According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 14.5 million Americans over the age of 12 had alcohol use disorder in 2019. Unfortunately, just 7.2% of these individuals received treatment.
If you or your loved one are struggling with alcohol addiction, there is help available. Olympus Recovery offers a wide selection of evidence-based treatment programs that will help you regain control of your life. Here’s how to take the first steps — along with what that means for your future.
What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Millions of Americans drink regularly — so when does it become an issue?
Alcohol addiction is a severe form of alcohol abuse characterized by an inability to manage drinking habits despite negative consequences. Also commonly referred to as alcohol use disorder, an alcohol addiction can be mild, moderate, or severe. When left untreated, symptoms can quickly spiral out of control and result in potentially life-altering outcomes.
Alcohol addiction does not discriminate. It affects people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Alcohol addiction can change your brain and neurochemistry, and this further influences your behavior and the cycle of abuse.
If you feel as though you cannot function without alcohol, it’s time to ask yourself, “what is my next step?”
Whether alcohol has already affected your relationships, career, and health or you’re concerned it soon will, now is the time to take action.
What Are the Warning Signs of Alcoholism?
Many individuals suffering from an alcohol addiction don’t recognize that there’s a problem. Since society widely accepts drinking as normal, many people create excuses for their heavy drinking. Even if it is only during “social” situations, though, it’s possible to develop an addiction.
That is why you must remain mindful of the most common warning signs, which include:
- Being unable to control alcohol consumption
- Alcohol cravings
- Putting alcohol before personal and professional responsibilities
- Needing to drink more to experience the same effect
- Spending a significant amount of money on alcohol
- Becoming more isolated from family and friends – specifically those you don’t drink with
- Drinking alone or in secrecy
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal
- Mood swings or increased irritability, particularly when you do not drink
- Engaging in risky behavior after drinking to get more alcohol
It’s important to note that no two people who experience alcohol abuse are the same. This is why it’s essential to seek professional help in order to receive a diagnosis and begin the recovery process.
The Effects of Alcoholism
The negative effects of alcohol can quickly sneak up on a person and affect all aspects of their life.
Individuals struggling with alcohol addiction experience damage to their finances, career, emotional stability, relationships and physical health. Sadly, alcoholism is also often a family disease that creates a ripple effect.
Research shows that the effects of alcohol abuse can impact your heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, immune system, and brain. Whether it’s increased inflammation or high blood pressure, acute kidney failure or poor digestion, the physical effects are wide-reaching. Research has also linked alcohol abuse to several chronic diseases – including mouth, liver, breast, and colon cancer.
Poor mental health is also a concern since chronic drinking can increase the likelihood of a psychiatric disorder. The research is clear on this:
- Studies show that approximately 60% of alcoholics meet the criteria for an alcohol-induced mood disorder. There is also a significant relationship between alcoholism and bipolar disorder.
- Increased anxiety is also common since alcohol influences serotonin levels. Although drinking can induce short-term relaxation, feelings of anxiety can last for several hours after alcohol wears off. It affects some people the entire day. This is why it’s dangerous to use alcohol when trying to cope with symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Chronic drinking can affect every aspect of your life. If you’re suffering from alcoholism, now is the time to seek help.
Causes of Alcohol Addiction + Risk Factors
Addiction is a complex disease. While we still don’t fully understand the cause of alcoholism, researchers believe it is a combination of environmental and genetic factors. A study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that genetic variables account for 40-60% of the variance between people at risk for alcohol use disorder.
Some of the known risk factors include having:
- Over 12 drinks per week if you’re female or 15 drinks per week as a male
- Over 5 drinks a day at least once a week — otherwise known as binge drinking
- A parent or close relative with an alcohol abuse disorder
- A mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia
Seek a Diagnosis
A professional healthcare provider can diagnose an alcohol use disorder. This may involve a physical exam and a verbal assessment. Be prepared to answer several questions — and be honest! To seek the help you need, you must be straightforward with yourself and others. Denial is common among alcoholics, as well as those who enable them. Unfortunately, this condition only worsens with time.
