What is Alcohol Addiction? Getting Help in London

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    Whilst alcohol addiction affects thousands of people in the United Kingdom, it is still a relatively rare disease. Those who do suffer from alcohol addiction become physically dependant on alcohol.

    This is because alcohol affects neurochemical elements in the brain.

    When the alcohol addicted individual attempts to stop drinking alcohol, this causes a major shift in brain chemicals, and this causes the onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

    For this reason, it’s technically inaccurate to accuse those with an alcohol addiction of ‘irresponsible drinking’.

    Irresponsibility assumes moral failings on the individual’s behalf.

    If those with alcohol addiction are physically unable to stop drinking without suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms, we feel it is a grave injustice to accuse these people of ‘drinking irresponsibly’.

    Alcohol addiction may manifest in a number of different ways. The signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction will vary greatly between individuals.

    For instance, some will drink alcohol on a daily basis, whilst others will binge and thus ‘function’ in ways that effectively hide their condition from loved ones, friends and colleagues.

    No matter how alcohol addiction manifests itself in individuals, there are some common symptoms that will apply to all those with the condition.

    This includes an inability to remain sober for more than a few days at a time, and the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms when the person does attempt to detox.

    What are the symptoms of alcohol addiction?

    Alcohol is a legal substance and alcohol is often used to enhance social situations. Most of us have at best a hazy understanding of alcohol addiction.

    In polls we have conducted via the Internet, we consistently discover the general public’s lack of sympathy for those suffering from alcohol addiction.

    Thus, we feel it fair to say that alcohol addiction is generally misunderstood and not widely considered a ‘disease’ amongst the general population.

    Due to this state of affairs, and because alcohol is widely consumed by those who are not considered ‘alcohol dependent’, it is difficult to differentiate between ‘problem drinkers’ and those who have developed an alcohol addiction.

    The vast majority of people who suffer from an alcohol addiction are labelled a ‘drunk’. This type of language flies in the face of the ‘disease theory’ of addiction we discussed above.

    To help educate the public about alcohol addiction, we list some symptoms that could help diagnose the existence of an alcohol addiction:

    • An inability to go for more than a day without drinking alcohol
    • Increased tolerance to alcohol well and above what could conceivably be considered as ‘normal’ e.g. consistently drinking more than 15 units of alcohol per day
    • Drinking in the morning or early in the afternoon on a regular basis, thus staying drunk for long periods of time
    • Drinking alcohol in situations where it is either inappropriate, irresponsible or dangerous to do so
    • Changing social circle so begin to ‘knockabout’ with other people who are alcohol dependent
    • Concealing the amount of alcohol that’s consumed. Lying about drinking alcohol and hiding alcohol in multiple places around the home
    • Developing negative emotions when alcohol is not consumed e.g. depression and anxiety
    • Financial, legal problems and job loss

    The above list is not definitive. However, the above symptoms of alcoholism are common enough to warrant mentioning in this discussion.

    How may alcohol addiction affect my health?

    Alcohol addiction negatively impacts human health in a multitude of ways. Most significantly, alcohol addiction kills.

    Those suffering from alcohol addiction may perish in a number of painful and highly undesirable ways. These vary from infection, bleeding to death and aspiration (chocking on your own vomit).

    Below, we list some of the specific ways alcohol is capable of inflicting hardship on human health:

    • Increased risk of cancer
    • Eyesight problems
    • Birth defects
    • Liver scarring (cirrhosis)
    • Diabetes complications
    • Ulcers

    We feel it safe to say that those with an alcohol addiction are exposing their health to a number of risks.

    Many of these risks are potentially fatal. Alcohol addiction is also indirectly harmful to human health because those who suffer from the disease are more likely to engage in dangerous activities.

    One example of such activity is drinking whilst under the influence of alcohol. Over the last 10 years, more than 200 lives have been lost on UK roads due to drink driving.

    For reasons we discuss above, we feel it is fair to conclude that no good whatsoever may arise from alcohol addiction.

    If you or a loved one suffer from alcohol addiction, it is vitally important for you to seek out alcohol rehab treatment before it is simply too late to do so.

    Getting treatment for alcohol addiction in London

    Alcohol addiction is a serious and widespread problem. This is not just in London, but across the United Kingdom and beyond.

    It has been said that nearly one in five adults in the UK may be drinking at levels harmful to their health. And London is no exception.

    The impact of alcohol addiction extends far beyond the individual. It affects families, relationships, and communities. But rest assure, because there is hope for recovery through comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment.

    Acknowledging the need for help is an essential first step. Acknowledgement can be challenging, and it can also be difficult to differentiate between social drinking patterns and problematic drinking/addiction.

    If you or a loved one require alcohol addiction treatment, then you must understand the various different forms of treatment that are available to you in the United Kingdom.

    Succeeding in recovery is not a simple undertaking, and if you are not fully committed to sobriety, it is unlikely that you will succeed.

    Before you consider investing in any form of treatment, it is essential for you to assess your level of motivation to succeed.

    Recovering from an alcohol addiction is a lifetime pursuit. You must generally ‘work on’ your recovery each and every day of your life. When you enter recovery, you will note your ‘sobriety date’.

