“Help was so close … All I had to do was ask.
I knew I didn’t have a problem with my drinking … Whenever I thought it might be getting out of hand, I would go online and find the “alcoholism tests”. I had to admit to some of the questions being true, but when I totaled my score, I never had a problem. I always had the same results. I didn’t have any of the obvious negative consequences from drinking, like DWIs, memory losses, or blackouts. I didn’t have any problems at work or home - or so I thought.
I used alcohol to deal with the stress of the day - or was it the joy of the day - or did someone say something that I took personally… Whatever it was, it seemed reasonable to have a drink after work. I never liked using a shot glass. I would just measure my drinks by which glass and how much ice. I always had the ability to stop. I knew just how much of a buzz I wanted and would stop at that point. Most of my drinking was done alone at home, and since my wife never complained about it, I had good reason to believe I didn’t have a problem and that “not drinking alone” was a stupid rule.
Some days it was a drink before dinner, some days after dinner, and some days - both. I was never visibly drunk, but I knew I was beyond the legal driving limit. I started spending more of my evenings watching the talk shows on TV. I was isolating myself from life.
My “rock bottom” came when my wife identified and verbalized the personality changes that had occurred. I had become negative and isolated. I wasn’t maintaining friendships. I would rather argue over simple things than let them go. I wasn’t enjoying life. She’d had about enough. I wasn’t really surprised. I’d seen the same in the mirror, but didn’t know or believe there was a way out. An intervention wouldn’t have surprised me in the least.
I decided to stop my use of alcohol for six months in order to figure out and fix the things that were wrong with me. Being a dentist meant that I liked to fix things and that I was above average intelligence. I started my “research” so I could prove I wasn’t an alcoholic. I read about Alcoholics Anonymous and found that the only requirement for attending was to have a desire to quit drinking alcohol. After my first two weeks of abstinence, I called another dentist who I knew attended meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. We met the next day and I went to my first AA meeting. He was the one who encouraged me to attend the Dentists Concerned for Dentists (DCD) meetings.
What I found at DCD was that my story and my problems were shared by many. The members accepted me without judgment. I’m sure my sobriety wouldn’t have developed as well as it did if I had not made it to those early meetings.
Now, just a short time into my sobriety, I have started to find a happiness that eluded me in the past. I have much to do to improve myself, but the improvement to my life so far has made it clear that I never want to use alcohol again. For some of us, alcohol is such a seductive drug that it sucks the life right out of us without our even knowing it. I have learned that the subjective tests designed to assess whether or not you may have a problem with alcohol are only one type of measurement. For me, the real test had to do with the relationships I had in my life. What was my relationship to alcohol? What had it done to my relationships with myself, my wife, my children, and others? That was the test I didn’t know about, and that was the one I had failed.
I now know and admit that I am powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable. I have become convinced that I had a problem with alcohol and that I was an alcoholic. Help was so close … All I had to do was ask.
The practice of dentistry brings us unique stresses. Dentists Concerned for Dentists gives us support for dealing more effectively with those unique issues and maintaining healthier and happier lives.
Anonymous DCD Member
Dentists Concerned for Dentists (DCD) is a group of recovering alcoholic and/or chemically dependent dentists concerned about other dentists who might have problems in their relationships with alcohol and/or other mood-altering drugs. Although we receive our funding, for the most part, from the Minnesota Dental Association (MDA), we are a completely separate organization. Our business and clinical processes are supported by The Sand Creek Group, Ltd., a local provider of employee assistance services, and the administrators of the MDA’s Dentist Wellness Program. They answer our phones and provide a consulting psychologist/chemical health specialist, who also functions as a service coordinator for the group. We adhere to a strict code of confidentiality. No information regarding the cases we become involved with is shared with the Minnesota Dental Association or the State Board of Dentistry. There are some cases that come to the attention of the Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP) before we are ever involved, and in those cases, and only with the written consent of the dentist concerned, we will provide limited “progress reports” when requested to do so by HPSP as part of their on-going monitoring program. Our primary purpose is to be available to afflicted dentists, helping them effectively address their alcohol and/or other drug problems, while protecting their anonymity and helping them continue in the practice of professional dentistry. To that end we provide supportive services and educational resources to them, their families, and their colleagues.
For confidential help to address alcohol and/or other drug concerns, please contact Dentists Concerned for Dentists (DCD) at 651-275-0313 or 800-632-7643.
Additional information can also be found on the MDA website: http://www.mndental.org/dentist_home/member_services/wellness_program/