The trouble with Alcohol:

The trouble with alcohol is that it’s everywhere. We don’t treat any other drug the way we treat alcohol, marijuana included, and in part that’s because we mostly don’t think of it as a drug. It’s what you down a shot of to loosen up on the dance floor, or to ease your social anxieties at your company’s holiday party. You know it’s not good for you, sure, but it’s a part of daily life. It’s easy to stop thinking of alcohol like a drug—but it is one. And like any drug, you can become addicted to it without even realizing.
Nearly every group of people is now drinking more than they did a decade ago. And as for full-on diagnosable alcoholism? That’s up 49.4 percent. This is all from a 2017 study in JAMA Psychiatry that used a massive long-term survey to see how drinking rates changed between 2001-02 and 2012-13. Over 36,000 people took part, each of whom were interviewed face-to-face and asked detailed questions about their drinking habits.

Of all the groups, the ones facing the steepest increases in problematic drinking are women, those with low socioeconomic status, older adults, and racial or ethnic minorities. The increases were so severe across the population that the study authors wrote they “constitute a public health crisis.”

It’s easy to look at those statistics and think that the troubling findings only apply to other people. Other people have drinking problems—I’m fine. And maybe you are—but maybe you’re not. Even if you think your habits are controllable, you should know what problematic drinking looks like and whether you’re more at risk for developing an addiction than others.

More than 50 percent of the risk for alcoholism is heritable, so anyone with a close relative—especially a parent—who has had alcohol abuse issues is much more likely to get into trouble. But genetics aren’t the only risk factor. Depression and other mental health conditions make you more likely to rely on alcohol, as does your social life. Having a close friend or partner who drinks heavily probably makes people liable to over-imbibe as well.

How much is a normal amount of alcohol?
Alcohol dependency is so much more than a particular number of drinks per week—but everyone still wants a number. We want some barometer by which to measure ourselves to see if we’re really that bad. So here it is:
The average male-bodied person should stay below four drinks per night, and consume no more than 10 drinks per week. For female-bodied people, that generally drops to three drinks a night and seven per week.
If you’re regularly going over both of those limits, you might have a problem.

Here’s the part where we get into the nuance:

Plenty of people who drink sometimes go on benders and have more than three or four drinks. Way more. That doesn’t automatically make someone an alcoholic. Dependency and abuse are about the regularity with which you drink a certain amount, not how often you come close to blacking out when faced with an open bar at a particularly boisterous wedding. That’s why there are those “ands” in there—because it’s not really about whether you push the limits, but rather how often it is you’re pushing them.
At what point does it become a dependence, medically speaking?
Psychiatrists have a better way of defining alcohol problems than just a numerical limit. For professionals, it’s more about a set of behaviors.
Clinicians use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to diagnose disorders like alcoholism. It’s a book that standardizes what symptoms doctors should look for in every psychiatric illness, or at least all those that are officially recognized. Alcohol use disorder comes on a spectrum, but to qualify as abusing alcohol (which is less severe than alcohol dependence), you only have to have any two of the following issues:

  1. More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t
  2. Spent a lot of time drinking, or being sick or getting over other aftereffects
  3. Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else
  4. Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family, or caused job troubles, or school problems
  5. Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends
  6. Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink
  7. More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)
  8. Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem, or after having had a memory blackout
  9. Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want, or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before
  10. Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure; or sensed things that were not there.

Having two or three symptoms would only constitute a mild alcohol use disorder, while six or more would be considered severe. Of course, you should not use this list to diagnose yourself with alcoholism. Only a licensed professional can do that. But if you answered “yes” to multiple items listed here, you should consider talking to a doctor about it. admitting that there’s a problem with the way you relate to alcohol, and asking a professional to help you fix it, is the best way to keep things from getting out of hand later.

What should I do if I think I have a problem?

If you’re concerned, talk to a professional about it. CALL us NOW!

The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. 17 million adults have alcohol use disorder to some degree, and that’s just counting those who have been diagnosed. There are many more who are unable to get help. But the bright spot in all of this is that treatment works. A third of people who seek help have no symptoms a year later, and many of the remaining group still see significant reductions in the severity of their problems.

I’m not drinking enough to be considered high-risk, so I should keep doing what I’m doing—right?

If you have a hint of an inkling that maybe you should drink less, don’t let a lack of dependency stop you.

So if you think you could live as rich a life as you do now (or perhaps even a richer one) while consuming less alcohol, the fact that you’re not technically abusing the substance is all the more reason to go ahead and cut down on your drinking: if shifting social norms and bad habits have turned you into the type of person who drinks every single day, try challenging yourself to limit those occasions to three or four times a week. If alcohol isn’t a substance you’re addicted to, this should be no more difficult than forming or breaking any other habit.

Start by turning your vague goal (I’d like to drink less) into a firm one (I have quantified how much I drink, on average, and would like to cut that in half either by frequency or volume). Think of the habit you’re trying to form as a default “no thanks” response to an opportunity to drink. That doesn’t mean you’ll never drink, or even that you won’t drink frequently—it just means you’ll become a very conscious consumer, and will get into the habit of asking yourself whether the alcohol is truly desired and will fit into your planned limit for the day or week. Then, find a small mental reward. Maybe you can eat some dark chocolate or split a dessert to enjoy a bit of the sugar you skipped in liquid form, or use a habit tracking app to give you a gamefied sense of accomplishment. If you stick with this new routine for at least 66 days, you should be able to change the way you treat alcohol. You might even find that you prefer not drinking at all, or at least far less than you expected. If it’s still a struggle after a couple of months of your new routine, you might want to talk to a doctor—everyone is different, and even if you’re not drinking a high-risk amount, you might still be dealing with an addiction.

IF you need any assistance with Alcohol Abuse or Dependance, WE’RE HERE TO HELP!

Just give us a call!

Cognitive Restructuring Techniques For Greater Happiness

How you think about problems matters a lot

Does thinking about your problems cause lots of stress? Do you feel overwhelmed when facing a life challenge? Hoping to find strategies to help you feel more empowered?

If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place. That’s because I’d like to share with you ten cognitive restructuring techniques designed to reduce your stress and generate greater happiness.

Some of these may seem like no-brainers. Others may cause you to pause and reflect.

1. Avoid the playing the blame game

It takes courage to recognize that you are responsible for the many challenges you meet. Even if someone’s mean, how you view circumstances is up to you.

When you blame another person, you let them control your well-being. It’s far better to take charge of your destiny.

Accept culpability and you have the power to improve your life.

2. Create new mental pictures for stressful events

Whatever you picture stays alive in your mind. You feed memories when you go over them and focus on the worst parts.

As you do so, you revive painful emotions and deepen neural pathways in your brain that help you return to angst.

If you can’t stop creating mental images of unwanted memories, play with what you see. Change them from color to black and white., or think of a place you find calming.

Put a frame around them. Shrink them and add a silly cartoon character voice to lighten the mood and the pictures may fade.

3. Recognize life lessons

Everyone must deal with problems. Happy people consider setbacks stepping-stones to their greatest achievements. Without them, they wouldn’t discover what to do or increase resilience.

Think of problems as life lessons. As long as you learn from them, they are valuable. That is what experience is and how you grow resilience!

4. Talk about what works

The saying “it’s good to talk” isn’t always true. Sometimes it’s better to sit in silence and seek inner wisdom rather than tell everyone your problems.

When you talk about difficulties often, you focus on negativity.

Before you can feel better, you must alter your mood. So, leave unproductive exchanges with pals for times when they offer wise advice unless you want to stay unhappy.

5. Know your problems won’t last

Some challenges seem huge at the time you meet them. You think they will never leave. All situations change however. Even those you want to stay the same will alter over time.

Your problems will shift, and in a few weeks or months you may wonder why they upset you in the first place.

Bear this idea in mind when you face troubles and train yourself to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

How do you think about your problems?

6. Encourage helpful conversations

Doesn’t it feel great when people agree with you? Nonetheless, do you really want your confidants to approve of the reasons you give about why you should be unhappy?

Rather than strive to get friends to agree with you and strengthen your misery, ask them to help you recover. Seek wise counsel from people who offer fresh perspectives.

