The Journey from Addiction to Recovery
Every story of mental health and addiction is different, but they all have a few things in common: a decline, a realization, and the search for help. Lenny’s story is no different. If you see similarities between his story and yours, it may be time to seek help. Here are some warning signs, what you can expect when you begin recovery, and where you can find help.
Lenny felt like he was unstoppable. His app-developing business made it into Business Spotlight’s top 500 Entrepreneur Businesses of 2021. He had a beautiful house, a nice car, and a wonderful family.
However, Lenny’s success made him feel extremely anxious and fearful all the time. What would happen if his customers suddenly started going elsewhere? How could he support his family? Would his wife take their daughters and leave if he could no longer give them the kind of lifestyle they had grown accustomed to?
Lenny read a couple of self-help books about managing anxiety and depression, but they didn’t help. Then, one day, he felt particularly stressed and despondent over his mental health issues. After a Zoom business meeting with Brad, a supervisor for his company, he confided in Brad about his severe anxiety. Brad gave him some advice that ultimately turned Lenny’s world upside down.
“I found out a long time ago that having a couple of drinks after work is the best way to unwind and relax,” Brad told Lenny. “I don’t know how I’d deal with the divorce and everything right now without alcohol. Helps me forget all my troubles for a few hours, you know?”
Lenny took Brad’s misguided advice. Over the next few weeks, Lenny graduated from having two mixed drinks in the evening to having several shots after downing two mixed drinks. Within three months, Lenny was drinking at work, at lunch, at home, and on the weekends. He tried to cut down but felt horrible if he didn’t drink. So, he kept drinking.
By the time Lenny had become a full-blown alcoholic, his wife had left him, many employees had quit his business, and he had been arrested for drunk driving. He didn’t know it at the time, but he would hit rock bottom before he finally admitted he had an alcohol abuse disorder. By then, he had lost everything he had worked so hard for.
Treating alcohol addiction, from rehab to rebirth.
Like Lenny, suppose you are convinced by an intervention staged by family members or struck with an epiphany when you finally hit rock bottom. In these cases, your decision to enter a treatment program, like EHN Canada’s Alcohol Addiction Treatment program, will be the best and most important decision you will ever make. Knowing what to expect from the time you enter alcohol abuse disorder treatment to the day you begin your new, sober life will relieve any concerns you may have about alcohol rehab.
This guide can help you understand various complex problems associated with how to deal with alcohol abuse. It will also reassure you that EHN is committed to providing the professional and compassionate support you need to complete your individualized alcohol addiction treatment program.
How do you know if you have a drinking problem?
Physicians specializing in drug and alcohol abuse addiction rely on criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to diagnose alcoholism. This will involve asking questions about drinking habits to evaluate a person’s risk for alcohol use disorder. If the individual answers “yes” to at least four of these questions, they likely need alcohol addiction treatment as soon as possible:
- Do you frequently drink more than you intended to drink?
- Have you tried to stop drinking alcohol but were unsuccessful?
- Has your health deteriorated since you started drinking?
- Do you think about drinking more than anything else?
- Has drinking caused you to experience legal, financial, and/or employment problems?
- Have you borrowed money just to purchase alcohol?
- Have you developed a tolerance to alcohol to the point that you feel sick within hours of taking your last drink?
- Have family members and friends told you that you drink too much?
- Do you continue drinking even though you know that current problems in your life are due to drinking?
How to recognize alcohol-withdrawal symptoms
Abusing alcohol or any other addictive drug alters your brain’s chemistry by increasing the effects of certain neurotransmitters. When you drink alcohol, a chemical called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) interacts with receptors involved with central nervous system functioning.
The sedating effects of alcohol come from GABA impacting these receptors. If someone develops a drinking habit, the brain becomes accustomed to abnormal GABA levels and other chemicals responsible for the pleasurable feeling of intoxication. When a person with alcohol abuse disorder decides to try and stop drinking, they are throwing their brain’s chemistry into turmoil. The resulting backlash from a brain that had gotten used to feeling “good” causes symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Individuals needing alcohol dependence syndrome treatment will start experiencing the following signs of withdrawal within six to eight hours of taking their last drink:
- Extreme anxiety
- Flu-like symptoms/body pain
- Shaking of hands and body (tremors)
- Profuse sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate/heart palpitations
- Irrational or aggressive behavior
The most severe type of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens; chronic drinkers with a history of relapse, alcohol-related seizures, and medical problems are at risk of suffering “the DTs.” DT can cause life-threatening health issues such as respiratory failure, hypertension, and hyperthermia, which can cause coma and death in those who don’t receive immediate treatment.
There is no easy way to stop drinking
Before a person enters an alcohol addiction treatment program, they must admit they have an alcohol problem and sincerely want to kick their drinking habit. Unfortunately, in many cases, alcohol abusers avoid seeking professional help until they have lost their job or home and no longer enjoy relationships with family members or friends. However, hitting “rock bottom” doesn’t have to happen before you or someone you know gets clean and sober at EHN.
Is there a cure for alcoholism?
Like other addictions, alcohol abuse disorder cannot be cured, but it can be successfully controlled with different treatments for alcoholism tailored to address a person’s unique whole-health needs. Asking yourself where to get help for alcoholism is the first step toward lifelong sobriety.
What is Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
Detoxification is the first phase of Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment
Detoxifying from alcohol takes place in a hospital-like setting that is constantly monitored by licensed specialists trained to medically and psychologically manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Medications and counseling are available to people who are detoxing to help relieve anxiety and reduce symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Crisis counseling is also available for individuals who require intense psychological help due to mental health problems.
EHN doctors and counselors will empathetically guide you through the process of eliminating all alcohol from your body. EHN genuinely cares about your physical and mental well-being during alcohol detoxification. We take every measure to provide relief from withdrawal symptoms that can make it difficult to resist cravings.
Alcohol detoxification includes removing all alcohol from the body and centers on replenishing any nutritional deficiencies caused by heavy drinking. Before starting detox at EHN, patients receive a complete physical examination to detect heart irregularities, liver disease, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis or hepatitis, and alcoholic pancreatitis. Individuals experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms may require IV fluid supplementation to reverse dehydration caused by vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive sweating.
How long does detoxification from alcohol take?
Withdrawing from any addiction may take up to seven days. During alcohol detoxification, EHN patients are provided with the medical and emotional support needed to make the process as comfortable as possible. Once tests show that the patient’s blood tests are negative for alcohol and the patient feels as well as can be expected, they are given a complete psychiatric evaluation to determine whether a mental health issue exists.
Unknown psychological or medical conditions often present themselves during and after alcohol detoxification. For example, some minor health conditions may have affected the patient before they started abusing alcohol but worsened due to the abuse. EHN provides appropriate treatment protocols for medical and psychological problems affecting detox patients and will refer them for further treatment if necessary.
Individual and Group Therapy are core components of Alcohol Rehab at Edgewood and Bellwood
Individual Therapy for Alcohol Addiction
Recovering from an alcohol addiction includes intensive individual counseling sessions with a professional therapist who can help you rediscover the sense of purpose and meaning essential for overcoming alcoholism. EHN counselors employ several psychotherapeutic techniques that are highly effective in addressing patients with complex issues. For example, they may have suffered an abusive childhood, untreated mental health issues, trouble managing displaced anger and resentment, and personality disorders that may have compelled them to self-medicate with alcohol.
In addition to cultivating trust and empathy in one-on-one individual counseling sessions, our therapists use evidence-based psychoanalytic techniques. These can include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and rational-emotive therapy to help patients discover ways to cope with painful emotions.
Through individual counseling, our alcohol abuse treatment program participants learn how to minimize anxiety and depression by redirecting unproductive thoughts and emotions into more productive activities. They also learn how to identify life goals, develop insights into why they drink and recognize “triggers” that can cause relapse.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment involves Relapse Prevention Therapy
EHN alcohol addiction counselors teach clients how to detect signs of possible relapse triggers so they can use self-care strategies and coping skills to manage cravings. By learning how to identify and approach a high-risk situation healthily, people in an alcohol abuse treatment program can utilize coping strategies that help prevent relapse. For example, deep breathing exercises, controlling thought patterns, mindfulness training, and meditative techniques are some techniques that provide the tools necessary to control physiological and mental responses that produce cravings.
Triggers that provoke the urge to start drinking again include people and locations associated with the alcohol abuse lifestyle. For example, just seeing bars and hangouts where an alcohol dependence syndrome treatment patient used to frequent could trigger cravings. In addition, stressful situations (arguing with family members, divorce, job loss) can make it more difficult to resist relapsing. Sometimes, simply watching a television show depicting actors drinking alcohol can trigger cravings and a powerful urge to have “just one drink.”
