Alcoholism

What is Alcoholism as an Illness ?

Many people use of the terms alcohol, alcoholic and alcoholism almost interchangeably, and there is often a lot of confusion as to what these terms actually mean, and how they relate to each other. In the context of a rehab/treatment center it is really important to understand at some level what these terms mean in order to make sure that the rehab is addressing relevant addiction terms accordingly.

Most people are aware of what alcohol is, and the different types of alcohol. For many people alcohol is not a problem at all in their lives. Many people do not drink at all, either for religious reasons or social ones.

Other people drink moderately and have a sense of control or normality over their drinking.

Alcohol

These types of people are often referred to in the context of alcoholism as social drinkers. Social drinkers represent a large proportion of society who are able to safely consume different types of alcohol as and when they choose, with no significant impact on themselves or others.

For other people, alcohol can represent a serious problem in their lives. This can manifest itself often at an early age when people are in their teens, through to people in later life.

People’s patterns of drinking may differ significantly, but there is often a common thread in that other people start to be concerned about their drinking, and the actual impact of their drinking has a detrimental effect on their lives at some level.

It is worth making a distinction that not everyone who has a problem with alcohol is necessarily an alcoholic. That may well be people who have a problem with alcohol at different points in their lives who are able to stop on their own and see the damage that they are doing to themselves and others.

Alcoholic

Making a distinction between an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic heavy drinker is an important distinction, not least because important considerations follow from both these patterns of drinking.

Someone who is a heavy drinker will most likely have become at some level addicted to alcohol as a consequence of continuous use. In the same way that someone becomes addicted to cigarettes, someone who is a heavy drinker will start drinking moderately and over time become more and more dependent on it.

This heavy drinking may well affect their lives, both their work lives and their family lives in some fairly obvious way. It is likely that once realised, the heavy drinker will be able to stop, although they will often need help and support from family, friends and possibly outside agencies.

Someone who is an alcoholic may outwardly displayed many of the same patterned behaviour and patterns of drinking as someone who is a heavy drinker. The real difference is likely to be an internal one, with the alcoholic having a significantly different mental and emotional attitude to alcohol and life.

There are many different patterns of alcoholics, and of alcoholism in general. It is probably safe to assume a few general pointers, although they should not be taken as a rigid definition.

Firstly, anyone of any age, status or background can become an alcoholic. There are no limits or prerequisites. Many people who are alcoholics grew up in alcoholic homes, and there is a widespread belief that there is some genetic component to people’s alcoholism.

Secondly, an alcoholic may well start off drinking at any age, and may start drinking as a social drinker as outlined above, and progress into active alcoholism at any point. Alternatively the alcoholic may start off drinking alcoholically, again at any age, and carry on drinking alcoholically for long as they are able to.

It is also safe to assume that someone who is an alcoholic reaches a point in their drinking when they are completely unable to stop on their own resources, and in most cases lose any will to try and stop as well. For a better understanding of the nature of alcoholism, it is suggested you read the book Alcoholics Anonymous, or attend open meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcoholism

In its simplest form, alcoholism refers to someone who is an alcoholic, in the same way that someone who is a diabetic is someone who has diabetes. This obviously is an oversimplification in one sense but does stress the point accordingly.

Whilst people have had drink problems for most of humanites time on earth, it is only relatively recently that alcoholism has been recognised as an illness, and as such people who drink alcoholically have been recognised as people who suffer from this illness, as opposed to people who have a moral weakness or lacking character.

In some ways this is a fairly spurious distinction, but is an important context for many people once they get sober. Alcoholism as an illness was recognised by certain members of the medical profession at the time that Alcoholics Anonymous was being formed, and the formation of this society gave significant growth to this belief, both within the medical profession and beyond.

Since then alcoholism is most often referred to as a disease, which has different implications to it being an illness, and has been generalised into a form of addiction in which alcohol and drug addiction and other forms of addiction are treated as the same issue.

This approach to treating alcoholism the same as other types of addiction has largely been formulated by rehabs and treatment centers, and is one that should be taken with much caution.

Alcoholism in its own right is probably best understood by people who are alcoholics themselves, and the relief in terms of understanding that it is a progressive illness gives many people a sense of context and reality that allows them to set in motion the process of recovery, and rebuild their lives both internally and externally.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and Treatment

The issue of alcohol withdrawal, historically often referred to as dt’s, is a far more serious problem than the term dt’s often implies, and is an issue that needs to be understood and dealt with and managed safely when anyone is stopping drinking.

