Can Alcoholism Be Treated and Cured?
Alcoholism is a disease that is absolutely treatable if the person is willing to seek the appropriate help available. Is it a curable disease? – well that’s up for debate. Non-the-less, people do overcome their addictions to alcohol by learning how to manage their alcoholism through therapies, support groups, and treatment medication.
Alcoholism affects over 17 million people in the United States, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Unfortunately, many people who suffer with alcoholism are reluctant to get the treatment they need. This is usually due to a variety of reasons, from not understanding they actually have a problem, to worrying about being stereotyped as an alcoholic. People who are willing to take that important first step will find there is a lot of help available, which is all designed to help them achieve a successful recovery.
The first important step for individuals who are suffering from alcoholism is to visit their own doctor. This will result in an assessment that will take in to consideration the individual’s age, as well as the person’s family and medical history. The doctor may also decide to run a variety of blood and neurological tests. These will determine if the alcoholism has caused any long-term effects. Once all the information is considered, the doctor can decide on the best course of treatment for the individual’s needs.
Detoxification: Part of the Treatment
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a medically supervised detoxification is when safe-substitute drugs are administered to an individual to help manage the physical withdrawal symptoms. Depending on how bad the person’s dependency on alcohol is, these symptoms can range in severity. A detoxification usually requires a small stay in a hospital or rehabilitation center, although alcoholics who are considered low-risk may be considered for an outpatient detoxification. Certain safe-substitute drugs, such as benzodiazepine, can only be administered in a hospital. Other drugs require supervision from a pharmacist or doctor. A detoxification is considered only part of the treatment, as it only deals with the physical dependency on alcohol.
Psychotherapy: Part of Alcoholism Treatment Program
Psychotherapy, usually cognitive behavioral therapy, is an important part of an alcoholism treatment program. This addresses the powerful psychological dependency a person has on alcohol. A qualified therapist will work with individuals on a one-to-one and group basis; teaching them how to change their alcohol-seeking behaviors. The therapist will concentrate on treating them new coping skills, meaning they will be better equipped to deal with life stresses and problems. People often use alcohol to escape problems in their life, psychotherapy will help them address this and give them the coping skills to prevent them doing this in the future. A therapist will also address the problem of alcohol triggers; this is something that triggers a person to use alcohol. Common alcohol triggers include people, places and even smell. Changing these behaviors is often difficult for alcoholics, as it usually involves avoiding places they used to drink or people they would drink with regularly.
Importance of Ongoing Alcohol Therapy
According to the NIAAA, around 700,000 people receive some form of alcoholism treatment every week in the United States. The success rate fluctuates, although it is believed that nearly 50 percent of people who receive treatment for alcoholism will never touch a drink again. A further 18 percent will only drink alcohol in moderation. Despite this information, a person is most at risk from suffering a relapse in the first 12 months following treatment. This is why ongoing therapy is important. Attending an alcohol support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, allows individuals to share experiences with others who have been through the treatment process too. Self-help groups usually consist of a small group of recovering alcoholics and a professional therapist. Some states also offer recovering alcoholics the chance to stay in something known as a sober house. This is a residence where individuals can stay if they live in an environment where alcohol is commonplace. This usually applies to people who have other alcoholics in their family. According to the NIAAA, alcoholism can never be cured, but with the right sort of treatment and follow-up care, it can be effectively managed. This means there is no reason why an alcoholic cannot go on to live a healthy, happy life while remaining alcohol free.