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Signs of Hidden Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol addiction can disrupt a person’s life greatly, but it’s not always easy to tell when a loved one has a problem. Many people struggling with alcohol addiction tend to keep their activities hidden from their friends and family. Why? They either underestimate the extent of their problem or they don’t want others to interfere.

Unfortunately, even obvious symptoms of alcoholism can go unnoticed, particularly if your loved one is a high-functioning alcoholic. However, you can determine if your loved one has a hidden alcohol problem by learning how to look for signs of alcohol abuse. By staying alert, you can help identify a drinking problem and then support your loved one throughout treatment.

Signs of Hidden Alcohol Abuse

We’ve grouped the various signs of alcoholism into five main categories:

High Alcohol Tolerance

Numerous factors can impact someone’s tolerance for alcohol, including weight, age, sex and genetics.

No matter what other factors are in play, though, the more a person drinks, the higher his or her tolerance will be. Thus, the more drinks it will take to become intoxicated. Repeated drinking episodes can lead to very little functional impairment, even after consuming large amounts of alcohol.

To tell if your loved one has a high tolerance for alcohol, watch their behaviors after drinking. As an example, a 155-pound male will take about three drinks to become “tipsy.” If he don’t show any signs of intoxication at that point, then he may have a high level of alcohol tolerance.

Experiencing Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Repeated drinking does more than build an alcohol tolerance in the body; it also impacts people physically and mentally. The body starts to adjust so that drinking becomes the norm, which means not having a drink can cause withdrawal symptoms.

For alcohol, common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shaky hands
  • Insomnia

While symptoms of alcohol dependence don’t always indicate alcoholism, the impact of withdrawal can play a major role in forming alcohol abuse and addiction. If your loved one starts to exhibit physical signs of alcohol abuse in the form of withdrawal after not drinking for some time, then he or she may have a hidden alcohol problem.

Secret Drinking

Hidden Drinking Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms - Reflections Recovery CenterBecause people struggling with alcoholism have a higher tolerance for alcohol, they often need to drink more to feel intoxicated. This can lead to behaviors where someone may drink alone or while getting ready to go out to a social event with friends; the latter is known as “pregaming.” Secret drinking can also involve drinking after coming home from events.

To facilitate this type of drinking, people with hidden alcoholism will sometimes have hiding places for alcohol:

  • Bathroom shelves, dresser drawers, the garage, and behind other items in kitchen cabinets are common places to covertly store alcohol.
  • Furniture can also be a place to stow empty bottles and cans.

If you have concerns about hidden alcoholism, you can search those places. You may also check the outside trash bins, as your loved one may be taking out empty bottles and cans directly to the main trash when nobody’s looking.

Making Excuses to Drink

To make their drinking behavior seem less like a problem, people struggling with alcohol addiction will often make up reasons to drink:

  • If something bad happens, they will use alcohol to make themselves feel better.
  • If something good happens, then what better way to celebrate than with a drink?

These “reasons” become protection if you or someone else tries to point out your loved one’s drinking behavior.

Additionally, people struggling with alcoholism will make excuses for why they can’t or won’t stop drinking:

  • Some will say that they can stop whenever they feel like it. (They can’t.)
  • Others will argue that their drinking only impacts themselves. (It doesn’t.)
  • There’s also a chance that they will agree to get help, then come up with excuses to keep putting it off.

Unexplained Injuries

Episodes of binge drinking can lead to falling and blackouts – both of which can easily cause injuries. The lack of bodily control after heavy drinking can contribute.

The potential damages can range from minor cuts and bruises to larger traumatic injuries; but, one scenario will often serve as a telltale sign of hidden alcoholism: The person doesn’t want to admit what caused the problem.

Those struggling with alcoholism will often feel too embarrassed to admit what really led to their injuries, so they’ll brush the problem off without answering. Or, if pressed, they may make up a story about what happened.

If your loved one has suspicious or repeated injuries and won’t give you a clear answer as to how these wounds occurred, alcohol may have contributed.

Helping a Loved One with Hidden Alcoholism

Living with someone who has an alcohol addiction can be a challenging experience. Your loved one may experience mood swings and ignore responsibilities in favor of drinking. He or she may look to you to encourage the behavior or actively start to tear down various relationships when drinking.

The key is to remember that you cannot control your loved one’s behavior and that the situation is not your fault. You do not need to enable the addiction or accept poor treatment from them.

However, it’s possible to learn how to help an alcoholic. Once you’ve identified that your loved one may have a hidden alcohol problem, you can plan appropriately. Enlist the support of your friends and family, and possibly an intervention specialist. You should also care for your own personal needs throughout the process, so that you are in the right state of mind to fully help your loved one.

From Alcoholism Intervention to Rehab

Before staging an intervention, you and the intervention team should carefully plan and rehearse what will happen. Prepare possible treatment options, so that your loved one can’t stall the admission process. Once you’ve completed the intervention successfully and your loved one begins receiving treatment, remain supportive and participate where possible. The encouragement of friends and family can make or break a recovery from alcohol addiction.

At Reflections Recovery Center, we provide the highest quality of care for our male clients, every step of the way. Explore our men’s alcohol rehab programs, or get in touch with us to discuss how we can help your son, husband, brother, etc. overcome his drinking behavior.

See More Alcohol Addiction Facts

Sources:
https://www.beachhouserehabcenter.com/learning-center/5-signs-your-loved-one-is-masking-a-drinking-problem/
https://www.briarwooddetox.com/blog/8-signs-your-loved-one-is-alcoholic/
https://www.new-hope-recovery.com/2013/10/14-warning-signs-of-a-secret-alcoholic/
https://www.evergreendrugrehab.com/blog/obvious-alcoholic-drinking-behaviors-hard-ignore/
https://casapalmera.com/blog/living-with-an-alcoholic/
https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/how-to-talk/
https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/loved-one-drinking-what-to-do#2

How Long-Term Alcohol Abuse Affects the Blood: Blood Disorders and Complications from Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse can have several impacts on one’s health, but some of the most harmful can happen at the microbiological level, where we can’t even see it. Studies have shown that long-term alcohol abuse impacts the blood, including red and white blood cells alike, as well as blood cell production in the bone marrow. When these problems continue for an extended period, they can have a severe negative impact on overall health.

Alcohol Affects Bone Marrow and Red Blood Cell Production

One area of the body that long-term alcohol abuse starts to affect is the bone marrow, where red blood cell precursor cells form. Vacuoles start to develop in these precursor cells, which are responsible for stimulating the development of complete red blood cells.

Often, such vacuoles are a key indicator of alcoholism in blood tests, though the complete extent of these vacuoles on red blood cell development is still unknown. However, the impact of alcohol consumption can lead to two major forms of anemia: sideroblastic and megaloblastic.

Sideroblastic Anemia

Sideroblastic anemia occurs when there are complications in the development of red blood cells related to iron and hemoglobin levels in the cell. When iron doesn’t properly incorporate into hemoglobin, the cell becomes a sideroblast, which cannot form into a proper blood cell, reducing the level of red blood cells in the body.

Alcohol abuse can interfere with hemoglobin formation, leading to this type of anemia, while abstinence from alcohol can reverse the effect.

Megaloblastic Anemia

In a similar process, a lack of folic acid and B vitamins can cause complications when precursor cells try to reproduce – and instead produce non-functional megaloblastic cells. With a reduced number of functional precursor cells, the body’s production of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets, is reduce. This leads to symptoms of anemia.

Many who struggle with alcohol abuse also have a hard time maintaining a healthy diet, which can lead to a deficiency in folic acid. Furthermore, alcohol can alter the absorption of folic acid from food, potentially exacerbating an existing deficiency.

