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Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

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Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby rabble » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:36 am

How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?

As a result of your drinking or drug use, did anything happen in the last year that you wish didn’t happen?

Optional four:
Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?

Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?

Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover (eye opener)?

The implications of concluding that two questions is all that is needed to detect alcohol abuse in a significant portion of the population means that GPs may be able to screen for problems much easier and quicker than previously thought.

For that first optional one, I have to ask "Do you mean, have I felt that way since I cut down on my drinking twenty years ago?"
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby bleurose » Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:45 am

Those questions don't seem too bad/intrusive to me. I was starting to get seriously annoyed at the view by health care personnel that if you had a glass or two of wine of an evening with dinner and a few beers on the weekend that you were about half a step from the brink of alcoholism. I don't think that that pattern constitutes a 'drinking problem' at all. So these questions seem a little more relaxed, if you will, to me while still allowing information to be elicited that could point to a problem.
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby butters » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:44 am

The main question should be:
Are you an asshole when you drink?
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby gargantua » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:31 am

butters wrote:The main question should be:
Are you an asshole when you drink?

That only works if you are not an asshole at other times.
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:33 am

As someone who enjoys a good drunkening, I've had a hard time convincing docs in the past that no, really, I don't have a drinking "problem". (I am always honest with doctors, and it puzzles me that so many people are not.)

I get drunk twice a week, on average. I always get pretty blitzed at band practice (5-8 beers in ~4 hrs) and often get pretty drunk when I host movie nights with a couple pals (pretty much the same set of numbers.) Those things don't both happen every week, but I also get drunk at rock shows sometimes when I make it out, so the twice a week average remains pretty constant no matter what my schedule.

But here's the thing: it's not like I don't know that getting drunk is unhealthy, and as I've struggled to stop gaining weight as I've gotten older, I'm well aware that all those empty calories ain't helping anything. But I just don't think that I have a problem; getting drunk is a conscious choice on my part. I enjoy getting drunk. And not only do I do it responsibly -- I never drive drunk, I don't make myself sick, I never wake up the next day filled with regret, I don't black out entire swaths of my night, I don't vandalize anything, etc. -- the only reason I do it is to have a good time. I don't drink alone, I don't drink to bury sadness, and yes, I'm perfectly capable of having a good time sober (and by far the majority of my good times are had when I'm not drunk.) The only time I feel like I need a drink is before I have to go onstage and sing, but that's because I suffer from stagefright and beer helps lessen that.

I've actually brought this up to some of my closest friends to gauge if anyone thinks I have a problem (at the behest of one of my docs who suggested I do this) and nope, they all seem pretty confident that I don't (or they're liars, I suppose.) And I have a 20+ year history of never once being cut off by a bartender or being told I need to cool it because I'm being too obnoxious. (I do tend to get too loud when I'm drunk, but then, I'm too loud when I'm sober. I'm just too loud in general, and I've been that way since I was a wee child.)

So I most definitely qualify as a "binge drinker" even if age has certainly slowed me down (I can't remember the last time I got drunk two nights in a row.) Honestly, I just don't see how what I do constitutes a "problem". But I "fail" the very first of those questions in the OP, so I certainly hope doctors get more in-depth before declaring that their patients have a problem that needs fixing. But I dunno, maybe I'm just lying to myself, right? Does it sound like I have a problem to my fellow Forons? Did any of you read this long post and think to yourself, "Boy, he sure is going to extreme lengths to justify his problem behavior"? Or does it sound like I just like getting drunk because, y'know, it's fun?
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby rabble » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:38 am

gargantua wrote:
butters wrote:The main question should be:
Are you an asshole when you drink?

That only works if you are not an asshole at other times.

You mean neither of you knows anyone who's a jerk when drunk but has absolutely no other alcohol problems? And you don't know anybody who's a friendly and courteous drunk and you know for a fact they're drinking themselves to death?

Huh.
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby rabble » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:49 am

Prof. Wagstaff wrote: But I "fail" the very first of those questions in the OP, so I certainly hope doctors get more in-depth before declaring that their patients have a problem that needs fixing. But I dunno, maybe I'm just lying to myself, right? Does it sound like I have a problem to my fellow Forons? Did any of you read this long post and think to yourself, "Boy, he sure is going to extreme lengths to justify his problem behavior"? Or does it sound like I just like getting drunk because, y'know, it's fun?

Well the first question is just a number and in my own opinion twice a week ain't exactly the healthiest thing in the world but the second one is the kicker and you pass that one.

There's two ways an addiction hits us; our long term health and our day to day living.

