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.
An intervention usually takes place when it is believed the situation is so serious that there is nothing else that can be done. The process is usually instigated by family or friends of the person who has an alcohol or drug problem. The nature of an intervention can vary quite a lot, but there are normally some common elements.
People who perform interventions take great pains to stress they should not be confrontational. The intent is to show the person the extent to which that addiction or alcoholism is real. This is done through family and friends sharing, writing letters, showing photographs etc. The individual concerned then understands the nature of the problem, and is willing to seek help to get better.
This type of scenario sounds very plausible, but there are some problems with it.
Anyone who is an alcoholic will have a particular mindset about their drinking.One element will be a belief system that alcohol is the only thing that is holding them together. It is likely this belief system will get deeper the worse things get, both internally and externally.
This is something that is very difficult for someone who is not an alcoholic to understand.
The complexity of active alcoholism and drug addiction means that trying to help someone can be quite difficult. It is a bit of a cliche, but still true, to say that the person needs to accept that they have a problem and that they need help. What is even more true is that that acknowledgement has to come from within them.
An alcoholic or drug addict will have a completely different view of how they need to use alcohol or drugs than someone who is not an alcoholic or an addict.
The dangers of an intervention
Whilst that are some scenarios where an intervention possibly could be justified, on the whole the process is fraught with danger. The person that the intervention is focused on is likely to feel cornered, possibly trapped and certainly under a great deal of pressure. They may give in to this pressure and agree they need help. They may go into rehab, and they may get sober.
There is an underlying issue that will be hugely important, but will possibly go unnoticed for a long period of time. That is that they did not make the decision for themselves that they had a problem and needed help. The decision was effectively made for them by other people, and they essentially went along with it.
The significance of this cannot be overstated. Any long-term recovery has to be rooted in a gut level feeling that they cannot do it any more. It is an internal dynamic that has to be genuine and authentic. Whatever horrors may be presented to them by way of evidence from family and friends, this evidence it only likely to make them feel worse.
An intervention is not a reality check. It is a process advocated by people who feel there is nothing more they can do, and something has to be done to force a situation to change. The real danger is that this presented as an opportunity for an alcoholic to get better. What it does in reality is tear down a mask that someone has put up to keep themselves safe.
It is a cardinal rule of all types of psychology, that people who use masks to defend themselves have to be able to take them down from within. Tearing them down from the outside can be cruel and callous. For an alcoholic or drug addict, it seems more complex because the mask itself is so destructive. The reality is the same however.
However tempting an intervention may seem, the solution that offers is normally an illusion. The desire for recovery has to come from within, not be forced on someone by outside pressure.
Most people have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, and know that it has something to do with people stopping drinking.
People also have very different and often conflicting views of what an alcoholic is, and also the difference between someone who is an alcoholic and a heavy or problem drinker.
Some people are also wary of Alcoholics Anonymous because they have heard that it is a religious or spiritual organisation, and do not want any involvement with something akin to this.
For anyone really wanting to understand how Alcoholics Anonymous works, there are two important things.
Firstly is to understand the context of Alcoholics Anonymous in today’s world, and do that it is really important to have some sense of the history of AA and how it has developed.
Describing Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous describes itself as a fellowship of men and women who share their experience strength and hope with each other, in order to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.
Whilst this is quite a broad generalisation, there is a good deal of truth in this very simple premise, that AA is about individuals sharing their experiences in the hope of helping others.
History of Alcoholics Anonymous
AA is fairly unique as such, apart from other 12-step organisations, and does not have a traditional form of structure. Understanding the history of AA is a big part of being able to see how the reality of AA functions.
There are a number of history books, some written by AA itself, others written by independent journalists and authors. All will give slightly differing viewpoints as to how AA developed, and what its strengths and weaknesses are.
The books written by AA itself are slightly sanitised, but do also carry much if not all of the historical information that is relevant and pertinent to how AA developed.
AA, both in print and in reality, can have a slight gloss to it that is part protective, and in part slightly focused on not wanting to appear divisive or confrontational.
