Programs help beat alcohol abuse

Q: Two nights ago, our youngest son and I had a heart-to-heart talk. I was trying to convince him to join a treatment program for alcohol abuse. He is 23 years old and already has had significant problems.

His girlfriend grew tired of being publicly embarrassed by his behaviour and broke off their engagement. Few of the friends from high school days want to spend time with him. Many simply avoid him. If his dad was not the manager of the shop where he works, he likely would have lost his job.

Our son is beginning to admit that he may have a problem with alcohol but he refuses to get involved in a treatment program. He thinks that he can recover from his problem on his own. Is it possible?

A: I certainly do not blame you for being concerned about your son. Once the talons of addictions have dug their way into the soul of the matter, the chances for recovery from alcohol abuse are challenging at best and most likely slim.

Some people manage to dodge the volley of temptations on their own and resume their responsibilities without much fanfare and with little support outside of their immediate families.

I think that it is fair to say that most people don’t. The one statistic we have that addresses this is that just about everyone who is registered in a treatment program, whether that is Alcoholics Anonymous, a rehab program in the department of health or a privately run residential treatment centre, has tried to beat their addictions on their own before they turned to someone else for help.

With those odds, your son would fare the best in a valid support program.

The success rate for treatment programs is also not as high as we might like it to be. About 25 to 45 percent of those in treatment programs successfully challenge their addictions.

The biggest problem is relapse, with many having to work their way through two, three or more relapses before they were able to clean up their acts. Sobriety for most was not easy.

Whatever your son decides for his own resolution to his addiction, I hope that you will keep in touch with him.

One of the biggest problems people have when they try to stop drinking on their own is that they go private with the whole thing and become closet drinkers.

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