Would you rather die than detox? At one time I would have said ‘Yes’. Despite a 20 year battle with alcohol, I was scared of seeking help. I was terrified of acknowledging my problem even though I knew how extreme my misuse had become and how it was killing me. Still the last thing I wanted to consider was detox.
If you’re one of the estimated 12 million in the US struggling to control your drinking, you may recognise my reluctance and share my fears. Being aware of the dangers of alcohol abuse to your physical and mental health is important, but admitting your problem isn’t enough. It’s crucial you take action. It’s a sobering thought, but only 10% of alcoholics seek any type of help whilst 90% die prematurely without any alcohol detox treatment. For me, detox was the first step to reclaiming my life and it can be yours too.
What’s stopping you from detoxing?
It may seem obvious to anyone who hasn’t a drink problem that seeking advice would be a sensible option, but when you are convicted with the stigma and shame of not being able to control your consumption it can be very hard to ask for help.
I never set out to become addicted. I started drinking as a teenager to help numb the pain of being abandoned by my mother and abused by my father. Initially, vodka became my ‘hurt healer’; it was self-medication that took away the pain of the past, gave me confidence for each day and removed my fears for the future. I truly believed that I could stop when I wanted and indeed that I would stop at some point.
As my denial increased, so too did my dependency. For years I experienced many of the symptoms of a functioning alcoholic. I was managing to perform at work and maintain my relationships, so I felt justified in my excess. At the same time I knew that my preoccupation with drink; the craving and lack of control once I started; and my high tolerance were signs that I was addicted.
How long does detox take?
The guilt of knowing what I had become was overwhelming but so too was my fear of facing it. When I reached the point of not being able to live with a drink, yet not being able to live without one, I took my life into my own hands. An alcohol induced suicide attempt resulted in several weeks in a psychiatric hospital before I transferred to rehab.
Thankfully I had expert medical care to help me overcome the dreadful withdrawal symptoms. Remarkably, for someone who had taken alcohol for twenty years, just a few weeks detox resulted in a significant improvement. I was finally giving my body a break and allowing my liver, brain and heart a much needed chance to recover. Instead of existing each day feeling sick and tired, I started to experience feelings of wellness, vibrancy and hope. And for the first time in a very long time, I wanted to be alive.
Is rehabilitation necessary?
If you are abusing alcohol, you may well have unsuccessfully tried to cut down or quit. Many times I vowed not to drink at all; declared to myself and others that I was giving up, only to slip back to the bottle for any excuse. And I attempted endless variations of cutting down; buying different drinks, diluting, drinking at set times or drinking only with friends. Yet despite my good intentions I would inevitably fail. Worse still, the more I tried to control my intake, the greater the hold of alcohol. Despite good intentions and masses of will-power, the reality was that I couldn’t get sober and stay there without support.
One of the earliest lessons I learned in my journey of recovery is that it takes more strength to admit your weaknesses and seek treatment, than staying in the cycle of self-destruct. You may not believe that you have the courage to face up to your situation, but if you allow yourself to dig deep you will find that you do.
Remember that if you have become physically addicted to alcohol, you can also be addicted psychologically. Rehab can offer a safe and compassionate environment for you to share and recover from your personal issues. It can also help you develop essential coping and motivational techniques to ensure that you remain sober in the long-term.
For me rehab was a place of healing from the past, renewal for the present and empowerment for the future. And if you are struggling with this life threatening condition, I wish you the same.
Is it time to reclaim your life?
Denial and fear kept me trapped in a death sentence. Today I am free from the dependency which was stealing my life. Seventeen years in sobriety has brought me happiness, peace of mind and the freedom to live my life as the person I was meant to be.
What about you? Is it time for you to reclaim your life too?
©Carolyn Hughes. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission
For further advice contact the dedicated and caring experts at Inspire Malibu – Alcohol Rehab and Drug Treatment Centre