Some are very easy to spot and highly noticeable, and some other ways that are slightly harder to see and even harder to understand.
Ultimately, during the early stages of their habit, the extent of the effects on an addict will be harder to notice as the physical, mental and emotional effects of long term use have not set in deep enough to be spotted at first glance.
However, if you are concerned that somebody you love, or even you, are struggling with addiction then there are specific things to look for, courtesy of the experts over at Clarity, a rehab in Thailand, to distinguish between occasional use and outright addiction, and when you should act on them.
Borrowing money to fund their habit
Many people use drugs recreationally or on rare occasions, and this while obviously not recommended is not inherently a serious problem provided it doesn’t develop. However, one of the first major signs of drug addiction is financial disorganization and disruption.
This comes from a person having to rearrange their finances in order to accommodate their ever-growing addiction and subsequently many addicts begin to rely heavily on friends and family to fund their habit and their various living expenses.
Everybody gets in financial difficulty sometimes and borrowing from a trusted friend or family member for a legitimate reason is perfectly reasonable.
If this turns into asking these people for money more than once a month for wildly varied and suspicious reasons then this, combined with some other signs, could be due to some kind of addiction.
Everybody needs their alone time away from everybody else once in a while, it’s important to be able to allocate quality time to enjoy your own personal space. However, there are some kinds of social reclusion that could potentially be a sign of a greater issue with addiction that may be present.
Often time’s new addicts will try to avoid social situations or spending long periods of time with non addicts. Usually due to a fear of judgment and embarrassment about their problem and prefer to spend it with people who are also using the drug due to a sense of “understanding” each other’s struggles.
You should look for signs that somebody is isolating themselves due to addiction by looking for a sudden change in their attendance at social gatherings or regular activates that were once enjoyed by the person.
In addition, look for any signs that they may have started associating with a new group of friends who they seem unusually attached to.
Recreational drugs tend to affect a person psychologically as well as physical and mentally. Overusing some kinds of substances can lead to very serious mental health problems in the long run and can cause a complete personality shift in serious cases.
Drugs like cocaine, for example, tend to make a person more paranoid, aggressive and bad-tempered after serious addiction starts, this is due to the body attempting to cope with the absence of the drug by changing your body chemistry.
Unfortunately for this tip, there are no surefire ways to tell whether a person’s behaviour is drug-related without physically testing them.
If you notice somebody’s personality changing very rapidly, alongside erratic and out of character behaviour which comes and goes frequently, this could point towards a struggle with addiction.
However, everybody goes through bad patches in their lives so it is best not to instantly assume they are using drugs unless there are other things about their behaviour that you find suspicious.
Losing Job/Dropping Out of School
Sometimes, you can’t help but lose your job, either your employer goes bankrupt or can no longer afford to keep you on.
Whatever the reason it is all part and parcel of being an adult and making your way in the world of work.
However, if your friend suddenly loses interest in a job they were previously very happy with, or suddenly drop out of a college course they were working at completing then this can be a serious indicator that they are allowing their addiction to dictate their day to day lives.
This can be a very serious state of affairs when a person begins to jeopardize their addiction over their future career prospects.
If an employer suspects that you are abusing drugs and fire you for it, then that could forever go against you if you try to find work in that same industry again.
What’s more, is if that person happens to be supporting a family then they now not only have to struggle to finance their addiction but also support them until they find new work.
Hygiene and appearance
Anybody reading this has probably at some point in the past fallen guilty to letting themselves go slightly. Maybe one day you didn’t feel like showering, or perhaps you wanted to see what you would look like with slightly longer, grown out hair.
This is fine, however, when somebody starts to neglect not just their appearance, but also their hygiene, this can be an indicator of a serious problem.
Now obviously there can be many different reasons why a person neglects their appearance, such as mental health or even certain kinds of medications.
However, if you begin to suspect that they are neglecting to take care of their hygiene due to an addiction, it may be worthwhile trying to talk to them about their issues and letting them know (in a constructive and friendly way of course) that people are noticing how they are changing and neglecting their hygiene. This may open them up for more talk on the subject.
The first step to helping somebody tackle their drug dependency issues is by supporting them through their struggles.
At the end of the day, only they can will themselves out of drug addiction, this is the one part of the process that nobody can help with.
Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.
When a person is lonely, they often use drugs and alcohol to cope with their loneliness.
When there are other people for them to interact with, they might be less interested in drugs and alcohol.
Although there is plenty of drug and alcohol abuse in social settings, it must be understood that social bonds are a counter to addiction.
A recovering alcoholic greatly increases their chances of lasting sobriety if they form social bonds with people who do not drink to excess and will support them in their quest for sobriety.
One of the best things a former drinker can do to maintain their sobriety is form friendships with people who are not active alcoholics and will understand that the former drinker must abstain from drinking any alcohol.
Sober friends are a major part of what makes a sober life worth living for a former drinker.
Positive social contact with peers increases happiness, decreases anxiety and depression, and decreases the chances for a major relapse.
Family is also very important in overcoming addiction.
If the recovering alcoholic spends time with family members, they will feel happier, more fulfilled, and be less likely to relapse.
Care should be taken to avoid conflict, if there is any bad blood with a family member, it may be best to keep the former drinker separate from them for a while.
When the time is right, the former drinker can apologize and make amends to such a family member, and if all goes well, relations can continue.
The recovering alcoholic needs to be open and honest about his addiction with his family and talk to them about why it is important to stay sober.
Such discussion will let the family know that the former drinker understands the harm they have done and is willing to take steps to prevent it from happening again.
Getting someone sober after a destructive addiction should be thought of as a group effort and a family effort.
The family must come together to support the recovering alcoholic or addict both for the addict’s sake and the sake of everyone around them.
A helping and loving attitude will go a long way towards making the former drinker feel as though they are being helped to improve themselves, rather than feeling that they are being forced to give up something they enjoy.
Throughout the period of active drinking, the former drinker may have caused many of his relationships with other people to become dysfunctional in some way.
There may have been cases where the former drinker was using people or being used, and in order to move forward with their lives, recovering alcoholics must get rid of such toxic relationships with other people and form bonds which are based on both people benefiting each other and supporting each other’s well-being.
It is very important to get rid of or fix toxic bonds because they are a link to the alcoholic lifestyle and represent an amoral way of living that the former drinker is leaving behind.
All friendships in the new sober life must be based on mutual respect, goodwill, and a commitment to supporting the former drinker’s sobriety.
Some of the old friendships from the drinking days will be salvageable because the friends are willing to be supportive of the former drinker’s sobriety and genuinely care about them.
Other friendships should be left behind for now, because the former friend may be encouraging the person to relapse or the two may be using each other without a genuine care for each other’s well-being, or one might be a parasite upon the other.
Any such toxic bonds which cannot be fixed and assimilated into the sober lifestyle must be broken, to protect the former drinker’s recovery. Sobriety is an entire way of life.
Social bonds with heavy drinkers should be avoided in early sobriety, meaning for the first few years at least.
Active drinkers have a way of sucking others into their way of life, therefore recovering alcoholics should do their best to stay away from active alcoholics except in special circumstances.
Humans are very imitative beings, so it is important that the former drinker not see people drink to excess.
Any drinking done around the former drinker, if it cannot be avoided (which would be best) should be moderate and restrained.
Forming social bonds with people who are supportive of their sobriety and forming healthy bonds with their family will go a long way towards changing the former drinker’s mindset and lifestyle.
The more connected the recovering alcoholic is with others, the better.
They can spend time alone, of course.
However, if the recovering alcoholic is feeling bad and needs someone to talk to and someone is quickly there, they will feel supported in their sobriety.
The power of supporting someone in their sobriety cannot be overestimated.
A former drinker is much more likely to succeed if someone is working alongside them in their recovery, or even is just there at the times when the former drinker can’t get by on their own.
Having someone to lean on in times of despair or struggle will prevent the former drinker from leaning on alcohol.
If the former drinker attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, it will be enormously helpful.
At AA a recovering alcoholic will be surrounded by other people who went through a similar ordeal of destructive drinking and came out of it sober and successful.
There will be examples to follow and people willing to lend a helping hand.
Since the 12th step in AA treatment programme is to carry the message to other alcoholics, a newly recovering alcoholic will find that they are considered the most important member of any meeting, because they are the most in need of help.
AA is specifically designed to help people who have struggled with alcohol addiction, and the AA programme of moral transformation is backed up by a community of caring people who will help any former drinker who is willing to be open and honest.
AA is a great place for recovering alcoholics to make friends, since they will be in contact with a large group of peers.
AA meetings are a group activity that makes the former drinker feel like they are a member of a community.
It is very important that the former drinker attend AA meetings if they are available in the area, and they very likely will be.
The recovery community will be one of the greatest tools a former drinker has at their disposal to ensure their sobriety.
They may be reluctant to attend at first, but because we are social beings, most recovering alcoholics will come to enjoy and look forward to going to AA meetings and sitting and talking with other people going through the exact same journey they are.
AA meetings are helpful, helpful, helpful!
They’re a great place to make sober friends and to form social bonds that can last a lifetime.
The former drinker will begin to see preserving their social bonds within the recovery community as far more important than alcohol could ever be.
When the former drinker has strong social bonds with many people who are supportive of his sobriety, the chances of recovery become much greater.
Family, friends, and a recovery community will all be key parts of the transformation the recovering alcoholic will undergo.
Giving up destructive drinking isn’t just breaking an addiction, it’s a lifestyle change, and the positive social bonds that are formed during recovery are the best defense against the return of addiction.
Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.
For many former drinkers working to stay sober, the past contains many painful memories that they would prefer to leave behind forever.
However, the memories from their drinking days can be very helpful to them in overcoming their addiction.
Many ex-drinkers used to drink in order to forget the bad things that happened.
Issues were covered up with alcohol, and the pain was numbed.
But now that they are sober, it’s time for them to face the problems in their life head-on.
If you are a recovering alcoholic yourself, use the tools provided in this article to strengthen your sobriety.
This article will also be helpful to those want to help former drinkers, but for optimal results, have the former drinker read this themselves.
Learning from the Past
People avoid early on to avoid dangerous actions such as placing their hand on a hot stovetop.
They may have ignored warnings as a child, but after doing it once and getting painfully burned, they avoided it in the future.
They learned from the past.
This is something that alcoholics in their drinking days are often unable to do.
All sorts of pain and misery will be caused by their drinking, both to themselves and others, but they will go right back to doing the activity which hurt them, even though the logical response would be to avoid drinking and thereby avoid the harm it causes.
Now that you are striving for sobriety, you can permanently change that pattern.
By closely examining the harm that drinking caused, you can understand in deeper ways why you must avoid drinking.
Study your drinking history.
Look back at when you started drinking, and why, and what the results were early on in your drinking career.
It’s best to write these things down as well as reflecting on them.
⇒ When did you start drinking to excess?
⇒ When did you start drinking often?
⇒ What was going on in your life when you did?
⇒ And what changed in your life after you started drinking heavily and/or regularly?
The point of all this is to examine what the effect of drinking was on your life, what harms it caused.
As you move on in writing the history of your drinking career, take special care to study the worst disasters in detail.
Would those bad things have happened if you hadn’t been drinking?
If they wouldn’t have, and if the drinking caused them, understand that similar disasters can easily happen if you back to abusing alcohol.
You need to know in your heart that alcohol has hurt you and know in your heart that alcohol can hurt you again.
Another good strategy for learning about your past drinking is to talk to others about their experiences when they were around you while you were drinking.
They may remember things that you don’t or have perspectives and feelings on the situation that are enlightening.
If there were any major incidents during your drinking career that friends or family witnessed, interview them and ask about the things that you did and how it affected them.
Avoid becoming defensive, just listen and learn.
You will likely find that many people were worried about you, and that will become another motivation to avoid relapsing.
The more aware you become of what happened when you drank, the stronger your sobriety will be.
Throughout this exploration of your past, keep in mind that the things that happened while you were drinking can happen again if you keep drinking and/or relapse.
A few months of sobriety does not make you immune to destruction after you’ve relapsed.
The good things in life are dependent upon your sobriety.
Don’t risk losing them by bringing alcohol back into the equation.
Many alcoholics have seriously hurt others, especially the people they love.
While drunk, in their misery and their state of lowered inhibition and increased aggression, they lashed out at others both verbally and physically.
They neglected responsibilities and allowed their duties to others to go undone. They lied, cheated, stole, manipulated, and used others for their own gain.
It may be hard to face the facts of what you’ve done but doing so will give you the knowledge and power needed to never treat people so badly again.
You must use the past to your advantage to create a brighter, sober future.
Whether or not you are in AA, you should create what the programme calls a “moral inventory”.
This is a hard and honest look at both the good and bad things you have done in your life.
This is to be written down, and traditionally in AA, (12 Step Treatment Programme) it will be shared with another person who will keep everything a secret.
However, if you are not in AA, whether it will be shared with others is up to you.
Either way, when you write a moral inventory, hide nothing from it.
Even the most awful things you have done should be written down. You should keep your moral inventory in a secure location, either in a password protected file or in a lockbox if handwritten.
This will give you the confidence needed for full honesty.
Write down the name of every person you have hurt in a major way and write down what you did to them and how you think it made them feel.
Focus on things where the person was significantly harmed or upset by your actions because recording every small wrong would take too long.
For example, if you said rude things on a regular basis to a loved one, focus on the overall themes of how you treated them rather than writing down everything you said, although especially hurtful words can be written out specifically.
Take this very seriously.
The power of writing a record of your wrongs should not be underestimated. A moral inventory has the power to take your sobriety to the next level and prevent urges to drink.
Once the moral inventory has been completed, you can carefully begin the process of contacting the people you’ve hurt and apologising to them or making amends.
For amends, an example would be that perhaps you stole £100 from someone to spend on alcohol.
You would apologise and pay that money back, even if it is difficult. (In this example, it could be done in small instalments over time if you are low on money.)
If a person was very badly hurt by you and would rather not see you, or if they might hurt you when they see you, you should leave them be, however.
This process should not include taking serious risks or contacting people who want to avoid you.
You won’t be able to apologise to everyone, and not everyone will accept your apologies, although you may be surprised by how forgiving many people can be. The point is to try your best to right your former wrongs.
If the person you need to apologise or make amends to is a friend or loved one, be sure to have an in-depth conversation with them about how you can treat them better going forward. Ask them about what you did that was hurtful and how it made them feel.
Work to truly understand how your actions affected them, so you can have a deeper understanding of how vital it is to avoid repeating such mistakes and misdeeds.
This process of working to understand and right the wrongs you’ve done to your loved ones will be appreciated, and unless the damage done is too great, it can lead to stronger bonds in the future.
Looking exclusively at your own failings in a relationship may be humbling and frustrating but put in the work and you will greatly enjoy the rewards.
Doing a moral inventory and then making amends will bring about what AA calls a “spiritual transformation”. What that ultimately means is that you become a better, more caring person.
The process of righting the wrongs you have done brings about a profound psychological shift and change in attitudes that makes sobriety much easier to maintain.
It will help you to understand on the most fundamental level why it is wrong for you to drink—the reason being that drinking ends up causing you to hurt other people and yourself.
After you’ve done your best to fix the damage done during your drinking career, you can move on to a new and happy phase of your life. But you need to put the work in first.
Acknowledging past wrongs and making amends.
Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.
This article is geared towards the problem drinker who has already quit drinking and already has a few days or weeks of sobriety.
Once you or your loved one has gotten past the withdrawals from alcohol, what can they do to start building a happy and healthy life free from drinking?
We will discuss three things the former drinker can do to feel better and stay in a good mood so that they will be less likely to feel the need to drink.
The 3 strategies are exercise, meditation, and spending time with friends who are not drinking.
Excessive alcohol consumption is very damaging to the body, and it’s vital that healthy habits are established to get the former drinker’s body back to proper health. An exercise routine should be established and practised daily.
Exercise has been proven to improve mood, brain function, and physical health. Physical exercise causes the release of endorphins, a feel-good chemical which is the cause of “runner’s high”. Seeking out endorphins with exercise is a healthy way for the former drinker to pursue pleasurable feelings.
One should consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise routine, just to make sure there are no health risks such as heart issues. After approval, the former drinker should immediately begin by walking or biking when they need to go somewhere nearby. Establishing this habit will begin the process of increasing energy levels.
The former drinker should, for the first two weeks or so, try jogging or walking for at least one mile every day. In early human history, people had to walk everywhere they went.
Walking places is a return to healthy and natural human living after long periods of often being inside and drinking all day. Being outside and seeing the trees and sky will also improve the former drinker’s mood and decrease any depression they might be experiencing during this difficult time in their life.
Another part of an exercise routine can be weightlifting, as long as the former drinker is healthy enough to do so. The former drinker can either buy weights for the home (expensive gym sets are unnecessary, dumbbells will do just fine) or get a gym membership.
Lifting weights and building muscle will begin a programme of self-improvement that will improve the former drinker’s self-image and give them healthy goals to work towards. Lifting weights will also make the former drinker feel much better physically. It’s important to avoid overworking oneself in weightlifting, to take regular days off, and to eat plenty of food.
Weightlifting and aerobic exercise may serve other important purposes in the former drinker’s recovery by countering the effects of extended alcohol withdrawal: it can increase appetite by burning calories and combat insomnia by tiring the ex-drinker out.
A balanced exercise program will help the former drinker’s body to recover and regain its natural metabolic and sleeping rhythms.
