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Alcohol Addiction - Don’t suffer in silence – speak to the experts

Published 17/09/2008

When in doubt about the state of their own health, most people turn to the experts for help. A person suffering from cancer, for example, knows that their best chance of beating the disease is through access to specialist doctors who can help them decide on the most effective course of treatment. People with diabetes, meanwhile, rely on the medical community to provide the drugs and dietary guidelines that can help them manage their condition and lead full and productive lives.

Sadly, the same isn't true for those suffering from alcohol dependence, which is just as much an illness as cancer or diabetes, says Sue Allchurch, research director at Linwood Manor Group.

For a start, many will be reluctant to admit that there's a problem at all -- even to themselves. "The denial typically associated with the effects of alcohol abuse on the brain may lead them to believe that they could stop drinking if they wanted to, or that it's a problem they can "fix" themselves," she says.

Even those who DO recognise that they need help may be deterred from seeking it by the social stigma attached to addiction. That stigma can lead them to feel that their problems with alcohol are down to personal failings: a lack of self-control or self-confidence, for example. "In order to avoid being judged, they attempt to hide the problem as much as possible," says Allchurch.

But enduring the pain of alcohol abuse alone makes no more sense than trying to beat cancer without the help of experts. As a disease, alcoholism shares many of the characteristics we associate with other illnesses: it creates noticeable biological changes in sufferers, has clearly defined symptoms, but can be tackled effectively using established methods of treatment. Like diabetes, it's a chronic disease that can never be entirely cured, but its effects can be minimized if carefully managed.

Research shows that alcohol treatment programmes work. Experts in the field of alcohol addiction treatment spend many years training in order to provide the services and help that problem drinkers need to beat their illness, including:

  • a period (typically 2 weeks) of medically supervised detoxification to clear all alcohol from the system;
  • medication to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol and to start repairing the damage that drinking has done;
  • counselling and therapy to help sufferers to confront their illness and learn to successfully cope with it in future.

Like all illnesses, alcohol dependency causes great discomfort and unhappiness in those that suffer from it as well as those close to them. But through a specialist alcohol treatment programme, further suffering can be avoidable. Don't suffer in silence anymore - get expert help.

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