What Is Alcoholism?
While it may seem simple to draw a line between social drinking and alcoholism, alcohol consumption exists on a spectrum. Alcoholism is a chronic and often progressive disease characterized by constant drinking despite negative consequences. Alcoholics are fixated on drinking and suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop.
Recognizing alcoholism is the first step toward healing and recovery. The sooner a person is diagnosed with alcoholism, the easier it may be to manage and treat the condition.
Although the best time to seek help for uncontrolled drinking is early on, it’s never too late. Those with chronic alcoholism can lead lives of sobriety if they receive appropriate care. Taking control of the situation is the key to embracing sober living.
Alcoholism symptoms span a wide range and affect people in different ways. Realizing how these symptoms are connected can better empower mental health professionals, caregivers, and individuals struggling with a drinking problem.
Physical symptoms make it clear that the body is struggling to cope with the physical effects of chronic alcohol misuse. Common physical symptoms include:
- Rapid, involuntary eye movements
- Hand tremors
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Involuntary rapid heartbeat
Alcoholism is more than a physical illness. Chronic alcohol abuse can also affect a person’s mental health, causing severe psychological symptoms such as:
- Increased anxiety
- High levels of stress
- Depressive episodes
- Memory blackouts
- Emotional instability
Behavioral changes often reflect (and in some cases directly result from) a person’s excessive alcohol consumption. Many behavioral changes are overlooked or misinterpreted, which highlights the need for awareness and professional intervention. These changes may include:
- Engaging in secretive or dishonest behaviors
- Withdrawal from family and professional responsibilities
- Decrease in leisure or recreational activities
- Uncontrolled alcohol consumption, even in hazardous situations
- Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance
While alcoholism is a chronic illness that requires effective treatment, it doesn’t define an individual. By better understanding the physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms of alcoholism, those affected can seek a more comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating this disease.
Behavioral Reasons for Alcoholism
Exploring the many reasons behind alcoholism can help you understand the challenges on the road to sobriety. Many factors can contribute to developing a drinking problem, including coping mechanisms, social triggers, and genetics.
Alcoholism often begins as a way of coping with life’s stresses and strains. People who suffer from depression or other mental disorders may turn to alcohol for relief or escape, but relying on it can lead to dependency. The gradual nature of this problem makes it crucial to substitute alcohol use with healthy coping strategies.
Social circles and societal norms can have a strong influence on how people behave when they drink. People may drink more than normal in an attempt to fit in or be accepted by others, especially young adults. Minimizing exposure to environments where alcohol consumption is normalized can help address social triggers for drinking.
Research has shown that people with a family history of alcoholism or certain personality traits, such as impulsivity and tolerance for risk, often become alcoholics themselves. However, a predisposition doesn’t mean someone will definitely become an alcoholic. With proper therapeutic interventions, people at higher risk of alcohol dependence can control their behavior.
Several environmental factors can influence how much alcohol a person drinks, including home life, community pressures, and even the economy. Despite their influence on addiction, environmental factors are not enough to explain why some people become addicted and others do not. With proper care, individuals struggling with alcohol addiction can recover regardless of environment.
The Road to Alcoholism Recovery
The road to recovery from alcoholism is as varied as the disease itself. Recovery is a process, not a single event, and it typically involves a mix of personal initiative and professional help.
Recovery truly begins with a personal decision to change. When people reflect honestly on their relationship with alcohol, accept responsibility for past behavior, and take steps to change course, they lay the foundation for long-term sobriety.
Because recovery from alcoholism is a laborious process, it’s helpful to have the support of others who are also recovering from this disease. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) help individuals realize they’re not alone on their journeys.
Proper treatment for alcohol addiction is most successful when provided by trained professionals. Tailored treatment plans address the underlying issues contributing to alcoholism.
Recognizing the Need for Help
The path to healing from alcoholism always begins with self-awareness but is often complicated by denial. When alcoholics become serious about recovery, they often experience a transformation that helps them find sobriety.
Detecting the signs of alcoholism within yourself can be a difficult, painful process that involves careful reflection. It takes a great deal of insight and effort to see how our defense mechanisms influence us. People in denial about their alcoholism tend to minimize the extent of drinking problems and downplay any negative consequences.
Denial can be a barrier that prevents individuals from realizing the full extent of their problems and seeking help. When dealing with alcoholism, confronting feelings of disappointment, shame, or failure is a necessary step for self-improvement.
Once someone is ready to acknowledge their drinking problem and seek help, loved ones can provide invaluable emotional support. Family and friends can help reduce feelings of shame or isolation by affirming that alcoholism is a complex health issue, not a personal failing. They can also help reinforce the idea that recovery, though challenging, is entirely achievable.
Seeking Professional Help
Professional help from therapists, counselors, and doctors is essential to recovering from alcoholism. Beachway Therapy Center recognizes the uniqueness of each individual’s struggle with alcoholism, so we create a specialized treatment plan for each person.
