In 2021, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 29.5 million individuals aged 12 and above struggled with alcohol use disorder. This highlights the urgent need for effective solutions.
Overcoming alcohol addiction is a complex and sometimes life-threatening challenge for many. In response, online therapy for alcoholism has surfaced as a practical option, providing essential support and guidance to help individuals overcome their dependency.
This article will explore how online therapy for alcoholism functions, guiding you on how to utilize it for recovery and sustain a normal life.
Table of Contents
How Does Alcoholism Develop?
Alcoholism is a progressive disease, marked by cravings, a loss of control, and a need for increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve the same effects. Each person with alcoholism has a unique journey, however, there are five common stages of alcoholism that characterize this condition:
Stage 1: Experimenting Followed by Binge Drinking
The initial stage of alcoholism involves experimenting with alcohol, often during teenage years or early adulthood. Individuals in this stage may not drink daily, but they consume large quantities at once, known as binge drinking.
While it may appear harmless, binge drinking can lead to serious health risks like alcohol poisoning, comas, and even death. This stage is critical as it can foster alcohol dependency marking the beginning of the alcoholism journey.
Stage 2: Increased Tolerance to Alcohol
In the second stage of alcoholism, drinking becomes more frequent, signaling an increase in alcohol tolerance. Typically, drinking at this stage still occurs in social settings, but more alcohol is required to achieve the same effects as before.
Emotional relief starts to be associated with alcohol consumption. This stage is a pivotal point where the individual begins to rely more significantly on alcohol.
Stage 3: Problem Drinking
The third stage is marked by the emergence of problems directly related to drinking. Individuals may experience increased depression, anxiety, or sleep disturbances. Despite feeling ill effects from drinking, the enjoyment of alcohol’s effects makes it difficult to stop.
Legal issues related to alcohol use are more likely to occur in this stage, as the impact of drinking becomes more pronounced in various aspects of life.
Stage 4: Physical Dependence
A key feature of the fourth stage of alcoholism is the development of a physical dependence on alcohol. At this point, individuals lose control over their alcohol intake and develop a tolerance, requiring greater amounts of alcohol to feel the desired effects. This stage signifies a deepening of the addiction, where alcohol consumption becomes a physical necessity.
Stage 5: Addiction or Alcoholism
The final and most severe stage is when a person becomes mentally and physically addicted to alcohol. Individuals drink consistently to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. It’s common for people in this stage to also abuse other substances alongside alcohol. Chronic health conditions often develop as a result of prolonged alcohol abuse.
What is Online Therapy For Alcoholism?
Treatment approaches for alcoholism are diverse, encompassing individual, family, or group sessions. The main aims of these treatments are to reduce and control symptoms, while also improving overall health and functionality.
Research indicates that treatments targeting alcohol-related issues are effective. To accomplish these objectives, therapists use a variety of common strategies, which include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an effective method for addressing alcoholism. It involves conversations between a patient and a psychologist, focusing on a solutions-oriented approach. CBT emphasizes challenging destructive beliefs, confronting fears, role-playing to improve social interactions, and developing strategies to quit drinking or drug use. This form of therapy can be effective in as few as five sessions.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a form of evidence-based talk therapy, conducted in individual or group sessions. It focuses on living in the present, managing emotions and distress, and fostering honest communication.
It aims to help patients achieve emotional balance and embrace positive change. This makes it beneficial for those dealing with alcoholism and other substance abuse disorders.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
MI is a counseling technique that helps patients set and stay committed to self-improvement goals. It is particularly useful for treating substance abuse disorders, as it boosts the willpower needed to combat addiction.
During MI, therapists support patients in committing to changes, such as quitting alcohol. It typically involves 1 to 4 sessions, making it a concise intervention.
How To Manage Alcohol Consumption?
If controlling your drinking is challenging, it’s advisable to stop entirely. However, if you’re not ready for that, but wish to reduce consumption for personal or health reasons, these tips can aid in managing your alcohol intake outside of therapy:
- Set your goal: Set a drinking goal by choosing a limit and aiming for alcohol-free days each week. Write down this goal and place it somewhere visible, like on your phone or desk.
- Choose full abstinence days: Plan one or two alcohol-free days weekly, progressing to a full week. Record how you feel physically and mentally during these days to understand the benefits and motivate long-term reduction.
- Buy less alcohol: Reduce alcohol availability at home by limiting or eliminating your home alcohol stash. This makes it easier to abstain when temptations aren’t readily accessible.
- Maintain a log: Keep a drinking diary for 3 to 4 weeks, noting each drink and its quantity. Reviewing this record can reveal surprising patterns and help in reaching your goal.
- Drink slowly: Spacing out alcoholic beverages with breaks or non-alcoholic drinks like fresh juice or water can prove helpful. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach and ensure you eat alongside alcohol consumption.
How To Help Someone With Alcoholism
Alcohol addiction affects not just the individual but also their families. Offering your support to loved ones can be crucial in their path to long-term recovery:
The first step is to evaluate whether your friend or loved one has an alcohol addiction. People with alcohol use disorder usually are unable to drink moderately, even if they intend to have only one drink. This video will help you identify the symptoms of alcohol addiction:
Moreover, various government and specialized programs provide additional resources and information for helping someone with an alcohol addiction:
When addressing a friend or loved one’s alcohol problem, it’s important to approach them openly and honestly about your concerns. Share your worries regarding their excessive drinking and convey your willingness to support them. While you should expect a possible negative reaction, give them the necessary time and space to think and make a decision.
Suggest Professional Intervention
Encourage the individual to seek online therapy for alcoholism from the comfort of their home and request specific commitments towards this effort. Consider involving other family members and friends, depending on factors like the severity of the situation and the person’s preference for privacy.