Drug & Alcohol Abuse

Signs of alcohol addiction (alcoholism)

Do you want to have more fun, to fit in, to cope better with your problems? It’s as easy as taking a drink — if you believe what you see on television. But if you think that alcohol will improve your life, you’re fooling yourself. Relying on alcohol to relax you or cheer you up can be dangerous. You may find yourself using it more and more in this way. This can lead to addiction. If this is happening to you, take action now to change your behavior and find caring people to help you.

You may drink to feel more charming or carefree and relaxed. But in reality, alcohol can affect your speech, your behavior and your judgment.  It can lead you to take risks you wouldn’t take if you were sober. Alcohol can also lead to serious health problems. That includes liver disease and heart disease. It can also cause loss of mental function.

To find out if you may have a problem with alcohol, read the following statements and answer yes or no. Answering “yes” to three or more questions may be a signal that alcohol is taking over your life.

  • Do you think a party or social gathering isn’t fun unless alcohol is served?
  • Have family members, friends, or coworkers ever commented on your drinking?
  • Do you have friends you drink with?
  • Do you look forward to your next drink?
  • If you only drink after work or on weekends, do you think you don’t have a problem?
  • Are family members or friends beginning to avoid you?
  • Have you unsuccessfully tried to cut down or quit using alcohol?
  • Do you hide your use from other people?
  • Are you beginning to distrust and avoid some people?
  • Do you get up the day after drinking and not remember what happened the night before?
  • Do you have health problems as a result of your drinking?

Facing a problem with alcohol can be hard. Once a person decides to get help, it can be found in many places. Below you will find resources that can give you more information. They can also help you find treatment.

Speak with your primary health care provider. Sometimes your health care provider can provide medication to help you stop drinking. If not, he or she can refer you to a specialist.

This kind of care can be inpatient. It means you spend a period of time in a facility. Or it can be outpatient. This means you come and go. The facilities have medical support and can help a person detox. Most health insurance plans will cover at least some treatment. To find this kind of care, talk to your health care provider or a counselor. Contact your case manager, or your assigned PIHP case manager. You can also go to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

AA helps members get sober and stay sober. They help you build healthy patterns of living. Everyone is welcome at an AA meeting. You do not have to identify yourself. Some people find it easier to go to the first meeting with a friend. To find a meeting near you, visit AA online. Or look in the phone book for the number of a local chapter.

Many people with alcoholism can give up alcohol for good. But change may not be easy or quick. Treatment is only a start. Relapses can be common. A relapse is not a sign of failure. Instead, it means treatment should continue. Once a person stops drinking, support is needed for them to stay sober. After care programs and groups, such as AA, are good for this kind of support.

Treatment for addiction to drugs varies with your needs. Some people go through treatment only once. Others return to it off and on throughout their lives.

Recovery begins when you seek help for your drug abuse or addiction. Then, you’ll slowly start to build a new life. It may not always be easy. But with the support of others, you can succeed. During recovery, you’ll go through three stages. How long each one lasts varies with each person.

During this stage, you’ll focus on stopping your drug abuse or addiction. Most likely, you’ll receive help from a therapist, addiction counselor, or doctor. You may also go to self-help groups on a regular basis. You’ll avoid people or places that might tempt you to use drugs.

During this time, you’ll work on changing your life. You may change your values, move, or go back to school. You might start new, healthy relationships. And you might end ones that aren’t as healthy. You may even try to make up for harm you caused others while using drugs.

This stage will last for the rest of your life. You’re feeling stronger and healthier. Now, you may look for a greater sense of purpose. You may focus on the things that matter to you most. These may include your family, your beliefs or lending a hand to others.

  • Residential treatment. You live in a drug-free setting with others who have the same problem. You may stay in treatment for 3 to 6 months. During this time, you see a therapist or addiction counselor.
  • Outpatient therapy. You see a therapist, or addiction counselor while living your normal life. You may see your therapist by yourself. Or you may be part of a group. In some cases, your family may see your therapist too.
  • Self-help groups. These offer you support and encouragement. There are also support groups for the loved ones of people addicted to drugs.
  • Medications. Your treatment may include certain medications, such as methadone, antabuse, buprenorphine, or naltrexone.
  • Alternative treatments. These may include acupuncture, hypnosis, or biofeedback. Ask your health care provider about them.

Drug addiction is never really cured. Sometimes, no matter how well you’re doing, you may be tempted. If so, you can:

  • Call your sponsor. This is someone in your self-help group who watches out for you.
  • Talk to your therapist, health care provider, or someone else you trust.
  • Make a list of how much you’ve achieved.