Understanding the Chronic Disorder Key to Recovery

Many terms have been used to describe someone addicted to alcohol—some are from a healthcare perspective and more clinical, and some are downright sad.

A frustrated and angry wife might be upset that her husband is out all night drinking, only to stumble back in the house in the morning and sleep off the effects all day. Upset by this recurring pattern, she calls her spouse a drunk to his face during their arguments.

The husband shamefully enters the next morning because he is just so very tired from the physical stress he’s putting his body through. Long hours of sitting at a bar stool, never eating a healthy meal, and a foggy mind are affecting him seriously. He realizes alcohol has slowed his abilities to process everyday life the way he once had.

Realizing he is physically and mentally deteriorating but unsure how to get help, he might consider himself an alcoholic.

Behavioral health practitioners would diagnose him as a person with alcohol use disorder (AUD) as the medical field has officially moved away from using the term alcohol or substance abuser. You may still see this language regularly today, however.

When someone successfully completes treatment, the terms used to describe them again vary:

  • Some still say once you’re an alcoholic, you’re always an alcoholic.
  • Others say “recovering alcoholic” to denote they have received treatment. Yet others say “recovered alcoholic” to reference someone who has not relapsed for a year.
  • And still more use “sober” to describe their new life in recovery.

Alcoholism Impacts Many Parts of Life

Whatever words people use to describe a person with AUD cannot fully describe how addiction impacts the lives of the person with the AUD and those around them:

  • Anger, confusion, worry, denial, and sadness surround family and friends.
  • Employers, neighbors, schools, law enforcement, and creditors are often affected in some way when alcohol use has gone beyond the level of social acceptability.
  • Divorces, health conditions, and even deaths can be traced to battles with alcoholism.

Alcohol Use in Colorado

Deaths involving alcohol are the third-leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Colorado is just above average when it comes to comparing alcohol use with the rest of the country. In the Centennial State, 19.6% of adults reported they participated in binge drinking or chronic drinking in the past 30 days, 1% higher than the national average.

In the state’s northeastern counties, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported the following percentages of adults considered to be heavy drinkers (from 2014-2017):

  • Adams County: 5.2%
  • Boulder County: 6.8%
  • Denver County: 10.2%
  • Clear Creek County: 9.6%
  • Grand County: 11.9%
  • Larimer County: 6.9%
  • Weld County: 6.1%

Alcoholism is also commonly linked with depression, anxiety, health conditions, and for some, a higher likelihood to misuse other substances such as tobacco or illicit drugs.

Since the pandemic shutdowns that occurred beginning March 2020, Coloradoans’ alcohol use increased dramatically during the same month from the prior year. A recent analysis showed 2020 liquor sales increased by 4% in April over the prior year and leaped to 50% higher sales than in May 2019.

It is yet to be determined if the unique situation will be relatively short-lasting, and the long-term effects, if any, are yet to be known.

Alcoholism Defined for Addiction

The names used to describe a person with an AUD may vary, but the term alcoholism refers to the chronic brain disorder that exists when a person continues to drink alcohol even when it causes problems with family, jobs, health, finances, and law enforcement.

This may be a somewhat cold, fact-based definition, but there is good news if you or your loved one suffers from this condition. Alcoholism is treatable, and recovery is possible through a combined effort that includes the patient’s willingness, evidence-based treatment, medications, and support groups.

Two categories of AUD

Binge drinking “is defined as consuming 4 or more drinks on an occasion for a woman or 5 or more drinks on an occasion for a man,” according to the CDC.

Heavy drinking (often referred to as chronic drinking) “is defined as consuming 8 or more drinks per week for a woman or 15 or more drinks per week for a man.”

AUD Symptoms

There are standard questions you can consider when assessing if you have a problem controlling your alcohol use. One of the most basic questions would be: Have you tried more than once to stop drinking, or cut back, but couldn’t?

Many people view alcohol use as simply an exercise in self-control. This is understandable in theory, and often a source of frustration for both the alcoholic and their loved ones.

Why can’t you “just stop?” When your body has built up a tolerance, it mentally and physically craves alcohol to sustain its level of intoxication. Alcohol detox centers are equipped to handle these cravings and make sure you go through safe, supervised detox with clinical staff present.

Here are a few more behavior and health symptoms:

  • Sleep issues, nausea, shakiness, sweating, general feeling something’s “off”
  • Drinking more, or longer, than you intended with growing tolerance
  • Spending much of your time drinking and being sick afterward
  • Alcohol use caused problems at home or with family, work, or school
  • Given up on important hobbies and activities
  • Increase of risky behaviors while intoxicated (driving, sexual encounters, taking drugs)
  • Continued drinking after experiencing memory loss or health problems

Treatment programs will teach you how to change behaviors and how you approach daily situations that may have previously triggered you to reach for alcohol. You may have a co-occurring disorder, such as another addiction or even a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression.

