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Perhaps you've been asking yourself this question recently, truly wishing you could know the answer. You may be surprised to find that you're not alone. It is actually quite common for people to become alcoholics and not be aware of it. This might seem strange, but alcoholism has a way of skillfully working its way into your life.
You may find it to be very helpful to take quiz. Here at Northpoint the Evergreen, we'd like to offer you that opportunity. Below, you'll find an alcoholism quiz that can assist you with learning the truth about yourself. For each question, if your answer is yes, check the box beside it. If your answer is no, leave the box blank. Once you've finished the quiz, enter your email address in the box and click the submit button. At that point, you'll be directed toward your results.
Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), to give it its medical diagnosis, is a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. It’s a real disease, as much as diabetes, chronic artery disease or cancer. Unless the disease of alcoholism is treated effectively, it can prove fatal.
Alcoholism is a global issue, affecting adults, adolescents, and children, regardless of their social backgrounds, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or any of the other categories we choose to define ourselves today in our modern world.
Did you know that here, in the U.S., according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2017, 19.7 million Americans,aged 12 and older, were suffering from a substance use disorder (SUD), and nearly three-quarters of those (74%) were also struggling with an AUD at the same time?
That amounts to a significant percentage of the entire population of the U.S. Furthermore, 8.5 million American adults were suffering from both a mental health disorder and a SUD, known as co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis.
However, less than 10% of those adults in the U.S. who struggled with alcoholism in 2015 received professional treatment for the disease, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Sadly, there are many possible reasons for this extreme treatment gap.
One clear issue that needs addressing is getting people suffering with AUD to actually accept they have a real problem, a real disease that requires professional help and treatment. In 2013, the NSDUH reported that of those who needed addiction treatment and didn’t receive it, approximately 95.5% didn’t think they had a problem and needed medical help. Virtually all of them.
This issue is likely to occur if a person doesn’t believe they fit into their stereotypical idea of what being an “alcoholic” actually is. If a person has a stable home life and full-time employment, is reasonably well-educated, and has no family history of alcoholism, it may be difficult to persuade them that their drinking amounts to an actual untreated and chronic disease. Families may also be more willing to ignore excessive drinking (and the issues that can bring) if the family member concerned appears to be fully capable in other areas of their life.
Researchers at NIAAA, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have identified 5 distinct subtypes of the alcoholic to help people gain a better understanding of the disease. These are:
Type 1: Young Adult Alcoholic
Type 2: Young Antisocial Alcoholic
Type 3: Functional Alcoholic
Type 4: Intermediate Familial Alcoholic
Type 5: Chronic Severe Alcoholic
“Do I have a drinking problem?” or “Do I drink too much?” are common questions most drinkers will ask themselves at one time or another. Sometimes, if they are truly honest with themselves, they’ll answer “I guess I do. What should I do now?”
However, the very manipulative and relapsing nature of alcoholism (or AUD) means that this is rarely the answer you’ll allow yourself. Your honesty really does get pushed to the back of the queue when it comes to alcohol abuse.
The short, medical answer to the question is this: “Anyone who experiences concerns or troubles due to alcohol use most likely has a drinking problem.” It doesn’t mean to say they are an alcoholic, by definition - just that alcohol is clearly affecting their life for the worse, and some form of positive action needs to be taken.
So what is the best action to take? What exactly should you do?
Step #1: Speak to Your Family Doctor or a Professional Addiction Specialist
Alcoholism itself is diagnosed based upon a person meeting certain criteria as outlined by the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).” Individuals have to meet any two of the criteria within the same 12-month period to be diagnosed with suffering from AUD. These medical criteria are also known as “The 11 Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder.” They are:
The presence of at least two of the above criteria (or symptoms/signs) indicates an AUD. Furthermore, by using this criteria, physicians can measure the severity of an AUD, and can grade accordingly:
Step #2: Be Guided by Your Family Doctor or a Professional Addiction Specialist in Determining What Level of AUD Treatment You Require, eg. Inpatient or Outpatient
The term “moderate drinker” covers a wide spectrum of those who drink alcohol reasonably responsibly, and at relatively safe rates of consumption. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as:
In fact, the Dietary Guidelines recommend that if you don’t drink alcohol at present, it is far better to remain that way. Additionally, it is important to remember that there are some people who should not drink any alcohol, and these groups include:
From this advice, which is used as a guideline by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), moderate drinking is determined as a pattern of low-risk drinking that involves consuming alcohol in low doses, and only on occasion. Often referred to as “social drinkers,” those who drink moderately, typically drink alcohol no more than once or twice a week.