Several forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), are effective for treating alcoholism. CBT provides practical strategies for managing triggers and fostering constructive coping mechanisms. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) teaches people to change unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a collaborative approach to helping individuals change their behavior to improve themselves.
For some people recovering from addiction, detoxification is a necessary step on the path to recovery. Alcohol detox must be monitored by medical personnel to manage withdrawal symptoms and possible complications.
Whether detox is necessary, rehabilitation centers can play a central role in the road to recovery. They offer a structured environment that supports physical, mental, and emotional healing.
Beachway offers inpatient treatment options for individuals dealing with alcoholism. The benefits of this approach include constant medical support, removal from triggers, and around-the-clock access to professional help. We also address comorbid mental health concerns, a dual-diagnosis approach that treats both root causes and symptoms together to improve chances of successful long-term recovery.
Alcoholism Recovery Timeline
An alcohol recovery timeline is a basic roadmap of the journey from addiction to sobriety. It provides reassurance about the steps taken and helps identify potential setbacks.
In the early stages of recovery, an individual may experience withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings. They’ll also have to face thoughts and emotions that might otherwise be masked by alcohol consumption. Alcohol withdrawal is one of the greatest challenges faced by people in recovery, with alcoholism symptoms ranging from mild to severe issues requiring medical attention. Fortunately, both physical discomfort and psychological distress are temporary.
While the initial steps toward long-term sobriety are essential, ongoing therapy sessions and participation in support group meetings are important for maintaining it. Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process, and setbacks along the way should be viewed as temporary rather than permanent.
Is It Possible to Recover From Chronic Alcoholism?
Alcohol abuse is a type of harmful or hazardous drinking. It can lead to social, personal, or health problems but does not necessarily mean dependency, which is a key component of alcoholism.
Alcoholism, also known as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), is a more severe form of alcohol abuse. People who depend on alcohol experience withdrawal symptoms when they don’t drink, have difficulty controlling their drinking, and continue to consume alcohol even though it is causing problems for themselves or others.
Chronic alcoholism represents a progression of AUD. There is a dependence on alcohol, but individuals display persistent, long-term alcohol consumption patterns that often result in significant health issues and impairment. It’s distinct because of its long-term effects on the brain and body, such as physiological dependence and damage to multiple organs.
When an individual is fighting a chronic addiction to alcohol, those struggles tend to extend into every aspect of their lives, including relationships and job performance.
Recovering from chronic alcoholism is a sensitive process that requires individualized attention. However, there are some common factors that any treatment plan should include.
Professional guidance is required for a successful recovery from chronic alcoholism. This often involves working with a team of mental health professionals well-versed in the complexities of alcohol addiction. Holistic therapeutic programs designed for alcoholism, such as those offered at Beachway Therapy Center, meet this need.
Additionally, recovery is rarely accomplished without the support of others. A strong network of family and friends may be the key to maintaining a positive outlook when faced with challenges or setbacks. Peer support groups, in particular, offer a safe space to share struggles, victories, fears, and aspirations.
Above all else, overcoming chronic alcoholism is a personal journey that requires accountability. Setting achievable goals, maintaining a recovery-focused mindset, and proactively attending therapy sessions are just three ways individuals can practice personal accountability. The journey might include occasional setbacks, but these can be learning opportunities instead of reasons to stop progressing.
How to Help a Loved One Recover From Alcoholism
If a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, your support can play an important role in their recovery. While personal motivation and accountability are vital for long-term sobriety, there are several ways you can help.
Setting boundaries can help create a safe, predictable environment for both you and your loved one. For example, establishing rules about alcohol use within the home can be part of setting effective boundaries. Keep in mind that boundaries are ways to encourage mutual respect and support rather than punish bad behavior.
Among other things, interventions are a way of getting people who are addicted to alcohol to face their problems and seek treatment. It’s often helpful to consult with a professional or intervention specialist during planning.
Support groups can be helpful in providing a safe, supportive environment with people who face similar challenges. They allow your loved one to share their experiences, learn coping strategies, and stay motivated about getting sober.
Finally, you may want to suggest that your loved one consider an inpatient program at a rehabilitation center, such as Beachway Therapy Center, where they can receive treatment from experienced staff.
How Beachway Can Assist in Alcoholism Recovery
Beachway embraces a holistic approach that addresses the underlying causes of addiction. Recognizing that many people struggle with more than one issue at once, we offer dual-diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders. This integrated approach acknowledges the interconnectedness of physical health, mental health, and addiction.
Each client has unique needs and strengths, which is why Beachway offers a variety of treatment options. These include detoxification programs, residential therapy, outpatient care, and counseling for individuals or families.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, know that help and support are available. To learn more about our programs or simply speak with a trained professional about your concerns, call our admissions helpline at 877-284-0353.
Get Help With Alcoholism Recovery
Don’t let alcoholism define your life or the lives of your loved ones. With the right professional guidance and support, sobriety is possible again. Reach out to Beachway today and begin the journey to regain control of your life.