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Understanding How Recovery Programs for Alcohol Addiction Work

Alcohol Addiction Work

Alcohol is one of the top substances that’s abused in the United States. A survey by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows 14.1 million adults 18 years and older admitted to struggling with alcohol use disorder. With the numerous treatments available in the country, there is hope for everyone. For example, entering a Tampa drug rehab facility is a good option to help those with substance abuse and who want to stay within Florida’s west coast area.

Each substance requires a different treatment approach. For individuals who want to overcome an alcohol addiction, they have a choice in how to go about their treatment. But before deciding on one, they need to understand all the programs and the effects on their recovery.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a mental disorder that harms an individual’s ability to control their alcohol consumption despite the harmful effects. Although it is considered a treatable medical condition, prolonged alcohol dependence can have a lasting impact on the brain.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

A drinking problem doesn’t automatically mean alcohol addiction, but some signs can help identify if it is a concerning issue. Doctors can make an initial diagnosis if a patient’s alcohol problem is mild, moderate, and severe. Answering yes to two or more of these questions will determine the result and the need for a formal medical evaluation.

In the past year, did you:

  • Experience drinking more or longer than you initially planned?
  • Try to control or stop drinking, but failed to do so?
  • Spend a lot of time drinking or nursing yourself from a hangover?
  • Crave to drink or want to drink so bad?
  • Fail to fulfill your responsibilities at home, at work, or school because of your drinking and its aftereffects?
  • Carry on with your drinking even if you know it is causing problems with your relationships with friends and family?
  • Prioritize drinking over your other interests, hobbies, and activities?
  • Get yourself in harmful situations like driving, or endanger your own life after drinking?
  • Carry on with your drinking even if it was damaging your health or adding other health problems, or having a memory blackout?
  • Find yourself increasing the number of drinks to feel its effects?
  • Experience symptoms of withdrawal when you stopped drinking like shaking, irritability, feeling depressed, nausea, feeling restless, having trouble sleeping, or sweating?

Treatment Programs

Once individuals with alcohol use disorder have completed their medical assessment, they will receive a recommendation for a treatment plan. Each one is facilitated by health professionals and designed for the unique needs of the patient. With the various treatment programs available, it’s good to know their differences with one another, which will help in making an informed choice.

Detox

In most treatment programs, patients undergo detox to get rid of any trace of alcohol in their system. Initially, an individual that has developed an alcohol dependence will experience symptoms of withdrawal once the effects of alcohol wear off. This usually happens within 6–24 hours after they had their last drink. The symptoms vary on the patient’s condition, which can be either mild or severe. Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations

It can be challenging to handle these symptoms alone, and that’s why medical supervision is often advised. Depending on the severity, the symptoms can last for a week, but the worst ones occur in the first 24–72 hours.

Medications

To support the treatment of alcohol dependence, doctors may prescribe naltrexone, disulfiram, or acamprosate. These medications all help reduce cravings for alcohol and lessen its pleasurable effects. Take note that they will not completely cure alcohol addiction but can support the patient’s recovery. Also, they don’t have any addictive properties and are used to help manage the chronic disease.

Behavioral Treatments

No individual choses to be addicted to any substance including alcohol. In most cases, there is an underlying cause that led them to depend on it, which is discovered through counseling in behavioral treatments. Also, health professionals guide individuals to explore and change their drinking behavior in the sessions. Here are the most common behavioral treatments:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an evidence-based treatment that can be done individually or in a group setting. During therapy sessions, patients explore the feelings they have that led them to drink. They are also taught how to manage these more healthily so they won’t revert to their old drinking habits. Additionally, this kind of therapy aims to educate patients to identify situations that may trigger their drinking problem and to develop new coping skills.
  • Brief interventions are individual or small-group counseling sessions conducted in a limited time. During the short session, a counselor educates the patient about the habits and risks of their drinking issue. Then, they will be given feedback and guided on how to make positive changes in their lifestyle.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy helps encourage those struggling with alcohol dependence to address and treat their drinking problems. To achieve this, they will be presented with various information about seeking treatment, planning new goals, motivating them, and teaching new skills to reach their goals.
  • Family counseling involves either the individual’s spouse and other family members in their treatment process to support the success of their recovery. According to studies, individuals with strong family support and family therapy maintain their sobriety better than those who attend individual counseling.

Support Groups

Peer support is also an important aspect in maintaining sobriety. The most common ones are Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-step programs. These are mutual-support groups that support individuals who want to cut back or quit their alcohol consumption. These can be paired with other treatments that are advised by a licensed health professional or as part of their aftercare program.

Sobriety is a lifelong process, but it can be achieved with the help of a comprehensive treatment program and a strong support group. It’s still best to contact a medical professional to discuss the best available option. 

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