Alcohol is one of the most commonly used drugs in the World, it can be a regular form of relaxation, a great way to loosen up and relieve stress, and it’s available virtually everywhere, but alcohol also has a darker side that leads many to struggle with an addiction to it. No matter what age you are, what your occupation is, or what sort of lifestyle you lead, excessive alcohol consumption can become a problem if you let it get out of hand.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 6.7% of Americans aged over 21, or over 15 million people, struggled with an over dependence on alcohol in 2013 and experienced problems when trying to cut down their alcohol intake, it’s a far more common problem than many people realize and there should be no shame in enrolling yourself or a loved one into a treatment program or center that can help deal with the problem. Thousands take that first step every day and as a result they gain the skills they need to resist alcohol, and they end up stronger, healthier and happier when they successfully complete their course of treatment. But what are the most common types of Alcohol Treatment Programs available and what should you look for when you’re deciding which one would be most suitable for you or your loved one?
Why Choose a Professional Treatment Program For Alcohol Addiction?
Studies have indicated that those who seek help for a drinking problem are far more likely to succeed after a course of professional treatment. A 2006 survey by the National Institute of Health revealed that over 60% of those who had completed a treatment program maintained a sober lifestyle for at least three years, with 60% of those remaining sober for at least 16 years after their program was completed. Many of those who gave up drinking without any professional help failed to solve the problem, and of those that did give up alcohol, a large percentage lapsed back into their former habits within a year. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can also be extremely dangerous, and sometimes even fatal in the most severe cases. A 2010 survey by the Medical Council on Alcohol revealed that over 6% of people treated for alcohol withdrawal symptoms in hospital died from the effects, which include seizures, accelerated heart rate, and delerium tremens (DT’s).
When is it Time For Alcohol Rehab And What Are The Warning Signs to Look Out For?
Casual drinking will for many of us at one time or another lapse into short periods of heavier drinking, often caused by additional stresses, depression or a sudden life change. Some of us can be genetically more predisposed to become addicted to drinking and other substances, but what sort of things should you look out if you think that your drinking, or someone else’s is beginning to get out of control?
Health problems such as infections, loss of appetite and digestive problems, loss of libido, loss of appetite, insomnia and frequent unexplained injuries or accidents can all indicate that a persons drinking has crossed over into addition. Other symptoms may include hallucinations or mental confusion, cravings for alcohol, particularly if the person feels that they need a ‘hair-of-the-dog’ or ‘pick-me-up’ drink in the mornings. Those struggling with an alcohol addiction may also experience blackouts while drinking and an inability to stop drinking every day even when they want to.
If a person feels guilt or shame about their drinking habits they may try to hide the extent of their drinking from others, perhaps even drinking secretly in order to avoid dealing with the problem, these are also signs that their drinking habits may be beyond their control.
Although there are many degrees of alcohol abuse, if left unchecked they have a greater chance of developing into full blown alcoholism or alcohol dependence which is a chronic psychological disorder that will result in a complete inability to stop drinking no matter what the consequences to a persons life may be, the withdrawal symptoms in such severe cases can be extremely dangerous, so much so in fact that giving up drinking without medical treatment and expert assistance can even be fatal in that small percentage of cases.
If you have concerns for a family member or loved one an intervention may be the best course of action to take. You may wish to hire a professional interventionist to assist you during the intervention as they are trained in dealing with common situations such as a refusal to admit or acknowledge that a problem exists, anger and aggression and your loved one refusing to seek help, alternatively a medical professional may be able to assist in getting the person to acknowledge that they do have a drinking problem at this stage as part of the persons regular medical care.
How to Find The Best Alcohol Treatment Center in Your Area
Once you have made the decision to seek help for you, or your loved ones drinking then there are several state and local government facilities that will offer resources and advise about local rehab services in your area. You will be able to find the appropriate department for your state from the Directory of Single State Agencies for Substance Abuse Services, which is provided online with a search engine to guide those looking for an appropriate facility. If you are concerned about your own drinking, consulting your doctor or a medical professional may be the best action in order for them to steer you in the direction of the most appropriate help for you.