The issue of alcohol withdrawal will normally always refer to someone who is either an alcoholic, or someone who has a serious addiction to alcohol and is considered a heavy drinker, or a drinker who is at risk to themselves and possibly other people.

It is certainly possible that this person has also used drugs of some type, either prescription or non-description. This means that anyone who is an alcoholic who is looking to stop drinking needs to be aware that there are potential serious effects of stopping drinking suddenly, both from the drink itself and from the a combination of drink and any drugs they may have been using.

For many people who are considering stopping drinking in the context of being an alcoholic or a heavy drinker addicted to alcohol are likely to seek help in a rehab or a treatment center. This is a really important issue, and should be a major factor when considering which rehab treatment center to enter.

The issue is twofold. The rehab should have a fully qualified medical staff who are able to access whether or not the individual is at risk from alcohol withdrawal, and if they deem that individual to be at risk to manage the withdrawal in a safe and secure medical environment.

If the rehab itself does not have the staff and the facilities to do this, then it should have an arrangement with a local clinical facility such as a hospital who can oversee and perform such a withdrawal in a safe manner.

Alcohol Withdrawal

It is worth being aware that if a rehab does not have such facilities and staff on site and has to refer you to a local clinical facility, then the cost of that facility may well be an extra item for the individual to pay, and may well not be covered under their insurance.

Not everyone who stops drinking has problems in terms of alcohol withdrawal, it is very much an individual experience that needs to be assessed and monitored by qualified medical staff in a facility where they are able to do this.

Once this procedure has been assessed it is also really important that the rehab has qualified medical staff on site or on call 24/7 in the event that there are any problems that need to be addressed.

It is also worth mentioning that alcohol withdrawal is also often referred to as an alcohol detox, or a drug and alcohol detox or a medical detox. This is important, as many rehabs will offer what they refer to as an holistic detox, which is a completely different process to a medically supervised drug and/or alcohol detox.

A holistic detox is a name that excites many people because of the implications of it. What it really refers to is a cleansing process of the body and mind and spirit. This idea is appealing, and often people are drawn to this without any real understanding of what is actually involved.

An holistic detox can refer to anything from a number of therapy sessions, through to a mountain climbing course, through to colonic irrigation through to things such as a sweat lodge. Some of these processes are potentially quite dangerous, and great care should be taken before signing up to them.

Anyone who is considering giving up drinking on their own, i.e. not going through a rehab or a treatment center would be well advised to seek medical advice from a qualified medical practitioner before beginning the process.

Many people do safely stop drinking without any major side-effects, but the implications of suddenly giving up alcohol after many months or years of abuse of fairly obvious.

Many people decide to stop drinking by going to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, which allows them to carry on with their normal day to day life, assuming they have one.

Even so they should be well aware of the potential effects of alcohol withdrawal, and would be well advised to seek medical advice prior to stopping drinking, and at any point during the first few days or weeks of being sober if they are at all concerned about any aspect of their health that they become aware of once they are sober.

What are alcoholism symptoms?

People often ask what alcoholism symptoms, often at a way of trying to create a checklist of what constitutes an alcoholic, on the basis that a diagnosis will help confirm  the illness in someone and lead to a recovery.

This approach has been fuelled in many ways by the acceptance in medical circles that alcoholism is an illness, often referred to also as a disease, and inevitably this will lead people to think that because alcoholism is an illness, there are obvious symptoms or signs of it that can be identified and labelled.

The reality of active  alcoholism is much more difficult to define.

Anyone who lives with what has lived with or has been affected by someone else’s alcoholism will either be painfully aware of it, or completely in denial of it.

Often an individual or independent observer would be able to see that someone has a serious problem drink, either by their behaviour or that attempting to cover up their problems, or the inability to see their own truth about the problem.

Alcoholism symptoms

Is worth pondering the recovery process of  Alcoholics Anonymous to have a better understanding of how alcoholism can be understood and processed.

For someone who is an alcoholic themselves, Alcoholics Anonymous offers a wide range of literature details experience of Alcoholics Anonymous, and presents many stories and examples of people who identify as alcoholics.

The stories and people’s personal sharing is give the individual and opportunity, if they so choose, to identify and begin the process of realising that they themselves may be an alcoholic.

