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Alcohol has become an ordinary aspect of everyday life for many people – whether this means indulging in a bottle of wine with friends over dinner or enjoying a beer in front of the football game on the weekend. However, this little tradition can become more than habit, and lead to alcohol addiction, as over time it can become so entrenched in your routine that going without becomes unthinkable.
This is the point where dependence becomes a real issue and, if something is not done, alcohol can become a controlling factor in your life.
How do you know if you have a drinking problem?
Here is a survey from The Times of London newspaper from October 2008. They asked some experts from The Royal College of Psychiatrists to create a quick survey you can ask yourself to find out whether indeed you are drinking too much and have a drinking problem. Please note this survey does not constitute medical advice and you should see your medical practitioner if you have any major concerns with alcohol as a result of this survey or otherwise.
Here are the ten questions asked on the survey:
- Do you ever worry that you drink too much?
- Have friends or family expressed concern about you about your
- Do you find you can drink a lot without becoming drunk?
- Do you need to drink more to have the same effect?
- Have you tried to stop drinking, but found that you were unable
to for more than a few days?
- Do you carry on drinking even though it is interfering with your
work, family or relationships?
- Do you need a drink to start the day?
- Do you get shaky, sweaty or anxious a few hours after your last
- Have you experienced blanks in your memory, where you can’t
remember what happened for a period of hours or days?
- Is your judgment affected by alcohol, so that you do things
that you normally wouldn’t, such as starting fights or arguments,
having unprotected sex with strangers or becoming violent?
If you answer yes to more than three of these questions, it is indicator of alcohol misuse and you should consider seeking help.
Although this may sound very scary, fear not – help is out there for those wishing to kick the habit once and for all. Recognizing you have a problem and simply asking for help can be the turning point allowing you to live your life to the fullest once more.
The First Step – Asking for Help
Whether you want to cut down on drinking or quit altogether, there are plenty of places to provide you with the emotional support and advice.
First, making an appointment with your doctor in order to determine what the effect of alcohol has had on your body is always a good idea. It is important to have a realistic view of your general health before embarking on any major lifestyle change. This will often involve the taking of blood and urine samples, as well as blood pressure checks and height and weight monitors – nothing scary at all. Always be honest about how much you drink, as quitting overnight could cause further, perhaps fatal problems for a body dependent on alcohol. Depending on your level of addiction, you may be prescribed a sedative called chlordiazepoxide, which helps reduce the withdrawal symptoms you may experience.
Your doctor will then be able to recommend any classes or support groups in the local area that can further assist you. Local treatment centers remain a popular option for many, as the ease of access and friendly faces can make the process of revealing emotional scars or triggers easier. Furthermore, the fact that everyone in these large support groups have, at one time or another, faced similar problems can be hugely comforting and provide more camaraderie than a one-on-one session with a therapist. However, this level of support does have its limits, and for those with a higher dependence a period in residential rehab may prove more beneficial.
The Second Step – Taking Action
Just as there are several different types of community support options available, so are there different varieties of residential rehab.
Residential rehabilitation tends to be recommended by your doctor after other forms of help have proven unsuccessful. This can be an incredibly useful tool when kick starting your new life, yet negative images of hospital wards and medical procedures can put many people off the idea. However, rehabilitation is not like this at all – rather, activities such as cooking, life skills, sport, art therapy and financial management classes tend to play a major role in the very structured days, while one-to-one counseling and group therapy allow you to gradually work through any issues you may have. Obviously, it depends on your individual case which course would be best for you, as those with a combination of drug and alcohol problems will receive dual diagnosis addiction treatment while those with an alcohol dependency will have a different catered program.
No matter what particular issue you want help with the best results are usually achieved when patients commit to a program lasting no less than 12 weeks. Yet some may require a shorter stay in a facility that offers 24-hour medical care to help them cope with withdrawal symptoms. No matter what, there will be a program ideally suited to you, so perseverance is well worth it.
The Third Step – Know Your Contacts
Even after completing a community program or a stint in rehab, the temptation to drink can easily spring up when reverting to your normal routine. Activities you normally associate with drinking – a meal with friends or a big sporting event, for example – can act as triggers and persuade you that having a drink or two “just this once” is perfectly fine.
At times like these, calling a helpline can prove to be key in sticking to your program. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has a helpline and a website that can be accessed 24 hours a day. In addition, specialist treatment centers can be found in various locations across the country.
Choosing to give up drinking is a decision only you can make – however, there is plenty of support available once you take that first step.
Learn how to control your drinking in the privacy of your own home without going to AA or expensive counseling with the How to Give up Alcohol Course.