Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. It is a spectrum disorder and can be mild, moderate, or severe and encompasses the conditions that some people refer to as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, or the colloquial term, alcoholism. Alcohol addiction refers to the moderate to severe end of the AUD spectrum, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

If you’ve been drinking heavily for some time, you may have become physically dependent on alcohol. While quitting alcohol cold turkey may seem like the key to recovery and living a healthier lifestyle, suddenly stopping or reducing your alcohol consumption can trigger severe and even potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. These include headaches, anxiety, insomnia, tremors, gastrointestinal disturbances, and mood changes. In more severe cases, alcohol withdrawal may cause heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, abnormal breathing, hallucinations, hyperthermia, and seizures.

The very thought of these withdrawal symptoms can make some people think twice about quitting. However, reducing one’s alcohol intake comes with a host of benefits that far outweigh any temporary discomfort. Side effects can dwindle over time with some feeling physically and mentally better within a few days, while others may have withdrawal symptoms for a couple of weeks.

Once you stop drinking alcohol, you’re already reducing your risk for many medical conditions including alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, digestive issues, and high blood pressure. Because alcohol consumption has long been associated with influencing hormone levels and modifying how cells grow and divide, quitting drinking also reduces your risk of potentially life-threatening diseases like cancer.

If you’ve taken the brave step to quit drinking, you’re probably worried about how to work through the physical, mental, and emotional issues related to withdrawal. Fortunately, there are various therapy options for alcoholism, including psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and other facilitation. What all the therapy modalities have in common is that they typically involve alcohol counseling, which is considered an important and valuable step in treating alcohol use disorders.

How Alcohol Counseling Helps

Alcohol counseling is crucial in your journey towards an alcohol-free life. The goal of counseling is to equip you with the right attitude and confidence to resist the urge to drink and cope with the negative emotions you may feel.

A counselor provides you with guidance and emotional support by understanding your history and unique recovery process. The right counselor can answer your questions regarding the treatment and recovery process, helping to clear up any misconceptions you may have about treatment. By uncovering any triggers and underlying issues, a counselor will develop a realistic treatment and recovery plan that is based on your specific needs.

Regular counseling also helps determine progress, which is important as you navigate treatment to recognize what works and what doesn’t. Treatment and recovery plans can be modified based on your progress, reducing the risk of relapse. Even after the physical dependence on alcohol has passed, psychological and social factors can introduce roadblocks to recovery. To ensure long-term sobriety, a counselor will offer tips and techniques, such as how to handle stress, social occasions, and environmental stimuli.

If you have questions about successfully changing your relationship with alcohol or need more help and support, we’re here for you. Click here to learn more about our services.

If you have an emergency, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency room or call 1-866-837-7521 to be connected to Communicare’s mobile crisis team, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.