According to charity Alcohol Concern, seven per cent of adults in England regularly drink more than the Government’s recommended weekly limits for safe consumption. In January 2016, the UK Government issued revised alcohol guidelines which reduced the weekly allowance for men from twenty-one to fourteen units. This meant that men and women were now advised to consume no more than fourteen units spread across the entire week. A warning was issued that there was no ‘safe’ limit in terms of preventing various illnesses such as cancer. However, the fourteen-unit allowance is said to be low risk alcohol consumption. Despite these warnings though, millions of individuals still regularly drink over this amount and are putting their health and lives in danger. Many of these people will go on to develop alcohol addictions that will destroy their life unless they get help. But where to go for alcohol addiction help is something that many individuals struggle with. In this article, we aim to give you some more information about alcoholism and where to go for alcohol addiction treatment.
Who Is Affected by Alcohol Addiction?
It is a commonly held belief that addiction is something that happens to those who have no willpower or who are otherwise ‘bad’. Many people believe that it is poor decision making and an inability to say no that leads to this devastating illness. There are many who do not even see alcohol addiction as an illness and instead view it as a consequence of bad behaviour. They usually have this negative opinion because of things they have seen and heard on the media.
Negative stereotyping of addiction has been happening for a long time. Addiction is an illness that is very misunderstood, and most of those with no experience of it see affected individuals as weak and may be guilty of judging or discriminating against them.
The reality of addiction is that it really can affect anyone. In terms of alcohol addiction, any person who drinks alcohol is prone to addiction if he or she allows their use to get out of hand. It does not matter what age they are or where they come from. It does not matter if they are rich or poor, or how educated they are; if they drink alcohol to excess, they could end up with an addiction that threatens to destroy their life.
How Does Alcohol Addiction Develop?
For most, an alcohol addiction is something that occurs gradually. Nobody goes to bed one night and then wakes up in the morning with an alcohol addiction; it does not work that way. The first stage is usually experimentation. Most people will choose to drink alcohol for the first time and there are many reasons they will do this. For some, it is just to see what all the fuss is about. They have seen adults drinking alcohol all their lives and are waiting until the day when they are able to do so as well.
Some start drinking well before the legal age of eighteen and again, there are many reasons they do so. Curiosity, boredom, and peer pressure are all motives for people to begin experimenting with alcohol. Some do so because they are struggling with emotional issues and they want something that will provide some kind of relief.
The important thing to remember here is that alcohol does tend to provide relief for those who are trying to block out painful memories or feelings. Nevertheless, the relief is only temporary. As the effects of the alcohol wear off, so too does the relief it provides. But this is where problems can begin. Those who are using alcohol to make them feel better or different are in danger of using it again and again to help prolong those feelings.
When occasional alcohol use is replaced by habitual or regular use, the chances of an alcohol addiction occurring increase. The more alcohol that a person drinks, the more his or her body will adapt to it. A tolerance to alcohol will begin to build meaning that the individual will require increasingly more alcohol to achieve the feelings that he or she desires. However, the more alcohol that is consumed, the higher the likelihood that a physical dependence will occur.
Changes to the structure of the brain are caused by continued abuse of alcohol, and these changes affect the individual’s ability to make good decisions. He or she will experience strong cravings for alcohol whenever the effects begin to wear off, and because of the structural changes to the brain, it will usually be impossible to resist the compulsion to drink; even when doing so is going to cause negative consequences for the individual and his or her family members.
The Consequences of Alcohol Addiction
Those affected by alcohol addiction will usually feel the negative consequences of this illness pretty quickly. Once addiction has taken hold, it begins to interfere with the affected person’s life and with his or her relationships with others. Nonetheless, because the person is still at the stage where he or she believes that alcohol is ‘helping’, there may be a reluctance to accept that help is required. It is usually family members and friends who are left wondering where to go for alcohol addiction treatment because they can see the damage that is being caused. The alcoholic will typically take longer to get to this point. In some instances, he or she will be on the verge of losing everything before acceptance of the problem becomes a reality.
Poor health is a common consequence of alcohol addiction. There are hundreds of health problems associated with alcohol abuse and addiction. Those who regularly abuse alcohol may have trouble sleeping and because they are getting most of their calories from alcohol, they may be getting no nutrition, which will affect their health. Some will become obese and suffer with high blood pressure and diabetes, while others will suffer illnesses such as liver, kidney, and heart disease. Another serious illness associated with alcohol abuse is cancer; there are seven forms of cancer that have been directly linked to alcohol consumption including breast, liver, mouth, and oesophagus cancers.
