When something scares you, like a
fast carnival ride, you might grab hold of the safety bar so tightly that your
knuckles turn white. On the ride, you can hold on until it is over and the
danger has passed. If you are attempting to give up an addiction to alcohol,
you might try the same approach. You may just want to hold on tight until it’s
all over. White knuckling sobriety does not work well, though, and could
actually leave you with serious mental and physical health issues.
Willpower Is Not Enough
The first step in the 12-Step program is to admit that you are powerless over alcohol—that
your life has become unmanageable. Your willpower may help you as you
accomplish other goals in your work and your personal life. It is not enough
when your goal is to overcome your addiction to alcohol.
There is a biological basis of addiction, which helps to explain
why you need much more than willpower or good intentions to overcome it. White
knuckling sobriety efforts may help you stay away from alcohol for short
periods of time, but you cannot control your addiction successfully, for the
long-term, this way.
Addiction changes the way your brain
functions, says Dr. George Koob, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism. Koob adds, “A common misperception is that addiction is a
choice or moral problem, and all you have to do is stop. But nothing could be
further from the truth. The brain actually changes with addiction, and it takes
a good deal of work to get it back to its normal state. The more drugs or
alcohol you’ve taken, the more disruptive it is to the brain.”
Dangerous Withdrawal Symptoms
Trying to give up alcohol on your own
can result in serious mental and physical health issues. You also face an
increased risk of relapsing, or returning to your addictive behaviors, when
attempting white knuckling sobriety. Giving up alcohol suddenly, without
professional medical supervision, can cause you to experience withdrawal
symptoms within just a few hours.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can result in a combination of
emotional, mental, and physical symptoms, from anxiety to fatigue to nausea.
You could experience tremors, headaches, an increased heart rate, confusion,
nightmares, and high blood pressure.
Some symptoms can be severe, including hallucinations and seizures. Alcohol
withdrawal syndrome can be life-threatening.
Addressing Underlying Issues
White knuckling sobriety may help you
give up drinking for a few hours or a few days, but without appropriate
treatment you will not have the appropriate tools to get to the root of your
addiction. It is important to understand the underlying issues that led to your
drinking and that continued your addictive behaviors.
You may have started drinking to try
to cope with a traumatic event in your life. White knuckling your way through
this scary time is not enough to help you understand the impact of the trauma
and the alcohol on your life. You may have a family history of alcoholism or
you may have felt pressure from a friend or family member to start drinking.
Understanding the causes can help guide you through an effective and successful
Safe Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction treatment starts
with a safe and medically supervised detoxification to help you manage the withdrawal
symptoms in a healthier way. Detox will not only get rid of the alcohol in your
body, it will also help you with a fresh start toward recovery, in an
emotional, physical, and spiritual way. You will be better prepared to heal
your mind and your body with clarity and hope.
Knowing that your willpower is not
enough, it will also be important for you to ask for guidance and support from
a higher authority. Daily prayer is an integral part of an effective addiction
treatment program, both introspective personal prayer and group prayer. Giving
up your intentions to forge ahead with white knuckling your sobriety, you will
learn to “let go and let God,” sharing your challenges with a higher power.
California Faith-Based Addiction
To get help with your alcohol
addiction, please contact Celebrate
Hope to learn more about our faith-based addiction treatment program. Our team
helps men and women break the cycle of addiction and begin anew. We rely on the
teachings of Jesus Christ, along with evidence-based therapies to get
individuals on the path of recovery.