Someone who is closely affected by another person’s alcoholism, either family or friends, then there is a separate concept organisation known as Al-Anon which will help the individual break out of that and measurement with the alcoholic or the alcoholic family and begin the process of re-establishing their lives as a separate person.

Once this process has started, then it is more likely the individual will gain some type of objectivity about the individual drinking and their alcoholism.

It is also were saying that Alcoholics Anonymous, along with other organisations, produces a wide range of literature that tries to explain alcoholism that is specifically geared to people who are not themselves alcoholics, but may well come into contact with people you are and who seek help.

 

What is Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is one of those phrases that is generally used to refer to people who go off on what is also sometimes called a drinking spree, that may in reality last days weeks or even months.

The meaning behind binge drinking is that whilst an individual may go off on one for a certain period of time, there will then follow another period of time, short or long, where they do not drink and stay sober.

The thought process and sometimes the intent behind this approach, drinking is to imply that because they have periods of time when they do not drink they do not actually have a problem.

This line of thought can be well-meaning, and can arise from people’s confusion about the fact that they can drink excessively for a period of time and then either stop or go for another period of time without drinking at all.

BINGE DRINKING

This type of drinking gives rise to the illusion of control, and is a myth in many ways concerning both the nature of alcoholism, and a sense of control or not that an individual may have concerning their ability to control their consumption of alcohol.

Anyone familiar with the organisation Alcoholics Anonymous will be aware that at meetings of AA there are numerous sayings is and viewpoints that AA members have and are often willing to share concerning their understanding of alcohol and alcoholism.

Some of these sayings can seem a bit trite, and some of them a bit suspect or dubious.

One of the better sayings however someone is likely to hear at an AA meeting  is something to the effect  that alcoholism is not about how much you drink, or when you drink, or what type of drink you have, but what alcohol does to you when you do drink.

However this sentiment may be put, it is pointing to a pretty fundamental truth that it is not about the structure of someone’s drinking in terms of amount or time, but it is about the effect of alcohol on an individual which should be the starting point for an assessment of whether or not they have a problem.

Signs of Alcoholism Treatment

When people talk about signs of alcoholism, there is quite often a sense of a hidden agenda, which is sometimes unfair but which often pervades a fear that other people may have about someone else’s drinking or their behaviour associated with drinking.

Whilst many people still debate the nature of alcoholism, there is a widespread belief that an element of it is at least hereditary, witnessed by the fact that a significant number, if not a majority of members of Alcoholics Anonymous who are sober grew up in alcoholic homes.

Whilst none of this is literally provable, whilst Alcoholics Anonymous continues to grow, there are essentially second and third generation recovering alcoholics, a lot of whom give witness to this fact that there is a sense of generational alcoholism within their families.

It is partly this reason that leads people to be overly conscious and perhaps a bit sensitive to their own children’s drinking and behaviour, at different ages and different stages.

If someone has either recovered from a drink problem themselves, or is aware of alcoholism within their family, then there is a real sense that they are likely to look out for signs of alcoholism within their own family, and especially within their children.

There is often a line of thought that if you can spot the signs of alcoholism  early enough, then some type of treatment can be administered early enough and in the case of an adolescent or young person’s drinking perhaps prevent many years of active alcoholism.

Whilst this line of thinking is very understandable and in some sense reasonable, there are dangers to it.

SIGNS OF ALCOHOLISM TREATMENT

One particular danger is that of essentially shipping and adolescent or young person off to rehab, often against their will, because someone else believes they might have a drink problem.

Sadly many rehabs encourage this type of intervention, and will use the parents fear as a way of engineering a perceived need for some type of alcoholism treatment.

Any type of intervention of this nature, at any age, can quite literally do more harm than good.

In many ways,  if a parent is in recovery from alcoholism themselves, or there is this issue of generational altruism, then the family would be much better encouraged to attend meetings of Al-Anon and Al-Ateen, where the individuals will be exposed to the reality of our close as it has affected them.

In addition they are likely to attend open meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and overall come much more educated about the nature of alcoholism, both within their family and potentially within themselves.

This is probably the best type of preventative treatment – education.

ALCOHOLISM and ADDICTION

Alcoholism and addiction often lumped together as being the same thing, with alcoholism simply being an addiction to alcohol.

