask Dr. Steve... Column of the Day

The Progression of Chemical Dependency: The Three Stages of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction


Dear Dr. Steve:

My husband has been drinking off and on for 10 years yet he doesn't think he has a problem. He tells me that he can quit any time he wants and, to his credit, he often times does quit for short periods of time. However, I notice that whenever he quits drinking, his marijuana use increases. I can’t seem to get through to him. Any time I try to talk to him about it he tells me “to get off his back—this is America and I’ll do whatever I want to do.” He insists that he doesn’t have a problem—that I’m the one with the problem. Then he starts comparing how little he drinks compared to how much my father drinks, which leaves me speechless. He points out that he’s held the same job for the last eleven years, pays all the bills on time, and never lets me forget how it is he who does all the work around the house. Does my husband have a problem with alcohol? Should I be concerned about how much of our lives seem to be consumed by his drinking, our lying to others and ourselves about his drinking, our fighting about his drinking, and our ignoring each other because of his drinking?

Yes you should be concerned. Your letter raises plenty of red flags about your husband’s relationship with alcohol and other drugs. His rationalizations about his use of alcohol and other drugs are a red flag as well. It is very common for somebody who is in denial about their alcohol and other drug use to lament that I can’t be an alcoholic because…

I can’t be an alcoholic because I am functioning in my day-to-day life and alcoholics are hungry, homeless, and desperate.

I can’t be an alcoholic because I have a job and alcoholics can’t hold a job.

I can’t be an alcoholic because I have a family and an alcoholic loses his family.

I can’t be an alcoholic because I have my health and alcoholics have cirrhosis of the liver.

I can’t be an alcoholic because I only drink beer and alcoholics drink hard liquor.

I can’ be an alcoholic because I never drink before dinner-time and alcoholics drink from sunrise to sunset.

I can’t be an alcoholic because I only drink on the weekends and alcoholics drink 24/7.

I can’t be an alcoholic because I can quit any time I want and an alcoholic can’t quit at all.

And so the refrain goes, a person convinces themselves of what they’re not because of the misconceptions they have of who a person is that abuses and becomes dependent on alcohol and other drugs. But the truth is that alcohol and other drug abusers come from all walks of life—the rich and the famous, the down and outers, the very intelligent and those who are not so smart, those who are as kind as can be and those who are mean and miserable.

Alcoholism and drug addiction have nothing to do with what one drinks, how much one drinks, when one drinks, when one doesn’t drink, what kind of job one has, how much one’s family may or may not love them. Alcoholism and drug addiction are equal opportunity diseases. One aspect of the diseases of alcoholism and drug addiction is that they are progressive diseases. This means that there is a beginning, middle, and last stage of this disease. Anyone can diagnose somebody who is in the last stage of the disease of alcoholism and/or drug addiction. The person has been all but ruined emotionally, financially, and spiritually. But there is an early stage and a middle stage of the diseases of alcoholism and drug addictions that are not as obvious to detect. Symptoms of each stage are listed below.


Early stages: Social Drinking

Drinking to calm nerves.
Increase in alcohol tolerance.
Desire to continue drinking when others stop.
Uncomfortable in a situation where there is no alcohol.
Relief drinking commences.
Occasional memory lapses after heavy drinking.
Preoccupation with alcohol (thinking about the next drink).
Secret irritation when your drinking is discussed.

Middle stage: Loss of Control Phase
Rationalization Begins

Lying about drinking.
Increasing frequency of relief drinking.
Hiding drinking and/or sneaking drinks.
Increasing dependence on alcohol.
Drinking bolstered with excuses.
Feeling guilty about drinking.
Increased memory blackouts.
Tremors and early morning drinks.
Promises and resolutions fail repeatedly.
Complete dishonesty.
Grandiose and aggressive behavior.
Loss of other interests.
Unable to discuss problems.
Family, work, and money problems.
Neglect of food/controlled drinking fails.
Family and friends avoided.
Drinking alone and secretly.
Possible job loss.

Late Stage: The person now thinks that
responsibilities interfere with
their drinking

Radical deterioration of family relationships.
Unreasonable resentments.
Physical and moral deterioration.
Loss of “will power”
Onset of lengthy drunks.
Urgent need for morning drinks.
Geographical escape attempted.
Persistent remorse.
Impaired thinking and memory loss.
Loss of family.
Decrease in alcohol tolerance.
Successive lengthy drunks.
Medical and/or psychiatric hospitalizations.
Indefinable fears.
Unable to initiate action.
Extreme indecisiveness.
Unable to work.
Obsession with drinking.
All alibis exhausted.
Complete abandonment: “I don’t care.”

The point of this symptom checklist is that people who suffer from the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction don’t start deteriorating until they reach the final stage of their disease. Until that point in the progression of the disease there are other signs and symptoms of the disease that are less obvious, more subtle and harder to detect. However one can be chemically dependent based upon the presence of these less obvious symptoms.


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.) Alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases.
2.) Denial prevents an individual from acknowledging that they have the disease.
3.) These are progressive diseases that have a beginning stage, middle stage, and a late stage.
4.) Each stage has identifiable symptoms.
5.) An individual can get help for themselves before their disease progressives to the late stages of the disease.

