Achieving Sobriety - Part 2
Last week I began a discussion of the tragedy of alcoholism. Most authorities consider alcoholism a disease and recognize that lack of willpower and self-discipline, immorality and weakness are not underlying causes of an alcoholic’s problem.
Many health professionals think alcoholism runs in families, as evidenced by the occurrence of problematic drinking behavior in multiple generations.
The goal of treatment programs is not to “cure” the problem of abuse and addiction, but rather to help the individual enter into a recovery process and maintain recovery, which involves hard work and commitment.
Most treatment models do not consider moderation of alcohol consumption to be an effective goal. Instead, recovery and the maintenance of sobriety require the total and permanent abstinence from alcohol.
Although chronic alcoholism can produce many physical problems in the body, reversal of the damage often is accomplished when drinking is stopped and a healthy lifestyle is adopted.
A stable, supportive environment provides optimum conditions for recovery. A predictable routine fosters a sense of control. Significant changes involving emotional, physical and social reorientation occur, especially during the first months of recovery.
They include almost every area of life — relationships; diet; work; emotional stability; learning how to have fun while sober; understanding how to manage stress; and achieving healthy, physical functioning.
Know the disease
Willpower alone is seldom sufficient enough to carry out the decision to quit drinking. Knowledge about the disease is helpful to the family so that expectations will be realistic.
Equally important for the alcoholic is an examination of his or her environment for unhealthy situations, including those that are stressful and require assistance.
A formal rehabilitation program and/or support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous often are helpful when the alcoholic begins the recovery process.
In some early stages of recovery, inpatient treatment may be necessary, but outpatient rehabilitation efforts often provide the recovering alcoholic with the necessary environment to start the recovery process.
It has been said that the difference between being sober and being dry is that a person who is dry has merely stopped drinking, but a sober person has stopped drinking and achieved piece of mind.
An effective treatment effort should allow the alcoholic to experience a feeling of personal control and a sense of inner serenity without the use of alcohol.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright ©2012