What is alcoholism? Alcoholism is recognized by both the medical and psychiatric communities as a disease. Alcoholism is characterized by the inability to stop drinking, an increased tolerance to alcohol and withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of alcohol use.
In the early stages of alcoholism, related behavior can be misdiagnosed as “experimentation” or “alcohol abuse” rather than comprehension of the true problem at hand – alcoholism. When an alcoholic ceases to ingest alcohol, backlash of symptoms ensue.
Withdrawal symptoms from alcoholism detox
- Mood swings
- Profuse sweating
- Delirium Tremors (DTs)
- Hallucinations, seizures and comas in severe cases
Problem Drinkers Are Not Necessarily Alcoholics
First things first, many people are confused about what separates a problem drinker from an identified alcoholic. The primary difference between an alcohol abuser and an alcoholic is that the alcohol abuser is not dependent on alcohol, nor does the alcohol abuser require alcohol to feel “normal.”
Problem drinkers may run into trouble upon drinking alcohol and may need to get alcoholism help
. Alcohol may unleash a side of their personality that is unpleasant or confrontational.
Perhaps the problem drinker enjoys drinking excessively on the weekends, so much so that his or her landlord, spouse or employer has filed complaints against the behavior. However, the individual feels mentally and physically in control of the extent to which the next alcohol binge ensues.
The Staggering Costs
have caused the death rate to be in the top three explanations for premature death in the United States.
Alcohol costs the country billions of dollars per year, in related incarceration, automobile accidents, motorcycle collisions, health insurance costs and expenses incurred by employers of alcoholics. Alcoholics risk a greater likelihood of divorce, suicide, depression and liver failure. Barring treatment, the odds are grim that an alcoholic will recover as a byproduct of willpower and moral standing; alcoholism is a disease that truly requires work and dedication on behalf of the addict to sustain success.
crosses boundaries; age, race, ethnicity and gender do not determine whether or not a person will become an alcoholic.
Scientists have confirmed that a person diagnosed with alcoholism has a variety of genetic and environmental factors that have contributed to the disease’s growth. Treatment options are varied but it is agreed that inpatient treatment centers represent the best treatment venue, followed by outpatient treatment work. In both cases, alcoholic patients begin the process with a detox from alcohol. During this initial period, alcoholics are flushed of chemicals and toxins within a medically monitored setting. Clinicians prescribe counter-indicative medications to combat withdrawal symptoms in many cases. Beyond the scope of detoxification is when the raw emotional healing truly begins.
Outpatient Rehab: A Treatment Option for Alcoholics
“High-functioning alcoholics” carry on with daily routines and a career, and maintain a sense of normalcy in terms of daily obligations. They do a better job of masking their substance abuse problem as compared to low-functioning alcoholics. Whether or not this benefits the alcoholic is professionally agreed upon with a unanimous “no.” Existing in a state of denial perpetuates feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt and self-contempt.
Alcoholics will meet in group sessions and discuss issues with sober peers. Individualized therapy is also included in the cost of outpatient rehab programs. In the case of patients with co-occurring disorders, professionals at the outpatient facility will help to diagnose the patients. Beyond the scope of treatment, the patient will learn tools and lessons to help them manage both the substance abuse recovery and the accompanying mental illness.
Inpatient Rehab: Number One Recommended Treatment Option for Alcoholics
Inpatient rehabilitation is structurally similar to that of outpatient centers for alcoholics. However, inpatient facilities require a full-time commitment from patients. Patients are immersed in a culture reminiscent of alcoholism recovery. Related activities, education and group sessions ensue on the facility premises. Through inpatient rehab, alcoholics learn to reintegrate themselves into society as sober, clean people.
The incremental benefits offered by an inpatient rehab center include:
- Increased contentment in patients as they engage in community bonding
- A safe and sterile environment free from temptation, such as liquor stores, local watering holes and friends with whom the alcoholic used to drink with
- On-site medical staff to help assist with the detoxification process, and to provide medical care beyond the scope of detox
- On-site therapists; all the recovery tools in an alcoholics’ arsenal are within an arm’s reach while in an inpatient facility
- Safety and security which is of paramount importance in early sobriety; early sobriety is marked by transition, dealing with difficult emotions that begin to surface and self-actualization
- A solid support network of sober peers in which the alcoholic can stay in touch with post-rehab
- A group of resident assistants on-site who have traversed the same path and can offer anecdotes of strength of hope
- The elimination of daily obligations that can be triggering in an addict’s fragile state of early sobriety, such as cleaning the kitchen or commuting to and from work
- Nutritious, balanced meals cooked and provided on-site
If Alcohol Rehab Is Not in the Cards, Consider Counseling
A third option for alcoholics is alcohol and drug counseling. Seeking the services and advice of a professional is recommended, although behavioral therapy tends to be less effective than inpatient rehab. This is a result of alcoholic patients experiencing the following:
- Not feeling comfortable enough to be transparent with the therapist, for fear of judgment or negative repercussions
- The minimal time spent uncovering issues face-to-face, as most therapy sessions run one hour per week
- The isolation involved in therapy – Before and after the session, the alcoholic is back in the familiar environment that can be triggering to all of the senses.
- Lack of spiritual growth – Through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, individuals have the opportunity to foster a relationship with the higher power of their understanding. Although therapy may touch upon spirituality, it lacks the bandwidth of topic coverage inherent in a 12-step program. Recent studies reflect the fact that addicts and alcoholics who integrated spirituality into their recovery program enjoyed a higher rate of long-term abstinence than those who recovered from alcoholism in other ways.