You’ve probably heard the term “drinking to excess.” For many who drink to excess, the drinking becomes a necessity, which becomes an excessity. When confronted with the choice to either drink — and bear the negative consequences of their alcohol use — or stop, they will look longingly at their drink and say Gotta Have It!
The dificulty with alcohol is the penchant for denial and underestimating the amount of alcohol consumed. People do not begin drinking assuming they will become alcoholics. Rarely does a person voluntarily come into our facility for alcohol treatment with eyes opened wide about his or her alcohol use.
More typically, something has caused them to get a chemical-dependency evaluation (which covers alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications). Sometimes a DUI or alcohol-related arrest propels them through our doors in hopes of fulfilling a court requirement — right along with a personal determination not to have to give up their drinking.
With their families deserting them, their employment in jeopardy, their health deteriorating, and their hobbies reduced to a one-armed motion of hand to mouth, you would think that more people would recognize the problem alcohol has become in their lives. What starts out as a way to “have fun” or check out of life and its problems can quickly become something devastating.
Either through conscious intent or genetic predisposition, alcohol use can fast-track to abuse and dependence.
When alcohol reaches the dependence stage, it is indeed a necessity — a physical one. Withdrawal from alcohol is unpleasant at best and life threatening at worst, depending upon the length and severity of the alcohol use, as well as a person’s genetic and physical makeup. At this point, it’s not just a matter of willpower; it’s a matter of physical dependency. With prolonged and chronic alcohol use, withdrawal should be done in a medically supervised setting.
SOURCE: Chapter 2, “Examine Your Excess,” in Gotta Have It! by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.