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Be weary when drinking around loved ones who are in recovery this festive season, says addiction expert

Be weary when drinking around loved ones who are in recovery this festive season, says addiction expert

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Fighting alcoholism can be challenging. Abuse can result in addiction when a drug or behaviour is used as a catalyst, but some abuse patterns can result in addiction that is so severe that it is almost hard to overcome without help from medical professionals and a lot of work from the person.

As the holidays approach and we gear up for the festivities, alcohol is often an integral part of the plan to have fun and relax. But if you have a loved one in early recovery, you should consider quitting alcohol yourself, says addiction expert Sheryl Rahme, who has been sober and in recovery for 23 years and has worked in the treatment industry for almost as long.

The addiction expert says that asking families to refrain from drinking around their loved ones who are just in the early days of their recovery is something families just don't want to hear.

Anyone can develop an alcohol addiction, and each person will experience it in a different way. It makes managing it extremely difficult. Alcoholism has several causes that are all interrelated. However, for a variety of reasons, some people are more susceptible to becoming an alcoholic than others. According to studies, those who battle alcoholism have remarkable changes to the brain.

These changes affect a person’s actions, making them extremely difficult to control. Alcoholism looks different in different people. Some folks may drink copiously throughout the day. Some people might only binge drink once or twice each week, after which they might stay sober for a long time.

Rahme, the founder and director of Changes Addiction Rehab in Northcliff, Johannesburg, advises that families of addicts in early recovery should maintain a sober household and host festivities where alcohol is not permitted.

Rahme believes that this topic “is tricky in the family dynamic” and brings up sensitive questions. Often, family members will say that they are not the ones with a problem, so why should they change? With assertions that contend that after a hectic and challenging year, they deserve a drink around the holidays to unwind and reward themselves.

“I challenge family members who are unwilling to forgo alcohol, even temporarily: What’s your relationship with alcohol that you won’t do without it for a while?”

Be weary when drinking around loved ones who are in recovery this festive season, says addiction expert
Picture by Darya Sannikova?pexels

Another typical stance taken by families is that because their loved one is a drug addict and doesn't actually have an alcohol problem, being around alcohol won't be a problem for them, which is a major hindrance to recovery.

She adds that she tells her patients that their brains cannot distinguish between a drug of choice and alcohol. As soon as you have a drink or two, it unleashes the obsession again.

You will either quickly return to your drug of choice or consume enormous amounts of alcohol once the obsession is released, both of which will have dire consequences.

Rahme claims that regardless of the substance an addict or alcoholic uses, they will feel "the need to get utterly drunk and out of it".

When my brother left a rehab facility many years ago, my mother was serving wine at the dinner table. He downed the glass and excused himself to visit the restroom; before we even realised he was gone, he had already left for Hillbrow to get drugs, she recalled.

Rahme also had a client who heeded her counsel many years ago and organised a Christmas party for 250 guests where no alcohol was served in support of the recovering addict. They all had a great time, and ten years later, he is still sober.

“We need to re-frame the perception that you can only have fun with alcohol because it is not true”, she said.

“For families who want to help their loved one stick to their recovery this festive season, the most important advice I can give is to not drink. If you don’t drink, then there’s equality around the table. You don’t have to drink. I have a fantastic life in recovery. Alcohol is a drug that will eventually kill us if we are not careful. For us, to drink is to die.”

You can get help overcoming addiction or harmful drug and alcohol use by contacting the government facilities in your province.

Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.

Original Article

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