What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a more severe form of alcohol addiction that is reached when an alcohol abuser no longer has the ability to control their drinking habits. Alcoholism is sometimes referred to as alcohol abuse disorder, although alcohol addiction be extremely harmful to a person’s health, life, responsibilities, and relationships at any stage of an addiction. As time goes on, it can get increasingly difficult to for the individual to remain functional day to day, either because they’re obsessing over consuming alcohol or they’re suffering from the side effects of alcohol abuse.
The Slippery Slope
According to AmericaAddictionCenters.org, alcohol is the #1 gateway substance in the U.S. with nearly 66% of substance abusers surveyed listing alcohol as their first substance. CT’s addiction statistic show similar trends. Overall, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are the top three gateway substances, but alcohol tends to open up opportunities that encourage substance abuse behaviors more frequently, especially when combined with marijuana and tobacco.
Signs of Alcoholism
Alcohol is both legal to obtain and extremely common to partake in during most social interactions in Connecticut such as going out to dinner with friends or going to a party. For most, a drink or two on occasion is hardly enough to worry over, however, it can be difficult to determine who is drinking appropriately versus who is drinking in a risky manner, especially in a social setting.
Typically, Connecticuters who exhibit these drinking habits have already started to lose control over their alcohol intake, as alcohol has started influencing their behavior on a bigger scale. Sometimes this is a gradual change, but it’s worth noting nonetheless. Risky drinking habits like these can be the precursors to alcoholism. When alcohol use changes from an elective activity to a compulsion, an alcohol addiction may be forming or already be a problem.
Some of the signs and symptoms of alcoholism include:
- Alcohol usage has started to affect work, school, and other obligations
- Putting self and/or others in danger due to alcohol consumption (i.e. drunk driving)
- Legal issues stemming from drinking (i.e. DUIs, getting arrested for offenses related to public intoxication, etc.)
- Blacking out while drinking or being unable to remember events that happened while drunk
- Willpower alone is not sufficient to stop drinking, even when he or she knows the dangerous consequences of drinking
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (not just hangovers) and having to drink to function in daily life
- Consistently using alcohol to cope with stress or other difficulties
- Problems with family and relationships as a result of drinking
- Drinking frequently and/or alone
- Loss of interest in hobbies and previously enjoyable activities
- Hiding or covering up the extent of one’s drinking habits
When to Seek Help
When the alcohol abuse is unable or unwilling to stop drinking when alcohol has started to negatively impact their life, relationships, finances, and freedom. This includes individuals who want to change, but don’t know where to start or have even reached a point of hopeless, as if they’re trapped and sobriety is an unreachable goal.
The First Step
Staging an intervention is often the precursor to an addict receiving addiction treatment. An intervention is when families and friends come together in an effort to help a loved one take control of their life again. The goal of an intervention is to enlighten the alcohol abuser to their problem and motivate them to do whatever it takes to overcome their alcohol addiction.
Some scenarios that might prompt staging an intervention include:
- Marital and domestic disputes over alcohol consumption
- Losing a job over alcohol abuse
- Childcare and custody concerns
- The alcohol abuser getting arrested
- Hospitalization and medical concerns surrounding alcohol abuse
- The alcohol abuser getting arrested
- Hospitalization and medical concerns surrounding alcohol abuse
The next step is admission into some kind of addiction treatment program. There different types of treatment options available all over the country, so it’s important to find a rehab facility capable of giving your loved one the help they need.
For example, some rehab facilities specialize in inpatient rehab treatment, while others are only outpatient treatment centers. Depending on your situation, different styles of rehab treatment may be more beneficial to your recovery. Inpatient treatment allows patients to remove themselves from all potential environmental triggers that could stunt their recovery. But some don’t have the option to remove themselves from their daily lives for the duration of rehab. Outpatient treatment options may be better suited for treating the needs of these individuals.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options in Connecticut
Before attempting the more psychological aspects of addiction recovery in a CT rehab center, it’s important to first rid the body of any physical and chemical dependencies on alcohol. By detoxifying the body, rehab treatment can continue in a more controlled fashion and with one less weight on the patient’s shoulders.
