Another Round? Maybe It’s Time To Pass

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Shorter Version


Est. Reading Time: 1 Minute

Alcohol addiction, also referred to as alcoholism and alcohol use disorder, is the most relentless form of alcohol abuse. More specifically, it involves an inability to curb one’s alcohol consumption. This type of addiction is typically categorized as mild, moderate, or extreme.

The serious effects of alcohol abuse

Each category comes with a wide-range of symptoms – all of which can cause dangerous and life-altering complications. In addition, if alcohol addiction is left untreated, it can lead to devastating consequences – i.e. social isolation, chronic health issues like cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, and/or strokes, mental health issues like depression and/or anxiety, unemployment, failed relationships, low self-esteem, etc.

Find a way without

It is common for alcoholics to believe they are unable or incapable of functioning “normally” without the aid of alcohol. The good news is there is a variety of treatment options available to help you achieve and maintain sobriety.

Skip to Actionable Steps





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Longer Version


Est. Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Doctors, researchers, counselors, and addiction specialists agree that alcohol is one of the most dangerous stimulant/depressant combos in the world. In fact, it is abused more frequently than any other psychotropic substance currently on the drug and alcohol market.

So what is alcohol addiction?

Well, a person is considered “addicted to alcohol” if he/she is unable or unwilling to control how much alcohol he/she consumes – in private and in public. In addition, most alcoholics report that their descent into alcohol addiction began after they started using alcohol. As time passed, alcohol use turned into alcohol abuse. Once they began abusing alcohol on a daily basis, their use escalated until they became full-blown alcoholics.

Why do some people become alcoholics, while others don’t?

According to a recent study, some addicts drink alcohol as a way to relax and experience “new things.”  In other words, they like the pleasurable “high” that alcohol gives them. These individuals keep drinking as a way to prolong “the effects” of the alcohol.

Other people keep turning to alcohol as a way to enhance or improve their mood. In other words, these individuals abuse alcohol to “block out” stress, emotional and physical pain, and/or trauma.

What causes alcohol abuse and addiction?

Research suggests that alcohol addiction involves a combination of biological, psychological, genetics, and environmental factors. Thus, it is important to understand that alcoholism is a “disease.” It not only affects the person struggling with alcohol abuse but also those who love him/her.

The warning signs

Sometimes, the warning signs of alcohol abuse are apparent, while other times, they are barely noticeable until things get really bad. However, researchers suggest that when alcohol addiction is caught early, the odds of a full recovery significantly increase.

Common signs of alcohol addiction include:

  • An inability to control your alcohol consumption
  • An unrelenting craving for alcohol, especially when it is not readily available
  • A knack for prioritizing alcohol over personal, work, and parenting responsibilities
  • An internal feeling that you must drink more and more alcohol to receive the same “pleasurable” effects
  • A habit of regularly spending large amounts of money on alcohol, while neglecting other bills and financial responsibilities
  • A sudden and noticeable change in your behavior after you become intoxicated

Treatment options are key

There are a variety of options available for those seeking treatment for alcoholism. Treatment typically ranges from medications (i.e. disulfiram to deter excessive drinking, naltrexone to reduce alcohol cravings, and acamprosate to ease withdrawal symptoms) and therapy (i.e. behavioral therapy for couples, 12-step facilitation therapy, cognitive-behavioral coping skills therapy, individual therapy, and alcohol addiction therapy) to in-patient and outpatient residential drug and alcohol treatment centers and support groups like AA and NA.

Free yourself

Although sobriety is 100% fulfilling, recovering from alcohol abuse can be arduous, overwhelming, and time-consuming. It requires dedication, commitment, and a strong desire to improve one’s life. For most, it can be a bumpy, unpredictable road at times. It can even feel like an impossible task to achieve.

But, I’m here to tell you that it is most definitely possible and worth it – if you are willing to put in the work. You can recover from your alcohol addiction. It doesn’t matter how addicted you are, or how helpless and hopeless you feel, you can be free of alcoholism – all you have to do is make the first move.

Actionable Steps


1

Make a decision

First, you will need to decide if you really want to stop drinking. You can make this decision by creating two columns on a piece of paper. Label the first column (Column A), “Why I Want to Stop Drinking” and label the second column (Column B), “The Negative Consequences of My Alcohol Addiction.”

In Column A, you could list something like…you want to stop drinking because you’re tired of feeling “up” when the alcohol first takes effect, and “down” when it starts to wear off. The alcohol only takes away your anguish for a short time, and then it’s right back to reality.

