where do i get help for alcohol abuse

Problem drinking can creep up slowly. In fact, what might have started off as a timely intervention for managing stress, say with a cocktail after work, can surprise you when you suddenly realize that your single cocktail has slowly multiplied into several. This can happen as the body becomes more tolerant of the presence of alcohol, which causes a reduction in the initial relaxing effects of the substance. To keep those effects going, you may find yourself increasing consumption.

At some point along the way, it has become clear that you are in need of some help. This realization may appear due to experiencing severe hangovers or even blackouts. As you face the reality that you have developed an alcohol problem, you find yourself wondering, “Where do I get help for alcohol abuse?” This question might have even greater merit during the pandemic when it is unclear which recovery support services are even available now.

Fortunately, many treatment centers have continued to operate during the Covid-19 health event, as addiction treatment is considered an essential service. While outpatient programs have largely shifted online to telehealth therapeutic support, residential rehabs have revamped their facilities to create safe living environments that adhere to CDC guidelines.

With the added stress of the coronavirus pandemic adding additional triggers that lead to alcohol abuse, individuals now more than ever are encouraged to seek professional guidance. Through the interventions of a comprehensive treatment program, alcohol abuse can be thwarted before an alcohol use disorder becomes entrenched into a more serious alcohol dependency. If you are asking yourself, “Where do I get help for alcohol abuse” it is a sign that you recognize the problem and know that you are losing control over the drinking. Listen to your gut.

How Does an Alcohol Use Disorder Happen Anyway?

It is still a mystery as to why some individuals seem to be able to abuse alcohol regularly and never develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD), while others may acquire the disorder in short order. This is a scientific quandary that has not yet been answered through research.

There are, however, some recognized factors that might contribute to the risk of developing an AUD. Understanding these risk factors is helpful in proactively avoiding the possibility of alcoholism from occurring. Again, these are only risk factors, not causes, which only provide some guidance in decision-making regarding alcohol use:

  • Beginning to consume alcohol at a young age, as in under age 15
  • Family history of alcoholism
  • Genetics, specific biology differences that effect how alcohol is processed
  • Culture and ethnicity, with AUD more prevalent in Europe and the US
  • Personality traits, such as being prone to impulsive and high-risk behaviors
  • Having a mental health disorder increases the chances of self-medicating

Alcoholism can affect each person differently, so without any way to test someone in order to predict their chances of developing the disease all we have to go one currently is acknowledging known risk factors and moderating alcohol intake accordingly.

What Are the Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder?

Someone who has a drinking problem could begin to fall into certain behavior patterns, as well as display the telltale signs of an AUD. These might include the following:

  • Attempts to limit or quit alcohol consumption fail
  • Drinking more alcohol over a longer period than intended
  • Needing to consumer ever-higher amounts of alcohol to experience the initial positive effects or ward off withdrawal symptoms
  • Spending a great deal of time drinking or recovering from effects of drinking
  • Neglecting family or work obligations
  • Increasingly relying on alcohol for perceived needs, such as getting to sleep or prior to a stressful situation
  • Bloating of the face and/or gut
  • Hand tremors
  • Glassy eyes

The adverse effects caused by alcohol abuse are many. According to an article published in the Alcohol Research and Health journal, alcohol abuse causes a litany of serious medical and psychiatric conditions including:

  • Certain cancers
  • Liver disease
  • Infectious disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreas disease
  • Unintentional and intentional injury, such as accidents, homicides, and suicides
  • Unsafe sexual practices resulting in STDs, unplanned pregnancy

An interesting finding in the study is that among those who abuse alcohol, women are at a higher risk of being impacted by chronic disease compared to men.

I am Afraid of Detox So What Can I Expect?

If you are a bit nervous about the detox and withdrawal process you are in good company. The alcohol detox phase of recovery is a necessary step that is just not a pleasant experience. Regardless, by keeping the eye on the prize—sobriety—it is possible to safely navigate this phase of your recovery with the help of a trained medical detox team.

