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What is an alcoholic or addict?

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

The terms 'alcoholic' and 'addict' are riddled with stigma and shame. No one wants to carry labels like these, and who can blame them when they conjure up images of despairing people leading wretched lives who have lost hope of ever being free from substance abuse?

In drug and alcohol treatment circles, some practitioners have started using different terminology for people who have issues with their use of alcohol or drugs. They believe that addiction is a spectrum of behaviour that can range from those who are mildly concerned about their use of alcohol or drugs without their life being negatively affected, to someone whose life has been severely impacted and is out of control. Put simply, they label behaviours – like problematic or hazardous or harmful drinking – rather than people.

The great thing about this kind of terminology is that people who have a mild substance problem can find it easier to seek advice and help if they need it. These folk, who may feel intimidated by the labels 'alcoholic' or 'addict', could well end up getting support to arrest a budding problem before it becomes unmanageable.

Empowerment with the label of alcoholic

However, there are some redeeming features about labels that can be useful and even empowering. Though the word 'alcoholic' is daunting for some, it can open to the door to a solution: sobriety. For those who have travelled down the road (or throughout the spectrum) of problematic drinking and have reached a point of no return, admitting that they are alcoholic can be liberating. Once their problem has proven to be entirely unmanageable, there remains only way to go, and that is up.

It's incredibly hard to manage this process alone – even with support and the best intentions of loved ones – and professional help might be needed.

Many alcoholics and addicts who have reached this point of sustained, uncontrolled chaos need help to navigate their way to a life of sobriety. It's incredibly hard to manage this process alone – even with support and the best intentions of loved ones – and professional help might be needed. The acutely addicted brain is neurologically hard-wired to override logic and willpower. Unfortunately, the odds of getting clean and sober without help are low, so intervention is often required.

The respite of rehab

Rehab is a sanctuary for those needing help to turn their lives around from substance abuse. A total break from life, people and responsibilities is often crucial to provide space and time away from their addiction, and to get the professional support needed to create a lasting life of sobriety.

At Ocean Hills, we're very proud to have a team of caring, compassionate and qualified workers who provide support, education and skills to those seeking their way out of addiction. We've helped many alcoholics and addicts enter a life of recovery and hope to help many more.

To find out more about Ocean Hills, call Elaine for a confidential chat on 027 573 7744.

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