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Alcohol is the most widely-known and popularly used psychoactive substance. While many people drink regularly, some can’t maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol and, unfortunately, form an addition to this powerful substance. Sometimes, rehab or treatment for alcoholism is the better option than going back to the liquor store and ‘healing’ the hangover with a pint of lager.
The Truth About Alcoholism in 2022
‘We’re all alcoholics’ Is Not a Real Quote
An alcoholic is a person who suffers from alcohol addiction who consumes it for the first time, a chronic brain illness defined by a lack of control over one’s alcohol consumption, dependence on this substance, and an uncontrollable urge to drink.
If you’re an alcoholic, you’ll feel the need to carry on with harmful drinking habits despite the serious problems alcohol is creating in your life. Since you’ve formed a dependence on alcohol, you will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you fail to drink as you usually do.
Someone who’s an alcoholic neglects essential responsibilities and puts aside activities they once enjoyed in favour of drinking. If you’re an alcoholic, you’ll have an obsession with drinking. You will spend most of your time thinking about the next drink and engaging in alcohol-seeking behaviours.
The Difference Between an Alcoholic and a Non-Alcoholic
An alcoholic and a non-alcoholic both consume alcohol. However, the difference between these two individuals lies with the fact that a non-alcoholic can control their drinking, but for the alcoholic, drinking controls them.
An alcoholic lacks the ability to limit how much and how frequently they drink, but a non-alcoholic has this ability. In other words, a non-alcoholic can go for a long period without consuming alcohol until when they feel like it, whereas an alcoholic, in most cases, can’t go a day without drinking, and overindulge every time they drink.
For the non-alcoholic individual, drinking is purely for fun and a way to unwind with friends and loved ones. An alcoholic, on the other hand, perceives drinking as the only means to forget deep-seated troubles or deal with every negative experience they encounter.
Most times, an alcoholic will opt to drink in secrecy out of fear or shame of others finding out about their unhealthy drinking habits. A non-alcoholic won’t mind surrounding themselves with other drinkers.
For the alcoholic, drinking comes before everything and everyone else in their life, though not by choice. A non-alcoholic is cautious about their drinking and don’t let it interfere with their relationships or important commitments.
Alcoholism Is a Disease which Asks for Understanding
Research findings classify alcohol addiction as a chronic brain disease because extended alcohol use changes the brain’s chemistry and alters normal brain functioning. A healthy brain releases “feel-good” hormones such as dopamine naturally.
However, after prolonged, excessive drinking, alcohol takes over the brain’s dopamine pathways, hindering the release of these pleasurable chemicals naturally. Uncontrolled drinking also reduces the chemicals responsible for controlling impulsive decision-making. Due to these changes in the brain, you will often have a strong compulsion to drink to experience the euphoric effects that your brain can no longer produce without alcohol.
These chemical changes also explain why you may be determined to leave your destructive drinking habits behind but fail every time you try. Your brain has fully adapted to the “feel good” effects of alcohol and can’t function properly without this substance in your system. It takes professional treatment to recover from this illness and successfully manage it for the long-term.
Heavy Drinkers Can Get Treatment
Alcohol addiction is treated through a residential alcohol rehab program with the guidance and support of alcoholism treatment specialists. Treatment often begins with medical detoxification to remove the alcohol toxins from your body and help you withdraw from the substance in the safest and most comfortable way possible.
This medically-supervised detox process will ensure that your body is no longer physically dependent on alcohol to function.
You will then undergo different comprehensive therapies for alcohol addiction, both in an individual setting and within a group. You will work with therapists to resolve the underlying issues contributing to your drinking and retrain your mind to adjust to the absence of alcohol.
These therapy sessions will also help you learn proven strategies to confront triggers, healthy and effective ways to cope with negative situations, and practical relapse prevention skills. If your alcohol addiction co-occurs with other mental health issue, you will undergo a personalised dual diagnosis treatment program to address the alcoholism and mental illness simultaneously.
How Can You Help an Alcoholic?
Helping an alcoholic loved one starts with having a non-judgmental, calm, and honest conversation with them about their alcohol use, particularly sharing your concerns about how it’s affecting their life.
Doing so helps an alcoholic understand the extent of their drinking problems, which is important, especially if they are still in denial about their problem. It’s best to have this conversation when your alcoholic loved one is sober and in a positive mood.
Take time to research or consult a professional on the different treatment options that can help your alcoholic loved one, and talk to them regularly about treatment and the life-changing benefits it will bring to their life. These positive talks and caring statements can encourage an alcoholic to accept professional help and turn their situation around. When your loved one agrees to enter treatment, strive to be their constant support system.
Support Groups Are NO Longer Just Online!
The days of Zoom and Teams are finally over. A support group is a supportive community of individuals recovering from alcohol addiction. These individuals can finally come together in person to pursue a similar goal — to conquer alcohol addiction and live a better life free. In a support group, participants open up about their experiences with alcoholism, encourage each other, and share realistic insights on ways to guard their sobriety.
Some alcoholism support groups are led by a therapist. Others are peer-led. One of the most popular and effective peer-led support groups is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). If you’re looking for a place where you can find the strength and motivation to commit to an alcohol-free life, look no further than a local support group like AA in your area.
Alcoholism isn’t a voluntary choice, but an illness that takes complete control over a user. With proper professional health screening treatment personalised to your circumstance, your life will transform in unimaginable ways. Having empathetic and positive conversations with an alcoholic loved one about treatment can influence the beginning of change in their life.