When a Person Has a Serious Drinking Problem

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If drinking is causing a serious problem in ANY aspect of a person's life, he or she has a serious drinking problem that requires prompt alcohol treatment.

Areas of Life That Are Often Affected by One's Abusive Drinking

Let us look at the "typical" aspects of a person's life that are adversely affected by chronic abusive and excessive drinking.

These include: one's health, finances, education, relationships, employment, self control, mental health, and one's involvement with the law.

Think about this for a moment. If a person loses his job due to alcohol abuse or alcoholism and cannot find other employment, this certainly can be a life changing and an adverse event.

Similarly, consider the devastation that results when a person's marriage or his significant relationships are destroyed due to his chronic alcohol abuse or alcoholism.

Likewise, isn't it a major issue when problem drinkers lose total control over their drinking? Indeed, this a major problem that is actually one of the "key" components of alcohol dependency.

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From a similar perspective, think about the humiliation and depression a person must feel when he has to declare bankruptcy or live in the streets as a homeless person because he wasted most of his money on drinking.

Furthermore, consider the loss of freedom and the sense of worthlessness a person must feel who becomes incarcerated due to one or more DUIs.

And finally, think about the millions of people who face a life threatening medical or health issue that is directly or indirectly related to his drinking.

Examples of Serious Alcohol Related Medical Conditions

Heavy and chronic drinking often lead to serious illnesses and diseases that can be fatal. The following represents some of these deadly diseases and illnesses.

Liver Disease. Repeated and frequent abusive drinking can result in liver disease. Examples include hepatitis (an inflammation of the liver) and cirrhosis of the liver (a scarring of the liver). Unfortunately, cirrhosis of the liver can be deadly if the problem drinker continues to engage in heavy and abusive drinking.

Cardiovascular Disease. Excessive drinking over time can also increase a person's risk for developing a number cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, high blood pressure, and strokes.

Alcohol Related Cancer. Unfortunately, excessive and chronic drinking over many months or years increases an individual's risk of developing various types of cancer. Examples include cancer of the esophagus, colon, voice box, rectum, throat, and the mouth.

Pancreatitis. Abusive drinking over a period of years can lead to pancreatitis, a disease that is associated with excessive weight loss and severe abdominal pain. Not unlike the other medical conditions and illnesses listed above, pancreatitis, can be fatal.

The Bottom Line

Granted, many, if not most of the aforementioned diseases and medical conditions can be seen as rather "extreme" to people who don't drink or who always drink in moderation.

Unfortunately, however, thousands of problem drinkers in our society experience one or more of these serious alcohol-related problems in their lives on a daily basis.

The bottom line is this. If drinking is causing a serious problem in ANY aspect of your life, you have a serious drinking problem.

Why not address your drinking problem before it becomes out-of-control? In other words, why not get professional alcohol treatment BEFORE your drinking destroys the most important aspects of your life, the lives of those who love you, and increases your risk of making the transition from alcohol abuse to alcohol dependency?

Types of Alcohol Treatment Programs

There are several different types of treatment programs for problem drinkers such as alcohol abusers, chronic alcohol abusers, alcoholics, and binge drinkers. The following represents some of these alcohol rehab programs.

Residential Alcohol Treatment. Also called "inpatient alcohol treatment," residential alcohol treatment involves staying at a treatment facility 24/7 while undergoing intensive alcohol rehab during the day.

Residential treatment programs usually last between 30 and 90 days and are usually supervised and administered by a medical physician.

Outpatient Alcohol Treatment. Outpatient alcohol rehab programs are very similar to residential programs with one major exception.

Rather than living in an alcohol treatment facility like individuals in residential facilities, problem drinkers who receive outpatient alcohol treatment live at their home, apartment, or condo and get alcohol rehab on an "outpatient basis" at hospitals, clinics, and drug and alcohol rehab facilities.

Due to the fact that problem drinkers who receive outpatient alcohol rehab do not live 24/7 at a rehab facility, there is less monitoring and usually less intensive treatment in "outpatient" alcohol programs than in residential rehab programs.

Partial Alcohol Hospitalization. Partial alcohol hospitalization is essentially an alcohol treatment program that lies between "residential" AND traditional "outpatient" rehab. More specifically, problem drinkers who are in "partial alcohol hospitalization" programs require ongoing, intensive medical monitoring and assistance.

As a consequence, alcohol abusers and alcoholics who are in "partial hospitalization" programs spend relatively large blocks of time (e.g., 4 to 6 hours per day) several days per week (e.g., 3 to 5 times per week) in a hospital setting while living the other times at their apartment, home, or condo.

Intensive Outpatient Program. While not as intensive as most residential alcohol rehab programs, an intensive outpatient alcohol program (IOP) is very similar to partial alcohol hospitalization programs with two essential differences.

First, rather than receiving treatment at a hospital, individuals in an IOP can go to clinics, centers, and other rehab facilities.

And second, unlike the full alcohol treatment spectrum that is a hallmark of a partial alcohol hospitalization program, the the main focus in an IOP is on "relapse prevention."

IOP alcohol rehab programs typically meet at least three days per week for between 2 and 4 hours per day. Intensive outpatient programs are often scheduled around an individual's work or school commitments.

Counseling. The three major types of counseling are individual, group, and family counseling. Actually, individual and group alcohol counseling can be undertaken both in residential rehab settings as well as in outpatient alcohol programs.

On the other hand, "family" counseling is, with extremely rare exceptions, always done on an outpatient basis. Alcohol counseling typically works "best" when undertaken in conjunction with other types of alcohol treatment, whether inpatient or outpatient.

Counseling, unlike most types of alcohol intervention, can help a problem drinker identify the "root causes" of his alcohol abuse, help the person repair his relationships, and in general, help the individual learn effective coping skills that lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Obviously, in order for alcohol counseling to be successful, an alcohol abuser or an alcoholic will typically need to go to several counseling sessions over a relatively long period of time.

Sober Living Programs. Also called "half-way houses" for recovering alcoholics, sober living arrangements are usually earmarked for problem drinkers who have completed an intensive treatment protocol such as residential treatment and need a less intensive recovery setting.

Additionally, sober living arrangements are for individuals who have been mandated by the court to stay in a supportive environment that is drug and alcohol free, for problem drinkers who have nowhere to stay, or for recovering alcoholics who are worried that returning home at the present time will lead to an alcohol relapse.

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Brief Alcohol Intervention. Brief alcohol intervention programs are almost always intended for drinkers who are "at risk" for becoming alcohol abusers or alcoholics rather than for problem drinkers who have already developed a serious drinking problem. Brief alcohol intervention usually involves attending between three and ten half-hour or one-hour sessions with a healthcare practitioner.

In these intervention sessions, the drinker develops an alcohol "game plan" that is either characterized by total abstinence or one in which the drinker learns how to always drink in moderation. If the drinker can commit to either one of these "game plans," his chances of becoming a chronic alcohol abuser or an alcoholic are significantly reduced.

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