The question is deceptively brief. Just five simple words. But the answer can be life changing: Am I addicted to alcohol?
For millions of people in the United States, the answer to this question is yes. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 14 million adults in the U.S. met the criteria for alcohol addiction in 2019.
The good news is that alcohol addiction is a treatable condition. The bad news is that many people who have become addicted to alcohol don’t get the care they need.
Being able to answer the question, “Am I addicted to alcohol?” can be a vital step on the path to a much healthier future.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction, which is commonly referred to as alcoholism, is a chronic, progressive disorder that is characterized by an inability to control how much alcohol you consume or how often you use this dangerous drug.
- The term “chronic” means that alcohol addiction is a lifelong condition. It is not a curable disorder, but when you get effective treatment, you can learn to manage your symptoms and regain control of your thoughts and actions.
- The word “progressive” means that if you don’t get help, the symptoms of alcohol addiction will become more severe over time. This isn’t a problem that will simply disappear if you ignore it.
Here are a few things that alcoholism is not: It is not a moral failure, a sign of low character, or evidence of insufficient willpower.
Decades of awareness initiatives have improved public understanding of this condition, but certain unfortunate stereotypes – such as the ones alluded to in the previous paragraph – persist. Stigma is one of the many reasons why many people who develop alcohol addiction don’t seek the help they need.
When you summon the strength to say, “Yes, I am addicted to alcohol,” this is not an admission that you are an inherently flawed person. It is a simple acknowledgement that you have a treatable behavioral health disorder, and that you have the courage to get the help that can significantly improve your life.
How Can I Tell if I Am Addicted to Alcohol?
To be accurately diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (which is the clinical term for alcoholism), you need to be assessed by a qualified professional. The following 10 questions can help you determine if you should schedule an assessment:
- Do you need alcohol to help you wake up in the morning or to get to sleep at night?
- Once you start drinking, do you find it difficult to stop?
- Has your alcohol use caused you to neglect personal or professional responsibilities?
- Do you feel like you need alcohol to experience happiness or to cope with stress?
- Do you become agitated, anxious, or depressed when you’re in a situation where you can’t drink?
- Have you used alcohol in situations where it was clearly dangerous to do so, such as prior to driving or when taking medication?
- Have you ever lied to your friends or family members about the amount and frequency of your drinking?
- Has your drinking been a source of conflict with your partner, friends, or family members?
- Have you tried to quit or reduce the amount of your drinking, but been unable to do so?
- Have you ever asked yourself, “Am I addicted to alcohol?”
No single symptom or experience is definitive proof that a person has alcohol use disorder. But if you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may be addicted to alcohol – or you may be at risk for developing alcohol addiction.
What Are My Options for Overcoming Alcohol Addiction?
I have completed an assessment, and I know I am addicted to alcohol. What do I do now?
Depending on the nature and severity of your dependence on alcohol, your ideal course of treatment may involve one or more of the following:
- Detoxification: Commonly referred to as detox, detoxification is short-term program that can help you get through alcohol withdrawal safely and with minimal distress. When you enter a detox program, you will be under the care of experienced professionals who can provide both medical and therapeutic support.
- Inpatient rehab: Inpatient rehab is a highly structured form of treatment that typically includes multiple forms of therapy, education about addiction and recovery, and round-the-clock supervision. When you are in an inpatient rehab program, you will live at the center where you are receiving care. One of the benefits of this level of care is that it allows you to temporarily step away from the stresses and distractions of daily life.
- Outpatient treatment: Outpatient programs usually include several types of therapy, but they don’t have a residential requirement. When treatment is not in session, you can return home or to an alternative supported residence. Depending on your needs and goals, you may step down to the outpatient level to get additional support after completing inpatient rehab, or you may enter treatment directly at the outpatient level.
- Support groups: Maintaining recovery from alcohol addiction is a lifelong effort. During treatment, you can discover the value of shared support within the recovery community. You can also learn how to develop an effective personal support network. This may include participating in 12-Step meetings, attending SMART Recovery events, or engaging with other efforts that can help you protect your sobriety.
Begin Treatment for Alcohol Addiction in Southern California
Sanctuary Treatment Center provides multiple levels of personalized care for adults who have become addicted to alcohol. We also provide customized treatment for clients whose struggles with alcohol are accompanied by certain co-occurring mental health concerns. If alcohol addiction has disrupted your life or the life of someone you care about, Sanctuary Treatment Center is here to help. Contact us today to learn more.