Tuesday, April 23, 2024

How To Manage Drinking Addiction

Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs

How to manage alcohol cravings? – Dr. Sulata Shenoy

The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.

The Importance Of Persistence

Because AUD can be a chronic relapsing disease, persistence is key. It is rare that someone would go to treatment once and then never drink again. More often, people must repeatedly try to quit or cut back, experience recurrences, learn from them, and then keep trying. For many, continued follow up with a treatment provider is critical to overcoming problem drinking.

Replace The Energy Drinks With Healthy Alternatives

Even more alarming are the health-harming substances included in these beverages, such as excessive amounts of caffeine and other stimulants. They raise your heart rate and blood pressure and can cause irritation, anxiety, and insomnia.

Here are some healthier choices that are either caffeine-free or include less sugar:

â Coffee, ideally decaf

â Water, plain or infused with your favorite fruits

â Sparkling water, ideally unsweetened

â Green tea, including bottled sparkling versions

â Herbal or fruit teas

â Kombucha or fermented tea

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Begin Replacing Drinking With Other Habits

Drinking, like any other habit, can be replaced in time with something healthier. All it takes is the conscious decision to change. The new habit has to be something that is enjoyable and good for the body and mind, though.

For example, instead of going to the bar after work every night, you could try attending an exercise class or joining a book club. That way, there will still be plenty of socialization from all the people around you. This can help you to feel less lonely and isolated.

How To Reduce Your Risk Of Becoming Alcohol Dependent

Managing Your Alcohol Addiction

If you drink regularly, alcohol changes the way your liver works, your brain function and creates dependence – meaning you need to drink more to have the same effect.

Breaking your drinking cycle is an important way to test for and tackle dependence. It can prevent your body from becoming accustomed to alcohol and help to lower or reset your tolerance.

Taking regular breaks from alcohol is the best way to lower your risk of becoming dependent on it.

With the right support and motivation, many people can stop drinking or cut down to a lower-risk level of alcohol consumption. But remember, if youre alcohol dependent, you should get medical advice before stopping completely, so you can do it safely. If you’re able to make small reductions first, thats a good sign.

If you choose to drink, theUK Chief Medical Officers advise that to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it’s best to have three or more drink free days each week.

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Preventing Excessive Alcohol Use

Excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths in the United States each year1 and $249 billion in economic costs in 2010.2 Excessive alcohol use includes

  • Binge drinking .
  • Heavy drinking .
  • Any drinking by pregnant women or those younger than age 21.

The strategies listed below can help communities create social and physical environments that discourage excessive alcohol consumption thereby, reducing alcohol-related fatalities, costs, and other harms.

Unsure Of Whether You Have An Aud Take Our Alcoholism Self

Take our free, 5-minute alcohol abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.

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Abstinence Vs Moderation Management: Success & Outcomes

Abstinence is not the only solution for recovering from alcohol use disorders, but it is one of the most studied and successful methods for recovering from alcohol use disorders. Though programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and other well-known programs meant to aid in the recovery from alcohol use disorders and alcohol abuse require or encourage full abstinence, these are not the only solutions known to help people quit or control drinking.

Controlled drinking receives its fair share of pushback from people who believe in common programs that attract problem drinkers. For example, organizations that promote abstinence-only approaches may find moderation to be too loose in its approach to recovery. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or professional 12-step treatment programs may not support the idea of moderate drinking in a controlled environment.4

Anticipate Changes In Relationships

Coping With Alcohol And Drug Cravings

Your relationships and friendships are likely to change as you overcome your addiction. It may take time to appreciate a new normal. 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. Strengthening positive relationships with the supportive people in your life can play an important part in your recovery and continued abstinence.

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Try A Month Of Abstinence

Try doing a dry month like Dry January, Go Dry for July or Sober October, says Moore. In January 2020, more than 6 million people reportedly participated in Dry January, a campaign to reduce alcohol consumption organized by Alcohol Change UK. Follow-up research suggested that most tended to drink in healthier amounts afterward.