Anyone trying to understand the nature of alcoholism for several reason, will quickly understand that whilst an addiction to alcohol is certainly part of the nature of alcoholism, the term itself encompasses an illness that is much more than simply a physical addiction craving for alcohol.

There is much medical debate, still, about alcohol, alcoholism, alcohol dependency etc. What is much more pronounced in terms of recovery is that  there is a lots of help available, either through cost at programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, through residential treatment centers and rehabs and a number of outreach alcohol and drug recovery teams in local communities.

The idea of alcoholism being an illness was first put forward in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and has become widely accepted in the recovery movement as being true.

What is less widely accepted is what the nature of that illness is.

As with a lot of illnesses, if you want to have a real picture of what alcoholism is, then the best place to go is to an individual who suffers from it.

In this context talking to someone who is an alcoholic in recovery is likely to give an insight into some of the traits and behaviours and thought processes that lie beneath a very obvious drink problem of which the alcoholic is very often in active denial of.

ALCOHOLISM and ADDICTION

Going to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous would allow someone to hear a wide variety of different experiences of alcoholism, all of which would have points that were very different from each other, and all of which would have points that were in some ways markedly similar.

The thing that perhaps is most important to realise is that for the majority of alcoholics, at some point in their drinking they see alcohol has been the solution to their problems, rather than the problem itself.

The majority of alcoholics will deepen  this belief and lead a life that effectively protects alcohol as they increasingly believe it is the only thing that is holding them together both spiritually, mentally and physically.

 

ALCOHOLISM COUNSELLING

Many people are familiar with the term counselling, and also with the term alcoholic  or alcoholism, but there can still be some confusion about both terms, especially when they are linked together.

The definition of alcoholism, or trying to decide if someone is an alcoholic or not is in many ways often an irrelevant issue.

if someone has a drink problem and needs help, then focus on that and not  arbitrary definitions of what an alcoholic is or isn’t.

The terms counselling and therapy often interchangeable, and there are quite literally  a wide variety of different types of therapy and counselling available.

Anyone entering into therapy or counselling of a general nature for any reason, is likely at some point to alert the counsellor that they have a drink problem.

Any reputable therapist or counsellor will have had some part of their training directed towards what is normally referred to as substance abuse, and they should be able to detect that alcohol is an underlying problem, or is the main issue behind the person’s problems even if the individual themselves cannot see it.

ALCOHOLISM COUNSELLING

A good therapist or counsellor will focus on this and try and direct the individual to obtaining help for their alcohol problem, either by going to Alcoholics Anonymous, entering some type of residential rehab or treatment center or some other method.

In addition, many therapists and counsellors will effectively advertise themselves as alcohol recovery councillors, and they may well be what name as recovering alcoholics themselves.

This means that they are individuals who once drank  alcoholically, have got sober and stayed sober, and direct their counselling or therapy schools towards people specifically who have drink and or drug dependencies.

The other context in which alcoholism counselling can come up is in the area of  residential treatment centers and rehabs.

The majority of treatment centers and rehabs  will employ a number of clinical staff as well as a number of modern clinical staff in various capacities. The clinical staff should include a number of trained therapists and counsellors, as a large part of the treatment centers addiction treatment program will focus on a combination of group therapy and individual counselling on a one-to-one basis.

 

ALCOHOLISM OUTPATIENT RECOVERY

The nature of alcoholism can sometimes be debated in a theoretical sense, the most common debate being between nature and nurture.

There is a place for this debate, but for the majority of people are causing is best understood either by those who have it, those who are in recovery from it and those who are otherwise widely affected by it i.e. family, friends, employers and society generally.

The belief that alcoholism is an illness is relatively recent in medical terms, and is generally accepted although there is some dissent in certain countries.

Whilst this is important, what is more important is to get people who have a drink problem that is destroying their lives and the lives of those around them any type of help that will work, will help to get them sober and more importantly keep them sober.

Most people assume that if someone has a drink problem the starting place for their recovery is a treatment center or a rehab, where they will go for a residential stay normally of up to 28 days, and then when they come out 10 meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and stay sober that way.

This is certainly one route, and certainly a common one for many people.

ALCOHOLISM OUTPATIENT RECOVERY

What is also true is that there are many many more millions of people who go directly to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and never go near a rehab treatment center, either residential or outpatient.

This is not to knock treatment centers or rehabs, simply to make the case that there are many ways people can use help that is available in order to get sober.