7. Consider solutions

Never hang your hopes on one solution. If you think there’s only a single way to solve problems, you narrow your vision of what might be and miss opportunities to manage well.

When in debt, for instance, a bank loan isn’t the only way out. Maybe you can sell something, start a small business, or borrow funds from a family member.

Think big. Consider there must be plenty of ways to deal with problems. Brainstorm ideas.

Jot them in a notepad even when they seem silly, and you’ll come up with ways to cope and improve.

8. Understand you are not alone

However strange the problem you face, you’re not alone. Many people are going through similar difficulties now and plenty will later too.

If you don’t know how to cope, find out how other people deal with similar difficulties and learn from their mistakes and successes.

9. Trust your inner voice

Many people who love to give advice will appear out of the blue if you talk about your problems. Their way of coping, however, may not suit you and they might offer bad advice.

Follow guidance only if it’s useful and after carefully looking at other measures.

People might offer sensible counsel, but discount advice from individuals who insist you do as they say. Only you know what’s best for you.

10. Let go when it’s time

People sometimes cling to the past. They revisit old problems so often their memories become part of who they are in the present. They identify with painful events that color everything they do and think.

If you are hanging on to a problem, recognize the time has come to let it go.

When you forgive people who have caused pain in your life, you surrender negativity and regain your emotional freedom and get back to the business of living.

Wrap Up

The way you think about your life struggles largely impacts your mood. By shifting your perspective and changing your lens, greater happiness is possible.

Cognitive restructuring gives us a simple and successful way in which to change the way we view and think of the world around us. By taking an active and structured approach to positive change, we grow towards the person we want to become.

At Mooiuitzicht we have programs specially catered towards changing your outlook on life for a Happier and more successful YOU!!

Benzo’s and Me

New studies lead by experts in the field of psychology and neurology, explores the long-term cognitive effects of benzodiazepine use. The results of the meta-analysis, published in Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, indicate that long-term benzodiazepine use has significant negative effects on cognition that remain even after discontinuing the drug.

“The results of this meta-analytic study are important in that they corroborate the mounting evidence that a range of neuropsychological functions are impaired as a result of long-term benzodiazepine use, and that these are likely to persist even following withdrawal,” write the authors.

Benzodiazepines, used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and panic disorder, are one of the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs in the world. “While these medications are useful in the short-term, the published evidence indicates that when they are used for longer periods, they often culminate in significant harm,” write the researchers. These harms include the risk of dependency and adverse effects, such as cognitive impairment. Given these negative effects, many studies have investigated factors associated with long-term benzodiazepine use.

The authors previously conducted a meta-analysis and found that, although cognitive functioning improved after discontinuation of benzodiazepines, participants still demonstrated cognitive deficits 6 months after withdrawal. The purpose of the present study was to update the previous meta-analysis in order to “provide an up to date review of the residual cognitive effects of the benzodiazepines in current users, those who have recently withdrawn and characterizing the long-term residual effects of those who have successfully abstained following withdrawal,” write the authors. The researchers reviewed 8 studies that had been published between 2003 and 2016, in addition to the 11 studies reviewed in the previous meta-analysis.

Results demonstrate that current long-term benzodiazepine use (i.e., greater than 1 year) significantly affects a number of cognitive domains: working memory, processing speed, divided attention, visuoconstruction (i.e, ability to organize spatial information and physically form a design), recent memory, and expressive language (i.e., verbal and nonverbal communication). The reviewed studies suggest that cognitive deficits persist after recent and long-standing benzodiazepine withdrawal (up to 3.5 years).

The results of the current study add further evidence to the previous meta-analysis, indicating that long-term benzodiazepine use has significant negative effects on cognition. They also provide new data on the lasting effects of benzodiazepines even after discontinuation.

The authors state, “These results are indeed significant, for they challenge earlier findings that benzodiazepine users who are successful in withdrawing from benzodiazepine can expect recovery in cognitive functioning.”

If you struggle with Benzodiazipine Addiction or Dependance, we can assist with Detox and the necessary treatment programs.