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