During a supervised medical detox, vital signs are monitored continually and the detox professional will provide medical interventions to help manage the withdrawal symptoms as they emerge. A trained detox staff can guide the individual through the process from start to finish, as they help them segue into a treatment program.

Depending on the length of time and severity of the AUD, plus other factors such as coexisting health or mental health conditions and age, the alcohol detox withdrawal symptoms may include:

Mild Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Hand tremors
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sweating
  • Agitation, irritability

Moderate Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Disorientation
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Mood swings
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Mild seizures
  • Mental confusion

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

On average, alcohol detox and withdrawal lasts anywhere from 5-7 days, depending on the severity of the alcohol addiction.

What Types of Alcohol Addiction Treatment Are Available Now?

When seeking treatment for an AUD it is common to wonder, “Where do I get help for alcohol abuse?” It is important to recognize the different types of rehabs available that offer varying levels of care. Generally, an outpatient program is appropriate for a mild or recent AUD, but for a moderate to severe alcohol addiction it is best to seek help through a residential treatment setting. Where the individual is free to remain at home throughout the outpatient program, a residential program requires they reside in provided housing. There are pros and cons of each to consider, so it helps to do some research before deciding on which treatment format is the best fit for you.

During the pandemic, it is essential to locate a treatment provider who is set up for telehealth therapy sessions and support. These platforms have proven invaluable during the aftermath of the coronavirus epidemic here in the US. Outpatient services, including basic outpatient therapy, intensive outpatient, or partial hospitalization programs are provided through the telehealth video conferencing systems.

Treating alcohol dependency or addiction relies on a multidisciplinary approach that addresses all aspects of the disease. Once the individual has completed detox they will begin engaging in various therapeutic treatment elements at the rehab. Participating in psychotherapy is key to achieving a sustained recovery.

Behavioral treatments aim to help the individual make lasting changes in their formerly dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns. CBT is a short-term evidence-based therapy that helps people recognize how their irrational thoughts are triggering addictive and self-destructive behaviors. Through CBT the individual learns to replace those disordered patterns with new, healthy, constructive responses.

Other treatment interventions include:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy. DBT provides life skills that help the individual focus on four specific areas that are particularly helpful in addiction recovery. These include mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation
  • Group therapy.  Group sessions are led by a clinician that encourages participation discussing various recovery-related topics
  • Family therapy. Family-centered group sessions provides a safe space for family members to participate in their loved one’s recovery efforts
  • Education and relapse prevention planning. Psychosocial education equips the individual with the new coping tools and recovery skills to help navigate their world following rehab
  • Complementary activities. These activities include such things as art therapy, recreational activities, yoga, mindfulness, massage, nutritional counseling, and DBT skills practice

After Treatment, Then What?

Recovery does not end with the discharge papers from the rehab program, however. On the contrary, the real work of recovery begins the day you complete the program and need to navigate the real world once again. For this reason, aftercare is an essential component in alcoholism care planning.

Following a 30, 60, or 90-day residential treatment program, the individual should have a plan in place to continue to reinforce the newly acquired coping tools and sober lifestyle.

Aftercare, or continuing care, is simply the means by which sobriety is maintained outside of rehab. Three important aspects of aftercare include:

  1. Sober living housing. Planning for a few months residing in sober living provides an excellent opportunity to slowly transition back to normal daily life while still learning recovery techniques.  Sober living offers a great opportunity to reestablish healthy living habits through keeping a regular schedule, adhering to the house rules and responsibilities, and being accountable to the other housemates.
  2. Outpatient therapy sessions. Ongoing outpatient counseling is also an essential part of aftercare, especially helpful in relapse prevention.
  3. Recovery meetings. Participation in a 12-step or similar recovery community provides peer support and is a good resource for acquiring new sober friendships while receiving ongoing support in recovery.

Careful planning for beginning your recovery from an alcohol addiction will yield the most successful long-term results.

