Alcohol Addiction Treatment: What It Is And How It Works

In today’s culture, alcohol abuse and alcoholism are prevalent health issues. Alcohol abuse has an impact on a person’s mental health, physical health, and social functions. The consequences of alcohol addiction become increasingly complicated to control over time. One in every six people in the United States suffers from this problem.

Unfortunately, not many of them undergo adequate professional support to get their lives. In truth, most alcoholics and alcohol abusers do not seek help. Many times, they are unwilling to admit that they have a problem. However, the effects of alcohol abuse and alcoholism are very real. There is no way to reverse the damage unless the individual seeks professional help and undergo treatment.

What is Alcoholism?

The term “alcoholism” refers to the inability to regulate one’s consumption of alcohol. Alcohol abuse generally begins with one drink per day and steadily increases over time. To get the same impact, the individual gradually feels the need to increase the number of beverages consumed. This is referred to as tolerance. 

The person usually keeps this up until they reach a point where alcohol no longer gives them any of the desired effects. At this point, the person has reached the stage of physical dependency. There are other ways to describe this stage as well, such as the person is physically dependent on alcohol.

Alcoholism also affects one’s social, emotional and mental health. The person may feel embarrassed because they can no longer control their drinking. They may feel guilty about drinking or not being able to control their drinking. Plus, they may become depressed or anxious about their drinking. Some people may also abuse alcohol to treat a medical condition or self-medicate.

What Are The Symptoms Of Alcohol Abuse?

Alcoholics tend to exhibit the following traits:

  • Excessive drinking
  • Alcohol consumption as soon as the individual is awake
  • Self-destructive behaviour
  • Abusive or violent behaviour
  • Incoordination at work or in other important matters
  • Being unable to quit alcohol
  • A feeling of guilt about drinking or not being able to remember if consumption is excessive
  • Being scared that one’s drinking is putting other family members, friends, and colleagues in harm’s way
  • Becoming suicidal

At any of these points, the alcoholic must act quickly to address the issue, which may include seeking treatment.

Treatment Options for Alcoholics

Depending on the severity of their problems and their goals, alcoholics can choose which treatment approach is appropriate for them. Most of the time, integrating two or more therapies into a regimen speeds up recovery. 

Such patients may be required to participate in outpatient or residential treatment. In the meanwhile, these are some of the alcoholism treatment options accessible.

Undergoing Detox

Detoxification is the first step in the treatment process, and it’s one that an alcoholic will need to take with as much seriousness as the drug or alcohol abuse itself. During detox, the individual goes through an initial process of being medically evaluated, so that any present health problems can be addressed and any medications in use can be adjusted or stopped.

The goal of detoxification is to quit drinking to give the body the time it needs to get rid of toxins accumulated through drinking. Once the alcohol patient is naturally and medically detoxed, the treatment provider will evaluate the individual. The first week or two after detox is the most challenging, as the patient will be processing the emotions that come from the withdrawal process.

While in detox, the patient will attend group meetings to socialize with other patients in similar situations. These meetings are a way to find answers to questions about detox or the treatment process.

Medications

Medications are also available to make alcohol consumption less pleasurable, including Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram. It is worth noting that they don’t cure the disorder. For example, consuming alcohol while on Disulfiram can trigger nausea, while Acamprosate handles cravings. Likewise, alcoholics no longer get those “feel-good moments” when on Naltrexone.

In addition, there are a wide variety of medications that can be used to treat other problems that a person may have as a result of alcohol abuse. For example, depression can be a common side effect of alcoholism. While such medications can reduce the severity of depression, others treat the actual cause of the depression, such as sleep deprivation or anxiety.

Psychotherapy

Alcoholics can benefit from several psychotherapies, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and others. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, for example, uses previous experiences to teach a person how to respond to cues and triggers that make them want to drink. At the same time, therapy can assist alcoholics in gaining a better understanding of how their drinking impacts their relationships. 

Likewise, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy can teach alcoholics how to change their thought processes, which can help them cope with the negative emotions that can come with alcoholism. The therapy can teach them how to establish rules and boundaries for themselves, which will help them avoid relapse and continue on the path toward recovery.

Notable Points on Addiction Treatment

No matter what type of treatment an alcohol patient decides to undergo, the individual will need to engage in an effective treatment program. These include the following:

Inpatient treatment

In this type of program, the alcoholic is required to attend group meetings, undergo counselling sessions, and attend AA/NA meetings (if provided within the facility), among other things. Inpatient treatment will require a full-time stay in the treatment centre. Medical specialists, comprising doctors and nurses will be available round the clock to monitor progress and provide assistance.

Outpatient treatment

During the day, the alcoholic interacts with a health care practitioner who administers treatments. This, however, is premised on the notion that the alcohol problem is minor.

The Bottom Line

For individuals who seek help for alcoholism and alcohol abuse, they must have the right treatment for them. Since the effects of alcohol abuse are significant, affected individuals should not go about it alone. Rather, they should seek help from qualified addiction treatment professionals. Medications to alleviate symptom withdrawal may be needed when detoxing. Above all, the offered treatments must be effective and not just a waste of time.

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