How Does Medication Assisted Treatment Work?

Opioid Addiction Treatment | Midwood Addiction Treatment

What is MAT and How Does it Work?

Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT in simple terms consists of a combination of counseling and medication in a structured environment. MAT has been around in some form since the 1960s, beginning with methadone programs, but it has evolved a great deal since then. The recent explosive opioid addiction epidemic has seen a rise in the popularity of MAT programs. The reasons for this are simple. MAT is proven to be effective at helping addicts break free of their dependence and put together more sober time. (1)

MAT is proven to help patients stay in treatment longer and complete their care. It has been shown to reduce the chances of arrest and incarceration. It greatly reduces the risk of relapse, which can lead to negative consequences. Considering the danger of opioid addiction, in particular, harm reduction strategies which include MAT are warranted. With the uncertainty of potency in street heroin or the presence of adulterants like fentanyl, the risk of fatal overdose is higher than ever before. We simply do not know how many chances an opioid addict will get at treatment and recovery. It is absolutely crucial that they have every advantage possible in their corner. For many, especially chronic relapsers, this will include some form of MAT.

While MAT is most often associated with addiction treatment for opioid dependence, it is useful for alcohol use disorders and other drugs as well. The primary concept behind MAT is to mitigate cravings and discomfort that might otherwise cause a person to use. MAT usually includes deterrents to abuse as well. In the case of opioid addiction treatment, naloxone, an opioid antagonist, is one example. The presence of naloxone in Suboxone helps to prevent abuse. It helps some to think of MAT as protection in early recovery. It improves the odds of a patient staying on track so they can complete treatment. It improves their chances of remaining gainfully employed or staying in school after treatment.

Medications Used With MAT

For opioid use disorder patients, the most common MAT medication is buprenorphine (usually combined with naloxone). Buprenorphine is a long-acting synthetic opioid with a very long half-life. It lacks the euphoric effects that traditional opioids have and has a high affinity for the brain’s opioid receptors. This means it tends to not only stick and stay in these receptors, but it will even displace other opioids from those receptors. These qualities make it particularly well-suited as a therapeutic MAT agent for opioid addicts.

Patients with alcohol use disorders often receive medications such as Disulfiram or Acamprosate in an MAT setting. Like buprenorphine for opioid addicts, these medications are effective at reducing or eliminating cravings. Other tertiary medications are often used for MAT patients. These may include antidepressants and non-narcotic anti-anxiety medications. The goal of MAT medications such as these, regardless of the patient’s drug of choice, is to reduce cravings and other side-effects that may linger after cessation of substance abuse.

If you have more questions about Medication Assisted Treatment or anything concerning addiction and treatment, please contact us.

Sources
(1) https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/Medication-Assisted-Treatment-Opioid-Use-Disorder-Study.html

What is Crystal Meth Psychosis?

Shows the pain of comorbidly occurring anxiety disorder and addiction

For anyone who’s ever experienced crystal meth-induced psychosis, there’s no need to ask what it is. In fact, most of these people understand it all too well, at least from the first-person perspective. This post is designed to describe the general characteristics of crystal meth-induced psychosis to drug users, their loved ones, and the general public.

A Quick Look at Methamphetamine

A thorough discussion of methamphetamine (or crystal meth) is beyond the scope of this post. However, a generalized understanding of the drug is necessary to understand the phenomenon of crystal meth-induced psychosis.

Here’s a summary of what you need to know about methamphetamine to understand the psychosis that can be associated with it:

  • Crystal meth is a highly addicted central nervous (CNS) stimulant that creates a powerful but temporary sense of euphoria in the user
  • It also increases activity and talkativeness, while decreasing the appetite and the need for sleep
  • The euphoria and increased productivity associated with crystal meth are powerful at first, but the user quickly requires more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect
  • Even after just a few uses, people who imbibe crystal meth can start to experience frightening withdrawal symptoms

This is a very incomplete description of methamphetamine, but it will suffice to give some insight into the phenomenon of crystal meth-induced psychosis.

Crystal Meth Induced Psychosis: An Overview

Crystal meth-induced psychosis is an example of a broader class of stimulant psychoses. Interestingly, the symptoms of crystal meth psychosis can arise as a result of a binge or during acute withdrawal.

