Alcoholic Helpline at 1-866-225-8502 is a hotline committed to helping alcoholics who want to stop drinking, find the right help they need. Alcoholism can be fatal.
Alcohol drinking is socially acceptable, but alcohol is a kind of drug nonetheless. In fact, according to the National Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), it is the most abused psychoactive substance in the world. It is a known fact that alcohol is an addictive substance, both physically and psychologically. Those who develop a dependency often have a significantly reduced quality of life. Luckily, help is out there, regardless of your personal or financial circumstances. In fact, this website is dedicated to offering help to alcoholics and their loved ones.
Table of Contents
1. What is Alcohol Addiction?
1.1 How Can One Recognize an Alcohol Problem?
2. Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
1.1 Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
1.2 Mental Health Issues
1.3 The Cage Questionnaire
3. Approaching Someone With a Drinking Problem
4. Helping Alcoholics and Helping Yourself
What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Addiction to alcohol is actually considered to be an illness that is social, psychological, and biological. It must be properly controlled through both public policy and treatment. It is a kind of disease that affects everybody in society, not just the person who suffers from it. People can develop an addiction due to environmental or genetic factors, although most people notice a combination of both. And, as indicated by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol abuse disorder (AUD) is now a very serious problem in our society.
“According to the 2015 NSDUH, 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older (6.2 percent of this age group) had AUD. This includes 9.8 million men (8.4 percent of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women (4.2 percent of women in this age group).”
Of further concern is that the NIAAA has reported that only 1.3 million people received treatment for AUD, equating to just 8.3% of those who have the condition.
How Can One Recognize an Alcohol Problem?
Because alcohol is a socially acceptable, readily and legally available drug, it is common for people not to know how to recognize whether or not someone is already addicted to it. It is usual to observe domestic problems, reduction in social life, and problems such as being arrested, in people who have an alcohol problem. They are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as promiscuity and driving under the influence. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has developed criteria for someone to be recognized as having an alcohol use disorder.
“To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet certain criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Under DSM–5, the current version of the DSM, anyone meeting any two of the 11 criteria during the same 12-month period receives a diagnosis of AUD. The severity of AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met.” The 11 specific criteria are as follows:
1. Drinking for longer or in greater quantity than intended
2. Wanting to cut down, or attempting to, and not being able to
3. Spending excessive amounts of time drinking and noticing its after effects
4. Experiencing cravings for alcohol
5. Noticing that the drinking behavior is causing social, professional, or educational problems
6. Continuing to drink despite being aware of the problems it is causing
7. Giving up on previously important activities in order to drink
8. Engaging in risky behaviors
9. Continuing to drink despite noticeable negative health outcomes
10. Needing higher quantities of alcohol to experience the same effects
11. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
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Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
An alcohol addiction requires immediate treatment. This must be properly managed, however, as those with even just a moderate addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking. Such withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous. It is possible that someone who stops drinking will experience delirium tremens, which can be lethal. This is why an assessment is required to determine whether someone may need medically supervised detox.
After they have gone through detox and they are clean, they can start to undergo a treatment program. Various programs exist, although the residential rehab and outpatient programs are probably the best known. Both have been proven to be effective, but only if they offer individualized help to address the needs of each patient. For instance, someone with little to no social support and/or someone with other medical needs, is more likely to require inpatient rehab.
During the treatment program, you should receive therapy (individual, group, and family) and extensive education on what addiction is. You will also create a plan for what happens next. This places a heavy emphasis on relapse prevention, since relapse is incredibly common in all forms of addiction. Furthermore, alcoholism treatment usually includes education about proper nutrition and exercise, because it is common for alcoholics to be significantly malnourished.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcoholics will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking, often within just a few hours of having their last drink. Common symptoms include:
• Nausea and vomiting
• Sleep disturbances
• Racing heartbeat
In extreme cases, they can experience delirium tremens, which is characterized by auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations, as well as seizures.
Mental Health Issues
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it is very common for people with a substance use disorder (SUD) to also suffer from a mental health condition such as depression. “In 2015, among the 19.6 million adults with a past year SUD, 8.1 million (41.2 percent) had AMI in the past year.” (AMI = Any Mental Illness).
Co-occurring disorders are very serious problems and must be treated accordingly.
The CAGE Questionnaire
Perhaps even more difficult than convincing a loved one with an alcohol problem that he or she needs help is convincing yourself. This is mainly because it is common for us to be in denial, or if we do recognize that there is a problem, we often tell ourselves that it is not that bad. The so-called CAGE questionnaire for the person suspected to have an AUD may help:
1. Cutting down. Have you tried and failed to cut down in the past?
2. Anger. Do you feel angry when confronted about your alcohol consumption?
3. Guilt. Do you feel guilty about how you behave?
4. Eye-opener. Do you have a hangover when you open your eyes on the morning?
Approaching Someone with a Drinking Problem
Those who have a loved one with a drinking problem often feel overwhelmed particularly because they realize that don’t know how to address the problem. This may also be true because they feel a lot of anger and resentment. However, in order for people to be able to overcome this problem, they need to feel that they are supported by those around then. Because this is so difficult for many, the CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) model has been developed by the American Psychological Association
“The specific procedures involved in CRAFT include motivation building, functional analysis, contingency management training, communication skills training, treatment entry training, immediate treatment entry, life enrichment, and safety training.” The CRAFT model teaches people how to offer positive reinforcement and motivation to someone with an AUD. Other options include traditional intervention programs and 12-step programs. It may be difficult to start this conversation, but the reality is that ignoring the problem or not taking action, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can have disastrous, and even lethal, consequences.
“Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years.”
Helping Alcoholics and Helping Yourself
Another thing that you must remember is that dealing with someone who has a drinking problem will experience a significant impact on your own quality of life and happiness as well. You must recognize the stress that you are under and seek help for that. Groups such as Al-Anon can help, as can family therapy.
It is equally common for alcoholics to put barriers in front of them, particularly financial ones. In reality, treatment is available for those with or without insurance. Free programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, also exist to help, regardless of age, race, or gender.
We are also here to help. All of the numbers on our website are answered by dedicated and trained professionals who want to help alcoholics. Call our alcoholic hotline 1-866-225-8502 today to regain control over your life.
Alcoholic Helpline Team – June 30, 2017