Attitude deterimines 'Altitude'...how do your feel about your decision to put an end to your drinking problem? Are you excited? Are you looking forward to a brighter future that doesn't include alcohol, but opens doors on many wonderful, new opportunities? Or are you angry because you've been forced into a corner, and "you'd better quit drinking, or else!"?
While you may be feeling the pressure from loved ones, friends, co-workers, or perhaps a Doctor that has recognized your symptoms, the most positive 'pressure' you can bring to bear on the problem is your own full and unwavering understanding that the postive aspects of sober living will eliminate the pain and complications associated with alcohol abuse.
Do you really want to put your drinking problems behind you? Do you honestly want to embrace a new, healthy lifestyle. The more excited you can get over looking in the mirror and saying: "That's it! I'm going to quit drinking...for me! I'm going to make positive changes in my life...for me! It might not be easy to stop on my own, but help is available, and I'm going to accept it...for me!"
Get excited! Put a positive Attitude to work for you...it will be your most important partner as you leave your drinking problem behind!
You may already have a doctor, or you may be in a situation where seeking medical advice/assistance is a relatively rare-- only when absolutely necessary--pursuit. Whatever your current relationship with the medical community is, you're going to want to get a physical check-up by a doctor that is experienced in dealing with addiction and recovery issues. Beyond the fact that your drinking problem has put your body through a wringer of sorts, once you've sobered up for a period, you will begin to notice bumps, bruises and aches in places you forgot you had. Alcohol does a very effective job at shielding us from health issues that would be readily apparent to non-alcoholic folks. Get yourself checked over...be honest with your doctor, and make sure that you inform them that you intend to quit drinking, and that you realize that withdrawal / detox can be dangerous.
If you're not comfortable that your doctor is the right support person to see you through the initial stages of recovery, or he/she isn't able to give you a clear picture of what your options are, then you'll want to seek advice elsewhere.
If you don't have a doctor--and have no idea who to call, then check your Yellow Pages for a local Addiction Treatment Center or Addiction Counselor that can recommend a doctor that is trained to deal with your condition. Don't shortchange yourself as you begin your journey to sobriety... get a doctor with Addiction Treatment experience on your team right from the start.
Need some space? Feeling embarrassed about your drinking? Feeling that everyone in world will know that you've got a drinking problem so severe that you need to quit drinking altogether? Feeling that you must be 'a failure' to have reached this state? ...we could go on. but you know what we're talking about. You've probably been taken to task about your drinking on any number of occasions. You probably know that you've had too many drinks' on far too many occasions and that your behaviour has been noticed by people that may have threatened you with all sorts of repercussions if you don't quit drinking.
We know what you're facing ... we also know that you can insulate youself from prying questions that you don't want to --and shouldn't have to--face while you are regaining your sobriety. Here's what you can do right now:
• make a list of people that definitely know you have a drinking problem...it could include your spouse, close family and some friends, as well as an extended group of people that might include your boss, co-workers, and anyone else that your drinking has directly affected
• tell only those closest to you what you're planning on doing
• be prepared, if challenged about past drinking behaviour by anyone else on your list, to inform the 'injured party' that yes you had a problem, you're sorry for any past transgressions, but you're in the process of addressing your issues with drinking, and that you appreciate their concern and support. When people are thanked for their support, and recognized for being concerned about you, it's remarkable how it changes their attitude about your behaviour...suddenly that past is not near as interesting as your future, and you'll find that in most cases, antagonistic behaviour becomes quiet support--leaving you free to concentrate on eliminating your drinking problem.
We'll state the obvious...when embarking on a radical lifestyle change like eliminating alcohol from your life, you don't want to intentionally put yourself in situations where you're immersed in an environment where alcohol is one of the star attractions--where temptation and a friendly "C'mon...have a drink!" might derail you from your program. During the early days, do your best to steer clear of any situations that could put you at risk.
