Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Its important to make healthy lifestyle choices when youre recovering from addiction. This includes eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise, and getting enough sleep. All of these things can help boost your mood and improve your overall health. When you feel good physically, its easier to stay focused on your recovery goals. It can also be helpful to find healthy activities to replace the activities you used to do while abusing drugs or alcohol. This could include things like hiking, biking, or swimming. Physical activity can help you feel good both physically and mentally, which can be helpful on your road to recovery.
Help For Alcoholics: Where To Find Sobriety Resources
People with alcohol use disorders dont have to look far to find help. Almost every community in the United States has communityinitiatives, support group meetings and some form of help for alcoholics.
Those seeking assistance while working to overcome alcoholism can talk to a therapist or expert in person or on the phone.
- Alcoholism hotlines: Several toll-free hotlines provide free information for people with alcohol use disordersor loved ones of people affected by alcoholism.
- Other alcohol-related resources: Several websites, support groups and nonprofit organizations can help you learnabout overcoming alcoholism and staying sober.
- Rehab facilities: Addiction treatment centers can provide over-the-phone assessments and help you determine howyour insurance policy covers treatment for alcohol addiction.
If youre still unsure of how to find help in your community, contact your local hospital or health department. Most healthcare organizations can direct you to helpful resources near you.
Get Help For You Or Your Loved One
Alcohol use disorder can affect anyone regardless of age. Knowing the early signs of alcoholism can help you prevent a full-blown alcohol addiction.
Some signs and symptoms of alcoholism include:
- Drinking alcohol alone or hiding one’s drinking
- Need to increase consumption to achieve the same effect
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Becoming angry when confronted about their alcohol misuse
If you experience these or know someone who does, do not hesitate to seek professional treatment advice. Doctors can help you explore harm reduction programs and assist with staging interventions if needed.
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What Is Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol Use Disorder or alcoholism is a chronic, relapsing disease that is diagnosed based on an individual meeting certain criteria outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .6 To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet any two of the below criteria within the same 12-month period:6
Relapse Is Part Of The Process
Relapse is common among people who overcome alcohol problems. People with drinking problems are most likely to relapse during periods of stress or when exposed to people or places associated with past drinking.
Just as some people with diabetes or asthma may have flare-ups of their disease, a relapse to drinking can be seen as a temporary setback to full recovery and not a complete failure. Seeking professional help can prevent relapsebehavioral therapies can help people develop skills to avoid and overcome triggers, such as stress, that might lead to drinking. Most people benefit from regular checkups with a treatment provider. Medications also can deter drinking during times when individuals may be at greater risk of relapse .
Mental Health Issues and Alcohol Use Disorder
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with heavy drinking. Studies show that people who are alcohol dependent are two to three times as likely to suffer from major depression or anxiety over their lifetime. When addressing drinking problems, its important to also seek treatment for any accompanying medical and mental health issues.
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Find New Meaning In Life
While getting sober is an important first step, it is only the beginning of your recovery from alcohol addiction or heavy drinking. Rehab or professional treatment can get you started on the road to recovery, but to stay alcohol-free for the long term, youll need to build a new, meaningful life where drinking no longer has a place.
How To Reduce Your Risk Of Becoming Alcohol Dependent
Taking regular breaks from alcohol is the best way to lower your risk of becoming dependent on it. If you drink regularly, your body builds up a tolerance to alcohol. Tolerance is a physiological response we have to any drug: the more you consume, the more your body needs to have the same effect. Regular drinking induces certain enzymes in your liver that break up alcohol. If you drink heavily over weeks or months, levels of these enzymes go up, your tolerance builds and you need more alcohol to get the same effects 3.
Brain systems get tolerant to alcohol too, and although you may be able to walk a straight line after drinking quite a lot, this means the brain has adapted so that next day the brain cells expect alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and jitteriness occur, and you can find yourself drinking alcohol just to relieve that.
When youre drinking most days you can become psychologically dependent on alcohol too.
Breaking your drinking cycle is an important way to test for and tackle this kind of dependence. It can prevent your body from becoming accustomed to alcohol and help to lower or reset your tolerance.