Remember, alcohol addiction is a disease, and just like other ailments, it requires specialized attention.
Once professionals reach a diagnosis, you can take the proper steps towards a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life.
Getting the Treatment You Deserve
Seeking help can seem daunting. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that you are not alone in this. When you work with professionals, such as the Olympus team, they will guide you towards key milestones and help you every step of the way.
The exact treatment offered will depend on your unique circumstances. There are several methods used, and these approaches will vary based on your symptoms, severity of your addiction and other factors. For example, some individuals require treatment for both alcohol addiction and depression. This is what’s known as dual-diagnosis treatment.
It’s important to work closely with the treatment center of your choosing and seek customized care. Once you safely detox, you can begin the healing process and take part in treatment programs. Detoxing under medical supervision is often necessary when a person’s body develops a dependence on alcohol. Once this process concludes, treatment programs include:
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP), meaning you will not stay on-site. You will receive treatment and return home.
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a short-term inpatient treatment option.
Olympus offers both program types.
Some treatment centers will offer more specialized programs – such as programs for first responders – that allow you to get the most out of your experience.
Over time, it’s important to address your physical and mental health. As you overcome your addiction to alcohol, you can then start focusing on taking care of your body and mind. This means following a balanced diet, becoming more active, and taking part in activities that bring you a sense of purpose. Learning healthy habits and strategies is all part of the recovery process and help you become the best version of yourself.
How Effective Is Treatment?
Not all treatment plans are created equally. That is why you need to seek a reputable facility. Before you seek treatment, make sure you research the facility. The best programs will offer several evidence-based therapy options should to ensure you receive the best treatment. It’s also important that you find somewhere that offers an individualized approach.
The quicker you take action, the better. Early treatment is most effective. However, it’s possible to treat long-term addictions when you enter a structured treatment plan. Not drinking for an extended period is only part of the recovery process. Unless you change your mindset, behaviors, and overall lifestyle, you will have an increased risk of relapse.
For treatment to be as effective as possible, you need to want to stop drinking. Although you will receive guidance, you’ll still need to hit your own milestones. No one can put in the work for you. This is why the success rates of these programs can vary so dramatically.
One key review, for instance, collected data from seven comprehensive studies. It found that – in the year after treatment – 25% of clients remained continuously abstinent from alcohol. An additional 10% used alcohol moderately without problems. During this period, the mortality rate averaged less than 2%. The remaining clients abstained for 3 days out of 4 – reducing their overall alcohol consumption by 87% on average. All alcohol-related problems decreased by 60%.
How Olympus Recovery Can Help
Olympus Recovery Treatment Center offers evidence-based programs and specializes in dual-diagnosis.
We understand each individual is unique and requires personalized treatment. That is why we offer a selection of programs and treatment options that include PHP and IOP. When you first visit Olympus Recovery, we will complete an assessment and help you develop the best plan for your needs. For those who have commitments concerning work or family, an intensive outpatient program may best suit your needs.
Some treatments and therapies offered at Olympus include:
- Medication-assisted treatment is often a critical component of the recovery process when detoxing from alcohol. Withdrawing from alcohol can be life threatening, and that’s why seeking medical attention during this step is vital.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the core treatment options when dealing with a wide range of substance use disorders and mental health conditions. CBT can help you improve self-control, avoid triggers, and develop coping strategies.
- Dialectical behavior therapy is a specific type of CBT that teaches people how to live in the moment. It develops healthy ways to cope with stress and better regulate emotions, and this can have a dramatic impact on the overall recovery process.
During your time at Olympus, we will help you:
- Change the behaviors that drive you to drink
- Deal with ongoing stress to avoid your triggers
- Build a strong support system to reduce your risk of relapse
- Set short- and long-term goals and then reach them
The beginning of your new life can start now. All you need to do is call and be willing to work towards sobriety.
Are you ready to begin your road to recovery?
Contact us to take back control of your life today!