Alcohol addiction (sometimes referred to as ‘alcohol dependence’ or ‘alcohol abuse’) is when an individual continues to drink alcohol even though it’s having a negative effect on his or her health and lifestyle. Alcoholics often arrange their life around drinking, they may regularly drink alcohol alone, and sometimes early in the morning. They often feel the need to drink, rather than just a casual desire.
This article is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
Early awareness and early intervention can lead to early recovery, so it’s best to find effective alcohol treatment as soon as possible. Years of drinking can cause serious physical illnesses, such as liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), heart failure, cancer, and high blood pressure, among others.
There can also be serious psychological effects from drinking too much alcohol, including anxiety, depression, mood swings, disturbed sleep, violence, and suicide.
If you’re addicted to drinking alcohol, or know someone who is, it’s best to find an effective alcohol treatment as soon as possible to forestall the serious physical and psychological consequences it can cause.
Steps towards the treatment
The greatest hurdle many alcoholics face is to admit, and then accept, they are addicted to alcohol. You may have tried to talk to them about it, or family members or friends may have tried to help, but if the alcoholic doesn’t properly admit it, any alcohol treatment is usually doomed to failure.
It may take a long time for someone to admit and accept they have an alcohol problem, but after they have getting the right alcohol treatment is vital.
The disease model
Some organisations, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), contend that alcoholism is a progressive illness, or disease, and that there is no cure for the addiction although the condition can be overcome. In other words, alcohol treatment may be effective and help people stop drinking for life, however alcoholics can never drink again, since the addiction will come straight back again. In this model, the impaired ability to control the cravings can never be eliminated, although it can be successfully suppressed by complete, life-long abstinence.
But getting to the point of complete abstinence from complete dependence can be the most difficult task in the world, and this is where many different types of alcohol treatment can assist.
Different types of treatment
People who’re addicted to drinking alcohol and who want to find a way to give up completely can call upon a number of methods to help them achieve this goal. The first step in alcohol treatment is to go to your GP who will be able to provide support, offer suggestions, and refer you to a specialist if need be. In addition, there are some complementary actions you can take to help:
The twelve steps
This is a process first devised by the AA in 1935 and has been modified, updated and applied to other addictions and problems, such as gambling, drug addiction, and being in debt. The twelve step process of alcohol treatment involves first admitting that you’re unable to control your alcohol consumption, then recognising that there is a greater power that can give you strength to overcome, deeply considering your past errors, making amends for these errors, learning a new way to live and a different way of behaving, and helping others that suffer from similar addictions. The Twelve Step method is offered, with close support, via organisations and clinics dedicated to helping people overcome addiction.
Hypnotherapy has been used as an alcohol treatment because it can help you take back control over your mind and behaviour, in a relatively short space of time. It can help you understand that you can be confident and content without alcohol in your life.
Counselling can help you understand the reasons why you might have turned to drinking in the first place. Shining the light of knowledge into dark, subconscious parts of your mind can give you clarity and understanding, and the power to help defeat compulsions and habitual behaviour.
If you want to give up drinking a short course of medication can be prescribed so you won’t feel the effects of alcohol withdrawal. Since your body has become dependent on alcohol it will appear to suffer when the alcohol is withheld (shaking, nausea, headaches, sweating) – this is the process of detoxifying your body. The medicine stops this effect from being felt.
Rehabilitation centres and clinics
There are many rehab or dry-out centres situated around Britain to help with alcohol treatment. They are usually residential, and you will not be allowed to drink any alcohol while you’re there. You will be helped through detoxification and given methods and techniques to use to keep you off the drink in the long term. Support will be offered throughout the whole process.