Can an alcoholic ever drink again? Alcohol has a wide range of impacts on the body. Couple those affects addiction, and alcoholism can quickly become a taxing illness. At this point, you may have already gone through a treatment program and are questioning if you can have the occasional drink. Or perhaps you have a loved one and noticed that they have started to partake in moderate drinking after AA.
It is also important to know that the treatment of alcoholism is ongoing. To understand why there is no cure to alcoholism we will discuss why alcohol is abused in the first place, how treatment works, and how much an alcoholic can safely drink. If you are a recovering alcoholic, we can help you stay on track. Do not hesitate to give us a call at 912-214-3867.
Understanding Alcohol Abuse
First, to figure out the question of “can alcoholics drink” and determine if it is safe for alcoholics to consume alcohol in any amount, you should understand the impacts alcohol has on the individual. Alcohol causes major changes to behavior due to its activation of the reward system in the brain. People love pleasure and will repeat the same behaviors to experience it again. Dopamine, the “happy hormone’ is primarily responsible for this.
As it concerns alcoholism, whenever an alcoholic drinks, that reward system is activated thanks to bursts of dopamine. This dopamine activity makes it easier to repeat this behavior and causes the formation of a habit. When the habit formed can no longer be easily stopped, you now are dealing with dependency. The substance itself is simply a means of achieving pleasure, but the compulsion to use it can be severe to the point that it interrupts daily life. Alcohol alone is not responsible but the abuse of it is.
What Separates an Alcoholic from a Social Drinker?
The difference comes down to control. You may know someone who functions perfectly with the occasional drink and may be tempted to test the waters yourself. However, individuals struggling with alcohol dependency can no longer control their alcohol use. These individuals are unable to stop drinking once they start. Even worse, alcoholics have to drink more and more over time to achieve the same effect. On the other side, it is also very difficult for alcoholics to quit cold-turkey, thanks to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
People can develop alcohol dependency for a variety of reasons. They may have had family members that were alcoholics, or dealt with a combination of physiological, psychological, or social factors. They may have issues with self-worth or socializing and turn to alcohol to cope. Or their alcoholism stems from a case of peer pressure gone wrong.
Treating Alcohol Abuse
Regardless of the source of dependency, alcoholism is a problem that requires purposeful and consistent treatment. According to APA.org:
Using one or more of several types of psychological therapies, psychologists can help people address the psychological issues involved in their problem drinking. A number of these therapies, including cognitive-behavioral coping skills treatment and motivational enhancement therapy, were developed by psychologists. Additional therapies include 12-Step facilitation approaches that assist those with drinking problems in using self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
When considering a recovering alcoholic’s tolerance for future drinking, it is important to take triggers into consideration. Triggers are simply environmental or psychological factors that spark the urge to drink. Being able to identify triggers and foster a healthy environment is why therapy is so crucial to recovery. Therapy helps the individual develop a support system that they can fall back on when faced with challenges. So, is that worth risking for the occasional drink?
The Risk of Relapse
Another seldom-discussed part of an alcoholic’s journey is relapse. This is why the fact that recovery is not a straight line is so often emphasized. Relapse is a typical part of the process and makes the question “can alcoholics drink” even more complex. People are likely to relapse for a variety of reasons. They may be dealing with high stress or heavy triggers. This risk of relapse is why treatment often does not happen just one time. Behavioral treatments give you the tools to handle the hurdles life may throw you on the road to recovery. Relapse does not make you or your loved one a failure.
What relapse does show us, though, is that for some the consumption of alcohol at any stage can lead to a binge. This potential binge could impact the amount of time the relapse lasts and the type of treatment needed for the user afterward. Plus, you may have to deal with withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, restlessness, irritability, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions all over again. The choice to suddenly start and stop drinking continuously can wreak havoc on your body, which is why finding a treatment plan you can stick to consistently is key. Ultimately, everyone is impacted by addiction differently and the research on this topic is ever-growing. If you are worried you might relapse, then call us today. Our professionals can help you get the help you need before it is too late.
Can Alcoholics Drink?
