When does it stop being a party and start becoming a problem? Is there a way to steer clear of addiction? Every Wednesday, Mike McGowan, host of the podcast "Avoiding the Addiction Affliction," explores substance use disorders with expert guests. The podcast series is sponsored by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition.
Original cover art created by
Kelly P. of Kenosha, Wisconsin
Community Relations Consultant with United States Drug Testing Laboratories
Alcohol is a toxin and, far and away, the most commonly abused substance. It can kill all by itself. It also doesn’t play well in the sandbox with other drugs. Guida Brown talks about the potentially fatal interactions when combining alcohol with other substances. Guida is a Community Relations Consultant with United States Drug Testing Laboratories. She also is an Adjunct Faculty member with Concordia University-Wisconsin and an accomplished writer. Guida can be reached at [email protected]; you can follow her blog here: https://4csofaddiction.com/. If you need help for your substance abuse issues, help is available. In Kenosha, contact the Hope Council on Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse; call 262-658-8166 or explore their website at https://www.hopecouncil.org. You can also find AA meetings here: https://mtg.area75.org/meetings.html?dist=7 and NA meetings here: https://sefa-na.org/meetings
[00:00:00] [Jaunty Guitar Music]
[00:00:11] Mike: Welcome everyone. This is Avoiding The Addiction Affliction, a podcast brought to you by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition. I'm Mike McGowan. Today I'm pleased to have back as our guest, Guida Brown. Guida is a community relations consultant with the United States Drug Testing Laboratories. She's also an adjunct faculty member with Concordia University of Wisconsin, and a rather accomplished writer.
You know, this time of year when holiday parties are everywhere, and alcohol drugs flow freely, more freely than the normal, really freely, we have difficulties. We're gonna talk about some of those dangerous implications of those combinations of drugs with alcohol. Welcome Guida.
[00:00:56] Guida: Thanks for having me, Mike.
[00:00:57] Mike: Well, I'm so glad you could come back. Okay, [00:01:00] let's just dive into it. The reason we're doing this is you recently wrote an article entitled, and this is a very cheerful topic, four ways to die. Right?
[00:01:09] Guida: Yeah.
[00:01:10] Mike: And it's about mixing alcohol with other drugs. Well, before we get into that, people don't understand how toxic just alcohol is.
[00:01:20] Guida: I know. I mean, that's sort of what I say, like alcohol is a poison. That's exactly what it is. It's a poison. And I know we're gonna talk about this a little bit, but you know, when you drink too much, you vomit. It's your body saying, Hey, you've got too much poison in your body. Let's get rid of it. And the idea that, like the 21 shot challenge, when somebody turns 21 years old, it's deadly. And the difference between falling asleep and passing out is such a thin line that people don't understand. And so, you know, I've taught a lot of substance abuse classes at University of [00:02:00] Wisconsin Parkside, and we talk about that. Like you don't leave somebody who you think is sleeping. Those stories are horrifying. How, well he drank a lot and then we put him to bed and you know, he was sleeping. No, he wasn't sleeping, he was passed out there's a difference. And being passed out is one step from death. That BAC level that gets so high that it will kill people, that's what alcohol does, it depresses your central nervous system and it will kill people if there's too much in their system. And I don't know how, as a society, we've sort of lost that message. Well, you know what, my guess is because you pass out, right? Because at some point your body says, I can't take it anymore, and you pass out and people think, well, you know, now you'll, quote marks, "you'll sleep it off." And that's not the case. So yeah, alcohol is really, really dangerous when people talk about should we [00:03:00] legalize marijuana. You know, marijuana is safer than alcohol, and I say, you're absolutely right.
I really think that had we known as a society how dangerous alcohol would be, we would never have legalized it like we would've legalized marijuana. And I'm not suggesting marijuana is safe and and harmless, but it's just not gonna kill you the way alcohol is going to.
[00:03:21] Mike: You know, I didn't know you were gonna open with that, but I've been talking about that for a long time, and when I do presentations, I will oftentimes say, you know, if somebody is passed out and you put them to bed, make sure, and everyone of all ages says, lay them on their side so they don't choke on their vomit. And then my response to that is, right, how many of you woke up in the same position this morning that you fell asleep in last night?