Independent books on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous are quite often written either why people who are members of AA themselves, although not always, and people who are quite unashamedly opposed to AA and everything about it.
The fact there are differing viewpoints about AA is not surprising, and should not of itself be a problem or an issue.
It can become an issue because people tend to become either very hostile or a protective about AA, both approaches tend to blur the reality.
Reality of Alcoholics Anonymous
Anyone wanting to understand the reality of Alcoholics Anonymous should really go to one or more meetings and experience it for themselves.
Whatever meeting they go to, they are likely to experience a different reality to other meetings, and other people’s experiences of them.
This is simply because anyone’s reality is different to someone else’s.
However there is a general shape and form to AA meetings, which largely focus around the definition given at the beginning of this post.
Individuals who have had serious problems and have been able to get sober, meeting together and sharing their experience in the hope of helping others who have had similar problems.
This has always been at the heart of AA, and continues to be in most of the meetings that anyone is likely to attend.
This will vary to an extent, simply because there are literally hundreds of thousands of meetings all around the world, all of which will have a slightly different structure and format.
The other thing that is worth saying about AA is that at most meetings, if not all, there is a mix of both practical and spirit. The practical tends to be the physical reality of individuals meeting and talking and sharing with each other.
The spirit tends to be an underlying energy which pervades the nature and process of the meeting, and for many people is the most powerful element of what happens to them, both in terms of getting sober and staying sober.
This mix of practical and spirit is perhaps the unique element of AA that makes it so difficult to describe. The good news is that people do not have to understand it in order to experience it.
Pretty much anyone can attend an AA meeting, as all are open to anyone thinks they may have a drink problem, and a good number of what are known as open meetings, where anyone who is interested in AA can attend and listen to what is being said.
Potted history of AA
There are a few basic points of history that should probably be flagged up, although none are a substitute to really understanding the full time line of AA.
AA was started in America in the mid 1930s, largely as a result of a chain of individual experiences of people who had a drink problem, and who got sober using a number of spiritual principles.
The best-known of these individuals were the two co-founders of AA, who stayed anonymous during their own lifetimes, but became quite well known afterwards.
Their individual experiences formed the basis of how AA developed, both in terms of individual groups in certain cities, through to the enormous growth of meetings and groups throughout the world today.
These and other individual spiritual experiences were collated into a book, which was entitled Alcoholics Anonymous, which became the name and basis of the whole organisation itself.
Perhaps the most important thing to take from the history of AA is that it has always been a collection of experience.
It has no ideology or belief system or any agenda other than an openness to share its experience in the hope that it can help others.
This sharing of experience is done primarily through the AA literature, which is open for anyone to buy or download on-line, as well as through AA meetings and individuals sharing their experience on a one-to-one basis.
Many people have heard the phrase ” going into rehab” or simply the phrase ‘rehab’ itself, but are unclear about what it means or what is really involved with it.
A rehab is essentially a clinical institution, in the same way that a hospital is a clinical institution, but one that deals purely with different types of addiction.
There are other significant differences between hospitals and rehabs which are explained further on.
Traditionally, a rehab would deal with people who were alcoholics, or who had a serious drink problem, even if they were unaware of what alcoholism was or whether or not they were alcoholics.
As time went on, rehabs realised that they could treat people who had other addictions as well, namely addictions relation to drug abuse, gambling, food, sex etc.
Rehabs and treatment centers realised that their approach to recovery meant they focused mainly on the individual and their internal triggers, and as such could apply the process to anyone who had any type of addiction at all.
With this overall approach to addiction, some people and some rehabs felt their message was a bit blurred, and started describing themselves as alcohol rehabs or drug rehabs or alcohol and drug rehabs.
Other treatment centers found this approach unnecessary, but it has meant that sometimes there has to be a distinction as to what an alcohol and drug rehab is.
The reality is that the majority of rehabs will focus on alcohol and drug addiction, and the majority of people entering a rehab will be doing so for the same reasons.
