5. Alcoholism

Sometimes, sadly, people become dependent on alcohol. Over-exposure to the substance can result in addiction – which can have a harrowing effect on the person themselves, as well as their family and loved ones.

Recognising you have a problem

At what point do you cross the threshold from being a regular, casual drinker to someone who’s addicted to it? The reality is, it’s impossible to pinpoint one exact moment. The only thing you can do is work out if you really do have a problem or not.

Some signs which might point towards there being an issue are:

  • If you begin to worry about when and where you’ll next be able to have a drink
  • Drinking as soon as you wake up – or feeling the need to drink as soon as you get up in the morning
  • Having a compulsive urge to drink at all times
  • Finding it hard, or even impossible, to stop drinking for the day once you’ve started
  • Feeling anxious or suicidal in regards to how much you’re drinking – people will often, ironically, try to alleviate this by drinking more
  • Suffering from actual withdrawal symptoms – such as sweating, shaking or experiencing nausea when you haven’t had a drink for a while

If you tick any of these boxes, the chances are very high you’ve developed some level of alcoholism.

The real clincher to decide whether you do or don’t have a problem is the simplest of all. Merely try to go three or four days without having a beverage and see how you feel during and after that period.

If you’re able to cope, try and stay off alcohol for long as you can. If you didn’t, it might be time to seriously consider seeking help.

Helping someone else with alcoholism

Sometimes the effect alcoholism has on those nearest and dearest to the person suffering from it, are actually worse than what the individual is going through.

We hope you’re never faced with this position, but, if you are, here are some very handy tips which’ll help you deal better with the situation:

  1. Be honest and supportive – there’s no point beating around the bush. If you’re dealing with an alcoholic it’s best to let them know you’re concerned and suggest, in a friendly manner, they might need help. It’s likely you’ll be met with a torrent of abuse for this, but remember to not take it personally.
  2. Try to get help from others – tackling a situation one-on-one is never easy, so try and enlist the help of at least one other person. More often than not the argument of two people is a lot more powerful than a solo approach.
  3. Commit to change – Once somebody has made a promise to you to change their ways, make sure they stick to it. It’s easy for someone to say they’re going to change, but you have to make sure you enforce that promise if they seem like they might be faltering.
  4. Keep your independence – Remember, while you might be putting the needs of the alcoholic ahead of your own, you still need to keep your own interests towards the top of your priority list as well.
  5. Read up – It’s best to learn as much as you can about alcoholism. Keeping up-to-date with what’s going on in your loved one’s head is impossible, but understanding the disease itself goes some way to helping.

Seeking Help

If you have been diagnosed, either by yourself or someone else, your next step is to begin to look for help. There are many treatment centres out there for people who need support, and there’s plenty of steps you can take to start moving in the right direction.

It’s important when dealing with alcoholism to understand you can’t just come straight off the drink and instantly be cured. Sudden withdrawal from alcohol dependency can result in medical complications, including:

  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
  • Mood swings
  • Cardiovascular complications

As such, it’s highly advised a patient experiences a medically supervised detox session where they can be assessed at all times by a trained professional.

They’ll be able to slowly wean you off alcohol, providing you at all times with sedative medication which will prevent the detox process from having too much of an effect on your body.

Once the medical side of things is concluded, you’ll be admitted for regular treatment. This will consist of either a residential programme (where you remain in a large complex at all times) or an outpatient programme where you’re taken care of from your own house. The severity of your needs will decide which type you’ll need.

A regular treatment program will also consist of:

  • Group and individual therapy
  • Education on the threat of addiction and its consequences
  • Relapse prevention
  • Aftercare for when you’re better

You might find treatment programmes could also be put in place for your family and friends if they have been particularly affected by your condition.