In America, most everyone drinks alcohol but does that mean that everyone needs alcoholism treatment? Well, no, but it’s easy for the line between a healthy relationship with alcohol and a toxic one to get blurred.
For most people, it’s easy to have just one drink and go about living their life. Other people can’t stop at the first drink. One drink becomes three. Three becomes six and then they lose count. These are the people who may have an alcohol use disorder.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 7% of people in the United States fall into this category.
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Alcohol is encouraged by our culture so we don’t tend to see anything wrong with it. In excess, it can have life-threatening consequences which are just as dangerous, if not worse, than illicit drugs.
If you’ve ever had the thought, “Do I drink too much?” it might be worth looking at your drinking habits a little more closely.
When is it a Good Time for Alcoholism Treatment?
Is there ever a bad time to quit drinking? What it usually comes down to is knowing and accepting that alcohol has taken over your life. Many people who struggle with alcohol don’t even know that they have a problem and even if they do acknowledge it they have no idea how to stop it. However, in the mind of an alcoholic, there is just no possible way that they can live life without drinking.
There are a number of situations or life experiences that may lead to what is usually referred to as “rock bottom,” including, arrests or trouble with the law, hospitalization, domestic disputes, job loss, child-custody battles, and accidents.
That being said, you don’t have to hit rock bottom in order to seek treatment. Any time is a good time to start a life free of alcohol and drugs.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
In America, alcohol is legal to purchase and consume. As a result, it’s all around us all the time and because it’s socially acceptable it makes it difficult to know who has a drinking problem versus who doesn’t.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NDADD), alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.
There isn’t just one picture of alcoholism. It can look different and have different effects on all types of people. Therefore, these symptoms may not apply to everyone but they are some of the most telling signs of alcoholism.
- A person has a strong urge to drink
- It may be hard or impossible for a person to stop drinking once they begin
- More and more alcohol is needed to reach the same high or effect that the person drinking wants (this is called a tolerance to alcohol)
- When a person stops drinking intentionally, or because they can’t obtain any alcohol, they begin to have uncomfortable physical symptoms (withdrawal)
- Risky behaviors while drinking, such as unsafe sex and driving while drinking
You Could Be Addicted to Alcohol If You:
- Drink alone
- Try to hide your drinking
- Increase legal, work, and relationship problems
- Financial troubles increase
- Keep alcohol in the car or work desk
- Gulp drinks quickly or always ordering doubles
- Become anxious or irritable if feeling that alcohol may not be available or something will interfere with getting a drink
- Start the day with a drink in order to feel “normal”
- No longer enjoying activities that were once important
- Have blackouts when drinking, and not remembering promises made or events
Does Alcohol Treatment Really Work?
Does treatment really work? There are a lot of great arguments on either side but the one thing that everyone gets right is that you have to do what is right for you. That could mean quitting cold turkey and never stepping foot in a meeting. It could also mean going to a meeting every day for the first 90 days. If you need the structure and support that an intensive residential treatment program can offer then, by all means, do that. The key to long-term recovery is to figure out a path that is right for you.
Types of Treatment for Alcoholism
Depending on the severity of alcoholism, detox is usually the first step in the recovery process. Detoxing from alcohol can be very dangerous and can sometimes lead to death if not handled in a safe manner. It is essential that this process takes place at a professional alcohol detox facility. Don’t attempt to detox on your own.
During the sub-acute detox phase, our counselors work with residents to coach them through the cleansing process, especially at times when they want to give up. We constantly gauge where the resident is mentally and physically, and provide them with the support they need 24 hours a day to effectively manage the detox process.
*The Discovery House is not a medical facility and works with local hospitals when medical detox is needed.
Also known as residential treatment, inpatient rehab is the second stage of treatment for most people. Typically, inpatient rehab will provide a structured and monitored environment usually in a home-like setting. Most programs last anywhere from 30-90 days or more. They are staffed 24/7 with counselors, medical staff, support staff, and therapists to ensure that each resident receives the full-time support that they require at this sensitive stage of recovery.
