We’re cheering on everyone who has signed up for Go Sober for October. If you’ve decided to stop drinking alcohol to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, we wish you a happy and healthy month ahead. Drinking alcohol, particularly heavy or frequent use, is linked to many types of cancer and other health conditions, so reducing alcohol is a great thing to do for your body and mind. But what if you’re one of over 600,000 adults in England who are dependent on alcohol?
What If I Can’t Stop Drinking Alcohol?
If you can’t stop drinking alcohol and you want to change, Help Me Stop provide the most affordable and accessible treatment for drug addiction and alcohol addiction. Our intensive addiction treatment programme is the leading alternative to residential rehab. Call us on 0208 191 9191 or contact us in confidence about our Dayhab and Digital Dayhab programmes.
Alcohol Addiction: Physical and Psychological Signs
I can’t stop drinking: am I physically addicted to alcohol?
Alcohol can be a physically addictive drug. If you’re drinking every day or most days, and you can’t stop drinking without experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, nausea, insomnia, hallucinations or tremors (the shakes), then it’s likely you’re experiencing the physical effects of alcohol withdrawal.
In severe cases of alcohol dependence, it can be very dangerous to stop drinking alcohol suddenly. There is a risk of seizures and in the most serious cases, death. If you can’t stop drinking because of a physical alcohol addiction, then please seek advice from a qualified professional before you attempt to stop. Speak to your doctor or contact an addiction treatment provider such as Help Me Stop. Don’t go it alone. An alcohol assessment will identify whether you need a medically-supervised alcohol detox. Depending on your circumstances, your alcohol detox can be carried out at home, in a residential addiction treatment facility or hospital.
If you want help to stop drinking alcohol, please call Help Me Stop on 0208 191 9191, send us a message via live chat or fill out our short contact form. Your enquiry is confidential and our alcohol assessment is free of charge, to help you decide if we’re the right alcohol treatment centre for you.
I can’t stop drinking: am I psychologically addicted to alcohol?
All dependent drinkers have some degree of psychological addiction to alcohol, ranging from mild to severe symptoms. Here we list five common signs of psychological dependence on alcohol – the things people often tell us about their relationship with alcohol. These are some of the myths that alcohol treatment can help you overcome.
1. I feel anxious, stressed or depressed without alcohol
Most dependent drinkers tell us they use alcohol to feel better about themselves. They drink to alter their mood, to ‘lift their spirits’, ‘take the edge off’, relax, calm down or ‘feel more comfortable in their skin’. These are very common signs of psychological dependence on alcohol, which all centre around the belief that alcohol eases mental discomfort, problems or distress.
The truth is that alcohol is a central nervous depressant. Over time, heavy drinking can cause or worsen depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. Alcohol misuse sets up alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which often include heightened anxiety or low mood.
If you’re worried about your mental health and you can’t stop drinking alcohol, then there is specialist help available to stop drinking and deal with your underlying psychological symptoms. Call Help Me Stop on 0208 191 9191.
2. I can’t socialise without alcohol
Does it seem like everyone around you drinks alcohol? All your friends drink, all your family and work colleagues drink too? Many people find the idea of life without alcohol hard to comprehend because it seems like everyone they know drinks. If social occasions are always geared around alcohol, then it can be a frightening prospect to even consider quitting alcohol.
In contrast, people who get help to stop drinking alcohol find there is a whole new world of social opportunities that open up to them. They discover new ways of going out and meeting up with people, which don’t revolve around drinking alcohol: such as eating great food with friends, going to the cinema, taking up a sport or artistic hobby, travelling to new places and more.
3. My life will be boring without alcohol
Alcohol has always been marketed as fun, exciting and glamorous. Advertisers have always associated alcohol with the most attractive people, who are often laughing and smiling in bars and restaurants, or dancing without a care in nightclubs. Drinking culture stems from this idea, that to have the best fun, to make the best friends and to be sexually successful, you always need a glass of something alcoholic in your hand. From the brightly-coloured bottles of spirits to champagne flutes, alcohol is designed and marketed to look like you can’t have any fun without it!
In early recovery, there can be a period of adjustment to go through. In treatment, people often say they can’t ever imagine dancing sober, going to a party, watching the football or having sex without alcohol. Most discover that they have a better time without alcohol. They can remember the night, for a start! They remember who they spoke to and what they said. They remember how they got home (and who with). It is possible to dance sober, without a care in the world – we promise we’re not making it up!
4. Alcohol gives me my confidence
‘Dutch courage’, having a ‘bracer’, needing a ‘stiff drink’: it’s in our language and culture, the idea that courage or confidence can be found in an alcoholic drink. The idea dates back centuries, the sense that alcohol can remove the fear associated with anything difficult in life. It’s true that alcohol is a drug that can temporarily numb or suppress feelings, including the fear of something unpleasant or frightening. Over time, however, the pattern of using alcohol in this way increases the psychological dependence on alcohol.
With effective alcohol treatment and support, natural self-confidence develops in recovery from alcohol addiction. Confidence grows from increasing self-awareness, practising self-care, asking for help with difficult situations and understanding when to say yes or no, amongst other things. Over time, the cravings for alcohol lessen or cease completely. With every new experience of handling something tricky without alcohol, the psychological dependence will diminish.
5. Alcohol helps me sleep
Many people tell us they drink to get to sleep. It’s another form of trying to suppress anxiety with alcohol, attempting to ‘switch off the mind’ with a substance that suppresses the nervous system. Heavy drinking and alcoholism seriously impacts the quality of sleep, however. Whilst alcohol may induce sleep, people often report waking up in the night and very early the next day, feeling very exhausted, dehydrated and unwell. The quality of sleep tends to be very poor with alcohol in the system.
To restore healthy sleep patterns, the most effective way forward is to stop harmful drinking and get help with the underlying psychological symptoms.