People can certainly go to a rehab or a treatment center, people can do to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12 step fellowships or a variety of what are commonly referred to as secular organisations which tends to use it on end as life skills to help people get sober as a posed to a 12 step program.

There are many residential treatment centres and rehabs which also offer outpatient help, either as an extension to a resident’s addiction treatment program once they have left that we have, or simply as a form of outreach work to the local community.

There are many people who use different types of recovery who are able to carry on working at the same time, who simply would not be able to either take the time or do not have the money to go into a residential rehab.

ADDICTION and RECOVERY

Whilst many people use the word addiction in a very general sense to cover a lot of normal day life activities, in the context of 12 step recovery it has a very definite and specific place.

The 12 step recovery movement began with Alcoholics Anonymous, and over time grew to include huge numbers of people who suffered addiction to other substances and behaviours, resulting in 12 step organisations such as Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous.

The nature of all these other 12 step recovery organisations was that they substituted a particular substance or behaviour for alcohol, and used the same  12-step recovery program for that specific addiction rather than for alcohol.

In that context, addiction became seen as a widespread illness, with the person who had the illness often referred to as an addictive personality, and their substance or behaviour being referred to as their drug of choice.

This idea of an addictive personality and of that personality using their drug of choice is not  accepted by a significant number of people, although the nature of specific addictions and the problems they cause, and the recovery help available intervals of organisations is generally acknowledged.

ADDICTION and RECOVERY

The nation of an addictive personality stemmed largely from treatment centres and rehabs, where the more cynical view is that they used this concept as a way of furthering their client base, initially only been able to treat people who are alcoholics.

The idea of an addictive personality allowed them to treat people with the same recovery process, irrespective of their addiction, as all the focus went on treating the individual.

The nature of addiction is still widespread, and for many people it can create unbelievable have and chaos in their lives, both internally and externally.

The 12 step recovery process has a number of critics, and is by no means perfect, but does in many ways offer the best hope and chance of recovery for people whose lives are blighted, or trapped in the cycle of alcoholism or drug addiction.

Anyone entering a rehab treatment center is likely to be able to take a certain amount of hope and of value in the wide variety of addiction treatment programs that are offered.

ALCOHOL POISONING

Alcohol poisoning is not often talked about in the context of rehab or treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse, but is a hugely important part of the recovery process.

The issue behind alcohol poisoning is twofold.

Firstly is the reality of where someone who has been drinking alcohol for a long time has got to, in terms of the damage they have already done to their body and mind, and the need to recover from it.

Secondly is the potential damage that alcohol can do to an individual, whether they are a heavy drinker or an alcoholic.

The key to helping people understand about alcohol poisoning is education.

This is not to say that simply educating people  will free them from alcoholism or heavy drinking, but it will help to create an environment where people can understand much more readily the issues behind why people drink, and what help there is available for them and their loved ones.

ALCOHOL POISONING

Anyone who has had dealings with an alcoholic or heavy drinker will be well aware of how difficult it can be and usually is to get them to see that they have a problem.

In the understanding of alcoholism, it is generally understood by people who are themselves recovering alcoholics and people who work in the field of alcoholism, that the extent of denial that most  alcoholics have of the problem is essentially a defence mechanism.

It may be a bit odd to call it a defence mechanism, but for most alcoholics call at some point becomes the solution to their problems, rather than the problem itself.

This may be in stark contrast to the reality of the life of an alcoholic, which may well be in total chaos, both internally and externally.

It requires a level of experience of alcoholism to fully understand this, but it is also widely accepted that the mind of the alcoholic is often as abnormal in this record as is the body of an alcoholic in terms of how they react to alcohol.

Alcohol poisoning can be a real and substantive threat to individual who drinks too much, be they an alcoholic or not.

It is hugely important that people educate themselves and others, both formally and informally as to the dangers of alcohol and alcoholism, and hopefully this will begin the process of making a significant contribution to the problem.

Alcoholism Detox

An alcoholism detox is  possibly going to be needed in the event of anyone who is an active alcoholic, or even someone who has been drinking heavily for a long period of time but would  not technically be considered an alcoholic.

Sometimes there is much debate between what is alcoholism and heavy drinking, but in the  issue of recovery from alcoholism, and in particular the need for an alcoholism detox, it is a fairly irrelevant issue.

Anyone who has a serious problem with alcohol is likely to need help, whether they admit that themselves on what.

