The following post is from a guest blogger to my site. Lisa Frederiksen works to educate about addiction, substance abuse, and secondhand drinking/drugging, as well as prevention, and intervention. She is also the author of “If You Loved Me, You’d Stop!” and “Loved One In Treatment? Now What!” and writes the blog, BreakingTheCycles.com.
There is an age-old saying when it comes to offering reasons for why a person does not seek recovery or treatment or why a person relapses (goes back to drinking). Namely, “He (or she) hasn’t hit bottom, yet.”
It’s long been held that the person has to “hit bottom” before treatment can work. The new brain research I present on this site and in my books shows this is not the case — especially for young people. Consider these statistics:
– 18-20 year olds have the highest rate of alcohol dependence of any age group in the U.S. (source: U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking, 2007).
– Early use, independent of other risk factors, strongly predicts the development of alcohol dependence. Of all people who have meet the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism in their lifetime, nearly half were addicted by age 21 and two-thirds by age 25. (NIAAA, “Snapshot of Underage Drinking”)
The reason a person should not wait until a loved one hits bottom before they offer help is the fact that alcoholism (one of the diseases of addiction) involves a a combination of risk factors (genetics, early use, childhood trauma, mental illness, social environment and alcohol abuse). The drinking pattern, itself, follows a progression and begins with alcohol use, then moves to alcohol abuse and from there, to alcohol dependence (alcoholism).
Unfortunately, family and friends (and the person abusing alcohol) will go to the ends of the earth to rationalize a person’s alcohol abuse as something excusable for fear of the label alcoholic. Yet, it is the period of alcohol abuse that actually changes the chemical and structural make-up of the brain. Additionally, recognizing and dealing with a person’s combination of risk factors is critical. The earlier in the process you intervene in a healthy, productive manner, the better for your loved one’s brain health and recovery (although it is NEVER too late to start recovery).
The first step to understanding what it means to ‘help’ in a healthy, productive manner is to learn more. Please watch Dr. Kathleen Brady’s interview. Dr. Kathleen Brady is a professor of psychiatry at the Medical School of the University South Carolina and an expert in addiction and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. While on this site, you can browse further and learn a great deal of information about addiction, how to help, what’s involved in treatment and the like.