The 9 things functioning alcoholics say when they're hiding a secret addiction (2022)

NO one wants to admit they are dependent on alcohol.

That bottle of wine a night is totally normal, right? Surely, if you can still function and go to work the next day?

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These are the things we tell ourselves to avoid facing the truth, says Sandra Parker, an alcohol-free coach and founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

Sandra knows from experience, having been a heavy drinker through her 20s, 30s and 40s, until it suddenly hit that it made her miserable.

She told The Sun: “There's lots of things you can tell yourself to convince yourself it is not a problem.

"But ultimately, it's a problem if you know you're not in control.”

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There is no one kind of “alcoholic”, Sandra says - and no, don’t assume it’s someone drinking from a brown paper bag on a park bench at 9am.

So-called functioning alcoholics are among us and well hidden, and one of the biggest growing demographics with a drinking problem right now are middle class professional women, Sandra warns.

The most common excuses she hears are; ‘But I can still work after drinking’, ‘I never have a hangover,’ and, ‘I never drink before 6pm’.

Sound familiar? Read on to find out if you are hiding a secret alcohol disorder

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1. ‘I drink a bottle of wine every night - but I eat very well’

Sandra says people “fool themselves” into thinking their drinking isn’t problematic because it’s their only bad habit.

“People say, ‘I go to the gym, and I'm quite healthy, I don’t smoke’ - I think in their head, they see drinking as one bad habit.

“It’s still a problem. Eating well won’t balance out you drinking huge amounts,” she says.

2. ‘I never drink during the day’

Sandra says when most people picture an alcoholic, they “have an image of someone that gets up and grabs a bottle of vodka by the bed”, or “someone sat on a park bench with a brown paper bag”.

But this only scratches the surface.

Not all alcoholics look alike, and neither do their patterns of drinking.

Sandra says: “Some people can easily go a month without drinking.

“But then something happens, maybe their life becomes stressful, they reach for the alcohol and then they're locked in a cycle of drinking a bottle of wine every night for a month.

“Everybody's drinking patterns will look different. And it's much better to ask yourself: ‘Am I in control? Am I drinking more than I want to?’”

3. ‘Yes I drink every night, but I never get hangovers’

Sandra says if you believe you “don’t get hangovers”, and are able to go to work or even the gym after drinking, it could be a sign you’ve got an alcohol problem.

“What's happened is they've just normalised not feeling great in the morning and push through it,” she explains.

And the dangerous part is “their bodies are actually really struggling”.

Sandra adds: “People can make the mistake of thinking, ‘I can handle my drink’. But they’re drinking more because they’re not getting the same effect from a small amount.

“It's still having the same detrimental impact on the liver and organs.”

4. ‘I only drink wine, I would never touch spirits’

Whether it’s the cheapest cider, shots of spirits or a fancy bottle of wine - it’s all the same, Sandra says.

“Wine is considered a middle class drink. People don’t boast about drinking Strongbow.”

But Sandra says alcoholism can affect anyone, no matter their taste in alcohol, or their income.

“All alcohol is ethanol, and your liver can’t tell the difference between an expensive bottle of wine bought from a specialist wine merchant direct from Napa Valley and a bottle of Lambrusco you got on a special deal at the off licence,” she adds.

5. ‘I am not addicted, I just have it to help me sleep’

Sandra says: “There are definitely people who believe they need alcohol to sleep, because if we drink to excess, we will pass out.

“Alcohol will help you sleep, but it doesn’t allow you to have a good quality night’s sleep.

“Often you wake up during the night, you might feel dehydrated, you can’t get back to sleep. Even if you don’t wake up, it’s not good quality sleep.

”When people first give up booze, it may be harder for them to get to sleep.

(Video) 'Going to work drunk every day' - BBC Stories

But Sanda encourages them to persist because it takes the body “a bit of time to get back into a natural rhythm”.

6. ‘I need to drink every night because of my work social functions’

Some industries are saturated in alcohol, and it can be challenging for people to get away from the constant pressure to drink.

