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“Alcoholic” is the kind of term that a lot of people jokily use to describe their friend who has a few too many drinks one night, or something they say dismissively to make light of their own drinking binges. But does the average person truly understand what it means to be an alcoholic? Alcohol addiction might not seem as serious to some people, but alcoholism is truly devastating and far more complicated than you may think. Partly because people often assume that all alcoholics are the same.
So first, let us look at how alcoholism is commonly defined. Then, let us look at 4 different problem drinkers to see how alcoholics can be quite different.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) has been more commonly known for decades as alcoholism. Alcoholism is frequently used as a more broad term for any drinking of alcohol that results in physical and/or mental health problems. At one point, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) divided alcoholism into two types of disorders:
- Alcohol abuse
- Alcohol dependence
The most recent version is DMS-5, which integrates these two disorders into one definition of alcohol use disorder. That DSM-5 also identifies levels of mild, moderate and severe sub-classifications. According to the DSM-5, anyone meeting two of the 11 criteria for AUD in the same 12-month period would receive a diagnosis of AUD.
These 11 criteria include:
- Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended
- More than once unable to stop drinking when you wanted to or tried to stop
- Spent a lot of time drinking, being sick from drinking, or recovering from the aftereffects of drinking
- Wanting a drink so badly you cannot think of anything else
- Drinking or being sick from drinking often interferes with taking care of your home, family, job, school responsibilities
- Continuing to drink even though it causes trouble with family and friends
- Giving up or cutting back on interests and activities in order to drink
- Getting into situations that increase your chances of getting hurt while or after drinking
- Continuing to drink despite feeling depressed or anxious, adding to another health problem, or having memory blackouts
- Needing to drink much more for the same effect
- Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol wear off
Then the severity of the AUD is defined as:
Mild alcoholism is the presence of 2 to 3 of these symptoms.
Presence of 4 to 5 of these symptoms suggests moderate alcoholism.
The presence of 6 or more of these symptoms is an indication of severe alcohol use disorder.
5 Subtypes of Alcoholism
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This organization has actually identified what it believes are 5 subtypes of alcoholism to help expand on our understanding of this complex disease. By looking at how alcoholism can manifest in different forms, a person can learn how to identify warning signs, and how to look for a personalized treatment program that fits their needs.
According to the NIAAA, the largest percentage of alcoholics actually falls into this category, with 31.5% of alcoholics in America. Nearly 1/3 of all alcoholics fit into this subtype.
This group is typically late teens and early 20s. Often these young adults are likely college students. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:
- Underage drinkers between the ages of 12 and 20 regularly consume more alcohol at a time than older drinkers
- 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by this group is through binge drinking
Binge drinking is often perpetuated by underage and young adult drinkers. People who fall into the young adult alcoholic subtype rarely have alcoholism in their family history, and they may also be less likely to seek help for their excessive drinking as it is often considered “normal” as a “phase of life” that family members and adults may not take seriously.
This type of alcoholic is typically someone in their mid-20s who started drinking alcohol at an early age. With anyone, alcohol impacts brain chemistry, and regular exposure can actually change the way the brain’s circuitry works.
Young brains do not have a fully developed prefrontal cortex, meaning young people can have more difficulties controlling emotions and impulses. They are also more likely to take bigger risks. So excessive drinking may interfere with normal brain development, and increase the odds of substance abuse and addiction.
Unlike the young adult subtype, more than half of the young antisocial alcoholics have a family history of alcoholism.
Many people in this category suffer from a mental health disorder. Around half of the young antisocial subtype also struggle with an antisocial personality disorder. If someone is struggling with a co-occurring mental health disorder, the risk of developing alcoholism or a substance use disorder (SUD) is elevated. Other co-occurring disorders frequently found in this category include:
Around 3/4 of this subtype will also use tobacco and/or marijuana. They may also struggle with opioids or cocaine addictions.
Around 19.5% of the alcoholic population in the country will fall into the category of the functional alcoholic. These are typically middle-aged, well-educated, and seemingly well put together individuals. They may have a seemingly stable home life with a loving family. Functional alcoholics probably have a steady job and appear to have their lives together. They do not fit into the common stereotype of alcoholism.
