I Can’t Live Without Alcohol
Living without alcohol can seem like an impossible feat, especially when you are trying to quit. Hope can seem to be an Olympic distance away from your grasp and life without alcohol can appear to fade from sight more and more each day. Luckily, if you feel this way, your vision of hope and recovery is closer than you may think.
In order to overcome your alcohol addiction, you have to put effort into understanding its severity, effects, symptoms, causes, and treatment. Without having any knowledge of alcohol addiction, it is harder to recognize the problem and fulfill your goal of enjoying life without alcohol.
There are exceptional amounts of alcoholism coping strategies available for anyone battling alcohol addiction. Although it may seem out of reach, every effort put forth toward rehabilitation changes your mindset. Your way of thinking can change from failing to achieve sobriety to looking in your “side view mirror” and noticing that recovery is much closer than it seems.
If you are here to find the light at the end of the tunnel, you have come to the right place. Finding resources is hard. Doing it without a support system is even harder. You are not alone in your struggle. If you are having issues coping with alcohol addiction do not hesitate to call us today at 623-263-7371. We can connect you to a treatment center that can help you manage life without alcohol.
Understanding The Effects of Alcohol Use Disorder
Although bodily effects are not usually the first thought in mind when someone is diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder, understanding how over-drinking can affect the human body can give perspective for what can happen if binge drinking continues. For chronic drinkers, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states they “are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much. Regardless how severe a person drinks, the most commonly known area to be affected by drinking is the liver”.
Fibrosis of the liver is a common cause and occurs when the liver develops scarring due to continuous damage while it is healing from pre-existing damage. If untreated, fibrosis develops into cirrhosis, a more severe version of fibrosis that results in permanent scar damage, nausea, and brownish urine.
The brain is also affected, thus altering the external and internal body and its functions. Mood changes, digestive system malfunctions due to an inflamed pancreas, and irregular heartbeats can happen. In addition, there is a higher possibility of high blood pressure problems and stroke.
Cancer is also a huge concern. Liver cancer is highly likely, given that initial overuse of alcohol affects the liver before cancer even develops. However, oral cancer is also a risk when binge drinking. Drinking 50 or more grams a day doubles the chances of developing cancer in the throat, lips, and voice box, according to a study made by the National Cancer Institute in 2018.
Women are especially at risk of developing breast cancer when an AUD persists. In the same report done by the NCI, the likelihood of breast cancer rises about 7% percent with every 10 grams of alcohol consumed.
Symptoms and Causes
Take a moment to reflect on your drinking habits. Do you experience withdrawals during your attempts to quit? Do you drink regardless of any troubles it has caused? Health professionals are likely to ask these questions when administering the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The test is comprised of 11 questions used for an Alcohol Use Disorder diagnosis, requiring at least two of the questions to be true to identify a positive analysis.
Instead of gaining a grip on drinking habits, an AUD prevents the brain from maintaining control of alcohol intake. In a 2018 report done by the NIAAA, an estimated 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with an Alcohol Use Disorder, approximately 401,000 of which are between ages 12-17.
An AUD is caused by alcohol intoxication and eventually leads to alcohol withdrawals within the first week of lowering your alcohol intake. Symptoms of withdrawal include, but are not limited to:
- Increased heartbeat
- Trembling hands
- Heightened anxiety
Alcohol also encourages present mental health issues. Alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism for mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. It is important to treat any co-occurring mental health issues as well when treating alcohol use disorder. Being honest with your treatment providers will help you get the proper care you need.
You Are Not Alone, Seek Help Today
Finding alcoholism coping strategies can be tough but it is not impossible. If you are facing trouble trying to identify how serious your alcohol addiction is, reach out to a certified health professional. Talking to your doctor, therapist, or even participating in support groups can lessen the load of battling alcohol addiction and bring you closer to enjoying life without alcohol.
Never underestimate the overt or underlying comments and critiques your friends and family make regarding your alcohol addiction. Despite their encouragement or disdain, taking time to evaluate interactions with family and friends can help an individual notice how much they much they drink, how often they drink, and what leads to over-drinking.