G.B.U.

Steve

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Bridge Builder's Tip of the Day

Bridge Builder's Tip
Take responsibility for what your behavior means—not what you want others to think that it means.


Click here to read the accompanying excerpt from the book, Building Better Bridges, that explains this Bridge Builder's Tip of the Day.

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Did You Know...
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Parenting Tip of the Day

Bridge Builder's Tip
How to talk to your children about alochol and other drugs.

1.) Be absolutely clear with your kids that you don't want them using drugs. Ever. Anywhere. Don't leave room for interpretation. And talk often about the dangers and results of drug and alcohol abuse. Once or twice a year won't do it.

2.) Be a better listener. Ask questions - and encourage them. Paraphrase what your child says to you. Ask for their input about family decisions. Showing your willingness to listen will make your child feel more comfortable about opening up to you.

3.) Give honest answers. Don't make up what you don't know; offer to find out. If asked whether you've ever taken drugs, let them know what's important: that you don't want them using drugs.

4.) Use TV reports, anti-drug commercials, news or school discussions about drugs to help you introduce the subject in a natural, unforced way.

5.) Don't react in a way that will cut off further discussion. If your child makes statements that challenge or shock you, turn them into a calm discussion of why your child thinks people use drugs, or whether the effect is worth the risk.

6.) Role play with your child and practice ways to refuse drugs and alcohol in different situations. Acknowledge how tough these moments can be.

Click here to read the report, A Parent’s Guide for Protecting Their Children From Alcohol and Other Drugs.


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Pathfinder's Tip of the Day

Pathfinder's Tip

The empowered person chooses to let go of the familiar for the promise of the unknown.


Click here to read the accompanying excerpt from Moving Mountains that explains this Pathfinder's Tip of the Day.

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Self-Help Column of the Day

How to Improve Your Relationship With Effective Communication
by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

Have you ever stopped to think just how important effective communication is to the well-being of your relationships? When you express yourself to someone, you’re expressing more than just words. You’re expressing your thoughts, ideas, attitudes, values, priorities, and emotions about yourself, the people in your life, and the circumstances of your life. And don’t kid yourself, no matter what you actually say, there are hidden messages embedded in what you say. So not only is your relationship with other people impacted by what you say, it’s impacted by how you say what it is that you say.

Not only does what you say and how you say what you say influence how people think of you, it influences how people respond to you. There’s just no getting away from it—you’re always communicating something to somebody.

Now here’s why effective communication is so important to the good health and well-being of your relationships. The more effective a communicator that you are, the more likely you’ll get your emotional needs met in your relationships. What effective communication can do for you is put an end to the stalemates that occur between you and your partner when you believe you’ve communicated one idea but in actuality you’ve communicated something entirely different.

Since the health and well-beings is so dependent on how effectively you communicate let me give you a checklist that describes different qualities that characterize poor communication.

Bridge Builder’s Checklist
1.) Indirect communication that never clearly states what you want your partner to know or understand.
2.) Timid
3.) Hostile and accusatory
4.) Dishonest
5.) Veiled (you’re true message is embedded in other messages)
6.) Puzzling messages that requires your partner to interpret what you actually mean
7.) Dishonest

Not only is it helpful to know what elements make-up ineffective communication, it’s equally helpful to be able to envision what elements make-up effective communication.

Bridge Builder’s Checklist
1.) Direct
2.) Assertive
3.) Non-threatening
4.) Clear
5.) Honest
6.) Non-dominating whereas there is give and take
7.) Responsive to what your partner is expressing both verbally and non-verbally

You would be amazed how much your relationships grow once you become more comfortable communicating in a clear, open, and honest fashion. Once you become more skilled at how to express yourself in a way that your partner can hear you, you will discover how truly wonderful your relationship can be. So if you find yourself feeling discouraged or frustrated by the lack of receptiveness your partner is showing to what you are expressing remember the pitfalls of communication summed in the following quote by Oscar Wilde: I like hearing myself talk. It is one of my greatest pleasures. I often have long conversations with myself, and I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.

Bridge Builder’s Checklist
1.) Commit to being open, honest, and direct with your partner.
2.) Commit to being an active listener.
3.) Commit to openly and honestly communicating your emotional needs.
4.) Commit to using communication as a way of including rather than excluding people from your life.
5.) Commit to not using communication as a way of harming the people in your life.
6.) Commit to not using communication as a way of controlling other people.
7.) Commit to not using communication as a way of manipulating other people.
8.) Commit to not using communication as a way of shaming other people.
9.) Commit to not using what your partner communicates to you against your partner.

For more information about how to effectively express yourself, read chapter 3 (Communication) in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. free online book, Building Better Bridges: Creating Great Relationships With the People Who Matter Most and read Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. free online book, Making Molehills Out of Mountains and Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. free online articles, Revealing Yourself—How to Make Yourself Known to Your Partner.

G.B.U.

Steve

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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 drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from chemical dependency as well as  its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.




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