Addiction to alcohol, or alcoholism, is not a one-size-fits-all disease. There isn’t a test for it, it doesn’t consist of a specific number of drinks per day, nor can someone decide that you are an alcoholic for you. Whether or not you are an alcoholic depends on a number of conditions, the biggest being the effect that alcohol has on your life. If you are experiencing negative consequences (health, relationships, career, legal) as a result of your drinking, then you may want to take a look at the list of questions below and consider your answers.
How Do I Know if I Am an Alcoholic?
When drinking with other people, do you try to have a few extra drinks when others won’t know about it?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it could mean that you have a problem with alcohol. Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. And yes, there is recovery and you are not alone. Alcoholism is the most common addiction affecting Americans. In fact, there were 16.3 million people suffering from alcoholism in the U.S. in 2014, nearly 6 million of which were women. Unfortunately, only about 3 million of those people sought treatment, even though treatment provides you with a much better chance at recovery.
Treatment for Alcoholism
The most important thing to realize about alcoholism is that it is treatable. Finding treatment may seem daunting, but it really isn’t. You have options when it comes to what level of treatment you want. The most intensive are residential rehab, where patients typically stay for at least 30 days and sometimes longer. There is also day treatment, or partial hospitalization, which you attend during the day, but sleep in your own home. Next is outpatient treatment, which is typically meeting a few days a week, for a few hours.
All of the levels of treatment offer education about alcoholism, 12-step programs, life skills, and relapse prevention; group and individual counseling; and screening for medical issues, including mental health. Some patients use the different levels of treatment as a step-down approach, beginning with residential treatment, then day treatment, and then outpatient. The highest level of care that your life (and your insurance) will allow, is well worth the time and lowers your risk of relapse.
Unfortunately, many alcoholics do relapse after treatment. However, relapse does not have to be part of your recovery. Most treatment centers offer some sort of aftercare or alumni program, and taking advantage of that can be essential to preventing relapse and recovering from it.
When you enter treatment you will begin to build your recovery support system; it is the first step toward recovery. By doing so, you may be saving your own life.