On the Wagon: 5 Vital Steps to Gaining Your Freedom from Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Addiction eats away at families like a slow cancer. Its effects may be invisible at first, but the end results are horrific. It drains away the life energy and human dignity of those it touches and their loved ones as well, and even those who escape its grip often carry scars with them for the rest of their lives.

The good news, though, is that it is treatable. Just as the onset of alcoholism may be started by one drink, the treatment for it begins with seeking help from one person. The way of recovery is a persevering down the long road of seeking help from others. Here is a list of steps to help you gain freedom from alcohol addiction, set in order from investigating treatment options, such as you may find at today to severe treatment options for advanced and emergency cases.

  1. Attend an Anonymous Group Meeting

Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the most famous and available forms of alcohol addiction treatment. It is a peer-based, group sharing form of behavioral treatment. It is probably not best described as therapy, because other than the 12 steps you work through, there is no real prescribed treatment. It is probably more accurately called a "program".

The AA program does not work for everyone, but the vast majority of people today who are winning the battle against Alcohol Addiction have at least tried it. For many, it was the first of many steps that brought them to the place of freedom they enjoy today.

The best part of AA is that it is free in all aspects. There is no charge to attend an open meeting. There is also no stipulation that you have to participate in any certain way. If you are on the fence as to whether you have an addiction problem, attending an AA meeting is an excellent way of hearing from others, meeting some helpful contacts, and speaking with those who can help guide you from their own experience into your next steps.

There are a number of faith-based versions of Alcoholics Anonymous, and many of their groups meet in churches as well. These faith-based recovery groups function in very much the same way as traditional Alcoholics Anonymous. There is no fee to attend them and there is no required form of participation.

  1. Seek Group Counseling

If your experiences with open sharing groups help you identify an alcohol addiction issue in your life, and you are still not finding the freedom you seek, it may be time to look into group counseling. Group counseling is similar to the sharing groups in AA with one major difference. They include a professional drug and alcohol counselor who is trained in treating addiction.

What more should you expect from a group counseling session than a share group? A Group Counseling session is a closed-member group which means it would probably start and end with the same people in it. That also means that attendance is scheduled and mandatory. You cannot attend whenever you feel like it. Too many absences would result in your removal from the group. There may also be specific homework that you are required to do as part of your therapy and a strong push to participate by sharing the results of that work with the entire group.

Oftentimes, group counseling is partnered with Individual counseling, especially when it takes place in a rehab center. For more information see today.

  1. Seek Individual Counseling

Alcohol Addiction is often a complicated issue with stressors and consequences that reach out into your finances, relationships, as well as your physical, mental, and emotional health. There are often points where the patient needs to do a "deep dive" by seeing a counselor for individual appointments.

This uninterrupted time allows the professional counselor the opportunity to create a therapy program that meets the specific needs of the patient. This option may also be desirable for addicts who work in certain sensitive professions, who may not want their addiction to become public knowledge. Sharing groups are typically kept anonymous by the members of the group, but outsiders may see you coming and going to the group and put two and two together. Many people seek individual counseling for a wide variety of reasons and the specifics of your struggles might be generalized by any outsiders who see you go for counseling.

This individualized treatment comes with a financial cost. While AA groups are free, most individual counseling is not. It is often more expensive than group counseling as well, where you may share the costs between everyone in the group.

It should also be noted, while there are personal and professional reasons for keeping an addiction problem out of the public, addiction itself often grows and festers in secrecy. Once you begin treatment, it is often helpful and healthy to find positive ways of sharing the challenges you face and celebrating the victories you have won in dealing with your addiction. If you are only paying for individual counseling to keep your problem a secret, you may not be able to progress any better or faster than those who choose the less expensive and potentially more public routes to recovery.

  1. Enter a Treatment Program

When Alcohol Addiction is left untreated for too long, it can reach the point where more extreme intervention is necessary and the individual can no longer function on their own. If you or your loved one have reached this point, it is time to look into a treatment program.

There are two main types of treatment programs: Residential and Outpatient. Residential programs are often the best for intervening and disrupting the addiction cycle. In these programs you move into a facility, typically for 3-9 months, and are under continuous supervision throughout your time there. Why is this preferred. It often takes addicts at least 6 months before they begin to get real foundations set in their sobriety. Some had said that it took 5 years before they truly felt safe from "falling off the wagon". It takes time and the support of many people to get free from addiction, and a Residential Treatment program gives you the best chance at laying a solid foundation of sobriety.

Some of the typical rules that residential programs have to help support your recovery process are:

  • Strict curfews enforced
  • No cell phones, tablets, or computers allowed on campus
  • No unapproved visitation allowed
  • Mandatory meetings (share groups, group counseling, and individual counseling)
  • Breaking these rules usually results in either an extension of your stay or expulsion from the program.

Outpatient programs are similar in scope of programs offered, but you do not live on site. The significant difference between residential and outpatient is that you are not under continual supervision. That allows you a little more freedom, but it takes away your safety net in those moments when you are tempted to fall back into addiction.

  1. Seek Medical Intervention

Detoxing and dealing with withdrawal symptoms can be very difficult for persons suffering from addiction. It is often compounded if their addiction involves drugs as well as alcohol. In such critical cases it is often helpful to seek medical intervention where doctors can assist to help ease the severe discomfort of withdrawal.

Some residential treatment facilities have medical support on site as part of their staff. If your addiction has progressed this far, you can expect to be quarantined for 2-3 weeks as you detox your system and work through the initial waves of withdrawal. Rules for these patients tend to be the strictest because a single drink can set back all of the medical intervention that has been given up to that time.

If you are still unsure about whether you are facing an addiction problem or what your next steps are in recovery, seek help. Attend an open AA meeting. Find a counselor. You can find many online resources like this to help direct you to the help available to you.

Unlike many other diseases you may face in life, addiction requires your intentional efforts to find freedom and recovery. Doctors, counselors, and even other recovering addicts can be part of your journey to recovery, but you are the only one who can take the steps. No one else can do it for you.

The reasons for beginning addiction are as varied as the persons and situations that suffer from it. This also means that there is no single treatment strategy that will work for anyone. If you have tried one or more kinds of treatment for your addiction and found yourself falling off the wagon again despite the treatment, please do not give up. Try something else. Alcohol Addiction always ends in death and too often ends in tragedy for the addict and those closest to them. The keys to finding your freedom are getting help from others and perseverance. Don't give up. Get help today.