I think I'm an alcoholic: What do I do now?

If you are struggling with an addiction to alcoholism, you aren't alone. There is hope.

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  • If you consider yourself an alcoholic, or have been diagnosed with alcoholism by a professional, then you have likely begun to recognize some of the consequences from your drinking. The effects of alcoholism can be destructive to family relationships, humiliating, and harmful to your health. It should be of comfort that this widespread disease can be treated, and thousands recover every day.

  • If you are truly an alcoholic, it means that once you start drinking, you have little control over how much you drink, or that when you want to stop, you find it difficult to do so. Most professionals agree that recovery from alcoholism can only be achieved by abstinence. For someone who is addicted to alcohol, the idea of never drinking again can seem impossible, even terrifying, but be encouraged. Because alcoholism is a disease of the mind, body and spirit. Removing alcohol makes room for tremendous, holistic healing that can bring you a peace you never thought possible.

  • Evaluate your willingness to stop

  • Evaluating your relationship with alcohol is the first step toward finding the solution to your problem. Make a list of the ways that your drinking has interfered with your family and your personal goals. Be willing to be honest about how little control you have had, and take a hard look at the ramifications of the disease in your life. When you take an open-minded approach to how alcoholism has affected you and those you love, you will know if you are ready to do the work it takes to leave the drink in your past.

  • Get support

  • Alcoholics cannot get sober alone. Depending on the amount of your daily alcohol intake, you may need medical assistance to assist in the early detoxification process. Early withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. Talk to a doctor or local detox center about your individual needs.

  • Communicate honestly with your family

  • It is likely that even if you think you have hidden your problem from them, they are aware that something is wrong. Hopefully you can enlist their support in your efforts to recover. If not, link into some of the resources below. Families often come around when they see that your efforts are genuine.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide support program that has helped hundreds of thousands of people to recover from alcoholism. You can also talk to your doctor about options for inpatient treatment centers and support groups. Local churches may have addiction counselors available to walk you through your early days of recovery.

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  • Reconnect with your spirit

  • Alcoholics who have abused themselves for any length of time with drinking are often filled with a self-loathing or guilt that can be consuming. It is crucial to understand that alcoholism is a disease, and begin to tell yourself that you are worth healing. Self-forgiveness is a process, but it is simultaneously a route to recovery and a benefit of recovery.

  • Many alcoholics begin to find the security and foundation they need by reconnecting with God, or forming a new relationship with their Creator. For the alcoholic, booze has been their best friend and the solution to all of his or her problems. In the early days of sobriety, reaching out to something bigger than can be a great comfort, and the beginnings of a life-changing foundation.

  • Recovery from alcoholism happens, even in severe cases. Understanding that you have a purpose in life that has been delayed by your disease can be very motivating. A life without alcohol opens up a world full of possibility and renewed hope for an alcoholic. In time, even the most tragic situations can be used for good as you work toward a happier, healthier you.

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Margaret Crowe is a poet and mother of two from Charlotte, North Carolina. 

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