Social Anxiety and Alcoholism

Social anxiety and alcoholism

Why Do I Drink When I’m Anxious?

It is no secret that millions of Americans struggle to control excessive use of alcohol. In fact, the CDC estimates that around 16% of the US population may abuse alcohol at any given time. People drink for a variety of different reasons. Some find that alcohol provides a calming effect after a long day of work. Others may drink at social functions, such as parties or family reunions. Over the past few decades, doctors have found increasing links between alcoholism and other conditions, such as social anxiety. Here, we will explore some common questions around alcoholism, including:

  • How does alcohol cause addiction?
  • Is social anxiety linked to alcoholism?
  • How can I find treatment?

How Does Alcohol Cause Addiction?

Like many other drugs, alcohol alters the way the body functions. When a person drinks for the first time, the brain sends out pleasure/reward signals. This is the “buzzed” feeling people talk about. However, over time alcohol can hijack the brain’s normal functions, making the brain depend on alcohol to function. Instead of sending out pleasure signals, the brain will start to send out distress signals for lack of use. Withdrawal manifests in physical symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety/depression
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Fatigue/insomnia 
  • Fever

Some of the common warning signs of Alcohol use disorder (AUD) include:

  • Inability to control drinking
  • Drinking interferes with work or family life
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or obligations
  • Continuing to drink even if advised not to by a physician
  • Increased feelings of depression

Social Anxiety and AUD

Social anxiety disorder is essentially a fear of public places or situations. For some people, this can be a fear of an activity like eating or speaking in public. For others, simply being in a public setting can cause anxiety. Anywhere from 2 to13 percent of the US population is estimated to live with a social anxiety disorder. Of this number, approximately 20 percent also live with AUD. Sadly, for many of these patients this social anxiety disorder has gone undiagnosed.

Drinking, especially in public settings, can become a form of self-medication for patients with social anxiety. This means that the patient only knows that they feel anxious in public, and drinking can calm that feeling. These patients may run a greater risk of developing AUD than others. This can occur for two reasons. First, people who are unknowingly self-medicating may develop addiction faster. If alcohol is the one substance that makes them feel better, it becomes the go-to problem solver. Second, patients with mental conditions like social anxiety may be genetically vulnerable to forming addiction. Research on this topic is still new. However, some scientists believe that the same genes that cause certain mental conditions also play a role in addiction. If this is true, it is no wonder that patients with social anxiety are particularly vulnerable to AUD.

How Can I Find Treatment?

If you or a loved one is currently living with these conditions and looking for treatment, congratulations! Both AUD and social anxiety disorder are medical conditions, not moral failures. It is not your fault that you are living with these conditions, and programs like ours are well equipped to help. Generally speaking, most recovery programs involve a medically supervised detox followed by long term treatment. Let’s look at how the process typically works.

Detox

Before long term treatment can begin in full, you must first let your body flush out alcohol from your system. This process is called detoxification, or detox. Depending on your needs, this can either be an outpatient process, or inpatient at a specialty detox center. Medical teams will monitor vitals and give you medication as needed to control withdrawal symptoms. This will help you stay comfortable and safe as your body adjusts. This process usually takes 1-2 weeks.

Treatment

Your next step will be treatment in either a partial hospitalization (PHP) or intensive outpatient (IOP) program. Here, you will continue to be monitored physically by qualified medical staff. Most of your day will be spent in individual and group therapy. Therapy helps you learn to identify use triggers and develop coping strategies. Therapists can also work with you to address social anxiety, and learn healthy ways to handle public settings. You will spend evenings in a sober living house. Sober living offers all of the comforts of home, without the added stress of avoiding alcohol use.

Recovery in Tune Can Help

If you are ready to take the first step, please contact us today to get started. We accept most major insurance plans. Let us help you live the fulfilling life you deserve!

Alcohol and Major Depression Symptoms

major depression symptoms

Alcohol addiction and depression are two conditions that have a high likelihood of occurring simultaneously, thus making them a co-occurring disorder. This means that addiction to alcohol and major depression symptoms often appear at the same time. Furthermore, these two conditions are known to exacerbate each other’s negative effects, creating an ever-worsening cycle that can cause serious harm if not properly treated.
However, there is a silver lining: treating one condition can make the other better as well. In other words, if you treat alcohol addiction and see improvements, you will see improvement in the symptoms of depression. Keep in mind that this is not an easy or quick process. In severe cases, treatment can last for months or years.

What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Major depressive disorder is one of the types of depression. It is the most common type of depression in the United States, with an estimated 6.7% of American adults suffering from this condition at any given time. Women are also more prone to suffering from this condition compared to men. Approximately one in every three women will experience major depressive disorder at least once in their lifetime.
People with major depressive disorder experience such severe feelings of depression that they cannot function normally. These feelings can have significant adverse effects on a person’s personal and professional lives. Some people may only experience it once, but most will have several episodes.

How to Spot Alcohol Addiction and Major Depression Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of alcohol addiction include:

• Consuming large amounts of alcohol frequently
• Regular consumption of alcohol, even on a daily basis
• Severe alcohol cravings
• Continued drinking even when experiencing negative health effects
• Consciously hiding alcohol consumption out of guilt or fear of judgment

Symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

• Feelings of melancholy
• Feelings of worthlessness and guilty
• Continuous fatigue
• Lack of energy to perform daily tasks
• Lack of interest in personal relationships
• Lack of interest in work
• Substance addiction, including alcohol
• Suicidal thoughts
If you observe more than a couple of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to seek help right away.

Causes of Major Depressive Disorder

The most difficult thing about finding treatment for alcohol and major depressive symptoms is that they are hard to diagnose. In many cases, the symptoms can overlap and even mask the other. Many people who suffer from major depressive disorder may use alcohol to self-medicate. Those who drink frequently are at greater risk of developing depression, and subsequently increase their alcohol consumption to feel better.
Studies have found that people with a family history of alcohol addiction or major depressive disorder have a higher risk of developing either condition. Those who have suffered trauma or abuse are also more likely to develop this co-occurring disorder.

Can Alcohol Addiction Cause Major Depressive Disorder?

While it has been found either condition can cause the other, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has determined that it is more likely that alcohol addiction can lead to a person developing major depressive disorder. When a person is struggling with alcoholism and fails to cope with their situation, they can develop feelings of depression. They feel weak and inadequate, which leads to more drinking to help manage their negative emotions.

The Relationship between Major Depressive Disorder and Alcohol Addiction

According a study conducted by the University of Otago, addiction to alcohol and major depression symptoms are closely correlated. As many as 40% of alcoholics will develop major depressive disorder. This is likely due to two things: the sedative effects of alcohol and its ease of access. Unlike anti-depressant drugs, people don’t need a prescription to get alcohol. What’s more, alcohol is much cheaper compared to medication.
Drinking alcohol can and does relieve major depressive symptoms, albeit temporarily. However, since the effects of alcohol can wear off quickly, people who use it to self-medicate will need to take it on a regular basis to keep feeling the effects. What’s more, they find that they need to take it in ever-increasing amounts as they develop a stronger tolerance over time. This cycle will likely continue and worsen until treatment is given.

Finding Treatment

The first step in treating addiction to alcohol and major depressive symptoms is consulting a licensed addiction counselor. Neglecting to find proper consultation can lead to a misdiagnosis, or worse, trying to self-diagnose. This problem is likely due to the fact that many people mistakenly feel that having either alcohol addiction or major depressive disorder makes them appear weak and open to ridicule from others. Some researchers even believe that this is the reason why men are less likely to seek treatment compared to women.
Once this co-occurring disorder has been diagnosed by a professional, there are several treatments that can be prescribed, such as:

• Medication

Both alcohol and major depressive symptoms usually cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, particularly by decreasing the amount of neurotransmitters. Anti-depressants are usually prescribed to help correct this chemical imbalance and relieve the symptoms of both conditions. In the case of severe alcohol addiction, drugs such as naltrexone, acamprosate, or gabapentin can be prescribed to help curb the craving.

• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective therapy methods for people with major depressive disorder. CBT helps people identify their triggers and manage their negative thoughts and emotions by modifying their behavior.

• Rehabilitation

Many people with alcohol addiction may require rehab to help detox. Detox is a dangerous and long process, especially for those who have suffered from alcohol addiction for a long time. Withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, and should be managed in a controlled environment. However, people with mild alcohol addiction can undergo detox as an outpatient.

• Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can help by offering group sessions, classes, and call centers. These groups are immensely helpful for people who might not have a strong support system in their private circles.

Getting Help Today

Suffering from alcohol addictions and major depressive symptoms might feel hopeless, but there is always hope! For those who are willing to take that first step, help is available. There are numerous treatment facilities that are able to give the best care possible. As a member of the Harmony Recovery Group family, Recovery in Tune offers evidence-based treatment for co-occurring disorders.

Alcohol and Major Depressive Disorder

alcohol major depressive disorder

Addiction to alcohol and major depressive disorder are two conditions that have a high likelihood of occurring simultaneously, thus making them a co-occurring disorder. This means that addiction to alcohol and major depression symptoms often appear at the same time. Furthermore, these two conditions are known to exacerbate each other’s negative effects, creating an ever-worsening cycle that can cause serious harm if not properly treated.

However, there is a silver lining: treating one condition can make the other better as well. In other words, if you treat alcohol addiction and see improvements, you will see improvement in the symptoms of depression. Keep in mind that this is not an easy or quick process. In severe cases, treatment can last for months or years.

What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Major depressive disorder is one of the types of depression. It is the most common type of depression in the United States, with an estimated 6.7% of American adults suffering from this condition at any given time. Women are also more prone to suffering from this condition compared to men. Approximately one in every three women will experience major depressive disorder at least once in their lifetime.
People with major depressive disorder experience such severe feelings of depression that they cannot function normally. These feelings can have significant adverse effects on a person’s personal and professional lives. Some people may only experience it once, but most will have several episodes.

How to Spot Alcohol Addiction and Major Depression Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of alcohol addiction include:

• Consuming large amounts of alcohol frequently
• Regular consumption of alcohol, even on a daily basis
• Severe alcohol cravings
• Continued drinking even when experiencing negative health effects
• Consciously hiding alcohol consumption out of guilt or fear of judgment

Symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

• Feelings of melancholy
• Feelings of worthlessness and guilty
• Continuous fatigue
• Lack of energy to perform daily tasks
• Lack of interest in personal relationships
• Lack of interest in work
• Substance addiction, including alcohol
• Suicidal thoughts
If you observe more than a couple of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to seek help right away.

Causes of Major Depressive Disorder

The most difficult thing about finding treatment for alcohol and major depressive symptoms is that they are hard to diagnose. In many cases, the symptoms can overlap and even mask the other. Many people who suffer from major depressive disorder may use alcohol to self-medicate. Those who drink frequently are at greater risk of developing depression, and subsequently increase their alcohol consumption to feel better.
Studies have found that people with a family history of alcohol addiction or major depressive disorder have a higher risk of developing either condition. Those who have suffered trauma or abuse are also more likely to develop this co-occurring disorder.

Can Alcohol Addiction Cause Major Depressive Disorder?

While it has been found either condition can cause the other, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has determined that it is more likely that alcohol addiction can lead to a person developing major depressive disorder. When a person is struggling with alcoholism and fails to cope with their situation, they can develop feelings of depression. They feel weak and inadequate, which leads to more drinking to help manage their negative emotions.

The Relationship between Major Depressive Disorder and Alcohol Addiction

According a study conducted by the University of Otago, addiction to alcohol and major depression symptoms are closely correlated. As many as 40% of alcoholics will develop major depressive disorder. This is likely due to two things: the sedative effects of alcohol and its ease of access. Unlike anti-depressant drugs, people don’t need a prescription to get alcohol. What’s more, alcohol is much cheaper compared to medication.

Drinking alcohol can and does relieve major depressive symptoms, albeit temporarily. However, since the effects of alcohol can wear off quickly, people who use it to self-medicate will need to take it on a regular basis to keep feeling the effects. What’s more, they find that they need to take it in ever-increasing amounts as they develop a stronger tolerance over time. This cycle will likely continue and worsen until treatment is given.

Finding Treatment

The first step in treating addiction to alcohol and major depressive symptoms is consulting a licensed addiction counselor. Neglecting to find proper consultation can lead to a misdiagnosis, or worse, trying to self-diagnose. This problem is likely due to the fact that many people mistakenly feel that having either alcohol addiction or major depressive disorder makes them appear weak and open to ridicule from others. Some researchers even believe that this is the reason why men are less likely to seek treatment compared to women.

Once this co-occurring disorder has been diagnosed by a professional, there are several treatments that can be prescribed, such as:

Medication

Both alcohol and major depressive symptoms usually cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, particularly by decreasing the amount of neurotransmitters. Anti-depressants are usually prescribed to help correct this chemical imbalance and relieve the symptoms of both conditions. In the case of severe alcohol addiction, drugs such as naltrexone, acamprosate, or gabapentin can be prescribed to help curb the craving.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective therapy methods for people with major depressive disorder. CBT helps people identify their triggers and manage their negative thoughts and emotions by modifying their behavior.

Rehabilitation

Many people with alcohol addiction may require rehab to help detox. Detox is a dangerous and long process, especially for those who have suffered from alcohol addiction for a long time. Withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, and should be managed in a controlled environment. However, people with mild alcohol addiction can undergo detox as an outpatient.

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can help by offering group sessions, classes, and call centers. These groups are immensely helpful for people who might not have a strong support system in their private circles.

Getting Help Today

Suffering from alcohol addictions and major depressive symptoms might feel hopeless, but there is always hope! For those who are willing to take that first step, help is available. There are numerous treatment facilities that are able to give the best care possible. Recovery in Tune offers evidence-based treatment for those who are seeking to overcome their co-occurring disorder. Call us for more information, anytime 1-844-7-IN-TUNE

How Long is Alcohol Rehab?

coed group therapy in alcohol rehab

When a person addicted to alcohol finally decides they are ready for help, one of the first questions they ask is ‘how long will I be in treatment?’. The short answer is: It depends. Any person who is drinking regularly and/or to excess should begin with a medical detox under controlled conditions. This is almost always done in an inpatient setting and usually takes between 5 to 7 days. The length of alcohol detox is determined by a number of factors. These include:

  • How much the person was drinking and how often.
  • How long the person has been drinking.
  • How old the person is and their relative physical health.
  • Whether or not the person was using any other drugs in combination with alcohol.

A careful medical detox is usually an essential component of treatment for alcohol use disorders. Alcohol is one of only a few substances with potentially fatal withdrawal side effects. Seizures can occur when a person abruptly stops drinking and the propensity for seizures depends not only on the amount of alcohol consumed but each person’s unique physiology. In a clinical setting, medications can be used to make the patient comfortable and to avoid dangerous side effects.

Following the detox phase, there are several options for continuing treatment. For many years, the standard model has been about a month in rehab. This may or may not include the detox phase. Part of the reason a month became the standard is that initial research has shown that this is about the minimum amount of time it takes for most people to establish new behaviors and habits. (1)

Most residential alcohol rehabs still last about this length of time. However, more recent studies have found substantial benefits for patients who remain connected to some form of treatment for much longer than the usual 30 days or so.

Insurance benefits and financial means often play a role in the length of inpatient or residential treatment a patient can get. Innovation in the field of addiction care has led to smart solutions, however, which can maximize the care patients get. The current trend is towards extended sober living, intensive outpatient (IOP), and outpatient (OP) engagements. These arrangements may last for as long as 90 days or up to 1 year. The idea is to provide the person recovering from an alcohol use disorder as much time as possible in a structured environment. Many patients will have to return to work or school after treatment. This is another reason why these lengthier, but lower-intensity treatment plans can work well. Most people in sober living continue work or school in addition to participating in treatment. Many people are able to return home after treatment and continue in IOP or OP treatment.

The bottom line is that recovery is a process and a lifestyle change. While formal treatment may have a beginning and an end, the recovery process continues for the rest of our lives. The best approach is to get as much help as is available for a drinking problem and to be willing to integrate continuing care into your life following alcohol rehabilitation.

Sources

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505409/


What is Considered Alcohol Abuse?

two people holding beers together

Social norms with regard to alcohol have evolved over the last 30 years. Drinking to excess has always had consequences, but it was considered more socially acceptable in the past. As we’ve become more health-conscious the expectations for accountability are higher when it comes to alcohol abuse. How do we know when drinking crossed the line into alcohol abuse? There may or may not be consequences to drinking to excess early on. A person caught in a pattern of problem drinking is often unaware of the damage being done or may live in denial. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines heavy drinking as 4 drinks on any day for men or 3 drinks for women. Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks within 2 hours. (1) This is a helpful baseline to evaluate someone’s drinking to start with.

Alcohol Abuse Vs. Alcoholism

It is important to understand that there is a fine line of sorts between alcohol abuse and alcoholism. It is possible to abuse alcohol for a time without becoming physically dependent upon it, but this does not mean other consequences do not occur. Medical science is still exploring the genetic components which may make some people more prone to developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD). It’s estimated that at least 15 million Americans suffer from an AUD and the cause isn’t always clear. (2) What we do know is that any person who drinks heavily and daily or almost daily will develop a physical dependence on alcohol. That is, if they stop drinking abruptly, they will experience withdrawal symptoms ranging from anxiety and cold sweats to seizures in extreme circumstances. Physical withdrawal is a matter of biology. The threshold for dependence may vary from person to person, but no human being is immune to it.

Identifying the Consequences of Alcohol Use Disorder

Some people are not clear if an alcohol abuse disorder is present when physical dependence doesn’t appear to be. The reality is someone can drink heavily and/or binge drink only once or twice a week and have an alcohol abuse disorder. If you are trying to determine if you or someone you know may be abusing alcohol, it is a mistake to use physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms as the sole determining factor of whether or not there is a problem. A wiser approach is to first rely upon the NIAAA’s guidelines for heavy or binge drinking cited above. From there, it’s often helpful to examine consequences.

  • Are relationships with others under strain as a result of drinking?
  • Is the person frequently late or absent to work or school?
  • Is the person behaving irresponsibly and out of character?
  • Has the person had legal problems due to drinking, e.g. DUI?

An alcohol abuse disorder is progressive by nature. In nearly every case, the quantity and frequency of drinking increases over time. Without an intervention or change of some sort, it gets worse before it gets better. The point is that it’s never too soon to act when you suspect you or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol. The tragic situations and health consequences associated with problem drinking are well known. There is nothing to be gained by waiting until something awful happens before you even broach the subject. This may mean an uncomfortable conversation or a confrontation. It may mean admitting some difficult truths to yourself. You are far less likely to regret a little discomfort for doing what you know is right than allowing a potential tragedy to unfold. If you believe you or someone you know may have a problem with alcohol, give us a call at (844) 746-8836 to discuss your treatment options.

(1) https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking
(2) https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders













The Long-Term Effects of Alcoholism

three liquors being poured into shot glass

We have known for centuries that excess alcohol consumption has dire consequences for human health. Prior to the early 20th century, the phenomenon of alcoholism had undergone only a little study and was largely a mystery. What we did know was that people who drank a lot often suffered serious health problems, especially later in life. More recently, science has been studying not only the long-term effects of alcoholism on the body but also the brain.

Alcohol is classified as a drug in the sedative-hypnotic class. This means it acts as a central nervous system depressant at higher doses. When alcohol enters the bloodstream, it affects every organ in the body. How serious these effects depend on how high the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is and for how long.

Negative Effects of Long-Term Alcoholism

Liver Damage

The liver is one of the organs most directly impacted by alcohol. There are over 500 vital functions associated with the liver. It regulates most chemical levels in the body, processing blood and cleaning it of toxins, just to name a few. (1) Liver disease is commonly seen in late-stage alcoholism. Alcohol abuse causes the liver to become inflamed. Alcoholic hepatitis, fatty liver and cirrhosis are just some of the consequences chronic alcohol abuse can have on the liver.

Heart and Circulatory System

The heart and circulatory system are impacted by alcohol. Chronic alcohol abuse is associated with high blood pressure, excess clotting, stroke and heart attack. The digestive system is often damaged in long-term alcoholics. Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to produce, process and absorb critical nutrients and it damages the lining of the stomach and increases stomach acid production. (2)

Brain and Central Nervous System

The central nervous system and brain are negatively affected by alcohol. Long-term alcoholism can cause permanent coordination and memory problems. The memory lapses and blackouts associated with heavy drinking give a hint that the brain is negatively affected by alcohol. Remember that the damage done by alcohol is closely related to BAC over time and the brain by itself uses 20% of the blood in the body.

Excess consumption of alcohol over years is associated with various types of brain damage. The liver is eventually overwhelmed and unable to properly process alcohol. This can lead to hepatic encephalopathy that directly impacts the brain causing anxiety, depression and more severe effects like coordination problems and shortened attention span. Liver dysfunction along with other factors causes up to 80% of alcoholics to have a deficiency in thiamine, a vitamin that is critical to brain health. The lack of enough thiamine can lead to serious brain disorders like Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS). WKS is a debilitating disease also sometimes called ‘wet brain’ that involved swelling of the brain, mental confusion, muscle coordination problems and paralysis of the nerves that control eye movement. WKS can and often does lead to permanent brain damage. (3)

Research into the effect alcohol has on the brain is ongoing, but the findings of decades of research and observation are already conclusive. Long-term chronic alcohol abuse has devastating effects on the body and brain. It increases the chances of contracting stomach, colorectal and other cancers. It can lead to permanent, irreversible brain damage, coma and eventually death. In the U.S. alone, at least 88,000 people die every year due to alcohol abuse. That makes alcohol abuse the third leading preventable cause of death. Alcohol abuse treatment is more effective than every before and benefits from ongoing research and evidence-based programs. If you or someone who care about is in a battle with alcoholism, it is never too late to get help. Call us at (844) 746-8836 and we can walk you through the options for care and help you figure out what to do next.


(1) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/liver-anatomy-and-functions
(2) https://www.alcohol.org/effects/
(3) https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm
(4) https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

Women’s Healthcare Month: How Addiction Affects Women Differently

Women's Healthcare and Addiction

In the past, men reported higher rates of addiction and substance use disorder than women, but the past few decades women have swiftly closed the gender gap. Today, men and women experience roughly equal rates of these issues. However, women’s rates of progression, experiences, reasons for use, and stigmas can vary greatly from their male counterparts. 

 

Addiction Progression in Women 

Scientific studies have found that women progress in addiction faster than men due to their physiology. This is particularly true with alcohol, which female bodies process differently. Because women have less of a particular stomach enzyme which helps break down alcohol, it remains in their system longer and leads to higher blood alcohol levels. One drink for a woman can have twice the physical impact of one drink for a man. When a woman is drinking often, this higher saturation of alcohol leads to dependence more quickly. It also leads to brain and organ damage more quickly than for men. 

 

Co-occurring Disorders in Women

Studies show that women are two times as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as men. Self-medicating is a common theme with co-occurring disorders to manage uncomfortable feelings and often leads to abuse, dependence and addiction. Women are also more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and attempts than men. 

Furthermore, domestic and sexual trauma in women can lead to co-occurring disorders. Roughly one in three women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime, a stat which is higher for women than it is for men. Women are more vulnerable to physical attacks and are more likely to experience child sexual abuse, incest, neglect in childhood, and domestic violence. A history of violent trauma is more common among women with drug addiction, often as a result of PTSD. In fact, one study found that as many as 6 in 10 women with addiction also have PTSD. 

 

Women’s Pain and Addiction

Women’s pain is less likely to be taken seriously by medical professionals than men’s pain, called Pain Bias. According to Harvard Health, women’s pain is more likely to be considered psychological rather than physical. One study found that women in emergency rooms in acute pain were less likely to receive painkillers than males in similar condition. 

Conversely, women are found to suffer more frequently and more intensely from pain and often require more medication to mitigate the effects. One study found that women needed twice the amount of morphine as males to receive comparable pain relief. Women are also more likely to have chronic and painful inflammatory and/or auto-immune conditions than men. Further, women’s reproductive health conditions can lead to significant pain such as Endometriosis which affects 1 in 10 women worldwide.

The lack of adequate pain management can lead women to seek pain relief elsewhere in the form of illicit substances or illegally-sold prescription medications on the street. 

 

Social Stigmas and Pressures for Addiction in Women

Women with children in particular experience social stigmas around addiction. They have been found to be less likely to admit they have a problem, to analyze their own alcohol or substance use habits. They are also less likely to speak to a friend or professional about their problem for fear of judgement.

Further, women with addiction who are pregnant are less likely to seek support. One study found that 25% of opioid addicted pregnant women went untreated. Researchers believe that shame and stigma play a role in their barrier to receiving help. 

 

Getting Help 

Women need and deserve proper support in treatment of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Addiction. Seeking help in a supportive, nurturing environment that also specializes in treating Co-occurring Disorders can help to make the changes needed to overcome addiction. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with drugs or alcohol, contact us today. We are here to listen and we are here to help.

 

Sources

https://www.jneurosci.org/content/37/12/3202

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5845507/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9398925/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3688835/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/addiction-in-women

https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/genderwomen/en/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-20047725

Substance Abuse Rates Are Higher in the LGBTQ Community

LGBTQ Substance Abuse Rates

June is LGBTQ Pride Month, where we celebrate our LGBTQ community and increase visibility and discussions around equality. We’d like to take this moment to discuss how Substance Abuse affects the LGBTQ community at disproportionately higher rates and what we can do to support them. 

People who identify as LGBTQ are at a higher risk for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and addiction. For example, according to the Center for American Progress, 20-30% of people who identify as LGBTQ use drugs and alcohol compared with about 9% of the general population. Furthermore, a 2015 study found that people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual are twice as likely to have used an illicit drug in the past year. LGBT identifying individuals are also found to binge drink in a higher percentage than heterosexual individuals.

 

Discrimination Can Lead to Substance Abuse

Although great strides have been made towards equality, dignity, acceptance, and fairness for the LGBTQ community, we still have a very long way to go. LGBTQ people face high levels of stress every day, often called Minority Stress, simply by being themselves. 

Many LGBTQ individuals have experienced social prejudice in the form of discriminatory laws and practices around areas such as housing, employment, relationship recognition, and healthcare.  Furthermore, social stigma from friends and even family members adds to the challenges.

Issues like these can range from difficult and upsetting to dangerous and severely traumatic. LGBTQ individuals suffer higher incidences of stressful childhood experiences, school victimization, neighborhood hate crimes, and family conflict than heterosexual and cisgender individuals.

For instance, traumatic experiences for LGBTQ can include: 

  • Disownment from their family based on their sexual orientation
  • Violence based on sexual orientation or gender identification (hate crimes)
  • Rejection from their religious community
  • Physical abuse by family members
  • Bullying or peer ridicule for LGBTQ youth
  • Public discrimination in the form of job loss or child custody loss

Furthermore, LGBTQ community members who are also of a minority race, religion or gender face further societal pressures and prejudices.

Moreover, these societal pressures can lead to feelings of self-loathing, shame, or negative self-view which correlates to higher substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide rates among LGBTQ. 

As a result, each of these factors and stressors lead to significant stress and anxiety around everyday choices and lifestyle. Feelings of isolation, anger, fear, and depression lead to a higher likelihood of substance abuse to escape these problems. 

 

Social Component

Party subcultures in LGBTQ communities can also promote substance abuse. A UK study found that the most widely used drugs among LGBTQ people were party drugs such as poppers, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and amphetamines. LGBTQ individuals were 10 times more likely to have used cocaine in the previous month than the general population. 

 

Higher Rates of Co-occurring Disorders

Trauma and stress can exacerbate mental illness, driving people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. As a result, this is one of the reasons LGBTQ individuals are more likely to have Co-occurring Disorders. According to the SAMHSA, people who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, PTSD and mental other health disorders. Additionally, they are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and attempts. 

Transgender individuals are twice as likely to have a mental disorder as cisgender individuals. In adolescence, transgender youth have higher rates of self-harm, depression, suicide, and eating disorders than cisgender youth. 

This is why it is vital that LGBTQ individuals in substance abuse treatment also be screened and treated for co-occurring psychiatric disorders. 

 

How Can Non-LGBTQ Help? 

Firstly, change starts at the individual level. For example, try educating yourself on LGBTQ issues. Be conscious not to reinforce stereotypes and stigmas that lead to the feelings of isolation which lead LGBTQ to use. Support laws and policies that lead to equality for all LGBTQ members of society. Likewise, be an advocate and speak up for injustice. In short, if society is causing the problem, we need to change our way of behaving. 

Secondly, support your LGBTQ friends and family. If you feel they have a problem, talk to them. Be a listening ear, tell them your concerns, and if it feels right, discuss treatment options. Addiction thrives in the dark so bringing it to light can help, just remember to do so gently. 

 

Getting Help 

However you identify, if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, help is available. Call us today to find out how we can support you through this difficult time. We’re here to listen. 

 

Sources

Connolly MD, Zervos MJ, Barone CJ, Johnson CC, Joseph CLM. The Mental Health of Transgender Youth: Advances in Understanding. J Adolesc Health Off Publ Soc Adolesc Med. 2016;59(5):489-495. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.06.012.

Duncan, D. T., Hatzenbuehler, M. L., & Johnson, R. M. (2014). Neighborhood-level LGBT hate crimes and current illicit drug use among sexual minority youth. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 135, 65–70.

Huebner, D. M., Thoma, B. C., & Neilands, T. B. (2015). School victimization and substance abuse among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents. Prevention Science, 16, 734–743.

Patricia E. Penn , Denali Brooke , Chad M. Mosher , Sandra Gallagher , Audrey J. Brooks & Rebecca Richey (2013) LGBTQ Persons with Co-occurring Conditions: Perspectives on Treatment, Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 31:4, 466-483, DOI: 10.1080/07347324.2013.831637. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07347324.2013.831637

Schneeberger, A. R., Dietl, M. F., Muenzenmaier, K. H., Huber, C. G., & Lang, U. E. (2014). Stressful childhood experiences and health outcomes in sexual minority populations: A systematic review. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 49, 1427–1445.

What Is a Dry Alcoholic?

