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Coming to Terms with Problem Drinking:
A Sign of Strength & Courage

There is no shame in admitting you have lost control of your drinking habits. In fact, it’s a sign of strength and courage that you are willing to admit you need help.

When it comes to alcohol addiction, or alcoholism as some may call it, the first hurdle to climb can be found in personal acceptance. Too often, many with a drinking problem remain in denial for many months, if not years, so the hardest battle has in fact, been overcome.

The question then is, how does one go about finding the right support & treatment? 

When is it Time to Seek Treatment?

When you are ready to do so. No amount of coercion will ever work in the fight against alcoholism. You must be ready for change, and only you can decide when that time is.

Alcoholism is a chronic illness that requires long term commitment to recovery. If you are ready and willing to get sober, the following options are available.

Private Residential Rehab

A private residential rehab facility offers an intensive program of care designed specifically for people who have a serious drinking problem. They offer 24 hour supervision, individual and group counselling, medical detoxification, education on the disease of alcoholism, and much more.

Patients stay at these facilities for anywhere from 30 days to several months. During this period, patients attend therapy and follow a programme such as the 12 steps.

One of the major benefits of residential treatment is that individuals remain on site, away from triggers and access to alcohol, which differs from outpatient treatment whereby individuals attend sessions then return home during the day.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient addiction treatment is less intense than residential treatment, but still provides a safe environment where patients can learn coping skills and receive guidance on their recovery journey. Outpatient programs typically last between 8-12 weeks. Patients attend weekly meetings, participate in educational classes, and continue to work towards achieving sobriety.

Outpatient treatment is ideal for those who want to recover while still attending work and family commitments. Outpatient care may work well for those with less severe dependencies, but those with severe alcohol dependency may struggle with withdrawal symptoms and therefore require more specialist care.

Should I Consider Detox Only Programmes?

Detox only programmes do not address the root causes of addiction. Instead they focus on removing the physical effects of alcohol by providing medically supervised detoxification. This can be done either in hospital or at a clinic/rehab centre.

While detox programmes are effective for short-term relief of withdrawal symptoms, they are not sufficient for permanent recovery. For this reason, most experts recommend that anyone considering a detox only programme should also consider a longer term recovery programme, such as a 12 step programme (Alcoholics Anonymous) or SMART recovery. 

Does the NHS provide free residential treatment?

The NHS does not offer residential treatment but in rare circumstances, may fund treatment at a private rehab facility.

This process can be lengthy and not particularly helpful to those who need help immediately. However, the NHS does offer free outpatient services which may be subject to waiting lists in your local area.

12 Step Support Groups

An important part of any recovery programme is support groups. These groups usually meet regularly over a number of months or indefinitely.

Support groups can be very useful for helping someone cope with life in recovery. Many people find it difficult to make friends after leaving treatment and having that connection with likeminded people can help those stay on the right path. 

In addition, support groups can give insight into how others have coped with similar problems.

You can find a local AA meeting by visiting their website

Final Thoughts: Talk to your Loved ones

Talking to your loved ones about your plans to get help will help them understand your motivations and concerns. It will also show you that you value their input and concern.

It’s important to remember that your loved ones are worried about you because they love you and want the best for you. If you have children, getting help now could prevent them from future life of addiction. As parents, we all want the best for our children.

Take your time, and don't feel pressured into returning to normal life until you feel strong enough to do so. 

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