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Alcohol Addiction and the AA Timeline

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

According to the 2019 NSDUH, almost 15 million people suffer from alcohol use disorder in the United States. Many of these go on to seek treatment in an alcohol rehab center.

Many of the early signs of potential alcohol abuse are quite difficult to pinpoint, while others are more readily recognizable. One common marker of abusive drinkers is a tendency to drink in secret. As they progressively isolate themselves, it becomes more difficult still to pick up on the warning signs pointing to alcohol addiction

If you suspect a loved one is abusing alcohol to the extent of addiction, never ignore these warning signs. Alcoholism and addiction treatment go hand-in-glove, but to help your loved one move toward life after alcohol addiction, you’ll first need to establish the scope of the problem.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

The signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction vary depending on the severity of alcohol use disorder. AUD is characterized as mild, moderate, or severe.

If you have a loved one you feel might be addicted to alcohol, look out for the following red flags. Someone with a drinking problem is liable to display any or all of the following signs of alcohol addiction.

  • An inability to control the amount you drink
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to achieve the same effect
  • Neglecting your responsibilities at home, work, or school
  • Trying to cut down on the amount you drink, often unsuccessfully
  • Feeling strong cravings for alcohol
  • Using alcohol is situations where it’s dangerous to drink
  • Spending inordinate amounts of time drinking and recovering from drinking
  • Experiencing short-term memory loss and/or blackouts
  • Affected by pronounced mood swings
  • Giving up normal hobbies and activities
  • Drinking alone or secretively
  • Making excuses for drinking
  • Finding that your alcohol intake is creating problems in your interpersonal relationships
  • Triggering withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite all these negative outcomes

If you start seeing many of these symptoms in combination, you should consider approaching your loved one about their drinking problem. Be prepared to meet with blanket denial – this is also one of the symptoms of alcohol addiction. Be patient, though, and try to steer the topic of conversation gradually toward the idea of addiction rehab for alcoholism.

Perhaps your loved one continues to deny that they have a problem. This is not unexpected. If you’re still not making any headway, you could try an alternative tactic. Why not suggest that they attend a single group meeting of a 12-step group like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)? You could even help them further by giving them a snapshot of what to expect from AA for alcoholics.

AA Timeline

To attend your first AA meeting, you need only meet a single requirement: you must attend the meeting with the desire to be sober. There is no demand that you are sober at the time. That said, attending one meeting under the influence and in need of help is one thing. If you repeat this, though, group members will soon call you out.

Rather than being time-focused like treatment in a rehab center, AA follows a step-based program. Over time, you’ll work your way through each of these 12 steps as you continue your new journey of recovery.

You can, though, use time markers when you start engaging with AA. It’s commonly suggested that newcomers fresh from inpatient rehab should consider attending 90 meetings in 90 days as a way of stepping down the continuum of care and retaining the structure that can be vital during the tentative early days of recovery.

Within the first few weeks of attending AA meetings, you should find a sponsor. This is someone who is also working the AA program. They will have a sustained period of sobriety under their belt, but not necessarily any professional qualifications. Your sponsor is not your therapist, although they can perform a broadly similar caretaking role. Essentially, your sponsor will help and guide you as you transition from active addiction into recovery and sobriety. They will not, however, enable you or cosset you. This person is not your friend, but they can become a friend over time.

As a rough guideline, you can expect to take around a year to work your way through the 12 steps of the AA program. It’s not a race and you should focus on doing the work rather than an arbitrary time point. Allow your sponsor to set the pace accordingly and keep on doing the hard work.

The other area of Alcoholic Anonymous that’s time-sensitive is the way milestones for sobriety are celebrated. The keychains and coins awarded for 30, 60 and 90 days of sobriety are followed up by celebrations of 6-monthly and yearly anniversaries. These small tokens can be powerful motivators and show you how far you’ve come if you’re ever tempted to relapse.

Recovery Timeline in IOP or PHP

If you find yourself addicted to alcohol to the stage that you require professional help, what can you expect from treatment at a rehab center?

Well, the vast bulk of alcohol use disorders can be effectively managed using either IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) or PHPs (partial hospitalization programs). We offer both at Renaissance Recovery Center.

With an intensive outpatient program, you’ll get a less intensive delivery of treatment that you would find in a residential rehab setting.

Despite the name, this type of treatment is not especially demanding, and it’s better suited for clients requiring structured help with alcohol addiction in a way that’s minimally invasive. If you’re highly motivated to stop drinking and you have a stable home environment, IOPs can help you to achieve this. Expect to attend a few sessions of 2-3 hours each week over the course of perhaps a year.

PHPs, on the other hand, are a good fit if you need more care and attention, or you have withdrawal symptoms that need managing with medication. With this kind of intensive treatment, expect to visit a center daily for treatment lasting anywhere from 4 to 8 hours. The program will typically take less time to complete than an IOP due to its intensity.

Alcohol Addiction Rehab at Renaissance Recovery

If you feel the time is right to take action and stop drinking, or if you’d like to help a loved one do the same, we have a variety of programs for alcohol addiction here at Renaissance Recovery.

After a thorough assessment and diagnosis, you can take advantage of the best alcohol rehab in Orange County and reclaim the life you lost to the bottle. Call the admissions team today at 866.330.9449.866.330.9449

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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

Paige R

“Renaissance Recovery truly changed my life.”

Courtney S

” I’m grateful for my experience at Renaissance, the staff are very experienced, they gave me the hope I needed in early sobriety, and a variety of coping mechanisms that I can use on a daily basis.”

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country