Alcoholism is a cunning and baffling disease. In many cases, the addict will be convinced that there’s nothing wrong. One’s own willpower is usually the first course of action. Unfortunately, rationalization and denial can be tough hurdles to overcome alone.
So, how can you determine if someone is an alcoholic or not? What types of signs are there that point to being more than just a problem drinker? And, most importantly, what can you do if someone is an alcoholic? Thankfully, there are answers.
Alcoholism: Facts and Figures
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics say that more than 25% of the U.S. adult population experiences at least one excessive drinking day in a calendar year. Excessive drinking involves consuming five drinks or more for males and four or more for females.
This quarter of the overall population is a collective estimate encompassing all age groups. Of women between the ages of 25 and 44, fewer than 30% have at least one annual day of excessive drinking.
This statistic presents vastly more alarming, when we consider the higher risk of health problems associated with alcoholism in women. However, males in the 25 to 44 age bracket are heavier drinkers. CDC statistics indicate that more than four out of 10 of these men drink heavily at least one day per year.
These statistics address only alcohol use. How do you determine when someone has crossed the line from a problem drinker to alcoholism? Take a look at some signs and symptoms of alcoholism.
Signs There May Be a Problem
To help distinguish between a potentially self-curable problem drinker and someone with alcoholism, there are some warning signs and symptoms to consider.
Here are a few signs for alcoholism:
• An unnatural amount of our social life has started to revolve around drinking and partying.
• You drink even though you promised yourself or someone else that you would not.
• You end up drinking more than you promised you would drink.
• You repeatedly try to stop, and even though you might quit for brief spells, you cannot stay stopped.
• Friends or family members make comments about how much or how often you drink.
• There are drinking spells where you blackout, losing track of sizable blocks of time.
• You begin to lie about whether you’ve been drinking, or you’re untruthful about how much you’ve had to drink.
• Despite a gradual deterioration of family, school, work, or your personal life, you continue to drink regardless of the consequences.
• You begin to drink alcohol despite legal consequences or in situations where drinking poses extreme risks or is illegal.
• You begin to lose interest in things that you enjoyed, especially if they interfere with your ability to drink.
• It begins to take more and more alcohol to reach a point of satisfaction, and that point becomes nothing short of being intoxicated.
There are no pass or fail tests that can be administered to tell if someone suffers from alcoholism. You also need to be very cautious in answering any self-assessment quizzes.
Many alcoholics have yet to experience any serious consequences as a result of their drinking. Even those who may be functional alcoholics will eventually find an invariable bottom.
However, one red flag is when you question in your own mind about how much you’re drinking or why you can’t stop. So, what do you do if the facts indicate you suffer from alcoholism? Thankfully, there is help when you look at the basic treatment formats for alcoholism.
Treatment Options for Alcoholism
Rehabilitation facilities offer different program options for substance use disorders. Both alcoholics and drug addicts have choices. However, the decision should never be made without consulting a licensed professional.
There are two basic types of substance use disorder treatment programs. The key concept between the two is where you live during treatment. Here is a comparison of outpatient versus inpatient treatment programs.
Outpatient treatment for alcoholism does not require the individual to live at the rehab facility. Instead, they commute a certain number of days a week to the clinic. Many facilities break outpatient treatment programs down into two varying levels.
OP 1.0 is the traditional outpatient treatment model. More intense alcoholism may warrant what is referred to as intensive outpatient treatment (IOP). Individuals with a more serious problem who are unable to commit to a residential situation may justify IOP.
Outpatient treatment is often helpful for milder cases and first-time attempts at sobriety. OP 1.0 usually involves one or more scheduled counseling sessions with a licensed recovery therapist.
These sessions help to reveal the underlying symptoms, problems that can turn out to be at the root of alcoholism. Outpatient treatment plans also involve one or more group sessions each week.
Group discussion can prove immensely important to recovery. For this reason, it is also strongly suggested that patients become involved in a recovery fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Some outpatient programs require a set number of meetings per week.
Outpatient treatment programs will last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. Frequently, OP 1.0 is used as a follow up after completing a residential inpatient treatment program.
