A pervasive disease that is believed to affect as many as 18 million Americans, alcohol use disorders are the subject of thousands of studies every year. The primary goal of many of these studies is one thing: finding a cure for alcoholism. Unfortunately, as of yet, there is no cure for any substance abuse disorder. However, where alcoholism is concerned, extensive research has identified a wide range of treatment options that have been proven to be effective in helping millions to stop drinking.
Different from chronic alcohol abuse and binge drinking, alcoholism is defined by:
- A high tolerance for alcohol (e.g., needing more and more alcohol in order to get drunk)
- Cravings defined by an overwhelming urge to drink alcohol
- Addiction characterized by physical withdrawal symptoms when without alcohol
- Inability to stop drinking for any significant period of time
Alcoholism is a medical disorder. It is impossible for someone who is diagnosed with the disorder to cure himself. The nature of the disorder is such that it requires both medical and psychotherapeutic interventions that are evidence-based and supported for as long as necessary to stabilize the patient.
There are a number of different 099-106.pdf” target=”_blank”>medications that have been approved for the treatment of alcoholism. They include:
- Disulfiram: This medication makes the patient physically ill when they drink alcohol. Taking it regularly can help the patient to avoid relapse.
- Acamprosate: The primary benefit of acamprosate is to minimize the cravings for alcohol that so often lead patients to relapse in early recovery.
- Naltrexone: Taken orally, this medication has been shown to cut cravings and minimize the high created by alcohol.
- Injectable naltrexone: Taken once a month via injection, this provides the benefits of oral naltrexone but eliminates the issues caused when patients stop taking their medication.
Psychotherapeutic Treatment Options
Depending upon the specific challenges facing the patient in recovery, a wide range of psychotherapeutic options can be a beneficial part of treatment:
- Personal therapy, to address acute issues and explore deep-seated problems and underlying disorders that may be increasing the triggers to drink
- Family or couples therapy, to rebuild relationships at home and improve everyone’s abilities to get needs met in a healthy way
- Relapse prevention, to identify personal triggers to drink and create plans that are easily put into action to prevent relapse in recovery
- Holistic treatments, to lower overall stress and increase mental balance and emotional stability
There is no such thing as an effective alcoholism treatment program that will fit every alcoholic across the board without alteration. Each patient experienced different issues prior to and during their alcoholic period, thus each patient should undergo a uniquely designed treatment program that can give the tools needed most to avoid relapse in recovery. An effective treatment program will allow for personalization of care as well as regular check-ins throughout the treatment process so the treatment plan can be altered as necessary for continued progress and healing.
Additionally, it is important that patients who are diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder or vice addiction enroll in an alcohol rehab that is equipped to intensively treat this disorder as well.
Those who follow up their time in rehab with ongoing support are the most likely to do enjoy lasting recovery and avoid relapse. In the event that dual diagnosis treatment is needed, follow-up and aftercare services that provide support both for addiction treatment and mental health treatment are necessary.
Contact us at the phone number listed above today to talk with one of our admissions coordinators about how an alcohol rehab program can help your loved one learn how to stop drinking and manage any underlying mental health issues at the same time. Call now.
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton