For many of us in Chittenden and surrounding counties, consuming alcohol is part of our culture. Whether it is a crisp cider on a summer evening, a local craft brew after a long day of skiing, or a glass of red wine with a home cooked meal, it can sometimes be difficult to see that consumption of alcohol may be damaging to the health of ourselves or our loved ones.
The questions below were developed by researches in conjunction with the World Health Organization to help us see the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. While these questions provide a simplified version and cannot be used to diagnosed a substance abuse disorder, they may help you to distinguish what is concerning behavior and what is not. These questions are specific to alcohol, but can also be used when thinking about other substance abuse.
- Do you ever find that your loved one was not able to stop drinking once they started?
- Did a loved one ever fail to do what was normally expected because of drinking?
- Has your loved one ever had six or more drinks on one occasion?
- Has your loved one ever expressed feelings of guilt or remorse after drinking?
- Has your loved one ever needed a drink in the morning to help them get going after a heavy drinking session?
- Has your loved one ever had difficulty or been unable to recall what happened the night before because they were drinking?
- Has your loved one or someone else ever been injured as a result of their drinking?
- Has anyone, such as a friend or health care provided, ever expressed concern about the drinking of your loved one?
Answering yes to more than one of the questions above may mean it is time to start talking with your loved one about whether or not they need help. This may mean simply bringing up their alcohol use the next time they go to meet with their primary care provider. Or, it may mean more immediate action can be taken. We’ve listed a few resources in this post, and more are available in the display at the Frymoyer Community Health Resource Center at the UVM Medical Center.
Here are other steps that you can take to help your loved one get the help they need:
- Speak up and offer your support.
- Express love and concern, and understand that your loved one can’t stop without help
- Understand that recovery is an ongoing process. Get support for yourself and for your loved one— you’re in this for the long haul.
- At a loss for words? Check out this website for some ideas of what to say to get the conversations started.
- In Chittenden County, call the Howard Center at 802-488-6103.
- Check out these resources for locations other than Chittenden County, use this interactive guide.
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. The following are resources for friends and family of people who are struggling with addiction.
- Coping strategies and information for friends and families
- Moving beyond the fear
- Visit the Frymoyer Community Health Resource Center for more ideas of ways to take care of yourself!
Babor TF, Higgins-Biddle JC, Saunders JB, Monteiro, MG (2001). The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test: Guidelines for Use in Primary Care, 2nd ed. Word Health Organization: Mental Health and Substance Dependence, 2001.
Alcohol Facts and Statistics (2015) NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. March 2015. Accessed from http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics on March 20, 2016.