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Getting Help for Drinking Problems

There is a World of Help Available!

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Updated May 21, 2014

Getting help for alcohol abuse
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If you have decided, for whatever reason, that you want to stop drinking, there is a world of help and support available.

To get a better picture of where you are now, so that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed, perhaps the first person to talk with should be your family doctor.

Sometimes admitting to yourself and others that you need help can be one of the most difficult steps to take on your road to recovery.

It may not be easy for you to admit to others that you need help with your alcohol problem, but the sooner you get help the better your chances of a successful recovery.

Many people with alcohol problems are relunctant to discuss their drinking problems, even with a healthcare professional, because of some common misconceptions about alcoholism and alcholics. Unfortunately, the myth continues in society that an alcohol problems is a moral weakness.

Therefore, asking for help may seem like admitting to some kind of shameful secret. The truth is alcoholism is a disease that is no more a sign of weakness than diabetes or allergies.

If you do visit your healthcare provider, he or she will ask you a number of questions to determine if you have an a problem with alcohol and the extent of that problem. It is important to answer these questions as fully and honestly as you can.

If your healthcare provider decides that you have become dependent on alcohol, he may recommend that you see a specialist in diagnosing and treating alcoholism. You will also be given a physical examination to determine if your alcohol consumption has caused any health problems.

Ask questions about possible treatment or referral options. Ultimately, you will be the one to choose your choice of treatment options.

Treatment

Based on your doctor's assessment of the severity of your problem, your treatment could involve several phases. If you have become "chemically dependent" upon alcohol, treatment may include detoxification; taking doctor-prescribed medications, to help prevent a return to drinking once drinking has stopped; and individual and/or group counseling.

Counseling can help you identify situations and feelings that "trigger" the urge to drink and to find new ways to respond that do not include alcohol. These treatments are usually available in a hospital or residential treatment facility or on an outpatient basis.

Because the involvement of family members can be important, many programs also offer marital counseling and family therapy as part of the treatment process.

But as the NIAAA brochures report, "virtually all alcoholism treatment programs also include meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which describes itself as a "worldwide fellowship of men and women who help each other to stay sober."

Alcoholics Anonymous, which uses a spiritual (but not religious) program of recovery, has helped millions of people find their paths to recovery since its inception in 1935.

However, not everyone responds to AA's approach and message, and other recovery approaches are available, including Christian, Jewish and non-theistic programs. Even those who are helped by AA sometimes find that AA works best in combination with other forms of treatment, including counseling and medical care.

The expense of medical treatment, residential facilities and professional counseling is not an option for everyone. For those alcoholics, the self-help, support-group approach can be their only option.

Because Alcoholism is a disease that effects the entire family, other family members may benefit from the Al-Anon and Alateen programs.

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