Meditation, or quieting the mind, is a great way to improve mental health, increase the ability to focus, and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Buddhist monks meditate for long periods of time every day, and those who have been studied report consistently high levels of well-being and happiness.
The benefits of meditation could take up an entire article of this size but suffice it to say that meditating twice a day will make the former drinker a more balanced and healthier human being.
How does meditation work?
There are a wide variety of methods, but a basic method on which variations can be based is as follows. Sit down with your legs crossed and your spine erect, with your hands flat on your legs. Close your eyes either halfway or completely.
Breathe in deeply and slowly, hold it for a few seconds, then breathe out deeply and slowly. As you breathe out, count 1 in your head. Repeat this all the way up to five, then restart. This counting functions as a mantra, or repeated phrase which quiets the mind, and a way to maintain focus.
When thoughts occur, simply acknowledge them and let them pass by. Thoughts are natural, and you don’t need to force yourself not to think, but don’t grasp onto your thoughts and continue them.
You are working to clear your mind. Clearing your mind with meditation will relax you and allow you to think more clearly. If you find yourself falling asleep, open your eyes for a while.
With practice, you’ll be able to meditate for longer without getting sleepy. When you begin meditating, do it twice a day for five or ten minutes at a time, and work your way up over a few weeks to doing it for twenty to thirty minutes at a time, twice a day.
If you are not a fan of counting, there are alternative mantras you can use. A good rule for mantras is to make them relevant to the goals of meditation, for example, repeating in your head with every breath, “Empty mind” or “Pure peace”.
Take meditation seriously and practice it regularly. It will help you find balance in your life and it will reduce the urge to drink. There is a vast array of literature which demonstrates that meditation is useful in overcoming addiction.
Once you establish a meditation habit, you will look forward to it as a time of peace and calm in a life which can often be stressful and hectic.
Regular meditation = stronger sobriety.
#3. Spending Time with Friends Who Aren’t Drinking
To be clear, a former drinker working to stay sober doesn’t need to exclusively have friends who never drink.
But their friends must be people who don’t have destructive drinking tendencies, and their friends must be willing to not drink when they’re spending time with the former drinker.
Recovering alcoholics who are advanced in their sobriety can be around people who drink sometimes, but those who are early on in their sobriety are best off if they avoid being around drinking altogether.
This means not hanging out at bars or parties with heavy drinking.
Being in places where alcohol is abused and being around people who abuse alcohol is to risk a relapse and all the devastation that can bring.
If you are a former drinker and have a friend who wants you to drink with him after you explain why you shouldn’t, that is not really your friend. If you explain to your friend why you must stay sober and they immediately stop trying to tempt you and don’t do it again, that’s a real friend.
If a friend is willing to avoid bringing alcohol around you and to give up drinking it around you, that’s a real friend. You need real friends if you want to stay sober. Real friends will be supportive of your life choice and work with you, not against you.
As a former drinker working to stay sober, you’ll need to meet new people with whom you have common interests to spend time with.
Being around friends will make you feel better and happier, and it will prevent the loneliness which has caused many a relapse. Good places to make new friends are at AA, community events, online and via social media, and in church or other community buildings. Reach out and talk to people you don’t know well.
Interacting with strangers can be tough or awkward, and you won’t have the alcohol to ease social anxiety, but it will be well worth the effort once you make new friends.
You may want to get involved with a sports league or other group that does physical activity. Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people. Be involved with positive group activities, and you won’t want to numb your mind with alcohol.
Get together some friends and go to the movies, go bowling, or go to a concert. Write these suggestions down and do them! If you are reading this because someone you care about is getting sober, show these suggestions to them with helpful hints on how to implement them.
During recovery from addiction, isolation is dangerous. A recovering alcoholic or addict must connect with other human beings. Spending time with other people will make any person healthier, happier, and give their life a sense of purpose.
Doing good deeds for others has been shown to be especially powerful in supporting sobriety. Problem drinking is inherently selfish behaviour, and by helping others on a regular basis and developing generous habits, the former drinker becomes the kind of person who wouldn’t act selfishly.
Isolation is bad
Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.
Many people drink on occasion, and not all drinking is harmful. People can drink alcohol to unwind, to ease social anxiety, and to feel good.
But a surprisingly large number of people become addicted to alcohol, using it on an everyday basis both because they enjoy its relaxing and euphoric effects and because they want to avoid the withdrawal symptoms that would occur if they didn’t drink for the day: agitation, anxiety, insomnia, dysphoria, etc.
However, many people are still able to only have a few drinks a day and keep a job and avoid problems with their family. But what of the remainder?
The remainder, who binge drink and/or drink every day and commonly have more than a few drinks, and do have problems with friends, family, and their ability to be productive in life, are the problem drinkers.
Problem drinkers, also called alcoholics, are so addicted to alcohol that their life becomes filled with problems and is often quite unpleasant. The consequences of their heavy drinking are detrimental to their health, both physical and mental, to their social relationships, to their work productivity, and to their ability to make responsible and ethical decisions.
When a drinker becomes a problem drinker, they stand to benefit greatly from quitting drinking alcohol and stand to lose greatly by continuing along the path of their destructive addiction. So, how do you know if you’re a problem drinker?
Major Signs of a Drinking Problem
First, you need to stop and think about whether your drinking is causing you problems. Try to answer these questions out loud, or in writing.
Are you becoming excessively drunk on occasion, or even on a regular basis?
Are you spending too much money on alcohol, more than you can easily afford?
Do you lose control when you’re drunk and do things you regret?
Do you ever blackout and have memory gaps?
Do you find yourself regretting having slept with certain people while you were drunk?
Do you ever get in fights while drunk?
Do you drive while drunk and thereby risk disaster?
Is drinking interfering with your relationships with friends and family, or causing your work performance to suffer?
Do you drink while you are at work or school?
Do you depend on alcohol to fall asleep?
Has a romantic relationship with a significant other ever ended partially or primarily as a result of your drinking or the things you did while drunk?
Have you physically, verbally, or sexually abused someone while you were drunk?
Do you wish you were able to quit drinking, but find yourself consistently unable to for longer than a few days or weeks?
Do you consume 4-6 drinks per day or more?
Do you binge drink on the weekends and consume very large amounts of alcohol? (for example, 24-packs of beer, entire fifths of liquor, etc.)
Try to name the things you’ve lost as a result of drinking or being drunk, for example by writing a list.
If you’re answering yes to a lot of these questions, or even to one, or have lost/are losing important things as a result of drinking, quitting drinking may be a very good idea.
But these are just some of the broadest ways to determine if you have a drinking problem. In the following two sections, we will explore the physical and then the psychological indications that you might have a drinking problem.
If the descriptions match you, it may mean you have a drinking problem.
Physical Signs of a Drinking Problem
There are many physical ailments and symptoms connected with excessive alcohol consumption.
They fall into two groups: Those caused by the alcohol itself, and those caused by the withdrawal when there is not as much alcohol in the body as it has become accustomed to.
Those caused by hangovers and withdrawal are often characterized by overstimulation, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, shaking (especially in the hands), agitation, muscular tenseness, restlessness, and insomnia, and bodily discomfort, such as headaches, muscle aches, hypersensitivity to light and noise, nausea, lack of appetite, and diarrhea.
If you are having significant withdrawals from alcohol, including hangovers, you are either addicted or consumed too much at once. Either way, alcohol is causing you a problem, and you need to drink less of it in order to stay healthy.
Many normal drinkers have hangovers from time to time, but if hangovers happen often or are severe, then it indicates a problem. And if you start shaking when you haven’t had a drink in a while, it’s a very clear sign that you are addicted to alcohol.
Physical ailments caused by the drinking itself are vast and can be very serious and even life-threatening. In large quantities, alcohol is toxic/harmful to the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and stomach.
Chronic heavy drinking can cause heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, cirrhosis of the liver, kidney disease, and diabetes (pancreas failure). Millions of human beings have died from the cumulative effects of drinking too much alcohol. The best way to determine if you are suffering from organ damage from drinking is by visiting a doctor.
Here are some lists of symptoms of two major diseases caused by drinking, so you can know if you need to visit a doctor. First, there is cirrhosis of the liver. Symptoms of cirrhosis usually don’t show up until the damage is extensive, so if you are a drinker and see these symptoms, you may be in serious danger and should visit a doctor immediately.
chronically itchy skin
yellowing eyes and skin
fluid buildup in the abdomen
easily bleeding or bruising
spiderlike blood vessels that you can see through the skin
and slurred speech.
Some of these are also symptoms of drinking (like nausea), but you should still see a doctor if they are serious.
Second, there is kidney disease and kidney failure. Too much drinking can seriously and/or permanently damage the kidneys. If you see any of the following signs of kidney disease, go see a doctor.
They include waking up often in the night to urinate, blood in the urine, bubbly or foamy urine, dark urine, urinating far too often or not enough, fatigue, swelling in the hands, legs, feet, etc., nausea, rashes, chills and feeling cold (even in warm places), and abdominal pain.
Lesser physical symptoms of excessive drinking may appear/occur while drunk, or in between periods of drinking. The most common ones are nausea and vomiting, dizziness, lack of coordination and balance, speech problems and slurred speech, blurry or double vision, sweating, lowered heart rate and blood pressure, slowed breathing, and loss of consciousness.
If you are experiencing these symptoms often during your alcohol consumption, you may be going overboard and have a drinking problem.
Not everyone who drinks vomits often, and not everyone who drinks has trouble walking. If these things happen on a regular basis, it is a serious warning sign.
Psychological Signs of a Drinking Problem
The psychological symptoms of having a drinking problem include the effects that the alcohol has, the withdrawal effects, and the obsession with drinking that controls the thoughts, words and actions of the problem drinker. We will begin by discussing the symptoms of the obsession.
If you drink often enough or heavily enough, you will develop an emotional attachment to getting drunk and it will become very important to you to get as much alcohol as you want.
Being stopped from drinking will be incredibly frustrating, and you will go to great lengths to ensure that nothing and no one can stop you from drinking. You will use mental tricks to deny how much you have drunk, such as not counting certain drinks because they were of a certain type or consumed several hours ago.
Problem drinkers have a complex system of denial set up so that they can convince themselves and others that they do not have a problem.
If you’re working hard to convince people that you don’t have a drinking problem, it’s likely because you don’t want to admit it because that might mean you have to stop.
A problem drinker often does not want to stop drinking. Not drinking is unpleasant to them and robs them of something they enjoy greatly.
They will ignore the costs of their drinking and focus only on the perceived benefits, essentially claiming that “it’s not a big deal, everybody drinks”. While it is true that drinking is widespread in our society, not everyone has serious problems in their lives because of alcohol.
And if you do have problems because of drinking, you should stop drinking. It’s that simple.
During drinking, a problem drinker will become excessively drunk and lose their inhibitions, often doing risky things that they would not do in a sober state. They may become aggressive/violent and have mood swings, they may have trouble focusing, hearing, and speaking, and they may become sad or depressed.
They may blackout and lose all memory for certain periods of drunkenness. A problem drinker may be out of control while drunk and they may commit crimes or act irrationally. They may be abusive to their loved ones and lash out both verbally and physically. If your drinking causes harm to other people, you have a drinking problem and need to stop drinking.
During periods of withdrawal from drinking, psychological indications that one is a problem drinker include serious anxiety, depression, irritability, confusion and problems thinking, and extreme urges to drink.
The problem drinker will be very uncomfortable and want to drink to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. If you need alcohol to not be in physical and psychological pain, you probably have a drinking problem.
Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.
According to Public Health England (1), between 2017 and 2018, 75,787 people in England were in treatment at specialist alcohol misuse services.
However, 30% of these people dropped out before successful completion of treatment. Methods to “rehabilitate” an alcoholic are glamourized by celebrities and in the media. Yet how effective is it really, and what are scientifically proven ways to help an alcoholic?
This article aims to answer this.
In this Article we cover:
Understanding an addict
Provide a supportive environment
Motivational rather than confrontational interventions
Involve a professional and explore medical options
1. Understanding an addict
It can be difficult living with an alcoholic or justifying their behaviour when many members of the public believe that addiction boils down to a matter of lack of willpower. However, science proves otherwise.
We decide (and continue) to drink based on the following two factors;
A desire for alcohol’s positive effects (such as lack of anxiety and euphoria)
Avoiding alcohol’s adverse effects, typically by continuing to drink in order to avoid a hangover or withdrawal symptoms.
After prolonged and continued alcohol use, the brain itself starts to undergo changes. In scientific jargon, these are called neuroadaptive changes. Evidence currently developing around these changes (2) is important for one specific reason; it clearly shows that addiction is not because of a “lack of willpower.” Instead, the slippery slope of becoming “an addict” it is far more complex than that.
You may have heard the phrase, “love simply comes down to chemicals.” Every pleasurable activity we as humans experience are secondary to chemicals being released in our brains. So, whenever a person engages in a pleasurable activity, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine into the reward or pleasure centre (also in the brain). Our brain’s impulses react in such a way that we experience a subjective experience of “pleasure.”
But why do human beings need to experience pleasure?
Evolution ensured that we would so that we could consistently repeat activities that are rewarding and pleasurable to us. Imagine if we did not find pleasure in eating food? We would lack that drive or impulse given off from our reward centre and not actively seek out things that bring us pleasure.
This is where drug addiction (and alcohol addiction) becomes involved. Drugs and alcohol interrupt the normal workings of this reward pathway via the following;
Drugs release a massive surge of dopamine upon ingestion/inhalation/injection.
Euphoria results from the large amount of dopamine.
Over time, consistently large releases of dopamine reinforce the reward pathway.
Small amounts of dopamine no longer activate this reinforced pathway effectively.
The user is driven to constantly seek out more drugs and dopamine.
Thus, physical changes cause psychological changes (2). And where there are physical changes, “willpower” cannot change anything.
2. Provide a supportive environment
Understand that it is your support and persistence that is the key factor in helping someone to quit drinking. It has been proven in multiple studies that the following help with individual’s addiction and also expedite their timeous recovery (3):
Spouses or partners
If there are difficulties at home, evidence also supports the use of couple therapy and family therapy (4). Always allow an alcoholic to feel less alone, by letting them know that both of you (or a group of you) are tackling a daunting task together. There is strength in numbers.
Additionally, peer support groups, with either abstainers or people in recovery, should be encouraged. This allows someone with an alcohol problem to talk to peers (going through the same motions that they themselves are going through) in a non-judgemental and non-clinical environment. A recent review of the literature (5) showed that these services;
Reduce substance use
Significantly reduce relapse rates
Reduce risky behaviours
Reduce feelings of shame or guilt
3. Motivational rather than confrontational interventions
Motivate, don’t confront.
For a long time now in the literature and in the practice of clinical psychology, motivation has been identified as the key to change (6). A landmark paper was published by Miller, Benefield and Tonigan (7) that compared therapist styles when counselling alcoholics. In follow-up, it was found that the more the therapist confronted the patient, the more the patient drank. This is because confrontation usually produces an immediate client resistance to change. This kind of style included, but was not limited to, directly challenging the client about their problem, disputing them and being sarcastic.
Please take note that, when speaking to an alcoholic, using any of the aforementioned tactics or confronting them directly does not help. The style that instead is proven to work is a supportive, empathic style that uses reflective listening and gentle persuasion (7).
Remember, your task is not to instruct and teach. Your task is to motivate for change. You can leave it up to a therapist, doctor or trained community worker. But you can also incorporate motivational interviewing techniques with the alcoholic you want to help. Here are the basic principles, as suggested by Morrison (8):
Roll with resistance – avoid arguing. Express empathy – allow the person you are trying to help to be heard. Develop discrepancy – identifying the alcoholic’s ambivalence, the most important step. This can easily be done by asking someone what the most important things in their life are. For example, someone may say that their children are the most important to them, but because they are struggling with their alcohol problem, they cannot attend to their children’s needs. This creates inner discomfort and may evoke the realisation for change. Support self-efficacy – support their hope that change is possible by affirming their previous successes and personal strengths.
“Interventions”, which we are all familiar with from any soap opera on television, therefore might or might not be effective, depending on the way you conduct them. However, walking into a room of stony-faced family members or friends is usually confrontational. This makes them therefore ineffective as the person you are trying to help is instantly defensive and resistant.
4. Residential rehabilitation
One of the important questions we aimed to answer in this topic is if “rehab” is necessary or not. We have all seen this concept of “rehab” glamourized by celebrities; they get on a private plane and then take a leave of absence to check into an expensive centre in Beverly Hills or Zurich.
However, this is reality and not all rehab centres serve caviar for dessert.
In the literature, “rehab” is referred to “residential alcohol treatment”. In the United Kingdom (UK), provisions for this is made by the voluntary and independent sector. The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (9) supports these facilities and recognises that “residential rehabilitation is a vital and potent component of the drug and alcohol treatment system”.
Public Health England (1) provides the definition of residential rehab as that of a “structured drug and alcohol treatment setting where residence is a condition of receiving the interventions.” Between 2017 and 2018 in England, a total of 5,980 clients utilized these treatment settings.
A recent observational cohort study (10) was conducted in England and showed 59% of patients completed their treatment successfully in 12 months without relapse for 6 months thereafter. These patients had been withdrawn from an inpatient programme and transferred to a residential rehabilitation setting. Patients with higher levels of success had;
Longer duration of treatment in the rehab setting
Community-based treatment following discharge
Each rehab centre varies in which model they use to help with detoxification, such as the 12-step model made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous, faith-based or therapeutic community. No research has proven the efficacy of one model over the other as it’s largely an individual preference (5).
