Legal consumption of alcohol has created a serious problem for at least 30% of the American population. Each year, approximately 88,000 people lose their life and the economic costs are estimated at a staggering $249 billion and counting. Sadly, according to a study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at least 24% of people with an alcohol use disorder do not receive treatment. And those who do, on average receive it for the first time, approximately eight years after becoming alcohol dependent. Even so, alcohol detox stories are not rare.
Long before they seek treatment, many people who recognize that they have a drinking problem will make one or more attempts to break this habit on their own. However, there are others like Andrew who believe that they need alcohol to feel normal and therefore are more prone to hide their addiction instead of taking steps to give it up.
Andrew’s alcohol detox story into an alcoholic lifestyle evolved from an underlying mental disorder that made even simple social interactions difficult. After two years in college, according to Andrew, this problem became blatantly obvious and in time he began using alcohol to help reduce his fears. Unfortunately, the effects of alcohol use mimics the progressive pattern of other substances of abuse. It also hijacks important brain functions leading to negative patterns of behavior. So despite the fact that Andrew’s use of alcohol affected his health, led to an attempted suicide, cost him his marriage, career, new home, and landed him in jail; he continued to drink.
Fortunately, treatment eventually changed the trajectory of Andrew’s life. Referencing the route he took to achieve sobriety, Andrew says… “Following a program of recovery will help you to figure out why you’re doing the things you did. You’ll be able to repair relationships that you never thought could be repaired. Your life will get so good, it’s crazy….”
Alcohol Detox is the first step in the recovery process. And while it is possible to successfully complete this process without medical supervision, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can trigger severe and life-threatening physical and psychological reactions when this substance is withheld. Studies also show, that at least 5% of people trying to halt chronic alcohol abuse will experience a series of symptoms known as delirium tremens. These symptoms can escalate rapidly and without immediate medical attention, can be fatal.
The controversial story of British Singer Amy Winehouse has been cited as an example inherent in experiencing an alcohol relapse caused by heightened cravings, while people are trying to detox. This is particularly dangerous if it occurs in isolation as it was for Winehouse who reportedly died alone in her London apartment from overconsumption of alcohol following a period of abstinence. Vivienne Mayer who lost her sister to alcohol abuse suggests that people in addiction persist in their efforts to sustain sobriety, no matter how many times they may have tried before. “Do it again. Do it for yourself” she pleads. But she also cautions that no matter how loved ones want to help or how much she wanted to save her sister she could not because recovery is something that the addict has to do for themselves.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 17 million Americans have been clinically diagnosed with an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Yet, only a fraction of these people seek professional help. The NIAAA suggest that there are a range treatment options beyond the typical 12-step and 28 days’ inpatient programs that are beneficial no matter how severe the AUD problem may seem. There is also various new resource available at NIAAA and drug rehab facilities they can help individuals and their loved ones to better understand the importance of seeking treatment for this progressive and potentially deadly disease.
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