There is one proviso relating to rehabs offer treatment programs for drug addiction specifically. They will often enlist the specific types of drug addiction they have expertise in, and this may be of some value to people.
Not necessarily in terms of the addiction treatment programs that they offer, but much more in that knowledge of and treatment facilities they have for any detox or withdrawal program that may be necessary at the start of their recovery.
Rehabs and Hospitals
Describing a rehab as a clinical environment is an important element of its institutional nature, but it is also important to clarify what that means.
It simply means that the rehab will have clinical staff as part of its overall recovery team.
They will have specific clinical functions within the team. It normally applies to doctors, nurses, psychologists, therapists etc.
These clinical staff will have very specific roles in a professional capacity, relating either to any detox program in place at the beginning of the treatment program, or a role in the addiction treatment program itself.
In most other respects, a rehab is very unlike a hospital. Most rehabs are more like country clubs, and make a serious effort to provide a gentle and soothing environment within which an individual can begin the process of recovery.
Depending upon the rehab, the country club type approach will vary considerably in terms of its rules and regulations.
Some rehabs make a big point of incredibly rigid regulations about every aspect of the individual’s life whilst there, largely as a way of providing structure, which they believe helps aid recovery.
Other rehabs take a very different approach, believing that giving an individual freedom to be themselves as part of their recovery process is an integral part of them being able to find recovery in the first place.
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 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.
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.
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.
Anyone looking for a Christian rehab will generally be doing so for one of two reasons.
The first reason is that they want a rehab that is purely faith-based or Bible based, the second reason is that they want a more traditional rehab, but one that is focused on spirituality and/or a Christian based approach to addiction recovery.
The issue of spirituality and belief in God has been at the core of recovery from alcoholism since the early experiences of Alcoholics Anonymous members. It has also been one of the defining issues in terms of both helping people and alienating people from the process of recovery.
As with any approach to recovery, it is important that the person looking for help has some clear understanding of what to look for. Any rehab offering help must comply with certain local and national requirements and regulations. A rehab should also employ a significant number of qualified clinical staff who can help assess the individual entering rehab to see if there is a need for a medical detox.
The rehab should also be able to either oversee such a medical detox if needed, or have other arrangements with a local clinical facility who can oversee the detox on their behalf. This is crucially important for any rehab as many people entering rehab will be withdrawing from the effects of alcohol and/or drugs, and this needs to be managed in a safe and secure clinical environment.
Once any detox has been done, the work of the rehab is to help the individual to understand the nature of alcoholism and other types of addiction, and to give individuals some grounding in the various approaches to recovery that the rehab advocates to help the individual rebuild their lives in the context of staying clean and sober both in rehab and once they have left.
The majority of rehabs will take a therapeutic approach that is based on the 12th program of Alcoholics Anonymous. A number of rehabs will also offer a wide range of other addiction treatment programs that should be clinically based, that should be evidence-based and should be based on extensive experience of what works.
A Christian-based rehab is normally a rehab that very specifically refers to itself as being Christian-based or faith-based. It very clearly sets out its addiction treatment program as being based on a belief that Jesus Christ, and belief in Jesus Christ is the only real source of salvation, and that this belief will be central to all the therapeutic work that is done in this type of rehab.
A Christian rehab can vary quite widely as to its structure and type of environment where this work will be done. Some Christian rehabs will opt for the traditional thirty-day model that most normal rehabs offer, with varying degrees of structure and rigidity in terms of living environment, personal possessions, access to phones and Internet etc.
Other Christian rehabs will offer a much more controlled and rigid environment, and although they are open and upfront about this, this model should be considered carefully before entry into it. Often this type of Christian rehab will offer an extensive and free recovery process with a enrolment period of up to 9 months.
There is likely to be a very strict regime where there is no personal contact with the outside world, no direct contact with anyone at all.
