I get a lot of clients wanting to find the line between abusive drinking, alcoholism and what is OK. It's almost like getting permission, but the truth is, often when I share what I know from reading or from experts in the field of addiction, people don't like it. I get that. All of us want to justify our behavior in some way. Maybe it's as simple as I yelled at my child because it was the tenth time I told him/her no, or, I "slipped up" and cussed at my spouse because he/she made me so mad. Either way, we justify our behavior so that we can feel OK, or at least sort-of OK, by our response. It's like that with abusive drinking, and it's magnified by addiction. I hear, "well, I never drink hard liquor" or, "I only drink beer" or, "I only get drunk on the weekends" or, "No one else complains about my drinking except for my spouse." Listen, if any substance causes a disruption in your relationship(s), you have a problem. Period. If you only cuss him/her out when you've been drinking, there's a problem. If you only fight/spend extravagantly/cheat/lie/criticize when you're under the influence, you have a problem. You might think I am being harsh or judgmental. OK. And watch me take this to another level: If I think I am being nice to my husband but he thinks I am being mean--then, you guessed it, I have a problem. Life is about relationship. It is about the dance we do with the people we love. Addiction destroys those relationships. I have a colleague who says that addiction is a dragon, and to not get support and learn new skills is like standing still while the dragon breathes down fire. The sad thing is, the dragon also destroys the relationships and the lives of those around the addicted. If you are hearing from someone you love that your drinking/pot smoking etc is causing problems in the relationship, you deserve to get healthy. In fact, your life may just depend on it.
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