No one intends to become an addict. The road to addiction looks different for everyone. The truth is, most of the time, alcohol addiction stems from underlying problems. Often, someone won’t realize they have a problem until they’ve started to see the consequences of their heavy drinking. Thankfully, there is help out there. You are not alone. Entering a rehab program can help you beat your addiction to alcohol and start you on the path to recovery.
What is an Alcohol Addiction?
If someone is going out for drinks occasionally, they’re most likely not an addict. Neither is someone who has a few glasses of wine with dinner a couple of nights a week. However, if these types of occurrences start happening more and more frequently, and suddenly you find yourself drinking daily, you may have a problem. Alcohol addiction is defined as someone who habitually abuses alcohol. When a person has alcohol abuse disorder (AUD), they are an alcoholic. At this point, their drinking is most likely causing them harm or distress and is negatively affecting their relationships and career. According to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there were 14.5 million people with an alcohol abuse disorder in the United States in 2015. An addiction to alcohol can be mild, moderate, or severe – but alcohol addiction is dangerous in any form.
How to Know if You’re Addicted to Alcohol
If you’re asking yourself the question, “Am I an alcoholic?” the chances are that drinking is negatively impacting your life. It’s natural to want to ignore the problem or downplay its severity. You may not even know how you got to this point. But alcohol addictions are self-diagnosable, and recognizing you have a problem is the first step to recovery. If you’re not sure if you’re drinking has gotten out of control, here are some common signs of an alcohol addiction:
- Constant shakey hands
- A strong urge to drink even in the morning or during inappropriate times
- Slacking on day to day responsibilities you used to stay on top of
- Arrests fueled by alcohol
- Friends or family starting to notice that your drinking has increased
- Hiding alcohol from visitors
- Frequently drinking alone
The First Step
If you’re starting to realize that you may have a problem, you’re on the right path! However, you can’t benefit from help you don’t want. If you’re unhappy with the way drinking is impacting your life, the next step is reaching out for help. Reaching out to friends and family can be the first step to making a change. Part of the isolation of alcoholism is that most addicts try to hide their addiction. Once it’s out in the open and you confide to those you trust that you have a problem, you’ll be surprised by the relief you feel. No one should have to beat an addiction on their own. So taking the first step to ask for help is something to be proud of.
What is Alcohol Rehab?
When someone is addicted to alcohol, rehab centers can help. Rehabilitation is a medical and psychotherapeutic treatment for people with alcohol or drug dependencies. There are so many different kinds of rehab centers located all across the country. Although the goal is always the same with any rehab program – helping a person recover from addiction, the process may look different depending on the facility’s approach. The ultimate endgame for any rehab program is to give an addict the tools to live their life without depending on substances. It’s not just about quitting drinking. It’s about learning how to live without alcohol and not falling back into self-destructive habits. A rehab facility uses many different methods to help the addict achieve this goal. Some methods are:
- One on one therapy with a licensed counselor
- Group therapy
- Alternative therapies (art, music, yoga, etc.)
- Guided support
- Resources to help build a life without alcohol
What is Detox?
Before you can begin the recovery process, you have to detox. Detox is by far the most physically uncomfortable step of alcohol addiction recovery. When you are going through detox, your body physically removes toxins – the alcohol – from your system. Your body is addicted to alcohol, both physically and mentally, so the process can be extremely intense. This is why detoxing from a substance on your own can feel impossible, and the urge to give up sets in quickly. Completing the detox process at a reputable rehab center can make all the difference.
Detox and Withdrawal
As the alcohol leaves the body, every system goes through withdrawal. This intense feeling is your brain trying to cope with the absence of alcohol. Withdrawal manifests in many different physical forms. These symptoms vary in intensity depending on the severity of the addiction and the person’s specific system and health. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Body shakes
- High blood pressure and/or elevated heart rate
- Muscle aches or pain
Why a Medically Assisted Detox Program is Necessary
Alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances to withdraw from. But usually, withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening. However, depending on the severity, they can become dangerous. It’s impossible to know how your body is going to react to the detox process. Withdrawal symptoms can go from mild to severe in a matter of minutes. That’s why a medically assisted detox program is so essential. At rehab facilities, patients detoxing from alcohol are under 24/7 medical care. Trained medical staff are carefully monitoring the situation and are ready to step in when necessary. Fortunately, when you detox from alcohol at a medically assisted detox program, medications and medical interventions will be available to keep you as comfortable as possible during a very uncomfortable event in your life.
