Addictions General FAQs

As well as being directly related to many serious diseases, drinking large amounts of alcohol can also lead to poor sexual performance, and it can harm an unborn baby. If you have an alcohol related problem, there are many ways in which you can get help to reduce your drinking, and there are also many services that you can use that will help you stop altogether. Definition The problems associated with alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, are wide ranging, and can be physical, psychological, and social.
There is no definitive cure for addiction. However, rehab can provide patients with the skills needed to successfully manage their addiction and remain sober. Recovery from addiction is never over and patients will need to work on their ability to avoid relapse for the rest of their lives. A high quality addiction rehab programme sets patients up for this process.
The stereotypical of view of the alcoholic as a homeless, jobless bum with a bottle always in hand can be true, and it can also be a completely different picture from the reality for many alcoholics. There’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ alcoholic, and you might not fit the stereotype at all. You might think you’re in perfect control of your drinking because you only drink at night and you can still hold down a job and pretend to your family that you only drink half as much as you really do. But if you really can’t stop, no matter how much you try, you’re still an alcoholic. What’s the difference between just enjoying a casual drink, alcohol abuse and alcoholism? Most people can enjoy a casual night out with friends, have one or two drinks and then stop, and they might not drink again for several days. They enjoy a drink, but they don’t NEED it. With someone who abuses alcohol, they have a pattern of drinking heavily, perhaps even to the point of blacking out, and of out of character behaviour due to the alcohol. They can’t stop this behaviour even when they know all about the negative consequences for their health, and about the effects it can have on their family and friends. An alcoholic, on the other hand, is dependent on alcohol, and has a compulsion to drink. If they try to stop, their brain and body have become so used to alcohol being present that they begin to suffer from withdrawal symptoms, and the only way – in their mind – to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms is to have another drink.

There are two different types:

Binge drinking: This is where people drink a very large amount in a short period of time. People tend to talk about doing a pub crawl, or going out on the razz among other phrases, and they deliberately aim to drink as much as possible to get very drunk. For women, the definition of binge drinking is of having four or more drinks during a two-hour period, and for men the definition is five drinks or more within two hours.

Heavy drinking: Heavy drinking is defined by exceeding the government guidelines for alcohol over the period of a week, on a regular basis. For people under 65, it’s defined as having more than 14 drinks per week, or four drinks every day, and for the over 65s, the definition is having more than seven drinks per week, or more than three drinks every day.

Ten warning signs that you could be an alcoholic

If you’re worried about your own drinking or about someone else, take a look at our list of possible symptoms below and see if you recognise anything:

  • Do you feel guilty about your drinking?
  •  Do you crave alcohol?
  •  Do you start to drink first thing in the morning?
  •  Do you drink by yourself and hide what you are doing?
  •  Are you unable to stop drinking if you try, or control how much you drink?
  •  Are you irritable, with severe mood swings?
  •  Do you prioritise your drinking over your life, ignoring your job and your family in order to drink?
  •  Do you suffer from withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking?
  •  Have you stopped doing other activities and hobbies that you used to enjoy because you are focusing on drinking?
  •  Are you still drinking, despite it causes health problems for you, or getting you into debt, or causing problems with your family and friends?

Does too much of that seem familiar? If it does, just know that you aren’t alone. So many people suffer from alcoholism and find the strength and the courage to reach out and ask for help, and you can too.

Serenity Rehab Clinics are available around the country, and we have highly trained and experienced staff who’ve completed a rehab programme themselves and now help others to do the same.

All you need to do is pick up the phone and talk to us for free advice, and if you choose to stay at one of our clinics, we can have you settled in on the same day and receiving help to get you on the road to recovery.

And if you’re worried about a loved one, again, just pick up the phone. We’re very happy to offer free advice to family and friends who may be hoping to help someone they care about.

