Changing your drinking behaviour is not always easy, particularly if you have been drinking for some time and you drink a lot. However, most people who want to change their drinking can do it with the help of treatment. If you are having problems with your drinking and you really want to make a change it is important that you find a GP or counsellor whom you can talk to honestly. In counselling, you will be encouraged to talk about your drinking, set goals and decide on a treatment plan.

For risky or binge drinkers, brief treatment (one to three visits) provided by a GP or other healthcare provider can help to reduce drinking to a safe level. For mildly dependent drinkers, withdrawal management followed by four to six treatment sessions can help. Ways to avoid returning to alcohol may be covered. Moderate to severely dependent drinkers may need to undergo supervised withdrawal, followed by ongoing treatment. Relapse prevention strategies, including medication, may help.

If you have been drinking a lot over a period of time, you may experience some withdrawal problems (symptoms) when you stop drinking, for example, shaking, sweating, feeling sick, vomiting, and problems sleeping. Alcohol withdrawal needs to be watched by a nurse or GP. Withdrawal is a sign that your body is recovering from alcohol. How bad the symptoms are will depend on how much and how often you have been drinking, how long you have been drinking for, the number of past withdrawal episodes, any use of other drugs and any medical problems.

If you do experience an alcohol withdrawal there are a range of options available, one of which should be available in your area. Home-based withdrawal management involves withdrawing from alcohol at home in a supportive environment. Withdrawal symptoms are checked by visits and telephone calls from a healthcare worker. You or a friend or family member can manage medications at home.

Outpatient withdrawal management is similar to home-based withdrawal management; however, you would attend a clinic nearly every day to see how you are going and to collect some medication. Finally, there is the option of an inpatient withdrawal management. This may be in a community setting, or a hospital bed with trained medical staff available for the care of drinkers who might have alcohol withdrawal problems such as seizures.

Making changes to your alcohol consumption can be difficult, particularly if you are alcohol-dependent. Alcohol is such a huge part of the Australian way of life that many people do not see their drinking is causing them problems until it is much too late. Once they do they are often hesitant to seek help because they don’t know where to go. There are options available to you, so speak to your GP or contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service to speak to a trained counsellor.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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