- Delirium tremens, or “The DTs”, is a rapid onset of confusion and disorientation that can happen when withdrawing from alcohol. It usually sets in around the third day of the detox process and can last for 2 to 3 days. Medications may be used to lessen the severity of symptoms.
What to Expect at a Rehab Center
Starting a drug or alcohol rehab program can be scary. But rehabilitation from addiction is one of the most important steps you can take for your health and well-being. Before you begin, understanding what to expect at a rehab center can help put your mind at ease. Here’s a glimpse at the average alcohol rehab center.
Schedule and Organization: Recovering from addiction can be a terrifying and emotional time. Daily routines and activities that you can expect and rely on help restore balance and consistency in your life. Meals are usually at the same time every day during rehab to set a reliable schedule. Any therapies and activities will be planned ahead of time. You can expect to know what your weekly routine will be like, so there’s less likely to be any surprises or uncertainty. Everything is geared to make the rehab process as comfortable as possible.
Healthy Meals and Regular Exercise: Part of the healing process is restoring your body back to its healthiest state. So during any residential rehab, you can expect to receive healthy, balanced meals regularly. The staff is always sure to accommodate special diets or allergies. No one is going to force you to eat foods you don’t want to eat. Physical activity is strongly encouraged and crucial to keeping the mind active, so exercise will be part of the daily routine.
Creative Therapy: Art and music can be beneficial in the recovery process. So along with group and individual therapy, most rehab centers offer alternative therapy options like music and art therapy. Finding a creative outlet that appeals to you can be a powerful tool in your recovery.
Individualized Therapy: Every person’s addiction is different, so every person’s recovery will be different as well. Rehab centers offer individualized therapies that are tailored to your specific needs. Underlying emotional problems usually trigger addictions, so individualized therapy is an essential step to uncovering those problems. Sometimes this will include one on one sessions with a therapist. In some other cases, this will consist of group sessions with other residents. Think of therapy as the key that unlocks your ability to learn how to cope as a recovering addict. Every addict is going to have a different shaped key. The therapist’s goal is to help you find the right shaped key for you.
Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehab
When seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, you’ll find that most programs generally fall into one of two categories: inpatient or outpatient rehab. Each program is equally focused on rehabilitating individuals from addiction, but each one has unique features.
Inpatient Rehab: An inpatient rehab program, or residential treatment, is an intensive program where you live 24/7 at a facility. Inpatient rehab programs are designed to treat severe addictions.
- Controlled environment – checks and balances in place to ensure the patient stays clean and committed to treatment.
- 24/7 medical and emotional support staff that are trained to deal specifically with severe addiction.
- Planned, supervised visits and contact with family members and friends.
Outpatient Rehab: An outpatient rehab program is less restrictive than its inpatient counterpart and is designed to allow more flexibility. With outpatient treatment for alcohol addiction, you can still live at home, work, and attend school as usual.
- 10-12 hours a week in the treatment center.
- Addiction education is provided.
- Individual and group therapy is the main priority and makes up the majority of time spent at the facility.
- Learning coping strategies and support for adjusting to an alcohol-free lifestyle.
- Good options for mild addictions.
- Can be used as a part of a long-term treatment plan.
- The average outpatient program lasts 6-12 months.
Support After Rehab
Rehab isn’t a cure-all. In fact, recovery is a lifelong process. Adjusting to life after rehab can be a tricky road to navigate, so support is critical. Whether you complete an inpatient or outpatient alcohol rehab program, they’re not going to send you out into the world empty-handed. Aftercare is essential to be successful at recovery. Most aftercare programs can be found through the same treatment facility you attended for rehab. Aftercare usually includes:
- Resources for post-rehab therapy
- Support groups
- 12-step programs
- Resources to help find safe housing
- Work placement help and support
Even after completing alcohol addiction rehab, you’ll still be an addict. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for addiction, and it’s something you’ll have to navigate for the rest of your life. However, rehab is an incredible tool designed to give you the best chance to beat your addiction and live a healthy, happy life free from alcohol.