Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Signs of alcohol addiction (alcoholism)
Do you want to have more fun, to fit in, to cope better with your problems? It’s as easy as taking a drink — if you believe what you see on television. But if you think that alcohol will improve your life, you’re fooling yourself. Relying on alcohol to relax you or cheer you up can be dangerous. You may find yourself using it more and more in this way. This can lead to addiction. If this is happening to you, take action now to change your behavior and find caring people to help you.

Check your addiction level
You may drink to feel more charming, carefree and relaxed. But in reality, alcohol can affect your speech, your behavior and your judgment. It can lead you to take risks you wouldn’t take if you were sober. Alcohol can also lead to serious health problems. That includes liver disease and heart disease. It can also cause loss of mental function. To find out if you may have a problem with alcohol, read the following statements and answer yes or no. Answering “yes” to three or more questions may be a signal that alcohol is taking over your life.

  • Do you think a party or social gathering isn’t fun unless alcohol is served?
  • Have family members, friends, or coworkers ever commented on your drinking?
  • Do you have friends you drink with?
  • Do you look forward to your next drink?
  • If you only drink after work or on weekends, do you think you don’t have a problem?
  • Are family members or friends beginning to avoid you?
  • Have you unsuccessfully tried to cut down or quit using alcohol?
  • Do you hide your use from other people?
  • Are you beginning to distrust and avoid some people?
  • Do you get up the day after drinking and not remember what happened the night before?
  • Do you have health problems because of your drinking?

Facing a problem with alcohol can be hard. Once you decide to get help, you can find it in many places. Below you’ll find helpful resources. You can get more information to find the treatment you need.

Getting care

  • Primary care: Speak with your PCP. Sometimes your PCP can give you medication to help you stop drinking. If not, he or she can refer you to a specialist.
  • Specialized professional care: This kind of care can be inpatient. It means you spend a period of time in a facility. Or it can be outpatient. This means you come and go. The facilities have medical support and can help a person detox. Most health insurance plans will cover at least some treatment. To find this kind of care, talk to your PCP, a counselor, or your case manager. Or, you can find help online at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): AA helps members get sober and stay sober. They help you build healthy patterns of living. Everyone is welcome at an AA meeting. You don’t have to give your name. Some people find it easier to go to the first meeting with a friend. To find a meeting near you, contact AA online. Or look in the phone book for the number of a local chapter.
  • The road to recovery Many people with alcoholism can give up alcohol for good. But change may not be easy or quick. Treatment is only a start. Relapses can be common. A relapse is not a sign of failure. Instead, it means treatment should continue. Once a person stops drinking, he or she may need support to stay sober. Aftercare programs and groups, such as AA, are good for this kind of support.

Helpful websites

Treatment for addiction to drugs varies with your needs. Some people go through treatment only once. Others return to it off and on throughout their lives.

Recovery is a lifelong process
Recovery begins when you seek help for your drug abuse or addiction. Then, you’ll slowly start to build a new life. It may not always be easy. But with the support of others, you can succeed. During recovery, you’ll go through three stages. How long each one lasts varies with each person.

Early recovery
During this stage, you’ll focus on stopping your drug abuse or addiction. Most likely, you’ll receive help from a therapist, addiction counselor, or doctor. You may also go to self-help groups on a regular basis. You’ll avoid people or places that might tempt you to use drugs.

Middle recovery
During this time, you’ll work on changing your life. You may change your values, move, or go back to school. You might start new, healthy relationships. And you might end ones that aren’t as healthy. You may even try to make up for harm you caused others while using drugs.

Late recovery
This stage will last for the rest of your life. You’re feeling stronger and healthier. Now, you may look for a greater sense of purpose. You may focus on the things that matter to you most. These may include your family, your beliefs, or lending a hand to others.

  • Residential treatment: You live in a drug-free setting with others who have the same problem. You may stay in treatment for three to six months. During this time, you see a therapist or addiction counselor.
  • Outpatient therapy: You see a therapist, or addiction counselor while living your normal life. You may see your therapist by yourself. Or you may be part of a group. In some cases, your family may see your therapist too.
  • Self-help groups: These offer you support and encouragement. There are also support groups for the loved ones of people addicted to drugs.
  • Medications: Your treatment may include certain medications, such as methadone, Antabuse, buprenorphine, or naltrexone.
  • Alternative treatments: These may include acupuncture, hypnosis, or biofeedback. Ask your health care provider about them.

When times get tough
Drug addiction is never really cured. Sometimes, no matter how well you're doing, you may be tempted. If so, there are things you can do to stay sober.

  • Call your sponsor. This is someone in your self-help group who watches out for you.
  • Talk to your therapist, health care provider, or someone else you trust.
  • Make a list of how much you’ve achieved.

Source: Copyright 2014 Krames On-Demand (7/31/14)