Inpatient programs for alcoholism and other substance use disorders require residential treatment. You will live at the facility while you complete the program. Similar to outpatient formats, inpatient treatment programs are of varying length. Most will be between one and three months. While this may be a long time for someone to spend away from home, it may be necessary to find sobriety.
Continuous failed attempts to stay sober using an outpatient model is a powerful indication that inpatient should be strongly considered. There are also factors such as home and community environment.
Often, living at home presents too many triggers for successful outpatient treatment. There are also situations where legal consequences dictate that the court system will mandate a particular length of stay at a residential treatment facility.
Residential treatment formats have some similarities to traditional outpatient models. There will be private sessions with a licensed recovery counselor. Inpatient facilities will frequently have various types of mental health specialists on staff.
The number of counseling sessions is determined by each situation. Inpatient treatment residents will also be part of group therapy sessions. The convenience of living at the treatment facility makes it far easier to schedule these important tools.
Many inpatient treatment models provide for two or more private counseling sessions. In addition, group sessions can be as often as once per day.
Many inpatient programs utilize alternative therapies that help treat substance use disorders, including alcoholism. For example, some may use recreational therapy while incorporating things such as art and music into their program.
One component that is difficult to recreate in an outpatient treatment program is the environment. With inpatient rehab, there is an aspect of community that cannot be duplicated. Members of a residential treatment community become like family.
Treatment facilities, both outpatient and inpatient formats, will advocate different models for recovery. There is no perfect prescription for living clean and sober. However, the 12-step theory has proven very successful.
The 12-Step Treatment Model
Untold numbers have tried to overcome alcoholism or drug addiction via their own emotional strength and mental willpower. Heartbreaking tales of demoralizing failures litter recovery fellowships and treatment programs.
An important element of the traditional 12-step recovery model emphatically targets this problem. A program based on a 12-step ideology insists that a new power over addictive behavior can be erected by surrendering our willpower.
From its earliest roots and 12-step approach, Alcoholics Anonymous has lasted for decades. The same 12-step model has been used successfully to deal with a variety of seemingly insurmountable problems.
Various forms of drug addiction, overeating, problem gambling, cigarette smoking, and obsessive workaholics, have found solutions in 12-step based programs. Recovering alcoholics attend meetings and practice the core 12-step principles every day to stay sober.
Support for AA comes from the number of people who profess years of sustained sobriety. The concept begins with the most simplistic acceptance. Without any need to determine a specific reason, one must appreciate that they have lost the power to control how much or how often they drink.
There must be a level of surrender before the alcoholic can find a new source of power. As simple as it sounds, this is all that is necessary to establish a foundation for recovery using the 12-step approach.
There are a series of subsequent steps that build on this base. They are designed to clean house and develop an honest and willing desire to live sober. The bulk of a 12-step program is a guide for personal improvement.
The addict will face the problem and understand that willpower is strong enough to overcome the problem. From there, it’s necessary to follow a series of steps to make personal changes that make alcohol and drug use unnecessary.
A viable way to learn and begin working a 12-step alcohol recovery program is through treatment. There is a marvelous opportunity in the New England area that offers both outpatient and inpatient treatment programs based on the 12-step model.
The Granite House
The Granite House is a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Derry, New Hampshire. Both outpatient and inpatient treatment programs are available to anyone in the neighboring New England states and beyond. This residential facility is nestled in a peaceful environment that’s conducive to finding sobriety.
At The Granite House, the mission is to help transform your life using a guided 12-step philosophy and teamwork. Licensed professionals use various approaches to tailor unique treatment models. The foundation for each uses the 12-step approach.
In addition, the therapists are schooled in various treatment strategies such as recreational therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and dual diagnosis for mental health disorders. The Granite House facility provides a safe environment to grow and recover.
People with a substance use disorder, such as alcoholism, are not inherently bad. They are sick people who need to get well. Treatment is the first step in that wonderful journey to sobriety. If you think that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, ask for that help.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign of true strength. Reach out for help today because tomorrow may be too late.