Paul Henzey always thought he was a normal drinker. But he remembers during his career, the happy hours becoming more frequent and some challenging times in his life taking a toll.
“I was in an executive management position and drank for anxiety. I remember the first time having a drink in the morning,” Henzey said.
At his lowest point, Henzey says he thought about suicide.
“My rock bottom hit when I finally just had enough of waking up and hating myself,” Henzey said.
In 2012, he got the help he needed, entering Kolmac, an outpatient recovery center. He has been sober for four years.
But Henzey is not alone. Nearly 17 million adults in the US are dependent on alcohol or have other alcohol related problems.
“We as professionals define addiction especially with alcohol, is that when you continue to use it despite a pattern of adverse consequences,” Dr. Kolodner said.
“One is at the beginning they have a very high tolerance, which means they have to drink a larger amount to get the same effect that other people can get from just one or two drinks," he said.
Second, the reward system in the brain seems to be particularity responsive to alcohol in people with the disease.
“So you get a degree of pleasure from alcohol that other people don’t get. And interestingly, that pleasure comes from an opioid release,” Dr. Kolodner said.
If someone you know is abusing alcohol or drugs, Dr. Kolodner has these tips: "Don’t lose hope, find support for yourself, don’t fall into enabling behaviors."
As for Henzey, he’s moving forward, speaking out now hoping to help others.
“I know where I was and the kind of pain not only for myself but the people around me and I’ll never go there again," he said.