Many people still labour under the misconception that the way to beat alcohol addiction is simply for the addict to make the decision to stop drinking and then enforce this decision through sheer willpower, strength of character and intellect.
If the mindset of the alcoholic is so determined it may make the recovery process easier, but in order to give any alcoholic the best chance to truly beat addiction to alcohol and stay sober long term, they need professional alcoholic treatment and guidance. This is because once a person becomes a fully fledged alcoholic, drinking becomes something much more than just an urge to drink copious amounts of alcohol – it leads to physiological changes in the brain that have serious physical, psychiatric and social consequences.
No longer is it the alcoholic’s choice to drink to alleviate stress or feel better, drinking now seems a necessity in order to survive. What causes this severe change to the alcoholic’s brain and can it be undone? This is a valid question that leads to much debate amongst both the general public and professional alcoholism rehabilitation experts. Few alcoholic treatment professionals are of the belief that alcoholism can be cured in the way that other illness can be. Most insist that the disease is simply arrested through not drinking, but that an alcoholic will always stay an alcoholic, regardless of how long they’ve been sober.
This means that alcoholics never regain the capacity to “drink like gentlemen”, or ladies for that matter. Alcoholism has no cure but it is possible to recover fully. The anecdotal evidence from thousands of recovering alcoholics around the world that work the 12 step programme of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is that once you’re alcoholic the ability to control your alcohol consumption never returns. It’s often heard at AA meetings that “One drink is too many, and a thousand never enough.”
It’s interesting because this is the view that advancements in medical science seem to be proving over the last years.
Another feature of this much misunderstood illness is that the alcoholic has to be highly motivated to enter rehab for treatment to work. I often speak to family of alcoholics that are desperate for the patient to get sober and believe that unless the alcoholic ”wants it for themselves” that any cajoling them into rehab will be a waste of not only time but also the expense of the money that the rehab charges. This is entirely untrue, in fact external pressure from family, friends, employers and even the courts can do wonders to push alcoholics towards getting treatment, staying in treatment and staying sober after rehab!
Many a recovered alcoholic speaks of the crisis that was brought about by their family, a car crash, arrest or intervention that forced them into rehab and made them look more closely at what their alcoholism was doing to themselves and those they love. Once in an alcoholic treatment centre the opportunity to explore the full spectrum of negative consequences to family, career, finances, as well as the emotional, physical and mental problems caused or exacerbated by drinking can be properly explored and addressed.
While alcoholic treatment certainly has its merits and successes, through detoxification and ongoing rehabilitation, it may be true for some in recovery that the sensation of craving for alcohol remains for some time after Detox. The benefit of appropriate alcohol rehab is that the patient is provided with the tools to ensure that when the craving hits they know what to do to most effectively deal with it and get through without taking a drink. The ability to remain sober through life’s difficulties is the primary goal of alcoholic rehab and recovering people understand that just one drink, even many years after the alcohol abuse has stopped, still has the potential to lead to devastating consequences. As one recovered alcoholic told me “The size of the spark has nothing to do with the severity of the explosion!”
Finding the right alcoholic treatment service to fit your specific circumstances could be a long search and with all the choices, different alcoholic treatment modalities and rehabs on the internet, perhaps an overwhelming experience.
We Do Recover gives free advice on alcoholic treatment centres – contact us to find one close to you.