The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that about 18 million American adults currently suffer from alcoholism or excessive alcohol problems. Sadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention further estimate that about 80,000 Americans lose their lives to heavy alcohol consumption each year, making excessive drinking one of the top causes of death for the nation.
While alcohol continues to be a deadly issue for so many Americans, drinking is widely accepted as a social activity. This serves to complicate the problem slightly, and helps those who struggle with alcoholism to hide their problem.
Heavy alcohol consumption comes not without severe physical damage and potentially fatal risks. Among those: cardiovascular issues, neurological damage to the brain, non-optimum mental conditions (depression, anxiety, etc.), cancers and other chronic diseases.
Those who drink heavily are strongly advised to get the help of medical and alcohol rehabilitation experts, as withdrawal from alcohol itself can be fatal.
Understanding Alcohol Treatment
Alcoholism itself is a condition of many layers, developed over time and through the course of many bad choices. As such, alcoholism must be treated in all of its various facets.
The goal of alcohol rehabilitation, first and foremost, includes the assessment of underlying causes for the alcoholism. These could include social situations, health problems, family losses, etc., and vary from individual to individual.
Present Triggers for Excessive Drinking
Alcoholics in treatment should be encouraged to look closely at what situations (socially, emotionally or otherwise) have established themselves as triggers for heavy drinking. Often it is found that social discomfort or emotional pain is used as an excuse for drinking, or alcohol is used as a means of escape from these situations. These should be located and addressed, and replaced with healthier behavioral patterns.
Future Goals and Plans
Returning to one’s former environment (home, old friends, etc.) after treatment can be tough. For this reason, alcoholism treatment should always include an address to the future:
-Goals, objectives, hobbies and future desires. What makes one happy? What is the individual aiming for, and what do they hope to achieve?
-Plans for positively and effectively escaping dangerous situations that may tempt the individual to drink. The importance of setting personal guidelines, developing back-up plans and establishing a sober support structure, cannot be overstated.
Signs Someone Needs Alcohol Rehabiliation
Because of the acceptance and prevalence of alcohol in social and public settings, it can be hard to discern alcoholism itself from “recreational” or moderate use. Alcoholics may move through the following stages:
Craving Alcohol—Experiencing a strong need to drink, both mentally and physiologically.
Loss of Personal Control—Whereas the moderate drinker has no trouble stopping after one drink, an alcoholic will manifest an inability to stop drinking even after many drinks.
Physical Dependency and/or Withdrawal—This means that the body has become somewhat chemically dependent on alcohol, and the cessation (stopping) of alcohol consumption will result in withdrawal symptoms, such as:
Tolerance—When a heavy drinker is seen to need more and more alcohol in order to feel drunk, this is known as tolerance. This, in itself, can lead to severe alcoholism.
Consider also some of these important signs of alcoholism:
- Drinking alone
- Drinking at odd hours of the day
- Smelling strongly of alcohol
- Exhibiting signs of alcohol cravings, tolerance
- Severe mood swings
- Emotional instability without alcohol
When confronting an alcoholic on his or her problem, you will likely encounter an emotional or angry response. Do some research beforehand to understand the condition and what alcohol rehabilitation options are available, and this might make these initial conversations run a little more smoothly.