Signs of Alcoholism
The signs and symptoms of an alcohol abuse problem can oftentimes be harder to distinguish in everyday life. This is typically due to the fact that people are often very secretive, especially if they believe they will be judged for any manner in which they are living their life, or if they feel ashamed. But what most people do not realize is that this type of secret keeping can cause themselves more damage, instead of offering personal protection. So, if your loved one may be trying to hide their alcohol problem from you, how can you determine if they are truly in need of help or not? Here are a few signs to look out for, when determine whether or not your loved one may or may not, have an alcoholism issue:
- Development of a high alcohol tolerance.
- Cravings for alcohol – ranging in severity.
- Being unable to control the amount you drink, or limit how much you drink in any given sitting.
- Using alcohol to cope with stress, negative emotions, or upsetting circumstances.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms while not using alcohol – such as sweating, shaking, nausea.
- Feeling guilty about alcohol use, but unable to stop, no matter how hard you try.
- Spending a large amount of time drinking.
- Failing to meet expectations or fulfil obligations at work, home, or school.
- Avoiding friends, family, or “hobby” activities, in order to have more time to drink, or in an effort to keep your family members from noticing how much you drink.
Unfortunately, there is no specific man-mad test that can determine whether or not you, or a loved one, is suffering from an alcohol addiction. The physical signs of an alcohol addiction can be very subtle at times, but can have major mental and physical consequences. Typically, the early stages of alcohol dependence are paired with more behavioral issues than physical ones, but left unchecked, alcoholism can be a cause of some major, life-threatening diseases and situations, like cancer or coma due to alcohol poisoning. If you or your loved one decides to see a doctor about personal alcohol use though, oftentimes he or she will be able to ask a series of questions to help determine whether or not you, or your loved one, has a series problem, and is in need of treatment or not.
What to Expect in Alcohol Rehab
Now, with understanding a bit more about alcohol abuse symptoms and signs out of the way, it is time to begin discussing what alcohol rehab may be like. Like other types of substance abuse treatments, alcohol abuse rehab has a few steps you, or you loved one, will need to work through on your journey to recovery. There are four main steps, or stages, you will work through during your recovery:
- Assessment: Where you will self evaluate, determine whether you should seek out help, and then be looked over by your doctor to be professionally diagnosed with an AUD. In this phase, your personal treatment plan will begin to be laid out, dependent on your personal needs and goals for recovery.
- Detox:Where you begin to undergo the process of expelling all alcohol, and alcohol effects, from the body, and begin working on both the physical and mental stages of healing.
- Rehab: Where the real bulk of the work begins toward recovery. In this step, your facility support team will be working with you to discover the real heart of the AUD issue, like why it occurred, continued for so long, and why it became so out of control. All of these alcohol rehab processes can take place in either inpatient or outpatient settings, and have heavy group support system involvement as well. The rehab process involves several components, including:
- Group and individual counseling (that can focus on a wide range of topics involved with healing, including trauma recovery, family dynamics, self-esteem, and more).
- Individual and group traditional therapy (including cognitive and behavioral therapy).
- Holistic, complementary and recreational therapies.
- Co-occurring mental health disorders treatment.
- Healthy living: diet, exercise, sleep, social interactions coaching and improvement.
- General health care.
- Discharge and aftercare plans.
- Aftercare: Like other types of substance addictions, alcohol use disorders are also viewed as a chronic condition. As such, the aftercare stage works to help you remember that your recovery is a long-term process that will need constant upkeep. Don’t let this discourage you, your support groups will be with you through every step of the way, even during the times where you feel tired, or may want to give up. The aftercare step helps to remind you of how far you have come, and that you don’t ever need to go back to where you started.
To begin recovery from an alcohol abuse disorder, you must first undergo alcohol detoxification or alcohol detox. Alcohol detoxification, is the process in which you slowly rid your body of alcohol, and all of its toxic metabolites – meaning you, as gently as possible, wean yourself off of the use of alcohol, and into an easier alcohol withdrawal process. Ceasing all alcohol usage at once can be dangerous, as sudden cessation may onset intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms, early on, and make them more difficult to manage. Some of these symptoms can have severe, life threatening complications, like the occurrence of intense seizures and delirium tremens.
Even without these more serious symptoms, alcohol withdrawal can still be very unpleasant to experience. Of course, if you wish to undergo recovery treatment for an AUD, the withdrawal process is inevitable. But it is important to remember that there is a better way to undergo detox and withdrawal, a way that is safer and that can alleviate some of the uncomfortable side effects associated with the withdrawal process.
The safest way to undergo the alcohol detox and withdrawal process, is by engaging in a medical detox program. A medical detox is a set of interventions, made with the use of FDA approved medications, to help manage acute intoxication and withdrawal symptoms. The purpose of a medically assisted detox is not only to alleviate more common withdrawal symptoms, but also to help lower the possibility of more severe, life-threatening complications from making an appearance.
Medical detoxification can take place in either a qualified hospital, a specialized inpatient detoxification facility or unit, or even in a closely supervised outpatient setting. The detoxification process normally takes about a week to work through, before you head off into your designated inpatient recovery program.
Alcohol Detox Medications
Medical detox can lead into long-term medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which helps to continue relieving withdrawal symptoms and cravings throughout the process of treatment in inpatient facilities. MAT’s are not meant to work alone, but as an add on to other counseling, therapy, and behavioral services, to aid you in healing in a more holistic manner, targeting the mind, emotions, and physical well-being. There are a few medications approved by the FDA to be used in this role, which you can discuss with your doctor which one may be right for you to use, including:
- Acamprosate (Campral): Typically used by people already in recovery, who want to cut their cravings, and avoid using alcohol. Generally given to a client in tablet form, three times daily, beginning five days after sustained abstinence.
- Disulfiram (Antabuse): Offered in tablet form and taken once a day, this drug is typically given to clients who are in the very early stages of their abstinence, but have already undergone their detoxification process.
- Naltrexone: This drug works to decrease the euphoric effects associated with alcohol use, helping clients with an alcohol addiction to kick their old habits and behaviours, by not allowing their “drug of choice” take full effect if it enters into their system. Naltrexone has been proven to help people remain in their treatment programs for longer, and be able to regain their motivation to stick with their treatment program.
- Benzodiazepines: Typically used in the detoxification period for short periods of time, benzodiazepines generally help to reduce seizure risk, and calm the general behavioral mood swings associated in the early stages of recovery.