Recovery from alcoholism is a multi-faceted event, and it’s generally different for everyone to some degree. However, there are a few general aspects to recovery – especially concerning alcohol – that can be addressed.
First, however, it’s not a bad idea to go over the warning signs of alcoholism, for the one suffering, of course, but also for the loved one who may be the one to recognize the behavior. Overall changes in behavior are a clear sign, but in many cases, difficult to define. The need for excessive or sudden privacy and becoming emotionally unreachable are often clear warning signs. As well, general moodiness, irritability and becoming over-sensitive to ordinary situations are a signpost to alcoholism. More obvious signs are a preoccupation with supply and hiding stashes of booze. Changes in weight and unusual patterns of eating are also clear signs along with poor hygiene and carelessness in appearance.
The initial abstinence from alcohol often includes detox, which can be the trickiest period, from a medical standpoint. Detox and what this involves should be medically supervised. Even though alcohol is generally regarded as a socially-acceptable and legal substance, it can easily be the most dangerous to detox from. Depending on the length of alcoholism and the degree of consumption, detox often is augmented by meds, in these case benzodiazepines, which lessen or remove the chance of seizure – which can indeed be life-threatening – during withdrawal.
Individuals who are only at risk of mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms can be detoxified as outpatients. However, those at risk of a serious withdrawal syndrome as well as those who have significant or acute comorbid circumstances are generally treated as inpatients. Detoxification does not, in essence, treat alcoholism, and it is crucial to evolve from detoxification to a proper treatment course for alcohol dependence or abuse to reduce the danger of relapse.
Abstinence can be the toughest stage to cope with because of many factors, including continued withdrawal symptoms, physical cravings, psychological dependence and other triggers that can lead to relapse. Trained addiction counselors can assist with learning coping skills that are necessary to develop a sober mindset and lifestyle. Following approximately two-three months of sobriety, it’s imperative to learn the warning signs of potential relapse. Aside from an addiction specialist/counselor, participation in a 12-step/self-help program can be invaluable here. As well, developing a sense of community and being of service to others in this phase is invaluable to you as well as others.
It’s imperative that one develop a guard against substitution of substances. Quite often, those in recovery from alcohol will remain abstinent from booze, while (sometimes unwittingly) begin abusing other substances, such as prescription drugs. Warning signs learned from counseling as well as 12-step meetings will be extremely helpful here.
Several tools are needed to develop further during recovery from alcoholism, and some of these include:
- Building healthy relationships
- Developing a drug/alcohol-free lifestyle
- Dealing with past issues
- Anger management
- Exercise and nutrition
- Employment and money management
This article is courtesy of the recovery writing team at Muse Treatment