Nobody wakes up one morning to find that they have developed an alcohol addiction overnight. And contrary to what many people believe, those who do develop this illness of the brain do not choose to do so.
There are so many misconceptions surrounding alcohol addiction that you might be reluctant to see how serious your own alcohol use is. Or you may be feeling ashamed or embarrassed when you have absolutely no need to be.
At Banbury Lodge, we are working hard to break down the stigma currently surrounding addiction to ensure that more people like you can access programmes that can help them regain control of their life.
Alcohol addiction is like any other addiction – a pattern of behaviour that has a negative impact on the life of the affected person. If your consumption of alcohol is interfering with daily life and you have little or no control over how much alcohol you drink, it is likely that you have an addiction.
There are some individuals who believe that all those with alcohol addiction come from a specific type of background. They also believe that alcoholics drink all day, every day and are very rarely sober. This is very obviously not the case. Truth is, alcohol addiction presents in many ways and it can affect anyone who allows their use to get out of control.
Addiction is not defined by the type of alcohol you drink or how often you consume it; it is about whether you can control your drinking. If you are unable to cut back or quit on your consumption, or if you find that once you start drinking you are unable to stop, it is likely that you have a problem.
Alcohol plays such a massive part of modern society that the idea that you have lost control of your use of it might be difficult to accept.
Nevertheless, you should know that it is a highly addictive substance and it is commonly abused by countless individuals across the UK. If you believe that you may have a problem, you should know that you are not alone.
Spotting the signs of alcoholism in yourself is never easy. In fact, it is much more likely that your loved ones will have noticed the changes before you did. If your family members or friends have suggested that your alcohol consumption requires attention, it is well worth listening to their concerns.
Maybe you have brushed off these concerns or became angry and defensive at the suggestion that you could have an alcohol problem. If so, please do not worry. This is a common reaction when faced with an unpleasant reality. In fact, denial is one of the body’s flight or fight responses and is commonly used by those who do not want to accept the harsh truth of their own situation.
Having said that, it is important that you establish how serious your alcohol misuse is. The mere fact that your loved ones have raised concerns suggests that there is some sort of issue. It could be that you just need to reign in your consumption of alcohol and perhaps have a period where you do not drink, just to hit the reset button afterwards.
On the other hand, it could be that you really do have an issue that needs to be addressed. If, for example, you have been drinking heavily on a regular basis and are experiencing physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches and sweating when the effects of alcohol wear off, you might have already developed a physical addiction.
There are other signs that could indicate a problem as well, including:
If you are aware that you have a problem with alcohol, you may be wondering how you got here. You could also be thinking about why you are affected when others are not. While there is no single cause of alcoholism for every person, there are certain factors that might have contributed to the development of it in you.
Family history of addiction, early exposure to alcohol, quality of life, your relationships, traumatic experiences, and mental health issues are all contributing factors when it comes to developing an alcohol addiction, but conversely, they are no guarantee, either.
While it is impossible to pinpoint an exact cause, we do know how the illness develops. It begins with experimentation. However, you must remember that, just because you decided to drink alcohol, it does not mean that you chose to become an alcoholic.
Alcohol is a mood-altering chemical that affects the nervous system and the brain. It has an effect on the brain’s reward and pleasure centres, and in some people, it can hijack them. While most individuals feel a sense of pleasure when they drink, for some, these feelings are much more intense. Their brain releases more feel-good chemicals (dopamine) than most, which can lead to the person wanting to recreate these feelings again and again.
Since alcohol also affects the reward centre of the brain, the need for drinking can increase. However, the more alcohol you consume, the more tolerant you will be to the effects. The brain and body react to the presence of alcohol and adapt so that fewer feel-good chemicals are released. But if you are seeking those feelings of pleasure, you may drink more alcohol to compensate. After a while, the body begins to crave alcohol and you may find out that you have lost the power to resist.
You are probably already aware of some of the negative consequences of your attachment to alcohol. Your health has undoubtedly been affected, but you need to know that some symptoms are often masked.