This type of Christian rehab very tightly controls the behaviour, the information and the environment that the individual will live in for these nine months. After the nine months is finished the individual will be expected to continue as part of the broader church that will be associated with the rehab and contribute to it in various ways.
This type of environment can at times be quite cult like, and should be guarded against. Any rehab should be freely entered into, and the client should also have the option or freedom to leave if they don’t like it. A rehab is not a prison, and whilst leaving early can have serious complications and consequences, it is nevertheless a freedom that the client should retain.
A Christian rehab that is faith-based and focuses exclusively on a biblical approach to recovery is a perfectly legitimate option for anyone seeking this. This type of rehab may or may not incorporate some of the approaches of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step organisations.
Most Christian rehabs will offer fairly intensive levels of Christian counselling, as well as a fairly intensive structured programme of daily Bible study groups and prayer groups.
A number of Christian rehabs will also be linked to various churches, and these churches should offer additional support through prayer and pastoral work to the individual once they are in rehab, and once they have left.
A rehab or treatment center should employ a wide range of different health care professionals, who have extensive clinical experience in dealing with alcoholism and addiction.
If the rehab is basing some of its therapeutic treatments on the twelve step progarm of Alcoholics Anonymous, then it is usually helpful if some of the staff are in recovery themselves, often having been in rehab themselves at some point.
This assessment of clinical staffing levels should relate to number of staff, different disciplines, qualifications and experience.
This information should be available on the rehab’s website, along with inforemation about availability of medical staff (should be 24/7) and regularity of therapy / conselling sessions etc.
Below is a list of the main types of clinical and therapeutic staff normally employed in a rehab. In addition a rehab should employ a number of well trained admin staff who can help the client through the often complicated admissions and insurance verification process.
Therapists / Counsellors
Chi Kung / Tai Chi Teachers
Art Therapy Practitioners
Meditation / Mindfulness Practitioners
Transitional Living Worker
Rehabs are probably best know for dealing with two types of addiction, people who are addicted to alcohol, alcoholics, and people who are addicted to drugs, either prescribed or not. People who are addicted to both alcohol and drugs are commonly referred to as dual addicted.
Some rehabs have broadened their scope of what they say addiction means, and offer treatment for a wide variety of addictions, some of which are listed below.
The rehab will take an approach that the individual is what they call an addictive personality, and use the particular addiction as a trigger.
This approach has allowed some rehabs to broaden their scope of who they treat enormously, which has many implications from a business point of view, and has rasied many ethical questions about what addiction really is and what it means, and whether or not some rehabs exploit that.
Alcohol Addiction / Abuse
Bath Salts Abuse
Most rehabs recommend, and most people follow, that anyone entering rehab goes to one that is a significant distance away from where they live, either in another state or in another country.
The logic behind this is that rehab is something of a bubble for a period of time, and it is better for the client / patient to be in this bubble away from their normal environment, home, family, work etc.
As a rehab is a clinical facility, and should oversee any medical detox and therapeutic work that needs doing, it is crucially important that you check the local accreditation and licensing requirements for where the rehab is located, and make sure the rehab fully complies.
This is a state by state list in the US where these requirements can be checked
Emotional Sobriety is the title of an article written in the journal of Alcoholics Anonymous, known as the AA Grapevine, by one of its co-founders Bill W.
In the article, he writes at length about the need to address many of the underlying emotional drives that fuelled his alcoholism, and implied that this was in effect a stage that follows the initial phase of getting sober and staying sober.
Many people have interpreted this as meaning different things. Emotional sobriety is often used as a form of judgement as to how ‘well’ people are in sobriety, irrespective of how long they have been sober.
Other people will often compare what they call physical sobriety with emotional sobriety, implying that once physically sober the level with which people are able to adapt and integrate their lives into sobriety indicates a degree of wellness.
It is really important, to understand the thinking behind the term emotional sobriety, irrespective of how long anyone has been sober or not.
Firstly sobriety is about being sober, pure and simple. There are no degrees of it, there is no judgement about it in terms of wellness or not, or how well people cope with it or do not manage to.