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Resources For Friends And Family
If you have a loved one who struggles with alcohol, the best way to help them may not always seem obvious. Depending on the person, this issue may cause a lot of frustration and instability. And regardless, youre likely to be worried about their well-being.
While there are no easy answers, understanding more about alcohol addiction as an illness can make it easier to figure out the best way to help someone. And having access to resources to support yourself can also be a game-changer.
Tips For Preventing Alcohol Abuse & Addiction In Adults
If you are struggling with alcohol, the following tips will help you create healthy drinking habits and prevent alcohol use disorder.
Drink moderately or practice low-risk drinking
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend non-drinkers to abstain from alcohol completely. But for drinkers and people who want to start drinking, you can limit your alcohol consumption to 1 drink per day and 2 drinks per day .8
Those who regularly consume alcohol may also practice low-risk drinking. This means limiting your intake to 3 drinks per day or 7 drinks per week and 4 drinks per day or 14 drinks per week .
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , only 2 out of 100 people who drink within these limits develop alcohol use disorders.4
Be mindful of your alcohol consumption
Monitor your alcohol intake. Whether you are drinking alone or with the company of others, make sure that you drink within the recommended limits.
One way to do this is to alternate drinking with other activities. For instance, you can eat, talk with people, and drink non-alcoholic beverages like juice or soda.
Before you grab a drink, you also have to ask yourself why you are doing it. You should not drink alcohol if you feel sad or stressed, and have other negative emotions.
Drinking to cope with negative emotions will cause you to consume more alcohol than usual. This can lead to alcohol dependence and long-term alcohol abuse.9,10
Avoid triggers that make you want to drink
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Moderation As An Option
Alcoholics Anonymous and many rehab programs often present abstinence as the only option. However, scientific evidence indicates that this is not the case. In fact, for several decades now, the medication naltrexone has been successfully used to help people cut back and moderate their drinking, without requiring total abstinence. And in general there is sufficient research to suggest that moderation-based programs can be an effective alternative to traditional treatment.
There are several reasons that moderation may work better for an individual than complete abstinence. One may be that a persons drinking problem is mild enough that changing their behavior around alcohol isnt as big a challenge. Conversely, their addiction may be so severe that its best to think about harm reductionfinding the best way to reduce that persons drinking to a safer level for the sake of their health. The goal of cutting back can sometimes feel easier to attain.
Finally, even if your long-term goal is abstinence, moderation can be an effective bridge. Under the Sinclair Method, for example, participants can continue to drink moderately over a long period of time as long as they take naltrexone beforehand. The result of this method is that some people lose interest in alcohol completely, and wind up abstaining.
At the end of the day, alcohol use disorder can be treated through behavior modification, which means that some people can learn to drink moderately.
How To Help Someone With An Alcohol Addiction
If someone in your life is struggling with an alcohol addiction, it can be overwhelming to even begin to understand how to support them. You might not know the right thing to say or where to point them for resources. Not to mention, the situation may also stir up mental health challenges for you, as someone in their life.
Theres no right way to help someone who is struggling. But, if someone in your life is dealing with alcohol addition, here are a few things to keep in mind as you help them get their life on track.
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Changes In Relationships And Friendships
Your relationships and friendships are likely to change as you overcome your addiction. It may take time to appreciate a new normal.
You may also be touched by the loyalty and simplicity of those who live life without chasing a high. You may find that friends and family whom you could not get along with while you were embroiled in your addiction welcome you back into their lives.
However, it can also take time and effort for trust to be re-established if you have hurt friends or family while you were actively involved in your addiction.
You may also find that you have less in common with the friends you spent the most time with during your addiction than you realized, and you might find they are intolerant to your new lifestyle.
Remember, you are a great role model and doing these friends a great service by showing them that change is possible. That said, don’t let them pull you back into the life you left behind.
What Medications Are Used To Treat Alcohol Use & Abuse
Some medications can help patients quit drinking, treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and prevent relapse. Patients may also receive different medications while in the care of an addiction treatment professional to help address symptoms of co-occurring disorders if necessary.
Some of the medications patients may receive in the care an inpatient or outpatient treatment provider include:8,12
- Naltrexone, which can help reduce the urge to drink and help to curb problem drinking. It blocks the receptors in the brain that make people feel good when they drink, and it may help to reduce cravings.