Around 1/4 of this subtype of alcoholics have at least one major depressive episode in their lives. However, functional alcoholics are also often good at hiding emotional distress and issues with drinking.
Usually, a functional alcoholic will consistently fulfill most of their regular obligations. In fact, their family may even enable their drinking by making excuses for them when issues related to alcohol abuse do come up. The fact that they are able to appear successful will make it much harder to convince them that they have a drinking problem. Thus, many functional alcoholics will not seek help.
This subtype is also typically made up of middle-aged alcoholics. Around half of these individuals come from families with multigenerational alcoholism. Close to 1 out of every 5 intermediate familial alcoholics also struggles with marijuana and cocaine abuse. Many of these individuals also have co-occurring mental health disorders.
- Nearly half of all intermediate familial alcoholics have struggled with clinical depression
- 20% have battled bipolar disorder
- Many others struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder
A lot of intermediate familial alcoholics may use alcohol as a way to self-medicate the difficult emotional symptoms of their mental health disorders.
When people use the term alcoholic, this is the subtype they most commonly associate with it. Surprisingly though, chronic severe alcoholics only make up 9% of the entire alcoholic population of America.
So really, that stereotype of alcoholism actually represents the minority of alcoholic drinkers.
Chronic severe alcoholics are comprised mostly of middle-aged individuals who had early onset of problem drinking. This subtype experiences high rates of Antisocial Personality Disorder and criminality. Furthermore, nearly 80% of the chronic severe alcoholics come from families with multigenerational alcoholism. This group has the highest rates of other psychiatric disorders, including:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders
Chronic severe types also experience high rates of dependence with:
This is alcoholism to an extreme. Thankfully, this is the subtype with the highest rates of admission to alcohol addiction treatment.
Why Alcohol Addiction Treatment Matters
According to the NIAAA, in 2015 over 6% of American Adults met the criteria for AUD. Sadly, less than 10% of those people struggling with alcoholism received professional treatment. Those numbers alone show how much having alcohol addiction treatment matters. Each subtype will have unique experiences, which means they can greatly benefit from a recovery plan that is custom made for their unique needs. A functional alcoholic may want a treatment plan that incorporates their family. A chronic severe alcoholic may be suffering from a serious health condition that requires more of a focus on medical care.
The truth is, for how devastating alcoholism can be, it is troubling that so few people actually get the help they desperately need. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are not just uncomfortable, but they can be dangerous and even life-threatening depending on the severity. That is why safe medical detox for alcohol is such a key component of a treatment program.
With all of those subtypes who experience co-occurring mental health disorders, it is critical that they have access to dual diagnosis treatment opportunities. For these individuals, it is important that treatment is not exclusively focused on alcoholism, but also addresses their mental health. Dual diagnosis treatment is designed to simultaneously treat co-occurring conditions while also providing comprehensive care and support for recovering from alcohol addiction. For those with co-occurring disorders, only treating one while ignoring the other can be counterproductive. An untreated mental health disorder can ultimately lead an individual to self-medicate. Dual diagnosis treatment isn’t just a better level of care- it is a crucial aspect of relapse prevention.
Regardless of what subtype someone may fit into, it is important that anyone who fits the criteria for alcohol use disorder seek professional addiction treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Did you know that April is Alcohol Awareness Month?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths each year between 2006 and 2010. Among working-age adults between 20 and 64 years old, excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in every 10 deaths. Alcohol abuse is a greater risk than many people realize. Sadly, underage drinking in America has also become a very serious problem.
Back in April of 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) began sponsoring the national observance of Alcohol Awareness Month in order to increase public awareness and understanding of the risks associated with alcoholism. America’s relationship with heavy drinking is already pretty intense, so taking the time for this month to reflect is probably a good idea.
A big goal of this observance is to reduce the stigma attached to alcohol abuse and addiction. Advocates are also encouraging local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. Alcohol Awareness Month isn’t just for looking at the impacts on society, but also at the risks to the individual, and promoting education.
NCADD states that the theme for Alcohol Awareness Month is- “Changing Attitudes: It is not a rite of passage.”
