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Alcohol: The Pink Elephant in Your Living Room

Ask Ms. Vicki

It's hard to go anywhere without an atmosphere of social drinking. Alcohol can be the hallmark of any party, birthday, holiday or any other celebration. You come home from a hard day at work and you want to unwind with a few drinks to take the edge off the stress and tension running through your body. Your family and friends are toting the cute glass of wine, beer or other alcoholic beverage, and you want to do the same. However, when you take that first drink your personality changes you from Mr. or Ms. Jekyll into an unrecognizable Mr. or Ms. Hyde. The next day you don't know what you did the night before because the alcohol had you completely wasted. Everyone knows alcohol is a serious problem for you and you know it too, but everyone (including you) choose to ignore the pink elephant in the living room: alcohol is ruining your life and your loved ones' lives too. 

Maybe you're drinking too much, but then again maybe you shouldn't be drinking at all. Maybe you get very defensive when someone suggests you seek professional help. You say to yourself, "I don't have a problem at all." On the other hand, you fear that seeking help could result in the loss of your career or even your security clearance. So you continue to bargain with yourself every day, saying the next time you drink you won't drink yourself into oblivion. However, each time is just like the first time.

Is alcohol in danger of hurting your career, your security clearance and every loved one around you? Here are four signs that you may have a pink elephant in your living room:

  • You have a strong need or compulsion to drink
  • You lose control when you start drinking and you can't stop
  • You have an a need to increase your alcohol consumption
  • Your family and friends tell you alcohol is a problem for you

Let's take a look at 8 consequences:

  • Traffic Fatalities
  • DUI/DWI
  • Legal Fees
  • Incarceration
  • Probation
  • Loss of income
  • Separation and or Divorce
  • Long term health problems

It's normal that you don't want your employer or anyone in your unit or command to know that alcohol is a problem for you. However, it's important that you seek help. If you don't, it will only be a  matter of time before everyone in your unit or place of employment knows about the pink elephant in your living room. Take a look at these resources:

Do you know someone who has an alcohol problem and needs help? Tell me more about your experience and give advice to others. Leave a message on the message board.

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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