What are the Symptoms and Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction?

The following are among the more common symptoms of alcoholism:

  • Becoming obsessed with alcohol — for example, feeling compelled to drink, constantly thinking about drinking, and continually planning when and where to drink
  • Being unable to limit or control the amount or frequency of one’s drinking
  • Being unable to stop drinking once one begins (in other words, being incapable of having “just one drink” or drinking socially in small amounts)
  • Binge drinking (for men, having five or more alcohol drinks in one session; for women, having three or more drinks in one session) on a regular basis
  • Drinking alone, drinking in secret, and hiding or lying about the amount and frequency of one’s drinking
  • Developing tolerance to alcohol (which means that a person needs to drink increasingly large amounts of alcohol in order to experience the same “high” or rush that previously resulted from less alcohol)
  • Experiencing negative outcomes directly related to one’s drinking — including lost or failed relationships, employment or financial problems, and legal consequences
  • Continuing to drink alcohol even after experiencing these negative outcomes
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms – often painful physical experiences such as cramping, shaking, becoming nauseous, and sweating profusely — when unable to have a drink.
  • Having “black outs” — which means being incapable of what one said or did when drinking
  • Losing interest in activities and hobbies and other experiences (including spending time with friends and loved ones) that once brought great pleasure
  • Hiding alcohol around the house, office, or even in the car in order to never be far away from alcohol when the urge to drink becomes too strong to resist

Alcohol Abuse Treatment

While no one sign or symptom confirms that a person has developed an addiction to alcohol, anyone who experiences several of the signs described above may be abusing or dependent upon alcohol. In cases where alcoholism is even suspected, it is best to consult with a physician, addiction specialist, therapist, or other expert who can diagnose the condition and recommend treatment options.

Depending upon a number of factors, including the individual’s age, the nature and severity of the alcoholism, and the presence of any co-occurring conditions, the optimal treatment for an alcoholic may include outpatient therapy, participation in a 12-Step support group, partial hospitalization, or residential treatment.

The first main step is to keep the individual away from alcohol. If this can happen at home, then intensive outpatient programs can be pursued. But if the person has access to alcohol, can’t be supervised 24/7, and is having a hard time resisting their urges to drink, they need a structured, supervised residential setting.

The most important treatment component is addressing spiritual aspects. Looking at God, purpose, values, relationships, damage, forgiveness, meaning, comfort, peace, pain, suffering, are all important and necessary aspects of engaging in a long lasting recovery and life transformation.

While addressing the spiritual, it is also important to examine and care for the physical (withdrawal, nutrition, and psychiatric) issues that are present as well as exploring psychological/emotional issues and teaching better coping and decision-making skills.

Treatment for alcoholism may include the following therapies and techniques. Science shows, integrating spiritual understanding and principles dramatically increases the effectiveness of treatment and outcomes:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • 12-Step and other Faith based Recovery Groups
  • Relapse-prevention instruction
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Biofeedback & Neurofeedback
  • Medication management
  • Anger management
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Recreation therapy

Alcohol abuse and addiction are serious medical conditions that require treatment by chemical dependency specialists. Abruptly stopping alcohol consumption after extended use can result in serious medical complications, including death. Detoxification from alcohol dependence should not be attempted at home or without direction and supervision from a medical doctor. If you or your loved one are concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and are not under a physician’s care, call 911 for emergency assistance.

If you or someone you know is wrestling with alcohol abuse or addiction, call our free helpline today at (844) 543-3242.

Information used with permission from CRC Health Group.

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