And, it's like I opened a door. You know, like people think, oh, if I just put a pale next [00:04:00] to the bed and put 'em on their side, I've done my due diligence. Right?
[00:04:05] Guida: That to me is seriously so frightening because, Every, not because it, the circumstances aren't the same, but we don't hear about it as often.
So there was a, maybe a Woman's Day magazine article about the young woman who did 21 shots of whatever, that awful sweet liquor, and then died and how the family's so shocked by that. And I'm thinking, yes, that's shocking, but the bigger issue is, why didn't you know about that? Why didn't you tell your kids? I talked to my grandkids all the time about the dangers of drinking and the dangers of drugs and how we're seeing those other drugs moved into society in a way that like the fentanyl was coming in, the colorful looks like candy kind of thing right before Halloween. And, you know, talking about the overdoses. We talk about it all the time, they're now [00:05:00] 12 and 15. Why don't you know? Why didn't your kids know it's really unsafe to do 21 shots, 18 shots, whatever. Why aren't we talking about that?
[00:05:11] Mike: Well, and I'm also shocked that when I talk to people who are professionals in the field, when we talk about if you're working with somebody who drinks all the time on a daily basis, the withdrawal from alcohol is also potentially fatal.
[00:05:28] Guida: Oh gosh, that's a whole rabbit hole. You do not want me to get down right now, but the idea that everybody needs inpatient treatment, I believe, stems from that exactly. From the idea that people need detox from two drugs, alcohol, and benzodiazepines. Those are the two drugs that will kill you if you detox, if you withdraw from them without supervision. That could kill you, not will kill you, but could kill you. And so this idea that you know there's no treatment [00:06:00] available, what do you mean? Well, because I was really sick when I was withdrawing from opioids. Did you die? No you didn't. You didn't die. Because you won't die when you're sick. It reminds me of the time I got food poisoning on vacation and the resort said, no, you didn't get food poisoning. I was like, what do you mean I didn't get food poisoning? Well, you didn't report it to the doctor because I knew I wasn't gonna die. I knew after 24 hours I was gonna be fine. So, this misconception that everybody needs, inpatient treatment, I believe has stemmed from the 14 times my father who had alcoholism went to inpatient treatment.
You know, a hundred years ago there was this idea that that 28 days was gonna fix you, and he needed inpatient treatment, not because he needed inpatient treatment, but because he needed a detox because he was drunk a hundred percent of the time when he was drinking, you know, it wasn't during that period of abstinence. It is dangerous to withdraw from [00:07:00] it, but it is not a blanket statement that everybody needs inpatient treatment because people need to detox, and then that's a whole other thing too. I'm sorry, I told you you didn't wanna get me down this rabbit hole, the detox aspect. Well, you know, did you go to treatment? Well, yeah I went to, you know, St. Luke's and detoxed. No, you didn't go to treatment, you went to St. Luke's and detoxed. That's a whole different situation, they didn't teach you how to live free from substances, they just got made sure you were gonna live, you know, and so we have a lot of bad language and misperceptions about that.
[00:07:37] Mike: Well, and so I think we've established alcohol by itself is not the, you know, be all to end all, and it's toxic all by itself. But then you, in your article you wrote about the combinations with it. What was the first combination that you mentioned was dangerous when combined with alcohol?
[00:07:58] Guida: Tylenol, acetaminophen. [00:08:00] Do you remember when Tylenol, the company, said, if you're drinking, don't take Tylenol. Take somebody else. Take Bayer, take an aspirin. Do not take Tylenol. It damages your liver and it can kill you. And in high levels, it can kill you pretty fast. So after that article went out on our blog for the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition, it was on Facebook and a woman wrote and said, thanks for the heads up, now I know what to do, and I was horrified. And I didn't - I was like, oh my gosh, is she serious? What do I do? And I called the police and they did a wellness check on her, and she then came back and I thought, wow, what a gracious, brave woman. She came back and she said, hey, whoever called the police on me, I'm fine. And I was like, you know, because I'm posting as the coalition, she doesn't know it's Guida Brown, and I'm so sorry, and people like beat her [00:09:00] up and she's like, it was a bad joke, I'm not suicidal, but I mean, to me she was very gracious and brave and yeah, it was a bad joke and she was fine.
