FAQs for Families & People in Recovery
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We believe that ongoing treatment plus the support of 12 Step and related fellowships are the most effective path to recovery for most people. We can provide plenty of valuable info on staying sober, avoiding or intervening with relapse, and sustaining the gains made in treatment. And we address the needs of recovering folks, their families, professionals, and treatment programs.
No. RecoverySI is not affiliated with any treatment center or company, and our Code of Ethics prohibits us from taking commissions or benefiting from referrals to any treatment program. What we can do is help you evaluate various types of treatment, and make a good choice based on your particular needs.
That’s one of our goals – helping people find the right treatment for them. We’ve provided a resource library with free articles and snapshots about all aspects of the subject. If you need additional help, you can also take a closer look at our “Family Coaching” service.
Most experts recommend you initially seek out the assistance of a professional, for two reasons.
First, to ensure you don’t have a medical condition that needs special care. Second, because
you may require detoxification with supportive meds. Even if you don’t, it’s a good idea to let
someone assess your health and physical status prior to quitting. Maybe you’re fine, but better
to be safe than sorry, right?
This same professional can help you decide on the best path to recovery. Perhaps you’d do best
as an outpatient, attending a program one or more times a week. Maybe you’d benefit from a
brief or extended stay in a facility. Some alcoholics have problems with depression or anxiety
that require a slightly different treatment approach. The answer depends on factors such as:
- Your physical health — do you have medical problems that might impact recovery?
- Your emotional health (for instance, whether you may need meds for depression)
- The extent and severity of your drinking
- Your past history of attempts to quit
- Your motivation for change and the risk you might relapse, and
- The degree of support for recovery in your current environment
IT’s not the sort of decision most of us can make on our own – we’re just too close to the
problem. Better to seek outside advice from somebody who knows what they’re talking about.
Ultimately, recovery begins with the decision not to drink. We’re just looking for the best and
safest way to accomplish that worthy goal.
Alcoholic is really a descriptive term, rather than a diagnosis. But in popular use, it refers to a
drinker who has become dependent on the drug, to the point of experiencing withdrawal in its
absence — and who continues to drink in spite of the problems it causes. Because alcoholism
often develops slowly, the alcoholic may have become so accustomed to his pattern of drinking
that he’s largely unaware of its negative impact on self and others.
The best way to determine whether you qualify is through an interview with a professional,
usually an hour or so. You’re asked questions about your current and past experiences. You may
also identify risk factors of which you may be unaware.
It’s important to get help because alcoholism is considered potentially fatal – killing directly
through overdose, accident, or organ failure, or indirectly, as a hidden contributor to dozens of
other serious and potentially life-threatening health problems. The life expectancy of a drinking
alcoholic is considerably shorter than that of a non-alcoholic.
A brief comparison of coronary heart disease, adult-onset diabetes, and alcoholism reveals
some common features. All require continuing treatment and monitoring. All battle the problem
of relapse. And for each, the success of treatment depends on the patient’s willingness to make
real changes in lifestyle.
Disease — a pathological condition resulting from various causes and characterized by
identifiable signs and/or symptoms.
Certainly alcoholism is pathological (sick-making). Its signs and symptoms are taught to medical
students around the world, and have been for centuries. Alcoholism likely results from an
interaction of genetics and environmental factors – although there’s still plenty of debate about
the relative influence of each.
Obviously, nobody sets out to become addicted to alcohol. And the vast majority of drinkers do
not. The mystery isn’t just why some developed alcoholism – it’s why the rest didn’t.
An advantage of classifying alcoholism as a disease is to permit healthcare professionals to
provide treatment to alcoholics. Given the wide array of physical and psychological problems
found among alcoholics, that’s just good common sense.
Begin with tolerance and dependence. An alcoholic tolerance is the ability to consume
larger than expected amounts of alcohol with reduced effects – you may not look or even
feel particularly intoxicated, but by objective standards, you are. Dependence refers to the
symptoms of withdrawal. Those usually start small – anxiety, mild irritability, occasional nausea
or loss of appetite, interrupted sleep. These can progress over time to include more severe
distress – disruption of the nervous system that results in insomnia, tremors, night sweats,
significant nausea and vomiting, and panic attacks. Delirium tremens (DTs) refers to a very
severe syndrome that usually develops after drinking ceases and can include hallucination and
left untreated, may be life-threatening.
Alcohol, in the form of heavy and binge drinking, is a contributor to somewhere in the
neighborhood of 80,000 deaths annually in the US. Many of those stem from alcohol’s role in
liver, heart, and respiratory disease.