Why should someone seek rehab for alcoholism?

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One should seek rehab for alcoholism when they are addicted to alcohol and would wish to sober up. Alcoholism, which is clinically referred to as Alcohol Use Disorder – AUD, is a chronic, common, and progressive condition that involves compulsive alcohol consumption.

This maladaptive pattern of drinking can lead the individual to some serious, familial, social, and physical consequences.

Fortunately, rehab is a highly effective treatment for this disorder, and there are several programmes available to people who are suffering from AUD.

hy should someone seek rehab for alcoholism

If you have a loved one or you are struggling with alcoholism, then they seeking rehab for alcoholism at a rehab centre is the best and most effective option to help you stop drinking and finally reclaim your life.

How can one tell they need rehab?

One can tell that they need rehab if they tend to rely on alcohol daily. Alcohol disorder is characterised by the inability to control or stop an unhealthy alcohol reliance, despite adverse consequences.

One is diagnosed with AUD by mental health or a medical professional such as a psychiatrist. There are mild, moderate, and severe cases.

Here are some signs and symptoms that will indicate AUD, an inability to stop drinking or controlling your alcohol intake, despite your many attempts.

  • The frequent use of alcohol or intake of higher amounts than is intended.
  • Spending lots of time getting alcohol, drinking it, and recovering from its effects.
  • Experiencing strong urges to drink alcohol (These are cravings.)
  • Find yourself unable to fulfil work, home, or school obligations due to your recurrent alcohol use.
  • Continue to drink even after you have experienced some relationship and social problems caused and even worsened by alcohol.
  • Finding yourself giving up or even reducing time spent at work, or home, or on social media and other activities you once enjoyed due to alcohol use.
  • Having repeated drinking episodes during times that are physically dangerous, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.
  • Continuing with a drinking habit despite having recurring psychological and physical problems caused by the intense alcohol abuse.
  • When you start experiencing tolerance, you need to drink increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effects of alcohol.
  • When you experience withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness, shakiness, sweating, nausea, seizures, a racing heart, and hallucinations, after attempting to cut back or stop the drinking.
  • If you meet two or three of these symptoms, then you have Mild AUD; if you meet four or five symptoms, then you have Moderate AUD, while more than six means you have severe AUD.

    What are the main stages of rehab and recovery?

    There are four main stages of alcohol recovery, but these will not work without giving the process enough time, effort, support, and willpower.

    When one decides to go to rehab for alcohol treatment, they begin an intense journey through the following stages:

    Why should someone seek rehab for alcoholism

    Stage One: Initiation Stage

    When you reach out for help at a rehab clinic, you will start the recovery process, and the first stage will be treatment initiation.

    Whether you're seeking voluntary or forced help, your recovery will start with a professional who will initiate the programme.

    In the beginning, you will probably have ambivalent feelings and wish to give up on the recovery process, and your attitude and desire to get better will determine your ability to stay in the rehab through this time.

    Denial and ambivalent attitudes will be your worst enemies in the beginning. At this point, the goal is to help you decide whether you are willing to participate in the rehab programme actively or not.

    During this point in your treatment, the main goal is to help you decide that you need the treatment and allow you to participate and accept your circumstances.

     To accomplish this, a counsellor will work with you and help you with the following:

    • Understanding the damaging effect of your alcohol addiction.
    • Exploring the feelings of denial you may have towards your problem.
    • Help you become motivated to seek treatment and recover.

    Your alcohol abuse history will be taken into consideration, and a programme will be created by the counsellor that best suits your addiction.

    Stage Two: Abstinence

    After one has committed to receive treatment for their alcohol abuse, they enter into the next stage in the rehab process, which is “Early Abstinence.”

    Early abstinence is associated with positive treatment outcomes, and it is one of the most challenging stages to cope with because it has many factors such as:

    • Withdrawal symptoms
    • Cravings
    • Psychological dependence on alcohol
    • Triggers that can cause temptations and relapse

    There are many challenges in this stage of the treatment, and these can cause some problems—social pressures to drink, intense cravings, and high-risk situations that would trigger extreme alcohol consumption.

    In this stage, the trained addiction counsellor will start teaching you some coping skills that will come in handy when leading a sober lifestyle. These tools will help you throughout the recovery process.

    Some early abstinence issues in this stage include learning the psychological and physical aspects of withdrawal, identifying your alcohol use triggers, and learning how to handle the different cravings without drinking.

    Other helpful strategies include:

    • Being encouraged to participate in healthy activities.
    • Finding behaviours you can engage in rather than drinking alcohol.
    • Participating in group activities that offer support and information on staying sober.
    • Recognising the triggers in the environment are likely to lead to cravings such as places, people, and things.

    Stage Three: How to Maintain Abstinence

    When you complete 90 days of abstinence, then you will move on from the early abstinence stage to the third stage – maintaining abstinence.

    Again, if your treatment were in a residential clinic, you would need to continue your rehab process in an outpatient clinic.

