Why We Took a Break From Drinking: A Talkspace Co-Worker Chat

Bartender pouring a drink at a dive bar

At the end of last summer, I had an existential crisis. I was about to turn 35, at a career crossroads, and on the verge of leaving the U.S. for good. I reflected back on how my adult years had been spent. They were self-serving, blurry and distant, and lacking deep personal connections with others. And myself.

I’d been living unhappily as a “man-child” — a lifestyle fueled by excessive partying and minimal commitment — for most of my adult life. Ashamed and disappointed I hadn’t accomplished more, I dwelled on squandered time and people I’d hurt along the way. I wanted to run from it all.

Rather than bouncing to Bangkok, however, I decided to clear my head. I was going to try an long-overdue experiment: a break from drinking. Half a year later, I’m still enjoying the positive benefits of that decision.

Continue reading Why We Took a Break From Drinking: A Talkspace Co-Worker Chat

Is Drinking Making You Depressed?

Woman on chair holding bottle of wine to her temple.

Drinking has a firm foot in our culture, and it seems to fit any occasion.

Having a birthday and turning 21, 30, or 50? Have a round on the house!

Getting married? Crank up Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That)” and throw one (or five) back while grooving on the dance floor into the wee hours of the morning.

Going on a first date? Why not meet at the bar for a classy cocktail or glass of wine?

Had a hard day at work, bad week, or even a rough month when you just can’t seem to shake that sinking feeling? Nothing a drink to lift the spirits can’t solve…

And that’s where we begin to run into trouble — self-medicating our depression through alcohol consumption.

Continue reading Is Drinking Making You Depressed?

7 Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Woman pouring a drink in the kitchen

Many people drink socially and feel that their drinking habits are normal and healthy. There are other individuals who acknowledge that they are addicted to alcohol.

But in between these two categories is a subset of social drinkers who are secretly worried that their drinking behaviors may indicate alcohol abuse. These people may not share their concerns with family, friends, or significant others, but in the back of their minds, they are anxious that their drinking is out of hand.

If you’re always wondering what exactly distinguishes social drinking from alcohol abuse, or if you worry about the drinking of a loved one, these seven points may help you figure out whether your drinking is something you may want to cut back on.

Continue reading 7 Signs of Alcohol Abuse

When Weekend Drinking Turns Into a Problem

Binge drinking during the weekend

In my practice, I work with many young adults, and some older adults, who insist that they don’t have an alcohol problem despite binge drinking every weekend. There is a myth that in order to have a true issue with drinking, someone needs to drink alone, or in the morning, or every day.

It is true that for most people who are physically dependent on alcohol, drinking is far more frequent than on weekends. But there is a large group of individuals who drink so heavily on weekends that they certainly meet criteria for alcohol abuse, or problem drinking.

Continue reading When Weekend Drinking Turns Into a Problem

Why the Holidays Are Difficult for People With Addictions

christmas dinner beer wine glasses cheers

The holidays can herald challenges for everyone: awkward family issues, travel stress, gift expenses, religious conflicts. Those with mental illnesses might encounter triggers for various symptoms and issues. Addiction is no exception and can be especially burdensome.

During a time of excess and indulgence, it takes even more self-control for people in recovery to abstain from substances. Friends and family members might offer them a drink or invite them to smoke. There is a higher frequency of ads for alcohol. It seems the entire world is consuming without a care, yet those in recovery need to be more cautious than at any other time of year. Continue reading Why the Holidays Are Difficult for People With Addictions

When Does Shopping Become an Addiction?

miniature shopping bags and cart on computer

All of us have wasted money on items and services we don’t need, purchases we eventually realized were not worth the time or investment. Think about all the expired food you have had to throw out, tickets to movies that looked terrible, clothes you don’t wear (but the sale made them too tempting to pass up).

Sometimes the experience of shopping provides more pleasure than what we end up buying. Children feel joy simply walking through a Toys R’ Us. Going to Macy’s during the holidays is a tradition for many families. Later they realize they most likely spent way too much, but it’s OK. The New Year arrives, and expenses return to normal until the next holiday.

But what about people who treat every day like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas? This kind of excessive shopping isn’t only financially irresponsible. The behavior can be a mental health issue. Continue reading When Does Shopping Become an Addiction?

10 Songs About Addiction That Capture the Experience

addict siting with others drugs on table

Shame, guilt, desire, regret — these are only a few of the emotions people experience when they are dependent on a substance. This anguish has been fuel for thousands of beautiful, moving, raw and intense songs about addiction. For many decades artists have used their lyrics and melodies to tell stories of relationships with drugs and alcohol. Their songs have satisfied the curiosity of the sober and eased the loneliness of those who are struggling with the mental illness.

Rather than using subjective rankings to form our list, we thought about which songs most vividly describe the experience of addiction, how the illness can destroy lives and bonds. We looked for tracks that detail the mindset and behavior of someone who is falling into the void of substance abuse or realizing they have a problem (Keep in mind that recovery is the other side of the coin and deserves its own list).

Use our playlist to sympathize with those afflicted with addiction or remind yourself that millions of others carry the same burden. Here are our picks for songs about addiction (in no particular order): Continue reading 10 Songs About Addiction That Capture the Experience

The History (and Future) of Addiction Treatment

addiction support group therapy meeting

The fact that addiction, like other chronic diseases, can benefit from professional treatment isn’t something we’ve always known to be true. The roots of that understanding and its gradual evolution go back surprisingly far, however. While these do not follow a straight, linear progression, they offer some valuable lessons into what works best at improving recovery outcomes and where professional treatment is headed.

History’s Understanding of Addiction

The treatment legacy that today’s addiction professionals have inherited has helped to shed light on what works in improving recovery outcomes. For example, the concept of addiction as a disease — that alcoholism is an illness that can be medically treated — goes back quite a long way in our nation’s history. Continue reading The History (and Future) of Addiction Treatment

Suicide Prevention Toolkit: Ending the Negative Cycle of Addiction

suicide prevention yellow ribbon hand wood

In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, we wanted to provide useful resources for people who have struggled to see how valuable their lives are. Let’s help them remember they are not alone. 

A life of addiction can lead to a lonely, isolated path. Pair that with the fact that more than 50% of suicides are directly related to drug and alcohol dependence, and the negative cycle of addiction becomes glaringly apparent. Whether people are addicted to drugs, prescription medication, or alcohol the first step is acknowledging that a problem is present.

If you are one of these people, do not make the mistake of thinking you are stuck and beyond repair. You can break free from your addiction or suicidal thoughts through the use of inpatient or outpatient treatment programs, a positive mindset, and a strong support system. Use this toolkit of helpful resources and tips to start along the path to recovery. Continue reading Suicide Prevention Toolkit: Ending the Negative Cycle of Addiction

Who Should You Share Your Addiction and Recovery With?

addiction counselor recovery group in circle

One of the clearest takeaways from the science regarding addiction treatment: Everyone in recovery needs love and support from other people to help them through the blood, sweat, and tears of overcoming drug or alcohol abuse.

Knowing specifically who to share your addiction and recovery with can be complicated and somewhat nerve-wracking, however. Telling someone you have an addiction entails higher risks than telling them you have asthma or a sprained ankle, after all. “Too Much Information” (TMI) shared with the wrong person can carry consequences you’ll regret. Addiction-related revelations to the wrong people can kill a job or relationship, even your recovery.

Who, then, should you share your addiction and recovery with? Continue reading Who Should You Share Your Addiction and Recovery With?