When is it Time to Talk to a Doctor About Alcohol Dependence?


Alcohol dependence is a real issue. It causes disturbances all across your life. There are many aspects that can show you when it is time to talk to your doctor. In this article, we will discuss the signs that show you it is time to get help. We will help you learn what to say and how to tell your doctor so that you can get the help that you need. Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step to putting your life back on track.

Signs that You Need Help

Alcohol-related problems come from drinking too often, too much, or too fast. It can be a simple problem that is easily fixed with a trip to the emergency room or it can be a complicated problem that can take years of recovery. However, when you find that you can’t go without alcohol, alcohol is affecting your life choices, alcohol is interfering with your ability to work, or if alcohol is consuming your relationships with your friends or family, it is time to talk to your doctor. There are physical signs that you are doing irreversible damage to your body. For example:

  • Stomach pain
  • Blood in the stool
  • Persistent headaches that are relieved by alcohol
  • Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Dizziness
  • Aggression
  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

If your mood is unstable you should seek help. For instance, if you are crying for no reason, frustrated more than you are happy, or can’t control your thoughts you may need help. Depression is often a sign of alcohol dependence. If you or a loved one shows signs of depression or suicidal tendencies, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Be Prepared

When you go to talk to the doctor, be prepared to answer all his/her questions honestly. You will be asked what you drink, how often you drink, where you drink, who you drink with, and why you feel that you drink. You will be asked about other factors like a family history of addiction and personal history with addiction. You will need to tell the doctor about other things going on in your life that could be causing your depression and that leads you to drink. You will also be asked about your diet and your ability to hold down foods.

Treatment Options

Your doctor is just your first stop on your road to recovery. After having a talk with you, your doctor may make a number of suggestions. Here are a few of them:

Therapy or group meetings may be all that you need if you abuse alcohol but are not addicted to it. This will help you to abstain from drinking and give you an outlet to voice your feelings. You will have the chance to work through the underlying cause of your drinking. You may even find that you didn’t realize the real reason. On top of being able to cut alcohol out of your life, you may find that you can confident in other areas as well.

Medications may be needed to help you to break your physical addiction to alcohol. You may also need treatment for the medical conditions that have stemmed from your drinking. Not all of these will be available for outpatient treatment options and you may need more testing to find the right medications that you need.

Outpatient treatment options may include checking into a treatment center during the day. You will be given coping skills, counseling, and medications. There are usually both medical and mental health professionals available to talk to you. Some places will offer opportunities for your family to come in and get treatment as well. The options will be based on what your individual needs are.

Inpatient treatment centers are often available for those with serious medical conditions. You will check into the facility. Most of the time you are limited on when and who you can contact. You will be given the opportunity to detox in a safe place where you can get medical intervention when needed. You will be given all of the same things you can get from outpatient centers except you will not leave at night so that you cannot give in to the temptation to drink.

The Downside

Yes, talking to a doctor can help you to regain control of your life. It can help you to feel like you again. You can repair the relationships with your friends and family members. However, there are some things that you need to know about getting treatment.

Your doctor will have to let your insurance know that you have an alcohol problem. This can result in the loss or suspension of your insurance. This can affect your treatment options. You aren’t automatically excluded from treatment options. If finances are an issue you can find sponsored programs that will help.

You could lose your job. Alcoholism is disease and as such you do have to inform your company that you are seeking treatment. Failure to do so could affect your company’s insurance. They may not have the right to fire you if you do tell them if you are taking the steps needed to fix it. They must make accommodations within reason for you.

Alcoholism is a disease. Once you are diagnosed, you cannot be undiagnosed. There is no cure. There is treatment. You can be put into full or partial remission. This will forever be in your medical file. Of course, this can affect the rest of your life. You could be refused or made ineligible for certain jobs.

Finding Help for a Loved One

If you are looking at this article for a loved one, you may be wondering if it is time to step in. You may be worried that if you do your loved one will get mad at you. You may feel that it is their choice to get help and you should stay out.

Ask yourself “If my friend dies from this will I feel as though I could have prevented it?.” Would it be better for your friend to momentarily resent you for helping them change or better for you to have that regret in your heart? Yes, it may be difficult to decide whether or not you need to step in. However, you know your loved one and you will know when it is time to step in.

What they will need from you is unconditional love and support. They may not understand how it is affecting those around them. They may be scared to admit they have a problem. They may act out. They may get angry. However, once they break through the addiction, they will appreciate that you cared enough to get them the help that they need.

You can decide if you need to get outside help. You could have them admitted to an in patient facility against their will. You can have them treated at a local hospital. If you need resources, contact your local Alcohol Anonymous chapter and see what options you have.

It is time to get help when alcohol is taking over your body, mind, or life. It is better to get help now before you or your loved one spirals out of control. The benefits of getting help outweigh the momentary problems that come with having to seek out the help. Break your addiction and talk to your doctor today.