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Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress. - Mahatma Gandhi
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Coping with Alcohol Withdrawal

Starting to Detox

Alcohol withdrawal typically starts 6 – 12 hours after the last drink. Usually it is minor. Withdrawal may last 3 to 7 days. If you are one of the lucky people and only have minor symptoms watch for behavior changes such as irritability, agitation or hostility; sleep disturbances like insomnia; or impaired cognitive function such as inability to concentrate or poor memory. You may also experience gastrointestinal problems and may have no appetite or have diarrhea. Muscular symptoms may include cramps, or trembling; autonomic imbalances may occur such as tachycardia or rapid heartbeat. You could experience fever or sweating. And I repeat, this is if you are lucky.

Acute Alcohol Withdrawal

If you are not so lucky and experience acute alcohol withdrawal you should not be left untreated. Withdrawal could be lethal in certain people. In acute withdrawal there could be signs of body and hand tremors, elevated blood pressure, tachycardia, dilated pupils, increased body temperature, seizures, restlessness, hyperactivity, and agitation. Mental symptoms include anxiety, panic attacks, depression, paranoid delusions, illusions, disorientation, and visual hallucinations, inability to focus, OCD behavior. It is a scary thing.

First Hurdle to Sobriety

I think everyone at some time or other has experienced alcohol withdrawal. It is the first hurdle you need to cross when getting sober. In fact some people won’t stop drinking because they don’t want to go through the withdrawal phase. Many people just get too sick and they have to put alcohol back in their body. I have seen a friend who had to drink a glass of vodka first thing in the morning to stop shaking and he could hardly get the glass to his mouth. That was only 6 or 8 hours without alcohol. I have seen a friend go through the torment of withdrawal and nearly die; only to start drinking a few weeks later and have his liver fail. I, myself was left untreated during a withdrawal period and had a seizure.

Making Withdrawal Easier

There are ways to go through withdrawal that are much easier on the mind and body. At DebbietheCoach we provide our clients with clear choices and expert advice. Some clients may want to gradually stop drinking alcohol and avoid withdrawal altogether. This gradual method is possible using anti craving medications. Other clients want to stop drinking immediately and we assist them in either getting medical assistance or we can help with megavitamin therapy. Nutrient deficiencies are responsible for many of the withdrawal symptoms. For e.g. Magnesium deficiency is a major problem associated with symptoms of anxiety, depression, muscle spasm, chronic pain and tremors. The B vitamins are also depleted, especially B3 or Niacin.

People with an alcohol addiction are usually surprised when I tell them that they are probably malnourished. They don’t realize that the alcohol they drink stops the nutrients from being absorbed in the body. Often the pancreas is inflamed and food digestion is affected. They usually have sporadic meals and decreased appetites.

Each vitamin and mineral performs various functions in the body. Deficiencies affect your health and neither the body nor the mind functions properly. If you are afraid to stop drinking because of withdrawal symptoms, get medical help or get a plan in place where you can safely withdraw from alcohol. Don’t wait until your body is too damaged to recover.

Stress and Drinking are Self Defeating

Stress

Stress has been described as being “the greatest single contributor to illness in our time.” It has been estimated that up to two-thirds of all visits to family physicians are stress related. A person struggling with alcohol dependence is no stranger to stress or its affect on the body. Learning to manage stress-triggered drinking can be extremely beneficial.

Drinking Cycle

The drinking cycle of an alcohol dependent person may look like this:
STRESS—DRINKING—GUILT—SHAME —MORE STRESS —DRINKING—LOW SELF-ESTEEM —DEPRESSION —MORE STRESS—MORE DRINKING

Stress is self-defeating. It is usually shame based or fear based. Stress for an alcoholic leads to more drinking sprees and the merry-go-round can continue until death.

Letting Go

I’m sure you know or have heard of the “Serenity Prayer” – it says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” We sometimes think that if other people would just change, life would be good. Understanding what we can and can’t control can help us cope with the daily stress in our life. Sometimes we just have to let things go. Wayne Dyer a motivational speaker I’m familiar with once said, “Never underestimate your ability to change yourself and never overestimate your ability to change someone else.”

Things We can Control

Here are some things that are within our control: our own opinions, aspirations, desires, and the things that repel us. These things are part of our inner lives and as such, are directly under our influence. We always have a choice about what goes on in our inner lives.

Things We can’t Control

Outside our control, however, are such things as who are parents are, what color of skin we have, if we’re born rich or poor, our genetic makeup. These things are externals and are therefore not our concern. Trying to control or to change what we can’t only results in torment. Also, when we attempt to take on the affairs of others, we will always become frustrated and anxious.