Crystal meth-induced psychosis is marked by the following symptoms:

  • Paranoia, including delusions that someone is ‘after them’
  • Feelings of grandiosity
  • Extreme agitation and irritability
  • Erratic movements
  • Auditory and/or visual hallucinations
  • Irrational thinking and speaking
  • Extreme feelings of fear and panic

The symptoms of crystal meth-induced psychosis can resemble those associated with schizophrenic psychosis, but the drug-induced variety tends to resolve much quicker than the type associated with schizophrenic disorders.

It is difficult to predict when (and if) a methamphetamine user will crystal meth-induced psychosis, but there is a definite correlation between the condition and the frequency of use. Long-term users are also more likely to experience crystal meth psychosis, but there are many hidden factors involved as well. Needless to say, it is imperative to seek medical help immediately if you or a loved one experiences any form of drug-induced psychosis.

The Aftermath of Methamphetamine Psychosis

Typically, the worst symptoms of crystal meth-induced psychosis start to improve a day or two after the amphetamine use is discontinued. There may be a few lingering symptoms beyond this time frame, but they can usually be managed without medical care.

However, anyone who experiences crystal meth-induced psychosis should seek emergency medical attention immediately and strongly consider entering a drug treatment facility to get started on the path to long term recovery.


What Is a Co-occurring Disorder?

co-occurring disorder

A co-occurring disorder which is sometimes referred to as dual diagnosis is a condition in which an individual experiences a mental illness and substance abuse simultaneously.  Any combination of mental health disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety, combined with co-dependency on legal or illegal drugs or alcohol, qualify as a co-occurring disorder.

When a substance use disorder and a mental illness co-occur, they may differ in severity.  The severity of each can change over time. Compared to individuals who have a single disorder, those with a combination of disorders may experience more severe medical and mental health challenges and may also require longer periods of treatment.

People Most Commonly Affected

People with mental health disorders are more likely to have a substance use disorder.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly half of individuals who have a mental illness or substance abuse disorder will have a co-occurring disorder at some point in their life.

The symptoms of a co-occurring disorder may include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Social isolation
  • Using substances under dangerous conditions
  • Risky behavior
  • Loss of control over how much they use substances or drink alcohol
  • Needing more and more of the substance to achieve the desired effect which creates a tolerance
  • Displaying intense, painful withdrawal symptoms
  • Cravings for the substance, and the belief that they need the substance to function.

Treatment Options

Integrated treatment is a comprehensive rehabilitation program that offers all the medical, therapeutic, and holistic resources necessary to help clients heal physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Treating a co-occurring disorder requires more intense, one-on-one treatment.  To provide appropriate treatment for co-occurring disorders, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends treatment combining substance abuse and mental health interventions These include clinicians, physicians, and organizations to help guide and support patients rather than treating each disorder separately without consideration for the other.  The goal is to improve the patient’s physical and mental health, assist with housing issues, and guide them to gainful employment.

As a part of programs that treat co-occurring disorders, group therapy can help increase awareness of the symptoms of disorders and the relationship between mental disorders and substance abuse. Relapse-prevention education can also help them become aware of cues that make them more likely to abuse substances and help them develop alternative responses.

Living with both a mental health disorder and substance abuse or addiction can be especially challenging. The poor lifestyle choices associated with these two disorders can translate into early and/or sudden death for the individual if no treatment is received. People with co-occurring disorders are at high risk for many additional problems such as symptomatic relapses, hospitalizations, financial problems, social isolation, family problems, homelessness, sexual and physical victimization, incarceration, and serious medical illnesses.

Help is Available

If someone is displaying symptoms of a co-occurring disorder, it is crucial that they receive swift medical attention from a professional.  Proper treatment improves the odds of future rehabilitation.

At Midwood Addiction Treatment, your recovery is our purpose.  Contact us at (888) MAT-1110 OR (888) 628-1110

Can You Overdose On Cocaine?

cocaine overdose

In the U.S. there are about 1.5 million current cocaine users aged 12 or older. Adults 18-25 years old have a higher rate of current use than any other group by age, with 1.4% of young adults reporting cocaine use within the past month. (1) If you or someone you know uses cocaine, you may have wondered about the potential for overdose. The fact is that cocaine overdose is a very real danger. Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. Whether it is snorted, smoked, or injected, the risk of overdose and even death is real. In fact, almost 15,000 people a year in the U.S. die as a result of a cocaine overdose. (2)

Here are some signs of cocaine overdose to watch for:

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Nausea and stomach cramps
  • Confusion, seizures, tremors
  • Increased sweating, body temperature, or heart rate

Psychological symptoms can include:

  • Extreme nervousness or anxiety
  • Delirium
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Cocaine Overdose May Cause Heart Attack

Cocaine overdose can often lead to a heart attack, which is one of the most common causes of death in a cocaine overdose. Other fatal consequences may include stroke or seizure. Cocaine is obviously especially risky for anyone who already suffers from heart disease or a heart condition of any kind. Someone who is predisposed to seizures can be at exceptional risk too.