    The main focus for this stage of rehab is maintaining abstinence to avoid relapsing. Here, you will learn how to identify the warning signs and any steps to relapse.

    In this stage of rehabilitation, one learns how to put the tools they learned into use in all areas of their lives. In this way, you can start living an authentic and sober lifestyle.

    Here are some coping tools and skills that will come in handy:

    • Avoiding substitute addictions
    • Building healthy relationships
    • Developing an alcohol-free lifestyle.
    • Learning money management and employment skills
    • Learning how to manage anger
    • Utilising nutrition and exercise

    To maintain your abstinence after rehab, you will need to start immediately, and this stage can last up to five years of living a sober and clean lifestyle.

    At this time, the follow-up counselling sessions will be terminated.

    Stage Four: Advanced Recovery

    This stage sets in after approx. Five years of living in abstinence. It is the fourth and final stage of your recovery.

    In this stage, you will need to take in all of the skills and tools you have learned during rehab and put them into living a fulfilling and satisfying life.

    Here are some strategies that can come in handy:

    • Coming up with a consistent schedule each day.
    • Coming up with long-term goals.
    • Establishing relationships with a group of people who don’t drink.
    • Participating in activities that don’t involve alcohol.
    • Finding out new ways of reaching beyond yourself and seeking happiness and fulfilment. This could involve spirituality, religion, social activism, and community work.

    When one learns how to implement these specific strategies, they will remain sober and have the right skills to become healthy individuals, spouses, and better parents.

    In the end, one can go back to their everyday lives of being good neighbours, citizens, and productive members of society.

    Recovery is more than just staying sober. It also includes learning how to go back to your former life and living it better, happier, and healthier.

    How does detoxification help in rehab?

    Detoxification is part of rehab. Most treatment plans will start with a detox programme to help treat the withdrawal symptoms when one stops drinking alcohol.

    Detox is often done in an in-patient treatment clinic and takes around one week to complete.

    Due to the symptoms of withdrawal that are sometimes life-threatening, you may be given some medication in the form of detox that will help with the following.

  • Confusion
  • Shaking
  • Agitation
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Tachycardia
  • Convulsions
  • What are the benefits of therapy during rehab?

    There are many benefits of therapy during rehab. First, a therapist will be able to determine your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours, and as such, they will be able to get to the root cause of your addiction.

    Other benefits include:

    • They will help you develop strategies you can use to cope with your dependency on alcohol.
    • They will help you express yourself without any judgment or fear.
    • They will help you practice your self-awareness.
    • They will help you learn how to create behaviours that are geared towards helping you curb your dependency.

    Does one need support groups after rehab?

    Support groups can help and are often essential for anyone going through alcohol treatment.

    They help one connect with people who have similar challenges, and they allow one receive direction and encouragement for their recovery.

    What types of groups are there?

    There are many different types of support groups and specifically for alcoholics.

    Additionally, family members and friends of the alcoholic can also join these groups to learn how to deal with someone suffering from AUD.

    The different groups include:

    • Alcoholics Anonymous
    • Al-Anon (for friends and family of people living with AUD)
    • Alateen
    • National Association for Children of Alcoholics
    • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
    • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
    • Local alcoholic support groups

    What medications are given to an alcoholic in rehab?

    There are several medications used to treat AUD, and they include the following.

    Naltrexone

    This drug helps to block the feel-good effects associated with alcohol in your brain. When these feelings are absent, then you will be less inclined to want to drink. This is available, either in an oral injection or tablet format.

    Acamprosate

    This is used to combat the cravings associated with alcohol, and it helps to restore and balance specific chemicals in your brain.

    Disulfiram

    This drug is alcohol-sensitising and works at making one sick whenever they consume alcohol. When it is combined with drinking, it causes nausea, flushing, and headaches.

    However, this drug is the least preferred during the treatment process because the side effects are extremely dangerous, and in fact, it does not treat the symptoms related to AUD.

    What is the long-term outlook of AUD?

    Left untreated, the long-term outlook of AUD will take a toll on your body and may cause a wide variety of complications such as:

    • Raise the risk of heart disease
    • Cause many different kinds of cancer
    • Scar your liver, also known as Cirrhosis
    • Cause inflammation on your stomach lining, also known as gastritis
    • Cause dementia and many other neurological disorders
    • Cause erectile dysfunction

    Dependency on alcohol also causes mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression and certain mood swings.

    Therefore, in addition to your AUD treatment, you should seek medical care for other complications associated with alcohol addiction as well.

    Conclusion

    The treatment of alcohol addiction is a lifelong journey, and one is likely to experience temptations and relapses from time to time. This is entirely normal.

    One may slip in and out of their sobriety on the journey to recovery, and as such, having supportive family members and friends will go a long way in helping you overcome this addiction.

    However, some people can recover from AUD the first time they attend rehab. Which is fantastic, but if you are not one of them, do not beat yourself up; the more you try, the better your chances of success. All the best.

    About the author

    Peter Szczepanski

    Pete has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. To read more about Pete visit his LinkedIn profile.