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Alcohol & problem drinking

For some people, and some families, using alcohol in moderation is just not possible and for these people, it’s not feasible for them to simply ‘stop drinking’.

Alcohol addiction, alcoholism or an alcohol dependence is a cunning and baffling disease that creeps up over a period of time as problematic drinking patterns develop and become a regular part of your life. Your relationship with alcohol becomes characterised by obsession and compulsion.

WHAT IS ALCOHOL ADDICTION

There’s a big difference between having a drink and alcohol abuse. 

In our culture drinking alcohol to celebrate or socialise is an accepted and everyday practice and many people can enjoy the affects of alcohol without negative consequences or resulting problems.

However for some people, and some families, using alcohol in moderation is just not possible.

For reasons that are becoming increasingly clear through scientific study, some people have sensitivity to alcohol that results in the development of a dependency that evolves into the disease of alcohol addiction or alcoholism. For these people, it’s not possible for them to simply ‘stop drinking’.

‘Addiction’ means having a dependence on a substance or activity. Unlike someone who simply ‘wants’ something, a person with an addiction will have physical cravings and urges for the substance they’re addicted to.

Development of an addiction generally has 3 stages:

  1. Experimentation– often begins during the teenage years where the young person explores the personal effects of drinking different types and amounts of alcohol
  2. Habitual patterning– the process of developing patterns of drinking which become normalised in your life, for example always having a drink when you are socialising
  3. Dependency– the process of becoming dependent on drinking alcohol to manage some aspects of your life

Alcohol addiction, alcoholism or an alcohol dependence is a cunning and baffling disease that creeps up on you over a period of time as problematic drinking patterns develop and become a regular part of your life. Your relationship with alcohol becomes characterised by obsession and compulsion.

The obsession refers to the way you think about alcohol – the time you spend thinking and planning about when you will have your next drink, or how you plan to limit yourself. The compulsion refers to loss of control over your impulse to drink. The disease of alcoholism is far more complex than just the behaviour of drinking too much.

ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE SYMPTOMS

Alcohol addiction is a complex problem that can be hard to notice, particularly in Australia where it’s socially acceptable to drink and where most social activities involve drinking.

There are two main ways that alcohol addiction manifests:

  1. Regular or habitual drinking: Characterised by drinking alcohol on a daily or near daily basis accompanied by the signs and symptoms below.
  2. Binge drinking or ‘heavy episodic drinking’: Patterns of drinking behaviour and episodes of heavy alcohol use often with periods of alcohol free days or weeks between.

What are the signs of alcohol addiction?

  • Increasing tolerance – needing to drink increasing amounts of alcohol to feel the same effects
  • Impaired control – lacking the ability to limit the amount that you drink even when you have made a conscious decision to restrict your alcohol intake
  • Physical dependence – experiencing intense cravings for alcohol, and withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, shakes, and anxiety when you stop drinking
  • Denial – refusing to face the reality of the problematic impact that the continuing use of alcohol is having on your life

If you are worrying about when you’ll be able to have your next drink, needing to drink more and more to get drunk, consuming regularly on your own or hiding/lying about your habits or feeling ashamed about your drinking – then its likely you have a problem. Please reach out for support and to discuss how you can get help.

Do I have a drinking problem? If any of these signs resonate – you can do this quick alcoholism test to raise your awareness.

TREATMENT FOR ALCOHOLISM

If you’re ready to admit you have a drinking problem, you’ve already taken the first step. It takes tremendous courage to face alcohol dependence/addiction head on.

Withdrawing from alcohol can be challenging, uncomfortable and even dangerous and for this reason a professionally supervised detox is strongly recommended.

In order to stay alcohol-free for the long term, you’ll also have to face the underlying problems that may have led to your alcoholism or alcohol abuse in the first place.

Treatment at South Pacific Private involves group therapy as well as input from an experienced multi-disciplinary team (such as GPs and Psychiatrists). The team will support you but also guide you through a process of awareness to face those problems. Those problems could include depression, unresolved trauma, or any number of mental health concerns.

Treatment at South Pacific Private for alcohol dependency is complex and thorough and involves the following components:

  • Group therapy (seeing a Psychotherapist daily as part of a group)
  • Peer/support group attendance (support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous)
  • Medication management (particular medicines that can help with withdrawal symptoms)

Take the first step towards changing your life today.

Contact the Client Care Team today on 1800 063 332 / info@southpacificprivate.com.au

South Pacific Private is here to help when you or someone you love experiences difficulties with addictions, trauma or with mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety.

JOHN: I thought that I drank so much because I had all these problems. I didn’t realise that all my problems were directly related to how much I drank. From what my life was then, to how it is now, is so extraordinarily different.

MORE STORIES

Find out if you have a problem

The goal of our self-tests is not to provide you with a diagnosis for yourself or for someone you care about. Instead, they are an opportunity for you to better understand how a behaviour might be impacting upon your life or the life of your family. Use these tests to enhance your awareness of what the problem might be. These tests should be answered honestly in order to provide accurate insight and are a chance for you to reflect upon the current situation.

SELF-ASSESSMENTS

Find out if you have a problem.
Take our quiz for (select one below):