Colorado Drug Rehab's Alcohol Addiction/Alcoholism

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From the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) we get the following definition of alcholism"

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is a malady that includes the following four symptoms:

• Craving--A strong need, or urge, to drink.
• Loss of control--Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.
• Physical dependence on alcohol--Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.
• Tolerance of greater amounts of alcohol--The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get "high."
For clinical and research purposes, formal diagnostic criteria for alcoholism also have been developed. Such criteria are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as in the International Classification Diseases, published by the World Health Organization.

There is continued debate on defining the term alcoholism as a disease. It is a condition in which a person is being influenced more often than he wishes by the drug, alcohol. To some this could be weekly or even monthly and to others it maybe daily, but when alcohol interfers with one's ability to survive at the level that he intends to, then it is problem. NIAAA give you the following tool to determine if you or a loved one has a drinking problem:

• Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking of alcohol?
• Have people annoyed you by criticizing your alcohol drinking or intake of alcohol?
• Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking alcohol?
• Have you ever had an alcoholic drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

One "yes" answer suggests a possible alcohol problem. More than one "yes" answer means it is highly likely that a problem exists. If you think that you or someone you know might have an alcohol problem, it is important to see a doctor or other health care provider right away. They can help you determine if a drinking problem exists and plan the best course of action.

When NIAAA was asked the question: Can a problem drinker simply cut down?

Their answer was: It depends. If that person has been diagnosed as an alcoholic, the answer is "no." Alcoholics who try to cut down on drinking rarely succeed. Cutting out alcohol--that is, abstaining--is usually the best course for recovery. People who are not alcohol dependent but who have experienced alcohol-related problems may be able to limit the amount they drink. If they can't stay within those limits, they need to stop drinking altogether

Colorado Drug Rehab has found many cases where there was an inaccurate diagnosis and, please notice, that this defination above is based on the absolute authority of the diagnosis. Quote: "If that person has been diagnosed as an alcoholic, the answer is "no."

That is putting too much credence in the diagnosis process and not nearly enough credit on the resiliancy of human beings, not to mention the validity of good alcohol treatment programs.

NIAAA has some good advice in the following comments:

If an alcoholic is unwilling to go to alcohol treatment, what can you do about it?

This can be a challenge. An alcoholic can't be forced to get help except under certain circumstances, such as a traffic violation dor arrest that results in court-ordered treatment. But you don't have to wait for someone to "hit rock bottom" to act. Many alcoholism treatment specialists suggest the following steps to help an alcoholic get treatment:

Stop all "cover ups." Family members often make excuses to others or try to protect the alcoholic from the results of his or her drinking. It is important to stop covering for the alcoholic so that he or she experiences the full consequences of drinking.

Time your intervention. The best time to talk to the drinker is shortly after an alcohol-related problem has occurred--like a serious family argument or an accident. Choose a time when he or she is sober, both of you are fairly calm, and you have a chance to talk in private.

Be specific. Tell the family member that you are worried about his or her drinking. Use examples of the ways in which the drinking has caused problems, including the most recent incident.

State the results. Explain to the drinker what you will do if he or she doesn't go for help--not to punish the drinker, but to protect yourself from his or her problems. What you say may range from refusing to go with the person to any social activity where alcohol will be served, to moving out of the house. Do not make any threats you are not prepared to carry out.

Get help. Gather information in advance about treatment options in your community. If the person is willing to get help, call immediately for an appointment with a treatment counselor. Offer to go with the family member on the first visit to a treatment program and/or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Call on a friend. If the family member still refuses to get help, ask a friend to talk with him or her using the steps just described. A friend who is a recovering alcoholic may be particularly persuasive, but any person who is caring and nonjudgmental may help. The intervention of more than one person, more than one time, is often necessary to coax an alcoholic to seek help.

Find strength in numbers. With the help of a health care professional, some families join with other relatives and friends to confront an alcoholic as a group. This approach should only be tried under the guidance of a health care professional who is experienced in this kind of group intervention.

Get support. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Support groups offered in most communities include Al-Anon, which holds regular meetings for spouses and other significant adults in an alcoholic's life, and Alateen, which is geared to children of alcoholics. These groups help family members understand that they are not responsible for an alcoholic's drinking and that they need to take steps to take care of themselves, regardless of whether the alcoholic family member chooses to get help

If you took the test at the beginning of this page that helps you decide if you have a dependence or addiction to alcohol or are drinking alcohol at an abusive rate, you know that have have to get control of this problem. You have probablly tried to do so yourself and found that your cravings for alcohol and your justification for why you need one more alcoholic drink outweigh your logic, then you need help. You need a system or program that can give you the strength to say no to alcoholic drinks and not find yourself regreting the morning after again. We are here to help you. Call us.

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