A guide for beating alcohol addiction
When most people think of addiction, they usually think of street drugs like cocaine or heroin Those substances are certainly dangerous, but the most-abused substance in the United States (U.S) is actually one that’s legally manufactured, distributed, and is probably in your very own home: alcohol.
Due to its legal status and availability, people underestimate the addictive power of alcohol. However, alcoholism is one of the most dangerous forms of addiction that exists, and it’s notoriously toxic. Beyond the individual effects, alcohol abuse can tear families apart and contribute to the crime rates in many communities. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that alcohol abuse costs the U.S. more than $223.5 billion each year. Moreover, approximately 75 percent of that alcohol abuse qualifies as “binge drinking”.
Since alcohol abuse has become such a normal part of our society, it’s important than ever for people to be aware of the treatment options for. Whether you have developed a chemical addiction to alcohol or you think you’ve started to abuse it, there are several treatment options available to you.
Although it’s a legal substance, alcohol isn’t as safe or innocent as you might think. In today’s society, it’s become normal to recreationally and socially abuse alcohol, but this cultural recklessness has resulted in over 2 percent of Americans suffering from alcoholism. Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available for those who have become physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol, including detox treatment, outpatient and inpatient care, transitional living, and the various aftercare resources that are currently available.
Alcohol is an incredibly addictive substance, both physically and psychologically, which makes overcoming alcohol dependence a difficult process. More often than not, treatment for alcoholism begins with a period of detoxification treatment to address the physical side of an alcohol addiction.
The recovery process is intended to help an alcoholic become totally free from the chemical dependency that comes with alcoholism, but this means that he or she must stop drinking in order to begin the recovery process. After an extended period of frequent, heavy alcohol consumption, the sudden cessation of drinking alcohol is known to result in withdrawal symptoms that can vary in intensity. On a case by case basis, alcohol withdrawal can range from annoying to fatal without medical treatment.
A person’s general health also affects the difficulty he or she will experience in detox and recovery; those who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, or any number of other health problems are more likely to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Unfortunately, there’s no way around this part of the alcoholism recovery process, but there are ways of making the experience of overcoming physical dependence on alcohol and withdrawals much more manageable.
A person who has abused alcohol heavily for a long time will require careful medical management of his or her withdrawal symptoms, and treatment serves several important purposes.
In a medical detox treatment program for alcoholism, prescription drugs are sometimes used for controlling symptoms; however, these medications are also meant to help those in alcohol detox treatment to be as comfortable as possible during what would otherwise be a very unpleasant process. Typically, withdrawal symptoms begin eight hours after a person addicted to alcohol has stopped drinking.
Without medical detox treatment, withdrawal symptoms can quickly become severe over the first several days, but the combination of medication and other treatments can help curb your body’s negative reaction to the loss of the chemical substance.
The most common symptoms a patient might experience during alcohol detoxification include anxiety, restlessness, irritability, strong cravings for alcohol, depression, insomnia, mood swings, and difficulty thinking clearly. Clammy skin, headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, and sweating are also common, but can typically be mitigated to the point where they’re not causing much discomfort.
In the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal, a person experiences a dangerous condition called delirium tremens, involving symptoms of extreme agitation, fever, hallucinations, and seizures. Delirium tremens can be fatal if not treated properly. Again, due to the extent to which alcohol withdrawal affects cognition, emotions, and physiology, alcoholics are discouraged from undergoing an alcohol detox unless they’re in a safe place and receiving professional, medical supervision.
Alcohol addiction treatments can widely vary. Most forms of outpatient treatment are more accessible and less daunting to someone who is only just beginning to seek help for an alcohol problem. In the majority of outpatient programs, there’s an initial patient assessment, which is a means of gauging a prospective patient’s health and the severity of his or her alcoholism. This assessment allows for the creation of a more individualized outpatient treatment plan, which is then administered while the person continues living at home.
As part of an outpatient alcoholism treatment program, patients participate in a schedule of individual therapy sessions, educational seminars, group therapy, and sometimes 12-step meetings as well; this particular curriculum is designed to educate and support the person undergoing treatment so as to prevent relapse. In most of the psychotherapeutic, counseling, and group sessions, patients talk openly about personal issues as a means of identifying and addressing any mental, emotional, or experiential factors that might have contributed to their becoming alcoholics.
Because they are much more casual than other forms of treatment, outpatient programs are often considered the “crash course” version of addiction recovery, attempting to help addicts and alcoholics get sober quickly and with the smallest time commitment as possible, which is another reason why outpatient care is preferred by most patients.
