Treatment for Alcoholism
Alcohol addiction takes so much away from you, and many people who suffer from alcohol addiction feel that they will never recover. Alcoholism weighs a person down with cravings, withdrawal, and a sense of despair. Over time, alcoholism can seem like a normal part of life or a burden that will never end. However, alcoholism is a medical disorder and there are options for treatment. With compassionate and professional care at a rehab center, thousands of people have reclaimed their lives from alcoholism and achieved greater happiness.
The process of treatment requires time and perseverance. In fact, almost half of all recovering alcoholics who stay sober for one year will drink again, but there is hope even for someone who relapses. After five years of treatment, 6 out of 7 people in recovery will permanently stop drinking.
For most people, successful treatment for alcoholism will involve a combination of detox, medication, therapy, a residential program, and participation in support groups. Treatment takes effort, but the results are worth it. Achieving sobriety will improve your health, save you money, improve your relationships with your friends and family, enhance your career, and make your life more fulfilling.
What Are the Different Options for Treating Alcoholism?
Everyone who undergoes treatment for alcoholism will benefit from different treatment methods. In some cases, a person just needs a few counseling sessions to stop drinking, while in other cases, a person will need medical detox and inpatient rehab. There is no right or wrong approach to treatment because alcohol use disorders can range in severity from binge drinking to dependence and addiction.
To determine which forms of treatment are available for you, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider. An addiction provider can diagnose your alcohol use disorder, help you develop a treatment plan, and refer you to treatment centers. Your treatment plan may include one or more steps, including:
Alcohol detox is often the first step in treatment for alcohol dependence. After months or years of alcohol abuse, the body will become tolerant to the effects of alcohol and a person will develop alcohol dependence. Detox is important because it allows the body to adapt to operating without alcohol in its system.
During detox, a person abstains from drinking and experiences the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Detox should happen in a controlled environment under medical supervision because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and distressing. In a rehab center, a person can benefit from medical guidance and counseling as they undergo withdrawal, all while avoiding the risk of relapse. Once someone finishes detox, they will be ready to start other forms of treatment.
Therapy and Counseling
The journey from alcoholism to sobriety is difficulty, so therapy and counseling are important. There are licensed therapists all over the world who specialize in helping recovering alcoholics. During treatment and recovery, a therapist or counselor can be a supportive source of encouragement and companionship. Furthermore, a therapist or counselor can help people identify underlying problems that contribute to alcoholism, including anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, and depression. There are many different types of therapy for alcoholism treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and motivational enhancement therapy. While therapy can take place between a person and their therapist, it is also possible to participate in therapy as a couple or with family members.
While there is no medical cure for alcohol addiction, some FDA-approved medications can help people stop drinking. For example, disulfiram (brand-name Antabuse) discourages drinking by causing someone to feel nausea and dizziness from alcohol. In this way, disulfiram serves as an alcohol deterrent, but only as long as someone takes it.
Another drug, acamprosate (brand-name Campral) reduces alcohol cravings and alleviates withdrawal. Lastly, naltrexone (brand-names Revia and Vivitrol) prevents alcohol from causing sensations of sedation and euphoria in the brain. In other words, someone who drinks alcohol after taking naltrexone will not experience many of the addictive effects of intoxication.
While all of these medications are safe, they can cause side-effects. It is important to remember that medication should always supplement a comprehensive treatment plan. A person should never become dependent on medications to control their drinking. Antabuse, Campral, Revia, and Vivitrol all require prescriptions.
Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab
An addiction treatment center offers at least one form of rehab. There are thousands of treatment centers in the United States and even more throughout the world that offer inpatient and outpatient rehab programs for alcoholics. Patients in an inpatient rehab program reside for several days or weeks at a treatment facility. An inpatient rehab program addresses the physical and emotional aspects of addiction in a therapeutic setting. Inpatient rehab often follows completion of a supervised detox program.
By contrast, most patients in an outpatient rehab program will live at home and travel to a facility for treatment. In some cases, outpatient programs offer halfway houses or sober living homes for patients who lack a supportive, alcohol-free place to stay.
Most rehab programs will provide a combination of counseling, training for life skills and coping mechanisms, medication, 12-step programs, meals, recreation, and rest. During rehab, a person experiences life without alcohol and develops a lifestyle that allows them to maintain sobriety once they leave the treatment center. Rehab helps people integrate back into society as sober individuals with healthy coping techniques for handling alcohol cravings.
Joining a Support Group
During and after rehab, many alcoholics in recovery benefit from joining a community that understands their problem and shares the goal of overcoming it. Whether its Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, or a faith-based fellowship, a support group for recovering alcoholics can provide an element of social support to a treatment plan that keeps people from feeling alone as they strive to give up drinking.
In a support group, people can help each other avoid relapse through advice, experience, and encouragement in a friendly, sympathetic environment. Many support groups are free and welcome participants from every background and with any level of addiction. Many rehab centers, churches, and community centers host support groups regularly.
I’m Ready to Make a Change in My Life. How Can I Start Treatment?
You may know or suspect that you’re an alcoholic, but making the decision to seek treatment for alcoholism requires you to admit to yourself and others that you have a drinking problem and commit to resolving it. If you’ve decided it’s time to get sober, you can take the first step right now to starting treatment by talking to a dedicated recovery provider about your options for rehab. One phone call can set you on the path to finally achieving sobriety and taking control of your life. To get answers to your questions and learn more about treatment, please contact a treatment provider today.
Author: Nathaniel Yerby | Last Edited: August 5, 2021
Medical Reviewer: Theresa Parisi