Co-occurring disorders, just like alcoholism, can be treated and managed through Northpoint Colorado’s detox, rehab, and aftercare phases.

Am I An Alcoholic? Diagnosis: Y/N

The question “How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?” is very common. More than 204 million results on that topic show up on internet searches. There isn’t a physical health procedure that gives a positive or negative result, like other medical tests.

Multiple factors can help diagnose AUD:

  • An assessment of behaviors, thoughts, and symptoms may be given as a questionnaire or directly.
  • A health checkup can support the findings based on physical condition and blood levels measuring for liver damage or alcohol-related cirrhosis.
  • Lab tests can further check for organ damage.

Based on all results and even possibly with only one, you may be diagnosed with AUD. The psychological portion and general medical exam may be conducted during and shortly after assessment and intake with clinical professionals at Northpoint Colorado.

An official diagnosis is helpful when approaching a problem to best treat it. But chances are, if you’ve had any of the issues commonly associated with alcoholism, you’re already aware you need help.

Recovery With Alcoholism Treatment

Research shows that treating alcoholism by completing both detox and rehab results in better chances of avoiding relapse and staying sober in the long term. Our inpatient treatment facility offers both of these programs, in addition to our expanding outpatient programs for aftercare support.

Detox

Medicated detox may use the prescription drug Vivitrol to make withdrawal more comfortable. When necessary, a Northpoint Colorado doctor may strategically direct a combination of prescription medications to help in the detox and rehab process.

Medicated detox has been proven to:

  • Boost recovery rates
  • Prevent the onset of severe withdrawal symptoms
  • Reduce cravings consistent with alcoholism

Someone’s time in detox will be determined by their level of AUD, but generally lasts several days up to a week. Compassionate clinical staff will supervise patients 24/7 for medical conditions.

Rehab

As physical withdrawal symptoms fade, you’ll transition into inpatient rehab for the remainder of the program. This is where we’ll focus on the psychological aspects of your addiction. You’ll understand:

  • The root causes of your substance use
  • How to manage cravings that could cause relapse
  • How to retrain your brain to function normally without alcohol dependence

Our highly qualified, licensed, clinical staff teaches our sober treatment philosophy. Your thoughts and learned behaviors will all be addressed to help you gain a healthier approach to everyday life occurrences. Staff will guide you by sharing valuable information with treatments in group therapy sessions as well as individual one-on-one therapy to examine your specific situation.

Patients enjoy private rooms and can take advantage of the multiple gym spaces provided with fitness and yoga programs.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Northpoint Colorado’s PHP is part of the step-down tier of program offerings as patients gain alcoholism insight. During this phase, there remains a high level of care with group therapies and psychiatric care.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

As patients progress through alcohol rehab, the goal remains to step down to be more prepared to resume life after alcoholism treatment. This new level of living will be supported through all the assistance offered, life skills learned, and therapies explored in earlier parts of the program.

IOP allows for the patient to put into practice addiction treatment they’ve learned, reconnect with their family, and build a new support group while still returning for scheduled support to maintain a sober lifestyle.

Find Treatment Rehab Near Denver For Help With Alcohol Use

Northpoint Colorado’s inpatient drug rehab allows you to focus 100% on recovery while receiving care for withdrawal before moving to treatment to help understand the reasons behind your addiction more fully. We continue to support you in addiction treatment with step-down outpatient programs and aftercare to achieve lasting sobriety.

There is no magic formula, but evidence suggests alcohol recovery programs that treat a person’s mental health and overall wellness, in addition to the addiction, have a stronger recovery rate. Northpoint Colorado is experienced with treating those addicted to alcohol. When you call, our experienced staff is ready with free assessments and same-day admissions. We’re waiting for your call to start a renewed life at 970-800-6112.

FAQs:

  • What is the most successful way to stop drinking?

Getting professional help to stop your alcohol use is one of the most effective methods. Learning how to manage behaviors through a professional trained in evidence-based therapy and developing a support group is very helpful in the early stages. As recovery time lengthens, relearning how to have social interactions in healthy activities and continuing to revisit therapy, as needed, are all helpful in avoiding relapse and achieving successful sobriety.

  • Can your body repair itself from alcohol?

Your body can recover from most effects of alcoholism as sobriety lengthens. Healthy sleep patterns will resume, and weight and stomach fat typically lessen. Heart health will improve, and cancer risk will lessen. Shaky hands and brain fog will clear with time. In most instances, your organs can repair themselves. If cirrhosis of the liver has begun, it can be stopped from further damage up to a point, but a full health check should be done.

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