Tag Archives: Mental Health

How to Know If You Have a Drinking Problem

As every holiday approaches the roads fill with happiness seekers. Too many drink as part of their quest. Problem drinkers turn into problem drivers. Think that is not you? Check that out with these seven safe drinking rules.

Emotional Fitness Training Poster

Download this poster from the EFTI store.



The first  rule  recognizes that teens are at greater risk to the lure of drinking than older and supposedly wiser humans. A generalization as some teens are smart enough to drink safely, and some adults are not. The main problem with teens remain peer pressure and the tendency to go against parental teachings.

The next two rules keep your level of alcohol consumption at a level that does not reduce your functioning to dangerous levels. Examples:

Single and getting a little too happy on a date? At best you might have unsafe sex and at worse you are more vulnerable to predators.

Some people only drink on weekends, but then do so at dangerous levels. These may function well during the week, but get out of control on weekend.

There are also drinkers who can abstain for long periods of time, but one drink and all safe drinking is put aside. The old movie “Lost Weekend” demonstrates this type of drinking problems.

Finally, a number of teenager and adults drinking like teens, die each year from over-dosing in chug-a-lug contests. When someone passes out from drinking, 911 needs to be called immediately.

A sad fact related to the above rules is that the media encourages violating these rules. Bars are in the of selling drinks, not getting you to stop at one drink or to  buy only one an hour.

The fourth and fifth rules serve to decrease the build up of tolerance so you have to drink more and more to feel the desired for reactions.

One sure sign of major problem drinking is no longer drinking to get happy, but to feel somewhat normal. The happy drunk is not a happy drunk but a desperate one.

The sixth rule keeps your body from over dosing on alcohol as well as helping you observe the first five rules.  A too little known fact: Smoking pot reduces nausea and  keeps you from vomiting. Vomiting is nature’s way of ridding your body of things that could kill. Too much alcohol kills.

Wondering if the rules apply to drugging. Yes and no.Yes: As Harm reduction programs seek to help those using drugs to do so safely. So there are safe drugging rules. No: as the rules vary in many respects. So if you are worried about drugs go to the above link to learn more.

The seventh rule should be self-evident, but sadly many violate it under the delusion they are sober when they are not. 


Emotional fitness tip one: If you party hard, try abiding by these rules throughout the next week-end. No sweat doing so, no problem. Deviating even from just one?  A problem.

Emotional fitness tip two: If this small self-administered test reveals even the lowest level problem, face facts. You do not have to be a full-blown alcoholic to indulge in harmful drinking.

You do need to get straight in one way or another if you cannot drink safely. AA is one alternative, but not for all. A group of therapists have developed what is called Motivational Interviewing that takes a softer approach as do  EFTI’s Safe Drinking rules.

Finally, just finding a partner or two that share concern about how much they are drinking and joining together to support a SMART goal of abiding by the safe drinking rules might be all you need. The person to help  might be a drinking buddy or a loved one that worrying about your drinking habits.

Emotional fitness tip three: Worried about someone else’s drinking habits? First take the test yourself. If you are violating any rules, state that you are going to work on becoming a safe drinking.

Then take the test  as if you were the other person. Share both results and ask the other person what he or she thinks about what the test says about you and about them.

Don’t get into an argument. Problem drinkers are Gotcha Warriors and want to divert attention from you by making you argue to the point where you get out of control. Go here to read about how to deal with a Gotcha Warrior.

Listen do not judge. Also know that denial is part of problem drinking. So do not expect an instant “Aha.” Some studies show that it takes five or more serious encounters to get an alcoholic into recovery.  You are a link in a chain. Stay strong and caring, don’t support bad habits and that means not supporting denial.

Denial cartoon

Thank you Carl D’Agostino for letting me use your cartoons. Love this one.

Already a safe drinker and the other person is not, when faced with denial, and seeing a violation of one of the rules, state gently, “I am worried, I need you to stay safe and I think when it comes to drinking, you are at risk.”