You may be wondering if, after taking the steps to get treated, it is necessary to stop drinking forever. Is getting sober and then deciding to drink moderately a relapse or a controlled choice? Can an alcoholic ever drink again? The answer depends on the person. Up until recently, the research concluded that alcoholics should absolutely practice abstinence by avoiding alcohol completely. Shockingly though, this is not quite the case anymore. Programs like Moderation Management now exist to teach people how to drink in moderation. Like anything else, this is also not a one-size-fits-all solution.
So, what do programs like Moderation Management entail? According to VeryWellMind.com, this is how it works:
Those who commit to a Moderation Management (MM) program must undergo a 30-day period of abstinence during which they learn strategies for identifying and controlling triggers, adopting other healthy behaviors and activities to replace drinking, and managing future moderate drinking behaviors. MM asks participants to take a realistic look at their drinking patterns and reasons for drinking.
People most likely to be in a program like MM are often separate from actual alcoholics and may be better understood as problem drinkers,” “heavy drinkers,” or “binge drinkers.” So while this program is one answer to the question “can an alcoholic ever drink again” it comes with its own set of drawbacks.
Drawbacks of Moderation Management
Moderation Management does not work for every type of drinker. Determining if you require complete abstinence or middle management depends on the severity of the issue. This type of program is best for people who have low-severity problems. These people usually were light drinkers and had a fair amount of social stability. While it can work for “problem drinkers” or people that are not quite addicted but use alcohol to cope, it is most useful for those whose issues fall short of qualifying as an actual substance disorder.
For instance, here are a few of the other drawbacks to moderation management:
- You may experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to reduce alcohol.
- You may quickly forget the downside of drinking, including the hangovers, blackouts, upset stomach, and remorse the day after.
- Once you start drinking, you may not be able to predict or control how much alcohol you’ll end up consuming.
Problem drinking is a step away from full-blown addiction. People who do not know how to drink in moderation may fall victim to alcoholism. As Psychology Today notes:
Long-term alcohol dependence creates changes to the brain’s physiology, resulting in complications like memory loss and even stunting the brain’s ability to grow new neurons. Over time, a brain chronically exposed to alcohol also loses its ability to produce and use dopamine; one of the main chemicals that makes humans feel “good” or euphoric.
Ultimately, while some can afford the risk associated with MM, others may be better suited for complete abstinence. Abstinence, in terms of alcoholism, is the practice of never consuming alcohol again. It is an absolute zero-tolerance policy. Are you ready to take on abstinence? Then call our experts today. We will help you start your journey to a healthy and happy life.
Why Abstinence is the Best Option
As we have learned, the question “can an alcoholic ever drink again” is too black and white. The central theme here is that alcohol abuse cannot be dealt with alone. It manifests differently for every individual and ranges in severity. However, if the problem is at the level of addiction, abstinence is ultimately the safest choice. The last thing you want after doing the work to sober up is to fall back into a binge while attempting to drink moderately. Recovery is a long and bumpy road and often if you had to seek treatment in the first place, it is probably best to avoid the substance that landed you there.
Also, this is a point even researchers that find benefit in MM can agree on. As Psychology Today mentions, “there is a huge difference between the brain of a non-dependent problem drinker and the brain of a person addicted to alcohol. For these addicted brains, the only real option remains abstinence. One drink gives the brain the leverage it needs to force the addicted person into many.”
Moreover, we are not the best judge of our own decisions. This is why seeking treatment, and understanding how your addiction manifests is the best route. A professional can tell you what kind of drinker you are, identify potential triggers, and even further breakdown why MM may not be right for you. With addiction, it is best to err on the side of caution. Continue to lean into your social support groups. Talk to family and identify if there is anything in your environment that may influence this curiosity.
We Are Here to Help
In short, if you or your loved one is suffering from alcohol abuse we can help. Whether you are seeking treatment, looking to detox, or just have questions, we can get you on the right track. Call today and get the answers you need to ensure your health, happiness, and well-being.
Every single day, people are breaking the grip addiction once had on them. You can become one of these people. Choosing to embark on the journey to sobriety and practicing complete abstinence may teach you more about yourself than you would think. Call us today. We care about you and your health. Do not wait to call. We are here to help you now.
By Meccah Muhammad
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