Alcohol addiction can affect anyone – it doesn’t matter what socioeconomic background, sex, or race you identify with. It’s a rampant, tenacious disease with psychological, genetic, and behavioral factors.
You’ve accepted the fact that you’ve been taken hold of by an actual disease that needs consistent treatment. Read on to learn more about how this disease affects your health and overall wellbeing, and five common signs that mean you’re ready to begin your alcohol recovery journey.
Symptoms of Alcoholism
If you’re hesitating about seeking help from feelings of shame, regret, or are not sure if you even need help, know that you’re making the best possible decision for yourself and your loved ones.
One of the worst parts about alcohol addiction is how hard it is to spot, both in yourself and loved ones. Because it’s legal and widely available, alcohol is linked with joyous social celebrations or viewed as a way to relax after a long day.
People collect alcohol and display it in their homes. There are distillery tours that celebrate the brewing craft. When you’re faced with the possibility that you could be addicted, it can feel almost silly, like it couldn’t possibly happen to you.
Alcohol becomes so entwined in our every day lives that it’s easy to forget that it’s a depressant that can play havoc on our minds and bodies when abused. It’s important to know the early warning signs of alcohol addiction because by treating it early, one can avoid its profound health consequences.
Some symptoms of alcohol addiction are:
- increased quantity and frequency of use
- higher tolerance for alcohol, or lack of hangovers
- avoiding social situations and activities that don’t include alcohol
- avoiding contact with loved ones
- lethargy, depression, or other emotional issues
- a dependency on alcohol to get through each day
- a noticeable bad mood when not drinking
- shame: hiding alcohol, or hiding while drinking
- legal and professional issues such as an arrest or job loss
- continued drinking even after issues with family, friends, and coworkers
Alcoholism Withdrawal Symptoms
The reason it’s emphasized that people with alcohol addiction seek professional medical aid and don’t quit cold turkey on their own is that the withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, even life-threatening.
Withdrawal begins with prolonged use of your central nervous system adapts. Your body works hard in order to stay awake and counteract the depressive effect alcohol has on your system. When the alcohol level in your body suddenly drops, your brain is still in a keyed upstate.
Depending on how much you regularly drink, your withdrawal symptoms can be mild to critical. They can appear as early as six hours after you stop drinking. Mild symptoms that require a supportive, quiet environment with lots of fluids include:
- shaky hands
Serious symptoms appear 12 to 24 hours after your last drink, and will require inpatient care and drug treatment:
- racing heart
- high blood pressure
- heavy sweating
5 Signs You Need Alcohol Recovery
If the above sounds familiar and you’ve accepted the fact that you have a chronic disease and are not a personal failure, then you’re already on the road to long-lasting recovery.
By accepting that you have a disease that needs appropriate treatment, you’re realizing your own limitations. When you relinquish control and accept the fact that your disease is not something you can control through the power of your will alone, you can then begin focusing on the factors that you can control.
However, without fully accepting that you have a disease and struggling with emotions of denial, guilt, anger, shame, fear, and self-pity, the chance of relapse is high.
2. Estranged from Family and Friends
Addiction is an isolating disease. As you turned to alcohol more and more to help you cope with everyday life, you became both physically and emotionally unavailable for your loved ones.
Worse, substance abuse can bring out a darker side of you, causing you to do harm to yourself or others. For instance, 80% of domestic violence incidences involved drugs or alcohol, along with half of all sexual assaults.
You recognize that the only way to reconnect with loved ones and protect them from yourself is by becoming sober and finding healthier ways to address the issues in your life.
3. Health Complications
Chronic alcohol abuse can shorten your lifespan by seven-and-a-half years. You realize that if you continue with the same pattern of drinking, your mental and physical health will continue to deteriorate and eventually lead to disability and even death.
When someone drinks, alcohol begins to interfere with the communication pathways of the brain, causing mood swings, loss of coordination, and the inability to think clearly. The more you drink, the worse these symptoms get until you lose control of these functions entirely and blackout.
Some of the short-term issues from excessive drinking are:
- accidental injuries
- car or motorcycle accidents
- violence toward self or others
- sexual risk
- alcohol poisoning
If not treated early, heart and liver disease are major health consequences of alcoholism. It can also cause:
- unhealthy weight loss or malnutrition
- diabetes complications
- birth defects
- bone loss
- vision problems
- sexual problems
- increased risk of cancer
- suppressed immune system function
- death by overdose
- PTSD, psychosis, and depression
- suicidal ideation
The good news is that by seeking help and abstaining from drugs and alcohol to live a healthier lifestyle, you’ll be able to recover from much of the damage addiction has caused.
