Addiction in any form is a serious psychological condition, and alcohol is one of the most widely abused legal substances. Alcohol serves as a short-term solution to severe, long-standing problems like stress or depression, and a reliance on it indicates that the individual is self-medicating against something more serious. Counselling for alcohol misuse aims to help the individual identify the factors which drive them to drink and teaches them new coping mechanisms to remove their reliance on alcohol. If you or your loved one is drinking frequently and heavily, treatment should be a very serious consideration because of the potential physical risks associated with alcohol misuse.
Alcohol, although a legal drug, can be both psychologically addictive and physically dangerous. People start drinking for numerous reasons – from peer pressure to simple experimentation – but its effects on neurotransmitters within the brain cause individuals to form new associations. Social drinkers might consume alcohol because it removes inhibitions, and others may use it as a form of stress relief. As the brain adapts to the constant impact on its chemicals, the individual develops tolerance, which means they need more alcohol to achieve the same effects. For severe drinkers, this leads to them needing alcohol to feel “normal,” because the brain is so accustomed to operating under its influence.
The physical risks of alcohol abuse are less of a concern during therapy, but they can serve to convince drinkers of the dangers of their current habits. Alcohol is a poison, and as such it places significant strain on the individual’s liver, possibly leading to alcoholic liver disease. The liver becomes more and more damaged, leading to hepatitis, irreversible cirrhosis and eventually death. If the individual stops drinking, the brain can’t function in its alcohol-dependent state, and withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, depression, mood swings and insomnia often follow. The most severe form of alcohol withdrawal, delirium tremens, can be life-threatening.
Counselling for alcohol abuse aims to help individuals remove their reliance on alcohol. The therapist will identify the person’s “triggers,” or the factors which lead them to drink. By helping with stress management, teaching them new coping mechanisms and breaking down negative and harmful though patterns, therapy helps drinkers stay sober. The length of treatment can vary, because the issues could be rooted in childhood experiences which haven’t been correctly addressed. If the issue has been allowed to gestate throughout life, swept under the rug by alcohol abuse, it can be extremely difficult to confront
Physical treatment is also important in more severe cases of alcoholism. Every addicted drinker will need counselling, but those who drink over 20 units per day will probably need medical assistance to ensure safe withdrawal. This will often consist of benzodiazepine treatment to manage symptoms and anti-abuse medication to reduce the temptation to drink. Detoxification services can be offered on an outpatient or an inpatient basis, and residential rehabilitation is also an option. Regardless of the withdrawal treatment used, therapy is essential.
If you or your loved one is addicted to alcohol you shouldn’t hesitate to seek treatment. Alcohol abuse can and does kill, so finding a counsellor or an alcohol rehab program is often important. It might be difficult to determine whether you’ll need physical assistance during withdrawal, but we can help you get the treatment you need. We’ll assess your requirements, in person at out Luton offices, or via the telephone, and will be happy to answer any questions you have about psychotherapy or medication for alcohol abuse.
For more information about our costs for alcohol counselling services please see the about us page.