- Acamprosate, which is designed to decrease cravings and urges to drink alcohol.
- Disulfiram, , which discourages people from drinking. It blocks the metabolism of alcohol in a persons body so that they experience unpleasant symptoms, like nausea, if they decide to drink.
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How To Stop Drinking
Once you know how much of a role alcohol plays in your life, you can figure out how to quit drinking. Unfortunately, abstainingfrom alcohol isnt a simple process. Things that work for some people dont necessarily work for others.
If youre a casual drinker, saying no topeer pressure may not be easy. You may see a friend who is a casual drinker say no when offered a drink and wonderwhy its easy for them. He or she may not needself-help tools, but those resources might work for you.
Similarly, some alcoholics may be able to stop drinking with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. Others need residential rehaband long-term aftercare support. If one strategy doesnt work for you, try another.
How To Stop Drinking Without Rehab
This is a common question, and the answers turn out to be many and varied. You can go the support group route, as discussed above. You can also find a program that gives you a similar level of medical support as rehab, but without the expense or disruption. Ria Health is one of several programs now offering rehab at home through telemedicine. This means access to expert medical advice, coaches, prescription medication, and digital tracking toolsall from your phone or personal device.
In addition to these options, there may also be outpatient programs, or other affordable forms of medical care near you. Talk to your doctor about whats available. If your doctor thinks its safe, there are also ways of cutting back on your own beforehand. The Sinclair Method may be able to help, and there are a number of apps on the market that can help you quit drinking.
To summarize, regardless of which path you choose, you have choices. If you dont think rehab is right for you, there is likely an option that will suit you better.
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How Do I Help Someone Who Is Struggling With Alcoholism
If you think someone in your life is showing the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction, youve probably already thought about all the ways you could help them.
Here are some steps to think through to guide you through the process of getting them help.
1. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Its always helpful to be prepared for hard conversations. This is a particular conversation where youll want to make sure you clearly articulate a few things:
- Youre having this conversation because you care about them. You can try phrases like, I care about you, or, You matter a lot to me.
- Youre here to talk about the specifics around your concern. Specificity will make sure you arent asking them to read between the lines and will leave little opportunity for misinterpretation. Make sure to spell out, I care about you and Im concerned about how much youre drinking lately. Or, You matter to me and Ive noticed youve been drinking more recently.
Before you begin this conversation, youll want to have a clear plan for when and where youll have it. Pick a time and location that you think will be the most conducive to a productive conversation with this person.
Reasons Why People Drink
Many factors can increase the risk of alcohol abuse. People may turn to alcohol for one reason and gradually develop a dependency on drinking. For example, drinking during difficult times a death in the family or job loss can potentially trigger long-term alcohol abuse.
While there are various reasons as to why people start drinking, some of the most common are to:
Relying on alcohol to reduce daily life stressors can impact the likelihood of developing alcoholism. Since alcohol is a depressant and a sedative, drinking produces feelings of pleasure. However, frequent drinking builds tolerance, requiring you to consume more alcohol in order to achieve the same effects.
Consuming alcohol can provide some people a break from reality. It offers a sense of relief from underlying issues your mind may be trying to escape from. However, continual alcohol use to get through the day or week can turn into a serious drinking problem.
Cope With loss
Losing a family member or friend can take a toll on you emotionally, physically and mentally. Alcohol can ease the grief you are feeling and is used to get through difficult times. Depending on alcohol, even temporarily, can spiral into a drinking problem.
Some people are naturally anxious, causing them to perpetually worry. Drinking lowers an individuals inhibitions and makes them more comfortable in social situations. Over time though, this can lead to addictive behaviors.
Lack Of Connection
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Alcohol Dependence And Withdrawal
Common signs of alcohol addiction, the physical and psychological effects and where to go for help.
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For some people alcohol can be part of many occasions but like many drugs its addictive, both physically and psychologically.
The NHS estimates that around 9% of men in the UK and 3% of UK women show signs of alcohol dependence1. This means that drinking alcohol becomes an important, or sometimes the most important, factor in their life and they feel theyre unable to function without it.