Alcoholism is a devastating disease. Heavy drinking is destructive to our health and to our minds, as well as to our relationships, our careers, and our happiness. Yet alcohol is everywhere – unlike illegal drugs, it’s not something that addicts need to seek out. Alcohol is easy to find, and therefore very hard to stop abusing. But alcohol abuse can be conquered.

Do you have an alcohol problem?

The first step to solving an alcohol abuse problem is admitting that it exists. Unfortunately, this is one of the hardest steps in the entire process – in fact, for some of us, it’s the hardest. It’s difficult to admit that we have trouble managing our drinking when so many other seem able to, and harder still to concede that we can’t fight our problem ourselves.

Fortunately, there are resources online to help you determine if you have a problem. Quizzes will help you identify your drinking problem. Are you drinking daily? Are you unable to quit for a week or a month (or, if you think you’re able, do you find yourself abandoning the experiment “even though you could quit if you wanted to?”). Questions like this will help pinpoint the problem.

Professional help

Once you’re ready to admit that you have an alcohol abuse problem, your first step should be getting professional help. It’s neither safe for you nor fair to your friends for you to lean on them in place of a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or substance abuse counselor. So don’t do that. Go to a professional, and start getting the help you need.

Rehab: what is your best option?

For many of us, the only effective start to an alcohol-free life begins in rehab. Rehab can give you the running start that you need to stay out of trouble with alcohol. A good rehab center will isolate you from the substance you abuse while helping you the confront the core causes of that abuse. You’ll be with others who are fighting similar battles, and you’ll have access to professional help. Rehab options include inpatient and outpatient clinics. Speak to your doctor, therapist, or counselor about your options, and research and compare facilities on

Staying clean for life

Once out of therapy, your journey isn’t over. While it’s possible to beat alcohol abuse, it’s not possible to “cure” alcoholism, so you’ll need to keep fighting back against the urge to drink. Keep seeing a mental health or substance abuse professional, and consider joining Alcoholics Anonymous. AA is the original twelve-step program, and it has had remarkable success in keeping alcoholics clean for life. You can search online for AA meetings near you – for instance, here’s a list of AA meetings in New York.

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