Dear Annie: I wanted to share a bit of what it’s like to be the family member of a person who drinks too much. I know. I had more than 40 years of experience by the time I finally sought answers. I studied brain- and addiction-related research to assess my loved one’s drinking patterns in order to protect myself from secondhand drinking. Secondhand drinking is a term to describe the impact on the person on the receiving end of another person’s drinking behaviors.
These drinking patterns cause brain changes – especially in the areas of the brain responsible for judgment, memory, coordination, pleasure/reward and reasoning. And we don’t fully understand the physical and emotional consequences to the health of a family member or friend who repeatedly deals with SHD. These include anxiety, depression, stomach ailments, skin problems, obesity, sleep problems, difficulties at work or in school, migraines and more.
April 11, is National Alcohol Screening Day. I urge people who love someone who drinks too much to conduct an anonymous screening of their loved one’s drinking patterns. Screening for Mental Health has created a fantastic website, www.howdoyouscore.org, where anyone can anonymously evaluate their own or a loved one’s drinking patterns through an online assessment.
This kind of anonymous screening allows you to understand what you are really dealing with: a drinking pattern that is changing their loved one’s brain and causing hurtful drinking behaviors. – Lisa Frederiksen, Author, Speaker
Dear Lisa: Thank you for sharing your story and emphasizing the importance of screening for alcoholism. Once again, those who wish to be screened can do so at howdoyouscore.org.