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I Have A Drinking Problem

answered 11:58 AM EST, Wed January 18, 2012
I have a drinking problem. When it gets too out of control after a long stretch of going really heavy I usually try to dry out for a month or so, just so that I keep things under some degree of reasonable control.

Whenever I dry out I just switch to smoking grass for a month or so. I do not like grass as much as I like to drink but I find quitting drinking without smoking grass too hard for me.

I have been drinking a little too hard now since well before the holidays and I need to take a break. The problem is I am currently in a country where buying a little grass is not an option.

Is there some pill I can take that is not addictive (I do not want to mess around with opiates and all that shit) but that will get me a little mellow so that I can take a couple each night instead of drinking and then after a month or so just stop using them?

Dr. James Strawbridge Says...

You said “I have a drinking problem. When it gets too out of control after a long stretch of going really heavy, I usually try to dry to dry out for a month or so, just so that I keep things under some degree of reasonable control.” At another time you said “I need to take a break. The problem is I am currently in a country where buying grass is not an option.” Correspondingly, you ask if there were medication that could help with cravings for alcohol.

Let me begin my response with this: the early stages of alcohol use resembles normal social drinking but then develop surreptitiously, eventually resulting into harmful consequences for some people. You may be one one of those. The drinking patterns of a minority of drinkers (about 10-12 Percent) begin diverge from the majority. They begin to dunk more and more often and they do not want to stop drinking once they've started. In the later stages of their drinking, they may keep a “stash hidden.

They may drink for periods and the periods may come closer together. They may gulp their first drink or switch to other alcohol drinks or other drugs.

Why are some people more vulnerable to becoming alcoholic while others are not?

Research has uncovered a number of physiological, psychological, and biological differences.

When taken all together, these “predisposing factors” explain the alcoholic's vulnerably to alcohol and the on set of the disease of alcoholism. The susceptible person must drink, of course, if they are to become alcoholic. If they stop drinking for any reason, i. e., religious, cultural, social, or psychological—the disease is momentarily arrested. Furthermore, although psychological factors do not cause alcoholism, they can influence the alcoholic's efforts to control their drinking and their reaction to the addiction. Sometimes the alcoholic may use another drug like some use another type of alcohol thinking this it is the answer.

Alcoholism is not a failure of willpower. There is a powerful explanation. It has to do with neurological changes in the reward and survival system. Excessive alcohol and other drugs chemically trick the brain so that the pursuit of the drug(s) becomes a higher priority than survival. Alcohol and other drugs may seem more important to them than staying alive because that's exactly the message their brains are giving them.

It's a rare alcoholic who doesn't also have a history of addiction in their family. Add to that the common experience of some type of trauma involving relationships in childhood---perhaps abuse or abandonment or exploration in some form. As a result of such influences, a person's ability to regulate emotions becomes stunted, twisted, retarded. And what better compensation from escaping those pesky feelings you don't want to deal with than vodka, a crack pipe, or a bong.

There are medically approved oral medications to help with cravings: Disulfiram (antabuse), Naltrexone, and Acomprosate (camprale). However, these are only “band aids” or temporary solutions. Although these medications are available,there is no “magic bullet” and they are one-half of the answer. No single medication is available that works in every case and/or every person.

I have worked with over 1,000 individuals as a volunteer and as a psychotherapist. There are no new problems, just other people going through them. You are not alone. I would suggest that you live in a healing community for 30 days or longer. Learn how to live life on life's terms with stop treating yourself so badly.

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Page last updated Jan 23, 2012

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