Alcohol is arguably the most commonly used drug in existence. For many, it acts as a social crutch, a way to unwind, or an aid to a good night out, but for some, it goes beyond the occasional drink and into addiction.
Both physically and mentally addictive, alcohol can cause serious and worrying social, psychological and bodily side effects. The NHS estimates that around nine percent of UK men and three percent of UK women exhibit such signs of alcohol dependence, and suffer the consequences of this.
If you suspect that you or someone you love may be amongst their number, Serenity Health is here to help. Offering alcohol detox clinics across the country, we provide free advice to any who need it, and are always available to accept urgent admissions.
- What is alcohol dependence?
- Abuse or dependence?
- Signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence
- Causes of alcohol dependence
- The physical and mental effects of alcohol dependence
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
- How Serenity Health can help
- Our alcohol detox clinics explained
- The medication used to treat withdrawal symptoms
- How Serenity Health helps to achieve sustained sobriety
- What we offer at Serenity Health
- How to contact us
What is alcohol dependence?
If the NHS figures quoted above are to be believed, then a significant percentage of the population has or will experience alcohol dependency issues in their lifetime, but many find such behaviour hard to identify in themselves or those who are close to them.
In part, this stems from a basic lack of understanding regarding alcohol dependence itself, which is something we’re going to address in this section. Alcohol dependence, also known as ‘alcoholism’, is a serious drinking problem, and generally refers to a strong – bordering on uncontrollable – desire to drink.
Those who suffer from alcoholism will find that a major part of their day revolves around its consumption, and that over time, they either have to drink more and more to feel any physical effect and/or experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop.
It’s important to point out, however, that no ‘one size fits all’ definition of alcoholism exists. Varying degrees of alcohol dependence can occur, and for some, an excessive level of drinking is not always present.
What we mean by this is that not everyone will drink all day, every day: some alcoholics will only drink on an evening with their partner, for example, whilst others will wait until after work to indulge in a daily drinking session at their local pub. Although this may not seem problematic on the surface, it can still lead to long-term health issues if you don’t reduce your consumption.
Such behaviour could also catalyse a more serious dependency on alcohol. Psychologically, this may manifest an inability to relax without a drink; physically, it could take the form of withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, shaking, and sweating.
Abuse or dependence?
Many of those who have explored the subject, either on their own behalf or on behalf of someone they know and believe to be suffering, will have come across two terms that appear to be used interchangeably: ‘alcohol abuse’ and ‘alcohol dependence’.
It’s important to know that the two are in fact distinct from one another. Although both involve the serious misuse of alcohol and can cause significant damage to your long-term health and well-being, the impact they’re likely to have on your life is vastly different.
This is because those who suffer from alcohol abuse lead largely normal existences, whereas those who are dependent will eventually find that their alcoholism takes over.
To differentiate, alcohol abuse infers excessive drinking on a regular basis with negative effects. This commonly leads to:
• A failure to fulfil familial, professional, or social obligations due to drinking
• Run-ins with the law due to consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and displaying anti-social behaviour
• Encounters with the emergency services as a result of your consumption
Between these occurrences, however, life tends to follow a largely normal pattern.
Alcohol dependence, on the other hand, is when alcohol becomes the focal point of your days. Those affected are likely to give up important activities and ruin relationships and friendships as a result of their drinking, with one of the earliest symptoms being an increasing need to consume more alcohol before they are able to feel its effects.
As dependence deepens, a growing amount of time is spent thinking about alcohol, or engaging in acts that relate to obtaining it, using it, or recovering from its effects. As this begins to take over, they’re likely to notice ‘the shakes’ appear – trembling that occurs as a result of withdrawal, thus requiring them to drink more in order to feel functional again.
Signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence
Recognising that you have a problem is the first step towards resolving it, and one of the simplest ways to identify alcohol dependence in you or someone you know is to examine a list of symptoms and see how many are applicable to you or them.
If you’re concerned, here are some of the most obvious warning signs to look out for:
• Spending time each day worrying about where your next drink is going to come from
• Planning social, family, or professional events around when you will need a drink
• Feeling a compulsive need to consume alcohol
• Finding it difficult to stop drinking once you’ve started
• Drinking, or feeling the need to have a drink, when you wake up in the morning
• Suffering withdrawal symptoms when you do not drink, including nausea, shaking, and sweating
If you’re concerned that any of the criteria above are applicable to you, either contact your GP or get in touch with the Serenity Health team to see how we can help.
