When Someone you Love Struggles With Alcohol Use

Dr. Mona Gupta

Dr. Mona Gupta

Board Certified Psychiatrist in Raleigh, NC

When Someone you Love Struggles With Alcohol Use

The Daughter of An Alcoholic

I do not know if anyone reads these but it is somewhat therapeutic to write them. I did not think blogging or writing was for me but for some reason I wanted to do it. I actually want to write a BOOK ONE DAY. It is one of my long term goals. 

This week’s topic is Alcohol abuse and Family. First, I would like to give you all some background. I grew up in  South Florida and both of my parents were amazing physicians. They were immigrants from India and came to this country with their medical degrees and a suitcase. They moved around the country to finally call Fort Lauderdale their home. My father was a Gastroenterologist and my mother is a Psychiatrist. I have one sister who is two years younger to me.

I was a daddy’s girl and my whole world revolved around my dad. He was the most special man in the world to me. To me, He was the most handsome and funniest guy in the world.

My parents were very social and often we would come home from their evening parties at 6 am. In the USA, many Indians would cling to each other and have “Indian parties.” Indian Parties were parties where all the Indians would get together on ALL of the weekends. They would cook Indian food and DRINK all night (well at least the men.) At this time, it was frowned upon for women to drink. The Moms would gossip while the Dads would play cards. The kids would be watching movies or running around. 

My memories consist of the dads having a great time until someone got upset. Often, that someone, my dad, would push another uncle into the pool. Something of this nature became a tradition at these events. Someone would get loud and belligerent but for some reason all the people knew it was in jest. Never did I think it was a problem. The kids would eventually fall asleep and eventually the parents would wake them up. My dad would get us in the car and off we were going back home with the sun rising. 

On those drives, I remember telling my dad to stay in the lanes. I do not think I knew what that meant but knew he needed to be in the lines for our safety.

At this time in the 1980s, drinking and driving was not frowned upon.

We did not wear seat belts.

Kids did not sit in booster/car seats. 

Often, I would see my mom upset and argue with my dad to stop drinking. I did not understand what the big deal was yet. He would only drink while at parties.

He was a binge drinker.

He never drank at work or while on call. I would actually go on rounds with him at the hospital. He would often say to patients ” the ALCOHOL is going to kill you, buddy. You need to stop drinking.” We would leave the hospital and I would think, but how can he say that and then drink at the parties? I was 8 or 9 years old. I would watch him scope people and he would cauterize people varices (veins)  that had burst because of heavy drinking. The hospital would call him and say “we have a GI bleeder for you.” He would go in the middle of the night to save a “drinker’s life.” He would often order liver functions tests and talk about liver cirrhosis.

He was actually a doctor who took care of alcoholics.

As I got older, I realized my dad had an alcohol problem. It did not look like the alcoholics on the TV and movies. He went to work every day and he was an amazing father. He was for the most part a great husband. He was a true family man. He started a Hindu temple for our community. He was well known among the American and Indian community.

He was almost a DON in Fort Lauderdale.

One day, I was home sleeping and my mom started crying. My dad had been in a car accident and the car was totaled. My dad had miraculously survived. My dad had to enter the physician monitoring program. He was to be drug tested and had to do work on staying sober. He stayed sober for over ten years.

He was clean. He was happy. We were all happy. 

Ten years from the day, I guess he thought I could have one glass of wine. He used to drink Chivas Regal on the rocks, I know because he would tell me to get it for him. 

He drank that glass of wine and was never sober again for more than a few months.

He would drink and he would slur his speech. We would ask him daddy did you have a drink and my mom would chase him at those parties. She would beg him not to drink. I would get so frustrated with her because it was embarrassing. He would drink more if she told him to stop. He started to hide it and drink. He was still a binge drinker but it had changed.

He would often drink because he was lonely and because he had a hard day. It was no longer limited to parties. 

I went to college and medical school. Learned about the medical implications of alcohol and other drugs. I learned about all kinds of things. I knew about all the illnesses he would treat and I would understand the labs he would order. I guess I had started my training at a younger age then all the other medical students.

His drinking became more of an issue after my sister and I left to live our adult lives. He would drink more because of his loneliness and his depression. He would drink if he was upset at any of his family. He would drink because he was happy. I never understood why I never drank or was tempted to drink.

I think alcohol became something that I hated.

I never hated my dad.

He was still my hero and my best friend.

I blamed his sadness or his stress. I blamed the actual bottle of wine or my mom’s nagging. I never blamed him. My husband would even take care of him after one of his nights. He would help him get into bed. He would stay with him. We were all somewhat codependent. 

As time went on, my dad required a stay at a Residential Rehab. He was caught by me drinking and driving my four year old son. His decision making was obviously affected. My sister took him to a program in Palm Beach. My dad was livid. He could not even look at us. He did not have a choice. 