Mixing Cocaine with Other Substances

Cocaine is often consumed with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants like opioids or benzodiazepines. These can actually increase the risk of fatality contrary to what some believe. There is a twofold risk. The first major risk factor comes from the fact that the effects of a CNS depressant can make a person less aware of some of the cocaine’s effects. This can prompt them to use even more than they might ordinarily. The second major factor comes from the interaction of cocaine with other substances in the body. The combination of cocaine and alcohol is both the most common and perhaps one of the most dangerous. When alcohol and cocaine combine in the body, they form a third chemical called cocaethylene, which extends the duration of cocaine euphoria, but is also incredibly toxic to the body. The psychoactive nature of cocaethylene didn’t even begin to be studied until the 1990s. (3)

It’s no mystery that cocaine use is dangerous. Some people find a false sense of security if they begin a cocaine habit that isn’t daily in the beginning. Perhaps they only use it on weekends. They never use it alone. They have heard that there aren’t any “real” physical withdrawal symptoms, like alcohol or opiates. These are all incredibly dangerous misconceptions that have lead many people to the gates of delirium and even death. Cocaine use is serious. Cocaine addiction costs people their livelihoods, their families, and sometimes even their lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine use, don’t wait. It is never too soon to seek help for yourself or someone else. Millions of people have recovered from cocaine addiction successfully. You are welcome to contact us to discuss the treatment options for cocaine addiction or ask any questions you may have about recovery.

(1) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states
(2) https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
(3) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/395284

Myths and Facts about Medication Assisted Treatment

doctors stethoscope on an open book

Simply put, Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, consists of a combination of medication and therapeutic counseling. This method has been a staple of drug and alcohol treatment since the 1960s. It’s often misunderstood and sometimes maligned. Historically, it was most commonly used for opioid addiction. But it has also proven effective for alcoholism and other chemical dependency disorders.

Here is a breakdown of some of the myths about MAT and the facts that counter them.

MYTH:  MAT just trades one addiction for another.

FACT: It’s an all too common refrain. Someone enters a suboxone program after years of heroin addiction and they are told they are “taking the easy way out” or just “trading one drug for another. This is a viewpoint rooted in ignorance and misunderstanding. The science on MAT is conclusive. It dramatically improves patients’ chances of remaining in treatment and recovery. (1). Opiate addiction is incredibly powerful and the truth is before MAT, the recidivism rates were more dire than they are today. MAT is, without question a crucial treatment tool. In the midst of an opioid addiction epidemic, the last thing anyone should be doing is shaming someone who is trying to build recovery.

MYTH:  If you are in an MAT program, you aren’t really “clean”.

FACT: This is perhaps one of the more damaging myths about MAT. The fact is that recovery is about behavior and intentions. A person who is participating in an MAT program and following protocols is doing the work. They are taking a medicine to aid them in their recovery and prevent relapse, which is tragically common, especially in early recovery for opiate abuses. MAT programs unquestionably save lives. One might go as far as to say that a person who criticizes someone for participating in an MAT  program ought to examine the quality of their own recovery.

MYTH: There’s no proof that MAT is any more effective than “cold turkey”.

FACT: This is also completely refuted by the evidence. Opioid addicts and alcoholics consistently put together more time when on MAT programs on average than without. Not only are there reams of anecdotal evidence for this in the field, but substantive research supporting this conclusion. In fact, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is currently running a study of over 1,000  patients at 65 locations across the U.S. to research MAT outcomes for opioid use disorders.(1) This will be the largest study of its’ kind ever done. The final findings will be published in Summer 2021.

MYTH: MAT will hurt a person’s recovery or hold back their progress.

FACT: MAT programs assist in recovery, particularly early on. They mitigate cravings which drastically lowers the chance of relapse, particularly when opioid blockers are involved. They allow the patient to focus on the work of recovery, which is the most important part. Recovery is an inside job, it has been said. It truly is about working on oneself and it is hard work. Anything safe and legal that can be done to help people stay alive and stay off of their drug of choice while they do the work of recovery is a net positive.

