Can Becoming Involved Early in Someone’s Addiction Stop It?

Let’s say you have just found out someone is addicted to a substance such as alcohol. Can your involvement stop the addiction altogether? Can you change the individual’s life so he sees the errors in his ways and now can live a healthy life? In some cases, it may not be addiction but rather a case of binge drinking. Let’s say you discover that a friend or family member is drinking heavily during the weekend while watching football or going to a concert. What does this mean? What can you do about the situation?

First it is important to know the signs of drinking heavily. Here are some indicators as given by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence:

  • Drinking leads to legal problems – Getting arrested for fights or rude conduct and being involved in domestic disputes is common.
  • Unusual behavior – You just know that something is not right. That an individual is not acting as they normally do.
  • Drinking to reduce stress – This could be reaching for the bottle after a stressful day or a fight with your spouse or an argument with your boss. It essentially becomes a coping mechanism, and you need to drink more alcohol to get the same effects.
  • Use of alcohol in unsafe situations – A common example is drinking and driving or even drinking while using machinery or mixing alcohol with prescriptions.
  • Drinking as a cause of relationship problems – This could mean fighting with your spouse over your drinking or even with friends.
  • Neglecting responsibilities on an ongoing basis – Some examples would be not paying bills, neglecting responsibilities at work or school and skipping social events because of hangovers or side effects from drinking.

There Are Several Stages of Drinking

The first is social drinking, which is most often drinking at a party or sporting event such as a football game. In come cases, peer pressure leads to using drinking when the substance not normally would not be consumed in private. This can lead to health problems and/or increased drinking. The second level is binge drinking is defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to be when an individual consumes between four to five alcoholic beverages over two hours. Be careful not to focus only on the amount of alcohol consumed. You must also consider the behavior of the individual drinking. When you take both into consideration, then you can truly grasp the situation and take the proper steps to resolve the situation.

Binge drinking can lead to health problems such as liver disease, black outs, high blood pressure, loss of memory and depression. Binge drinking greatly increases the chances of becoming an alcoholic, which has many additional health risks. According to , the lifetime risk for suicide amongst alcoholics is estimated to be 15 percent where the general population’s percentage of risk for suicide is 1.3 percent.

Many Times the Line Between Binge Drinking and Addiction Is Not Clear

Over time, binge drinking leads to substance abuse and chemical dependency. When alcohol is continually abused, it leads to addiction. This is a disease in which the substances have caused changes in a person’s body, mind and behavior. Because of this addiction, the individual becomes chemically dependent on the substance.

The line between binge drinking and addiction is often not definitive. Alcoholism has some varying characteristics such as genetics, so some are more predisposed to becoming an alcoholic than others. If you find someone who is still in the binge drinking stage, you are more likely to be able to stop the use. If the individual is chemically dependent—as addicts are—it is wise to get professional help to properly treat the addiction. This could mean reaching out to a therapist or counselor. If you’re not sure about the process, please feel free to call our helpline for someone to talk with.

True Change Starts With the Addicted Individual

You cannot force your loved one into recovery. Obviously, you can support them and be an example to them, but you cannot make the decision for them to get sober. This is one of the most difficult parts with the disease of addiction. Recovery is not an overnight process. Despite your good intentions, an individual is not likely going to just stop using altogether because you want them to stop. She must see how important it is to stop on her own.

It is always a good thing to catch addiction at the earlier stages, but it is possible that your good intentions can backfire. Your loved one can pull away. This is not uncommon. Please call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline if need someone to help you. In some cases, an interventionist can help. In others, just talking to a counselor who has been trained in this specific area can help. You’re not alone, and you have someone you can help.

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