Mending Relationships in Recovery
Addiction doesn’t just affect the individual. Family and friendships, professional and intimate relationships have been torn apart by alcohol and drugs. No matter how short or long the individual abuses a substance it seems like the damage results in the same. So, how does one begin to mend a broken relationship? Once in recovery, there are a few key steps that you can take to repair some of those burned bridges.
Initiate healing by simply acknowledging the other person’s experience. First allow the correct amount of time to pass before trying to force a conversation. You know the people in your life well enough to feel when it is safe to open a dialogue about what occurred. Sometimes people need to see that you have begun to initiate change before they will feel comfortable hearing you out.
Keep in mind that this needs to be a safe space for you too. Prior to taking responsibility, you have to prepare yourself for disappointment. You can’t control how the other person communicates. So, it’s important that you have a support team during this process. Consult with your clinical team and other people who have been through similar situations.
When taking accountability, it’s very important to listen. Listen to respond rather than listen to react. You can’t go back in time and change what occurred, but you can take responsibility for what your part in the situation was. Let them know that you have heard what they are saying and validate their feelings.
2. Be Honest
Be willing to own up to things that you are not proud of. You can only rebuild a relationship if you are going to be truthful. This includes divulging things that you wish didn’t happen. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and describe some of what you were going through during your addiction. Give them a glimpse into your world and how it got to a certain point. They may not ever understand, but at least they can trust that you are beginning to seek resolution.
Grant them access to parts of your life that you previously would not. Show them, through your actions and follow through, that you are trying to live a trustworthy life.
3. Nurture the Relationship
After you follow through… follow up! No matter what, stay consistent. Continue to show up for your loved ones. Be there for them. This could look like; calling when you said you would call, doing the favor you promised to do, communicating when you aren’t able to do something. Give them kindness and compassion. Exercise patience in their healing process. Don’t be quick to judge or become offended. There may be times when they pull back out of fear, but continue to show up anyway. The best and most important thing that you can do to nurture the relationship is to focus on your recovery first. Whatever this looks like for you, take part in it every day.
Findings of a long-term study in Sweden suggest that teenage drinking could result in liver problems in adulthood and that the recommendations for safe alcohol consumption among men might have to be reduced To avoid alcoholic liver disease, cut-off levels in some countries recommend 30 grams per day or approximately three drinks.
Researchers examined data from a national population-based study from 1969-1970 of more than 43,000 men who were enlisted in the military. During that time, enlistment was mandatory, and only about 2-3% of men were exempt due to disablement or disease.
They matched personal identity numbers from the enlistment data with records in the National Patient Register and the Causes of Death Register to determine if subjects had developed the liver disease before the end of 2009. Findings were adjusted for smoking, drug use, and potential factors that would contribute to liver disease.
Indeed, data showed that alcohol use early in life was linked to a greater risk of developing liver disease. After 39 years, 383 men had developed severe liver disease, which was defined as liver cirrhosis, decompensated liver disease, liver failure, or death from liver disease. The increased risk had no threshold effect and was exacerbated in men who consumed about two drinks per day.
Before adjusting for other factors, the risk was significant for daily alcohol use to as low as six grams daily. In a release, lead author Dr. Hagström stated the following:
“If these results lead to lowering the cut-off levels for ‘safe’ consumption of alcohol in men, and if men adhere to recommendations, we may see a reduced incidence of alcoholic liver disease in the future.”
The authors note that according to the 2014 World Health Organization Global status report on health and alcohol, cirrhosis linked to alcohol consumption causes more than 490,000 deaths per year and that while there is no approved treatment center for the disease, it is, in essence, completely preventable.
Researchers at the National National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) conducted a recent study that examined the effects of heavy drinking on the brain and how behavior may be affected as a result.
The study included 48 participants – twenty-four healthy persons and sixteen heavy drinkers.
Dr. Gene-Jack Wang, a nuclear medicine specialist, senior clinician, and clinical director at the NIAAA, as reported by Addiction Now:
“Our sample has given us a chance to understand heavy drinkers better but not alcoholics. These were functional heavy drinkers, but we can see that even if the person does not become an alcoholic, their brain can already be showing signs of connectivity issues. Heavy drinking affects the brain tremendously.”
Heavy drinkers included in the study consumed at least five alcoholic drinks per day, three or more times per week. The control had a history of light drinking but did not have more than one drink per day. Subjects were randomly selected to drink either alcohol or a deceptive placebo that looked and smelled like alcohol.
Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to evaluate the effects of alcohol on resting brain activity. At the onset of the scanning session, the average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .62 milligrams.
heavy drinking | About 90 minutes after alcohol/placebo consumption and 30 minutes before every MRI scan, researchers conducted motor and cognitive assessments to evaluate the effects of the consumed drink on the subjects’ behavior.
