As alcohol consumption increases over a prolonged period of time, users are compelled to drink greater and greater amounts in order to feel the same desired effects. The main characteristic of alcoholism is physical dependence, and so countless drinkers avoid seeking help; quitting means facing highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that should be medically monitored, such as nausea, vomiting and tremors.
Alcoholism is often referred to as an invisible disease, since many of its associated symptoms aren’t clear to the naked eye. However, warning signs of problem drinking are often present:
Tolerance. Perhaps the most obvious sign, someone addicted to alcohol builds tolerance and requires more alcohol to feel the effects as his or her non-addicted friends, who consume a “safe” amount and know when to stop drinking. Should an addicted individual stop drinking, even for a day, tolerance may present itself via visible withdrawal symptoms like nausea, shaking and sweating.
Loss of interest. What was once important to an alcoholic often goes neglected. Anything—be it a hobby, career or relationship—can take a back seat to obtaining and consuming alcohol.
Lying. Alcoholics often lie about the amount they drink, where they’ve been or who they’ve been with. The thing is, many problem drinkers are aware they have a problem and will do whatever it takes to cover up the disease in the face of loved ones out of guilt, shame, embarrassment or inflated pride.
Dangerous/risky behavior. The reason drunk driving, domestic abuse, fatal accidents and criminal activity are so heavily tied to alcohol use is because alcohol impairs judgement and produces feelings of inhibition and invincibility.
Depression/mental health disorders. Alcohol is a depressant, or a category of drugs that slow the central nervous system and can cause emotional fatigue, sadness, isolation and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Added to this are the common feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness and helplessness often associated with chronic alcohol use, addicted individuals can fall under the heavy weight of depression, which may only perpetuate the cycle of drinking.
Sometimes, warning signs of alcoholism are buried deep beneath the surface, and it’s a case of functioning alcoholism. A high-functioning alcoholic (HFA) can carry out their everyday responsibilities while still feeding their disease. Their jobs are secure, their relationships are intact, yet they are physically dependent on alcohol and cannot bear the withdrawal process should they stop drinking.
According to the Lane Report, “Of the alcoholic population in America, it is estimated nearly 20 percent are HFAs. Getting them to recognize they are alcoholic is difficult because most are in denial and point to their careers or standing in the community as proof that they do not have a problem.” Functioning alcoholics find ways to hide their problem, sneaking alcohol to work in their coffee mugs, leaving family functions to drink and then return intoxicated, or hiding alcohol around the house. When the addiction is discovered, they may say, “What’s the problem? I’m not hurting anyone.” But it is a problem. High-functioning alcoholics are not living their lives healthily or honestly, and alcoholism is a disease that only worsens over time. It’s not long before the ability to function is stripped away.
Long-term abuse of alcohol carries with it a slew of health conditions that can be deadly. These risks include:
Alcohol may completely control countless lives, but those afflicted may very well be in denial that a problem exists—and fool themselves into thinking they just need to drink today, but tomorrow they’ll quit. They can stop anytime. Denial is a huge part of alcoholism, and denial cannot be cured by harsh or disorganized confrontation.
VRC understands the struggle, and we are here to help. We also know how stressful the situation can be for family members and are able to provide compassionate care so that families can overcome this disease as a unit. Our caring, professional staff understands that the right care is necessary to helping individuals safely recover from alcohol dependence. During treatment, we choose from a wide variety of therapy models and give clients the tools they need to live without alcohol. We apply evidence-based methods to help each individual address the underlying issues of alcoholism and return to his or her life in a healthy and sober way.
After the intensive outpatient treatment phase of recovery is complete, clients are invited to enroll in an enhanced outpatient program through our partnership with The Elzey Project. Those in recovery are also encouraged to join a support group, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
We treat individuals with the dignity and respect they deserve, and we offer programs that are designed specifically for each client. Through our integrative approach to recovery, our ultimate goal is to help our clients not only recover, but to do so while transforming their lives.
Sobriety is possible. We are here to walk you or your loved one through the recovery process.
VRC Can Help. Contact us Today to Learn More About Our Treatment Programs.