Getting Sober / Staying Sober


What is an Alcohol Rehab ?

Rehabs and treatment centers have long been associated with helping people who have drink problems. The name given to someone who has a drink problem is normally that of an alcoholic, but there are a number of other names floating around as well.

The most common is something like alcohol addiction, a dipsomaniac or someone who abuses alcohol. To be honest, the name is fairly irrelevant, but can be an important issue in helping the person accept and understand that they have a drink problem.


It is often recommended that someone who thinks they have a drink problem should get a formal assessment, either through a primary care giver, or someone who specialises in alcoholism/alcohol addiction.

Whilst this is generally good advice, the problem is that if someone is an alcoholic, they are likely to be in denial of it.

Admission and acceptance of a problem with alcohol normally takes quite a long time, and is normally precipitated by some disaster in the life of a problem drinker.

There is also an awful lot of medical information available as to what constitutes an alcoholic, or alcohol addiction. Again this can be valuable, but more likely for those who are trying to support or help the person with a drink problem, rather than the alcoholic themselves.

There is a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous that if drink this costing you more than money, then you have a problem.

This in many ways is often good enough to get someone to accept they may have a problem, and through seeking help are able to begin to address both the drinking, and any underlying emotional issues that may need to be dealt with.


Not everyone who comes of alcohol will need a detox, but it is probably true to say everyone coming of alcohol should really be assessed as to whether they need one or not.

This assessment can be done when someone enters a rehab, or by a primary physician beforehand.

Any alcohol rehab should have the necessary facilities to undertake a full and thorough medical assessment of whether the individual needs to be detoxed and not, and if they do, then rehab should have the facilities or access to the facilities in order to to be able do this.

Some rehabs will be able to do this on site, others may have arrangements with a local hospital or other clinical facility where it can be done.

This is especially important, as anyone who does need a detox from alcohol addiction needs to have withdrawal symptoms monitored and dealt with appropriately, which can sometimes involve medication.

Addiction treatment programs

These programs are at the heart of what happens in a rehab or treatment center.

When someone is admitted, and after an initial assessment, an individualised program needs to be put in place that covers all or some of the addiction treatment programs that the rehab facility has to offer.

These programs are primarily aimed at helping to begin the process of understanding the underlying emotional and behavioural issues that are part of someone’s alcoholism.

For someone who is an alcoholic, they normally see drinking as being the solution to their problems, not the problem itself.

This means that long-term recovery involves looking at and processing a number of emotionally turbulent issues that have normally fuelled their drinking

For many, this is a lifetime process, but begins in earnest in a rehab or treatment center.

The addiction treatment programs that a rehab offers, are a key element of this, and should be looked at carefully when deciding which to apply to for admission.


The vast majority of rehab and treatment centers utilise the experience of 12 step programs, primarily that of Alcoholics Anonymous. They will do this as part of a person’s treatment program, but also as an introduction to the main source of after-care available.

All 12-step programs have no affiliation with any rehab or treatment center, but local AA groups will normally work closely with any facility.

This can include hosting meetings at the facility itself, local AA members going into the facility to give talks, and local AA members helping to look out for people once they are released from rehab.

In addition, an alcohol rehab is likely to have its own after-care programme.

This is normally intended to bridge the gap between leaving rehab and re-entry to normal life.

Rehab is widely acknowledged as being a bit of a bubble, and this is often seen as being one of its primary benefits.

This bubble allows people to get away from their normal life, it can essentially buy them some time to begin to address the issues that they need to in relation to their drink problem.

It is also recognised that the need to re-enter life after this bubble needs to be addressed early on in treatment as well, and as such the after-care process becomes an important element early on in the treatment.

The after-care arrangements that the rehab makes itself can vary. It normally includes a regular meeting, quite often monthly, which ex-residents can attend and talk about their experiences.

These meetings can also be done online, and there’s quite often an annual social event, such as a barbecue, to which all ex-residents are normally invited.

Some rehabs will also offer to residents the opportunity to contact staff at the center once they have left, if they feel the need to talk to someone about any specific issues that may arise.



How to Manage Withdrawal from Alcohol

Anyone getting sober is likely to have to do with the issue of withdrawals from alcohol, whether or not a detox is necessary, and possibly the effects of withdrawal from  narcotics as well.

If someone has been drinking heavily for a while, or to a point where it has become a problem for them, then suddenly stopping is likely to have an impact on them.

Not only their physical body, but on the emotional issues it is likely to start bringing up as well.