    This allows you to monitor the precise amount of time you have remained in recovery for.  You will never be ‘cured’ or ‘recovered’ from your alcohol addiction. Instead, you are considered ‘recovering’.

    The use of this present tense verb reflects the harsh reality that relapse could occur at any time, should you leave your guard down for a sufficient amount of time.

    Below, we discuss some of the treatment options you may consider in order to overcome an alcohol addiction.

    Going to a residential rehab clinic

    We strongly advocate residential rehab clinics. Many of our advisors have themselves succeeded in recovery due to spending time in a residential rehab clinic.

    When you attend a residential rehab clinic, you will physically remove yourself from your alcohol ‘using’ environment.

    This removes temptation, meaning you will not relapse whilst you undergo treatment.

    Thus, residential rehab is superior to outpatient treatment options, because when you undergo outpatient treatment, you are not fully removed from your ‘using’ environment.

    This means temptation is ever present and capable of derailing any progress you may have made in your treatment programme.

    Residential rehab is typically run over four weeks. This allows you to undergo a detox programme, and then undertake a period of readjustment. Post-detox readjustment is facilitated through therapy and counselling sessions.

    Therapy sessions allow you to build mental strength that’s required to avoid relapse.  These coping strategies are often termed ‘relapse prevention’ strategies.

    At rehab, you will also be given a healthy diet. This is important because many people who suffer from alcoholism also experience malnutrition.

    You will attend workshops that aim to educate you about the importance of sound nutrition.

    To discover alcohol rehab options in London, we’d recommend you get in touch Rehab Recovery, a specialist rehab organisation that can put you in touch with alcohol rehabs in London.

    Other organisations include One Day at a Time, Nehemiah Project and Spitalfields Crypt Trust.

    Types of Alcohol Addiction Treatment in London

    In London, there are various types of treatment programmes available for those of you who are struggling with alcoholism.

    Such programmes aim to provide comprehensive and tailored assistance to help individuals on their journey to sobriety and beyond.

    Below, we outline some of these types of treatment in London:

    1. Outpatient Addiction Treatment

    An outpatient treatment programme in London will offer you or your loved one greater flexibility.

    This is important if you want to receive treatment while still maintaining your daily routines, such as going to work or studying.

    Like residential rehab, you will benefit from a range of therapeutic interventions and therapies.

    These services may include the following:

    • Individual Counseling/Therapy Sessions: One-on-one counselling or therapy sessions serve as a safe space for individuals to explore the underlying causes of their addiction and develop coping strategies.
    • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This therapeutic approach helps individuals identify negative thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviours associated with drinking and replace them with healthier alternatives.
    • Motivational Interviewing Techniques: By focusing on motivation and personal values, this approach aims to enhance an individual’s intrinsic motivation to change problematic drinking behaviours.
    • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT): DBT combines elements of CBT with techniques such as mindfulness to help individuals regulate emotions and improve interpersonal skills.
    • Group Counseling/Therapy Sessions: Group sessions: provide a supportive and collaborative environment where individuals can connect with others who are going through similar struggles. Some of the common group therapy options include:
    • Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): AA follows a structured 12-step programme to provide support, encouragement, and accountability for individuals working towards sobriety. These meetings offer a sense of community and allow participants to share their experiences openly.
    • Psychoeducational groups focusing on relapse prevention strategies: These groups aim to educate individuals about the triggers of relapse and teach practical skills for managing cravings, stress, and other challenges associated with recovery.

    1. Inpatient/Residential Treatment

    Now let’s look at the alternative to outpatient treatment. This is known as inpatient or residential treatment.

    In more severe cases or when outpatient treatment may not be sufficient, inpatient or residential treatment programmes offer intensive care within a structured environment.

    A residential rehab means you live in the treatment centre whilst undertaking treatment. You benefit from all of the treatments outlined in the “outpatient” section, as well as the following:

    • Medical Detoxification Services: For individuals with physical dependence on alcohol, medical detoxification is often the initial step towards recovery. Under the supervision of healthcare professionals, this process helps manage withdrawal symptoms safely and provides medical support as needed.
    • Residential Rehabilitation: Residential treatment involves temporarily living at a facility dedicated to treating alcohol addiction. Here, individuals receive round-the-clock care from multidisciplinary teams that specialise in addiction treatment. The programme components may include individual and group therapy sessions, educational workshops, holistic therapies (such as yoga or art therapy), and life skills training. The length of stay in residential rehabilitation programmes can vary depending on individual needs and progress.

    Attending support groups such as SMART Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous – an alternative to rehab in London

    Another powerful tool in the fight against alcohol addiction is to attend a ‘mutual support group’. These meetings are based on the concept of ‘one addict helping another’.

    Attending regular support group meetings help you to actively ‘work on’ your recovery.  Support groups are particularly effective following the completion of an alcohol rehab programme. Typical examples include SMART Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous.

    We do not recommend you to attend a support group when you are drinking alcohol.

    Support groups are also termed ‘sober communities’. Many support groups offer a sponsorship programme. This is when an established member of the group will assist you in meeting your recovery goals.

    In time, you yourself may become a sponsor for new members of the group. It is wise to choose a sponsor who is similar to yourself and who has experienced situations that are akin to your own experiences.