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When drinking has become problematic, obsessive, compulsive or deeply entrenched, finding a way to stop is hugely challenging, but it can be done.
There are thousands of people who can relay stories of their lives in chaos, their health on the brink of collapse and their out of control drinking – and how things changed to reverse this.
There is absolutely no reason why that person cannot be you or the loved one you are worried about who needs to leave drinking behind.
The NHS advises that relying exclusively on informal support from friends and family is unlikely to be enough to help you to stop drinking and maintain sobriety.
If you have become dependent on drinking, going cold turkey can have dangerous consequences, such as seizures or fits.
Withdrawal symptoms such as the shakes, sweating, retching and vomiting between drinking sessions may indicate dependency. In that case a medically managed detox is important. For people who drink a lot (20 units a day, for example), a managed detox is also likely to be necessary.
Medication can be prescribed to ease the withdrawal symptoms.
There are many things you can try to reduce or cut out alcohol if you’re worried about your drinking.
In truth, if your drinking has reached a severe level, these tips are unlikely to work in isolation. Without support you’ll be setting yourself up to fail and could become dangerously trapped in a cycle where you begin to believe recovery is not possible.
But, even if you have made sustained and supported efforts to give up drinking in the past, you can succeed this time. If your previous efforts have not been successful, it’s important to know the right help is out there for you – it’s just a case of finding it. And you do deserve to get well, both for your own interests and for the benefit of those who care for you. Even where drinking has led relationships to break down, life can turn around. Established stages of recovery models underline how abstinence is a part of the process of moving towards regaining self esteem, confidence of loved ones and a more stable, happy existence.
In an advice column for the Guardian newspaper Delamere clinical director Mike Delaney explained that addiction is very often based in trauma. People with addictions can become outwardly arrogant, but it’s a cover.
He said: “What they feel underneath it all is shame. Anger is usually the default, easy-to-go-to, secondary emotion. It pushes people away.”
This method helps them to avoid confronting their underlying problems, forming a vicious circle of shame, anger, denial and a need to repeatedly blot everything out.
Therefore methods to identify and confront any underlying trauma that has contributed to addiction taking hold is key. Not all traditional abstinence based models of recovery enable this.
There are various options to try.
Most recovery programmes build in some level of peer support and group discussion. It has been proven to promote success.
Support groups can be extremely beneficial to help maintain recovery once you have stopped drinking and undergone a period of rehab, where necessary. For some people, especially those whose drinking problem is not as severe, support groups may be the major route to maintained sobriety.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the most well known options for people wishing to seek out others who are working to maintain abstinence. However, it isn’t for everyone. The prescriptive 12 steps approach of AA puts some people off or fails to engage them completely.
There are other community based support groups run by charities, the community or public services.
SMART recovery is one that was formed as an alternative to the 12 steps approach and is also now available worldwide. It is based on a four point programme.
The four points are:
Psychoeducation is an effective tool in addiction treatment. It is a method hinged on providing education and information about a health condition and/or treatments to support recovery. Psychoeducation can also help loved ones to understand what a person with a health issue is going through and what is happening to them. It has been proven to lower rates of relapse.
Talking therapies, of which Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is one, and counselling are well established techniques in addiction treatment and supporting people in alcohol dependence recovery.
These can help challenge thought processes, work through personal troubles and traumas, uncover triggers and develop coping mechanisms.
Somatic therapies are those that don’t rely on speaking but instead on allowing the body to feel and express emotions via other means. Things such as meditation, yoga and equine therapy – involving interaction with horses – are a few examples.
When ‘how do I stop drinking?’ is a question you’ve started to ask yourself, there are a number of things you can try. These are especially likely to help when your drinking is not severe.
Consider shaking up your habits and routines and perhaps trying a positive new hobby to provide distraction and replace drinking. Many people who leave drinking behind take up sport, exercise, walking or running. Gardening, drawing, writing or any other interest or pastime may also help you to break the pattern of drinking and to relax in other ways and find joy in other things.
Beginning by cutting down on the amount you drink can help you to leave alcohol behind altogether. This can be achieved by increasing the amount of time between drinks and having drink free days.
Being kind to yourself and practising positive self talk can help you to succeed to stop drinking and to seek support in doing so. Remorse and guilt are a part of recovery, but you can move beyond those feelings and move beyond addiction.
When drinking has become an entrenched issue and the consequences of it are taking their toll on your life, residential rehab is a chance to press pause, reset and renew with all the necessary help and support to make a real change.
The right residential setting for you is one where you feel comfortable and at home, motivated and understood. The right environment is vital for recovery, as practitioners in all types of medicine observe, going back to the ultimate nursing theorist Florence Nightingale.
Residential rehab provides an opportunity to step outside of your usual habits, routines and surroundings to obtain sobriety and put in place the structure to maintain it.
The most effective residential rehabs combine medical support, managed detox, group support, psychoeducation, talking therapies and somatic healing to provide a strong and effective springboard to recovery and a different future. Achieving recovery requires consideration and intervention in relation to the physical and emotional aspects of addiction.
If you need help to stop drinking, contact Delamere today to see how we can help you to recover.
David is our General Manager at Delamere. David brings a huge amount of experience from both the hospitality and healthcare sectors. Find out more about David on our team page.
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