Alcohol Leading to Red Blood Cell Disorders

Past the development of blood cells in the bone marrow, alcohol abuse can also cause many other complications in red blood cells. With issues in these cells, the human body can experience complications in providing oxygen where it’s needed.

Macrocytosis

Macrocytosis is a health complication that involves red blood cells enlargement. Unlike other conditions with enlarged red blood cells, those found in macrocytosis are uniformly round. While macrocytosis does not cause harmful effects on its own, it can be an indicator of other serious health complications aside from alcohol abuse.

Hemolytic Anemia

Alcohol abuse can lead to the development of two forms of hemolysis:

  • Stomatocyte hemolysis occurs when there are increased levels of misshapen red blood cells, which the spleen subsequently traps and destroys.
  • Spur-cell hemolysis also involves misshapen blood cells, which the spleen destroys, too. In all cases, the destroyed cells contribute to anemia.

Alcohol’s Impact on White Blood Cells

Alcohol can also impact white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are responsible for fighting off infections and other intruders in the body. Thus, negatively affected white blood cells contribute to the increased likelihood of bacterial and other infections in those struggling with alcohol abuse.

Neutrophils

Neutrophils are one type of white blood cell that helps fight off infections. In someone who does not drink large amounts of alcohol, these cells increase in number during severe bacterial infections.

Alcohol abuse influences the development of neutrophils, leading to reduced numbers in the bloodstream. Alcohol also can impact neutrophils’ ability to arrive at the scene of the infection. This makes the task of fighting off the infection difficult.

Monocytes and Macrophages

Like neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages play a major role in defending the body against any incoming infection. Alcohol can also affect the development and function of these types of cells, throwing the monocyte-macrophage system out of balance. With an impaired monocyte-macrophage system, the body is more susceptible to microorganisms before and during infections.

Alcohol Holds Back the Blood-Clotting System

The body’s blood-clotting system is responsible for closing damage to blood vessels. This process prevents excess loss of blood and helps scabs form. When the blood-clotting system doesn’t function to its full capacity, the body remains open to potential infections and serious levels of blood loss. Alcohol can affect several different parts of this system, putting people at risk.

Thrombocytopenia

Thrombocytopenia occurs when someone experiences a reduced level of platelets in the bloodstream. When it comes to clotting blood, platelets are the ones that secrete proteins, triggering the rest of the process.

With lower levels of platelets, there can be a reduced blood-clotting effect. Thrombocytopenia is an especially high-risk condition for those who regularly drink large quantities of alcohol. However, abstinence can help reverse the effects.

Thrombocytopathy

Aside from reducing the number of platelets in the bloodstream, long-term alcohol abuse can also lead to impaired function of existing platelets. This leads to many of the same difficulties as in thrombocytopenia. Those with thrombocytopathy are at risk of negative reactions to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as painkillers like ibuprofen.

Fibrinolysis Process Gets Impacted

When clotting blood, the body forms fibrin, a protein that forms the mesh that helps catch blood cells and prevents excessive blood flow outside the vascular system. Once the wound has healed, fibrinolysis occurs, breaking down the fibrin mesh and restoring regular blood flow.

While studies show mixed conclusions, ingesting large portions of alcohol may run the risk of hindering the fibrinolysis process. This would put individuals at risk for thrombosis, a condition where clots block blood cells from circulating properly.

Strokes

When there are problems in the blood-clotting and fibrinolytic systems, there is a high risk for medical consequences. Long-term alcohol abuse can contribute to these complications, thereby increasing the chances of suffering a stroke.

Two potential types of stroke are likely:

  • Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a ruptured blood vessel leads to bleeding in the brain.
  • Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel.

Alcohol’s Role in the Cardiovascular System

Aside from these specific impact alcohol has on the blood, alcohol abuse can lead to many other changes in the cardiovascular system, such as:

  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Tone of heart muscles
  • Viscosity of the blood

In addition to increasing the risk of a stroke, these effects on the cardiovascular system can also contribute to numerous other health complications.

Preventing Alcoholic Blood Disorders

These alcoholic blood disorders can have a serious impact on your life and overall health. Fortunately, abstinence from alcohol can help to reverse many of these effects as the body begins to regulate itself. However, for those struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction, cutting oneself off from drinking can be a difficult task.

Reflections Recovery Center’s extended care inpatient programs can help men overcome their alcohol addiction, which will help reduce the risk of alcohol complications and get their lives back on track. With ongoing support from medical professionals and other men facing similar challenges, the active and structured lifestyle of Reflections Recovery Center can help move your life away from alcohol abuse and toward better health.

For more information on how alcohol impacts your health, read about the connection between alcohol and low blood sugar:

Learn About Alcohol & Hypoglcemia

Primary Source: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh21-1/42.pdf

Relapse Prevention for Alcohol Abuse: Tips for Staying Sober

Alcohol treatment centers are the oldest consistent forms of addiction treatment programs. People have been struggling with addiction to alcohol since we started manufacturing alcoholic drinks thousands of years ago. In all that time, alcohol relapse has remained a problem, with alcohol relapse rates averaging anywhere from 30-80%.

Relapse prevention has become a needed component to alcohol addiction recovery, due to the fact that urges and triggers are ever-present in sobriety. Quitting drinking is one thing, but how do you stay sober after alcohol rehab?

How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Alcohol

How long does it take to become addicted to alcohol, or physically dependent? The exact time it takes for the body to develop a chemical dependency to alcohol has many variables, but many recovering alcoholics will admit that they can remember a single moment when their alcohol problems began. This doesn’t mean that it took a split second to become addicted, but it certainly did only take a moment for the seeds of addiction to be sown.

In early alcohol addiction, the signs of a problem are obfuscated – meaning the signs are hazy and not exactly clear. Binge drinking, and drinking 6-15 beers in a single night is an obvious red flag, but most don’t recognize that as being a problem in the early stages. When you start craving a drink every night after work, that is another obvious red flag, but many simply write it off as a stress-reliever.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and in its early stages it can look similar to the habits of social drinkers. The problem is that problematic drinking doesn’t go away, it worsens. For that reason, it could take as little as a month to develop the early stages of alcoholism and alcohol addiction. This may seem like a short amount of time, but when you think of the fact that severe alcoholism and end stage alcoholism can develop in the short span of 5 years, a single month of binge drinking is more than enough time to do damage.

10 Tips to Quit Drinking Alcohol and Stay Sober

Before you can focus on staying sober, you first have to quit drinking. Quitting alcohol is the first hurdle in alcohol abuse recovery. This is easier said than done for most people who have been chronic drinkers or binge drinkers for a long time. The best way to deal with an alcohol use disorder is to seek help and treatment from an alcoholic treatment program. However, it could be beneficial for you to take these tips to stop drinking.

  1. Take a Good Look at Your Social Circle and Your Entertainment Habits

    Your entertainment habits include what you do to relax and enjoy yourself. It includes going out to dinner, watching movies, attending events with friends, and what you do to keep yourself busy. If dinner with friends always includes or is based off of drinking – that is a problem. If you go to sports events, movies, or concerts, and you have to have a few drinks to enjoy the event – that is a problem.

    Look at why you need to drink to enjoy these things. Is it because your social circle is drinking and you want to feel part of the crowd, or do you not truly enjoy the activity, and enjoy the drinking aspect instead? Looking at this and making a change to how you spend your free time can be the biggest help in cutting down or quitting your drinking.

  2. Look at Your Mental and Physical Health

    Self-medicating with alcohol is very common for a host of mental and physical issues including depression, anxiety, and underlying medical conditions you might not be aware you have. Find out what makes you happy and what doesn’t. If you find that you have to have alcohol to boost your mood or feel the excitement, then there is likely an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. In many cases, treating anxiety, depression, or other health concerns can fix the perceived need for alcohol.

