You have come to terms with the fact that your relationship with alcohol has taken a somewhat sinister turn. What you once considered a harmless social pastime has become something else entirely. You recognize you are drinking too much and too frequently. Alcohol has started to interfere with your quality of life; your loved ones have expressed concern, your work performance has declined, and your self-esteem has taken a turn for the worse. It’s hard to feel thoroughly good about yourself when you know you aren’t living up to your potential because alcohol keeps getting in the way. So, what can be done? If you have already tried to control your drinking with limited success, it might be time to consider getting sober.
Getting sober doesn’t always entail spending 3 months in an inpatient treatment center and moving into a sober living home for an undetermined period of time as you slowly rebuild your life. In some cases, these measures might be necessary. But if you catch an alcohol use disorder early on, you might find success with a different treatment option. To learn more about which treatment option is right for you, or for more information on alcohol use disorders, contact us today.
Do I Need to Get Sober?
How do you know if you need to get sober? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (or DSM-V) lays out several diagnostic criteria that must be in place in order for a person to be professionally diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. If you answer “yes” to two or more of the questions listed below, there is a good chance you are suffering from a drinking problem that requires some degree of professional intervention.
- Do you often drink more than you intend to?
- Have you tried to cut back or quit entirely with limited or short-term success?
- Does drinking seem to be taking over your life; do you spend a significant amount of time obtaining alcohol, using alcohol, and recovering from its effects?
- Have you been struggling to take care of your basic day-to-day responsibilities because of your alcohol consumption?
- Continuing to drink alcohol despite problems in interpersonal relationships.
- Have you started to neglect activities you previously enjoyed because of your drinking?
- Do you find yourself engaging in risk-taking behavior as a result of your drinking, like driving while intoxicated or going home from a night of drinking with strangers?
- Have you failed to cut back on drinking despite related physical or psychological consequences?
- Have you started to develop a physical tolerance, meaning a larger amount of alcohol needs to be consumed in order for desired effects to be produced.
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking suddenly?
If you do believe you are struggling with a diagnosable alcohol use disorder, there are several steps you can take to begin the journey of recovery. For more information or to learn which treatment option is right for you, contact us today.
Getting Sober in Rehab
Getting sober in a rehabilitation setting is an ideal option for those who are suffering from a moderate or severe alcohol use disorder. Inpatient treatment is also a good idea for individuals who have a co-occurring issue, like a substance use disorder and an underlying mental illness like anxiety or depression. In most cases, rehab lasts for between 30 and 90 days depending on the severity of the underlying substance use disorder. If you are drinking every day and you have been doing so for years, for example, you will likely want to undergo withdrawal in a medically monitored detox and immediately transition into a 90-day treatment program. The best option for you will always depend on your unique needs.
Getting Sober in a 12 Step Program
Some individuals, specifically those with mild or moderate alcohol use disorders and no underlying issues, might choose to utilize a 12 Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous as a standalone treatment option. However, medical detox might still be required for those who are at risk of experiencing alcohol withdrawal.
Benefits of 12 Step Programs
There are numerous benefits of 12 Step programs, including the most obvious — they are often far more cost-effective than treatment, especially for those who are uninsured. Additional benefits include:
- 12 Step meetings offer built–in accountability
- 12 Step programs foster community and fellowship with other like-minded individuals.
- Meetings can be easily accessed at any time of day either in-person or online.
- 12 Step meetings are effective, especially when used as a supplemental treatment option.
- There are no dues or fees for AA membership.
When is Professional Treatment Necessary?
Only you can determine whether or not alcohol use has become a problem. Of course, seeking the opinion of a medical professional is always a good idea. Outside of considering the DSM-V criteria for a substance use disorder, there are several questions we recommend asking yourself if you are still on the fence.
- Do I often find myself looking for an excuse to drink in the company of others? Maybe you plan parties that revolve around alcohol, or invite friends over to play drinking games on weeknights. If you often encourage other people to drink with you, could it be so you feel less self-conscious about your drinking habits? Are you looking for external validation?
- Do I ever drink alone? Do I ever get drunk by myself? There is a significant difference between trying a new craft IPA with a nice, home-cooked meal on a night in and buying a 5th of cheap vodka and polishing it off at 11am as you binge reality television alone on the couch. Check your intentions and the specifics of your drinking habits.
- Am I struggling to take care of basic responsibilities and personal obligations because of my drinking? Do you shower less, care less about your personal appearance, forget about chores, and slack off a lot more than you used to? If you notice that alcohol is impacting your life in a range of negative ways, reaching out for help is likely a good idea.
Because active addiction looks different for everyone, no two programs of recovery will be identical. Some people benefit immensely from ongoing 12 Step program involvement, while others might find alternative routes to long-term sobriety. If you or someone you love has been battling addiction, the first step on the road to recovery is always reaching out for help. Once you take this initial step you will be put in touch with someone who can offer you advice on how to proceed. Contact us today to learn more.