For families already under stress or dealing with dysfunctional relationships, alcohol is fuel on the fire that only makes things worse.
Alcoholism in men
Among younger men, drinking to excess on a regular basis is common in alcoholism, in part because it allows them to free emotions. Males have a more difficult time confronting emotions even in a sober state, whereas excessive alcohol brings emotions to the surface, particularly negative ones. Alcohol addiction in men only serves to amplify feelings. Repressed anxieties in relationships with partners or authority figures manifests in aggressive ways. Alcohol seems to provide a license, even during sobriety, to express those feelings in an exaggerated way.
Inner turmoil comes out where and whenever alcohol is involved, usually in social situations such as parties or bars, but for alcohol addiction, drinking is involved frequently or even on a daily basis, and these aggressive emotions can come out in the home. Drunken men can’t be reasoned with – they are not in a frame of mind for debate. Alcoholics under the influence are irrational, and arguments only make a bad situation that much worse.
The capacity to discuss problems within the home relationship is important, but it is best done when those with addictive behaviors are sober, so that they can better handle the resulting emotions. Men have a tendency to drink together, for fun and emotional support. Learning to recognize and work on problems when sober is the only way to correct alcohol addiction in men. Getting problems and emotions into open, rational discussion is the best way to de-pressurize relationships an open the door to recovery. Limiting or stopping the amount of alcohol consumed can only come from an agreement among loved ones, not on-going arguments.
Overcoming alcohol addiction can be a long, exhausting journey, and may even feel impossible as you experience set backs as well as progress. That is normal. No matter how powerful the emotions or desperate the need to drown them in alcohol, it should be a shared issue, and mothers can work with young males to make them aware of the problem, and ready for change.
Committing to change
Most men with alcohol problems don’t just decide to make a major lifestyle change and curb their drinking overnight. Recovery is a gradual process. Denial is the major obstacle in the early stages of recovery. Even after admitting that drinking has become a problem, alcoholics may try to rationalize or make excuses for every episode and put off the commitment. It’s also important to admit ambivalence to quitting. To get the ball rolling, it helps to point out to the alcoholic the relative costs of heavy drinking, such as job loss, health and safety issues, and potential legal problems.
The best way to commit is to set life goals and make preparations for the changes. For an alcoholic, limiting their intake can be a far more realistic and reasonable short term goal. This can involve agreeing to limits on number of drinks or types of alcohol, constant reminders to drink slowly, or keeping an alcohol diary. For instance, the drinker may agree to drink no more than two drinks per day, or obstain on two days of the week. These goals should be openly stated with loved ones, and even written down, and reviewed at the end of a goal period. At all times, temptations such as alcohol in the home should be removed, and bad influences such as hard-drinking friends informed of the intent to change and kept at a distance.
Recovery from alcohol can involve physical reactions. Even otherwise healthy young males may experience typical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, nervousness, or nausea. These symptoms ma y appear within hours of quitting, but generally peak within two days and begin to subside within a week. For some, however, physical withdrawal, and the anxiety of dealing with it, can be life threatening. The condition known as delirium tremens (DT) can result in drastic changes to such processes as respiration and blood circulation. Men with severe detox symptoms should be monitored closely.
Embracing a sober lifestyle
Even after that painful initial period, fighting alcoholism is a lifetime commitment. Fighting alcoholism in men requires healthy means of dealing with cravings and mood swings. Often new interests can help distract from these feelings, but real lifestyle changes means avoiding temptations and building an ongoing support network.
But the first step in recovery is finding the right treatment, and staying with it.