Alcohol Addiction Treatment – Important Info to Know
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder, we outline some of the most important things to understand about dependence and treatment.
It may come as a surprise to some, but approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related issues each year.
This is surprising because alcohol is a socially accepted behavior in our society. But this doesn’t mean it’s not a drug.
An addiction to alcohol may start out slow. However, once a person becomes dependent, they need to drink to cope with things like stress or anxiety, get to sleep, or just feel normal every day.
Once a person gets to this stage, alcohol addiction treatment is an essential next step. But what exactly does alcohol addiction treatment involve?
Common Causes of Alcohol Dependence
There isn’t one primary cause of alcohol dependency. A number of factors could influence a person’s decision to drink excessively.
For some people, alcohol consumption begins at adolescence as a result of peer pressure. Unfortunately, many young people continue to drink and form an addiction in young adulthood. Those who begin drinking at an early age have an increased chance of becoming addicted later in life and the earlier they start, they greater the chance this will occur.
Many people misuse or abuse alcohol as a coping mechanism and a means of self-medicating due to mental illness. This is a particularly dangerous situation, as alcohol can worsen conditions such as depression or social anxiety.
Addiction can result from learned or environmental factors. For instance, a person may become an alcoholic after growing up with a parent who drank too much.
There’s even evidence that indicates alcoholism is a genetic disease. If a person has a long line of alcoholics in their family, there’s a higher chance of them forming a dependency as well.
Regardless of the reason for the addiction, a person needs to seek help as soon as it becomes a problem and becomes noticeable. The longer they wait, the more difficult the treatment can be to recover successfully.
Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
If you think a loved one is having a problem with alcohol, you need to familiarize yourself with the warning signs. Remember, because alcohol is socially acceptable, it often makes it easier for people to hide their addiction.
Symptoms can be physical, behavioral, or both. If symptoms start becoming more apparent, there’s a chance the person’s addiction is becoming progressively worse.
Some common physical symptoms of alcohol addiction can include:
- Sudden weight fluctuation, either up or down
- Disregard for their appearance
- Nausea or vomiting on a regular basis
- Chronic fatigue
- Blacking out and not remembering events of the previous night
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Shaking and tremors
If a person starts showing physical symptoms on a regular basis, their alcohol abuse has escalated. These symptoms may also indicate a person is dealing with periodic withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioral symptoms of alcohol addiction can include:
- Frequent mood swings
- The ability to consume more alcohol due to forming a tolerance
- Neglecting their responsibilities
- Risky, dangerous behavior
- Loss of employment
- Isolation from friends and family
If you notice any of these symptoms, you need to intervene and help your loved one get treatment. If they continue on this path, they risk damaging their life for years to come.
What’s Involved in Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
When someone decides to seek help, they’ll need to visit a treatment center to have an assessment by an addiction specialist to determine the best course of action for recovery. Everyone is different, so what works for one person may not suit someone else, nor should it.
The most effective treatment centers understand that a cookie-cutter approach is ill-suited for the best chance of recovery, and it’s important to seek help from facilities that use an individualized approach.
Many people must go through the first step of detoxification before they can start their long-term treatment. This step involves ridding the body of alcohol and moving past the symptoms of withdrawal. Nobody should ever try to detox from alcohol alone or at home without the supervision of a trained addiction detox specialist. This is especially true of alcohol detox, as it can be fatal if not properly monitored.
After detox, a person will need to determine what kind of ongoing treatment is best for them. Doctors and addiction therapists should be an integral part of this decision.
They will consider the length of dependence, usage patterns, quantity of use, and if the person has a history of addiction and any other underlying conditions such as mental health issues like depression, ADHD, or PTSD.
Mental health issues are sometimes one of the root causes of addiction, and conversely, addiction can promote mental health issues. If this is the case, it’s necessary to seek treatment from a reputable addiction facility that specializes in dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders.
Treating addiction combined with a mental health issue often requires a longer residential stay and both conditions should be treated simultaneously for recovery to work.
For some people beginning recovery, outpatient treatment may be an option as recommended by their treating physician and therapy team. This involves living at home but going to a treatment facility on a regular basis for therapy, usually 3 or 5 days a week.
Depending on the severity of the addiction, it is not uncommon for a person to go to a residential inpatient facility for 30 days or more and then transitioning to an outpatient program after they are discharged to continue working on recovery.
Some of the most effective forms of treatment for addiction to alcohol include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, learning Relapse Prevention Techniques and individual and group therapy sessions.
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Ongoing Rehabilitation Methods
It’s important to understand there’s no cure for alcoholism or alcohol addiction. A person may need counseling or other treatment for years, and possibly the rest of their life. This is why it’s so important to seek help at the first signs of a problem.
If a person has maintained a long-term addiction, they may need ongoing treatment to avoid relapse. They may also need counseling to help them through behavioral issues, mental disorders, and to cope with stress after addiction.
There are a number of effective, long-term treatment methods a person can consider. Let’s look at a few of the most common.
One-on-one addiction counseling allows a person to get personalized treatment. A drug counselor’s goal is to help people transition back into a life of sobriety.
They can work with patients to help them deal with stress and even show them relaxation or meditation techniques. Counseling can also help a person work on the root causes of why they drank in the first place, that were discovered during their inpatient program.
A counselor is a good treatment option if a person suffers from a medical disorder such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Without confronting these issues, the risk of relapse will always exist.
Some people become addicted to the behavior associated with drinking. This could include spending all their time in bars, isolating themselves, or engaging in illegal activity.
Behavior modification is an aspect of counseling that helps a person learn the skills they’ll need when they leave a treatment facility. This involves teaching a person coping mechanisms to help them avoid slipping back into their previous behavior. These techniques are learned during a formal recovery program and can be practiced with the help of an aftercare therapist.
Aftercare Support Groups
Aftercare support groups like AA can be a great way for recovering addicts to stay on track. They also promote a sense of community with others who have gone through a similar experience.
While group therapy in a treatment facility is led by an addiction therapist, aftercare group support is often lead by one or two people but everyone in the group contributes.
These groups can help people stay focused on overcoming addiction and resisting the urges they encounter on a daily basis.
Many treatment facilities will help their clients find nearby support groups that they can join after leaving formal treatment.
Don’t Wait to Seek Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Alcohol abuse can cause a number of serious health concerns and also lead to other psychological issues. Seeking help as soon as possible will help reduce the chance of long-term side-effects.
If you or a loved one has developed a drinking problem, alcohol addiction treatment is just a phone call away.