Around 7% or nearly 23 million American adults are currently coping with varying degrees of alcohol use disorder (AUD). These are people who overindulge in alcohol too frequently and in a way that is detrimental not only to their health and happiness but also to those close to them. Fortunately, society’s understanding of alcoholism has become greater over the years and there are now many different paths to recovery available to sufferers at alcohol rehab centers throughout the country.
Seeing the Signs of Alcohol Abuse
In most parts of the world, alcohol is an accepted form of refreshment that’s widely available for anyone of a legal age to purchase and consume. As a consequence, alcohol consumption is considered relatively normal and for most people, an occasional drink does them absolutely no harm.
However, there are others who may have a family history of AUD or are having difficulty coping with depression or anxiety who may not be able to limit their alcohol consumption to the occasional drink.
Nevertheless, because alcohol use is so common, it can be difficult to determine the signs of when someone is developing dependence or even addiction. Following is a list of symptoms of AUD which either a person can recognize in themselves or others can identify as red flags signaling a problem:
- Having one or a few drinks regularly becomes a drinking session that lasts longer than intended
- The desire to cut down or quit drinking is there but it proves too hard to follow through.
- There have been situations where the person has increased their risks of getting hurt such as driving while under the influence.
- The need to drink progressively more to get the desired effect as the body builds a tolerance to alcohol.
- Continuing to drink even though it is having a widespread damaging effect on themselves and others.
- Forgetting events that have happened due to memory blackouts.
- Becoming unreliable at home or the workplace and neglecting personal hygiene.
- Becoming aggressive and defensive when confronted with their drinking.
- Exhibiting extremely negative thoughts and apportioning blame for their misery on others
- Allowing alcohol to become central to their lives to the exclusion of everything that previously made them happy such as hobbies or pastimes.
- Feeling the effects of withdrawal symptoms when not drinking and ultimately using alcohol to relieve them.
What Are the Causes?
Alcoholism is not an illness that develops overnight and neither is it a lifestyle choice. Many people still falsely believe that because a person has freedom of choice when they first start drinking that they should be able to use self-control to prevent themselves going too far.
However, the nature of AUD means that people are largely unaware of when their drinking problem has become alcoholism; such is the insidious nature of the illness.
The fact is that there is no one reason why someone develops addiction and each person has their own challenges to overcome. For that reason, alcohol treatment centers personalize programs in alcohol rehab so as to cater for each individual’s specific needs.
One thing that has been shown by research is that there is a relationship between alcoholism and mental illness that needs to be explored in each patient entering alcohol rehab. These patients may have started to drink to relieve the distressing symptoms of conditions such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Known as dual diagnosis patients, each individual has their own unique set of treatment needs which should address both alcoholism and any other co-existing mental illness separately but at the same time.
In other cases, people who have been drinking heavily for prolonged periods of time may develop the symptoms of a mental illness like anxiety or panic disorder. This is because of the depressant quality of alcohol and the way it interferes with the chemical messages sent to the brain’s pleasure receptors. No matter whether alcoholism pre-existed a mental illness or not, if a patient is dual diagnosis they will have both conditions treated in alcohol rehab.
Recovery and Long-Term Health after Rehab
Specialist alcoholism treatment provides people with medical assistance to overcome their illness while also arming them with the tools for effective relapse prevention. It is important for all AUD sufferers to know that no matter how severe their issues are, there is an alcohol treatment center available for their specific requirements. Ultimately, the objective of rehab is to achieve long-term sobriety and patients will stay on their alcoholism treatment program – outpatient or inpatient – until such times they are ready to cope more independently.
Once someone has completed alcoholism treatment, they are not really “cured.” What they will be is no longer under the control of alcohol. However, they will still have to face triggers for relapse when they return to their daily lives, which is why most alcohol rehab centers will devise a comprehensive aftercare program for continued support.
One of the most valuable takeaways of alcohol rehab is that patients learn coping techniques that are proven to be very effective in preventing relapse. This is often the reason people with AUD choose to enter residential alcohol rehab centers so as to immerse themselves in the significant changes they have to make in their lives.
Long-term health and happiness are eminently achievable, even in the most serious cases of alcoholism. However, the work and commitment required varies according to the severity of the illness and is not without its challenges. Nevertheless, the feeling of accomplishment many feel when they have completed alcohol rehab is significant and gives a powerful impetus to long-term sobriety.