Alcohol Use Disorder

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    Conor Bezane

    What It's Like to Be Gay, Mentally Ill, and a Recovering Alcoholic

    I’ve had to come out three times in my life — first as gay, then as bipolar, and finally as a recovering alcoholic. Although I acknowledge that I have white privilege, I also have triple-threat minority status. To put it succinctly, I am other. I am not, however, afraid of stigma. While I don’t broadcast it when I meet people, I am perfectly comfortable talking about my recovery, my illness, or my sexual orientation. I’ve written a memoir about these three issues together — “The Bipolar Addict” — and I didn’t use a pseudonym, so all my secrets are out there for Google to find. Having depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, or any of a wide range of mental conditions is still considered unmentionable. I would argue that those who struggle with mental illness are the largest “fringe” group not yet accepted by the mainstream. What is it like to be other? The answer highlights how far we’ve come as a society. On this 53rd Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, this is a good time to reflect on where we were and highlight how rapidly gay acceptance has come in just a few years. Much of our national collective psyche has changed its mind about queerness. Not so long ago, LGBTQIA+ was not even a recognized acronym. Now we are increasingly celebrating trans lives, a segment of the LGBTQIA+ population that has been scorned the most out of that spectrum and has been considered pernicious. “Trans Lives Matter” has become a mantra of our times. “Bipolar Strong” is a popular hashtag. We in the village of gay have entered a new era. Now we have nationwide marriage equality, though it may be at risk due to the conservative shift on the Supreme Court. Straight people enjoy attending Pride parades in support of gay rights. Seeing a gay character on television or film is no longer groundbreaking or cause for product boycotts. The phrases “his husband” and “her wife” no longer sound like pronoun confusion. And looking back at the Clintonian ‘90s, as a gay teen, I felt like an extricated alien. A creature to be feared, diminished, and ostracized. I was frail. Gossamer thin. Rotten to the core. I was absolutely ashamed. Harassed in high school because I was “different,” I was afraid to come out. Even in college in Iowa in the late 1990s, I felt like being gay was not only unspeakable, it was nearly unacceptable. Matthew Shepard died while I was in college, murdered for being gay. Back then, gay men in particular were singularly associated with AIDS. And up until 2015, gay men were not permitted to donate blood, prohibited by the FDA because of that sentiment. During the 1990s, more LGBTQIA+ people began revealing their sexuality slowly but surely, led by milestones such as MTV’s “The Real World” (1992) featuring gay main characters, the coming-out of Ellen DeGeneres on the cover of “Time” (1997), with the headline, “Yep, I’m Gay,” and shows such as “Will & Grace” (1998). Despite increasing acceptability in pop culture, there was still an element of shame in being gay even in the early 2000s.Indeed, I felt shame. The word “fag” was vernacular back then. “God Hates Fags” was a mantra among some born-again Christian zealots. And although the president says “Transgender rights are human rights,” the trans community continues to struggle. Trans kids are bullied at school and made to feel like they are abominations. Trans women are murdered at alarming rates. And in some countries it is illegal to be gay, punishable by execution. It was one heck of a journey and still is for so many. Other is different than “different.” Other implies ostracism. I don’t want to be ostracized anymore for my mental illness, like some curiosity in a circus sideshow. Even going to therapy is still considered a weakness. But with teletherapy becoming all the rage during COVID, it’s becoming less stigmatized because we can all see a doctor or psychologist from the comfort of home, without fear of others judging us. Just as being gay is becoming more accepted today, this same respect needs to be built around mental illness. In 2022, mental illness is quite “normal.” Approximately one in five adults experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Despite this high rate, many consider talking about it as verboten. But mental illness should be embraced with equal respect to any group aligned with sexual orientation/identification, religion, or ethnicity. I was diagnosed bipolar in 2008, after a major manic episode in New York City, when I experienced extreme psychosis, delusions of grandeur, and panic attacks. I was working as a producer at MTV News in Times Square, and everyone at work knew I was mentally ill because of my very public breakdown at the office. I personally felt stigmatized. I just wanted to hide away. Mental illness is still — even in the 21st century — hugely stigmatized. When someone needs to take a medical leave from work to treat and address mental health conditions like clinical depression, they are often seen as wimpy, not ill. But if someone needs six or eight weeks to recover from a physical ailment, such as hip-replacement surgery, it is much more widely accepted. Addiction is also stigmatized, even though the following numbers are extraordinary.There are 15.1 million adults, or 6.2 percent of Americans, with alcohol-use disorder, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The opioid crisis is alarming. Every day more than 130 people overdose and die on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Although it is extremely increasingly acceptable, one in seven Americans use marijuana, just as many who smoke cigarettes. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous etc. remain go-to sources of help, and many people benefit from them. Like what happened with gay acceptance, there is some movement here, but it’s really just beginning. Celebrities such as Mariah Carey, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Kanye West are seen as heroes for speaking out about their bipolar disorder. Prince Harry has spoken about his depression and anxiety, even featuring himself inside a therapy session in the docuseries “The Me You Can’t See.” His wife Meghan Markle has divulged she has been suicidal. There was virtually no stigma when these celebrities “came out” as mentally ill. But that’s Hollywood. We idolize our celebrities and believe they can do no wrong. Many people with mental illness still struggle for acceptance. But we as a nation are talking about it more and more, and that’s progress. I look forward to the day when we can talk about having depression or bipolar disorder as openly as someone who talks about their other health conditions. After coming out three times in my lifetime, I’m tired of feeling like I’m other — which is a far cry from being viewed as unique, a word loaded with positivity. But when the other label is applied, the negative connotations make me feel subhuman. I am not a kook. I am not flawed. I’m not a drunk. Like my gay pride, I refuse to be relegated into second-class citizenship, a mutant humanoid who can flip out at any moment. This decade, we are all sewing a patchwork quilt of diversity. Every day, we create the constantly changing constellation that is America, and it includes LGBTQIA+ people, ethnic and religious minorities, those who struggle with mental illness, immigrants, and more that call the United States of America home. I believe we are all individually special in one way or another. Our personalities, our eccentricities, our characteristics are all distinctive. And that’s something to be proud about. To all those who feel other, Happy Pride.