It is sometimes much more obvious to people around them, be they family, employer, co-workers or simply friends.

Whether or not help is offered and / or accepted can obviously be a difficult issue.

Assuming that the person who has a drink problem is willing to accept some sort of help, then the issue of an alcoholism detox is likely to occur.

ALCOHOLISM DETOX

Anyone who has been thinking heavily is likely to have been hiding that in some way from people close to them.

People who have a drink problem increasingly grow protective of alcohol, and the need to prevent other people taking alcohol with from them, or stopping them trying to drink.

In addition, it is quite possible that people who have a drink problem, or who are alcoholics, have either in the past of currently been using some type of narcotics or drugs.

The issue with all of this, is that it is quite unlikely that either the alcoholic admits to a lot of this,  or that people around them will know the full extent of their drinking and possible drug use.

For this reason it is really important that anyone seeking help for a drink and/or a drug problem is assessed by medically qualified personnel to see if they need a medical detox, and if they do for that detox to be overseen and undertaken by medically qualified staff in a safe clinical environment.

If the individual with a drink problem is entering a rehab, then it is important to check that the rehab has access to such staff and facilities, either in-house, or with a local clinical facility such as a hospital.

Alcoholism Treatment Center

An alcoholism or treatment center normally refers to a rehab, a residential rehab, where someone who has a problem with alcohol and, either considers themselves, or is considered by other people as an alcoholic, can go to get help and treatment.

The terms treatment center and rehab are pretty much interchangeable, although the extent of services and help available in either one can vary quite widely.

An alcoholism or treatment center will invariably treat people who not only are considered to have a drink problem, but may also be addicted to cortex and /or description drugs, and possibly other addictions such as gambling etc.

One of the main obstacles to anyone entering an alcoholism treatment center is the sense of denial that the alcoholics themselves will have about their drink and possible drug problem as well.

One of the main issues behind alcoholism, and the inability to help an alcoholic, is the fact that alcoholic will quite blatantly either live or try and hide the true extent of the problem.

The practical consequences of this  denial can be pretty horrific, both for the alcoholics themselves, and for people close to them, especially if those people are trying to help them.

ALCOHOLISM TREATMENT CENTER

Alcoholism is more understood today than perhaps it has ever been, but still presents huge issues in terms of helping both the alcoholic and those close to them.

Perhaps the main value of any treatment center or rehab that courts to offer addiction treatment programs is that it can create a safe place where someone with an alcoholic can mod any seek help, but can begin to explore the process of their relationship with alcohol, and why it seemingly affects the way it does.

Any rehab or treatment center that offers help to alcoholics is likely to employ a wide range of clinical and non-clinical staff.

They are also likely to employ a number of alcoholics who are themselves in recovery, either as clinical  or non-clinical staff.

When people talk about an alcoholic in recovery, they are generally referring to someone who has been an active alcoholic and has stopped drinking and has stayed sober since then.

The value of a recovering alcoholic working in a team of center or a rehab, is that in addition to the skills they bring as an individual, the hope is that they can give the residents in a rehab a sense of hope and purpose for their own future, as they are showing that they themselves can stay sober and rebuild their lives.

ALCOHOLISM 12 STEP

Alcoholism as an illness is a relatively recent medical understanding, and is linked inexorably to the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous which both began the process of real long-term relief from the illness, and in the process, through its 12-step program, effectively defined alcoholism as an illness pretty much for the first time.

There are still people who dispute alcoholism as an illness, there are other people and organisations which refer to alcoholism as a disease, and there are people who will see alcoholism as a collective term for a whole range of different types of  illnesses under the alcoholism umbrella.

Whilst all the above point of view can be valid in their own right, there is a danger of over egging the issue, which is really about simply how do you help people who have got it problem to stop drinking.

Alcoholics Anonymous is sometimes criticised by people who don’t fully understand the concept behind it for its emphasis on powerlessness over alcohol.

The criticism tends to imply that it is a mistake to tell people they are powerless as in some way it either deadens the person themselves, or drains of a power that they actually do have.

It is hugely important to recognise that the literature and organisation of Alcoholics Anonymous is based on one thing and one thing only, that is the experience of its membership, especially its early membership who formed the organisation.

The wording of the 12 step program, and step one in particular where it talks about being powerless over alcohol, is a statement of experience, not in any way admonition or statement to other people about what they should  or should not do.