The reality is, that withdrawal effects from alcohol can vary significantly from individual to individual, irrespective of the amount they have been drinking beforehand.

What is important is to be aware of the potential dangers of  withdrawal, how they can be managed and how best to prepare for the need for a proper detox.


A lot of people will get sober through a rehab or treatment center, and one issue about which rehab to choose is its approach to how to detox someone.

Any rehab should have clinical facilities and staff, or access to such locally, who can assess whether there is a need for a detox, and if so overseas and manage it in a safe and effective manner.

Clinical facilities in terms of staff, location and appropriate medication are a key element of ensuring the safety of an individual once they get sober, and beginning the process of rebuilding their life.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol or alcoholism are the body experiencing the withdrawal of something it is used to, which it has become heavily addicted to.

It is almost worth thinking of these symptoms as the body fighting back in the way.

Symptoms can range from nausea, headaches, shakes, sweats etc through to full-blown hallucinations, DT’s etc.

Many medical websites offer a full range of the potential symptoms of withdrawal, as well as a timeline of how this can affect people.

While this can be helpful it is worth remembering that individuals do differ significantly as to how they withdraw from alcoholism, and what is important is to be aware of the potential dangers, and have strategies in place in order to cope with them.

Home Detox

When a person does not go into rehab, and sobers up on their own in any way, the process of managing withdrawal is normally referred to as a home detox.

This does not normally mean that they actually do do any type of formal detox, it normally refers to the process of simply getting through it, albeit in a fairly unpleasant manner.

What is crucially important that someone is getting sober, is at they have access to medical help, and a medical assessment of what they are doing.

This is best done through a primary care physician, but if this is not possible and maybe other help available.

There are a number of websites available that give practical advice about the possible effects of withdrawal from  alcoholism and how to manage it.

Dual Addiction

This is a phrase that is used to describe anyone who is addicted to alcohol and any other drug or narcotic.

A significant number of alcoholics also use drugs and pills, prescribed and non-prescribed, and this can also be a significant issue in stopping using them.

There are significant potential dangers when stopping using any type of narcotic, and these potential dangers can be multiplied significantly when the person has been using alcohol as well.

If someone is entering rehab, it is essential that completely honest about what drugs they have been using, how much and or how long.

This can be very tricky, as someone who is an active alcoholic will almost invariably  minimise the amount they have been drinking and using.

If someone is getting sober on their own, even if they are using some type of therapy or 12 step based program to help them, it is essential to get some type of medical help as well.

This medical help can be in terms of assessing the need for a detox, and how that can best be managed. It is really important that this process is looked at as soon as a decision is made to stop drinking or using.


Emotional Sobriety – What Does It Really Mean ?

Everyone’s journey from active alcoholism into sobriety is both unique and complex.

One thing that is fairly common however, is that when people do sober up, they have to start living with themselves without alcohol.

This means beginning to live with the reality of what they were trying to escape from when drinking, both internally and externally.

For many people, this can be a pretty daunting process, can take a long time and is a lot of work to really heal. It is probably fair to describe this process as emotional sobriety.

The phrase emotional sobriety was first used by Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, in an article he wrote for the AA Grapevine in January 1958.

The article was entitled The Next Frontier : Emotional Sobriety.

In the article, Bill Wilson outlined his thoughts on the emotional struggles he had had, largely during the time of his depression, and how he had come through them with a much stronger sense of his inner world and what it meant to him.

Many people seek to interpret this phrase, and how Bill Wilson wrote about it, in a number of different ways.

The reality is, as with everything that he wrote, and all AA literature, that people have an absolute freedom to interpret in anyway they find helpful or not.

Trying to interpret his writings in ways that mean people have to fit their own experience into the context of what he was saying, is in many ways an emotional death wish, and something he most likely would never have intended or wanted.

It is clear from pretty much all of his writings that he intended to share his experience, both at a personal and an AA level, in the hope that it could be helpful to people, and that they could use his experience as part of the process of rebuilding their own life once they got sober.

Getting Sober

It is probably a fair assumption to say that the emotional drives that fuel people’s alcoholism are for most people fairly deep-rooted, and quite often go back to childhood.

When someone gets sober, they start to live with the legacy of these emotional drives as they affect them on a day-to-day basis. The depth of this emotional trauma can often seem too overwhelming to go near for many people.

Most people soon begin to realise that their emotional lives are out of control at some level, and that in some way this either contributed to their drinking, or was the cause of the dread/terror inside them that alcohol seemed to be the solution to.