Here’s how outpatient treatment works:
Following an outpatient program can be a challenge for some since this type of treatment involves patients commuting to their treatment facilities while continuing to live in their normal home environments. Although this may seem preferable and is often chosen due to the schedule flexibility it can offer, outpatient care doesn’t offer any separation between patients addicted to alcohol and the environments in which they developed their addictions and lived in active addiction for an extended period of time.
However, there are some advantages of outpatient care for alcoholism, too. In particular, patients are able to continue with school or employment while they are undergoing treatment. Additionally, attending treatment while continuing to live at home eliminates the stress of transitioning into and out of an inpatient facility. Some might consider an outpatient program to be more discreet rather than having to explain an extended absence to family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
Outpatient programs are also less expensive than live-in treatment options, and they work best when the person undergoing treatment has a supportive family situation where alcohol is not present. However, there is inevitably more opportunity and temptation to resume drinking when a patient is in an outpatient program. Driving past a bar or liquor store on the way home from treatment is sometimes all it takes. For some, resisting this continuous temptation might be impossible due to the nature of the disease of alcoholism.
Inpatient alcohol rehabilitation treatment takes place in a residential facility where the person will live for the duration of his or her program, which can last between one and three months. Many alcoholics entering recovery, especially those who are beginning treatment for the first time, are reluctant to choose an inpatient program. But because inpatient programs offer much better quality and quantity of treatment, one’s chances of achieving sustainable sobriety are significantly greater than if one chooses outpatient treatment or attempts to go it alone. Since the advent of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act in 211, most insurance companies now cover either part or all of the cost of inpatient alcoholism care.
After the initial intake assessment, detoxification is the next step before real treatment can begin. Alcohol detox treatment is usually offered as a separate program that’s completed (sometimes in a separate facility that handles detox specifically) prior to inpatient treatment, but there are some recovery centers that include a detox period as the first phase of inpatient treatment.
For some, detoxification may last between five and seven days, but in cases of severe alcoholism, it’s possible for a person to require up to two weeks of detox treatment. After detox, patients begin the rehabilitation process in the form of an intensive daily schedule of therapeutic activities.
The schedule changes as the weeks go by, reflecting a person’s progression in the process and addressing more of a patient’s unique needs. Each patient is paired with an individual therapist with whom they have regular counseling sessions to address any mental or emotional problems that may have led to alcohol addiction. It’s during these sessions that a patient starts to identify some of his or her triggers and learn how to avoid them in the future.
Group therapy is common in inpatient treatment centers with some incorporating the 12-step method used in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. As a whole, the beginning of an inpatient program is the hardest part. This when a patient must address the physical components of addiction and adjust to being alcohol-free on a day-to-day basis. The evidence tends to show that longer stays in inpatient programs result in lasting sobriety significantly more often than short-term treatment.
For many people who have completed an alcohol detox and an outpatient or inpatient program, transitional living and/or a number of other aftercare options reinforce their newfound sobriety and help them abstain from alcohol indefinitely. According to the results of a National Institute of Health study, recovering alcoholics who spent a period of time in transitional living facilities had a higher rate of success in recovery than others who did not live in transitional living facilities between the completion of their rehabilitation programs and their returns to their homes.
Unfortunately, even people who are extremely motivated in their recoveries can relapse if they return home to dysfunctional living environments before they’re ready and able to use their recovery skills to remain sober. Transitional and sober living houses aren’t funded or licensed by the state and don’t offer the recovery curriculum of an inpatient program, but provide an alcohol and drug-free environment with ongoing monitoring and support.
Here are some additional benefits to transitional housing:
Additionally, most people who complete an alcoholism recovery program have the opportunity to remain involved in their rehab’s’ alumni programs. These programs are intended only for graduates of a facility’s programs and offer a continued resource as they progress in their recovery journeys. In most cases, an alumni program is a way to remain part of a network that consists of the treatment providers of a facility as well as other facility graduates.
Alumni programs regularly offer members the opportunity to participate in peer-support groups and individual meetings with others who have successfully completed a treatment program and remained sober for a set period of time. Alternately, Alcoholics Anonymous—the original and most popular 12-step program and recovery fellowship—is another aftercare option that many people continue to use either for finding the support they need to stay sober or as a primary recovery tool that helps them get sober.
If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol addiction or some other chemical dependency, call Drug Treatment Center Finder at 855-619-87. Don’t wait another day to begin your journey back to sobriety, health, and happiness.