Alcoholism FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Alcohol Abuse

What is the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency?

Alcohol abuse is when drinking habits become unhealthy or excessive. Abusing alcohol can cause problems in a person’s life, often negatively affecting their job and relationships.

If this behavior becomes continuous, it’s likely that the alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol dependency. The abuser may become mentally and physically addicted to drinking. The common signs of alcohol dependency are:

  • Withdrawal symptoms after periods of not drinking (anxiety, shakiness, nausea, sweating)
  • An intense craving for alcohol
  • An inability to quit drinking or control the amount of drinking at a given time
  • Drinking becomes a priority, often taking place of healthier activities
  • An excessive amount of time is spent drinking or recovering from drinking
  • Attempts to cut back on or quit drinking altogether have failed
  • A continuance of drinking even though relationships and physical health are deteriorating
  • Even after admitting there’s a problem, the drinking continues
  • Tolerance to alcohol gradually increases

When should you seek professional help for alcohol dependency?

It all starts with a few drinks, but sometimes habitual drinking can become alcohol abuse. Eventually, those habits will turn into a mental and physical addiction to alcohol. You should seek professional help if you notice any signs of alcohol dependency.

Who do I turn to for alcohol dependency treatment?

If you have thought you may have an addiction to alcohol and need treatment, the first step is seeing a doctor for a diagnosis. While some seek help for this addiction, others are not aware of it or don’t want to fix it. It is not uncommon, however, for a doctor to notice an alcohol dependency even if you are there for something else.

Most doctors can help with treatment for alcoholism, but you can also turn to other health professionals such as addiction counselors and social workers.

There also support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, that you can turn to for support in recovery.

What is the treatment process for alcohol dependency?

Treatment for alcoholism varies, and recovery can be a lifelong process. A doctor may recommend many things, but it usually includes a few types of counseling, group therapy, alcohol education and sometimes medicine. If you are physically addicted to alcohol, a doctor may compel you to detox. Sometimes a doctor may place you in a rehabilitation facility or clinic. Treatment not only helps you stop drinking, but it also helps you with your day-to-day problems in life. However, recovering from an addiction is never easy and requires a great deal of commitment and honesty.

What kind of treatment programs are available?

There are three different types of treatment programs that are available. Your doctor will help you decide which one is best for your recovery. Outpatient treatment involves going to clinics, counseling sessions, and therapy sessions regularly. Inpatient treatment involves staying in a treatment facility for a number of weeks. Residential recovery involves living in a facility while you recover, which can take several months.

What kind of counseling does treatment entail?

Treatment for alcohol addiction often includes one or more of these types of counseling:

  • Individual or group therapy, which includes talking about your recovery with a counselor or others in recovery
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps you learn to change your thoughts and actions to avoid alcohol
  • Motivational interviewing, where a counselor helps you overcome your mixed feelings about treatment and recovery
  • Motivational enhancement therapy, which helps you find the motivation to quit
  • Brief intervention therapy, which are very short sessions that off feedback and advice on quitting
  • Couples and family therapy, which helps you maintain healthy relationships during treatment and recovery

What kind of medicine is available for treatment?

Treatment for alcohol dependency does not always require medicine, but there are some cases where it does. There are many different types of medicine that is used to treat various problems that can be caused by quitting alcohol. Some of these medicines help deter your cravings for alcohol. There are also medicine that will make you sick if you drink any alcohol. Other medicines help with side-effects of quitting as well as get your body back to normal after years of abuse.

Can I quit drinking on my own?

While some cases of alcohol addiction do require a treatment plan, it is possible for some people to cut back on or quit drinking on their own. Keep in mind that it is much safer and quicker with a doctors help, but here are some things you can do to break your addiction or help you cut back on drinking:

  • Find your motivation. You know you have a problem and it is time to solve it. It helps to identify all the reasons that you have got to stop or cut back on drinking
  • Devise a plan to meet your goal. This may be baby steps, cutting back gradually. It may be possible to make it happen all it once. Come up with a plan that suits you, write it down, and do your very best to stick to it
  • Tell other people about your plan so you are not alone. Other people will help you to get better, and there is nothing wrong with asking friends and family for help
  • Throughout the course of your plan, assess your progress. Find a way to reward yourself when goals are met but don’t be too hard on yourself if they are not. Relapse is common with all addiction recoveries, but keep at it and begin again if it happens
  • Let the plan develop into new behaviors. Changing behavior is never easy, and it’s going to take some time. However, the more you continue practicing a new behavior, the quicker it becomes a habit
  • Avoid a lifestyle that is surrounded by alcohol. Find new friends, a new social spot, or even a new job
  • Find support groups to help you stay sober. This can be done all throughout your plan. It helps to have others with a similar problem when trying to recover. Even after your goal has been met, it is still good to attend these meetings
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