Bryan Fox, PhD
Adolescent Recovery Center
For most adults, enjoying a few alcoholic beverages at a party is fine. But sometimes a few can become too many. Bryan Fox, PhD, Prisma Health Behavioral Care Outpatient programs, explains how to identify when that line has been crossed and partying is becoming a problem.
“About 20 million adults and a million adolescents around the United States have a substance abuse problem,” Fox said. “It doesn't just include drinking. It could be prescription drugs or marijuana. And it can affect anyone, in all socioeconomic levels.”
Although it can sometimes be difficult to tell if you have a drinking problem, Fox said there are some common signs, such as:
- If you’re having difficulty functioning without the use of alcohol or drugs.
- If you're drinking early in the morning to get your day started.
- If you're avoiding certain obligations to either continue your drinking or because you've been drinking and you're trying to avoid getting detected.
Some warning signs your loved one might have a problem include:
- A significant decline in their overall functioning.
- They isolate themselves.
- They demonstrate a lot of mood changes that don't seem to be explained by anything else.
“The main thing to think about for anybody is this: are you seeing consequences that you relate back to alcohol use, and then in the face of that, does the use continue? That's the main part,” Fox said.
So, what do you do if your loved one might have a drinking problem? Fox offered this advice:
- Avoid demonizing them. “Anybody who’s struggling with this probably at some level understands that they're struggling with it, even though they may be trying to hide it.”
- Talk to them when they’re sober. “It's really crucial that you're having discussions outside of a time when they are clearly under the influence. You won't have a productive conversation at that time even though emotions certainly can run high.”
- Explain how their actions impact you. “Speak from the heart. Again, not demonizing them but explaining how their usage is really impacting you.”
- Write down your thoughts ahead of time. “Get your thoughts out on paper and maybe even read it to the person. This can take some emotion out of it when a discussion like this gets going.”
Fox said there several local resources, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and self-help groups that may be a good place to start for someone who is looking for help. Prisma Health Behavioral Care also offers programs for adolescents and adults. Get a free, confidential assessment by calling 803-296-8765.
“We’ll talk through what's going on and determine if what we do or some other service in the community might be helpful for you,” Fox said.
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