I have been drinking too much every day for years. How can I get sober?
At some point, you may have become aware that you have an addiction to alcohol. Alcohol is, after all, a drug. When you realize what alcohol is doing to your life, you may start to think about the possibility of a sober life, without the need for alcohol.
What is the next step after realizing that I have an alcohol problem?
The first step to achieving sobriety is to realize that there is, in fact, a problem. Alcoholism is a familial condition. You may be aware of people in your family who were alcoholics. And, you may have become aware that you keep drinking even when it is causing problems in your life. Binge drinking puts you at risk for DUI charges and tragic accidents. Ongoing drinking can damage your liver or cause heart disease or other cardiovascular diseases. Alcohol use can even increase your risk for breast cancer. For your health, you will want to consider recovery from alcohol use. To get started on your journey to sobriety, I recommend that you start by seeing your doctor.
How many beers does your doctor drink?
There is an old joke that an alcoholic is defined as a person who drinks more beer or wine daily than their doctor drinks. Since alcohol is a legal drug, doctors may also engage in recreational drinking without being in violation of laws and rules relating to medical practice. Yet, if a doctor is impaired while practicing medicine, their state medical board may require them to get help before they can resume their medical career. If you are concerned that your doctor is not someone who you are comfortable discussing your drinking issues with, you may want to consider seeing an addictionologist or a doctor who is experienced in treating alcohol use disorder.
Should I go to a support group to help me get sober?
I should emphasize again the importance of seeing a doctor, even if it is an emergency department doctor to start with. However, you may find it helpful to go to a local group that helps people in recovery from alcoholism. Keep in mind that the members of the group are not experienced, healthcare professionals. Take their advice with a grain of salt.
What about a treatment program for alcohol addiction?
If you are ready to quit drinking, you may want to consider an addiction treatment rehab facility. Even with moderate alcohol consumption, you may be at risk for serious withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. Overcoming alcohol dependence may require inpatient treatment at first to safely detox you from alcohol use.
Are there medications that can help with alcohol addiction recovery?
To stay sober for life, you may benefit from the help of one or two prescription medications in addition to psychotherapy and group support. Naltrexone is one medication that helps to reduce cravings for alcohol. Antabuse (disulfiram) is another medication that can help to deter drinking. If you were drinking to self-treat mental health issues, you may want to see a psychiatrist for further medical management.
Is alcohol abuse a moral failing?
No! It is important to understand that drug addiction and alcoholism are medical conditions that require medical care. Fortunately, awareness and understanding of mental illness have been improving in recent years. Illnesses that affect behavior are as real and serious as physical illnesses. Remember, when you decide to ask for expert help in moving forward in your recovery from alcohol, you have nothing at all to be ashamed of.