  3. Replace your Alcoholic Beverages with Non-Alcoholic Drinks

    An issue that is very common amongst long-term beer drinkers is that the habit and action of drinking alcoholic beverages has become an addiction. In short, your drinking is just a habit that you have fallen into. You might be able to recognize this if you have ever had an empty drink, and the feeling of needing a replacement could almost drive you mad. What do you need another drink for? Is it just to have one?

    Try switching drinks to non-alcoholic choices, and have those choices available to you at all times. Sugary sodas are not the best option, but seltzer water, juice, tea, and flavored waters are great choices.

    Try and break the habit of giving the body an alcoholic drink every time the urge comes along. It might be tough to break the habit at first, but in many cases where the issue is problematic drinking, and not alcohol dependence, this solution may be enough to get you to cut out alcohol completely.

  4. Focus on Better More Quality Sleep

    Sometimes our cravings for alcohol equate to self-medication due to exhaustion and stress. The body’s natural remedy for these feelings is to get a good night of deep and restorative REM sleep so you can awake relaxed and refreshed for another day. If you are caught in the cycle of working late, drinking even later, waking up feeling sluggish and sick, and repeating the whole cycle over again, you are due for some rest and relaxation.

    Try getting a full night’s rest and waking up in the morning naturally (no caffeine), and see if this decreases your cravings for alcohol. Alcohol may feel like it helps you overcome a fast lifestyle, but when the alcohol becomes a bigger problem than you can handle, nipping it at the bud and focusing on slowing down your lifestyle might get to the root of the problem.

  5. Compare Your Drinking Habits to Those of Your Significant Other

    If you are in a relationship with someone, you can definitely adopt their habits, or their drinking habits can affect yours. Similar to our first suggestion of “Take a Good Look at Your Social Circle and Your Entertainment Habits,” take a look at what you and your spouse or significant other do together to keep each other busy.

    How much of your relationship is built on drinking? Would cutting down or quitting drinking put you at odds with your S/O, or would they be willing to cut down or quit as well? If your significant other is unwilling to change, how do you expect to be able to spur a change in yourself?

  6. Find Your Hobby. What do you love to do?

    Drinking is very much an affixation. When you are young and drinking is a new experience, it quickly becomes an easy go-to for entertainment. Think about those early experiences with alcohol – when it was new, it quickly became something that you planned on doing on weekends, or created a new angle on activities you enjoyed. The problem is that alcohol quickly takes over, and soon enough you look forward to the alcohol more than the activities. Instead, replace the alcohol with activities.

    Find out what you love to do, and can see yourself doing for hours on end, without even worrying about alcohol. For some, exercise is a natural replacement activity; for others, creating art or writing is a replacement. We can give more generic examples, but really it comes down to finding what you like to do. Can’t think of anything that interests you? Start trying new things and search out what makes you happy. Just don’t let alcohol be the only thing that brings you (what you perceive as) joy and fulfillment.

  7. Exercise, Eat Healthy, and Focus on Bettering Yourself

    Exercising and being healthy can be the activity or hobby that some find they love to spend their time on; but even if this is not going to become your hobby, it should be a part of your routine. Focusing on moderate exercise, healthier diet choices, and an overall focus on a healthier attitude and daily routine is essential for everyone – not just those looking to cut down on unhealthy habits.

    Diet and exercise plays the biggest part in who you are. A poor diet and lack of exercise can make you depressed, anxious, moody, emotional, and pretty much hate life. If you have these types of negative feelings, simply cutting out alcohol isn’t going to reverse everything and fix all your problems. Cutting out alcohol, eating a healthier diet, and getting a moderate amount of exercise will make you feel better though.

  8. Stay Away from Social Media (Or Moderate its Use at the Very Least)

    Social media is a very tricky thing; while it promotes that it is an easier way to help you stay connected to friends, social media is not your friend. In fact, it is the enemy of your mental and emotional health. Health agencies are starting to find that we are in the midst of a mental illness epidemic the likes of which has never been seen before – and it can be tied directly back to social media usage.

    Researchers have also begun to link increased drinking and an increase in alcohol use disorders to those that spend more than an hour per day on social media. Social media is built on reward triggers in the brain, just like drugs and alcohol trigger reward centers. Removing the source of these triggers can help greatly in reducing urges to drink when first quitting alcohol, or when trying to stay sober.

  9. Spend Time with Friends (and Without Alcohol), or Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself When Alone

    Social interaction (real social interaction, not social media interaction) can greatly help your mental health, and can help to prevent urges to drink. Spend time with your friends, and get your brain to spark the reward centers based off interaction with others. The reward your brain gives you for enjoying a conversation with a friend or talking about what you two have in common is chemically the same as reward response triggered by alcohol.

    Not only that, but talking about your feelings, problems and emotions with a good friend gives you another viewpoint. Talk through your problems with someone else, or vent a little – it can take a load off your shoulders.

    What if you’re an introvert, and prefer some time alone over too much time with others? Hey, no one loves you like you love you… but make sure it is self-loving and not self-loathing. Spending too much time focused on your problems, shame, embarrassment, or what doesn’t make you happy will only cause more negativity in your life. Don’t ruminate! If you don’t have anything nice to say about yourself, find a community or group activity that you can get involved with and try and get some new experiences that teach you to love yourself.

  10. Take a Look at Your Behaviors

    Nearly every aspect of staying sober comes down to your behaviors – whether it is what type of drink is in your hand, who you hang out with, how much exercise you get, or what activities and hobbies you are engaged in. There is a good reason alcohol abuse is often referred to as a behavioral health issue – the act of drinking is a behavior that is detrimental to your health.

    Take a deep look at your behaviors and ask yourself, why am I doing this? Why do I want do drink that drink? What reward am I going to get from that drink? What would I be missing out on if I don’t drink that drink…? This deep look at why you do what you do is a staple of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and CBT is one of the best therapies for alcoholism and alcohol abuse.

    CBT does work best when you have someone objective that is guiding you through the process (at least in the beginning), but you can get into CBT all by yourself, and it can change your life. For everything you do in life, there is a thought process that happens in the blink of an eye, too fast for you to even realize the decision-making process that just happened. By slowing down and looking at that decision-making process, you can make better choices, or at least make choices that guide you toward better outcomes.

Alcohol Relapse Rates 

All of the ideas we have given are great examples of how you can fight urges to drink when you are first quitting, or if you find yourself in a situation where your sobriety is tested. However, alcohol addiction and the urges to drink can be powerful, they can even be stronger than your better judgement, in some cases.

*Short Term Alcohol Relapse Rates (Within the First Year of Recovery):

  • With Treatment – Vary between 20% and 50% depending on the severity of the alcohol use disorder
  • Without Treatment – Vary between 50% and 80% depending on the severity of the alcohol use disorder.

*Long Term Alcohol Relapse Rates (Within the First Year of Recovery):

  • With Treatment – Average 23%
  • Without Treatment – Average 40%

This is why we urge those who have struggled with alcohol use to get into treatment,if they can’t do it on their own. When we look at the numbers, we can see that alcohol relapse rates are much higher in those that do not receive any help at all. You are stronger than addiction, but sometimes you need a coach in your corner that motivates you to show that extra strength and knock back the urges.

We can also see that the rate of relapse drops significantly if you can stay sober in your first year. Getting through that first year is key, and most of us need professional help for alcoholism and alcohol abuse to get through all of the triggers that present themselves in the first year.

*Moos RH, Moos BS. Rates and predictors of relapse after natural and treated remission from alcohol use disorders. Addiction (Abingdon, England). 2006;101(2):212-222. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01310.x.

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Unresolved Grief and Addiction: How Self Medication Turns into Addiction

Grief hurts. There is no magic pill for healing your grief. And honestly, it’s insulting when people tell you to just get over it and move on. It just plain sucks.

Who among us can say it takes this amount of time or that amount of behavior to stop grieving? Time heals nothing you don’t work on.

And it’s tough. The emotional pain of grief is tantamount to a slow recovery from major surgery. So, naturally, we avoid it if we can. But avoiding it heals nothing either.

It’s easy to see why people use substances to avoid the pain, often falling into addiction and adding another problem to their grief.

What Causes Grief? 

There are many life events that cause grief. Here are some of the things that cause normal grief:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Death of a friend
  • Divorce
  • Divorce of a parent
  • Loss of a pet
  • Ending of a friendship or relationship
  • Loss of a job
  • Trauma of physical or emotional abuse
  • Seeing a loved one suffer
  • Loss of familiar surroundings
  • Remembering past losses and abuses
  • Major change in any meaningful part of life

Any great loss, change or traumatic experience can cause significant grief. Perhaps particularly apropos for people abusing substances, the loss of identity, loss of self and a life wasted in substance abuse can be the biggest grief-causing trauma of all. Regret turns into grieving.

The Impact of Grief

Although grief and loss are deeply personal issues and there is no typical response, psychology experts recognize five main stages of grief:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

These stages aren’t necessarily in order, and are as individual as human DNA. However, being aware of our feelings and understanding them does help us cope. It’s also nice to know we’re not alone and we’re not the only ones who’ve ever felt this way.

Being capable of coping and being able to accept loss does not mean we’re OK with what happened, but it does mean we are willing to get better and begin to live again.

Uncomplicated Grief

Uncomplicated grief, or normal grief, is the natural sorrow we all go through when dramatic situations arise. Going through the grieving process is how we deal with loss. It’s not a bad thing; it’s a healthy response to a difficult situation.

Symptoms of uncomplicated grief include:

  • Pining for a lost relationship
  • Longing for a person who has passed away
  • Yearning for a lost companion
  • Preoccupation with loss, sadness and depression
  • Difficulty accepting a change in one’s life
  • Agitation, irritability and anxiety

While these symptoms are excruciating, people learn to accept them and come to terms with their loss. Although the memory of a loved one or relationship will never be forgotten, bereaved individuals learn that they have other people and goals in life to pay attention to. After a period of emotional work and spiritual growth, people with uncomplicated grief recover.

Complicated Grief

Unresolved Grief and Addiction: How Self Medication Turns into AddictionTen to 20 percent of those grieving develop complicated grief. In these cases, sorrowful feelings worsen over time instead of improving.

People with complicated grief are often predisposed to addictions. They can be codependent, love addicted, sex addicted or have none of those conditions. Grief itself can be an addictive habit.

People suffering from complicated grief do not let the memory of the person or loss go. They keep the memories alive in their heads by focusing on them and inadvertently feeding their own pain. Stimulating these thoughts in one’s head activates the reward center in the brain.

Similarly, clinging to a past love fires the brain’s pleasure signals, resulting in a chemical reward resembling being with your lover in person. In this way, complicated grief sucks people into an ever-winding whirlpool of sadness and painful/pleasurable emotion. Having complicated grief or bereavement disorder makes one prone to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Coping with Drugs

For people getting clean and feeling emotions, they are not used to coping with without substances, it can be overwhelming. Many of us can’t handle the rush of emotions that flood our souls once the drugs and alcohol wear off. So much of our society buys into the “I need a drink!” way of thinking, and we learn to numb our feelings with alcoholism, substance abuse and other unmanageable addictions that give our brains feel-good chemicals.

It seems fine at first. After all, “It’s what everyone does,” we reason. Unfortunately, substance use turns into addiction and numbing the pain becomes the only way we deal with (or neglect dealing with) feelings. When grief is stuffed down and out of mind, instead of getting better, people get worse.

Addiction and Grief 

While drug and alcohol abuse seems to offer solace to grieving souls, that temporary escape fuels the same neural pathways as the grief-love cycle. Both addiction and relationship attachment – including the memory of love – arouse the same part of the brain.

People in bereavement are vulnerable to drug addiction, and people abusing drugs are prone to cling to grief until it becomes a disorder. Ultimately, which comes first is irrelevant.

Self-Medicating Grief

Cross-addictions come in many forms like alcohol and heroin, meth and Oxy, alcohol, and gambling. For people suffering from loss, it is not uncommon to self-medicate grief with alcohol and drugs.

When simple grief evolves into complicated grief, it becomes a chronic, debilitating mental health condition. And in this weakened state, seeking emotional pain relief through self-medicating substances ramps up.

Codependency and addiction to a person, love or sex carry much grief and loss when the relationship ends – whether due to death or a break-up. At times like these, people are drawn into drugs and alcohol to quiet their minds and to stop feeling.

Toxic Grief 

Grief is painful. Pain makes us gravitate toward relief of suffering. It’s natural.

Even superheroes grieve. With powers like the ability to regrow limbs and stave off cancer, they can find no superpower to avoid emotional pain. And without treatment, even heroes grieve violently, ingest large doses of drugs or attempt suicide. Prolonged complicated grief is toxic.

In dealing with grief and substance abuse in men, effective treatment involves addressing not only the symptoms of substance abuse and addiction, but also the work necessary to overcome deep grief. Although feeling pain is tough, going through it with guidance and support is the way to get emotionally healthy and abandon self-medicating habits.

Summoning the strength to quit drugs and let go of unhealthy attachments takes work. It takes a commitment and surrender to the process. But with the proper treatment and a desire to change, men are accomplishing such feats every day at Reflections Recovery Center.

How to Help a Family Member Suffering from Grief and Addiction

If you have a loved one dealing with substance abuse and you suspect it’s tied to grief – either through the loss of a family member or friend, a divorce or other type of deep-seated grief from the past – you need to get your loved one help at a dual diagnosis rehab center. A dual diagnosis treatment center for men, specifically those dealing with grief and addiction, will offer the best chance at a full recovery from both co-occurring disorders. Reflections Recovery offers just such a program for men.

Regardless of whether your loved one is predisposed to addiction or not, whether the addiction or grief came first, treating substance abuse is the initial therapy. Until a person can think clearly and feel things soberly, no grief work can be done.

Only getting help for addiction and not treating the grief leaves people vulnerable to relapse or developing another addiction. Unresolved emotional issues like complicated grief can wreak havoc for a lifetime.

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Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectancy, and Recovery

Alcohol abuse – especially binge drinking and long-term chronic alcohol abuse – takes its toll on the heart muscle and vascular system. We often forget just how dangerous alcohol can be, and wrongly assume that it takes decades for severe problems to show up from excessive drinking. 

How Alcohol Affects the Heart 

There are several concerns about the heart and circulatory system with heavy drinkers:

  • Arrhythmias
  • Strokes
  • Hypertension
  • Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy (Heart Failure)

Arrhythmias Caused by Alcohol Abuse – Abnormal heartbeats are quite common in heavy and chronic drinkers. The severity of arrhythmias ranges from mild to severe, with the least concerning being “innocent” heart palpitations and arrhythmias. These innocent heart arrhythmias could be temporary and could stem from a simple electrochemical imbalance or from poor nutrition and diet caused by alcohol abuse. Both atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia are forms of arrhythmias in common with alcohol abuse.

Alcohol-Related Strokes – A more serious concern is the risk of strokes with alcohol abuse. Binge drinking and chronic alcohol consumption for months or even a few short years can increase the risk of ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes. Alcohol-induced strokes can occur in otherwise healthy patients and without existing coronary artery disease.

“Binge drinkers have an increased risk of ischemic stroke, are 56% more likely to have a stroke than non-binge drinkers, and are 39% more likely to have any type of stroke.