Also, they administered self-reports about these effects on the participants’ mood and collected data on topics such as levels of desire for alcohol, anxiety dizziness, intoxication, irritability, stimulation, sedation, self-confidence, and restlessness. Motor function was evaluated using tasks such as standing on one leg.
Researchers found that heavy drinking exhibited significantly lower levels of neurocognitive coupling, which is defined as the link between brain activity and behavior. In both groups, consumption of alcohol was revealed to alter the functional connectivity of areas in the brain including the precuneus and thalamus, which responsible for transmitting around 98% of all sensory impulses, and also regulates sleeping, alertness, and consciousness.
Overall, the study revealed that heavy drinkers had higher cerebellar connectivity but decreased cortical brain connectivity. This resulted in lower levels of cognitive ability. Drinkers themselves reported higher levels of desire for alcohol, irritability, restlessness, and decrease motor function.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology
New research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has found that men under the influence of alcohol may be more likely to objectify women. For many, this may come as little surprise, but this is among the first studies to document the effects of alcohol consumption on men’s perceptions of women.
The study included nearly 50 men in their twenties, and 29 consumed alcohol until they were mildly intoxicated. The others were given placebos. Both groups viewed photos of 80 women dressed to go out and were asked to rate the woman’s appearance and personality.
The photos were previously rated by a panel on categories such as warmth, friendliness, intelligence, competence, and attractiveness. An eye-tracking device identified which part of the women’s bodies the men were focused on when they viewed the images.
When the men rated a woman based on her appearance, the instruction most often triggered objectifying gazes, and they spent less time looking at faces and focused much longer on chests and waists. This was especially true when looking at women who were highly rated for attractiveness.
It happened less often, however, when men were viewing women who exuded competence, particularly when the men were slightly intoxicated. The findings suggest that objectification of women by men is affected by alcohol use, and how warm, competent, and attractive they are perceived to be.
That is, being average in attractiveness or exuding humanizing qualities may be protective factors against objectification.
Abigail R. Riemer, per Springer:
“Environments in which alcohol is present are ripe with opportunities for objectifying gazes. Adopting objectifying gazes toward women leads perceivers to dehumanize women, potentially laying the foundation for many negative consequences such as sexual violence and workplace gender discrimination.”
“Understanding why the objectifying gaze occurs in the first place is an initial step toward stopping its incidence and its damaging effects.”
The study purports that this research will “[shed] light on potential interventions for clinicians and policymakers to reduce alcohol-involved objectification and related sexual aggression.”
8 Great Reasons Not to Drink Alcohol
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, April is Alcohol Awareness Month. To celebrate, the following information should serve as a “reminder” list of compelling reasons not to drink alcohol..
Alcohol use, both short- and long-term affect the brain. The short-term effects of alcohol abuse, including cognitive difficulties and slow reaction time are bad enough. These effects contribute to bad decision-making and sometimes dangerous and impulsive behavior.
However, long-term effects of alcohol use can permanently alter brain chemistry, and result in poor memory as well as debilitating brain conditions, such as Wernicke–Korsakoff Syndrome. WKS can result in long-lasting psychosis in which the person is forgetful, easily frustrated, and has problems with mobility and coordination.
Alcoholism can contribute to severe, chronic diseases. Drinking alcohol excessively for extended periods of time can cause high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), and may contribute to a variety of cancers, such as those of the throat, esophagus, breast, stomach, and colon.
Drinking alcohol can cause sickness the next day – hangovers. Simply put, a hangover is your body adjusting to not drinking anymore – and it’s not unlike having withdrawal symptoms for any other substance. Characteristically, you will be tired, thirsty (due to dehydration), and have a ripe headache. However, depending on how much you drink, you could also be vomiting, having severe anxiety or depression (moodiness), or experiencing tremors.
Drinking alcohol while pregnant can result in birth defects. Most women know that drinking during pregnancy is risky, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 12 reports doing so. This can cause damage to the brain, heart, and other organs, or result in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This is probably among the best reasons not to drink alcohol, due to the debilitating effects it can have on an unborn child.
You could be injured while drinking alcohol. Drinking does the three things that are most likely to result in injury – it (1) slows reaction time, (2) impairs judgment, and (3) affects balance and coordination. Therefore, drinking is often a contributing factor to a myriad of physical accidents, such as car crashes, violent altercations, sexual assault, falls, drownings, burns, and misuse of firearms. The list goes on and on…
Using alcohol can cause dependence. Alcohol is an addictive substance, and persons who use it can get addicted, just like any other drug. When a person becomes dependent, most often they cannot enjoy the things they used to before without the dependency on alcohol. Drinking, in essence, hijacks the part of your brain responsible for pleasure, so other activities are never again the same as long as you are drinking.
Drinking alcohol can make you gain weight. Alcohol can contain a lot of calories. Specialty beers may have 150-200 calories per 12-ounce can, and just 1-2 shots of liquor and you are there already. There are no nutritional benefits to drinking, and if you are trying to lose weight (or not gain any) this is one of the best reasons not to drink alcohol.
