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Why Alcoholics Can’t Recover On Their Own

Those who haven’t experienced alcoholism themselves may be inclined to believe that someone with a drinking problem can solve it if they simply stop drinking.

As much as that is true (drinking is the behavior designated as the problem), the underlying dependency and all that is mentally and biologically involved make quitting drinking all the more difficult, requiring professional support and treatment.

Also, given the normalcy and acceptance of drinking in our culture, even to the degree of alcohol abuse, everyday social situations become a source of frequent temptation for someone who may have an alcohol problem.

Alcohol Dependence

There are physical and mental factors involved in alcohol dependence, especially in the face of withdrawal, which further encourages more drinking in order to escape the symptoms that occur when trying to quit.

Since your brain becomes used to your alcohol intake, completely quitting suddenly, or “cold turkey,” throws your brain out of balance and results in withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Appetite Loss
  • Increased Heartrate
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Fever
  • Mental Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs)
  • Hallucinations

Most importantly, withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threatening, which is why medically assisted detox from alcohol is crucial to recovery and cannot be done alone.


Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is defined as “an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.”

A 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report states that “28.8 million adults ages 18 and older had AUD in 2021. Among youth, an estimated 753,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17… had AUD [as well].”

Behaviors of an alcoholic may include:

  • Drinking more or longer than intended
  • Inability to cut down or quit drinking alcohol
  • Frequent drinking and sickness or other effects from drinking
  • Mental obsession with drinking
  • Drinking disrupts responsibilities and commitments
  • Persistent drinking despite negative consequences from friends or family
  • Drinking replaces activities or hobbies you used to enjoy or value
  • Continual drinking despite negative mental or physical health problems or complications
  • Increasing tolerance for drinking
  • Withdrawal symptoms when alcohol leaves your system

Given that alcohol dependency is both a mental and physical phenomenon, overcoming and recovering on your own is less likely to be effective and more dangerous than it is worth trying to do.

Alcoholism Recovery with Fifth Avenue Psychiatry

We are a team of highly trained Psychologists and Psychiatrists who use evidence-based clinical treatments and therapies for all sorts of conditions, including alcoholism.

We offer an array of treatments, such as:

Call us, and we can design a treatment program personalized to you or your loved one struggling with alcoholism.

Olga Megwinoff, MD

Olga Megwinoff, MD

Dr. Megwinoff is a Board Certified Psychiatrist who trained at NYU Langone Health where she completed her residency in Psychiatry in 2000. At NYU Langone Health, Dr. Megwinoff was exposed to and gained an expertise in the treatment of substance abuse disorders and alcoholism. After finishing residency at NYU, Dr Megwinoff attended the Child and Adolescent Fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. As a private practice clinician, Dr. Megwinoff has been formally learning Buddhist Meditation for the last 10 years.

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