“They feel it’s expected of them, and that people will ask them difficult questions if they don’t drink,” says Sandra.

“A lot of people have anxiety about socialising without drink. Part of that is anxiety about how other people will perceive them and they feel they need some Dutch courage - the first drink often makes you feel more relaxed.

“But it's a bit of false confidence because the more you drink, the less aware you are of how you're coming across.

“So you might not be aware of it, and you might not be feeling anxious at the time, but actually you probably feel more anxious the next day because you can't remember exactly what you said.

“You’re less likely to be tactful, or to leave when you want to leave.”

7. ‘I never drink on a Monday’

Sandra says if someone excuses their heavy drink by saying, “I never drink on a Monday” - it’s not because they are in control.

“Sometimes the reason is because they feel so rough from how much they've drunk over the weekend.

“It’s not a conscious lifestyle choice. And even if it was, it’s another sign of a problem.

“They might offer to drive somewhere, or work late so they don’t drink that night. It’s obvious they are having to make a big effort not to drink.

“The question I would ask is: ‘How does it feel not to drink today? Are you thinking about it a lot? Do you wish you could have a drink today?’”

8. ‘I only drink more because I can work from home’

Government statistics show that the number of people in England drinking at risky levels is now at eight million compared with five million pre-pandemic.

Home-drinking during lockdown is a key contributor, experts say.

“If you think about the last couple years, the pandemic really normalised everyday drinking at home for a lot of people,” Sandra said.

This “normalisation” is reinforced by TV shows all the time, Sandra says, and this means it’s “quite easy to fool yourself into thinking you don’t have a problem”.

She says: “I work with clients who have told me that they’ve switched on the telly and seen Lorraine Kelly showing people how to make a margarita in the morning, or on Saturday Morning Kitchen, they're talking about what wine they're drinking at 10am.

“So it's quite easy for people to pretend they're okay for a long time until something happens and they say, ‘I can’t do this anymore’.”

9. ‘I don’t drink as much as others - everyone drinks more than the government guidelines’

The Government advises drinking no more than 14 units a week, which is around six pints of 4 per cent beer or six medium-sized (175ml) wines.

Granted, you’ll often see people drink more than this, which can leave you thinking there is nothing wrong with your own behaviour.

Sandra says rather than comparing how much you drink to your friends, colleagues or partner, you should be asking yourself how you feel about booze and what you use it for.

Read More on The Sun

The 9 things functioning alcoholics say when they're hiding a secret addiction (9)

The 9 things functioning alcoholics say when they're hiding a secret addiction (10)

(Video) How Alcoholics Hide Their Addiction?

“If you're drinking more than you planned to, have more than you wanted to, and you feel uneasy or uncomfortable when you're not drinking, that is saying you are not drinking for fun, and you're dependent on it.

“Another good test is to ask, ‘Are you drinking for fun? Or are you drinking to take the edge off things?’”

Where to get help

If you think you have an alcohol use problem, it can be difficult to take the first step and get help.

The NHS says a good place to start is your GP, who might suggest support options, such as from local community alcohol services.

(Video) How to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Drug and Alcohol Addiction | Genesis HealthCare

It says: "If you have become physically dependent and need to stop drinking completely, stopping overnight could be harmful."

Useful contacts include:

  • Drinkline - the national alcohol helpline. Call this free helpline in complete confidence on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)is a free self-help group. Its "12 step" programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
  • SMART Recoverygroups help people decide whether they have a problem, build up their motivation to change, and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery.

FAQs

What are the 4 levels of the addiction process? ›

There are four levels of addiction: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. We will discuss each level in-depth and provide tips for overcoming addiction. Most people who try drugs or engage in risky behaviors don't become addicted.

What are three warning signs of addiction? ›

Behavioral warning signs of SUD
  • Using causes difficulties in one's relationships.
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.
  • Frequently getting into legal trouble, including fights, accidents, illegal activities, and driving under the influence.

