There are a multitude of reasons why a person might have developed their addiction to alcohol. Alcohol can fill an empty space, a void in one’s life, providing a sense of comfort and peace…at least for a while. Some turn to alcohol when they are suffering from depression or anxiety because it calms them down and helps to soften the symptoms…at least for a while. Some may form a disordered attachment to alcohol, as a stand in, a pseudo attachment, which replaces the unhealthy or absent relationship with a significant other or parent. Alcohol takes the form of a lover, and may provide the emotional solace they have been seeking…at least for a while.
In many cases, individuals with even the most entrenched alcohol addiction resist breaking up with their lover. They don’t want to go through life without the crutch. They don’t want to experience real emotional pain and suffering. But eventually the fallout of the alcohol problem may threaten to take everything down and you find yourself admitting, “I don’t want to stop drinking but I need to.”
Denial Keeps the Individual in the Disease
When it comes to alcohol addiction, anyone in any socioeconomic strata can be caught in its grip. Nearly all will initially play the game of denial, even when the evidence of fallout from the alcohol abuse is clearly visible to the contrary. Denial is a handy technique that problem drinkers employ to protect their ability to continue on as usual. No one wants to admit that they might have a problem with alcohol, as many see admitting it as a weakness.
Early signs of problem drinking are often explained away as caused by stress, lack of sleep, or being over committed at work. In fact, the alcohol may be used as a panacea to help the individual manage daily pressures. However, as tolerance to the effects of the alcohol increases over time, so does the level of alcohol consumption in an effort to chase the initial buzz. The writing may be on the wall but the individual is still very resistant to the idea that they have a problem. Staying in denial only allows the alcohol use disorder to become more entrenched and dangerous.
Other Barriers to Getting Help
- Fear of detox. Alcohol detox has earned the reputation for being pretty grueling. While there is some truth to this, what the individual needs to understand is that the process is usually completed within one week, and that the physical and psychological discomforts will be attended to by an expert medical detox team that will provide medications. Benzodiazepines will assist with anxiety, insomnia, and risk of seizure, while over the counter medications can help with nausea and fever.
- Finances. Many individuals who are in need of treatment for an alcohol use disorder will assume it is not financially possible, and therefore do not pursue getting the help they need. This is often not the case, since their health insurance plan is likely to cover some if not much of the expense related to rehab. In addition, some rehabs offer financing options to assist the individual with a payment plan for out-of-pocket expenses.
- Stigma. There remains, unfortunately, a social stigma attached to those who seek treatment for alcohol addiction. This perceived stigma presents a significant barrier for those individuals who have a public professional presence or high status job, but also individuals at any career level who are concerned that treatment could damage their reputation. Employers have established policies that help protect privacy, as well as federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and HIPAA.
- Time. The idea of taking an extended leave from work may seem implausible to someone who needs to get treatment. Worries of a negative impact on coworkers or potentially facing demotion after returning from treatment can be overcome. In most cases, coworkers and employers are aware there is a problem with alcohol and will be grateful that the individual is seeking treatment. Accommodations can be offered to allow the individual to work a reduced schedule while in outpatient rehab, or to take a leave of absence for residential treatment.
While there are many significant barriers to getting treatment for an alcohol problem, one of the most potent is ambiguity. A tug-of-war goes on within the individual vacillating between the sincere desire to get and remain sober and a reluctance to give up their lover, the alcohol. Eventually, the individual may proclaim that, “I don’t want to stop drinking but I need to,” as evidence of the escalating consequences that begin to outweigh the perceived benefits of continued problem drinking.
