Alcohol addiction is the most common addiction in the world. The use of alcohol is accepted among many cultures and is often incorporated into religious and spiritual ceremonies. Age restrictions on the intoxicating and addictive substances around the world fluctuate and are often even debated. It is sold legally over the counter in most regions in the United States.
The overwhelming availability of alcohol is likely the number one cause of such high addiction rates. Think about every social event you have attended in the past. Whether attending or planning a birthday party, BBQ, wedding, or graduation, a key feature is likely to revolve around refreshments. From mimosas to beer, there’s often a variety of alcohol-infused drinks to choose. In some cases, it is as important as the main event.
While enjoying a taste now and then is not necessarily considered an indiscretion, many face difficulties doing so responsibly. Some people have a predisposition to alcoholism, and some develop dependency overtime. Unfortunately, no matter what the cause, alcohol addiction is a continuing epidemic within the world of substance abuse treatment communities.
Alcohol Addiction Can Affect Anyone
Just as alcohol is welcomed within a wide variety of social gatherings, addiction also affects various people. Developing an alcohol use disorder is impartial to age, gender, race, or even socioeconomic status. The difference, however, is how each demographic manages the toil with alcohol addiction.
It’s likely that even gender stereotypes influence the number of reluctant people to reach out for help. Studies show that men are more likely to ask for help when facing an alcohol use disorder. This prompted researchers to look a bit deeper into why many women were reluctant to seek treatment. The findings reflected the correlations between shame, denial, and fear of the developed disease, more so than men.
Gender Roles Affect Expectations
When discussing associations made toward alcohol addiction, it became clear that gender roles and expectations had the greatest impact. Historically, women are understood to be the primary caretakers of their children. Because of this, the fear of having custody taken away obstructs the need to come forward. As the world is quickly evolving, the added pressures contribute to developing an alcohol dependency as well.
The drive to achieve financial independence and success only adds more pressure to women around the country. Stress is the number one influence that leads to developing an addiction, such as alcoholism. Due to the growing demand, contemporary alcohol treatment facilities have developed programs just for women suffering from alcohol addiction.
With compassion, knowledge, and specialized care, facing alcoholism is much more of a growing experience than ever before. Getting rehab treatment from a gender-oriented program incorporates hope, strength, and safety into a recovery plan.
Alcohol Use Disorder: Males vs. Females
An interesting fact, men have a higher tolerance for alcohol. This does not make them exempt from developing an addiction, although, if keeping score, women are more susceptible.
The male body naturally produces more of the enzyme ADH. ADH breaks down alcohol and is found in the stomach and liver. This naturally occurring enzyme difference, matched with the average size differences between the biological sexes, is responsible for the disparity. Women, biologically at a disadvantage when it comes to using alcohol, can become more easily affected than their counterparts.
Alcoholism is a Family Disease
Alcohol addiction is considered a family disease. On so many levels, the family struggles just as much as the addict themselves. It’s hard to helplessly stand by as the alcoholic you love slowly loses control.
Consequently, many other areas of the family dynamic are impacted as well. In fact, this can also contribute to wanting to keep addiction issues private, reinforcing the reluctance to seek out treatment.
The physical and emotional damage being done by the urges to ingest alcohol can be quite time-consuming. Then, there is the extra time spent trying to cover it up. Not to have to mention the money wasted on supporting the habit. Together, these sacrifice valuable moments away from those that love and need you most.
Family Members Are Expected to Help
Additionally, family members of the alcoholic are obligated to pick up the slack. They will have to make more sacrifices in their lives, and responsibilities become uncomfortably disproportional among partners. Unfortunately, this does not just regard a spouse or life partner’s additional contribution. Older children often also feel the excessive burden to keep a household running.
A significant part of alcohol addiction treatment for women includes the entire family in the therapeutic process. Having specialized services for families and children makes for a higher-quality alcohol addiction treatment program. By helping the entire household heal, it increases the ability to protect the most valuable woman’s relationships. These services are usually available while simultaneously getting treatment for alcohol use disorders.
Discuss the options available for your family and loved ones as you get the addiction treatment that you need. After alcoholism has made its way into all of your lives, the best approach to healing in recovery is a proactive one. The longer you wait to get help, the bigger the impact it will have on those that depend on you.
Identifying Alcoholism Isn’t Always Easy
Each individual suffering from an alcohol use disorder will inevitably experience some life-changing event, caused by their addiction. However, it is not as simple as answering a yes or no question to make that determination. This is because every person is unique, and every addiction is a personal one. From how addiction is developed, to the substances being abused, no two alcoholics are exactly alike.
However, because the disease of alcohol addiction has been classified and vehemently studied, there are some common warning signs. Some alcoholics show major distress signals, while others, typically more experienced, more subtle. On that note, age and maturity can impact how warning signs differ.
