Many of us have overdone it when it comes to drinking. And every so often, for most people, having more than the recommended allowance of two or three units a day won’t do too much harm.
But what if someone you know has a real problem with drinking? Binge drinking (which for women is having just five or six drinks in a night, for men it's eight drinks), can cause mental and emotional issues. If you don’t deal with binge drinking, you can cause long-term liver damage. You may develop a fatty liver (when fat molecules called triglycerides collect in your liver cells. This is often, but not always, caused by drinking too much). Although a fatty liver is reversible, it may progress to alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), which in serious cases is not reversible. Heavy drinkers who do not stop drinking, may find they get liver cirrhosis - when the liver becomes significantly scarred. It is not reversible, and generally, sufferers die within five years.
Deaths from alcohol
It’s a horrifying and heart-breaking scenario. In England alone, there are almost 23,000 deaths connected to alcohol abuse. Psychiatrist Dr Bruce Trathen, who specialises in addictions, believes many alcoholics are in denial about the dangers of their behaviour. He says: ‘It is often the case that a friend or relative of someone who is drinking heavily recognises that this has become a problem before the person themselves.’ He goes on to add, ‘Denial is an essential component of becoming addicted to alcohol - after all none of us really like to admit we have a problem with anything, and in the addictive process this tendency becomes all the more pronounced.’
How to get alcoholics admit they have a problem
So what can an individual do when they have a loved one who is drinking themselves to death? ‘The essential 'trick' is to get the person to believe that they have made their own decision to seek help.’ Says Dr Trathen. ‘In fact, this is not a 'trick' at all. Hopefully, the person really will make their own decision to seek help.’
You do this by never openly criticising the drinker, but let them come to their own conclusions by asking open questions – so if the person who is drinking too much complains of another hangover, instead of saying ‘You drink too much!’ make non-judgemental comments like ‘Poor you. How do you feel? Is it a bad hangover?’ Let them come to their own conclusions about their drinking.
Detox regenerates liver function
Luckily, the liver does have amazing powers of regeneration - a fatty liver can heal within a few months, once you have cut out the drink. It is also possible to recover from alcoholic hepatitis. Heavy drinking does cause brain cells to die, but for former heavy drinkers, brain function will improve over a year of abstinence.
Of course, coming off alcohol – or indeed any drug – is not an easy thing to do, both physically and mentally. Detox needs to done by medical specialists in a caring and discreet environment, using a multifaceted approach.
London Detox Clinic
Dr Trathen has created a new consultant-led medical detox which incorporates a more holistic therapeutic approach, using tools such as mindfulness, nutrition and EMDR (a therapy for trauma) to ensure that alcoholics and other addicts can return to the world sober and in good health with a renewed positive attitude.
The therapy takes place at Serena House Detox Clinic, a discreet London house in the centre of town, but away from the hustle bustle. Anyone interested in finding out more about Serena House and the Detox Programme should enquire at Twenty-Five Harley Street Day Clinic or call 020 3883 9525