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Alcoholism

Treatment Options for Alcoholism

male alcoholic

Alcoholism, also referred to as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic disease that will affect all areas of one’s life. According to the Mayo Clinic, “it is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptom when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.” An individual that is addicted to alcohol will prioritize satisfying his or her alcohol cravings above all else. This can invariably lead to physical complications, relationship fractures, financial strain, legal problems, and more. There are a variety of treatment options available for individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder.

Detox

Prior to attending a formal substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program, an individual that has struggled with alcohol abuse must undergo detox. Detox is the process that rids one’s body of all abused substances. When an individual has habitually abused alcohol, his or her system will become accustomed to functioning with it present. When alcohol is removed from one’s system it will react accordingly and withdrawal symptoms will ensue. Though the withdrawal symptoms that accompany detoxing from alcohol are not inherently life threatening, many can cause severe discomfort, and support throughout the duration of the detox program via a medically supervised detox is recommended. Subsequent to the detox process, an individual that has struggled with alcohol abuse should seek formalized substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment. 

Treatment Options

Every person is different and will require a somewhat customized treatment plan when it comes to recovering from alcoholism. There are two main types of substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment programs, which are inpatient treatment programs and outpatient treatment programs. Inpatient treatment options require an individual to reside at the treatment facility for the duration of the program, whereas outpatient treatment options do not. Though the structure of the programs differs, both have the same primary goal: to help an individual become sober and healthy. Treatment programs can vary in length, typically ranging between twenty-one days long to three months long, in some cases longer. Each inpatient and outpatient substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program is different. Substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment programs are often comprised of a variety of treatment methods (e.g. individual psychotherapy, group therapy, creative arts therapies, etc.). Both options, inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment, can yield successful results, depending on the needs of the individuals. 

Aftercare

Developing an aftercare plan is an integral component of any type of formalized substance and/ or addiction treatment. An aftercare plan provides general suggestions and personal recommendations for an individual to refer to after he or she has completed the substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. An aftercare plan can be an excellent resource as it often includes relapse prevention strategies as well as provides tailored guidance for an individual to maintain continued sobriety.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Are The Causes Of Alcoholism?

denying an alcoholic drink

In the not so distant past, alcoholism carried a strong stigma as individuals struggling with alcoholism were viewed as weak, thoughtless individuals that lacked self-control and often relied on the use of poor judgment. Nowadays, alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is an addiction to alcohol, which is a chronic mental health disease characterized by uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol. The Mayo Clinic more specifically defines alcohol use disorder as “a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.” Individuals that struggle with alcoholism will prioritize satisfying their alcohol cravings above all else, without regard for the inevitable ensuing of negative consequences. This can affect not only one’s physical and emotional wellbeing, but also all areas of one’s life, which often include employment challenges, damaged relationships, legal complications, financial troubles, and more. 

Risk Factors

The precise scientific reason behind why an individual develops alcoholism remains unknown. There are, however, several risk factors that have been reported as potentially playing a role in increasing one’s susceptibility to alcoholism, which include the following:

  • Biological factors: research has found a close link between genetics/ physiology and alcoholism. 
  • Environmental Factors: people exposed to heavy alcohol consumption at a young age may be more likely to develop alcohol use disorder than those who are not. 
  • Social Factors: social situations where alcohol consumption is encouraged and/ or widely acceptable essentially provides an individual with permission to engage in unhealthy drinking.
  • Psychological Factors: individuals who suffer from other mental health conditions are more likely to abuse drugs and/ or alcohol. 

Additional factors such as one’s personal drinking history, the age an individual began drinking, low-self esteem, peer pressure to drink, and experiencing high levels of stress can also influence alcohol abuse and addiction. While it may be true that some individuals are likely predisposed to alcoholism more than others, it is important to note that depending on several factors, including one’s behaviors, anyone has the propensity to go on to develop an addiction to alcohol. 

Treatment

If left untreated, alcoholism can lead to severe short and long-term physical and psychological effects, and in some cases death. There are a variety of treatment options for an individual struggling with alcoholism. An individual that has habitually engaged in excessive alcohol abuse will need to complete detox as the initial stage of his or her treatment process, so as to rid the body of all foreign substances. Often detox from alcohol will include a slew of adverse withdrawal symptoms, some of which could include nausea, vomiting, intense anxiety, hallucinations, seizures, and more. After the completion of detox, subsequent treatment is often recommended. Alcoholism takes time to develop, hence it should be understood treatment is not instantaneous, rather it is often a life-long process. Depending on the needs of the individual there are inpatient substance abuse and addiction treatment program options as well as outpatient options. During any type of substance abuse or addiction treatment program, an individual will develop an aftercare plan. When adhered to, aftercare plans can be useful resources to help with continued sobriety and successful, long-term recovery.