Unfortunately, detoxification can be lethal, especially with alcohol addiction, if done improperly. Self-detox is extremely dangerous and highly discouraged by medical professionals. A medically supervised or aided detox program is the safest way to undergo detox treatment. In some cases, medically assisted detox is also an option, which combines a supervised detox program with medications that help control withdrawal symptoms in the patient.
Some of the medications commonly used to assist alcohol detox include:
- Acamprosate (Reduces alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms)
- Naltrexone – (Reduces cravings and the pleasurable side effects of alcohol usage)
- Disulfiram – (Causes negative effects when alcohol is consumed instead of positive or “rewarding” effects that encourage alcohol abuse)
A medically supervised detox program is usually necessary for alcohol addictions, in part because the withdrawal symptoms for alcohol can be dangerously severe. Some alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Mood Swings
- Increased Heart Rate
- Headaches or Migraines
Inpatient Rehab Treatment
Inpatient rehab is one of the most commonly recommended types of substance abuse treatment in CT. Inpatient and residential addiction recovery centers involve checking into a facility, where the patient will remain for the duration of their treatment — usually for 30, 60, or 90 days. At an inpatient rehab center in CT, clients go through a number of courses and therapy sessions that are designed to impart how best to deal with the addiction recovery once they move from inpatient care to outpatient rehab.
While at the inpatient treatment center, patients have access to medical professionals and care specialists 24/7, on-site therapy programs, and other activities to help them while they recieve treatment. Inpatient rehab also has the benefit of removing the individual from potentially triggering places or situations that would make it easier for them to fall back into unhealthy habits. In the majority of successful rehab cases in CT, clients go directly from inpatient to outpatient care. This allows them to continue learning and receive support while they introduce themselves back into their daily routines and the aforementioned triggering circumstances.
With how common Dual Diagnosis is in Connecticut, the rehab treatment sector of the medical field has started to put a lot more weight into how mental health plays into addiction recovery. This means more rehab treatment centers are versed in dual diagnosis treatment and that some centers are specifically designed to treat dual diagnosis patients exclusively.
Many alcoholics also suffer from depression or anxiety, putting them in this dual diagnosis category. Alcohol tends to be used as “self-medication”, and many mental health disorders tend to encourage addictive behaviors. Sometimes alcoholism can even cause mental health disorders that the patient may not have suffered from before their addiction — alcohol abuse is truly that interwoven with mental health.
The good news is that dual diagnosis treatment is significantly more effective at treating both sides of a patient’s health issues by treating them simultaneously, as opposed to the separate approach often used in the past. By focusing efforts between the behavioral problems (addiction) and the psychological strains (depression, anxiety, etc.), addiction recovery efforts have a higher chance of leading to successful long-term sobriety.
Outpatient Rehab Treatment
Outpatient rehab treatment often occurs after some degree of inpatient treatment and allows patients to go back to their normal lives, although sometimes it is the only option available when seeking treatment. There are many outpatient programs that start out with daily meetings for weeks, then taper off as the individual progresses through their recovery. Outpatient programs are usually less intensive than inpatient programs and aren’t as disruptive to a work or school schedule.
However, outpatient treatment is rarely the first step. If your alcohol addiction is severe, starting with outpatient treatment could be a waste of time and money, since it can be incredibly difficult to stay on track in the early stages. Detox and inpatient treatment should be the first two steps for most alcohol addiction recovery seekers.
Sober Living and CT Life After Rehab
Once rehab treatment is completed, there are many different ways for newly sober patients to ease back into their normal lives while lessening their odds of relapse. Knowing your triggers and stringently avoiding them is important, but so is being assertive about limiting your exposure to substances as readily available as alcohol.
It can be very difficult to stay sober, especially since alcohol is such a widely used and “social” substance. Taking care of yourself after rehab could mean that you don’t go into bars anymore, just in case. It could mean going to a different convenience store if the one nearest to you sells alcohol. It’s important to know your own limits and not to push yourself too hard, especially in your few months of being sober, but there are also tons of Connecticut resources available to help you if you feel you need help staying on track.
Contact us today to find a rehab center in Connecticut for you or a loved one.