What Is the First Step in an Alcoholic’s Recovery?

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what is the first step in an alcoholics recovery

If you (or a loved one) are finally ready to confront an alcohol use disorder, you might wonder what is the first step in an alcoholic’s recovery. Read on to learn all about the detox and withdrawal process.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) refers to the long-term effects of continued heavy drinking. AUD is diagnosed on a continuum that ranges from mild to severe disease.

To determine if someone has an AUD, the NCADD has created an online questionnaire. It includes a list of common signs of AUD that you may recognize in yourself. The more symptoms that are present, the more severe the AUD:

  1. You avoid friends and family while drinking, preferring to drink alone.
  2. You consume higher quantities of alcohol as time goes on.
  3. You drink in response to stress, sadness, anger, or disappointment.
  4. You have hand tremors in the morning or have other withdrawal symptoms.
  5. You cannot remember things you said or did the night before.
  6. You are experiencing financial, legal, career, or family problems due to drinking.
  7. Your doctor advised you to cut down on alcohol.
  8. You lie about how much alcohol you drink.
  9. You are preoccupied during the day with drinking or crave alcohol.
  10. You get drunk several days in a row.

What Are the Signs Alcohol is Causing Harm in Your Life

There is no debate about the destructive nature of alcohol abuse. Some of the most common signs that your drinking habits are causing you to harm include:

  • Health problems. Alcohol is very toxic to the human body. Symptoms of health issues may emerge that are a direct result of heavy drinking. These include weight gain, heart problems, cognitive problems, liver disease, gastritis, and cancer.
  • Loss of job. You may lose your job, due to a decline in job performance, excessive absences, or drinking on the job. This can have far-reaching effects on your family finances.
  • Relationship problems. Alcoholism begins to demand all of your attention. As the AUD worsens, you spend more time drinking alone, and less time with your spouse and friends. This causes strain on the relationships, even leading to divorce.

Preparing for the Recovery Journey

Now that you have addressed the AUD and are getting ready to begin the recovery journey, there are some items to take care of. These include:

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  • Take an extended leave of absence. Sit down with your employer to make a plan to take a leave of absence. Your job is protected by law.
  • Look up insurance coverage. Call your health plan provider to gather the details about what your plan covers. Most health plans now have at least some coverage for addiction treatment services.
  • Select a treatment program. Begin the process of choosing a rehab program. Your doctor can help guide you in terms of what level of care you will need.
  • Arrange for childcare, pet care, and bills to be paid. Get all your ducks in a row prior to leaving for detox and rehab. This helps your spouse manage things during your absence.

The First Step in Recovery: Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal

When starting out on the recovery journey, the first order of business is to rid the body of the toxins associated with alcohol. Detox lasts from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the severity and history of your AUD.

Alcohol detox involves three distinct stages. These stages include:

  • Stage 1: Emerging Symptoms. The early phase of withdrawal begins within 6-8 hours of the last drink. This stage lasts one day and includes the symptoms: stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, tremors, fatigue, anxiety, foggy thinking, and insomnia.
  • Stage 2: Peak Symptoms. The second phase of withdrawal involves symptoms peaking and lasts 2-4 days. Symptoms include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, body temperature, and respiratory rate, mental confusion, sweating, mood swings, and irritability. Also, it is during this stage that delirium tremens (DTs) can develop, causing hallucinations, severe mental confusion, fever, and seizures.
  • Stage 3: Subsiding Symptoms. The final stage begins after day four and can persist for a couple of days to weeks. This stage is marked by depression, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and cravings.

Keep in mind that throughout the detox process, your symptoms will be closely monitored and medications provided to minimize discomfort.

After Detox, What Comes Next?

Once you have completed the detox process, you are ready to enroll in the rehab portion of the recovery. Treatment is multi-pronged, with each activity building on the other to effect real change. Here is what you can expect in the rehab program:

  • Psychotherapy. Therapy is the main treatment element for alcohol recovery. Through therapy, you will examine any unhealthy behavior patterns that only perpetuate the alcohol addiction. Using CBT, the therapist guides you to reshape those thoughts and behaviors.
  • Family therapy. Family groups help the whole family unit heal and move forward together as their loved one enters recovery.
  • Education. Learning about the impact of alcohol on brain chemistry can be a deterrent to relapse. You will also be learning new coping tools and making a relapse prevention plan.
  • 12-step or similar. Peer support is a key element in recovery, and these meetings provide the opportunity to share experiences, challenges, fears, and goals with others in recovery.
  • Holistic. Rounding out rehabilitation are several activities that augment psychotherapy, including mindfulness training, yoga, art therapy, acupuncture, recreational therapy, equine therapy, and other activities that teach individuals relaxation techniques
  • Recreational therapy. Golf can be a very therapeutic addition to the rehab process. Spending time outdoors and getting exercise helps improve your mood and mindset.

Golf Drug Rehab Helps You Overcome Alcoholism

Golf Drug Rehab is a full-spectrum addiction treatment program that blends golf into the mix. If you are ready to that the first step in alcoholism recovery, give our team a call at (877) 958-5320.

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