But you know, people can inadvertently die by taking too much Tylenol with alcohol. My husband can only take Tylenol because he only has one kidney. And so we tend not to have ibuprofen in the house. He can't take aspirin because he has esophageal reflux, so all of these things on top of each other. And so if you, if your go-to is Tylenol, acetaminophen, do you know that you're not supposed to be taking it after a night of drinking? This idea that, you know, take a couple aspirin, we call everything aspirin. Don't we? Take a couple aspirin and then, you know, sleep it off. And it's like, so again, the company was like, no, don't take ours, take anybody else's, but don't take ours because it will damage your liver, and that's the slow death. But the [00:10:00] quick death is you can actually overdose and that combination can kill.
[00:10:05] Mike: I guarantee you people don't know that. Because if you're drinking and somebody says, oh, you better take a couple of Advil or whatever before bed with a glass of water and you've been drinking people just go on the cupboard and reach for whatever's in there. They don't differentiate between Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin. What else?
[00:10:22] Guida: Well, and again, even in my house where you know you can't take the orange pills, that's the conversation we have. Can I take the orange ones? No, no don't take the orange ones. So I mean, that's really scary, and that's stone-cold sober. Right? What happens when your go to is Tylenol, acetaminophen, I don't mean to keep advertising for Tylenol, but acetaminophen. What happens when that's your go-to and now you've added a layer of drunkenness on top of that.
[00:10:51] Mike: So that's one. What's two?
[00:10:53] Guida: Benzodiazepines. Like Xanax. That one is stunning to me. And [00:11:00] we are a nation of better living through pharmaceuticals. And so now I'm out drinking and I get a headache or I say, you know, I'm just in a bad mood and my friend says, oh, here have my medication. To me, that is stunning. I used to sit on a death review team and the number of people who would die by, Benzos on top of alcohol. And it wasn't their prescription of benzos, it was just, you know, oh, well he had a headache, so I gave him my benzo, and yes, he had been drinking. I mean, the message is don't share your drugs, number one, but pay attention to what your doctor says. And I think that's not communicated well enough. I do assessments and I ask people all the time, like, did your doctor tell you you weren't supposed to be drinking with this?
[00:11:51] Mike: I don't remember the exact statistic, but I know that Xanax is one of the top three or four prescribed drugs in the United [00:12:00] States. And I know many people, not a couple, many that are on daily doses for their anxiety of Xanax. And in anticipation of this podcast, I asked several: did your doctor, when they prescribed the Xanax, do two things? Did they tell you how difficult it is to withdraw from benzodiazepines? First of all, and how to do that if you go off of them that you shouldn't go off cold-turkey?
[00:12:30] Guida: Yeah. You have to titrate down.
[00:12:32] Mike: And second, did they tell you about the interaction with alcohol? And every one of them said, what? Why do medical professionals not have, and forgive me if you're listening and you do do this, but why don't we have that conversation in the doctor's office?
[00:12:48] Guida: Because alcohol's legal, Mike. Right? And so somehow I think that legal equates to safe in people's minds. And that's, I have this weird skin thing on my foot [00:13:00] and I got a prescription from my dermatologist and I was reading, it was some pretty hearty stuff. And I was reading it and it says, don't drink alcohol with this prescription.
[00:13:14] Mike: Yeah.
[00:13:15] Guida: And I don't drink alcohol, but I was like, she didn't tell me like. Seriously, how did you, how did you miss that part? How did you miss the part where you were supposed to warn me that, I imagine it's liver damage again, but didn't even mention it. Didn't even mention it.
And so you mentioned the anxiety, well, anxiety and alcohol are not a good combination anyway, right?
[00:13:42] Mike: Right.
[00:13:42] Guida: So I always think about what are we doing, as a society, just across the board, what are we doing to improve our lives? This idea that, well I'll just drink, I'll take a depressant when I already have anxiety, [00:14:00] when I already have depression, and somehow that's gonna make me feel better. It's not gonna make you feel better. There was just a study that came out, one drink a week for a pregnant woman can change the baby's brain factor negatively. One drink a week for a pregnant woman. And I just think, why would anyone risk it? And I'm not talking about people who have the disease of alcoholism. I'm talking about a pregnant woman who thinks, oh, I can have a glass of wine today. Why would anyone risk that? Why would you risk your health by drinking on top of your medication that are conflicting mechanisms. You're taking medication for something that's, you know, it's leaning towards depression and then you're taking a depressant on top of that. Why would you do that? Why would anyone do that?
