Despite our better understanding of addiction and alcoholism, there still remain some widespread misconceptions about the issue. One of the most prevalent is the idea that alcohol abuse is a lifestyle choice. Many people still believe that an individual should have enough willpower to simply stop drinking, particularly if their habit has started to ruin their lives.
The difficulty comes when these misconceptions are held by those in relationships with people abusing alcohol. Some hold on to the belief that their partner is consciously choosing alcohol over their relationship and when they don’t stop drinking at their repeated requests, it complicates things even more.
The fact is that alcoholism is a type of addiction illness that is marked by a person’s inability to stop abusing substances. This is not because they have lost self-control, have no willpower or any respect for their loved ones. AUD is also a relapsing illness which means people can return to abusing alcohol even years after attending an alcohol treatment center.
How Misconceptions Prevent People Seeking Alcohol Abuse Treatment
Addiction is an issue people like to sweep under the carpet, which is often a barrier to loved ones getting alcohol treatment. When a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, their personalities are affected at a very deep level. This is because of the effects of alcohol on the brain and the fact it alters brain chemistry to produce the pleasurable sensation we recognize as being drunk.
After regular alcohol abuse, these changes to brain chemistry result in the person experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings when they stop drinking. Before long, their bodies will demand more alcohol by essentially breaking a person’s spirit with unpleasant withdrawal symptoms until they are powerless to resist. This compulsive use of alcohol is one of the factors that characterize alcohol use disorder or AUD and is best addressed with behavioral therapies as part of alcohol therapy.
Without knowing the facts about alcoholism as a mental health condition, it is easy for loved ones to think that “tough love” will be enough to “cure” an addiction. The practice of trying to go cold turkey until withdrawal subsides is still not uncommon.
Why DIY Detox Is a Bad Idea
People struggling with alcohol abuse who do not know the facts about addiction are very likely to make several attempts to reduce their intake or give up completely without entering an alcohol treatment center. Despite the misconception that addicts are selfish in continuing to drink, the opposite is almost always true. When a person has developed alcohol dependence and are unable to control their cravings to drink, their feelings of guilt often become more pronounced.
This is due to the fact that they will have started to recognize the damage they are doing to themselves and others and feel fearful that they are powerless to change. This is an incredibly vulnerable time for individuals with developing AUD and they are likely to become withdrawn and isolated from others as they try to fix themselves.
Many individuals attempt to fix their alcohol abuse problems by first trying to cut down their drinking. This has some drawbacks:
- Individuals who regularly drink develop a tolerance to alcohol’s effects. This means it takes more to get drunk than it did when they started out using alcohol. This leads to people believing they are cutting down their intake significantly by not getting drunk when in fact they are still consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.
- When someone has become dependent on alcohol their bodies crave it. Attempting to reduce intake is likely to give rise to intense cravings because when the body gets a taste of alcohol, it will inevitably want more.
- If someone seeks to cut down on their drinking, they are likely to still go to the same places and hang out with the same people as they usually do. Peer pressure and availability of alcohol have a direct influence on a person’s ability to resist drinking. Effectively, by continuing to mix in enabling environments is only likely to make a person’s AUD much worse.
It is not unusual for people with AUD to take drastic measures to help themselves by giving up alcohol completely. It is widely known that detox is not a pleasant experience and in fact, it is something that has been very negatively portrayed in movies or TV shows for decades. That said, there is much more to abruptly abstaining from using alcohol than many people are aware of.
When someone has alcohol dependence or alcoholism, they are likely to have done significant damage to their overall physical, mental and emotional health. The negative effects of alcohol abuse run very deep mostly because of how the illness develops over time. People struggling with AUD are very unlikely to be aware of the extent of the damage done to them and consequently, they will be unable to determine how severe alcohol withdrawal will be.
Some of the more severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms include hallucinations which can occur about 12 to 24 hours after the last drink. Delirium tremens or DTs are experienced by around 5% of people with alcohol withdrawal and can start 48 hours into detox. Symptoms of “the DTs” as they are commonly known, range from severe hallucinations to seizures and can be life-threatening.
One of the biggest problems of DIY detox is that individuals place themselves in danger of experiencing severe symptoms without anyone qualified standing-by to administer alcohol withdrawal treatment. No-one is able to determine how their bodies will respond to sudden abstinence, particularly if there are other physical or mental health conditions to take into account.
Detoxing in Specialist Alcohol Rehab Promotes Better Recovery Outcomes
The best way of taking the first and most important step towards recovery is by detoxing from alcohol under the supervision of addiction specialists. In the sober environment of a rehab center, patients in detox are fully supported throughout the process, which Elevate Addiction Services recommends as a 30-day program. When you detox from alcohol at Elevate, your body has the time to adjust to sobriety in natural ways. Our holistic alcohol treatments centers offer therapies that ensure your body is effectively “re-trained” for a healthy and sober future. Holistic alcohol therapy seeks to address the root causes of a person’s drinking with mindfulness, fitness, and nutrition to provide healing for the mind, body and spirit of the ravages of AUD.