Why You or Your Loved One Can’t Just Stop Drinking
Many loved ones of alcoholics think addiction is simple, and wonder: ‘why won’t they just stop drinking?’ Unfortunately, it is not so simple. Here’s a simple answer to that question, though: They can’t just stop drinking on their own, that’s why. Rehab gets a bad rap out there, but it isn’t what you think. Rehab is actually designed very meticulously to help with every obstacle you might come across in early recovery.
Here’s the more complicated answer for why they can’t just stop drinking on their own:
For one thing, withdrawals from alcohol can be life-threatening, sometimes causing deadly seizures. So, even detoxing alone can be unsafe—a medically supervised detox is necessary. Good addiction treatment centers will offer this.
Additionally, science has shown us the addicted brain. Alcoholism changes certain areas of the brain, restricting important development and causing new neural structures to form. A reward system in the brain is established that associates drinking with feeling good.
This reward system is why self-restraint is such an issue for people who abuse alcohol. Many alcoholics wish to stop drinking on some level, but feel incapable of it. They might decide to quit, and stop for a few days, or a week, but the reward association is too strong. Eventually something triggers them to drink again.
Complicated is an understatement when you’re talking about addiction. It is now understood that addiction is not only caused by alcohol or drugs, contrary to earlier beliefs. Instead there are underlying reasons that fuel addiction, even before the reward system forms in the brain. These are things that someone simply can’t address for themselves.
A lot of people have the wrong impression of rehab, that they are trying to brainwash you or that it’s all fake and it doesn’t really work. In rehab, they are actually trying to un-brainwash you! Clinical professionals will teach you how to circumvent the changes that addiction caused in the brain. They will uncover and address the underlying issues that are at the root of your addiction, and help you change them.
Rehab Supplements for Lack of Self-Restraint
More about the reward system
Let’s get a little nerdy. What does the addicted brain look like? The reward system is a physical network of neural structures in the brain. This is the area of the brain where associative learning happens, which associates positive feelings (especially pleasure) with certain activities. In terms of alcohol addiction, the brain categorizes drinking as something that causes pleasure, quickly and easily. When you drink, happy chemicals flood the brain and overload it, so that your sweet little brain is like “weeeeeee, this is great!!!”
Because the effects of alcohol are so strong, this loop is like a short cut. Your brain starts to tell you to drink any time there is a desire or need to feel good.
In fact, the part of the brain affected is the same part that establishes the basic survival needs. For example, eating food, succeeding at work, and having sex are important for continuing your genetic line. When we do these things, happy chemicals enter the scene and the brain is like “yay, we did it!” Well, when someone becomes addicted to Alcohol, the brain has a similar moment when the person drinks, as if drinking were also a vital activity. Of course, it… IS DEFINITELY NOT. Hopefully, you are starting to see the huge conundrum of it now.
This is a subconscious process, so it is very difficult to break the habit. When addiction forms, an individual develops triggers for drinking. One trigger might be when something stressful happens. The need or desire to relax arises. Said person drinks to calm down. The routine action of drinking is then assigned to address that stress. The reward is the feeling of pleasure and calming effect.
There are seemingly endless triggers that the brain may associate with drinking. People drink as celebration, consolation, a reward for hard work, and to decompress from a long day. You may drink when you are around specific people or when you are in particular places. It seems damning, but you can learn to overcome these in rehab.
Addressing Triggers in Rehab
In rehab, individuals are taught about addiction—becoming aware of these patterns and learning how to change them or circumnavigate them. In personal and group therapy sessions, clients are guided through the identification of their triggers. Licensed therapists help them to establish methods of responding to those triggers. You will learn healthy coping mechanisms that don’t involve drinking, and you’ll make plans for how to deal with triggers in the future.
This might not sound all that cool, but if you think about it… you are consciously creating new structures and pathways in your brain that offer an alternative route, away from addiction. It’s completely wild!
This process happens alongside the heavy work of accepting and facing the negative consequences of addiction. Recovery takes time and persistence, during which sobriety must be ensured. Rehab supplies layers of security to ensure you won’t drink during a weak moment. This gives you the opportunity to do the work necessary to sustain your sobriety after treatment.
Rehab Treats the Underlying Issues of Alcoholism
In addition to changes in the brain (take a moment to absorb the monument of that alone), there are a ton of underlying issues that cause people to develop addictions in the first place. These of course need to be assessed in order to recovery from addiction as well. Some common underlying issues are: co-occurring disorders, trauma, childhood neglect or abuse, lack of coping skills, and lack of a support system.
Co-occurring Disorders and Alcoholism
Co-occurring disorders are mental health conditions that happen simultaneously with substance use disorder. As if one wasn’t enough, right? Major Depression, Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder are the most common co-occurring disorders. Many people, knowingly or unknowingly attempt to ‘self-medicate’ with alcohol or drugs when these conditions go untreated. Sadly, self-medication is not effective—it is only a temporary relief.
While many people think drinking is the ‘problem,’ drinking is actually the solution to another problem. The co-occurring disorder must be properly treated in order for the addiction itself to be treated.
More than half of substance abusers have a co-occurring disorder. More than half. Addiction and mental health go hand in hand. Tons of people have no idea that the actual reason they drink is because they have severe depression or some other issue, which is not their fault.
In rehab, psychologists work to discover co-occurring disorders. If one is discovered, that disorder is addressed as a part of the treatment plan for addiction.
Treating Other Underlying Reasons
Other underlying reasons are also addressed in rehab. Trauma and PTSD are addressed and worked through in therapy sessions. Childhood experiences of neglect or abuse are processed. Negative thought or behavioral patterns are identified in treatment and replaced with healthier ones, through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches.
Many people in active addiction feel very alone and don’t have a strong support system. It may not surprise you that a common underlying reason for alcoholism is a feeling of isolation or otherness. This often stems from a lack of loving relationships and support.
In rehab, you will meet others who are going through the same experience as you. You will develop bonds with people who can relate to you on a level that many others cannot. Moving forward, the alumni community and Anonymous chapters you will be linked with in rehab can offer the support system you need.
Do You or a Loved One Need Rehab?
Whatever underlying reasons a person may have for drinking, addiction is not their fault. Many people binge drink and never become addicted. Addiction is a complicated disease that involves many factors, most of which are up to chance. Addiction confuses the brain to think it needs alcohol all the time. Then, on top of that, trauma or depression or some other underlying reason is generating trigger after trigger. You can stop this on your own; you need professionals.
Recovery requires perspective, therapeutic guidance, medical insight, and ensured sobriety while you learn to sustain it for yourself.
Needing rehab is nothing to be ashamed of; everyone needs help sometimes. Drug Rehab Headquarters can help you locate a treatment program that is right for you. If you try to get sober on your own, you run the risk of fatal withdrawal symptoms. Plus, relapse is more common without treatment. If you don’t know whether rehab is necessary, you can look for signs of alcoholism in yourself or someone you are concerned about.
Signs that you need rehab:
• You’ve tried to quit drinking, but always end up giving in.
• You have rituals around drinking: where, when, and what you drink.
• When you start drinking, you can’t stop—you can’t just have one.
• You feel like you “need” to drink to feel well, or get through the day.
• You drink daily, and in situations when it is irresponsible (at work, while driving, while caring for young children, while operating heavy machinery, etc)
If you think you might have a drinking problem, there are so many resources available to you. If you want to talk with someone who knows all about addiction and can help you, call (877) 670-8451. You don’t deserve to be a slave to alcohol; find your freedom and live the life you were born to live.