Getting the right Alcohol Treatment diagnosis
Ok, you decided that drink is a problem so you look for help. Here is the rub; every one you talk to has a different idea. Some will tell you to use your “will power”, after all they don’t drink every day so why should you need to? Some will offer to teach you “how to drink sensibly and manage your difficulty”.
When you search a little deeper you may be told that you must have had a recent or not so recent traumatic event in your life and that’s why you drink. “Route out the trauma and you will be fine and you will be able to drink just the way others do”…. Finally someone will suggest “abstinence” and maybe even “a twelve step programme”.
What they all have in common is that they all the methodology can be evidence-based and certainly come with a mass of testimonials as to how well it works. Unfortunately there are probably an equal number of testimonials saying how one approach or another did not work for the person concerned.
If this leaves you confused, then you’re not alone. The point is that phrases like drink problem, alcoholic, alcohol abuser, heavy drinker and binge drinker mean different things to different people and to make matters worse are often interchanged, even by professionals. There can be vigorous debates within the medical profession as to which is the right approach. Each one favouring their own style of treatment, even disputing what language should be used. Political correctness and not offending the drinking client, who is seen to have made a life style choice, can be construed as paramount or alternatively calling a “spade a spade” as an expression of tough love is said by some to be more appropriate.
The reality is of course that this is where that old saying “horses for courses” really means something. There are at least three highly visible and separate problems that can highlighted in respect of alcohol. The right diagnosis is essential.
Life style: I work hard and I play hard, I am entitled to have some fun, so what if I drink more than the recommended limits? it’s OK – I can handle it. Well I could till recently, it seems to have got a little out of hand but it’s OK once I have had the first drink. I think I might have a problem but I am not sure.
The Traumatic event: It’s OK that I am drinking a lot at the moment! I just need to get over the break up with my partner/bereavement/terrible accident/other traumatic experience. When I am over it I will be able to stop. It’s just now I need it as a medicine to help with the anxiety in the morning.
The Total Enigma: I have got everything I want: great relationship, beautiful kids, nice house, dream job and a BMW on the drive! So why I am I risking it all by getting drunk at precisely the wrong time, by turning up at work smelling of drink because I needed a morning pick me up? Frankly, I am at a total loss to explain why I do this. In the past I could stop but then I would have one drink then it would just take off again. Now in the morning I need a drink just to stop the shakes.
Whilst any of the above can result in a physical addiction to alcohol, for which a professional should be consulted before attempting stopping, each one has a separate physiological approach in helping/treating the individual.
Talking therapies are basic to the treatment of all of the above but each needs a different pathway. After a medicine-based detox, which may be required in many cases to avoid potential fitting, then the correct treatment needs to be selected with the help of a qualified therapist. For some this might mean to learn to drink within safe limits, for others abstinence will be the answer. It really depends on whether you have a pathological dependency which is an illness within the brain or more simply have made some bad choices in life as regards drinking. An inability to handle some traumatic event that causes us anxiety can be at the base of heavy drinking as we try to hide from reality. This too can be helped with a talking therapy with great results.
Here at Addictions UK you can always rely on an unbiased opinion as to which course of actions is best for you. Some may comprise paid-for treatment, from home detox and recovery plans that allow you to work as well as get well to specialist Rehab Centres for when a complete break from things is required. We can often signpost you “to free at the point of use” agencies, local to you. Whatever your needs, there is always a solution; don’t let confusion prevent you from getting well.
Addictions UK works with people who need addictions treatment services and, uniquely, offers a drug and alcohol addictions treatment service at home. We also have access to a wide range of residential rehabilitation centres. For further information please telephone 0800 140 4044 or contact us on line.