At any given time in the United States, over 16 million people are dealing with an alcohol addiction or abuse disorder. While struggling with alcoholism can be incredibly challenging, recovery is possible. Understanding the process of recovery can give individuals the impetus they need to take those first steps toward sobriety.
Identifying the Problem
The very first thing to be done when trying to overcome addiction is identifying and acknowledging the illness. Often, individuals who drink too much or too often have a difficult time translating that to alcoholism. However, personally admitting to that addiction is integral to comprehensive and successful recovery.
It may help to look at the signs and symptoms of an alcohol addiction. In doing so, it becomes impossible to ignore the reality of the situation. Alcoholism can manifest itself as the inability to stop drinking, an increased tolerance for alcohol or negative consequences that stem from excessive alcohol consumption. Individuals struggling with an addiction to alcohol may have obsessive thoughts about drinking, or they might face legal, financial and career problems as a result.
Individuals should also be ready to understand and acknowledge what addiction truly is. Addiction to alcohol is not a choice, a decision or a character flaw. It is an illness, and it must be treated and diagnosed like any other.
Exploring the Need for Professional Assistance
Alcohol and drug addiction recovery is not something that can be done solo. It requires professional assistance, including things like trained therapists, medical professionals and staff who can offer 24/7 accountability as well as support.
There are many steps of recovery from addiction that require medical attention. To start, it is common for alcoholism to create physical health problems, and those need to be addressed as quickly as possible for maximum healing. In addition, everything from detox to rehab may include a need for physical monitoring and medical attention.
Imagine, for a moment, that individuals are trying to recover from alcoholism alone. They may be severely dehydrated and in pain, but they won’t have the resources or medical support available. In a professional facility, however, staff will be ready around the clock to care for these needs and ensure that patients are as healthy as possible throughout the process.
Completing an Alcohol Detox
Committing to an addiction treatment program often means starting out with a detox from alcohol. This integral step of the recovery process involves the cessation of all alcohol consumption. It can create some withdrawal symptoms, but it will have the intended effect of freeing the body, the brain and the nervous system from a chemical dependence on a foreign, addictive substance like alcohol.
Typically, a detox from alcohol will last under 10 days. It should be mentioned, however, that the exact duration of a detox can depend heavily on things like the health and average alcohol intake of patients. Withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of the start of the detox, but they tend to peak around 72 hours into the process. Thankfully, that peak marks the beginning of a gradual decline of symptom intensity.
Many prospective patients are concerned about the prospect of withdrawal and any unpleasant symptoms it may bring. While it is true that these symptoms can be uncomfortable, it is worth noting that professional detox centers can mitigate any pain or discomfort. Medications and hydration methods can cut down on pain while still helping patients break their physical reliance on alcohol.
Treatment Methods Used to Recover From Addiction
After a detox from alcohol is complete, patients can begin treatment to ensure that sobriety is maintained for life. Some of the many treatment methods that can be used in recovery are group therapy, dual diagnosis treatment, behavioral therapy and experiential therapy.
Behavioral therapy is also known as talk therapy, and it can include things like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. The objective of these types of therapy is to help patients boost their self confidence and change their destructive patterns of behavior. It may also look to the past to deal with underlying issues like a history of trauma.
Group counseling, or group therapy, is a wonderful way for patients to communicate freely with their peers. It allows participants to share their experiences and learn from others who are going through a similar experience. It allows them to express themselves in a way that might not be possible otherwise, and it can help teach how to interact socially when sober.
Dual diagnosis treatment is treating mental health disorders at the same time as treating addiction. This is an increasingly popular and necessary approach, because there are staggering numbers of patients dealing with both issues simultaneously.
Experiential therapies are less evidence-based, but they can supplement recovery. Things like fitness and equine therapy have the potential to improve the health and happiness of patients, both of which can go a long way in preventing a future relapse.
Ongoing Support for Continuing Sobriety
Recovery from an alcohol addiction doesn’t end the day that patients leave rehab or treatment programs. To maintain sobriety, ongoing support and care is required.
To start, those struggling with alcoholism need to acknowledge that moderation can’t ever be a realistic approach. Complete abstinence from alcohol is necessary to prevent relapse moving forward.
In addition, many individuals can benefit from ongoing therapy. This could be one-on-one behavioral therapy, but it can also be ongoing group therapy. Programs like local 12-step meetings, for example, may have their place in continuing care for alcoholism recovery. Alumni groups for rehab patients can also be a great means of staying in touch and providing ongoing accountability in the years to come.
Finally, ongoing support can come through extended programs. Things like outpatient care or sober living, for example, may serve as transitional phases between residential care and a completely independent lifestyle.
Recovering from an alcohol addiction is no easy feat, and it may require commitment and support for a lifetime. However, that effort is well worth the health, happiness and sobriety on the other side.