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Dealing With Alcoholism

Dealing with Alcoholism: Your Own or Someone Else's

Dealing with alcoholism, be it your own or someone else's, is never going to be an easy road to travel. By definition, alcoholism is a disease in which one develops an emotional and physical dependency upon alcohol regardless of the negative effect it has upon one's health and life. It's easy to read that and silently think to yourself that if you or your friend wanted to stop drinking, it could be done with a bit of willpower. Unfortunately, it's not a simple case of dropping the bottle and picking up a hobby. There is physical addiction that must be overcome, but the mental addiction is one that proves to be the hardest.

The symptoms of alcoholism differ from person to person. In a bird's eye view, the inability to control one's drinking, a decline in physical and mental health, as well as severe disruption of one's social life are the main indications of an alcohol addiction. Upon a closer inspection, one might develop cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, sexual dysfunction, dementia, liver disease, nervous system failure, and even cancer. These are just a few of the physical changes that can occur in an alcoholic. As far as the mentality goes, one may become psychologically disturbed, exhibiting symptoms of confusion and a general sense of being at a loss with reality. Some of the mental effects of alcohol can often be confused with disorders such as schizophrenia. Depression is a very common side effect of alcoholism. Although the physical decline of health can lead to death, it is often the altered state of mentality that can prove the immediate threat.

If you are dealing with alcoholism in yourself, then the first step is to admit that you have a problem. You'll never completely overcome your dependency on alcohol if you don't first admit that you are indeed uncontrollably dependent on alcohol. If you are unsure whether you have a true dependency on alcohol, ask yourself what kind of effect your drinking has had on your life--your health, finances, relationships with others, etc. Sit down with a trusted friend or family member and discuss your fears. This may be one of the hardest conversations you will ever have, but it will also be the first real step in the right direction. You must admit to yourself that you cannot overcome this issue again. Ask your confidant (the friend or family member you share your fears with) if they are willing and able to act as your support buddy through this time. You need someone who is capable of being strong and unrelenting during your moments of weakness--and it's not shameful to admit that you will have moments of weakness.

Ask your support buddy to accompany you to the doctor or a specialist who can indeed confirm your situation. The next step is getting enrolled in a detox clinic. It is extremely important that you do not attempt to brave through the physical withdrawal on your own. A stay in the detox clinic will not only make sure that you are unable to obtain alcohol in times of withdrawal, but it will also have the appropriate medical staff and equipment on hand should your state of health become severely jeopardized by withdrawal symptoms. Enrolment into Alcoholics Anonymous with a serious determination and desire to overcome the mental dependency on alcohol is extremely important. The idea of joining a support group may seem a little cliché, but it is vital for you to find acceptance in a positive environment that you can draw strength from.

If you are dealing with alcoholism as it pertains to a friend or family member, you may be worried where your boundaries are in broaching the subject. Confronting a loved one with your concerns can be a scary task, especially if are afraid that they will resent your "interference". Unfortunately, voicing your concerns with the person suffering from alcoholism is the only way they are going to see that you are aware of their problem--even if they aren't yet. Although there isn't much you can do for them until they admit that they have a drinking problem, you should not allow yourself to become their "enabler". An enabler is a person who enables the alcoholic to continue drinking. Making empty threats is enabling behavior because it allows your friend of family member to continue drinking without having to face the consequences of their actions. For instance, say Jerry is tired of his wife, Anne's, drinking. He tells her, "If you don't seek help for this, I'm leaving you." Anne continues to drink and Jerry never leaves. Because Jerry didn't follow through on his threat, or even reiterates it on a frequent basis without making good on his threat, Anne never has any real fear that her husband will leave and in turn is allowed to continue drinking because she never has to face any consequences for it.

If your friend or family member has confided in you about their addiction, they have in fact admitted their problem and may be looking to you to become their support buddy. Your first act as support buddy should be to express your own observances about the changes in your friend or family member and explain that you would like to do everything in your power to help them through their addiction as long as they are serious about fixing the problem. The two of you can schedule an appointment with a specialist to determine the severity of the situation, then book into a detox clinic if necessary. Offer to drive your friend to and from the clinic, and assure them that you will visit if/when visitation is allowed. Do your homework ahead of time so that you don't make any promises you can't keep. This can leave your friend feeling abandoned which can hurt their resolve to fight alcoholism.

The best thing you can do to help deal with a friend or family member who suffers from alcoholism is to educate yourself about their circumstance. Learn all that you can about alcoholism, including the symptoms and treatments. If you feel that a true intervention is necessary, speak to a professional to learn all that you can about this process, as you really only get one chance to make the right kind of impact with an intervention.

Remember that alcoholism is a true disease and should be taken as seriously as any other disease.

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