I remember a book I read twenty years ago. The authors said the difference between an addictive personality and a "normal" one is, at some point the normal person says "I wonder if I've got a problem with this stuff. I think I'll ask my friends and family because I trust their judgement."
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby Bwis53 » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:28 am

I'm glad you started this thread rabble. Most of my life I've been surrounded by substance abusers. I told my kids that I've seen too many people lose everything because of it. Having nearly died from an asthma attack at 15, makes life seem pretty precious. I brought it up with my Dr. because I am on medication, which I don't want screwed up. (I do enjoy a nice Beaujolais, a nice bottle of Grolsh or a cocktail, sometimes 2 or 3, but I want to stay careful.) She scared the hell out of me a few years ago. I kept procrastinating seeing a dietitian. Finally, Dr. said she would prescribe me cholesterol lowering medication. Okay, I finally saw the dietitian, who was great. I recently put a post-it on my computer (I'm there a lot) with "cholesterol, sugar, weight, addiction" on it, to remind me of good reasons to stay in control.
Last edited by Bwis53 on Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby gargantua » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:29 am

rabble wrote:
gargantua wrote:
butters wrote:The main question should be:
Are you an asshole when you drink?

That only works if you are not an asshole at other times.

You mean neither of you knows anyone who's a jerk when drunk but has absolutely no other alcohol problems? And you don't know anybody who's a friendly and courteous drunk and you know for a fact they're drinking themselves to death?

Huh.

I don't think I said either of those things. It was just a flip response to Butters' post. Please don't read too much into it, as there's no "there" there.
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby gargantua » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:33 am

rabble wrote:
Prof. Wagstaff wrote: But I "fail" the very first of those questions in the OP, so I certainly hope doctors get more in-depth before declaring that their patients have a problem that needs fixing. But I dunno, maybe I'm just lying to myself, right? Does it sound like I have a problem to my fellow Forons? Did any of you read this long post and think to yourself, "Boy, he sure is going to extreme lengths to justify his problem behavior"? Or does it sound like I just like getting drunk because, y'know, it's fun?

Well the first question is just a number and in my own opinion twice a week ain't exactly the healthiest thing in the world but the second one is the kicker and you pass that one.

There's two ways an addiction hits us; our long term health and our day to day living.

I remember a book I read twenty years ago. The authors said the difference between an addictive personality and a "normal" one is, at some point the normal person says "I wonder if I've got a problem with this stuff. I think I'll ask my friends and family because I trust their judgement."


That makes a lot of sense. To me, Wags' behavior seems to fall within my experience of being within the "Sconnie-normal" range. Except for the not driving part, which is all too rare.
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby rabble » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:44 am

gargantua wrote:I don't think I said either of those things. It was just a flip response to Butters' post. Please don't read too much into it, as there's no "there" there.

Having known and loved both kinds of people, I wouldn't mind talking about it but hey. It's Atwood fest and there's a sale at Woodcraft and there's some sort of clean lakes thing and maybe a dozen more ways to spend money and consume mood elevating substances in a responsible and courteous manner.
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby gargantua » Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:35 pm

Sorry. I wouldn't mind talking about it either. Coincidentally, I am about to head out to Atwoodfest, but if there is still interest later, I'm up for it.
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby gargantua » Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:44 pm

In fact, I do know a guy who is normally great to be around. It doesn't happen every time, but on occasion, while drunk he'll get very belligerent and aggressive. It's so bad that we avoid him for a couple of weeks after. I've learned to notice the warning signs, and now just leave the situation. Usually it's about something trivial that one usually just lets go, but drinking turns off the let it slide filter.
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby Kenneth Burns » Sat Jul 26, 2014 3:19 pm

The amount and frequency of drinking seem like a good starting place for a conversation about addiction, but not definitive. Something else that's important to consider: A hallmark of addiction is continuing the addictive behavior despite progressively worse negative consequences.
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Re: Two Questions Could Determine an Alcohol Problem

Postby snoqueen » Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:43 pm

I think the two questions should be are you hurting anyone else, and are you OK with your own life.

With regard to the first, there are people we really need not to hurt (our kids, top of the list, and people on the highway) and there are people who are perfectly capable of leaving the area (adult significant others, for instance ) and ought to if they don't like things as they are.

With regard to the second question, your life is ultimately your own business. If you'd rather live a shorter time and go for it, that's between you and the cosmos.

I laughed reading the obit of entertainer Elaine Stritch a few weeks ago. She was known as a drinker right through the middle of her career, quit for several decades, and then started up again in her 80s. She said she liked it and so what.

I have no problem with any of this. Where does it say to live as long as possible has to be our highest priority?

This is from someone who drank a whole lot until she was about 30 (more than half a lifetime ago) and then simply laid off. Now I have a couple drinks a year. So I'm not trying to justify anything. I just believe the binary "either you're a light to moderate drinker or you should quit forever" is puritanical and harsh.
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