Emotional sobriety should be thought of much more in terms of the underlying emotional drives that play a part in most people’s alcoholism.
Anyone getting sober, whether in a rehab or through a 12 step program or some other way, will soon begin to realise that once sober the real issue becomes how do people stay sober, whilst living with the emotional turmoil that most people feel is inside them.
The process of people understanding and making sense of their alcoholism is a really important one.
What is equally important is that they have the freedom to discover for themselves what this understanding and connection is between alcohol and their emotional states.
Most people would recognise that their alcoholism is a mix of an instinctive or instinctual need to drink, and the sense of relief or freedom that alcohol gives them once they have taken a drink or several.
Often this connection between the effect of alcohol and what it is affecting you within is only clear at a felt level. Once sober, it becomes clearer that the emotional states such as anger, fear, loneliness etc that are a common part of alcoholism play a major role as a trigger for the compulsion or obsession to drink.
Emotional Sobriety and AA
However people come to understand their emotional states, it is normally clear from early on either in rehab or in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous that the main type of therapeutic/spiritual work that needs to be done, is on helping the individual stabilise their inner world, and as such prevent the reflex action of picking up a drink or feeling the need to have a drink.
This work on one’s inner world, on helping to stabilise one’s emotions and begin the process of feeling relatively at peace with oneself at some level begins the moment an individual gets sober, either in a rehab or in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is the real focus of emotional sobriety, the understanding and need to be at peace with yourself.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many people use the word addiction almost quite loosly in a way to refer to people’s liking or obsession for virtually any substance, activity or behaviour. In normal everyday life the term addiction is often used jokingly, saying that someone is addicted to x, y or z, and it’s not really that much of a problem.
When it comes to dealing with addiction in the context of alcoholism and addiction to various types of drugs and other behaviours such as gambling etc, then it is really important to understand the gravity of what these conditions and situations refer to, and what help is available and where.
Addiction is a widespread term, and in the context of rehabs and treatment centers first came into being in the context of alcoholism in the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholism is often treated in the same context as other types of addiction, but this is normally a mistake and should be treated with caution.
Whilst it is difficult to generalise about alcoholism, and there are many types of it, it is properly fair to say that an alcoholic will drink because they are an alcoholic, not the other way round.
In other words, an alcoholic will not become addicted to alcohol in the same way that someone will become addicted to cigarettes, through a pattern of using an addictive substance that leads to a form of addiction that they cannot break.
A rehab or treatment center will offer addiction treatment programs for alcoholism, alcohol addiction and other types of addiction as well, and should be fully licensed and accreditted
Most rehabs will treat all of these types of addiction as essentially the same problem, and will focus on the individual as being the real problem, with the solution being helping the individual to change.
A rehab is likely to stress that the individual is something referred to as an addictive personality, and that their addiction is or was essentially about a drug of choice, be that alcohol or something else.
The advantage of this type of approach is that it can help the individual to realise that their real problem is within themselves, and thus is changeable either with the help of a 12 step program or through some other means.
A basic underpinning of this approach is that addiction itself is a disease, leading to the idea of an addictive personality and a drug of choice.
Again this may be helpful or not depending on the approach taken by the rehab, and at what level the individual feels it helps them make sense of their lives.
The issue of addiction is quite a complex one, and one that has undergone and continues to undergo much medical and social research.
When considering entering a rehab, it is worth bearing in mind what weight the rehab treatment center places on current clinical research, and how up-to-date that addiction treatment programs are in the context of modern day research.
Addiction and Rehab
A rehab or treatment center also often offer treatment for other types of addiction.
These can range from what is referred to as dual diagnosis, which means people who are alcoholics, addicted to alcohol as well as being addicted to various types of drugs both prescription and non-prescription, through to food, gambling, sexual addiction and addiction to the internet and video games.
It is worth being slightly cautious with any rehab that offers too broad a range of addiction specialities and addiction treatment programs.