Causes of alcohol dependence
It can be very difficult to admit that you suffer from alcoholism, and some people find it helpful to look for a cause. Although everyone’s issues stem from different roots, there are some commonalities amongst those who are afflicted.
Usually, the addictive behaviour is driven by multiple factors. In lots of cases, it has been shown to run in families. This is believed to be attributable to both the genetic make-up of the individual as well as the attitudes to alcohol that they’ve grown up with.
Even if nobody else in your family has suffered from similar issues, there are lots of stressful life events that can act as triggers. These include both bereavements and job losses, amongst many other potential causes.
It has further been proven that alcohol dependency is more prevalent amongst those with some form of psychiatric disorder. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or something else, there can be a tendency to self-medicate – one which you might recognise in yourself. Although some feel that this provides short-term relief, the long-term effect of combining alcoholic and mental illness is an even greater imbalance of the chemical ratios in your brain.
If any of these scenarios apply to you or someone you know, perhaps you can recognise where the root of your/their problem stems from?
The physical and mental effects of alcohol dependence
Once you’ve reached the stage of being alcohol dependent, it can seem impossibly hard to change your habits, but it’s vital you make the effort to do so. This is because alcoholism does more than just foster anti-social behaviours and lead to breakdowns in your relationships: it also has long-lasting physical and mental consequences.
The reality is that being an alcoholic can cause a whole host of health problems, including:
• Alcohol-related liver disease
• Coronary alcohol-related heart disease
• High blood pressure
The most serious damage tends to be done to your liver, with an estimated seven out of 10 people with alcoholic liver disease classified as alcoholics. This means that it’s incredibly important to seek help before you do any lasting damage.
On top of the potential physical problems you’re likely to suffer, you may also find that alcohol dependence causes mental health problems, and the development of anxiety, depression, and suicidal feelings have all been linked to alcoholism. This is because frequent and sustained heavy drinking interferes with the neurotransmitters in your brain, which can plunge you into a truly vicious cycle.
In addition, your relationships with your partner, friends, and family are likely to be impacted, taking away the support network that damaged health could mean you one day need to rely on.
Even your financial well-being can be adversely impacted, with many alcoholics finding that they’re unable to perform at work and eventually end up losing their employment. This can not only further deepen the anxiety and depression you may be feeling, but also leave you with lots of extra hours in the day – hours that you might be tempted to spend drinking in order to boost your mood.
If you have experienced any of the above, it’s time to seek help from the professionals. Whether you book an appointment with your doctor and have them refer you or get in touch with an independent enterprise like Serenity Health, there are lots of organisations out there and available to assist you when you need them.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Even if you or someone you know recognises that there is a problem, it can still be difficult to stop, especially if you have enough information to realise that you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. These can test the willpower of even the strongest individual, and that’s why we generally recommend you seek professional assistance to help you put an end to your alcohol dependence.
Although some are successful in beating their damaging habits by themselves, going cold turkey rarely works. That’s because this is when the most unpleasant and severe symptoms of stopping are likely to manifest themselves.
The physical symptoms of abruptly reducing your alcohol consumption in this way include:
• Hand tremors (these are commonly referred to as ‘the shakes’)
• Seizures (these only occur in the most serious cases)
• Visual hallucinations i.e. seeing something that isn’t there
You may also have to battle with psychological side effects such as:
• Insomnia and disturbed sleep
The strength of your symptoms is likely to be determined by the severity of your alcoholism, but it’s impossible to predict how hard or easy it will be for any one individual, and the danger is that you begin drinking to avoid these physical or psychological issues and therefore find it almost impossible to stop.
The best way to prevent this is to be kind to yourself, and to recognise that no matter how strong you are, you still need some support, whether personal or professional. Bearing in mind that it frequently takes alcoholics three months to a year to completely recover from the effects of withdrawal, having help on hand at this time can make a real difference.
This is the case even once you’ve beaten your addiction. Former alcoholics do tend to be abnormally sensitive to the substance, and a return to drinking can quickly increase their tolerance and lead to the return of withdrawal manifestations. This is why its’s recommended that you avoid drink completely post-recovery, and continue to seek on-going help from the professionals.
How Serenity Health can help
As we explained in the section above, the chances of a complete recovery from alcoholism are boosted by the support of a strong network of family members, friends, and professionals like Serenity Health.
It is our belief that it helps to liaise with those who really know what you’re going through, which is why every member of our team has been carefully selected with this in mind. Each of them has had personal experience of alcohol withdrawal, and that means they really do sympathise with your plight.
