If you have a drinking problem, there are very few changes you can make in your life that will do as much to improve your health and happiness as giving up alcohol. In fact, if you know you have a problem, you may have tried to give it up in the past, without success. Would you like to give up drinking, but just don't see how you possibly can? Perhaps your last binge has left you feeling sick and tired of being sick and tired. Maybe you've had a DUI. Or, you might want to change because you feel sad and embarrassed by the disappointed expressions on the faces of your friends and families. There are lots of reasons to completely quit drinking alcohol, even though you know deep inside that you would really like to just control your drinking, give it up for a little while, and be able to limit yourself.
These thoughts have gone through the mind of virtually everyone who has ever abused alcohol, whether they admit to being an alcoholic or not. Giving up alcohol is a major life decision. As the "Big Book" of Alcoholic's Anonymous states, "half-measures" will not bring you success. If you are going to give up drinking, you really have to be committed.
There are several reasons why giving up alcohol requires a serious commitment. First of all, alcoholism is not a moral weakness; it is an illness that can be as serious and deadly as diabetes. The tendency to become an alcoholic may be genetic. The powerful addictive nature of alcohol makes it hard to simply quit without help. In addition, the pervasiveness of alcohol in our society means that you will constantly find yourself in situations where alcohol is being served, even after you have stopped drinking.
When you are ready, however, there are several ways to find the help you need to give up alcohol … one day at a time.
Until the 1930's, serious alcoholism was considered incurable. Once people had become truly addicted to alcohol, they usually continued to drink until it killed them. In the 1930's, however, two alcoholics by the name of Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson, started a small discussion group for men with alcohol problems. They put together a list of Twelve Steps that they believed were necessary to follow in order to find true sobriety. Since that time, millions of men and women have used those same Twelve Steps to change their lives and learn how to live alcohol free.
Alcoholics Anonymous is now one of the most universally accepted ways to stop drinking alcohol. Meetings are held around the world, every day and sometimes several times a day in large cities. Alcoholics Anonymous is not an organization you can visit a few times and consider yourself "cured." It is a way of living. However, this is not as bad as it sounds. In AA, you will find many other people who are also trying to stay sober. As time goes by, you will find that you enjoy spending time with them. They've been through many of the same difficulties as you, and sometimes what they suffered because of alcohol was even worse!
Part of the Alcoholics Anonymous program involves regularly attending meetings. In addition, you will need to really get involved. Ask someone to be your sponsor, work the steps, socialize with other people in the group, and begin to build a new life. If you have a wife or children, you might also encourage them to go to Alanon or Alateen meetings. However, don't force the issue. It will happen in its own time. As you work the steps, and build connections with other members, you will find that it becomes easier to remain sober.
If you have been a heavy daily drinker, you may have reached the point where you feel that you need to start each day with an Irish coffee or Bloody Mary, just to get going in the morning. You may even have come to believe that this is normal. The reason you need that alcohol in the morning is because your hangovers are so bad that even a few hours without alcohol can cause you to begin suffering from serious withdrawal symptoms. If this is your situation, there are many hospitals and treatment centers in every large city that are able to offer alcohol detoxification. It may even be covered by your insurance.
Once you have gone through detoxification, you will probably be referred to Alcoholics Anonymous, a treatment center or an outpatient program.
Treatment centers usually offer either 10 day, 28 day or 90 day residential programs that are designed to help people overcome their addiction to alcohol and/or drugs. Some even offer outpatient care. Each alcohol abuse treatment center has its own personality, and there are treatment facilities for people at all income levels. Some of them are covered by insurance, and others are not. Before you go into an alcohol addiction rehab program in your community, you may want to talk with other people who have been to that facility. If you are interested in going to a treatment center in California, you may be interested in reading, "Top Five Alcohol Addiction Treatment Facilities in California." This article gives you information about The Betty Ford Center, as well as several other successful alcohol abuse treatment centers. Even if you are not interested in going into treatment in California, this article contains some general information about treatment centers and alcoholism that you may find helpful.
Alcohol Abuse Outpatient Programs
After you have been through a detoxification program or other alcohol abuse treatment programs, the facility where you received services will usually offer their own outpatient program that they will encourage you to attend, often in addition to going to Alcoholics Anonymous. This is another opportunity for you to build bonds with people who have also gone through treatment, and to stay in touch with the alcohol counselors who helped you during your treatment. It is well worth it to maintain these connections. People who get treated and then stop going to meetings because they believe that they are "cured" almost always go back to drinking eventually.
Other Anti-Drinking Programs
Many religious groups and other community organizations also offer classes, meetings, and similar activities that are designed to help their members give up alcohol. Some of these are similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Others follow the tenants of the religious or non-religious group that sponsors the meeting. Some physicians who specialize in helping people with addiction problems will prescribe drugs that make you feel ill if you drink, as well as alcohol abuse counseling to help their patients. These drugs are also an option that has also been used in conjunction with other alcohol abuse programs.
Whatever alcohol abuse help you choose to try, you will find that many of them have the potential to treat your alcohol addiction, if you are totally committed to becoming involved. If the first alcohol addiction treatment you try does not work for you, do not give up. Keep trying until you succeed. Millions of people before you have been successful, and you can be, too.
To learn more about how you or someone you love can find help, you may also be interested in reading:
This is the Alcoholics Anonymous "Big Book"
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