Alcohol is consumed in various forms across the world. Many people consume it as part of social interaction, and it is widely accepted as a part of meals. But, many people consuming it do not realize that they have crossed the line and become alcoholics.
Alcoholics can’t live without alcohol. They will do anything they can to get a glass of alcohol, even if it means stealing or cheating. While alcoholism and alcohol abuse are used synonymously, the terms are different. Alcohol abuse often refers to individuals who besides knowing the negative consequences of alcohol continue taking it while alcoholism relates to instances where the person has a compulsion to take alcohol due to physical or psychological factors.
Alcohol abuse takes two forms – heavy drinking and binge drinking. The first form is when you take more than four drinks per day or 14 drinks per week for men. While for women, it is those who take more than three drinks per day or seven drinks per week. Binge drinking is taking large amounts of alcohol while in sitting.
How does one know that they have crossed the line from casual drinking to alcoholism?
If you find yourself missing work or failing to keep appointments because you were drinking, then you could be becoming an alcoholic. Alcoholism becomes when your body builds tolerance. You find that you need more of the drink to get you high. The more you drink, the more your body becomes expectant of alcohol to function. With time you should experience withdrawal symptoms when you do not consume any alcohol.
Taking unnecessary risks
When you are aware of the dangers that come with consuming excessive alcohol, but you continue, then you should consider yourself an alcoholic. It could be a warning letter that you ignore from work, or your relationship is at risk, but you continue drinking. Some will even continue taking alcohol when under medication. When this happens, it is time to contact the alcohol hotline before you kill someone through drunk driving or harm yourself and loved ones.
The person in question can also start engaging in the risky sexual behavior. They will say things that they would not often say when sober. If the person is a teen, they start skipping school and are absent in previous activities that they once found enjoyable.
Drinking in secrecy
If you find yourself drinking alone or lying about the amount of alcohol that you consume then this is a telltale sign that you are an alcoholic. You could also lose interest in stuff that you once found fun. You could also be unable to control the amount of alcohol that you consume. Whenever you go out with friends, you tend to be the last person to leave the pub and when you wake up the first thing that comes to your mind is a drink of alcohol.
Physical symptoms associated with alcohol include severe cravings, moodiness, irritability, headaches, memory loss, blackouts, and puffy eyes.
Psychological attachment to alcohol
People who are suffering from various psychological ailments like depression or low self-esteem have a higher tendency to abuse alcohol as they use it as a coping mechanism.
What should I do?
If you know someone who is facing the above symptoms, then it is time you talked to them about how alcohol is affecting them. Have an open, candid and non-judgmental conversation. The alcoholic should not feel that they are victimized.
From there you can advise them to seek help from various Alcohol Anonymous groups. You can even choose to accompany them to see the doctor.
The doctor will evaluate the severity of alcohol abuse and can recommend in-house rehab, counseling, or AA.
Identifying that you have a problem and need help is the first step through recovery. Now is the time to find a good alcohol rehabilitation center that will help you through this journey. Recovery takes various forms depending on the severity of the problem. There are those people who are so addicted to alcohol that they need medications to stabilize them and help them handle the withdrawal symptoms.
During recovery, you will be taken through counseling sessions as the therapist tries to find out the root cause of your addiction. Alcoholism can be hereditary or can be a coping mechanism for various psychological and post-traumatic disorders that have happened in the addict’s life.
Rehab programs take the form of inpatient, outpatient and day patient programs. Your counselor will recommend a program that suits your condition. There are also several support groups like AA that you can join and that help with relapse. Stress management is also critical as it prevents you from using alcohol as a coping mechanism.
The last part of every recovery program is the recovering alcoholic been integrated back into the society. There are people you have hurt while drunk and this is the time to mend some of these broken relationships. If you have lost your job, it would be time to start thinking of getting one. While the society might judge you based on the past, it is essential to keep your focus and avoid relapsing. It is helpful to look at new hobbies that you can engage in and help keep your mind off alcohol. Since many people still consume alcohol in most social settings, it is important that you avoid places where you know that alcohol is sold. This extends to making new friends if the old ones do not support your decision to quit. The first months after stopping can be the hardest part it gets better as you adjust to life without alcohol.
Many people continue abusing alcohol without knowing that they are alcoholics. They live in denial and are resistant of any help offered by loved ones. Any meaningful rehabilitation program should start with the addict themselves. They should desire to change and accept help. Recovering alcoholics should be patient with themselves because recovery is a journey with many twists and turns. Quitting alcohol could be one of the best decision that you make in life.