In Column B, you could list something like…a negative consequence of your alcohol addiction is that you now have cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, and are at-risk for kidney complications. Alcoholism has ruined your heath.

If you start to question if you should stop drinking, look at your list. It will remind you of all the ways that alcohol has hurt your life, health, and well-being.

2

Adjust your attitude

You’re not going to be able to stop drinking if you have the wrong attitude. Look at it this way, you’re not being forced to “breakup” with “something” that has been good to you or for you. No, you are removing a “backstabber” from your life (the backstabber being alcohol).

This “backstabber” has betrayed you many times. It has caused your friends and family to run away from you, ruined your health, and caused you to lose numerous jobs. Therefore, alcohol is not your friend. It’s your enemy, so it has to go.

Reframe how you think about alcohol. If you adjust your attitude, you’ll have an easier time achieving and maintaining sobriety.

3

Form a strong support system

You’ll also want to form a strong support system. Don’t go through this process alone. Friends, family, and even some close co-workers, will want to be there for you. Addiction counselors are also available to help you navigate the rocky waters of withdrawal and recovery.

A counselor will help you take control of the addiction, so you can experience everything life has to offer with clear and sober eyes. There are also a myriad of support groups like Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) and Narcotic Anonymous (NA) scattered throughout the US. So, there is always somewhere for you to go, and someone for you to talk to.

Friends, family, counselors, and support groups will hold you accountable for your actions, so you’ll be more likely to achieve and maintain your sobriety.

4

Trash it!

The truth is you can’t free yourself from an alcohol addiction if you have beer bottles, liquor bottles, and wine coolers sitting around your house or hiding in the trunk of your car. So, do yourself a favor and trash these “alcohol-seducers” before you fall off the wagon.

Offer adult guests tea, soda, water, fruit juice, or mocktails, instead of alcoholic beverages. Remember, this is about your sobriety, so your needs come first.

5

Stay away from old drinking buddies

In other words, don’t go around people you used to drink with. Why not? Well, because it could be dangerous for you. It could trigger old emotions and cravings, putting your hard-earned sobriety at-risk. So, leave your old drinking buddies in the past and stay far away from bars, clubs, and any “old alcohol haunts.”

Instead, surround yourself with sober friends, find a new hobby, join an interest-based club, take a class, and/or focus on improving yourself – i.e. self-esteem, self-confidence, skills and abilities, and health. Lastly, make new friends who will uplift you, instead of dragging you down.

6

Don’t go “Cold Turkey”

Don’t go “cold turkey.” Why not? Well, because studies suggest that addicts who try to stop drinking on their own – without a tapering process – have a higher risk of relapse. So, start with reducing your alcohol intake. Then, once you adapt to a little less alcohol, reduce it some more. Keep doing this until you are barely drinking at all.

It is important to note that you probably won’t be able to reduce your alcohol consumption on your own. You will need an experienced alcohol addiction counselor or specialist to guide you through this transition. You’ll also need his/her guidance to get you through the recovery period. Furthermore, you’ll need to go to AA or NA meetings every week to prevent a relapse.

7

Change your routine

If your old routine consisted of drinking a bottle of liquor in the morning to get you going, drinking a flask of liquor in your car to help you get through the middle of the day, and going to your local bar after work for a few more drinks to relax, then you’re going to have to change your routine.

Instead of drinking alcohol in the morning, try an energy-boosting fruit smoothie or a healthy protein-based breakfast to get you going. Instead of drinking in your car during lunch, chat with some of your co-workers, read a few pages of a juicy book, stretch and meditate, call a loved one, text your friends, surf the Internet, and/or take a stroll around your work premises. Lastly, if you are prone to visiting bars after work, ask a friend to dinner, the movies, and/or to go exercise with you.

8

Don’t give up!


You will never stop drinking if you give up, so don’t do it! Also, don’t continuously make up excuses of why you’ll never be addiction-free, because that’s just a crutch. So, what should you do if you start to lose hope? Lean on friends and family.

Ask them to write, on brightly-colored Post-It notes, what they love about you and what makes you unique. Also, have them write inspirational quotes on the notes to keep you motivated when times get tough. Then, surround yourself with the positive notes.

There is no certain timeframe in which you should be alcohol-free. You have to move at your own pace for sobriety to stick. So, pick yourself back up and keep moving.  

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About the Author


Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn


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