It can literally break your heart when witnessing a loved one succumbing to the effects of chronic alcohol use. Alcoholism has the potential to seriously harm someone’s life, inflicting damage on health, family, and career. Unfortunately, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is prevalent in our culture, impacting nearly 15 million Americans annually, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The sooner that the signs of alcoholism are recognized and then treatment obtained, the better the recovery outcome.
What Are the Signs of Alcoholism?
It could be that your loved one already suspects they have a problem. They may have even asked you, “Am I an alcoholic?” Sometimes it isn’t so easy to know for sure if a person you care about is actually moving towards alcoholism. But as an AUD sneaks up stealthily, worsening bit by bit, the signs will eventually become harder to ignore.
Signs of alcoholism might include:
- Increasing tolerance to alcohol, leading to higher consumption
- Obsessing over when you can drink next and maintaining supply of available liquor
- Feeling guilty about the drinking behavior
- Lying about how much you drink or hiding the alcohol from loved ones
- Engaging in high risk behaviors, such as driving under the influence
- Mood swings
- Disrupted sleep
- Mounting consequences because of the drinking
- Wanting to quit but can’t
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is withheld
If you recognize some of these warning signs in your loved one, it is time to gently open up a non-confrontational and non-judgmental conversation with them. Offer them some treatment solutions to consider, as well as your ongoing emotional support. If the loved one is not yet open to the idea of treatment, don’t despair. You will have planted a seed and that might just take root at some point.
When Your Loved One is Ready for Treatment
When the day comes that a loved one is ready to confront the AUD and commit to a life of sobriety, it is truly a cause for celebration. Although the road ahead is long and sometimes difficult, just seeing them take that first step on the recovery journey is encouraging.
Treatment for an AUD involves a coordinated array of therapeutic activities that work in concert to help someone make fundamental changes in their thought patterns and behaviors. Each aspect of the treatment process is designed to equip the individual with new recovery coping skills and relapse prevention strategies. Treatment elements include:
- Withdrawal Management. Medically monitored withdrawal management helps to minimize discomfort as the body eliminates the substance.
- Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and other evidence-based therapies guide transformative behavioral changes.
- Group Support. Small group discussions provide a safe, supportive space for sharing and learning.
- Family-Centered Therapy. Family sessions offer supportive guidelines for improving family functioning, communication, and boundary setting.
- 12-Step Program. Themes from A.A.’s 12-step program or other recovery programs offer structure to the recovery process, as well as peer support.
- Medication Supported Recovery. MSR may improve recovery outcomes through the use of naltrexone.
- Holistic Activities. Relaxation techniques can enhance the recovery process, such as yoga, massage, meditation, art and music therapy, acupuncture, and spiritual support.
For long-term recovery support, your loved one will participate in continuing care activities following completion of treatment. These options include sober living housing, outpatient therapy, participation in a recovery community, and ongoing wellness practices, such as regular exercise and a nutritious diet, to restore physical and mental health.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.