People’s understanding of their own alcoholism comes in time, and this sense that alcohol was the solution, not the problem, is pretty common and pretty core to this understanding.

It is also completely at odds with the understanding that someone who is not an alcoholic is likely to have of alcoholism generally.

Emotional Turmoil

There is a saying in AA, that when you get sober you begin to realise why you drank.

This is not normally intended to be taken literally, as in finding the reasons people drink alcoholically.

It is meant to refer to the fact that when people get sober, they begin to live with themselves without alcohol, and as such soon begin to realise at some level this emotional turmoil that fuelled their drinking.

At some point in their recovery, people are likely to realise that they need to in some way process this emotional turmoil or they are likely to start drinking again.

This is normally around the fact that most alcoholics see / saw alcohol as the solution to their problems, not the problem itself.

Once sober, the alcohol is gone, and people have to start living with themselves without it.

This can be a fairly tough thing to accept, and people’s ways of dealing with it differ significantly.

It is very likely however that it will take a significant degree of emotional pain before people become willing to really own and address their underlying emotional issues, although there are obviously many different reasons for this.

The phrase emotional sobriety really covers this entire process, pretty much from day one through till whenever it stops !

It is probably a mistake to think that the phrase only deals with issues of later recovery, or with issues of depression.

The nature of staying sober for many people is around finding ways of healing the internal emotional turmoil that alcohol helped to give some relief from, and this is normally a lifelong process.

Alcoholic Homes

Although anecdotal, it is fairly clear that a significant number of alcoholics in recovery grew up in what are normally referred to as alcoholic homes.

This normally refers to homes where either one or both parents were active alcoholics, or where there was a significant number of alcoholics in the extended family.

The effects of growing up in an alcoholic home can be varied, but there are a number of common traits.

The most common one is an absence of safety.

This can either be an emotional absence, or an actual absence or both.

People growing up in alcoholic homes describe a total lack of stability or safety, the lack of feeling anyone is in control, and the need to take responsibility for their own lives at an early age.

Growing up in an alcoholic home has a significant impact on someone’s development and sense of self.

It can distort ancestry damage how someone  relates to themselves and other people.

Someone who is also an alcoholic themselves and grows up in an alcoholic home will find that the emotional chaos of their childhood is likely to have played a significant part in their own emotional development, and how they tried to force their life to work in some way.

Emotional sobriety is about finding ways of healing this emotional turmoil, and getting a real sense of peace and stability internally that can enable someone to really live at peace with themselves, possibly for the first time ever.


What is Alcoholics Anonymous ?

Many people will have heard of AA, and will associate it with people being able to stop drinking. Some of the most common questions people have about AA include :

 – How do you define an alcoholic ?

 – Is AA religious ?

 – What are the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous ?

 – What is a higher power in AA ?

 – What are the principles of AA ?

Alcoholics Anonymous is an organisation that is generally well known, and a significant number of people will understand that its main focus is to help people stop drinking. That aside, many will not have any real idea what constitutes an alcoholic, or what the organisation Alcoholics Anonymous really does or how it developed.

The history and origins of Alcoholics Anonymous are well documented, not least by the organisation itself, as well as by many outside independent researchers and historians.It is worth clarifying that Alcoholics Anonymous is and always has been a completely independent organisation, funded entirely by its membership, without any links to any medical or governmental body or organisation.

Its independence is a critical part of its survival and much valued by its membership.This independence is a crucial part of understanding the integral relationship between Alcoholics Anonymous and many rehabs and treatment centers that exist.

This is largely because the majority of rehabs and treatment centres that offer an addiction treatment program have such a program rooted in part of the 12 step program that Alcoholics Anonymous pioneered and offers as its main recovery process, and adapted by other organisations.

It is also worth clarifying that a significant number of rehabs and treatment centres offer a programme that is in effect quite different from the program offered by Alcoholics Anonymous, but with certain similarities.

The independence of Alcoholics Anonymous is also important in the context that many rehabs and treatment centres will actively encourage clients whilst in rehab to attend meetings of AA, both during treatment and once they have left in the context of after-care and support.

Many rehabs and treatment centers will host meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous on site, with the AA group paying a rental fee or giving a donation of similar kind in order to maintain and arm’s-length relationship.

Alcoholics Anonymous

If the rehab does not offer meetings on its own premises, then it is likely to have close links with local AA groups in the nearby vicinity or community.Many people entering a rehab will assume that Alcoholics Anonymous is in some way a part of the rehab, or a part of the recovery program or the addiction treatment program that the rehab offers.

