Addiction or alcoholism, also known as dependence, includes the following four symptoms:

  • Craving — A strong need, or urge, to drink or drug
  • Loss of Control — Not being able to stop drinking or using drugs once it has begun
  • Physical Dependence — Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping
  • Tolerance — The need to drink or use drugs in greater amounts to get “high”

Yes, since 1956, the American Medical Association has recognized and defined alcohol addiction as a primary disease, not a secondary symptom of an underlying psychological or medical illness. Since then, this definition has been extended to define all chemical addictions as “chronic, progressive diseases characterized by significant impairment that is directly associated with persistent and excessive use of psychoactive substances.

There is no easy answer. As with any chronic disease, vulnerability to addiction differs from person to person. If and how quickly a person becomes addicted depends on many factors, including biology (genetics – family history), age, gender, environment, traumatic experiences, type of drugs and interactions among these factors. While one person may use alcohol or drugs one or many times and suffer no ill effects, another person may overdose with first use, or become addicted after a few uses. There is no way to know in advance how quickly someone will become addicted. But, the single most important predictor is a family history of alcoholism and/or addiction. Plain and simple, some people’s bodies respond to the effects of alcohol and drugs differently than others.

The simple answer…….continued use despite negative consequences. If a person’s use of alcohol or drugs causes problems at work, financial problems, family problems, social problems, relationship problems or physical problems and they continue to use, then he or she probably is addicted. And while a person who becomes addicted may believe they can stop any time they want, most often they cannot stop and stay stopped on their own, and will need professional help—first to determine if they are addicted, and then to obtain treatment. Support from friends and family can be critical

Every patient’s medical history, including any psychoactive drugs currently being taken, is assessed by our staff. Both science and our experience point to the fact that, for the addict, depression as well as anxiety and other seeming mood disorders can actually be the result of addictive alcohol and drug use. When the patient’s history reveals that the psychoactive medication was begun after drug use began, we ask the patient to stop taking the medication.

The reasons are twofold:
  • As stated earlier, the brain needs to reset itself to reach stasis, and
  • Many psychoactive drugs produce changes in what are called “reward thresholds,” which leave the patient very vulnerable to relapse.

Alcohol and drug addiction negatively affect how the addict feels, thinks and acts as well as how the body functions. Recovery entails learning new skills to deal with the impact on thinking and feeling and changing the dietary regimen through nutrition therapy. Patients are taught to deal with these fluctuating feelings by learning Christian beliefs and the principles of a 12-step program. Facing problems squarely usually brings a sense of relief as well as a growing sense of ease with sobriety. The most frequent comment we hear from our patients is “Thanks for giving me my life back to me.”

Addiction is a chronic disease, that is it can recur like diabetes and hypertension. Just as with other chronic diseases, the addict can relapse if he/she does not follow the regimen laid out in the program. In treatment, we advise patients that if you do not move forward (i.e. take the steps necessary each day to stay sober) you are moving backwards (i.e., slipping into old ways of thinking, believing and acting). The addict cannot underestimate the power of the disease to lure him/her back into a pattern of living that leads to drinking/ using.

If an alcoholic or drug addict is unwilling to seek help, is there any way to get him or her into treatment?

This can be a challenging situation. An alcoholic or drug addict cannot be forced to get help except under certain circumstances, such as when a violent incident results in police being called or following a medical emergency.

This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to wait for a crisis to make an impact. Based on clinical experience, many alcohol and drug treatment specialists recommend the following steps to help an alcoholic or drug addict accept treatment:

