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Question: I have abused alcohol for approximately two years now. I am 26- years old. I began when my little brother died & I had difficulty coping. I have always suffered from anxiety & depression but didn't begin to experience severe mental & emotional issues until the death of my brother. Throughout the past summer, I began to notice the ways in which my alcohol abuse was affecting my husband, finances, etc. I noticed that the alcohol abuse had intensified my anxiety and depression, rather than "numbed" the pain. I tried counseling, but didn't find it helpful. I began seeing a psychiatrist approximately 3 months ago. I was prescribed an anti-depressent (Lexapro 10mgs) and an "upper" (dexidrine). The medication has worked very well for me. I have had absolutely no desire to use alcohol; no cravings, thoughts, etc. I have been in social situations in which others are drinking & I have had no desire to drink. The thought of my previous lifestyle makes me sick. I feel like a whole new person now that alcohol is not in my life. My father is addicted to cigarretts and my great- grandfather was suffered from alcoholism. Other than that, addiction does not run in my family. I am a social worker & work with many addicted individuals. I guess I am wondering what advice you may have for me.. I am concerned about my recovery, knowing that I should be addressing my use but it doesn't seem to be a problem right now. I have read many times that individuals ultimately cannot overcome addictions unless the address the issue. I also worry that I may have traded the alcohol addiction for another compulsive behavior (I haven't identified any) because I see my clients doing that frequently or I may be exhibiting quirky addictive behaviors & am not aware of it. Is it normal to use actively for 2 years, discontinue & not have cravings or thoughts of use? What should I be doing to work on this, if anything if I don't find addiction treatment methods effective? Should I have bloodwork completed or any other physical exam to ensure that my active use has not affected my health? If so, what should a physician look for? Thank you in advance!!!

Submitted on: October 28, 2008

Answered By: Addiction Specialist
Answer: Addiction is a complex phenomenon and people recover in different ways. Your psychiatrist should be able to help you determine if there are other forms of treatment you might benefit from. As far as your health is concerned, whenever someone has been abusing alcohol or drugs, it is a good idea for them to see a primary care phsycician for a check up. Specifically, alcohol abuse may lead to liver injury, anemia, and damage to nerves. Many of the health problems associated with alcoholism are due, at least in part, to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.

Answered on: October 29, 2008

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