What you may be wondering about is cost, and residential settings are more expensive than alternatives; however, evidence shows that the initial costs are largely offset by reductions in subsequent health care and criminal justice costs (11). The good news for people in the United Kingdom is that most people receive at least a contribution from public funds, depending on their pension and income.
Please consult rehab-online as part of Public Health England to find a centre that matches your needs.
5. Involve a professional and explore medical options
You can involve a professional by calling a rehabilitation centre or consulting with a physician, community health worker or psychiatrist. You should never be bearing the full brunt of the addiction on your shoulders alone, lest you burn out.
A general practitioner is often a good place to start. They can advise regarding the options discussed in this article and also perform motivational interviewing themselves on your loved one. Importantly, they can also assist with medical options and medication for alcoholism.
The following medicines are supported by NICE guidelines (4).
Ask your doctor about the use of these medications and their side-effects. They are all backed by science but bear in mind that whilst NICE supports their use, it also advises using medication in combination with psychosocial interventions (rehabilitation, counselling and peer support), unless these interventions have failed (4).
6. Avoid co-dependency
If you are close to the alcohol user, you yourself are also at risk of falling into the trap of becoming co-dependent. Co-dependency refers to depending on the alcoholic for happiness and approval, and basing your identity and self-worth on this person (12).
It has been historically shown (13) to enable the behaviour of an alcoholic and, in some instances, become co-alcoholics. This is because co-dependency means;
You manage their problems for them, when he or she should be doing it without you.
You let them get their way most of the time.
You may lie to keep them out of trouble.
You don’t allow your partner to face the reality of being an alcoholic.
If you feel that any of these signs apply to you, refer to the previous subsection and always seek help from a profession.
The psychology behind this also becomes rapidly twisted as a person who is co-dependent may even start to resent an alcoholic seeking help for his addiction, and the co-dependent may subconsciously attempt to sabotage these efforts (12).
You would not have clicked on this article if it did not apply to your life and loved ones in some way or another. Maybe the person you want to help is in complete denial, or maybe they are already on the road to recovery.
The bottom line is that you need to understand the science behind why an addict cannot control themselves in order to lessen the anger you may feel towards them. Your support, at the end of the day, is tantamount and will be the one factor guiding them to recovery.
Don’t be confrontational and always seek out help from a professional; whether you go via the route of a general practitioner, support group or rehab centre, all have proven benefits. However, never let yourself get burned out. A carers job is just as important as the monumental task that faces an alcoholic on recovery.
Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.
Public Health England. 2018. Adult Substance Misuse Statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS): 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. Available: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/752993/AdultSubstanceMisuseStatisticsfromNDTMS2017-18.pdf
Koob, G.F., & Le Moal, M. 2008. Addiction and the brain antireward system. Annual Reviews in Psychology 59:29–5.
Kelly, S.M., O’Grady K.E., Schwartz R.P., Peterson J.A., Wilson M.E., & Brown B.S. 2010. The relationship of social support to treatment entry and engagement: the community assessment inventory. Subst Abus 31(1):43–52. doi: 10.1080/08897070903442640.
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. (2011). Alcohol-use disorders: diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence, NICE clinical guideline 115 (NICE, London) Available: http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG115
Tracy, K., & Wallace, S.P. 2016. Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction. Subst Abuse Rehabil 7: 143-154. doi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047716/
Miller, W.R. 1999. Enhancing motivation for change in substance abuse treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol Series, No. 35. Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
Miller, W.R., Benefield, R.G., and Tonigan, J.S. 1993. Enhancing motivation for change in problem drinking: A controlled comparison of two therapist styles. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 61(3):455–461
Morrison, T. 2010. Assessing parental motivation to change. In J. Horwath (Ed.),The child’s world: The comprehensive guide to assessing children in need (2nd ed.). London: Jan Kinglsey Publisher.
National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse. Residential drug treatment services: good practice in the field. London; 2012.
Eastwood, B., Peacock, A., Millar, T., Jones, A., Knight, J., Horgan, P., Lowden, T., Willey, P., & Marsden, J. 2018. Effectiveness of inpatient withdrawal and residential rehabilitation interventions for alcohol use disorder: A national observational, cohort study in England. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 88: 1-8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2018.02.001
There’s a worldwide epidemic on our hands, and it’s at the bottom of your wine glass. The World Health Organization (1) estimates that nearly three million deaths each year are related to alcohol use.
The National Health Service (NHS) produced its own statistics in 2018 (2) which showed a rise in the death toll due to alcohol; an 11% increase since 2006.
If there is ever a good excuse to stop drinking, this is it! We have reviewed the literature to provide you with evidence-based information about how to best stop drinking.
Before we dive into the article, let’s establish if you as the reader (or anyone you may know) have potential problems with alcohol. The NHS (3) recommends not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
A unit is roughly equivalent to just less than a small glass of wine, a single small shot of spirits or half a pint of a beer/cider. You could be abusing alcohol if you drink more than this, or by answering affirmatively to any of the following in the CAGE questionnaire (3):
You feel you need to Cut down on your drinking.
You get Annoyed if other people criticize your drinking.
You feel Guilty about your drinking.
You need an Eye-opener first thing in the morning to get rid of a hangover.
If any of these apply to yourself or someone you may know, then read on; these are ways to help you stop drinking for good.
In this Article…
Understanding dependence and addiction is the first step
Tackle from multiple angles
Changing behaviour and avoiding external temptation
Seek out peer support
Reward yourself – the right way
Healthy lifestyle, healthy you
Suppress withdrawal symptoms
Appreciating the positive health benefits
Understanding dependence and addiction is the first step
We have referenced this in another article on this blog, How to Stop Drinking Alcohol for Good (Backed by Science). Please take a moment to read through the mechanism of the reward pathway in the brain, to understand how addiction is related to a compulsive need to seek out dopamine to stimulate this reward pathway.
In summary, however, addiction is caused by physical changes in the brain that lead to psychological changes (4). These physical changes in the brain are not something that can be controlled by simply having “willpower.” The good news is that you can, so to speak, “re-programme” these changes in your brain. The bad news? You need to commit to wanting to change. The following points in the article describe different ways that help you stop drinking.
Tackle from multiple angles
An alcohol user in recovery has two broad options;
Medication to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal and cravings
However, it’s not a one-method-fixes all approach. Remember what we just covered in the previous subsection; alcohol addiction is related to both physical and psychological changes.
The evidence in the NICE Clinical Guidelines (5) shows that, in general, psychosocial approaches should be offered to all individuals who misuse alcohol. For those people where such approaches have not worked or those who are mildly dependent, medication may be an add-on treatment option.
“Psychosocial approaches” refers to a broad variety of tools and therapy to help an individual abstain from alcohol. It refers to treating a person’s psychological and social issues at hand, rather than simply taking medicine to combat disease. This is offered by community groups, peer support groups and therapists.
Nonetheless, if a patient, for whatever reason, does not wish to undertake psychosocial interventions and understands the risks and implications of taking medication only, they cannot be denied this.
The bottom line, however, is the following; if you truly want to stop drinking for good, you need to take home multiple suggestions from this article rather than just one.
Changing behaviour and avoiding external temptation
Changing behaviour sounds difficult and, spoiler alert, it is difficult. Very difficult.
We create behavioural patterns, or habits, by behaviour we choose to enforce and repeat. We can change this behaviour, of course, but often it is done best with the help of a trained professional.
Behavioural therapy is offered often in a rehabilitation (or “rehab”) setting, but can also be offered by a trained psychologist or community health worker. We encourage you to read our article How to Help an Alcoholic – Is Alcohol Rehab Required? in order to find out more information and links to various rehabilitation services.
One of the most effective interventions that can be offered by a trained professional, according to the literature, is Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which posits that even though we may not be able to change our circumstances, we can change the way we think about them (5). It also includes strategies to prevent relapse and coping skills. It is a well-established and, most importantly, evidence-based treatment for multiple substance disorders causing a statistically significant effect on reducing substance-use rates (6). Be sure to ask your therapist or friendly professional about this therapy.
A new and emerging therapy is Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (6), which reduces cravings by increasing a client’s awareness of external triggers to drink. After all, sometimes, we are not always aware of the situations and people that lead us to increase drinking. It also increases tolerance to these triggers. So that, even if we are in those situations, the need to drink is lessened. Unfortunately, there have only been a few randomized controlled trials evaluating this technique to date and more research will be needed.
However, the above-mentioned principles can still be incorporated into your everyday life without physically attending therapy. Namely, by avoiding external triggers. In other words:
Avoid people and situations where drinking is encouraged
Try to start recognizing situations (and the people involved) where you are most likely to drink
Seek out peer support
Don’t walk the lonely road of recovery alone. It has been proven that people who undertake alcohol abuse recovery without an adequate support system soon relapse (5). If you can think of someone who can provide you with this support, involve them in your recovery. You have a much better chance at success, statistically speaking. Or, reach out to the following support networks:
Couple or family therapy
An example of a well-known self-help group is Alcoholics Anonymous but there are many others that can offer help. Whilst the jury is out on some of the evidence surrounding Alcoholics Anonymous’s methods (for example, its 12-step programme), the importance of a self-help group is rather the environment it provides, wherein assistance from peers helps to aid recovery and provide much needed mutual understanding (5). Examples of these groups in the United Kingdom can be found at recoverystories.info.
Behavioural couples’ therapy, particularly where one person has an alcohol use problem and the other does not, has been shown to reducing drinking in multiple clinical trials (5). Similarly, if there are unresolved conflicts in a family or interpersonal relationship, family therapy has also been shown to reduce drinking and alcoholism (5).
Reward yourself – the right way
As we previously learned in this article, alcohol use directly affects the part of the brain which makes decision related to perceived “rewards”. Thus, it stands to reason that if we change how we reward ourselves, we depend less on certain inputs like alcohol in order to create that surge of dopamine.
In counselling, motivational interviewing is the evidence-backed tool (5) which employs this exact logic in order to try to empower the client to elicit change. A trained interviewer will often reframe their clients’ problem in certain ways. Take a moment to think about what the following statement from a therapist implies;
“After a stressful day at work, you may need to reward yourself in the evenings.”
What does this imply?
Alcohol can act as a reward
But there are various other alternative “rewards”
Now, think about your favourite activities that help you settle down and reward yourself. Think about the activities you no longer take time to do because you are drinking instead. Are you ready to allow yourself to reward yourself with them, rather than a bottle of wine?
Healthy lifestyle, healthy you
Evidence from existing studies (7) suggests that exercise is a useful adjunctive tool to help one stop drinking. Science points to a dual action of physical activity on alcoholism;
It may lessen the negative effects of alcoholism on health.
It acts centrally on the neurotransmitter and dopamine systems involved in the mechanisms of addiction.
So, we become healthier and we repair some of that physical damage done to our brains caused by drinking. However, there is no current evidence on the optimal intensity, duration, frequency and type of physical activity.
A healthy diet is also important. There is now growing research (8) which promotes a diet of the following;
Limiting sugar and junk food. This is because low blood sugar/glucose induces craving for alcohol. Sugar causes your blood glucose to soar and then quickly drop, inducing cravings for more sugar and alcohol.
Increasing whole grains and fruit. These digests more slowly and keep glucose levels more stable. Thus, you crave sugar and alcohol less.
Increasing L-glutamine-containing foods. L-glutamine decreases cravings for alcohol as well as replacing nutrients lost because of alcohol abuse. Such foods include: almonds, Cheddar cheese, sunflower seeds, free-range poultry, low-fat yoghurt and avocado.
Increasing dopamine-enhancing foods. As we know, this replaces the dopamine in our brain’s reward centre and thus prevents alcohol withdrawal. Tyrosine, a dopamine precursor, is abundant in protein-rich food such as chicken, avocado and turkey. Ripe bananas, strawberries and blueberries help trigger dopamine release.
Suppress withdrawal symptoms
We can suppress withdrawal symptoms effectively with prescribed medication. Remember, this is not a stand-alone treatment option.
NICE guidelines (5) support the use of the following medications:
Acamprosate – reduces withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia
Naltrexone – reduces alcohol cravings
Disulfiram – discourages drinking by making a patient feel ill after the ingestion of alcohol
NICE recommends using medication in combination with psychosocial interventions or if psychosocial interventions have failed. Acamprosate and naltrexone are generally recommended first and foremost; however, disulfiram can be offered if a patient would prefer it. However, one needs to understand that disulfiram has harmful and unpleasant side-effects, such as the extremely unpleasant and amplified hangover effects after drinking alcohol, liver damage, skin rashes and cardiovascular problems (9). Always be sure to ask your doctor if it is the right medicine for you.
Appreciating the positive health benefits
Research proves that excessive alcohol intake can cause (10):
Increased breast and gastrointestinal cancer risk
The good news, however, is that if you quit before the onset of one of these diseases, a study has shown that there is no significant difference in the number of diseases or health status between former drinkers and people who have never ingested alcohol (11). So, the sooner you stop, the more likely it is that you can prevent any further damage to your body.
At the end of the day, your biggest opponent is your own brain. Note how “brain” is mentioned rather than “mind”, as the fallacy that quitting an addiction is simply a matter of willpower must end. Take advantage of now having the scientific knowledge behind knowing why it’s so difficult to quit; this will, in turn, help you replace alcohol’s positive effects and banish its negative effects. After all, there are so many other things in this world that we should be rewarding ourselves with.
Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.
Koob, G.F., & Le Moal, M. 2008. Addiction and the brain antireward system. Annual Reviews in Psychology 59:29–5.
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. (2011). Alcohol-use disorders: diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence, NICE clinical guideline 115 (NICE, London) Available: http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG115
Kiluk, B.D, & Carroll, K.M. 2013. New Developments in Behavioral Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep 15(12). doi: 1007/s11920-013-0420-1
Manthou, E., Georgakouli, K., Fatouros, I.G., Gianoulakis, C., Theodorakis, Y., & Zamurtas, A.Z. 2016. Role of exercise in the treatment of alcohol use disorders. Biomed Rep 4(5): 535-545. doi: 3892/br.2016.626
Arun, A., Vijayalakshmi, S., Arun, K., & Srivastava, C. 2016. An alternate diet approach to quitting alcoholism. International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences. 7(4). doi: 10.22376/ijpbs.2016.7.4.b511-516.
com. 2018. Anatabuse for Treating Alcoholism. Available: https://luxury.rehabs.com/antabuse-disulfiram/
2018. Cardiovascular benefits and risks of moderate alcohol consumption. Available: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/cardiovascular-benefits-and-risks-of-moderate-alcohol-consumption
Park, J., Ryu, Y., & Cho, S. 2017. The Association Between Health Changes and Cessation of Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol Alcohol 52(3): 344-350. doi: 1093/alcalc/agw089
Drink deaths will cost an extra 250,000 lives by 2031 Source – The Guardian Up to 250,000 people could die because of alcohol over the next 20 years unless ministers take strong action to tackle Britain’s chronic drink problems, leading doctors are warning.
The prediction comes in the edition of the Lancet medical journal by three senior experts on alcohol, two of whom are advising the coalition on how to reduce drink-related harm. In a scathing critique of the government’s approach to alcohol, the trio accuses ministers of pursuing policies that will make no difference to the soaring rates of drink-related liver disease. Ministers, including the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, are “too close” to the drinks industry and too reluctant to take effective steps, they say. They welcome the government’s decision to continue raising the cost of drinks at 2% above inflation.
However, “plans to ban the sale of alcohol beverages below cost (duty plus VAT) and to increase duty on beer over 7.5% strength is inconsequential because of the tiny fraction of sales that fall into either category”, write Dr Nick Sheron, Professor Ian Gilmore and Professor Chris Hawkey.
“These policies suggest that the government remains too close to the industry and lacks clear aspiration to reduce the impact of cheap, readily available, and heavily marketed alcohol on individuals and on society,” they write.
Sheron, a clinical hepatologist, and Gilmore, the chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance of medical groups and charities, both serve on the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network along with representatives of the drinks industry.
The doctors estimated how many lives would be saved or lost in England and Wales by 2031, depending on whether ministers pursued a strategy of only minimal change or robust regulation, over and above those that are already expected on current trends. Liver deaths have more than doubled in the UK since 1986.
Introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol and adopting a French-style ban on drink advertising and sponsorship could together see liver death rates fall from the existing estimate of 18,000-30,000 to just 2,500 by 2019, they calculate. But allowing the current upward trajectory of such mortality to continue unchecked would lead to 77,000 extra liver deaths by 2031. However, the wider harms from alcohol, such as deaths from accidents and violence, could mean that as many as 160,000 to 250,000 lives are lost or saved over the next two decades, depending on whether effective action is taken or not.
Historical precedents, such as action to tackle the gin epidemic of 1730-50 and the Defence of the Realm Act in 1914, show that raising the price of alcohol and restricting its availability are the two proven ways of reducing drink-related harm, the authors argue. Yet ministers, they say, have rejected major changes in both areas.
“How many more people have to die from alcohol-related conditions, and how many more families devastated by the consequences before the government takes the situation as seriously as it took the dangers of tobacco?” asked Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, which represents hospital doctors.
He accused ministers of ignoring international evidence showing that price rises and reduced availability are the best two ways to reduce the consumption of alcohol. “Just as the government would expect us to treat our patients with effective medicines, we expect the government to take much stronger action to protect people from alcohol-related harm,” he said. “When will that happen?” The Department of Health rejected the doctors’ views. “The government has wasted no time in taking tough action to tackle problem drinking, including plans to stop supermarkets selling below-cost alcohol and working to introduce a tougher licensing regime,” said a spokeswoman. Reforming public health would also help, and there will be a new alcohol strategy in the summer, she added.
