- Created on Monday, 09 January 2012
Addiction does not discriminate. It effects both men and women, old and young. It is evident in all cultures and socioeconomic groups, and athletes are no exception. Some of the best athletes of all time have literally drank their careers into oblivion.
It's hard to perform when you are intoxicated or hung over. Addictions cost a lot. They cost money, relationships and self-esteem. I am currently working in a substance abuse treatment program, and believe me when I say that if people will give up their jobs, families and dignity to support an addiction, then maintaining a sporting career has no chance.
Addictions sneak up on you. People rarely become addicted overnight, and it starts by telling yourself that this will never happen to you. It is a humbling experience to have to admit that we have lost control, so educate yourselves and learn the early warning signs. Use the following diagnostic criteria to determine if your social drinking or after work "wind down" drinks have overstepped the line.
The American Psychiatric Association's criteria for diagnosis as an alcoholic states that the individual present at least three of the following:
· Tolerance. Need to increase amount of substance to achieve the same desired effect.
· Withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation. Such as: hand tremors, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, irritability.
· Drink more over longer periods than intended. Such as the case when you think you would like a glass of wine before bed and wake up on the couch hours later with an empty bottle beside you.
· You want to cut down or stop, but attempts have failed. Persistent thoughts and guilt about drinking and wanting to stop.
· Considerable time is spent in activities to obtain alcohol (driving miles late at night because you ran out of beer in a dry county), drinking (hours at the bar or drinking alone) or recovering (hours spent lying in bed with a hangover).
· Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced due to drinking. (Missed meetings, practices, dates, shows etc)
· You continue to drink in spite of the consequences and in spite of your feelings of guilt and desire to quit.
Be honest with yourself, and seek help if you think your alcohol or drug use has got out of hand. Importantly, if your consumption is excessive, do not attempt to stop drinking abruptly without medical monitoring. Alcohol withdrawal can be lethal.
No one wants to hear they have a problem, and this can be a hard pill to swallow, but you have much, much more to lose than just your ability to perform. Trust me; I see it every day! There is help out there. If you don't know where to turn, please contact me and I will point you in the right direction.