What you should also be aware of is that alcohol is a chemical substance and one that can inflict major damage on the body. Even if you have not yet noticed any apparent symptoms, this is no guarantee that damage is not being done underneath the surface.
Alcohol affects almost every cell in the body and has been linked to hundreds of different illnesses. Including
It is not just physical health that is affected by alcohol though. This chemical substance has a negative impact on mental health too. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety disorder and dementia are all linked to the abuse of alcohol.
Nevertheless, as well as the impact on mental and physical health, your abuse of alcohol could be harming other areas of your life. Your family members will undoubtedly find it hard to understand why you continue, even when it is having such a negative impact on your life. People with no experience of addiction often cannot understand the effect that this illness has on the brain of the affected person.
Continued regular abuse of alcohol results in damage to certain parts of the brain. It will alter the very structure of this organ, making it difficult for you to make good choices or sound decisions. This means that you will probably find it harder to see the harm that your drinking is causing to you than your loved ones would.
Many family members mistake an inability to quit drinking as an unwillingness to do so and they will become resentful, angry, and even frustrated. This often has the effect of causing harm to the relationship. Even relationships that were once strong and healthy can be reduced to a near-breaking point because of addiction; some will be damaged beyond repair.
Your addiction to alcohol may be having a negative impact on your day-to-day life and your relationships with those you love, but you do not have to continue living with the cloud of this illness hanging over your head.
While there is no cure for addiction at the moment, treatment is available that can help you to effectively manage this illness going forward so that you do not see a return to addictive behaviour.
Recovery from alcoholism begins with an alcohol detox. When you make the decision to put alcohol abuse behind you for good, your body will naturally begin eliminating any traces of chemicals and toxins that remain in your system. This process is known as detoxification.
It is possible to detox at home, but because alcohol detox is a complex process that carries a risk of complications, most experts agree that the safest place for a withdrawal is in a dedicated detox clinic under the careful supervision of professionals.
Banbury Lodge offers 7-10-day detox programmes where you will be monitored at all times by experienced, fully trained staff. Your comfort and safety are our main priority and, where appropriate, we will ease any discomfort with medication and nutritional supplements. The use of medication can also help to prevent the most severe symptoms.
A detox is a vital part of the recovery process, but you should be aware that this will only address the physical aspect of your illness. A programme of rehabilitation must follow your detox if your treatment supervisor advises you so; one of the most effective types of rehab programme is one that involves a residential stay.
The reason inpatient programmes are so popular is because they offer you the best chance for permanent recovery in the shortest amount of time. Banbury Lodge’s inpatient programmes run for between six and eight weeks for most people. If you think you have more complex needs, a longer programme may be required.
Residential rehab offers you a structured and focused, day-to-day programme that will give you the opportunity to overcome your addiction once and for all. When you begin a treatment programme with Banbury Lodge, you can expect to receive a bespoke treatment plan that we have created around your needs. We will provide an assessment of your requirements when you arrive to determine what type of treatments should be included in your programme of care.
We understand that you may be feeling slightly apprehensive about what lies ahead of you, but rest assured that we have only your best interests at heart. To put you at ease, one of our team members will show you around to help you get familiar with the clinic. If you have any questions at this point, please ask and we will do our best to ensure you are completely comfortable before you start any treatment.
We will conduct an admissions interview with you to go through the schedule of treatments that you will be having on a daily basis. We will speak with you and your family members (with your permission), to find out as much as we can about your personal situation. If you would prefer family members not to be present during this interview, this is perfectly acceptable. You will be given time to settle into your room before treatment begins.
You can expect to spend most of your time in treatment. Your treatment is likely to combine both traditional counselling and therapy techniques with holistic alternatives. You may have one-to-one counselling sessions as well as group therapy with other patients. In addition, there will be seminars and workshops available, designed to help with issues such as relapse prevention and the development of life and work skills.
For more information on overcoming your alcohol addiction, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.