[00:14:58] Mike: And then if you add Xanax to [00:15:00] that, which is, I call that the celebrity cocktail of choice.
[00:15:05] Guida: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
[00:15:06] Mike: Celebrity passes away. My kids talk about oh, so and so passed away. I'm like, I bet if you read the article a month and a half from now, the toxicology report will show Xanax in their system.
[00:15:17] Guida: Yep. All the time. I remember when Whitney Houston died I was teaching at Parkside and I said, you know, we may not find the toxicology, but we know that she had X, Y, and Z already. You know, we may not get the toxicology by the time class ends, but we know that she had X, Y, and Z in her system, and that's so dangerous.
And again, alcohol lowers your inhibitions. Period. Alcohol lowers your inhibition. So you do stupid things when you've been drinking. And I think that's another factor that people don't just drinking and driving. You ask a hundred people, would you ever drink and drive? And 98 of them are gonna say, oh, absolutely not. That's dangerous. You give a hundred people two drinks, and say, would you drink and [00:16:00] drive? And 98 of 'em say, I'm a better driver after I've had two drinks. It's their brain. It's your brain. It's just a bad combination.
[00:16:09] Mike: Well, and then number three, after the Xanax -,
[00:16:13] Guida: - opioids, painkillers, you know, again this is sort of that thing that everybody should know, but I don't, I don't think that they do. Even if you read the side of your prescription pain killer bottle, it says don't operate heavy machinery until you know how this affects you. Right? And I'm gonna use my husband again. He had surgery and we had a big old fight about him driving while he was on opioids. And my neighbor reported that he had gone out. And I was like, hmm, you went out. And then like a week later he was like, you, you were right. I shouldn't have been driving. I'm like, yeah, I know I was right. And again, my husband doesn't even drink, so add alcohol to [00:17:00] that. It's a deadly combination because they're both central nervous system depressants, so they will both suppress your central nervous system, they suppress your breathing. I just saw an article, fentanyl kills you by stopping your breathing... like next up dog bites man. For real? We had to spend money on that?
So, I mean, that's what a central nervous system depressant does. That's what a depressant does. And alcohol, I know we think it's not a depressant, but it's a depressant. By design, it will lower your central nervous system function. So it lowers your breathing, it lowers your heart rate, and then you add opioids on top of that do the exact same thing. They lower your breathing, they lower your heart rate. And again, going back to what we talked about in the beginning, we don't know the difference between sleeping and passing out. And so that's how people die from opioid overdoses by themselves. Oh, I thought he was sleeping and you hear that gurgling sound and I thought he was snoring. No, he was gasping for breath. That's what he was doing. [00:18:00] And we don't correlate those things well. And again, most people don't drink and pass out in isolation. So if somebody drinks and passes out with me, I am a hundred percent stone-cold sober, I can say, hey, this is not right. But if we're all drunk, and nobody notices that this person is actually passed out, not just sleeping or gurgling, not just snoring, it is just a deadly, deadly combination.
[00:18:28] Mike: Right. With opioids, it's one plus one equals four, not two.
[00:18:33] Guida: Yeah.
[00:18:34] Mike: Right?
[00:18:34] Guida: Yeah.
[00:18:35] Mike: I've, you know, seven knee surgeries, a couple of others and whatever, so I've had one doctor one time in my twenties while prescribing a pain killer talk to me about the combination with alcohol. One. One. So since then, nobody does it. They just write you the script.
[00:18:57] Guida: Again, because alcohol is legal, so it must be safe. And [00:19:00] I also think your your point, so many people, I mean it's come down a little bit, but at the height of the pain killer problem, we had so much hydrocodone in the nation that every single adult could have a bottle. That that was the number of prescriptions written. The United States makes up 5% of the population, 95% of the Hydrocodone prescriptions are written in the United States. What? Wow. And that's horrific, right?
They had really addressed it and now they're sort of backing that off. And, but think about the people who just drink regularly. So you mentioned, you've had all these prescriptions over the course of your lifetime, if you just drink on a regular basis, I'm not talking about you have alcohol, I'm just talking about you drink at a regular basis, you're going to think that it is such a natural step to have a drink and take your medications.
[00:19:57] Mike: Right.
[00:19:58] Guida: And again, we don't address [00:20:00] it. Our doctors don't address it. And I think at some point we're so stubborn. People are so stubborn. They're like, well that's not me. That's not, I don't have to worry about that. And again, I'm not talking about addiction. I'm talking about just, I drink regularly, I drink one drink a day. Okay, fine. But know that if you take a medication on top of that, like you said, it's one plus one equals four. It doesn't equal two. And we're missing that message.
[00:20:28] Mike: And the fourth way to die?
[00:20:32] Guida: Yeah, so it won't really kill you. The combination won't kill you, but this is another one plus one equals four. It's marijuana. There's a boosting effect, right? I remember seeing this old grizzle - his name is Robert, mm, of course, I can't remember his last name - he's this old grizzled guy who's been in the prevention field nationally for just a hundred years and he's so awesome. I saw him speak at a [00:21:00] conference and they were talking about the legalization of marijuana and how, you know, if we legalize marijuana for recreational use, then alcohol use will go down. And I just remember him saying, it's not a teeter totter!
[00:21:15] Mike: Which, that's good.
[00:21:16] Guida: I loved it! I just, oh my gosh. I was like, oh, I wanna hug you. It's not a teeter-totter, right? People aren't saying, oh, I've got, I've got my weed now. I don't have to drink anymore. They're saying, cool, I can drink and smoke weed at the same time, and it's a boosting effect. I see it again when I do assessments and people come in and they have a 0.1 BAC and I go, oh, well you were high right?.
And they go, oh yeah, I smoked too. We don't factor that in, our law enforcement doesn't look for that. Because they got the BAC, they got the alcohol positive, so they don't need to have a positive for the marijuana, and we don't need to know that they have other drugs in their system.
We [00:22:00] know that in Wisconsin, at least 50% of our drivers have both substances in their system when they get OWIs. 50%. So don't tell me that everybody's not using marijuana and drinking. And again, the issue is it's not gonna kill you, right? No, it's not gonna kill you, but it's gonna make you make really bad decisions because it's not just marijuana and it's not just alcohol. Those two things factor together and work really poorly in combination, they make you a worse driver. They make you make worse decisions.
[00:22:37] Mike: Well, it might be a contributing factor to your death because as you said earlier, if you drink too much, you vomit. And one of the properties of marijuana is an antinausea property, right? So alcohol gets absorbed first into your body before the other drugs, so they stay in longer. Oftentimes when we see college [00:23:00] students who have died from alcohol poisoning, it's not unusual also to find marijuana in their body. Maybe they would've puked it up. We can't know that, right?
[00:23:08] Guida: Right. Yeah, it is. Yeah, absolutely.
[00:23:14] Mike: And so that same thing, like I'm not sure I understand the biology of this all the time, but I have read that alcohol gets absorbed first. So if you take xanax plus alcohol or painkiller plus alcohol, that those other drugs stay in your system longer than they would because alcohol has to be absorbed first. And so you have a greater effect of those other drugs on your system.
[00:23:38] Guida: Because they're staying in there. And marijuana itself - it has so many other things things that will keep marijuana in your system. And then think about the pregaming, the people who drink, the young women who don't eat because they don't want the extra calories so that they can drink the pre-gaming, the going out and [00:24:00] drinking before everybody else so that you can get drunk cheaper when you go out. I mean, just all of those things that factor into the misuse of alcohol, just in general.
Just think about the things you did - I assume people are like, I am - the things I did under the influence of alcohol that I would never have thought to do when I was sober. Just, you know, just stupid, stupid things. And that's what alcohol does. It lowers our inhibitions. It makes us do stupid, stupid things. So as a sober person, as a person, and I'm not in recovery, I just stopped drinking. As a sober person, if somebody handed me a drug, here take this, or hey, I'm taking this. I would never be like, oh, give me some too. I did that as a drunk person, here let me have that as well. We're just stupid. We're stupid. Alcohol turns off the good [00:25:00] reasoning part of your brain.
[00:25:01] Mike: Well, and speaking of turning off, okay, so we've talked about this before, this is all just, it's all science so that all we're doing is presenting information, right. But people oftentimes will go, ah shit, you know, they scoff at discussions about alcohol. How do you present this information without people calling you a killjoy, an extremist, a radical?