ALCOHOLISM 12 STEP

Alcoholics Anonymous works on a principle that its literature records the experience of  its membership, and such literature is published and given to people in order that people can read the literature, understand at some level what that experience is, and then use that experience in any way that they find helpful or not.

There is a world of difference between presenting a body of experience and saying to someone use it in any way that you find helpful or not, and presenting a point of view or a theory about alcoholism or drinking, and trying to convince people that they need to do or not do something in a particular way.

The strength of Alcoholics Anonymous and its understanding of alcoholism lies in the fact that it is a body of experience  and nothing else. This reality is often lost both in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and in the general discussion of alcoholism and recovery generally, but is a truth that has held the organisation of Alcoholics Anonymous together for all its existence.

Addiction

The term addiction has become almost synonymous with a rehab, and the sense that if anyone has an addiction to anything they should be put into a rehab and have the addiction dealt with.

The whole world of addiction and addiction recovery is quite a complex one, but needs to be addressed quite carefully in order to make sure that genuine and harmful addictions are dealt with.

The danger is that the term addiction can be used to cover a whole multitude of sins that in effect block the effectiveness and powerfulness that recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction can bring.

Addiction to alcohol has been an issue in society for as long as most people can remember. Rehabs that began to spring up after the advent of Alcoholics Anonymous began to deal with alcoholism as an alcohol addiction.

After a while rehabs began to admit people who were not only alcoholics but had other addictions as well most notably narcotics or drugs. But often there was an overlap between the two and someone who was an alcoholic would often use drugs and vice versa.

Addiction

Addiction became a term that was used to apply to any type of compulsive behaviour that caused serious damage to an individual or their life or their family.

Addiction then became the focal point for a rehab, with the rehab saying that if an individual had an addiction to any substance or type of behaviour such as gambling, then they most likely had what they referred to as an addictive personality.

This meant that the rehab could treat or offer various addiction treatment programs to the individual, almost irrespective of what their focus of addiction was.

There’s no doubt that in a lot of cases this approach works and is hopeful, although a lot of people will dispute the idea of an addictive personality. The nature of addiction is quite complex, and many people get bogged down in the root causes of it in terms of physiology, psychology and medicine. Most of the scope of that is beyond the nature of addiction as is treated in a rehab.

Addiction is often clearer to those affected by it than to the person themselves was addicted to alcohol or drugs. Perhaps the chief value of a rehab is at it gives individual space, even for a short time, to have to own their addiction, be it to alcohol, drugs or any other substance and to get some sort of very basic reality check.

Any type of addiction can be harmful, but should always be weighed against individual’s ability to deal with it on their own, or have to get to space where they need help whether they are in a position to acknowledge that or not.

Alcohol Withdrawal

The issue of alcohol withdrawal symptoms or the potential dangers of suddenly withdrawing from active alcoholism are very real and should be treated seriously by any individual connected with an entry into rehab, and most definitely by the rehab itself.

Alcohol withdrawal is sometimes treated slightly flippantly, normally because most people who have too much to drink and suffer a hangover as a result tend to muddle through and rebuild their lives quickly.

When we are talking about alcohol withdrawal in the context of an entry into a rehab it is a very different process altogether. Someone entering a rehab will almost likely have had a considerable period of time when they have been drinking alcoholiccally a and quite possibly using a number of drugs as well.

At some level on a daily basis they will probably have been able to cope with the reality of what they have been doing, although the prolonged and progressive nature of their alcoholism will mean that their ability to cope gets more and more worn down as time goes on. This means their ability to recognise what is going on around them will be seriously impaired.

Alcohol Withdrawal

The dangers of alcohol withdrawal, especially when mixed with any withdrawal from any narcotic drug substance need to be assessed and monitored extremely carefully.

Anyone entering a residential rehab should make sure that the treatment center or facility has both adequate staff and facilities to assess and implement any detox program that may be needed on admission to the facility.

Most residential rehabs acknowledge the need for this, but it is nevertheless one of the main areas concerning the safekeeping of protocols of a treatment center that should be checked prior to admission.

Quite often a rehab will have an arrangement with a local hospital or other clinical facility who will assess and undertake any detox or management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms that may be needed.

This type of arrangement is often quite normal and perfectly acceptable, so long as the clinical input is verifiable and conforms with all local and state legislation and healthcare monitoring.