Many people have that story about drinking too much, passing out, maybe forgetting about the events of the previous day or night. It becomes a funny or embarrassing anecdote, or a cautionary tale for younger drinkers. What if those stories, however, become regular occurrences, and symptomatic of a loved one’s drinking habits? How do you know if it’s alcoholism? Are you concerned about your loved one’s drinking? We explain how to recognize the signs of alcoholism, and how you can talk to them about treatment.
There’s no one tried and true depiction of alcoholism – a well-dressed, employed, and financially stable person can suffer from it as much as someone struggling with job, housing, and money troubles. It doesn’t matter what type of alcohol the person prefers, when he or she drinks it, or how much is consumed. If they perceive drinking as necessary for them to function, even when it’s detrimental to physical and psychological well-being, it’s alcoholism.
In addition to damaging the liver and contributing to heart and respiratory distress, severe alcohol use creates a host of physical discomforts. Some are quite noticeable, such as shakes, tremors, profuse sweating, nausea, seizures, and insomnia (which ironically, is something that alcoholics try to temper by drinking). Alcoholic neuropathy, affecting the muscular and excretory systems, may also develop, as well as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Otherwise known as “wet brain,” this disease is caused by a lack of thiamine (vitamin B1) or excessive glucose from constant states of alcohol intoxication, and is treatable, but sadly irreversible.
One of the most frustrating parts of knowing how to help an alcoholic is getting them to realize that they have the problem. A teenager may see drinking as a means to handle peer pressure, and an adult most likely will rationalize alcohol intake, blaming others as the cause for excessive drinking. Additional risk factors may also be at play, including a genetic/family history of alcoholism, or as coping mechanisms for loss or pain.
Choose a time when you’re loved one is sober, and do not sugar-coat your concerns. However they may deny or guilt-trip you, do not concede, join them in their drinking, or cover up their use. It can be difficult and frustrating trying to get an alcoholic to accept treatment, but unless they are court-ordered to rehab, it’s still up to them. Show them support, while also holding them accountable for responsibilities and whether or not they agree to getting help. If you’re planning to stage an intervention, be sure that there is a professional interventionist present, or else you risk making the situation worse.
NEATC tailors intensive outpatient treatment plans for each patient that incorporates various individual and group therapies for alcoholism. We also specialize in treating co-occurring disorders, by simultaneously addressing each illness. If your loved one is exhibiting signs of alcoholism, contact us today for more information. We care deeply about helping and supporting you in this recovery path for your loved one.
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