Alcohol is a commonly used substance in the UK, with most adults consuming it to some extent. However, while most people only ever drink alcohol in moderation, there are some who drink it to excess on a regular basis. As such, these individuals are putting their life in danger and increasing their risk of developing an addiction that could destroy not only their own life but also the lives of those they love. What alcohol addiction does to the lives of many people can never be underestimated. It is capable of wreaking havoc on individuals, families, friends, and entire communities. But the good news is that help is available. Nevertheless, before you can overcome an addiction to alcohol, you must be ready to accept that you have a problem in the first place.
Do You Need Help for Addiction?
It is important that you can come to terms with your need for help if you want to get your life back on the right track. But what if you really do not think you have such a problem? If this is the case, you should know that you are not alone. Many individuals who have developed a physical dependence on alcohol will find it hard to accept this as true.
Since alcohol is a commonly used and socially acceptable substance, most people do not equate it with being dangerous or addictive. Add to that the fact that it is also a legal substance and you can see why so many individuals just do not see it as being anything like illegal substances such as cocaine or heroin.
It is far easier for most to comprehend how illegal drugs can cause problems than it is for them to see alcohol as harmful. The very idea of having to give up alcohol for good can prevent many from reaching out for help. They fail to see that despite what they believe, alcohol is actually the root of their problems and not the solution to them.
To understand what alcohol addiction can do to your life and the lives of those around you, you need to accept that your use of this substance has spiralled out of control. Think about your alcohol consumption in recent times and whether it has increased. This is an indication of an increased tolerance to the effects of alcohol. When you build up a tolerance, it means that your body has adapted to the presence of alcohol. In response, the body reduces the number of dopamine, or ‘feel-good’, chemicals that it produces; the effect of this is that you will need more alcohol to achieve the feelings you desire.
If your loved ones have been showing concern about the amount of alcohol you drink or the fact that your behaviour changes completely when you are under the influence, it is wise to heed their words. Most family members will not broach the subject unless being sure that they are right.
The Consequences of Alcohol Addiction
There are many different areas of your life that will be affected if you develop an alcohol addiction. You have probably already noticed issues with your health. If so, you should know that these problems are not going to get better unless you get help.
In fact, it is far more likely that they will get worse with time. The longer you abuse alcohol, the worse your health will become. Minor issues such as trouble sleeping and loss of appetite will be replaced with far more serious problems such as liver damage, heart disease, and kidney disease. You could also have an increased risk of some forms of cancer if you continue to abuse alcohol regularly. Studies have found a link between alcohol consumption and some forms of cancer such as breast, mouth, liver, and bowel cancers.
Nevertheless, it is not just health that is affected by alcohol abuse and addiction. Relationships with others can be severely impacted by an addiction to alcohol. It is hard to keep relationships with others progressing normally when alcohol has become a factor. Those who find themselves with a dependence on alcohol may act in a way that is completely out of character. To them, all that matters is how and when they are going to get their next drink. As you might imagine, this can be devastating for loved ones who find it hard to deal with the dramatic changes in the person they love.
Addiction also negatively impacts finances. Funding an alcohol addiction can leave those affected in a precarious financial position as they try to juggle their need for alcohol with their responsibilities in other areas. As the alcohol addiction progresses, it can be difficult for the alcoholic to put their responsibilities above their need for alcohol.
What Alcohol Addiction Does to the Family Dynamic
Families are often torn apart by one member’s alcohol addiction. Struggling to cope with dramatic changes in the behaviour and actions of an addicted loved one can take its toll on everyone involved. Parents, siblings, spouses, and children are all negatively impacted by one person’s reliance on alcohol, but are all affected in different ways.
Those who live with the alcoholic will be impacted the most. It is tough to understand why someone would continue to abuse alcohol when he or she knows that this will cause such negative consequences for everyone involved.
The reality is that most people know very little about addiction until it directly or indirectly affects them. Addiction is often a taboo subject and unless it touches your life in some way, there is not really a need for you to find out about it and what it is.
As a result, most carry on with their negative opinions of addiction and who is affected by it. Stereotyping of addicts is something that has been happening for a long time and most people therefore believe addicts to be bad or even responsible for their own illness. This is not true. Addiction is an illness and it must be remembered that those affected have no choice.
That being said, knowing that an addict is not to blame for his or her illness is not enough to prevent family members from being deeply affected. Just because an alcoholic cannot control his or her illness or behaviour does not mean that it will not have an impact on those around him or her.
What alcohol addiction can do to the family dynamic is to tear it apart. Some members will become obsessed with their addicted loved one, to the point where his or her own behaviour changes dramatically. Everything this person does will revolve around the addict and trying to ‘fix’ them.
Others will be filled with feelings of resentment and anger that can consume their life. They find it almost impossible to forgive their addicted loved one and blame this person for the damage that has been caused to the family unit.
Children are also affected quite badly. Many are too young to fully understand what is happening and often blame themselves for the actions of an addicted parent. Some will be confused and frightened while many withdraw into themselves. They may struggle to form relationships in school and their isolation could leave them open to bullying, making their already desperate situation even worse. It is not hard to understand how the kids of addicts often suffer with great emotional distress.
Some will go on to struggle as they get older; they may be unable to form healthy relationships with others and some will develop addiction problems themselves.
Overcoming Alcohol Addiction
The good news is that while alcohol addiction can have a devastating impact on so many lives, the trend does not have to continue. Help is available for those who find themselves unable to break free from the cycle of abuse and addiction by themselves.
It is difficult to overcome an alcohol addiction without help. While there are some who manage to break free on their own, they tend to have realised they had issues quite early on in their addiction. And even if they do quit drinking for a while, they may find themselves back on the path to addiction at a later date because they have never learned how to cope with life situations in an alternative way.
It is necessary to complete a comprehensive recovery programme to have any chance of long-term successful recovery from alcohol addiction. Tackling both the physical and the psychological addiction is important. The physical addiction can be dealt with in a detox programme.
A detox is designed to help the addict break free from the cycle of alcohol abuse. It is a complicated process that will be affected by the severity of the illness. For example, the longer a person has been drinking heavily, the more likely he or she is to suffer with severe withdrawal symptoms during the process.
The complications and withdrawal symptoms of an alcohol detox can be effectively managed in a dedicated detox facility with supervision from medical professionals. Medication and supplements can be administered, if appropriate, to ease any discomfort.
Here at Recovery Lighthouse, we offer supervised detox programmes for those who want to overcome their addictions to alcohol. We also offer excellent inpatient programmes where the cause of the addiction can be identified and where positive coping strategies will be developed to help with a return to everyday living.
If you would like more information on the process of overcoming your alcohol addiction once and for all, please contact us here at Recovery Lighthouse today. We can provide information on our clinic and our programmes so that you have a greater understanding of what to expect.
We are regulated by the Care Quality Commission and have a team of friendly and professional staff who want to make sure that you get well. Please call us to find out more about us and what we can do to help you on your way to a substance-free life.