Alcohol is a drug that is readily available in many cultures; however, it is also highly addictive. Although alcohol is accepted most cultures and social settings, the drug can severely impact lives to those who become addicted to it.
Treatment for Alcohol
How do I get off this drug?
The first step to alcohol recovery is to get the alcohol completely out of the addict’s system. This is done by supervised alcohol detox, which is usually necessary to prevent any fatal complications. Complications can include shaking, sweating, seizures, and hallucinations.
What are my options for treatment?
When treating alcoholism, there are inpatient and outpatient centers that offer detoxification options that are medically assisted. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also usually done at treatment centers that offer a higher recovery rate than just medical detox alone.
Does treatment work?
For treatment to be successful there must be a plan for when treatment is complete. This can include support groups, individual counseling, 12-step program meetings, or knowing who to turn to in the event that something triggers the desire for alcohol.
Withdrawal and Detox
What is withdrawal?
Withdrawal is what a person’s body goes through when the body wants the drug but is not receiving it anymore. This often happens with detoxification, where the body is not used to depending on itself for naturally occurring drugs and is used to depending on alcohol.
What are symptoms of withdrawal?
There are three levels of severity or stages of withdrawal symptoms that a patient can experience. Stage one usually has mild symptoms that include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Foggy thinking
- Mood swings
- Heart palpitations
Stage two includes more moderate symptoms such as:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Increased respiration or breathing
- Irregular heart rate
- Mental confusion
- Increased Sweating
- Heightened mood disturbances
Stage three includes more severe symptoms such as:
- Delirium tremens
- Severe confusion
- Severe Agitation
How long does withdrawal last?
Withdrawal symptoms usually last for a few days, however it depends on the patient and if they were also abusing any other drugs with alcohol.
Why does it happen?
Withdrawal happens because the body is not used to functioning without alcohol in the body and the body reacts by going into a semi-state of shock through withdrawal.
Is it dangerous?
Withdrawal can be dangerous; however, when monitored by professionals and assisted with medication, the risk is drastically reduced.
Will it hurt?
Initially detox can be painful due to the reactions caused by the process; however, these can be eased by certain medications to help the patient feel more comfortable. Detoxification is the initial step to treating alcoholism and can be the most difficult. Until the substance is completely gone from the patient’s system, there is still a lot of dependence on the drug.
What medications are used during medical detox for this drug?
Medications that can help with detoxification symptoms and cravings include:
- Acamprosate – Used to reduce alcohol cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms
- Naltrexone – Used to reduce cravings for alcohol as well as reduce alcohol’s pleasurable effects
- Disulfiram – Causes severe negative effects when alcohol is consumed
- Antidepressants – There is a high chance the patient will become depressed and these are usually administered after the detoxification stage.
Inpatient Drug Rehab
What is it like in rehab?
Inpatient alcohol rehab can be a good choice for those who want to focus completely on recovery without added stress from daily life such as work, school, childcare or social obligations. Inpatient rehab allows the patient to have a more thorough recovery process and can be a good option for those who have tried other treatments but were unsuccessful.
How long will it take?
Inpatient treatment for alcohol addiction can last anywhere from 30 days to six months, but can sometimes be longer. Recovery times differ on the individual and if they were abusing other drugs as well.
What kind’s treatments are effective for this drug?
Inpatient centers can include behavioral therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and also prescription drug remedies. CBT can help change the way a patient reacts to stressful external stimuli that may have previously prompted drug or alcohol use. CBT helps promote healthy ways of coping. CBT can also offer group or individual counseling, experiential therapies, and education on health and nutrition.
Ongoing Treatment Options and Relapse Prevention
What is outpatient treatment?
Outpatient treatment can be a good solution for people who may have to go back to work or with family and usually lasts for a few hours daily. Medication can still be administered, however, outside elements of stress such as family, work, or other commitments are not completely halted. This can be an option for some looking to get help for alcoholism but cannot pause their lives for months.
Once I stop using, will I relapse?
It is possible to relapse, however, with medication therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, the risk of relapse is greatly reduced. It also helps to continue therapy or group meetings and to have a strong support system after inpatient or outpatient treatment is complete.
Can I afford treatment?
Many centers have payment plans, however, with the Affordable Care Act, insurances now have to offer some kind of option for treatment and this can also include Medicaid. For what is not covered by insurance or if someone happens to be uninsured, many treatment centers offer payment plans to make treatment more affordable.
How can I stay sober?
Having a strong support system is key. This includes group counseling, 12-step program meetings, individual therapy, and a personal support system such as family or friends. It is important to know where to go or who to turn to if any triggers come up such as stress, environmental triggers, or being surrounded by things or people that used to cause the person to drink.
What are the options after rehab?
After rehab, a strong support system can be vital to stay sober and to continue with recovery. This can mean seeking company of other recovering addicts or finding a personal support network. No matter the channel, it is imperative that recovering addicts have someone to share their struggles with.
Programs and support systems can include family, friends, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), other 12-step programs, and other therapy or group discussions. There are varieties of group support programs that exist in many neighborhoods.