Alcoholic Hypertension – Binge drinkers and chronic drinkers know all too well the fact that heavy alcohol use raises blood pressure – sometimes raising it to dangerous levels. Alcohol causes your arteries and veins to stiffen, instead of flexing to the beat of the heart. Worsening the problem, continued alcohol abuse can cause the blood vessels to constrict within the already shrinking arteries and veins. Hypertension is an early sign of the increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

Alcohol and Cardiomyopathy 

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy is the most serious concerns of the effects of alcohol on the heart. Cardiomyopathy means “heart failure,” and alcoholic cardiomyopathy simply means that the heart failure is caused by alcohol. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease, meaning that it worsens over time – especially with continued alcohol use.

“Quitting alcohol as soon as possible, and staying sober can immediately stop the progression of alcoholic cardiomyopathy in many cases – as long as the heart failure is not in the late stages of progression.”

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Symptoms 

It is good to note first that just because you have one or more of these symptoms, it does not mean that you immediately have heart failure. The symptoms of very serious cardiomyopathy are similar to the symptoms of less serious heart issues that can be temporary and also caused by alcohol. If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor and have them test to know for sure what is causing those symptoms.

That being said, the following are the symptoms that should prompt your doctor visit:

  • Edema (swelling of the ankles, feet, and legs)
  • Swelling in the extremities, neck, torso and overall swelling
  • Shortness of breath, especially when running or with strenuous activity (dyspnea)
  • Difficulty breathing (especially when laying on your back)
  • Weakness, Fatigue, and feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Foggy head (decreased alertness or difficulty concentrating)
  • Coughing and a cough with mucus discoloration (pink or frothy)
  • Decreased urine output (oliguria)
  • Increased urination at night (nocturia)
  • Heart Palpitations (irregular heartbeats)
  • Rapid pulse (tachycardia)

 Can Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy be Reversed? 

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy can be treated, which is good news for those suffering the symptoms of early stages of the disease, however, it does require a change of lifestyle to be effective. It all depends on how early you catch the disease, and whether or not you can quit drinking for good – that means no alcohol at all.

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Life Expectancy

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectency, and RecoveryWhat is the prognosis and life expectancy for someone who has been diagnosed with alcoholic cardiomyopathy? The prognosis really depends on whether or not the patient is able to quit drinking. If he/she stops drinking and the damage to the heart is not severe, the outlook is very good, and one would not expect a shortened lifespan. However, if the disease is in late stages and the damage is severe enough, it may be too late. Someone with end-stage alcoholic cardiomyopathy is not expected to live more than 4 years.

If someone does not quit drinking, the progressive disease is expected to get worse, and the outlook is grim for someone who continues to drink alcohol and let the disease progress to final stages. Let us be clear that if you do not stop drinking, alcoholic cardiomyopathy will lead to death – although this could take anywhere from 2-10 years, depending on how much existing damage there is.

“We cannot say this enough: quitting alcohol completely gives you the best shot at slowing or reversing this disease, and continued drinking only leads to worsening the disease and eventual death.”

Preventing Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Alcohol Treatment Programs 

Again, alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease, and gets worse as you continue to drink. When diagnosed with this disease, it is imperative that you quit drinking completely. It is at this stage – when trying to quit – that many binge drinkers and chronic drinkers find that they cannot quit, or can’t stay sober for an extended period of time without relapsing.

When alcohol has such a strong hold on you that even the threat of terminal heart failure can’t get you or a loved one to quit drinking, the need for an alcohol treatment program that is intensive and offers a high chance of turning around both your lifestyle and health is needed. Individuals at this point are in a serious position where the stakes are high, and they need the best clinical and therapeutic care they can get.

Reflections Recovery Center is a leading alcohol treatment center in Arizona that can deal with unique needs an of alcoholic men facing health problems due to chronic drinking. The Reflections program puts emphasis on adopting a healthier lifestyle and finding joy in being sober and caring about your health and happiness. Our program can be just what men need when faced with the reality that they need to quit drinking, or face serious health problems.

Is Your Young Adult Child Addicted to Alcohol? Take Our Assessment to Find Out.

After Alcohol Rehab: Preventing Relapse and Ensuring Long-Term Recovery

Learn the Tools to Protect Against Relapse After Alcohol Recovery

Overcoming alcohol or drug addiction is extremely challenging – both mentally and physically. Medically assisted detox and rehabilitation can offer an effective means to overcome dependency and addiction. Continue reading for an overview of the detox, rehabilitation and post-treatment process for alcohol recovery.

How Alcohol Detox Works

Detoxification is the first stage of alcohol treatment for men and women. It involves cleansing the body of alcohol and the toxins in it.

The first step is to stop drinking. After that, the body releases the toxins that are part of dependency, which will give rise to withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol withdrawal without medical supervision can be dangerous. Of course, withdrawing from any addictive substance is extremely painful and hazardous in certain circumstances. Withdrawal symptoms related to alcoholism, however, are some of the worse.

What Is Medically Assisted Detox?

In some cases, it is possible to go through detox without any kind of medical assistance; we usually do not recommend this, though. Medically assisted detox is when the person who is addicted goes to an alcoholism treatment center for help with recovery.

At these facilities, a staff of medically trained professionals will start by helping the person work through the withdrawal symptoms safely and effectively. The team can also prescribe medications that can ease the pain and discomfort of the symptoms.

Detoxing Without Help

Moment Right Before You Give Up Is Usually When A Miracle Happens - Reflections RecoveryDetoxing alone is not only risky because of dangerous symptoms, but also because of the higher likelihood of relapse.

When people who struggle with alcohol try to detox alone, the odds of not taking a drink when their body goes into convulsions or they begin hallucinating are nearly insurmountable.

When this happens, they often count it as a personal failure, adding to the cycle of addiction.

At a high-quality detox facility for alcoholism, a group of trained professionals can help people suffering from dependency complete the detox stage of addiction.

Stages Of Alcohol Detoxification

The first stage of the detox process is an evaluation. Each person who comes enters an addiction recovery program has a different level of dependency. Medical professionals analyze all of the details about this dependency and the person’s medical history.

The second stage is stabilization, which is the main part of detox. By not drinking, the body begins to rid itself of the toxins it had become accustomed to having through drinking.

The final stage of detox is about building awareness. Medical professionals and counselors explain the continuation of treatment after the initial detox stage and discuss tools to prevent relapse.

After Detox

The complete process of detox can take any amount of time, depending on who it is and how intense their dependency was. The second phase of treatment includes counseling and education.

Counseling is a crucial component to recovery, as alcoholism doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The underlying reason for the addiction must be addressed for a person to feel in control of the addiction.

Counseling Technique: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an umbrella term in the field of psychotherapy for practices that work to alter unwanted behaviors in favor of more positive ones.

Cognitive behavior therapy addresses the mental portion of the recovery. Its purpose is to help people adjust the way they are thinking so they make positive choices that lead to better health and greater stability. If they can find a way to control their emotions more productively, it could reduce the chances of relapse.

CBT has proven to be an extremely productive method within addiction treatment. Unlike many other therapy methods, cognitive behavioral therapy can shorten the recovery process and lessen the instances of relapse.

This kind of therapy considers the whole person and makes treatment more effective because it treats the individual, not the addiction. The therapist can easily personalize the program to help with specific issues. This personalized method can also help the person figure out which thought patterns lead to the negativity that makes them want to drink or take drugs.

This cognitive behavioral method also helps show the person how to independently stabilize emotions after finishing treatment It gives people the skills they need to succeed outside of rehab. This reduces the likelihood of relapse.