A thought for parents: if it is a teen that is not drinking safely, imposes sanctions. Definitely stop from driving.  More advice is found in my book eBook When Good Kids Drink and Drug.

Much of the same advice is available in my book When Good Kids Do Bad Things. You can get that as an eBook or  in print on Amazon. Either will  cost a bit more than a movie, but might help you save the life of a  child you love.

Pressed for cash, the old versions can often be found on Amazon for under a dollar. Even then that helps me for while I need to earn a bit of money, my main mission is sharing knowledge that  I know is helpful .


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.



Post inspiration

Mostly related to the coming holiday, but has a bit of relatedness to this Daily WordPress promptLinger: Tell us about times in which you linger — when you don’t want an event, or a day to end. What is it you love about these times? Why do you wish you could linger forever?

Obviously, when we feel good, we want those feelings to linger. And that is precisely why we need to be aware of the ways in which drinking and drugs are a slippery slope and lingering too long in their presence puts you at risk. .

A personal note, the tendency to drink and drug to excess has three primary  causes. First a genetic pre-dispostion linked to  depression, but also anxiety, particularly social anxiety. My family tree is filled with those who are so predisposed to fall into the lure of chemical solutions to such problems.

The other known causes: the culture surrounding drinking. Today’s media culture is deadly in terms of its promotion of chemical solutions as a path to feeling better. Not helpful.

The third cause is the slow build up of tolerance by daily drinking.

I hope you will share this post if you found it helpful. Thank you again for all you do.


Most of the links cited in this blog post relate specifically to other resources about the main topic of this particular blog post.  From now on these links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.


Three Things You Need to Know About Therapy

In therapy, but nothing seems better? Thinking you need therapy? First some jokes about therapy, then some thoughts  and to[s about therapy.

Three jokes about therapy

All three jokes relate to what you need to know about why therapy might not work.  In the first joke, the therapist remains locked in personal problems and more help to him than his clients.

Most therapists are drawn to the field out of a personal need to both better deal with their problems, as well as to help others. Many therapists have been patients and found therapy personally helpful. Having had problems solved in therapy often makes for a better therapist. However, not always and so it seems with joke number one.

In the second joke, the psychiatrist is so busy diagnosing others, he seems to have lost the more common human capacity to offer compassionate help. In real life, in the same situation, hopefully most psychiatrists would also offer practical help. However, many therapists are all too focused on what’s wrong, finding someone to blame, attaching labels, and seeing only weaknesses.  Not helpful.

The third joke reflects a bit of the second joke, but also on the need for good reality checking. Therapy cannot solve all problems and is not a cure-all.

Bad habits can be turned into good habits, but sometimes the bad habit is the only way a person can survive. When the person lives in a war zone,  therapy will not work until safety is establish. War zone  does not just mean bullets are flying, someone is being treated violently in other ways: think of domestic violence or bullying by peers at school. Finally, biological problems, either genetic or caused by illness, brain injuries, or trauma, often make change impossible.

The third joke also serves as a reminder to all seeking therapy. Therapy is not  magic.  You  need you to do the work.  Which is the subject of another joke: How many thearpists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one if the lightbulb is willing to change. However, even doing the work may not find you are being helped the way you want.

Emotional fitness tip one: Whether in therapy or thinking about therapy, get clear about your expectations. The best way is to set a SMART goal for therapy and share it with the therapist. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic, and time limited.

Emotional fitness tip two: Measure progress.  Here’s an easy to use Goal Measuring Poster.  Give therapy time to work, but also be clear with yourself and your therapist about how things are progressing.

Measuring goal progress

For more tips, exercises,  and inspiration browse the EFTI Store.