The normalization of drinking raises the difficulty of determining whether someone requires treatment for an alcohol use disorder. A person aged 16-25 will be different from someone in their 50’s and 60’s, even if both consume alcohol often and in excess. Alcohol addiction treatment must approach rehab and recovery very differently, as well.
Rehab treatment centers that have options for youth or mature adult programs for women are often the most successful. They are better able to incorporate more relevant therapy or medical assistance, reducing age-related risks of withdrawal. Age-related treatment allows for healing among peer groups, providing a higher level of comfort and support.
Warning Signs of Alcohol Addiction
One of the first signs that dependency on alcohol has developed is being aware of the intensity of withdrawal. To ensure the best possible outcome, an alcoholic may need the assistance of an addiction specialist or a trained medical professional.
By showing or feeling one or more of the warning signs, you could conclude this. Be aware that you may have an alcohol use disorder that requires treatment if:
- Alcohol is a primary focus throughout each day.
- Difficulty focusing unless it is alcohol included or related
- Struggling to be mentally and emotionally in the moment during sentimental events or occasions
- Severe withdrawal and detox that required more alcohol to relieve
- Interrupting thoughts about the next opportunity to consume alcohol.
- Being unable to cut back despite efforts and desires
- The inability to stop consuming alcohol and putting yourself or others well being in jeopardy because of it
- Having overwhelming cravings for alcohol that only subside once obtained
- Being secretive about drinking alcohol, whether in amount or occasion, around others.
- Becoming defensive when questioned about having a drink or about an alcohol addiction
- Finding yourself needing to drink more to feel the effects
- Failing to maintain obligations whether to family, work or education
- Having the fear that getting alcohol addiction treatment will take something major away from your life
- Missing out on important family and social gatherings because of alcohol
- Experiencing noticeable changes in behavior brought upon by cravings and misuse of alcohol
Each one of these behaviors indicates having an addiction to alcohol. Whether an alcohol use disorder has been an ongoing or newly developed habit will continue to evolve. Take measures to get help for addiction, before it takes what’s left of life’s enjoyable moments.
Withdrawal and Alcohol Use Disorders
One of the most difficult experiences of getting treatment for an addiction to alcohol is going through withdrawal. It takes time to build up a dependency to a substance. Therefore, it will also take time to reset the body’s functions. Alcohol detox is one of the most dangerous processes to undergo. Typically, this can begin anywhere between a few hours to a few days after the last drink.
Some of the major side effects of this process can be extremely uncomfortable and even life-threatening. You may experience sensations such as:
- Tremors and shaking
- Headache and migraines
- Increased anxiety
- Hallucinations or disorientation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Depressed mood and mood swings
- Cardiac irregularity
- Respiratory dysfunction or chest pain
While you may not exhibit all of these symptoms of withdrawal, these are likely risks associated. Often, to detox, lifesaving measures may need to be taken. It can also be scary and uncomfortable for those around you that do not understand what you are going through. During detox, a rehab treatment center will see that your safety is maintained during these uncomfortable times.
Reinforcing Sober Behaviors After Alcohol Addiction Treatment
It may take some longer than others to adjust after detox and rehab. Keep in mind; there is no miracle cure for addiction. As the days, months and weeks go by, temptations and triggers will always be threats to overcome.
Intensive sober living is an option to consider that provides alcoholic support in an environment free of alcohol altogether. This program is a beneficial way to reinforce rehab lessons while solidifying new sober behaviors.
Intensive sober living combines a sober location to call home and supports time away to stay connected to important friends and family. Similar to residential treatment, that takes place after detox, therapy and support groups are more frequent and available within this residential community, as well as sober peer support.
Relapse is never something to write off completely. Yet, at the beginning of your rehab and recovery journey, it will most likely be the most difficult. The best action you can take for yourself and those you love is to practice sober behaviors until they become habits. Intensive sober living adds to this by restricting alcohol from the premises, therefore removing immediate temptation. Now, with more time to focus on the sober road ahead, the future begins to look much healthier and brighter.
Getting Treatment and Managing Obligations
While intensive sober living and residential treatment are beneficial programs for alcohol addiction, they may not be suited for everyone. Many women that seek treatment for an alcohol use disorder are unable to be absent from the household. Intensive outpatient programs help women stay present in the household.
This type of alcohol addiction treatment allows those with children, careers, or work obligations to spend more time away. Whether this type of rehab will be best for each woman depends on the severity of their addiction needs. It is also useful to incorporate this route of care after a short stay in house.
This type of alcohol rehab requires focus, attention, and the determination to turn away from triggers to be successful. The same is true for women’s services, such as partial day treatment options. Apart from being able to return home, they encompass the same beneficial addiction care offered for residents. However, it does not lack the need for willpower to avoid relapse when exposed to triggers and stress at home.
