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Substance Abuse

Alcohol and drugs - you've heard a lot about the problems other people have with them, but that stuff doesn't apply to you, right? You've experimented with some drugs and maybe drink or use regularly, but you're on top of it and in control. Maybe, maybe not...

"I Would Know If I Had A Problem."

The truth is that one of the most subtle and important effects of drugs and alcohol is the impact on your sense of judgment. It's pretty obvious that this is what's going on when someone drives under the influence. It's a little less obvious when you're at a party and feeling buzzed, and make a decision that you'd think twice about when sober - like leaving the party with someone you don't really know, for example. And your judgment may be impaired in another way, when you're not even buzzed, high or drunk: you may rationalize or try to justify continuing or increasing your current use in spite of warning signs that a problem may be present.

For example, you're telling yourself that just because you had a couple of blackouts when you went out partying during the last few months, it's no big deal because it happens to a lot of people. And, anyway, your friends told you that nothing bad happened to you during the periods of time you lost...

Or, you're thinking that your coach is being a jerk for yelling at you just because you've been late to practice a few times… and ignoring the fact that you've been late to practice because it's been hard to get going on those days when you partied too hard with your friends the night before.

Because alcohol and drug use can effect your judgment in this way, it's important to rely on external indicators - like repeated negative events related to alcohol/drug use, or the assessment of others - to get a handle on whether your use is becoming a problem.

"I'm No Alcoholic! (...Pothead! ...Junkie!)"

Most people have pretty strong feelings about the idea that they might be seen - by other people or by themselves - as an alcoholic or addict. It's also pretty common to think that having a problem with alcohol or drugs is the same thing as being an alcoholic/addict.

This is not true. Having a problem does not make you an alcoholic or an addict. But it may be an indication that something's up in your life and that you're dealing with it in a way that will cause you trouble in the long run.

Some signs that you may have a problem:

  • Friends/family are expressing concern about your use
  • You periodically use more than you had intended
  • You can't remember things about the time during which you were using
  • Your use has started to jeopardize important things - for example, you've been put on disciplinary probation, you've been sidelined on you team and/or your grades are slipping as a result of behavior connected to your use

"Alright, Maybe I Have Some Kind Of Problem. Now What?"

Getting support from your friends and family in changing your behavior is important. Sitting down to look closely and seriously at the situation with a trained professional can be extremely helpful to discuss strategies for changing behavior, figure out strategies for how to get the most support from your support network, and look at why the problem might be there in the first place.

The Counseling Center is here to help. Give us a call (323-5155) or drop by (Founders Hall, G-29,ground floor) to speak with a member of our clinical staff.

Your alcohol or drug use may not be a problem. But if it is, we'd like to help you to take charge of the problem, before it takes charge of you.