How Friends and Family Can Help an Alcoholic Overcome Addiction?
The federal and state governments in the U.S. spend approximately $223.5 billion on alcohol-related expenses. Taxpayers, such as the friends and families of addicts, foot about $94.2 billion of this amount. Despite the many measures taken to reduce deaths that we can attribute to alcoholism, we still lose 79,000 lives in a year. This figure represents an average of 216 deaths each day resulting from addiction.
Alcohol addiction has repercussions to not only the addicts but also those around them. The friends and families of addicts suffer as they watch the people, they care about abuse alcohol. Consequently, family and friends come together to help an alcoholic overcome addiction. The road to sobriety is full of many challenges. Addicts need the people close to them to help and guide them through the recovery process. How can you support an addict in their recovery?
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism refers to an unhealthy, often uncontrollable, urge to drink. Statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) show that 17 million Americans suffer from alcohol addiction. These Americans drink too much alcohol, which is harmful to their health and their relationships with those around them. These people must receive help from those around them to overcome their alcohol use disorder (AUD).
How is Alcohol Abused?
U.S. laws prescribe a minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) of 21. Laws allow Americans aged 21 and above to drink alcohol, provided they do not exceed the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08. However, many people find it difficult to know whether they exceed this limit or not. They drink until they cannot take in any more alcohol. How can you know you are drinking too much alcohol? Professionals recommend that you look out for these signs.
1. Binge Drinking of Alcohol
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking of alcohol as consumption to get drunk. The CDC puts the amount men need to get drunk to be consuming five drinks, and women must have four bottles to get drunk in two hours. These consumptions result in your BAC being above the 0.08 limit. Binge drinking is frequent among college students, adults aged above 65 years, and at social events.
2. Excessive Alcohol Use
It easy to spot this type of alcohol abuse. These type of addicts try to consume a lot of alcohol in a short time. They barely hide their intention to drink. They order many bottles for home deliveries or ask the bartender for alcohol continuously without any signs of stopping. These people struggle to walk or even talk clearly. After many such incidences, they increase their alcohol tolerance levels and require more and more alcohol to get drunk.
You can also abuse alcohol when you do the following.
- Consume alcohol throughout your day
- Drink alcohol to feel a buzz
- Have an urge to drink every day
If your family members or friends consume alcohol following these patterns, they cannot control their drinking. It is easy for them to develop alcohol addiction symptoms. You must try to remedy their situation by seeking help and support them on their road to recovery. If you allow their drinking habits to continue for an extended period, the alcohol will change their neurons. They will not be able to control their alcohol consumption.
Signs of Alcoholism
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) lists many signs of alcoholism. They include:
- The inability to stop drinking
- Neglect of family members, the workplace, and hobbies at the expense of focusing on alcohol
- High tolerance level
- Withdrawal symptoms when there is a spell between drinks
- Inability to control alcohol consumption
- Continuous use of alcohol despite the problems it causes
If the person you care about portrays these symptoms, they are likely to be suffering from alcoholism. If you notice them, there is a good chance you are experiencing the challenges that come with alcohol drinking disorder. You must intervene and help your loved one stop the addiction. This intervention will alleviate the suffering due to the AUD and avoid the problem becoming worse.
Causes of Alcoholism
Scholars continue to research on the factors that lead to alcoholism. AUD does not discriminate. It impacts people of different ages, ethnicities, and beliefs. Recent research shows many factors cause alcohol use disorder. They include:
- Alcoholism Can Result from Biological Factors
While some people control the amount of alcohol they drink, others have a strong urge to continue drinking. Some people love the feeling of pleasure they get when drinking. These conditions lead to a constant intake of alcohol, which makes you vulnerable to alcohol drinking disorder. Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to the exhaustion of dopamine. Consequently, addicts will want to drink more alcohol to release more neurotransmitters that make them feel good.
- Environmental Factors Can Cause Aud.
Studies show that the people that live near establishments selling alcohol are more likely to develop an addiction than those that do not stay close to them. Additionally, if a person comes across many advertisements promoting the consumption of alcohol, they are more susceptible to excessive intake of alcohol compared to those that barely see them.
- People Can Develop an Addiction Due to Social Factors.
Research shows that someone’s culture, family, and religion can affect their view of drinking. The family has the most significant role in influencing a person towards alcoholism. If people grow up with alcoholic parents or those that allow them to consume alcohol from a young age, they are likely to have AUD when older.