The risk alcohol poses to young people is not something to take lightly, but sadly many people do. Too many parents are willing to overlook their children drinking underage because they have adopted the idea that drinking in your teens and early twenties is a ‘rite of passage’. This mindset actually minimizes the reality, which is that alcohol use is especially harmful to young people. But many parents just assume their kids will “get through it”. Parents frequently chalk the whole thing up to a “phase” that all young people experience. But is it safe to take it so lightly?
However, drinking is directly associated with many severe problems for young people. This shows that parents face some unique challenges when talking to children and young people about drinking and drug use. However, according to the NCADD, research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents and learn about the hazards of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use these substances than those who don’t. Parents have a critical position in alcohol abuse prevention. They have the power to help change the attitudes that lead to minimizing destructive behaviors like underage drinking.
Addressing the role parents can play in teaching their kids about the risks of alcohol is what this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month is all about.
Believe it or not, parents can help kids understand that using alcohol isn’t a healthy or effective way to feel or be independent. It might seem “cool” but it isn’t a safe or sustainable strategy for fitting in socially. People may think of drinking like a minor rebellion that provides a short-term solution, but that kind of logic can easily lead to a more serious long-term problem.
To put into perspective just how serious underage drinking is, we can take a look at more statistics from the CDC.
- Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year.
- 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States is by people between 12 and 20 years old, even though it is illegal.
- More than 90% of the alcohol consumed by people between 12-20 years old is done by binge-drinking.
There are a lot of terrible consequences that result from underage drinking, including:
- Memory problems
- Abuse of other drugs
- Changing in brain development (which could have a long-term impact)
- Traffic fatalities
- Higher risk of homicide
- Educational failure
- Alcohol overdose
- Unwanted, unplanned and unprotected sex
- Physical or sexual assault
- Legal problems
- Hangovers or Illnesses
- Death from alcohol poisoning
According to the CDC, young people who start drinking before age 15 are actually six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence and abuse later in life than people who begin drinking at or after age 21. So how can you get involved in making a difference? There are a lot of ways to acknowledge Alcohol Awareness Month.
Acknowledging Alcohol Awareness Month
April has a lot of local, state, and national events. These are opportunities to help educate people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among our youth. They are also meant to highlight the important role parents can play in helping kids better understand the impacts of alcohol.
Local NCADD Affiliates, as well as schools, colleges, churches, and countless other community organizations, will sponsor and host a number of activities, and you can even find a way to organize your own Alcohol Awareness Month events via the NCADD website. The NCADD even encourages everyone to participate in alcohol-free days.
An easy way to join the conversation is to follow #AlcoholAwarenessMonth
These events are also meant to encourage individuals and families to find help concerning alcohol-related issues. Sometimes this kind of awareness comes down to acknowledging the problem in your own life. Whether it is your own drinking, or that of a loved one, seeking help and support can change everything. Alcohol Awareness Month provides opportunities for prevention and promotes treatment for those who need it.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism should not be taken lightly. In fact, alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous. For those addicted to alcohol, it is not recommended to try and get off of alcohol without medical supervision. Safe medical detox is the most effective and supportive environment for those with an alcohol dependence. There are a lot of resources available to those who need the help. Alcohol Awareness Month is the perfect time to have that conversation with someone you care about.
Alcohol Awareness Month not only helps us understand the dangers of alcohol, but it reminds us that we are not alone. It helps us to see not only is alcohol dangerous but also that there is hope for those who have already suffered because of alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Even though the country is very aware of the opioid crisis that continues to claim lives every day, one of the most dangerous drugs in America is still alcohol. Heavy drinking in the US is also a deadly epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 90,000 people die from excessive drinking every year.
Another new report also indicated that those who do die from alcohol abuse actually die an average of 30 years prematurely.
With more deaths related to heavy drinking than any other drug, which states have the highest rates? A new piece released on 24/7 Wall St. from last week went to work ranking all 50 states.
Defining Different Drinking
In order to better understand how troubling the data truly is, we first have to understand what qualifies as “excessive drinking”.
The CDC categorizes an alcoholic drink as something containing 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol. Therefore, the CDC considers excessive drinking to include terms like:
For women, excessive drinking is four or more drinks on a single occasion. For men, it requires five or more drinks in one sitting.
