How Do I Know if My Loved One Needs Rehab?

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I Think My Loved One Needs Rehab

How to know if your loved one or family member needs rehab for an alcohol addiction.

An alcohol use disorder, commonly called alcoholism, qualifies as a clinical diagnosis. When someone drinks enough to meet the requirements for this diagnosis, several problems have most likely revealed themselves. If you suspect your loved one has a problem with alcohol, here are some signs that indicate they need to start rehab.

Signs That a Loved One May Need Rehab

Think of the loved one you’re concerned about when reading this list. If you answer yes to multiple questions, your loved one may be suffering from alcohol use disorder. The more statements that describe them, the more likely they’re struggling.

  1. Do they drink more than they intend? “I meant to only have 2 drinks, but I ended up having 8.”
  2. Have they tried to quit or take a break, but relapsed multiple times?
  3. Do they spend a worrying amount of time thinking about or planning drinking, drinking, and recovering from drinking?
  4. Are they missing important life activities like work, school, or parenting because of drinking?
  5. Do they continue drinking when their relationships are endangered or ended?
  6. Do they continue drinking when clear physical or mental consequences take place?
  7. Do they continue drinking when alcohol puts them in danger?
  8. Do they have to drink more than others to get drunk?
  9. If they wait longer than usual before drinking again, do they exhibit withdrawal effects?

Multiple Attempts at Sobriety?

Your loved one’s past efforts to stay sober may signal a need for rehab. People suffering from alcohol use disorder often try to treat the issue by themselves, usually by quitting “cold turkey.” Such attempts can be fueled by social pressures like guilt or financial issues that make them believe they have no other options.

These attempts at sobriety result in relapse much more frequently than when people receive professional care. Addiction to alcohol chemically changes the brain and disables impulse control in relation to drinking, which makes it difficult to quit alone. Not only is the success rate extremely low, the risk is extremely high. Severe alcohol withdrawal may lead to a lethal condition called Delirium Tremens. Someone detoxing without medical supervision could die.

The Effects of Alcohol Abuse on a Loved One

Chronic alcohol abuse causes a number of side effects. Depending on the amount of alcohol and the frequency of drinking, each effect may vary in severity and onset. Seeking treatment at rehabs can help reverse many of these symptoms.

Physical Effects

Eyes: Bloodshot, glassy, or watery eyes are all indications that someone is intoxicated. If their eyes are red frequently, they may be drinking to excess and missing sleep. Liver damage as a result of alcohol use disorder turns the whites of the eyes slightly yellow, like jaundice.

Skin issues: That same liver damage will eventually color the skin as well. This is a sign of significant harm.

Hygiene: An alcohol use disorder may result in someone skipping normal hygienic habits like brushing teeth and taking showers.

Mental Health Effects

The mental health ramifications of an alcohol use disorder may not appear as obviously as the physical effects. Other than alcohol use disorder, which is in itself a mental health disorder, alcoholism doesn’t guarantee someone suffers from mental health issues like depression or anxiety. That being said, alcoholism greatly increases the chance that someone will develop mood disorders.

Severe mental health disorders often lead people to drink as a means of coping. Treatment professionals refer to suffering from alcohol use disorder and mental health issues concurrently as “co-occurrence” or “dual diagnosis,” and rehabs often treat these issues together.

Alcohol abuse also influences a person’s temperament outside of the realm of diagnosable disorders. Drinking to escape issues in life may help someone feel happy, but they often crash while sobering up and experience temporary depressions. From complete relaxing to aggression and irritability, intoxication influences a person’s mood greatly. Your loved one may also exhibit irritable behaviors more frequently as they come in and out of drunkenness. Long breaks between drinking can cause withdrawal to begin, which results in mood swings, irritability, and general instability.

Social Effects

Casual and social drinking are normal in many societies, but an alcohol use disorder warps almost every part of a person’s social life.

Friends: A significant change in friend groups may signal your love one has found people willing to support their drinking habits or lost those who are not.

Finances: Sudden changes in financial stability can indicate a worsening alcohol use disorder. If your loved one was financially independent but has suddenly or repeatedly come to you for financial support, they may be using the money to buy more alcohol.

Relationships: If your loved one’s relationship with you or other loved ones degrades because of their drinking, it may be time to reach out for help.

Responsibilities: Unexplained absences from work, school, or other responsibilities indicate an issue if they’re still making time to drink.

Reaching Out for a Loved One Who Needs Rehab

Accepting that you need to take a loved one to rehab is a difficult decision. The signs and symptoms laid out in this guide paint a picture of someone whose physical, mental, and social health is in danger and needs help. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to go through this process alone.

Treatment professionals are available to talk to you about your loved one and help you make the right decision. Hoping a loved one can deal with a progressing alcohol use disorder on their own may be easier, but reaching out and getting them help is the right decision and might save their life.

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