If you’ve got a problem with alcohol, just stop drinking, right? Well, not really. If it were that easy, everyone who wanted to stop would do it.
The issue is that alcohol addiction doesn’t exist by itself. It’s usually symptomatic of other things going on in someone’s life, whether stress, depression, pain, or some combination of factors that seem overwhelming without the numbing escape mechanism that alcohol provides.
Just as quitting is not as simple as putting down the glass, for many people it’s also not even as straightforward as going to support groups and working to keep their resolve. The most effective way to overcome the challenge of alcoholism is to deal as well with the underlying issues in a program that addresses the whole person, body, mind, and spirit.
The holistic approach to alcohol rehab, such as offered in the executive alcohol treatment program at Seaside Palm Beach, combines traditional, proven therapies with attention to the importance of cultivating physical, mental, and spiritual health — all of which contribute to a genuine feeling of well-being and a new sense of self that carries through to all aspects of life.
Even during the first days of detox, it’s important to begin recreating every aspect of what will become a healthy new way of living.
In addition to the emotional and social effects of alcohol addiction, the long-term effects of alcohol abuse can be devastating to the body.
- Alcohol punishes the pancreas and liver, potentially leading to alcoholic hepatitis, jaundice, cirrhosis, and hyperglycemia, as well as raising the risk of cancer in those organs.
- Heavy drinking can cause esophageal and stomach ulcers, and internal bleeding.
- Alcohol impedes the ability of the digestive tract to absorb nutrients and B vitamins, leading to malnutrition.
- Chronic drinking can cause serious problems in the circulatory system, including cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and even stroke or heart failure.
- Overuse of alcohol stalls the body’s production of new bone, causing osteoporosis, and muscles can become prone to weakness.
- Alcoholics are prey to weakened immune systems, and are more likely to get pneumonia and other illnesses.
- Alcohol abuse damages the nervous system, affecting the ability to think clearly, control impulses, and retain memory. Over the long term, it can literally shrink the frontal lobes of the brain.
Mitigating or reversing the effects of alcohol on the body requires proper nutrition as well as a program of fitness and wellness that can include not only traditional physical exercise but also yoga and t’ai chi to restore balance and bring the body into harmony.
Once you begin to feel good physically, you sleep better, you have more energy, and you feel more in control and capable of approaching the other aspects of your life.
A successful recovery from alcohol addiction means finding a path to a functional and fulfilling life with the strength to resist relapsing into old patterns. And that means getting to the problems that you were using alcohol to cope with in the first place. Therapy and counseling help. So does relieving stress by practicing meditation, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques. Introspection doesn’t mean beating yourself up for past transgressions, but working through troubling issues and planning ways to challenge and overcome them.
Depending on the amount and duration of alcohol consumption prior to detox, it can take many months for the brain to resume normal functioning and for the fog to lift so that an alcoholic can see things clearly. That’s why a support system can be critical, be it professional or personal. Part of the educational process during this time is learning coping mechanisms and resistance techniques for managing cravings and staying focused on the mindful path that will lead to sustained recovery.
Whatever you believe or don’t believe in, you don’t have to be religiously observant for your spirit to benefit from attention. The guiding force that moves you in positive ways may have been neglected or shut out entirely in favor of the altered reality provided by alcohol. It needs some nurturing now to give you faith in yourself and a future of lasting wellness.