What are the five signs of addiction? ›

Signs someone else is addicted:
  • Changes in personality and behavior like a lack of motivation, irritability, and agitation.
  • Bloodshot eyes and frequent bloody noses.
  • Shakes, tremors, or slurred speech.
  • Change in their daily routines.
  • Lack of concern for personal hygiene.
  • Unusual need for money; financial problems.

What is the hallmark feature of addiction? ›

Craving or urges to engage in a target addictive behavior has been a hallmark defining feature of the addictions for a long time [13,38].

What is the last stage of addiction? ›

Stage 4: Addiction

Once the final stage is reached, you have entered addiction and complete dependency upon the substance. It's no longer a question about whether or not you're addicted to drugs or alcohol.

What is the third stage of addiction? ›

Stage 3: Risky Use/Abuse

This is the stage where the warning signs of addiction will begin to appear: craving, preoccupation with the drug, and symptoms of depression, irritability and fatigue if the drug is not used.

What are the biggest warning signs for addicts? ›

Physical warning signs of drug abuse
  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual.
  • Changes in appetite, sleep patterns, physical appearance.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing, or impaired coordination.

What are the red flags of addiction? ›

Behavioral Red Flags
  • Drinking or using more than before.
  • Extremely talkative.
  • Unusual or erratic behavior.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Personality changes when drinking or using.
  • Loss of interests, activities, friends.
  • Anger or defensiveness if topic of alcohol or drugs is brought up.
  • Tries to stop drinking or using for periods of time.

What are the first signs of addiction? ›

Recognizing the signs of addiction is the first step to getting help for yourself or guiding someone you care about to rehab.
...
Physical Signs
  • Enlarged or small pupils.
  • Sudden weight loss or gain.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Insomnia.
  • Unusual body odors.
  • Poor physical coordination.
  • Looking unkempt.
  • Slurred speech.

What drug is known as the king of all drugs for being the most abused drug in the world? ›

Alcohol – the king of all drugs with potential for abuse. It is considered the most widely used, socially accepted and most extensively legalized drug throughout the world.

In which stage of alcoholism does the drinker face serious health problems? ›

End-stage alcoholism is the most serious point to reach. It's evident when someone is at the end-stages of their alcohol addiction. They see severe impacts on their health, relationships, employment, finances, and overall satisfaction with life.

What are nine lifestyle diseases caused by substance abuse? ›

The Impact of Addiction Can Be Far-Reaching
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Cancer.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Hepatitis B and C.
  • Lung disease.
  • Mental disorders.
10 Jul 2020

What are the six major characteristics of addictive behavior? ›

Take a closer look at these characteristics to see if you may be at risk for addiction.
  • #1: Inability to Stop. ...
  • #2: They Continue to Use with Negative Consequences. ...
  • #3: They Are Preoccupied with Substance Use. ...
  • #4: Changes in Behavior. ...
  • #5: Increasing Use of Substances. ...
  • #6: Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms.
20 May 2022

What are some examples of addictive behaviors? ›

Some of the most common types of behavioral addictions are:
  • Sex.
  • Gambling.
  • Internet.
  • Shopping.
  • Video games.
  • Plastic surgery.
  • Binge eating/food addiction.
  • Thrill-seeking activities.
16 Aug 2021

What are the major characteristics of addictive behavior? ›

be unable to stop consuming a substance or end a specific behavior. display a lack of control concerning the substance, thing, or behavior they are addicted to. experience increased desires for the specific substance, thing, or behavior. deny that their addictive behavior may be causing negative consequences.

What are the 10 stages of addiction? ›

The 10 Stages of Relapse
  • Stage 1: Denial. ...
  • Stage 2: Avoidance and Defensiveness. ...
  • Stage 3: Crisis Building. ...
  • Stage 4: Immobilization. ...
  • Stage 5: Confusion and Overreaction. ...
  • Stage 6: Depression. ...
  • Stage 7: Behavioral Loss of Control. ...
  • Stage 8: Recognition of Loss of Control.

What are the 5 stages of the addiction cycle? ›

What Are the Five Stages of Change? The five stages of addiction recovery are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.