The price of a drink Survey reveals cost of alcohol abuse Source – The Guardian
The toll that alcohol takes on many people’s lives is laid bare in a survey which has prompted fresh calls for action to tackle widespread chronic drinking across Britain. Alcohol’s role in everything from injury and relationship breakdown to trouble with the police, emerges in a poll commissioned by a group of senior doctors. Some 11% of people polled have seen a friend or relative’s relationship end as a direct result of heavy drinking. One in five (21%) know someone who has driven while over the legal alcohol limit. And 51% know someone who has been a victim of drink-related violence, or has been attacked themselves. The survey also found that 14% of children are being brought up in a family where at least one adult has a drink problem.
The YouGov poll, commissioned by the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), paints a graphic picture of alcohol’s many negative consequences. The survey of 2,221 people found that: – 14% admit they have injured themselves while drunk; 2% have injured others. – 43% know at least one person with a drink problem, and 5% say they know more than five people. – 12% have a family member who they believe drinks too much. – 13% go to work at least occasionally feeling unwell due to a heavy drinking session, and 9% have taken time off for that reason. – 4% of women and 1% of men have been involved in domestic abuse linked to alcohol. – 11% know someone who has had to be treated in A&E because of alcohol. – 5% of men have ended up in trouble with the police for that reason. Young people are disproportionately likely to suffer harm.
Some 27% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 31% of 25 to 34-year-olds admit injuring themselves while drunk, while 12% and 15% respectively of the same age groups have taken time off work due to drink. “These findings show there’s a big problem in terms of harm, aggression, antisocial behaviour and actually some very sad outcomes,” said BSG spokesman Professor Chris Hawkey. “Dysfunctional and violent behaviour due to alcohol have become social norms. There used to be shame attached to alcohol dependence and its consequences, but clearly there’s much less of that around now.” He called on ministers to introduce a minimum price of 50p a unit and implement tough restrictions on the advertising of alcohol based on those in France, which bans drink ads on TV and in the cinema, and forbids alcohol sponsorship of sporting or cultural events.
Alcohol Concern, which represents drink treatment services, said the poll undermined industry claims that only a small number of people were affected by excess consumption. “This research shows drunkenness has become a cultural norm and is negatively impacting the lives of millions of people, many of whom are responsible drinkers,” said Don Shenker, the charity’s chief executive. He also called for tougher action against drinks retailers and promoters. “Their irresponsible practices are creating the mirage that drinking is a social right with no consequences.
The reality is far from that. What we have is alcohol being sold for pennies and an accepted culture of excess which blights our town centres and affects friends, neighbours and loved ones,” he added.Professor Steve Field, until recently president of the Royal College of GPs, welcomed the coalition’s plan to ban the sale of alcohol at below cost price. “This is a step in the right direction,” Field said, but added : “The policy must be kept under review: if it is not shown to make a difference on the public’s health, and on antisocial behaviour, then I would urge ministers to look again at a minimum price per unit of alcohol.” A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The majority of people drink responsibly but these findings reflect that alcohol consumption is a serious problem for too many. No one thing will solve this complex challenge of alcohol misuse and the Government is taking action on all fronts including banning the sale of alcohol below cost price and giving local authorities more power over local licensing decisions.” She added: “It is not clear that national minimum unit pricing is the best way to reduce harm so we need to look at other options in England.” Return to All News
The US Federal Drug Administration has issued warnings targeting specific drinks in a clampdown on alcoholic beverages with a high caffeine content. The drinks in question are mostly seen in the States, and are malt based and premixed drinks. The FDA is concerned that the drinks labelling does not state that adding caffeine is “generally recognised as safe”. In some cases, the drinks contained other stimulants alongside caffeine itself. The FDA website claims that they have data and expert opinion that caffeine can: “…mask sensory cues that people rely on to determine how intoxicated they are.
A study conducted by the Toulouse University Hospital, and published in the British Medical Journal, into the link between drinking habits and health have concluded that although their French participants drank more regularly than the Irish, it was the Irish binge drinking habit that resulted in higher levels of poor heart health.
The study compared the men’s choice of drinks, amount of drinks and regularity of drinking as well as their standard of overall health over a ten year period. The findings were that even if the French and Irish men drank the same amounts, over time it was the regularity and type of alcohol that had the most effect on the results. The Irish men tended to drink over the recommended amounts in single ‘sessions’, what is classified as Binge Drinking, where their French counterparts tended to drink smaller amounts, more regularly. The research found that three quarters of the French men tended to drink every day compared to 12% of the Irish, but although drinking more often they drank considerably less each time. Only 0.5% of the French admitted to drinking 5 small wines, or 3 pints of beer/lager in one sitting.
In Ireland, that number shoots to 9%. With the numbers involved, that means that although 7,500 French men admitted drinking daily compared to the Irish 1,200, only 50 French men could be considered ‘binge drinkers’ compared to 900 Irish. The 10 year follow up found that the binge drinking men had double the risk of heart attacks or death form heart disease than the regular drinkers. A representative of the British Heart Foundation, senior cardiac nurse Amy Thompson, has stated: “This reinforces what we already know, that drinking high levels of alcohol can be harmful to your heart.” The British Medical Journal The British Heart Foundation.
05 November 2010 The First Minister Alex Salmond has re-ignited the minimum pricing debate in Holyrood, as he challenged Members of the Scottish Parliament to back the now notorious element of the controversial Alcohol Bill. Appealing to the MSP’s sense of ‘leadership’ he asked them to put aside their personal opposition to the bill; saying: “.. the cost of alcohol is key in terms of consumption levels. Yet, to date, no credible alternative proposals for tackling the low cost of alcohol have been put forward.” “This Parliament now has the opportunity to show some leadership by supporting the minimum price proposals.” The legislation has already faced various set-backs, and has been roundly rejected on various occasions by the sitting government. Return to Abbeycare News. Go Back 1 : Go Forward 1 Return to All News
Scottish Government plans to allow the minimum age for buying alcohol from off-sales to be raised from 18 to 21 have been rejected by MSPs. The SNP administration wanted to let local licensing boards ban off-license sales to under 21s but the move was blocked by Holyrood’s Health Committee. It is the latest blow to the Scottish Governments alcohol Bill. Last week, Labour, Lib Dem and Tory MSPs voted to remove a measure setting a minimum price for alcohol. Opposition MSPs have now said the move to raise the purchase age would discriminate against young people.
The Scottish Government will “carefully consider” Labour calls to ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks,
Nicola Sturgeon the Health Secretary has stated. The move would actually put a limit on the amount of caffeine allowed in a drink by law, effectively banning drinks like the notorious Buckfast Tonic wine, which relies heavily on its high caffeine content for its popularity. Miss Sturgeon has insisted that there is no evidence that this move alone would protect health or prevent crime in line with European Law. Experts told Holyrood’s Health Committee on Wednesday there was no evidence to suggest the tonic wine caused or increased violence. Ms Sturgeon told MSP’s during First Minister’s Questions: “I have consistently said that I remain open to the consideration of any proposals by Labour or others that I would contribute to reducing alcohol related harm.
We have a 92% successful treatment through recovery rate here at Abbeycare, having monitored and analysed completion rates of our clients at Abbeycare alcohol treatment clinic .
Completion rates were highest for intensive inpatient alcohol treatment (92%). We have established that factors associated with treatment completion included a thorough screening and assessment at the point of admission, education, age, ethnicity, and existence of a secondary drug problem.
We have concluded that most importantly the fit between clients and treatment programs is the single most important factor in explaining why some clients complete treatment and others drop out.
That is why at Abbeycare we will work with the person to identify their needs and the best pathway for them on their own journey to recovery by offering the full variety of evidence based pathways.
Alcohol poisoning is more than often a result of binge drinking and if it happens it may be worth seeking alcohol treatment. Alcohol Poisoning occurs when a person drinks too much alcohol in a short space of time. Alcohol treatment can help identify whether a person is regularly putting themselves at risk of alcohol poisoning.
Essentially the central nervous system is impacted when too much alcohol is consumed, which makes breathing and heart rate slow down, and perhaps most importantly while also compromising your gag reflex.
It is extremely important that alcohol poisoning is dealt with as soon as possible if they are not the consequences can be deadly. Beware! Telling the person in question to drink coffee, sleep it off or be sick will NOT help them.
What are the symptoms of alcohol poisoning?
Lack of coordination
Irregular or slow breathing
Blue-tinged or pale skin
Low body temperature
Being conscious but unresponsive
Unconsciousness passing out
Seizures can also become apparent
Treatment for alcohol poisoning
Hydrating the patient and making sure oxygen intake is adequate is very important to recovery. As stated before, binge drinking is one of the main causes of alcohol poisoning.
Binge drinking can cause a number of injuries, overdoses and mental health problems. If you think you or someone close to you binge drinks, it may be time to seek alcohol treatment or rehab help. When a person binge drinks it indicates that they may have a serious alcohol problem.
Signs and Symptoms of Binge drinking
It is very easy to be and remain in denial about our own or loved one’s addiction. If you recognise these signs and symptoms of binge drinking or alcohol abuse it may be time to seek alcohol treatment.
Increase in alcohol tolerance
Drinking to relieve stress or emotional pain
Lost interest in usual activities
Avoiding family and friends
Many failed attempts to control or stop alcohol dependence
You withdraw from alcohol only after you have become dependent on alcohol. In other words, once your body and mind have become used to the presence of alcohol in your system, you are liable to suffer physical and emotional distress when the alcohol is removed.
Typical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
» exaggerated trembling
» blurred vision
» short-term confusion
» hyperventilation and panic
However, the clearest indication of alcohol withdrawal is that the other symptoms are quickly eliminated when you take another drink. Putting alcohol back into your system makes you stop panicking, restores your composure, and soon the trembling and sweating passes.
Having experienced withdrawal a first time, you may become anxious just at the thought of being without alcohol. As a result, the need to obtain more alcohol is likely to be in your mind throughout the day. Likewise, your first thought after waking up (because you’ve had a few hours without alcohol) is likely to be about drink.
Alcohol withdrawal is NOT a bad hangover, although it shares symptoms in common with a hangover. A hangover is a sign that you have drunk too much, and the effects soon pass. Withdrawal is a sign that you need more alcohol in order just to function, and the symptoms will get worse and worse as the hour’s pass.
If you are alcohol dependent, then withdrawal may be a devastating – and potentially fatal – experience. Neither you nor anybody with you should underestimate the impact of withdrawal. When you suddenly remove alcohol from your system, then you run many risks, including the possibility of a seizure, as well as becoming unable to negotiate stairs, or use cars, kitchens or bathrooms safely. You are also liable to panic, and eventually will probably be driven to obtain more alcohol ‘at any cost’.
If you suffer alcohol withdrawal, the clear advice is that you should not suddenly stop drinking alcohol except under medical supervision. Instead, you must moderate your alcohol intake, then seek help and support immediately to enable you to quit safely and effectively.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Simply put, alcohol withdrawal is the stopping and reduction in the level and/or quantity of regular alcohol intake.
When you have consumed a rather high amount of alcohol than your body can carry consistently for a period of time let’s say a week, a month, a year or even more, and you decide to stop or reduce regular alcohol intake over this period of time, that is the definition of alcohol withdrawal.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
There are a number of symptoms to look out for when you are withdrawing from alcohol.
Typical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include:
Let’s look at the above-mentioned symptoms in detail.
1.) Exaggerated trembling
The occurrence of exaggerated trembling as a symptom of alcohol withdrawal is mostly dependent on the severity of withdrawal syndrome.
Another name for exaggerated trembling is tremors and this can be caused by several factors. But as it relates to alcohol withdrawal the most common forms of tremors or exaggerated trembling are cerebellar tremor and enhanced physiologic tremor.
Exaggerated trembling can begin from about 6 hours after you has his or her last drink or may begin sooner. The signs for exaggerated trembling include trouble drawing or writing with the hands, a shaky voice and rhythmic shaking of the hands or the body.
Sweating as a symptom of alcohol withdrawal is dependent on the severity of the condition. That is for how the person has been dependent or addicted to alcohol. Severe sweating as a symptom can occur up to 10 days after the person had his or her last drink.
Another symptom of alcohol withdrawal is shivering. Shivering as a result of withdrawal from alcohol is a sign of a severe case of withdrawal.
Shivering can start to occur 2 to 4 days after the person had his or her last drink.
In a case of severe shivering, the patient can be recommended for treatment immediately.
4.) Blurred vision
We all know how important our eyes and sight is to us in our daily commute and affairs. Alcohol for its part has different side effects and effects on the human body including our sight.
One of the symptoms is blurred vision and most people who have had symptoms of alcohol withdrawal have suffered from blurry vision at one time or the other when trying to give up alcohol.
Double vision or blurry vision after drinking alcohol can be temporary effects of intoxication or a hangover. This effect is not long lasting as it is just due to hangover and its effects clears after you are sobered thereby clearing your sight in 24 hours.
Apart from the blurry vision withdrawal symptoms which is just a symptom on its own, you can also experience blurred vision during detox.
Hangover blurred vision is an indication of high level of binge drinking.
It is important that the dangers of drinking, especially to your eyes is understood clearly. This is because alcohol addiction and problem drinking can cause long term damages to the eyes.
In a severe case, excess alcohol consumption can lead to blindness after the human brain’s ability to process visual input has been impaired.
5.) Short-term confusion
Short-term confusion is also part of the symptoms. For someone going through alcohol withdrawal to suffer the short-term confusion symptom depends on the severity of the person’s withdrawal symptoms.
Short-term confusion symptoms can be noticed during the withdrawal stage. The symptoms could be mild to the moderate and even severe. Short-term confusion is mostly a symptom of a case of moderate alcohol withdrawal.
In a situation where the confusion being experienced by the patient goes beyond short-term confusion, it has then crossed the moderate stage to the severe stage. Which can then be ascribed as Delirium Tremens.
What is Delirium Tremens (DTs)?
Delirium Tremens is a situation whereby the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal have become severe. At this stage, the symptoms have gone beyond mild and moderate, and has become severe.
The condition is characterised by changes in the nervous system.
Which also changes the mental status of the person. The condition is commonly present in people who have abused alcohol for a long period of time usually for more than 10 years. At this stage, the alcohol withdrawal short-term confusion symptom becomes a case of severe confusion. Delirium Tremens, however, are present in only about 5% of patients who are going through withdrawal from alcohol.
6.) Hyperventilation and panic
Hyperventilation happens to almost everyone experiencing alcohol withdrawal. This symptom is often noticed in people who have lived a long alcohol dependent live.
In this case, hyperventilation does not come alone. It works with panic. Hyperventilation and panic as symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are evidence of a life of long dependence on alcohol use.
The longer you have lived a life of alcohol dependence, the more severe the hyperventilation and panic can get.
The clearest indication of alcohol withdrawal is that the other symptoms are quickly eliminated when you take another drink. Putting alcohol back into your body makes you stop panicking, restores your composure, and soon the trembling and sweating passes.
Having experienced withdrawal for the time, you may become anxious just at the thought of being without alcohol. As a result, the need to drink more alcohol is likely to be in your mind throughout the day. Likewise, your first thought after waking up (because you’ve had a few hours without alcohol) is likely to be about a drink.
Alcohol withdrawal is not a bad hangover, although it shares symptoms in common with a hangover. A hangover is a sign that you have drank too much, and the effects soon passes.
Withdrawal is a sign that you need more alcohol in order just to function, and the symptoms will get worse and worse as the hour’s pass.
If you are alcohol dependent, then withdrawal may be a devastating experience. Neither you nor anybody with you should underestimate the impact of withdrawal. When you suddenly remove alcohol from your system, then you run several risks, including the possibility of a seizure, as well as becoming unable to negotiate stairs, or use cars, kitchens or bathrooms safely. You are also liable to panic, and eventually will probably be driven to obtain more alcohol ‘at any cost’.
Other Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
Apart from the symptoms which we have mentioned and discussed, there are other symptoms that you could expect.
Headache is a symptom of so many health conditions.
Usually people who are going through alcohol withdrawal do experience some levels of headache with varying levels of severity. Some people can also experience a foggy head as part of their headache. While on alcohol withdrawal, you may also experience headache and dizziness at the same time.
Insomnia may probably be the most challenging symptom of alcohol withdrawal. You will find it difficult to sleep.
Insomnia usually occurs in the early stages and could also last long after the effects of other symptoms have subsided.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms and dizziness caused by insomnia will also affect the person’s health. It is also a threat to the person’s mental health and wellness.
Should you experience insomnia, it is important to seek help from a medical doctor.
If you suffer any of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, the clear advice is that you should not suddenly stop drinking alcohol except under medical supervision. Instead, you must moderate your alcohol intake, then seek help and support immediately to enable you to quit safely and effectively.
While you are on alcohol withdrawal, you should bear in mind and expect any or a combination of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms described and understand that blurred vision after quitting drinking is different from the blurred vision being experienced as the effect of a hangover.
If you have asked yourself this question, it is enough to suggest you have a problem with your drinking. Is this the first time you have asked yourself the question or has it been nagging you for some time? Try Our The Alcohol Demotivator Tool
If the question won’t go away, what does that tell you?
In the simplest sense, being an alcoholic means you have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol. You know you drink more than is good for you. You know that alcohol is liable to cause you trouble and waste your time.