    Community Voices

    I wish people understood.

    I’ve had very bad experiences with alcoholism and I’ve been trying to stay sober.
    I feel like my friends don’t understand how hard it is for me to stay sober.
    How easily triggered I get.

    The last time I got blackout drunk was in November.
    But I want to do it again.
    And I want to do it every time alcohol is even mentioned.

    I can’t go to events that have alcohol because I will be tempted to drink or I’ll have the negative feeling inside my chest of craving drinks.

    I miss drinking.
    And I’m struggling staying away.
    But I don’t feel like anyone near me knows how I’m feeling. How bad I’m struggling.

    “Congrats on being sober”

    It’s not.

    #AlcoholAbuse #AlcoholUseDisorder #Alcoholism #Sobriety

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    Megan Glosson

    How Family Gatherings and Dynamics Can Normalize Alcoholism

    I grew up in a family who completely normalized regular alcohol consumption like it was no big deal. Family gatherings often included more coolers and kegs of beer than food or other types of beverages, and pretty much everyone over the age of 18 would have a beer or glass of wine in their hand the entire night. The running joke was that because of Irish and German heritage, this is what we do. While I typically laughed off the notion that alcoholism was “in our genes,” my family’s excuse for heavy alcohol consumption may not be all that far-fetched. In fact, studies show that several genes can increase the potential for alcohol dependence . According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry , children of alcoholics are four times more likely to become alcoholics themselves . While genetic predispositions towards alcoholism do impact this, environmental factors play a role as well. Sometimes, these environmental factors include abuse , neglect or other forms of childhood trauma . Other times, though, the environmental factors can be much more subtle — like living with a family who normalizes heavy alcohol consumption. Throughout my childhood, I saw family members consume large amounts of alcohol for a variety of situations. After funerals, everyone would drink. At wedding receptions, everyone would drink. When a family member felt stressed, they’d drink. From watching my family, I learned two things: 1. Alcohol is fine anytime. 2. Drinking makes everything better. Although I’ve never officially received a diagnosis for alcohol dependence or been to treatment, my personal relationship with alcohol is complicated, largely because of the messages about drinking that I internalized during my youth. In high school, I started drinking at parties on a fairly regular basis because I believed more people liked me when they saw when I was “buzzed.” Alcohol also “helped” me dull the internal pain and constant fear I lived with. I still drink for these reasons, and once I start drinking, I find it hard to stop. In fact, it’s not hard for me to down three or four strong drinks within an hour. I never realized this type of drinking wasn’t typical because my family always acted like it was. Nobody ever used works like “ addiction ” or “dependence” in my family, even when someone would lose their license for DUI charges or develop an alcohol-related health complication. Everyone just keeps drinking because that’s “just what this family does.” When I briefly worked at a residential drug and alcohol treatment center a couple years ago, I learned just how prevalent the problem of multi-generational alcoholism really is. As I listened to dozens of people share their stories at 12-step meetings, I heard lots of tales that mirrored my own life in so many ways. I realized in those moments that the normalization of alcoholism is a real problem– and it’s a problem we really need to address . Almost everywhere we turn around, we see memes about moms drinking to deal with their kids and men going out to bars as a way to make friends or pick up women. We can buy drinks everywhere we go, and companies advertise alcohol consumption the way they advertised cigarettes in the 1950s. When children see these media images along with family alcoholism , it sends the message that everyone drinks all the time. But this perpetuates early alcoholism and related disorders like drunkorexia and binge drinking. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration , nearly 15 million people in the United States live with an alcohol use disorder . Yet not even 10 percent of these people attend treatment because most people don’t see the magnitude of their problem. However, we can change this if we rewrite the narrative on family alcoholism . We must stop using things like heritage or traditions as a justification for overindulgence. Drinking in moderation does exist, and it’s much healthier. When kids see parents practice moderation, it helps them see what healthy consumption looks like– and they will remember this as they grow up. When adults see other adults drink in moderation, it helps them feel less pressured to drink beyond their limits– which means everyone can drink together without consuming unhealthy levels of alcohol. Also, we need to stop normalizing alcohol as a coping mechanism within the family structure. When people use alcohol to cope, it doesn’t make the underlying symptoms they face go away– but swapping the bottle for something else could. Out of over 50 people across multiple generations in my family, I’m the only one who ever sought help for my mental health conditions. However, I’m certain that many of my family members who consume large amounts of alcohol probably live with undiagnosed conditions. If they’d simply put down the bottle and try something new, they’d likely need that alcohol less and less over time. I don’t mean to share my story as a means to shame my family or paint them in a bad light because they’re really great people. But I do hope that sharing this does help other people to stop and think. There’s a fine line between social drinking and the normalization of alcoholism , and in many cases we’re far from the space of simple social drinking. Alcoholism is a serious, potentially fatal problem… and it’s time we stop normalizing that.  