See How They Feel About Change

If they dont see a problem, they may accuse you of nagging or over-reacting.

If they have been thinking about change, they may be relieved to talk about how they’re feeling.

If they want to change, they might appreciate your support and advice.

Things you might say

  • ‘Are you worried about your drinking at all ‘
  • ‘I feel like youre drinking is getting a bit out of control. Do you think you might need to cut down a bit ‘

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Looking Ahead: The Future Of Treatment

Progress continues to be made as researchers seek out new and better treatments for alcohol problems. By studying the underlying causes of AUD in the brain and body, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is working to identify key cellular or molecular structurescalled targetsthat could lead to the development of new medications.

Watch For Peer Pressure


Look at your drinking diary. If there are any people who encourage you to drink too much, try to avoid them for the first month or so while you get used to your new style of drinking. If you are constantly surrounded by peer pressure to drink, start seeking out new friends or family members who don’t drink as much.

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What Are The Signs Of Harmful Alcohol Use

You or someone you know might be drinking too much if they:

  • have a strong urge to drink
  • cannot control how much they drink
  • need to drink more over time to get the same good feeling
  • drink while alone, or hide alcohol from members of the household
  • struggle with work, education or relationships
  • lie about how much they drink
  • drink early in the day or are anxious about when they will be able to drink
  • forget what they said or did while they were drinking

After a period of heavy drinking, they may also experience physical effects such as:

If you are a carer, you can seek help from carers associations in your state or territory. They can provide counselling and help to organise respite care.

Visit the Carer Gateway website or call 1800 422 737 for more information.

Starting With A Primary Care Doctor

For anyone thinking about treatment, talking to a primary care physician is an important first stephe or she can be a good source for treatment referrals and medications. A primary care physician can also:

  • Evaluate a patients drinking pattern

  • Help craft a treatment plan

  • Evaluate overall health

  • Assess if medications for alcohol may be appropriate

Individuals are advised to talk to their doctors about the best form of primary treatment.

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How To Manage Addiction

Addiction can happen to anyone, regardless of your experiences or past. Understanding how addiction can take control and recognizing unhealthy behaviors can be a lifeline in helping you take control of your future. Still, it can be a struggle admitting you need help and coming to terms with that reality takes a lot out of a person.

Recognize that addiction happens to a wide variety of people and you are not alone. Whether you or a loved one close to your family is struggling with addiction, you dont have to go through things by yourself. Managing addiction may not come easy at first, but in time it can be controlled and your life or the life of someone you care about can be back on track.

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Here are a few things you can do if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction.

How To Talk To Someone About Their Problem Drinking

Staying Sober and Dealing With Cravings For Alcohol

It can be hard to bring up the subject of problem drinking with someone else.

You may be worried about upsetting them. You may also feel scared about facing up to what can be a difficult problem.

Its normal for a person not to want to face that they might need to change their drinking or give up.

They might never change or it might take a long time for them to be ready. Its their decision and you cant make it happen.

What you can do

  • Keep the lines of communication open.
  • Let them know the effect their drinking is having on you.

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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.

Where Detox Is Carried Out

How and where you attempt detoxification will be determined by your level of alcohol dependency. In mild cases, you should be able to detox at home without the use of medication as your withdrawal symptoms should also be mild.

If your consumption of alcohol is high or you’ve previously experienced withdrawal symptoms, you may also be able to detox at home with medication to help ease withdrawal symptoms. A tranquiliser called chlordiazepoxide is usually used for this purpose.

If your dependency is severe, you may need to go to a hospital or clinic to detox. This is because the withdrawal symptoms will also be severe and are likely to need specialist treatment.

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Is Alcohol Use Disorder A Disease

Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition. Its a disease of brain function and requires medical and psychological treatments to control it.

Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate or severe. It can develop quickly or over a long period of time. Its also called alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction or alcohol abuse.

Evaluate Your Drinking Habits

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It is easy to stay in denial of a substance abuse problem if you have never really evaluated the facts regarding the situation. The first step in stopping drinking alcohol is to take a hard look at the number of alcoholic beverages that you are consuming each day.

This includes evaluating how much money is being spent on alcohol and how drinking has affected your education, jobs, family members, friends, and other important areas of your life.

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How To Quit Drinking Alcohol

While no single form of rehabilitation will be an appropriate fit for everyone, the National Institute on Drug Abuse outlines several principles of effective treatment for treating drug and alcohol addiction.7 Many alcohol addiction treatment programs operate with similar principles. In general, treatment for AUD will include:

How Energy Drink Addiction Happens

Energy drink addiction can happen quickly or gradually.

Several factors play a role in determining how addiction develops. This includes your personal and family history, as well as your brain chemistry.

The thing is, energy drinks with lots of caffeine and sugar triggers your brain to release more dopamine. Dopamine is also known as the feel-good hormone.

However, the more you consume energy drinks, the less pleasure you experience from the rise in dopamine. This can lead you to consume more energy drinks to continue feeling the dopamine response. This leads to dependence or addiction.

Energy drinks can also be addictive from a psychological point of view. For instance, some people may feel they cannot perform their day-to-day tasks as well without energy drinks. This leads to dependence or addiction as well.

Take note, several factors play a role in forming a dependence on or addiction to energy drinks. The said factors vary by individual.

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What Is A Coping Mechanism

A coping mechanism is something that helps a person deal with something that is difficult for them. While all coping mechanisms provide the person using them with a real or perceived benefit, some coping mechanisms have more negative consequences associated with them. Unfortunately, alcohol is a coping mechanism the temporary benefits of which are often outweighed by the long-term negative effects on health and relationships, poor decision-making under the influence, as well as increased dependency.

People may use alcohol to cope with:

  • Difficult emotions
  • Challenging life events: death of a family member, a break-up, illness, etc.

Alcohol functions to slow down the central nervous system, creating feelings of relaxation. It also reduces inhibition, judgment, and memory. Because of these qualities, alcohol becomes a way to distance from stressors or challenges an individual may be facing. For some, grabbing a drink is the easiest way to deal with something they don’t know how, or do not want to handle. Continued avoidance of life’s challenges and lack of healthy coping mechanisms can be direct facilitators of problematic drinking down the road.

Our Virtual IOP program offers the same programming we offer in person, all online – ideal for those who live too far to drive to an addiction center, have transportation issues, or have health concerns that make in-person treatment challenging.

Relapse Is Part Of The Process

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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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How Is Alcohol Use Disorder Treated

Treatment may include a combination of:

  • Behavioral therapies: Counseling, or talk therapy, with a healthcare provider like a psychologist or mental health counselor can teach you ways to change your behavior. Motivational, cognitive-behavioral, contingency and 12-step facilitation are the most commonly used techniques.
  • Medications: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved naltrexone and acamprosate for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Topiramate and gabapentin can also decrease cravings in some people. An older medication disulfiram is now used only rarely. These medications seem to help decrease the background obsessional thinking around alcohol.
  • Support groups: Group meetings with other people who have alcohol use disorder can help you stay sober. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are usually free and are available in most communities. Other styles of recovery groups include: Celebrate! Recovery , Rational Recovery and Recovery Dharma .

Your treatment setting will depend on your stage of recovery and the severity of your illness. You may need inpatient medical , residential rehabilitation , outpatient intensive therapy or outpatient maintenance.

How To Cut Back On Drinking

If you feel that avoiding alcohol completely is not for you, there are other options. Some people can get control over their drinking and drink safer levels of alcohol without having to quit entirely. If you plan to attempt to control your drinking, there are several steps you should take to assist you in this process.

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