Alcohol use disorder (AUD), often referred to as alcoholism, is a medical condition involving heavy or frequent alcohol consumption that is out of control. Regular and long-term drinking can have many health risks and may cause problems in daily life, such as at work or with family and friends. Luckily, plenty of effective treatment programs like alcohol abuse treatment, alcohol rehab, therapy, medication, and mutual support groups can help an individual struggling with an alcohol problem stay on the right path and recover from their addiction safely and comfortably.
When Is It Time to Seek Treatment for Alcohol Abuse?
Individuals struggling with substance use disorder are less likely to relapse when they fully recognize their condition and acknowledge their alcohol problem before beginning treatment. Sometimes this happens to a person on their own, and other times it may require intervention from their family members or friends. An alcohol intervention or family therapy session involves the person’s loved ones gathering to express their feelings and concerns. A therapist may also lead the discussion and provide treatment and support options that can help.
If left untreated, alcoholism can lead to negative consequences like severe health problems such as heart disease, liver disease, stroke, digestive issues, cancer, etc. It is essential to watch out for common symptoms of alcohol dependence to know when it is the best time to start seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one.
Some of the most common warning signs of a drinking problem include:
- An intense craving or urge to consume alcohol
- Having difficulty controlling or limiting the amount of alcohol you are drinking
- Reducing the amount of work and social plans you participate in
- Failure to fulfill regular obligations at work, school, or at home because of the drinking too much alcohol
- Having alcoholic drinks during dangerous situations such as driving or operating other machinery
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol and needing to drink more to feel the same effects as before
- Frequent attempts to cut down or quit drinking without success
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like nausea, shaking, and severe sweating when you periods without drinking.
- Continuing to drink even though it has proven to cause severe problems with friends and family
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, try our free diagnosis quiz to help you compare your symptoms with those of alcohol use disorder.
Diagnosing Alcohol Use Disorder
The process typically begins by meeting with your primary health care provider. If they believe you may have an alcohol problem, you will be referred to a mental health provider that can diagnose your condition.
To give you a proper diagnosis, the mental health provider may:
- Ask questions regarding your drinking patterns. The professional may also speak with family members or friends upon your permission to get any additional information that can help with the diagnosis.
- Perform a physical exam to look for indications of alcohol abuse
- Suggest lab tests and imaging tests that can diagnose disorders and identify health problems that may be linked to the alcohol abuse
- Complete psychological evaluation, which involves questions about your symptoms as well as your feelings and behavior patterns.
Most people tend only to consider 12-step programs or 28-day inpatient rehab for treating alcohol use disorder, but various treatment options are available. Everyone is different, so the same treatment will not work the same way for everyone. This is why it is always best to consult with health professionals who can give you more direction. An essential first step at a treatment center is detox rehab, where the patient rids their body of the substance before beginning any form of treatment. Rehab facilities often offer different levels of care, such as inpatient programs (residential treatment) and outpatient programs designed to work for the unique needs of each individual. Inpatient treatment is when the patient lives at the treatment facility and receives around-the-clock medical supervision, while outpatient treatment is when the patient returns at scheduled times to receive treatment that works for their specific needs.
- Behavioral Therapy: This treatment is intended to change an individual’s heavy drinking habits and behavior patterns through talk therapy. There are a few different behavioral therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on identifying and learning how to avoid feelings and situations that trigger the urge to drink. Another form of behavioral treatment is motivational interviewing, where a therapist guides the patient through the pros and cons of receiving treatment for their alcohol problems and how to develop an effective strategy for recovery.
- Support Groups: Mutual-support groups are group counseling sessions that often involve gathering people who are all struggling with some type of substance abuse, often led by psychologists. An example of these self-help groups is Alcoholics Anonymous or AA, which consists of meetings that are typically free and available in many communities. The goal is to provide peer support to keep a person motivated to stay sober.
- Medication: There are three common medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which include Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram. These medications are often taken alongside therapy and prescribed by a primary doctor or other health care provider to help stop drinking and manage withdrawal symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the most effective treatment for alcohol dependence?
When treating alcoholism, a patient typically begins with a detoxification program that involves ridding the body entirely of the substance before starting treatment. After this, the patient may begin attending behavioral therapy sessions through an alcohol rehab program to help them identify problematic patterns associated with drinking and the best ways to combat these behaviors and recover. Alongside this therapy, a doctor may also prescribe medication like Naltrexone or Acamprosate to help the patient manage withdrawal symptoms. Patients are also encouraged to attend mutual support groups after therapy to ease recovery.
2. What five types of therapy can be used to treat alcoholism?
Psychotherapy is a form of talk therapy involving speaking with a trained psychologist about problems and personal experiences, allowing the medical professionals at an alcohol addiction treatment center to make an accurate diagnosis based on what they are told. In addition, dialectical behavioral therapy is another type of talk therapy that involves a patient learning how to live in the present, manage stress, and practice open and honest communication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help identify negative thoughts or behaviors and teach the patient to swap them out with more positive ones. Motivational Interviewing is designed to motivate patients to change their drinking behaviors and involves a health professional guiding the patient through all of the pros and cons of receiving treatment and developing an effective strategy for recovery. Lastly, marital and family group counseling involves spouses and other family members in the treatment plan, which can be effective at keeping a patient on the road to recovery.
3. What are some treatment options for someone who is suffering from alcoholism?
Treatment options for alcoholism may include behavioral therapies, medications, and mutual support groups. Behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy or motivational interviewing can help patients understand feelings and situations that often lead to alcohol misuse by talking to a counselor. Medications such as naltrexone and Acamprosate can be used in conjunction with therapy to manage withdrawal symptoms. Self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step programs can help patients find peer support from others wanting to quit.
4. What is the first-line treatment for alcohol use disorder?
Patients recently diagnosed with alcohol abuse are usually prescribed Naltrexone alongside behavioral therapy for their condition. This prescribed medication is usually the preferred option for new patients because of the dosing schedule and the ability to begin treatment even while the person is still drinking alcohol. For those who are unable to take Naltrexone, Acamprosate is another first-line option. This medicine has an anti-drinking neurochemical effect attributed to the modulation of glutamate neurotransmission at metabotrophic-5 glutamate receptors.
How Indiana Recovery Can Help
Suppose you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use disorder. In that case, the Indiana Recovery alcoholism treatment center has a team of dedicated mental health professionals that are here to help. We offer various treatment options like detox rehab programs and residential services that can help individuals overcome alcohol addiction. If you are concerned that you may be an alcoholic, try taking our quiz and compare your symptoms with that of AUD. Our experts are dedicated to providing the professional help you need to overcome your alcohol or drug addiction. When you are ready to take the first step, contact us at (844) 650-0064 for more information.