Alcohol. It is the most popular drug out there. Virtually legal everywhere, it’s as easy to get, as it is to use.
Let’s face it; over 90% of us have at least an occasional drink. There’s no shame. Yet, some people take it to the extreme. And, contrary to many people’s beliefs, there is a difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
Alcohol abuse is a problem related to alcohol. Alcoholism is an addiction. Both can cause serious problems with your personal life. Some say problems with alcohol have nothing to do with willpower, but with brain cells, calling it a brain disease. Whether behavior or organic, it is time to reclaim your life!
The problem with alcohol is not how much you drink necessarily, but what it does to you. Alcohol is a relaxant and can cause depression and agitation the more it is consumed. It dilutes your senses and acts as an inhibitor, causing you to say or do things you wouldn’t do normally.
Having an occasional drink is fine for most people, but for those who experience problems, alcohol can be an uncontrollable crutch.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
Signs of Dependency:
1.You have a compulsion or craving for a drink more times than not
2.You have lost control over alcohol – how much you drink and how often
3.You continue to drink despite negative consequences, such as relationship or family problems and interference with obligations
Mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal occurs 4-12 hours after your last drink and may last a few days. Some symptoms of withdrawal are:
2. Increased pulse rate
3. Hand tremors
9. Hallucinations (may occur)
10. Seizures (rare)
Severe alcohol withdrawal can produce “DT’s”. DT’s or delirium tremens, are usually the result of a heavy, chronic habit. DT’s can occur 24-72 hours after quitting or even cutting back. In addition to the ten symptoms of mild to moderate withdrawal, severe withdrawal can also make you confused and disoriented. You can experience visual disturbances, commonly known as the “pink elephant”, paranoid fears and a skin crawling sensation. These symptoms can last three days or so, with peaks and valleys for several weeks.
Many people experiencing DT’s often need medical intervention.
There are several prescription medications out there to help you get over alcohol dependency.
Antabuse – this commonly used medication reacts with alcohol to cause unpleasant symptoms when drinking, such as nausea, headaches and redness of the face.
Naltrexone – a fairly new FDA approved medication to block reinforcements (the unconscious process in the nerve cells) of the drink. When alcohol cravings become so powerful you cannot control them, this medication can decrease the amount of alcohol consumed by limiting cravings. You still can get drunk, but it diminishes the compulsive need for alcohol.
Acamprosate – pending FDA approval and not yet available, this medication reduces the desire to drink while reducing the unpleasant symptoms of abstinence, which can last up to one year.
Most alternative methods of alcohol rehab are based on behavioral treatment. They help you get past denial, understand behavioral patterns and develop new ways to stay sober.
For behavioral treatments to be effective, the primary need is for you to want to quit. They can assist you in building and maintaining motivation, cope with cravings and achieve lifestyle balance. They help you identify and overcome significant emotional and behavioral problems while helping you build a greater sense of purpose and meaning in your life. And, the best part? Knowing you are not alone in this quest.
“AA” is a well-known 12-step program that has helped many people get on track. All they require is a desire to stop drinking. AA focuses on total abstinence one day at a time. It relies heavily on the spiritual aspect of healing – you admit you are powerless over alcohol and life has become unmanageable, and there is a Greater Power than self that can restore sanity.
Moderation management is a behavioral program for those who desire to make positive lifestyle changes. It is a reasonable, early option for the moderate problem. It is based on self-management, balance, moderation and personal responsibility.
“Self Management And Recovery Training” teaches you how to change self-defeating thinking, emotions and actions. They emphasize self-empowerment and self-reliance. They help you cope with urges, enhance and maintain motivation, balance lifestyle and problem solving.
“SOS” – Secular Organization for Sobriety
“SOS” believes sobriety is separate from religion or spirituality. They help you achieve and maintain your own sobriety without having to go it alone.
Whatever option is best for you, the first step is acknowledging you have a problem. If side effects of stopping or cutting back interfere with your overall well-being, it is best to seek assistance from a qualified medical professional.
Being sober is an ongoing process. See setbacks as learning experiences and not as a negative. Just because you may occasionally fall does not mean you are not worthy of recovery. Strive for what’s best for you by seeking alternatives for your individual needs – we all need a little help now and again. And finally, never fear failure.