Alcohol Addiction and Mental Health
Addiction is a disease, a chronic one at that. Few alcoholics, if any, ever drank to be chemically dependent, or to alter their brain chemicals permanently. Once the brain begins recognizing alcohol as part of feeling “normal,” drinking alcohol is no longer a casual choice. It will have started to have physical effects and influence over behaviors.
Just like additional types of diseases, it has impacted brain chemicals and function and lessened the quality of life. Now, alcohol use has developed into a disorder that needs treatment. Psychological illnesses, such as addiction, are diagnosed by how severely a person is affected, in terms of altered:
- Pleasure, due to changes in the reward center of the brain
- Mood or frequency of mood swings
- Thought process effectiveness
- Motivation, or lack thereof
When diagnosing and treating alcohol use disorder, it is essential to observe any other psychological illnesses that may also exist. For example, a person that suffers from addiction may also be suffering from depression or anxiety simultaneously. Sometimes, a mental illness may have driven a person to drink excessively. Other times, it is the opposite way around. Or even, have nothing to do with one another as far as development.
Alcohol addiction treatment centers take the time to screen exclusively for underlying and co-occurring disorders. This is because if left undiagnosed, it can hinder recovery efforts, or even lead to relapse. When this is the case, it is called a dual diagnosis. In the case of dual diagnosis, regardless if one illness leads to the other, there will undoubtedly impact the severity. Alcohol addiction therapy addresses multiple areas of wellness, and mental health is one of them.
Becoming Pregnant While Addicted to Alcohol
Let’s face it: Pregnancy is enough to think about all of its own. For that matter, so is untreated alcohol addiction. Women that are struggling with both simultaneously, it is a recipe for a stressful situation. While complications during pregnancy can happen naturally, through no fault, when alcohol is consumed, the risk multiplies tremendously.
Alcohol can be transferred in utero by means of the umbilical cord. So any amount of alcohol consumed by the mother at any time during her pregnancy can have dangerous, if not deadly, outcomes for both mother and child. Getting rehab treatment assistance designed for pregnant women, is crucial to evade birth defects, miscarriage, or stillborn risk.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD, is known to be related to alcohol consumption during pregnancy. It can cause a wide array of permanent damage to the unborn child. Some of the characteristics of FASD include:
- Impeded growth, such a small head size, stunted height growth, and lower body weight
- Problematic or abnormal facial development, such as improperly formed philtrum
- Behavioral disorders such as difficulty holding attention, coordination or memory
- An array of learning disabilities or low IQ
- Delayed or impaired speech development
- Loss of hearing or vision
- Sleep disturbances
- Organ damage of the kidneys, liver or heart
- Poor bone growth
- Stillbirth, miscarriage, or premature birth
The damage done to a woman’s mind and body when addicted to alcohol can have lasting effects. The complications of alcoholism during pregnancy can be even more devastating.
Women’s alcohol rehab centers are educated in treating these special circumstances. Versed in compassion and understanding, work with professionals to develop a course of alcohol addiction treatment best for your pregnancy. Both you and your baby deserve the best addiction treatment, designed with the highest standard of safety and support.
Alternative and Holistic Treatment For Alcohol Use Disorder
In order to complete rehab and achieve a long-lasting, meaningful recovery, it is important to address all aspects of health. Utilizing holistic programs can encourage a well-rounded and fulfilling journey of sobriety.
A person’s well being is based on the highest level of health regarding the mind, body, and soul. This includes ensuring that the family of an alcoholic is also in a position of safety and gratification. Treatment for alcohol use disorder does not just stop at managing addiction; it’s designed to give you your life back.
Relapse is Not Failure
For many women on their journey through rehab and recovery, bumps in the road are encountered. The same is true for all of life. For an alcoholic, the temptation can range anywhere from a small fleeting thought, to an overwhelming struggle to stay the course. Being sober and in recovery does not mean that the work is complete. The disease of addiction takes hold and often refuses to let go. It is at these times that addicts must remain faithful to their aftercare program.
An aftercare program is essentially a lifelong guide that is created throughout an alcohol addiction treatment curriculum. These instructions are developed personally, with the help of addiction counselors, to combat triggers and resist sobriety threatening urges. It will likely include regular meetings and therapy, as one would expect.
But it should also consist of coping mechanisms to stay busy, experience joy, and get through the tough times. For many alcoholics, relapse is part of the journey. Taken as a lesson, it can even make you stronger the next time around. Relapse is not a failure if you never give up on working on you.
Don’t Wait to Get Treatment
Whether starting off doing it for yourself or your family, it’s never too late to treat alcohol addiction. Don’t let this disease take anything more away from you. Rehab treatment centers designed just for women have the availability to welcome you in and get you started healing right away. Make contact and get familiar with our different treatment options. Each program can help you manage your addiction and rehabilitation needs accurately. In some cases, your life may depend on it. Get yourself sober so that those that matter can depend on you.