You know you often drink when there’s no reason to. Your drinking makes you uncomfortable so sometimes you stop for a while, just to make sure you don’t have a problem. Still, it irritates you when family or friends comment on your drinking.
Most folks don’t bother to check whether they have a problem with alcohol, probably because they don’t. They drink alcohol when there’s a good reason, and keep away from the stuff otherwise.
They rarely drink alone.
They stop when they’ve had enough because feeling ill has taught them a lesson about the effects of alcohol. Or they drink more than usual and get drunk as a result. Next day, they put up with the hangover – they don’t pour themselves ‘a hair of the dog’.
Why not just give it up?
Alternatively, why not take a drink and stop worrying about it. If you can’t do either of these things, then you may well be an alcoholic.
That’s who alcoholics really are: people whose drinking causes them real worry, but they still believe that alcohol is their friend.
It’s not your fault: lots of people drink, but some of us pay a terrible price for doing so, if only we could admit it.
You don’t need to be falling down drunk every day, or living on the streets to be an alcoholic. Or will it have to get that bad before you admit you have a problem? Remember alcoholism knows no bounds, socially, financially or demographically.
Alcohol does not discriminate by class, race, or gender.
If you are an alcoholic – or you worry that you are – then there are two sobering (no pun intended) facts you have to know. Firstly, your drinking is bound to get worse and worse until you stop for good. If not halted, it will consume all. Secondly, you probably won’t be able to quit drinking for good without help no matter how determined you are. Or who you are.
You can get help now and no need to keep worrying?
Contact us now for advice about your own situation. Remember, if you think you are an alcoholic, you probably are. Why else would you think it?
An alcoholic who missed an alcohol treatment appointment ordered by a court in Plymouth has been jailed for not attending an appointment because he was in the pub.
The 54 year old man, who was initially spared a twelve-month jailed sentence on the condition he attended an Alcohol Treatment Programme for six months, was ordered to appear before magistrates after missing or being late for four appointments at the treatment centre.
The court in Plymouth heard that on one occasion he did not turn up because: “he was on the way to the pub”.
The prosecutor added: “The view of the service is that he fails to take responsibility for his offence and there is no evidence he is reducing his drinking.”
As well as four months in custody, the man was also banned from driving for five years.
A new report into the state of alcohol abuse in Wales has asked for people to realise that alcohol is everyone’s problem and not to distance themselves from this ever-increasing issue.
The report suggests that the stigma surrounding alcohol consumption means that too many people are still not honest about the problem and its role and impact on in society.
The report, called ‘Everyone’s Problem’, has been published by Alcohol Concern Cymru and specifically asks Welsh ministers to pour more cash into alcohol treatment services.
The Welsh Government said it has requested more powers from the UK government to tackle alcohol problems, including licensing as well as minimum pricing.
“We would like to see a minimum price per unit of alcohol introduced in Wales but the power to do this currently lies with the UK government,” said the spokesperson.
“We have also requested power to legislate on alcohol licensing but this was rejected by the UK government.
“At a time when the UK government is cutting many budgets, the Welsh Government has demonstrated its commitment to substance misuse services by protecting levels of investment.”
Andrew Misell, manager of Alcohol Concern Cymru, said: “We need to be honest with ourselves, and recognise that whilst alcohol is a familiar part of most of our social lives, it is also a toxic and addictive substance.”
“This is not to excuse individual drinkers from personal responsibility, but we have to recognise that a society that uses alcohol will face a certain level of alcohol-related problems, and these must be dealt with appropriately and sympathetically.”
The term denial is often used and associated with alcohol, substance and behavioural addictions.
The reason it is used when referring to individual’s addiction is that addicts use it consciously and unconsciously in order to protect themselves from the reality of their addiction and its consequences.
Sigmund Freud first touted the concept of denial in a recognised psychological way and explained it as an “a defence mechanism by which a person’s own mind would subconsciously hide the facts of reality from them as a way to perhaps protect their ego, or avoid necessary but painful realizations and/or life changes”.
Denial is a way of lying to one’s self in order to protect us from reality. Addicts often use it as a means to continue drinking or using to shield themselves from the outcomes of their substance abuse. All too often alcoholics and drug users blame everyone else for their addiction or deny the very existence of it, as it is extremely hard to come to terms with the fact they are addicts.
Sigmund Freud said that denial is actively used when “a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.”
In a way, it’s as if a person in denial is lying to themselves, but according to the concept, when we are in denial we’re pathologically rejecting reality. That is to say, a person who is in denial isn’t consciously lying because they don’t even know the truth as their own mind has hidden it from them.
The ability to deny allows addicts to continue their behaviour and somehow justify it in their own brain that they are ‘okay’ and can control their addict, despite massive and overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Breaking denial is one of the hardest mental obstacles to do, hence why addiction is such a difficult thing to overcome.
Often, denial in addicts can often be broken down during intervention where friends and family’s persuasive words and actions can cause full realisation in the addict and reduce or eliminate denial all together.
The twelve-step program used firstly by Alcoholics Anonymous – and now adopted by other recovery groups associated with addictive and compulsive behaviour – uses a system where addicts need to address their denial and the program is designed in order to do this.
Indeed, the very first step in the programme which is:
“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable” focuses on the addict eliminating denial and accepting their addiction.
Acceptance and therefore the lifting of denial that the person has an addiction is necessary in order for treatment of the addictive behaviour and recovery.
Denial gets stronger the longer the addiction and the greater the likelihood that residential rehab is needed for the individual to come to terms with their addiction and then start the process of recovery.
Often, many people are still in denial EVEN WHEN THEY ENTER REHAB because they have done so in order to allay family or friends fears. Any good rehab will recognise this, treat accordingly and the client will accept their addiction during their time in rehab.
A leading drug and alcohol rehabilitation expert has expressed his dismay and shock and questioned the professionalism of some of the world’s most famous rehabs in treating ‘addictions’ and changing people’s behaviour in light of the recent story about a dad putting his son in to rehab to stop him being gay.
Mr McLean’s comments come after the breaking story of a 16-year-old boy from Moscow who has been medicated against his will at a drug rehab clinic – for being gay.
Addictions expert John McLean, head of Abbeycare Foundation, a rehab based in Scotland, said: “I feel sorry for this boy and outraged that this rehab has even considered yet attempted to treat this boy for a so-called ‘addiction’. The gay community – as well as many other right-minded people – are outraged by this and I condemn the father’s behaviour too. Being gay is not an addiction and to try and treat it as if is in an addiction using drugs and therapy is nothing short of lunacy and barbaric.”
The incident happened when the boy told his friends and family that he was gay. The boy’s father reacted furiously and sent him to the clinic where he hoped it would change his son’s mind – or least force him into changing his mind.
The story has caused wide outrage in the Russia with human rights activists campaigning outside the clinic.
Mr McLean is a leading interventionalist, therapist and addictions expert and has been working in the field for over 25 years, treating people at his addictions clinic in Ayrshire as well as travelling the world training other rehabs in alcohol and drug treatment.
“Psycho-social interventions only work to changed either learned-behaviour or addictive illnesses as they are cognitive in terms of compulsive and obsessive behaviour. You sexual orientation is not a compulsion, addiction or something that can be treated. I’m disgusted by the clinic for even taking the boy in never mind giving him medications to treat this. It’s nothing short of an ill-attempt at brain-washing and the rehab should be investigated and disciplined for this. Too many rehabs out there are just fancy hotels and holiday retreats and are simply in it for money. Proper rehabs such as Abbeycare would never even consider this and in fact, would report such behaviour by parents as neglect and abuse should it occur in the UK.
Eastenders character Lauren Branning has been battling the booze for some time now and things are coming to a head. Her alcoholic behaviour has got her it to tons of bother and, like a lot of teenagers, things will only get worse unless something or someone intervenes.
To beat the booze, a rehab has outlined Lauren’s life if she chooses to get help now and how her life can change for the better.
The actress who plays Lauren, Jacqueline Jossa, told the Sun recently:
“I am loving the drinking storyline. It is fun to play around with. You can take what your friends are like drunk and what you are like drunk and then just what you would imagine Lauren is like drunk and add it all together.”
However, the actress knows when to stop drinking in real life unlike her onscreen character.
“You do not drink just for the sake of drinking, whereas with Lauren she needs to have another… and then another and another.” Jacqueline told the Sun.
“I love Lauren, bless her. Sometimes I wish she would just have a lovely day or go for a holiday.
“Lauren is starting to realise she might have a problem, so hopefully when she does, things might change.”
Abbeycare Foundation rehab has simulated what life will be like for the character if she continues on the road she is on, and also what life could be like if she gets help now.
Addictions expert Liam Mehigan, service manager of Abbeycare rehab, said: “It’s a very strong storyline and the fact it is gripping the nation is that it is based in real life. Many parents struggle with teen drinking and many teenagers just don’t know the road they could be going down.
“Naturally, a lot of teenagers drink too much and then as they mature return to a healthy normal relationship with booze. However, there are tens of thousands of teenagers who are just beginning a life of addiction and heartbreak for themselves and their parents. Ultimately, if nothing is done about it, their lives will become a complete mess, unmanageable and spiral out of control.”
The rehab has created a timeline of what will happen to Laura if she remains drinking and how she can get help to overcome her addiction and get well. Liam said: “The main way to help Laura is to make sure she understands that she is not alone, help is available, and that she can and will get better if she attends to her problem – a problem unattended will always remain a problem. With alcohol, it is a progressive downward spiral problem.”
Although all alcoholics can get better with help, many nosedive before any help is sought.
Here is how Laura’s alcoholism might pan out:
Feelings of guilt and remorse increase leading to shame
Secret drinking increases
Relationship with mother breaks down – blames the mother for all faults whether true or not
Relationship with friends breaks down due to impaired thinking, resentments and irrational jealousy
Low self-esteem, self confidence and self worth manifest
Drink binges length increases to 4 to 5 days
Aggressive behaviour leads to more trouble with friends and family and law
Tries a geographical escape to Scotland
Neglects eating properly
School and money worries increase
Loses interest in all other activities
Tremors, shaking and ‘DTs’ start becoming normal practice
Fully avoids family and friends
Decrease in tolerance of alcohol, i.e. gets drunk easier
All alibis and excuses for drinking are exhausted
Liam said: “Once Laura gets to this point then there are two options really. One is to get help and begin treatment to turn her life around. The other is not hard to imagine: illness, insanity and death are the main outcomes.
“There is another way that’s proven to work. If she gets to rehab and gets the correct treatment, she can beat the demon drink. Change and understanding has to occur. Understand how she thinks, why she thinks it and then get the tools and techniques to not only quit drinking but to change the way she thinks and then feels and acts in order to live a positive, happy and meaningful life.”
And, here’s how Lauren’s life can turn around if she entered rehab:
Begins a medical detox to help with withdrawals
Therapy begins, starting with one-to-one counselling
Learns that alcoholism is an illness and can be treated
She learns that she can control her addiction and gets new hope
Feels better physically
Starts group therapy and meets likeminded people
Family and friends notice a change
Begins a journey of self-discovery
Doesn’t want to run away from The Square
Changes way of thinking about addiction and self-esteem returns
Natural sleep returns
Employment and career opportunities open up
Head-in-sand feelings go away
Appreciates hope of new way of life
Develops new interest and a new circle of friends
Group therapy continues
Starts to face all life obstacles with courage
Steps to economic stability taken
Increase in emotional control
Ideals reborn and real values installed again
Contentment begins and starts to flourish
Branning family and friends notice an improved Lauren
Interesting, new way of life opens up
Higher levels of contentment than ever before
Back in Eastenders as one of the more positive characters
Let’s hope that Lauren can get the help she needs and stay in the soap a bit longer!
If you need any information on teenage alcohol problems or would like to speak to someone about your own levels of drinking or find out how we can help a family member detox from alcohol, please contact us at Abbeycare Foundation on 01294 835 900.
Withdrawing from alcohol is one of the most unpleasant and toughest things an individual can undertake. The physical and mental demands of suddenly stopping drinking alcohol are hellish – as anyone who has experience them will testify – but they are also extremely dangerous.
Stopping Drinking With A Detox at Home
To help stop drinking and manage the unpleasant side effects of removing oneself from alcohol, a medical detoxification (detox) should be undertaken to ensure that the process is safe. Alcohol is the ONLY drug that people can potentially die from when withdrawing (caused by a seizure or fit), so a supervised medical detox is necessary in order to manage the withdrawals and minimise risk.
There are many ways to undertake a detox and they include residential rehab but many people look to receiving alcohol treatment at home detox – where a safe alcohol detox can take place using the services of specialist addictions prescribing nurse in your own home or safe place.
What’s Involved In A Home Alcohol Detox?
An alcohol home detox involves the prescription of a short course of medication, usually over 3 – 10 days which helps to prevent withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking alcohol. People often get shaky, sweaty and tremulous when coming off of alcohol and often have anxiety and panic.
A sedative drug such as chloradiazepoxide (also known as Librium) or diazepam is used to relieve these symptoms. Getting a detox from alcohol at home is often suitable for those who have commitments including work and children and can’t take the time out to attend rehab. To this end, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have the correct medical attention and having a nurse supervise your detox, is the ideal way of attempting a detox at home.
The process for a good home alcohol detox should be as follows:
A pre-visit telephone assessment to gather any particular special requirements.
Home visitation by a prescribing RMN Addictions specialising Senior Nursing Officer who will carry out a full medical examination which includes:
Blood pressure check
Pulse and respiratory examination
A full physical examination as necessary
Bloods procedure/analysis as necessary
Prescribing of all appropriate sedatives to prevent seizure and reduce withdrawal discomfort
Vitamin, anti-nausea, anti-diarrhoea and gastrointestinal medication prescription as required
Dietary advice and direction
Strictly monitored support throughout the duration
Prescribing of follow-up medication to reduce cravings (Campral) following detox – the duration and prescribing to be assessed on a personal case basis
Recommendation of/an explanation of therapeutic aftercare package to remain abstinent using CBT/person?centred counselling.
Aftercare Maintenance and Abstinence
The last point above is crucial – aftercare has to be put into place. To remain abstinent, therapy should be sought in order to prevent relapse by identifying patterns of thinking and behaving that put you at risk, and by developing new ways of coping with stress and cravings.
Name: Margaret Occupation: Maths Teacher Age: 34 years old Sobriety: 2 Years
Margaret had been drinking alcohol for over 10 years and when her life crumbled around her, she thought all avenues were exhausted but managed to come to Abbeycare for a month-long stay. Margaret lets us know of what happened and how she is now, after treatment with us.
Margaret said: “I committed to change at Abbeycare 2 years ago and, thankfully, the change has taken place.
“Before I reached Abbeycare, I had been to see my doctor on too many occasions to remember. I found him helpful and he had given me a few rounds of prescriptions to detox which never lasted long. He also pointed me towards the addictions team, whom I found ineffective. Looking back now, they were completely lacking in knowledge – they really had no idea about how to get well from this illness.
“The addictions team seemed to be able to explain the symptoms of the problem, but no solutions, apart from cutting down and keep a diary. I thought, if it was that simple, my life wouldn’t have been falling apart. As a teacher, having an alcohol issue caused me all sorts of problems. The board were supportive for a while but as I never really responded to other treatments, I was getting into serious trouble. Eventually, I was recommended to Abbeycare by a friend whose father had been successfully treated there.
“My experience at Abbeycare was the turning point of my life. I learned so much about my feelings and emotions – particularly the fact I was often misunderstanding my feelings and acting out on the wrong ones. I also learned numerous methods to control my anxieties, particularly emotional freedom technique (EFT) which is simply amazing.”
“I believe it was my anxieties that accelerated my use, then abuse, of alcohol. At first, alcohol changed my inner feelings of over-self-consciousness and shyness into me being extrovert and confident, but it never lasted. Before I knew it I was abusing alcohol every day, which lead to severe stress and unmanageability in every aspect of my personal and professional life.”
“That’s all in the past now and I now live a wonderful life, I really do. My life is now full of awareness and I now have the ability to live each day unchained from the bottle. My stay at Abbeycare hasn’t just sobered me up – it has transformed my life to one bursting with happiness, positivity and purpose. Going to Abbeycare has been the best decision I have or will ever make.”
I think it appropriate to record my thanks for the superb care and attention I experienced during my recent 4 week stay at Abbey Care for Detox & Rehab.
Like so many, I was in denial over my drinking problem and did not consider that I could be an alcoholic, so didn’t need help. This persisted for years until Christmas/New Year 2011/12 when family and friends plucked up the courage to address to me what was a very apparent problem to them.
I then realised how low I had sunk due to my drinking and how little I was enjoying life – in fact, I would have been happy for life to end! I realised too the stress my drinking was causing my wife and family. It was my wife who found Abbeycare on the internet and suggested I at least talked to someone there.
With great trepidation and a feeling of real shame, I phoned and talked to Liam. In minutes, I felt relaxed about my problem as I was opening up to Liam in a way I’d never done with anyone else. Twenty minutes later I was booked in for the 4 week session and I felt a lifting of worry & stress as I realised that I was doing something positive at last.
I arrived at Abbeycare not knowing what to expect but with an open mind.
Within minutes I was relaxing by the log fire as Liam took my details and formally welcomed me. I was seen by your doctor very quickly and began my detox that night. I can’t pretend that the first two days were not difficult but they passed quickly and I was then able to fully take part in the programme.
Throughout my stay the numerous members of your staff were fantastic, many of them recovering addicts and fully understanding of my problem. The professional therapists were educational, probing and inspiring and day by day I felt my ‘old self’ returning.
