One of the hardest things with alcohol abuse is being willing to admit that you need help and you want your life to change. Many people struggle with alcohol abuse for years before realizing that their alcohol use is a major cause of the problems destroying their relationships at work, home or even causing them to have issues with law enforcement or jail time. And sometimes, they go on a journey of figuring out how to stop drinking on their own. But it isn’t enough.
The good news is that once you’ve decided that you want to change, there are many resources available to help you get your life back. It isn’t easy, but if you genuinely want to take control of your alcohol issues and are willing to work hard to change, there are many people and organizations to help you do it.
Where Should I Start?
- Talk to your doctor. Many people with alcohol problems are reluctant to tell their doctor, feeling there’s a stigma to admitting you need help. But alcoholism is at its core an illness just like any other. Talking to health care provider about your alcohol or substance abuse will give you an educated baseline on where you are, and if you have any other health problems you need to be aware of. Your doctor will often ask a series of questions to evaluate what treatment works best in your situation, and have access to counselling, treatment services or be able to refer you to a specialist, depending on what is needed.
- Follow through on all your doctor’s recommendations. This step sounds easy, but just like it’s hard to keep taking antibiotics once your ear infection no longer aches, it’s easiest to relapse once you start feeling everything is ok. It takes time and commitment to get the most out of your doctor’s recommendations.
- Find a support structure to help keep yourself accountable. It’s impossible that you won’t feel tempted to fall back on old habits as you start this new phase in your life. Find people who are willing to reinforce you new behavior, and help you resist falling back on old habits. This can be family and friends, but there are many organizations that provide support for people who want support from outside their own social network. One of the most well-known of these groups is Alcoholics Anonymous.
Finally, Don’t Give Up
Many people with alcohol abuse or other substance abuse issues will have a point in time where they give in to the disease, and relapse. The important thing to remember when that happens is how far you’ve come, and how much you still want to change your situation.
Even when you mess up big, as long as you pick yourself back up, accept any consequences of the relapse, and go back to working to better your situation, you will eventually find you have traveled a long way since you first started to fight against your disease. You just have to keep going, take the offered help and remember that you aren’t in this alone.