On September 6, 2017, soldiers, civilians, DEA officials, Military Police officers, behavioral health specialists (domestic violence prevention, suicide prevention) and others gathered for my presentation, “Raising Awareness About Secondhand Drinking…the Other Side of Alcohol Misuse to Support the Army’s Ready and Resilient Campaign.”
Organized by Sonya James, Ft. Irwin’s EAP Program Coordinator and sponsored by Gregory Pryor, Ft. Irwin’s ASAP Program Manager, this program provided a different take on an age-old problem.
How this Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program is Different
Instead of the typical focus on the self-harm of heavy drinking, alcohol abuse and alcoholism, this program was about sharing new brain science that explains how a person’s drinking behaviors affects others, in other words, that explains secondhand drinking. This brain science was unknowable just 10-15 years ago, and yet, it is this science that can change the lives of the 90 million Americans affected by secondhand drinking and the 18+ million Americans whose alcohol misuse can cause it.
Secondhand drinking refers to the negative impacts of a person’s drinking behaviors on others. And I’m not referring to the drunk person who is irritatingly loud at the bar. I’m talking about the verbal, physical and emotional abuse of a spouse or child by a spouse or parent whose behaviors change when they’ve had too much to drink; or the convoluted, crazy, irrational, circular arguments with a boyfriend or girlfriend under the influence of alcohol; or the serious danger to others when a coworker shows up at work hung over. Other drinking behaviors include:
- Driving while impaired
- Alcohol-involved sexual assault
- Alcohol-involved domestic violence
- Doing things one wouldn’t do if sober
- Being loving and attentive while drinking and then a stranger the next day
- Putting sober friends in the role of protector or monitor
- Routinely passing out
- Alcohol-involved death by suicide.
People on the receiving end of drinking behaviors often don’t understand the sheer range of toxic-stress impacts on their physical, emotional, and mental health and the very quality of their lives. Nor does society as a whole understand the SHD-toxic stress connection. Thus, these impacts are often suffered in silence because these people don’t have a word to name “it,” let alone an understanding of what causes “it.” These impacts include:
- Walking on eggshells
- Deeply hurt feelings
- Developing depression or anxiety
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Recovering from a broken arm after a brutal beating
- Losing one’s self-esteem
- Recovering from a sexual assault
- Unable to concentrate at work or school
- Having to deal with the fallout of someone driving while impaired (whether it be death or injury or a ticketed DUI)
- Trying to keep track of a constant stream of white lies and cover-ups
- Experiencing a host of physical ailments as a result of toxic stress, including migraines, headaches, stomach ailments, sleep disorders, neck/shoulder/back pain, heart conditions, skin conditions (eczema, acne), changes in eating habits, and more.
I presented this 75-minute program in sections covering:
- How the brain fits in because of the way the brain works, wires, develops and maps brain maps of our rote thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
- Why is it so important to understand secondhand drinking (SHD).
- Why the term and why it’s important to start using this new term, now.
- How a person can protect themselves from SHD and change the drinking pattern that’s causing it, if applicable, by understanding how a person loses control of how much they drink.
- What a person can do to heal their brain and body of the impacts caused by SHD-related toxic stress.
What Attendees Had to Say
As for how this program was received by those attending, please find the following comments:
The secondhand drinking training provided me with a lot of information, but one of the things that really got my attention were the brain images and how the alcohol affects the brain. After attending the class, I realized that I needed to stop drinking. That night I decided to go cold turkey.
I had no idea about secondhand drinking and the part about how toxic stress harms a person’s brain and physical health. It really made me think about how my drinking has hurt my family. The part about how a person can change how much they drink is really helpful.
Different! Loved the science and the way she simplified it in a way we all could understand.
The information on brain wiring and mapping was amazing and shows us how we can use this science to change our habits and behaviors.
Please keep us informed when Lisa is coming next – we definitely want to attend. This was excellent!
Loved her exercise of please stand up and raise your hand… – really brought home the idea of brain maps for our routine behaviors.
Refreshing! New information.
I’m already using some of the information Lisa presented in my other training programs.
For More Information
To learn more or to schedule a similar program, please click here.
Additionally, Sonya James, Ft. Irwin’s EAP Program Coordinator, invites you to contact her via email at email@example.com, as does Gregory Pryor, Ft. Irwin’s ASAP Program Manager, via his email at firstname.lastname@example.org.