Alcohol withdrawal can be deadly. (Wellcome Images via Wikimedia commons)

The importance of family and friends to an addict’s decision to seek recovery should not be under-stressed. While it is true that the addict must want to recover and be willing to do the necessary work, loved ones can give the abuser a nudge in the right direction. Or an intervention.

That is apparently what happened with actor Ben Affleck. His soon-to-be ex-wife Jennifer Garner apparently visited him twice in one day, the second time with a sober coach after being alarmed at his condition. He seems to have agreed that this wasn’t an overreaction and let her take him to alcohol rehab immediately.

By Affleck’s admission, it is his third stint in alcohol rehab. The first was in 2001, after his relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow and before his relationship with Jennifer Lopez. His second time around was apparently in 2017, after a particularly heavy workload—starring in three films, two as Batman, and writing, directing and starring in Live By Nightand his separation from Garner.

Maybe overwork or the marriage breaking down spurred a relapse or the realization that he needed to get sober. Either way, apparently it didn’t last. After rehab, they filed for divorce. Maybe that sparked another relapse. It’s not unusual for people with alcohol addiction or other forms of substance abuse to relapse, even if only temporarily.

For whatever reason, a year-and-a-half later Affleck’s going back, thanks at least in part to Garner. She and Affleck have remained on friendly terms, at least for the sake of their children, and she apparently was able to convince to get help. Reportedly they will finalize the divorce when he gets out of alcohol rehab.

Rehab is the safe and smart way to stop drinking. Alcohol is one of the most addictive drugs (after nicotine). True, not everybody who drinks alcohol does it to excess, but that doesn’t make it safer for those who do. If you become addicted to alcohol, it’s not only hard to quit, it can be dangerous.

Locking yourself up in a room and going cold turkey is a time-honored plan in movies and motion pictures, but, in reality, it can kill you, especially if you have been a heavy drinker for a long time. Seizures are possible, even fatal ones. Actor Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette on HBO’s True Blood) tried it in 2017 and died of heart failure due to alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Don’t risk it. If you incapable of not drinking for a day or so without violent withdrawal symptoms, arrange for a medically supervised alcohol detox. If there are life-threatening complications, the health care workers will know what to do.

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