Alcoholics often think that they can have one drink and then stop. But then one turns into two. Then another. And another. Once again, they’re drunk.
They think they can stop. They think they can walk away. They think they can leave it behind. They make promises. And then they break them. There is an illusion of control. But it’s not real. In reality, everything is out of control.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. About one adult in 12 has a problem with alcohol, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). Alcohol is always accessible, and a seemingly necesary part of many gatherings, social events, and occasions. It’s really easy to take that first sip. And with alcoholism, one sip is never enough. More always seems better. And “more” does not lend itself to boundaries or moderation.
But you can get better. You can find an answer. A sense of meaning, purpose, connectedness, and spirituality is out there waiting for you. You can get through a day without a drink. And then two. You can live a lifetime without the constant obsession. Freedom is possible, but it’s hard to do alone. Luckily, help is out there. With the right treatment program, you can find answers and rediscover beauty, joy, and serenity in your life.
At Northbound, we understand alcoholism. And we know how to treat it. We know you’re scared. We know you don’t feel right. We know you’re asking yourself, “how did I get here?” With our In Vivo Treatment model, we can help you beat your alcoholism while building a fulfilling and sustainable lifestyle of recovery.
Help? Who Needs It!
Denial. It’s sneaky and it’s powerful. And it is the top reason people who need help don’t get it, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Denial makes you say things like:
- “I can quit anytime I want to.”
- “I don’t drink enough to cause a problem.”
- “I could quit, but I don’t feel like it.”
- “People who say I drink too much just don’t like me. They’re looking for something to pick on.”
Denial helps you feel better about your drinking. It helps you feel in control. Normal. Like there’s no problem. But deep down, is there another voice saying something else? You may not want to hear it, because ignoring it seems easier. But if you decide to listen, it could change your life.
That voice might tell you that you do have a problem with alcohol. A big problem. Something that you can’t handle alone. And unless things change, that problem could get worse. Maybe you’re starting to question whether or not you’re an alcoholic, but you’re not sure. Here’s what the NCADD says you should look for:
- Cravings. You want to drink. You need it. Before you finish one, you’re already thinking about the next. Once you start thinking about it, you can’t stop until you take that drink. Wherever you are, there it is too.
- Loss of control. You don’t want to keep drinking, but you can’t stop. You keep promising that this time it’ll be “just one”. But it never is.
- Physical dependence. When you don’t drink, you don’t feel right. Shaky. Anxious. Irritable. Nauseated. It only stops if you have another drink.
- To lerance. To get the feeling you desire, one drink isn’t enough anymore. Even if it used to be. Getting drunk requires more and more alcohol as time goes on.
Another easy to use and remember tool is called the CAGE Assessment for Alcohol Abuse. Ask yourself:
- Have you felt the need to Cut down on your drinking?
- Do you feel Annoyed about your drinking?
- Do you ever feel Guilty about your drinking?
- Do you ever drink an Eye-opener in the morning to relieve the shakes?
This all might sound familiar. Too familiar. It might sound like your life. Maybe it’s the way you’ve been living for the past several months. Or years. But take a deep breath. The good news is that your past and your present may sound like this, but your future can be different. Change is possible. A new way of life is possible.
Finding the Source
No one intends to become an alcoholic. It’s not a childhood dream. No life planner would suggest it. And alcoholism can’t be caught. It’s not a virus. Not an infection. It’s a learned behavior.
For many, it all begins with trauma. Up to 75 percent of people who lived through a traumatic event drink too much, says the National Center for PTSD. These people have survived something awful, something that made them feel unsafe and in pain. They walked away alive, but they have scars and deep wounds that just won’t heal. These injuries can’t be seen, but they are there. And drinking seems to ease the pain.
For awhile, drinking does seem to help. It numbs. It helps you forget. It lets you sleep, and it allows you relax. It helps you handle crowds, and it encourages you be social. Your thoughts stop racing. And everything starts to feel okay. But what happens when the alcohol wears off and the old wounds are still there? They’re still festering. Still hurting. Still waiting. And they’re begging for relief.
Dealing with old pain is hard. It hurts. You’re not used to talking about it. You’re used to covering it up. But talking about it is the right thing to do. It can help you move past the pain, and it can help you start living life. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone.
Recovery from alcoholism often begins with various forms of therapy where old wounds are explored. A professional walks through your pain with you. Everything you wanted to say is finally let out and starts to make more sense. Little by little, you start feeling a sense of relief from the pain. Real relief. No need for numbing, and no reason to hide. Therapy can give you the support you need to walk through your pain.
You might have fresh pain from recent events to work through, too. A study from Industrial Relations says that unemployment can lead to a boost in drinking. When you’re not working, you can feel lost and aimless. You can start to feel like you don’t matter. Like you can’t contribute. Like disappearing would be a great idea.
Despair can push you toward the bottle. Toward oblivion. Toward forgetting. The problem with getting sober without undergoing therapy is that all of those feelings are still there, and there’s nowhere to hide. They’re poking at you. Prodding at you. Pushing you to drink. But confronting your issues the right way can help you stay sober. Without the noise of the past constantly bouncing around in your head, sobriety starts to feel easier, and life starts to become peaceful.
In therapy, you have a chance to talk through your feelings. To really examine where they come from, what they mean, how they started, and where you want them to go. In time, you’ll feel stronger. And without drinking, your mind will be clear, free from obsession, and ready to get on with a life worth living.