Not all friends and family are good passengers for this car ride to sobriety. Some may not be able to see life without alcohol and are also constantly searching for another reason to drink like a sailor. Others may find living without alcohol as an easy task but look down upon addiction so much that they can be more of a critic than a loved one showing genuine and nonjudgmental support. Take it with a grain of salt. Instead of instantly accepting invitations to your friend’s “daily celebrations”, count how many celebrations are thrown in a week, specifically when they involve alcohol. Also, remember that harsh criticism is still criticism. If you can disregard the grim delivery, the general critique is still there: You have an alcohol addiction. Seek help.
Diagnosis and Treatment
When you visit your general physician or a treatment center they will determine if you need outpatient or inpatient treatment. During medical visits, a doctor administers physical examinations to verify the physical effects of an individual’s over-drinking. Further lab testing may be required to get a detailed analysis on any health concerns caused by increased alcohol consumption. This may include a mental assessment to determine if there are any mental affects.
The entire treatment is conducted through a step-by-step plan arranged by an assigned medical specialist. Various objectives are set to ensure important targets are met for a successful healing process. Based on the severity of addiction, detoxification usually serves as the first step in treatment. Withdrawals are a part of the treatment process and medication may need to be used in order to minimize or eradicate side effects.
The rest of the treatment consists of education, application, and medication. Many patients diagnosed with AUD are placed on either oral or injected medicine. Medicines such as Naltrexone and Vivitrol are generally prescribed to prevent the body from enjoying alcohol by reducing that persistent desire to drink.
Learning the intricacies of your disorder can narrow the space between your addiction and living without alcohol. Counseling or reading self-help literature provides alcoholism coping strategies as well as the courage needed to bring you one step closer to life without alcohol. Even one’s spirituality can help provide a strong foundation for the difficult expedition to sobriety. However, having positive support during this rough time makes it the easier as well.
Residential, or inpatient, treatment programs are also available for those who have a serious alcohol addiction. Within the facility, medical professionals initiate the same rehabilitation process while accommodating the patient with comfort and support during their stay in the facility.
What About Relapse?
If you have relapsed, it is not the end of the road for you. As a matter of fact, it is common for those in recovery to experience relapse. Relapse is not exclusive to alcohol addiction. Even conditions such as asthma and heart disease are prone to have relapse. However, if you have found a treatment facility and been through treatment before, do not hesitate to try again. Relapse does not mean that you are a failure, an idiot, or undervalued. It only means that your road to sobriety took a detour. If you know about detours, then you know that detours always lead to the same destination you sought out to reach regardless of the “quick turns” and “stop signs” you may encounter.
Dealing with alcohol addiction is a handful when handling it yourself. Keeping a genuine support system such as family, friends, and support group members can shine a light not only on what you can accomplish if you stick with your treatment plan but also who can also relate to life’s “dead end”.
Remember, alcohol affects the brain and its communication with the rest of the body. There will be times where you will feel less motivated to reach out to a professional because the brain has been damaged, therefore decreasing willpower and sending demotivating messages to the body to prohibit the search for help. Do not give up! It is a long road to recovery but it will be worth it in the end.
You Can Do It!
Living without alcohol can be rough, especially when it has been an integral part of your everyday life. Despite the highs and lows, it seems like alcohol was always there whenever you needed it.
From a literal aspect, it is true. When everything else collapses, alcohol can be picked up. When it seems as though you do not have anyone to speak to or visit, alcohol can always be found. But is every truth beneficial? Although alcohol feels great while drinking, how does it feel the morning after? Do you enjoy the headaches? What about the problems it has caused in your relationships with family and friends?
There is always a solution to overcoming alcohol addiction. Some people will never fully understand what it is like to go through alcohol addiction and that is okay. If you are not in denial about your alcohol addiction, the process of rehabilitation will become so much easier. Connect with loved ones who know about your addiction and honestly want what is best for you. You can even converse with others who have been down the road of alcohol addiction. Mayo Clinic states that, “Because denial is common, you may not feel like you have a problem with drinking. You might not recognize how much you drink or how many problems in your life are related to alcohol use. Listen to relatives, friends or co-workers when they ask you to examine your drinking habits or to seek help. Consider talking with someone who has had a problem drinking, but has stopped”.
If you are having trouble finding out where to begin, call 623-263-7371 today and we can help you take the first step on your journey to sobriety.
Written By: Camden Henry
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