Around a third of individuals with alcohol dependence resolve their alcohol consumption problems without professional intervention. Others need the support of a health professional who can recommend a range of treatments. While there are many effective treatments, people who overcome alcohol dependence often relapse (i.e. develop alcohol dependency once again).
The twelve Step programs are well known for their use in recovering from addictive and dysfunctional behaviors. The first 12 step program began with Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) in the 1930s and has since grown to be the most widely used approach in dealing not only with recovery from alcoholism, but also from drug abuse and various other addictive and dysfunctional behaviors.
"Learning basic Twelve Step philosophy and language can open the lines of communication," continued Cathy. "Once you understand some Twelve Step principles, concepts such as powerlessness, spiritual awakening, higher power and making amends, they will seem less like cult mantras and more like the simple guides they are intended to be." A Twelve Step program is one that adapts the Twelve Steps of AA to fit the particular needs of a mutual-help group. Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Alateen, Gamblers Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous, and Adult Children of Alcoholics are examples of groups with a Twelve Step foundation.
An alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe. Mild patterns may develop into more serious complications. Early treatment and intervention can help people with alcohol use disorder. While it’s up to the person to willingly start their sobriety journey, you can also help. Read on for some steps you can take to help your friend, family member, or loved one.
Five stages of alcohol and substance abuse disorders have been identified. The first stage is described as having access to alcohol rather than use of alcohol. In that stage, minimizing the risk factors that make a person more vulnerable to using alcohol are an issue. The second stage of alcohol use ranges from experimentation or occasional use to regular weekly use of alcohol. This or any of the more severe stages of alcoholism may involve binge drinking. The third stage is characterized by individuals further increasing the frequency of alcohol use and/or using the substance on a regular basis. This stage may also include either buying or stealing to get alcohol. In the fourth stage of alcohol use, users have established regular alcohol consumption, have become preoccupied with getting intoxicated ("high") and have developed problems in their social, educational, vocational, or family life as a result of using the substance. The final and most serious fifth stage of alcohol use is defined by the person only feeling normal when they are using alcohol. During this stage, risk-taking behaviors like stealing, engaging in physical fights, or driving while intoxicated increase, and they become most vulnerable to having suicidal thoughts.
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Over time, the regular consumption of alcohol will alter brain chemicals, making the drinker crave alcohol not for a good time, but to avoid feeling poorly. Brain function becomes more and more impaired as your blood alcohol content increases. Each time you drink alcohol, several chemicals in the brain become imbalanced. Over time, the brain becomes used to this imbalance, and considers it the new balance, so to speak. This is a disease of the brain called alcoholism.
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AA is the most widely available 12-Step program, and meeting times and locations are easily found on the Internet. Our Continuum of Care staff provides recommendations for solution-based meetings with a solid foundation of support. At Origins Behavioral HealthCare, we familiarize our patients with 12-Step meetings during their stay and connect them with 12-Step resources in their own communities.

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ASAM’s definition of addiction document concludes that “treatment of addition saves lives,” and it points out that “in some cases of addiction, medication management can improve treatment outcomes,” and that “in most cases of addiction, the integration of psychosocial rehabilitation and ongoing care with evidence-based pharmacological therapy provides the best results.” Much of “what’s new” in the professional treatment of addiction in the past two decades has involved new pharmacological therapies that have been brought into the marketplace. But psychosocial interventions, which are “not as new,” are the foundation of the treatment most persons receive when they seek assistance from an addiction treatment professional or agency.
The effects of alcoholism are far reaching. Alcohol affects every body system, causing a wide range of health problems. Problems include poor nutrition, memory disorders, difficulty with balance and walking, liver disease (including cirrhosis and hepatitis), high blood pressure, muscle weakness (including the heart), heart rhythm disturbances, anemia, clotting disorders, decreased immunity to infections, gastrointestinal inflammation and irritation, acute and chronic problems with the pancreas, low blood sugar, high blood fat content, interference with reproductive fertility, increased risk of cancer of the liver, esophagus, and breast, weakened bones, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression. About 20% of adults admitted to the hospital (for any reason) are alcohol dependent. Men are more than twice as likely to be alcohol dependent than women, and smokers who are alcohol dependent are much more likely to develop serious or fatal health problems associated with alcoholism.
Below are the statistically significant relative risks from a study by the American Cancer Society for men and women who consume 4 or more drinks daily. A drink is defined as one 12-oz beer, one 4- to 5-oz glass of wine, or one mixed drink containing 1.5 oz of spirits (80 proof). The relative risk for the noted maladies with consumption of 4 or more drinks daily is as follows:

Chemically, alcohol tends to decrease the chemical activity of substances that affect the nervous system, to inhibit behavior (gamma aminobutyric acid, also called GABA signaling) and increase the activity of pleasure-seeking processes (glutamate). That can result in people being less inhibited in their words and actions and more likely to engage in immediately pleasurable activities even if they are unsafe. Even light drinkers can experience shrinking of parts of the brain. Intoxication with alcohol can be characterized by slurred speech, clumsiness, sleepiness, headaches, distorted senses, lapses in memory, nausea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
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In Step 4, individuals are asked to be thorough and honest in their personal inventory, writing down anything that comes to mind, and then to explore the effects and particulars of each incident. Self-reflection and introspection into how each event may have impacted family and loved ones as well as individual feelings are delved into during this step. People may wish to start a personal journal. This inventory during Step 4 can take some time to complete. Individuals may therefore spend a lot of time on Step 4, writing, praying, and receiving encouragement from others in their support group.

With treatment, about 70% of people with alcoholism are able to decrease the number of days they consume alcohol and improve their overall health status within six months. On the other hand, most individuals who have been treated for a moderate to severe alcohol-use disorder have relapsed at least once during the first year after treatment. Those individuals seem to drink less often and lower amounts after receiving treatment compared with before treatment.
Sponsors share their experience, strength, and hope with their sponsees... A sponsor's role is not that of a legal adviser, a banker, a parent, a marriage counselor, or a social worker. Nor is a sponsor a therapist offering some sort of professional advice. A sponsor is simply another addict in recovery who is willing to share his or her journey through the Twelve Steps.[29]
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