    Community Voices

    How Does Alcohol Addiction Manifest?

    Alcohol addiction is a disease that can affect anyone at any time in their lives. The cause of alcohol addiction is unknown, yet research has shown that the cause can be genetic, psychological, or other factors that may affect your mental and physical health. Like any addiction, alcohol addiction is a severe disease that can manifest changes in the brain. Like cocaine, alcohol addiction can produce dopamine, which plays an essential role in providing pleasure.

    Those who struggle with alcohol addiction cannot control how they act and communicate with others around them. It became so prevalent for people to consume alcohol in any circumstances that it’s hard to guess who’s even addicted. Read further to learn how alcohol addiction manifests.

    alcohol use disorder

    Alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction is also known as alcohol use disorder. Usually, it occurs when someone drinks too much that the body becomes addicted. For people with this disorder, alcohol is one of the essential things in life. Most of them can’t see their happiness anymore if they don’t have 2 or 3 drinks. Many people are aware of their alcohol addiction, but they don’t struggle to stop drinking because they like it so much. alcohol use disorder, sometimes called alcoholism, involves people who can’t control their drinking anymore, being preoccupied with drinking at any moment of the day. However, the effect will diminish over time, so the amount of alcohol will increase to feel the same effect. If you find yourself at the risk of developing an alcohol addiction, make sure you take measures and go to a rehab center to get your addiction treatment Los Angeles. It doesn’t matter if your alcohol use is mild; it can range from minor to severe. So, early treatment is necessary.

    Risk Factors

    Alcohol use may appear in adolescence, but an alcohol addiction usually appears ion the 20s or 30s. However, it’s possible to appear at any age. Here are the risk factors that can influence your alcohol use:

    Trauma – people that suffered traumas at an early age are likely to become addicted to alcohol.

    depression – is common for those who suffer from depression to develop an alcohol addiction or other harmful substances.

    • Family problems – children that grew up in families with alcoholic parents are likely to become addicted at a young age.

    • Steady drinking – drinking too much with no reason for a long period can lead to an alcohol use disorder.

    Symptoms of alcohol use disorder

    These symptoms usually appear due to many bad experiences. People with alcohol use disorder can experience behaviors, such as:

    • Missing work because they are hangover due to too much drinking.

    • Not being able to control their need for alcohol.

    • Enjoying spending time all alone to drink.

    • Not taking proper care of themselves anymore.

    • Having a high tolerance for drinking alcohol.

    • Developing angry and violent behaviors due to their drinking habits.

    To avoid developing an alcohol addiction, it’s important to determine these symptoms before. If you have a family relative or a friend with an alcohol disorder, make sure that you put all of your efforts into trying to convince them to go to rehab. Otherwise, their overall health might be damaged.

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    Community Voices

    Yay! There’s a name for it!

    Ohhhhh!!! 🤦‍♂️ There’s a name for it!


