Cultural stereotypes of the alcoholic tend to focus on the Skid Row drunk: homeless, impoverished, and unemployed. But current research has replaced this stereotype with more realistic portraits of the most typical subtypes of alcoholics. The results of a national study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence showed that there are five basic types of alcoholics in the United States. The descriptions of these subtypes, all of whom meet the criteria for alcohol dependence, may surprise you:
The hidden cost of alcoholism does not stop with health. Alcoholism is also linked to violent crime, resulting in a cost to the economy in terms of policing and prosecution. However, it is difficult to put a price on the impact that alcoholism has to society. A report by the IAS showed that a figure of £21 billion is regularly quoted by the Government in terms of the cost of alcohol to society (in England and Wales). This does not include the personal cost of alcoholism and only considers the cost that is imposed on others.
We are active in supporting research into improving the lives of those struggling with addiction. Searidge Foundation and our sister rehab Sobriety Home located in Godmanchester, Quebec are highly regarded as the leading alcohol and drug rehab facilities in Canada. We support Florida State University (FSU) in their research into addiction and anxiety disorder. We are also involved with Dr. Brunet, of McGill University, and his leading scientific research on PTSD and addiction memory.
Most people with a history of drug use have poor discipline and self-care habits. A critical part of self-care for a person in recovery is setting and accomplishing goals. Most people, whether in recovery or not, do not know how to set goals that are likely to be achieved. They begin with sincere intentions that eventually get abandoned because they didn’t approach goal setting with the proper mindset. The repetitive cycle of wanting to change habits but continually falling short gradually weakens a person’s resolve to the point where many stop trying.
Support groups are the least-intensive type of drug rehab available. The Mental Health Institute states that support groups allow individuals to share experiences and stories with one another, thereby reducing loneliness and isolation. Support groups often prove to be an eye-opening experience, allowing patients to see that there are others in similar situations also fighting to heal.
Drug rehab treatment centers offer frequent individual counseling to patients. These counseling sessions sometimes even take place on a daily basis. Counselors help patients discover any emotional or psychological factors that may have contributed to their addictions. It is important that these psychological factors are addressed if a patient is to make a full recovery.
Drug addiction is a disease of the body and brain. Also called substance use disorder, drug addiction triggers uncontrollable behaviors and renders a person unable to control their use of medication, alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs—whether they are legal or not. Addictive substances such as nicotine, alcohol, opioid medications, and marijuana are considered drugs just as much as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. Once you are addicted to a substance, you will feel compelled to use it, regardless of the damage that use does to your body, your brain, and your life.
Heroin is generally considered the most addictive drug in the world. Studies have shown that just one dose of heroin can put a person on the fast track to addiction. It’s estimated that nearly 25% of all people who try heroin at least one time will become addicted. Heroin causes euphoria, eases pain and numbs the brain and body by acting on an area of nerve cells within the central part of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens. When repeatedly subjected to this flood of opiates, the dopamine receptors within these nerve cells become exhausted from overstimulation.13
Take an inventory of how you experience the craving. Do this by sitting in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths and focus your attention inward. Allow your attention to wander through your body. Notice where in your body you experience the craving and what the sensations are like. Notice each area where you experience the urge, and tell yourself what you are experiencing. For example, “My craving is in my mouth and nose and in my stomach.”
Repeat the focusing with each part of your body that experiences the craving. Describe to yourself the changes that occur in the sensations. Notice how the urge comes and goes. Many people, when they urge surf, notice that after a few minutes the craving has vanished. The purpose of this exercise, however, is not to make the craving go away but to experience the craving in a new way. If you practice urge surfing, you will become familiar with your cravings and learn how to ride them out until they go away naturally.
Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a "relapsing" disease—people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.
While a relapse or slip-up is by no means inevitable, you might face some setbacks during recovery. This does not have to mean returning to alcohol use. A lapse should not signify the end of your recovery, provided you act appropriately, in order to avoid a full relapse. You might even find that this small slip is enough to remind you of why you wanted to quit in the first place.