[00:25:23] Guida: Don't, I mean, I'm terrible because just so the CDC and the USDA have come together and said women should not drink more than one drink in a day, and men should not drink more than two drinks in a day. It becomes unhealthy drinking if you drink over those levels. Now, number one, that's a myth. Really, women should not drink more than a half a drink a day. But the FDA, the USDA, and the CDC couldn't figure out a way to communicate that. So they just left it at one and two drinks, and men [00:26:00] really shouldn't be drinking more than one drink a day. But they didn't wanna lower those limits because God forbid, we should not all be considered killjoy.
So I was at a conference, it was a prevention conference. I was with a colleague who worked in the field and over the course of the night, she had drank more than what was a healthy limit. And I said, you drink a lot? And she said, no I don't. No, I don't. And I was like, hey, hey, hey. I'm just telling you that the three drinks I saw you drink tonight are over the healthy limit.
And it astounds me. I had a, I posted again, same information I had posted, and a friend who works at the healthcare field said, I don't drink a lot, but when I drink I tend to have more than one drink, is that unhealthy? And I said, how many desserts do you have? We all know it's unhealthy to [00:27:00] have three desserts, right? How do we not know the same thing about alcohol? It's just not healthy. And again, I'm not, you're a hundred percent right, Mike. We are just communicating information, but how it's a surprise to people for me to communicate that information is beyond me. Because again, we know this stuff about other things, you know, we know that you shouldn't have three desserts with one meal, but it's okay in your mind because I don't do it every day.
Same thing. And again, I'm not judging you, I'm not criticizing you. I am merely pointing out that you have stepped over the limit from what is considered not unhealthy drinking to unhealthy drinking, that's all.
[00:27:46] Mike: Yeah. I think people get defensive rather quickly. Because they want to view themselves as making really good decisions all of the time, and it doesn't mean that you're a problem drinker, it means at that time you made [00:28:00] a poor choice.
[00:28:01] Guida: Well, that's what I say, we all make calculated risks. So I was at an event , I was at an event and my husband, we don't drink - gosh, we do sound like we're complete killjoys. We actually have a joke in my house that Gigi hates fun. Gigi hates fun, but she loves adventure.
So we don't drink soda either, typically. And so I was at this event and my husband wanted a root beer, they didn't have a rip beer, so I was like, all right, you can have a a Cola, you can have a Coke. And so I brought it to him and I handed it to him and somebody who was three sheets to the wind said, ah, I can't believe you're drinking a soda, that stuff's so bad for you. She was smashed. She was smashed! And I was like, oh, I'm getting myself outta here. And somebody else said, you know, sometimes you just, you have to have a, you know, sometimes a soda just tastes so good. And she goes, oh, [00:29:00] it doesn't make sense, are you gonna drink arsenic too? Huh? That could taste good. I was like, seriously, I got out of there so fast. I was like, I can't be part of this conversation. You're drunk. You're drunk! So I love when people give me that sort of advice, right? And that's what I said. We all make calculated risks. We all all make calculated risks.
[00:29:19] Mike: This time of the year we're in the holidays, right? How do you have that discussion with family members if you're worried and concerned about them?
[00:29:29] Guida: Oh, I think you're a better one to speak to it than I am because again, my issue, Mike, is I'm -, people think I'm confrontational. I like to say that I'm not confrontational, I just don't avoid conflict. Most people are conflict avoidant and I'm not, I'm not conflict avoidant. I was raised with an Italian mother who taught me to address things. And I say that, but she didn't teach anybody else in my family to either, so I don't know. So you just do it in a way that you would show that you care about any disease you're afraid this person has, [00:30:00] right?
I use my analogy about being at the gym and seeing the, the naked woman with the mole on her back. She doesn't know she has a mole on her back, it's on her back. And a place you don't see in a mirror necessarily. And you see this naked woman every week and the mos getting bigger and bigger.
A decent human being would say, hey, I know you can't see this mole on your back, but I really think you should get it checked, it looks like it could be skin cancer. The story about the anchor on a local channel in Florida, she was doing the news, a viewer wrote in and said, hey, I noticed you have a lump on your neck, I had a lump on my neck and it was thyroid cancer, you should get it checked, and she did, and it was.