It may well take a while for the individual to make a distinction that AA is not part of the rehab, and this is an important distinction to make for the long-term sobriety of that individual.Alcoholics Anonymous is an independent organisation, that has many years experience of recovery from alcoholism that is completely independent of any rehab or treatment center.

Many people get sober and stay sober simply by going to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and normally after a while beginning to use the experience of the 12 step program in their own lives as a way of healing their inner emotional turmoil and emotional drives.

There are many different meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and individuals have the freedom to try any specific meeting that they wish, until they find one that suits their needs. Again in the context of a rehab this is really important.

Rehabs and treatment centers have fairly strict rules and regulations regarding both admission to the rehab, and the type of behaviours and activities and dress code etc clients can conduct themselves in whilst in treatment.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Rehab

Rehabs normally defend these rules and regulations as being part of a structured environment within which the individual can begin to feel safe, and begin the process of their own recovery in an environment that is structured and has boundaries.

This obviously works for some people, and can present a real problem for others. In the context of Alcoholics Anonymous there are no rules or regulations. Anyone who feels they have a drink problem can turn up at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and see if it is of help them.

Alcoholics Anonymous is often best seen and best understood when thought of as a body of experience going back many decades, that is effectively expressed through the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, most notably in the book of the same name.

Any individual can use the experience of Alcoholics Anonymous in any way that they find helpful or not. AA, although not always seen as such, should be a real route to freedom, and an opportunity for people to begin the process of understanding whether or not they are alcoholics.

Such an understanding can give the individual a real sense of freedom in the context of understanding their lives, and a real sense of freedom in the context of being able to rebuild their life, 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.



Anyone entering a rehab for a problem with alcohol, commonly referred to as alcoholism or alcohol addiction would be well advised to be aware of the potential effects of alcohol withdrawal, sometimes referred to as a detox, historically referred to as the DT’s.

The effects of withdrawal from alcohol addiction or alcoholism can be severe in some people, and it is a good idea to make sure that anyone entering a rehab is clinically assessed,  by experienced clinical staff to  monitor the effects of withdrawal from alcohol.

One important aspect of alcoholism that is often not fully understood is that it is regarded commonly as what is termed a progressive illness.

There are sometimes a debate about whether alcoholism is a disease or an illness or a combination of nature or nurture, and people will have differing views on this question.

Too many  people who have got sober using Alcoholics Anonymous, they are very aware that her own alcoholism is a progressive illness, and for many it is the progressive element that is really important.


The progression of alcoholism in many people is not simply a issue of tolerance for alcohol, it is a description of both how their drinking has progressed over a period of time, how that emotional state has changed during that time, and how alcohol has become at the end of the drinking the only thing of real value, the only thing that needs to be protected and kept safe.

One of the reasons this is so important, is in terms of understanding the nature of alcoholism, and in truth the only people who probably really do understand it either active alcoholics themselves, or people who have got sober and would consider themselves to be alcoholics in recovery.

The nature of alcoholism as an illness can be quite varied and widespread, the progression of it is an element that people who are alcoholics will at some level be able to identify with, either in terms of the  tolerance or lack of tolerance of their drinking, or a more general felt sense of their inner and outer world closing in on them, and alcohol remaining the only thing that is holding them together.



An alcohol rehab, which can also be referred to as a treatment center, is possibly thought of as a more traditional type of rehab, as when rehabs and treatment centers began to emerge as a way of treating alcoholics, they tended to deal with  alcohol only, and as such are often referred to as alcohol rehabs.

Nowadays, anyone seeking help for a problem with alcoholism or alcohol dependency is likely to look at several routes, the most common ones being either going straight to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, or entering a residential treatment center rehab for a period of time, normally about 28 days, where the recovery process will involve a wide range of addiction treatment programs.

Anyone entering a rehab or treatment center  is likely to soon be enveloped in the world of 12 Recovery, and specifically in the principles and meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is important to be really clear that the organisation Alcoholics Anonymous itself has no connection whatever with any rehab treatment center anywhere.

There are however a wide number of informal connections can often overlap, that can sometimes seem bordering on a degree of enmeshment.


This degree of cooperation between the majority of treatment centres and Alcoholics Anonymous can be broken down into a couple of areas.

The majority of rehabs and treatment centres that offer addiction treatment programs based these programs on some of the principles of the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In reality these addiction treatment programs normally quite different in content to the specific cost program of Alcoholics Anonymous, but are often presented as being the same thing.

They are in fact normally quite different, but again do overlap in terms of referring to specific steps, even if the work involved in a specific step is quite different.