Alcoholism is different for every person that experiences it, and there are also different stages that an alcoholic will go through. By the end stage, alcohol dependence has firmly set in and the alcoholic is completely unable to control how much they drink or to stop drinking. The good news is that alcoholism is treatable, no matter what stage you’re at, and Serenity Rehab clinic can develop a personalised programme specifically for you and your situation to help you get on the road to recover and stay there. Below, we’re going to walk you through the four main stages of alcoholism to give you the full picture of how the condition develops, and the differences between the initial stage and the end stage. The four main stages of alcoholism: Stage 1: Early stage alcoholism In the beginning stages of alcoholism, the alcoholic has only positive experiences with alcohol. It makes them feel good, giving them the euphoria and the high they are looking for, and it helps them blot out whatever reasons they had for starting to drink. It’s likely that at this stage, the alcoholic will appear to be behaving normally, and that only people who are very close to them might notice that they are drinking more. Early Stage Alcoholism Alcohol tolerance If anyone else has too much to drink, they’ll start to slur their words, have lack of coordination and balance, and the other signs of being drunk. But when someone at the early stage of alcoholism drinks, they’ll begin to develop their tolerance for alcohol and it might not be obvious that they are drunk at all. They may be able to balance and coordinate properly, and have a perfectly normal conversation without slurring their words. Note: This is different for everyone as there are different factors which affect alcohol tolerance, such as race, body mass, biochemistry, etc. The alcoholic may also feel that they function better when they’ve had a drink or two, as they put off any hangover symptoms and any life challenges that they have to deal with until they stop drinking. Over time, they will become more dependent on alcohol as their body and brain begin to get used to its presence and crave it when the alcoholic hasn’t had a drink for a while. Common early stage alcoholism behaviours: • Drinking to avoid problems, such as boredom, loneliness, stress and anything that might be going on in their life • Drinking noticeably more than usual • Deliberately finding reasons to have more alcohol in their life • Being far more sociable and easy to get along with when they’ve had a drink than they are when they are sober. This stage then begins to progress to Middle Stage Alcoholism. Common middle stage alcoholism behaviours: • Drinking alone and drinking away from their usual social activities • Lack of self-control and any kind of restraint where alcohol is concerned. • Problems with existing relationships and difficulty in building new ones • Erratic behaviour that’s completely out of character • Decrease in their usual social activities. Unlike early stage alcoholics, middle stage alcoholics must drink. They can’t do without it in order to function, and they now begin to feel the negative effects that weren’t present in the early stages. They’ll drink to forget the last time they drank, as well as to forget the issues that made them drink in the first place, and if they don’t drink, they will feel dreadful. They need to be drunk to actually feel well at this stage. This is also the point where their organs are starting to suffer damage. As the alcoholic continues to drink, their cells become more resistant to the effects of having a drink and begin to adapt to it. It takes more to get the alcoholic drunk, though if they drink more than their newly built tolerance, it will happen. If they stop drinking suddenly, their body can experience shock as their cells have now begun to need alcohol in order to function. It will become far more obvious both to the alcoholic and to other people that they have a problem, and the alcoholic reaches the point where they can’t resist a drink, and if they do try to stop, they suffer with withdrawal symptoms. Common middle stage alcoholism behaviours: • Drinking alone and drinking away from their usual social activities • Lack of self-control and any kind of restraint where alcohol is concerned. • Problems with existing relationships and difficulty in building new ones • Erratic behaviour that’s completely out of character • Decrease in their usual social activities. Stage 3: Later stage alcoholism At this point, the alcoholic is only concerned with their drinking. Everything they do revolves around getting their next drink, and managing their drinking to try and prevent other people from knowing how bad it is and trying to stop them. More severe damage is being done to the body because of the continued heavy drinking, and if the alcoholic wasn’t feeling any consequences from drinking, they very likely are now. There’s the possibility that they may begin to lose friendships and relationships – either on purpose as they choose to spend more time with people who don’t say anything about their drinking, or simply because their focus on alcohol has caused too many problems between them and their close friends and family. Even at this stage though, it is likely that the alcoholic still considers themselves a ‘functioning alcoholic’ as they can still hold down a job and keep up with most of the people in their lives. Stage 4: End stage alcoholism The end stage of alcoholism is the point where the alcoholic has really lost control and the addiction begins to impact every area of their life. The addict is likely completely obsessed with drinking to the point that close relationships are badly affected or even damaged so badly that they may be beyond repair. Physically, the alcoholic will be highly dependent on alcohol, with frequent blackouts and an inability to sleep unless they have yet another drink. It’s also likely at this stage that the alcoholic will have medical problems, as excess drinking over a long period time can cause cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, hepatitis and respiratory infections. In the most severe cases, an alcoholic may suffer brain damage or heart failure. Even so, it’s still possible that the addict can keep their job going, but it’s not likely to last for long at this point in part due to any physical symptoms they might suffer, but also because every ounce of their concentration isn’t on their job, but on when they can have their next drink. No matter what stage you are at, you can be helped and given treatment to remove alcohol from your system and take away your dependence on it. You can begin to recover and return to your previous life without needing to drink. Just call Serenity Rehab for free advice and we’ll do everything we can to help you.
People often begin drinking as a social activity with friends, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but for those who are disposed to alcohol addiction, that can be where the trouble starts. Spending time with good friends is great fun. Add alcohol and you can feel a very pleasant ‘buzz’ and as you drink more, feelings of euphoria. You might perhaps be funnier than you usually are, or more chatty, and that can give you a high too – a feeling of being part of the group and fitting in. Or alcohol may simply allow you to forget about any pains and problems you have for a few hours. But any of those feelings of euphoria can become addictive, and the more you drink to get that same high, the higher your tolerance of alcohol gets, and the more you need to drink to feel as good as you did the first time. Psychological and Physical Addiction to Alcohol If you continue to drink to keep matching that high, you’ll eventually get to the point where you don’t feel you can be yourself without alcohol. It’s a crutch to enable you to be more sociable or to get you through life. That’s the psychological addiction to alcohol. If you then continue to drink to the point that you can’t stop without starting to have withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking, anxiety, hallucinations and confusion, then you are physically addicted to alcohol and your body craves it. Drinking alcohol stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin and these chemicals in your brain are what make you feel so good when you drink. Heavy drinkers also seem to have a higher release of these neurotransmitters, which makes it even harder to give up. Alcohol is so addictive because it affects your brain, your body and your emotions with both psychological and physical addiction.

