Alcohol addiction help is not easy to come by, especially if someone is closed off to the idea of changing their life.
The idea of giving up drinking forever is scary and overwhelming. The mind of the typical alcoholic recoils at such a thought and the natural reaction is to stick our head in the sand like an ostrich.
Do you know someone who is addicted to alcohol or think that you yourself might be? If so, it’s time to stop dodging the truth and take an honest look at what might be going on in your life. If you can no longer ignore the signs of alcohol addiction then the first course of action is to figure this out and admit it to yourself on a really deep level. This is otherwise known as acceptance.
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On the other hand there are people out there who drink huge amounts of alcohol and they actually are not addicted. Instead they are just abusing alcohol for fun and recreation. A good example of this would be with kids in college.
But on the other hand, someone who is truly addicted to alcohol might use this “alcohol abuse” idea to merely suggest to themselves that they are not really addicted, but merely enjoy their drinking and can actually stop anytime that they “really want to.” This state of mind is known as denial. Therefore, the first step in getting help for alcohol addiction is in breaking through this denial and correctly assessing the condition.
Breaking through denial
There are actually a few levels of denial. Most of us think of denial as being the outright denial of something and the refusal to see the truth at all. This is just one level of denial. The more insidious level of denial is when we actually see the truth, and sense the truth, and even admit to the truth…..but we do not accept the truth. There is a subtle difference there and it is enough to keep a person addicted to alcohol and slowly keep destroying their life.
You see, it is not enough to merely admit to our alcohol addiction. This is required, yes, but to break through your denial fully you must go further than that. A person must fully accept their disease on a really deep level. They must openly admit that they cannot drink like other people. They must accept that they have been defeated by the substance and that they need help in order to overcome this addiction. That is the level of acceptance that is needed and anything short of this is someone who is still in denial.
Think about it. Say you have a person who is clearly an alcoholic. You confront them about it and they admit that they drink too much. “Yes,” they agree, “at times I drink too much and I am probably addicted to alcohol. But…” See what happened there? They admit to their addiction but added a “but” at the end. Now whatever comes after that “but” is their denial. They might be arguing against going to treatment. They might be resisting the idea that you think they should seek help. Whatever the case is, they are refuting it and they are still stuck in denial.
The nature of alcohol addiction is that a person cannot overcome it through their own power. If they could, then they are not addicted. If an alcoholic can control or completely stop their drinking via their own devices, then they are not alcoholic.
So denial is almost always about refuting this need for help. “Yes I am addicted but I don’t need to seek help.” That is the mantra of someone in denial.
Now is it possible to help someone break through this denial?
Yes it is possible but the tactics are not as direct as you would like. In other words, you’re not going talk someone out of their denial and convince them to go seek help. Rather, the things you can do to “help” the alcoholic to move towards surrender are more indirect than that. These are things such as:
1) Not enabling them
2) Not rescuing them
3) Letting them experience the full consequences of their actions
4) Setting healthy boundaries and limits with them (deciding what is acceptable behavior from them and what is not)
If you can follow these guidelines then you might be able to push a person closer to surrender and breaking through their denial. Remember that it does no good for someone to admit their problem unless they are willing to take action to fix it. What will they commit to? It’s all about action.
Taking action towards help
Recovery is all about action and if you want to see someone get clean and sober then a good place to start is with professional help. This usually means treatment of some sort, with either detox and/or residential treatment being involved.
I am a proponent of treatment even though there are a lot of problems with the current treatment industry. I still recommend treatment for the struggling alcoholic because the alternatives are even more dismal. But do understand that treatment is not a magic bullet, and in fact relapse rates from even the best and/or most expensive treatment centers are extremely bad. Different treatment centers might throw different success rates around but the bottom line is that no one has even a 10 percent success rate if you measure, say, five year sobriety rates. Meaning that far less than 1 out of every 10 people will be clean and sober for a full 5 years after leaving treatment. The number is probably closer to 1 out of 100 people and it might even be worse than that.
Nevertheless I still recommend treatment because it is better than nothing and it does have a few advantages:
1) Safer detox – coming off alcohol is dangerous and can be fatal. Don’t risk doing it without medical supervision. Detoxing at a treatment center is the safest route for you to go.
2) Support from peers – there are others in treatment who are going through the same thing you are. The networking and support you’ll gain from this is critical in early recovery.
3) Options for continued care – treatment will offer solutions for aftercare and after you leave the treatment center.
Now even if you decide against treatment you must realize that the whole key in overcoming alcohol addiction is in taking action. If all you do is think about your problems with alcohol they are not going to go away. You must do something in order to recover.
Now if you happen to break through your denial and get to a treatment and manage to get dried out, you still have to live in your own skin and make something of a real life for yourself. This is where the real challenge comes in. Almost anyone can check into treatment and get a few weeks of sobriety but what happens when you leave treatment?
An even better question is, what happens 90 days later? Or 5 years later? How can we stay vigilant against the threat of relapse?
This is where the need for creation come into play – we need to create a new life for ourselves in recovery. This means living with purpose and actively pursuing worthy goals that fuel us with passion. If you are not excited about life then eventually you will return to something that did get you excited and that was always drinking booze in the past. So you have to find ways to create passion and opportunity in your life so that you can guard against this constant threat of relapse.
How can we actually do this? I am doing it in my life by reaching out to other addicts and alcoholics on a daily basis. For me, that is where the biggest payoff is in terms of feeling good about my own recovery. In addition to this website, I happen to work in a treatment center and I also have several friends in recovery. So I have created these opportunities to share and grow in recovery with others.
But creation can occur in different areas of your life–it need not always be recovery-oriented. For example, I’ve actively created some awesome results in my life in the following ways:
1) Created a routine of daily exercise
2) Created a smoke free life over 3 years ago
3) Created a Bachelor’s degree (finally!)
These were acts of creation. They required deliberate, purposeful action. I didn’t just accidentally exercise every day. I had to do it. This is a glimpse into the nature of creation.
Take action. This is how to beat complacency and achieve long term sobriety.