If you would like to know more about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), give us a call at Midwood Addiction Treatment.

How Long is an IOP Program?

intensive outpatient program group therapy room

If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) might be a big part of the solution. If so, you might be asking yourself ‘what’s the average length of an IOP program?’ This post is designed to answer this and other IOP related questions.

Before we talk about the length of an IOP program, let’s have a look at what IOP actually is.

What Is An Intensive Outpatient Program?

An intensive outpatient program is a substance abuse treatment modality that offers comprehensive care while allowing the client to continue living at home. Typically, clients visit the center 4-5 days a week for several hours at a time. During this time, they attend a variety of individual and group treatment sessions.

Usually, clients will participate in a morning or an evening intensive outpatient program. The animating idea behind IOP is to let clients apply the principles they’re learning in treatment to their daily work and home lives. This is one of the reasons they’re so commonly used to treat addiction disorders– IOP teaches the life skills you need for long term sobriety while letting you continue to meet your work/life responsibilities.

You see, recovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum. As you already know very well, life will continue to throw challenges your way whether you’re sober or not. But if you’re participating in an intensive outpatient program (IOP), you’ll have ample opportunities to apply what you’re learning to real-world situations.

What’s The Average Length of an IOP Program?

The short answer to this question is ‘it depends.’ That might not sound satisfying to you, but an IOP is designed to help clients achieve long term sobriety. And in order to accomplish this, the IOP must be customized to fit your specific needs. That’s why it can be hard to assign a number to the average length of an IOP program– there are far too many variables.

That being said, the time IOP takes depends largely on you. It depends on how far you’ve progressed into addiction and how much work you’re willing to put into your recovery. While there’s no way to say for certain, most clients who take the recovery process seriously can expect to finish IOP within about 90 days.

However, this can vary. The important thing to understand about IOP is that it can be designed around your living situation and work needs. While undergoing treatment at IOP, you can continue to live at home and work to support your family. In many ways, this is an optimal situation for the newly recovering person.

An Intensive Outpatient Program is Time Well Spent

IOP is designed for clients who are struggling with substance abuse but do not yet require inpatient treatment. You can think of it as a sort of ‘middle ground’ between purely outpatient treatment and residential care. Importantly, IOP tends to work very well with people who have not lost their family, friends, and jobs to their substance abuse.

Generally speaking, IOP consists of about 12 hours of treatment a week for about three months. During this time, you’ll learn the recovery skills you need for long term sobriety without giving up the freedoms involved in your daily life. Regardless of the length of an IOP program, you’ll emerge from the experience enriched and ready to live an abstinent life.

6 Benefits of Outpatient Detox

lobby of Midwood Addiction Treatment Outpatient Detox

Most people are more familiar with inpatient detoxification programs. But, there are several key benefits to outpatient detox as well. That’s why more and more people are choosing to withdrawal safely from drugs and alcohol in the outpatient setting.

If you’re ready to begin the recovery process, the question is which form of detox is right for you? Read on the find out five of the most significant benefits of outpatient detox and learn the information you need to make a decision that’s right for you.

What is Outpatient Detox?

The purpose of all detox programs is to taper down a client’s drug/alcohol intake safely until the substance is eliminated from the system. Traditionally, this has been done in the inpatient setting, where the client can receive the 24-hour care that’s necessary for safe withdrawal from some substances.

In recent years, however, replacement drugs and detoxification techniques have been refined enough to allow for outpatient detox, a process that accomplishes the same goal while allowing the patient to continue living in the comforts of home.

Whether or not you have the option of choosing outpatient detox depends on your situation. However, if your care team decides that an outpatient detox is a viable option for you, it’s important to know its chief benefits.

The Benefits of Outpatient Detox

Here are six of the most significant benefits of executing the detoxification process in the outpatient setting:

  • Clients are not confined to the detox facility. This allows them to continue meeting their family, work, and school responsibilities while safely beginning recovery. Inpatient detox requires a certain period of time where the client is not free to do as they wish.
  • Outpatient detox provides the same individual and group therapy sessions that an inpatient client receives. However, the outpatient client has the opportunity to begin to put their new skills to the test immediately.
  • The outpatient detox setting allows clients to receive continued support from friends and family, even as they build important new relationships during treatment.
  • Although everyone’s situation is different, outpatient detox tends to be less expensive (and therefore less prohibitive) than inpatient programs. One reason for this is that it takes less clinical time.
  • As long as your withdrawal symptoms aren’t too severe, outpatient detox offers the same levels of safety and effectiveness as inpatient detox does.
  • Detox in the outpatient setting gives clients a much greater level of freedom than they would have in an inpatient setting. This allows for an opportunity to meet relapse challenges that are likely to arise in their lives long after treatment has ended.

