At the Institute for Podiatric Excellence and Development (IPED) one area we focus on is maintaining a balance between practice and personal life and achieving overall satisfaction in what you do. The life of a podiatric practitioner can be stressful and one with long stretches of going full tilt with little time for self-reflection. April was Alcohol Awareness Month and a good opportunity to discuss this sensitive subject.
Dependence on alcohol affects approximately 17.6 million Americans. Over half of all adults have a drinking problem in their family history. It is in some way a puzzling disease. It doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol a person drinks or how long they have been drinking. Surprisingly, even how much alcohol is consumed is not always a factor in who becomes an alcoholic. The most significant symptom is an uncontrollable need for alcohol which can create a craving that is as strong as the need for water or food. In the vast majority of cases, professional help is needed to help break this craving. It is not simply a matter of “will power” or “self-control.” One thing that is clear, however, is that alcohol abuse affects all aspects of a person’s life and a chronic drinking problem can damage your health, relationships, career, finances and your community.
When to Ask for Help
It’s important to recognize the signs that an unhealthy dependence on alcohol is developing. These include:
- Frequent and continued use of alcohol to relax, deal with problems, sleep, cheer up or just feel “normal”
- Unpleasant symptoms after drinking, such as: nausea, headache, anxiety, insomnia
- Temporary blackouts or memory loss
- Irritability, mood swings, depression and/or increase in fights with family members and friends
- Physical changes: husky voice, trembling hands, flush skin and broken capillaries on the face, bloody or black stools, chronic diarrhea, vomiting blood
- Drinking in the morning, in secret or alone
If you notice any of the above, it’s time to seek help. As professional practitioners, it’s important that we are able to be open about this disease and enable and encourage those who are concerned with the role of alcohol in their lives to speak up and get the help they need. For more resources, check the website of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (www.ncadd.org).