It could happen to you...while you're reading this, it's possible that some folks close to you are preparing to blind-side you with an 'Intervention'. We use 'blind-side' as a positive term. In order to understand what thought processes go into preparing for an Intervention, perhaps your Intervention, please take a look at how the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) cover this issue.
If an alcoholic is unwilling to get help, what can you do about it?
This can be a challenge. An alcoholic can't be forced to get help except under certain circumstances, such as a violent incident that results in court-ordered treatment or medical emergency. But you don't have to wait for someone to "hit rock bottom" to act. Many alcoholism treatment specialists suggest the following steps to help an alcoholic get treatment:
Stop all "cover ups." Family members often make excuses to others or try to protect the alcoholic from the results of his or her drinking. It is important to stop covering for the alcoholic so that he or she experiences the full consequences of drinking.
Time your intervention. The best time to talk to the drinker is shortly after an alcohol-related problem has occurred--like a serious family argument or an accident. Choose a time when he or she is sober, both of you are fairly calm, and you have a chance to talk in private.
State the results. Explain to the drinker what you will do if he or she doesn't go for help--not to punish the drinker, but to protect yourself from his or her problems. What you say may range from refusing to go with the person to any social activity where alcohol will be served, to moving out of the house. Do not make any threats you are not prepared to carry out.
Get help. Gather information in advance about treatment options in your community. If the person is willing to get help, call immediately for an appointment with a treatment counselor. Offer to go with the family member on the first visit to a treatment program and/or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Call on a friend. If the family member still refuses to get help, ask a friend to talk with him or her using the steps just described. A friend who is a recovering alcoholic may be particularly persuasive, but any person who is caring and nonjudgmental may help. The intervention of more than one person, more than one time, is often necessary to coax an alcoholic to seek help.
Find strength in numbers. With the help of a health care professional, some families join with other relatives and friends to confront an alcoholic as a group. This approach should only be tried under the guidance of a health care professional who is experienced in this kind of group intervention.
Get support. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Support groups offered in most communities include Al-Anon, which holds regular meetings for spouses and other significant adults in an alcoholic's life, and Alateen, which is geared to children of alcoholics. These groups help family members understand that they are not responsible for an alcoholic's drinking and that they need to take steps to take care of themselves, regardless of whether the alcoholic family member chooses to get help.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Intervention? It could happen to you...and if it does, say 'YES'! While emotions run high at an Intervention, the driving force is Love. Grasp the opportunity with both hands and your heart. And consider yourself lucky that you're surrounded by people that care about you and your future.
The symptoms that heavy/long-term drinkers experience when suddenly quitting drinking are collectively known as Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. Physical/psychological symptoms can range from a general feeling of anxiety, irritability, the 'shakes, headaches, insomnia, sweating, nausea and heart palpitations, to a host of very serious issues that can include delirium tremens/hallucinations, fever and convulsions, among other symptoms.
Because of the unpredictability of the severity and range of symptoms an individual will face when withdrawing from alcohol, it is absolutely vital that a medical professional be involved from the very start of the process. Along with carefully monitoring your progress, a doctor can ensure that appropriate treatment is adminstered if required.
In withdrawing from alcohol you're 'detoxing' your body. You may be familiar with the term 'Detox Unit'. These facilities are normally found in treatment centers or hospitals--they are not places to be afraid of, and with the help of specially-trained professionals, offer the safest, most comfortable way to deal with the Withdrawal/Detox process. In less serious cases of withdrawal--with your doctor's guidance--it may be safe to detox from a safe, home environment...prior to embarking on a home program, discuss details with your doctor.
Withdrawal/Detox ... give your body and mind a chance to recover!
Sobriety...seize it, embrace it and cherish it! Seek out the help you need, and lean on those that can walk with you during your journey of recovery--and discovery!
Today, you can take a small step away from your drinking problem, and towards a vibrant, new life without alcohol. Yes…you can do it!