Recognising the signs of alcoholism and taking the brave steps to seek help can be challenging. If your body craves alcohol in the morning, at lunchtime, and after dinner, it's quite likely that you may be struggling with alcohol dependence, also known as alcohol addiction.
You might even think that you drink for fun-but the truth is that it has become something more than just a habit. It's an obsession.
Why am I finding it hard to give up drinking?
Quitting alcohol, if you are an addict, is not easy. Your body has become accustomed to its presence-it can't function properly without it. You may experience withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, jitteriness, fatigue, nausea, tremors and insomnia when you try to stop.
The reality is, your drinking is a result of more than just an excess of alcohol over a period of time, you feel like you need alcohol to cope with life.
Addiction is in many ways, a coping mechanism for life. So if you are having trouble quitting, dealing with the root causes of your alcoholism will help you quit the bottle for good.
How do I know if it's alcohol addiction?
Health experts have developed a short test to help you understand the severity of your addiction. Take note of how many symptoms apply to you-the more symptoms you identify with, the more addicted you are.
- You've taken more than 14 drinks in one sitting.
- You've felt the need to drink just to deal with daily life.
- You wake up feeling guilty about how much you drank the night before.
- You have the urge to drink just to get through the day.
- You sometimes find it difficult to go along with plans because you know you'll be drinking afterward.
- You have trouble concentrating because of your habit, at least occasionally.
- Avoiding alcohol consumption has become difficult for you.
If you can relate to the above, it's likely that you are experiencing alcohol addiction.
What Should I do about my excess drinking?
If alcohol addiction has developed, detoxing from alcohol may be challenging or in some cases, dangerous without medical support. While detox is good for the physical body, it will not fix the psychological aspects of addiction.
A combination of detox & therapy will provide the best outcomes for those struggling with alcoholism. In the UK, there are a number of treatment options available both free & privately.
What are the treatment options available in the UK?
In the UK, there are 3 main types of support for alcohol addiction. Residential rehab (private), outpatient treatment (NHS services of private counselling), and support groups (such as Alcoholics Anonymous).
If you are detoxing from alcohol, your GP may be able to assist with medication to support you through the process, and in rare cases, the NHS may provide a medically-assisted detox through an NHS approved detox unit. More recently, a private home detox service can also be accessed, whereby you receive detox medication & virtual support throughout the detox process. These services are cheaper than private residential treatment.
As mentioned, detox alone will not help you overcome addiction, so any detox method should be combined with therapy to help prevent a relapse.
Speak to your GP
Speak to your GP about your alcohol use, they may opt for a screening to determine levels of alcohol dependence. They may refer you to a local NHS service, or provide you with a detox programme to follow at home.
Consider a Home Detox Service
There are private detoxification clinics in the UK that can help you detox without entering a rehabilitation facility, providing you with the support you need to go through the withdrawal process safely at home.
A private home detox - such as one offered by ukhomedetox.co.uk - is cheaper than residential rehab, and they will be able to assist you with ongoing therapy during and after the detox phase.
Contact a Treatment Centre
The most effective way to deal with drug and alcohol addiction is to find the necessary care in the form of an abstinence-based or strength-based treatment programme.
A residential treatment centre provides many benefits over free or outpatient services, and although they may be more expensive, they allow you to recover away from any triggers or stressors.
Residential rehabs provide an integrated detox & rehab programme, and typically include aftercare and relapse prevention.
Like most private addiction treatment methods, you should receive treatment quickly unlike NHS services, which are typically bound to long waiting lists.
Take part in active recovery (Support Groups)
Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous provide immense support regardless of the treatment option you embark upon. Many recovering alcoholics choose to partake in support groups for many years after abstinence.
Not all support groups use the 12 step model, for example, SMART recovery operate their own recovery framework throughout the UK.
Once you have completed treatment, it is strongly recommended that you continue your recovery journey with a local support group weekly.
What Should I do if I relapse again?
The relapse rate for addiction is very high, with an estimated 90% of people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction relapsing within the first year after treatment.
Some people find that they can maintain their sobriety by attending support groups (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) when they leave rehab, while others find it easier to attend group counselling sessions in their home town.
It is important that you keep up the support groups and counselling-it is these years of attendance that can help you stay clean and sober. If you find yourself relapsing, or have thoughts of drinking again, reach out to your local support group, a friend, or an addiction counsellor.
The process of relapse typically begins well before a relapse has occurred, individuals will begin to have strong feelings about drinking again, or may convince themselves that they can manage their drinking habits. The reality is, most alcoholics will never have control over their drinking habits, and abstinence is the only way to stay off the drink.
If you do find yourself relapsing, or having thoughts of relapse, take the necessary actions to prevent further harm. The sooner you get back on track, the easier it will be.