My mother, sister, and I had enough and he needed HELP.

My dad thought he was going to be the DOCTOR there and claimed he was going to teach all the other patients. I do not know, even now, if it helped or not. He was able to be sober for a couple of years but then he relapsed. He kept relapsing for ten years. His relationship with his family at times would be affected. We would get so angry at him and stop talking to him.

I would wait every day for the phone call.

I would wait for the phone call that he had died in a car accident.

I would hate myself for thinking this way but I needed to prepare myself for the biggest loss. I did not know how I would live without him. So I tried to expect it and be ready.

I never got that phone call but I did get a phone call from my youngest child that he was drinking heavily, My child was 8 at the time. He was so young and called me to tell me his grandfather was drinking “vodka.” My son had never seen Vodka before this stay. Apparently, my dad moved to hard liquor. My son called me because his grandfather was falling and walking funny. He was also belligerent so I had to finally take a stand. I never left Florida without hugging my dad but this time I had to teach him a lesson. He needed to stop the Alcohol. I went back home with my kids and took my mother with me.

My dad was out of control.

Anyways, my dad felt abandoned. He drank heavily for ten more days and his brothers tried to help him. 

My mom decided to go back to Florida. She felt bad for leaving. She had never ever left my dad. She returned and they talked and he promised to quit the Alcohol. 

I do not know if I made the right decision that day. All I know is I regret it every day. My dad ended up dying from an ARDS (similar to what is seen in COVID – 19.)

I lost my dad to something else, not the phone call I was expecting.

I am writing this because I have made it my life’s mission to help families and people with substance abuse issues, like alcoholism get help.

I want to help people before they regret it. 

If you or your family member need help, please email teresa@guptapsychiatry.com or call our office at (919)870-8409.

Our team at GUPTA PSYCHIATRY & Wellness, is here to help recovery be attainable.

We hope to help patients and their families have a support system locally to be here for your continued recovery or your unfortunate relapse.

We have individual substance abuse therapy, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs. We also have medical treatment for addiction including outpatient detoxification from Alcohol or other substances and we also have medication assisted therapies. 

We partner with our community and work with many hospitals and rehabilitation centers across the country. If we need to find a treatment that is better suited for you than our program, we will.

You and your family are important and deserve it.

                Alcohol and Drugs do not make you or your family member a horrible person.

It is a disease just like Diabetes.

We are here if you need us.

Some links: Samhsa.gov                         www.al-anon.org                                     www.aa.org

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Posted: February 8, 2021 By: Comment: 0

“Lets Talk About Sex Baby”

Women and Sexuality

I have been wanting to write a blog for a while. I did not know where to start. So I decided to get personal. Sometimes talking about yourself is the way we can help others.

I am a psychiatrist and have my own practice in NC. I have been married for almost 20 years. I have three teenage children. I have so much material to share with the world but just didn’t know what should be tackled first.
I have decided to talk about the hardest topic first. SEXUALITY.

Everything has to be easier than talking about your sexuality. I am a first generation Indian American. I was taught sex was bad and it was never discussed. I was taught to believe you fall in love after marriage, as my family believed in arranged marriage, and never to have premarital sex.
I married my husband at the age of 22 and was a virgin. I followed all the rules. Somehow I still felt sex was something wrong and felt guilty when my husband would try to initiate. I was also told it was my duty to “keep my husband happy.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! I would resent those statements and it would further make sex just a DUTY. I felt for some reason MEN had to be made happy and no one ever asked women what made them happy. My husband was not taught to MAKE ME HAPPY.

As I have met people, I have learned this is not just an Indian phenomenon. This is taught by all kinds of cultures and religions. People in Western culture are taught to “save yourself for marriage.” If a woman
has casual sex and has had multiple partners, she is called names such as “SLUT or HOE.” Men are often applauded for the same actions; they are high fived and revered.

In my practice, I meet all kinds of women and men. Men will talk about their sexuality with ease and are not shy when talking about sexual side effects of a medication or lack of intimacy in their relationship. Women often feel shame and guilt. They rarely share it unless the physician or therapist brings it up.

Women are complicated.

We have to have the perfect conditions to be in the mood. We can hear all
kinds of noise and chatter from our past and present when trying to get in the mood. We have physical needs but our emotional needs take precedence. Women have hormonal changes throughout our lives
that lesson our libido and desire. We have environmental changes that can do the same.

