Alcohol is one of the most widely used addictive drugs on the planet, so it isn’t that surprising that alcohol misuse and addiction is so widespread. Unfortunately, there is still a good deal of stigma around the issue of alcoholism and many of those who are concerned that they are being affected by alcoholism are too afraid or embarrassed to seek professional help.
However, there are plenty of treatment options out there for those that want to be done with alcoholism.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol. When we think of alcoholics, many of us picture people who are unhealthy, disheveled and showing the signs of their addiction. However, there are a great many alcoholics who hide their addiction. In fact, ‘functional alcoholics’ are able to hold down a job and in some cases a family life while they continue to drink throughout the day.
Before any treatment options for addiction can be successful, the addict must accept their issue and be ready and willing to work towards a solution. It is normal for alcoholics who are just coming to terms with their illness to feel powerless against it.
There is usually a latency period between an addict accepting that they have an addiction and them taking steps to address it.
Some of the symptoms to watch out for that may indicate a loved one is suffering from alcoholism include frequent binge drinking sessions, frequent dramatic mood swings, declining performance at school or at work, escalating negligence of responsibilities, denial regarding their alcohol use, more aggressive and violent behavior than usual, and a lack of interest in activities that would normally bring the person joy.
There are several treatment options available for those who are ready to address their alcoholism.
Whether you are seeking treatment for yourself or for a loved one, it is helpful to understand exactly what that treatment entails before you begin.
Detoxing is the first part of the process of treating alcoholism. Detoxing means allowing your body to eliminate any alcohol that is still in your system, and then adjust to operating without it. The reason that some drugs cause a withdrawal syndrome is because our bodies adapt to their constant presence in our system.
When the drug is removed from our systems, it takes time for our bodies to re-calibrate. During this period, withdrawing addicts will experience withdrawal symptoms.
In most cases, withdrawal symptoms are not fatal. However, alcohol is a drug that interferes with the production of glutamate and GABA, the body’s primary excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain. When we withdraw from alcohol, the levels of these neurotransmitters are completely out of whack. An excess of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate will cause anxiety and potentially seizures when withdrawing.
It is therefore essential that you undergo a supervised withdrawal, like the Sinclair Method Alcohol Treatment, or TSM – Ria Health goes into more detail on what the Sinclair Method is and why it is effective.
The first part of detoxing from any addictive drug consists of overcoming the emotional and physical withdrawal symptoms. However, this is only the beginning of the battle. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) occurs after a patient has initially detoxified from a drug and includes a number of mostly psychological symptoms.
Many of those who quit alcohol or another drug will experience ongoing depression and other symptoms as they continue to adjust to life without their drug of choice.
Counseling is therefore a great idea for anyone withdrawing from a drug, whether it’s alcohol or anything else.
In the United States, there are a number of different treatment programs for alcoholism that patients can take advantage of. One of the most common of these is SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), which serves as both a hub of information and as a treatment referral service.
A growing number of states are focusing on ensuring that alcoholics have access to affordable treatment options. However, demand for alcohol-misuse services is on the rise and there are now waiting lists for many services.
Priority is usually given to the patients who are deemed to be most at risk, so it can be frustrating trying to get seen sometimes.
However, it is worth your perseverance.
If you think that you or a loved one might be affected by alcoholism, you should begin to investigate treatment options as soon as possible. The quicker you start getting help for your alcoholism, the sooner you can get the rest of your life back on track.
Quitting alcohol isn’t going to be easy. However, if you are truly committed to it, then it could be the best decision you ever make.
If you have concerns about your drinking, talk to your doctor about them. They will be able to advise you on how best to proceed.