FAQs about Addiction University

ALCOHOLISM

How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?

One of the major symptoms of alcoholism is continuing to drink after alcohol begins causing you problems. An example is someone that is arrested for DUI and continues to drink to excess, or someone whose academic performance begins to go downhill. Another symptom is craving – feeling compelled to drink again, or to drink more and more once you’ve started drinking. You may find that more and more alcohol is needed to get the same result. Another symptom is that when you try to stop, you have physical symptoms of withdrawal such as shaking, sweating and panic.

Sometimes when I drink, I can’t remember what happened. Does that mean I’m an alcoholic?

Not remembering what happened is known as a blackout. Not everyone who has a blackout is an alcoholic; however it may be a signpost that your drinking is getting out of control.

My girlfriend drinks too much. How can I make her stop?

This is a question that is asked frequently by anyone who cares for someone who is abusing alcohol. Unfortunately the answer is that you can’t make someone stop. You can suggest that they try to stop – but chances are if they are an alcoholic, they won’t be able to stop on their own. Chances are even greater that they won’t want to stop just because someone else suggests it. Most alcoholics are under the impression that their drinking isn’t hurting anyone but themselves, and they won’t respond to screaming, crying or even threats at ended relationships. Ultimately you will have to choose for yourself whether the relationship is worth staying in at all, and if it is, you may need to get help from Alanon or other support groups for families and friends of alcoholics.

I heard a student died from alcohol poisoning. How does that happen?

Alcohol poisoning can happen when too much alcohol is consumed over a short period of time. It often happens during binge drinking. Fraternity pledging sometimes includes drinking games that can become deadly. How alcohol affects an individual depends on the individual’s size, how much alcohol is consumed over what period of time and how empty or full the stomach is when it is consumed. Signs of alcohol poisoning include vomiting, confusion, slowed breathing, unconsciousness, and pale skin. The blood alcohol level may continue to rise after a person passes out. Medical treatment should be sought for a person who can’t be aroused, or whose breathing is slower than eight breaths per minute. Other warning signs are more than ten seconds between breaths or bluish tint to the skin.

My boyfriend says he is not an alcoholic, he is a problem drinker. What is the difference?

Denial is one of the most obvious signs of alcoholism – people deny that they have a problem at all, even when their life completely falls apart. However, there is a very fine line between problem drinking and alcoholism. Some people abuse alcohol but have not yet crossed the line into dependence. The difference is that they still have some degree of control over their drinking. A problem drinker drinks too much but can still stop or control their drinking. An alcoholic cannot control their drinking. However, keep in mind that most alcoholics will claim that they can stop any time they want to. Only your boyfriend can determine if he actually wants to stop.

DRUG ADDICTION

How dangerous is marijuana?

Although less dangerous than other substances, marijuana use does present some dangers on its own. Marijuana hinders short term memory, slows reflexes and may increase risk of lung disease. For many people, marijuana is dangerous because it leads to a tendency to abuse other substances.

Can you become addicted to a drug if you’ve only tried it once?

Most of the time, the answer is no, but some drugs create a strong craving even after only one use.

My boyfriend is acting very strange lately. How do I know if he has a drug problem?

Signs of drug abuse vary from one individual to the next. Some drugs result in signs of nervousness or agitation; others may result in lethargy or sleepiness. The presence of drug paraphernalia such as syringes or spoons offers clear evidence of drug abuse. More subtle evidence is found in behavioral changes such as sleeping all the time, loss of interest in school or other activities that used to be important, bloodshot eyes, mood swings, shaking, sweating, etc.

EATING DISORDERS

What is are the most common eating disorders?

Some people eat so little that they actually begin to starve. This is known as anorexia nervosa. Someone with this disorder often has a distorted body image and thinks they are overweight.

Bulimia nervosa is eating a large amount of food, then forcing yourself to vomit to rid your body of the excess food.

Binge eating is an inability to control the urge to overeat.

What causes eating disorders?

The answer to this is not yet known. We do know that it is not a question of will-power, and a person with an eating disorder requires treatment. Low self-esteem often precedes an eating disorder, and attempts to control food may be an attempt to control other areas of life that are unmanageable.

How can you recognize an eating disorder in someone?

Eating disorders are not always easily recognized. Someone who is very thin may not necessarily be anorexic. A person with anorexia nervosa may have odd rituals around eating, such as playing with the food rather than eating it or cooking for others but not eating. A person with bulimia may eat an excess amount but make several trips to the restroom after a meal. A person with binge eating disorder may hoard food in strange places, or begin eating alone most of the time.

How are eating disorders treated?

Treating an eating disorder often requires a team of health professionals, including psychotherapy, behavior therapy and nutritional counseling. If the person has suffered from an eating disorder for a long period of time, physical damage to the body may have been done, and other medical treatment may be necessary.

GAMBLING

What is gambling addiction?

For a compulsive gambler, an invisible line has been crossed where the person has lost control over his desire to participate in gambling, in spite of negative consequences. Refer to the twenty questions offered by Gamblers Anonymous at http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/20questions.html.

I think my boyfriend has a gambling problem. He spends all his money on gambling, then asks me to pay his bills.

The decision to pay your boyfriend’s bills or not is definitely a personal one. But if you are correct about his gambling problem, the longer his bills are paid for him, the longer it will take for him to admit he has a problem and look for help. Having his bills paid will give him the relief from dealing with the consequences of his actions that he needs to keep gambling.

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National Eating Disorder
Awareness (NEDA) Week
Feb 20-26, 2011

Our aim of NEDAwareness Week is to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment. Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses — not choices — and it’s important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder.

NEDAwareness Week is a collective effort of primarily volunteers, including eating disorder professionals, health care providers, students, educators, social workers, and individuals committed to raising awareness of the dangers surrounding eating disorders and the need for early intervention and treatment.
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

"WOW! Until hearing Loree, I never realized how a student could seem totally fine on the outside but on the inside they're experiencing an addictive behavior. Loree has a message that both students and staff must hear and could help to save lives!"

-James Malinchak, "Two-Time College Speaker of the Year!" Co-Author, Chicken Soup for the College Soul

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