Information if You Think You Have a Drinking Problem and are Considering Counseling

The consequences of drinking too much can be serious and can be fatal. The impact of problem drinking can affect any and all life areas. While many people believe they can control their drinking, that is often not the case. Many people believe they do not have a problem if they are able to continue working and otherwise maintain an appearance of success. Unfortunately, many people suffering from alcohol abuse fall into a category known as a functional alcoholic. Such individuals are usually between their 30s and 50s. They are often employed and financially stable. Many are well educated. Even so, they may experience problems related to their alcohol abuse and require treatment.

What to Expect from Drinking Alcohol

Alcohol consumption alters ones mood and functioning. As soon as you take the first sip of alcohol, it enters your bloodstream and has immediate effects within the first 10 minutes. As you continue to drink, your blood alcohol concentration increases. This represents the amount of alcohol present within your bloodstream. The higher your blood alcohol content, the more impaired you will become by the effects of alcohol. Such effects may include:

Slurred speech

Reduced inhibitions


Motor impairment

Difficulty concentration

Memory problems

Difficulty breathing

Signs of an Alcohol or Drinking Problem

The term alcohol use disorder refers to a medical condition that occurs when an individual’s drinking results in harm or distress. This condition could range from mild to severe. You may suffer from an alcohol use disorder if you answer yes to at least two of the following questions:

During the past year, have you:

Experienced times when you drank more or longer than you planned?

Spent a significant amount of time drinking?

Been sick or spent a lot of time getting over the aftereffects of drinking?

Wanted to stop drinking or reduce the amount of time you spend drinking but couldn’t?

Experienced a craving or urge to drink?

Continued to drink even though it results in problems with family, friends, or at work?

Given up on activities you once enjoyed in order to drink?

Become involved in situations that increased your chances of becoming hurt, such as using machinery, swimming, driving, or having unsafe sex?

Felt the need to drink more than you once did in order to obtain the same effect?

Experienced withdrawal symptoms, such as shakiness, trouble sleeping, anxiety, irritability, nausea, restlessness, or sweating?

If you answered yes to two or more of the above questions, your drinking could be reason for concern. The more symptoms you experience, the more crucial it is that you seek help. An experienced therapist can provide a formal assessment to determine if you suffer from alcohol abuse or an alcohol use disorder.

It is important to understand that if you have a family history of alcohol abuse, you may be at higher risk for developing a problem of your own. If your drinking has gotten out of hand and is having an effect on your everyday life and relationships with loved ones, it may be time to seek help.

Getting Counseling for Alcohol Abuse

Fortunately, regardless of how severe your alcohol abuse problem may be, there is help available and most people suffering from an alcohol abuse problem can benefit from treatment and therapy. Most people think of a 28-day rehab or 12-step program when they think of treatment for alcohol abuse. There are actually many different treatment options available. It is important to understand that everyone is different and there is not a one-size-fits all solution for everyone. What works for one individual may not work for another. The goal of therapy is to find a treatment option that works for you.

Behavioral Treatment

The goal of behavioral treatment is to change your drinking behavior. This is done through counseling. Studies indicate that this form of therapy can be quite beneficial in treating alcohol abuse.


Medications, used both alone as well as in combination with therapy and counseling, can also help some individuals reduce or even stop their drinking while preventing relapse.

Support Groups

Mutual support groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous, provide peer support for individuals who wish to stop drinking. When combined with professional therapy, a mutual support group can provide an additional layer of valuable support.

Types of Behavioral Treatments

There are many different types of behavioral treatment that may prove to be helpful to individuals who are trying to cut back or quit drinking.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This form of therapy typically takes place in small groups or on a one-on-one basis. The goal of this type of therapy is to identify the situations or feelings that might result in heavy drinking while also managing stress to prevent relapse. With this form of therapy, patients learn how to change the thought processes that might cause relapse while also learning necessary skills for coping with everyday situations.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

This type of therapy is conducted over a relatively short period of time. The goal is to build and strengthen a patient’s motivation to change their behavior. This form of therapy focuses on identifying the advantages and disadvantages of treatment while developing a plan for making changes to one’s behavior. Motivational enhancement therapy can also build confidence.

Family and Marital Counseling

Alcohol abuse can have profound effects on familial relationships and marriages. Family and marital counseling includes spouses and other family members with the goal of improving those relationships. Studies have shown that the chances of prolonged recovery are improved with strong family support.

Mental Health Issues and Alcoholism

Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand with alcohol abuse. Studies reveal that individuals who are dependent on alcohol are far more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression. When addressing problems related to alcohol abuse, it’s critical to also address any accompanying mental health issues. A qualified therapist can help in this regard.

It is never too late to get the help you need.

If you find you relate to the information in this article and would like some help, please contact Rita with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling at (605) 610-9228.