If your loved one’s alcoholism is severe, it is crucial for them to get treatment as soon as possible.
For half a century, alcoholism has been defined as a disease. As a disease that impacts the brain, alcoholism sets in motion a cycle of dependence that keeps a person trapped. Compulsive drinking leads to a slew of health problems and mental health issues.
When someone you love suffers from crippling alcoholism you are likely beside yourself with worry. You witness the adverse affects the disease is having on his or her life and feel helpless. Most people are told to wait it out, that the person must “hit bottom.” But what if that bottom is death?
It is never too soon to attempt to get your loved one help for an alcohol problem. They may not be open to treatment yet, but still you can plant the seed. There are some things you can do to prepare for the day when he or she is willing to get help. Read on to learn what to do for someone with crippling alcoholism.
About the Disease of Alcoholism
Someone who has an alcohol use disorder (AUD) will start to acquire certain behavior patterns. They also begin to display the telltale signs of an AUD. These might include:
- Unable to limit or quit drinking.
- Drinking over a longer period than they intend.
- Needing to consume ever-higher amounts to have the effects they desire.
- Spending a great deal of time drinking or getting over the effects of drinking.
- Neglect family or work obligations.
- Use alcohol to help manage a mental health issue.
- Bloating, glassy eyes, red face.
- Hand tremors.
- Lying about how much alcohol is being consumed.
- Hiding alcohol.
- Having withdrawal symptoms when alcohol wears off.
The more of these signs that are present, the more severe the AUD is.
Do You Wait until They Hit Bottom?
So often people say, “They have to reach their bottom before they will accept help.” This is dangerous, as the bottom can be death itself. Bottoms come and bottoms go. It is a mistake to stand by and watch someone’s life implode while waiting for them to hit their bottom.
The alcoholic suffers daily. Each day brings its own set of problems related to the AUD. Losing a job, a spouse, your home, your health, your mental health—all of these are part of “the bottom.” Alcoholism can seduce a person into a life of misery. Slowly but surely, the adverse effects of the AUD pile up. Do not wait for that bottom before seeking help for alcoholism, because it may be too late.
Signs of Severe Alcoholism
End stage alcoholism, or severe alcohol use disorder, is diagnosed when six or more of the factors are present, indicating both psychological and physical dependence has taken root. This stage features adverse health effects caused by the disease, possibly including:
- Liver disease. Alcohol is very toxic to the liver. Liver disease may not show signs until the later stages. This happens with cirrhosis. It often begins as fatty liver disease. Without a liver transplant, it is a fatal condition;
- Cardiac symptoms. Long-term heavy drinking takes a toll on heart health. Signs of a cardiac problem include heart arrhythmia or alcoholic cardiomyopathy. These can result in organ damage or heart failure.
- Cognitive problems. Excess drinking can lead to brain damage, which first shows up as cognitive problems. Memory issues are another sign. Also, thiamine (B1) deficiency can lead to brain damage.
- Gastrointestinal problems. Heavy drinking causes excess stomach acid. Acid reflux can lead to gastritis. It also causes ulcers or bleeding in the stomach lining. The loss of blood can lead to anemia, causing extreme fatigue.
- Cancer symptoms. Excess drinking causes an increased risk of many types of deadly cancer. Types of cancer linked with heavy drinking include oral, throat, esophageal, colon, rectal, pancreatic, liver, and breast cancer.
Symptoms that the alcoholism has progressed include:
- Hand tremors.
- Bloating of the face and neck.
- Broken capillaries on the face.
- Distended abdomen.
- Cognitive impairment.
- Emotional instability.
- Heart problems such as alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
- Depression and/or anxiety.
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, caused by thiamine deficiency.
How to Support Your Loved One
Getting a loved one with crippling alcoholism into detox and treatment will truly save their life. There are several ways you can help be a support to them. Consider taking 5 these steps:
- Do some research. Before sitting down with your loved one, it is best to do some study on alcoholism and treatment options. This will help you to be well prepared when they are ready to receive treatment.
- Promise to participate. Rehab programs offer a family piece, such as family therapy sessions and family days. Family sessions allow members to have open and honest discourse that can help heal deep wounds.
- Contact insurance. Having the resources for treatment is key. First contact the insurance company to see what they cover. They will provide the details for out of pocket expenses and network providers. Also, as the rehab if they offer sliding scale programs or scholarships. They may also offer in-house financing plans to help stretch the cost out.
- Help with logistics. Someone facing treatment will worry about being away from home and work for a long period. These logistics should be addressed early on to ease anxiety about how it will all work. Have the loved one check with H.R. file for a leave of absence. Have childcare planned out if there are children involved who will need care in the absence of a parent.
- Encourage them. It isn’t easy to face the process of treatment; it can actually be quite daunting. Your loved one has arrived at a place where they accept the need for treatment. They are willing to do the hard work required and should be commended. Show your support for this difficult decision, while also making it clear that sobriety is theirs to obtain and maintain.
Journey Hillside Provides Treatment for Severe Alcoholism
Journey Hillside is a private treatment center that offers on-site detox and full rehab services. This high-end, evidence-based program provides the healing space for someone in recovery from alcoholism. For more detail about the program, please contact us today at (877) 414-1024.