How can I stop abusing alcohol?

I have bipolar II disorder, I'm addicted to alcohol and weed, and I'm hopeless. I keep drinking even though it's harming myself and others.

Nat Roman
Nat Roman
Marriage & Family Therapist, MSc RP

What an important question. I'm hearing your hopelessness and fear about the damage of your substance use and it sounds like you have reason for concern. While there can be negative stigma about using substances, for the most part substance use is an attempt to cope with emotional distress in the absence of sufficient coping strategies. We all look for comfort when we are in pain and this may be the way that you are getting comfort - even though it is also hurting you. In order to stop using alcohol and weed you will need a lot of support and you will need to learn other ways of getting comfort when you are in pain or struggling with bipolar related symptoms. 

There is nothing to be ashamed of and we all need help when we are struggling. I would encourage you to reach out for support in any way that you can. Have you talked with your health care providers about your concerns or friends or family members? 

Here are some links of resources in Whistler that may be helpful:

http://www.vch.ca/locations-and-services/find-health-services/?program_id=11035

http://redbookonline.bc211.ca/service/9509054_9509054/whistler_mental_health_and_addictions

http://mywcss.org/programs/counselling-assistance/

http://redbookonline.bc211.ca/organization/9489472/alcoholics_anonymous_aa___squamishwhistler

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

You may feel hopeless but YOU are not hopeless. Addictions of any sort are difficult to overcome, especially when they serve to bury pain and suffering that one is experiencing. It is not impossible to overcome alcohol or drug use/abuse/dependence on your own, but you will likely find much greater success with the help of a therapist or other support system such as rehabilitation or Alcoholics Anonymous. I suggest doing a bit of research to see what type of help is available and feasible for you in your area and go from there. Know that recovery takes time, willingness, and effort. Don't give up and remember that you are not hopeless. You can make the choice to change your habits and learn new ways of healthy coping. Best of luck to you!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Anyone who wants to change their life path, eventually will be successful in this.  

How to stop abusing alcohol involves a few steps, most of them time consuming, with slow progress and very often with tremendous emotional pain.

The basic path is to figure out what motivates you to drink too much and be addicted to weed.  Almost always, addictions are rooted in the person having suffered feeling deeply ignored, humiliated, shamed, invisible, nothing very pleasant, since a very young age, usually starting around 18 months.

Most often addicts are sensitive people who have been emotionally overburdened by the grownups in their family.

With no outlet for emotional expression or nurturing, the frustration goes inward until the emotional pain feels very big and without an outlet.

So, people mask and numb by substances, whether this is food, chocolate, work, alcohol, weed.

Therapy that is humanistic based, is a better fit than one which is drug oriented and diagnosis oriented.

If you'd like getting serious about knowing who you are, including any unfair treatment of you during your growing up years, you can do this.

Once you have a stronger self-respect and awareness, you would naturally avoid substances because they harm people.  Harming oneself is the opposite of self-respect.

Also, about your diagnosis, it may not be true at all.  the US healthcare system loves selling drugs to people and clinicians in agencies and clinics are encouraged to find something wrong with people in order to find a new customer who will take drugs.

See if you can find a therapist who is independent minded, and therefore free to interact therapeutically with you as a human being, not as a potential customer if they are able to label you as having something "wrong".

This simply continues the long line of being shamed by others that created the addiction problem in the first place.

Good luck!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

This relationship with your step dad sounds very challenging. It is hard to to be told over and over again how not good enough we are. Let me offer you this, frequently when we say harsh, mean, nasty things to others, we are simply projecting our own thoughts about ourself. I am not advocating that this is ok, it seems like your stepdad could also use some support. You get to make your own empowered choice around this, this is your life and if you find yourself in a situation that does not suit you make a change. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Pamela Griggs
Pamela Griggs
Licensed Professional Counselor
The first step to change is to admit that you have a problem that is in need of change.  Frequently our problems keep us in denial.  Although feeling hopeless is an uncomfortable feeling, it suggests to me that you know that you can not do this alone.  

The best course of treatment for you is to treat all of these problems together.  Alcohol detox can be very dangerous so it is important that you do this under the supervision of a medical provider; preferably someone who specializes in addiction.  Know also that although marijuana may not appear to be as big as a problem as alcohol is, it will cause you to have an increase in alcohol cravings so complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol is needed. 

I really recommend an inpatient stay for at least 30 days for anyone who is dealing with addiction, whether combined with mental health issues or not.  If this is not a possibility, then the next best thing would be an Intensive outpatient program that treats both addiction and mental health issues.  

Know that there is hope for what you are experiencing.  You can get control over these issues.  The next step is finding the team and/or facility that is going to help you do it. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

You are not hopeless, as you can see there are many people who care about your well being and believe you can overcome this.  I would suggest that you first get evaluated for your alcohol consumption.  Alcohol is one of the addictions that you may need to seek inpatient treatment for.  If not inpatient then be monitored by a doctor.  Once you are evaluated and or complete inpatient treatment I would suggest you participate in a form of outpatient therapy on a consistent basis.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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