Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Alcohol addiction is one of the most common forms of substance abuse in the United States. Alcohol use disorder occurs when a person no longer feels in control of their drinking. A 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 14.5 million people ages 12 and older in the U.S. have an alcohol use disorder.
Excessive drinking can lead to physiological, interpersonal and lifestyle problems. In severe cases, alcohol abuse may lead to death. Fortunately, despite the severity of alcohol use disorder, most people find that treatment is beneficial in some way. A variety of options are available to suit specific needs.
At FHE Health, we have over 15 years of experience in treating alcoholism. Individuals who have an alcohol addiction need to seek treatment as beating it on your own is very difficult even for the most dedicated of those hoping to quit. The statistics of what can occur are alarming. For example, 10 percent of children in the United States have a parent who has an alcohol abuse disorder. And three-quarters of those who misuse alcohol are binge drinking, a very high-risk type of abuse that can lead to sudden death.
Understanding that you or your loved one needs alcohol addiction treatment is the first step in moving forward. At FHE Health, we work closely with you to ensure you have every opportunity possible to achieve these goals.
Why Is Alcohol Addictive?
The excessive use of alcohol occurs due to the euphoric, calming effect it induces. To maintain these effects, alcohol needs to be ingested frequently. It’s often used as a coping mechanism for trauma or negative emotion. This could be in the form of stress, mental health disorders or following a period of grief. A family history of alcoholism is another key factor influencing the development of an addiction.
When Is It Alcoholism?
Many people mistakenly believe they aren’t suffering alcoholism because they have a stereotyped image of an alcoholic. While some people do live their day-to-day lives drunk and stumbling around, the vast majority of men and women with alcoholism live high-functioning lives. They go to work. They maintain their roles as parents. They drive and may not get pulled over for driving under the influence. A few drinks after work may be all it takes, though.
Alcoholism occurs when a person has developed a dependency on alcohol. That means the individual has a physical and/or a psychological compulsion to drink alcohol. In most situations, the amount of alcohol is excessive, but that may not always be the case. Individuals who continue to drink alcohol even though they recognize the negative consequences it can cause are facing addiction.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse in a Loved One
Alcohol abuse can occur over a long period of time, making it hard to pinpoint dramatic changes in behavior. However, alcohol addiction help is needed when your loved one displays any of the following signs of alcoholism or alcohol abuse.
- They neglect their other responsibilities. Individuals may be unable to perform on the job. In a college setting, where binge drinking is common, individuals may have poor grades. They skip commitments in order to drink or because they have a hangover.
- They drink to reduce stress, calm nerves or fight depression. Individuals turning to alcohol as a treatment for underlying health concerns or worries tend to develop an addiction.
- They take risks. They understand the risks of getting behind the wheel with alcohol in their systems but do it anyway. Some people seek out alcohol so they can engage in reckless behavior.
- Relationships are difficult. The sole focus of each day is when the next drink will come, rather than on spending time with family and friends.
- Many struggle with painful addiction withdrawal if they stop using. This is quite common in individuals who have a serious drinking problem. It can be life-threatening to simply stop, requiring alcohol addiction rehab to detox.
Alcoholism is moving beyond casual drinks with friends. In many situations, the addiction occurs when tolerance develops. When a loved one needs to drink more or a higher proof of alcohol in order to get the same level of drunk, this indicates the body has formed an addiction to the substance. There are also more signs and symptoms of abuse of addiction.
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When It Crosses the Line
When you notice the signs of alcohol addiction, you may be unsure what to do. You don’t want to make the wrong decision for your loved one. Yet alcoholics often believe they can stop whenever they want to. They may promise to do so numerous times and yet fail to quit. This is because a physical change has occurred in the body, making it require the substance in order to function normally and causing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when it is not there.
If you find your loved one is in this condition or approaching it, it’s essential to recognize that enough is enough. The difficult decision to confront an addiction and seek alcohol addiction treatment may save their life.
Short-Term and Long-Term Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol is absolutely not a safe substance to use in large amounts or in high frequency. Take a closer look at some of the impacts it can have on the lives of the alcoholic as well as his or her family.
Short-term effects of alcohol abuse may include:
- Inability to communicate; slurred speech
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Drowsiness, falling asleep at the wheel
- Stomach pain
- Trouble breathing
- Decreased perception and ability to walk
- Headaches, migraines
- Inability to make wise decisions, impaired judgment
- Unconsciousness or blacking out
- Sudden death
While these are dangerous in themselves, especially when a person is working or driving, the long-term impact is even worse. Those symptoms include:
- Increased aggression, domestic violence, firearm injuries and sexual assault
- High blood pressure, putting a person at risk for stroke and heart disease
- Alcohol poisoning
- On-the-job injuries
- Nerve damage
- Liver damage
- Inability to perform sexually
- Deficiencies in vitamin B
- Brain damage
Beating Alcohol Addiction
Deciding to quit drinking can be a difficult feat. It’s important to know that going cold turkey can lead to withdrawal symptoms and in severe cases, can be fatal. For this reason, it’s a good idea to seek professional help when quitting. At FHE Health, we work closely with you to ensure you have every opportunity possible to achieve your goals.
Treatment for alcohol use disorder begins with detox, during which alcohol is flushed from the system. Consistent alcohol abuse causes a chemical dependency in the brain. Abruptly changing the chemical balance by quitting can lead to seizures, intense pain and loss of consciousness. These symptoms usually subside over 48 hours after the last drink was consumed. Completing detox at FHE with medical professionals ensures a safe and more comfortable process.
