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Alcohol Addiction: What You Need to Know About Abuse & Alcohol Rehab

By May 16, 2018 December 7th, 2020 No Comments
Young woman drinking alcohol depressed at home

Over 15 million adults struggle with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). What’s more, over 600,000 adolescents (those under age 18) have an AUD of some kind.

Despite the severity of these statistics, only a portion of individuals who abuse alcohol actually receives alcohol addiction treatment which is a crucial aspect in treating addiction. In many cases, an AUD leads to a fatality.

While alcoholism is one of the world’s most common addictions, the good news is that it is treatable. Every year, thousands of alcoholics discover pathways to a sober life via alcohol rehab centers.

If you or a loved one is facing an AUD of some kind, it’s important to understand the complexities of alcohol addiction and what rehab can do to help.

Read on for insight into alcohol rehab, abuse, and more.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism refers to an unhealthy dependency on alcohol, a substance commonly referred to as a depressant.

Depressants are substances that can alter mental function and slow down certain biological and social processes, such as speech, cognitive ability, and physical movement.

However, a lot of individuals who use alcohol enjoy these side effects. Many people with or without alcohol abuse disorders claim that alcohol can actually act as somewhat of a stimulant, particularly in social situations.

The proportion of depressive symptoms experienced depends upon the amount of alcohol consumed, unlike other drugs such as heroin or cocaine that provide “highs” the moment they enter the bloodstream.

For this reason, alcohol is an addictive substance. Alcoholism is classified as an addiction to alcohol. Addiction itself refers to compulsive behaviour an individual struggles to give up.

Substance addictions can be immensely difficult to release, particularly because they involve psychological and physical components. As a person starts to build an abusive relationship with alcohol, her body starts to depend upon that substance.

Without the influence of that substance, she may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms. These can range in severity and begin as early as four hours after the last drink consumed.

In many cases, withdrawal symptoms are so unbearable that a high functioning alcoholic simply reverts to more alcohol to keep them at bay. This is where the cycle of addiction becomes reinforced, time and time again, making the notion of quitting “cold turkey” virtually unfeasible.

What Causes Alcoholism?

Addictions of any kind can stem from a variety of causes. It’s difficult to pinpoint one cause that generates the millions of alcohol abuse disorders in the world–in fact, that would make things a lot easier!

Most individuals struggling with alcoholism develop their dependencies for a mix of reasons.

Social and situational factors can influence alcoholism.

Victims of sexual or physical abuse may, for example, turn to substances like alcohol to alleviate psychological pain. The same goes for individuals who have encountered trauma of any kind.

Unhealthy family dynamics, depression, and social anxiety can also cause an addiction to alcohol. People struggling with mental health disorders sometimes revert to substance dependencies.

In fact, there is an extremely close link between alcohol and depression. Alcohol dependency can worsen the symptoms of clinical depression because it is a depressive substance itself.

Many individuals who begin drinking at an early age develop alcohol dependency as a behavioural pattern and are more likely to develop alcoholism or dependencies later on in life.

Lastly, alcoholism is also influenced by genetics. If you or a loved one has a family history of alcohol abuse, the odds of dependencies are automatically higher.

The goal of alcohol rehab is not solely to identify “why” a person is an alcoholic. However, understanding the motives and reasoning behind alcoholic behaviour can be a critical part of the recovery process.

We’ll discuss the ins and outs of alcohol rehab a little later in this post.

Signs of Alcoholism

There are certainly different levels of alcohol dependency. Not everyone who has an alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a high-functioning alcoholic.

However, alcohol dependencies can be identifiable, no matter their severity.

It is possible to recognize signs of alcoholism in yourself. The same goes for analyzing the behaviour of family members, friends, and colleagues.

Recognizing the signs of alcoholism is an important skill, and can potentially mean the difference between life or death for someone. Identifying the presence of alcoholism is often the first step in seeking treatment.

A high functioning alcoholic will demonstrate obvious signs of alcoholism to anyone in his or her environment.

Chronic and/or high functioning alcoholics consume copious amounts of alcohol on a daily basis. Some will not make an effort to hide this consumption.

Individuals facing a serious addiction like chronic and high functioning alcoholics are also likely to struggle to maintain a job or healthy family relationships. They may consistently loose jobs or be currently facing warnings at work for poor performance and no-shows. They may have difficulty keeping relationships, particularly romantic or professional ones.

In most cases, high functioning alcoholics regularly experience withdrawal symptoms.

Typical alcohol addiction withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, nausea, sleep disorders or insomnia, unusual heart rates, sweating, and agitation. In severe cases of withdrawal, an individual may experience seizures.

Alcoholics who may or may not be high functioning also frequently think or talk about alcohol. They may vocalize their constant desire to drink, or recall the prior night’s round of binge drinking.

They may also urge others in their social circle to drink more. Many individuals who encounter an alcoholic find that the latter consumes large amounts of alcohol very quickly.

If you notice someone who may display signs of alcohol dependency, it’s always best to reach out to a professional. Consult family members and friends but also contact a medical professional who can advise treatment options.

Navigating Alcohol Rehab

Alcohol rehab gives individuals struggling with an addiction the chance to recover from their alcoholism and embrace a sober life.

Rehabilitation programs vary across the board, but all have the intention of helping addicts release their dependencies on life-threatening substances or behaviours.

