Quitting drinking is no easy task. Alcohol is abundantly available, and consumption has become so normalized that it may feel abnormal to not drink. While some people can drink without it having a significant impact on their lives, not everyone is able to manage it. If alcohol consumption has begun to negatively impact your relationships, work, or your overall health, it may be time to consider quitting.
While it may seem simple to stop drinking, if alcohol consumption is heavy and prolonged enough, quitting can have serious health implications. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are commonly experienced and can range in severity from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening making the process potentially dangerous. While not everyone will experience withdrawal symptoms, the risk of them developing can make it worthwhile to consider enlisting the help of professionals.
Withdrawing from Alcohol
Depending on how long and how frequently you have been consuming alcohol, withdrawal symptoms can begin to set in quickly. Withdrawing from alcohol on your own can also be fatal. It is important to seek out the help of a medical professional to find out if you need a medically supervised detox. Most commonly, people will experience any combination of psychological and physical symptoms. These include:
- Clammy skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Extreme mood swings
In some cases, more severe symptoms may present themselves. These can include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sensitivity to light, sound, or touch
Typically, withdrawal symptoms begin to manifest anywhere between a couple of hours to a couple of days from the last time you had a drink. The withdrawal period’s duration can range from a couple of days to a week. Some symptoms, such as changes to mood and sleep patterns, can last for weeks or months.
Because withdrawal can be a potentially dangerous time, undergoing this process with the help of a detox facility can make the process safer. With medical professionals available on-site, withdrawal symptoms can be addressed quickly in order to make the process as comfortable as possible. The experience of withdrawal symptoms is one of the primary reasons many people relapse in early recovery. In a detox facility, you do not have access to alcohol and can begin the recovery process without temptation being present.
Phases of Treatment for Alcoholism
After successfully completing detox, it is important to transition immediately into treatment for alcoholism. While some people may be able to abstain from use on their own, the vast majority of people benefit from professional help. A treatment facility will provide you with a safe place to develop your sobriety without easy access to alcohol. It also can help you cut ties from enablers and triggers that lead to relapse.
There are a number of treatment options available including inpatient and outpatient care. Depending on your individual circumstances, both options can have numerous benefits. Inpatient treatment is generally a long-term form of rehab that requires you to live in residential care with round-the-clock support and treatment from professionals. In this setting, you live alongside others who are actively working on their recovery as well. Outpatient treatment tends to be a better option for someone who has already completed a treatment program as they allow people to live at home while engaging in meetings and therapy.
Alongside these forms of treatment, there are numerous support groups for alcoholism, including programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Groups like AA meet regularly, and anyone can attend. Participants share their stories, support one another in their struggles, and celebrate their successes together. In many cases, members will have a sponsor that they can meet with individually and work closely with. A sponsor is often someone who has achieved sobriety for themselves and works to help those newer in recovery manage the challenges many people inevitably face. Support groups are utilized throughout treatment and are a vital form of aftercare to help people continue maintaining their sobriety after treatment has been completed.
Maintaining your sobriety is a life-long commitment and it is a journey you must take day-by-day. There is no set approach that works for everyone making it important to find what methods work most effectively for you. Alcoholism can often be rooted to other areas of your life making it important to address more than just the addiction itself. Uncovering the underlying causes and triggers for alcohol abuse can help you develop the tools necessary to maintain sobriety and avoid relapse.
In order to accomplish your goals, it is important to create a plan and stick to it. Some ways you can help yourself include:
- Do not keep alcohol in the home
- Avoid enablers and environments that can tempt you to drink
- Be transparent about your goals
- Communicate your need for support from loved ones
- Reflect on what has and has not worked in the past
You can also help strengthen your recovery by using the following methods:
- Invest in caring for your physical and mental health: Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and regular exercise can help you combat cravings and boost your mood.
- Connect with sober support groups: Staying engaged in support groups can surround you with positive sober influences and help you continue developing your sobriety.
- Explore new interests: Finding new hobbies and activities you enjoy can reduce the temptation to drink and help you develop your sense of self-worth and a feeling of fulfillment.
- Develop healthy coping mechanisms: Stress is inevitable. Finding healthy ways to deal with it can reduce the temptation to drink. Going for a walk, meditating, writing, or listening to music are all ways you can ease your mind.
- Plan for triggers: Alcohol is abundantly available, and you may not be able to completely avoid being around it. Planning for situations where you might be tempted to drink can help you confidently navigate difficult experiences.
Set realistic goals for yourself and be sure to celebrate your successes. Achieving milestones can be a great motivator in recovery and create space for you to reflect on your journey. While it can be easy to get lost in the stresses and challenges of everyday life, taking time to acknowledge your progress can help keep you on track. Sobriety gives you the opportunity to create a new identity for yourself.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 310.403.1032 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.