When it comes to “heavy drinking”, by CDC standards:
- Women consume at least eight alcoholic drinks per week
- Men consume at least 15 alcoholic drinks per week
24/7 Wall St. analyzed CDC data on heavy drinking, along with census bureaus and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to create their report. What it shows is that 18% of Americans drink excessively, but that the difference between states it dramatic.
America’s Heavy Drinking States
- Adults drinking excessively: 11.2%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.0% (11th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 11.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.0% (25th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 12.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 19.7% (the lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 13.0%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.4% (17th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 13.3%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.3% (3rd lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 13.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.1% (25th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 13.9%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.9% (19th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 14.9%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.3% (24th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 15.3%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.4% (13th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 15.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.4% (23rd highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 15.5%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.8% (20th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 15.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.8% (21st highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.0%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 27.6% (9th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.3%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.5% (14th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 37.8% (7th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.6%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 37.9% (6th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.6% (5th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.4% (4th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.9%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 27.3% (8th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.3%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.9% (8th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 30.5% (20th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.2% (12th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 15.5%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.3% (10th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.6%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 24.3% (20th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.7%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 31.7% (23rd lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.7%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.2% (11th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.0% (12th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.9%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 40.4% (3rd highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.0%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.0% (15th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.1%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.0% (24th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.2%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.0% (2nd lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 31.2% (22nd lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.6%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 33.4% (18th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.6% (22th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.8% (19th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 19.1%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 34.7% (13th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 19.2%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 34.3% (14th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 19.5%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 27.8% (10th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 19.6%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 33.4% (17th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 19.6%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 39.8% (4th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 20.0%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.4% (16th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 20.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.6% (9th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 20.5%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 38.0% (5th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 21.0%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 25.4% (7th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 21.1%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 30.9% (21st lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 21.2%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 34.2% (15th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 21.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 46.3% (2nd highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 22.1%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 33.8% (16th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 24.5%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 36.9% (8th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 24.7%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 46.7% (the highest)
What State Stats Tell Us
Looking at some of the data, you might be surprised at where some of these states ended up in the rankings. One thing that comes to no surprise is that the state with the highest rate of excessive drinking- North Dakota- also has the highest rates of alcohol-related driving deaths.
But there are things that you might not be able to tell from these numbers at face value. For one, the director of the NIAAA George Koob claims,
“There is a clear correlation between a state’s excessive drinking rate and income.”
For example, the top 25 states with higher drinking rates also have similarly high median household income. Out of those 25, 14 of them have incomes that exceed the national average of $57,617. Compare that to the 10 states with the lowest drinking rates, with 9 of them having household incomes well below that same average.
However, Koob cautions us not to see this correlation too cut and dry, stating:
“If you look at individuals, the [drinking-to-household income] pattern is somewhat different.”
Someone may look at the report and suggest that affluent individuals frequently drink to excess, however, they don’t appear to drink as heavily. In fact, it seems low-income individuals drink to excess less frequently, but when they drink, they drink heavily more consistently.
Overall, we should take notice of just how prevalent excessive drinking is in different areas all over the country. In 2016 the population of North Dakota (#1 on the list) was around 757,952. Based on this number, 24.7% excessive drinking comes out to around 187,214 adults. Even with Tennessee, the state with the lowest rate, the numbers are pretty serious. With a 2016 population of 6.651 million, 11.2% comes out to 744,912 adults drinking excessively. So almost the entire population of North Dakota.
We have to be able to acknowledge risk behavior like excessive and heavy drinking in order to help those who may be struggling with alcohol use disorder. With alcohol doing real damage to so many lives in every corner of America, providing treatment programs for those struggling with alcohol use disorder is incredibly important. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Most people who own a television have probably seen Gabriel Byrne at work, but just in case you haven’t, go watch The Usual Suspects. In fact, if you haven’t seen that movie in a few months, go watch it again. Totally worth it. Or you may recognize him from one of many other roles, including:
- Stigmata (movie)
- End of Days (movie)
- Vikings (series)
- Marco Polo (series)
Gabriel Byrne is Irish born actor who has also a grown into a successful film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator. Since the beginning of his acting career in 1979, he has struck the silver screen and small screen a multitude of times with powerful and intense performances.
He won a Golden Globe Award back in the HBO drama In Treatment, which aired from 2008 to 2011. That role also earned him nominations for various other awards.