Ken Seeley Communities Addiction Treatment Serves Coachella Valley

Ken Seeley Communities offers the complete spectrum of alcohol abuse and addiction treatment, a rare entry in the industry. From providing professional intervention services to telehealth-based outpatient programs (an adjustment made during the pandemic) to residential rehabilitation to sober living house and continuing care services, Ken Seeley Communities covers all aspects of treatment and healing in beautiful Palm Springs, CA. If you are wondering ‘where do I get help for alcohol abuse,’ please contact the team today at (877) 744-0502.

sober holidays

While most folks may enjoy the holiday season, for those in recovery this celebratory time of the year can pose certain challenges. Protecting one’s sobriety will require special vigilance during the upcoming weeks, but it is still very possible to enjoy the sober holidays and keep recovery firmly intact.

A little strategic planning goes a long way when facing down the potential threats the holiday season may toss one’s way. Taking some time to consider situations or interactions that might trigger the urge to drink or use drugs will pay off in spades. This requires some introspection, such as recalling those holiday events that featured heavy partying in the past. These are the first to be red tagged as no-go events as a sober individual committed to one’s recovery.

But rollicking parties are not the only landmines out there to trip up the sober person. The holiday season can stoke feelings of loneliness and depression, both which can put recovery at risk. Feelings of nostalgia for the good old days can lead to romancing the substance, which can lead to the mistaken belief that one can handle “just one drink.” Other triggers to navigate are stress overload, lack of sleep, and unhealthy eating habits during the holiday season.

Tips for Safeguarding Sobriety During the Holidays

Prior to embarking on the festivities, it is wise to chart out a solid strategy. No one is in charge of one’s sobriety except the individual in recovery. It is solely their responsibility to protect it as the precious gift it is. It may seem like the only answer to the holiday season is to just stay home and wait it out, but that is not necessarily true. Just having some foresight and a good holiday relapse prevention plan it is possible to celebrate sober holidays this year and for years to come.

  1. Practice mindfulness. Approach each holiday event with a sense of mindful purpose; that is to wish others a happy holiday, enjoy some snacks and music, and then depart with your recovery intact. Train the mind to remain focused on that game plan.
  2. Have a sober buddy. The collective energy that can emerge at an alcohol-fueled event may sweep you up into the fray. Be on the safe side and take a sober friend along. This provides a layer of accountability that also acts as an escape route when necessary.
  3. Rehearse some lines. There is likely to be people present who will want you to try this champagne or that holiday cocktail. Practice a couple of good responses ahead of time to deftly avert their intentions.
  4. Have a drink in hand. Knowing that an empty hand at a Christmas party beckons to be filled. Instead of someone putting an alcoholic drink in your hand, hold a glass of something non-alcoholic for the duration of the event.
  5. Learn to decline an invitation. Even if the party is one that you have traditionally attended, if it is a known risk to sobriety it is best to respectfully decline the invitation. Prioritizing recovery means being very selective during the holidays.
  6. Avoid the bar area. Instead of hanging out near the drink station, why not plant yourself a safe distance away. Try chatting with friends or colleagues near the buffet table instead.
  7. Have an escape plan. If you sense that you are not yet up to attending holiday events, arrive early, tell the host or boss that you have another commitment later and will possibly be leaving early. If you start feeling tempted to drink, you can smoothly exit the event.
  8. Change it up. Nothing is preventing you from simply choosing to do the holidays differently in sobriety. Despite the value of holiday traditions, if these will be presenting a risk for relapse then it is time to institute new traditions.

Recognizing the Relapse Warning Signs

No matter how conscientious an individual is at protecting his or her recovery, the holiday season may be too difficult to manage. This is especially true in the first year of recovery when one is more vulnerable to relapse.