- Psychological Factors May Also Lead Someone to Alcoholism.
We all cope with our emotions differently. Our coping mechanism for high-stress levels, depression, and anxiety can lead to alcohol addiction. People who choose to use alcohol in such instances use it to relieve their symptoms and suppress their feelings.
Helping Your Loved One Can Overcome Addiction
Overcoming an addiction is difficult. 60% of addicts that try to stay sober are likely to relapse. Addicts often fail to cope with their urge to drink alcohol. Many attempts to stop the intake of alcohol without the proper support system fails. If someone you care about is one, you must take part in their effort to curb their AUD. There are many ways you can help them.
- Have an Alcohol Intervention
Recognizing that the problem exists is the first step to recovery. An alcohol intervention helps the addict see that they have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). You can have one after an alcohol-related event. For example, you can schedule one after the addict engages in a fight or has a near-death experience. They will be more receptive of suggestions after such occurrences. You may try talking to them with a family member or a friend they listen to and respect.
You must craft your approach carefully as the addict might shrug off your message or develop resentments towards you if you do not approach them with caution. You must acknowledge that alcoholism affects anybody and that you still love them despite their addiction. Do not highlight the negative aspects too much. Encourage them by offering them examples of former addicts that are prospering while sober.
- Take the Addict to a Rehabilitation Center
Rehab centers are an excellent place to overcome an addiction. Once you agree with the addict that subsequent steps are necessary to deal with excessive drinking, a rehab center will provide a favorable environment to start being sober. Addicts that go to rehabilitation centers are more likely to recover without any complications compared to those that do not go to any detoxification centers. You can choose to be an inpatient or an outpatient.
Rehab centers have many benefits that an addict can leverage to attain a sober life easily. They have experts who provide customized care to patients. Each recovery is unique. Caregivers at rehabilitation centers know this fact and offer the best treatment plan for each recovering addict. Additionally, rehabs have the right facilities for the detoxification. They also have experienced personnel who smoothen recovery.
- Convince the Addict to Attend Alcoholism Counseling and Aftercare
Therapy is critical in the process of being sober. It helps the addict understand alcoholism, its causes, and the ways to avoid a relapse. A therapist goes into a detailed analysis of the patient’s life and helps the patient realize their mistakes and the consequences of their choices. They also advise them on the steps to take to avoid giving in to the urges and exposing themselves to triggers.
According to NIAAA, recovering addicts often follow predictable paths while relapsing. They find themselves in circumstances where they face triggers, and they cannot handle the pressure. Controlling the urge to drink, even when the recovery addict faces difficult situations, is critical when detoxicating. Therapy can prepare the patient for life outside. Additionally, the patient can talk to the therapist about the challenges they face on their path to recovery and get helpful counseling.
- Take Measures to Prevent Alcohol Abuse Relapse
A relapse is not a strange occurrence during recovery. You must not handle it like an unusual happening. The way you react to it might demotivate a recovering addict and undo all your efforts. Therefore, you must be careful in your approach to such cases. Alcoholism is a chronic condition. Addicts must take measures to avoid relapses while detoxicating and remain sober.
You can cope with a relapse in two ways. You can take active steps to avoid it. You may take measures such as getting rid of the alcohol you keep in the house and avoid hosting social gatherings that have drinks. Alternatively, you can stay vigilant. Monitor the recovering addict and once they have their first relapse, seek help. These techniques can help you prevent the recovering addict returning to alcoholism.
You may also convince the recovering alcoholic to attend support groups and avoid places that serve alcohol.
Alcoholism is a problem that affects many Americans. Significant portions of these addicts are looking for ways to be sober, but fail because they lack the support system. The road to sobriety has many challenges. Consequently, addicts must get all the help they can to stop or reduce their consumption of alcohol.
There are many things you can do to help the addict recover. You must first ensure you know how to identify an alcoholic to avoid confusing alcohol use disorder with other conditions. People abuse alcohol through excessive and binge drinking.
You should also look for signs such as the inability to control alcohol consumption and a high tolerance level to alcohol. Once you recognize the problem, have an intervention. You should also take the addict to rehab and seek counseling.
Finally, take measures to deal with a relapse. You can do so much to help an addict recover. You must work together to overcome the addiction.