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Detoxify Your Life: Eliminating Bad Habits Effectively

Battling Alcoholism

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A number of destroyed relationships, both professional and personal, have pointed to alcohol dependence as their root cause. And while alcoholism is something that may be prevented or cured, many who take to the bottle are not able to cope well because they either are not aware of their condition, or are too dependent on inebriation to admit that they have a problem and need help. Unlike most bad habits, alcoholism entails a deeper psychological issue that is relatively more challenging to face.

Alcoholism vs Alcohol Abuse

At this point, it is important to note that ‘alcoholism’ is different from ‘alcohol abuse’. These two are often confused to mean each other, but they are actually different in how they are tackled.

Alcoholism may also be referred to as alcohol dependence; that is, an obvious addiction to alcohol that is beyond a person’s control. If ignored, alcoholism could be fatal. This is what we’ll be discussing with greater depth in this chapter.

Meanwhile, alcohol abuse, while also potentially destructive is merely that – excessive drinking. Often, the person is aware of his habit and has the capacity and will to change this by himself, without drastic external intervention. It is usually just referred to as problem drinking.

Let’s focus on alcoholism.

Identifying the condition

What are the usual signs that you might be alcoholic? Here are some of the most common:

  • Persistent craving for a drink and difficulty controlling your intake; sometimes you drink alone and secretly

  • You drink to feel ‘normal’ or happy

  • Your tolerance for alcohol is increasing; that is, you find yourself drinking more to reach that certain inebriated state

  • Physical reactions when you try to decrease your intake, like agitation and sweating

  • You still find yourself reaching for a drink despite an awareness of its problematic effects on yourself; blatant disregard of consequences

  • You feel irritated and cranky when you reach for a drink and it’s not available When you notice any of the above while you’re on the bottle, seek help immediately. However, since most alcoholics deny that they are, admitting that you need intervention is the best gift you can give yourself. If you’re not one but know somebody who might be, don’t waste time doing nothing. Offer assistance at once, even if you meet resistance (because you most certainly will).

*In the U.S., around 7.4% either abuse alcohol or are already alcoholics.

What “Just One More Drink” Can Do To You

Alcoholism is a serious condition and should not be taken lightly. Sure, a lot of people get intoxicated at parties and this seems tolerable, even fun, at times; but we must realize that alcohol dependence is not something that is simply a product of a night’s good time. It is chronic and often close to irreparable.

Alcohol freezes our rational faculties, making us incapable to controlling our inhibitions and good judgement. When taken in excess, it directly attacks the gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in our brains and excites the nervous system. That’s why intoxicated persons find themselves blurting out words or doing actions they would otherwise not do when sober.

It also impairs our bodily functions, resulting in muddled speech, loss of balance, blurred vision, and coordination problems. Drunk driving causes majority of vehicular accidents. Cases of domestic violence, rape and assault have also pointed to intoxication.

In the longer term, alcoholism can lead to severe health problems, such as liver failure, cancer, high blood pressure, ulcer and other gastrointestinal illnesses, impaired mental capacity, bone thinning and death. Pregnant women who’ve also an alcohol addiction are more likely to cause birth defects on their unborn children. In other cases, dependence has been linked with obesity, muscle stress and infertility.

How To Quit

First, you need to admit that you have a drinking problem in order for the treatments to work. Otherwise, you’ll just be defeating the purpose of quitting. Second, you have to acknowledge within yourself and declare that you do want to quit and are willing to undergo all methods necessary. Understanding the problem is crucial at the initial stage. But you still need a very determined follow-through to succeed.

There are various types of interventions. You can do them yourself by reading self-help literature, like this report. Or you can hook up with a group (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous) or a treatment center for counselling. Most alcoholics find that working with a group whose members go through the same battle is easier and more motivational and effective. In the UK, you can also call Drinkline at 0800 917 8282 for free advice.

Those who seek counselling can expect either aversion therapy or cognitive behaviour therapy.

Aversion therapy involves a method that psychologically links alcohol with something unpleasant, causing the patient to stay away from it, while cognitive behaviour therapy delves into the deeper reasons why you’re reaching for the bottle and tackles each of them with greater depth. The latter is more personal and emotional.

Certain medications can also help. Disulfiram causes a person to vomit or feel nauseated whenever he takes alcohol. While it doesn’t cure the condition, it helps in keeping you away. Drugs like Naltrexone and Acamprosate help control the urge by blocking craving calls to the brain. A newly-approved treatment called Vivitrol, which is injected into the buttocks, achieves the same effect.

Staying Sober

Of course, all the effort put into eliminating alcohol addiction would be futile if you do not have continuous support. This is what AA groups can do for you. You can track each others’ progress to make sure all of you reach the finish line and beyond. Battling alcoholism is a lifetime task. Hence, you must always exercise constant vigilance and discipline. You’re not just doing this for yourself, but also for the people around you, who, you will find, are more than willing to support you all the way. If you will it, you can do it.

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