Alcoholism remains an increasingly prevalent issue in the US. This pervasiveness is likely due to common drinking habits. A lot of people tend to resort to heavy drinking as a form of coping mechanism, whether it’s been a tough day in the office or dealing with grief.
As such, practices like binge drinking have been on the rise over the years. Now, you or your loved one might be on the path to abstinence or moderation.
Fortunately, there are extensive resources and treatment options available to ease you down the road to sobriety. Read on to learn more about alcohol addiction treatments.
Alcoholism diagnosis is typically assessed by a mental healthcare provider. When diagnosing the addiction, here’s what you can expect.
You’ll be questioned by your assigned medical counselor regarding your drinking behavior and habits, such as frequency.
They may interview close family members or friends when needed. Nonetheless, according to confidentiality laws, they are not permitted to elicit certain information without your permission.
Several physical signs can indicate excessive alcohol use. The physical examiner may check for indicators like facial puffiness, weight loss, redness around the cheeks and nose, and ulcerations.
There are no specialized alcohol addiction lab tests. Nevertheless, some tests do suggest the diagnosis. These can include liver function tests.
A spike in certain enzymes like alkaline phosphatase also offers telltale signs of alcohol use. Besides identifying the addiction, these lab tests are useful indicators of the damage level your body may be experiencing from alcohol abuse.
A psychological evaluation is similar to an interview where a specialist gauges your habits, behaviors, feelings, and thoughts surrounding alcohol use.
They may look for mental health issues, too. The evaluation may also come in the form of a questionnaire, depending on the facility you go to.
There are plenty of alcohol addiction treatment options to suit every need. Each treatment works using evidence-based methods to tackle the issue, whether it involves behavioral or individual and group support recovery.
Residential treatment is usually reserved for patients with severe alcoholism. Admitting to the recovery method involves receiving 24-hour care and supervision.
You’ll be living in the care facility, which is likely associated with a hospital or clinic. While staying at the center, you can participate in individual or group therapy, educational lectures, and other recovery-based activities.
The health professionals working in residential treatment are typically licensed medical practitioners, nurses, and social workers. You can stay for as short as a few days to as long as a couple of years, depending on your condition.
Outpatient care is much less invasive than inpatient and residential treatment. In some cases, it comes as a transition after inpatient care.
The treatment method involves regular visits to a hospital, clinic, or addiction center for counseling. It may take up to around 10 to 20 hours per week or more.
PHP is a branch of outpatient care that provides counseling services to clients for up to ten hours per day.
It’s more well-organized compared to regular outpatient care since you’re dedicating more time. PHP is also ideal for those who need an intense recovery route but can’t commit to inpatient care.
IOC is another outpatient program that usually follows PHP. Rather than spending most of your day in counseling care, the service offers three hours of attendance per day for five days every week.
Detoxing your body from alcohol is, more often than not, the most challenging first step of the recovery journey. You’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms kicking in during the initial one to two weeks after the alcohol flush.
Patients may experience symptoms like nausea, headaches, sweating, and anxiety. If you’re dealing with a more serious addiction, you may experience more severe effects like tremors, extreme hallucinations, seizures, and disorientation.
That being said, medical specialists might prescribe certain medications to ease you through the detoxification process. They may include:
You may be given chlordiazepoxide, lorazepam, or diazepam to decrease the severity of the withdrawal symptoms you’ll likely experience.
Antipsychotics are primarily given to patients with serious alcohol use cases. They help reduce symptoms like hallucinations, delirium, and delusions.
You might receive topiramate or gabapentin to treat mild withdrawal symptoms. Overall, they have a stabilizing effect on your brain.
One of the most well-known and recognized support groups dealing with alcohol use disorder is Alcoholics Anonymous. They’re found all over the globe and focus on a community-based approach using a 12-step program.
The support group believes that alcoholism is an illness that you can manage, but not control. Besides that, each of the 12 steps offers a comprehensive outlook of actions. For instance, in step one, you have to admit your struggle with alcohol use.
Meanwhile, the last step of Alcoholics Anonymous involves having a spiritual awakening propelled by the last 11 steps.
Despite the success stories associated with the support group, you may still feel like you’re slipping back to alcohol dependence. For this reason, you’ll want to pursue more recovery routes, such as individual therapy or family counseling.
Also called halfway houses, sober living homes are made to create an abstinent environment for a recovering alcoholic. These houses come in varied living arrangements, whether you prefer it to be gender or age-specific.
The first sober living home was recorded back in 1830, but only by the 1970s did the aftercare recovery method gain traction in the addiction treatment field.
Sober-living homes build a sense of community and allow people experiencing similar struggles to support each other. They’re also evidence-based and offer a viable insight for recovery research.
Behavioral treatments allow you to correct your behavior, develop healthier habits, and better your overall livelihood. It can come in various forms, including CBT and DBT.
CBT combines cognitive and behavioral therapy to effectively change unhealthy addiction habits. The process entails assessment, personal education, setting goals, practicing strategies, and implementation.
Subsequently, the initial steps involve self-awareness and educating yourself about the addiction issue. Then, you’re tasked with creating a goal plan with strategies to implement in your daily life.
For example, you can achieve the goal of saying no to wine in a social setting. You can role-play the situation with your therapist and manage your internal thoughts during the practice simulation. Next, you’ll need to implement what you learned previously in the real setting.
DBT is a type of CBT that’s geared more towards emotionally charged people. It emphasized the vitality of emotional management through acceptance.
Dialectical means that two opposing facts can be true. In this case, the two truths are being able to accept yourself while also changing your behavior.
DBT usually entails more group counseling and a stronger support system than CBT since the situation is more sensitive. Before going through DBT, you need to have a committed and motivated mindset that you want this change.
Involving family members in your recovery process might produce more impact. In a lot of cases, alcoholism tends to spew into your personal life, affecting your familial relationships. For this purpose, rebuilding those connections can create a more stable support system.
While holistic methods like yoga and meditation have scientifically proven their efficacy in tackling alcoholism, they shouldn’t be applied alone. Implementing other recovery psychological and medical methods further increases your chances of recovery and harm reduction.
That said, holistic and spiritual applications offer an all-round well-being benefit because they help manage stress and alleviate anxiety.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), over 14 million individuals aged 18 years old and above have Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Additionally, 10% of parents have drinking issues.
In another statistic provided by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 894,000 people between the ages of 12 and 17 have AUD.
Aside from the large number of affected individuals, alcoholism has also targeted the nation’s economy.
The CDC reported in 2010 that the addiction cost the US economy over $249 billion. These costs come from productivity loss in the workplace, healthcare expenses, car vehicle crashes, and property damage.
Beyond the US, alcoholism has resulted in three million worldwide deaths every year, as per the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report.
Alcohol changes your brain, making it exceptionally difficult to quit on your own. The recovery process is almost always ongoing. For this reason, choosing the right treatment is essential to keep you on track.
Whether you’re hoping to abstain or practice moderation, treating the alcohol use disorder should be your number one priority. Alcoholism tends to leave negative effects, whether in your professional or social life, due to the feelings of anger and frustration associated with the disorder.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with alcoholism, awareness and educating yourself on treatment options are the first steps.