It is this superb team of professionals that will be ready and waiting to answer the phone when you call us to enquire about our detox clinics. Friendly and understanding, they’ll talk to you for as long as you need about what your options are and how we can assist.
During this call, they’ll also spend some time carrying out a simple and straightforward assessment. This will give them all of the information they need to work out what’s best for you, and the steps that should be taken to help you begin your recovery from addiction.
If you have any questions of your own, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to have them answered. We’ll give you all of the advice we think you’ll need on alcohol detox and what you can expect from the treatment, but if there’s anything we miss out that you believe will inform your decision-making, you’re free to ask away.
What we aim to achieve is simple: a friendly place for you to turn and the provision of a service that makes successful recovery easier for you.
Our alcohol detox clinics explained
For those who realise that it’s time to seek help, we offer specialist alcohol detox clinics to assist you in breaking your negative habits and making a start on the road to recovery. These are run by a team of immensely friendly and knowledgeable support staff, who will be on hand from the very beginning to welcome you upon your arrival at Serenity Health.
Lots of those who are considering approaching us find it helpful to know what happens whilst they’re with us and how it all works. We begin by medically admitting you to the centre, and one of our highly experienced general practitioners will be responsible for this part of the process. They’ll be able to answer any questions or queries you might have, and are all expertly versed in the minutiae of alcohol withdrawal and its effects.
During your time with us, you’ll meet lots of different professionals aside from our medical personnel. Our retreats are staffed around the clock, with specialists, support workers, and highly experienced therapists always available should you need them.
This team is in place to give you all of the support you require during your stay. It will be their role to help you determine and understand your alcohol problems in greater depth, as well as how you can address your issues and achieve a permanent return to sobriety.
Whilst here, you’ll participate in multiple sessions with these experts, with the aim being to give you a greater awareness and understanding of addiction, alcohol withdrawal, and the best ways to handle your recovery long-term.
The alcohol detox itself will commence as soon as you arrive. Although this can seem daunting, we will make sure that you’re never left alone during this difficult time, and always have somebody available to help and advise you when you need reassurance.
As well as providing emotional and mental assistance throughout this period, we will work with you to develop a medication regime, so that your alcohol withdrawal symptoms are made much more manageable and far easier to cope with than if you simply go cold turkey.
Ultimately, our goal is a simple one: to ease the side effects, make your alcohol detox as comfortable as possible, and set you up for long-term success. We really are here to help, and together, we can overcome any adversity that stands in the way of your alcohol-free future.
The medication used to treat withdrawal symptoms
As we’ve mentioned numerous times in the sections above, alcohol withdrawal does not come without its side-effects. These can certainly be a factor in preventing alcoholics from trying to turn their lives around and achieve sobriety, and this is one of the reasons that seeking professional help can be so important.
Working together with you, Serenity Health can ensure that your experience of this process is made as comfortable as possible. We do this by administering a medication known as Librium (chlordiazepoxide) to treat the symptoms and make the transition to sobriety go much more smoothly.
We understand you may have some reservations about what this drug does and how safe it is, but rest assured that it is widely used throughout our industry to treat alcohol withdrawal side-effects. Safe and effective, it will make everything far easier for you.
We recommend taking Librium alongside a healthy, balanced diet and high potency vitamins. These natural additions to the recovery regime have the effect of boosting your immune system and giving your body the support it needs, so that you can return to full health as quickly as possible.
Our own experience with Librium is extensive. Having used the drug for many years as part of our detox programme, Serenity Health have found it to be perfectly safe with no adverse side-effects, and to do exactly what it says on the tin: ensure a pain-free and comfortable transition from alcoholism to sobriety.
We believe that it’s best to get on top of things as early as possible, in order to halt any alcohol withdrawal symptoms in their tracks. If the medication is not administered, these typically start around 48 hours after the patient’s last drink, and are much more severe than when on appropriate medication.
They include everything from excessive sweating and shaking right through to more extreme reactions such as hallucinations and seizures. Although the exact manifestations vary from individual to individual, Librium reduces and sometimes entirely removes these alcohol withdrawal symptoms in those who take it.
If you’re still uncertain about medicating yourself with one drug in order to offset the effects of another, don’t be afraid to get in touch with us before checking in. We can talk you through anything you need to know, and will answer even the seemingly silliest questions in order to put your mind at rest and help you make an informed decision.