Once you, or your loved one, has had an initial evaluation at a treatment center a suggested course of treatment will be suggested to help the patient find the road to recovery. This can include individual, group and occupational therapy, as well as changes in a persons diet, exercise regime and lifestyle. The patient can also discuss the treatment plan to ensure that they feel involved in the proposed course of treatment and that they are motivated to recover from their addiction as much as possible.
What Types of Treatment Programs Are Available?
It is generally agreed by experts that residential care offers the best therapies and treatments to successfully treat an alcohol addiction. Residential programs, also known as inpatient programs are able to offer a far greater range of therapies and activities than outpatient treatments or support groups. This treatment is more likely to provide a patient with the tools that will enable them to recover from alcoholism, avoid the behavioral patterns that causes them to start drinking before treatment, and to help them remain sober once they have beaten their addiction.
Customized Treatment Programs
Everybody is different and every patients problem with alcohol is different and caused by a unique range of factors, so the best type of treatment is a customized program that focuses on the individual needs of the patient instead of a standard program that is identical for everyone. Customized treatment programs are recognized as the best way to motivate patients to complete their treatment program, and to continue abstaining from alcohol after the program is finished by involving them fully in the initial consultation process to agree upon the best method and course of treatment for their personal situation.
Medically Supported Rehabilitation Programs
There are treatments available for alcohol addiction that use medication to help patients manage their craving for alcohol more effectively. Treatments such as naltrexone, topiramate, disulfram and acamprosate have all been effective in some cases at helping patients abstain from alcohol and keep their recovery on track. Their primary benefit is to change a persons bodily response to alcohol, either by making someone feel nauseous when drinking, or by reducing the pleasure that they gain from alcohol. Some medicinal treatments have reduced cravings in some patients and although medically supported rehab may not be the best treatment long-term, it can potentially help a patient during the early stages of their treatment program, although always find out as much as possible about possible side-effects and other adverse health consequences of such treatments before agreeing to them.
Psychological Treatment Programs
Alcohol addiction is rarely present in a patient without some kind of psychological spur that drove their drinking out of control in the first place. Some drinking problems may have begun due to a person attempting to control the symptoms of a mental illness that may be undiagnosed, in others an adverse reaction to stressful situations may have led them to associate alcohol with a feeling of relief that has created a psychological crutch in their mind. Psychological treatments of alcohol addiction can help a patient recognize the emotional state that brings on a bout of drinking, and help them gain coping strategies to avoid this triggering state of mind in the future. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is widely used in addiction treatments to help people recognize their own pattern of behavior before drinking, and to give them the tools to formulate alternative responses to break the pattern. The therapy is effective at helping a patient to reprogram their response to certain events and able to lead them to a more positive response to the things that had previously led them to alcohol. CBT is not only effective during treatment, but it has been shown to be particularly effective in helping patients after their treatment program is complete, with patients who have undergone CBT showing a far greater likelyhood of maintaining a successful extended recovery.
There are a range of other treatments that may help a person recover from an addiction of alcohol, some of which may be required in certain cases. Trauma Therapy may be required, particularly for those who may be suffering from PTSD or a similar psychological condition. Family therapy can help make the family of a patient more aware of how they can help their loved one recover, and therapy that helps a patient build self-esteem and better support structures and relationships may all be useful to patients, depending on their own particular needs.
After Treatment Care
The sign of a good treatment center is one that not only provides a tailored treatment for an individual, but also one that provides resources and help for patients that have successfully completed their treatment program. Follow-up treatments such as motivational interviewing that help remind a former patient of the progress they have made and their commitment to recovering from their addiction can help them maintain an alcohol free life after treatment, as well as providing information about local support groups and programs where patients can be motivated by meeting with others who have successfully finished a course of treatment .
Support From Family After Treatments
Support from family members is vital once a course of treatment has been completed, particularly when someone has overcome chronic alcoholism and more severe addictions. Rehab is not a cure for alcoholism, it is merely the first stage of a process that will continue for many years and support from loved ones for the recovering patient can be the key to helping them overcome their problem completely. This can of course put enormous strain on supporting family members however there are mutual support groups where you can speak to others who have also helped loved ones overcome their drinking problem. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can help supporting family members talk through their individual issues and find strength and understanding from others who know exactly how hard it can be for you.