Alcohol Relapse Prevention

The months after getting out of rehabilitation are the most dangerous time for people struggling with addiction. The temptation to drink again is strong, especially with familiar friends and places haunting them. Having a relapse prevention plan in place can increase a person’s chance of a successful recovery.

For the first three months after treatment, the prevention plan should be updated every month. After that, it should be updated each quarter for the rest of the year. Then, the updates switch to twice a year for the next two years. After three years, the updates happen annually.

More than half of the relapses that people struggling with addiction experience happen in the first six months of recovery, making those months crucial for proper support.

What About Relapse Prevention Meetings?

Another outlet for helping people after they leave an alcohol rehab facility is through connections with other people. Relapse prevention meetings help people stay strong after leaving a treatment facility.

The initial meeting is a review of the list of warning signs, strategies to control them and s general recovery plan. After that step, the assessment gets updated with any recent documents or evidence that shows a variation in the recovery process. This update includes any new warning signs that have come up since treatment.

What You Can Do as a Family Member or Friend

If you have a loved one who is struggling with alcohol dependency, evaluating alcohol addiction recovery programs that suit your loved one is an important first step. However, there are other efforts you can make to help this loved one.

Often, professional interventionists can help convince your family member or friend that going to rehabilitation is the right thing to do. They can also help you choose the correct treatment center for your loved one.

Search for Alcohol Addiction Recovery Programs

There are many different rehab programs for alcoholics, but you should find one with significant experience, compassion and specialized care. Unfortunately, many treatment centers can initially alleviate the addiction through detox, but they don’t give people the proper tools they need to combat the disease in the future. If you’re concerned that a family member’s drinking has become too much for them or you to handle, talk to one of our admissions counselors.

As a place that focuses on recovery for men, Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, AZ can help men conquer the specific nature of their addiction. We do this by not offering a watered-down version of addiction treatment. Our programs teach men not only how to overcome their addiction while they are in treatment, but also how to maintain sobriety after they leave our facilities.

See Relapse Prevention Tips and Strategies

Hypoglycemia and Alcohol: How Alcohol Is Connected to Low Blood Sugar

The Connection Between Hypoglycemia and Alcoholism

Hypoglycemia is an indicator of abnormally low blood sugar. Blood sugar, or glucose, is the body’s main source of energy. When glucose levels dip too low, the following symptoms can emerge:

  • Fatigue
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hunger

Hypoglycemia is very common in alcoholics. Statistics show that a startling 95 percent of alcoholics and almost 90 percent of those with alcohol use disorder are hypoglycemic. Understanding alcohol-induced hypoglycemia is the first step in overcoming both conditions.

About Hypoglycemia

Percentage of Alcoholics Who Are Hypoglycemic - Reflections Recovery CenterHypoglycemia is not a disease; rather, it’s an indicator that something is wrong within the body. Specifically, it means that the brain and body do not have enough glucose to function properly.

The loss of too much glucose can cause irritability, drowsiness, anxiety, and many other symptoms.

As hypoglycemia worsens, more serious symptoms can manifest, including

  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Seizures
  • Fainting

Immediate treatment of hypoglycemia to restore blood sugar levels involves eating certain foods or taking medication. Long-term treatment and reversal, however, require addressing the underlying cause of the condition. For many, that cause is alcohol abuse.

Low blood sugar and alcohol inhibit the body in tandem. According to one study, out of 100 alcoholics, 96 were hypoglycemic (with glucose levels below 70 milligrams per deciliter). By comparison, only 14 of 100 non-alcoholics in a control group had hypoglycemia.

The connection between hypoglycemia and alcohol lies in how alcohol affects the liver. The liver regularly releases a form of glucose into the bloodstream, maintaining steady blood sugar levels.

Alcohol consumption takes a toll on liver function because the liver has to process the alcohol instead of releasing glucose on time. Lack of regular infusions of glucose can cause hypoglycemia. If left untreated, blood sugar imbalances can become a major health concern.

The Cycle of Low Blood Sugar and Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol consumption not only induces hypoglycemia and accompanying symptoms; the reverse is also true. Hypoglycemia can cause strong cravings for alcohol, since alcohol contains large amounts of sugar. An alcoholic may experience the symptoms of low blood sugar and reach for another drink in an effort to ease them. Consuming large amounts of sugar, caffeine and alcohol are common signs of someone with undiagnosed hypoglycemia.

Ingesting more alcohol, however, is the exact opposite of what the body actually needs. Low blood sugar may cause alcohol cravings, but drinking more alcohol forces the liver and pancreas to produce more insulin. Insulin removes sugar from the blood, worsening hypoglycemia.

It’s a vicious cycle that can lead to major health problems if left untreated. If these symptoms seem familiar to you as someone who has had problems with alcohol (for example, if you’ve experienced mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms and hangovers), there is a way out.

How to Reverse Hypoglycemia Due to Alcoholism

There is hope for people with hypoglycemic symptoms due to alcohol use and abuse. It is not enough to simply treat the symptoms of hypoglycemia with sugary foods or medications. To truly regain your health and normal liver function, you must address the underlying issue: alcoholism. The alcohol abuse recovery process is vital to regaining your health.

Detoxification and rehabilitation are the best ways to reverse hypoglycemia related to alcohol abuse. The body needs to detox from too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants that can exacerbate hypoglycemia. The liver and pancreas need to return to their normal levels of function without the interference of alcohol. Most importantly, the system needs proper nutrition to combat and reverse the symptoms of hypoglycemia.

To break the cycle of hypoglycemia symptoms and alcohol consumption, the individual needs Alcohol Nutrition Therapy. Nutritional therapy and lifestyle changes are integral parts of a full recovery.

It is important for those struggling with alcoholism and related health problems to seek a rehabilitation center that includes dietary and nutritional therapy, such as Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona. Proper focus on health and nutrition is the only way to make a full recovery and reverse hypoglycemia for good.

Never Detox on Your Own

Hypoglycemia is not something you should treat lightly, as it can cause serious problems like seizures, loss of consciousness and brain damage. On the road to recovery from alcoholism, the symptoms of hypoglycemia can make it difficult to successfully outlast withdrawal and detoxification. Correct alcohol withdrawal nutrition can ease the symptoms of hypoglycemia, help combat depression and facilitate full-body healing.

At Reflections Recovery Center, we guide men through the entire recovery process. This includes explaining the deep connection between alcohol and nutrition and offering therapies to get men back to healthy physical lifestyles. With help from our nutritionists, you can address blood sugar balance issues, which will reduce alcohol cravings and the risk of relapse.

Remember, alcoholism has trained your body and brain to rely on the substance when your blood sugar balance is off. Retraining your system through proper nutrition in the first months of recovery is key.

You Can Leave Alcohol-Related Health Problems Behind

Drugs and alcohol wreak havoc on the body and brain. Your system cannot function properly under the influence of substances. Drugs such as opioids and alcohol work by disrupting your body’s normal processes, creating feelings that make you want to do it again and abuse the substance.

Understand, however, that the body can only withstand so much disruption. Hypoglycemia is just one of the common health problems connected to alcohol dependency, as the body’s systems struggle (and often fail) to keep up with the intake of substances.

Nutritional therapy during rehabilitation is the answer you’re looking for if you or a loved one has hypoglycemia related to alcohol consumption. Poor nutrition is a mainstay for people struggling with substance abuse.

Don’t let alcohol or related hypoglycemia permanently damage your health. Partner with Reflections Recovery Center to address all aspects of your dependency.

Read More on Alcohol Detox and Recovery

CBT for Alcoholism: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Discover Root Problems of Alcohol Addiction

Addiction is much more than just a physical dependence on a substance. A person struggling with addiction will change their behaviors and attitudes in negative and destructive ways that prolong the addiction, ultimately worsening it.