Cannabis is what is known as a gate way drug, for many people suffering from a substance misuse problem this is where it started, normally from the age of around 13/14. This could be a need to fit in and be part of or peer group pressure, and in other cases a need to escape reality . If you suffer from addiction this will have sparked what is known as the obsession of the mind, and what normally happens is the addiction progress in to harder drugs. Once you’ve taken your first drug and survived the fear of taking other drugs isn’t so high. Your Inhibitions are also lowered making it easier to put harder drugs in you while under the influence of Cannabis.

Many people will not be aware of their own behaviours, a family member will normally spot that the person is acting out character. It can start with, being awake all night and sleeping all day, acting different as though they are irritable and discontent, having bouts of anger or depression. Lying, steeling. They can appear to be on top of the world one minute and very down the next. Strong forms of denial can happen when challenged on any behaviours . Always try to be as patient and tolerant as you can with your loved one try to remember addiction is an illness and the person needs to be treated like a sick person. But it also important not to enable these behaviours at the same time.

Absolutely yes, so many people are not even aware they have a mental health problem and many people don’t make the connection in children and mental health. The drugs can become a ‘solution’ for a persons mental health. At the start it will seem as if the drugs are quieting the mind, but in time as the addiction progress it will only add to any mental health problems the person has. It is also difficult to diagnose a person with mental health while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.