Put Stresses into Categories

Here’s an exercise that you can do to help troubleshoot the stress in your life. Make a list of the sources of stress that affect your life. Separate them into 2 categories, The Stress I Can Change & The Stress I Can’t Change. Now keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your concern. Other people will behave as they do. Circumstances will often not meet our expectations. We get disappointed if we don’t get what we want. Our desires may be unreasonable. Stop worrying about the things that are outside your control. Work on the category with things that you can change.

Stress Plus Drinking

Second, acknowledge that drinking is not going to solve your stress problem. Acknowledging it is a step you choose when you’re frustrated and either can’t think of other options or are too frustrated to find other options. Drinking is going to increase the stress you feel and the vicious cycle will continue and accelerate. Acknowledge that better solutions are available to you right now; you simply need to be open to the possibility to try them.

Relieving Stress

You can find a quiet place to slow down and do some deep breathing. Keeping your mouth closed, breathe in through your nose and feel the air fill up your stomach, your lungs, hold it and then blow out through your mouth. Do this 4 or 5 times. Concentrate on each breath. This breathing exercise will help to lower your stress.

Keep breathing at a steady pace as this exercise isn’t meant to be rushed through. Rushing this along defeats the purpose and won’t help you achieve the calm state you need to de-stress. Once you are calmer, decide if what you are stressed about is really important. Does it really concern YOU? If it isn’t important – let it go and walk away. Ask yourself if you stay in this stressful situation, will it trigger a drinking spree? If it will, then definitely remove yourself from the situation. In the past, what would you have normally done? How can you change the pattern? Can you make a decision to do some self care? For e.g. can you call a friend, take a walk, talk things over with a co-worker or family member, confide in a coach?

Nurture Yourself

Each time you make the choice to nurture yourself rather than turning to alcohol, the Real Identity gets stronger and the Alcohol Identity weakens. Each time you can weaken the Alcohol Identity you are one step closer to getting alcohol out of your life and getting back to who you really are. Stress and how you choose to handle stress is actually an opportunity to get stronger and stronger. How good is that!

Gratitude Trumps Drinking

An Alcoholic’s Dream

I recently attended the “event of the year”. It was the annual Cancer Ball. Men were in black tie, women in ball gowns and fancy dresses. Bejeweled and bedazzled embellishments were everywhere. Champagne sparkled, beside martinis, red and white wine were set along side every imaginable drink and was all at an open bar. This really was an alcoholic’s dream.

Who Will Know

On entering the reception area, pixie teens in vintage gowns served the martinis aside the champagne in fancy fluted glasses, while servers in white gloves floated through the crowd with hors d’oeuvres. The thought had crossed my mind that I could reach out and grab one of those martinis. Look how happy everyone was that had a martini. I could be one of them. I could be festive and happy and drinking champagne and meeting new and charming people. It wouldn’t hurt just for one night. Who would know?

I told my husband that I was thirsty and asked him to get me a cranberry and ginger ale. He looked around, puzzled as to which way to go in the crowd. We had just met a great couple, and the woman offered to get “in line” with me at the bar. I told her I didn’t drink and she said, “Oh good. Neither do I.” I could have cried. Although she wasn’t an alcoholic like me; she was a social drinker who maybe enjoyed one drink. (While I can’t even imagine having just one drink in an evening, I mean what would be the point?) She was so happy that she had met someone at their table that wasn’t going to drink all night. We got in the line at the bar together and ordered a few soft drinks.

I started to feel a little better about being sober even though I was at the event of the season without a drink in my hand. (did I mention there was an open bar)? I decided to make the most of it. The food kept me entertained as they served a 6 course meal that was out of this world. A live band lead off the entertainment complete with a 20 piece orchestra and fantastic singers that encouraged all to join in on the dance floor. There they were, all those people who were drinking the champagne and the martinis, having so much fun on the dance floor. My husband and I danced a few times, but it really wasn’t that exciting. That’s not even nice to say, but I was really finding it difficult to have fun without drinking. So once again, I started feeling a little sorry for myself, but decided to get over it. I sought out the silent auction and the art gallery that the committee had set up.