Dry Alcoholic | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

A dry alcoholic is a person who has stopped drinking but is still plagued by the emotional issues that contributed to the addiction in the first place. Moreover, these problems continue to hijack their psyche even though they are sober. In a nutshell, dry alcoholics are individuals who have overcome physical dependence on alcohol but haven’t committed to living a healthy, fulfilling life in recovery.

These impairments undermine a person’s ability to completely leave their addiction in the past, despite being abstinent. This failure to overcome these issues causes those who are suffering to remain entrenched in a subpar day-to-day life less satisfying or happy than it should be. Dry alcoholics have not addressed past trauma, resentments, or guilt, and as a result, many will eventually relapse back into substance abuse.

What Is a Dry Alcoholic or Dry Drunk?

A dry alcoholic or “dry drunk” describes someone who, despite their sober lifestyle, continues to behave as if they’re still in active. addiction. It’s not uncommon for dry alcoholics to appear to be eternally unhappy, and uncomfortable with sobriety. Often this is because they are sober for others or legal purposes, not because the lifestyle for themselves and their wellbeing.

Who Becomes a Dry Alcoholic?

There are numerous reasons why an individual in recovery would continue to experience many of the same psycho-emotional symptoms they did when they were actively using. Factors that contribute to becoming a dry alcoholic may include the following:

The person in recovery…

…has a comorbid mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety that has not been adequately addressed or managed.
…assumed that the simple act of becoming would be enough to resolve most problems, and did not develop improved coping skills beyond their previous dysfunctional solutions.
…failed to exert enough effort into their emotional well-being and thus, has become trapped in a less-than-ideal way of life.
…did not take full advantage of behavioral therapy, counseling, or external support systems such as friends, family, peer group meetings, etc.
…is spiritually lacking. This has less to do with actual religion but instead reflects a core belief that achieving inner peace is not necessary or possible.
…are resentful that they cannot drink “normally” like other people, and regard sobriety as, more or less, a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Dry Alcoholism vs. Healthy Recovery

Comparing a dry drunk to a person who is having a successful recovery isn’t hard. It’s all in the attitude they present to the world around them.

For example, dry alcoholics…

…exhibit resentfulness and anger, and have a low tolerance for stress.
…have enacted few changes in behavior and lifestyle other than sobriety. At times they continue to isolate themselves despite feelings of loneliness.
…are often criticized by loved ones. They may regard the person to be every bit as unpleasant to be around as when they were actively drinking.
…believe their lives are not much better than before they stopped drinking, or are, in fact, worse.
…cling to the erroneous belief that their dysfunctional coping skills in some way improved their lives.
…engage in self-pity and behave as if they were forced into abstinence.
…continue to romanticize drinking.
…continue to ignore life’s challenging in the same way they did when they were active alcoholics.

Dry Alcoholic | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Conversely, individuals who experience a healthy recovery…

…exhibit forgiveness, resilience, and self-respect.
…engage in healthy behaviors and lifestyle changes such as enacting effective coping mechanisms and reengage in a positive, active social life.
…are noticeably different in their attitude and behavior to others close to them.
…experience more enjoyment in life than when they were drinking, and accept that their prior coping mechanisms were unhealthy.
…understand that in recovery, life shouldn’t revert back to what it was like before. Instead, it needs to be considered in the context of a new paradigm of living.
…confront life’s challenges head-on and constructively, exhibit self-confidence, and bounce back in spite of setbacks.

Dry Alcoholic Prevention

Those in early recovery are still at risk of the emotional pitfalls that are characteristics of a dry alcoholic.

A person can avoid these by…

…becoming an expert at identifying the signs of dry alcoholism vs. a healthy recovery.
…preparing to revisit early recovery, figure out where things went wrong, and seek resolutions for them.
…dedicating themselves fully to recovery and monitoring progress on a life-long basis, if necessary.
…refusing to “romance the drink” or consider that previous unhealthy coping mechanisms were working in some way.
…continuing to seek meaningful connections oneself and others.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease. It negatively impacts the lives of those who suffer as well as loved ones close to them. Fortunately, alcoholism is very treatable, and using effective therapies and a comprehensive approach, people with this condition can recover and go on and live happy, healthy lives without alcohol.

Recovery in Tune offers comprehensive, evidence-based programs that include services essential for the recovery process, such as counseling, psychotherapy, group support, and more.

If you or someone you love is dependent on alcohol, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible. Discover how we help people reclaim their lives and free themselves from the chains of addiction!

Hiding Alcohol and Other Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Hiding Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

It is not always easy to identify an alcohol problem in a loved one. People with addiction issues can become masters at concealing and denying the severity of their addictive behavior.

One of the main signs of a severe problem is hiding alcohol. Not only will the alcoholic drink covertly, but they will also frequently have secret hiding spots for alcohol. In some cases, these may be nearly impossible to find, but there are some common places that many alcoholics regularly go to for concealment.

Hiding Alcohol

Popular hiding places are bathroom cabinets and shelves, basements, closets, clothes, bags, and suitcases. They may also hide alcohol in kitchen cabinets or drawers behind or in other items such as cans, boxes, or jars. You may find empty or full bottles under furniture or stuffed between the cushions. Outdoors is also an option; under porches or in a garage or shed.

