Alcohol holds an interesting place in society. On one hand, it is often present in celebrations and times of merriment, while also being used by people to deal with sadness. It can be the cause of many problems, while also being enjoyed during positive times of happiness and excitement. This dual-natured aspect of alcohol can elicit confusion, as people can often believe that they are using alcohol in a safe and fun way, while simultaneously beginning an addiction or unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Breaking down the recovery curve of alcohol addiction consists of going over the different phases of alcohol use and what changes to start requiring professional assistance for recovery. Understanding the alcohol recovery curve can help someone understand and look for signs that may indicate that their use has gone beyond what was initially socially acceptable, and began moving into dangerous territory. Knowing where someone is with their relationship with alcohol, as well as what may come, can help each person make the decision to get help when they may need it most.
The Progressive Phase
This phase is indicative of someone beginning to move from the casual use of alcohol into a more problematic realm. Identifying someone as being in this phase early can help prevent major issues down the line. Some of these symptoms may not be warning signs; however, if someone notices that there are multiple red flags in this category, or if there are sudden changes in someone’s drinking behavior, it can be an indicator that they need to make a change. This phase can be defined by actions such as occasional relief drinking, an increase in alcohol tolerance, or the onset of memory blackouts. While these aspects, when only happening on rare occasions may not be indicators that dependence is developing, they are a sign that the person should stay vigilant when looking for additional indicators in this phase.
The more drastic part of the progressive phase comes when someone notices either in themselves or in another, the onset of constant, habitual relief drinking, an urgency to begin drinking even when not getting drunk, or an overall increasing dependence on alcohol as a “problem-solver.”
The Crucial Phase
This phase is common when people are first confronted about having a problematic relationship with alcohol, either by a loved one or when they realize it themselves. The behaviors in this phase are more difficult to hide, but also more difficult to change. This is due to the fact that in the crucial phase, someone has already established a relationship with alcohol in a positive way, and the biological addiction aspect has begun to take hold. This phase can best be identified by an increase in memory blackouts, an inability to discuss one’s alcohol use or denial of alcohol use, mood swings and self-isolation, and loss of interest in other hobbies or activities.
This phase is also when the body begins to sacrifice other aspects of itself and one’s life and begins to prioritize drinking as a daily routine. People may begin to neglect food and meals, as well as other responsibilities, begin drinking early in the morning, and begin to have trouble with money and attendance at work. Efforts to placate one’s drinking can fail as urges constantly insist that the body needs to keep drinking and each drink can be coupled with an array of excuses. This phase may also include people hiding alcohol around the house or hiding their drinking as a whole from others. People may hide their drinking out of the fear of being judged or because they feel shame toward their drinking habits. The crucial phase demands professional help and a supportive set of loved ones and family members. This phase of alcohol addiction is very difficult but is in no way impossible to come back from, with the right support and personal recovery plan.
The Chronic Phase
This phase of alcohol addiction is plagued with physical and mental debilitations. The onset of lengthy intoxications, lasting days or longer, can accentuate a degree of physical and moral deterioration, as well as an obsession with drinking as a whole. The only thought a person may have on their mind at all times is where they will be able to get their next drink, despite the monetary and social repercussions that their drinking may have already cost them. Anxiety and irrational fears may set in, and someone can feel completely trapped by their own addiction. This phase requires help, and it is important to recognize earlier signs before these other symptoms of the chronic phase can set in. However, like with all phases, this doesn’t mean that someone is without hope. The journey to recovery may be long and difficult, but there is always a way that someone can address their addiction and overcome it in a healthy, progressive way.
Getting Help With Recovery
The biggest hurdle in recovery is often the uncertainty that comes with it. Acknowledging that someone has a problematic relationship with alcohol at any of these phases is difficult, but deciding to get help is a hurdle on its own. There are many different ways to get help with an addiction, depending on the person and their level of addiction. For some, sober living and in-patient facilities may be the best way to start, before they transition to an intensive group therapy program. Others may thrive in a one-on-one, individual therapy setting. However, the goals that someone sets for themselves will follow a pattern in recovery.
Recovery is about finding the right way for each person to establish a new, healthy, supportive circle of friends, gain control over their emotions, begin new hobbies, and dive into new interests. This doesn’t mean that someone has to let go of everything in their lives, but rather, they should understand the benefits and risks that each facet of their lives could have on their recovery. Recovery is designed to give each person agency over their own decisions and addiction, and instill contentment with sobriety overall. Recovery can take a long time and can be filled with challenges such as urges, and even the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, during detox. However, it is designed to help each person establish a new normal outside of alcohol by giving them the choice of what they want to accomplish in life while providing a safe space to practice life skills, emotional control, and rational thinking.
There are a lot of factors that go into addiction and addiction recovery, and each individual’s story with addiction will differ. Regardless of what phase of recovery that someone is in, there is always hope, and recovery is always possible. Knowing the various ways and forms that addiction can develop is paramount in addressing the situation early, or helping a family member or loved one realize their own developing habits. The individualized plans that are available at Lighthouse Recovery ensure that each person has a personalized approach to their unique situation, and can work on the skills most pertinent to them and their goals.