But just last week the 67-year-old actor accepted another awesome honor- a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA). The following night, he took the time to reflect on what he considers one of his biggest victories– his 21 years of recovery from alcohol.
Gabriel Byrne on Drinking and Recovery
During an interview on Ireland’s The Late Late Show,
“I think like a lot of people, I drank to escape from myself and to escape from the pressure that I felt around me. But I knew that I could never handle it, I was absolutely allergic to it. It was not a good thing for me to do.”
“With this lifetime achievement thing, it’s not about the work, it’s of a life and one of the biggest victories to me in my life was that personal one of stopping that and saying I’m not going to be that person anymore.”
But Gabriel Byrne didn’t stop with discussing his own issues with alcohol. He also spoke about his feeling toward the culture in Ireland which endorses drinking.
“That kind of thing became to me kind of frightening because my drinking was spiraling into a place where I couldn’t remember what I did.”
“One day I woke up and said, ‘If I don’t stop this, I am going to die.’”
Byrne admits that it took him a long time to be brave enough to admit he had a problem and needed help. His agent of 30 years, Teri Hayden, was instrumental in getting him the help he needed. She was the first person he went to for help. Describing walking into a room full of strangers looking for help with his drinking Gabriel Byrne says,
“It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.”
After over two decades in sobriety, it seems Gabriel Byrne seems committed to his work as both an actor, an activist and an advocate for recovery. He also acknowledges that a lot has changed since he left Ireland for the United States, adding that he is actually encouraged by how the culture is shifting. He is happy to see now that it is no longer strange in Ireland for people to recognize their drinking problems and ask for help.
We love sharing celebrity recovery stories because they remind us that anyone can be impacted by addiction. Actors, artists and musicians often experience the same devastation that can be caused when drugs take hold of their lives, and their stories of overcoming fear and stigma to get help can be inspiring. Everyone might not have access to the same resources as celebrities, but there are still effective treatment options. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
It is news to no one that connections are often made between many of the most famously creative figures in history and drug or alcohol abuse. Creative types have a reputation for being complex and conflicted individuals, and those characteristics also tend to be associated with alcohol and drug abuse. Not to say that creative types must be alcoholics or addicts, but to at least acknowledge how many addicts or alcoholics are incredibly talented people who still find ways of self-expression even through their struggles.
While we hear so many stories of modern celebrities who have either overcome their battles with substance use, or lost their lives to drugs and alcohol, some of the most influential artists in history also faced down similar issues. Whether it is music, art or literature, some of the most amazing works of cultural depth and significance came from people in the grips of addiction or alcoholism.
Here we take a look at 6 famous artists with addictions throughout history. NOTE: Not all the artists are of the visual variety.
Charles Dickens is probably most well-known for his part in changing the world of storytelling with the famous holiday fiction “A Christmas Carol” and the epic “A Tale of Two Cities”.
What is probably not nearly as well-know was the fact that Charles Dickens was also an opium user. After each day of writing it is said Dickens would settle down to smoke poppy latex from a hookah. He eventually died at the age of 58 from a stroke on June 9, 1870, which many have partially attributed to his opium use.
The idea of Jackson Pollock having a little chaos in his life is probably not that strange to anyone who has seen his paintings. Pollock is revered for his messy “drip painting” technique, with the canvas of his work often splattered and streaked with a frenzy of color. In the 1940s Pollock gained instant fame. So when looking into the chaos of his life as an alcoholic, it is easy to see the metaphor.
Pollock’s alcoholism is said to have been exacerbated by the pressure of his success, and in 1956 he died in a drunk-driving accident that also killed one of his passengers.
Ernest Hemingway is probably one of the most notorious alcoholic artists in literature. As a Nobel Prize winner in 1954, Hemingway has been described as a “economical and understated” voice of that “changed the nature of American writing”; one of the greatest writers of the early to mid-twentieth century. He authored such historical works as:
- “A Farewell to Arms” (1929)
- “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (1940)
- “The Old Man and the Sea” (1852)
However, he is also well known for the intimate relationship he had with alcohol. In one tragic peek into how Hemingway reached to the bottle to cope with the world is a quote stating:
“Modern life, too, is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.”