The important thing is to find the alcohol before the loved one realizes you are looking for it. If the person knows that you are on to him or her, he or she may switch to hiding spots that are even more difficult to locate.

Warning Signs of Alcohol Addiction

The following are 12 more signs that indicate a secret alcohol addict:

Secret Drinking 

Drinking alone, especially when keeping this a secret from family and friends shows that the person realizes that their behavior is not normal and that others may criticize them for it. It’s a subtle admission of right versus wrong, and the person may not even realize they are doing it.

Look for telltale signs of being “buzzed” or under the influence, even though you did not actually see this person drink. Or, they may appear to drink very little in comparison to how intoxicated they appear. In other words, they have been drinking more than they have been revealing.

Missing or Being Late for Important Events or Occasions

The person will be absent from, or late to school, work, family functions, etc. They may more or less disappear for several days or insist that they were doing something or were somewhere they were not. 

Making Excuses

Alcoholics frequently make excuses for their drinking. Reasons may involve serious issues such as mental illness, or merely day-to-day stress or chronic pain. They may blame those around them for having to deal with relationship strain—especially that which directly results from their drinking.

Drinking at Inappropriate Times

Drinking in the morning or upon first waking and needing “the hair of the dog” may speak to their level of dependency and desire to avoid a hangover or withdrawal symptoms. But, drinking may occur for seemingly no reason at random times throughout the day.

Alcoholics often drink in situations that they should not. These situations might include drinking while at work, school, or family functions, while operating a motor vehicle, or at any time or place that it isn’t socially accepted.

Isolation and Loss of Interest

As alcohol becomes an increasing obsession for the alcoholic, they often begin to ignore other parts of their life. They may avoid people to conceal their drinking, or neglect to attend events or gatherings with family and friends. The alcoholic may also become disinterested in activities they once enjoyed or considered important, such as sports or hobbies.

Hiding Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Mood Swings 

Alcohol abuse and withdrawal symptoms affect a person’s mood, thoughts, and behaviors. Alcoholics are notoriously unstable emotionally. Extreme mood swings are common, and a person may suddenly go from happy to unreasonably angry or sad. Hardcore alcoholics often experience personality changes when they are drinking, and crying jags or episodes of verbal or physical abuse toward others may occur.

Physical Symptoms 

Signs of alcohol intoxication are an obvious giveaway, but these are not always apparent. Severe alcoholics may have a higher tolerance and may only appear somewhat intoxicated at levels that would make others look absolutely inebriated. They may be mostly functional and exhibit only mild signs such as unusual talkativeness, slightly slurred speech, flushing of the skin, and bloodshot eyes.

Withdrawal symptoms can occur hours to days after a person has stopped drinking. As such, he or she may appear shaky, sweaty, and agitated or depressed.

Severe alcoholics may also present as unkempt, unclean, or disheveled. This is a sign that they are so focused on being intoxicated that they are neglecting routine personal care, such as bathing, eating properly, etc.

Memory Loss and Blackouts or “Brownouts”

Alcohol impairs a person’s short-term memory. Someone having a blackout or brownout (partial loss of memory) will not remember the things they did or events that happened while they were intoxicated.

Obsession With Alcohol

An alcoholic will obsess over obtaining and consuming alcohol. The person may try to seem patient, but often, it’s clear that they are agitated because they can’t drink at any given time. Most alcoholics are silently plotting the next time they will be able to have more alcohol. 

An obsession with alcohol causes a constant mental preoccupation that can very easily damage intimate personal relationships. Furthermore, an alcoholic may rush through activities haphazardly to make time for drinking, rather than enjoying their time being sober and engaging with loved ones.

Drinking Rapidly or Chugging 

Alcoholics will often quickly drink or “chug” their first few drinks. They will do this because they are seeking to get intoxicated rapidly, or perhaps because their tolerance is so high they feel like they need a head start. It may also be used as a way to evade withdrawal symptoms. Some will chug a few drinks then go on with their day as if it were completely normal.

Hiding Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Drinking Rituals

The person is always drinking at certain times of the day, such as after getting home from work or at bedtime, or in certain places. The hallmark of an alcoholic is that they feel that they need to engage in their drinking ritual, and will likely become upset or stressed out when they are unable to do so. 

Missing Money or Valuables and Spending Excessively

Addiction is usually expensive. The addict may purchase cheap alcohol, but ultimately, it adds up. He or she will spend way too much money on drinking, to the extent that they may become financially stressed. They may then steal items, borrow money, or generally begin to hassle others to help them obtain alcohol.

While no one behavior indicates someone is an alcoholic for sure, the presence of several of them is collectively a powerful sign that this person has a very severe problem. Some of these signs may be subtle; others are more obvious. In any case, if you witness this behavior, your loved one likely has a dependence or addiction to alcohol. 

Getting Help for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a chronic, lifelong disease that does not go away, but fortunately, it can be treated effectively. If you suspect that you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol abuse, contact us today. Recovery in Tune offers a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to alcoholism that includes services essential for the process of recovery. 

These include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Substance abuse education



Our skilled and compassionate staff are dedicated to providing our clients with the tools they need to break free from the chains of alcohol addiction once and for all! You don’t have to suffer any longer—professional help is available now!