Is there a once-and-for-all treatment for alcoholism? If you know someone addicted to alcohol, or if you suffer from alcoholism yourself, this question may be hanging heavy on your mind. The reality of alcoholism is that it’s a chronic, relapsing disease. For a life in recovery, there’s much work ahead.
About Alcoholism as a Disease
Your brain doesn’t forget alcohol, particularly when you drink often. Consuming alcohol for an extended period of time leads to a higher tolerance, meaning your brain grew accustomed to the amount you’ve been taking in. After tolerance, you need more alcohol to feel its effects, which can lead to the development of alcoholism if you keep drinking.
So if the brain changes itself to need more alcohol, can it revert back to not needing it? Sadly, there’s no way for the brain to forget alcohol. Instead, you must relearn how to live without it and apply healthier thoughts and behaviors to prevent relapse.
Early Scientific Learning about Alcoholism
A Russian scientist named Ivan Pavlov undertook experiments to learn more about behaviors. He used dogs in a series of canine experiments that opened doors to greater knowledge about behaviors and how they change brain activity.
Pavlov’s experiments started with ringing a bell every time he fed a group of dogs. Soon, the dogs associated the bell ring with receiving food. Therefore, Pavlov started measuring amounts of the dogs’ saliva upon ringing the bell. To do this, he rang the bell but presented no food to the dogs.
According to his research, the dogs salivated more when the bell rang. This showed that food cravings stimulated internal glands that animals have no conscious control over. The external stimulus—in this case the bell—caused cravings that made the gastric glands react.
This study applies to alcoholism because it shows that, as animals, we undergo conditioning. When we become conditioned like the dogs with the bell, we can’t easily reverse our conditioning. Once you consume alcohol regularly, your brain doesn’t forget alcohol’s effects. Your brain keeps wanting those effects in order to feel “normal.”
Alcoholism is a learned behavior, one in which certain triggers create want and anticipation for alcohol for its pleasant effects. Alcohol stimulates our brains.
The Brain’s Love of Alcohol
Alcohol stimulates the production of brain chemicals that make us feel good. This leads us to drink more, producing a soothing, relaxing effect. This is the brain chemicals binding to our GABA receptors, rewarding us for drinking its new love, alcohol.
During early recovery, your brain and body punish you through withdrawal’s ill effects. This happens because your body wants receptor stimulation again.
Some people and organizations claim alcoholism is curable. Sure, alcoholism is something you can overcome. However, “overcoming” and “curing” are two very different things. You can’t control your brain. You can only work with it to prevent relapse by undergoing treatment for alcoholism.
According to modern research, alcoholism is life long. Even though some people never touch alcohol again after treatment for alcoholism, this is less common than the norm. The norm after treatment for alcoholism involves a lifelong commitment to overcoming your alcoholism by avoiding triggers and temptations, changing your behaviors and using learned skills to change your life.
Taking the time for drug and alcohol addiction treatment is important. During treatment, you need to focus and engage in your alcoholism programs. By doing so, you arm yourself with the skills needed to fight cravings and avoid triggers leading you back to drinking.
Southern California Treatment for Alcoholism
Men from all over Southern California, the rest of the United States and Canada gain the treatment they need for healthy, lifelong sobriety at Serenity Lodge. Serenity Lodge provides residential and intensive outpatient rehab for alcohol and drug addiction to men just like you. The setting of Serenity Lodge is just as you would expect: serene, peaceful and a place to completely focus on your needs.
- Movie theater
- Professional recording studio
- Swimming pool and sauna
- Nutritional prepared meals therapy
- Golf and racquetball
- Fitness therapy in a 1,500 square-foot gym