Detoxification is the first vital step when overcoming an alcohol addiction. Depending on the severity and how intense alcohol withdrawal syndrome will present, this may be required to be carried out at home or under medical supervision. People with milder cases of alcoholism can successfully carry out their detox in their own home. A support system here is key to help the individual as much as possible through this difficult period and decrease the risk of relapse.
For more severe forms of addiction, a medically-assisted detox is highly advised to allow the transition to sobriety to be as safe and comfortable as possible. Here experts can offer around-the-clock support and care, plus supply an intravenous drip to ensure levels of water and nutrients within the body are balanced. Medications – such as chlordiazepoxide or diazepam – can be offered to reduce the harm of the withdrawal process and help reduce the risk of relapse.
It can be tempting to drink alcohol during this withdrawal period to stop the uncomfortable symptoms being experienced. However, people in this period are under higher risk of an overdose as people may try to intake the same amount of alcohol as at the peak of their addiction. This is another reason a medical detox is recommended in most cases.
Therapy - The Next Step
Completing a medical detox means the first huge hurdle of overcoming alcohol addiction has been completed, so what next? Unfortunately, recovery from addiction isn’t simply removing the substance or behaviour from a person’s life. A lot of additional long-term work goes into maintaining a life of sobriety.
Individual therapy is the next vital step when kicking an alcohol addiction to the curb. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective when treating substance use disorders. This kind of talking therapy takes a problem-solving approach to alcohol dependence by:
- Identifying unhelpful thoughts about drinking
- Identifying triggers for drinking
- Building new coping mechanisms to abstain from drinking
In the UK, 59% of people in treatment for a substance use disorder also have a mental health condition. The risk of developing an addiction is around twice as high if you have a mental illness compared to the general population. Therapy can also help identify and treat underlying conditions that need addressing.
Family therapy can also be extremely important to stay sober long term as drinking can commonly tear families apart. Addressing the problems that have arisen because of an individual’s substance use disorder allows them to let go of guilt and self loathing that may trigger a relapse, and also help rebuild a support system to sustain them through difficult times.
Inpatient residential care programs are great for people when overcoming a substance use disorder as it allows people to remove themselves from the environment where they carried out their drinking. Humans act on habit, and it can be useful to build new habits in a new environment before having to return to the space where their addiction behaviour took place.
Rehabilitation centres provide around-the-clock care, important for checking up on mental and physical health, as well as reducing the rates of relapse during the hard time to come. Inpatients in residential care will also be provided with a sense of routine, building new lifestyle habits such as eating healthy and partaking in exercise.
Support groups offer a place and non-judgemental space for people to discuss and learn from their addiction. People who have gone through similar experiences can share what they have learnt and serve as inspiration for those battling the same condition as yourself. These interactions can be vital as addiction can be an extremely isolating and self-esteem crushing disease. Support groups offer a great way to work through those negative emotions, again preventing the rate of relapse and encouraging a future of sobriety.
General Lifestyle Changes
It is vital that people overcoming addiction healthily conduct their lifestyle. Someone taking care of their body and mind reduces the risk of physical and mental diseases and makes them feel more fulfilled. Overall, boosting general happiness and reducing the risk that someone may again turn to alcohol is the ultimate goal. These important lifestyle guidelines include:
- Creating a routine
- Eating a well-balanced diet at regular times
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Getting quality sleep
- Setting aside time for mindfulness
- Explore new hobbies and interests