  • Stop all “rescue missions.” Family members often try to protect an alcoholic or drug addict from the results of his or her behavior by making excuses to others about his or her drinking and/or drugging by getting him or her out of alcohol/drug related jams. It is important to stop all such rescue attempts immediately, so that the alcoholic will fully experience the harmful effects of his or her drinking — and thereby become more motivated to stop.
  • Time your intervention. Plan to talk with the addict shortly after an alcohol and/or related problem has occurred–for example, a serious family argument in which drinking played a part or an alcohol-related accident. Also choose a time when he or she is sober, when both of you are in a calm frame of mind, and when you can speak privately.
  • Be specific. Tell the family member that you are concerned about his or her drinking and/or drug and want to be supportive in getting help. Back up your concern with examples of the ways in which his or her drinking and/or drugging has caused problems for both of you, including the most recent incident.
  • State the consequences. Tell the family member that until he or she gets help, you will carry out consequences–not to punish the addict, but to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the drinking and drugging. These may range from refusing to go with the person to any alcohol-related social activities to moving out of the house. Do not make any threats you are not prepared to carry out.
  • Be ready to help. Gather information in advance about local treatment options. If the person is willing to seek help, call immediately for an appointment with a treatment program counselor. Offer to go with the family member on the first visit to a treatment program.
  • Call on a friend. If the family member still refuses to get help, ask a friend to talk with him or her, using the steps described above. A friend who is a recovering alcoholic or drug addict may be particularly persuasive, but any caring, nonjudgmental friend may be able to make a difference. The intervention of more than one person, more than one time, is often necessary to persuade an addicted person to seek help.
  • Find strength in numbers. With the help of a professional therapist, some families join with other relatives and friends to confront an addict as a group. While this approach may be effective, it should only be attempted under the guidance of a therapist who is experienced in this kind of group intervention.
  • Get support. Whether or not the alcoholic/drug family member seeks help, you may benefit from the encouragement and support of other people in your situation. Support groups offered in most communities include Al-Anon, which holds regular meetings for spouses and other significant adults in an alcoholic’s or drug addicts life, and Alateen, for children. These groups help family members understand that they are not responsible for an addicts using and that they need to take steps to take care of themselves, regardless of whether the alcoholic/drug family member chooses to get help.

Restoration Ranch, a non-profit organization (501c3) that is a residential treatment program on a working ranch for men who have a sincere desire to be set free from drugs, alcohol, or any addictive behavior. Since opening in December 1999, we have grown to a 18 beds facility with over 3,000 men that have been through the program. We welcome men coming out of jail as well as men who want to learn new ways to live without allowing their addictions to continue to destroy their lives. Restoration Ranch is a low cost alternative to restoring their lives. By living and working on a ranch, these individuals gradually learn and develop life skills in a safe environment. The ranch provides a structured program that teaches them how to live alcohol and drug free so that they can succeed. When men finish their stay at Restoration Ranch, they get on with their lives knowing that they have “a hope and a future”.

Restoration Ranch has many different programs that consist from 30 days to 1 year.

Restoration Ranch has a 7 bed facility that is designed for someone who has been in treatment and is looking for a safe place to live.

Generally we tell people to bring 7 changes of clothes, towel, a couple pair of shoes, shower sandals, toiletries, laundry soap, and a bible if they have one. You can also bring some spending money for occasional snacks and additional toiletries as needed. Restoration Ranch provides everything else needed including plenty of snacks.

The basic cost is $700 a month which should include everything needed with the exception of toiletries. Restoration Ranch offers some other programs that have additional fees if they are requested.

Restoration Ranch does not bill insurance companies.

We do allow residents to work when the staff feels they are ready and the work environment is safe for them. Restoration Ranch in many cases, will find jobs for the residents when they are ready.

Our days are very structured, wake up early and have breakfast followed by worship music and study. After study time there will be a couple hours of chores on the ranch and then lunch. After lunch is an AA/NA meeting, another hour of chores and then a couple of hours of free time until dinner. After dinner we do a bible study and then free time until lights out.

We believe that our high success rate is due to our program being Christian faith based. Both Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous believe that a person needs to find a higher power and to live by its will, we believe that higher power to be the Lord Jesus Christ and teach to live by His will and teachings.

Also, by living and working on a ranch, these individuals gradually learn and develop life skills in a safe environment. The ranch provides a structured program that teaches them how to live alcohol and drug free so that they can succeed. When men finish their stay at Restoration Ranch, they get on with their lives knowing that they have “a hope and a future.”

Adult patients may smoke in designated areas during free time. Adolescents are not allowed to smoke anywhere on program grounds.