It is believed that his heavy drinking intensified a medical condition, which led to mental confusion and depression. Hemingway eventually took his life in 1961.
Philip K. Dick
You may have heard of the cult classic science fiction film Blade Runner, and if so you should get to know the source material, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”
This deeply philosophical novel was written by American author Philip K. Dick. Other well-known sci-fi films were also inspired by his work, including:
- Total Recall
- Minority Report
This writer commonly utilized his art as a window into struggles with mental health or substance abuse. In fact, the author wrote dozens of novels about his own experiences of paranoia, schizophrenia, and drug abuse. He was known for taking drugs, particularly amphetamines. Eventually Philip K. Dick suffered a stroke at the age of 53, which cost him his life. Some have attributed this tragedy to the devastating impact of drugs on his body.
Jean-Michel Basquiat is a famous street artist from Brooklyn who went from homeless and unemployed to selling paintings for 5 figures in just 2 years. Suddenly a single work of art by Basquiat was imposing a price-tage of $50,000. This was a height completely unheard of for any artist.
Needless to say, the sudden surge of fame was a shock to the young man’s system. Especially considering he was a self-admitted heroin addict. At one point the young man claimed he was using up to 100 bags of heroin a day.
Tragically, this astonishingly successful artist was found dead in his East Village apartment from a heroin overdose in 1988.
Basquiat was only 27 years old.
Vincent van Gogh
This may be the most ‘house-hold name’ on this list; Vincent van Gogh. Just the mention of his names stirs the feeling of fine art, while his impressionist style was a bold and dramatic footing from which the concept of modern art flourished.
In what can be seen as brilliant and breathtaking, his landscapes and soft self-portraits may not seem like the yearnings of a tortured soul. Staring into his most pivotal pieces, such as the instantly recognizable “The Starry Night” one may see bright optimism in the swirling clouds or burning stars. However, Van Gogh grappled with a deep depression and enervating alcoholism.
Van Gogh spoke of his drinking at one point stating alcohol had, “undoubtedly been one of the great causes of my madness.” His drinking grew worse as he indulged deeply in absinthe, and at the young age of 37 years old, Vincent van Gogh took his own life.
Whether you would say an artist is more likely to be an addict or alcoholic is debatable. However, even in the grips of a disease that diminishes the mind, body and spirit there have been those who have used their art to reach out and express their hopes, or their fears in a way that touches so many others. But some of the most talents and inspiring people have been taken from us far too soon by their addictions. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Recently Jeff Salinas, an Alumni from our Palm Partners facility contacted our Alumni department with some exciting news; on the road to recovery he hit the ground running, and soon will be competing in a triathlon, but it isn’t his first since he took off from the starting line he got while in treatment. Jeff shared with us an article written about his awesome new ambition on Florida Today, in which he was quoted saying
“Triathlon saved my life,”
Coming up Sunday, July 25th is the fifth annual Indialantic Boardwalk Triathlon. This is Jeff’s next giant leap on the road of transformation and recovery. The report shares that Jeff has become a regular to the local triathlons, as much as possible, while also competing in local foot races. According to Jeff, all this athletic action is more than just a sport; it has made a lasting imprint on his life, especially in recovery from alcoholism.
At 43 years old, this powerful example of passionate self-improvement has always been an athlete, even before turning his life around. However, when he spoke with journalists about his new competitive edge, he shared how the decision to clean up his act gave him a breathtaking second wind.
“In 2013, 2014 and 2015, I struggled really badly with alcoholism,”
“I finally battled those demons in 2015 … And then I trained for an Ironman triathlon. I made some life-changing moves, and to maintain them, I committed myself to the Ironman Florida Triathlon in Panama City.”
Jeff has been running a long time. Before, you may have said he was running from something. Today, however, it looks more like he’s running toward a better, brighter future.
Jeff has finished 7 marathons, and in 2013 he decided to try on a triathlon. Of course by his timeline, he was still actively drinking. Apparently he was able to put off drinking during triathlons and compete well enough.