What are the five stages of change in addiction? ›

The model describes five stages that people go through when changing their behaviour: precontemplation (not ready), contemplation (getting ready), preparation (ready), action and maintenance.

What are the 7 steps of the cycle of addiction? ›

These seven stages are:
  • Initiation.
  • Experimentation.
  • Regular Usage.
  • Risky Usage.
  • Dependence.
  • Addiction.
  • Crisis/Treatment.

What is the first stage in the cycle of addiction? ›

Stage 1: Initial Use

Regardless of how the initial use occurs, it is the first step toward addiction. Whether or not that initial use is more likely to lead to addiction is often a matter of individual circumstances.

What are two methods for getting through addiction? ›

Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT): CBT is an approach that focuses on identifying and changing the thoughts and behaviors that play a part in addictions. ...
  • Mindfulness therapy: Mindfulness-based approaches like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can be easier to relate to for many people.
20 Jan 2022

What is the number one cause of relapse? ›

High Levels of Stress. One of the most common relapse triggers which lead to addiction, stress is something that most everyone who has committed to recovery has to deal with. Everyone deals with stress. And, before treatment, you may have dealt with yours through the use of drugs or alcohol.

When is relapse most likely to occur? ›

An article in Psychology Today cites studies that show most relapses happen within the first 90 days of abstinence, which is why attending a rehab program lasting at least 3 months may be most beneficial.

What are some signs of behavioral addiction as opposed to just heavy use? ›

Signs You Have a Behavioral Addiction
  • Spending the majority of your time engaging in the behavior, thinking about or arranging to engage in the behavior, or recovering from the effects.
  • Becoming dependent on the behavior as a way to cope with emotions and to "feel normal"
  • Continuing despite physical and/or mental harm.
17 Sept 2020

What are 3 personality traits that are closely related to addiction? ›

No single personality type sets someone up for addiction, but there are a few personality traits common among people who have a substance use disorder: an inability to handle stress, impulsivity, unaccountability and a lack of empathy.

How do addicts behave in relationships? ›

Typical addict behavior in relationships involves neglecting all of their relationships and only spending time with the people who share their addiction. Their sleeping and eating habits will change dramatically and they will often blame it on something else.

What are three red flags in a relationship? ›

13 red flags in a relationship to look out for
  • Overly controlling behavior. Overly controlling behavior is a common red flag. ...
  • Lack of trust. ...
  • Feeling low self-esteem. ...
  • Physical, emotional, or mental abuse. ...
  • Substance abuse. ...
  • Narcissism. ...
  • Anger management issues. ...
  • Codependency.
1 Feb 2022

What are 2 common signs or symptoms of drug abuse? ›

Signs and symptoms of recent use can include:
  • Drowsiness.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Irritability or changes in mood.
  • Problems concentrating or thinking clearly.
  • Memory problems.
  • Involuntary eye movements.
  • Lack of inhibition.

How does addiction affect the brain? ›

When someone develops an addiction, the brain craves the reward of the substance. This is due to the intense stimulation of the brain's reward system. In response, many users continue use of the substance; this can lead to a host of euphoric feelings and strange behavioral traits.

What are the side effects of addiction? ›

Nausea and abdominal pain, which can also lead to changes in appetite and weight loss. Increased strain on the liver, which puts the person at risk of significant liver damage or liver failure. Seizures, stroke, mental confusion and brain damage. Lung disease.

Which is the most powerful natural stimulant? ›

Cocaine15,16,17,18,19 is the most potent stimulant of natural origin. As opposed to amfetamines, which are pure synthetic compounds, cocaine is primarily obtained from Coca species and its notoriety belies the fact that the drug has been used as a stimulant for thousand of years.

What drug is known as the king of drugs? ›

Alcohol is a drug, in the same category as any illegal drug on the market. Fact is, I heard it was the king of drugs. There are more suicides, homicides, thefts, divorces, spousal and child abuse, and highway accidents attributed to alcohol abuse than any other drug. Alcohol is addictive and mind-altering.

