Why Can’t I Stop Drinking?
It might help to start at the physiological level. Let’s look at the disease of alcoholism first and the phenomenon of craving. Alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, is a serious and potentially dangerous condition. It is characterized by an intense craving for alcohol and the inability to stop drinking even in the face of mounting consequences to your health, relationships, career and more. Research has shown that this addiction can be both physical and psychological, stemming from changes in brain chemistry that occur when alcohol is consumed regularly with the intent of intoxication.
The primary chemical involved in alcohol addiction is dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. When alcohol is consumed, dopamine levels increase significantly in the reward pathways of the brain, creating a feeling of euphoria that reinforces cravings for more alcohol. This cycle of increased dopamine release followed by decreased levels once the body metabolizes the alcohol is part of what can lead to compulsive drinking and addiction.
Brain Chemistry and Changing Behaviors
Other brain chemicals, such as glutamate and GABA, may also be involved in alcohol addiction. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter linked to the body’s stress response that can trigger cravings for alcohol when levels are too high, while GABA helps regulate anxiety and calmness and can be reduced with excessive drinking. This reduction in GABA from excessive drinking is part of why an alcoholic may become restless and irritable if they go too long without a drink. Over time, these chemical changes lead to tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and an inability to stop drinking despite negative consequences.
The most reliable way to stop drinking permanently is through professional treatment and committing to a recovery lifestyle. Treatment options include behavioral therapies that teach coping strategies for managing cravings and lifestyle changes that reduce the risk of relapse. With proper help, those struggling with alcoholism can overcome their addiction and return to a healthier, happier life. But it’s important to understand there is no quick fix or “cure” to help you stop drinking and stay stopped. The solution isn’t a secret or a mystery or trick. It is recovery. That is, adopting and embracing total lifestyle change, one day at a time.
How the 12 Steps of Recovery Can Help You Stop Drinking and Stay Stopped
In addition to professional treatment and support, long-term sobriety can be achieved through 12-Step fellowships. These programs are based on the 12 steps of recovery developed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and have been used successfully for many years to help individuals struggling with addiction. The 12 steps involve admitting powerlessness over alcohol, making a commitment to abstinence, an honest self-examination and use of a higher power to guide recovery.
The 12 steps provide structure and guidance as one works towards long-term sobriety but also emphasize personal responsibility. Participants must practice the principles of recovery such as honesty, openness, acceptance and forgiveness in order to make progress in their journey. Furthermore, participants must stay connected with AA meetings and other support networks in order to maintain long-term sobriety.
By following the 12 steps, those struggling with alcoholism can overcome their addiction and live a life free from alcohol. As long as individuals remain committed to their recovery and stay involved in AA meetings, they will be often be able to achieve long-term sobriety. Yes, it is possible to quit drinking for good and lead a happier, healthier and more productive life than we ever would have had with booze or drugs. Believe it.
I’m Ready. I’ve Had Enough of Booze. Where Do I Begin?
If you’ve made the decision tot quit drinking alcohol, congratulations! Just remember that it’s important that you take the necessary steps to prepare for long-term sobriety too. Quitting cold turkey (without help) can have serious health risks like potential seizures so please do not attempt this without professional medical support. This means calling and asking for help to check into an alcohol detox where you can be properly treated and made safe and comfortable. Through the Archway can help you make all the arrangements you need for alcohol detox when you call us at (844) 620-1546
So you will start your recovery process by checking into a medically supervised detox program. Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and uncomfortable, but with a medically supervised detox there are professionals onsite to ensure safety while providing medications and other treatments when needed. After completing the detox program, you will then be ready to begin treatment in an alcohol addiction rehab center. This is where you will find the long-term tools, structure and support that are needed to sustain long-term sobriety. Through the Archway and The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center, together, can provide you with a first-class introduction to recovery as well as exceptional mental health treatment and guidance.
The road to recovery is long but each step you take brings you closer to long-term sobriety. Don’t be discouraged if there are bumps along the way – it’s common for many in recovery to experience setbacks so having a strong support system is essential. Be proud of yourself for taking steps towards long-term sobriety and jump into recovery with both feet. Keep your focus on staying in the middle of the road and keep going. You’ve got this.