At Saint Jude Retreats, we're proud of every guest who successfully stops drinking after staying with us. Alcohol can be a dangerous drug used to excess and its risks range from the mild to the fatal. However, many substance use centers take a more combative approach to attract new people to their alcohol treatment programs and some even resort to threats and scare tactics.
We operate on empowerment and education, not fear and misinformation, so we'll never make a claim to scare or threaten you. In fact, beyond our ethical objections, we actually think this approach is downright puzzling. After all, fear of death isn't enough to prevent thousands of substance-related casualties every year. Your choice to change needs to be based on a commitment to follow through, not on fear alone because that fuel will run dry for the work.
Deciding to make a change in your substance use habits by going to alcohol treatment should be a decision you make not out of fear or intimidation, but out of confidence that your choice will be better for you. Your sobriety will require you to make rational and informed decisions, so why not start now? Learn about the following risks and possibilities, so that you understand exactly what's actually at stake and how you want to proceed.
Alcohol poisoning can absolutely be fatal. If there's too much alcohol in your blood, your organs will begin to shut down unless you receive medical attention. However, this is far more common among inexperienced binge drinkers than longtime drinkers.
When you add "high-functioning" to this gross generalization, the waters get a little murkier. Depending on your own experiences, you may use the term to describe heavy drinkers who regularly do one or more of the following:
If you're already worried that your alcohol use will have fatal consequences, you probably drink on a daily basis and have built up a high tolerance. While alcohol poisoning is still possible, your bigger concern should be alcohol withdrawal syndrome or long-term damage to your body from heavy alcohol consumption to the exclusion of other foods. If your body is physically dependent on alcohol to function, abruptly quitting drinking could cause life-threatening symptoms such as seizures. Medical detox is the only safe way to navigate this transition so consult your medical provider to plan before making changes in your alcohol consumption
At the same time, long-term use of alcohol has an impact on your body as the body converts itself to use the alcohol as a primary food stuff. Most alcohol sources have negligible amounts of vitamins and minerals so a diet dominated by alcohol can lead to malnutrition as the calories in alcohol substitute for more nutritient dense calories in food. In addition, alcohol is toxic for the body and hard for it to process so consistent large amounts can cause damage over time especially to the liver, kidneys, brain, and heart.
Alcohol significantly impairs your coordination and perception and most alcohol-related fatalities are the indirect result of these effects. Normal activities, from walking to driving a car, are more dangerous when you're drunk. You are less capable of driving well and less aware that you are impaired in your reaction and coordination time.
Meanwhile, high-risk activities, like unprotected sex, actually seem less risky. Every time you get drunk, you choose to make yourself more vulnerable to external threats, but you also increase the chance that you'll cause your own demise.
Drunk driving, of course, is one of the most serious threats. Whether or not you intend to stop drinking, you should make a commitment to stay off the road if you value your life or the lives of others at all.
You already know that your drinking is creating more problems than it solves. Now, you just have to decide whether you're willing to do the work it takes to stop. Just remember: complete sobriety and death aren't your only two options, and even if you do choose sobriety, there's more than one way to achieve it.
If you'd like to learn more about how to stop or moderate your drinking, you can talk with one of the Guest Services Consultants at Saint Jude Retreats about the Cognitive Behavioral Learning (CBL) program that you can use to your drinking habit permanently without a fear of relapse. This non-12 Step approach is one that gives you the latest scientific research on alcohol, substance use, and habit formation as well as guidance on self-directed change and empowerment for you to develop the best plan for your transformational change.