Inpatient alcohol programs can offer the following: a structured environment, round the clock support, an alcohol-free zone, socialization, and nutritional counseling.
An individual who has been sober for a while and is able to meet their daily responsibilities and live drug and alcohol-free are good candidates for this program. Residents in our Discovery Transitions outpatient alcohol treatment program meet regularly with our staff, participate in therapy sessions, and are closely monitored for their progress. Our goal with this program is to help participants continue to develop the skills necessary to remain sober and to provide them with the support to avoid relapse.
Stages of Recovery
Awareness and Early Acknowledgement
This stage is all about realization and awareness. Some say this is the most important step – the one in which there is a definitive shift from denial to a willingness to change.
This willingness can stem from conversations with friends or family or as the result of more serious consequences such as trouble with the law, job loss, or health issues.
Someone can still be in active addiction at this stage but even as they continue to drink, in the back of their mind they know they have a problem. They may even begin to think about making a change to their drinking habits.
Once the person is aware of the problem, the next stage is more action-oriented. This is where the addicted person will be ready to make a plan and take the first step toward leading a substance-free life. This often involves learning more about their addiction and the affect it has had on their lives and about the disease of addiction in general.
In this stage, one is ready to truly explore recovery. A more clear picture of what their life could be like without drinking starts to take shape in their mind and they start to learn more about recovery (instead of just the addiction itself). This is the stage where most people will begin seeking help in the form of alcoholism treatment (like a residential treatment program).
This is an incredible stage of recovery but also one of great vulnerability. A time of breaking bonds and relationships, quitting on toxic behaviors and people who played a big part in the active addiction but also a time of creating new friendships, habits, and behaviors that promote a strong recovery. That’s why at this stage it is essential to have a strong support system in the way of others who are at various stages of their own recovery. Friends and family play an integral role at this point as well.
Active Recovery and Maintenance
Not every person’s journey looks the same. Everyone has different backgrounds, stories, medical requirements, and co-occurring disorders that contribute to how their program should be structured. It’s not linear. That’s why they call it the cycle of addiction. Although relapse rates are incredibly common (40-60%) it isn’t a required part of the process. It can happen to anyone but with a strong support system and working an effective program, long-term recovery is possible.
Resources for Friends and Family
Watching a loved one struggle with alcohol is one of the most gut-wrenching and heartbreaking experiences. You feel helpless and are constantly stressing over your role in their addiction. How can you help?
There are many resources available specifically for family and friends of people with alcohol use disorders. If you’re wondering where to start and the best way to help, start by educating yourself. Learn everything you can about alcoholism, addiction, and recovery. Reach out to and participate in support groups. Most importantly, become a part of your loved one’s recovery process.
Here are some great resources for family members and friends of someone struggling with alcoholism:
How to Stop Enabling Your Loved One
How to Heal as a Family
Benefits of Family Therapy
The Role of Family in the Treatment Process
How to Support Your Loved One’s Recovery
Recognizing the Signs of Relapse
How to Motivate Your Loved One to Seek Treatment
Support Groups for Alcoholism
Medical and non-medical addiction specialists
American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
American Psychological Association
American Society of Addiction Medicine
NAADAC Substance Abuse Professionals
National Association of Social Workers
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
onal Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institute of Mental Health
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Secular Organizations for Sobriety
Women for Sobriety
Groups for family and friends
Al-Anon Family Groups
Adult Children of Alcoholics
Get Help With Alcoholism Treatment
Alcoholism is not a disease to be taken lightly. Few addicts can recover on their own, and alcohol detox can be life-threatening. Help is available, and recovery is possible. Our long-term alcohol treatment centers for addiction are fully equipped to help residents address the issues that caused their alcohol abuse in the first place.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol dependence, contact us. Let our trained staff lead you in the direction of sobriety. Through our alcohol rehab program, we can help you get your life back again.
Contact us via our form or by calling 818.666.3083 for more information about our alcohol rehab in Los Angeles.