In 2015, 15.1 million Americans age 18 and older had an alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism can have a negative impact on many areas of life. It causes around 88 thousand deaths a year, it costs the US hundred of billions of dollars, it puts a strain on family relationships, it can have academic consequences for college students, and it can cause liver disease. Fortunately, there are many programs out there that focus on recovery. Getting sober might not be an easy process, but it is certainly worth the time and the energy.
There are a variety of treatment options that can help you overcome alcohol addiction. If you are not sure which treatment option is best for you, talk to your primary care physician. He or she can explain the options to you and give you a referral if needed.
First, there are behavioral treatments, which use counseling to help the individual change his or her drinking behavior. Behavioral treatments focus on developing skills to reduce and stop drinking, setting goals, and avoiding triggers that could lead to relapse.
People who suffer from alcoholism could also consider taking medications that help reduce drinking. There are three medications that have been approved by the FDA for treating alcohol dependence. The first one is Naltrexone, which helps reduce drinking. Next is Acamprosate, which makes it easier for people to abstain from alcohol use. The third drug is Disulfiram, which blocks the metabolism of alcohol and therefore causes unpleasant symptoms, such as nausea, when alcohol enters the body.
Mutual-support groups provide environments that give alcoholics the support they need to stop drinking. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous allow people to have a safe environment where they can seek help and support from people who have been through a similar journey. These groups greatly improve a person’s sense of recovery.
Those who have experienced alcohol abuse might also consider an alcohol detox treatment plan. Those who quit using alcohol quite often experience withdrawal symptoms. Quitting cold-turkey can actually be dangerous when it comes to alcohol. Because alcohol has such an effect on your nervous system, if you stop drinking altogether it can “confuse” your system, and this can be fatal. An alcohol detox treatment plan can help you wean off of alcohol safely.
What does the alcohol detox process look like? The most effective setting for alcohol detoxing is a hospital-like setting where you can be constantly monitored. The first thing that will happen at a detox treatment facility is an assessment by the staff to ensure you are healthy enough to undergo the detox process. During the process you will most likely experience physical and emotional symptoms, but the staff is there to help you monitor and cope with these symptoms. The staff will provide you with medication to help you deal with withdrawal symptoms and they will slowly wean you off alcohol. After the detox is complete, you will want to take steps to help you avoid a relapse. Seeing a therapist and joining a 12-step support group are both great ways to ensure that you stay on track.
Other Things to Consider
Consider picking up a new hobby or spending more time on a hobby you already have. Hobbies are beneficial for people trying to fight addiction. Two important keys to recovery are keeping busy and having a purpose in life. Hobbies can help fulfill both of these. One of the top reasons for relapse is boredom. When recovered addicts do not fill satisfied with their new lives, it is easy for them to romanticise what their lives were like before and slip back into their old habits. Hobbies will not only give you something to do, they can also help you establish your identity. They provide you with the opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people–people who didn’t know you while you were experiencing alcoholism.
Alcohol can affect your life in ways you may not expect. For example, alcohol consumption can contribute to sleep apnea. Alcohol is a nervous system depressant, which means it will encourage increased relaxation of the muscles in your throat. This means an increased chance of an airway collapsing during sleep. If you have already experienced problems with sleep apnea, seriously consider investing in a CPAP machine and take care to keep your CPAP machine clean to avoid further health problems.
You are not alone when it comes to fighting alcoholism. Millions of Americans are in the same situation. There are a variety of treatment options and many people who are willing to help you get sober.