Emotional fitness tip three: Get realistic. In order to get the best from therapy,  become an educated consumer, make sure you are getting competent care. Next  be honest about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Then do all the things everyone is told to do to stay strong–eat properly, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, have balance in your life between work and play, keep up social relationships,  take any prescribed medications as directed.  Add Emotional Fitness Training Exercises  to your daily routine. Finally, don’t let stigma keep you from seeking therapy when nothing else seems to be working.

If everyone worried more  about being kind to self and others, instead of whether someone was mentally ill or not; many of the world’s problems would be solved.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.


POST INSPIRATION:  Today’s WordPress Daily prompt: State of Your Year
How is this year shaping up so far? Write a post about your biggest challenges and achievements thus far.

It as not been an easy year. Why? One reason? Aging and what cannot be changed and what has to be lived with as we move forward.  Particularly frustration personally is that I am stalled in my efforts to get more eBooks out. Then there is the state of the world. Finally, there are the everyday minor and major  problems that hurt you or those your love.

My biggest achievement is that I keep going and doing what I can, when I can.


One Quick Way to Get Through Life’s Down Times

Life throws lots of stuff your way, this post is about getting past the small stuff, but will also help you survive life blows. An example? Day-dreaming.


Thank you friend Doug Savage for permission to use your Savage Chicken Cartoons in my posts.

Day dreams are like mini-vacations. Of course, as with almost everything, indulging constantly n day dreaming could get you fired, or if done while driving killed.

Laughs are another way to improve a bad moment. Which is why I follow, befriend cartoonists  and share laughs.

The point, however, is that to get through the mosquitoes and even the bee stings of life requires strong self-soothing skills and lots of different ones.   Why my Ebook   Self-Soothing to Create Calm in Your Life.   sells more than many of the others. The $2.99 price probably helps a bit.  Don’t have a Kindle. No problem. See the links at the bottom of the posts in order to  learn  get Amazon’s free application for reading their books without a Kindle.

Okay, commercial over on with the exercise. Start reviewing this EFTI  poster coach.

101 self soothing list


My advice: Do more of what works and try a few new ways.

Remember, not all stuff is small stuff. Moreover, the bigger or more ongoing “stuff” in your life the more support you will need and often good therapy is the answer; sometimes you might even need a bit of medication to stop sweating and getting on with life.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.

Thank you.


Links of Interest

How To Beat The Everyday Blues

Daily life is like the weather: full of highs and lows, sunny days and rainy days, blizzards and hurricanes. Weathering life’s storms is a learned skill.

Tips for finding contentment


New to Emotional Fitness Exercises?  Start with these four easy ones. But also read the following. Emotional Fitness Training’s exercises are neither therapy,  the Ten Commandments, nor miracles that fall in your lap against all odds.

EFTI’s exercises are research based power walks to add strength to your emotional intelligence. Some exercises  and tips work for some people, but not all.

As is said in many similar  programs “It works if you work it.”  That means just doing it. When it doesn’t work more is needed. More might mean, less stress, better goals, more support and outside help.

Try an EFTI program for six weeks.  Life cannot always be good, but it should be good or okay most days; when it is not, get help. Add support and that might mean  therapy or medication. You deserve to be the to star in your life and that is possible for all.


Visit my Parents Are People Too Blog for advice to help you and your child live good lives.  As I learned as a foster parent and director of mental health crisis teams, in NYCity before, during, and after 9/11, if you cannot handle your emotions, you cannot expect others, particularly children to handle theirs.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.

Thank you.


POST INSPIRATION not from this Daily Posts Prompt but fits with it. Coming To a Bookshelf Near You: Write a summary of the book you’ve always wanted to write for the back cover of its dust jacket.

I’ve written lots of books. What I really want said on the next one? Another best seller by Katherine Gordy Levine. Realistic advice that rivals Oprah, Dr. Phil, and all other self-help gurus.

Following the daily prompts and seeing how they fit a post I am writing, is one of my personal emotional fitness exercises. Makes me think a bit and that is always good exercise particularly for an aging brain. Often I write the post first, but sometimes I start with the prompt.