Why do we do that with strangers? Why do we do that with people we don't necessarily love and, you know, have a relationship with, but we won't do it in our own families with a disease that is deadly. And I [00:31:00] contend it's because we give lip service to the idea that we believe it's a disease, but we don't really believe it's a disease. Because every other disease we would address as a healthcare issue. Hey, I'm concerned . About you. Yeah, I don't see that. I mean until you're jaundice or whatever from liver failure.
Depression, you know, you're not yourself. You're tired all the time. You don't wanna go out with me, there's not a physical aspect to that, we can have that conversation. So why can't we have the conversation of, hey, I can see that your life is turned into a train wreck, and I'm worried about you, and I wouldn't say it like that, but you know, you've lost five jobs in the last six months, I don't see you, when I do see you, you look disheveled. Whatever your concern is coming from, why aren't we having that conversation? Like we would have that conversation about any other disease, right? I don't understand.
[00:31:57] Mike: I think you hit the nail on the head with the way you [00:32:00] put it. I use three words all the time, worried, concerned, scared, depending on my relationship with somebody. If I barely know that person at the gym, and I wouldn't be in the women's locker room, so let's say it's a guy with a mole on his back, right?
[00:32:14] Guida: Much better.
[00:32:15] Mike: And I would say, you know, hey, are you aware, that's kind of concerning. Cause I don't know him. If I know the person or friend, I'm worried about you. If it's my kid, I'm scared to death. And so I think as long as you present the information in a caring, loving way you can still be confrontational.
[00:32:34] Guida: Yeah, we like to call that a care-frontation. Right? Because I think when you say you're confrontational, that it has such negative connotations, we confront problems all the time, right?
So we call it a care-frontation. You care about somebody and so you're addressing it. And even if you care about that stranger, that sort of agape, love, yeah. As a decent human being, this is how you should [00:33:00] address things.
And my sister says, I've got five sisters, so one of my sisters says, we don't talk about Uncle Joe's drinking at the Christmas table. No, you don't, right? You don't. You make your exit strategy, you figure out what you're gonna do, you figure out how you can keep yourself safe and healthy in the moment, or you know, not even show up because you can't do that. That's a whole different thing. That's about you, not about caring about Uncle Joe. And I think that's the other thing. Tensions run so high during the holidays. And so this idea that I don't wanna go there because I'm gonna have to address it. Address it. Either don't go or don't address it.
There's a perception that every single time you see this person, you have to address it. No, you don't. I have had these conversations with people I love, and then we never have [00:34:00] them again. I have a loved one where I said, hey, I'm concerned about you. I'm, you know, I'm scared to death, as you would say. I'm scared to death that this is gonna cause your death. You're gonna die, and if you ever want help, I'm here to help you. Right? And I was told I would never come to you. You're too black and white. You know, I would never come to you for help. I'm like, okay. And then years later, hey, I need some advice.
[00:34:30] Mike: Right.
[00:34:31] Guida: I'm okay with that. I always say I can sleep at night. I can sleep at night. Because I wouldn't be able to sleep if my loved one died without my addressing this, because I wouldn't be able to sleep if my loved one died without my addressing some other disease. So again, why wouldn't I address this in a kind, caring, compassionate way?
You know, not the fight. When the tensions are high at the dinner table, that's not when we address it, we address it as we would with anything that needs to be addressed. You don't do it with an [00:35:00] audience, you don't do it in a fight. You don't do it when your emotions are high. You don't do it outta anger, you do it outta concern.
[00:35:07] Mike: That's great. That's a perfect way to leave the holiday message, right? Guida, thanks so much for having this conversation, writing the article. I appreciate it. And for those of you who are listening, if you are concerned about somebody, and many of us are, most of us are, you can have this conversation if you don't know how to have the conversation, that's what professionals are about, is to help guide that conversation. You'll feel better. You may help, and as Guida said, it may take a while before they come back to you for that help. You're not always gonna get a thank you that very moment, but it's worth it in the end. So thank you so much for listening everybody.
We invite you to listen in next time and until then, stay safe and care about each other.
The Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition’s mission is to support networking, encourage education, explore gaps, and realize solutions to improve treatment and reduce alcohol and other drug abuse in our community with a primary focus on families.