There is a belief that some rehabs use the term addiction or addictive personality much too broadly, and use it essentially as a catchall phrase that allows them to treat virtually anyone for virtually any problem that they can classify as an addiction.
Remember that the problem and solution in the context of a rehab or treatment center tends to be seen as that of an addictive personality with a drug of choice. This allows some rehabs to take an approach that has some questionable ethical and moral issues.
At the end of the day a rehab is a business, normally a very profitable business, and the more they can broaden their client base or their customer base the more profitable they will be, even rehabs that describe themselves as Christian rehabs
Addiction to alcohol, alcoholism and addiction to drugs and gambling and other types of serious problems are a major issue, and for many people a rehab or a treatment center is the first port of call that they will enter to seek help.
A rehab and especially the rehab staff is likely to help the individual understand some of the underlying emotional drives and issues that have fuelled thir addiction, and help give them a structure or program that will allow them to rebuild their life and offer them the chance to live a life that is essentially free from their addiction and their addictive behaviours.
People who ask or talk about rehab facilities often do so with a understandable but misguided idea that rehab is are a mix between an upmarket hotel and a country club, a sort of retreat with varying degrees of comfort or opportunities.
The reality is that rehabs differ widely in terms of the facilities that they offer to people, and that approach as to how the environment and addiction treatment programs should be offered to any individual who enters an inpatient rehab.
Traditionally, a rehab would treat someone who was an alcoholic or had a problem with alcohol, and their time spent in a rehab would consist of a medical detox if needed, followed by a period of different types of therapeutic treatment, often a mix of 12-step program ideas and meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.
There would be a need some type of clinical facility, along with a modicum of comfort and very basic facilities.
The rise of treatment centers and rehabs has meant the growth of this industry, and a white approach that can differ considerably.
The initiators of the treatment center industry tried to strike a balance between providing an environment where the alcoholic could feel safe and secure, along with facilities treated them as someone who was trying to get well, rather than as a bad person.
At the same time, there was a belief that treatment centers and rehabs needed to be a fairly structured environment, and should be designed to focus the individual fully on their recovery process.
Rehabs and treatment centers take a number of different approaches. Some believe that a rehab should be a fairly spartan place, with very basic facilities and an entirely structured timetable from morning till night.
Some rehabs believe in an incredibly tight grip on what the individual can bring into rehab, and what they can and cannot do whilst there.
This can seem incredibly regulated some people, inevitably attracting some and alienating others.
There has been a growth in recent years of what can be termed luxury rehabs, which take almost an extreme opposite view. They believe that a rehab should essentially be the most serious and pleasant environment that someone can spend their time in, and that this is conducive to aiding in their recovery.
Both these approaches are somewhat of the extreme, and inevitably there are a wide number of different approaches in between.
There is no right and wrong approach to recovery, and every individual should approach a rehab based on what they feel is most appropriate to them.
The rehab facilities that are available should be outlined on the rehabs website, and rehab should be open to discussing what these facilities are, and how they help a client in their 12 step recovery.
Dual diagnosis is a term that specifically refers to people who would consider themselves both alcoholics and drug addicts, or people who have had problems with both alcohol and drugs. The term arose mainly in rehabs and treatment centers, and it is important to understand this context.
Initially treatment centers and rehabs treated people who had a problem with alcohol, whether they were turned alcoholics or problem drinkers, or people who had alcohol abuse issues. As this industry grew, people entered rehab who not only had problems with alcohol but with other substances including many narcotic drugs, and various behaviours.
Treatment centers and rehabs quickly picked up on this, and in the specific case of people who have problems with both alcohol and drugs they refer to them as being dual diagnosed. In addition, the rehab industry widened their scope of potential clients or a client base by beginning to define people as an addictive personality.
This meant that in effect, any individual who had any addiction to any substance or any type of addictive behaviour could be labelled as an addictive personality, and their particular addiction, whether substance or behaviour, could be labelled their drug of choice.
There are many people who believe that the terminology employed in the idea of an addictive personality and a drug of choice is simply to enhance the pool of people who can be susceptible to needing to go into treatment.
There are other people who defend the term addictive personality as being a reasonably good definition of some help an individual who has a number of differing emotional drives and issues which fuel that alcoholism or addiction.
Whatever someone’s take on the term dual diagnosis, in reality it simply means that it refers to someone who has a problem but with alcohol and drugs, or has had a problem with alcohol and drugs and is now clean and sober.
In terms of 12 step recovery, what it really means is that individual will have used both alcohol and drugs at different stages of the alcoholism and addiction, and probably recognises a need to keep clear of both in order to stay clean and sober.
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.
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.
Chemical dependency is a term that has come to be used with reference to almost any type of substance abuse or addiction to alcohol/drugs etc.
The original sense of addiction in the context of a 12-step recovery was an addiction to alcohol, normally referred to as alcoholism.
As an understanding that alcoholism was an illness grew in medical and therapeutic circles, treatment centers and rehabs began to treat people who they referred to as being dual diagnosed, that is that they had an addiction to some type of drug as well as a problem with alcohol.
Since then rehab’s and treatment centers have broadened their concept of addiction treatment programs to essentially deal with anyone who had any type of addiction, to any type of substance or behaviour.
This approach certainly has its critics, many will argue that seeing the individual as an addictive personality, and their chemical dependency or behaviour is simply a drug of choice is highly oversimplistic.
At the same time, most people who have had any dealings with anyone who is an alcoholic or addict, either active or in recovery, will happily testify that they have significant personality and identity problems that have undoubtedly fuelled that alcoholism or addiction.
The linkage between chemical dependency and addiction and rehabs is one that is important to seek an context.
It is very easy for someone unfamiliar with the world of 12-step recovery who is confronted with someone who has a terrible addiction to simply follow the dictates of a particular rehab or treatment center.
Sometimes time is of the essence, and it is often essential to get someone into a rehab or some type of detox program so that the health can be stabilised, at least in the short term.
The process of recovery from any type of addiction or alcoholism, in the context of 12 step recovery, can be done either in a rehab or by going to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or another 12 step organisation.
This process of 12 step recovery is by necessity a long-term process, and one undertaken by someone who had at some level either acknowledged their chemical dependency and are willing to try and deal with it, or are willing to acknowledge the life is a complete disaster and are willing to try and change it, even if they don’t know why.
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.
ALCOHOL WITHDRAWAL ADDICTION
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.
The 12 steps treatment program of Alcoholics Anonymous has become widely regarded as a yardstick for recovery from alcoholism, whether it be practised within the organisation of Alcoholics Anonymous, or in a rehab or treatment center.
The phrase 12 steps has become widely used, and often misinterpreted in terms of what they really mean.
This is important, because many rehabs and treatment centres often promote themselves as being 12-step based, which can mean a variety of different things.
Equally there are a number of rehabs and treatment centers that specifically promote themselves as being non-12-step based, and this has implications in terms of what they do offer as addiction treatment programs, and to what extent they are clinically-based or proven.
The original 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous can be found in its entirety in the book of the same name, and is widely available anyone to buy, borrow from their local library, or read online for free.
It should always be remembered that the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous should be taken in context of its writing.
This means that it was written along with a number of descriptive chapters as a record of experience, of what the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous found worked for them.
12 STEPS TREATMENT
People are a perfect liberty to use any or all of the 12 step program in anyway that they find helpful or not.
A number of treatment centers and rehabs use a variation of the 12 step program, but do tend to promote it as if they were offering the benefits of the program as practised within Alcoholics Anonymous.
This can be slightly misleading, and can also be seen as taking advantage of people who are quite vulnerable and do not fully appreciate the difference between the two approaches.
In addition, a number of rehabs and treatment centers will be very supportive of 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and will actively encourage or insist there resident clients attend meetings of these organisations.
In this way a number of rehabs will align themselves with a 12 step recovery program.