FIRST, girls start having periods, which I call the monthly Gunshot Wounds. We then get pregnant or try to get pregnant. We then have babies that are ripped out of our bodies. And our bodies are forever changed. We then become milk producers. Then after doing this a couple of times, we stop bleeding and enter Menopause. That is a whole other beast. It is filled with hot flashes, vaginal dryness, weight changes and mood changes. Men do have some changes of their own but I mean C’MON. They have increases and decreases of TESTOSTERONE. I have discussed all of this so I can tell you what I have learned.

I have learned I am not ALONE.

I am not the only woman who deliberately avoids sexual encounters
(pretends to be sleeping or waits for her partner to be sleeping before going to bed). I was also really good about making excuses and saying the kids needed me. I did not like to be touched or approached by my husband if I knew he was seeking sex. I could not relate to my friends when they would talk about sex. I felt lonely and guilty about not wanting to have sex with my husband. I felt like I was broken and did not know how to fix it. I would have duty sex for our relationship. My body may have been in it but
in my head I was going through my to do list. This was destroying my marriage. I loved my husband but could not show it to him in a sexual way. I loved him but just had no interest.

Interestingly enough, I had read about low desire and even treated people with hormonal or medical treatment. However, I was always shy or even embarrassed when trying to treat my own issue. I do not know why I felt no one would understand. Being a physician, I had many physician friends that I would try to ask for help. I found myself hearing the same things. My friends would say things like maybe you should try different ways, watch sensual TV or movies. They would say maybe you need testosterone or
some supplements. They would ask me if I was upset with my husband and maybe counseling would help. I tried several of these with no avail. I would think maybe it’s because I was tired and had three young children. I had a full time practice and jobs. I was working long hours. I looked for reasons. I
started to think maybe I was abused or had something happen to me. I could not find the answer. For some reason, it did not occur to me that maybe I had MEDICAL CONDITION.

I do not know why medical professionals can diagnose others but do not see the same diagnosis in ourselves or are families. While treating patients, I could diagnose and treat Hyposexual Desire Disorder ( HSDD). I just could not see that maybe that was my issue. One day last year, my husband sat me down and told me he was struggling. He did not understand why I
could not sleep in the same room and why I would shutter with the thought of intimacy. In the past, we would just argue about not being intimate. This was different.

I felt our marriage was in need of an intervention.

I saw my marriage crumbling.

I saw the end of our marriage and I was starting to feel helpless.

I didn’t think I would be able to fix it. I decided to do my own research and thought maybe I have HSDD. Getting desperate to fix my marriage, I went to one of my physician friends and had hormonal evaluation and discussed the possibility that I MAY HAVE HSDD. My hormones were actually in
the normal range so we decided to try the first medication approved by the FDA for females for Hyposexual Desire Disorder, ADDYI. I started the next day. I started taking this medication at night. IT helped me sleep and my mood felt better within a week or two. The benefits of sexual interest occurred in a very natural way. I didn’t even notice when it changed. All of sudden, I was sleeping in the same room as my husband. I was able to enjoy the caresses of my husband. I found myself actually initiating intimate connections. I can not tell you exactly when it happened but I can tell you I feel this medication has saved my marriage and my relationship. My husband and I actually enjoy each other’s company. I miss him and look forward to seeing him everyday. I always loved him but now I cannot imagine my life without him. I am not saying this is a miracle drug but it has literally changed my life and because of this

I want women and men to ask for help.

WE ARE NOT BROKEN. WE CAN BE HAPPY IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS. PEOPLE ARE FIGHTING FOR US. WE NEED TO STOP THIS CYCLE OF EMBARRASSMENT AND SHAME WHEN IT COMES TO SEXUALITY.

I have been working on my own preconceived ideas and beliefs about sexuality. I am trying to understand the thoughts of previous generations and why us women were held to different standards than men. I understand we can have multiple complications including disease and pregnancy. I believe it is time to teach our children that sex is natural and it can be fun. It is not only for having children.

We can enjoy it and not be “sluts.” THIS WILL OBVIOUSLY HAVE TO BE A GENERATIONAL CHANGE. We have to start somewhere and I have decided to use my voice to help start the discussion.

We need to be safe and use condoms, or other types of protection. We need to be worried about pregnancy and diseases. We need to take care of ourselves and our partners. We do not need to wait until we are married to have sex, because, let me honest, I am probably the ONLY ONE who actually
listened.

TAKE IT FROM ME, HAVE FUN AND PLEASE USE PROTECTION. ( I will go over safe sex practices in another blog as many people need a reminder)

FOR NOW THANK YOU FOR READING.

Posted: February 4, 2021 By: Comment: 0

Hello World!

Welcome to Gupta Psychiatry & Wellness!

Keep an eye out for us on My Carolina, CBS 17 for interviews on Mental Health and Substance Abuse Topics #MentalWellnessWednesday’s

Below are the links to a few that have aired so far:

Posted: February 4, 2021 By: Comment: 0