The set up of just eleven patients at any one time was ideal and many an hour was passed in the evenings in front of the fire talking about our lives, problems and hopes for the future, all in confidence. This was, to me, a very valuable part of my stay with you.
I returned home 8 days ago, a bit on edge about returning from the protected world of Abbeycare to real life but the transition was easy. I returned, literally, a new man. I’d learned to become less stressed, less demanding of life – just to enjoy it. My wife and daughter are delighted too, as my daughter put it ‘to have my real dad back’! I now live by the two mantras banged into me at Abbey – “Take it one day at a time” and “If you don’t take the first dring you can’t get drunk”.
I know now that alcoholism is a disease for which there is no cure, but which can be controlled. I am now 36 days sober and looking forward to hitting the 50 mark – thanks to your organisation. I know that there will be (in fact are) bad days, but I just keep busy through them and they pass. I look forward to visiting you all at your planned summer BBQ and to meeting again the patients who shared my 4 weeks.
Lots of people think it is, some think it should be but many other people think it isn’t. We think it is a disease. Here’s a few points to add to the topic:
The American Medical Association (AMA) recognises addiction as a primary disease – one which is not caused by any other disorder. The American Psychiatric Association soon followed suit, recognizing the likelihood of relapse and the necessity of holistic treatment for addicts.
American College of Physicians, the US National Institutes for Health and the World Health Organisation classify alcoholism as a disease.
“Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking.” American Society of Addiction Medicine
The American Medical Association declared that alcoholism was an illness in 1956. In 1991, it further endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under both psychiatric and medical sections.
“It is clear that alcohol dependence is as much a disorder of the brain as any other neurological or psychiatric illness.” World Health Organisation
The latest claims about Paul Gascoigne are that he was injecting cocaine and drinking 15 cans of beer and two litres of gin a day, before he flew to the US to get help with his addictions.
The footballer, who won 57 caps for England scoring 10 international goals, is currently in intensive care in the US, before he then goes to a clinic in Arizona to help treat his alcohol addiction.
He was the most talented and loved football player of his generation. But he is now battling once again with his addictions that threaten to destroy his life.
As John McLean, founder of Abbeycare says:
“Gazza needs careful medical supervision along with ongoing long term therapy. There are only two drugs that require medical intervention – alcohol and heroin – and he needs professional help now before it is too late.”
There are serious dangers related to alcohol detox. In heavy drinkers, the body compensates for the depressive effect of alcohol by ramping up production of a number of hormones and brain chemicals, like serotonin, epinephrine and dopamine.
When a person suddenly stops drinking alcohol, the body becomes flooded with abnormally high levels of those chemicals, causing various symptoms including heart palpitations, arithma, peripheral tremors, insomnia and nausea. That is why alcohol withdrawal is so dangerous and must be done correctly under the right type of supervision.
However, once the detox has been done, a patient is still a long way off recovery. Good rehabs in the UK advocate following the 12 Step model. Recovery is a process, not a model. At Abbeycare we promote the 12 Step model, encouraging residents to use an ongoing support fellowship and to better understand the philosophy and teachings that are the cornerstones of many millions of recovering people throughout the world.
The concern around many celebrities who book themselves into residential rehab is that they are simply doing it for vanity reasons, and are not committed to the time and effort that it takes to fully recover from alcohol addiction.
Hopefully, Paul Gascoigne and those around him are fully committed to helping him on his road to recovery.
Abbeycare, a leading provider of specialist residential alcohol treatment and detoxification centres, has been working with ITV and the Jeremy Kyle Show to help save an alcoholic.
The episode, featuring 41 year old alcoholic Steven, was aired on ITV today and aimed to confront alcoholics who were causing a major disruption in the lives of close family and other people around them and offer them support. In this case, Steven who had been aggressively drinking for years, admitted to drinking 12-14 litres of cider a day. His relationship with his family had deteriorated over time to a state where his son and partner were on the verge of despair.
John McLean, founder of Abbeycare, performed an intervention on Steve, live on the Jeremy Kyle show and Steve subsequently agreed to enter alcohol rehab and get the help on offer. John has spent many years developing his understanding of addictions and has performed many successful interventions. In his journey of recovery he studied addiction and recovery at Rutgers University in New York and also worked with native Americans in association with South Dakota University. He has since then been involved with recovery groups for the past 30 years in both the UK and the USA, working with people to help them transform their lives.
The intervention on TV had a positive impact and Steve subsequently spent four weeks at Abbeycare’s private residential alcohol treatment centre in Newmarket. Abbeycare’s team of specialists worked with Steve, providing him with supervised detox, counseling and therapy, and taught him the skills and motivation needed for overcoming addiction. He is now 3 months sober.
Following his stay at Abbeycare, Steve highly praised the care he received, saying: “When I came to you it was the very last place on earth I wanted to be but I’m glad I did. Being shown how to become abstinent from alcohol has opened a whole new way of thinking and I am loving it. I want to thank Abbeycare for their unbelievable work and effort – they are professional and committed people and believed in me the whole time.” John McLean added: “It is extremely humbling to be able to offer this kind of support to those who need it most. Steve has started to turn his life around and as part of our ongoing aftercare programme we will continue to work with him to ensure he transforms his life to a place where he is sober and living a healthy and meaningful life.”
Abbeycare welcomes the introduction of Neuronovo’s groundbreaking rapid IV nutritional detox therapy to help treat alcohol and drug addiction.
Nutritional IV therapy, favoured by some celebrities, infuses vitamins and minerals through the body and has been used to help treat fatigue, depression, ADHD, eating disorders and to improve general well being.
Dr Damien Downing, a pioneer of ecological medicine, who will be overseeing the treatment at Abbeycare, explains: “The Neuronovo IV nutritional detox offered at Abbeycare, is a neuro transmitter restoration formula of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and co-factor enzymes, and is delivered into the blood intravenously.
It is a rapid detox from alcohol and drugs done entirely using nutrition, restoring brain function and balance in a healthy and revitalising way. Once the body’s neuro-receptor functions have been balanced, clients usually report increased mental clarity, acuity and an enhanced sense of calm, which allows them to fully focus and engage with the powerful educational, psychological and social aspects of the rehab treatment programme.”
This nutritional detox is different from the traditional medical detox used by the rest of the UK’s alcohol and drug rehab clinics, where a drug, chemically similar to the one being ‘detoxed’ (such as Librium or Valium), is given to manage the severity of withdrawal symptoms and calm the nervous system. The IV nutritional detox, as well as being extremely natural and safe, minimises cravings and is a rapid detox.
The nutritional IV therapy is popular with treating addictions in the US and is a powerful and effective detox, especially when accompanied by rehab. The success rate of rehab almost doubles when nutrition is introduced . Neuronovo can also be taken orally as a daily supplement to help maintain sobriety after an initial detox treatment or simply as a way of aiding in relapse prevention. The treatment is not a substitute for recovery but a very effective start to the healing process. Once the brain and body are functioning better, the patient has clarity and focus to engage in the educational rehab recovery process.
John McLean, Abbeycare’s founder says: “In the context of addiction, especially drug and alcohol addiction, an individual often has severe imbalances in their biochemistry, particularly in neurotransmitter levels. By supplementing the body with essential nutrients and co-factors, we can often reestablish proper levels of circulating neurotransmitters, thus minimising the side effects of withdrawal.
This new groundbreaking therapy from Neuronovo is very effective but works best as an adjunct to rehab. At Abbeycare, our intensive treatment programme includes supervised detox, counselling and therapy, where clients work with our fully-qualified psychotherapists and addiction CBT therapists to realise long term recovery and all the benefits that their new level of consciousness and awareness brings to them, their friends and families.”
Abbeycare is the only residential provider of the award winning  Neuronovo IV nutritional detox. The groundbreaking natural treatment, in combination with Abbeycare’s CBT based rehab treatment, will be available as of March 2014.
 3rd International Conference on Chemical Contamination and Human Detoxification, Hunter College, NY, September 2005
 In 2008, Dr. William Hitt received a lifetime achievement award from CAADE, the California Association for Alcohol and Drug educators, for the efficacy and science behind the all natural NTR (™) system for detoxification.
The announcement today by NICE guidelines regarding the use of Nalmefene in mild to moderate alcohol dependence cements the place of opiate antagonists, of which naltrexone is another example, in the challenging treatment of addictions. Nalmefene and naltrexone act in very similar ways, blocking naturally occurring opioid receptors in the brain, attenuating the reward systems associated with consumption of alcohol and blocking the effects of opiates such as heroin, morphine and methadone. When taken as prescribed, opiate antagonists, licensed only in tablet form in the UK, are effective in a significant group of these patients.
As Dr Vince Gradillas, Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director of The Naltrexone Clinic explains, “Addictions, however, are complex disorders, often accompanied by mental ill health, social, vocational or other problems caused by or predisposing to misuse of substances that also need addressing. Furthermore, opiate antagonists only block and do not actively provide addicts with any form of immediate reward or resolution to their distress. Voluntarily taking a tablet, therefore, which does not achieve a reward or reduce psychological pain is often a poor option even for motivated addicts, which partly explains the rather low compliance and relapse rates with this form of treatment, and hence use, of already licensed naltrexone, despite opiate antagonists being available to clinicians and patients for 40 years. Often, particularly for opiate addiction, the process of detoxing itself can prove too difficult a step for many.”
Abbeycare and The Naltrexone Clinic are collaborating to provide services that help overcome some of these difficulties. Abbeycare specialises in rapid opiate detoxes, a five day treatment that increases opiate detox completion rates, and provides motivational and 12-step therapies that continue to play a key role in the treatment of problems associated with addictions. The Naltrexone Clinic, located in London, Birmingham and Newmarket, helps to overcome opiate and alcohol addiction with medical treatments.
Abbeycare has now opened a new women’s only private residential rehab in Ayrshire, Scotland, called Resonate Recovery.
Resonate Recovery is the first of it’s kind in the UK and will offer a detox and rehab programme specifically for women. Similar to Abbeycare, Resonate Recovery integrates 12-step philosophy with innovative cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, as part of a comprehensive 28 day programme however that is specially designed for women.
Traditionally, women have drunk less than men, but in recent decades the gap has narrowed in relation to how much each sex typically drinks. With this closing in the gap of alcohol consumption between the sexes, there are a number of resulting health implications for women.
As Manager Catherine Aird explains:
“Providing female-only detoxification, therapeutic support, and continuing care, we help women achieve the strongest possible start to their recovery from addiction. There are many co-occurring issues women often face in addiction. The highly sensitive issues underlying addiction become easier to work through in the increased safety of a single-gender environment.”
She continues, “For some women who come from an abusive relationship or an environment where male attention is affecting their confidence, a female only environment like Resonate will help them feel safe, ready to recover and deal with their emotions.”
Maybe you’ve seen recent press on the psychedelic substance Psilocybin as the next line of addiction treatment.
Whilst these substances and new approaches will always have their place, perhaps what’s most troubling about these approaches, is not the substance itself but rather the mentality or beliefs they can cultivate.
Most modern rehab clinics, including us, are proud to say that we’re 12 step, fully abstinence based services. We stand for the long term emotional work on the self, and mutual aid supports approach, to long term recovery.
Behind these meetings, and therapeutic work, and mutual support, lies the genuine ongoing desire to reconcile ourselves with our personal history, with our previous wrongs during addiction, and to guard against these recurring in future. We recognise these as part of the base cause of our addictive patterns, and aim for sobriety on that basis.
Without sounding too controversial, dabbling with any chemical or substance approach that seems to offer a way out emotionally – a way to continue any level of denial whatsoever – a way to avoid or get round personal responsibility that we have trained ourselves to acknowledge and work through – surely can’t be strengthening our recovery beliefs or attitudes in the long term – no matter how beneficial at other levels.
Again, some will find that these approaches work well, and complement their own personal style in recovery – which we encourage.
Nevertheless, in our experience, long term sobriety involves more than this – is the ongoing mutual support, and self-work of traditional abstinence based programs hard work? Maybe.
But does it deliver a greater sense of knowing the self, the reasons why, and long term satisfaction of resolving the issues at the core? Definitely.
Compared to what? Your long term sobriety? Sorry to be so challenging.
But if it’s your recovery from addiction .v. convenience here, then we need to focus on the long term value you’re going to get from the rehab process, not just if it’s next door.
This means asking intelligent questions, regardless of location, like:
What’s the total occupancy in the clinic?
Will, that provide enough personal attention?
How many will I be in therapy with?
Is the detox specific to my needs?
What’s the aftercare planning?
The answers to these questions can determine long term success. Finding the right clinic with the right combination of care for you personally is critical. Please don’t sacrifice your sobriety, and future quality of life, for the sake of an extra 30 minutes drive.
2) Help Is Not Available
Help IS available. No matter how damaged you feel, how dysfunctional your situation, how much substance you need to function… the help to understand addiction, how it functions, and how to overcome it – IS available.
The support you need, whether family or therapists, friends, others in recovery, meetings, etc, is there for the taking.
You are not unhelpable, and you deserve just as much support as anyone else in life. A substantial rehab program will provide aftercare supports like these, personalised to your needs. Don’t accept less.
3) I’ve Tried It, It Doesn’t Work
Relapsing is not uncommon.
In fact, those who have relapsed for 1 of 1000 reasons are far more likely to succeed – they know the triggers, their rewards, their patterns, their reasons, much more deeply than others, and are often much more vocal about what problems to focus on therapeutically, next time around.
Long term rehabilitation takes practice. It’s a team sport. We’re changing into a complete recovery mindset.
And that takes time, and support. The fact that a particular trigger, situation, or emotional association wasn’t fully resolved last time doesn’t mean the whole process is broken.
Resolving to understand deeper, even better this time around can be the pathway to long term recovery success.
4) It’s Too Expensive
Private treatment inevitably has costs attached. but the benefits to your health and long term recovery, are multiple.
How good will you feel in 3 months time, knowing you took the action you needed to….took the responsibility, got your life back on track?
In 6 months time? In 5 years? And, there is no substitute for fast admission, fully supervised detox, and comprehensive therapeutic help from specialists in addiction.
In a private clinic, you have access to the specialist help you need. Personal therapeutic attention from support workers. Aftercare planning custom to you.
These options can’t be replicated externally, but do come with a price tag. Have you asked about shared rooms? Reduced stay duration? Finance options? Multiple options are available, and most clinics will work flexibly to arrive at a solution that works for you personally. If they won’t… we will.
5) I Don’t Deserve To Be Helped
Really? How do you know? What events led you to that conclusion? Are they the *only* truth about what happened? …Or just one version of events?
What happened the last time you *were* deserving? Could there be any upsides to holding on to this addiction? Be honest.
You deserve the help just as much as me or anyone else on the planet. Let’s get started.
They’ve lost their “presence”, their consciousness, ability to engage with you, or will to participate in even the most basic conversations.
When the addiction and chaos begin to spiral, they’ve lost a part of themselves to it, and are silently begging for help.
2) Eyes Hollow, Desperate
The look in their eyes may have changed. They may avoid your gaze due to shame or embarrassment.
They may be anxious to the point of compulsive or irrational behaviour – all secondary to withdrawal and cravings. They need help.
3) Charges/Drink-Driving/Trouble With Police
Sometimes it takes multiple, repeated legal issues or crises before they decide to take action, but they’ve needed help a long time before this.
4) Evicted From Accommodation
Maybe a flat-mate or landlord has had enough, and decided to impose the boundaries.
Possibly a one-off crisis, or even a slow progression from routine favours to petty theft to feed the addiction.
These are all symptomatic of someone who has run out of alternative ways to cope, who is now run by the addictive pattern.
5) Partner Exiting Relationship
Very common, this one. Has their partner suddenly broken things off, usually in exasperation or desperation?
How many otherwise strong relationships perish, due to the grip of addiction? How many families are split, and children affected?
It usually means facing the underlying emotional issues, and working through them with help, to resolve the pattern at the core.
Sometimes, all your loved one needs to understand, is that help IS possible.
The normal pattern is for family members to unconsciously enable the addiction initially, without fully realising it, in an attempt to ease whatever emotional pain is in the person’s life.
Later, when already overwhelmingly co-dependent for finances and resources to fuel the addiction, the extent of the problem becomes clear, but it’s too painful to set limits and say No.
Yet this is the best possible solution. Redraw the boundaries and insist they get help. It will ultimately determine their recovery.
And, sometimes, the addicted individual just doesn’t have the presence of mind to do it alone.
7) Extreme Behaviours
When the spiral of addiction quickens, your loved one’s behaviour, attitudes, and language will all change. Increased anxiety and aggression are usual, as they try to ensure access to their coping mechanism. It’s important here to make the distinction between the person themselves, and their behaviour.
Their behaviour, under the influence of psychological, chemical, and physical addiction, is not them. It’s not who they are. They have not changed as a person.
The person you know and love is still there, underneath the attempts to cope. But they do need help.
Rehabilitation from alcohol/drug misuse in a private clinic is typically a 3 stage process, with the long term aim of abstinence-based recovery.
Here’s how it works…
There are normally 3 stages within most full service rehabilitation clinics:
Detoxification is the process of the body breaking down the remaining alcohol or drugs in the system, under a custom prescription medication, to relieve withdrawal and cravings.
Detox normally begins quickly, sometimes just hours after admission and the service doctor’s assessment.
Depending on specifics, the detox normally lasts 5-10 days.
As soon as comfortably possible, you’ll be encouraged to participate in the therapeutic program of recovery in the clinic.