Alternatively, we’re happy to talk you through things in person upon arrival, or at any other stage throughout the recovery process.
How Serenity Health helps to achieve sustained sobriety
At Serenity Health, we don’t want to help you move away from alcohol dependence only to have you return to it further down the line. Our focus is on providing a complete and comprehensive service, one that not only aids you in achieving short-term sobriety, but gives you an improved quality of life in the long-term.
That’s why we employ not just medical professionals, but also experienced therapists and support workers. Working closely with you, they’ll help to identify the root causes of your alcoholism, the destructive behaviours that have led you to such a point, and strategies for staying sober as you move forwards.
Even when you leave us, you won’t lose our support. We’ll have given you plenty of helpful advice on how to avoid falling back into alcohol dependence, and we’ll always be on the other end of the phone should you need someone to talk to.
More than this, we’ll make sure that you leave us with lots of important and useful contacts that are local to you. We have numerous professionals that we work in partnership with – people who will be able to take over where we left off once you’re home again.
We’ll also make sure that you’re outfitted with plenty of useful tips, such as:
• Live in the present
o No matter your past mistakes, we will teach you to look forwards rather than back. None of us has the ability to change yesterday, but we will teach you how to build a better, sober future for you and the people you care about.
• Find outlets for your emotions
o Alcohol dependence is often linked to underlying issues. For many, it is a coping mechanism, one that they need to learn to live without. That’s why we’ll help you to find healthier outlets for your emotions, ones that help you to feel calmer and more at ease with yourself without resorting to alcohol as a crutch.
• Set yourself up for success
o By the time you leave us, we’ll make sure that you know how to set yourself up for success in your home environment too. Whether this is removing all of the alcohol from your house or avoiding certain individuals who are likely to negatively influence you, we’ll show you how to sustain your sobriety once you’re flying solo.
• Build a solid support network
o Alcoholism can negatively impact even your closest relationships with friends and family, but having a strong support network makes recovery much easier. Working together, we’ll help you to strengthen your bonds and build up the backbone of people who will be so important to your continued success.
• Start small
o We understand that recovery and rebuilding can sometimes seem overwhelming, but we don’t want you to feel afraid. That’s why we’ll show you how to set yourself realistic goals that involve small but significant steps on the road to recovery.
To learn more about our aftercare service and how we continue to offer on-going support to our patients, get in touch with Serenity Health today.
What we offer at Serenity Health
Serenity Health offers an alcohol detox programme that aims to set individuals up for success. Primarily focusing on how we can help to make recovery easier and less intimidating for you, we do everything within our power to ensure that we are approachable, expert, and exceptionally good at what we do.
Our focus is on delivering a service that really works. With all of our team experienced in managing and supporting your withdrawal from alcohol, we make certain that you have the professional support network you need when it’s most important.
We know that recovery doesn’t always wait, and that an extended period between recognising your problem and receiving treatment is not conducive to helping you get better. All it does is allow doubt and uncertainty to set in, rather than giving you the opportunity to tackle your alcoholism head-on.
That’s why we accept urgent admissions at their earliest convenience. Here to help, we can begin your detox programme immediately, so that you’re on the road to recovery before you have time to relapse into negative patterns of behaviour.
Employing an expert team who want nothing more than to assist you in your return to sobriety, we make sure that you have not just the physical expertise you require to make your transition easier, but also the psychological support necessary to identify, modify, and manage your alcoholism in the future.
Providing detox clinics both in the UK and globally, Serenity Health ensure that help is always close at hand for those in need of advice or assistance, so they can kick their habit and build a brighter tomorrow.
How to contact us
At Serenity Health, we make sure you can contact us at any time. Whether you want to make an enquiry on your own behalf or on behalf of someone you care about, we’re always here with a listening ear and an expert team who can advise you.
We have clinics available both within and outside the UK, with further information on these available on our ‘Our Clinics’ page. You can also find our email address and telephone numbers on our ‘Contact Us’ page.
Able to offer free advice to those who need it, we will make sure that any questions or queries you might have are answered in detail and at the earliest opportunity when you get in touch. A leader in our field, we can provide in-depth treatment plans for anyone suffering from alcoholism, and are always willing to talk about our services in further detail to interested parties who feel we may be of assistance.
For instant and immediate help, you can also call us on 0800 118 2892 at any time of the day or night. With our lines manned around the clock, there will always be an expert ready and waiting at the other end of the phone when you decide it’s time to build a better and brighter future.