Alcohol is one of the most widely abused drugs. It is a depressant, which means it has relaxing and disinhibiting effects. Other effects of alcohol abuse include nausea, vomiting, disturbed sleep, impaired judgment and coordination, and increased aggression.
Prolonged alcohol use can lead to addiction as well as permanent damage to the brain and liver. Alcoholism runs in families, with research showing that children of alcoholic parents are at much greater risk than others of becoming alcoholics.
Do You Need Alcohol Rehab?
Alcoholism tends to be overlooked as a life-threatening illness. Because alcohol is legal for those over 21 and is more socially acceptable than other drugs, it can be difficult to know when recreational use has turned into alcoholism. Here are a few warning signs that alcohol rehab is needed:
• Frequent tardiness or absence from school or work
• Blacking out as a result of excessive alcohol use
• Drinking alone, in the morning or for long periods of time
• Friends or family are worried about your drinking
• Drinking alcohol in risky situations such as before driving
• Trying to quit drinking unsuccessfully
• Needing to drink more to feel “drunk”
• Giving up other activities so you can drink
• Lying to hide the extent of your drinking
• Feeling guilty after drinking
• Continuing to abuse alcohol in spite of job loss, financial problems, divorce, health complications or other negative consequences
The Stages of Alcohol Rehab
Alcohol rehab typically begins with a thorough assessment and a 3- to 10-day alcohol detox. Because alcohol detox can be deadly, it is critical to rid the body of alcohol under the 24-hour supervision of a medical team. A physician will create a plan to manage the alcoholic’s withdrawal symptoms, which may include chills, sweating, vomiting, irritability, depression, anxiety, tremors, hallucinations and convulsions.
Outpatient or Inpatient Alcohol Rehab
Alcohol rehab is a safe, structured place where alcoholics can stop abusing alcohol and get to the root of their problem. The goals of alcohol rehab are to help alcoholics develop healthier coping skills, learn to manage stress without relapsing and work through the issues underlying the alcohol addiction.
For some, outpatient alcohol rehab may be adequate. This type of alcohol rehab is typically less expensive and allows the patient to continue working, attending school or fulfilling family obligations. However, outpatient alcohol rehab requires that the patient be able to refrain from abusing alcohol without 24-hour supervision and is often best used after a more intensive alcohol rehab program has been completed.
Residential alcohol rehab is a highly structured and supportive environment for recovering from alcoholism. During residential alcohol rehab, patients participate in individual, group and family therapy, attend 12-Step meetings, and learn about the disease of addiction. While the schedule is typically packed with therapeutic activities, there is occasionally time set aside for sober recreation.
Because alcohol addiction is a disease that affects mind, body and spirit, the best alcohol rehab centers address all of these areas. Some offer yoga, acupuncture, massage and other activities designed to reconnect mind, body and spirit. Alcohol rehab centers may also focus on diet and exercise to help the alcoholic rebuild a healthy lifestyle.
Research shows that the longer an alcoholic stays in treatment, the better their chances of achieving lifelong recovery. After completing a 30-day alcohol rehab program, it is often advisable to “step down” to less intensive levels of care as the alcoholic learns how to manage the stress of daily life. A common course of treatment is to complete residential alcohol rehab, followed by a sober living environment, outpatient alcohol rehab, and ongoing counseling and 12-Step meetings.
By reducing the level of structure and supervision gradually, the alcoholic can adjust to daily life with just the right amount of support for their changing needs. Recovery from addiction is not a short-term process. When approached as a lifestyle and mentality shift, the chances of long-term success grow exponentially.
Alcohol Rehab Saves Lives
If you’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol, you are not alone. Thousands of people struggle with this disease every day, often in silence. But help is available. In alcohol rehab, your disease will be treated without shame or judgment and with a professional understanding of the role alcohol has played in your life.
With the support of an alcohol rehab, you can learn the skills that will keep you alcohol-free and fully invested in your life. Don’t waste another day staring into an empty bottle. The sooner you get help, the better your chances of lifelong recovery.