Whilst this typically includes activities like the sports and leisure program, alternative therapies etc, the core therapeutic program normally consists of 12 steps and/or CBT work.
The therapeutic pillars of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and 12 step recovery work, and one-to-one keywork sessions should form the basis of your psychological addiction recovery, and the motivator for change. The goal here is to address:
(i) emotional and environmental triggers of the addictive patterns,
(ii) deeper drivers behind the addiction such as self-esteem beliefs,
(iii) the overall mindset shift into one of long-term, abstinence-based recovery.
We’re trying to help you integrate here, into an immersive environment, surrounded by others on the same journey, aiming for the same goal.
By taking part in a fully residential environment, we remove the triggers that normally initiate addictive patterns, and provide you with the “emotional breathing space” to make progress on the underlying issues, uninterrupted.
Working with addiction specialist therapists, and one-to-one supports sessions, helps you identify and resolve the reason the addiction is in your life – the purpose it serves.
Once we begin to understand the ‘why’ of the addictive pattern, we can identify triggers and their influence, and regain control of life.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, keywork sessions, and mutual aid meetings usually continue throughout your stay, until discharge from the clinic.
Aftercare planning should be individualised planning for all the support you’ll need when reintegrating into life after discharge.
For some, this will be connecting with a personal sponsor, aftercare meetings, and mutual aid supports. For others, there are usually additional options such as paid one-to-one CBT or counselling.
Importantly, the process should be led by your needs at that point – what have you gained from the program? What areas still need support? The more vocal and honest you are, the more the aftercare supports can be personalised to your needs.
You can normally be admitted very quickly after enquiring, most reputable clinics can co-ordinate your admission within 24 hours. Typically the service doctor will carry out an assessment upon arrival, and prescribe the relevant detox for your usage, circumstances, etc.
All this can happen in less than 24 hrs. Is it time for you to begin the journey? How satisfied will you be, in 6 months time, looking back, proud you took the action you needed to take…..having reclaimed your life…
People that are admitted to hospital, or that admit themselves to A&E departments in the Lothian area are to be quizzed on their drinking habits in a new bid to tackle drink related long term illnesses. The scheme was piloted in GP’s surgeries to combat the rising number of hospital beds being filled by alcohol related accident patients and those with chronic alcoholic disorders. By addressing the situation early, and expanding the scheme wider, the health board hopes to improve the overall addiction problem in the area. The predicted amount of people referred to the scheme before the new year is 100,000. Of those, only about 20,000 will actually join on, either through dropping out themselves or not being suitable for the project its-self. Those that do dedicate themselves however, and ‘stay the course’ have a noticeably high success rate.
Alan, 52, an accountant from Staffordshire: Denial and alcohol kill people.
Denial is one of the strongest mental barriers to getting well and the fact that people don’t even know they are in denial – deny that they are in denial! – makes it extremely difficult to break down. It is this denial that kills people with alcohol problems.
Thankfully, Alan managed to realise his denial through the programme at Abbeycare but below we can see how strong his denial was just before he arrived. In a conversation – that Alan has helped us recreate and publish to hopefully help other people see their own myopia – Alan tries to justify his drinking by making excuses and blaming anything but himself for his drinking:
Before starting the programme here, Alan said: “Well, my wife has told me to get help for my alcohol problem.
She said she can’t stand my behaviour anymore and it is making the whole family ill.
She is really playing it up. I know I like a good drink and a good night out with my mates, but my drinking has actually been made worse since she started nagging. I started house drinking a couple of years ago to keep her quiet but now she is counting up what I’m drinking, I actually drank less in the pub.
I work hard and deserve a drink at the end of a long day. “She forced me to see the doctor and he said I was drinking alcoholically and I should find a way to get well now. How can he tell that during a 10 minute appointment? How does he know what I have to deal with in my life?
He’d drink as much as me if he were in my shoes. I suppose doctors have to tell everyone they do everything too much. I’ve left the house and I am living in a B&B. I have just lost my job because my boss said I smelled of alcohol in the morning. He said I was intoxicated, and since driving a company vehicle was part of my job, he fired me. He didn’t breathalyse me, so I will see him at the industrial tribunal and besides, I was driving the vehicle on company property anyway, not the public highway.
I didn’t like him anyway, I’m much better out of there. “My wife is now telling me I can only see the children if I am completely 100% sober. My children are under 10 and it will be damaging to them if she keeps this up. I think it’s her sisters and mother who are pushing her to make me stop drinking.
Just because one of their husbands drank himself to death and her father was an alcoholic. They think I need help to stop drinking, but if they just got off my case I know I can do this on my own. I don’t know why she is acting crazy all of a sudden, she knew I drank heavily when she met me, she was the barmaid at my local pub!
It seems like everybody is ganging up on me and all I do is have a few drinks – what’s wrong with that? “I still love my wife and my children, none of us deserves this pain and they are all making it worse. But, I don’t need to go to any rehab, is there any books about cutting down that you can send me?
Anyway, you’ll find this hard to believe, I only drank beer in the pub – now I’m sitting in the B&B drinking vodka because I know when I see my wife she can’t smell it. Her sisters have said they will pay for the treatment but I’m not accepting that, I will never hear the end of it.
I’ve got my pride, I’m no charity case and I don’t really need the help.” Alan lost his wife, children, job and family network. He has the attitude that the whole world is wrong – except him.
He blames his wife’s concerns (nagging)
He is treating his doctor’s advice lightly
He blames his boss for wrongful dismissal
He has lost the roof over his head
He slates his in-laws for trying to help him
He is using the children to state how unfair and unreasonable his loved one is behaving
He doesn’t need help, he can do it himself
He minimizes the effect his drunken behaviour has on others
A book is going to be the answer to this problem
What is going to take get this man to face the reality of his situation?
He has got himself addicted to alcohol and he has to treat this life-threatening illness seriously.
It is sad to say, but when denial sets in there is one almost universal truth before things get better, they have to get worse . . . sometimes a lot worse. They call it hitting rock bottom, the place lots of alcoholics must reach before reaching out for help.
It doesn’t have to be rock bottom; a person can get off the booze bus at this stop. Millions of people have stopped drinking with the right help. Alcohol doesn’t kill people, it’s the denial that does. If you don’t believe you are an alcoholic then you will do nothing about it and keep on drinking. If a person accepts their problem and addresses it properly, their whole life changes for the better.
Name: John Occupation: Farmer Age: 59 years old Sobriety: 3 years
John spent 28 days in Abbeycare and three years later is still sober.
Focused, healthy and happy, John talks about his life then and now. That was three years ago and John has been talking with us about how his attitude to alcohol – and life – is completely different compared to the dark days of his drinking.
Alcohol gave him a false sense of self and John used it as a tool to overcome his shyness and enjoy many a social gathering. But like many other problem drinkers, the very thing that helped give him confidence ultimately alienated him from friends and family and he was no longer welcome as friends and family activities.
“I had been drinking since I was 16 years old at local pubs and farmers’ dances. I always knew that my drinking was different compared to my brothers and friends. I thought I was always the life and soul of the party, what I didn’t know was that if I took the alcohol away, I was somewhat withdrawn and uncomfortable in company.” “Most social drinkers don’t need alcohol to be outgoing, “social” and interact at social occasions, I did.”
For 40 years, John drunk almost daily and can only remember certain details of the last 10 years before he stopped. And, most of those memories are generally not pleasant.
“For a long period, I was a problem drinker. By problem drinking, I mean that I was bringing problems into my life like losing my driving license (not useful to a farmer when you are 3 miles from the nearest bus stop, or you can’t take a tractor onto a public road between your fields). I’d also wake up in various places not knowing how I got there.”
John’s drinking naturally got worse after the loss of his wife Anne and sent him on a dreadful downward spiral and he neglected every walk of his life:
“My real drop into alcoholism came after the death of my wife and the only way I knew how to deal with things was to drink to forget. My farm was going downhill fast and farming is early to bed, early to rise to make it work.
“I had been hearing but not listening to my brothers and other loved ones for years as they observed my demise. I was always going to stop tomorrow, next week, after my nephew’s wedding or after the next holiday.”
Being involved in a serious farming accident – which John now admits to operating whilst intoxicated – never got in the way of getting a drink but made him take the decision to seek help.
“The time came to really address my problem when I was involved in an accident on the farm and I was taken to the hospital. I needed a drink so badly that I signed myself out and refused surgery on my arm.
John called Abbeycare and spoke to a staff member and a call back with Abbeycare founder, John McLean, was arranged. John said: “Eventually my brothers arranged an intervention with John McLean of the Abbeycare Foundation and he came to visit me at my farm. At first, I didn’t want to know anything and was rude, resistant and quite obnoxious to him, but slowly he broke down my stupid resistance and I went with him to Abbeycare.
“I had always thought I could fix my problems by myself, but I was down on my knees with this one. All the questions were torturing me, why me? Why is this happening to me?
The main thing that I remember John telling me was that anyone can be a victim, but not everyone can be a survivor.” After being admitted to Abbeycare to undertake a detox and join their highly successful programme of recovery, John sobered up and now lives a life free from alcohol and has the first-class recovery.
He remembers the day he went in:
“I chose to be a survivor and go to the Abbeycare Foundation. Just going in lifted a massive weight off of my shoulders – I had hope for the first time in decades. I listened and learned to make the fundamental changes to my thinking that has taken me to the freedom of sobriety. I always thought sobriety would be a boring, dull and uninteresting life.
I will tell you a boring dull and uninteresting life. That is a life sitting in your house alone with only your bottle for a company and a few dire TV channels and not being asked along family or social events because you can’t control your drinking or your behaviour caused by your drinking.” Life is about choices, but not irresponsible choices.
Take up the reins of your own life and choose a life worth living. It can be done, I’ve done it.”
Almost three quarters of the booze sold in the UK is bought as part of a sales or promotional deal according to new research. The new figures state that 71 percent of alcohol bought in the UK is at a discount price.
Although not necessarily a surprising statistic itself, as we see sales promotions all around us, the figures do become alarming when compared to our neighbours in France at 22% and Germany at only 19% of total alcohol sales at discount prices. The research also found that alcohol was on sale and at discount more than any other grocery category. One anti-alcohol lobbyist said:
“With many people purchasing alcohol that they didn’t want nor need when shopping it’s no wonder that our jails and accident and emergency wards are bursting at the seems because of alcohol.”
While many anti-alcohol campaigners have been outraged by these latest figures on UK alcohol availability, many others have cited that you can’t sell anything without a willing buyer and that the research is tainted because the low or non-existent tax on alcohol abroad means it is not a like-for-like comparison.
One blogger, Hamish, on the Telegraph website said: “This is an unfair comparison as the price of alcohol in most of Europe is much, much less than in the UK. It is because of the huge amount of tax on alcohol in the UK that it is so expensive and therefore discounted in order to generate sales.”
If you want to stop drinking alcohol but find you can’t – however hard you try – then you shouldn’t feel bad. It’s an addiction – does anyone want or desire to be addicted? So, how it happened is really not important. What you do next is all that matters. And, the first thing to do is ask for help. However determined you are to stop drinking, your determination will not be enough. If will-power alone could solve the problem, then nobody would stay trapped in drink.
The first – and often hardest – step in rehab is to admit you need help. Tell somebody that you have a problem. Tell your family or a good friend. Tell your GP. Call Alcoholics Anonymous. Call us or email us at Abbeycare.
You will feel like there’s been a weight lifted of off your shoulders. Don’t let pride stop you getting your life back. Don’t say you’ll get help with your drinking after you have sorted out your other problems. As soon as you admit you are losing control of your drinking, then you can start to regain your physical and emotional wellbeing. The good news is that there are many, many people who have successfully escaped their relationship with booze.
At Abbeycare, it’s our job, passion and mission. We know how to beat it and can help you do it.
There is no shame in contacting us. You never chose your addiction – alcohol dependence knows no boundaries.
But there is the hope of brighter days ahead. And, it’s not just hope – we can help you live again. Contact us for an informal chat or more information. It’s a first step to breaking free.
Beware If the service is a housing support service as opposed to an alcohol care home service. A housing support service is what it says, a service to support people who have housing needs and issues like homelessness.Homeless people require advice and support to facilitate their accommodation need.
Beware If you have no housing issues why would you consider a housing support service. Where the staff are not qualified to deliver the many various therapeutic training methods and programme to help those on their pathway to long term recovery from alcohol addiction problems.
Beware Please enquire as to the types of programmes offered and essentially please check out the qualifications of the staff involved.
Beware Make sure you receive a full medical examination on arrival from a medical doctor. If this is not part of the service you or your loved one runs the risk of an alcohol withdrawal grand mall seizure which can result in brain damage, physical complications and even death.
Scots drink four more bottles of spirits a year than in 1990s Source – The Scotsman Scots are drinking an extra 1.2 litres of pure alcohol annually compared with 1994, a report reveals. The 11 per cent increase to 11.9 litres for everyone 16 and over is the equivalent of an extra four bottles of spirits a year.
The study, published by NHS Health Scotland, said the increase was driven by a 53 per cent jump in the amount of alcohol being bought in shops. It also highlighted significantly heavier drinking in Scotland compared to south of the Border, with 21 per cent higher sales and twice the death rate. Spirits such as vodka and whisky account for 29 per cent of the alcohol bought in Scotland in 2009 compared to 19 per cent in the south.
Most of the difference in alcohol sales between Scotland and the south is in shop sales, with vodka accounting for the largest share – 38 per cent – of that difference. Whisky accounted for only 17 per cent of the difference – suggesting tourist purchases account for only a small part of the greater sales in Scotland. The study, published as part of an evaluation of Scotland’s alcohol strategy, contained grim reading along with some positive signs.
Dr Laurence Gruer, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland, said: “This report confirms that alcohol-related harm in Scotland has increased enormously since the early 1980s. Alcohol-related deaths are three times higher and hospital admissions are four times higher than in the early 1980s. In the most recent years, alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions have declined. This is encouraging but it is important to look at long-term trends and it’s certainly too early to tell if the recent improvements will continue. Alcohol-related deaths are still at historically high levels and twice as high as in England and Wales.”
The Scottish Government-commissioned report also showed how alcohol was hitting the poorest hardest. In 2009, alcohol-related deaths were more than six times higher in the most deprived fifth of the population than in the most affluent.
Alcohol groups said the report showed the need for minimum pricing, which the SNP has pledged to again try to introduce if re-elected in May. Tom Roberts, project director for Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said: “With much of this alcohol available at well under 30p per unit, we must take action on price.
Minimum unit pricing is the most effective mechanism we know of to raise the price of cheap alcohol. Next week’s Budget is also an opportunity to begin to reverse the increased affordability which drives consumption.” Jennifer Curran, Alcohol Focus Scotland head of policy, said: “We must face up to the fact alcohol is now more affordable, more available and is more heavily marketed than at any time over the last 30 years. Research evidence shows establishing a minimum unit price for alcohol is one of the most effective ways to increase price and reduce consumption.”
Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “These figures provide yet more evidence alcohol abuse is a major problem in Scotland, although there are welcome signs that consumption is now falling.” The Lib Dems’ Robert Brown said: “The key change that is needed in Scotland is a change in the drinking culture.
Scotland’s accident and emergency rooms dealt with 36,000 alcohol-related admissions in 2009, government figures have shown. There were 39,278 alcohol- related discharges from Scottish hospitals, with 92 per cent of these coming from A&E departments. Scots are also continuing to out-drink their English and Welsh neighbours, consuming an average of 11.9 litres of alcohol each in 2009. The Alcohol Statistics 2011 report found the alcohol market was worth £3.64 billion in 2009, with off-sales or drinking at home becoming increasingly popular. Scots consumed almost 51 million litres of pure alcohol, the equivalent of 11.9 litres per person over the age of 16. While the amount of alcohol consumed from licensed premises, such as bars and pub,s decreased from 2008, there was an increase in off-sales consumption, rising from just over 32.9 million litres to over 34.4 million litres, with Scottish households spending an average of £6.50 on alcohol to take home each week. The volume of spirits consumed by Scots was double that of their English and Welsh neighbours, with 3.5 litres of sprits per person each year compared to 1.8 litres. More than a third of men and women were exceeding the recommended daily limits for alcohol units on their highest drinking day during the week, while more than 50 per cent said they drank most of their alcohol at home.
Beyond the obvious concerns like cost and location, there are several much more subtle questions about rehab you MUST ask before you can be sure you’re paying for the right treatment:
1) How Many Are In The Clinic Right Now? (…And What’s The Maximum Occupancy?)
Short version: you want a lower occupancy clinic, not a big brand name.
Why? The larger the clinic size, the less personal attention you’re likely to receive. We need to maximise your therapeutic time for best long term results. We need a strong set of aftercare supports planned out for you, in detail. A smaller clinic environment affords you the higher levels of personal attention these require. Don’t compromise.
2) Do I Have A *Personal* Support Worker?
Not every clinic provides one-to-one help. Check this.
Ideally, you’ll have someone assigned to you personally, throughout the whole program from start to finish – helping you during detox, talking through therapy insights, working through the 12 steps, helping coordinate aftercare.
A support worker is someone who should stay with you throughout your stay, someone you can develop a recovery relationship with. Make sure you don’t get passed around from person to person. An accomplished support worker is there to help make the process easier, and more comfortable, from start to finish. Does your clinic provide this?
3) What’s Around The Clinic And Local Area?
Believe it or not, this is important. You don’t want a large rehab with huge occupancy, in the city centre, next door to the off-licence!