The other way treatment centres and alcohol rehabs overlap with alcoholics anonymous is at a number of treatment centers will physically host AA meetings at their venue, and residents in the alcohol rehab will be expected to attend these meetings.

Where this happens it is normally made fairly clear that the a meeting is completely independent of the rehab, and is simply hiring venue in the same way that it hides venues such as church halls. AA



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.


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.



An alcohol detox is perhaps one of the most important elements of recovery from alcoholism, that is generally either not given the amount of attention it should be, or is otherwise completely ignored.

There is a bit of a myth among some people that simply stopping drinking does not present any dangers of itself, and can simply be a bit uncomfortable in terms of withdrawal symptoms.

For some people this is obviously true, however the risk is that coming off alcohol for someone who has a serious problem with it is an unknown quantity.

Anyone entering a rehab or treatment center for treatment connected with an alcohol or drug problem needs to be properly assessed by medically qualified personnel to see what the risks are concerning withdrawals, and whether or not appropriate medical detox under medical supervision may be needed.

The risks of  withdrawal symptoms from alcoholism can be severe, and in some cases life-threatening.

At that very definite possibility that someone who is an alcoholic has been drinking heavily for many years, has quite possibly been using various types of narcotics as well, is probably generally fairly unfit, and that diet if any will be fairly spartan.


The overall health of an individual who enters rehab needs to be seriously looked at, both physical and mental.

Assessing an individual regarding an alcohol detox is a crucial element of their recovery.

A rehab or treatment center should have  medically qualified personnel available who are able to oversee such a process, both in terms of the assessment and the actual detox itself.

If a rehab or treatment center does not have such qualified personnel, then they should have arrangements with a local clinical facility such as a hospital who can undertake both the assessment and detox themselves necessary.

People sometimes refer to a home detox in terms of withdraw from alcohol and drug use. This can be a highly dangerous process and is usually ill-advised.

Anyone entering a rehab treatment center should be aware that the process of recovery begins with an alcohol detox assessment, and is generally followed by a certain period of time, normally a total of a month or so, where a variety of therapeutic counselling techniques will be employed to help the individual begin the process of understanding their alcoholism and / or drug addiction.



Alcohol treatment will be a process designed for anyone who recognises or comes to recognise that they have a problem with alcohol, and are often referred to as alcoholics or people who have alcohol addiction problems.

The nature of alcoholism and alcohol addiction can sometimes be endlessly debated, but in reality the basis for acknowledging there is a problem and what treatment options may be available should be based on the experience and behaviour of the individual, not any academic interpretation of what alcoholism or alcohol addiction may be.

The notion of alcoholism as an illness, now widely accepted in medical circles, was born out of the experience of many doctors and early members of Alcoholics Anonymous, who recognised the abnormal craving and compulsion of people drinking, drinking which was essentially out of their mental control.

In the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous,  the point is made that alcohol will have a different effect on someone who is an alcoholic, to someone who is not an alcoholic.

The comparison to an individual having an allergy is used, a comparison that some people find helpful and others find slightly confusing.


The important thing to realise is that at some level and for some reason an alcoholic drink differently to someone who is not an alcoholic, even a heavy drinker who may externally show some of the same characteristics and behaviour is that of an alcoholic.

Alcohol can be a part of many people’s lives, and may even be a problem in some people’s lives at certain points of their life.

Trying to define an alcoholic, or someone who has an alcohol addiction can be a very difficult and time-consuming process.

There are many people especially in the youth who might exhibit problems associated with alcohol, but who will in effect grow out of them.

There are other people of exactly the same age who may drink the same and exhibit similar behaviours and experiences who are in reality alcoholics but have not yet come to realise it.

Alcohol treatment can come in many forms, ranging from residential rehab addiction programs, through to  12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, through to medical detox, through to an individual simply abstaining.




It is sometimes surprising to people that the word alcohol only appears once in the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, given that this program is regarded as the main recovery tool in the field of alcoholism and addiction work.

It is something of a paradox, that it is a realisation of powerlessness and alcohol triggers a willingness to move in a different direction internally, and create a world that is based on a reality of real-life, rather than a fantasy world that an active alcoholic can live and feel safe in.

Any reading of the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous will give people an understanding of the process, even if the enormity of what it means in reality can only really be understood by someone having an experience of the order that working through the 12 steps tends to produce.

An admission of being powerless over alcohol should not be taken as an admission that is not true.


The wording of step one in the 12 step program is designed to be read as a statement of experience, not as a belief system or as a guide, or as advice to other people as to what they should or should not do.

The early members of Alcoholics Anonymous were very clear that they felt they had a solution that works for them, and they were very happy to share that solution we are the people who felt that they had a similar problem.

The early members of AA also very clear that they would not force and did not want to force this solution on anyone either did not want it, or who felt they could solve their alcohol problem in their own way, or  who could drink, even quite heavily, and yet somehow manage it themselves or keep it under control themselves.

It is probably inevitable that people have lost sight of this principle that th this 12-step program is a statement of  experience, and should be regarded as a source of freedom, rather than a source of  either trapping people or forcing people into believing things that are not true.




Alcoholism treatment programs are normally part of a rehab’s addiction recovery process, and will normally be made very broad sense therapeutic in nature, and are likely to in some measure be based on the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Treatment programs in a rehab can vary widely as to what they do and do not include, ranging from highly focused step on work and treatment programs, through to treatment programs that cover the first five steps of a recovery program.

Alcoholism is generally recognised in people by their behaviour and denial rather than a recognition of what is going on inside someone’s head.

A rehab has a number of tasks and opportunities to have its treatment programs may be, but perhaps one of its main ones is to help the individual feel safe enough to begin to understand the complexity of their illness, and  to begin the process of piecing their life back together again.

Most people will spend a relatively short period of time in a rehab that his residential, normally about 28/30 days.

Some of this time may be taken up with a physical detox is needed, the rest of the time is likely to be taken up with a combination of personal therapy, counselling, group work and possibly life  skills work as well.

Most of the therapeutic type work will focus on the treatment program at a particular rehab administers, likely to involve some understanding and reflection on the principles of the 12 step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Alcoholism can take many forms, and is still in many ways not fully understood by most people, including many who suffer from the illness themselves.

The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous refers to a certain number of types of alcoholic, based largely on the experience of the work of the early members.

It is probably fair to say that people would now recognised that many more types of alcoholic than were recognised when the book was written, and alcoholism can present itself in many different types of individual.

What is perhaps important is to give an individual freedom to come to the conclusion themselves that they have a problem with alcohol, and need help to deal with it, rather than trying to fit any individual into a particular box or label.

Any understanding of alcoholism and the recovery process can only really take root when the individual has both experienced enough problems both internally and externally  to both make them see that they have a problem with drink, and at the same time relies that the nature of the illness makes them believe that alcohol is the only solution to any such problems that they may face.


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.


Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a really important term both in terms of what it means and what it doesn’t mean. Its meaning has tended to change quite a lot over the last few years and people can sometimes be confused as to what it actually means or what substances it covers.

When people first began to recognise or agree that alcoholism was an illness the focus was simply on alcohol. People then began to be diagnosed as having an addiction to various types of drugs or narcotics, both legal and illegal, description and non-prescription. People were often referred to as having a dual diagnosis where it concerned both alcohol and drugs.

The majority of people seeking help for problems with alcohol and/or drugs constituted the majority of places that were available in rehab and treatment centers for quite a long time. Rehabs and treatment centers then began to realise that they could offer addiction treatment programs for virtually any other type of addiction, most notably areas such as food, gambling or sexual addictions.

People also began to recognise that almost anyone can get addicted to any substance at some point in their lives, and for some people this would be a pattern of life or a cycle that they were unable to break on their own and needs help with. The most obvious place to turn for help would be the medical establishment, what of meaning a rehab or a treatment center.

Substance Abuse

This is where the term substance abuse really came into its full meaning, in that it has become almost an overused phrase in that it can cover virtually any substance that any individual can get addicted to at any time in their lives. People today understand that, but it is worth pointing out that the term substance abuse used to have a slightly different meaning.

People but often think of the term substance abuse in a historical context is referring to something like glue sniffing, or using any type of substance that wasn’t generally recognised as being alcohol or a mainstream type of drugs or narcotic.

The reason this is important is because many agencies and health related bodies refer to substance abuse when they are referring to alcoholism, drug addiction or any other type of substance that individuals can have an addiction or compulsion with. Understanding that this includes alcohol and/or drugs is an important part of knowing where an individual can go to get help if needed.

If in doubt the individual should contact the rehab or treatment center and get some sense of what the terminology they use means especially if usage refers to such general terms as substance abuse or addiction.


Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse can effectively range across a whole spectrum of behaviours and individuals, and can refer to a wide spectrum of dysfunctional or antisocial types of activity.

Alcohol abuse can also be used as a term for people who are alcoholics, where the term alcoholic is seen as somewhat judgement or a bit too intense or heavy-handed for people to accept.

The term alcohol abuse is normally taken to mean an assessment of someone who uses too much alcohol to the point where it has an impaired affect on their judgement or character, and can potentially lead them into awkward, embarrassing or dangerous situations that they would not otherwise let themselves get into.

This does not necessarily mean they are an alcoholic, but it does bring up the question of why they are letting themselves use alcohol to get into situations that can be detrimental to them, their health or the well-being of their family.

People use alcohol for many different reasons, and the term alcohol abuse is one that can be applied to people who would normally consider themselves social or moderate drinkers. It may be that in certain situations they lose control, or feel they are losing control of their lives and alcohol gives them some sense of relief or management of that situation.

It is important to note that there is a difference between someone who is abusing alcohol, someone who is a heavy drinker and someone who is an alcoholic. The distinctions may be fairly meaningless to those suffering the effects of someone else drinking, but there are important because they happen to be true.

Understanding who or what an alcoholic is can often be a hugely complex and difficult task, but is quite often recognised by those closest to them as being someone who is completely out of control with alcohol and unable to stop, and can often in complete denial of the fact that have a problem.

Someone who is a heavy drinker and is abusing alcohol as well may well have some of the same outward behaviours and characteristics as those of an alcoholic. The main difference is that they will be able to stop, albeit with a high degree of difficulty, if the need arises.

Someone who abuses alcohol and does not fit into either of the above categories may well simply need a jolt of some sort to make them realise what they are doing. In any event if an individual is using alcohol to a point that is detrimental to them or those closest to them, then the term alcohol abuse can mostly be applied, and the proper type of help sort and hopefully obtained.


Dangers of Alcohol

GRAHAM COUNTY — Among the different substances that can be abused is one that’s not injected or smoked.

“With the heroin problem in the Valley,” said Pima Police Chief Diane Cauthen, “sometimes we forget about alcohol.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol abuse causes nearly 88,000 deaths a year.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reported that underage drinking resulted in the deaths of approximately 4,700 young people in 2014. And liquor has other effects on youth. According to MADD, those who start drinking before 15 are four times likelier to become alcoholics or addicts.

Full Story, Click Here


Alcoholics Anonymous

Many people are familiar with the name of Alcoholics Anonymous, and many have a vague understanding that people go to Alcoholics Anonymous when they have a drink problem and hopefully they get sober and stay sober for the rest of their lives.

People may also be familiar with certain basic concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous such as the saying one day at a time, or the understanding that you can only deal with a problem once you have acknowledged that the problem exists.

The world of Alcoholics Anonymous is a very wide one, and is in many ways a bit of a subculture. Its importance lies perhaps in fact that for many people it is the first port of call if and when they recognise, or someone close to them recognises, that they have a seriously problem that they are unable or unwilling to do anything about.

Many people go directly to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, either willingly or unwillingly, and once exposed to the process of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting have an understanding, or a better understanding of what alcoholism is about, and/or what recovery from alcoholism involves.

The other way people are exposed to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous is when they enter a rehab for a treatment center. Whilst a rehab or a treatment center will have no direct links in terms of ownership or anything else with Alcoholics Anonymous most will have quite close ties with local Alcoholics Anonymous groups that crossover certain boundaries.

Alcoholics Anonymous

The majority of rehabs or treatment centers tend to offer what they refer to as addiction treatment programs which are normally based in part on the 12 step programme of recovery that Alcoholics Anonymous pioneered and lays claim to.

The rehab is likely to take certain aspects of the 12 step program and use elements of them in such a way as to be unique to themselves whilst enjoying the reputation of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Many rehabs refer to themselves as 12-step rehabs, meaning that they have a close affinity to the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and support and endorse its use.

It may well be that the rehab has close links with local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and encourages or maybe insist that an individual whilst in rehab attends local meetings.

It may also be the case that meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous are held on the premises of the rehab or treatment center, and if this is the case it should be stressed that these meetings are still completely independent of the rehab, they are simply using its venue as a basis for hosting the meetings and will pay them an appropriate rent for such use.


What is an Alcoholic?

Anyone who browses through discussion forums or discussion groups online will inevitably come across one of the most frequently asked questions people have. People will either post a specific thread entitled am an alcoholic ? or the question will come up in the course of a more generalised debate.

When people raise the question and say am I an alcoholic or not, people tend to respond in one of two ways.

They either share a wide range of experiences that they have from AA meetings, or their own life, explaining what an alcoholic is or isn’t and urging the individual to try AA before they die.

The other type of advice tends to be of a more general nature, urging the individual to look at their own drinking, telling them that they can be the only person who can decide if they are an alcoholic or not.

Both of these types of advice can be well-meaning, and both have their merits and their de-merits.

There is a more fundamental issue which does not get addressed, and maybe cannot be addressed in the context of a discussion group or forum.

The issue of whether someone decides they are an alcoholic or not is to some extent irrelevant.

The reason for saying this, is that people can get caught up on whether they see themselves as being an alcoholic or not, and miss the bigger point that it is the problem they are seeking to address concerning their drinking that is the real issue.

Whether they define themselves as an alcoholic will come at any point of the process, and is something that in many ways can be put on hold until they need to address it.

If someone acknowledges that they have a problem with alcohol, or with their drinking, and can refrain from putting any unhelpful labels around it, they are in fact faced with a much starker reality.


It is the reality of what their drinking is doing to them that they then at some level have to address.

They may or may not be able to, and may well continue to deny the problem for some time.

Assuming that they are able to address the issue in some way, and assuming that they decide to seek help, then in many ways they are in a much healthier position if they can focus on the specific issue.

Acknowledging that someone is an alcoholic can be extremely helpful, so long as the notion of alcoholism is given as the context for the person’s drinking and behaviour.

The real problem of trying to define an alcoholic, is that you can’t. You can certainly identify common patterns and behaviours, and someone who is an alcoholic can certainly get real benefit from identifying with other alcoholics in lots of different ways.

The danger is that in setting up any definition or context of what an alcoholic is or isn’t is that you create a predefined set of criteria outside of the individual, that they then feel they need to fit themselves into in order to qualify as an alcoholic, and thereby get better.

The focus should always be on the individual and their life, what their problem is and what they are doing to get better from it. The understanding of alcoholism can certainly be a big help in that, but it needs to come from within the individual not outside.


Portage County Drug /Alcohol Intervention

Portage County is developing new community efforts to increase screening, intervention and treatment for youth affected by drug and alcohol addiction.

The county received a grant in 2014 for $120,909 from the state’s Department of Health Services to develop programs for juveniles affected by alcohol and other drug abuse, or AODA.

Although the county had received the grant in the past, the state changed its guidelines a few years ago and made the grant competitive statewide.

Portage County was one of five counties to receive funding.

For more, click here


What is Treatment?

When people talk about treatment, they are invariably referring to a treatment center, most commonly known as a rehab, where people can go to get help if they have a problem with alcoholism or addiction to other substances or behaviours.

Having said that, the term treatment can cover a wide range of options that can almost be as baffling as some of the behaviours of an alcoholic themselves.

The primary source of treatment for alcoholics is Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA is an organisation that most people have heard of, even if they do not know that much about it.

There is no doubt however, that if someone has a problem with alcohol, a consideration of going to AA is likely to be the first port of call. Anyone can turn up at any AA meeting, or NA meeting and see if they find it helpful or not. AA is free, as are all 12-step fellowships, with voluntary collections taken at the meetings to cover the cost of rent, coffee etc.

The growth of rehabs and treatment centers over the years have to an extent been on the back of organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Many people nowadays assume that if an individual has a problem with alcohol and/or drugs they are likely to go to a rehab and then go on to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous afterwards.


There are certainly benefits for people who prefer to go to a rehab or treatment center as opposed to going directly to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The majority of treatment centers offer a 28 day structured therapeutic programme of recovery that is likely to be based on the principles of the 12 step program of AA. Some treatment centres are specifically non 12-step based, and are more likely to offer some type of recovery program based on a life skills/mindfulness approach to life.

Treatment centers are normally residential clinical facilities, that are likely to be funded through an individual’s health care plan, assuming they have insurance. If the individual does not have insurance that it can be an extremely expensive process.

There are also a number of non-residential options that are often available, depending on where the individual lives. Treatment is sometimes offered under what is known as an intensive outpatient program.

This normally involve the individual carrying on with their normal day-to-day worklife, and attending some type of rehab/evening classes during the week where they will focus on recovery principles.

The other option is what is sometimes referred to as partial hospitalisation treatment where the individual or attend some type of treatment center during the day, and then goes home in the evening.

In addition, some rehabs will offer some type of outreach work in the community, which we will be a mix of the above two types of treatment. If anyone has a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, seeking help is the most important element.

Once the individual genuinely seeks help, then they are likely to find it in a variety of different ways, and can adapt whatever their needs are to their recovery process.