While detox and medical therapies are critical to overcoming alcoholism and alcohol dependence, cognitive behavioral coping skills therapy for alcohol dependence is incredibly valuable to people in recovery from alcohol abuse.

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an integral part of modern substance abuse treatment that analyzes the behaviors and attitudes behind a person’s addiction. CBT actually began as a tool to combat “problem drinking” and evolved into a comprehensive treatment tool for people struggling with alcoholism and other addictions.

Overcoming the physical dependence on alcohol is only part of the solution; CBT helps people in recovery analyze their behaviors and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Breaking Down Behaviors

Most people with an addiction develop habits or rituals in their substance abuse. This could involve:

  • Following a certain routine
  • Visiting the same hangouts on a consistent basis
  • Engaging in substance abuse in response to environmental triggers

Without CBT, a person who enters detox and recovery may rid themselves of alcohol temporarily and then fall back into the same old habits without realizing the downturn is happening. CBT for addiction aims to shed light on the routines, habits and behaviors surrounding a person’s drinking in a constructive and supportive environment.

Once a person learns to objectively analyze his or her past behaviors from this perspective, it becomes easier to see what went wrong and which behaviors encouraged the drinking problem, such as:

  • Sensitivity to stressors within one’s daily environment
  • A response to negative thoughts and incidents
  • A self-defense mechanism to cope with trauma or stress

Uncovering the Root Causes of a Drinking Problem

A person struggling with any type of addiction will subconsciously start justifying and rationalizing his or her addictive behaviors. They may start to feel that inebriation is the only way to cope with certain stressors or to overcome difficult emotional situations.

CBT encourages a deep, introspective look at the root causes of a drinking problem. For example, a person undergoing CBT may realize that a drinking problem started when a relationship fell apart, and that alcohol became a way to manage the negative feelings and self-worth issues that often arise in these difficult situations.

In others, drinking may be a way to overcome personality traits they dislike about themselves. Another example could be a person who suffers from social anxiety and feels like drinking is the only way he or she can be comfortable in social settings.

Situations like these easily develop into habitual behaviors. The person who copes with rejection by resorting to alcohol abuse may grow to respond to all forms of criticism and rejection with the desire to drink. A person who feels compelled to drink as a “social lubricant” may start to automatically associate social settings with drinking, complicating interpersonal relationships and social life.

CBT aims to shed light on these situations so a person struggling with alcohol abuse can realize the destructive nature of these habits and learn healthier coping mechanisms.

Why Is CBT for Addiction to Alcohol So Effective?

Different types of substance abuse have varying effects on the body and mind, but the influence alcohol has on the brain and behavior is much more significant compared to most other addictive substances.

During CBT, alcohol reduction is the ultimate goal, and this form of therapy targets the root causes – instead of just the symptoms. This entails a close examination of past behaviors and developing new, healthier stress-management techniques.

Another reason why CBT is such an effective treatment method for alcohol addiction is because it fosters relapse prevention. The risk of relapse after recovering from alcohol addiction is much higher when compared to most other substances, not to mention that alcohol is legal for adults over 21 and easily accessible throughout the United States.

Not only is the temptation to relapse easy to feel, the mental connections to drinking habits are much harder to break. CBT teaches people in recovery how to manage cravings and break through their previously destructive behaviors to have better chances of avoiding relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at Reflections Recovery Center

Cognitive behavioral therapy plays a crucial role in the alcohol addiction treatment program at Reflections Recovery Center. Finding the right alcohol rehab facility for men can be difficult, and the thought of relocating may seem daunting to people struggling with alcohol addiction. Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, Arizona offers an alternative to traditional clinical settings with a focus on the outdoors and unique therapies designed for men.

CBT is a proven effective method for handling the behaviors that drive alcohol abuse, so reach out to Reflections Recovery Center to learn more about CBT and other therapies we use to treat men who are struggling with alcohol addiction.

See What to Expect in Our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Sessions

Explore CBT at Reflections

Why Nutritional and Vitamin Therapy is Essential In Alcohol Detox and Alcoholism Recovery

Nutrition allows the human body to generate energy and maintain its systems. Proper nutrition is essential to everyone, but individuals attempting to recover from alcohol abuse will have a much smoother detox experience with a diet supplemented by vitamin therapy. Prolonged consumption of large quantities of alcohol has several adverse effects on the body, and poor nutrition makes the detox and recovery process more stressful and uncomfortable.

Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

To recognize how important nutrition and vitamin supplements are to alcohol abuse recovery, it’s vital to understand the effects alcohol abuse has on the human body. Symptoms will vary case by case due to individual health factors, how long alcohol abuse has continued, and how far the addiction has progressed.

Some alcoholics are so severely addicted that the bulk of the nutrients in their diet come from the alcoholic beverages they consume. When the body cannot obtain the nutrients it needs from consumed food and drink, it will start breaking down other tissues in the body. This also impacts the body’s glucose levels. Glucose, or blood sugar, is a necessary component for healthy brain functions as well as other metabolic processes.

Excessive alcohol intake can deregulate the body’s ability to control blood glucose levels. This can cause hypoglycemia (decreased blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar). These conditions can be harmful, especially for individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes.

Alcohol and Digestion 

After food is consumed, the digestive system breaks it down into its smaller molecular components. The body absorbs these compounds to maintain vital systems and create energy. Alcohol prevents the efficient breakdown of food by inhibiting the production of digestive enzymes. Food may be consumed, but the body is far less capable of breaking it down into a useful form while there is alcohol in the body.

Even when food is successfully broken down, alcohol inhibits the processes the body uses to absorb the nutrients and use them. Over time, this means an alcoholic will progressively receive less and less energy from the food and alcohol they consume, depriving the body of essential nutrients at an increasingly faster pace.

Health Risks of Advanced Alcoholism 

Long-term alcohol abuse is one of the most physically damaging forms of substance abuse. Untreated alcoholism cannot only cause complications in virtually every bodily system, but it can be fatal. Some of the long-term or permanent effects of alcohol abuse include heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver from vitamin A and E deficiencies, nerve damage, and pancreatitis. Additionally, alcoholics often experience seizures due to impaired brain function, and many advanced alcoholics suffer from dehydration and malnutrition.

Wet Brain Syndrome 

An especially dangerous condition, common in advanced alcoholics, is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, often called “wet brain.” This condition manifests when the body is deprived of vitamin B1 (thiamine) for an extended period, and hinders nervous system and brain functions.

Addiction and Nutrition 

Malnutrition is more dangerous than many realize, and it often goes unaddressed for long periods of time of time with alcoholics. When the body does not obtain the nutrients it needs to continue essential functions, the entire body begins to degrade. Essentially, the human body will begin breaking itself down to survive. Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic, and dehydration is not only dangerous, but over a long period of time, it can be seriously damaging to the body.

Alcohol itself is damaging to the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, but addictive patterns contribute to the damage as well. Most substance abusers will start neglecting self-care and other everyday activities as their addictions worsen. Eventually, the only thoughts are about where to find more alcohol. Not only does alcohol hurt the body when ingested, but the search for more alcohol also prevents the alcoholic from obtaining essential nutrition.

Vitamin Therapy 

When alcoholics seek treatment, it’s vital to address the damage that the alcohol has done to the body’s vital systems. Vitamin therapy describes treatment involving high doses of essential vitamins. This process helps the body regain essential functions. Vitamin therapy not only helps address malnutrition and dehydration and the severe issues they cause, but also helps the alcoholic by allowing them to approach the recovery process with a more solid foundation.

Addiction is deeply rooted in behavior, and while alcohol has a significant impact on physical health, the psychological battle with addiction is far more stressful and difficult. When the body and mind are deficient in essential vitamins, it becomes even harder.

