Alcohol addiction is a pertinent problem in the UK. Alcoholism means being unable to control the amount of alcohol consumed by drinking compulsively and excessively.
Alcohol addiction has many risks for the individual’s mental and physical health, which is why it is so important that they seek treatment.
Unfortunately, only 18% of individuals struggling with alcohol addiction in the UK seek treatment. In this article, we will go over some reasons why people in the UK do not seek treatment for alcohol addiction, and how to seek help if you find yourself in a similar situation. There is always hope for recovery when it comes to alcohol addiction.
Through various research, we know that more than 600,000 people in the UK suffer from alcoholism. Out of this, 500,000 people have gone untreated. The main cause for this is the denial that is often tied with alcoholism.
Denial is also a symptom of alcoholism, and it comes from the shame and fear of admitting the reality of the situation.
This denial can take several forms. The first kind of denial is blame; the alcoholic blames their behaviour on external factors to justify it.
Another kind is concealing their addiction from friends and family by drinking in secret and lying. Alcoholics also tend to get defensive and dismissive about their addiction and this may come out as anger towards their family and friends.
Alcohol abuse heightens this denial because of impaired judgement and the overpowering need to continue consuming alcohol. Thus, this denial covers up the fact that alcohol abuse is a problem that needs to be fixed. Instead, it gives the individual room to continue showing these kinds of behaviours.
To understand how important it is for people struggling with alcohol addiction to seek treatment, let’s go through some of the short and long-term risks of not seeking treatment.
Although this can be overwhelming for those people that suffer from alcoholism, it can help in the future by pushing you to make lifestyle changes.
Some short-term injuries can be accidents that cause injuries and would require treatment in a hospital. Head injuries are especially common and very dangerous for those that suffer from alcohol addiction.
Other risks include being violent to other people or being the victim of violence because of the loss of senses that comes with being under the influence of alcohol.
Unprotected sex while drunk is also very common, which could lead to things like STIs (sexually transmitted infections) or unplanned pregnancies. The most common short-term risk is alcohol poisoning which is most prone to happen to those who binge drink.
Some long-term risks that come with alcohol abuse are increased risk for cancer like liver cancer, mouth cancer, breast cancer, and bowel cancer. Other than that, strokes, heart diseases, pancreatitis, and liver diseases are also very common long-term risks of alcohol abuse.
Alcoholics also tend to suffer from unemployment, homelessness, and domestic abuse. Thus, it affects the quality of the person’s life by impacting their professional and personal life. Psychological issues like depression, anxiety, and insomnia are also common for alcoholics.
The first step to treating alcohol use disorder is to accept that you need help. You should contact your friends and family and ask them to give you the support you need to prevent you from relapsing.
You can go to a general practitioner so that they can recommend a treatment plan that will work best for you. There are a considerable amount of free services made specifically to help those who suffer from alcohol abuse on the NHS as well.
Counselling is the top treatment option. Be it talking therapy one-on-one or group therapy, counselling is known to be one of the best treatments for alcoholism. Most doctors recommend a combination of the two.
One-on-one therapy is helpful for individual growth but group therapy creates a community where alcoholics feel like they are not alone and have a group of people they can relate to.
Detox Only Programmes
Another useful kind of treatment is detoxification, in which a medical professional provides a medically-assisted detox to help those with alcohol dependence withdraw safely. This form of treatment addresses the physical dependence on alcohol, but doesn’t tackle the root causes of alcohol addiction which are often linked to trauma or childhood abuse.
Two medicines help with alcoholism. The first is Librium which is given in smaller doses and helps the alcoholic deal with the withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism. This is usually only used for a short period.
The second medicine helps reduce any impulses that the alcoholic has to consume alcohol. Its name is naltrexone and it has been very useful to many alcoholics. These must be only used for up to 12 months.
While detox programmes can be cheaper alternatives to residential rehabilitation programmes, it is strongly recommended that individuals consider outpatient care or therapy once they complete their detox programme, alongside joining support groups such as AA to reduce the likelihood of relapse.