How Alcoholism Negatively Impacts Life
As the alcohol use disorder deepens the damage increases proportionately. There are many ways that alcoholism can negatively impact a person’s life. Here are a few examples of the fallout of an alcohol use disorder:
- Leads to isolating behaviors, drinking alone, social withdrawal
- May cause you to stop participating in the activities you once enjoyed
- Can cause legal problems, such as getting a DUI or in a car accident
- Can cause abusive or violent behaviors at home or in public
- Can disrupt significant relationships and harm family dynamic
- Causes the individual to neglect parenting and work-related obligations
- Leads to mounting financial problems, due to spending too much on alcohol, neglecting to pay bills, losing your job
- Can cause serious physical or mental health issues
How a Loved One Can Help the Alcoholic Quit Drinking
Your spouse or friend may have declared, “I don’t want to stop drinking but I need to.” This is a good sign that at least they are recognizing the negative consequences of their alcohol consumption and are aware that they need to quit, even if they are ambivalent about doing so. When this opening presents itself it is important to leverage it, as it provides an opportunity to persuade the loved one to get help.
Here are some ways you can help the individual how to beat alcoholism and begin the recovery process:
- Recognize the signs of alcoholism. Someone needs to recognize the elephant in the room. If the alcoholic is in denial, it is important for the loved ones to know the signs of addiction. While there is no forcing someone to go to rehab, just gently informing them of the danger signs may plant a seed.
- Research treatment options. Rehabs are available in both outpatient and residential settings. The more severe alcohol use disorders require the higher level of care available in a residential program. Get to know the various approaches to treatment and the services offered to help guide the individual when they are ready.
- Check insurance benefits. Being financially prepared for treatment involves doing a bit of research. First, check with the insurance provider to learn what is covered and what the estimated out-of-pocket expenses might be. Having this information handy can help deflect the concern (or excuse) that insurance doesn’t offer coverage for addiction treatment.
- Avoid enabling behaviors. Although a loved one might have the best of intentions, it is important not to fall into enabling behaviors. What may seem like helping the individual can be literally keeping them in their addiction. Do not make excuses for the person or do for the alcoholic what they can still do for themselves.
- Take care of yourself. Sometimes, even when the person claims, “I don’t want to stop drinking but I need to,” it could still be awhile before they hit their bottom and actually seek out treatment. In the meantime, loved ones need to practice self-care. Attend Al-anon meetings, get adequate sleep, practice relaxation techniques, get regular exercise, and avoid alcohol yourself.
- Guide them to Human Resources. One of the most difficult barriers to overcome is the fear of losing one’s job as a result of needing addiction treatment. Help persuade the individual to meet with an HR representative who can assure them that their job is protected, and who can initiate a medical leave of absence for them.
Preparing for Treatment
When you or a loved one is ready to approach the recovery process it helps to become mentally prepared ahead of time. By taking a long view of recovery, looking beyond the detox process and addiction treatment, it is possible to achieve a positive state of mind from the outset. This can help the individual to better endure the discomfort of detox and alcohol withdrawal, and to gear up mentally for the active treatment phase of recovery.
Making other mundane preparations prior to entering rehab is also helpful, as this will reduce stress. Get the bills paid, make plans for childcare if necessary, and sit down with the spouse and older kids to explain the upcoming treatment program. Getting the family on board helps to shore up support following completion of rehab.
What to Expect in Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Treatment for an alcohol use disorder will involve the following treatment elements:
- Medical detox. The detox team will closely monitor the withdrawal symptoms and provide medications to help minimize discomforts.
- Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy help the individual make positive changes in thought and behavior patterns.
- Group therapy. Small group sessions provide peer support.
- Medication management. Naltrexone can help to sustain sobriety by reducing cravings.
- Holistic therapy. Learning how to relax through yoga, meditation, and other holistic activities reduces stress.
- 12-step or non 12-step program. Recovery meetings provide social support.
Capo by the Sea Provides Treatment for Alcohol Addiction and Dual Diagnosis
Capo by the Sea is a luxury residential rehab located in Orange County, California. At Capo by the Sea we believe in customizing the recovery plan to align with the unique features of each individual’s alcohol use disorder. Using an integrated approach, Capo by the Sea combines the best in evidence-based therapies with holistic and recreational treatment elements for a successful outcome. For more information, please contact us today at 888-529-2114.