Understanding Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction can affect anyone at any time in their lives. Especially when drinking is so intertwined in our culture, often we can’t see the warning signs.
Addiction is difficult to understand if you haven’t gone through it yourself. It can be a powerful force that takes control of all areas of your life. It may seem selfish or self-destructive from an outside perspective, but it is much more complicated.
So when you have an alcohol addiction, most of the time, you don’t know that you have it. Instead, you think you have a bad habit or simply use alcohol to help you calm down or go to sleep.
Alcohol addiction can be formed for many reasons, and making one happen often takes multiple factors.
- Trauma can cause a change in your brain chemistry and make you reliant on alcohol as a form of self-medication.
- Disability such as ADHD or chronic pain is often hard to receive treatment for, so alcohol is often used as a way to manage the symptoms.
- Mental illness often causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, such as numbness with depression or paranoia with anxiety. People use alcohol as a way to just live their normal life.
- Childhood exposure to alcohol, either through drinking too young or a family member drinking around them, can normalise the destructive behaviour.
- Genetics play a big role in how easy it is to form an addiction; some people can abuse alcohol for years and be fine, while others have one drink and then have a lifelong addiction.
- Homelessness is difficult to deal with, and many people dealing with unstable living conditions use alcohol as a way to cope.
- Isolation causes many people to experience severe mental health issues, with them often using going out drinking as a way to socialise.
Alcohol addiction is different to different people. It is a complex condition that affects a person’s mental and physical health.
It is formed when a person’s brain gives them a rush of dopamine from drinking. Eventually, more and more alcohol will be needed to produce this rush. Soon their brain will believe it needs alcohol to produce any dopamine and develops a dependence on it.
At this point, a person can’t stop drinking alcohol as their body is physically dependent on it.
Alcohol addiction can affect everything in a person’s life. It can cause them to lose their job, home, friends and even family. It can make them act violently and steal from loved ones to fund their addiction. Because of this, many people dealing with addictions become isolated.
Isolation is never a good thing and will never lead to a better future. People with alcohol addiction don’t need to be punished or ostracised. They need care and support. The best kind is from people they already know and trust.
The Importance of Support for Recovery
If you want to help a loved one with alcohol addiction, be it a friend or a family member, you must remember you are there to support them.
What this means is you are there to be their rock and shoulder to cry on, to remember that this is a very difficult time for them, and they need you. What you are not there to do is attempt to force them into alcohol rehab or lock them up until they have gotten over their addiction.
Substance addiction, especially alcohol addiction, is something that has to be handled personally. It takes a commitment to a lifestyle change for progress to be made. You can’t force anyone to work through recovery if they don’t want to, even though alcohol rehab would be the best place to help.
Family and friends provide emotional support, understanding, and empathy to the person struggling with alcoholism. They can listen without judgment, provide a safe space to express feelings, and offer encouragement during difficult times. This emotional support helps the person feel valued, loved, and motivated to stay committed to their recovery.
Friends and family can play a vital role in motivating a person to seek treatment and also maintain sobriety after they have successfully detoxed. By expressing belief in the individual’s ability to overcome addiction and providing positive reinforcement, they can instil hope and optimism. Encouragement can be given through words of affirmation, celebrating milestones, and acknowledging the progress they have made along the recovery journey. This is important as recovery is measured over the long term and the support of your network will be just as crucial tomorrow as it is today.
Support from Friends
Friends can be of great help when recovering from an addiction, but they can also be a barrier. In many cases, your group of friends may have a drug or drinking culture and one that has contributed to your addiction.
So not all friends can play a positive role in your addiction recovery, especially if they are inflicted with a drug issue themselves.
Other friends may have a genuine interest in your welfare and may try to support you and get you the help you need. But this can be a challenge on their part as often the person needing treatment may be in denial or opposed to assistance. They may be accused of putting their friend down or causing trouble for them when they are only trying to help, so certain dynamics will come into play when trying to help a friend.
This is made a lot easier when a person addicted to alcohol admits the issue to themselves, here, a friend may have greater success talking through issues and identifying treatment options on behalf of somebody struggling.
A great opportunity to meet new friends exists with Alcoholics Anonymous; here, you can become part of a community who have shared experiences and is trying to help each other through daily alcohol addiction struggles. The use of a sponsor can also be of great benefit. Having a soundboard to discuss your feeling and get things off your chest and open up is a very important part of admitting you have an issue and finally coming around to the idea that you need help.
Family support often plays a crucial role in getting help. It could be your spouse, child or parent, all the family is impacted when one person is addicted to alcohol and the issues this can bring. Entire families can be ripped apart due to alcohol abuse and relationships can also be severely damaged.
Family can also be a key influence in getting your life back on track. You may understand that drinking is causing breakdown within the family and want to get sober again for your family members. Your family may also be the source of helping you attend a rehab facility providing funding. You may have a loved one and are determined to do everything you can to get them the help they need.
Family members are often the people who have had to put up with erratic behaviour whilst a person has been drinking and have stood by you all this time. Getting clean and sober for them is a great achievement and one you can achieve with the right treatment and support.
Strategies for Supporting a Loved One with Alcohol Addiction
Supporting a loved one with an alcohol addiction is hard.
They are struggling, and while you want to help in any way you can, you have to remember you have to do things a certain way to be safe for them and you.
To begin with, the best thing you can do is hold an alcohol addiction intervention with the help of an intervention specialist. That way, you can safely bring up the alcoholism without making your loved one feel cornered.
After this, you need to set some firm boundaries. It is hard, but you need to look after your well-being too. You need to make it clear you won’t accept alcohol use or violence, or theft. You matter too in this.
It is important that you also don’t enable bad behaviour. These boundaries are for their recovery just as much as for your protection. So don’t allow them to go out and drink. Don’t ignore red flags such as disappearing regularly and then their breath smelling of mints or mouthwash.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Local support groups will have resources for you and them, so be sure to use them.
Seeking Professional Help
The best place your loved one can be is in an alcohol addiction rehab centre where they can get the care they need.
There they can deal with everything, including:
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Mental health struggles
They can even provide long-term support and plans to help you to deal with relapses and any other challenges you may face.