Drinking alcohol can kill you, quickly, not just slowly. People die every year from acute alcohol intoxication. If a person’s blood alcohol concentration reaches greater than .4%, death may be imminent. And that’s in addition to the many people who die in car crashes or other alcohol-related accidents.
Remember, alcohol is technically a toxin and can affect a person’s brain, body, emotional state, and behavior in any myriad of ways. The more alcohol consumed, the more these effects may become apparent.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology
Although alcohol consumption is socially acceptable, it can ruin lives if not managed well. Unfortunately, it is not easy to identify the gray area between alcohol addiction and casual drinking. When it comes to alcohol and drug addiction, most people find it difficult to admit that they have a problem.
So, do you suspect that your alcohol use has gotten worse, yet you are still questioning whether your addiction is bad enough to start looking for a treatment center? Here are the telltale signs that will help you understand the severity of your alcohol addiction.
Signs that alcohol use has gotten out of control
If your substance use has become the focus, for instance, thinking about alcohol throughout the day, then you need help. The situation is worse if you spend most of your resources and time to get and use alcohol. You can also realize that the addiction is getting worse if your former activities, interest, and involvements have taken a backseat. So, if you no longer find enjoyment in activities you loved before or if your loved ones have expressed concern about your situation, it is time to seek help. Participating in an alcohol treatment center program will reverse the negative changes that alcohol has caused in your life.
Another clear telltale sign that your alcohol addiction is getting worse is when you have to consume excessive amounts to remain high. When you start using alcohol, you may intensely feel the effects because your body is not accustomed to. However, over time, your body will begin to adapt and tolerate the effects. As the tolerance level increases, the body will need more alcohol to achieve the same outcome. When you take more alcohol to remain high, there is a risk of overindulgence.
Alcohol addiction can also affect your health. This type of addiction is linked to several physical and psychological health problems. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause irreversible damage to the brain, heart, and liver. The damage depends on factors such as the amount and how long you have been using it. Alcohol addiction can also affect your mental state, which may manifest as depression and anxiety.
Many people with alcohol addiction are unable to overcome it by themselves because once the body is used to alcohol, it becomes difficult to cope without it. Besides, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and can take a toll on an individual. The most common ones include insomnia, headache, cramps, nausea, irritability, trembling amongst others.
As such, it is important to seek professional support in an alcohol treatment center. Inpatient treatment center centers offer treatment centers, coping skills, therapy, addiction education, and relapse prevention.
What may keep you from seeking a treatment center?
Many people notice that they have an alcohol addiction that has gone beyond control, but they find a way to hide or justify it as normal. You may hide behind friends, or career or family, or just anything else. If your defense is that your friends have not noticed anything wrong, ask yourself the following questions.
• Have you been hiding your alcohol use from your friends? Some friends may not know about your substance abuse, especially when you conceal most parts of your life.
• Are these friends alcohol addicts? If they are, it may be hard for them to give objective advice. They also have a problem they may not realize, or they would rather not admit it.
• Are these friends really honest with you? Some friends may opt not to tell you the truth because they fear ruining the relationship.
• Are you open to criticism or correction? If you are the kind of person who takes criticism the wrong way, your friends are not likely to risk stirring your anger. Even if they think you might have a problem, they might pretend that everything is okay.
Apart from friends, you may also be hiding behind a successful career. If you are an addict that can manage to fulfill family duties, keep a job, and maintain friends, then you are a high-functioning addict. One of the underlying problems you may have is denial. Since everything appears normal, you may feel like you are in control. Over time, your addiction will worsen and that is when the facade will crumble.
One of the key signs that you have a big problem with alcohol use is lying to cover your substance use. In most cases, people don’t hide their use of alcohol from their friends or family. So, if you feel like you have to lie to cover your alcohol use, then you may be doing so because you suspect you have a problem.
Finding help for addiction
Alcohol addiction can be a long-term condition that can put your life in danger. It may also affect your normal activities. Poor performance due to alcohol use, absences, being intoxicated at work, and tardiness can cost you a job. Alcohol addiction can also trigger suicidal thoughts in some people, especially when they have underlying psychological issues such as depression or other mental disorders. Alcohol can also make you unreasonable and violent. If you have had problems getting along with people or even hurt other people, then rehab is right for you.
Most people try to deal with alcoholism with little success because it is not as easy as having the willpower to quit. In most cases, alcohol addiction is usually marked by periods of recovery and relapse.
If you have struggled to get sober and resume a normal life, the best option is to get help at a rehab facility. Overcoming addiction goes beyond eliminating physical dependence. It also needs resolving behavioral issues like changing the ways you feel, behave, and think. Unless a professional is involved, it is not easy to resolve the psychological side of alcohol addiction.