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February 23, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Mental Health

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What should I do about my binge drinking?

Question:

Hello,

In the past two weeks I have binged on alcohol 4 times and only remember half of what happened. This has caused a huge rift between me and my fiance (we live together). He does not drink/take drugs at all, and wants to know why I have been doing that. At those times I have deliberately gotten drunk, & then I am a completely different person-very impulsive, I drive (and went off the road one night), very very talkative and outgoing (when I am sober I am quieter and more careful and conscientious.) This binge drinking is so new, I feel a strong craving for alcohol and am preoccupied with it, and when I drink I feel a sense of well-being and liveliness that I don't feel when I am sober.

I am trying very hard to focus on alternatives to drinking that are positive, but I am still panicking about those episodes and about the craving for alcohol and about my fiance's coolness. I want to find a way to capture the good results of when I drink (more open, talkative, fun, funny, full of life), and this scares me. When I am sober I feel more sedate and tense and reserved, but that disappears when I am drunk. I also have agitated depression and take Wellbutrin and Zoloft and see a psychiatrist every 3 months.

I don't understand why my fiance is so reserved and judgmental toward me now. I have no idea why, but when I am drunk, I always start fights with him and I cry. Once I called an ex-boyfriend and told my fiance that I was going to drive to his house, but my fiance held onto the keys. So I started to walk the five miles, at three A.M., in a snowstorm. But I turned back after a short distance, I thought "I have someone great, forget the misery of the ex-boyfriend". When I am sober I feel very muted and my senses dulled, but this "filter" is lifted by drinking. I feel like a mass of chaos, and am judging myself. I am ashamed of the stupid, dangerous, hostile things I have done and said while drunk. Maybe I should start off by tomorrow (it is now three A.M.) telling my fiance all of this. We were so close and affectionate and happy before I started bingeing. I think going off these psych drugs would make me feel more alive, but I had severe panic attacks often and huge difficulty maintaining a stable life. Alcoholism and depression and anxiety run in my family.

I would like to know, what are the biological and psychological reasons that I binge drink? Why now all of a sudden, out of the blue? What kind of treatment should I pursue: psychological or behavioral counseling? Writing daily about my issues?

Jqueenbean - 31 year old woman from Massachusetts

Answer:

Dear Jqueenbean,

I think it is a great idea for you to share what you wrote with your fiance. It would let him know more completely what is going on with you and how you feel. It would also let a lot of the shame you feel about your behavior out as well and that is a gigantic relief. It would also have the effect of exposing the reality of what is going on and that would make it more difficult for you to engage in the drinking behavior and then trying to justify it.

Addictive behavior happens for good reasons. For a person to drink in an alcoholic fashion they have to be alcoholic. That means that their body has a liver abnormality wherein the liver eliminates acetaldehyde, which is the noxious substance that our liver turns alcohol into before it expels it from the body, at one half the rates of non alcoholic people. This sets up a situation where a person who is alcoholic will feel better in the short term when they are drinking. When they stop they feel worse at first. This is one of the reasons for craving. There are numerous other causes of alcoholism, but this is the most pertinent.

Alcoholics start out drinking for the same reasons as everyone else. These usually include curiosity and peer pressure. There bodies however respond to the alcohol in different ways than normal abusers and therefore they become addicted. People with underlying chemical imbalances are much more likely to abuse and become addicted to drugs and alcohol. It is often part of the addictive process. Therefore, because they feel depressed or anxious they will feel better than most non-addictive people when they use the chemicals. The problem is that they use too much of the drugs and it is not exactly the right drug for them so they only feel partly better and have the side effect of becoming addicted and causing chaos in their lives. It sounds to me as if they medication that your doctor has you on is probably not quite what is needed. You might ask them about this and be very open about your drinking pattern and how you feel on the meds. They can either adjust the medication or switch them.

There are as many different drinking patterns of alcoholism as there are people. Binge drinking often confuses people because at times they feel as if they can control it. The problem is that that is a temporary situation that doesn't last. The clinical symptoms of alcoholism are 1) A family history of alcoholism somewhere in the family. 2) Tolerance, or the tendency to need more of the drug as time goes by. 3) Withdrawal symptoms, which mean that in some ways the body begins to crave the drug. This is very gradual and is hard to recognize in the early stages of the disease. 4) Black outs, which are partial memory for events that occurred while drinking. 5) A gross personality change while drinking at times. The person acts in unusual ways for them. 6) A DWI or the person should have had one, but didn't get caught. And 7) A major impact caused by drinking in some area of the person's life. This would include legal, social, relationships, financial, work, or health. These problems can begin to occur at any time in your life.

It sounds to me that you have both an addiction to alcohol and a chemical disorder that leads you to self-medicate to try and feel better. There are probably also problems in terms of dealing with feelings and early childhood problems. I would suggest asking your doctor to reevaluate your medication. I would also highly recommend a twelve step program like Alcoholics Anonymous. This will give you much needed support and a spiritual component to your therapy, which is essential with this sort of a problem. I would also seek out a therapist with good experience dealing with both addictions and early family of origin theory.

Jef Gazley, M.S. www.asktheinternettherapist.com

This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.

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