The Detox Process 

Once the effects of an alcoholic’s last drink start to wane, he or she will begin experiencing withdrawal. Once the body has grown accustomed to a particular substance, it reacts negatively when that substance is no longer available – and this is withdrawal. For alcoholics, withdrawal typically entails delirium tremens, also called “DTs” or “the shakes,” and causes violent tremors. Additionally, severe anxiety, seizures, sweating, irregular heartbeat, fever, high blood pressure, hallucinations, nausea, and irritability commonly manifest during the withdrawal period.

Rebuilding the Body 

This is typically an excruciatingly painful process, and an alcoholic in withdrawal will experience intense cravings for more alcohol. With medical supervision and vitamin therapy, alcoholics can have a much easier time handling the onset of withdrawal and working through it.

The high doses of essential vitamins during treatment help jump-start the body’s essential functions. Vitamin therapy can be a valuable part of any alcoholic’s recovery and not only help the physical pains of detoxing, but also pave the way to a smoother psychological recovery with a healthier mind and body.

Though Alcohol Detox and Withdrawals Can Be Dangerous
Proper Detox Under Medical Supervision Is Safe, Painless, and a Necessary First Step in Addiction Recovery:

Removing Drug and Alcohol Toxins

What to Expect From Medically Supervised Alcohol Detox

Alcohol addiction is one of the most worrisome forms of chemical dependency, and those seeking relief from the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal often require detoxification. The alcohol detox process is safe, but several factors influence the process. In some cases, alcohol detox can be life threatening if caregivers do not assess the patient’s condition accurately or if the detox takes place in an unsuitable setting.

The Detox Process Differs Case by Case

People considering alcohol detox for themselves or loved ones with alcohol abuse issues need to understand how the process works and know the importance of medical supervision. Alcohol has intense withdrawal symptoms, including shakes and tremors, nausea and vomiting, sweating, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty eating and sleeping. In some cases, patients can become delirious and experience hallucinations and sensory confusion. The intensity of these symptoms varies greatly from person to person, and the factors that influence symptoms include:

Personal Health

The person’s physical characteristics, such as height, weight, age, genetic factors, and other medical conditions may be a factor for detox.

Specific Addiction

Withdrawal symptoms depend on the nature of the person’s addiction. Withdrawal is going to be much harder for heavier users, and the symptoms of withdrawal can be life threating in some situations.

Patient Support

A person’s environment can make detoxification more challenging or easier, depending on his or her system of support.

Mild to moderate alcohol dependency can sometimes be treated in an outpatient setting, but more-severe cases are going to necessitate medical supervision. Additionally, certain prescription medications can offer relief for some patients, but whether the patient should use these drugs will vary by case. It’s always best to consult a medical professional and err on the side of caution when dealing with potentially severe withdrawal symptoms.

Stages of Detox

The detoxification process is going to be different for every patient, but the timeline is mostly consistent for everyone. Patients and their loved ones have a difficult road ahead, and it’s important to have some idea of what to expect and how the different phases of detox treatment should play out.

Preparation for Detox

The patient and his or her support system should take some crucial steps before the detoxification process starts. Obtaining medical supervision is highly recommended, even if the patient’s case doesn’t immediately seem severe enough to warrant it. The symptoms and severity of withdrawal vary, and no two patients are the same. It can be impossible to predict how a patient will react to detoxification, so take every possible precaution to ensure the patient’s safety and an easier recovery.

Detox is just the first step in a long and challenging process to overcoming alcohol addiction. Again, it’s best for patients to prepare for the challenge ahead by making healthy choices before detox and before withdrawal symptoms manifest. For example, the patient should avoid sedatives or opiates that may delay the onset of detox. Additionally, proper nutrition and vitamin supplements are invaluable throughout the recovery process, although administering these things can be quite difficult. This is another reason medical supervision is essential.

The First Days of Alcohol Withdrawal

The initial withdrawal symptoms are going to set in shortly after the patient’s body has processed his or her last dose of alcohol. The first 72 hours are going to be the most painful and arduous for most patients, and the most serious withdrawal symptoms are most likely to appear in this time.

For severe cases, medical supervision is imperative at this stage, because the symptoms can include fluctuation in blood pressure, breathing, pulse, and body temperature. Additionally, it is not uncommon for patients to experience convulsions, seizures, tremors, profuse sweating, dehydration, and bouts of unconsciousness. For these reasons, medical supervision is highly advised for patients who are severely alcohol dependent.

Severe Response to Alcohol Detox

Assessing the patient’s medical state is crucial before beginning detox. Unknown health factors can cause some symptoms to arise more violently or acutely than others can, and patients should take the time to visit with a specialist who can accurately determine the best course of treatment for dealing with the symptoms of withdrawal. Some health concerns, including heart disease, pancreatic disease, infections, and problems in the nervous system, will impact the patient’s recovery.

For patients with extreme dependency, the symptoms of withdrawal can be fatal. The initial onset of symptoms after the last drink has been processed can be extreme, and a medical professional needs to stabilize the patient to prevent life-threatening scenarios.

The First Week of Detoxification

The first onset of withdrawal symptoms can be painful and potentially violent. For those severely dependent, medical supervision may still be necessary after the first few days have passed. One of the most common withdrawal symptoms seen in highly dependent patients is delirium tremens (the DTs). Delirium tremens is the most severe and medically dangerous form of alcohol detox syndrome, and medical supervision is necessary for DT cases. Most cases of the DTs manifest two to five days after ceasing or drastically reducing alcohol consumption. The symptoms include:

  • Extreme Agitation and Restlessness
  • Gross Tremors
  • Autonomic Instability
  • Paranoia
  • Disorientation and Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Nervousness
  • Mood Swings
  • Nightmares

The most acute symptoms of alcohol withdrawal appear in the first week and can last for several weeks. Other withdrawal symptoms can last for months or longer, but the most life-threatening ones come after the initial shock to the body’s systems once alcohol consumption has stopped. Doctors can assess a patient’s level of withdrawal and the severity of his or her symptoms and adapt the treatment plan accordingly. Depending on the situation, some medications can help a patient cope with intense or potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Steps to Take Before Detox

Professionals recommend gradually reducing alcohol intake in preparation for total cessation. When patients take the time to reduce their alcohol consumption, the shock of withdrawal is usually less severe and easier to manage. Again, dependence and the intensity of withdrawal symptoms hinge on various factors – from length and severity of dependence to overall patient health, so it’s imperative to visit with a medical professional and develop a comprehensive detox treatment program tailored to the patient’s individual needs and medical concerns.

One of the most important things for patients to keep in mind is that trust plays a significant role in recovery. Patients need to feel safe with their doctors and understand that detox treatment, although painful and unpleasant in even mild cases, its necessary to approach safely. Patients’ anxiety can have a far more detrimental effect on the detox and severity of withdrawal symptoms than most people realize, so it’s vital to be well informed about the medically-assisted detox process. Done correctly, medically assisted detox can allow a patient to start on the road to full recovery with well-managed withdrawal symptoms and less physical strain.

Drug and Alcohol Detox Can Be Dangerous If Done Outside of a Medically Supervised Detox Facility
DON’T TAKE CHANCES WITH YOUR RECOVERY
GET PROFESSIONAL, MEDICALLY SUPERVISED DETOX:

Medically Supervised Detox

What real clients have to say about Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona
Reflections provided me with the tools that got me where i am today with 14 months sober.
— Ricky A, Long Beach CA
Reflections gave me a life and an opportunity to become part of society. They challenged me and shaped me into the man I want to be.
— Dyer K, Gilbert AZ
I learned how to stay sober, found my best friends and created a new life at Reflections
— David S, Phoenix AZ

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