Alcohol Awareness Month – Kelsey Dlugozima, LCSW, Director of Outpatient Services



On FM 97.3 WZBG once a month we check in with the folks from the McCall Behavioral Health Network. Our live line guests this morning we want to welcome Kelsey Dlugozima. She is the director of outpatient services at McCall. Kelsey good morning. Good morning Dale thanks for having me. Glad to have you on the the show and as we do the show this month, April is Alcohol Awareness Month. So we’re going to focus on that a little bit. Tell me a little bit about your experience with that as Director of Outpatient Services and the kinds of things that we want to make people aware of this month. Yeah, so it is Alcohol Awareness Month and it’s always a good time to talk about alcohol awareness because, you know, it is one of the leading causes of preventable death, and actually we saw that jump during the pandemic.


And you know, just some of the ways that we kind of see that on a day-to-day basis in the work that we do, you know, the pandemic really highlighted the ways in which collectively and culturally we don’t give people a lot of the resources that they need to deal with the stress that is going to come along with that. Absolutely. And because of the pandemic, too, there was so much isolation that people who may be battling alcohol use, they’re doing it by themselves because they’re cut off from a lot of the support system that maybe kept them in a better state.


Yeah, and I think just overall, there’s this kind of notion that people have to hit rock bottom for it to become something that’s concerning. But there’s a lot of people that sort of live in this gray area of drinking too where it’s kind of impacting their personal life, their work life, their health in a lot of really significant ways, but because it doesn’t look like rock bottom, it goes unnoticed, I think that we’ve got a lot of numbers of people who may fall into that gray area that we don’t even know about that’s not really front of mind. Because like you said, they may be functioning, they’re working, they’re maintaining their household or whatever the case may be, but nevertheless, they are having a problem that is approaching a crisis point.


Yeah, and even that in and of itself can be isolating. Just the constant questioning, you know, is my relationship with alcohol different now? And for a lot of people it did change. So, you know, we’ve had people reach out. We had someone in particular, they reached out. They weren’t really sure. They started to question, you know, hey, I think my relationship with alcohol is a lot different since the pandemic started.


Because they had a job, they were able to keep it remote while they were still working. You know, had friends and family, people they would see still, but they still kind of felt some guilt in questioning that because they would think, oh, you know, when is the time to clock out? When can I have, you know, a glass of wine? When can I, you know, can I do that while I’m at work? And there are people that feel that way and think that way. But this person had reached out to us, and they started treatment. They started processing, getting some supports, and exploring that, and noticed a better relationship with their work, with their friends, their family.


They felt less irritable at the end of the day. Do you think that people who perhaps are battling alcohol and other folks in the substance fight and something along the lines of narcotics or addictive pharmaceuticals, maybe don’t think of those substances in the same way? Don’t think of them as a dependency in quite the same way? And in terms of stigma, maybe don’t look at a dependence on those in the same way, even though they are very much alike when you get down to it.


Yes, certainly. I mean, I think like culturally and collectively we socialize alcohol in a different way, just simply because of, you know, the fact that it’s legal and that we, again, really socialize it in a way where it’s normalized, right? It’s a normal way of dealing with stress. And there’s, you know, this idea of social drinking. But I think there’s a lot of people out there that really still struggle with this, you know, kind of by themselves and thinking, you know, I don’t know, maybe this is a problem. Let’s talk about that because I think we’re talking about that gray area drinking. Our guest this morning, if you’re joining us, Kelsey Dlugozima, who is the Director of Outpatient Services at the McCall Behavioral Health Network. And I get a sense of what we’re getting to is folks who maybe are in that gray area, they know that they are either into trouble or heading into trouble, and they know that the use that they’re doing with alcohol is bad for them and getting worse.


So this is that time when it’s time to make a decision. What kind of advice would you recommend for people who may feel like they’re on that cusp? Well, I’d say if, you know, if any of this resonates with you or someone that you care about and love that you aren’t alone, there’s a lot of people experiencing this shift in their relationship with alcohol and that there are supports. You know, there’s programs, there’s treatment, there’s social supports out there, and McCall specifically has programs all throughout western Connecticut. We’ve got professionals that are ready to explore that with you and someone you love. Our guest this morning, Kelsey Dlugozima, Director of Outpatient Services at McCall Behavioral Health Network, talking about Alcohol Awareness Month and particularly talking into a little bit about gray area drinking, maybe someone who is not by definition an alcoholic, but someone who is definitely feeling some kind of dependency.


And we may have made our best points to folks who are listening, Kelsey, but any final thoughts on that for someone who may be, again, on the cusp of a battle that maybe they feel like they’re starting to lose. Yeah, I mean, I think if you’re questioning it, there definitely are some long-term effects, you know, health-wise, socially with friends and family. So if you’re starting to think about it a little bit, please, you know, reach out. Kelsey, appreciate your time today, and we hope someone who may be questioning that use will reach out to McCall Behavioral Health and get some help.


Thanks very much. Great. Thanks so much, Dale. Have a good day. All the best. You too. Bye. Kelsey Dlugozima, Director of Outpatient Services for McCall Behavioral Health Network. They join us once a month to talk about important topics like this Alcohol Awareness Month. Back to the newsroom, we find Jeff there in 90 seconds.