Alcohol remains one of the most widely abused substances here in the UK. For most, it is a substance to be enjoyed on social occasions. For others though, it becomes a necessary part of everyday life – one that they cannot live without. Knowing that alcohol can be addictive – and even dangerous – when abused, often does not prevent some individuals from drinking it. This is because they have developed a physical dependence on it and are incapable of quitting even if they want to.
Those who have found themselves in the grip of an alcohol addiction will typically require help to quit. It is almost impossible to quit without help, and on the rare occasion that someone does manage to overcome their addiction alone, relapse is much more likely. Alcohol treatment is vital when it comes to reducing the harm that this chemical substance can cause to the life of the individual and those around him or her. So in light of this, what is alcohol treatment and why is it needed?
Most adults in the United Kingdom drink alcohol to some extent but the majority stick to the Government’s recommended weekly guideline amounts of fourteen units for safe consumption. They do this without even thinking about it. Some will perhaps have a drink at the weekend at home while others will only ever have a couple of drinks when out socialising.
Nevertheless, according to charity Alcohol Concern, despite the Government recommending that adults drink no more than fourteen units of alcohol per week, around 2.5 million people report drinking more than that in just one drinking session.
Although there has been an eighteen per cent fall in overall alcohol consumption in the UK, there are still many people drinking to excess. Furthermore, abuse of alcohol is responsible for thousands of hospital admissions and deaths every single year.
It might surprise many to learn that alcohol addiction can happen to anyone. It is not something that occurs to those with no willpower or those who are weak. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol addiction is an illness that can affect individuals of any age and from any background.
The reality is that the only way to guarantee not to be affected by alcoholism is to avoid it completely. Anyone who allows their consumption of alcohol to get out of hand can become affected.
For most, alcohol addiction begins with experimentation, which is almost always a choice. In the early days, people choose to either drink or not to drink. Over time, however, their ability to choose diminishes. It is important to point out though that not everyone who drinks alcohol is going to go on to develop an addiction; most will not. Those who are affected by alcoholism often do not even realise that their consumption of this substance has crossed a line from social drinking to habitual or problem drinking.
What frequently happens is that they slowly build up a tolerance to the effects of alcohol, the result of which is then requiring more alcohol to achieve the desired feelings. In layman’s terms, this means they can handle more alcohol than they used to be able to.
When a tolerance builds up, the person might begin drinking more alcohol without even realising. One glass of wine can turn into two glasses and then a whole bottle. Before long, the individual has developed a physical dependence and could experience various withdrawal symptoms when in need of a drink. This often happens upon waking in the morning after going the full night without drinking. Symptoms might include sweating, shaking, headaches, and nausea. Those with an alcohol addiction will realise quite early on that these symptoms subside as soon as they have a drink.
Once an alcohol addiction develops, it can be extremely difficult to break free. The need for alcohol becomes stronger and stronger and, as time goes by, the affected person has little or no choice over their ability to quit.
People concerned about having an alcohol problem are often worried about reaching out for help because of a fearfulness of what treatment will be like. This can prevent them from overcoming their addiction. The question of what is alcohol treatment like is one that often crops up when individuals call us for information on how to beat their addiction.
The first part of the recovery process almost always involves a medical detox. This is the process that is used to break the physical bond between the affected person and the alcohol. A detox can be complicated, particularly in those who have been drinking heavily for a long time. Nonetheless, with a supervised detox in a special facility, the process is far safer and much more comfortable than detoxing at home.
An alcohol detox typically begins around six to twelve hours after the person has had his or her last drink. Symptoms are usually mild to severe in intensity, with most people never experiencing anything more than a few mild to moderate symptoms. However, there are some individuals who will experience severe, and even life-threatening, symptoms. Moreover, because there is no way to determine who will be affected by these severe symptoms before the process begins, it is always a good idea to detox under supervision in a specialised facility.
Most alcoholics who fear alcohol treatment are worried about the detox because they have been told it will be painful. It is true that it is not a pleasant experience, but with careful supervision, it can be much easier than most expect it to be.
Once the detox has been completed, the real treatment can begin and this happens in a rehabilitation clinic. These programmes are either inpatient or outpatient based and aim to help address the emotional and psychological issues relating to the illness.
During a rehabilitation programme, various techniques will be used by professional counsellors and therapists to help the patient overcome his or her addictive behaviour. It is important that the root cause of the illness is identified because this will form the basis of treatment and will enable the counsellor to work closely with the patient to create alternative coping strategies going forward to prevent a return to the addictive behaviour.
The choice of inpatient or outpatient treatment is one that faces those who are planning on overcoming their addiction to alcohol. Most individuals will benefit from a programme of inpatient treatment where they are removed from their normal everyday life and placed in a clinic where there are no distractions and no access to any temptations. This is considered the best type of care for those with a severe addiction to alcohol.
In an inpatient facility, patients will spend much of their day in treatment. Treatment will be a combination of approaches such as individual counselling, group therapy, family therapy, 12-step work, and workshops on relapse prevention or life and work skills.
In an outpatient clinic, the patient will not stay overnight. Instead, treatment will be provided regularly with the individual returning home to daily life afterwards. This type of programme is best for those with a less severe illness or as a secondary treatment programme to be used after a programme of inpatient care.
The question of what is alcohol treatment is an important one for those struggling with addiction, but another important question that must be answered is ‘why is alcohol treatment so important?’.
If you are struggling with alcoholism, you need to be aware that this is an illness that will not go away by itself. Alcoholism is a progressive illness that continues to get worse if left untreated. You may already be suffering the negative side effects of this illness, such as poor health and relationship troubles.
Most alcoholics will experience both mental and physical health problems because of their alcohol consumption. It is not possible to abuse alcohol without suffering the consequences. Even those who have convinced themselves that they are not suffering with any health issues could be affected without realising. The damage often happens under the surface and can lead to problems, for example, with high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, and even some forms of cancer.
Relationships rarely escape unscathed either; most of those with an alcohol problem will notice a deterioration in relationships that were once healthy. Their actions while under the influence of alcohol or while trying to get their hands on alcohol can have a severe negative impact on the people they love.
Family members tend to suffer deeply when one member has an addiction to alcohol. Spouses, children, parents, and siblings will all feel the full effects of another family member’s addiction. They will all react in various ways, with some even going on to develop co-dependency where their lives start to revolve around the addict. They will change their own behaviour in response to the addict’s and may start to cover up, rationalise, or enable the addict to continue doing what he or she is doing.
Another area that is affected by addiction is finances. Funding an addiction to alcohol does not come cheap. The longer a person abuses alcohol, the worse his or her addiction will become and the more alcohol will be required to satisfy the habit. This, coupled with a reduced ability to earn an income, can have a severe negative impact on a person’s financial situation. Alcoholics are often poor providers, which can lead to neglect for other family members.
If you are in trouble because of a dependence on alcohol, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at Primrose Lodge. We are experts in the field of private alcohol rehab and can help you to get your life back on track.
We are staffed by a team of professional counsellors, therapists, doctors, and support staff and have an excellent record of success when it comes to helping individuals to overcome their addictions to various substances. As we are regulated by the Care Quality Commission, you can rest assured that you are in safe hands with Primrose Lodge.