It would appear that looking at the face value, one might categorize Jeff as a “functioning alcoholic”. He was working after moving with the company from San Diego. Jeff was providing for his wife Alpha and daughter Athena, not to mention caring for four dogs and staying active. Yet despite all the running, his drinking was catching up to him and gaining fast. When the question came in regards to if his drinking impacted his family, Jeff states in the interview:
“Bigtime. They’re the ones who got me into recovery. The most important thing is that you have to want it. You don’t go to make someone happy or because it is a good idea … You’ve got to do it for yourself; you have to make those life-changing decisions yourself. I had to ask myself, ‘Am I an addict or an athlete?’ ”
Jeff was put on a new track, with a new gym and new trainers who were ready to run a different kind of race with him; a race toward transformation.
Jeff Salinas found his way to Palm Partners, a Palm Healthcare facility that specializes in the treatment of people struggling with substance use disorder and dual diagnosis. In treatment Jeff found himself among recovering individuals of every economic and social background. While in treatment at Palm Partners Jeff experienced some of the most effective and innovative holistic methods, including personal trainers, exercise, good nutrition and yoga classes. Palm Partners and all Palm Healthcare facilities are designed to address every element of physical, emotional and mental recovery to help create lasting change. When asking Jeff about his experience with Palm Partners, and he wrote:
I remember during one of the classes in Palm Partners, we were to think of some kind of short term goal to have us look forward to in order to maintain our sobriety post Palm Partners. I always did want to participate in an Ironman Race Triathlon, which is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile run. I thought, I can do this..
While in Palm Partners, this seed was planted. After coming home and maintaining my sobriety , the “Pink Cloud” eventually wore off, and I was starting to get depressed again and lose my momentum in my drive of wanting to stay sober. Then I remembered about the Ironman that I always wanted to do. So I did what I could to sign up for that race which was a year prior to the event. And from there, what’s in the FL Today article did follow suit.
I honestly do value the teachings and classes in PP. And it’s all relative, it doesn’t have to be triathlon or running, but it’s that internal driving force we had since our youth of purity, but somewhere along the timeline of growing up we lost it through addiction. Palm Partners helped me rekindle that fire inside me that almost went out. And, I’m forever greatful…
Becoming an Ironman
After finding himself back in the present, Jeff said:
“In Delray, I took everything in and really determined that I wanted to change… And so I committed to triathlon.”
Jeff credits the structure and strict training the sport demands to much of his attraction to it. The training requires a great deal of focus and dedication to practicing the three specific forms, leaving not much energy for the thought of drinking. In his interview with Florida Today, Jeff states:
“I committed to a seven-month training plan for the Ironman and fitted it around work and my personal schedule,”
“I tried to do (recovery) meetings, but that wasn’t what I needed. Instead, I’d show up for training and then go home and feel spent. It has been showing up for training that has helped me change.”
Last November in Panama Beach Jeff reached a milestone in his journey to a more fulfilled life. Jeff went on to say,
“I knew my mission was over once I crossed that line, when the commentator announced, ‘Jeff Salinas, you are an Ironman!’ ”
Alpha and Athena supported Jeff through every step of this race; from the decision to enter treatment and then to crossing the Ironman finish line.
Staying on the Path
Jeff has run in:
- Pineapple Man Triathlon
- Boardwalk Triathlon
Jeff has also qualified for and finished the Florida Triathlon, and is a member of the Donner Wealth Management Triathlon Team.
So what is next for the Palm Partners Alumni?
According to the report his new goal to finish the big race this Sunday in an hour, 10 minutes (give or take) to break his own record. After that- qualify for the Boston Marathon which he would like to do in November’s Space Coast Marathon.
One thing Jeff says during the interview that speaks volumes to his commitment to change is when talking about the race after-parties. Most of the events have food after, and beer is a common addition. Apparently the race community has plenty of it to go around. But in Jeff’s words,
“Well good for them. But not for me. Not for me.”
Jeff Salinas will be putting his passion to the pavement at the Indialantic Boardwalk Triathlon this Sunday, June 25th at 7 AM. The event takes place in Nance Park, 100 Miramar Ave., Indialantic. The event is for the benefit of Candlelighters of Brevard in Indian Harbour Beach.
We are happy to cheer for our Palm Partners Alumni, especially when they are sharing how passion, dedication and transformation make such amazing things possible. Jeff Salinas is a moving example of how willingness and action can change your life. On the road to recovery, Jeff is truly a trailblazer. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398