During treatment, individual and group therapy are available to help users to understand the root causes of their addiction. Along with 12-step programs, a continuous stream of support helps the individual to recover from the psychological reasons behind alcoholism.
Medications are available to reduce the unpleasant symptoms of alcohol detox as well as prevent alcohol cravings. These may be oral or injected medications. Medical treatment is also available to alleviate other health problems associated with AUD.
After the initial stages of detox therapy, many patients may achieve stability. After this stage, patients may enter residential treatment. This treatment is best suited for people at high risk for relapse.
This type of rehabilitation program can last for a few weeks to several months depending on the individual needs of the patient. During residential treatment, otherwise known as inpatient treatment, patients live in a rehabilitation facility that provides consistent support and ongoing treatment. This is a safe environment devoid of any negative influences or triggers that might encourage relapse.
Inpatient treatment includes:
- Behavioral therapy: Ongoing cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients learn to cope with cravings and any other lingering issues associated with their addiction.
- Health and nutritional therapy: Due to the detrimental effects alcohol has on the body, nutrition is key to rebuilding health.
- Group sessions: Patients work together with others in treatment to establish a strong supportive foundation for recovery.
- Holistic treatments: These focus on restoring the mind, body and spirit through yoga, meditation, and natural remedies.
- Family therapy: In some instances, patients may benefit from working through addiction with the inclusion of family. This therapy aims to improve relationships and work through situational problems to ensure a successful recovery.
Inpatient care provides a stable foundation for rebuilding after addiction. The removal of everyday stresses and negative influences is important in preventing relapse. A treatment facility ensures a supportive space for patients to improve their health and work on healthy habit formation.
Taking part in outpatient treatment programs means you can continue to live at home while still receiving care for your addiction. In some cases, patients choose to continue with outpatient treatment after their inpatient stay. It’s also possible to begin with outpatient rehab as an initial program for recovery.
Our outpatient alcohol treatment plans are customized to help patients based on their individual needs. The program may include several sessions a week. Intensive programs may require four to five hours a day, three times a week.
Without a safe environment, alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Individuals who have long been exposed to alcohol have significant changes in their bodies that now require the drug’s presence. Without this, they can experience intense pain, seizures and potentially fatal spells of consciousness. They may suffer a heart attack or simply stop breathing, simply from not getting access to alcohol over a short period of time.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Significant anxiety and nervousness
- Inability to eat
- Depression, suicidal thoughts
- Mood swings
- Changes in blood pressure
- Inability to breath steadily
Because it can create such an intense amount of physical change, individuals should seek out a professional to help with the detox process.
Medical Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
The most effective way to overcome alcohol addiction is through medical supervision at a treatment facility. The first step on the road to recovery is alcohol detox. This process begins as early as 48 hours after having your last drink. The side effects can vary and include dehydration, seizures, hallucinations and cardiac complications.
Each patient will receive personalized care and attention from medically trained professionals. A medically assisted detox ensures each person has the right medications to make symptoms more tolerable.
The administration of medications during treatment is carefully monitored by medical professionals. The following two drugs are classified as opioid antagonists and work by blocking the activation of opioid receptors.
- Suboxone: Typically used in detox. It works by mimicking similar effects of alcohol in the brain. This allows for less shock to the system when alcohol is removed.
Vivitrol: An injection is used to prevent relapse by stopping the release of dopamine that occurs when alcohol is ingested, lowering cravings and alcohol-seeking behavior. Typically used after detox during the stabilization period.
Quitting on Your Own May Be Impossible
Perhaps one of the most difficult things for anyone addicted to alcohol to hear is that they really cannot stop on their own. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can develop in the first few hours of having a last drink, creating a high-risk situation. Some individuals may experience only a few minimal side effects initially, but most will struggle with pain that is debilitating and severe enough to end up in the emergency room.
For others, the onset of seizures can begin within the first six hours, with risks for them remaining for several days after the last use of alcohol. Further, individuals may suffer from severe hallucinations, creating very frightening situations. Many people can experience a mental break from these hallucinations, creating a life-threatening situation.
However, detoxing in a safe environment minimizes the risks and the complications from those risks. Doctors are on hand to provide immediate medical assistance as necessary. They may also be able to offer treatment to minimize the physical pain. Detox in a formal program is the best way to minimize risks but also helps promote long-term sobriety through a comprehensive alcohol abuse treatment program.
Addiction Is a Disease, and There Is Help Available for It
The facts are clear. Alcohol addiction is a disease and requires medical help in order for you to move beyond it. Treatment for it can be highly effective for many people if help is sought soon enough. Through alcohol addiction rehab, it may be possible to minimize risks and improve the outcome as well as the chance for long-term sobriety.
Lifelong Recovery From Alcohol
Recovery from alcohol use disorder is a lifelong journey, and rehab is only the first step. After leaving inpatient or outpatient care, it’s important to establish a maintenance plan that prevents the risk of relapse. Support groups and 12-step programs are effective for reinforcing the lessons learned in rehab by providing a peer group with others in a similar situation.
For more information on alcohol detox with FHE, contact us at (833) 596-3502 for an initial consultation. Our counselors are standing by 24/7 so you can get the help you need.