Just look for some basic reassurance here – rural, smaller clinics are typically more aligned with the emotional environment you’ll need to be able to focus fully on your recovery and get the best long term outcomes.
Is it in the countryside? How far to the nearest town or city?
It’s quick to ask but offers much reassurance for your stay.
4) Is Aftercare Planning Included?
What level of aftercare planning is included? What are the optional paid extras?
A good clinic will help you coordinate strong supports after graduation, like:
– connection with a personal sponsor
– local aftercare meetings in your area
– integration into a local mutual aid or 12 step meetings
Ask what’s included specifically. Does this come with all packages at the clinic, regardless of duration or cost? It’s good to know up front.
Quick tip – Don’t let anyone convince you to plump for paid aftercare services until *after* you’re through the initial rehab program – how could you know how you’ll feel then? Once you’re fully detoxed and have completed a comprehensive therapy program – things will look quite different.
5) How Long Do I Need To Stay?
Since residential stays can vary anywhere between 7-28 days+, the key here is to ask about how long you personally need to stay. This will vary, depending on
– your current usage level
– for how long you’ve been using at this level
– pre-existing conditions and medication
…and other specifics. Best here to be as honest and forthright as possible when enquiring.
If finances don’t allow for a longer stay, make sure your chosen duration will allow for an alcohol detox that’s as comfortable as possible.
While scientists tell us we can become addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, compulsive hoarding, food, emotions, sports, etc, etc….here is the key:
Any addiction – whether it’s cigarettes, anger, alcohol, violence, depression, indecision, compulsions, etc – is only ever filling in for something else.
Every addiction is a solution, in *some* way.
It’s a solution to deal with some other problem, whether that’s coping with self-esteem issues, grief, guilt, unresolved trauma, worthiness, acceptance, depression, etc.
Now, remember back to one of these situations, a time when you felt triggered, felt the need to indulge the addiction, and you did go ahead and drink, or use.
In this state, what positive feelings are there now, as a result of indulging the habit, that weren’t there before? e.g. “I’m important”, “I’m lovable”, “I’m acceptable”, “I’m good enough”, “I matter”, “What I say/do/feel matters”, or maybe something more personal to you.
So if this scenario helps you feel (e.g.) good enough again, then it’s pointing us to self-esteem issues about not feeling good enough generally, do you see?
So the substance is the way to achieve these feelings, you don’t otherwise have.
These would be a starting point for therapy sessions, for example.
Now, what situations have told you you’re not good enough?
Is that *really* true about the situation? Or is that just one interpretation out of many possible interpretations?
Seeking professional therapeutic help in a rehab environment for all these underlying beliefs and traumas that these questions point you to, is the way to deal with addiction at the core.
Be sure your clinic is aware of these subtle, yet crucial distinctions.
– “But he can’t help it”
– “What’s the alternative?”
– “We just don’t know what to do with him(her)”
– “I don’t know how to help him(her)”
– “This can’t go on”
Finding yourself repeating any of these, whilst your own life descends into chaos, as you attempt to support a loved one fighting addiction, is all too easy a cycle to get into. The thing is, it’s not your fault.
Loved One + Addiction + Enabling = Quickening Downward Spiral
In the busy-ness of everyday life, without realising the true extent of the problem, it’s extremely easy to make excuses and exceptions when someone’s having a rough time, needs a drink to get through the rough stuff of life, or any number of other excuses.
But when it becomes a habit, too often, it’s become enabling – consciously trying to help, while unconsciously making the cycle of addiction worse.
Maybe the problem wasn’t big enough to notice consciously at first, but now…..now it’s become too big not to notice.
Your loved one is too deep in the addiction themselves to be able to redraw (or even see) the boundaries, so you need to push the reset button yourself.
It’s not that difficult when you know how.
To send the message, that we will no longer be part of the problem of addiction, we need to mix it up:
– Do odd things at normal times & normal things at odd times, e.g. If you used to habitually support (him/her) in some way, with a regular routine, *stop doing it*. And offer to help find the real resources needed to cope with their addiction instead.
– In your acceptance, be irregular, and uncertain. Make the times you do help, increasingly rare. You are sending a message here over time – that you can no longer be relied upon to provide the coping mechanism that used to be there.
– In your refusals, be vague. A simple “I’m unable to do that” when said with authority, will not attract further questioning.
After all, don’t *you* need to get *your* life back too?
Resetting the boundaries and reclaiming your life is not a result of your inflated “me-time” or self-indulgence, but rather a determinant of:
– your ability to continue to help your loved one in future
– your own future emotional health and well being
Any immediate emotional pain of denying a loved one a short term fix will always be overcome by the long term comfort and satisfaction of knowing you helped them address the real issues, at the core.
This is the time they need to take responsibility, stick their hand high in the air, and say “I need help”. You can step in, in a practical sense, to co-ordinate rehab, counselling, detox, aftercare, 12-step sessions, mutual aid groups, etc.
But if you constantly have to be there at every stage, always pushing your loved one along, who is there at the end? Who is there when they leave rehab? When they’re back in the workplace? When they’re in another relationship?
Assisting him(her) temporarily, in practical ways, to help them take responsibility and get back on track, is fine. Helping them perpetuate a coping mechanism that’s steadily killing them, is not.
Name: Peter Age: 44 Occupation: Sales/Account Manager Sobriety: 7 months
Peter, a 44 year old from Glasgow, stopped drinking alcohol seven months ago and had a happy Christmas with his family. Peter tells us how alcohol ruined his life and how he is now happier than ever.
“Deep down, I knew I had a problem for a long time. I always drank more than other people at home and at nights out and always, somehow, managed keep access to alcohol not too far away.
I often travel the country as part of my job and staying away overnight at hotels gave me the opportunity to consume as much as I wanted without anyone monitoring it.
I also had the ‘odd pint’ on my way back from work, telling my wife I had a quick one or two, when in reality I had drunk five or six pints. All family shopping trips involved stocking up on booze – which I suppose it is socially acceptable – but they don’t tell you at the supermarket that it’s the most powerful drug in the world and can easily destroy families and lives.”
“I never fully accepted my drink problem before the wonderful people at Abbeycare helped me get well. I put it down to stress, lifestyle, travelling, family etc. My drink at the end of the day was my way of dealing with ‘my stress’ it but it never did deal with it.
My stress only increased over the weeks, months and years. I now know that to unwind and relax that alcohol isn’t the solution – it’s actually in me – how I deal with stress, how I manage my life, how I choose to live. Yes, of course, booze works for that couple of hours but drinking as much as I did cannot possibly relax me. I was inebriated most evenings. That isn’t relaxing, it’s anaesthetising. Booze makes us no more relaxed than a boxer is relaxing when he’s knocked out on the canvas.
I might have thought I was relaxing as I forgot about my worries when I drank. But all I did was delay dealing with my problems and I now know booze was the only one. It was the source of my hellish life. I now have a truly amazing life and booze has no part whatsoever in it.”
Peter came to Abbeycare after his wife moved out because she couldn’t get through to him that his stubborn ways, barking and constant grumpiness were making her ill too. This then gave Peter freedom to drink himself into oblivion and gave him all the excuses he needed to continue drinking and blaming other people for his predicament.
“I just couldn’t see what alcohol was doing to me and everyone around me. At the time, I was working and travelling constantly and then when I came home to unwind and have a few drinks, I’d get moaned at. Other people telling me I drank too much and I was lazy. Inside me I was furious as I felt I only worked and then had all the family’s problems when I came back. If I didn’t feel under pressure then I felt apathy. It wasn’t a good way to live. The booze ruled me without knowing.
It made me lethargic, sick and irrational and I never slept very well. Worst of all, it made me treat my family very poorly. I was never there for my wife, children or friends. No wonder everyone had had enough and left me to it. I can see that now with the clarity I have. Booze isolated me into my dining room or hotel room but more dangerously into a dark self.”
Peter learned in Abbeycare that it’s okay to get help for an alcohol problem and there’s no shame in getting well and beating the booze. Shame – like all other feelings is inside of us – and, therefore, is only real to us. And, at Abbeycare that’s what they do best – changing people’s feelings about themselves.
He also had sleep therapy, stress management, personal awareness and holistic therapies as well as his own double bedroom and ensuite – all part of Abbeycare’s treatment to beat booze and live a happy life.
Peter said: “I could not have imagined how this would turn out, I just wish I had done it earlier.
I was terrified to the point of insanity at the thought of stopping drinking, but all of that fear has gone. I am now the most relaxed I have ever been. In fact, I’m no doubt more relaxed than most people who don’t drink. I don’t have problems now – only small things I need to iron out.
I have overcome alcohol, I can easily deal with anything else life can throw at me – I just had to learn how. Only the other day, my wife commented on how happy she is now compared to when I was drinking. That makes me feel so proud. Who needs booze when you’re this happy?”
For information on how to overcome alcohol, how to help a relative with alcohol problems or simply find out more about Abbeycare, please call us on 01603 513 091, complete the form opposite or email: email@example.com
Following recent news from the Irish Times, Irish people suffering from alcoholism are travelling to the UK to be fitted with pellets which block the euphoric effects of alcohol.
Naltrexone pellets are fitted into the lower abdomen, lasting 12 weeks.
These block the “high” individuals experience from alcohol intake, thus discouraging continued use.Importantly, individuals must undergo a full alcohol detoxification, before such implants can be fitted.
Abbeycare are the only UK clinic to provide both the required detox, and the Naltrexone implant, in the same clinic.
First Step Of The Journey
Naturally, Naltrexone should be viewed as the first step toward long term addiction recovery, rather than a solution in and of itself. Abbeycare always advocate the importance of multiple aftercare supports for the best long term recovery outcomes.
Nevertheless, interventions like Naltrexone can provide the much needed emotional breathing space individuals need, as part of a full aftercare plan.
For more info on detoxification, Naltrexone, and aftercare, or to complete detox and Naltrexone in the same UK clinic, contact us at Abbeycare direct on 01603 513 091, or click here to email us.
Naltrexone is a ‘blocker’ solution for heroin or opiate users who need the extra support during recovery, of an antagonist drug.
This acts as a deterrent, such that, if an individual using Naltrexone relapses into opiate use, they do not experience any of the ‘highs’ or feelings of euphoria normally associated with such drugs.
Instead, they experience no feelings at all, and hence will lose the positive association paired with opiate use over time, thus discouraging relapse, and helping maintain positive recovery.
Antagonist drugs such as Naltrexone operate by occupying and blocking opiate receptor sites in the brain, meaning that any new opiates in the system cannot populate these sites and trigger the associated chemical pathways and associated feelings.
Naturally, chemical solutions such as Naltrexone aren’t intended as a solution to the cause of the addiction, merely a deterrent to further use, and encouragement on the bigger journey of recovery.
Naltrexone is normally available in both oral tablet and implant form. The Naltrexone implant itself is normally fitted in the lower abdomen, under local anaesthetic, and lasts for a period of 12 weeks. Longer durations are sometimes obtainable dependent on current regulations and availability.
However, prior to Naltrexone use, the individual must undergo a full supervised detox from opiate use t avoid any abreactions and ensure safe and comfortable use of Naltrexone.
Currently, Abbeycare are the only UK clinic to offer both opiate detoxification and Naltrexone under one roof, in the same residential clinic.
To enquire about Naltrexone or opiate detox, or arrange admission, call Abbeycare direct on 01603 513 091.
Pre-sobriety I always looked upon the ‘Festive Season’ as a period of acceptable drinking excess as everybody, well not everybody, over-indulged.
Many Christmases were ruined due to my drinking with some amusing and not so amusing antics.
I always started the day with the best intentions, as most of us alcoholics do, but inevitably by around lunchtime I was either merrily drunk or at best rather tipsy, but I always insisted that I was capable of serving up the Christmas dinner, often with disastrous results.
The most embarrassing incident was where I took the turkey out of the oven, which had been pre-carved and then re-heated in its gravy, and I proceeded to drop the lot onto the kitchen floor.
Undeterred I simply scooped the whole lot back up on to the serving dish and took it through to the dining room where the assembled family were waiting patiently and merely said that the ‘bird had flown the coop but now it had been recaptured!!’
I was always aware that I would be under extreme scrutiny by my family but no matter what I resolved the drink would, as ever, totally consume my thoughts and as we say, “all bets are off!!”
I would always try and laugh it off, but I became aware that the family were becoming more and more worried and annoyed at my behaviour, and friends would stop inviting us round for social events or gatherings.
The festive season was now a time of dread for my family and I suppose I eventually lost all interest in it as it had just become another day in my chaotic, alcoholic life, and I can’t really remember the last few Christmases when I was in full-blown alcoholism.
I left my rehabilitation treatment centre, Abbeycare Scotland based at Murdostoun Castle, on Christmas Eve 2015 and to say that I was fearful would be an understatement, but armed with the ‘recovery tools in my toolbox’, I decided very quickly that the only way forward was to tackle it head on and that is indeed what I did.
December 2015 was the first sober Christmas I had had in a long time, and it was probably one of the better ones.
The family were kind of walking on ‘egg-shells’ for the first few days, but at least they saw their dad sober for the first time in many years, and if nothing else they had a Christmas dinner that had not ‘visited the kitchen floor’ before being served at the table!!
The experience of that Christmas was to stand me in good stead for the remainder of that festive season and the following year (2016) held no fears or trepidation whatsoever.
In hindsight I think that it was indeed a blessing that I was allowed home at the time I was, and the fact that I survived and coped, helped me to continue thereafter, and up to today I have remained sober and my resolve is probably even greater now to keep and enjoy my sobriety, as in the two years since I have found and totally enjoyed my new life.
When I heard people talking and sharing at recovery meetings about how good life was I just couldn’t imagine how on earth I was going to manage without my ‘best friend alcohol’, but in truth I know that it was NEVER EVER a friend, let alone a ‘best friend’, and I am continuing to absolutely enjoy my life.
Family and friends rallied around when I most needed them and I also gained a whole new army of friends in the various mutual aid groups I am involved with, and they are indeed FRIENDS, like-minded people, who understand the daily rigours of sobriety that give us all a totally new and fruitful way of living.
Now, Christmas time is not a fearful prospect but one which I embrace with great joy and anticipation and I even look forward to preparing and cooking all sorts of meals, knowing full well that they will manage to get from the cooker to the dining table without making a detour via the kitchen floor!!
The family also know that I won’t ‘make an idiot of myself’ at any function or party and indeed I am quite happy now to offer to drive anyone to any place at any time of day in the full knowledge that I have nothing to fear with regards to drink driving, and that alone is quite a change.
Sobriety has given me a fantastic new way of life and I will do everything in my power to maintain it, but I am only too aware that it is only ONE DAY AT A TIME.
If I continue to use the ‘recovery tools in my toolbox’ that the staff gave to me on the steps of Murdostoun Castle on the 24th December 2015, I know I am in with more than a chance of success.
Seeing a loved one’s life spiral wildly out of control can be more traumatising for family members than the addict themselves…(it’s true).
The secrecy, bizarre behaviours, aggression even – these are the signatures of addiction and massive denial.
But there ARE ways to help someone close to you out of that place of colossal denial and spiralling chaos.
The thing is when faced with the option of relieving emotional pain by:
(i) getting that next fix,
(ii) doing the work required…
…an addicted individual will always choose (i). It’s quick, easy, and it allows me to avoid doing any real work or even acknowledging my problems (= more pain).
They’ve repeated this way of coping so much, that it’s become the ONLY way they know how to cope. They truly don’t believe there is any other way.
To help someone in denial we need to:
(i) Convince them that other options exist, that there ARE other ways to cope,
(ii) Address the real underlying problem,
And of course, deal with the chemical/physical addiction too. No mean feat.
Denial is present because it protects the existence of the coping mechanism – if I admit I have a problem, you will take my substance away. And I can’t cope without it.
So we must provide other coping mechanisms and resources in place of the substance itself, or we’ll always hit this denial.
Since denial exists to protect the existence of the coping mechanism, we need to provide these additional resource *first*, *before* then taking that means to cope away.
We need to provide, or at least convince them of, the resources and support that will help replace the alcohol or drugs, as a means to cope.
They need to understand:
(i) they will have numerous other people helping them through the issues they thought they couldn’t cope with, and,
(ii) they will get help to understand the true emotional triggers and causes of their addiction, and thus help themselves.
The truth is that support IS available to help individuals with their life issues.
Whether your loved one is turning to addiction as a means to cope with self-esteem issues, guilt, trauma, or other emotional upsets, the support to work through it IS available, once responsibility is taken.
As a family member, are you more or less likely to support someone in their need to deal with addiction, if they have taken full ownership, admitted responsibility, and accepted wrongdoing?
And so it is with counsellors, family members, medical professionals, employees, etc etc.
Stuck for support ideas for your loved one?
– Local voluntary counselling organisations or public healthcare counselling
– Mutual aid support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc
– Drug Rehab & Alcohol Rehab clinic aftercare meetings, and telephone support
– Local 12 step meetings and events
– Working one-to-one with a personal sponsor
– Connecting with others locally in recovery
– Additional one-to-one CBT or other therapy following rehab
Can you see, that when this many supports are in place, the need for the coping mechanism begins to dissolve?
Now, let’s be realistic – there is much time, commitment, effort, and willingness, involved in all of this.
But when your loved one has completed a supervised drug & alcohol detox and these supports are in place, these are the strengths which pre-empt the need for the alcohol or drugs in the first place, because they deal with addiction at the cause. Make sense?