The night was a success. The organizers raised a few million dollars for cancer research. I had met some really great people at our table and I didn’t have to drink any alcohol. There was one couple at our table that I hadn’t had a chance to really talk to. As the evening wound down, I decided to go and sit beside the woman and introduce myself. She asked me “So where are you from?” I told her. She asked me “So where is your husband’s business?” I told her. We talked about kids for a few minutes and as the first part of our conversation wrapped up, she asked me “So where are you from?” I told her again. She asked me “So where is your husband’s business?” I took a long hard look at her and realized that this woman was in a blackout. She seemed completely normal. Her words were slightly slurred as she finished off the bottle of red wine, but she really was sincere in asking me those same questions about 8 more times.

That’s the moment that I became grateful – grateful that I had made a choice and didn’t have to drink alcohol. If I had grabbed a martini as I entered the ballroom, I could have easily become that woman. I wouldn’t have even known if I was having fun. I wouldn’t even remember who I had met or who I had talked to or what I might have said. It’s true that for me, life isn’t as exciting as it once was with alcohol. Alcohol gave me such highs (and such lows), that ordinary now seems dull. But ordinary is a whole lot better than being deadened by alcohol or turning into my alter ego. In Canada, October is not only Breast Cancer Awareness month, but when we celebrate Thanksgiving. I am very thankful that I was able to support cancer research, and thankful that I did it sober.

New Hope for Alcohol Dependence

Debbie the Coach site is a resource for those wanting information and help for alcohol dependence.  This site offers innovative solutions for people who have tried quitting on their own, or for those who have tried traditional methods and were unable to stop their addictive behavior.

Older Treatment Methods

Many people experiencing dependence to alcohol are looking for new ways to manage treatment, and are doing so long before their dependence becomes a serious chronic illness. Older treatment methods such as alcohol treatment centers, 12 step programs and hospitalization are often not viable options for many sufferers, who are looking for new and effective methods to either stop or moderate their drinking.

Your first inclination might be to talk to your doctor. General practitioners usually have little or no training in treating addiction and refer their patients to a 12-step program or to a specialist such as a psychiatrist.

Some people assume that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the only way to treat alcohol dependence. They may think that if a person does not join a 12 step group they are doomed to failure. This is not correct; there are many ways to manage alcohol dependence. You may not be comfortable with AA’s approach. Even though AA has helped millions of people, the spiritual experience needed for recovery may be uncomfortable, or you may have tried AA and found it was not for you.

Treatment centers are another option. However, you may not be able to take the time off work to go into such a center. Also, you may not want to go to a treatment center if your drinking is still moderate and has not escalated to severe alcoholism.

Newer Treatment Methods

The good news is that there is help out there that is both effective and confidential.  I have designed a simple program that can be tailored to each person’s needs. This program can be done at your own pace, in your home, completely confidential, with your goals in mind. Using the latest research in anti-craving medications combined with my coaching techniques, clients are overcoming their alcohol addiction painlessly and without spending huge blocks of time.

Download my book “The Breakthrough Plan for Your Alcohol Addiction” FREE and find out the truth  about how current research and coaching techniques can help you.

Name Those Feelings

Drinking is a great way to “not feel” or to mask feelings.  Once we start recovery we need to get rid of that “don’t feel rule”.  But it’s not always that easy.  I remember the first few weeks of being alcohol free.  It seemed like I was bursting at the seams with all the feelings that I had suppressed for so long.  I really had no idea what to do with them all, so I once again shut down.  In fact I couldn’t even name the feelings that I had.  The predominant feeling, however, was anger.

Anger is a symptom of an alcohol addiction, just like craving is a symptom.  Once we stop drinking alcohol, these symptoms stay around for awhile tempting us to give in to drinking.   Some nice person gave me a list of “feeling” words.  Once I could put a name to the feeling and then allowed myself to feel it, the feeling weakened and soon dissipated.  Someone once told me that a feeling never killed anybody.  And it’s true.

I want to pass some feeling words along to you.

HAPPY SAD ANGRY SCARED CONFUSED
Excited Devastated Furious Fearful Bewildered
Exuberant Hopeless Seething Panicky Trapped
Ecstatic Sorrowful Enraged Afraid Immobilized
Terrific Depressed Hostile Shocked Directionless
Jubilant Wounded Vengeful Overwhelmed Stagnant
Enthusiastic Drained Incensed Intimidated Flustered
Loved Defeated Abused Desperate Baffled
Thrilled Exhausted Humiliated Frantic Constricted
Marvelous Helpless Sabotaged Terrified Troubled
Valued Crushed Betrayed Vulnerable Ambivalent

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The material on our website is for informational purposes only, and is intended as a supplement, not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health-care provider. Read more...