How it all starts:
Alcoholism starts off innocently with one drink to satisfy the curiosity of what an alcoholic drink really tastes like, as you’ve heard version of alcoholic drinks being sweet, bitter, fiery hot, ear popping, etc. Then, an attempt to try two drinks, then three drinks, etc., as a social drinker just to keep up with your buddies.
Hopefully you stop drinking before the room starts spinning around, as you have to think about how to drive home safely, though after a few more drinks that does not become a priority. You sleep it off, have a stressful 8 – 9 hours of work and repeat the previous day’s drinking night after night to “de-stress” and feel good, until you find you simply cannot do without missing a night of drinking. Before you know it, you have entered the world of alcoholism.
When you cannot control how much you drink, and keep blaming it all on stress at work or at home, and refuse to accept that you are responsible for your drinking, you have an alcohol use disorder.
Many people think the only way to go cold turkey is with willpower; i.e., like turning off a switch in your brain. So why do so many alcoholics find they cannot just control their drinking? For starters, alcohol addiction is a physical and psychological need to drink.
You may be surprised to know that alcoholism is a type of alcohol use disorder, which is considered a brain disease. It is a known medical fact now that alcohol causes changes in your brain that makes it difficult to stop. Using your willpower is like trying to cure a severe case of measles with positive thoughts – it is simply not enough.
Did you know the long-term effects of heaving drinking may include:
- brain damage
- heart disease
- liver damage
- mental health disorders including an increased risk of suicide
Steps to overcome alcoholism:
Other than going cold turkey which doesn’t work in the majority of cases, there are methods that may be able to help, some of which are outlined below.
- Talk to a close friend:
Sometimes opening up about your work or family problems to a close friend. Do choose a close confidante who has known you from before you started drinking heavily, and he or she may be able to make you see things from a different perspective.
- Talk to your doctor:
Start off with consulting your doctor, as he will be the best person to determine if you suffer from alcoholism which can normally be seen if you display the following symptoms:
- You have to drink every night.
- You can’t control your drinks.
- You feel bad or depressed when you don’t drink
Be honest and discuss your problems and goals with your doctor:
- What causes you to drink?
- Do you want to stop drinking completely, or drink less?
- If you want to stop drinking, what is the reason for doing so?
Your doctor will be able to work out a treatment plan for you that may include medication, counselling, programs or a stay at a treatment center if your alcohol dependency is severe.
Your doctor may suggest an option depending on your situation and goals:
- Behavioral treatments – better known as alcohol counselling is where a health professional works with you to identify and help motivate you to make changes to your behaviors that lead you to drink heavily.
- Support groups – a group that has a track record of helping alcoholics is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Check for a local branch you can go to.
- Medications – these are not OTC (over the counter) and must be prescribed by a medical practitioner.
- Rehab centers – a good option for those who want to concentrate on treatment without distractions of work or social obligations. Rehab centers are manned by qualified medical professionals who are able to safely handle situations that may get out of hand when undergoing an alcohol detox programme, as withdrawal symptoms include sweating, shaking, hallucinations or even seizures.
- Alcohol recovery apps – in this day of digital advancement, there are apps available to provide support, strength and positivity whenever and wherever you need it on a 24/7 basis.
For iPhone users – an app called Twenty-Four Hours a Day has a memory bank of 360+ daily meditation sessions. Other noteworthy apps are 12 Steps Companion, I Am Sober, SoberTool, Nomo, Sober Grid.
For android phone users – try AlcoDroid Alcohol Tracker. I Am Sober is also available for android phones.
Recovery is based on each individual. It may take a long time, or just a few weeks. A relapse is considered part of the recovery process, and not considered a failure. Each individual must give himself or herself time to fully recover. Data shows that after 5 years, only 1 out of 7 people have issues with drinking.
Support from loved ones, friends and community will help get over rough patches in the recover phase. Be honest with them and most will understand what you are going through and give a helping hand or lend an ear.
We end off here by stating these suggestions are for individuals seeking options to address alcoholism. Do seek professional help from your doctor for a proper recovery program.
15th June 19:30