Navigating alcohol rehab can be an intimidating and challenging process. This is particularly the case if you are concerned about financial limitations, or if your loved one is resistant to the notion of treatment.

However, it is possible to transition to a rehabilitation program easily, particularly when you know what it entails.

What Does Alcohol Rehab Entail?

As we just mentioned, alcohol rehab programs vary dramatically in scope and focus.

Some programs, for example, are designed only for alcohol addicts. Others are more comprehensive addiction treatment centers, much like Trafalgar’s Addiction Treatment Centres.

These centres treat a variety of drug, substance, behavioural addictions and concurrent disorders.

Some programs may have particular emphases. Some may be guided by religious or spiritual principles. Others may focus on certain activities, such as working with horses or helping out on a farm.

Still, others offer individuals one-on-one and/or group therapy, medical supervision, and counselling in an attempt to guide an individual out of an addiction.

The one thing that is central to all addiction centers is their desire to help patients find sobriety. They offer more comprehensive, professional assistance than local support groups or self-guided sobriety programs, as they provide inpatient and often long-term care.

In general, alcohol rehab begins with a decision, made by yourself or a loved one, to commit to an addiction-free life.

Choosing an Alcohol Rehab Center

There are scores of alcohol rehab centers out there, and it can be difficult choosing one that is appropriate for your (or your loved one’s) needs. In some cases, there simply isn’t time to research the right rehab centers.

If you or a loved one is in a life-threatening situation because of alcoholism, the first stop may be the hospital or calling your country’s emergency number.

This is particularly the case if an alcoholic is experiencing severe types of withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures or body tremors. Seizures can quickly lead to a life-threatening condition called delirium tremens, which often leads to a fatality.

If you do have time to research treatment options, there are several things to keep in mind.


Most people assume that alcohol rehab is expensive. They do not seek treatment for an addiction because they are afraid that they simply won’t be able to afford it.

Because alcohol rehab does provide individuals with in-patient, comprehensive care–and, in many cases, over a long period of time–there is definitely an associative cost.

However, many insurance plans do provide coverage for specific kinds of treatment. Some programs also offer various types of financial aid or assistance.

We recommend contacting your insurance provider and inquiring about eligible programs that fall under coverage. If you find a few rehab centers that you like, also speak with a representative to learn more about financial assistance and details.

Remember that alcohol rehab is often the only solution to high functioning alcoholism or severe dependencies. In this sense, do not let finances prohibit you from seeking the care you (or someone else) need.

Scope and Scale

Some alcohol rehab centers are more comprehensive than others. Many, for example, require all patients to undergo a medical detox prior to any other components of the program.

medical detox enables an addict to safely withdraw from alcohol under medical supervision. A detox effectively manages withdrawal symptoms–with or without medication–and helps an addict begin the physical recovery process from dependency.

In many cases, a detox is critical to ensure an addict’s survival.

If a center does not offer a detox, they may recommend one at a local hospital.

Some programs require patients to attend treatment for a minimum period of days, such as 30 or 90 days. Others may not have a minimum or maximum treatment time, choosing to release patients once treatment no longer seems medically critical.

Alcohol rehab centers may also offer only in-patient care. This means that they do not provide assistance to individuals once they have been released from the program.

Whatever the case, keep a program’s scope and scale in mind as you are choosing a center for treatment. In general, we recommend searching for centers that offer online addiction programs, inpatient treatment, outpatient care, medical detoxes, and an emphasis on long-term care.

Other Factors to Keep in Mind

There are a few more things to consider as you navigate alcohol rehab center selection.

Communication is a central component of successful treatment. Search for centres that place a premium on this right away, particularly as you reach out to programs to ask for information.

If you or a loved one is currently working with a therapist, many rehab centers accept therapist referrals. Consider reaching out to your counsellor and asking about referral options.

If you are unsure about whether or not a program is right for you, check out client testimonials. Most rehab centers will incorporate these into their websites to give prospective clients a sense of what to expect.

It’s also important to know that the treatment you are receiving is conducted by medical professionals. Some rehab centers may not have fully licensed staffs. Be sure to research teams beforehand and ask about who will actually be providing treatment.

Lastly, different forms of therapy work for different types of individuals. Group therapy, for example, may not resonate with you as much as individual therapy.

Some people, on the other hand, love the idea of working through things in a community setting. Others who have partners may additionally prefer to navigate healing from an addiction through couples or gender-centric therapy.

Whatever the case, ensure that the alcohol rehab center you choose appears most likely to offer everything you need in terms of cost, scope and scale, and therapeutic needs.

Alcohol Rehab and Abuse

Alcohol addiction does not have to end in a fatality. While millions of people battle an alcohol dependency of some kind, treatment is viable and available.

Alcoholism is defined as an unhealthy and potentially life-threatening dependency on alcohol, a depressive substance that can impact the body’s nervous system and motor function. Over time, alcoholism can damage relationships, work performance, and the body itself.

Alcohol rehab is designed to help individuals safely and permanently release dependency on alcohol so that they can live the healthy lives they’ve been seeking.

The best centers offer comprehensive and nuanced care that can help addicts firmly set foot on the path to recovery.

At Trafalgar, we are passionate about helping our clients recover from addiction in safe and empowered ways. Still got more questions? Find more answers here.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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