Alcohol Addiction – Help, Treatment and Recovery

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If you’re reading this article, you are most likely either a loved one seeking help for someone suffering with alcohol addiction, or you’re suffering yourself and reaching out for help to recover. Either way, this article will be invaluable in both situations.

HOW TO DEAL WITH ALCOHOL ABUSE

If you’re unsure if your drinking is quite at the level of alcohol addiction, or whether it’s just problematic and becoming more-so, here’s a comprehensive checklist that will help you clarify. Have you tried your best to quit or moderate on your own – unsuccessfully – and decided now is the time to reach out for professional help and research alcohol addiction treatment? Congratulations! This is a huge milestone that takes courage and honesty. This article will give you a comprehensive guide to the most effective therapeutic modalities available and types of alcohol rehab treatment centers and programs that are available to help deal with alcohol abuse and set you on the path to alcohol recovery.

 

If you’re a loved one wanting to support and help your family member, friend or partner through the turbulent times they’re navigating, please read THIS ARTICLE which gives specific guidance on the difficult but incredibly valuable role you’re taking on in their recovery.

Supporting a loved one with alcohol addiction

HOW TO BE ALCOHOL FREE

“Will I ever be free of alcohol??”

This is a question asked by anyone who’s ever tried to quit drinking or cut down. How often have you been in the middle of a drinking session, buoyed by alcoholic courage and confidence, whole-heartedly committing to tomorrow being Day 1 of your new life- clean, shiny and alcohol free? Then when tomorrow comes, all the horrors of hangover anxiety kick in and the only possible solution to ease reality seems to be…..having another drink.

 

You’re not alone in that cycle. You certainly won’t be the first person who’s jumped back on the merry-go-round again! But you can be one of the few who steps off, stares at their future head on, seeks help and gets to achieve that alcohol-free life once and for all. Free of addiction, hangovers, excuses, self-loathing, recrimination, shame, guilt and lost time.

ALCOHOL ADDICTION TREATMENT

There are a number of treatment modalities that are particularly effective at addressing the underlying causes of alcohol addiction. Typically, an alcohol addiction specialist will spend time mapping out your individual history with alcohol, from childhood influences to early drinking experiences and your progression into addiction. They will then tailor an alcohol rehabilitation program to your individual situation that utilizes the most effective combination of (some or all of) the modalities outlined below.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Therapy

ACT - Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

ACT promotes the acceptance of unwanted private experiences which are outside of one’s personal control, combined with committed action towards living a life of value. The aim of ACT is to create a rich, full and meaningful life, while accepting the pain that is inevitable by increasing psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility has two components:

1) The ability to be psychologically present – i.e. aware, attentive, open to, and engaged in your experience;

2) the ability to control your behaviour to serve valued ends as chosen by you.

REBT - Rational Emotional Behaviour Therapy

REBT is a pioneering form of cognitive behavior therapy developed by Dr. Albert Ellis in 1955. REBT is an action-oriented approach to managing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disturbances.

According to REBT, it is largely our thinking about events that leads to emotional and behavioral upset. With an emphasis on the present, individuals are taught how to examine and challenge their unhelpful thinking which creates unhealthy emotions and self-defeating/self-sabotaging behaviors.

CBT - Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

CBT is based on the idea that how we think (cognition), how we feel (emotion) and how we act (behavior) all interact together. Therefore, negative and unrealistic thoughts can cause us distress and result in problems. When a person suffers with psychological distress, the way in which they interpret situations becomes skewed, which in turn has a negative impact on the actions they take. Specifically, our thoughts determine our feelings and our behavior. CBT is based on three core principles:

 

  1. Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking
  2. Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior
  3. People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.

Gestalt Psychology

Gestalt therapy takes a person-centred approach, focusing on the human and their unique perceptions of their experiences. It is a holistic form of psychotherapy that tunes emphasis to the person’s present life and challenges rather than digging deeply into past experiences. This approach enables understanding of the context of a person’s life and taking responsibility for current actions rather than laying blame and becoming absorbed in that which cannot be changed.

The core principle of Gestalt is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, thereby emphasising a person’s perception rather than specific events. It seeks to draw attention to how we place meaning on events and make sense of our world and experiences within it.

Mindfulness Training

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness helps us put space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses. The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.

Mindfulness strengthens neural connections. By training our brains in mindfulness and related practices, we learn to build new neural pathways and networks in the brain, laying the foundation for recovery from a range of conditions including addiction, anxiety and depression.

Neuropsychotherapy

Neuropsychotherapy is underpinned by science and utilises an integrated, BioPsychoSocial approach to therapy that recognises the complex interplay between the brain, mind, body, social interactions and the environment on a person’s wellbeing. By understanding the mechanisms of our neurobiological, cognitive, emotional, social and environmental interactions, neuropsychotherapists are able to formulate holistic, multidisciplinary therapeutic treatments that are specific to each individual’s unique set of interplays.

From a practical standpoint, clients gain knowledge into “why” and “how” certain behaviours, thought processes and compulsions create patterns and limitations in their life. They then learn “why” and “how” certain strategies are circuit-breakers that are key to improving their psychological and physical functioning, their relationships at home, performance at work and ability to handle  social situations.

NLP - Neurolinguistic Programming

Unlike psychoanalysis, NLP focuses on the “how” instead of the “why”. It provides practical ways to change the way a person thinks, views past events and approaches their life. It hones in on a person’s subconscious core beliefs as revealed by their language, then seeks to reprogram false or damaging core beliefs with new language. By definition:

Neuro – refers to the mind or brain, particularly how these affect communication and behaviour. NLP teaches how to develop mental maps that show how things happen and how to change course.

Linguistic – refers to the mind and body states that are expressed through our language and non-verbal communication. NLP teaches us how to access unconscious information that would otherwise remain hidden from the conscious mind

Programming – refers to the our ability to change our mind and body states. Living according to unconscious programming is akin to living on autopilot. Awareness of habitual thoughts, reactions, beliefs and patterns through NLP is the key to restructuring outdated, damaging programs.

Schema Therapy

Schema therapy, developed by Dr. Jeffery Young PhD, is a therapy that targets pervasive and long-standing self-beliefs and unhelpful behaviours that developed in childhood and became increasingly entrenched with age. These beliefs are called Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMS) e.g. abandonment/rejection, defectiveness, self-sacrifice, or unrelenting high standards schemas.

Schema Therapy targets the origins of these maladaptive beliefs and replaces them with a healthy sense of self. For a short-term problem Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Solution-Focused Therapy is usually recommended, however, for long-standing and pervasive self-beliefs and behavioural patterns, Schema Therapy is highly effective.

ALCOHOL ADDICTION HELP

Where to get treatment that's going to work for YOU

Read our NEXT ARTICLE for an overview of the types of treatment facilities, program types and funding options available in Australia. 

Treatment for alcohol addiction

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