Note: If you drink more than what is described here as moderate drinking on a regular basis, or, for example, you regularly binge drink at weekends, you may also need some form of AUD treatment or therapy.
For those suffering with AUD, the most successful form of addiction treatment available to you, one that provides the best opportunity for you to recover mentally and physically from alcohol abuse, is as an inpatient in a residential detox and rehab program. Here, we describe the elements of such a program:
Every patient admitted into an inpatient / residential alcohol detox and rehabilitation program should be clinically assessed on their arrival to determine the severity of their AUD and to diagnose any additional medical conditions, such as a mental disorder or other medical condition that may affect their treatment. The results of this clinical assessment should form the basis of your individualized treatment plan (provided at all reputable alcohol rehab centers).
Although the severity of an AUD should be the most important factor when deciding between an inpatient or outpatient program, there are other considerations to be taken into account by the medical staff guiding you. These include:
If you have become dependent upon alcohol, you are likely to experience the more uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal symptoms that stopping your misuse will lead to. Detox in itself is the vital first step of any recovery from an AUD.
Because of the seriousness of some of AUD’s withdrawal symptoms, such as delirium tremens, seizures, and hallucinations, an inpatient detox is a medically-assisted treatment to ensure the harmful toxins that your misuse has built up in your body are expelled in a safe and secure environment. Furthermore, it will reduce the seriousness of the alcohol cravings you will undoubtedly experience.
Whilst residing at the rehab center, and once you have safely completed your detox, your rehabilitation will begin. This will involve most, if not all, of the following elements of addiction treatment:
Once you have been discharged from the rehab facility or your inpatient program has reached its scheduled end, it is vital that your recovery process continues. This can be achieved through:
If the rehab center that you attended has an alumni service, enabling you to stay in contact with the facility, its staff, and other patients, sign yourself up.
Depending upon the severity of your AUD, as well as your “ongoing” commitments, eg. family and work, and the limitations imposed by them, it may be possible for you to attend an outpatient alcohol rehab program to be treated for your alcohol misuse. However, that decision should be guided by your family physician or an addiction specialist, and it should certainly be covered when you undergo your clinical assessment upon arrival at your chosen outpatient rehab center.
Many outpatient alcohol rehab programs offer the same or similar levels of therapy and support that you should receive in an inpatient facility, and the majority of these will have varying schedules for their levels of treatment, eg. intensive outpatient program (IOP), outpatient program (OP), and even partial hospitalization program (PHP).
The benefits of an outpatient alcohol rehab program include:
As part of their aftercare and ongoing recovery, many newly-sober, post-rehab people will seek support from organized meetings of those in the same position, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) & SMART Recovery. In fact, this may well have started during rehab, but it is certainly advised by addiction treatment professionals upon a patient leaving the facility.
Alcoholics Anonymous describes itself as “an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.”
The fellowship has its own blueprint for recovery - the “12 Steps” program. The 12 Steps were created by the founders of AA to establish guidelines for the best way to overcome an alcohol addiction. Although the 12 Steps are based on spiritual principles, many nonreligious people have found the program immensely helpful too. The language emphasizes the presence of God as each participant understands him, allowing for different interpretations and religious beliefs.
To learn more about the AA fellowship or to find your nearest meeting, simply visit their website at www.aa.org.
Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) describes itself as “a global community of mutual-support groups. At meetings, participants help one another resolve problems with any addiction (to drugs or alcohol, or to activities such as gambling or over-eating). Participants find and develop the power within themselves to change and lead fulfilling and balanced lives guided by our science-based and sensible 4-Point Program.”
The SMART 4-Point Program consists of:
To learn more about SMART Recovery or to find your nearest meeting, simply visit their website at www.smartrecovery.ws/wp/about-us.
Evergreen at Northpoint (Bellevue) is a highly specialized outpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in Bellevue, Washington. Our outpatient rehab program offers patients the flexibility to maintain their work and family commitments while receiving a level of care comparable to that of a full-time inpatient program.
We design individualized treatment plans that address both your addiction and any underlying mental conditions that may be causing it. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach at any of our Northpoint rehab centers. Furthermore, at Evergreen, we offer 3 different levels of treatment to fully meet your needs - these are: