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Friday, March 26, 2021

White Knuckling Sobriety

white knuckling sobriety

When something scares you, like a fast carnival ride, you might grab hold of the safety bar so tightly that your knuckles turn white. On the ride, you can hold on until it is over and the danger has passed. If you are attempting to give up an addiction to alcohol, you might try the same approach. You may just want to hold on tight until it’s all over. White knuckling sobriety does not work well, though, and could actually leave you with serious mental and physical health issues.

Willpower Is Not Enough

The first step in the 12-Step program is to admit that you are powerless over alcohol—that your life has become unmanageable. Your willpower may help you as you accomplish other goals in your work and your personal life. It is not enough when your goal is to overcome your addiction to alcohol.

There is a biological basis of addiction, which helps to explain why you need much more than willpower or good intentions to overcome it. White knuckling sobriety efforts may help you stay away from alcohol for short periods of time, but you cannot control your addiction successfully, for the long-term, this way.

Addiction changes the way your brain functions, says Dr. George Koob, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Koob adds, “A common misperception is that addiction is a choice or moral problem, and all you have to do is stop. But nothing could be further from the truth. The brain actually changes with addiction, and it takes a good deal of work to get it back to its normal state. The more drugs or alcohol you’ve taken, the more disruptive it is to the brain.”

Dangerous Withdrawal Symptoms

Trying to give up alcohol on your own can result in serious mental and physical health issues. You also face an increased risk of relapsing, or returning to your addictive behaviors, when attempting white knuckling sobriety. Giving up alcohol suddenly, without professional medical supervision, can cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms within just a few hours.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can result in a combination of emotional, mental, and physical symptoms, from anxiety to fatigue to nausea. You could experience tremors, headaches, an increased heart rate, confusion, nightmares,  and high blood pressure. Some symptoms can be severe, including hallucinations and seizures. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be life-threatening.

Addressing Underlying Issues

White knuckling sobriety may help you give up drinking for a few hours or a few days, but without appropriate treatment you will not have the appropriate tools to get to the root of your addiction. It is important to understand the underlying issues that led to your drinking and that continued your addictive behaviors.

You may have started drinking to try to cope with a traumatic event in your life. White knuckling your way through this scary time is not enough to help you understand the impact of the trauma and the alcohol on your life. You may have a family history of alcoholism or you may have felt pressure from a friend or family member to start drinking. Understanding the causes can help guide you through an effective and successful recovery.

Safe Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction treatment starts with a safe and medically supervised detoxification to help you manage the withdrawal symptoms in a healthier way. Detox will not only get rid of the alcohol in your body, it will also help you with a fresh start toward recovery, in an emotional, physical, and spiritual way. You will be better prepared to heal your mind and your body with clarity and hope.

Knowing that your willpower is not enough, it will also be important for you to ask for guidance and support from a higher authority. Daily prayer is an integral part of an effective addiction treatment program, both introspective personal prayer and group prayer. Giving up your intentions to forge ahead with white knuckling your sobriety, you will learn to “let go and let God,” sharing your challenges with a higher power.

California Faith-Based Addiction Treatment

To get help with your alcohol addiction, please contact Celebrate Hope to learn more about our faith-based addiction treatment program. Our team helps men and women break the cycle of addiction and begin anew. We rely on the teachings of Jesus Christ, along with evidence-based therapies to get individuals on the path of recovery.

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