It’s important to remember that outpatient detox has its disadvantages as well. That’s why it’s important to consult with your family and care team before making any final decisions about participating in an outpatient detox.

Either Way, Detox Is Just the Beginning

While detox is a critical (and often lifesaving) step in the recovery process, it’s important to remember that it’s still only the beginning. Far too many people fall into the error of thinking that all they need to do to remain sober is withdraw safely from drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, these people learn the hard way that this simply isn’t the case.

Whether or not you receive the benefits of outpatient detox, do yourself a favor and continue the process that’s designed by your care team to maintain sobriety.

Benefits of Sober Living After Treatment

coed group of happy people sitting in the grass

A few weeks of professional inpatient care is a great way to start addiction treatment, but true recovery is an ongoing process that often requires a lifetime of work. That’s why so many people with addiction disorders choose to stay in a sober living home after leaving treatment. Read on to find out the benefits of sober living after treatment.

What Is a Sober Living Home?

First, let’s have a look at what a sober living home actually is. Also known as halfway houses, sober living homes are shared facilities that offer recovering addicts and alcoholics the structure, support, and guidance they so often need after leaving a treatment program.
Sober living homes are typically built around a specific recovery model that residents are required to participate in during their stay. And while every sober home is a little different, each has a set of other rules that residents must follow as well.

Typically, these rules are designed to:

  1. Protect the sobriety of the individual and the group
  2. Facilitate the building of authentic and supportive relationships
  3. Teach the discipline and habits that a life of sobriety requires
  4. Act as a bridge between the treatment environment and the wider world

The most important thing to know about sober living homes is that they work. Like a reputable treatment center, they employ evidence-based practices that have been shown to improve clients’ chances for long-term recovery.

The Benefits of Sober Living Homes

Here are some of the most important benefits of staying in a sober living home upon leaving treatment:

  • They help eliminate the temptation to use or drink again when difficult situations arise. It takes time for the brain to repair itself, and the sober living environment can reduce the risk of early relapse significantly.
  • At sober living homes, you are surrounded by peers who are trying to achieve the same goals as you. The type of peer support they can offer is invaluable to the recovery process.
  • Personal accountability is a huge part of authentic recovery. Sober living programs insist upon this kind of accountability and help clients develop more responsible habits.
  • The group dynamic of sober living homes helps guard newly sober clients from the dangers of isolation. Similarly, they help clients build the supportive, long-term relationship that every addict needs for sustained recovery.
  • Lastly, sober living homes are one of the best ways to stay connected to the recovery community as you transition back into the challenges of everyday life.

Sober Living for a Sustained Recovery

It takes time to recover from alcohol or drug addiction. It also requires a great deal of hard work and internal change. People with substance use disorders do themselves a disservice when they stop this critical work upon leaving treatment. While helping increase self-esteem and confidence is one of the central goals of treatment, far too many clients forget what they’ve learned and end up relapsing without a rigorous aftercare program.

Sober living homes help clients avoid this unenviable fate. Every addict deserves a rich and rewarding life. Please give yourself the best chance at creating such a life by receiving the benefits of sober living after treatment.

Early Signs of Alcoholism

sad woman suffering from alcoholism

It’s never too early to seek help if you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction. Up to a certain point, the adverse effects of problem or alcoholic drinking are reversible. However, treating alcoholism effectively becomes significantly more difficult over time and far too many families suffer unnecessarily.

This suffering can be avoided if you understand the early signs of alcoholism. The disease of addiction affects everyone a bit differently, but alcoholism does tend to show itself in relatively uniform ways. This is good news for the problem drinker and their family. It’s good news because these early warning signs can be a springboard to constructive action and healing.

Early Signs of Alcoholism

In the remaining sections, we’ll present five of the most common early signs of alcoholism. While many non-alcoholic drinkers will demonstrate one or two of these signs occasionally, it’s definitely time to seek help if they become a consistent part of a drinker’s behavior.

