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Cheryl Rugg, LCSW, CADCIII  

Clinician's Corner

Drinking Check-Up
By Cheryl Rugg, LCSW, CADCIII

We live in a health and wellness conscious society.  As early as elementary school, screening for vision problems begin.  People have their cholesterol checked.  They have the doctor check diabetes.  Women have breast cancer screenings and men have prostate cancer screenings.  Others have strength and fitness evaluations at their local gym.  And still others visit with a nutritionist to evaluate their diet. 

But what about a Drinking Check Up?  Have you ever considered getting a check up for your drinking?  Many people wonder about their drinking.  Unsure about questions such as, “How much is too much?” Or, “What is the difference between a social drinker and an alcoholic?” Afraid of having a label assigned to their drinking, individuals avoid the entire topic.  Many therapists, myself included, believe people deserve an opportunity to obtain a check up for their drinking; a non-judgmental process which assesses, provides feedback and lets you decide what the feedback means.

The fear is often the same for everyone, “Oh sure, this is just a sneaky way to label me an alcoholic and then coerce me into quitting.” On the contrary, there are therapists who approach a Drinking Check Up with your agenda and ask you what you want to do.  In a Drinking Check Up, a therapist works with you to complete the assessment, gives you some feedback about your drinking that will allow you to compare yourself to others, and allows you to decide what role you want alcohol to play in your life.

Here is how it works.  A therapist with a client-centered approach talks with you about your drinking.  You complete some paper and pencil assessments.  The therapist scores the results and reports the results to you during a second session.  This allows you an opportunity to develop a better understanding of your drinking, including any risks it could pose.  Once you understand your drinking, you can then weigh the reasons for and against changing any aspect of it.  You can consider what you want your drinking to consist of.  In a client-centered approach such as this, you are in charge; you make the decisions about change.

Deciding to change is something that does not happen instantly.  Most people vacillate a great deal when considering a major change in their life.  If you decide you do not need to make any changes regarding your drinking, then surely you will be more informed about your use of alcohol.  If you decide you want to make changes or adjustments, which include options from cutting back to abstinence, there is a menu of options for accomplishing your goal.  For example, if you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, your doctor should offer you a variety of options that are proven to lower cholesterol; they include medication, weight loss, exercise, and diet.  So, too, problems with alcohol can be addressed with a variety of options but most importantly, the option should be one that is chosen by you and is appropriate for your life.

Cheryl Rugg, LCSW, CADCIII practices at the Milwaukee location of Cornerstone Counseling Services. She can be reached at 262-542-3255 Ext. 224.


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