How To Stop Drinking
How To Stop Drinking
Many people have struggled with this common question:How can I stop drinking and taking drugs? How to I get my husband, sister, mother etc. to stop drinking or taking drugs? The best and easiest answer to this question is to
GET CONNECTED TO A GOOD TREATMENT PROGRAM!
If someone found out they had cancer or a lung disease they would seek treatment for these conditions. But for some reason why some decides they have a drinking or drug problem they REALLY resist going in for treatment.
Finding an Approach to Addiction
Here is a true story that describes the process of discussing alcohol addiction with a patient. This is an effective discussion and can help them to begin to process how to stop drinking.
Often the problem is alcohol, they just don't know how to stop drinking.
As a hospital chaplain I’ve had many visits with addict/alcoholics, who are in for treatment for seemingly unrelated conditions. I say that because it doesn’t take long to see that the root of so many of their problems is their use of drugs and alcohol, especially the alcohol.
For example, there was a young man in for treatment for his pancreatitis, but his medical history is all about alcohol dependence.
One of the chaplains at our facility came to me and asked about her approach to a patient, saying that she knew from speaking to the nurse that alcohol was the underlying culprit, but the patient refused to discuss that with her, electing to focus on the presenting diagnosis. She wanted to know what I would do.
“Why don’t you just talk about the elephant in the room?” I asked her. We talked about the stages of the disease, the seemingly endless denials, and the refusal to talk about the disease in the open. Chaplains are supposed to be comforting and supportive, but does that mean we avoid the elephant in the room? Does that mean we don't discuss how to stop drinking with them?
Committing suicide one drink at a time.
I once just came right out and asked a patient if they planned to commit suicide any time soon, or were they content to do it one drink at a time? Suicide wasn’t the plan at all, but it was a way of bringing the alcoholism out into the open.
The patient was a little surprised that I was so forward with my quarry, but nevertheless very open to discussing the disease and the negative impact it brought to his life. That conversation opened the door to treatment, an option which had never been discussed before.
We are so politically correct in this country. It’s sickening. We don’t talk about certain things for fear it will be offensive. Some things need to be offensive. The destruction that alcohol brings to people is offensive and the best way to tackle the problem is to meet it head on. My family never spoke of unpleasant things such as alcoholism, depression or any other emotional/psychological issue.
Often a family secret.
Like a dirty little family secret, alcoholism was never brought out into the open. That isn’t helpful, because bringing something terrible like alcoholism out into the open is the first step towards defeating it. That would have been a family discussion worth having.
Chaplains are supposed to walk around and talk about God, right? Have you ever thought of a chaplain as a sort of tour guide or life coach, someone who understands the human condition, accepts human frailty without prejudice and who without an agenda can be a loving and compassionate presence in the life of another?
Can chaplains understand addiction and actually help a person without pounding religion into them? Are chaplains allowed to talk about the elephant in the room?
I know this sounds like a rant, but we have all of these rules about things in society, spoken and unspoken. If simply providing comfort is going to hasten your death, why would I worry about being politically correct and other than spending a few minutes to say “Poor you” why should we waste the time? Sometimes we all need to be abrupt.
Alcoholism is just a part of the fabric of America. Drinking is heavily promoted in the media, it is socially acceptable and expected, and even after exhaustive educational programs, alcoholic beverages are not considered particularly dangerous because you can buy them in any grocery store, or even the corner pharmacy.
People are going to drink no matter what. While I am not an advocate of any form of prohibition, and our history clearly illustrates that the prohibition law was an abysmal failure, I am in favor of being open and honest about what alcohol does to people. The disease hides in the background of so many medical charts, but absent the alcohol consumption, those patients would probably not be seeking treatment for anything.
I Drink Regardless
I have pancreatitis, but I still drink, either because I want to drink knowing how harmful it is, or I just can’t stop drinking because I’m an alcoholic. Countless millions are spent on treating the effects of alcoholism each year, but it’s always the presenting condition that is discussed, not the cause.
The elephant in the room is rather large and getting larger. We Americans love our drinks and we can’t seem to enjoy life or appreciate anything without a drink in our hand.
We need our alcohol, because we are told to need it, through images of desirable social situations, scantily clad women and the endorsement of celebrities. What can I get you to drink? Gee, don’t you want something a little stronger?
How To Stop Drinking
Treatment Programs Need To Be Unique
Each alcoholism case is unique so treatment programs have to be tailor-made to fit the needs of the individual.
One size does not fit all and people have to be in the right setting in order for healing to take place.
So whether the judge ordered the treatment, whether it’s in-patient or out-patient, look for programs that treat body, mind and spirit. All three components work together. Even if a person can get back to health, the destruction on their lives that the addiction has inflicted may require emotional and spiritual support. Good treatment centers recognize this important aspect of drug recovery.
