A myriad of factors, including genes, psychological and mental issues, or your family history, might be the cause of your alcohol addiction.
With this abundance of possible reasons, alcohol addiction treatment can be highly challenging.
However, by applying the proper techniques and programs, the chances of getting over alcohol dependence can become significantly high.
This post will break down the different alcohol addiction treatment methods and approaches. Most importantly, we’ll guide you in choosing the best treatment program for your needs.
Table of Contents
- What Does Addiction Mean in Alcohol?
- What is the Most Effective Treatment for Alcohol Dependence?
- How to Manage Withdrawal Symptoms and Cravings?
- Why Is Medical Supervision Vital During the Period of Withdrawal Symptoms?
- What Are the Different Alcohol Treatment Programs?
- How to Choose the Best Program for You?
What Does Addiction Mean in Alcohol?
Alcohol addiction is a chronic disorder that drives individuals to consume alcohol compulsively in large quantities regularly.
An addict experiences negative emotions when they stop or reduce alcohol consumption for only a few hours.
For this reason, the user loses control over their consumption and continuously increases the amount and frequency of drinking.
Gradually, drinking becomes the center of their life. As a result, they experience significant adverse effects on their occupational, health, and social life.
Despite all these awful circumstances, addicts can’t stop drinking.
Alcohol addiction, also called alcohol use disorder (AUD), has a range of symptoms that can be severe, mild, or moderate. Here are the most common ones:
- Inability to reduce or stop drinking
- Spending hours consuming alcohol
- Having a continuous urgent desire to drink and a failure to focus on any other activity
- Drinking, regardless of the resulting health and social problems
- Losing interest in things the individual used to like
- Engaging in dangerous activities during or after drinking, like driving or swimming under alcohol effect
- Experiencing sleeping and restfulness issues, sweating, racing heart, and even seizure when reducing the amount of alcohol
What is the Most Effective Treatment for Alcohol Dependence?
Healthcare professionals use multiple psychological, biological, and social methods to treat alcohol addicts. They also use medications to assist in the recovery process.
They decide the appropriate therapies and medication based on your addiction condition and some health factors.
Here are the evidence-based treatments they use:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Every alcohol addict has a set of established distorted thoughts that significantly affect their behavior, driving them to overdrink.
Without getting rid of your distorted thoughts, you’re susceptible to returning to alcohol even when completely recovered.
The role of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help you recognize and get over these thoughts.
The model of this therapy is centered around influencing three main cognitive elements:
- The beliefs of you about yourself, the world, and others.
- Automatic thoughts that provoke the urge to drink.
- Irrational misbeliefs that hold you back from getting over the addiction
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical behavioral therapy focuses on helping you accept and validate your difficult feelings and attitudes. That way, you can start adjusting your behavior.
The therapy helps you find a balance between what you should change and what you should accept.
The ultimate goal is to convince you that having unchangeable issues is okay while still living a good life. Adopting this mindset will make you more willing to stop drinking.
This form of therapy is especially vital for bipolar disorder patients on those who experience suicidal ideation.
Most alcohol addicts lose their motivation to quit drinking as soon as they experience withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, a lot of treatment programs include motivational interviewing.
Using this technique, therapists listen to you with empathy to fully understand your mental and emotional state.
Based on this understanding, therapists develop personalized strategies to motivate you to continue adjusting your behavior.
They also create a plan to improve your mental and physical health and social interaction.
Motivational interviewing aims to increase your confidence and persuade you of the necessity of change.
Contingency management is another form of behavioral therapy. It involves rewarding you for your positive behavior to motivate you to continue being sober.
By reinforcing positive behavior, your chances of achieving full recovery increase. This method is used along with other therapies and medications to achieve the best results.
Group counseling is a type of treatment that involves bringing you with other addicts together in a discussion.
During group sessions, you participate with a small group of patients with one or two therapists to moderate the session.
Patients share their experiences and how they deal with their addiction. These stories can highly inspire and motivate you and the other participants.
Group sessions can provide highly emotional support by creating a sense of community among patients facing a common enemy.
You’ll face unique challenges and issues based on your specific condition during the recovery period. That’s why you need the counsel of a therapist in individual sessions.
During these sessions, the therapist equips you with the right tools and tactics to face everyday challenges during your recovery journey.
Individual counseling helps you to achieve your short-term behavior change goals.
These sessions also provide continuous supervision for any updates in your life. This ensures that any circumstances you’re going through won’t affect your recovery from alcohol.
Relapse Prevention and Aftercare Planning
When in the recovery process, you’re highly prone to relapse and reuse of alcohol once again. That’s why a relapse prevention plan is crucial to protect you during moments of weakness.
Most relapse prevention plans contain strategies to distract yourself when craving alcohol.
They also include tools to help you understand the triggers that drive you to drink. Equally important, it involves instructions on recognizing and avoiding drinking triggers.
In addition, these plans can also provide exercise and meditation activities.
Family Therapy and Support
Parents, siblings, spouses, and all family members have a significant impact on helping you during the recovery process.
They also can be a significant cause of relapse and failure in the treatment process if they misbehave.
Because of this substantial influence of family on you, therapists might ask for their help. They reach out to them to advise them on how to assist you in the recovery process.
Therapists will teach different family members how to support you to accelerate recovery effectively. They also instruct them on how to provide the needed help when required.
There are three widely used FPA-approved drugs that most professionals prescribe to alcohol addicts to help them resist alcohol cravings.
These drugs don’t directly stop your alcohol addiction. Instead, they work on supporting you after detoxification to help you stay sober in the long run.
