The A-Z of alcoholism treatment programs

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic, progressive, and life-threatening brain disorder that affects millions of people around the world. Most medical experts refer to it as a chronic disease that impairs an individual’s mental and physical health. People who battle this condition find it challenging to give up alcohol, despite significant warnings on its adverse effects. AUD affects its victim’s wellbeing, social lifestyle, and occupation. It comes with a strong desire to consume more than the regular amount.

Sadly, alcoholics have a hard time maintaining a stable relationship, finance, education, career, or job. They spend more time drinking than engaging in productive activities. And when the effect wears off, symptoms like restlessness, depression, anxiety, irritability, tremor, hallucination, insomnia, sweating, and nausea take over the body. People with such experiences require immediate medical attention to detect the presence of AUD. Several therapeutic options are available to help alcoholics recover from this condition. However, some argue that there is no permanent cure to it. Therapy programs like Alcohol Anonymous (AA) help to improve the recovery process gradually.

The Use of Medications to Treat Alcoholism

One of the treatment options used to address alcohol use disorders is medication. There are three types approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They include:

  • Disulfiram: This medication is ideal in preventing alcohol dependency by providing immediate side effects within 10 minutes of consuming an alcoholic beverage. Most people know it as Antabuse. The individual may have blurred vision, chest pain, anxiety, flushing, and many more. It serves as a deterrent.
  • Acamprosate: When not consuming alcohol, patients can stay sober by taking this medication. Interestingly, anyone with AUD can use it, regardless of underlying medical conditions, like hepatitis or liver disease. As such, they can abstain from alcohol for longer periods. There are few side effects of this medication.
  • Naltrexone: This type of medication can come in the form of an injection or an oral tablet. It reduces the gratification felt when consuming alcoholic beverages. But how does that happen? Naltrexone inhibits the endogenous opioids secreted by the opioid receptors when drinking. This act limits alcohol dependency. However, it is worth stating that there are clauses attached to this medication.

It is advised to steer clear from alcohol for seven days before treatment. Additionally, individuals that use opioids to relieve pain, may have to seek other medications apart from Naltrexone. For those with severe liver complications or acute hepatitis, they are not to use the medication as well. On the brighter side, the side effects are minimal and it does not create an addiction.

Treating Alcoholism with Behavioural Therapies

Medications are not the only treatment option for alcohol use disorder (AUD), patients can undergo behavioural therapy to identify underlying factors that trigger alcohol cravings. These programs identifying unhealthy drinking patterns and behaviours that promote alcoholism. As such, certified psychotherapists, specialist nurses, and other health experts can provide patients with counselling to address this problem. Here are some types of behavioural therapies:

  • The 12-Step NA and AA Program: In using this treatment option to address alcoholism, medical specialists take into account the 12-step group principles, which incorporates Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Under this program, Patients gain an in-depth understanding of the adverse effect of alcoholism on the body, mind, and society at large. They learn to embrace a higher power in dealing with cravings. But that’s not all. These patients acquaint themselves with other aspects of the 12-step program and meetings.
  • Motivational Approach: With this treatment option, psychotherapists provide patients with effective techniques to address the mental triggers of alcoholism.
  • Contingency Management: This type of behavioural therapy focuses on providing in-patients with who are recovering with incentives to help them stay on course. Certain milestones are put in place, which such individuals are encouraged to achieve. They may include vouchers, prizes, and many more.
  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This procedure is common in treating addictions. Health experts can identify unhealthy behavioural patterns that trigger alcohol dependency and create a recovery plan to adjust them. It is essential to know that CBT doesn’t centre solely on AUD recovery; it addresses other underlying psychological factors, like depression and anxiety.
  • Family Behaviour Therapy (FBT): When using this behaviour therapy, medical specialists focus on not just the individual, but also the family. Specific elements leading to AUD may stem from family-related issues. As such, these professionals may implement contingency management and behaviour contracting to address such issues.

Treating Alcoholism Using Group Support Systems

In some cases, one-on-one therapy sessions are not enough to get a patient on the recovery path. Addiction rehabilitation centres may provide the individual with mutual support groups to speed up the healing process. These groups comprise other people recovering from alcohol use disorders. Each person provides the next individual with the necessary support to stay sober, even after treatment. People who participate in alcohol anonymous (AA) show tremendous signs of improvement.

Holistic Approaches

Alcoholism treatment is not limited to the above-discussed options. There are other alternatives as well, one of which is yoga. Some patients have testified of recovering speedily using this approach. Other treatment programs may include music therapy and art therapy. These methods keep patients motivated and optimistic. They have less time dwelling on unhealthy factors that may create a relapse.

In Conclusion

Individuals that struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD) should seek the medical help of an addiction rehab centre. Such facilities are equipped with highly-trained medical experts, including specialist nurses, therapists, and physicians that are on standby to provide the needed treatment program for recovery. They offer the right approach to help patients maintain sobriety.Top of Form

Addiction recovery centres may provide inpatient or outpatient treatment programs, depending on the severity of abuse. For persons with mild to moderate alcohol addiction, outpatient medical solutions may be recommended. Additionally, the facility may provide strong social support to help me in their post-treatment journey.

On the other hand, inpatient treatment options are for those individuals who battle severe alcohol dependency. As discussed before, such persons may have to limit external communication and activities to help them improve self-control. During such periods, they have access to their family members, who are also there to support them socially.

Photo: Nik Shuliahin, Unsplash