At Northbound, we offer different therapeutic modalities. We know that our clients have all had individual experiences, and they deserve individualized care. So we tailor each client’s treatment to their own specific needs. We have professionals on our staff who specialize in treating trauma, mental illness, shame, and family of origin issues, and can help you begin your healing process.
Healing the Family
While you may think that your drinking isn’t hurting anyone but you, your family and loved ones are hurting on the sidelines. They’ve been watching you drink. Wishing you would stop. Blaming themselves when you don’t. Wondering how they can help. Forgetting to take care of their own needs. Becoming consumed with worry. And sometimes, the strained family dynamic can cause even more drinking, creating a vicious cycle.
A study in England and Wales suggests that about 38 percent of domestic violence problems stem from too much alcohol, and 27 percent of serious childhood problems come from a parent’s drinking. Alcohol can lower inhibitions. Tempers flare. Emotions run high. There is no sense of control. Lies, manipulation, and broken promises are too common. No one in the family can trust. No one in the family can talk about what’s really going on. Secrets and deception become the norm. The air feels strained, all the time.
Years and years of trauma like that can fray a family. Ties grow thin and support is lacking. Conversations become fights and there’s constant tension. It’s hard to stop drinking in a home like this. It becomes easier to escape in the bottle.
A family program exposes these problems. Families come together. Feelings aren’t hidden. Stories are told. Old injuries are discussed. And healing begins.
At Northbound’s family program, we invite our clients’ families to visit for four days. This is their chance to finally talk about how addiction has affected them. It’s not all about the alcoholic for once. They share. They grow. They bond with other families who are just like them. They stop feeling alone. We teach them about addiction, and help them make sense of the madness they’ve lived through. And then we teach them how self-care and their own healing will make life easier. Taking the time to heal will help their loved one when he or she completes treatment. Therapy gives the family the power to help the addict – perhaps for the first time. And the future starts to look brighter.
A Full Transformation
Therapy is a key part of an alcoholic’s recovery, but it’s not the only thing that’s needed. It might not even be the most important thing. Habits need to change. So does the way you look at the world. And the way you connect with the unknown.
Carl Jung said alcohol is a powerful spirit, and in order to heal, a person needs a spiritual transformation. Everything needs to change. Not just drinking patterns. Life and spirituality need to transform as well.
That’s what 12-step programs are designed to do. To change the way you look at the world. They help you look at your past, deal with shame, and then move on once and for all. Finally, you let go of the pain and misery that addiction has brought your way. We offer you a balanced approach – looking not only at what has gone wrong in your life, but what can go right. What strengths exist inside of you and all around you to build upon. We empathize with your struggles and celebrate with your successes. You develop your own sense of spirituality. You will still be the same you. Nothing can change that. But you will have a new outlook, a new joy, and newfound sense of hope. With hope, anything is possible.
Alcoholics Anonymous is more than meetings. It’s more than bad coffee. And it’s more than sharing your feelings with a group. It’s about joining a community of others who are just like you. It’s finding out that you’re not alone. It’s learning how to ask for help. It’s learning how to have healthy relationships with other recovering alcoholics. And it’s learning that there’s more to life than what’s at the bottom of a bottle. At Northbound, we introduce our clients to Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step programs. Recovery starts in rehab, but continues for a lifetime. And the rooms of alcoholics anonymous can help you stay healthy.
A Slow Process
Quick-fixes are catnip to Americans. We want things now. We don’t want to wait. We hate waiting in line. And we hate following directions. Everything is about immediate gratification. However, recovery from alcoholism is the opposite. It’s about learning how to live with patience and grace.
In a study from Alcohol Research & Health, more than 4,000 people diagnosed with alcoholism were followed for one year. At the end of that year, only 18.2 percent abstained from alcohol. The rest still drank – some a little, and some a lot. Many probably wanted to change, and they wanted it quickly, but it’s hard. It doesn’t work like that.
Real recovery is sometimes a start-and-stop process. It takes time to change. Setbacks are common. Alcohol is hard to kick. It’s persistent. It’s persuasive. Your body might still want it.
But with work, even the most addicted person can change. New habits form. Transformations start. Habits strengthen. Life flows. Old wounds heal. Old patterns become new patterns. Everything changes.
At Northbound, changes like this happen every day. Clients come to us with very real problems. They are overwhelmed. Lost. Unsure about what’s next. We offer therapy and we support their growth. Our clients heal and change. They become something else. Something newer. Something stronger.
We see miracles happen every day. And it can happen for you too. A life free from addiction is possible. Please call our enrollment line for more information. We’re here 24/7 to serve you. Change is possible, so call to find out more.
“For once in my life I got honest with a couple of individuals, and with that, I grew tremendously” - Alex
“Northbound helped me a lot with growing up and living life to the fullest.” - Joey
“I found my life here. I was going nowhere fast and Northbound gave me my life back.” - Greg
“At the time, it (Northbound) wasn’t the happiest place to be for me, but looking back, it has been a completely beneficial experience that I am more than pleased with.” - Chris
“I am very happy that I came here – it saved my life. I always wanted to get clean, but never had the motivation. Northbound somehow gave me the motivation” - Tommy
“(Rehab) worked for me this time, and I owe it to everyone here. Now I am a staff member and I get to give back to clients coming in.” - Julian