Getting support for alcohol addiction

According to the NHS, around 9% of men and 4% of women in the United Kingdom exhibit signs of alcohol dependence. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are permanently intoxicated or that they regularly drink to excess. Rather, it means that they feel a need for a drink to face the day or to unwind.

Warning signs

You may enjoy a drink and seem perfectly fine but if any of these warning signs are present, then you could have a problem:

  • You feel the need for a drink when you wake up or very early in the day.
  • You feel that you must have a drink and find it hard to stop after the first one.
  • You plan your life around drinking.
  • You worry where you next drink will come from.
  • You feel bad – shaking, sweating, nauseous – if you stop drinking.

Why you should get help

Alcohol dependence can have a huge negative impact on your life:

  • Your long term health will suffer – drinkers often develop liver disease, heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • It may affect your mental health and will exacerbate any psychological problems that you might already have.
  • Your performance at work will suffer.
  • Your personal relationships will be affected.
  • Spending on alcohol could affect your finances.
  • If you are drunk, then behavioural changes could bring you into conflict with the law.

Where to go for help

If you suspect that you or someone close to you has an alcohol problem, you must get help. Trying to go it alone is all well and good – about one in three people return to sensible habits without professional assistance - but you may not have access to the advice and the support you need. Alcohol withdrawal, after all, can be stressful and tough to endure – sleeplessness, anxiety, shaking and agitation are common and there is even a risk of seizures.

Your first port of call should probably be your GP. There is no need to feel embarrassment as your GP has seen it all before and is bound by law not to reveal details of your case to anyone.

Your GP will be able to give you advice about local support groups and counselling services, which will give you all the help you need. You may require medication to help you through detox and specialist counselling on either a group or individual basis. The experts will know what is the best course for your particular case.

There are also a number of other sources of help, including:

  • Drinkline (0800 917 8282) – this is the National Alcohol Helpline and offers help to drinkers and their family and friends.
  • Alcoholic Anonymous (0845 769 7555) – a free self-help group with over 40,000 members nationwide.
  • Al-Anon Family Groups (020 7403 0888) - offers support to family and friends and has a branch specifically for 12-17 year-olds who are affected by someone else’s drinking.
  • Adfam (020 7553 7640) – does not have a helpline but offers direct to support to families, providing information about local support services and other help that is available.

You owe it to yourself and your family to get help as early as possible so take action now and get started on the road to recovery.

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