Of all the "legal" addictions (food, shopping, gambling, smoking, alcohol), alcoholism is easily the most destructive in the way it impacts families, the workplace, health and the death toll on South Africa's roads. The Addictions expert answers some alcoholism questions.
Q: Drinking too much
I know that I occasionally have too much alcohol. I don't think I am an alcoholic though. I will have a few glasses of light wine during the week, which I may add makes me feel dreadful in the mornings yet I still do it! Over the weekend I will drink a load more and feel even worse in the mornings and I can't keep any appointments because I feel so awful. I don't have to drink alcohol, but I am surrounded with people that do. I can go for days without alcohol if I try really hard, but after about a week I am back to drinking a couple of glasses again. Then I feel that I have let myself down and terribly remorseful about it. I personally think that it is a form of punishment to myself as it does nothing for me and yet I still do it. I know the answer is just to stop, but you would probably say that if I don't have the willpower to stop doing on my own then I am probably and alcoholic. Is there some kind of mindset that I can form to stop myself from giving in every time?
Expert: It sounds like you are battling with alcohol addiction and I suggest that you enter treatment as soon as possible, and at least start attending AA meetings immediately. You can find the closest meeting to you online, it's anonymous and will really help.
Q: Leaving an Alcoholic
My husband has been battling with alcoholism for at least 5 years. The first 2 years he drank every day. After 3 rehabs in 2 years he became sober and was also diagnosed with depression. He has been sober for 3 years, but began drinking again last month. He could not stop until he lost his job, was in a car accident and was admitted (against his will) into another rehab.
Will he ever be able to live a normal life? I love him very much and will continue to get him help, but I am considering leaving him. He says that this was the last time and he will never drink again. What are his chances? We have 2 small children and I do not want them to grow up in an environment like this.
Expert: As painful and as difficult as it is, we are totally powerless over a loved one's addiction. The backbone of your husband's recovery is a Twelve Step programme, and until he completely surrenders, relapse will be a part of his journey. For now you need to concentrate on your own health, happiness and serenity. We strongly suggest visiting your own Twelve Step Fellowship at an Al-Anon Family Group - they help and support to the families of problem drinkers. The Al-Anon groups are made up of relatives and friends who share experience, strength and hope in order to solve common problems, believing that alcoholism affects the whole family.
Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organisation or institution, and there are no dues for membership. Meetings are anonymous and confidential, and the primary purpose is to help families of problem drinkers. If you are concerned about your husband's drinking, email them at : firstname.lastname@example.org
The six stages of drunkenness
Send your questions in to the Addictions expert or CyberShrink
(Joanne Hart, Health24, October 2011)