Today's substance abuse, whether alcohol or drugs, continues to be a major social problem. Common
patterns occur in all forms of substance abuse. While some types of substance abuse problems are slightly
different in terms of causes and cures, experts agree that there are some do's and don'ts which relate to
kicking the abuse habit. If you or a loved one have a substance abuse problem, this article can give you
sound advice on understanding what substance abuse is, and what to do about it.
In this article, we will refer to alcohol, although the word drug may be used synonymously in place of
What is Alcoholism? Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and
environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and
fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the
drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.
The rational for continued use of alcohol is centered on,

Common addiction distortions.

MENTAL FILTER: Magnify the negative details and eliminate the positive. E.g. - using
alcohol is so incredible. It is the most pleasurable thing I know. (filter out the negative effects)

Things are black and white, good or bad. You are perfect or a complete failure. E.g. - My life
would be void of pleasure with out alcohol.
OVERGENERAL- ZATION To come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of
evidence. E.g. - Alcohol has made for some great times with friends. I must have alcohol in order to
capitalize on the potential for fun.
MIND READING You think you are able to define how people are thinking about you. E.g. -
People will not like me if I give up alcohol. There is a side that come out that is very attractive.
CATASTROPHIC EXAGGERATION You expect disaster, and disaster means the end of the world.
E.g. - I won't be able to tolerate the discomfort of sobriety
I AM CONTROLLED You feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless and a victim of fate.
E.g. - The alcohol makes my days tolerable, without it, I'll not be able to function.
I MUST CONTROL You feel that control is an all or nothing thing. Any ease on the reins will result
in a fall so disastrous you will never regain control. E.g. - Without alcohol I may get depressed, and I will
never be able to come out of it.
BLAMING You hold other people responsible for your pain. E.g. - If I give up my drinking, I
will be a bare wire, forced to face my abuse riddled past.

These are common patterns of substance addiction, keeping in mind that most alcoholics are unwilling to
admit they are real alcoholics and fit into one or more of these categories.
No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from other people. Therefore, it is not
surprising that their drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove they
could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday they will control and enjoy their drinking
is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many
pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.

The John Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore uses the following questions as a test for alcoholism.
# Yes No
1 Do you loose time from work due to drinking?
2 Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
3 Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
4 Is drinking affecting you reputation?
5 Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
6 Have you gotten into financial difficulties as a result of drinking?
7 Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when drinking?
8 Does your drinking make you careless of your family's welfare?
9 Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
10 Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?
11 Do you want a drink the next morning?
12 Does drinking cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
13 Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
14 Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?
15 Do you drink to escape from worries or troubles?
16 Do you drink alone?
17 Have you ever had a complete loss of memory because of drinking?
18 Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?
19 Do you drink to build your self-confidence?
20 Have you ever been to a hospital or institution on account of drinking?

If you have answered yes to any one of the