Who is the mother of all drugs? ›

Leila de Lima has been accused of receiving P8 million in payoffs from a drug syndicate in the Visayas and called “the mother of all drug lords” in two new charges filed against her.

Which stage of alcoholism is the most difficult to recover from? ›

Late alcoholism, Stage 4, is the most difficult stage for most people to recover from. You or someone you love may have short periods of being sober, but stress will likely bring on drinking, getting in trouble, and feeling ashamed and guilty.

What is the most advanced stage of alcoholism? ›

End-stage alcoholism is the final stage of alcoholism. This stage is the most destructive. Typically, an individual reaches end-stage alcoholism after years of alcohol abuse. At this point, people who have spent years drinking may have developed numerous health and mental conditions in addition to their alcohol abuse.

Do alcoholics sleep a lot? ›

Sleep problems, which can have significant clinical and economic consequences, are more common among alcoholics than among nonalcoholics. During both drinking periods and withdrawal, alcoholics commonly experience problems falling asleep and decreased total sleep time. Other measures of sleep are also disturbed.

Which mental disorder is most commonly comorbid with alcoholism? ›

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), three mental disorders most commonly comorbid with alcoholism are major depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. Less frequently co-diagnosed with alcoholism is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dependent personality disorder and conduct disorder.

Is alcohol use disorder a mental illness? ›

The answer is yes, it can be considered one. Alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, is also referred to as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). The classification of alcoholism as a diagnosable mental illness doesn't mean that there isn't hope for a life free from alcohol abuse and its related symptoms.

What is the most common lifestyle disease? ›

Four Major Lifestyle Diseases
  • Ischaemic heart disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Peripheral arterial disease.
  • Congenital heart disease.
21 Jul 2017

What are the three aspects of addiction? ›

Addiction exerts a long and powerful influence on the brain that manifests in three distinct ways: craving for the object of addiction, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences.

Which medications are most commonly used in the treatment of addictive disorders? ›

Some of the most well-known medications that are used during addiction treatment are Naltrexone or Buprenorphine.
...
Medications that are commonly used to treat addiction include the following:
  • Naltrexone or Vivitrol.
  • Buprenorphine, Suboxone, and Methadone.
  • Disulfiram or Antabuse.
  • Acamprosate or Campral.

What makes someone an enabler? ›

The term “enabler” generally describes someone whose behavior allows a loved one to continue self-destructive patterns of behavior. This term can be stigmatizing since there's often negative judgment attached to it. However, many people who enable others don't do so intentionally.

What does the Bible say about addiction? ›

Thessalonians5:6-8. “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”

Which of the following are signs of addiction? ›

Signs someone else is addicted:
  • Changes in personality and behavior like a lack of motivation, irritability, and agitation.
  • Bloodshot eyes and frequent bloody noses.
  • Shakes, tremors, or slurred speech.
  • Change in their daily routines.
  • Lack of concern for personal hygiene.
  • Unusual need for money; financial problems.

How does a person look like under the influence of drugs? ›

Some signs that someone may be under the influence of a drug include: Enlarged pupils, bloodshot or glassy eyes. Increased energy and confidence. Loss of inhibitions.

What is the ultimate goal of addiction treatment? ›

One of the goals of addiction treatment is to help patients understand the phases of relapse so they can successfully identify and manage them before derailing their recovery journey.

Which of the following best describes a compulsive gambler? ›

Which of the following best describes a compulsive gambler? chronic brain disease that causes compulsive substance use. NOT: physical and psychological symptoms that follow interrupted use because, Addiction involves dependence but it is not part of the APA definition.

What are the 5 stages of the addiction cycle? ›

What Are the Five Stages of Change? The five stages of addiction recovery are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.

What are the 7 steps of the cycle of addiction? ›

These seven stages are:
  • Initiation.
  • Experimentation.
  • Regular Usage.
  • Risky Usage.
  • Dependence.
  • Addiction.
  • Crisis/Treatment.

What are the stages of recovery? ›

There are generally three stages of recovery: abstinence, repair, and growth.

