Alcoholism treatment made huge advances in recent years. Your only choices for the treatment of alcoholism used to be Alcoholics Anonymous or an inpatient rehabilitation program. Those options still exist and are helping people address their alcoholism, but today, you or your loved one have many more options.
The First Step
People often do not understand that alcoholism is a disease that must be treated. If your loved one has been drinking heavily for several months or years, it isn’t possible for them to suddenly stop drinking. That’s because alcohol changes the body over the years, and the body expects to receive the same amount of alcohol that it had the previous day. If the body doesn’t get it, the body will send out withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are highly unpleasant. Some of these include the following:
- A Racing Heart
These withdrawal symptoms can be unbearable enough to cause your loved one to take a drink again, so it would be impossible for them to stop drinking on their own, and it may also be dangerous.
The best thing for your loved one to do is enter into a detoxification program. In a medical detox program, your loved one receives medications that allow them to tolerate the symptoms without taking a drink. Then, their body can flush out all of the alcohol that is in their system. If your loved one were to do this on their own, they would be at risk of having a seizure, but the medical staff at an alcohol detox center will ensure that your loved one goes through a detox program safely. After the detoxification process is over, your loved one will be able to move on to an alcoholism treatment program.
During your loved one’s stay in detox, the medical staff may continue administering medications. One example is Naltrexone which eliminates the cravings and reduces the positive feelings your loved one receives from drinking. The medical staff may also administer Disulfiram which will cause your loved one to experience highly unpleasant side effects if he decides to drink alcohol.
The medical detox program treats your loved one’s physical dependence upon alcohol, but it does not address why your loved one drinks. There is a reason that detox is not considered to be an alcoholism treatment program. After the detox program, your loved one needs to receive treatment with behavioral therapies.
Trained mental health professionals will treat your loved one in counseling sessions that are based on scientific research. These approaches include the following:
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
According to the research, dialectical behavior therapy works very well for people experiencing substance use disorders. Clients learn new skills that help them accept emotions that are painful to them. It also keeps them from engaging in confrontational episodes with loved ones. The therapeutic skills they learn to focus on four areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
Mindfulness helps your loved ones accept their reality and helps them live in the moment. Distress tolerance helps them tolerate negative emotions so that he doesn’t need to run from them. Emotion regulation teaches them new strategies that help them change emotions that lead to negative outcomes. Interpersonal effectiveness teaches them how to communicate with others so that he appears assertive and capable of having strong relationships.
12-Step Support Groups
In their instance, the program will use the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. In their program, your loved one learns that alcoholism made their life miserable, along with the lives of everyone around them. He will be required to accept the fact that he needs help from a higher power to overcome the addiction. There is also a program that your loved one can continue after he leaves the rehabilitation program.
Their approach gives your loved ones an incentive to change their drinking behavior. For example, your loved one may require a negative alcohol test. If their next test is negative, he would be entitled to receive a prize. Another strategy is to have everyone in the group enter a raffle. The winner would receive a prize in their case as well.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps your loved ones recognize the behaviors that lead them to drink. Their therapy helps them change those behaviors before he has a chance to take the next drink. It is also very useful for those experiencing mental health disorders and alcohol use disorders.
It is common for people to have a mental health disorder at the same time that they have a substance use disorder. It is known as “comorbidity,” and it can be treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy. If your loved one has never been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, the medical staff in their alcoholism treatment program can make a diagnosis. In 2018, 37.9% of the 20.3 million adults with a substance use disorder were also diagnosed with a mental health disorder, so it is possible that your loved one is a part of their group.
If your loved one has a co-occurring mental health condition, it is very important that he obtains treatment for their disorder along with treatment for the alcohol use disorder. It isn’t enough to treat only the substance use disorder when there is also a mental health disorder. Both of these conditions can interact, so one condition may cause the other disorder to get worse. In addition, medical professionals cannot determine which disorder presented itself first, so the best option is to treat both simultaneously.
Over the years, treatment centers have offered the option of engaging in holistic therapy to treat alcoholism. The research does not necessarily support the belief that holistic therapy treats alcohol use disorder effectively, but more facilities offer it to their clients. For example, yoga has been found to help people resist cravings in the short term. It was used to help people remain calm and relaxed for thousands of years. Yoga also offers additional benefits for those addicted to substances, such as stress reduction. It will also help your loved one tolerate the triggers that lead them to consume alcohol.
In addition to yoga, your loved one will be introduced to massage therapy, meditation, and acupuncture. These holistic therapies are instrumental in helping people tolerate cravings, relax and survive the withdrawal symptoms that may present themselves. At Long Island Interventions, we have many other types of holistic therapies that your loved one can choose in addition to traditional behavioral therapies.
Types of Alcohol Treatment Facilities
Every person is on a different level of their alcoholism journey, but fortunately, there is a treatment facility that can accommodate each one. The following options will provide your loved one with the most appropriate place for them:
Inpatient treatment is the right option for your loved one if he needs a high level of care. In an inpatient facility, you will be assured that your loved one will be safe because he will have 24-hour care from the facility’s staff. It is the best option for your loved one if he has been fighting their alcohol addiction for several years. In detox, the staff will ensure that he doesn’t suffer from withdrawal symptoms, and after the detox program, he will have treatment for their psychological addiction to alcohol. In inpatient treatment, your loved one will receive group, individual, and holistic therapy after he leaves the detox program.
You can choose a program that lasts for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or 120 days, but some programs can last even longer.
Intensive Outpatient Programs
Intensive outpatient programs allow your loved one to continue their treatment in an outpatient facility. He would only need to attend therapy sessions Monday through Friday for three hours a day. The staff could reduce the frequency of treatment even further as time goes on. Another good option is for your loved one after he leaves an inpatient facility.
The skills your loved one gains in the intensive outpatient program take them further down the road to recovery. While in their program, he learns valuable skills, but he will also be encouraged to maintain their job, remain in school, or continue with their responsibilities at home. The sessions your loved one will need to attend will be in the morning or the evening, so he can choose the best time to continue with their therapy that will also allow them to work, attend school or take care of their children.
Contact us at Long Island Interventions today if your loved one is ready to get help for their alcohol use disorder.