The risk of relapse is high if a recovering alcohol abuser chooses to socialize with acquaintances they knew when they were drinking. Even visiting old haunts and specific neighborhoods can trigger the urge to buy a bottle of alcohol or walk into a bar. Avoiding triggers by building a network of sober, responsible friends who engage in sober activities can provide the kind of support essential for recovering addicts to experience long-term, relapse-free recovery from alcohol addiction.
Group Therapy for Alcohol Addiction
Group counseling sessions at EHN are comprised of individuals experiencing similar alcohol abuse treatment issues. They are encouraged by a therapist to discuss problems common to their situation and suggest solutions to other members’ problems. For example, alcohol addiction treatment members meet regularly to voice concerns, provide feedback and communicate with each other to facilitate insight into their problems.
Interacting with others who share similar concerns allows our patients to improve their social skills and increase their understanding of why certain actions and behaviors are adverse to living a sober life. They can also communicate feelings they might otherwise not be able to express.
Some people prefer group therapy over individual counseling because of the strong empathetic response from peers that they never received when abusing alcohol. Alcohol abuse disorder is a lonely disease that creates cravings for companionship as strong as the craving for alcohol. Participating in group therapy can also help improve a patient’s self-esteem when they are given a chance to feel like they are providing support for another human being who may be in a much worse predicament.
Therapists presiding over group counseling sessions are there to ensure everyone abides by the rules, especially respecting another person’s right to express their feelings without fear of retribution. Group therapists may also offer insight into situations that bring difficult-to-solve conflicts to the group, providing members with new ideas they can think about and discuss.
Dual Diagnosis and Alcohol Abuse Treatment
Nearly all people entering alcohol addiction treatment at EHN are given a dual diagnosis of addiction and a mental health problem. Depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and PTSD are some of the more common psychiatric disorders seen in alcohol abusers.
Treatment for dual diagnosis patients involves intensive cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, group therapy, and medication to relieve cravings and persistent symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Pharmacological management of alcoholism is usually implemented for moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal patients. Individuals in alcohol treatment are usually prescribed Naltrexone or Temposil to stop them from drinking. Antidepressants or antipsychotic medications are prescribed for mental illnesses.
What are the long-term effects of alcoholism abuse?
Without treatment, an alcoholic will eventually suffer from multiple diseases that can shorten their life by decades. Common medical problems diagnosed in long-term problem drinkers include:
- Alcoholic cardiomyopathy, or a weakened, enlarged heart due to excessive alcohol consumption
- Congestive heart failure
- Increase in LDL cholesterol, the kind of cholesterol that contributes to atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and heart attacks
- Heart arrhythmias
- Liver cirrhosis
- Kidney failure
- Irreversible brain damage
Research studies further indicate a clear correlation between alcohol consumption and increased risks of esophageal cancer, liver cancer, and colorectal cancer. Women who consume one alcoholic drink per day have a five to nine percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who abstain from alcohol.
Contact EHN Canada for help with alcoholism today
Patients who successfully complete EHN Canada’s recovery program will leave with the uplifting awareness that the experience of addiction and sobriety has given them a chance to create the kind of meaningful life they deserve and were always meant to live. In addition, EHN will continue to support all patients who may need counseling as their post-recovery life presents exciting and often unexpected situations.
Successfully treating alcoholism involves different treatments for alcoholism that are tailored to address a person’s unique mental, emotional, and physical needs. EHN treats each individual with dignity, compassion, and respect. Our alcohol abuse treatment programs are conducted in safe, therapeutic environments where patients can begin the healing process by detoxifying and restoring their health.
We provide thorough and accurate assessments of each person entering our center to ensure individualized treatment plans effectively address each client’s unique needs.
Our treatment philosophy upholds the idea that alcohol dependence is a biopsychosocial disease demanding a compassionate, holistic approach by professional alcohol addiction therapists. Treatment programs endow alcohol abusers with the stability, support, and understanding they need to help them begin leading the kind of goal-oriented, satisfying life they want and deserve.
EHN Canada has locations across Canada that specialize in addiction and mental health treatment. If and when you’re ready, please reach out to begin your recovery journey.
Outpatient Services (Multiple locations): 1-888-767-3711