It is not just health that is affected by alcohol addiction, though. It is impossible for alcoholics to stay on the same terms with others once they have developed this illness. Relationships with family members will usually be the first casualty of an alcohol addiction. Those closest to the alcoholic will usually notice the behaviour changes in their loved one and might even be subjected to physical or verbal abuse from the individual when he or she is under the influence of alcohol.
Spouses, children, parents, and siblings are negatively affected by one member of the family’s alcohol addiction, with children being particularly affected. Kids are often referred to as forgotten victims as adults tend to overlook them when dealing with the issue. However, whatever age the child is, he or she will suffer when a parent has an alcohol problem. It is not uncommon for children of alcoholics to feel isolated, neglected, and confused because of the actions of their addicted parent. They may struggle with feelings of low self-esteem while some will blame themselves for the problem. Some children will go on to develop serious problems in later life if they do not get treatment.
The finances of the alcoholic will also suffer a massive dent. Those who are continually abusing alcohol will require funds to do so. If they were just about getting by before developing the addiction, their growing habit could severely impact their financial situation. This can leave families struggling to cope.
The ability to earn an income will also be affected. As the addiction progresses, the individual will usually be under the influence of alcohol more often than not. And when he or she is not intoxicated, the after-effects could impair his or her ability to perform effectively at work. This, coupled with poor attendance, could reduce the ability to earn an income.
Where to Go for Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
It is important to remember that alcohol addiction is an illness and, as such, treatment is available. Those struggling with alcohol addiction may be unable to quit alone. There are some who do manage to quit without help, but the vast majority will struggle with cravings and withdrawals unless they have support from qualified professionals.
The first step in the recovery process is actually admitting that the problem exists in the first place; this is something that many alcoholics find difficult. It may take time, but once the affected person has come to terms with the issue, he or she will be ready to move on to a life of sobriety.
If you are at that stage, then congratulations – you can now move on to the next part of the process, which is an alcohol detox. But what is an alcohol detox and where should it take place?
An alcohol detox is the process of quitting alcohol and then allowing the body to eliminate the chemicals and toxins that have been left over after years of abuse. During a detox, various withdrawal symptoms will occur, which can make the individual feel quite unwell. These symptoms can be mild to severe, but there is no way to know in advance who will experience the most severe symptoms. For that reason, it is a good idea to detox in a dedicated detox clinic where experienced and trained staff can make the process safer and more comfortable.
An alcohol detox typically takes around seven to ten days to complete, although this will depend on the individual and how the detox progresses. There are several factors that can influence the type of detox that a person will experience. For example, those who have been drinking heavily for many years and who have underlying medical health problems are more likely to experience a more complex detox than a person who has been drinking for a year or two only and who is otherwise healthy.
What Happens after Detox?
Once detox is finished and the bond between user and substance has been broken, the individual can move on to the emotional part of the addiction, which is addressed with a programme of rehabilitation. Rehab programmes are either inpatient or outpatient based and patients have the choice of either. Nevertheless, there are certain circumstances that would make one type of programme preferable to the other.
For example, those who are considered to have a severe addiction to alcohol would fare better in a residential programme where they would have absolutely no access to alcohol. These same individuals may be tempted to drink on the way home from a counsellor or therapy session in an outpatient clinic if that particular session were distressing or emotional. On the flip-side, there are some who would not thrive in an inpatient setting because being away from their loved ones could hamper their progress. It is all a matter of finding the right programme for the individual.
When it comes to alcohol rehab, it is important to ensure that a number of elements are considered. The severity of the addiction is very important, as is the personal preferences of the individual and whether he or she has any underlying health problems.
The good news is that there are numerous options for those who want to recover from alcohol addiction. The NHS, charities, and local support groups all offer day care programmes for those in need of help. But despite offering excellent programmes of care, there is one major drawback in that these providers cannot meet the demands placed on them. Those who wish to avail of these free services often face a long waiting list for treatment.
Residential programmes are typically provided by private clinics and can admit patients quite quickly – often within one or two days of initial enquiry. This means the affected individual has little time for a change of heart in terms of getting treatment.
If a residential treatment programme is something that would benefit you or a loved one, please contact Recovery Lighthouse today. Our clinic is decorated to a very high standard and is staffed by a team of fully trained professionals who want nothing more than to help patients recover. We are regulated by the Care Quality Commission and adhere to the highest standards. Please contact us today for more information about how we can help you overcome an alcohol addiction for good.