    Community Voices

    Yesterday was really really bad. My husband is back to work full time so I’m working from home by myself. I’ve been secretly drinking, on and off, the past few weeks and yesterday I hit rock bottom. I drank, self harmed, and other unhealthy coping behaviors, it wasn’t life-threatening but still the worst I’ve done since I had to go to the ER last October. I didn’t really want to do this, I just became someone else, the “other me”, the darkest part of myself and all the harm was automatic. My husband is stressed with work and doesn’t notice until my “odd” moods effect him (as long as I make dinner and clean towels are available). I was kind of glad that my headache escalated to migraine and I could stay in bed all evening and not interact. I just laid in bed, in misery and self-hate, accepting the excruciating pain and nausea added to my guilt, shame, and fresh self harm. My misery led to deep reflections and ultimately a long-overdue prayer to God, hanging on to the last thread of faith I somehow still have. I’m not ready to share this with my husband, not sure I will, but I know I have the support of my Mightys.

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    Community Voices

    First Meeting

    <p>First Meeting</p>
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    Brian Fu
    Brian Fu @brian-fu

    Alcohol Use Disorder Is About Why You Drink, Not How Much You Drink

    I was hospitalized over two years ago for being actively suicidal and self-harming. I was put in the self-injury wing for nine days, and that was my first encounter ever with receiving mental health treatment. I went through everything I expected: group therapy, one-on-one therapy, meetings with psychiatrists — everything. They diagnosed me with depression (which would later turn out to be incorrect, but that’s another story), and that was just the beginning. But I received a diagnosis that came completely out of left field for me: they told me I was an alcoholic. This greatly confused me because that wasn’t what I was there for. I also wholeheartedly disagreed with it, and I fought them tooth and nail on it. At that point in my life, I had drank four times and gotten drunk twice. How does that possibly qualify as being an alcoholic? It simply didn’t make any sense to me. But after leaving the hospital, I found my own outpatient therapist who I really liked, and I trusted her judgment much more than therapists who only knew me for nine days. But she told me the same thing. The official diagnosis is alcohol use disorder, and they didn’t just think I had it, they thought I had the most severe form of it. When my therapist said she agreed with it, I again was confused. I had told her very clearly that, yes, I had drank a few times to suppress my feelings and thoughts, but it had only happened twice, that can’t possibly warrant a diagnosis, much less a severe diagnosis. What she said in response to that rings in my head today as clearly as when she said it: “It’s not the number of drinks, it’s why you drink.” As a college student, I am almost expected to drink even if I am below the legal age. But this expectation is for me to drink at parties and social events, not alone in my apartment early in the morning. The expectation is I drink with friends to have a good time, not to attempt to drown my sorrows in alcohol. I have had on numerous occasions the desire to drink, but not socially. In fact, I’ve wanted to drink on my own just so I can get fully drunk without being judged, allowed to try to swallow my dark thoughts and feelings as quickly as I can guzzle a beer. Since I turned 21, it has become more apparent to me all of those therapists and psychiatrists got it exactly right: I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Even when I knew I was having cravings for negative reasons, I never entertained the idea they might’ve been right. But now I find myself buying alcohol at stores with the intention of drinking half of it in one sitting, alone in my apartment, at night. I find myself at restaurants ordering as many drinks as I can before being judged by the bartender or those with me. I find myself physically craving alcohol much more than I should, and feeling agitated when I cannot have it. I never recognized my problem until I had the means to really fuel it. But now that I see, I understand what everyone tried to tell me before. If I had simply listened rather than deny and shut down, maybe I could’ve led my life differently, set myself up for success rather than fall right into the trap everyone tried to warn me about. The cliche phrase, “Recognizing you have a problem is the first step in conquering it,” truly couldn’t be more right. My hope for you is you become truly introspective, listen to those around you and wrestle with yourself to discover if you have a problem you haven’t accepted. It may not be an addiction, it could be anything. You have the ability to see it, the strength to recognize and accept it and the willpower to overcome it. I know you can, I believe in you.

    Community Voices

    “Client is determined to have Serious Mental Illness

    I was just recently diagnosed with bpd and the more I learn about it the more everything makes more sense of why I have felt the way I felt all these years. Although it gave me a sense of relief to finally be getting help, I got really scared. I have a severe alcohol use disorder as well and it makes me go crazy when I get really really drunk and I make really bad decisions. I cut myself, I try to od on medicications and recently I’ve been very aggressive I slapped my ex girlfriend and punched my ex boyfriend. My life is a real life telenovela right now. I’m so terrified of my thoughts and feelings. I’m scared of myself and what I might do. what I’m doing with my life and how I can be better. I don’t want to hurt myself or others anymore. How do I handle my emotions and thoughts? I was also given Lexapro but I’m scared to take any psych pills and then depend on them

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