Alcoholism is a serious condition that often requires many years of commitment to a protracted recovery process. Self-help methods are often useful when recovering addicts are just starting out on this journey. These methods can mitigate the period of time when the person feels most vulnerable. It is crucial to realize that any self-help methods you use are only based on your current understanding of alcohol abuse and recovery. As you develop your knowledge, your ability to select the most effective self-help approach will develop as well.
Defining Self-Help and Addiction
There are several distinctive types of self-help methods for alcoholics. The most common form of self-help can be found in the group setting. Self-help groups for addiction are very popular with many people who suffer from addiction. These groups are designed to provide support for people who share the same kind of problem. For alcoholics, the most well-known self-help group is Alcoholics Anonymous, but there are also other localized groups that fulfill a similar function. Some of these groups accept insurance payments, and others do not. Designing a self-help program still requires some research skills and careful planning. Never be afraid to ask friends for help when using these self-help groups. Many people will be responsive, but they need you to initiate the request for help.
Other methods involve reading self-help books and creating lifestyle changes. Reading provides a reliable way to distract the mind from intense feelings that often arise in the absence of other support systems. For example, Dr. Gabor Mate works in the field of addiction treatment, and his approach uses a holistic view of the addict. He has authored many inspiring books on the subject, and he frequently warns medical students, addicts and the general public that the traditional medical view on addiction is based on a foundational error because it separates the mind from the body. Using the holistic view of addiction often leads to a different set of treatment plans, which may include dietary changes, stress management, therapy and even meditation.
Benefits of Self-Help
Self-help methods can reinforce other therapeutic methods provided in the clinical setting. Some alcoholics may require intensive and individualized therapy or counseling at some point during the recovery process. Finding a qualified therapist who can help the alcoholic uncover the root causes of the addiction can be a transformative experience for many people. However, there are many different schools of thought around addiction treatment, so the alcoholic will have to be careful to work with someone who has a compatible view of the nature of the problem as well as the most promising methods for recovery.
Potential Drawbacks of Self-Help
The main drawback of most self-help methodologies is the lack of external structure. It is very difficult for someone who is suffering from alcoholism to transform their entire life without the support of an entire community and a healthy environment. In addition, many alcoholics have financial problems, and effective self-help methods can create a burden on the addict’s limited budget. Focusing on the interior life of a human being can be a shocking experience for people who have adapted to a social environment that only recognizes exterior realities. For example, many highly functioning addicts can speak prolifically about their work or the physical condition of their home, yet there is often a lack of vocabulary when they try to talk about the deep pain, anxiety, depression and anger that fuels their addiction.
Professional therapists can sometimes bridge the gap between the interior world of the addict and the external world in which the person is living. However, even selecting a good therapist requires some diligent research. Many medical professionals are trained in a professional environment that does not consider the addict’s past to be a relevant part of the addiction, according to Dr. Mate. This approach eliminates the most critical aspects of the addict’s reality from their treatment plan. For example, an addict who is suffering from unresolved childhood traumas may need professional help just to remember what happened decades ago. If they work with a counselor who does not recognize the connection between childhood trauma and alcoholism, this particular therapist will have a limited ability to impact the root cause of the alcoholism. Find a therapist who uses a holistic approach for the best results.