Here are these three medications:
- Naltrexone: works to block the effect of alcohol on the endorphin receptors of your body to reduce alcohol cravings.
- Acamprosate: works on readjusting the reward system in your brain from being alcohol dependent. This is to make alcohol no longer desirable for you.
- Disulfiram: works by interfering with the digestion and absorption of alcohol, causing awful symptoms. This makes consuming alcohol a highly unpleasant experience.
How to Manage Withdrawal Symptoms and Cravings?
When you start cutting back the amount of alcohol you consume or stop drinking, you’ll experience multiple withdrawal symptoms.
Mild symptoms start to appear within only 6 hours of your last drink. These symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, vomiting, shaky hands, and nausea.
More severe issues kick in between 12 and 48 hours after you stop drinking. At that time, you’ll experience hallucinations and seizures.
Between 48 and 72 hours after the last drink, you may experience less common symptoms like delirium tremens, fever, high blood pressure, confusion, and heavy sweating.
Although most people stop experiencing these symptoms after a maximum of 7 days, some might still experience them beyond this time.
Why Is Medical Supervision Vital During the Period of Withdrawal Symptoms?
It’s crucial to stay under medical supervision during the period of withdrawal symptoms. This is to help you control severe symptoms like hallucinations and seizures.
Doctors can also give you medications to help alleviate the symptoms.
In addition, the existence of medical supervision will help you avoid any quick relapse when experiencing these unpleasant symptoms.
To overcome the stage of withdrawal symptoms, your therapist may also suggest some strategies such as:
- Following a healthy diet that full of fluids
- Regular exercising
- Staying in a quiet place
What Are the Different Alcohol Treatment Programs?
There are various treatment programs to help you overcome your alcohol dependence. Here are these programs:
Outpatient Alcohol Rehab
If you experience mild to moderate AUD symptoms, outpatient alcohol rehab programs are an excellent option.
These recovery plans provide the required treatments and support while allowing you to proceed with your typical daily responsibilities.
Outpatient alcohol treatment programs usually include counseling sessions with various types of therapies and medication-assisted treatments.
The main goal of these programs is to help you identify the triggers that lead you to overdrink and prevent it. That way, you become more capable of getting over dangerous drinking behavior.
During these programs, you meet with therapists on a daily basis for multiple weeks.
As your condition improves, the meeting frequency decreases while maintaining continuous communication between you and the therapists.
There are two types of outpatient rehab plans:
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)
A partial hospitalization program can be a good option if you live near an addiction treatment facility.
During this program, you undergo an intensive treatment plan for 5–8 hours a day. However, by the end of the day, you return to your home.
Medical professionals keep in contact with you even when you’re back home. This is to intervene if signs of relapse or unexpected health conditions occur.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
During Intensive outpatient programs, you’ll attend treatment sessions in the rehab facility for 3–4 hours a day.
You’ll engage in intensive counseling and medical support sessions according to your schedule.
These sessions are led by psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and social workers. They work together to develop a personalized plan to help you recover.
Inpatient Treatment Programs
Outpatient programs can be ineffective if you experience severe AUD symptoms or have been drinking for years. In this case, inpatient treatment programs can be the ideal solution.
These programs involve staying in the rehab facility throughout the treatment period.
That way, you have access to medical professionals all day. This makes getting urgent help much easier in case of any unexpected problem.
You’ll follow a daily schedule of different therapy sessions during inpatient programs. You’ll also engage in counseling sessions and many activities throughout the day.
These programs begin with a well-designed plan to detox your body from the effect of alcohol. Then, the therapists will start an ongoing process of teaching you new techniques to overcome alcoholism.
This stage is essential to prevent any future relapse and to help you maintain long-term sobriety.
There are two types of inpatient treatment programs:
- Short-term residential treatment: From 3 to 6 weeks
- Long-term residential treatment: From 3 to 12 months
How to Choose the Best Program for You?
Selecting the best alcohol addiction treatment program can be challenging. Nonetheless, there are some considerations to help you pick the best program for your needs:
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Programs
In some conditions, you may need 24/7 medical supervision. That way, you should choose an inpatient program. Here are these conditions:
- You’re over 60 as you’ll have a harder time overcoming the detox phase than younger people
- Experience severe AUD symptoms
- Suffer from any mental and psychological issues along with alcohol addiction
- Use drugs along with drinking
- Have liver, heart, or breathing problems
The location of the rehab center plays a significant role in your commitment. So, try to pick a center you can quickly access daily.
This is because alcohol treatment programs require your attendance on a daily basis.
Check the fees of each available program to ensure you can afford it. You might check your health insurance provider if you can’t afford the whole program.
Some health insurance services can support alcohol addiction treatment programs. Loans and self-funding can also be an option.
Remember that whatever the program’s cost, it’ll be much less than continuing to use alcohol in the long run.
Alcohol addiction treatment programs have a duration ranging between 3 weeks and three months. You need to pick a program that has a length that matches your needs.
Your Healthcare Professional’s Opinion
It’s essential to consult your doctor before choosing any program. This is to ensure that this program matches your needs and health conditions.
Your physician can assess your health and addiction condition accurately. That way, they can recommend the most suitable program to you.
Getting rid of your alcohol dependence is necessary to regain control over your life. Luckily, alcohol addiction treatment methods are now much more effective than ever.
With just a few months or even weeks of commitment, you can become free of alcohol.
If you need any help with your alcohol dependence, feel free to contact us now. We’re here to help you break the bonds of addiction.