If You are an Alcoholic

A drink or two now and then may seem harmless. But for more than 10 percent of people in the United States, drinking becomes alcohol abuse. Each of those alcoholics directly affects the lives of six other people, especially the ones they love. Alcoholics are more likely to make mistakes at work, commit a crime or injure a spouse or child while under the influence of this intoxicating drug. Excessive use of alcohol is a contributing factor in more than half of the homicides, suicides and traffic accidents in our country. So as you begin to consider giving up alcohol, consider this: How is your drinking affecting the people you love? And what can you do to make their lives better?

Though at times it may seem that alcoholism is a trap you can never escape, those who do fight the disease are often successful. In order to learn to live without alcohol, you need to get off to a good start:

Find a self-help organization. This disease is too difficult to fight on your own. Finding a place where you can share your experiences with others who will understand can help you to be more successful in your journey toward sobriety.

Develop a support network. Alcoholics are more likely to beat their habit if they have a strong group of friends and family members who help them see the good in what they are doing. Let those close to you know what you are endeavoring to do and ask for their help.

Avoid people and places you associate with drinking. Make some new friends who don't drink and spend your time with them after work or on weekends. Avoiding the temptation of drinking will help you to beat it.

Replace your dependence on alcohol with new interests. Spend the time you would normally spend at a bar or drinking at home on other projects that capture your interest. Staying busy during those drinking times makes it easier to avoid drinking.

Exercise. Besides the health benefits, regular exercise can give you a natural "high" to replace your need for alcohol. And the better care you take of your body, the less likely you are to want to pollute it with alcohol.

Give up smoking. Ninety percent of alcoholics are smokers. Those who are the most successful at staying sober are those who kick the cigarette habit at the same time.

Note: If you have a heavy drinking habit, consult a physician for assistance in your detoxification from alcohol. Withdrawal can lead to medical problems that can be prevented with proper medical supervision.

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