1. An inability to predict or control how much alcohol a drinker consumes.

Social drinkers typically know how much they want to drink on a given occasion. If you or a loved one frequently drinks more than they planned or cannot control the amount of alcohol consumed, then it’s probably time to start asking some difficult questions.

2. Frequent Hangovers

Many people drink too much here and there and end up regretting it in the morning. However, if a drinker starts to suffer from hangovers on a consistent basis, there’s a very good chance that they’ve started along the road to alcoholism.

3. Increased Tolerance to Alcohol

Any significant increase in alcohol tolerance is a sure sign of concern. Seek help right away if you or a loved one needs progressively more alcohol to achieve the same effect.

4. Preoccupation With Alcohol and Cravings

This can be tough to spot from the outside, but anyone who finds themselves thinking about or craving alcohol at inappropriate times should probably seek out professional help immediately.

5. Alcohol Begins to Have a Negative Impact on Major Life Areas

It’s probably time to seek help immediately if alcohol is interfering with someone’s work life, their relationships, their legal situation, or their physical and mental health.

Vigilance is Key

Alcoholism isn’t a disease that shows up in a blood test, a PET scan, or an MRI. No, alcoholism is much more cunning than that. It’s a disease that can progress invisibly at times, especially to the drinker themselves. Fortunately, there are many tell-tale signs that someone’s drinking is becoming a problem.

Vigilance is the key to effective treatment. This means paying attention to you or your loved one’s alcohol-related behaviors and answering some tough questions honestly. The negative effects of excessive drinking inevitably get worse over time, so early recognition is critical to effective treatment. If you notice any of these seven early signs of alcoholism in you or a loved one’s behavior, please seek help right away.

Alcoholism vs. Problem Drinking – What’s the Difference?

women holding alcoholic beverages

Problem drinkers and alcoholics have much in common. Both consume alcohol in enough quantity and frequency that they experience some consequences. Alcoholism is still widely misunderstood by the general public, though there is much less ignorance about this affliction than in the past. Just a few generations ago, regular and conspicuous consumption of alcohol was much more socially acceptable than it is today. The days of the three-martini lunch are behind us now, but alcohol abuse is still a tremendous problem. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 25 percent of Americans 18 years old or older report they engaged in binge drinking in the last month. An estimated 88,000 Americans die due to alcohol-related causes every year, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the country. (1)

The Main Difference Between Alcoholism and Problem Drinking

The primary difference between an alcoholic and a problem drinker is the physical dependence on alcohol. A problem drinker may eagerly anticipate the arrival of the weekend so they can binge drink. An alcoholic will usually need to drink daily simply to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Some alcoholics can go for a few days without a drink, but their sleep is disrupted and they become anxious and increasingly uncomfortable. Many may even be aware that they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Alcoholism is a progressive disease however and left unchecked, the amount of alcohol consumed inevitably grows. Sooner or later, the alcoholic will reach a stage where withdrawal symptoms become severe and even life-threatening if they go for long without a drink.

Consequences of Problem Drinking

A problem drinker will often experience consequences. Splitting hangovers. Being late to work. Financial problems and even legal issues like DUI’s or other arrests related to behavior while drinking. However, a problem drinker still has the power of choice. They often go for days or even weeks at a time without a drink without experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms. Problem drinkers who come to terms with the issue often decide the consequences are unacceptable. Before their drinking develops into physical dependence, they make the decision to abstain or severely curtail their drinking. A common example is college students who may drink to excess while in school, but still manage to complete their studies. When they leave school and enter the workplace, build families and so forth, they leave the problem drinking behind.

An alcoholic has largely lost the power of choice. While they may exercise great willpower in resisting a drink for 24 or 48 hours or more, they do so in discomfort. Anxiety, insomnia, cold sweats are often part of the experience. Depending on the stage of alcoholism, they may even experience seizures without alcohol. Ultimately dealing with alcoholism isn’t a matter of will. The real battle begins when the alcoholic accepts that alcohol is their master. That their drinking is beyond their control and even if they are able to abruptly stop for a time, they do so at risk to their own comfort and safety. More often than not, the alcoholic has experienced brief periods of sobriety, followed by relapse. This inability to get sober and stay sober is often what leads them to finally accept outside help to overcome their alcoholism. If you believe you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, help is available. No matter your age or circumstances, resources are available. Give us a call at (888) MAT-1110 and let’s talk about it.

(1) https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics