The Alcohol Addiction Pandemic – A Needed Guide For Those Struggling

By Elizabeth Summers / October 19, 2021 / No comments
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Alcohol problems are on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people turn to drinking in an attempt to cope with the uncertainty and isolation.

The CDC found that nearly 1 out of every 10 adult deaths are linked to excessive drinking. This means there’s likely many others who aren’t getting help because they don’t know where to go or how to get it.

The same picture is happening in the UK, according to research published by Public Health England. It reported that almost 2 million Brits were dependent on alcohol last year – up from around 1.5 million in 2010. And while this number may seem small compared to other countries, experts say it’s actually higher than previously thought.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol during the pandemic, now is a good time to get the help that is needed.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

When someone stops drinking, the body goes through changes that are similar to those of going into shock after an injury. The brain sends signals to organs throughout your body telling them what’s happening so they can prepare themselves for it. Your heart rate increases, blood pressure drops, breathing becomes shallow, muscles tense up, and more fluids leak out than normal. These reactions help protect you during times like this because they make sure your vital functions continue without interruption.

When an alcoholic begins to sober up, this chain of reactions reverses itself. The brain tells the heart to beat slower, the muscles to relax, and the digestive tract to start moving food through it. When your body is adjusted to alcohol, abrupt changes like these can be painful and uncomfortable. These symptoms are called withdrawal syndrome and they may be experienced any time after the first drink is stopped.

Withdrawal represents the biggest risk factor for people who continue to drink after they know they shouldn’t. There’s no right time to stop drinking, and there is no such thing as a safe way to do it. But if you’re planning on giving up, be prepared to feel some unpleasant – though temporary – symptoms.

How to Withdraw from Alcohol Safely

The safest way to withdraw is via a medical detox. This lowers the sudden spikes in body chemicals that could affect your health and the rest of your body’s systems.

Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous if an individual is severely dependent, and we recommend speaking to a medical professional before beginning an alcohol detox.

How to Deal with Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Talk to a doctor or treatment professional about the symptoms you’ll have and how to handle them. Support from a rehab programme is also helpful. This can help you get through the tough times and support you as you change old habits and begin to rebuild your life without alcohol.

There’s no shame in taking steps to get through the worst of alcohol withdrawal and there is no need for it to be harder than it needs to be. Alcohol withdrawal is often more dangerous than many people think and support from medical professionals and treatment services is important. Where severe alcohol dependence has been identified, a medically-managed detox is the only safe way to rid the body of alcohol.

Drinking Again May not be an Option

Many people who are in recovery from alcohol use disorder at drug and alcohol rehab centers are unable to touch a drop of alcohol ever again, and this is why abstinence is often the best defence against relapse.

If you’re thinking about attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, the first step is to get yourself clean and sober-and then you can dive into all of the help that is available. You don’t have to do this alone, though. If you need assistance, there are many options available in most communities today for alcohol addiction treatment. Your local GP should be the first port of call if you want to partake in NHS outpatient services, or if you are looking to detox from alcohol.

Detox Alone is Rarely Enough in Treating Alcoholism

Detox alone will not be enough to treat alcohol addiction, therapy to treat the underlying causes of alcoholism may be necessary, and this will include therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing and relapse prevention training.

As part of structured alcohol treatment, patients learn about their triggers and how to cope with these triggers in a healthy way.

Therapy can be done privately (with a counsellor or via a residential rehab programme), or through the NHS (although waiting lists are growing since the pandemic).

There might be another option for rehab while staying home and living a normal lifestyle. Support from family members could prove to be the necessary motivation. For instance, you can look for something similar to Outpatient Drug Rehab Programme that could be as effective as any residential rehab, where they provide treatment for severe substance abuse, alcohol addiction, and co-occurring disorders.

More recently, home alcohol detox services provide a medically-assisted detox programme in combination with therapy. These programmes are slightly cheaper than residential programmes, but are less structured.

Support Group

Like many other addiction, people with alcoholism could benefit from joining an alcohol abuse support group. The goal of these groups is to provide the group members with the tools necessary to help them recover from their alcoholism or drug use.

Support groups are free in the UK and tend to operate on the 12 Step model (except for SMART meetings).

Alcohol support groups such as AA provide a range of benefits for those in early recovery, including the social support of meeting others in recovery, sharing experiences, talking through personal challenges or problems and learning how to cope with or overcome these.

Family and friends can play a key role in supporting someone who is struggling with alcohol addiction. The most effective way to help a patient is to learn more about their addiction and the warnings signs of relapse and encourage treatment.