There are warning signs that emerge when the relapse process, and it is a process, has begun. Be aware of these signs so you can be proactive in warding off a potential relapse:

  • You continue to socialize with friends or associates who engage in substance abuse. Continuing to socialize with the people you regularly drank or used with will undermine recovery efforts.
  • You are often bored. Too much down time can allow the mind to begin thinking about using drugs or alcohol to relieve boredom. Avoid the state of boredom and chose to be productive instead.
  • You stop your healthy routines. After establishing healthy routines, including good dietary and sleep habits, and getting regular exercise, you begin to return to bad habits.
  • You don’t manage stress. Rehab equips clients with many tools to help them manage stress and emotions. Choosing not to utilize these coping skills will allow life events and stress to overwhelm them, and then potentially result in a relapse.
  • You are withdrawing socially. Isolation can be a way of distancing yourself from people to whom you are accountable. Isolation can lead to loneliness, a common trigger for relapse. Isolating behavior may be a sign that relapse is impending.
  • You are neglecting physical and emotional health. Someone in recovery who stops taking care of and neglects hygiene and personal appearance may be displaying signs of giving up on recovery or contemplating relapse.
  • You stop attending meetings. Recovery meetings provide not only peer support and a social network, but also act as a deterrent to relapse, as people are less apt to relapse when they feel accountable to others.
  • You romance the substance. After awhile in recovery it is common to romance the days in active addiction. Memories of being high while forgetting all the negative consequences can lead someone to fool themselves into believing they can enjoy just one drink.

Preventing Relapse and Enjoying Sober Holidays

By putting your recovery first, during the holidays or at any time of the year, it is possible to sidestep the risks that threaten sobriety. Recovery is safeguarded through making the necessary fundamental changes in one’s lifestyle, and then carrying those through the holidays and beyond. Practicing the following additional actions can increase the chances of sailing through the holidays unscathed:

  • Go to extra meetings. Recovery meetings are not a guarantee to sustained sobriety, but they have been shown to provide a protective factor against relapse. Prior to and during the holiday season it is helpful to increase the number of meetings you attend. There you will receive ongoing peer support as well as accountability.
  • Volunteer. The holidays offer many opportunities to get involved with social organizations. Why not give back this season by volunteering at a local charity or food pantry? Being of service to others can be edifying, giving you a sense of purpose and increasing self-esteem while helping those less fortunate.
  • Revisit your sober strategies. Refine and update the relapse prevention plan you designed in rehab. Take note of newly discovered triggers and create a proactive plan for managing those and all known triggers.
  • Set new goals. The holidays are a signal that the year is about to wrap up and a new year awaits. This is an excellent time to look forward and define some new achievable goals for 2020. Having these in mind can help sidestep temptation to drink during the holidays.
  • Practice self-care. Continue to embrace healthy habits that help restore physical and emotional wellness. This includes avoiding overindulging in rich holiday fare and sticking to a nutritious diet, keeping up with regular physical exercise, and getting at least 7 hours of solid sleep each night.
  • Embrace relaxation techniques. The holidays can be unbearably stressful. There are many expectations shoved into a tiny timeline in which to accomplish them all. Keep a lid on stress by practicing yoga, mindfulness, deep-breathing, or therapeutic massage.

Check in With Your Mental Wellness, Too

The holiday season can spark anxiety and depression symptoms, which only increase the stress of trying to avoid a relapse. Being self-aware of one’s present mental state is an important aspect of relapse prevention. If you are struggling with a mood disorder or anxiety in recovery, it is critical to obtain psychological support.

A psychotherapist can be an excellent source of support if depression or anxiety ratchet upwards during the holidays. Through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, the therapist can guide you toward identifying disordered thought patterns that are sabotaging mental wellness during the holidays. By taking note of these dysfunctional thoughts and then reshaping them toward positive affirmations and constructive actions, these new healthy thought-behavior patterns can become important coping skills in recovery during the holidays and beyond.

By accessing these tips it is absolutely possible to enjoy the sober holidays and begin the New Year with your recovery firmly intact.

Ken Seeley Communities and Rehab Providing Addiction Recovery in Palm Springs

Ken Seeley Communities is a full service rehabilitation complex located in Palm Springs, CA.  Ken Seeley Communities provides all aspects of addiction treatment, covering the whole spectrum of services including interventions, outpatient rehab, residential rehab, dual diagnosis treatment, sober living housing, and continuing care. At Ken Seeley Communities, our focus is on early intervention and comprehensive treatment, all within the context of a compassionate and respectful treatment environment. For more details about our intervention services and sober living Palm Springs recovery programs, please contact Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502.