How To Stop Drinking: Types of Treatment Programs
Let’s begin by stating that treatment programs may consist of several different elements. For example, a program may center on behavioral therapy, which is counseling, cognitive therapy and psychotherapy. Sometimes the needs of the individual necessitate a medical treatment component.
This presents an interesting point for consideration. Just as people are complex and all treatment programs are different, so too are the theories surrounding drug treatment.
I once worked with a psychotherapist who would bristle at the idea of ANY medical intervention in drug treatment, and likewise worked with medical people who ONLY saw the value of a using medicine to help the patient work through the clutches of addiction. A balanced program is usually the best.
How To Stop Drinking: 12-Step Treatment programs: Under behavioral therapy is the 12-Step program that was developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, a program so successful that over 250 self-help groups have adopted it.
Instead of “alcohol” just insert your drug of choice. Written by addicts, the 12-step has proven to be a powerful tool for fighting through addiction. The driving force behind the 12-step is the relationship that is formed between the recovering addict and the “power outside them” that guides and sustains them. Relationships and support are important healing elements in recovery.
How To Stop Drinking: Out-Patient Alcohol/Drug-Free Treatment: This type of service is less costly than the previously mentioned treatments, but some of the more streamlined versions of this treatment may offer little more than some education.
Do your homework first. This is a good program for those who have social support, hold jobs and have connections to resources. Some out-patient, non-drug programs can offer the same intensity of the in-patient treatments, with an emphasis on individual patient needs, such as medical and psychological.
How To Stop Drinking: Long-Term Residential Treatment: Long-term residential provides 24-hour service in a non-hospital setting. Most popular and well known is the therapeutic community model (TC). Some residential centers may use other models, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, but the TC is most common.
By long term, we mean six to 12 months, as these programs focus on “re-socialization” and sometimes that means rebuilding a life. Patients interact with staff and other residents during treatment, and addiction is viewed in terms of the patient’s social setting, his/her psychological factors, and treatment takes place in a highly structured setting, as the patients’ schedule from wake-up to bed-time is programmed.
Sometimes this form of therapy can be confrontational, as patients are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, and rethink their views on themselves, their view of the world and their place in it. Some treatment centers offer employment training and referral. The person who needs this treatment has more severe problems. They may have mental issues, criminal/legal complications.
How To Stop Drinking: Short-Term Residential Programs(Rehab): These programs began as a treatment for alcoholism, using the 12-step program. Centers began treating alcoholism and drug addiction in the 1980’s, when cocaine use reached epidemic proportions. Originally, patients would participate in a hospital-based program for three to six weeks, then enter into out-patient therapy.
Also included in this model were self-help groups. Unfortunately, cutbacks in healthcare coverage for drug and alcohol abuse have resulted in fewer of these programs, and under managed care, the length of stay is much shorter.
How To Stop Drinking: Medical Detoxification: We mentioned this before, but a note of explanation is necessary to clear up any misconceptions. People have this image of detox being a torture chamber, an image brought on my Hollywood. Patients are systematically taken off drugs and are under the care of a physician. It used to be thought that detoxification was a treatment in and of itself, but it is most often just a precursor to treatment.
Think of it as helping a patient get back to square one and get the drugs out of the system. For most types of drug abuse, detoxification can include medications to make the withdrawal process safer. Sometimes, just going through this process without medication or the care of a physician can be fatal. Detoxification does not address psychological, behavioral or social issues, and so treatment is necessary to meet all of the patient’s needs.
How To Stop Drinking: Treatment programs Take Time
Alcohol rehabilitation programs can be long and arduous and because of that people need encouragement to stick with it and finish. According to research statistics, alcohol recovery patients will reach a milestone in their recovery after three months, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the treatment program is finished, or that additional treatment will not be helpful.
When people leave their treatment programs early, and do not hit that all important stage in their recovery, their chances for full recovery drop. Even with full completion of the program, patients can fail and need to return to treatment. It’s important to stay with it.
While in treatment programs patients need to stay off alcohol and drugs. This is a minimum expectation, but centers will inspect wheat they expect, and drug testing is routine. If a patient relapses and uses during treatment, the program will require modification to meet the needs of the patient.
Even if a patient makes it through the program, there is a change they may fail sometime in the future, and therefore, some people need to go back into treatment to completely manage the addiction problem. People fail. But it’s important to remember that the person’s health is most important, so if it takes two or three attempts, or more, so be it.
Whether in-patient or out-patient, treatment programs can vary in intensity and length, and so careful examination of each program is necessary to make the best choice of treatment.
How to Stop Drinking Conclusion
We end this page as we started it, by noting that no two drug/alcohol treatment programs are alike nor should they be. The important thing to keep in mind is that other than denying a person access to drugs, successful treatment hinges on an individual’s willingness to be treated. It’s all about management of the problem, and their wiliness to be part of the process.
Millions of people have learned how to stop drinking with these treatments and if you have a problem you can too!
How To Stop Drinking
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The rest of the pages are there for your reference to explain important topics in more detail.