Alcoholism or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is the most extreme form of alcohol abuse and is defined by an individual’s inability to control their drinking habits. The symptoms vary in accordance with the severity of the problem but it is proven to be primary, progressive, chronic and ultimately fatal.
Accepted by both the American Medical Association (AMA) and World Health Organisation (WHO) as a disease in the 1950’s, it is easily identifiable as the sufferer has a complete lack of control over their desire/need to consume alcohol. The sufferer’s relationship with alcohol can seem insane to others but to the individual it is a vital ‘coping mechanism’ without which they cannot function. This belief fuels the ‘denial’ that exists around Alcoholism.
In understanding Alcoholism it is important to ask yourself the following questions:
Alcohol is a drug. A central nervous system depressant, it is a small molecule that is able to enter almost all tissues of the body therefore prolonged abuse causes physical damage as well as deterioration in mental and emotional health. The pleasurable or euphoric effects of the chemical mean it can become an addiction, destroying relationships, careers and ultimately lives.
One possible explanation is that the addict is looking to fill an internal void. They use alcohol as a way of self medicating in order to cope. Initially alcohol can appear to relieve or numb this.
However, as the body adapts to the toxins, it develops a tolerance and the euphoric effects lessen. Denial is a major symptom with the sufferer believing that alcohol is the solution rather than the problem. Although alcohol may temporarily numb the symptoms, in reality the ‘void’ continues to grow.
Denial prolongs and increases the pain – many seek alcohol as an attempt at finding a solution not recognising that it is the problem.
The greater the tolerance, the greater the frequency and amount required to achieve the same effect and the greater the toll on the system. Co-existing disorders such as anxiety, depression, high risk behaviours, paranoia and a sense of detachment from the world are common amongst those with this condition.
For some there is an hereditary aspect whereby a genetic predisposition may lead to alcoholism. For others, circumstances and environmental factors can encourage a compulsion to drink.
At Camino we adapt the treatment plan according to the individual. We use evidence based practices that work for you and have a vast array of therapeutic, physical and spiritual (not religious) processes available.
The most identifiable trait is an inability to stop consuming alcohol and a fundamental loss of control in their relationship with alcohol – ultimately the alcoholic has lost the ability to make a choice as to when to stop drinking.
To the non sufferer an alcoholics inability to stop drinking can seem bizarre given the negative consequences. In addition to this, an alcoholic displays denial toward their condition.
Physical symptoms include cravings, withdrawal, increased tolerance, seizures and poor health. Mental manifestations include an alibi system or constant need for justification, self pity, secrecy and isolation as well as an overwhelming obsession with alcohol.
Eventually the obsession to drink is stronger than the individual’s value system leading to drunk driving, infidelity, deceit, inability to fulfill responsibilities, arguments… the list goes on.
Detoxification is the first step in the process. It must be done safely and with care. In addition to the mental void left by the absence of alcohol there is a physical one.
The body becomes dependent on the toxin alcohol and if taken away too quickly an adverse physical reaction can occur. A sudden and unassisted withdrawal can result in tremors, nausea, lack of sleep, mood swings, sweating, panic attacks, anxiety and seizure. The detox process can be managed safely here at Camino.
Under medical supervision, a short period of prescribed medication under full supervision will minimise the risk and painful effects of the process.
Some programmes may believe in putting a ‘plaster on the wound’ temporarily stemming the flow of destruction and pain. At Camino our objective is to find a sustainable and long term solution that not only addresses the problem but frees the individual from the constraints of the disease. It is important to deal with the root cause.
We create an environment conducive to allowing the process to develop safely. We believe that a life free of addiction is possible and we make a promise to all our clients.
In addition, we create a long term recovery plan for all clients that involves: continuing care, 12 step fellowship meetings and other support networks that can be moulded around the demands of everyday life.
Our support extends beyond the time you spend with us at our retreat. A detailed plan is developed throughout your time here and Camino is always on the end of the phone should we be needed.
Here at the Camino Recovery Centre a highly specialised, qualified team of clinicians draws on decades of experience and training as well as a wide repertoire of evidence based practices.
We treat each person as an individual, offering a bespoke, holistic treatment plan that involves education and therapy aimed at trauma, addiction and co-occurring issues.
Please contact us and we can carry out a free initial assessment and together we can develop a plan specifically tailored for your needs.
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As we explored in Attachment Theory Part One, the attachments formed in childhood may affect a person physically, mentally, and emotionally throughout a lifetime. If