4. Legal Consequences
Your alcohol addiction may result in:
- driving under the influence
- public intoxication
- domestic violence
- jail or prison time
- drug court
Without seeking help for your addiction, you recognize the fact that you can be caught in a vicious cycle of crime and incarceration, all fueled by your substance abuse. This can lead to a cascade of financial, legal, and professional issues, not to mention the psychological toll it will take on you.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the most common legal problems associated with drinking. It can lead to jail time, loss of employment, loss of custody of children, and court-ordered alcoholism treatment.
For Florida specifically, there is no required minimum jail time for the first offense. But you’ll face 10 days for the second offense, and up to 30 days for the third offense.
5. Your Daily Life is Unrecognizable
You recognize that you’re no longer able to maintain a sense of normalcy in your daily life. You find it hard to function without the aid of alcohol, and once simple tasks become momentous undertakings. Life may seem overwhelming and chaotic with alcohol as your only medicine to cope.
If any of the below is happening due to your addiction, you know it’s imperative to make a change to regain the life you used to know:
- Issues at work, such as suspensions, termination, or prolonged unemployment
- Broken relationships, such as separation or divorce
- You can no longer keep up with your home – it’s cluttered, garbage-strewn, in need of repair, etc
- You violate your own morals to afford alcohol-through theft, lying, prostitution, etc
- You easily lose track of time and the days and weeks are blurring together
- Your life revolves around getting your next drink
Seeking help for your alcohol addiction shouldn’t be difficult. It’s more than possible to get the help you need and back to leading a healthy, fulfilling life. There are many resources available to you!
Remember that overcoming your alcohol addiction is a process – be patient and kind with yourself, and continue to seek local support groups and counseling to avoid relapse once your detox and rehab program is over.
Alcohol Rehab and Treatment Facilities
There are thousands of facilities throughout the country that offer alcohol and drug rehabilitation and treatment services. They can be either short-term residential, in-patient hospitalization, or long-term, outpatient counseling, and therapy. All of these facilities work to help a person with alcohol addiction learn how to stay sober.
These facilities will help you go through detoxification treatment, which usually takes three to seven days. Afterward, the dependency on alcohol is mainly psychological, and treatment programs will help try to teach you life skills to return to a happy, productive life.
There are some medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration that help people remain sober. They work best in conjunction with detox programs to improve comfort and therapy as an extra boost to help avoid relapse. The three approved medications in the United States are:
- Antabuse (disulfiram) – a deterrent against drinking by making a person sick if they consume any kind of alcohol
- Naltrexone (Revia) – reduces alcohol craving and blocks the effects of alcohol in the brain
- Acamprosate (Campral) – relieves distress and discomfort alcoholics feel when going through withdrawal
Alcoholism Support Groups
Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the oldest and most well-known treatments. Alcoholics in recovery share their experiences and hope with each other in a safe, accepting environment.
Community and accountability play a large role in helping people remain sober. Sponsors can be found here that are available to contact at any time if the urge to drink arises. Plus, knowing that you’re not alone in your experiences and the difficulties you’ll phase in recovery is an empowering experience.
If you’ve never attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, you may be tempted to make excuses and justifications for not going based on fear of the unknown.
What to Expect
Meetings are usually held in churches or community centers. When you first arrive, people will be milling around and talking, and there will usually be coffee and snacks available. As people begin to sit down, you’ll notice the seats are probably arranged in a semi-circle so that everyone can feel included.
The meeting will begin with the chairperson reading the AA Preamble, then leading the group in a recitation of the Serenity Prayer. There will also be brief readings of chosen AA literature.
The chairperson will ask if there are any newcomers to the group and if they’d like to introduce yourself to the group, but this isn’t required. Your participation level in these meetings all depends on your level of comfort.
If the meeting is a Step Meeting, the chairperson will announce which step the group will be discussing. After the chapter is read, the chairperson will ask for anyone to share their experiences or takeaways.
Meetings are all about sharing experiences and stories one at a time. People will begin by introducing themselves, and the rest of the group responds with a friendly greeting.
One of the most important things to remember is that you’re not required to share until you’re comfortable. It’s a very non-imposing atmosphere full of accepting people who won’t pressure you to share or bombard you with religious slogans.
The Road to Recovery
Hopefully, by now you know whether you’re truly ready for alcohol recovery. By being honest with yourself, accepting that you have a disease, relinquishing control, and seeking professional treatment options, the chances of successful recovery high.
Ready to begin the first stage of your recovery process? Contact Coastal Detox today for information on how we can help yourself or your loved one with safe, soothing, holistic therapies for successful detoxification.