PART II: Cavendish Resources for Addiction: Alcohol

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Addiction is a major issue in 21st century American, and Cavendish is no exception. Those most often affected-family, friends and the person themselves-can struggle with little support, resources or understanding.  In order to address that in our town, Cavendish Connects is running a three part series, providing local resources, information and answering questions that people may have. Part I: Tobacco

Vermonters (ages 12 and up) drink more compared to the rest of the country and also have a higher rate of binge drinking (5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other).

It is important to note that people who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop addiction compared to those who don’t start until they are 21.

Many people struggle with controlling their drinking at some time in their lives. Approximately 17 million American adults ages 18 and older have an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and 1 in 10 children live in a home with a parent who has a drinking problem. The good news is that no matter how severe the problem may seem, most people with an alcohol use disorder can benefit from some form of treatment. Research shows that about one-third of people who are treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms one year later. Many others substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF AN ALCOHOL PROBLEM? Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition that doctors diagnose when a patient’s drinking causes distress or harm. See how many of the following questions you answer, “yes” to:

In the past year, have you:

• Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?

• More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?

• Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the after effects?

• Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?

• 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?

• Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?

• Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?

• 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)?

• 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?

• 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?

• Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?

 If you have any of these symptoms, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change. For an online assessment of your drinking pattern, with feedback, go to the following private website, which does not collect or store any entries, email addresses, or information that would allow visitors to be personally identified.

NEED TO MAKE A CHANGE IN DRINKING HABITS? Mixed feelings are normal and change can be hard.  Drinking can damage your health, relationships, job and financial stability, which are all important reasons to stop or curtail drinking. What are some of the barriers that might be there making it difficult for you to stop? No longer fitting in with some of your friends? Need another way to unwind? Take the Pros & Cons test to help you make the right decision.

NOT READY TO CHANGE?: If you aren’t ready to quit or cut down, consider the following suggestions:

• Take Steps to be safe.

-       Sip slowly so that you have no more than one standard drink with alcohol per house. A U.S. "standard" drink contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of "pure" alcohol. That's the amount in 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of table wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

-       Make every other drink non alcoholic (water, soda, juice). 

-       Have a designated driver or take a cab.

-       Don’t operate machinery, walk in a bad area, swim, or drive a boat.

• Keep track of how often and how much you’re drinking

• Notice how drinking affects you. How it affects others around you

• Determine how much money you are spending using the Alcohol Spending Calculator

• Ask for support from someone you trust, including your health care provider

PREGNANT OR TRYING TO BECOME PREGNANT?  Heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage and other serious problems in the baby. Because it is not yet known whether any amount of alcohol is safe for a developing baby, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not drink.

ISN’T DRINKING GOOD FOR YOUR HEART? For some people, the answer can be "yes," depending on the amount. Regular light to moderate drinking can lower the risk for coronary heart disease, mainly among middle-aged and older adults (other factors also cut the risk, including a healthy diet and weight, exercise, and not smoking). Heavy drinking can actually increase blood pressure and damage the heart.

I’M TRYING TO HELP SOMEONE WITH A DRINKING PROBLEM: Whether it’s a family member, friend, neighbor, work colleague or community member, there are things you can do to help them and things to avoid that can aid them in continuing drinking:

DO’S

• Learn about alcoholism.

• Offer support for the person to make positive changes, such as choosing not to drink, driving them to treatment and/or support group, attending therapy with them, exercising with them etc.

• Express love when articulating concern.

• Offer to help the person find treatment such as medically supervised detox, rehabilitation program, support groups. (For local resources check Getting Help below)

• Know that recovery is an ongoing process.

• Set clear boundaries if the person refuses help.

• Become involved in a program of recovery. Al-anon/ALateen and Families Anonymous  are invaluable resources. It is often too difficult to stop the enabling process without help and support from those who have been down this road. Join a group, and draw on their experience, strength, and hope.

DON’TS

• Enable or cover for their drinking. There is a big difference between Helping- doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves and Enabling-doing for someone things that they could and should be doing themselves.

• Make excuses for the alcoholic behavior

• Lie to cover up for their behavior

• Bail them out or pay their legal fees; pay other bills that the person was suppose to pay or loan them money.

• Give them chance after chance

• Make threats (e.g. such as leave) and then not carry through

• Rescue them

Take the test Are you Enabling an Alcoholic or Addict.

Interventions can be a successful way to get help. An intervention is about the group showing support for their loved one to get treatment to overcome alcohol use disorder, but it is also a way for everyone who loves the person to support each other in facing their fears about changing the relationship. The group gathers to express concern, using specific examples, about their loved one’s behavior and health. They offer support for treatment in specific ways. They also set boundaries and clear consequences if the person refuses to get help. If you are interested in staging an intervention, use the resources below to help in the planning.

 Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction

Staging an Intervention for an Alcoholic

Keep in mind that there are tough choices that need to be made, even if the person drinking seeks help and goes into treatment. The dynamics of the family, social groups and relationships change when a person is going through treatment and/or achieves sobriety. The following resources can make a difference:

Vermont Al-Anon/Alateen

• Virtual Al-Anon Meetings

 Coping with an Alcoholic Parent-Teens Health

Are you concerned about an alcoholic child

How to Best Support an Alcoholic from American Addiction Centers

GETTING HELP There are a variety of ways to deal with Alcohol Disorders, which you can discuss with your primary care provider (e.g. Ludlow Health Center). While the resources below offer various types of approaches and what is available in the Cavendish area, it is important to recognize that if it is a crisis situation, please go to a local emergency room-Springfield Hospital; Mt. Ascutney; Rutland Regional Medical Center  and in New Hampshire Valley Regional Healthcare and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

 Short term Residential Treatment Programs: Short-term residential programs provide a living environment with treatment services. Several models of residential treatment (such as the therapeutic community) exist. Treatment in these programs is determined by medical need, and usually last 30 days or less.

• Brattleboro Retreat 800-738-7328

Phoenix House Vermont 888-671-9392

Recovery House Inc: Detoxification, Residential Treatment and Halfway House in Wallingford 802-446-2640

• Valley Vista, Bradford VT: Programs for adolescents, men or women 802-222-5201

Inpatient Treatment Inpatient treatment, provided in special units of hospitals or medical clinics, offers both detoxification and acute medical and/or mental health services. People who have a severe mental disorder or serious medical problems in addition to a substance use disorder are the people most likely to receive inpatient treatment. The length of stay varies by condition but rarely exceeds seven days.

• Brattleboro Retreat 800-738-7328

Phoenix Houses of New England/Brattleboro/ Bellows Falls/Rise Program: Counseling including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy and marital and family counseling.

White River Junction VA Medical Center

Intensive Outpatient

• Clara Martin Center-Quitting Time: Locations in Wilder and Randolph 802-295-1311

• Evergreen Services Rutland 802-747-3588

• Health Care & Rehabilitation Services of Southeastern VT: Treats Adolescents Locations in Springfield (802-886-4500 and Hartford. 802-295-3031 Crisis 800-622-4235

Starting Now: Outpatient program of the Brattleboro Retreat 802-258-3705

White River Junction VA Medical Center

• List of Treatment Providers from the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

Medications: Three medications are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alcohol dependence. These medications help people stop or reduce their drinking and prevent relapse. All approved medications are non-addictive, and can be used alone or in combination with other forms of treatment. You will need to work with a licensed medical provider (physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner) to write prescriptions. The Ludlow Health Center can provide this service.

Support Groups:

Alcoholics Anonymous in VT Springfield District 10 Meetings

• Turning Point Recovery Center: Springfield (802-885-4668) and White River Junction 802-295-5206

• There are a variety of on-line support groups On line

MORE PROBLEMS THAN JUST ALCOHOL?: It is not uncommon for people with alcohol addiction to also be dealing with drug, tobacco and/or mental health issues. In fact some people use alcohol and drugs to try and control depression anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) etc. It is also true that through the use of alcohol and drugs mental health conditions develop. Called “dual diagnosis,” by treating both the substance use and mental health conditions, the chances increase that the person will recover and lead a life that reflects their individual goals and values.

Brattleboro Retreat 802-258-3700

• Phoenix Houses of New England/ Brattleboro/Rise Program

• White River Junction VA Medical Center

• Windham Center

RECOVERY RESOURCES VERMONT RELATED

Alcoholics Anonymous in Vermont

• National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Vermont

•  Vermont Health Department’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs

• Vermont Association of Addiction Treatment Providers

• Vermont Recovery Network: The Vermont Recovery Network is a non-profit organization that supports the provision of recovery support services for people who have experienced problems resulting from drug and alcohol use. Although our member centers all provide the space for various 12 step meetings and other peer to peer recovery support groups, they are not affiliated with any of these groups.

OTHER RESOURCES

• Lines for Life: 24/7 with free, confidential, and anonymous help! Our highly trained staff and volunteers provide immediate assistance, compassionate support, and resource referrals that can put you on a path to healing. You can call or text and there are differing numbers for Alcohol & Drug Help; military helpline; and a youth line

If you have additional questions on this topic, e-mail cavendishconnects@gmail.com