When a person receives a diagnosis of alcoholism, the next important step is getting that person to appropriate alcoholism treatment. Unfortunately, there is a variety of reasons alcoholics are reluctant to seek treatment including, the belief that therapy will not work, fear of being stereotyped and complete denial they have a problem at all. The first thing alcoholic individuals and their loved ones should understand is that alcoholism is a disease. In addition, just as some diseases cause pain, alcoholism produces responses such as fear of withdrawal and severe cravings. It is also good for alcoholics to understand that treatment can be challenging but that it is all worth it to achieve a successful recovery. Intervention by a loved one is usually a turning point for alcoholic individuals, often providing them with the motivation to seek the help they need. While it is important an alcoholic’s loved ones express their support, they will also need to be firm in their insistence that the person seeks treatment.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), intervention meetings are different to more traditional alcoholism treatment programs. While this type of meeting is usually designed for a person who is on the cusp of developing an alcohol problem, they can also help motivate an alcoholic in to seeking more extensive treatment for their alcoholism. The best intervention meetings are usually those that both the alcoholic person and family can attend together. This allows the family to discuss how the individual’s alcoholism has affected them as a unit. This is also a good setting for loved ones to strongly demand that the individual seek treatment, as they have the backup of professional counselors.
Inpatient and Outpatient Alcohol Treatment
In the not so distant past, treatment for alcoholism would have required a person to stay in hospital for an unknown period of time. Today, a number of treatments for alcoholism exist that do not require a person to stay in hospital at all. There are lots of different types of programs, some involve the person committing for a couple of hours a day over several weeks, while others require up to 20 hours of attendance a week over an indefinite amount of time. If the person is considered low-risk, to both themselves and others, outpatient care under the supervision of a doctor is usually the best course of treatment. Inpatient programs usually take place in a physiatrist hospital, although some general hospitals run them too. There are lots of different types of programs, some involve the person committing for a couple of hours a day over several weeks. There are also specialist alcohol addiction treatment centers, which offer the same services as a hospital. Individuals who are usually recommended for inpatient treatment are usually those who are suffering severe withdrawals or who have had several failed rehabilitation attempts in the past. If the person suffers from a psychiatric disorder or comes from a family of alcoholics, inpatient care is usually a wise option. Inpatient care usually involves a medically supervised detoxification, which is managed with the use of medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy and an introduction to outside support groups are also an integral part of the alcoholism treatment. People who receive outpatient care will generally undergo the same treatment as those who are admitted for inpatient treatment, although the detoxification medication will vary.
Aftercare services are primarily designed to help recovering alcoholics maintain their sobriety once their treatment has finished. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a good after-care service can make a who difference to whether a person’s alcoholism treatment is successful. Some states provide sober houses, which provide somewhere to live for people who are trying to stay sober. While it is not formal treatment, staff members who supervise the houses will remind individuals if they have a therapy appointment or support group meeting. They also, along with other residents, offer support and the chance to live in a completely alcohol-free environment.
An individual who suffers from both mental illness and alcoholism will need to undergo different treatment. Because alcohol withdrawal symptoms cause a person to experience some psychiatric stress, an alcoholic with mental health issues will find it much more difficult to resist turning to drink. The NIAAA believes the some self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, are not effective when it comes to treating people with a dual-diagnosis of both alcoholism and mental illness. This is because these groups tend to specifically focus on the actual addiction itself, rather than any underlying psychological problems. Anti-depressants are improving all the time and it is believed that while a self-help group may not be useful for a dual-diagnosis individual by itself, if the individual is on the appropriate medication and receiving the appropriate psychological therapy it can prove to be just as effective as with other alcoholic individuals.
According to the NIAAA around 20 – 25-percent of people who receive medication and therapy will recover from alcoholism and never touch alcohol again. A further 10-percent will recover and only drink alcohol in moderation or very occasionally. Unfortunately, the relapse rate for alcoholism is high, especially in the first 12 months. This means engaging the alcoholic individual in relapse prevention therapy while in treatment is important. This should reduce the person’s chances of returning to drink, once the treatment has ended.
There are also other factors that can influence a person’s chance of making a successful recovery and it is nothing to do with any kind of treatment. It is believed that people who are on a low-income and come from areas experiencing economic decline, are more likely to relapse than an individual who lives in an effluent area. This is because escaping stress and anxiety is one of the major reasons why people turn to drink.
Alcohol.org is a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers (AAC), a leading provider of addiction treatment nationwide with patient success rates beyond the industry average.
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