“My husband drinks, I don’t know how to help him, he doesn’t want to be treated, I don’t know what to do anymore.” Such statements are often made at meetings with a psychiatrist, psychologist or addiction therapy specialist. In the face of the progressive disintegration of family, professional and social life, the relatives of drinkers often feel powerless.
Alcoholism can be successfully treated. Sometimes, due to the lack of information, relatives feel lost. Therefore, it is worth starting with the answer to the basic question:
Alcoholism – what is it? What exactly is addiction?
Alcohol dependence is a chronic, potentially fatal disease. It has a destructive effect on physical and mental health, and leads to problems in the emotional and social sphere of addicts.
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Alcoholism is characterized by symptoms that allow it to be diagnosed. According to the current 10th edition of the International Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death (ICD 10): Alcohol dependence syndrome should be defined as the occurrence of at least three of the following symptoms over a period of at least one month or a year in several times shorter than a month.
- Feeling thirsty or compelled to drink (“craving alcohol”).
Impaired ability to control drinking behavior (impaired ability to refrain from drinking, difficulty stopping drinking, difficulty reducing the amount of alcohol you drink).
- Physiological symptoms of withdrawal syndrome when drinking is reduced or discontinued (tremors, hypertension, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, anxiety, extreme tremor) or alcohol use to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
Changed (usually increased) alcohol tolerance, the need to consume higher doses to achieve the desired effect.
Concentrating life around drinking at the expense of interests and responsibilities.
Continuing to drink alcohol despite clear evidence of harmful effects from drinking.
Addiction can be diagnosed by a psychiatrist and / or addiction therapy specialist. Relatives cannot diagnose an addicted person.
Why is it so difficult to convince an addict to treatment?
There are many factors that affect the difficulty of making a decision about treatment. One of them is the belief of drinkers that their drinking is normal (“I can stop drinking at any time”, “you are oversensitive”, “I drink because I like it”, “I only drink beer”). Additionally, when consuming alcohol, there is a feeling of relief and relaxation – pleasant feelings.
During the development of alcoholism, there are situations where periods of not drinking are associated only with irritability and anger, and the desired feeling of relief appears only after drinking alcohol.
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The reduced resistance to stress and the ability to cope with unpleasant emotions are also characteristic of alcoholism. Undoubtedly, the factor that hinders the decision to treat is the fear that appears on the prospect of withdrawal from alcohol, hence the appearance of anger and anger in reaction to the deprivation of access to alcohol. One of the axial symptoms of alcoholism is craving for alcohol, i.e. a strong desire to drink with the need to immediately meet the need. This is the most common cause of breaking abstinence.
Experiencing withdrawal syndrome is very difficult. Ailments in the form of muscle tremors, excessive sweating, nausea, anxiety, anxiety, insomnia, arouse great fears of withdrawal from alcohol.
Another difficulty is related to the stereotype of the “alcoholic”. According to the common opinion, an alcoholic is a homeless person, begging in front of a shop for alcohol (“I don’t drink cheap wine, only the best drinks”, “I’m not lying in a ditch”, “I’m not staggering on the road”, “I have a job, a house, I walk cleanly dressed so if I have a drink in the evening nothing bad happens ”).
Such a belief not only delays reflection on oneself, but also increases the resistance to recognizing oneself as an alcoholic. False negative opinions also circulate around drug rehabilitation facilities, e.g. only people from the social margin are present in hospitals.
Quitting alcohol is associated with a huge change in life, the reorganization of the current life activity. While drinking, a person loses friends (most often they become related to alcohol consumption), and loses interests and life goals. Filling the alcohol void can cause great anxiety.