Which stage of the cycle of addiction is a key element of relapse? ›

The preoccupation/anticipation stage has long been hypothesised to be a key element of relapse in humans, and defines addiction as a chronic relapsing disorder.

What are two methods for getting through addiction? ›

Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT): CBT is an approach that focuses on identifying and changing the thoughts and behaviors that play a part in addictions. ...
  • Mindfulness therapy: Mindfulness-based approaches like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can be easier to relate to for many people.
20 Jan 2022

How does addiction start in the brain? ›

When someone develops an addiction, the brain craves the reward of the substance. This is due to the intense stimulation of the brain's reward system. In response, many users continue use of the substance; this can lead to a host of euphoric feelings and strange behavioral traits.

What drugs cause hallucinations? ›

People can experience hallucinations when they're high on illegal drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, LSD or ecstasy. They can also occur during withdrawal from alcohol or drugs if you suddenly stop taking them. Drug-induced hallucinations are usually visual, but they may affect other senses.

What are the 10 stages of addiction? ›

The 10 Stages of Relapse
  • Stage 1: Denial. ...
  • Stage 2: Avoidance and Defensiveness. ...
  • Stage 3: Crisis Building. ...
  • Stage 4: Immobilization. ...
  • Stage 5: Confusion and Overreaction. ...
  • Stage 6: Depression. ...
  • Stage 7: Behavioral Loss of Control. ...
  • Stage 8: Recognition of Loss of Control.

How long does it take to break the addiction cycle? ›

Break the cycle and restore balance

Take a 30-day break from whatever it is that you rely on for pleasure: social media, sugar, video games, sex, pot, booze – anything, really.

What are five types of therapy that can be used to treat alcoholism? ›

There are many effective, evidence-based treatment therapy options for alcoholism.
...
Motivational Interviewing
  • Expressing empathy.
  • Rolling with resistance.
  • Developing self-efficacy.
  • Developing discrepancy.
24 Aug 2022

What is the first rule of recovery? ›

Rule 1: Change Your Life

The most important rule of recovery is that a person does not achieve recovery by just not using. Recovery involves creating a new life in which it is easier to not use.

What are the 3 Ps in recovery? ›

3 “P's” for Recovery: Passion, Power and Purpose.

What are the 5 stages of rehab? ›

Stages of Rehabilitation
  • Phase 1 - Control Pain and Swelling.
  • Phase 2 - Improve Range of Motion and/or Flexibility.
  • Phase 3 - Improve Strength & Begin Proprioception/Balance Training.
  • Phase 4 - Proprioception/Balance Training & Sport-Specific Training.
  • Phase 5 - Gradual Return to Full Activity.

What is the number one cause of relapse? ›

High Levels of Stress. One of the most common relapse triggers which lead to addiction, stress is something that most everyone who has committed to recovery has to deal with. Everyone deals with stress. And, before treatment, you may have dealt with yours through the use of drugs or alcohol.

When is relapse most likely to occur? ›

An article in Psychology Today cites studies that show most relapses happen within the first 90 days of abstinence, which is why attending a rehab program lasting at least 3 months may be most beneficial.

What is bargaining in addiction? ›

Bargaining in Active Addiction

The most basic form of bargaining might be exhibited when the addict stands to lose a job or relationship that is important to them. They will promise to quit or to seek help, but may renege on these promises once they feel that they are no longer at risk of losing anything.

Videos

1. 10 Celebs You Had No Idea Battled Addiction
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2. Intervention: HEAVY Alcohol & Drug Addiction Takes Over Krystal’s Life After Traumatic Past | A&E
(A&E)
3. Living With A Functioning Alcoholic
(Put The Shovel Down)
4. How I overcame alcoholism | Claudia Christian | TEDxLondonBusinessSchool
(TEDx Talks)
5. No Joke: The Truth About Alcoholism
(Thru the Reel Films)
6. The dos and don’ts of helping a drug addict recover | Maia Szalavitz | Big Think
(Big Think)

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