Things You Need to Know About Alcohol Abuse – Part 3

As a trained professional in the field of substance-use recovery, a practicing recovery coach, and more importantly, a person in successful recovery from addiction for over 26 years, I have some knowledge to share and lots of hope for anyone who’s ready for change. 

A Brief Q&A

In this third article of the series I will tie up some facts and loose ends for you from the previous installments. First however, I think it’s time to pose two tough questions for your consideration. Take a moment, search for your truth. 

Have you, or has the loved one you are concerned about, ever made a resolution, agreement, promise, or oath to stop drinking alcohol?

Were you or your loved one successful in staying stopped?

If the answer to the first question is yes, then the fact that you are reading this article today is a good indication that the effort was unsuccessful and the answer to the second question is no. 

The failure to succeed in that promise leads me to stress once again that reliance on bits and pieces of information will not produce a sustainable solution for most people seeking recovery from alcohol-use disorder.  

Metaphorically Speaking

I can recall a few things from my time as an elementary school kid, one is of course, how much I looked forward to “recess time”. Another is the method my math teacher used when teaching our class multiplication tables. We were required to repeat after the teacher each of the equations; 1 x 1 equals 1, 2 x 1 equals 2, and so on all the way through 12 x 12 equals 144. We continued this day after day until memorized and were often required to stand in front of the class, on-demand, to recite a requested subset of those tables. The teacher did not skip any of the multiples in those exercises, nor did she allow a student to skip ahead from the 5’s to learn the 11’s. The progression from 1’s to 2’s and so on in order gave us an understanding of the mathematical structure of multiplication. We were being educated to build our foundation, adding knowledge and progressing in our understanding. I can’t speak for my classmates from 50 years ago, but I can proclaim definitively that I have never forgotten any of the multiplication that I learned that year in elementary school. I know without question that the foundational math I learned availed me the ability to tackle and succeed in solving more complicated equations in the future.

The Rest of The Story

Let’s pick up where we left off and continue to build the foundational understanding of the illness of alcohol-use disorder. Remember, only acquiring bits and pieces of understanding are ineffective in producing a sustainable recovery. The last installment described alcohol “tolerance” and the significance of that physiological effect. The more alcohol I drink over some period of time, the less effective the alcohol is in producing the endorphin rush that I seek. This is a big part of the answer to “how did this happen to me?” The “tolerance effect” causes the alcohol abuser to use higher amounts of alcohol over time to achieve the same level of intoxication.

As the drinking continues, the body and brain begin to adjust to the heightened levels of endorphins produced by alcohol. This is a purely natural adjustment by the body called dependence. Dependence makes it necessary for the affected drinker to consume alcohol on a regular basis to quench the demands of his body and brain.

Here’s where the terrible cycle of alcohol abuse becomes alcoholism. Remember the broken promises and agreements covered earlier? Chances are that the drinker truly meant, with all their heart, that they were done with the same old drinking behavior. I have personally counseled with hundreds of clients who shared their story about those promises. Just as I was myself many times over, they were serious and committed to stopping the madness of the drink. Now comes the seemingly insurmountable problem, the physical, emotional, and psychological pain takes control as the alcoholic loses it. If alcohol consumption is stopped, the drinker who has been abusing alcohol and has become dependent will experience withdrawal symptoms. During withdrawal, the brain has become so accustomed to alcohol that it has a volatile reaction when the substance is removed, causing headaches, vomiting, sweating, anxiety, tremors, and other symptoms.

According to the National Library of Medicine:

Alcohol withdrawal usually occurs within 8 hours after the last drink but can occur days later. Symptoms usually peak by 24 to 72 hours, but may go on for weeks.

Delirium tremens (DTs) or “alcohol withdrawal delirium,” is one of the more extreme signs and symptoms of withdrawal that can occur after stopping drinking. DTs are marked by a change in the level of consciousness and delirium and can be fatal in 1% to 5% of cases. Older patients with poor liver function, a history of heavy alcohol use, and more severe signs and symptoms of withdrawal at the outset are more likely to experience DTs.

The full weight of alcoholism and it’s cruel cycle finally occurs when physical dependence and the onset of withdrawal is met with psychological dependence. The psychological dependence is best described as mental cravings for more alcohol. At this point, the person will likely begin to experience any number of negative social and relational side effects. These range from financial, legal, employment, and relationship  troubles, but they cannot stop themselves from continuing to drink.

I hope that you consumed these small bites of truth about alcohol abuse and its evolution into alcoholism. I invite you to look for the release of my next article on the subject. For real and sustainable recovery, understanding the illness, the how, and the why of it, can be a game changer for success. 

I intentionally keep these articles short and simple to encourage all who suffer, or those who care for someone they believe is suffering from alcohol abuse, to receive this crucial foundation that will become part of the healing ahead. 

Important Note

If you or someone you know exhibits withdrawal symptoms, psychological problems, or any signs of self-harming behavior, contact your medical professional, call 911, or reach out to SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

The solution to the problem that most likely landed you on this page is a simple one. However it requires a journey to full recovery, one marked by some difficult twists and turns on the trail of self-discovery, honesty, and open-mindedness. The journey requires an experienced navigator, one that knows the landscape and the footholds along the way. The destination is what I call the “summit of recovery”, a place only reachable by a willing explorer with the appropriate tools and provisions for the journey.

I will present more of what I know to be critical information for your consideration in the next installment. The next blog will arm you with information on how to cope with alcohol withdrawal. Stay tuned.

Be safe and care for one another.

Coach Chris, CPRC – Creator of AddictionFreedomCourses.com

 

The Recovery Journey to Addiction Freedom Online Course is Now Available as a Fully Digitized and Interactive Program Experience on All Mobile Devices and Computers.

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Asking for Medical Help

If you or someone you know exhibits withdrawal symptoms, psychological problems, or any signs of self-harming behavior, contact your medical professional, call 911, or reach out to SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

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