The first step in treating alcoholism is the acknowledgement of the problem in the first place. Unless a person understands that their drinking has reached problem levels there is little chance that they’ll have the desire and the drive needed to overcome the problem. Often it takes the intervention of family and friends to force the person to face the fact that they’re drinking too much.
If you’re unsure whether or not you have a drink problem, you should ask yourself the four questions of the CAGE Questionnaire:
- Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
- Have you ever felt annoyed by other people questioning your drinking?
- Have you ever felt guilty about drinking?
- Have you ever felt the need to drink first thing in the morning to face the day?
If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, then chances are you have an alcohol dependency problem.
Can alcoholism be treated?
Strictly speaking, there is no ‘cure’ for alcoholism. However, there are lots of ways that you can overcome your dependency and achieve sobriety once you’ve identified your problem. Different types of alcoholism treatment work for different people and the most successful route will depend on the cause of the drinking problem.
The hardest part of beating alcoholism is stopping drinking in the first place. Your GP will be able to help you with this. Almost all alcoholics will suffer some sort of withdrawal symptoms, ranging from mild shakes and nausea to delirium tremens (or DTs), which can be severe and even life threatening. If you’ve been a heavy drinker your GP may recommend that you’re admitted to hospital for the detox process so that your vital signs can be monitored. While there are very few dedicated NHS detox facilities there are several private clinics across the UK.
The detox process takes between three and seven days, and you may be given tranquilisers, such as diazepam (Valium), to help you through. After this, alcohol is no longer a predominantly physical or chemical need, but will often remain as a strong psychological desire.
How to stay sober?
Stopping drinking is only half the battle, if that and most alcoholics will have at least one relapse on their road to overcoming their addiction.
Your GP will be able to offer medical help in the form of drugs that can help you overcome the cravings that come with alcoholism. These include acamprosate calcium which helps to reduce cravings, naltrexone which blocks the effects of alcohol in the brain, and disulfiram which induces nausea, headaches and discomfort if you do drink.
However, it should be noted that none of these is a ‘magic pill’ or cure for alcoholism. They simply provide help in overcoming the cravings experienced as you try to stop.
A far more important factor is psychological support. Your GP may refer you to a counsellor who will work with you to identify the root cause of your addiction, and help you deal with the stress, or other issues, which started you drinking in the first place.
There are also many support groups where fellow alcoholics support one and other in their battle with alcoholism. The most famous of these is Alcoholics Anonymous (www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk) which holds meetings all over the country for people from all walks of life with all kinds of alcohol related problems. There are also support groups for the family and friends of alcoholics, such as Al-Anon (www.al-anonuk.org.uk) to help them to cope with the difficult task of helping an alcoholic beat their addiction.
Can alcoholism be cured?
The short answer to the question of whether alcoholism can be ‘cured’ is likely to be no, in most cases. Once you’ve identified a problem with alcohol, the chances are that this will be with you for life. Even if you never actually drink again the risk of relapse will always be there if you do. However, the good news is that there is a great deal of help and support available, both physical and psychological, to conquer your dependence on alcohol and achieve sobriety.
Profile of the author
Jackie Griffiths writes journal and newsletter articles for companies and non-governmental organisations across the UK. As founder and senior writer at Freelance Copy, she writes top level content for websites and print across a broad range of sectors including health, medical, biological, governmental, and pharmaceutical.
The Have I Got A Problem website is a free online resource to help people better understand any issues or concerns they may have about mental health or addiction. The website includes resources specifically focused to; general Mental Health, Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Insecurities, Self-harm Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Anger Management, Eating Disorders, Coping, general Addiction, Alcohol, Smoking, Gambling, Drugs, Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana (Cannabis) Ecstasy, PCP, Mephedrone, Ketamine & Crystal Meth.
The site was created to give the public information to help them understand mental health and addiction issues and to assist people in making better informed decisions about their life and personal choices.
www.haveigotaproblem.com was created and is run by the Tasha Foundation, a UK registered charity (charity number1062805).
- Alcohol and Drinking
- Am I a safe drinker?
- Internet therapy versus internet self-help versus no treatment for problematic alcohol use: a randomized controlled trial
- How to Deal With Alcohol Addiction
- Overcoming alcoholism
- Signs and symptoms of alcoholism
- What causes addiction
- What is Alcoholism
- Social and economic problems linked to alcohol use
- Drunk Driving: The Dangers
Tips & Hints
Ask for supportTell friends and family that you’re trying to cut down on alcohol - they might be more supportive than you think. But beware, some pe...More
Keep track of the alcohol units you’re drinkingThe government advises that people should not regularly drink more than the daily unit guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol for men (equi...More
Avoid visiting bars and clubs with barsInstead resort to amusement such as recreational areas, movies, sports events and family events where alcohol isn’t present. That inc...More
Develop an alcohol-free daily routineWake up earlier, include some exercise into the daily schedule, the potential is endless. Keep in mind that to stop drinking is to make...More
Spend as little time alone as possibleFor single people this can be a tall order. If you can’t surround yourself with people, get out more and help yourself to generate a ...More More Tips & Hints